Playing Cards, Ch.7 - Farewell

What was I supposed to do all day when I had the most well behaved, mostbeautifulbaby boy in the entire world?

    There he was… my little boy – my James Benjamin Jeremy Stewart. He was a very quiet baby and hardly ever cried. I’d find myself just staring down at him in his cot, admiring my nearly nine month creation of perfection. Teresa had been right; he was worth the pain… Ilovedhim.

    Mum and I were temporarily staying with the McFarlows, just until James was settled – which appeared to be the second we brought him through the door.

     “He really is beautiful.” Teresa cooed beside me. She bent down and gently retrieved him from the cot, cradling and softly rocking him back and forth ever so softly in her arms. His mouth stretched in a large ‘O’, yawning. I smiled weakly to myself… he was always asleep.

    Teresa had been doing most of the things I longed to do with James like bathing him, feeding him, even humming a lullaby to him as he nodded off. I didn’t think it was fair to push me a side – I was his mother, after all…

     “Can I hold him?” I asked in a whisper. It felt so wrong for me to have to ask if I could hold my own son. It was more like I was a newsisterrather than mother. Teresa looked up at me oddly. She put him back in the cot.

     “He’s nearly asleep, Casey. Maybe later.” She gushed, getting the words out as quickly as she could. She tucked him in securely, bending down and kissing his forehead. I frowned. She was acting too much like a mother. She wasnothis mother, I was!

     “Why won’t you let me do anything formyson?” I asked calmly, looking down at his peaceful face.

     “I’m just making sure that you don’t get too attached. You’ll never want to leave him if you do.” She explained. She had a point. But the yearning I had to look after my baby would make it so much harder to leave.

     When would be the next time I saw him? He wouldn’t stay frozen as this one month old baby forever. He would grow quickly, and I would miss it.

    It was April and I would be doing my exams in the next month. Mum and I would have to go back to the house and I would have to go back to the school she’d enrolled me in, leaving little James here with the McFarlows… missing him every single day…

I pulled the duvet away from my body and slung my legs over the edge of the mattress. I sat there and listened to the cries of a baby wailing downstairs – my baby. Today Mum and I were leaving… leaving Scotland and going back home.

    It was August. I’d been in to collect my exam results; mostly Bs, two Cs and one A. Mum was proud of me and my application to attend the college back home had been accepted… we were leaving tonight.

    James was five months old now and had grown so much. Teresa had remained as the mother figure, but reassured me that I would always be Mummy and that she and Jerry would always be Aunty and Uncle. I was comfortable with that… but I had my doubts.

    I heard a light rap on the open bedroom door and looked over. Mum stood there, arms folded and an apologetic expression on her face.

     “It’s time.” She told me. I knew what she meant. I sighed, pushed myself up off the bed and walked to meet her at the door. She unfolded her arms and wrapped them around me, hugging tightly. I didn’t cry; I was saving tears for later, when I would need them. I was released from Mum’s grasp and smiled hopelessly at her. I was in no mood for smiles but I couldn’t stay droopy all day.

    Downstairs, Jerry had James on his lap, pulling silly faces and making him laugh. James’ laugh would normally set me off too. It was so innocent, so happy. Teresa was in the kitchen preparing a bottle of baby formula. I’d never breastfed James and it was a part of motherhood I hadn’t regretted not experiencing.

     “We’re ready,” Mum announced. Jerry looked up from James and turned his attention to the pair of us. Teresa appeared by the kitchen door. Neither one of them was smiling. Their emotions were both set to sympathetic. I starred longingly at James, “is there anything you want to say before we leave, Casey?” I nodded and walked over towards James.

     I reached down to retrieve him from Jerry’s arms, who obeyed. I lifted James up and held him at my hip. A perfect fit. It felt natural holding my son this way, almost as if I was destined to be a mother, to hold him in my arms.

    He looked just like Ben… his father… but he had my dark hair and blue-grey eyes. He clung onto my hair with his chubby fingers and pulled. It hurt, but his infectious laugh dissolved the pain and replaced it with a wobbly smile on my face.

    My lips trembled as transparent tear drops fell in masses down my face. I held him closer to me, his sweet smell filling my nostrils and his tufty hair tickling my cheek. I wept as I held onto my boy, never wanting to let go. I had to though. I had to live my life and get my exam grades at college. I would see him again soon… I wouldn’t be abandoning him… we would be together – as a proper family – soon.

    I kissed him on his forehead and watched his curious eyes darting around my own face. He hadn’t spent this much time with me before… I was almost a stranger to him.

     “I love you,” I whispered through my sobs, “I will come back for you and I will be the best Mum I can possibly be because you’re my baby… my love, my life… you’re everything to me.

     “I would risk my own life for you… I wish you could say you loved me too, just to put my mind at ease. I love you so,somuch…” Mum placed her hand on my shoulder, a way to tell me it was time to go. I sniffled and walked over to Teresa. She had tears brimming in her eyes, “Look after him. Tell him I love him so much and that he will always be in my heart.” She nodded and reached out for James, taking him out of my arms.

    His face crumpled and his eyes leaked tears. His wails filled my aching heart. I turned away and quickly made my exit, Mum close by me.

    James’ screams became louder, more possessive, more demanding. I wanted to turn around and take one last look at him but I knew that if I did I wouldn’t be able to go. So, I continued walking, my heart breaking more and more each step I took.

    I knew that he loved me and didn’t want me to leave, just as much as I didn’t want to leave him…

The End

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