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A mother’s bond

January, 1991 was a very creative, emotional time for me and readers will, hopefully, understand how my lonely existence reflected itself in some of my stories, particularly the following, influenced by Sarah’s situation in “Christmas Solos”:

A mother’s bond

Copyright J. S. Raynor January, 1991, 2016

 

The moment I had been dreading for the last two months, finally arrived.  Mike, my ex‑husband, arrived at ten‑thirty. We had been divorced for three years and I still felt very bitter about the way he had just walked out on me.  I had never realised there was anything wrong with our marriage. I suppose his mistress attracted him because she was so much younger and better-looking than me. She hadn’t yet experienced the dulling effect of domesticity and bringing up a family.  I felt certain that she would soon tire of him once the initial passion had been replaced by familiarity and insensitivity. Might he do the same again if she became pregnant?

Anyway, there he was, standing at the door. He was smartly dressed and his new wife, Shirley, was sitting in their Vauxhall Carlton, waiting for him to return with the only thing I cared for. I still could not understand why the courts had allowed him occasional rights of access to our only daughter, Angela. How could a six‑year old child understand why her daddy lived with another woman and was able to take her away from me every so often? Typical of men ‑ what do they know about that special bond between mother and child? A few minutes of pleasure between the sheets and their job is done. Mike was certainly not a ‘new man’ and had never been there when I needed his support.

He smiled, triumphantly.  I felt certain that he was gloating because he was taking away my little treasure. His smile revealed teeth which were yellowing and in obvious need of attention. I also noticed, with a certain degree of satisfaction that there were many more grey hairs visible, both on the top and sides of his head. “Is my little girl ready?” he asked, knowing damn well that she would be.  I’m certain that he emphasised ‘my’ just to make me feel the anguish even more.

I gave Angela a last hug and kiss and told her to enjoy herself. How I managed to stop myself bursting into tears, I’ll never know, but I had to retain my composure to avoid upsetting her. It was only after I had waved her goodbye and seen the car disappear into the distance that I could release my true feelings. I’ve never cried as much in my life as I did over the next few days. My eyes stung from the relentless pouring of tears and I’m certain I must have looked a terrible mess with my blood‑red eyes.

Some friends had invited me to go out to the pub with them, but I could not. I knew that I would be awful company and did not want to spoil their evening. No, I just wanted to be on my own and try to bury myself in housework.

The house seemed so quiet and peaceful, but it was an unwelcome change. Never again would I complain about the noise a six‑year old girl could make. What I would have given just to hear her bright, inquisitive voice. The long, empty evenings were the worst times to endure.  I would imagine I could hear her crying and rush to her bedroom ready to calm her after a bad dream. Of course, it would only be my imagination playing tricks on me. I would stare at the empty bed and the floodgates would open yet again, letting the tears stream down my face and drip onto my nightdress. I would pick up her favourite teddy which she had offered to leave with me for company and lie in my bed, clutching it close to me as though it was Angela herself.

When I was ironing, I would tell myself that Mike’s wife could not iron as well as me. I had always taken special pride in my ironing and his shirts had always looked immaculate when I had been responsible for his laundry. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that his shirt looked creased and collars not as sharp as I could make them. What had he seen in this other woman? What did she have that I did not? I partly blamed myself for only managing to keep him for five years.

I kept wondering if I still loved him. No way! How could I think of loving a man who had abandoned Angela and me in the way he had? When Mike had been involved in a car accident two years ago, I had actually wished that he would die.  Death would have been a just reward for everything he had done to the two of us. I never thought I could wish that anybody should die, but I really did for Mike. God! Suppose he had an accident while Angela was with him? Oh, please, God, please don’t let any harm come to my little girl!

Mike never was what could be called a careful driver. I slept very badly for those few days which seemed to last an eternity. The vision of Angela walking towards Mike’s car holding his hand and turning to face me to wave goodbye constantly haunted me. I remember seeing her lips quiver as she, too, felt the anguish of separation.

As the time drew nearer for her return, I did not improve as one might expect. I began to wonder if she was having such a good time that she would not want to come back. With his money, he could afford to buy her things I could never manage on my measly income. She would be getting lots of attention and going to all sorts of interesting places. How could I ever compete with that? I’m sorry, Angela, for ever shouting at you when you would not go to bed ‑ I really do love you, baby.

At last, after six of the most miserable days of my life, the time came for her return. Four o’clock, he’d said. Why did the time pass so slowly? They are late.

What time is it? Ten past four ‑ where can they be? Please, please don’t have an accident. Is that them now? No, the car is continuing past my house. I cursed every car which drove past my house that day.

After what seemed like hours, yet, in reality, was only twenty minutes late, Mike’s car pulled up outside.

I was shaking with apprehension as I opened my door and waited for Angela to come home.

“Mummy, mummy!” she shouted excitedly as she ran down the drive towards me. She flung her arms around me and clung close. “I love you, mummy.  Please don’t let them take me again!” she cried as she hung onto me.

“No, darling. I won’t. You’re back with me, now.”

I gave Mike an inquisitive look. He seemed relieved to have Angela back in my care. “You win. We’ve had an awful time with her ‑ she’s made Shirley’s life hell for the last few days. Shirley doesn’t want her back again.” He almost looked apologetic.

I could not speak to him. I picked my baby up and kissed her warmly. Closing the door, I said, “Come on, darling. Let’s go and say ‘Hello’ to teddy.”

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