The last taste of the teaser
The Case of Billy B.
This is the last trailer, teaser, taster, whatever. To really find out what this story is about you really need to read the four preceding instalments. From now on Billy and Chris will be for my eyes only....until the end.
Chapter 13: Billy
The woman I presume is my mother doesn't like me. She looks after me and takes care of me, because that is expected of her. When I am hungry and I cry to be fed, she feeds me. When I am dirty, she changes my diaper and washes me. But I am greedy for love and attention, and that is lacking in my life. My mother doesn't talk to me or sing to me. She tries to avoid looking at me. I feel, that no matter how hard I try to make a connection with her, she's put up this barrier to stop all connections. She's not mean to me, doesn't hurt me, just doesn't love me. It's like she's just going through the motions, physically she's here, but mentally and emotionally, she's elsewhere.
It's like I'm living with a deaf mute. My gurgles are ignored, and when I reach out to try and grab her, she steps away. Sometimes I wonder if abuse would be better than this distance. Because at least with abuse, there is some kind of communication and interaction going on. Even if it is negative. Then at least someone acknowledges my existence and I have a reason to be here. Like this, I feel that there is no need for me being here. I'm just a waste of space, using up somebody's oxygen. But, there's something in me that keeps trying, trying to get her attention, trying to make her smile. The sadness seems to hang on her like a heavy cloud of doom.
When I lie in my cot in my pale-blue bedroom and see the hand-painted teddy bear strip on my walls, and watch the mobiles hanging from the ceiling, I feel that there was a time when I was loved and wanted. Somebody took the time to do this for me. Somebody must have loved me. Now, there is just emptiness and silence, and no loving touches. How does one thrive and develop in an atmosphere so cold and devoid of life, love and laughter? I am being stifled in this loveless house, with this loveless mother. Sometimes I wish I could wither up and die.
Then the phone rings and I hear her sound happy for the first time since I entered this world. Her voice, animated, has a soft musical quality to it. I wish I could capture her voice somehow and play it back to myself over and over again in the times of silence. I hear her in the kitchen, singing. Although I am hungry, I will not cry out for her. Let her happiness last a little longer, and her singing in the kitchen is quite comforting. If I cry, the happiness will evaporate and the sadness return. I don't feel I can cope with her sadness, after having heard what she sounds like when she's happy. So, I'll lie here and stare at my brightly coloured mobiles moving in the breeze coming from the open window, and wait patiently until she remembers that I am here.
Chapter 14: Carly
It's hard to believe that Chris is away not even in this country, and I'm alone with the baby. I have to admit, he is a good father. He obviously loves Billy, and he's obviously stopped loving me. Which is okay. What is love anyway? Just a momentary connection between you and another person or object that you can outgrow and which doesn't withstand the test of time. I used to read romance novels as a teenager and believed that would happen to me. There wasn't a happy ever after for my parents, and I don't think there's a happy ever after for me. There are no happy ever after. The fairy tales are always full of evil subtlety portrayed by witches and such-like. The stories always end when it appears that they live happily ever after to protect the reader from what really happens and evil triumphs over good. Nope, definitely no happy ever after. Not in this world.
Carly made herself a cup of coffee and sat down to drink it at the dining room table. Billy should be waking up soon for another feed. Try as she might, she couldn't conjure up any feeling at all for the little boy. It wasn't his cleft lip, it wasn't anything to do with him actually. She just felt disconnected from the baby, from Chris and from this life. Carly knew it was wrong to take it out on the baby, but she didn't want to make a connection with him. She didn't want him to love her, because then it would be more difficult to leave. Carly checked her watch. She had an interview in about half an hour with some neighbourhood teenager that did babysitting. Carly had been exercising every day to get her figure back after the birth. Now, she was ready to go out for a night on the town with some friends. Okay, with one friend. A special friend. The friend. He'd phoned earlier and his voice sent thrills down her spine.
The phone rang again and Carly hurried to answer it. "Hey! Oh, it's you, Chris. What do you mean who else was I expecting? Are you just calling me to pick a fight because if that's the case, I'm not in the mood. Billy? Of course he is okay. He sleeps, eats, shits in a continuous cycle. No, he's quite quiet, doesn't cry much at all. He's just good, okay, there's nothing wrong with him. Maybe I'm just a good mother, did you ever think of that? When are you coming home again? I just need a break, this is tiring." Carly could feel her eyes well with tears. She wasn't going to give Chris the satisfaction of crying over the phone. "I'm stuck in the house with him day after day. Nobody visits, nobody calls and if I take him out, people stare. He looks like a freak, Chris, don't you get it?" Carly wiped her nose on her sleeve. "Operation? When? Does it have to be this week? Can't they do it next week? What you mean waiting list? Oh God, why the hell do I have to drive to the next state? Chris, is this necessary, really necessary?" Carly punched the wall in frustration as her plans for a night out on the town with her friend appeared to be going out the window. "Okay, okay, yeah, it makes sense to do the op when he is young, but three months old? Have you set it all up already? Okay, give me the details." Carly opened the drawer of the telephone table and took out a notebook and a pen and hastily copied directions and instructions down. Damn! Of all days it has to be tomorrow! Billy made a small sound and Carly hastily said goodbye, "Billy has just surfaced and needs to be fed. Again. Yeah, I'll keep in touch and let you know how it goes. Can't believe you didn't organise leave and do this yourself!"
