Brad’s Eye View

Brad Willis muses upon his life and relationships

Always my fault, apparently. Brad Willis, father of five, a failure at relationships, a failure in my career. Well, that’s the way that Terese has written the story anyway. I admit, I haven’t always done things the right way. I haven’t always done the right things, even. But I’m not a totally bad person. Terese would have you believe that I’m a philanderer, but seriously? I’ve been faithful to her up until now, for twenty years. It was probably a mistake to come back to Erinsborough in one sense. That was down to Terese being offered the manager’s job at Lassiters of course. But how can I regret coming back when it’s led to knowing about Paige? I can’t wish that had never happened.

Lauren and me, we go back a long way. I loved her, but I was a bit mixed up at the time.I felt torn between Lauren and Beth. I probably shouldn’t have married Beth, as we weren’t really suited. We found that out pretty early in our marriage. That’s where Terese came in. I loved her enthusiasm and the way that she’d come from a pretty poor background and worked her way up. She was strong, feisty and ambitious. Before we knew it, the twins were on the way, and I had to think about what I wanted to do to earn money for my family, plus I’d already got Ned to provide for. That was when I fell into teaching. It was steady, as Terese often said. I think she saw me being a school head one day, rather than just your average PE teacher. And now what am I? A whiteboard wiper!

When we realised Josh was so talented at swimming, we wanted to put our hearts into helping him every step of the way. He was so keen, and so focused. A bit like his mum, in that respect. Terese was enjoying her rôle at Lassiters and it seemed sensible for me to give up my job and coach Josh full time. That’s what was happening when we came back to Ramsay Street. The place had changed a bit, but there was Lauren, with her blonde hair and her familiar smile, and it was like stepping back in time. I knew Terese felt awkward about mine and Lauren’s past, and so did Matt. I admit when I first met Matt, I was surprised that Lauren had married someone like him. He saw everything in black and white; everything was right or wrong. Which is why he was a cop, I suppose.

You could see that Lauren had always been a loving mum and that she’d been quite content, but from the beginning, I felt that there was something she wanted to say to me, something she wasn’t quite telling me. We kept having those ‘moments’ when she was about to open up but then a customer would come into the Harold’s or Terese would appear from behind a tree, as if she was waiting for me to slip up. When the bombshell hit, that I was the father of Lauren’s first child, and that the baby had been adopted out, well, it was such a shock. Why Lauren never told me about the baby I don’t know. Things might have turned out differently. But I’m not saying I regret having Ned, or the twins and Piper, not at all.

Terese was weird about us searching for Paige, and Matt wasn’t happy either. But we needed to do this. Our daughter had been stolen from us, and underhandedly at that. Lauren would never have willingly given up her baby, no matter if I was around or not. She thought at one time that she couldn’t have children. That was partly my fault too, but let’s not go there. Matt came to accept things because he loved Lauren. It was hard on everyone but I tried to be there for Terese and take her feelings on board too. Lauren and I were about to give up searching for Paige, when that kiss happened. I felt guilty and so did she, but it was just an emotional moment and we got carried away.

When the truth about the kiss came out, all hell broke loose. Terese never trusted me again after that. I wondered if she ever had done, the way she reacted. Matt nearly lost his temper, but to be fair to him, he did calm down eventually. If they hadn’t had all that financial mess, he’d never have gone off to Sharon Canning’s room. And then if I hadn’t gone after him to have it out, we’d never have been in the road having an argument, would we. I owe the guy my life. Look after Lauren, he said, as he lay there. Yea, I know, he didn’t mean like that, but then again, in his heart of hearts, Matt knew that Lauren had always loved me and she’d never quite let go. So maybe he did mean it like that.

Bonding with Paige has been such a wonderful thing for me and Lauren. Who could deny us that chance? Paige is artistic like her mum, and she encouraged Lauren to start drawing again. And that sketch of me, I’d no idea that Lauren had kept it all those years.  Being creative is something Lauren and I always had in common. Following our dreams, not just being career-minded. That’s something Terese could never understand. She either just mocked me, or wanted to take over everything I was into. I feel like my dreams have been crushed slowly over the years. She was always reminding me of how much she’d achieved and pointing out how much I hadn’t.

She’s blaming her drinking on me. She says I wouldn’t listen when she wanted to chat about our marriage. I did nothing but listen, but all she ever did was shout at me. And she did even more of that once she started knocking back wine as soon as she got home from work. She says I didn’t give her enough support over Ezra, but she wouldn’t talk about it so how could I? She says I didn’t understand how devastated she was over Nick’s behaviour, but she just refused to see what he was really like, for years. Every time he spoke to me, it was to put me down, and she never backed me up. Not once. Well I don’t mind saying I’m glad he got put away. I’m sorry for what he did to Paul, even though Paul’s not my favourite person. He’s interfered in our marriage more than once, and that’s hypocritical, given that he’s been married five times already.

Well, I’ve got to work out what’s for the best now, I guess. I will always care about Terese, but she has made herself unlovable lately. I’m starting to find out what Lauren’s really thinking. She’s already said she had feelings for me from day one, rekindled feelings. What do I feel? I suppose I let my feelings get rekindled too. We were pretty young when we were first together. Bad timing, Lauren always says, that’s what we’ve had. I think if we’re meant to be together, it will happen at some point. She wants me to move in with her. I know it’s a bit soon but we’ve already crossed the line and I’m not sure there’s a way back now. And I’m not sure either of us want a way back. Maybe the timing could finally be right.

© Carol Ann Wood
October 2015

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