This is the thirty-fourth part of a fiction serial, in 812 words.
No doubt Olly thought the news of Lauren being pregnant would shock me, but I felt strangely calm. If he expected rage or argument, he didn’t get any. And if he expected congratulations of some sort, he didn’t get those either. It wasn’t until I was closing the door that he turned and hit me with some news that did shock me, though I was proud of myself for not showing it.
“And we are going to get married. Nothing fancy, just the local Registry Office with a couple of witnesses. I wanted to let you know that this won’t affect any of the financial agreements I have signed”.
I just nodded, and closed the door as he walked away. The man who saw no point in marrying me was now happy to get married to someone he hardly knew. What did that say about me? He hadn’t even thought it worth us getting married when I was pregnant, though the minute Lauren missed a period and tested positive for a baby, he was marrying her. I wasn’t upset or tearful, just bloody furious.
Different ways of dealing with the situation crossed my mind, and I settled on choosing to ignore it, and to live life for myself and Leah. Olly could just piss off and make his mistakes, as far as I was concerned.
A phone call to my dad was first. Asking him to source some cupboard door locks, and something for the oven door, washing machine, and fridge. Leah’s mobility was going to be an issue soon, and I didn’t want her to be able to get into anything that might cause her harm. He liked having a project, and said he would be round the next day to fix them on. He also suggested socket covers in case she poked a finger in one, and mentioned a gadget that would stop her lifting the toilet seat.
He had been doing his granddad homework, apparently.
The next morning before he arrived, I used the laptop to check out some of the groups that were available for parents of children with learning difficulties, or severe lifetime disabilities. The nearest one was over twenty miles north, but I liked their web page so rang and made an appointment to go to the next meeting. When dad showed up loaded with stuff, I told him about Olly and Lauren as I made him a cup of tea. He blew on his tea, then looked up at me over the steaming cup.
“Sod him. And her. Let him keep paying, and forget he ever existed. I bet he didn’t even ask for any arranged access to Leah, did he?” I had to admit he hadn’t done that, and I was rather surprised that my dad had already worked that out. Declining a chocolate biscuit I was offering, he gave me a huge smile. “If he doesn’t care about Leah, so what? We do, love”.
The self-help group was called ‘Unicorns’. A bit of a so-so name, but it looked good on the colourful sign above the premises they were using. The car park looked busy, and there were some women chatting outside when I got Leah out the car and into her buggy. The lady who ran the group was called Zoe. A big, plus-size lady with a mane of frizzy grey hair, wearing a dress like a tent, and a pair of thick cable-knit tights on her legs. She welcomed me in, and asked if I wanted to pay. Payment was voluntary, and only ten pounds if you could afford it. It was to pay for renting the large room, and using the other facilities in the building.
After handing over my ten pounds quite happily, I followed Zoe into the bright room full of soft seating, toys, and pictures on the wall. It was very noisy in there, and my first thought was that all the other kids were so much older. Some looked to be in their late teens. In the absence of a formal structure, the idea was to mingle, and chat to other parents. Though there was only one man there, and everyone else seemed to be a mum with her child. Exchanging experiences, offering advice, and telling you how to claim the necessary benefits, or who to contact for essential changes to the house or bathroom.
The two hours of the session seemed to fly by. Leah spent most of it on a play mat in front of my chair, and didn’t interact with any of the others, though many came up to investigate her, and some tried to play too. As I was leaving, I thanked Zoe, and told her I was sure to come back in two weeks for the next meeting.
Driving home, I felt elated. It wasn’t just me any longer.