This is the eleventh part of a fiction serial, in 1745 words.
Roxanne and Finn.
Her son always had a knack of getting round her, but this time she was going to resist. Roxanne listened to Finn asking about the hotel trip, and began to realise it was all complete manipulation. Of course, the idea sounded very appealing to her. Getting away from the house, she had no doubt that the relaxed atmosphere would lead to the inevitable happening between her and Roland. But the way he had worked it all out so carefully concerned her. This wasn’t in the least random, she could tell. Those boys were working together to get her into a situation where she ended up having sex with an underage boy, that was obvious. So, what was their motive?. Roland’s motive was obvious. He got to do it. But why was Finn so worried about her getting off with his friend? What could possibly be in it for him?
As she listened to him chattering away, detailing his demands, and suggesting potential towns or villages they could stay in, she became increasingly angry. By the time he sat back, and concluded with, “So will you book it up today, Mum?”, she was ready. “No, I won’t be booking any hotels, Finn. I don’t think it’s something to do for a birthday celebration. Besides, why does Roland have to be involved in everything? And why is he always round here? You put a film on the other night and then left him stuck with me on the sofa. He’s your friend, and you should involve him in what you do, not just leave him sat next to your mum. I don’t know what to say to him, he’s too young for me to have a conversation with, and I could tell he felt really awkward and uncomfortable”.
Finn was surprised. Down, but far from out. He was used to getting agreement from his mum. He never made unreasonable demands, asked for expensive things, or money to buy stuff. He may not have done much to help around the house, but he had always been kind and friendly to his mum, and done pretty much anything he was told to. He worked hard at school, and she seemed to respect him as a person, not just as a son. They had long had a very open relationship, able to talk about virtually anything, even very personal stuff. So whenever he did ask for something, she never refused. This time, she had unexpectedly said no to him, and he had to quickly think up a Plan B.
“I thought you really liked him, mum. I saw how you seemed to be happier when he was here, and the way you looked at him. You told me he was very good-looking, with his fair hair and blue eyes. You said about him looking older and stronger than me, more like a man than a boy. I thought that was what you wanted, to see more of him, and to be alone with him more often. I’m not stupid, mum. I know you and dad are not happy. I thought Roland could make you happy. And he is really crazy about you, that’s true. He just doesn’t know what to do. You could show him. You two are the most important people to me, and I just want the three of us to be happy together, that’s all. But I don’t ever want to upset you, so forget about the hotel. And I will tell Roland not to come round our house ever again, and I’ll go to his place instead”.
He had given in too easy. Roxanne heard the alarm bells going off inside her head. She had the overwhelming feeling that she had actually seen what her son was really like, for the first time. His threat to stop Roland coming round had immediately made her feel a pang of loss. That must have come across in her expression, and she had seen her son grin. No, not grin, smirk. It was calculated for effect, she saw that now, as plain as the nose on her face. She took a moment, deciding that she would talk to him as an adult, and forget for now that he was her son. “So let me get this straight. You want me to have sex with your friend, based on the notion that it will make me feel better because I am unhappy with your dad. And because it will make Roland feel better to have sex with anyone, because he really wants to. For the moment at least, he fancies me enough to have sex with me, based on what you tell me. So you set up a situation where we are alone all evening, fully expecting me to provide him with a night of sexual satisfaction on our sofa, while you sit upstairs playing on your games console. When that doesn’t go as you planned, you come up with the idea of us three going away to a hotel for two nights. No doubt you would have dreamed up some excuse for me and him to be alone, then hoped that we did it that time. Is that about the size of it?”
Mum wasn’t angry, but she was cold. That was worse. He was totally rumbled. Finn had to go to Plan C, and fast.
When he couldn’t get his way by manipulation, Finn had another winning combination. He would tell the truth, but act childish at the same time. That had worked more times than he cared to remember, appealing to that instinctive mother love, together with the spirit of the Catholic confessional. He looked down at the table, and allowed the colour to drain from his face. Here goes nothing.
“OK, mum I will tell you the truth”. He allowed his eyes to mist up, hoping that real emotion didn’t get the better of him. Roxanne tapped the table. “Come on then”. He jerked his head up, and held her gaze. “I love him, mum. I don’t like girls, I just pretended to. I like him, always have. I feel the same way about him as he does about you. But he doesn’t know, and if I told him, he might go away, and never see me again. I thought that if you and him got together, it would mean he would always come round, so I would see him all the time. I wouldn’t be jealous you see, because I love you both. And he is mad about you, mum, that is true. Honestly. He thinks you’re beautiful, and very sexy. He has told me that for a long time”. Finn couldn’t stop a couple of real tears from rolling down his cheeks.
Roxanne took a deep breath. That was some speech. And despite her previous anger, she couldn’t help but believe every word. Lots of things made sense now. Finn asking for a double bed for more comfortable sleepovers. The way he never spent time with any other friend except Roland. The way he looked at his friend and laughed, whenever he said anything even remotely amusing. His interest in fashion, celebrities, and terrible TV shows. Only she knew about most of that side of him. He would never discuss anything like that with Roland, and certainly not with Anthony. But once riled, she found it hard to let go. “So it was all about you. About you having Roland close. Not about me being happy, or Roland really getting what you say he wants, as in me. All that was just some sort of window-dressing for the real reason. Yes?”
His face was still as white as chalk, but his eyes looked red and puffy now, and his voice was croaky. “Sorry mum, but I love him. And I’m sure you could love him too”. She shook her head, and reached across the table to take his hand. It felt as cold as ice. “What if he said something to his parents, or to someone at school? Don’t you realise I could be arrested, even go to prison? Whatever I did with Roland, anything at all, that would be a crime. It would destroy my life, and the lives of you and your dad into the bargain. You’re not stupid, darling. You must be able to see that it could never be possible. There’s no need to stop him coming round. But you have to stop trying to fix it so that we have sex, do you understand that? It can never happen”. Finn tried to go back on the offensive. “But mum, he would never say anything to anyone, I swear. I know him, and he just wouldn’t. And I am not stupid, as you say, which means that I know how much you want him too. I have seen it with my own eyes. It could work, it really could”.
There was some truth in what her son said of course. Roxanne blushed at the memory of looking at Roland in his swimming trunks, admiring his unusually grown-up frame, and muscular body. She had been careless with the way she sat, knowingly showing too much leg. And sometimes her dresses or tops were inappropriately low, usually on the occasions when Roland was coming round. But had that been intentional, calculated? She had to admit to herself that it had. His obvious reaction had excited her, made her feel alive again. She had given all the right signals, to the wrong person. But it had to stop, and now was the time to stop it.
“For your birthday, we will take you to that really nice Italian place in the city centre. I will get us a taxi both ways, and we can have three courses. I will tell them it’s your birthday, and arrange a cake. But your dad will be coming too. You’re his son, and it’s your fourteenth birthday. And Roland can come, so you have your friend with you. But no funny business, you have to promise. That’s the deal, no alternatives. Now go up and wash your face and dry your eyes”.
As Finn skulked upstairs, apparently defeated, Roxanne felt that she had cleared the air. She went to the fridge, and poured herself a glass of wine, hoping that would be the end of it.
But as she took the first sip, she wondered what Roland would be wearing, when they went to the restaurant.
She was sure he would look nice.