Notes of a Journey Trilogy
A Gaby FanFic by PB
Viewing Note: This story should be viewed with the Edwardian Script ITC font installed on your Windows platform in the c:/Windows/Fonts directory. Microsoft Word installs this font automatically.
Photo Credit: Provided by PB.
It is the evening of the day
I sit and watch the children play
Smiling faces I can see, but not for me
I sit and watch as tears go by
(The Rolling Stones - “As Tears Go By”)
Three years later….
I thought you’d like to know about something I saw today as school let out.
Remember that portrait your mother gave the school just before you left - the one of the two of you in your team jackets? Not long after you left the school, Mr. Wood had it hung on the ‘Alumni Wall’ that’s opposite the main doors.
I’m constantly amazed at the number of students that have paused to look at all the photos and in particular, the one of you and your mother. I’ve noticed, especially this year, that Maddy has become your most regular viewer which considering her past actions, struck me.
Today I watched her as she stood in the hall looking at your picture as usual, but this time it was plain to see that she was crying. I decided to take her back to my form until she collected herself rather than leave her standing in a crowded corridor. Unfortunately she didn’t want to talk about it, but I left the door open if she ever did.
By the time she left, the corridor had long been deserted of students. Watching her leave, I noticed that she again stopped at your picture, ensured she was alone (I guess I don’t count), kissed her fingertips on her right hand and then reached up and touched, not just the portrait - but you. I also saw her lips move, but couldn’t hear what she said. Then she turned and ran out of the building
I realise Maddy is having some personal issues but as I stated, I did offer my ‘ear’ if she ever wished to talk.
After reading Fran's email, Gaby quickly got onto her keyboard and typed out her reply.
Guten Tag Fran;
Thanks for telling me. Your words are somehow comforting, letting me know there’s still some hope. My feelings for her have only intensified over the years. I know it sounds cliché, but there hasn’t been a day go by that I haven’t thought of her and the harder I tried not to, the more persistent the need.
I’m very glad you let her know that you’d be there for her if she ever wants to open up. I think if she does open up, she’ll need someone outside of the family, like yourself. If she does ask for help, I know you’ll try your best.
When we’re back in Third Levels, we both looked up to you and I hope that respect will bring her to you.
“… send … an’ click…(sniff)” Gaby mumbled to herself as she sent the email to its destination.
“You alright, dear?” Jenny was passing Gaby’s bedroom and heard her softly crying. As she entered she saw her daughter sitting in her chair in front of the computer screen.
“No!” Gaby whispered, as she looked her mum standing beside her.
With tears running down her face, she showed her mother Fran’s email and pointed to the last paragraph.
”How long is this going to last, Mum? … Can you tell me that?”
Gaby’s mother shook her head. Comforting her daughter, she pulled her against her breasts and shedding a tear or two of her own, softly replied, “I don’t know, dear … I don’t know … sorry.”
“When I was your age and my boyfriend ever kept me hanging like Maddy’s done to you … I’d have written him off long ago.” Jenny quietly offered, not even sure if her daughter was listening.
“Maybe it’s time you should let her go … hmmmm?” Even though she knew the answer, she felt it had to be asked.
“Did you ever love someone as much as I do Maddy and end it?”
“No,” Jenny softly replied.
“Truth be known … I’ve only loved one person as much as you seem to love Maddy ... and I’d never … ever … leave your father.”
“Just as you can’t leave Dad …I (sniff) can’t leave Maddy. I just (sniff) can’t,” Gaby tearfully whispered as she tightened her arms around her mother’s waist. After several minutes, she raised her head and looked her mum in the eyes.
Wiping her own tears from her cheeks with one hand, Jenny whispered, “I used to think it was just ‘puppy love’ between you two … but now ... I know I was wrong…”
Gaby rose from her seat and both mother and daughter fell into a long embrace, with the silence in the room only broken by the occasional sigh and gentle sobbing from her crying on her mother’s shoulder.
“Carol’s coming this weekend for your birthday … why not ask her to bring Maddy?” Jenny softly suggested.
“As much as I want her to come … I don’t think so. If Maddy still hasn’t … I (sniff) don’t want her around if it’s only (sniff) gonna cause prob (hic) lems between us,” Gaby tearfully replied in a quiet voice.
