This is the thirty-third part of a fiction serial, in 810 words.
Although Leah still never acknowledged me other than for feeding, and she still couldn’t seem to grip a toy, or something edible, she did do something quite amazing a couple of weeks after the visit to my parents.
She stood up, and took a few steps before falling over.
Despite the split with Olly, I was excited enough to text him, and he was polite enough to reply that he was very pleased to hear that news. Later that afternoon, I rang his sister in Canada. I wanted to tell her about Leah’s steps, and also thought it was time we had a conversation about what had happened.
As I expected, she was very fair. She hated what Olly had done, was delighted about Leah, but at the end of it all, he was her kid brother, and she would always support him.
Leaving it that she wanted to be updated on Leah’s progress, and mentioning nothing about Lauren, we hung up as good friends. But in my heart, I had already written her off. She would become the auntie in Canada that Leah would probably never meet. That was the truth of it, and I was okay with that.
It was time for a serious reevaluation of my life. I had a daughter who was unlikely to flourish in the accepted sense, and I might well end up looking after her until I died. I was on my own, though mum and dad were now supporting me more than I could have hoped for. I had to investigate what help was available in my situation, and swallow a lot of pride I didn’t even know I had before all this happened.
Meanwhile, I had to think about Olly’s counter-offer to the buy out deal. He was sort-of alright with it, but he wanted some kind of codicil that gave him a share of the profits in the future, if I ever sold the house. I couldn’t imagine him working that out, and suspected Lauren’s involvement. After a chat with my dad, and a phone call to his legal pal, we decided to accept his changes, as long as Leah wasn’t affected down the line.
I looked around the house after that, realising I would probably have to live here until I died. That was okay with me.
The paperwork went through, with Olly signing away the house, but not any future profits. He also agreed to support Leah until the time she left full-time education. I laughed at the idea of her going to university, and completing any education by the age of twenty-one. If she even got to go to a regular school, I would probably throw a party to celebrate. The stuff about giving me any money was vague. It contained the line, ‘Necessary personal expenses’, which I guessed was something I would have to prove.
After we had both signed, I started to keep receipts for everything.
On the plus side, I now owned a house with no mortgage. Not that this meant no bills of course, but Olly had agreed to cover those, at least on paper. And I owed my parents, big time. I had to sign more papers agreeing that when they were dead, any split of money between me and Ronnie would already include what they had paid to settle Olly, so I would get less than my brother. I signed of course. To not have done so would have seemed like a slap in the face to my dad.
So far, Olly was true to his word. There was money in the bank just like before, and although I didn’t buy luxuries or waste it, I took what we both needed. It didn’t make me feel good, but I could hardly go to work, so it was what it was.
Now Leah was on the move, the gates my dad had fitted proved their worth. I soon worked out that her walking was related to food, and the kitchen was her usual target destination. Just as well she couldn’t get to what she was after, or she would have been seriously overweight. Part of me was so happy to see her moving, I didn’t really care. I actually got a lot of joy from watching her trying to get more to eat.
When everything had been signed and sealed, Olly sent me a text, and asked to come and ‘have a chat’. I had a sneaky feeling he might be trying to water down some of the financials, and that was on my mind when he decided to try to play with Leah, and gave her a lot of uncharacteristic attention. But it wasn’t that at all, as I found out as he was leaving.
“Ang, before you find out from anyone else, you should know that Lauren is pregnant. And it is mine, not Ronnie’s”.