“Friends and Lovers”….chapter 21

Meg spent the next few days trying to climb out of the malaise into which she had fallen since Luke’s departure. The beginning of the school year was just days away, and Meg felt totally unprepared. So many things had changed of late, Meg felt she didn’t fit into her own life anymore. She had never questioned that teaching would be her path for years to come. Come to think of it, she had never taken much initiative in her own life before. It had always been directed and influenced by outside factors; her mother, then Sam, and her inexplicable need to finish a degree she never remembered even choosing for herself. Of course she had made the most of it, and there were times of real happiness and fulfilment. But these past few months had begun to show her there was more to herself, and more to life, than she had ever made room for in her narrow world. Meg had a strange premonition that the status quo needed to change, but she would take Jo’s advice and let fate reveal its hand for now.

When Meg caught up with Jo and Max over the following weeks, Jonah was there also. He had begun working with Max, and was staying with them until he found a new place to live. Of course, Jo in her nurturing way, wanted him to move in with them, but Jonah insisted that he needed to start a new life on his own.

“I’ve been laying low long enough,” he said. “And maybe you and Max might like to revisit your honeymoon period,” he said, giving Jo a playful bump. “I take up too much room anyway,” he added, smiling broadly.

“That you do Big J!” added Max, sharing a laugh with his friend.

Meg cocooned herself with her friends all weekend, trying to keep her mind off work on Monday. She found Jonah very easy to talk to, as they sat in the gathering darkness outside, discovering that he had almost finished building a house in the Ottway Ranges at the back of Apollo Bay, before he had left for England.

“I think I can face going back there now. It’s such a beautiful place,” he said, a distant look in his eyes. “You’ll have to come down and see it,” he added, bringing his attention back to Meg. Meg returned his smile, feeling a great unexpected sadness at his loss.

“I’m really sorry about what you’ve been through Jonah,” she said quietly, and watched a glimmer of gratitude rise in his eyes.

“Thanks Meg, I appreciate it,” he answered. “And you too,” he said, briefly touching her arm. Meg looked a trifle embarrassed.

“Oh, but that’s not like losing a loved one,” she said uncomfortably. Jonah looked at her with concern.

“I think it is…..in some ways it may be even worse,” he said.  “I have many happy memories of my time with Trish. But a betrayal of trust can even make a mockery of your good times as well,” he said, and looked her steadfastly in the face.

Meg was moved by his unexpected candour and sensitivity, but it had touched a rawness that she had obviously ignored, and she felt the tears burning behind her eyes. She looked away quickly, and took a deep breath to steady herself. “Yes….it does make you feel a bit foolish. As if your whole life has been a lie really,” she said, still not looking up at him. “But it can put a hard edge of bitterness to your sadness, so I try not to think about it,” she concluded, and smiled shakily.

Jonah leant across and brushed her cheek with the back of his hand, a look of sadness coupled with perplexity on his face. “Why would anyone throw away something so precious….. and so beautiful?” he said quietly.

Meg knew beyond a doubt that Jonah recognized her pain, just as he lived with his own. Their shared experience of loss was a very strong bond in such a new friendship.

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