Rebecca – September 1982
Caitlin and Rebecca talked long into the night. Caitlin spilled out the story of her marriage to Mario. How much she loved him yet how disappointing and unfulfilling was their marital life. She was truly distraught by the way that she had left him and was worried about his reaction and the effect that the whole trauma may have on Charlotte. Rebecca listened and comforted; she in her turn felt traumatised on behalf of her friend.
There were echoes of the pain of rejection that she had felt when Dylan had left her with a small child and a baby on the way. She had to examine her feelings for Dylan who she had long since thrust out of her mind. Caitlin was so devastated that she had left her good kind husband that she hardly considered the choices that he had made to absent himself as a husband and father and follow his homosexual instincts. The one thing with which she wholehearted agreed with Caitlin was that the whole sorry story was a major fuck up.
Rebecca persuaded Caitlin to stay over. It was already almost 3.00 in the morning. The guest room was set up with all Suzanne’s things so a bath and crawl into bed was easy to accomplish for the exhausted Caitlin. Rebecca checked on the children; her two boys sprawled across their beds as normal. Their new friend Charlotte in the guest bed under the eaves of the boy’s eyrie had barely moved since she had been tucked in by her mama and ‘Auntie Becca’. For once Ziggy had deserted his Master in favour of comforting his new little charge. He lay curled up next to Charlie’s side purring rhythmically. Rebecca smiled fondly as she withdrew quietly from the room.
It took longer for Rebecca to fall asleep despite the late hour. Caitlin’s account of her marriage and all the mixed feelings that she had experienced had a profound effect on Rebecca. Not only was she upset and worried about her friend the whole evening had thrown up comparatives of her own love and loss. She was painfully aware of things that she had buried for a long time.
Her love affair with Dylan, his betrayal of her trust, their subsequent reconciliation and marriage, his rejection of Tyrone and final departure all ran through her mind. Dylan didn’t even know that he had a second son Reuben who was the spitting image of his father. She finally fell asleep wondering why? Why had she and Caitlin had such bad luck in their choices of men?
Rebecca woke late with a start. She reached for her watch and seeing that it was almost 10.00 jumped out of bed panicking about being late to open the shop. Gradually the events of the night before intruded into her mind and then the realisation that it was a Sunday. She could hear movements in the house so quickly pulled on a tee and jeans to go and check that all was well. She emerged from her bedroom directly into a wild-west encampment. Her sons, cantering on imaginary horses, whooping bloodthirstily, were surrounding Charlie who was tied to a ‘stake’ in the middle of the room sporting a headband and feather giggling happily.
Rebecca sauntered through the melee with smiled hellos and headed for the kitchen as though nothing out of the ordinary was happening. Here she was greeted by Caitlin seated at the table clutching a mug of coffee talking companionably with Jack as he produced his only culinary achievement. Bacon and eggs, delicious! Seeing Rebecca arrive he poured another mug of coffee and revisited the fridge for replenishments. The girls were both silently grateful for the hot strong coffee and the comforting smells emanating from the frying pan.
As though by osmosis, the plan for rest of the day emerged. Rebecca and Caitlin packed up a picnic and took the children the short walk to Warwick Gardens where they had once gone all four friends together, the weekend of Ty’s Christening before their lives were cast asunder. Comprising all the things their children were not usually allowed to eat the picnic was a huge success. After which the wild-west adventures continued virtually unabated apart from Charlie now being a cowgirl rather than an Indian squaw. Jack had declined to accompany them saying that his old joints were too stiff for sitting on the grass. He preferred a quiet read and a short nap in his study.
Watching their offspring playing together comforted Caitlin and Rebecca. They exchanged smiles of genuine pleasure. The children happily engaged Rebecca raised the subject of the last evening’s debate.
Have you decided what you’re going to do Caiti?’
‘Yes, I think I have’ Caitlin hesitated and then said in a rush, ‘I’m going to stay here in London with Charlie. I’ll get a divorce from Mario but he can come and see us here in London when he wants to. It’s not fair for him that he should lose his daughter for no real fault of his own; just misfortune really.’
‘Do you think he will accept those terms?’ Rebecca asked,
‘I don’t think he will have any choice’ said Caitlin with a sigh, ‘my father will push everything through. He’s a powerful figure in New York.’
‘Is it what you want though?’ Rebecca persisted.
‘No. But I don’t have the luxury of choice either. To stay with me would be living a lie for Mario, which would not be good for any of us. We must all make the best of it.’
Caitlin’s fears for her daughter’s happiness were somewhat abated that evening once Rebecca had dropped them back to Pelham Crescent. While Charlie was drinking a glass of milk and eating a piece of cheese on toast she announced casually to her mother,
‘Not everyone has a daddy y’know. Tyro and Ben don’t have one. Don’t I have a daddy anymore?’ she looked under her lashes at her mother as she asked. Caitlin nonplussed by the question was quick to answer,
‘You still have a daddy darling but we might not see him as often as we used to.’
Charlotte seemed unconcerned by the answer and had soon reverted to her customary diversionary tactics around bedtime.
Once persuaded up to bed, bathed and tucked in she chose her favourite bedtime story about Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. Just as Caitlin thought she was asleep she opened her eyes wide to elicit a promise from her mother to go shopping on the morrow for her new bedroom. Moments later Caitlin kissed her sleeping child goodnight marvelling at the resilience of the young.
Rebecca – September 1982