Penny – September 1978
To Dylan’s credit he didn’t go straight to Francesca and his old life. He went instead to Charles. Penny was excited to hear of her friend’s new arrival and begged Dylan for details. She was concerned that he had left her so soon after the baby had been born and at first was reassured to hear that Rebecca’s mother was with her. Penny was ever sensitive to nuance and soon detected that all was not well with this arrangement and with Dylan’s handling of the birth. She spent some time chatting with him and managed to calm him down considerably by the time Charles arrived home.
Charles was surprised to see Dylan and slightly apprehensive. He knew his old friend’s tendencies and had wondered for some time how Dylan would cope with both the competition for Rebecca’s attention and the responsibility that the child would bring. In the past Dylan had always reacted with jealousy when he was denied the full attention of his object. He was also notoriously averse to taking responsibilities. Charles was once again gripped with anxiety about the role that he had played.
Dylan meanwhile was cursing himself for having thought that Charles would provide any succour. Instead of course he was flung into the everyday life of his friend’s family, which included two demanding children. It was much later in the evening by the time Dylan was able to claim any of his friend’s attention. In some ways his reception by Charles exacerbated the problem. Once again Dylan felt excluded and marginalised.
Later that evening when the children were in bed Charles talked with Dylan as he cooked the evening meal. Dylan drank a couple of beers and spilled out his troubles to his childhood friend. Charles was able to empathise; he too had felt neglected for a short while after each of his children had been born.
‘I think it’s a natural bonding process with mothers and babies’ he attempted to explain his theory to Dylan, ‘Penny could only think about Simon for weeks. I may as well not have existed.’ Penny heard her husband’s words as she entered the kitchen after story reading and good night cuddles.
‘Not weeks surely, Charles’ she smiled remembering the overwhelming maternal feeling, ‘maybe a few days.’ She poured Dylan and Charles another glass of beer and helped herself to some wine. Sitting down at the kitchen table with Dylan she smiled sweetly at him. ‘It is a bit all consuming when they first arrive. Becca will soon get back to normal though. I’m sure she’ll be worried about where you are.’ She feigned idle curiosity, ‘Have you called?’ she asked.
‘Yes’ Dylan lied, ‘Er she sent her love.’ Dylan knew that they knew that he had lied. For the rest of the evening Dylan sought comfort by means of distraction. Charles easily slipped into the old game of reminiscences. By the end of the evening all the tales of their early escapades had been reiterated and all three were laughing merrily.
Dylan, fortified by the evening’s entertainment, made his way back to the flat the following morning with good intentions to be patient with Rebecca and try to bond with the baby himself. He was met by a scolding from Rebecca’s mother, demanding to know where he had been. Before he had time to respond she had marched out of the room carrying his son. Rebecca had gone down to the shop. Dylan was furious; he turned on his heels and stalked out of the flat with a face like thunder.
Penny had intended to call Rebecca as soon as Dylan had left so that she was aware of what had transpired. Unfortunately she had to make an unexpectedly to visit an elderly parishioner. By the time Penny returned to the Rectory and put in the call to Rebecca the damage had already been done.
Penny – September 1978