Time dragged, the second hand practically frozen to one spot. All day, my only thought had been waiting… patience… longing for time to speed up, with failure.
My foot tapped irritably against the cheap laminate floorboards in our living room, with my eyes glued to the clock in front of me on the mantelpiece.
Twenty-seven minutes past five. They would be here soon… if they kept to their word that was. Mum had been telling me all afternoon not to keep watching the clock.
“They’ll be here,”she’d reassured me over and over again,“there’s no need to worry.”I had a lot to worry about. It had been two months since I’d left, grieving over not being able to see my baby. I’d been a wreck. How I thought I’d be able to do this seemed crazy to me now. I hadn’t realised just how much I wouldlovehim…
Twenty-two minutes to six. They said they’d be here for half past… they should have been here now… where were they? My heart began to race. What if something had happened to them? It was a long way down from Scotland… maybe they’d got lost!
“Casey, stop panicking!” Mum moaned, reading my worried face inside and out, “They’ll be here soon. Now,breathe!”
“What if something’s happened to them…?” I questioned, “Anything can happen on the motorway.”
“They’ll be fine! Look, they’re most likely just running a bit late. It’s just past rush hour after all; they’ve probably been caught up in the traffic.”
“What if they’ve got lost? Maybe they’re completely in the wrong part of England? They could be halfway to Cornwall for all I know.”
“They’ve got the GPS, Casey.” She was starting to get frustrated with my constant backchat. I held back my response and fell silent.
‘The GPS didn’t help you when I was in labour…’ I thought to myself. I looked back up at the clock.
Eleven minutes to six. It was still light outside but was gradually seeping away. My ears triggered when I heard a car approach the house. I darted to the window and spied on the red Volvo pulling up on the edge of the curb in front of our house. My eyes widened with anticipation, waiting for either the driver or front seat passenger to open their car door and reveal their identities.
“They’re here!” I cried, recognising the woman, in the tartan sweater, stepping out of the passenger’s door. I hadn’t even realised that my feet have moved an inch until I found myself halfway down the drive towards the Volvo.
“Hello, Casey,” announced the familiar jolly voice of the male driver. His words flew through one ear and out the other. My eyes were fixed on the set of eyes peering through the window in the back seat… an identical match of my own. I reached down to the door handle, my hand trembling with excitement and nerves, and pulled. I was met by the joyful shrieks of laughter coming from the lungs of the small child in the car seat…
“Mummy’s here now,” I told James, unbuckling his seat belt and forcing back my tears, “Mummy’s here.” He wrapped his arms around my neck as I lifted him out into the breezy open air. He was home… with me… his Mummy.
“We’re sorry we’re a little bit late arriving, Casey,” Teresa apologised, coming to my side and placing a pastel green, plastic dummy in James’ mouth, “we were met with the rush hour on the motorway, along with people trying to get away for the weekend.”
“It’s no problem,” I mentioned, “I’m just relieved you’re here. I’ve been missing him so much, it’s unbelievable.”
“We think wee James has been feeling the strain too,” Jerry interjected, “he cries a lot more now that you’re gone and doesn’t sleep as well as he had been during the night.”
“It’s because he’s teething, Jerry.” Teresa corrected. Jerry rolled his eyes behind his wife’s back and smiled back at me.
“Yes darling, but I think he misses his mother too.” My eyes light up at Jerry’s words. I snapped my gaze to James again, whose arms had remained tightly around my neck. I kissed his forehead and held him tightly, more protectively.
“Did my boy miss me?” I cooed, my teeth flashing as I grinned from ear to ear, “because Mummy has been missing you so much!” I brushed my nose against his and envied his joyful squeal of laughter. Teresa pulled a rather scolding face as she bent down to retrieve the dummy that had flown out of James’ mouth, cleaning it with a baby wipe from her handbag and placing it back in his mouth.
“Casey,” Mum called from the front door, “you’d better bring him inside. It’s starting to get chilly.” I obeyed, and carried James into the house; Teresa and Jerry close behind me with their cases. I should have done this a long time ago – bringing my son home for the first time.
James’ eyes examined his surrounding, when I brought him through to the living room; I think it might have been due to the huge wall of pink which took over the majority of one’s eyesight – what else would you expect in a household of just a mother and her daughter?
“You have a lovely home,” Teresa complemented, meaning and truth in her voice, “I see the two of you have embraced your femininity.”
“Well, we are women after all,” Mum answered, “and besides, I’ve always wanted to have a large, bold wall in my home – like a statement wall – ever since I was a child. It just turned out that madam here was allowed to choose the colour back when she was ten. I originally wanted it to be orange or a deep purple…”
“Mum, you’re babbling.” I interjected.
“Ah, sorry.” She apologised, her face burning a deep pink – just like the wall behind her. I giggled and turned to the McFarlows.
“We’ve set up the guest room for you and Mum found my old crib in the loft; we put it in my room, if it’s okay with you?” I told them. Teresa’s body stiffened and her smile somehow became to look…forced?Jerry’s, however, remained kind and warm. He was the one to speak first,
“Of course, we expected you to want to spend time with the wee laddie, didn’t we love?”
“Yes, we expected it.” Teresa answered mono-toned. I smiled weakly at her; she was obviously feeling very maternal and motherly towards James. But I couldn’t help wonder, did she see my James as a replacement for the James that she’d lost? He was my world; I couldn’t have her taking him away from me for good… it would kill me.
I planned to keep my accusations to myself until things became much more apparent. All I wanted to do right now was hold onto my son and cherish my every waking moment with him.
“And, Teresa,” I began. She looked me straight in the eye, “whilst he’s here, I’m going to be his Mum – hisrealMum – and take care ofmyson. I appreciate all that you’ve done since he was born, but it’s my chance now. I’m going to be a proper Mum during this visit. Please, don’t try and make me change my mind. It’s all I ask.”
She speculated the thought in her head, screaming ‘no’ in her thoughts. But, even she knew that she couldn’t deny me my own son. She nodded slowly, her eyes sparkling as if she was welling up. I smiled weakly back at her and turned my attention back to James.
He pulled at my hair hard but I did not complain or wince at the pain. All I could do was smile because my little boy was once again in my arms – where he should be.
He was back, and I would love every moment of it.