Friday, 4 January 2019

Absolutely

by Roger Noons

a pre-warmed pot of tea


‘… so everything’s finally sorted. My solicitor talked me through it all this morning. It’s absolute, the cottage is mine and I’ll get a cheque for twenty thousand pounds.’
    ‘You’re happy then?’
    ‘Very darling, it’s better than I’d ever dreamed of. He’s out of my life and I’m comfortably off. No worries and if the books continue to sell, I’ll be able to help you.’    
    ‘You don’t need to worry about me … us, Ian’s business is successful. We’re just fine.’
    ‘Good.’
    ‘Any plans?’
    ‘I think I’ll take a holiday, Rome or Paris perhaps. Why don’t you come with me?’
    ‘Oh, Mum, I wish I could.’
    ‘Why can’t you? It would do you good, Lucy.’
    ‘I … I suppose I could. How long are you thinking of?’
    ‘Can Ian manage without you for a week?’
    ‘I don’t see why not, I’ll ask him tonight.’
    ‘Right, let’s have some tea.’
    ‘Can I ask you something?’
    ‘Of course, what is it?’
    ‘Why did you marry Dad? From what you said, you were never really happy. He’d disappear for weeks and come back and offer no explanation.’
    ‘Did he never say anything to you?’
    ‘I’ve not seen much of him since I went away to Uni. Whenever we met, he was distant. I suppose he always thought I was on your side.’ When her mother said nothing Lucy prompted her.
    ‘Life was very different in those days.’
    ‘You must have loved him, at the beginning?’
    Wendy shrugged. ‘I probably thought I did, but mainly it was to get away from home. I couldn’t get a half decent job, my father regularly commented on the fact, and …’ her cheeks reddened. ‘I wanted sex, that wasn’t either up an entry or across a memorial in the churchyard.’
    Lucy’s lips parted. She shook her head.
    Her mother stared. ‘Don’t look so shocked, I told you, it was different in those days.’ 
    ‘And you had me. Was I planned?’
    Wendy looked away, the flush spread along her throat, across her chest. ‘Yes, I planned you.’
    ‘What do you mean?’
    ‘When we first married, I was on the pill. We made love nearly every night, but it got less often as the months passed, so I stopped taking it … didn’t tell anybody. Threw the strips away, still regularly went to the Family Planning Clinic and got supplies.’
    ‘What did you tell Dad, when you became pregnant?’
    ‘Said I must have forgotten one night, told him I was sorry.’
    ‘He accepted that?’
    ‘Didn’t have much choice, did he? You couldn’t get an abortion in those days unless there was a very good reason. Besides … I wanted a baby. I think I realised that it wouldn’t happen any other way.’
    ‘He didn’t want me then?’
    ‘Oh, when you were born, he thought you were wonderful, in fact Lucy was his decision. He shot off and registered you while I was still in hospital.’
    ‘I never felt he loved me as much as you obviously do.’
    There was silence as each woman had her own thoughts. Eventually, Wendy stood up. ‘I’ll make the tea.’ As she reached the doorway, she paused. ‘I made the mistake one evening during an argument of telling him what I’d done. That was when it all started to unravel. He blamed me but still cared for you. He acted cool towards you to hurt me. You never did anything wrong. He’s always loved you.’
    ’A pity he didn’t show it, or tell me,’ Lucy said, but her mother had left the room. 

About the author

Roger is a regular contributor to Café Lit.

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