"How the fuck do these things work?" Granddad asked, trying to make my laptop do what he wanted. Danny joined him on the sofa and attempted to help him. The kid’s good with laptops, but I think granddad is probably beyond help when it comes to technology. I glanced over at Hadley and saw him trying not to laugh.
“What’re you trying to do anyway?” I asked him, wondering why he wanted my laptop in the first place.
“Trying to find some good porn,” he rolled his eyes.
"What's porn?" Danny asked, his innocent eyes all wide. Hadley stared, looking a little shocked.
“Nothing you need to know about til you're older," he said.
"Okay,” Danny replied, his face still all innocent. I held back a laugh, but granddad wasn’t bothering.
“I’m looking for somewhere nice to live, dumbass,” he said between giggles.
"Are you our granddad?" Lily’s voice preceded her into the room and granddad looked around at her, smiling.
“Nope. I’m older than that, kiddo,” he chuckled, “I’m your Daddy’s granddad, so I’m your great-granddad.”
"Oh. You're really old. Do your wrinkles hurt?" she asked. I had to resist the urge to laugh again. He shook his head and prodded them around a bit for her amusement. Or to freak her out. I couldn’t tell. She stared. "Can I touch one?" he nodded and she touched one, giggling at the feel of it. Hadley had his eyebrow arched a little, and looked a little weirded out by the whole thing.
He smiled, "You wanna prod the old man too, Danny?" Danny shook his head, staring. Granddad ruffled his hair, earning himself a small smile.
"How comes you’re so old?” Lily asked.
“Because I refuse to die. Being alive is too much fun.” You mean embarrassing me is too much fun.
"Is Daddy old?" she questioned.
“No,” I cut in before granddad could say anything he’d regret.
"You're older than Papa, though," she pointed out.
"Are you saying I'm old too?"
"No, you're young.”
“Then how am I old? I’m only a few years older than Papa,” I pouted.
She looked like she was thinking about something for a moment, before deciding: "You're fifty."
“I think I’m going to cry,” I muttered.
"Why?" Lily asked innocently.
"Fifty's not that old,” Danny said in that quiet voice of his.
“I’m nowhere near fifty. I’m twenty nine.”
"So how old's Papa?" Lily enquired.
"I'm twenty three."
"See? That's not old.” I didn’t say anything. I was too busy sulking.
"I don't think you're old," Danny told me. I smiled and kissed the top of his head. He looked all happy at that, and I gotta admit, it made me feel good, knowing I could make him happy.
"C'mon, you two, leave gramps to his porn," Hadley said.
"What's porn?" Lily asked, earning a sigh from Hadley.
Mum was holding a piece of paper with our address written on it when I found her on my way back from the shop. She looked all lost and upset, and was wandering around almost aimlessly.
“Mum?” I asked, pulling over and tolling the window down. She turned, a little startled and looked like she was about to faint with relief.
“Max. I’m so glad you found me. I’ve been looking for your house for the last couple of hours, but I got lost and I have no idea where I am and...” she trailed off, covering her mouth with a shakey hand. “Sorry,” she mumbled, sounding and looking a lot like she was about to cry. I reached over to open the passenger door.
“Get in. I’ll give you a lift.”
The ride home was quiet except for her sniffing occasionally. I forgot how uptight and emotionless English people can be sometimes. I let her in, juggling opening the door for her and attempting to hold all the shopping.
"What's happened?" Hadley asked as she shuffled in, not doing such a brilliant job of not letting her emotions show.
“I left Peter,” she sniffled.
"What? Seriously?" She nodded and he offered her a hug, which she took, letting him steer her into the living room. Granddad looked quietly triumphant at the news, while I just put away the shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’ll finally have no excuse to show up, but then that means she’ll be around more because the only thing stopping her now will be me. Hadley asked me to make her a cup of tea while I was in the kitchen and I agreed mainly for the excuse to stay away from all the drama for a few more minutes.
Hadley tried to calm her down and find out what happened, but mum wasn’t really having any of it. She didn’t wanna talk about it. All I really heard between her sobs was that she didn’t want to be alone and needed somewhere to stay. Hadley, there is no way this woman is staying in our house. Even if we had somewhere to put her, she wouldn’t be staying. He told her she would’ve been welcome to stay with us if we’d had the room, and I think I died a little on the inside. Haven’t you learnt yet, Hadley? I like my mum nearly as much as you like Cayden. Thankfully, he suggested she stay at Momma Smith’s place because there was more room there.
“Would they mind? I don’t want to impose on them,” she sniffled.
"Of course they won't mind," Hadley smiled.
“Could you ask them for me, dear? I can’t just turn up and ask them to give me a room,” she laughed weakly.
“Sure,” he smiled and wandered off to call Momma Smith. "She says it's fine and that you didn't need to ask." Mum smiled slightly at the news.
"We have ice cream in the freezer if that'll help?" Hadley chuckled and mum gave another tiny laugh.
“No, thank you.”
"Can we have ice cream?" the kids asked, doing their best innocent-we-deserve-ice-cream-please-can-we-have-it-now faces.
"After dinner,” Hadley said. I was casually busying myself with other things, like cleaning the kitchen, reorganising the cupboards, making dinner, cleaning some more. Y’know. Just to avoid having to deal with my mum. Hadley was apparently a little upset by this, but I could’ve been really heartless and just driven past her when I found her.
Apparently this wasn’t good enough for Hadley. He left me and my mum alone after dinner, using giving the kids a bath as an excuse to abandon me. He was deliberately taking a long time, trying to get us to talk to each other. Mostly, we just sat there in silence. An awkward silence at that.
"The kids want you to read them a story, if that's okay?" Hadley said to mum when he came back downstairs. She nodded, and went upstairs to their room to read them their story. "At least try and talk to her, Maxxie," he said once she was gone.
“I did try. It was awkward and we sat in silence.”
"Doesn't sound like you tried very hard, then.”
I sighed, “Hadley, we just don’t talk about stuff. Apart from the fact that she was hardly in my life, like ever, we’re too English for this,” I laughed a little, “it sounds stupid, but English people just don’t talk about their feelings.” It might be a stereotype, but this one... well, it’s pretty accurate, to be honest. At least, no one I’ve ever met have ever wanted to talk about their feelings.
"You don't?" he arched an eyebrow. I shook my head. “Weird.”
“It might be weird to you, Bunny boy, but talking about feelings is something that’s alien to both me and my mum.” I’ve practically been converted compared to my mum, given that I’ve lived here for nearly ten years now, and actually cry in front of people these days.
"That's not healthy,” he laughed a little. "That's what causes heart attacks."
“I think the idea of talking to someone about their feelings would give an English person a heart attack,” I said, smiling slightly.
He shook his head, "You people are strange."
“Then at least I’m a little less strange now I’m used to the idea of talking about stuff? Emphasis on ‘used to the idea’. Not ‘comfortable with’.”
"How are you gonna cope when the kids want to talk about feelings?" he tutted.
“I won’t. I’m taking the sex talk, and you’re taking Santa, the Easter Bunny and feelings, ‘kay?”
"And when either of them want to talk about girls? I think that near enough comes under sex."
“...We can take that one together.”
"Oh can we now?" I nodded. "And when did we decide that?" he smirked a little.
“When the thought of me talking about their feelings about whoever they wanna fuck came into it.”
"I'm sure you've dealt with feelings about someone you want to fuck," he laughed.
“Yeah. On my own. I never went and talked to anyone about it. And the only person I fucked and talked to about my feelings on them was you... And that was in the form of me proposing to you.”
He smiled, "Well I'm glad you did."
“Me too,” I hummed, planting a firm kiss on his lips.