“At least you could ask her about Maddy, then?” Jenny asked.
Gaby reluctantly broke the hold on her mother with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “You know I (sniff) will.”
“If it’ll help take your mind off things, I’ve got an idea for the Youth Project I’d like to run by your dad … and I’d like your input ... whaddya say?”
After allowing her daughter to make herself presentable, Jenny took Gaby’s hand and led her out of her room in search of Dave. Finding him in his study, the two women each took one of the vacant chairs.
“Got an idea for the girls this season and I want to know what you think because you’re the head of the youth program and you’re going to have to be the one to sell it to George and the sponsor.”
Gaby sat quietly while her mother pitched her idea.
“Now hear me out, before you say anything … alright?” Jenny asked her husband.
Dave sat back in his chair and closed his eyes, a gesture that she knew all too well. He was ready to listen.
“For the last two summers, we’ve brought the eight girls in the program, here … taught them the sport and molded their development … as individuals. We’ve seen the girls entered in several minor races … with a fair bit of success I might add … but again … only as individuals.”
“Last summer, while Maria took the younger girls … I took the four older ones and taught them team tactics and most importantly … how to work as a team. I’m now proposing we unleash the older girls … as a team!”
Dave still had his eyes closed, but Jenny noticed a faint smug look on his face as she continued.
“The BDR has several races on its 2008 schedule, including the German Nationals for junior women under 19. You know while school’s still in, they’ll still compete as individuals for most of the races … but once school’s out … we could bring them together as a team. This new Junior World Cup Tour the UCI’s put together in the summer would be an excellent platform to give these girls international exposure. What do you think?”
Jenny sat back in her chair, obviously proud of the selling job she just laid out.
“I guess Maria could continue to coach the younger girls. I assume you see yourself taking the older girls?” Dave thoughtfully voiced.
Maria had retired from competition at the end of the 2006 season and had assumed her new role as coach for the Youth Project, allowing Jenny to become the full-time Training Director for the programme.
“I’ve been working with those girls all along, so that makes me the logical choice … doesn’t it?” Jenny pointed out. “As the Director of the Youth Project, your place is here to oversee the program. If you feel you need some help, maybe you could get Jules when she comes home for the summer.”
Jenny was only too aware of Dave’s dedication to the program.
“If nothing else … we can see how each of these girls can perform on a team in race conditions, should any of them turn pro.”
Following a thoughtful silence, Dave opened his eyes and looked directly at Gaby.
“What do you think, Petal? You feel you’re ready for a World Cup Tour?”
“Uh huh,” Gaby enthusiastically vocalized, which was about all she could say given the size of the grin on her face.
Dave turned his chair towards the wall and then turned back to the girls.
“Okay … I’ll run it by George first thing Monday at the team meeting. Given the amount of traveling you’re proposing, Apollinaris will have to be sold on this … but I think they just might go for it!”
On Monday morning in George’s large office, Dave laid out Jenny’s proposal at the weekly combined meeting of the pro Team Apollinaris and the Apollinaris Youth Project.
“Hmmm … Wen würdest du für die Mannschaft vorschlagen, Jenny?” George already had a good idea who Jenny wanted for the Junior team, but he had to allow her to name her choices.
“Ich denke, daß wir einschließen sollten Gabi … und Judith … Kristen und … Nina. Sie sind alle 18 Jahre alt. Wirklich ist Nina 18 im Juni. Meiner Meinung nach sind sie mehr als bereit zu ihm,” Jenny replied.
When Jenny stated her choices, it only confirmed George’s thoughts. Nina was the youngest of the four at 17, but she would turn 18 in June.
George sat back in his chair, pondering his Training Director’s proposal and then after a few minutes addressed both Jenny and Dave. He agreed that the girls were more than ready for the challenge and asked to see the details for the ‘Tour’ as soon as possible.
The following Friday afternoon, Jenny took the Volvo and drove into Bonn to pick Carol up at the airport. When Gaby arrived home from school, she walked into the waiting arms of her aunt.
“How’s my birthday girl?” Carol asked after she planted a kiss on Gaby’s cheek.
