This is the thirty-second part of a fiction serial, in 733 words.
My mum was surprisingly sympathetic, though she didn’t try to hide her pleasure at being right about Olly. “I always knew he would turn out like this. One of those too good to be true types”. She even held Leah on her lap for a while, as dad outlined a plan that they had been discussing before I got there.
“The thing is, love. Let me put it like this. Olly might be saying all that now about paying for everything, and letting you stay on in the house. But what about later on? Who’s to say he won’t change his mind, or that Lauren won’t interfere? So, we had a thought. Your mortgage is small, so you said. I have good savings, and we have never touched your mum’s redundancy money. Why not buy Olly out? Offer him the amount left on the mortgage to give up his share. That will save him money every month, and make him more likely to pay for Leah. If you sold the house, you would have to rent, as you’re not working. And he could only morally claim one-third, as the rest should go to you and Leah”.
To be honest, I was staggered. Not by my dad, as I knew he was generous. But by the fact that my mum was going along with it, and nodding enthusiastically. Dad continued.
“Get the house in your sole name, and then Leah will eventually inherit it. Of course you will get something when we are both dead and this place is sold, but that could be in thirty years or so, and if we have to go into a home there would be nothing left. Either way, you would have to split it with Ronnie. I can get a pal of mine from The Round Table to do the legal paperwork. All Olly would have to do is sign it, then we’ll get the deeds and title amended. What do you think, love?”
There was nothing in my head to say in reply, so I stood up and cuddled and kissed my dad, then walked over and did the same with mum. I didn’t even say ‘Thank You’, just nodded and let the tears of relief roll down my face.
Mum was trying to interest Leah in some face-pulling and silly noises she was making. I never remembered her ever doing that with me, or with Ronnie. I wanted to allow myself the luxury of believing that she had finally come round to accepting her granddaughter, but I couldn’t let my guard down completely. Not yet. Then she turned around and spoke directly to me. “Angela, just because I don’t say it all the time, or make a silly fuss of you, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you and Leah with all my heart”.
That was it. The dam broke, and I sobbed uncontrollably. My dad was holding me awkwardly, probably wondering if I was going to have a breakdown.
Dad told me not to say anything to Olly. “Let him get the legal papers first. He’s bound to contact you, then you can tell him you think it’s the right thing to do. If he says no, we can tie him up in all kinds of legal shit that will haunt him forever. Believe me love, I am not about to let him get away with so much as a penny, if I have to make it my life’s work. Well, the rest of my life’s work, to be accurate”.
That afternoon, I learned a lot about what it means to be a parent. And I never forgot it.
Back at the house after dark, it felt strange to see Olly’s keys on the doormat, and to know that he wouldn’t be coming home later. Or ever again. The big TV was gone, and though I presumed Lauren had a telly, and he probably didn’t need it, I couldn’t have cared less. The third bedroom looked strangely empty. The desk, computer, and printer had all gone, and the two bookcases were almost empty. Save for the few books I owned that he had left behind. I started to think about using it as a dressing room. Get some hanging rails in there, free up space in the bedroom.
That felt good inside. I was moving on, and quicker than I had thought possible.