My mother always wanted to bail me out, but I wanted to stand on my own two feet, my father had always stood by me and told me that, to be an adult that I should never ask for help. Which was why my mother spent the last year of their marriage setting up her own business, not once asking him for any help, never to ask him for any hand-outs. They were what he called them. She was paid so much a month, money to take care of her child. Not his, hers. He took care of the other bills. I was more of a transaction that his child and I hated him for it. He never said he loved me, never spent any time with me, acted as if I never existed.
When my mother packed her bags and told him it was over, he shrugged and told her he would never pay her a penny again to take care of her child, me. Was I not his child? That came into question that day.
The names on the cheque belonged to my mother and my step-father, the man she met a month after she walked out. It took three years before they admitted they wanted to be more then friends. Another four years before they finally married. My mother was the happiest I had ever seen her. He was the father I had wished for, but I still could not allow them to help me. It had been installed in me to do everything on my own. Yet as the cheque lay on the table, I was close to putting it in the bank, paying my landlord and feeling relaxed.
I picked it up, stuffed it in my bag and left the small one bed flat I called home. As much as I wanted to live here, I hated it. The wallpaper was falling off the walls, the water did not always run clear and the heating was non-existent. I never allowed company to come over, I was ashamed of where I lived.
I could never admit that to my mother, she would tell me to move home, but that would mean I had failed and that was not something I could ever do.
I walked down the alley leading to the path that would take me to my destination. As much as I wanted to walk in the direction of town, my feet led a different path.
The house looked as it always did, clean, tidy and the sound of laughter could be heard from the front of the house. A little girl, now two and the baby only eight weeks old were in the front garden. My heart raced, my eyes widened.
“Mummy,” the little girl said racing towards me. Tears raced down my cheeks. She had grown so much, she looked so grown up.
“Mum,” I said, falling to my knees and holding my daughter in my arms. “How?”
“Did we know that you needed help?”
“Because I am your mother, you are a mother too and I would never allow my grandchildren and I cannot allow you all to live in that tiny flat.”
“I knew the cheque would have you come home.”
“Yes, but how…”
“Did I manage to talk his mother into allowing me to take them?”
“She knows that we both want what is best for the children and you.”
“Help hun, you are grieving, they are too, they want to help, they do, but it’s too soon for them.”
“Yes, I know you loved him, but he was their only child.”
“Mum, I can’t talk about this right now. I..”
“It’s okay, Hannah granddad has an ice-lolly for you,” my mother said, as she released me and made her way inside the house.
“Mum, I wanted to do this on my own.”
“I know, and you will, but right now, you need time. You are going to move back here, but not in this house, the house next door is yours.”
“I know this is not what you wanted sweetheart, but you are still going to be able to take care of the girls, but we will be here if and when you need us, okay.”
The tears fells, the wailing and emotions I had kept inside flooded out. The man I loved had left me to soon, we had been married for three short years, together for five. He was the love of my life, he was the happiest man alive when our daughter arrived safely in the world. He loved her, doted on her, when we fell pregnant again, he was even more excited, secretly hoping for a boy, which was why we never found out the sex of our child.
She was due three months after his death. She would never meet her father and he would never meet his second child. He was driving to meet me for our last scan, and he never arrived. I recalled waiting for him to arrive, they called my name and I had no choice but to go in alone. I was furious, he had said he would be there, I tried to remain calm. Left an angry message on his phone and regretted instantly. I phoned him again and this time someone picked up the call. At first I thought the voice was someone he was with, was he cheating on me, but the words that followed did not register. Was I his wife, he was in an accident, and that he was on his way to the hospital.
I stumbled forward, tears streaming down my face as I made my way to the reception. I was there when they wheeled in him, dead on arrival. The scream that I heard filled the air echoed of the walls. I did not realise it was me that was screaming until a pair of arms engulfed me.