His weathered hands shook as he read over the Melbourne Age again. The pages rustled as he slowly put it down and spread it out across the worktop. Matthew wiped the sweat from his forehead and then dragged his dry hand over his eyes too.
The thought of it was too much to bear, why now? Why after all this time?
‘Granddad!’ Melanie called crossly. She crossed her arms, the plastic fairy wand sticking out like a street sign from her hand. The tiara was falling forward over her forehead. ‘Are you going to come play in the garden?’
‘In a minute, sweetheart. Granddad has to finish making Grandma a cup of tea.’
‘Okay,’ Melanie sounded defeated, and hung her head in the expert childish fashion.
‘I’ll find you a bit of chocolate if you play with your brother,’ Matthew bribed her.
The smile from her was worth it, and Melanie skipped out into the garden, her dark hair swinging behind her as she went. It was hard enough trying to keep up with her at this age, especially when their mum relied on him so much for last minute childcare.
He flicked the kettle on again, and scanned over the paper in disbelief. It wasn’t possible, after so many years.
‘Probably media scares again.’ He muttered to himself, at least to correct his fearful assumptions. Normally it worked, this iron will over himself. Matthew could displace any bad thought; bury it into the workings of his mind like a gravedigger. But today, that would not happen. It niggled in his stomach like a flea irritates a dog.
‘Oh lovely,’ Margaret purred as she accepted the hot cup of tea from him. She sat in the shade in the garden, watching the children play at the old swing set. Melanie played with her younger brother who trotted after her, pointing at things and grinning wordlessly. Matthew’s hand shook, and
Margaret reached out for it, calming him.
‘What’s the matter?’ There was a rise of concern in her voice, and
Margaret abandoned her book. Matthew trembled.
‘Front page of the paper,’ He managed to say in a whisper. Margaret rose from her chair and went into the kitchen to find the paper. She came back a moment later, clutching the paper to her chest like a new born child.
‘They’ve issued an apology.’ She whispered.
‘Sixty years too late.’ Matthew murmured. ‘I can’t forgive them.’ His
face was sunk; suddenly the years had caught up with him.
‘I’m here,’ Margaret said, enfolding her arms around his shoulders.
‘What’s wrong, Grandad?’ Melanie stood on the patio, utterly puzzled.
‘Nothing pet, your Grandad just lost something.’
‘Can we find it?’ Melanie’s eye lit up at the thought of a game.
Margaret found tears in her eyes.
‘What he lost, a long time ago, it can’t be found, pet.’ Melanie looked at her grandmother, studying the words of the
newspaper, making out a few of the words.
Child Migration victims given long awaited apology’
She didn’t know how you could lose your childhood.