‘Last call for Flight E20 for Manchester. Will passenger Elizabeth Wareham please report to Gate 10…’ Lizzie hadn’t boarded? Ilios looked round the empty waiting area. Then where was she?
Lizzie grabbed her handbag and hurried out of the ladies’. Her sickness had finally subsided, but if she didn’t hurry she was going to miss her flight.
They were calling her name again. Her old name, which she had realized with shock was still the name on her passport—the name to which she was now returning. It had only seemed a few yards when she had rushed down to the ladies’, but now it seemed miles. There was the gate—and Ilios was standing beside it.
Lizzie came to an abrupt halt.
‘I need to talk to you,’ Ilios told her
‘I’ll miss my flight.’
Taking a deep breath, Ilios held out his hand to her.
She wanted to refuse. She should refuse—for the sake of her baby if not for herself—but somehow she couldn’t.
Ilios was taking advantage of her hesitation, telling the girl that she wouldn’t be flying and assuring her that since she only had hand luggage there was no need for the flight to be delayed whilst her cases were unloaded.
‘Let’s go and sit down,’ Ilios suggested. ‘You shouldn’t be standing so much, not when…’
He was expressing concern for them? For her and the baby?
That made her feel so shaky that she needed to sit down, Lizzie admitted, as she let him guide her to a chair and then sit down next to her.
‘I was wrong to say what I did. Very wrong,’ Ilios told her. ‘I want you to stay. The fact that you are to have my child changes everything. Its place is here in Greece with me, and yours with it. You are both my responsibility. It is my duty to provide for you.’ How stiff and cumbersome the words sounded, but he didn’t know any other way to say what he wanted to say.
‘Duty is no substitute for love, Ilios,’ Lizzie told him. ‘And I can’t live in a marriage without love. Wanting something you can’t have is corrosive. It embitters and destroys. Being trapped in a marriage that isn’t wanted drives the one who doesn’t love to crave their freedom, and from that contempt and hostility will grow. I don’t want our child to grow up in that kind of environment, torn between two parents who are together only because of it. It is too much of a burden to place on a child. It’s better that I leave.’ She paused. ‘Please don’t make this harder for me than it already is. I’ll tell him or her all about you—how special you are, how proud it can be to be your child and to have you as its father.’
She had to stop because of the emotion choking her throat. She wanted badly to touch him, to trace the shape of his face and give him her love—the love she knew he did not want.
‘I’ll tell it that you wanted us to be with you, and that it is my fault we aren’t. And when I do I’ll tell it too how much I love you, and how I couldn’t bear to burden you with that love when I knew you didn’t want it and hadn’t asked for it. I can’t promise, though, to tell it that its mother was foolish enough to mistake love for lust. I hope you will be happy, Ilios, and that life will send you someone you can truly love, because…’
‘It already has—only I was too afraid to accept it, Lizzie.’ He caught hold of her arm, his voice hoarse with desperation. ‘I love you. Please give me a second chance. We belong together—you and me and our child.’
Lizzie shook her head. ‘You’re just saying that because of the baby. Because you think you have to. Because—’
Ilios stopped her. ‘I’m saying it because it’s the truth.’