This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 1400 words.
Roland and Roxanne.
Once her make up was done again, Roxanne pulled herself together and walked downstairs. The few relatives who had been invited looked at their shoes as she appeared, and her mother continued to cry uncontrollably. Uncle Matthew spoke quietly. “The cars are outside, Roxanne. If you’re ready”. She nodded, and followed him out.
It was a strange funeral. No young people, no friends or neighbours, just a handful of elderly people who had no idea what to say. Once the Humanist lady had said a few appropriate words, the coffin disappeared behind the curtain, and that was that. No music, no wake to follow. Nothing seemed appropriate to celebrate the tragic death of a boy who had lived in the shadows of lies.
Once the car got her and her mum back to the house, Roxanne would leave. Her cases were already packed.
Anthony hadn’t even bothered to apply for permission to attend, which was just as well, as she would have refused it. He had got fourteen years, so would serve around half of those, with good behaviour. The irony hadn’t been lost on Roxanne. Finn was fourteen, and Anthony had got fourteen years. Not enough for what he had done, in her opinion. The judge had condemned him in his closing speech, talking of ‘despicable crimes’, and an ‘unnatural attraction’ for young boys. When asked if there was anything he wanted to say, an unrepentant Anthony had replied.
“Yes. You speak of an unnatural attraction. But you miss the point. For me, it is a natural attraction”.
The house had gone at a bargain price, but there was still lots of profit, based on what it had cost. The solicitors had suggested that Roxanne would get sixty-six percent of everything from the house, the business, and the savings. That allowed for what might have been Finn’s share, and left Anthony something to try to salvage his life with, after prison. She hadn’t argued. She just felt empty. The money was a lot more than she had expected, and had meant she could buy a small cottage over a hundred miles away, and probably allow for at least five years without having to rush to find a job. She had no tears left now, and wondered if she would ever be capable of crying again. There was nothing she really cared about anymore.
Well, maybe one thing.
His fourteenth birthday had passed in a blur. He didn’t want to celebrate, and couldn’t even be bothered to open his cards. Mum and dad had given him a hundred pounds, still feeling guilty about the way they had handled everything. When the news had leaked about Finn’s suicide, Hannah had spoken without thinking, genuine malice in her voice. “He’s probably best out of it. You never know who Roxanne might take up with next time”. Roland had given her a look that had really scared her. For a split-second, she had thought he might injure her, perhaps even kill her. After that, he hardly spoke to her, except to answer questions. He threw himself into his school work as best he could, ignoring the whispers and jibes circulating around the school. Nobody would ask him anything directly, scared he might attack them.
His fifteenth birthday also passed with little or no celebration. Roxanne had never contacted them again, and he hadn’t even been allowed to go to Finn’s funeral. But not a day passed when he didn’t think about her. Finn had been right about one thing. He loved Roxanne more than he had ever suspected. When he thought of her, he ached for the loss, as if she was dead too. He didn’t blame her. His mum had been horrible, and he would only remind her of Finn. And everyone who talked about it claimed that she must have known, and done nothing. No wonder she never came back to the town, and got the removal company to pack up her house.
One day, he had summoned up the courage to go into the Estate Agent where she used to work. He said he was her son’s best friend, and needed to speak to her. But a young woman said they had no address for her, and she had changed her mobile number. After that, he gave up trying. He grew taller and stronger, looking older than his years. That, together with his cropped fair hair and blue eyes, attracted the attention of girls, and women too. But he wasn’t interested.
Roland wasn’t looking forward to the summer holidays. It gave him too much time to think. Lying on his bed, he jumped at the alert sound on his phone. It was a text message, and the name above it read Finn. It made him shiver to see that, and he opened the message wondering what was going on. What he read made his heart leap. ‘Hi Roland, it’s Roxanne. Sorry to spook you out with this, but I am using Finn’s phone to get your contact number. I was wondering if you would like to come and stay for a while, help me do some decorating. Make some excuse to your mum, I’m not going to talk to her. R. xx’
He sent a one word reply. ‘Yes’. The next message gave him the postcode, house address, and the nearest station, adding that if he sent her the time of the train, she would pick him up.
When his mum came home from work, he told her he was going to help out at a summer camp for underprivileged kids, further north. “I will probably be gone for the whole of the holidays, but I will let you know”. Hannah looked at him sideways. “First I’ve heard of it. How did you arrange that? Where is it? Do I have to pay anything?” But he gave her that look again, making her hands feel cold. “It has just come up, something through the sports teacher at school. Someone dropped out, and they asked me. I won’t need any money, I will take some from my savings. All I want you to do is pack me a case, and give me a lift to the station tomorrow”. Hannah was naturally suspicious, but after the last year they had gone through, she decided to allow it. Might do him some good to go somewhere different, and he was old enough to look after himself now.
Her car was outside the station when he got off the train. She smiled as he walked across the forecourt. She looked older, but still lovely. He threw the case onto the back seat, and climbed into the front. She put the car into gear, and spoke softly. “It’s not too far, about twenty minutes. I got some pizzas in for later”. She didn’t ask how he had managed to get away, or what his mum had said. She didn’t care. It was a small cottage, standing on its own at the end of a country lane. Not picture postcard stuff, and in need of some work. Inside, the small main room served as both lounge and dining room, and there was a tiny kitchen, leading to a bathroom built on the back. The garden was no more than a courtyard, with just room for a metal table, and four chairs. “She smiled warmly at him. “I’ll show you upstairs, bring your case”.
There were just two bedrooms. The main one was nice enough, with a large double bed, two small wardrobes, and a dressing table. The other one was just about big enough for a single bed, but the room was completely empty. “This is the one that needs decorating, as you can see”. Roland dropped his case on the floorboards of the bare room. “Alright if I use the toilet? ” Roxanne smiled again. “Of course, you know where it is”.
As he walked back downstairs, Roxanne wandered next door, and stood by the dressing table. She took off the summer dress she was wearing, and reached round to unhook her bra, dropping it on the floor. Then she slipped off her panties, and lay down naked on top of the bed. When she heard Roland walking back upstairs, she smiled. Raising her voice just enough, she called out to him.
“Come into my room, Roland. I’ve got something to show you”.