Violet looked round to see her son standing in the doorway.
“Right, James is here. I’ve got to go”
As she put the phone down, she moved over to James and gave him a hug.
“Up already? It’s early...could you not sleep?”
She brushed his cheek lightly and looked at her son, the image of his father, as she remembered him as a child. James was the same age Joe was when she met him, all those years ago at school. He had the same uncontrollable dark hair. Double crown, they called it. Just another term for unmanageable and difficult to tame. It was these days in particular, that when she looked at James that she felt the most guilty about what they’d done to Joe. James was a constant reminder of the part they’d played in the way his life had turned out.
“Who were you talking to, Mummy?” James said as he hoisted himself up on a kitchen stool, as he always did when he wanted breakfast.
“Uncle Randy. He couldn’t sleep. Just like you,” she said forcing an airy demeanour.
“Is he coming round here now?” James said as he took the spoon handed to him by Violet.
Violet never knew how to handle questions about Randy from James. She felt she was being interrogated by Joe. Something in her wondered if James would instantly recognise Joe as his father, in some primeval way. Would he just sense that Joe was his father? He had never taken to Randy as a substitute, no matter how much they tried. She worried that James would see his real father and turn his face to her and ask her the question she'd been dreading. He was only six, but she worried all the same. Time was running out for her and her secrets.
Randy, was reluctant to accept James anyway, and perhaps it was this more than anything that fed James’s quiet suspicion of him. James was a complication that Randy had put up with for Violet's sake. He'd rather he didn't have to. Violet knew this.
“James, Randy’s not coming round. I was talking to him about plans we’ve got later on. Eat your breakfast. You’ve got school and guess what! Grandad’s picking you up from school today!”
James smiled. His Grandad was his favourite person in the world. He seemed to be his protector. James just accepted that every granddad was like him. He didn’t know that there was a reason his granddad wanted to shield him from the harsh reality of life.
“Will Randy be here when I get back, Mummy?”
Violet smiled and shook her head.
“No, Randy won’t be here for a while.....”