Daniel sat at the table slowly munching his way through a bowl of cereal. He’d been sat there so long it was soggy and he was stirring it round with his spoon wondering whether to give up on it when Naomi walked in.
“Happy birthday!” She exclaimed as she placed an envelope in front of him and put her arms around his shoulders in a quick hug.
“Thanks.” He replied with a smile.
“So, are you looking forward to going out tonight?” She asked, taking the seat opposite him whilst he nodded.
“Yeah, should be a laugh.” He took another mouthful of his cereal.
“Have you got any plans for the rest of the day?”
“Yeah.” He mumbled, and swallowed his food before carrying on. “I’m going to have lunch with my grandparents, spend some time with them. Hence the attire.” He gestured towards the shirt and trousers he was wearing.
“Are you seeing your mum?” She tentatively asked. Daniel didn’t talk about his family life to many people; it was something that he preferred to keep quiet because, as much as he tried not to, every time he spoke about it, it brought back horrible memories.
“No.” He said quickly, and stood, picking up his bowl and emptying it into the bin.
“Dan.” Naomi said in a tone of voice that he knew he wouldn’t be able to escape from. “You’ve got to tell me: what’s the deal with you and your mum?”
He stood silently with his back to her.
“I’m not trying to pry, really I’m not, but it’s your 21st birthday. I can’t imagine not seeing my parents on mine, no matter what kind of disagreement we were having.”
“It’s... complicated. Unless you’ve been in a similar situation you won’t understand.”
“My mum was addicted to painkillers. Believe me, I understand bad family situations.”
Daniel hung his head. Today was already going to be unpleasant, why not make it that little bit more so? He slunk back towards the table and slouched back down into his chair. Taking a big breath he began to talk.
“My mum found out she was pregnant with me a few days after her 16th birthday. Her boyfriend – my dad – broke up with her when he found out and she never heard from him again, not even to ask about me. Even though the guy is scum and this was over 20 years ago, she’s never gotten over it and I don’t think she ever will.” He paused preparing himself to say the one thing he had never said to anyone. “I know that my mum blames me for him leaving; she thinks it’s my fault. If I’d never been conceived then there’s a chance they would still be together.”
“Dan.” Naomi whispered. “I’m sure that’s not true, how could anyone think that about their own son? I mean... it doesn’t even make sense, if it’s anyone’s fault then it’s theirs. By the sounds of things the guy isn’t very nice and would have left her sooner or later, regardless of whether she had you or not.”
it’s true. I’ve known from the first time she let her guard down. I can see the resentment on her face when she looks at me and her reluctance to be a mother only proves it even more. Most of the time she wishes she never had me, and the only reasons she wants me around are selfish ones. She’s an extremely self-destructive person and she doesn’t care that the terrible decisions she makes affect me too. There’s only so much I could take and I’ve had enough. If she wants to get in contact then she can, but I’m not going first. It’s up to her now.”
Naomi reached across the table and took his hand. She didn’t speak, just looked at him in that caring way that she did so often with her sparkling, brown eyes. He felt a warmth spread through him, instantly lifting his spirits.
“Look, I don’t talk about this with many people so I’d really appreciate it if you kept this to yourself.”
“Yeah sure.” She replied. Suddenly a shrill ringing rang through air. It took Daniel a moment to realise what it was.
“Oh that’s my phone.” He announced and got up. He felt shock jolt through his body as he saw who was calling. “Someone’s ears must be burning.” He murmured.