Carly put her head around the door to Billy's pale-blue bedroom. The little boy was lying on his back waving his arms and kicking his legs. He was staring at the mobile above him and gurgling, almost like he was trying to have a conversation with it. From the smell he needed a change. "Oh he's quiet, better quickly make a phonecall," Carly whispered to herself. You see how crazy I'm getting? I'm even talking to myself!
Carly headed over to the phone and quickly dialed. "Hi, it's me. Can't talk long as Billy is awake and needs a change and a feed. Just wanted to tell you have to take a rain check for tomorrow. Bloody Chris has arranged for Billy to have his cleft lip op the day after and I have to drive him to the next bloody state to have it done! Yeah, yeah, tell me about bloody inconvenient timing. Gotta go and don't worry, will phone you when I get back. I love you, okay. Not much longer now." Carly blew kisses into the phone and replaced the receiver.
Chapter 15: Chris
Chris couldn't stop staring at Billy. He was just perfect. Three months after the op and there was only the slightest scar. Billy was sitting by himself and rolling around on the floor when put onto a blanket. Chris was blown away by how quickly he had grown. The baby looked healthy in every way. Carly was obviously doing a good job and maybe he'd underestimated her. Maybe he should give her another chance. Billy's quietness worried Chris though. He didn't think it was natural for a baby to be so quiet. It was like the little boy was permanently in thought, always thinking about something. He'd taken him to the doctor to get checked when he'd got home, but the doctor found nothing wrong. "He's definitely not deaf!" the doctor had stressed. "Count your blessings he's so quiet!"
Carly was gone most of the time Chris was home. He could understand it, poor girl was alone at home every day with only the baby for company. He didn't begrudge her the time to catch up with friends. Also, it gave him alone-time with Billy that he definitely wanted. He didn't want the little boy to view him as a complete stranger. Chris took Billy to the mall, bought story books to read to him and nursery rhyme cds to play to him. Chris had a suspicion that Billy's quietness was a result of nobody talking to him or interacting much with him. He'd never heard Carly say a word to the boy and he didn't think that that was natural. He'd noticed that Billy's little eyes followed him whenever he was in the room, and when he read to him or sang along with the nursery rhymes, Billy seemed to perk up a little and lately, a hint of a smile had started appearing.
"It's like he's depressed or something," Chris had confided to his mother.
Something was up. Chris could feel it in his bones. The phone calls, whispers and Carly was being nice to him. Had even cooked him his favourite meals on a few occasions. Carly still ended her phone calls with the stranger who put the phone down when Chris answered, with "I love you," but Chris didn't let it bother him anymore. He was too focused on Billy and getting to know his little boy. He dreaded leaving Billy behind and going on his next deployment to Korea. He was leaving the next week and the days were flying and departure day was heading ever closer. Just around the corner now. But this gut feeling Chris had would not go away. It hung around like flies around a cow pat. Something was definitely up. He knew it with every core of his being. Chris played with Billy and watched and waited for what, he had no idea.
When it finally happened, Chris wasn't prepared.
He'd taken Billy to visit his mother, and had ended up staying for dinner. When he got home, the house was empty. Billy's room was intact and nothing had been removed. But his favourite lazy-boy chair, his music collection, all the kitchenware, all gone. Bitch must have hired a truck, was his first thought. Chris looked in his bedroom. Not a trace of Carly remained. The linen they'd slept on the night before was gone, just the bare mattress with its stains remained. It was if she had never existed. All her toiletries gone from the bathroom. Chris put the sleeping Billy down carefully into his cot, making sure not to wake him. Then, he did a tour of the house, taking note what was gone and looking for a message of some kind that she'd left behind. Anything, just so that he could get closure. Some kind of a goodbye note, thanks for the memories or special instructions for Billy. But there was nothing. Chris couldn't believe that Carly had vanished, gone, without a goodbye message. No forwarding address. She must have been planning this for a while.
He sat in the middle of the lounge floor, his head in his hands. "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" he shouted, punching the floor with a curled fist. What fantastic timing! In two days he was flying out to Korea for his next stint abroad. "Bitch! May you rot in hell!" Chris closed his eyes. He hadn't thought that Carly could hurt him anymore, but what little remained of his heart was now broken into a myriad of tiny pieces, like little shards of glass, each piece stabbing his soul. Billy whimpered in his sleep, and Chris got to his feet, his head suddenly feeling too heavy for his body, and made his way to check up on his son. "It's you and me, Billy. Now, it's just you and me."