“Officially I’m not 18 until Monday,” Gaby countered.
“Well, I’ll be home by then … so for the purposes of this visit, your birthday is all weekend,” Carol informed Gaby. “Now … how’s my niece?”
“Great … holding up … I guess,” Gaby replied as her voice softened. Carol both understood her answer and knew what she was going to ask next.
“How’s Maddy? Has she said anything … about us?” Gaby’s quiet voice took on a pleading quality.
“When she thinks we don’t see or hear her, her behaviour tells me she has very deep feelings for you … but she’s said nothing directly to me or your uncle … or anyone else that I’m aware of, for that matter,” Carol quietly replied while pulling her niece into a tight hug.
“Don’t let her ruin your birthday, dear,” Carol whispered.
“Wouldn’t be the first time. Why should this be any different?” Gaby quietly and tearfully answered as she tightly held her aunt.
“I’m so very sorry,” Carol whispered.
Jenny took the cue and quietly left the room to let the two have some time together. As she stood in the front room, staring out the large windows, she realised how much it bothered her to see what her daughter was going through.
After a while she returned and stood in the kitchen doorway with a well-used tissue at the ready, looking at her cousin and her youngest daughter, still in a tight embrace. The occasional sniffle emanated from both girls as Carol realised the hold her daughter still had on Gaby.
A few minutes later, Jenny quietly returned to the lounge, once again leaving those two to themselves. Upon hearing Dave pull up, she quickly stepped outside the front door to head him off.
“Dear … stay out here for a few minutes. Carol and Gaby are having a moment together,” Jenny explained.
“You’ve been crying, Jen,”
“I know … it’s been one of those moments,” She admitted and then proceeded to let Dave know what had set Gaby off.
“With all those two have been through together … sometimes … I just wish we could put them into the same room and tell them they’re bloody well not coming out until they kiss and make up!”
“Did you hear yourself, darling? How many fathers would fight for their daughter’s happiness … when that happiness comes from being in the arms of another girl?” Jenny quietly asked as she gently held the sides of his face and looked him lovingly in the eyes.
Dave lifted his eyes up and stared off into space for several minutes before dropping his gaze back to face Jenny.
“Damn it, Jen! After all she’s had to endure … she deserves some happiness … and just when she starts showing any signs of it … something or someone’s always there to ensure that it doesn’t happen! Shi … (sigh) sorry dear.”
Jenny put her arms around her husband. She sympathized with the frustration Dave felt and let him know with a gentle nod of her head.
“C’mon, darling … let’s take a walk down by the river. I think we can both use it. I know Gaby and Carol can probably use the time together,” Jenny suggestively whispered as she took his hand and started to walk towards the street.
“I’m sorry Jen … but I feel so helpless. If everyone else can see that those two should be together … why can’t Maddy?”
After walking in silence for a spell, Dave finally started to share his thoughts with his wife. She stopped under a large tree and gently pulled him against her as she leaned against the tree trunk.
“I mean why does Gaby have to be knocked down every time she tries to get up?” Dave wondered aloud.
“Sh-h-h-h …. I know, luv. It hurts me too … but someone’s going to have to be strong for her and that someone looks like us,” Jenny allowed as she put her arms around Dave’s neck, drawing him into a long and passionate kiss.
“Maybe we should be heading back. I never told anyone I was going out and they might be getting a bit worried,” Jenny suggested a bit reluctantly.
If she had her way, she’d just stay under that tree, cuddled into Dave.
“Besides, I’m starting to feel a trifle cool.”
With another kiss, they turned and walked hand in hand, back to their house, with Dave gallantly throwing his jacket over her shoulders.
“We’re back!” Dave shouted as they entered the house.
“About time! Where’d you two get off to?” Gaby expressed some genuine relief when her parents returned to the house.
“One minute you were here … then Aunt Carol and I just turn our backs an’ ‘poof!’ You disappeared!”
“Sorry … I thought your dad and I would give you and Carol some time together,” Jenny apologetically replied.
“Well … ‘kay … I suppose,” Gaby softly allowed.
“Feel better, darling?” Jenny asked as she took Gaby into her arms for a prolonged hug.
“Not really. Auntie Carol says everyone needs a good cry every once in a while,” Gaby whispered as she continued to hug her mum.
