by Jackie Blackwell
You want to call, don’t want to fuck it up, so you don’t call him, but that week you read about reunions, start new job in manic emersion and try to prepare yourself.
You see your counsellor and talk about him. Counsellor says it’s important to keep boundaries and that as he’s a man now, you are responsible to him, but not for him.
Week later, you’re at dinner with friends, you drink and smoke and talk about him, excitedly, nervously. Stupid with drink, you get home around midnight, drink water in the kitchen. You can’t wait any longer, and, breaking any boundaries before they’re set, you text him.
Hi John, so happy to have heard from you and would very much like to talk. Can I call you tomorrow? At what time? Warm wishes.
Within seconds your mobile rings. His name comes up in bold. JOHN. You hear his voice for the first time. Hello Mum, he says in a strong Dorset accent. You hadn’t expected he’d call you mum, or an accent. Your hand steadies you on the worktop. You talk madly and openly without breath or pause — he tells you so much it makes you sober, sad and shocked. He’s excited, and where he is it’s noisy. Loud music and people talking — he sounds out of it. You speak for ages and you hear people calling him Chris.
Chris is the name they gave him. A woman where he is says, I’ll drive you there, Chris, I’ll drive you now, several times. You feel scared, you’re not ready, you want to see him, but not now, it feels too fast. Please don’t come tonight, you say. It feels wrong to say it, but you know it’s the right thing to do.
It’s getting light and you can’t speak or hear any more. You say, I’ll call you in the morning. He doubts you. You say, I promise — trust me. You know you need to be completely sober.
You slump down, shivering on the kitchen floor, call Steve, he’d been with you at dinner. He arrives quickly. Crying and shaking, you say that John called you mum. And you fear that he’ll come to the house that night. Steve listens and holds you, like always. You watch his mouth move as he speaks. You smoke and say, What do I do if he turns up?
Steve says he won’t, but how can he be so sure? You say, He sounded really out of it, Steve. Steve picks up your shawl and wraps you tightly in it. He says, You’re shaking, love, it’s the shock. It’s Saturday night and we’re all a bit out of it, love, we’ve been drinking too. If he comes, it’ll be ok.
Upstairs, you lie on the bed. Steve is beside you. You close your eyes, want to imagine him. All you see is his dad, Ian, angry and aggressive. Birds start to sing. Sleep is impossible.
Jackie Blackwell says she is not really a writer, but she does try and write a daily diary, and has done for around nine years. This short piece was taken from her diary from just over four years ago, edited and rewritten in the second person.