Life returned to a sense of normality, which after two months was turned completely upside down.
It happened when the husband awoke at two in the morning to find he was alone in bed. He called out softly to his wife and on getting no response; he got up and made his way through the house and on reaching the lounge he heard soft sounds like crying coming from behind the closed door of the study. He tapped on the door and made his way though. His wife was curled up on the big easy chair weeping. He reached down to her small, almost frail body and without a word, his big arms enfolded her and he gently lifted her off the chair and sitting in the chair he moved her onto his lap as he would have done with the smallest of his children.
Before starting to read this, go to Chapter One and catch up on the story so far.
He felt his gut begin to tighten in an effort to hold back, what seemed like an imminent flood of tears. He held her tightly, but gently and instinctively began to rock her on his lap. “John, she sobbed, I am so afraid, what if anything happens to you, what if anything happens to any one of our children; you’ll be so far away”? “Nothing will happen my darling” he feigned his reassurance.
Eventually he got up, put water on for coffee and went to collect a blanket to wrap his wife. On his return she took the coffee and looked intently into his eyes. “I know I am being a silly-billy”. She stammered, trying to be brave.
“You are no silly-billy; you are a very brave and strong woman, you are a most amazing mother and you are the best wife in the whole world”. She looked up from the steamy mug and smiled, “Do you really think so John”? “Yes, Cherri, I do; you know me, I don’t ever say anything I don’t mean”.
“Come my darling”, he continued, let me take you back to bed, you’ll be having to get up soon enough”.
The following week, John announced to his General Manager that he was resigning. “John, the Group CEO and I were just talking about you an hour ago; so, before we continue this discussion I need to talk to him; would you take a seat in the board room, whilst I go through to him”.
“What’s this I hear John”? The CEO boomed into the boardroom. “Why are you wanting to leave and where else would you want to go anyway”?
John explained that he was offered a post in Australia and that for the sake of his young family, he was immigrating.
“Dammed ironic”, the CEO spoke first, “We were going to offer you a promotion to assistant GM, and now this! “Sir”, John replied, his throat dry, “I am and always have been, happy on this mine and particularly flattered by your planned offer; it’s just that I have to take this opportunity, whilst I’m young enough and more than anything because of the future of my children”. “We know about the position at Kooliebar Mine and I assume that’s where you are headed”, the GM surprised John. “We got it from the grapevine a month or so ago”. “You know that it is a key underground geological research project, with a planned mine expansion in view”. “This, of course will necessitate you spending a lot of time underground, something the CEO and I tried to keep you away from doing on this mine; even though we realized your exceptional talent in this area – this we did, for the sake of your family”. At this there was silence between the three men and John swallowed hard. Although he was aware that the two were playing a sharp card in trying to convince him to stay, he was also aware of the truth about which they were reminding him. A truth that he had not fully revealed to his wife Cherri.
The CEO spoke next, “ John, you know how hard it is in any business, but especially in mining, where we have to engender harmony among differing cultural groups and how much more magnified that becomes a mile underground! I am not trying to create unnecessary fear into your mind John, but I’ve worked in OZ and your locals are not going to welcome you with open arms, especially as your cultures are poles apart, to say nothing of foreigners who come into the country to steal their jobs”!
At this point John’s gut was joining hands with his very dry throat. He barely managed to rasp, “Thank you for your words of caution sir”.
“Give it some thought me boy and be sure to talk long and hard with your missus”. The CEO was ‘old school Brit’ and John interpreted this last statement as more endearment than threatening. At which, both men stood and shook hands with John.
To be continued…..look out for it next month, same time.
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