“What say we all go out for dinner? The usual?” Dave offered in an attempt to lighten the prevailing mood.
“Zur Saffenberg?” Gaby wondered.
“Sounds good,” Jenny answered.
“Now you girls go do whatever it is you do to make me the envy of all the men in the Ahr Valley and I’ll phone for reservations.”
“Maybe the Pinger’s would like to join us?” Gaby wondered as they started to go up to their rooms to get ready.
“Might be a good idea,” Jenny agreed and called down to Dave from the top of the stairs.
“Give the Pinger’s a ring and see if they want to join us.”
“Okay.” However, before Dave could start dialing, the phone rang.
(Brrriing! … Brrringg!)
“Hallo? Oh … Hallo, George. Ja, sie ist hier... in deinem Büro um 10:00 Uhr morgen? Wir sind dann da … Auf Wiedersehen.”
Dave put down the phone and then proceeded to call the restaurant and the Pinger’s.
Moments later Jenny came back down the stairs having heard Dave on the phone.
“Who called?” she asked as she walked up behind him.
“George … he wanted to make sure we had Gaby in his office at ten, tomorrow morning…” Dave replied as he turned to face Jenny and then in a hushed tone added, “At least that’s one thing going her way.”
“Enough of that David Bond!” Jenny quietly admonished her husband.
“This is her weekend … now don’t spoil it … okay, darling?” Jenny whispered as she wrapped her arms around him and planted a tender kiss on his mouth.
“You two keep that up and the Pinger’s will have finished eating before we even get there,” Gaby mischievously interjected.
“Umm … I think we’ve just been told,” Dave whispered to his wife, while Carol stood behind Gaby, with a silly smirk on her face.
When they returned to the house later that evening, Gaby took her aunt up to her room.
“I want to show you something. I got this email from Fran,” Gaby stated as she started to boot her computer.
Carol sat down in front of the screen and read it several times, finally rising from the chair and after a brief pause, walked over to join Gaby sitting on the edge of her bed.
‘Well … whaddya think?” With a solemn look, Carol turned to look at the love-struck teenager.
“I think I know what she said.” Carol’s voice wasn’t much above a whisper as she took Gaby’s hands in her own.
“What?” Gaby softly asked.
“When I think about it, Fran’s email makes sense. It certainly fills in the odd blank when one looks at how Maddy’s been acting recently. I’d bet she was telling your picture … that … she loves you.”
“She hasn’t said anything?” Gaby quietly moaned.
“Not to us … but that doesn’t mean anything, Gaby. If she’s admitted her feelings to herself … that’s a big step!”
“I know, Auntie Carol…” Gaby softly conceded.
“If it means anything … her father and I had reached the same conclusion some time ago,” she continued in a quiet voice that was only meant for Gaby’s ears.
Thanking her, Gaby gave her Aunt one last hug before they headed back downstairs. On the way out of the room, Carol noticed the framed the photo of Maddy that she had sent Gaby a few weeks ago.
“Would it be okay if I told Maddy you have a picture of her prominently displayed in your room?”
“Yeah … an’ maybe if you think it might make a difference … let her know that … I still love her … please?”
Carol tried to speak, but no sound came out. Instead she took one of her niece’s hands and gave it a gentle squeeze as she nodded her answer.
“I think we better join the others. They’re probably forming search parties by now,” Carol suggested after a couple of minutes.
Next morning, Jenny woke Gaby before her clock-radio went off.
“No ride?” Gaby asked, hoping her mum would say no and she could go back to sleep.
“Not this morning, dear! You’ve got an appointment … so dress smartly!” Jenny advised as she turned to go out of the room.
“Where?” Gaby called after her mother as she followed her out of the room.
“Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies,” Jenny playfully called back as she descended the stairs. “How could she have forgotten?”
“Crikey!” Gaby mumbled to herself as she turned back from the top of the stairs to go have a shower.
“I heard that young lady!” Jenny’s voice rose from somewhere in the house.
“I gotta find out how she does that,” thought Gaby.
Later as everyone went to get into the car, Dave threw Gaby the keys.
“Really?” Gaby shrieked.
