Max Power’s Little Big Boy.. a timely extract for Valentine’s Day
…..My father loved special occasions. Christmas, birthdays, Easter, Halloween, it didn’t matter. Valentine’s Day was no different. The problem for the rest of us was not that he loved them, rather it was his motivation that concerned us and even as a small boy I recall becoming increasingly stressed as such occasions drew close.
There were months at a time when Dad simply didn’t drink and they were the best of times. Occasions were excuses for him to start again and we all knew it. Despite the threat of relapse at every turn and the danger it placed her in, my mother loved special days with equal enthusiasm. Every Valentine’s Day we all received at least one card from a secret admirer, even little me. I didn’t particularly like girls at that stage but I liked the notion that someone was my secret admirer. Even when I guessed it was probably Mam, I chose to imagine a grander explanation.
The year after Lo-Lo was born, something terrible happened on February 14th that changed its meaning forever. Mam was pregnant and I knew my new baby brother or sister would arrive any day. It didn’t overly bother me. Lo-Lo was the one I felt sorry for. She was still a baby herself and very soon, she would have to relinquish that prized spot just as I did when she came along. At least I had several years as the centre of attention, poor Lo-Lo couldn’t even speak properly yet.
I was a little worried of course. I had already felt the push to the side and I figured another cute baby would only make that worse. But I loved Lo-Lo so I figured I’d love the new one as well, even if it was another girl. Not so secretly I hoped for a boy. I wanted to be the big brother to another boy for once. While I was already a big brother to Lo-Lo, I knew instinctively that being a big brother to a boy, was more interesting than being a big brother to a girl.
That year, we all received our Valentine cards when we came down for breakfast as usual. It was just like the year before, the house filled with laughter and jokes and my dad was hilarious. He loved making fun of us but we knew it was all well-meaning. After breakfast we all disappeared to school and work, leaving my heavily pregnant mother alone. Everyone was smiling, everyone was happy. When I returned home that day, everything had changed.
Mam was crying. I say crying, but really she was finished crying. When I came in the door, I threw my bag on the couch and ran to hug her, but she sat forward and shot out her arms to stop me. Something was very wrong and as she held me at arm’s length, I noticed the silence. There was always a radio playing in our house during the day, always. I could hear the ticking of the clock on the mantelpiece and then I noticed that she hadn’t lit the fire.
I looked into her eyes. They were red and her lip quivered. She leaned toward me and ever so gently pulled me close, but not onto her lap as she usually did. Mam kissed me. It was a different kiss. She pressed her lips to my cheek and held them there for ages and then she hugged me tight. After a while, she drew back and I could see her eyes were filled with tears that didn’t quite want to escape. I rubbed her cheek with my little cold hand and one fell out.
“It’s OK Mam, don’t cry.” I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew that was what I should say. I wiped away the solitary tear.
“Thank you baby.” She called me baby and forced a smile. She hadn’t called me that in such a long time. Lo-Lo was the baby now and soon there would be another baby. But then she rubbed her tummy as though the word had reminded her of something. It had indeed and it was something terrible, something barbaric even…..
Little Big Boy by Max Power. Coming soon…
Max Power’s other books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn and Bad Blood, all available on amazon to download or in paperback. You can find more details about Max Power’s other books here : –