A vial of truth serum, a time travel machine and a bit of family business…

(c) Cynthia Middleton
(c) Cynthia Middleton

Today’s prompt deals with a Truth Serum :You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?


Your mission, Estelea, should you choose to accept it. As always should any member of your IMF force be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck Estelea.”

The tape continues “you must finally bring some peace to the heart of This Gentleman. You have 2 magic powers: a truth serum and the ability to travel back in time for 3 hours”.

The picture of The Gentleman strikes me. I make a tremendous effort to hold back my tears and relax my throat. Feels so odd to see him again, and under those circumstances. My heart skips a few beats before I finally come to realize the great chance I have been given to offer this present to my belated father in law.

It is true that Henri had always been a gentleman. A happy husband and a proud father too. Maybe not the most caring and supportive father ever, but hey, how can you be a perfect father when you never knew yours? Good or bad, parents’ behavior always affect their kids. What when there is nothing but a big whole? I often caught his sad child’s looks when I was hugging my children. He once told me he would have loved to experience the love of his parents, and quickly changed the subject to his masterful adventures, “back then, when I was a sailor”.

The space machine is incredibly easy to maneuver. It hardly took me a minute to stop in this little Swiss village. Every single detail matches Henry’s descriptions: the stone house, the heavy wood door, the loud ring of the bell. When she opens the door, I recognize Henry’s mother right away. The woman he hardly met, the sinner, a mother with no husband! She is all make up and perfume, but her eyes send a different message. Her attitude says determination and arrogance. But if the eyes are the mirror of the soul, hers reflect sadness and loneliness. I know where Henri got his from.

I have been waiting for you. Please come up, and ask your questions”.

As agreed, I gave her the serum. A pure formality, she wants to talk anyway. But she insists on getting the potion so no one would question her words. I turn on the voice recorder:

So tell me the story of Henry. Who is his father? Why do you tell the neighbors he is your nephew, but can not give up on him?

Her blue eyes turn grey. She clears her throat and unfold her story. An all too human story of passion, broken dream, shame and regrets. In the darkness of her memories, there are flickering candles. The repressed love of a mother for her unique child. As her story goes, the chains that bound her heart are finally melting. No more shame, no more disguise. She is finally free to declare her love to her son.

My time with her is up. I still have 10 minutes before the time machine dissolves. Just enough to find Henry and give him the tapes. I don’t know where young Henry could be, but I know the garden where the 85 years old gentleman should be back in 2010. I can’t wait to see his smile again.


15 thoughts on “A vial of truth serum, a time travel machine and a bit of family business…

    1. Thanks so much, really means a lot to me! first because English is my second language so I usually stick to shorter posts (thanks for bearing with me!) and second because it is also the first really personal. Have a beautiful day 🙂

  1. What a wonderful take on the prompt! I wouldn’t write nearly so well in French, I’m sure; it’s been too long since I used it every day. A few minor glitches in grammar, but nothing worse than native English-speakers make every day.

    Poor Henri! I want to know more about his childhood, growing up with a mother he thought was his aunt, and no idea who his father was. How did he feel when he became a father himself? Did he always worry that he’d turn out like the father who had abandoned him? Or did he make a conscious effort to be the exact opposite?

    1. Thank you so much for the sweet compliments, you have no idea how I appreciate ☺

      Henry actually knew all along she was her mother. She had left him to a family of peasants when he was a child, and would visit him there a few times a year. Only later, when he came to visit her, he found out for her neighbors and friends, he was « a nephew ».

      Like most men of his generation, he had a hard time opening up about his painful memories. It was different with me though. Probably because I was an in law, so he felt he would not be judged. And also because I love stories, so I would always encourage him to tell me more. We really enjoyed those special conversations, and I felt very privileged to get to really know him.

      He was a good father, not the hugging kind, but a man with a sense of responsibilities and duties. I remember the day we asked him if we could name our son after him, he was so very proud. He felt acknowledged, and proud that his name would survive him. It was a very precious moment. His family was indeed essential to him. I have found memories of him posing with his children and grand children like a Patriarch, in this house he had built from scratch.
      This house was his most cherished belonging. Nice symbol, isn’t it ?

      1. Beautiful story. I wanted to know more and was glad to read this comment too 🙂

      2. THanks a lot for the kind words 🙂 this story means quite a lot to me.. Have a lovely WE!

      3. Mine too 😉 He would have adored the compliment and smiled at you in his (hyper) charming way! Because in addition he was very handsome. You made my day, I can almost see him bombing his torso and winking from Heaven 😉 Have a beautiful day!X

  2. I simply loved your post. You have a very soft and enticing writing style and the story was fascinating. I wanted to know more and more. Keep writing well and delighting us… forget the fact that you use a second language…
    I’m not a native speaker of English either, and know exactly how you feel, but I gave up a long time ago trying to be perfect – as it can be paralyzing – and keep writing. Wendy is right to say that there are many English speakers, who make as much mistakes as we can do… or sometimes even worse mistakes. 😉
    Best wishes and enjoy your life in Philippines.

    1. Thanks a million! Will keep your words very preciously as my best encouragements.Don’t know what else to say than a big thank you again, and will definitely follow your advices! Have a sweet week end 🙂

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