“Really, really…” Dave replied in his best ‘Shrek’ imitation.
”Know where you’re going?” Dave flatly asked, after seeing Gaby just sitting behind the wheel, staring out the front window.
“Would … it help if I told you?” He calmly asked as it dawned on him that she really had no clue.
“A bit….” she sarcastically replied.
“George’s office…” Dave leaned over and whispered into Gaby’s ear. “It’s that time of year.”
Gaby promptly put the Volvo into reverse and with a huge grin on her face, backed out onto the street.
A little before the appointed hour, Dave, Jen, Carol and Gaby pulled into the team facility’s car park and as they approached George’s office, they noticed he wasn’t alone.
“Ah … Die Family Bond … guten Morgen!” Upon seeing Carol, George asked no one in particular, “Zwei Jenny’s?” prompting Gaby and Jenny to stifle a few giggles.
"Nein … erlauben Sie mir, meine Cousine darzustellen …Carol Peters … 'cuz … this is my boss … George Müller. He's the Director for Team Apollinaris … Carol kommt aus Warsop zu Besuch, wegen Gabis Geburtstag."
Jenny introduced Carol and explained she was visiting from Warsop for Gaby's birthday
“Willkommen … I hope you enjoy your stay,” George offered.
Jenny turned to look at the other occupants in the room. “Morgen, Eric … Frank.” Dave shook hands with both gentlemen.
“Morgen, Herr Weber … Mr. Bower.” Gaby acknowledged the two gentlemen as she approached George’s desk.
“Bitte,” George offered, as he invited everyone to sit at the large table in the office.
As they sat down, Jenny quietly explained to Carol who the two gerntlemen were and that both Gaby and her were here to sign extensions to their respective sponsorship contracts, for a third consecutive year.
Frank opened the proceedings after passing out copies of the contract extensions to all at the table.
“Eric’s had his copy for a couple of days, so I’ll give the rest of you time to read them over, then Eric and I will answer any questions you ladies or George may have.”
After some time had passed in which Gaby and Jenny read their respective contracts, Frank again spoke up.
“You can see that they’re pretty much the standard extensions you’ve signed in the past. However, I noticed a couple of raised eyebrows. Let me tell you that according to our research … the two of you have been responsible for a very noticeable increase in interest and sales for our European operations and accordingly … the bottom line on your contracts reflects that. We hope that it’s satisfactory.”
Both women enthusiastically nodded their approval.
“In addition … George has made us aware that Apollinaris now has a junior women’s team. To that end … ‘Specialized’ will equip and support the junior team just like we do the pro team.”
Frank noticed Gaby’s joyful expression and added, “Yes, Gaby … that means new bikes!”
In Eric’s presence, both Gaby and Jenny re-signed. Again, George countersigned both contracts, on behalf of the pro team and sponsor and Dave, on behalf of the Apollinaris Youth Project.
Once all the business was concluded, George addressed Gaby, as they rose to leave.
“Gabi … Alles Gute zum Geburtstag.”
“Danke, George,” Gaby replied as she went back and gave George a peck on the cheek.
As she went out the office door, Gaby took Carol by the arm and leading her down the hall to join the others she answered Carol’s inquisitive look.
“He just wished me a happy birthday.”
“I’m still finding it strange to hear your mum speaking German … but now … hearing you,” a bemused Carol confessed, much to Gaby’s amusement.
“I know what you mean. I felt the same way when I first heard Mum,” Gaby replied.
Once on the main floor of the building, Jenny and Gaby acted as tour guides, showing Carol the entire complex while Dave tagged along.
While showing the exercise room to Carol, Gaby started thinking aloud.
“Mum? … ‘member what you were saying about a junior Team Apollinaris, the other day? What’re the dates for the nationals?”
“I believe they’re being held June 13th-15th … with the actual races held on the weekend … why?”
“I was thinking … how about seeing if we can get Kristen to take a couple of days off school and fly her in? That’d give us the full team. Even though the championships would be our first real race as a team … I’ve ridden with all of them and I know we can do it,” Gaby proposed.
Now it was Jenny’s turn to beam with enthusiasm as she gave her daughter a big hug.
“Hmmm … Dave? What do you think of that?” Jenny asked turning to face Dave.
