Rebecca – December 1985
The adults were trying to make Christmas as enjoyable as possible for the younger inmates of the Pimlico House. Tyrone and Reuben’s emotions seesawed between high excitement and withdrawn misery. The tree was decorated with lots of favourite things to eat and the grown-ups were secretive about surprises.
But after Christmas their father was departing for the States. The boys were fearful that he would disappear from their lives again as he had done once before. Dylan had promised that he would stay in touch with his boys but he wasn’t under much illusion that Rebecca would allow his sons to visit in the States. Nor did he expect that she would allow him access to them for a week or more if he were to return to the UK to take them with him on holiday there.
Christmas Eve was too exciting for the children to be gloomy, consequently bedtime was a protracted affair trying to get them to settle down and go to sleep. With this objective finally achieved Rebecca joined Suzanne in the arrangement of arms full of packages under the tree. Sitting back on her heels to review the effect Rebecca’s eye was drawn away from the multitude of brightly hued and beribboned parcels to the large plain brown parcel which had come for her from Dylan. It sat there almost like an accusation making her feel guilty every time she saw it.
During the week Dylan had delivered presents for his children being careful to arrive when Jack alone would be at the house. The two men had greeted each other cordially Jack offering to make coffees. Dylan had declined; the whole experience was making him feel dejected.
On Christmas morning, very early, signs of activity could be heard quite clearly in Rebecca’s room, the floor below the boys’ Eyrie. The padding of bare feet and the stage whispering indicating that Santa’s gifts were being harvested. She smiled to herself as she strained to hear what was being said. She could detect no words just the sound of happy excited voices.
With hopes that they would stay put upstairs for another hour or so Rebecca drifted back to sleep. The peace and quiet didn’t last for long. Unable to contain their excitement any longer two little faces appeared at her bedroom door. Jostling for position and hushing each other loudly the boys waited for a second to see if there were any signs of life from their mother. Unable to pretend to sleep any further Rebecca’s face twitched into a smile. The next half an hour was spent in rapt admiration of all the exciting goodies that Father Christmas had mysteriously delivered in the night as Ty and Roo bounced all over her and the bed making enough noise to raise the dead.
Mercifully Suzanne’s head poked around the door with an invitation not to be missed:
‘Bucks fizz and coffee’s ready; and breakfast not far behind!’ She grinned at the bedlam in Rebecca’s room, ‘Come and show Auntie Annie what Santa brought for you?’ she invited. Calm restored Rebecca momentarily enjoyed the quiet as she surveyed the wreckage that was her bedroom. She could hear in the distance the shrill voices of her sons exclaiming anew their enthusiasm and gratification. Rebecca grinned and quickly pulled on jeans and a jumper. She didn’t want to miss any of the fun.
The adults had decreed that presents would be opened at staged intervals during the day a system that worked well, the sessions interspersed by eating and drinking (adults) playing with newly opened toys and eating sweets (children). A large parcel each for the boys revealed skateboards necessitating a trip to the nearby Warwick Gardens to try them out. A short walk and some fresh air proved to be restorative to all. Watching the boys scoot their new skateboards around the gardens Rebecca and Suzanne were both reminded of past occasions when they had been here prompting happy reminiscences and thoughts of absent friends.
‘Phone calls after lunch?’ suggested Suzanne.
‘Yes I think so.’ Rebecca agreed, ‘We must call Dylan too to thank him for these…’ She gesticulated at the boys obviously enjoying their new gifts.
‘P’raps you should open the picture first?’ Suzanne recommended, ‘Kill two birds with one stone, sort of thing.’
‘Mm!’ Rebecca hedged; she was putting off the moment.
Suzanne had taken the role of Head Chef with Rebecca and Jack Sous-chef and Wine Waiter respectively. The combined efforts produced a delicious though belated Christmas lunch. It was two thirty by the time they all sat down to eat Turkey with all the usual trimmings followed by Christmas pudding and, breaking with tradition, ice cream. Lunch was interrupted to watch the Queen’s speech on TV at Jack’s behest providing a moment’s respite from the culinary assault.
It was after six when the table had been cleared and washing-up performed that the last round of present opening began. Unable to delay the moment any longer Rebecca tore the paper off her parcel from Dylan. It bore no name or salutation. The last tear of paper revealed a framed black and white photograph. A close up of Tyrone and Reuben their faces alight with enjoyment. She inspected the photograph through tear-blurred eyes.
Dylan had caught an instant when Ty’s expression of wicked delight made him look just like his father; Reuben’s quizzical grin showed his unmistakable likeness to his mother. It was an extraordinary photograph that she would always treasure, but more than that she could tell that Dylan had picked this photograph with care. It underlined their duel parenthood of both their sons.
Rebecca left the room quietly and sped up to her bedroom. She had a long overdue call to make. The phone rang and rang in the stillness of Dylan’s house before clicking into answer phone. Rebecca, not prepared for this eventuality, left a jumbled message full of hope and promise.
‘Please forgive me Dylan; I’ve been stupid and pig-headed. The boys love you and they don’t want you to leave. Please don’t leave us we all love you.’ Her voice wobbled, she was so full of emotion. ‘I love you.’
Sadly for them all Dylan was already at Heathrow awaiting his flight to the States. The answer phone sat blinking silently in the emptied hallway of Dylan’s shuttered house.
End Book 2
To be continued in Book 3 – Westbourne Grove
Rebecca – December 1985