This is the first part of a fiction serial, in 1130 words.
I had thought I would give us all a break from my fiction serials. But I worked on this old idea last night, and decided to begin posting it this week after all.
It is something different from me.
*Some adult content later, and potential triggers.*
Roxanne was going to try to do her make up for the second time. The floods of tears had ruined her first attempt, so she had cleaned it all off. Staring at her unadorned face in the mirror, eyes red and puffy, she had to wonder where all those years had gone. But there was little time to reflect this morning. The cars would be here soon, and there were people waiting quietly downstairs, their muffled muttering drifting up from the room below. She sniffed loudly, and reached for the foundation.
The teenage Roxanne McCarthy had been something of a catch. Her straw-coloured bob made her stand out from the crowd, and her curves caught the eye of all the young men of her acquaintance. Not for her the painfully-thin, dress-hanger look adopted by her peer group. She didn’t binge-eat, diet, or allow herself to approach the borders of anorexia. Instead, she embraced the body that had developed in her early teens, and walked through life with an unusual confidence for her age. The boys came to her and then went again, especially those she liked the most. It seemed there was something missing in her, the ability to give herself totally to any relationship. But it never really concerned her. The time would come, she was sure of that.
Anthony Mellor was older. A family friend, successful enough, with a small but respected car sales business that he had inherited. He was not much younger than Roxanne’s own father, so when he had asked her out on a date, eyebrows had been raised. She was barely twenty-one, and he was over forty. Her parents counselled her against forming a relationship with their friend. It seemed strange to them, to think of their daughter with that older man. But of course, that universal disapproval made the prospect all the more attractive, and Anthony’s easy manner and overwhelming confidence had seduced her rapidly. It certainly hadn’t been his physique or good looks, as he was lacking in both.
Her close friends had thought she was crazy. Fair enough, he had a reasonably nice house, a steady income, and had never been married. He came with no baggage. But really? She could do so much better. So much. When the date of the wedding was announced, Roxanne’s parents had wearily accepted the inevitable. No point trying to talk her out of the unequal match, as that would just make their daughter all the more determined to go through with it. They settled for a modest wedding, at a nice local hotel. Many of those invited came up with reasons why they couldn’t make it. Rather than tell the truth, which was that they disapproved strongly enough not to actually show up. As she finished getting ready on the morning of the ceremony, her paternal grandmother, Granny Margaret, came up to Roxanne’s room, and asked to speak with her in private.
“I am not going to say much, my darling. Just this. Remember the old saying, and take heed of it. Change your name, but not the letter, a change for worse, not for better”. She squeezed Roxanne’s hand, and went back downstairs. That had made her smile. An expression she had never heard. Something ancient, most definitely. But she had to concede that she had never thought of it. Her initials had always been RM, and after the wedding today, they still would be. She put the thought from her mind, as the photographer knocked on the door of her room.
The honeymoon was equally modest. Four lovely nights in Paris, a city that Anthony knew well, and delighted his new young wife. He had to get back to his business of course, but those few days had been as wonderful as she had hoped.
Settling into married life was easier than she had feared. Despite doing well at college, Roxanne had no idea what to pursue as a career. So a temporary job at the local Estate Agent had turned into a full time one, and she returned to her role straight after the wedding. She did well in that field, enjoying her job of valuing houses, like being paid to snoop around somebody’s home, with their permission. The buyers seemed to take to her too, and when she arranged a viewing, they always showed up. The boss decided she should become a mortgage arranger, which was a step up for her. After taking some courses, and a strangely nerve-wracking exam, she passed all the financial knowledge requirements, and became established as a valued member of staff. The next few years were settled, and it seemed that even her parents had got used to them being together.
Then she got pregnant. Just one night, a few drinks at the house of some friends, and a hurried moment when they got back, with Anthony not bothering to use a condom. He was very pleased, and boasted that he must be incredibly fertile. The news also mellowed her mother, who immediately prepared for the arrival of a grandchild, even though her daughter was only three months gone.
The weeks went by quickly, and when the scan showed it would be a boy, she immediately decided on the name Finn. Anthony was upset, as he had dreams of giving their son his name, to carry on the tradition in his family. But he couldn’t deny Roxanne anything, so agreed. Finn it would be. It was a mercifully routine labour, and Finn appeared on the scheduled day, weighing just under seven pounds. As soon as the midwife passed him into her arms, Roxanne was overwhelmed by a deep emotion, a love that would never end. Her perfect, healthy baby was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her life. She whispered into the tiny ear. “I will be a great mother. I promise you”. And as it turned out, she was.
Determined not to raise a spoiled child, she took great care to do the right thing by him. To love him unreservedly, but not to smother him. He had to be allowed to have a life, his own life. He should play outside, take risks, eat healthily, and have an active, inquiring mind. Anthony had some of his own ideas, including a private school later on, and perhaps even use a child-minder in the meantime. But Roxanne would have none of it. She would stay off work until he went to school, bring him up herself, and properly. She resigned from her job following maternity leave, and her boss said she could come back anytime. There would always be a place for her.
Roxanne set about raising young Finn the right way.
And she loved every minute of it.