“It’ll take some co-ordination … but I think we could do it,” Dave replied.
“That’s assuming it won’t impact Kristen’s exams … after all it’ll be nearing that time for schools back home,” Jenny added.
As an afterthought, she added, “You girls will still have to do well in the other races to convince George we’ve earned the right to compete in the junior championships.”
“We will,” Gaby confidently replied.
Later that afternoon, Gaby sat down at her keyboard and decided to email Ally before they took Carol to the airport.
Apart from no Maddy, it was a great weekend. If I can find a gap in between races this summer, I may just try to go see her. This has got to be resolved between us one way or the other. I really don’t think I can take much more – I’ve got to know.
Aunt Carol came for the weekend & my birthday. It’s always a joy to see her. I just wish she was able to visit more often & I know mum feels the same.
On Friday I re-signed my ‘Specialized’ sponsorship. More money for university! That evening I had my birthday with the family and the Pinger’s, but on Saturday evening, Kat and a few friends took me out, for an evening at the Casino in Bad Neuenahr. Meat Loaf was on stage doing several songs from each of his CD’s in his ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ trilogy. All in all, it was almost a three hour show! I didn’t even know he was touring again, but I’m glad Kat did. I’ve seen him before, with Dad but tonight was unbelievable! If he has any British dates, you really have to go!
“An' send….” (click)
“Whatcha doin’ Gaby?” Carol asked as she came into her bedroom.
“Just sent Ally an email about the weekend.”
As she rose from her chair and turned to her aunt, Gaby threw her arms around Carol in a tight hug.
“Thanks for coming. It meant a lot!”
“She’ll come around dear … I just know it. Coming to the airport to see your aunt off?” Carol asked, quickly changing the subject.
“Of course!” Gaby replied, giving her another hug.
“Let’s go, then!” Carol urged.
Following Carol’s departure, the remaining weeks leading up to the National Championships passed quickly. Between training, races and their studies, both Gaby and Judith were quite busy.
Back in the Fall before the girls entered their last year at Bad Neuenahr’s Are-Gymnasium, they had met with the school administration and arrived at a timetable that would allow them maximum spares each day for training.
With Jenny’s intervention, Judith even was able to obtain an exemption from P/E like Gaby, because of her involvement with Apollinaris and cycling. Now both girls took full advantage of their forethought.
This time when Gaby rode in April’s Berlin-Bad Freienwalde-Berlin race, she took the overall win with a convincing six-second margin over the rest of the field. Despite a crash with 15km to go, Nina battled back to take fourth overall. Judith didn’t ride on account of a sprained ankle incurred in a fall during a training ride, the previous day.
Early June had seen Gaby, Judith and Nina place in the top ten in Kölns Deutsche Meisterschaften im Einzelzeitfahren, with Gaby taking the time trial championship in her class.
Of the eight road races on the 2008 BDR Junioren U19 schedule leading up to the National Championships, at least one of the girls from the Apollinaris Youth Project, had made the podium six times, with Gaby recording four wins and a second place.
As the big day approached, Jenny intensified their training. If it wasn’t suitable to go out on the roads, she had them work out at the training facility.
When she wasn’t racing with Gaby and Judith, Nina was back in Berlin with her local club. She kept a similar level of intense training to that of her teammates, as was Kristen back in England. On a couple of occasions in the last few months, Nina had even flown into Bonn to join her two friends for a weekend of training. Having her team bike at the training facility made such trips much easier.
Combined, all four girls were determined to make themselves known as a team in the championships, as much for themselves as for Jenny and Dave and in the process validate the goals of the Youth Project.
Jenny had already booked the team into the “Erhorns Gasthaus” for the championship weekend. In her words “a nice hotel only a few kilometers from the race course.”
Even Jules, who had settled back home after completing her university and now helping her dad at the Apollinaris training facility, was getting caught up in the excitement of the upcoming championships.
On the couple of occasions the pro team had returned to Bad Neuenahr during breaks in their race schedule, Jules had eagerly gone out with her mum or dad in the car, following Gaby and Judith as they rode with the pro Team on their training rides.
Both Gaby and Judith were determined to do all they could to be ready for the championships.
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To Be Continued...
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