Authors: Janey Rosen
Sebastian – Dark Bonds
Copyright © 2013 by Janey Rosen
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author.
I owe a debt of gratitude to my husband for his unending patience and fortitude, without which it would have been impossible for me to dedicate so much time to completing this book.
Deep inside me a fierce torrent of bubbling, salty sea is rising from my belly... it’s like a tsunami within my core and it is crashing through my chest now and up into my throat and it spews forth from my lips as a gurgling, explosive scream… and I scream again but this time no sounds comes forth, the tide has ebbed and all that is left is the taste of the salt and I realize the salt is vomit and a nurse is holding a cardboard bowl under my chin while she strokes my back, comforting me. Only there will never be any comfort in my world again.
I gently hold my son’s limp hand in mine. It’s a tiny white hand, icy cold and the finger nail beds are blue grey. I need to clip his nails, they are too long – he’ll be in trouble at school with nails like those and I don’t want the teachers to think I’m not a good mum. Yes I need to clip those nails. I gaze at his face but it’s not the face I know. It’s not my son, and yet they tell me this lifeless soul is my boy. He’s swollen, all of his face is puffy and blotchy and he’s so very cold. I need to keep him warm, so I climb onto the narrow bed beside him and wrap my body over his, my arms tightly around him and my leg across his small body but still he feels icy cold. I stroke his matted crusted hair and sing him the lullaby I used to sing to him when he was small.
Little man is tired he’s had a busy day
And now it’s time for him to go to sleep,
So pack up all your worries,
Little man has had a busy day.
Only this time when I sing to him, he doesn’t giggle and snuggle down under the duvet, instead he lies still and cold under the crisp white sheet and my mother is telling me to stop, that I have to let him go, kiss him goodbye. But he’s already asleep, I tell her. We have to be very quiet because he’s exhausted and needs his rest and then he will get better but my mother is sobbing and saying “he’s gone Beth, he’s gone love”.
I close my eyes and see myself in the hospital bed with my baby boy. He is still covered in vernix, and he’s crying with his tiny chin quivering. I hold him to my breast, and his hungry cry is hushed as he suckles from me and I wonder at this perfect tiny child in my arms. Then I look down at the tiny infant and instead of his warm pink skin against my breast he’s mottled and dead and the salty tide is swelling inside me again.
It takes the nurses and my exhausted mother three hours to part me from my son. I want to see Alan I tell them. They tell me it’s not ‘a good idea’ to see Alan but I shake free of their hands and their sympathy and run from cubicle to cubicle until I find him alone behind the final curtain.
He’s just a shape beneath a white sheet but I know it’s him. I’m shocked and sickened when I pull back the sheet, to reveal the broken shell of my husband but pity and sorrow gives way to the stronger beast within me – fury. As I stand beside his fractured body, looking down on this man I want to kill him. If he wasn’t already dead I would kill him with my bare hands – a life for
a life. His life for my son’s.
I’m shaking now, violent shudders over which I have no control and my hand takes on a life of it’s own, avenging Joe for what this man did to him and it strikes Alan. It’s not my hand now, it’s a tool which is working entirely independently of my body as it slaps Alan’s distorted face, and it pounds his crushed chest with blows from it’s tightly clenched fist and a guttural feral roar erupts from my throat. The fist is stopped and I’m grabbed and held and I try to break free so that the fist can continue to mete it’s punishment, but the arms hold me so tightly I can’t move and a voice commands me to stop.
As I regain awareness and self-
control, I know that I’m in Sebastian’s arms, and my legs give way beneath me. He catches me and lifts me and I’m carried away from this horrific scene.
Joe and Bella are playing in the sand on the beach, and the sun is shining. Bella is burying Joe up to his neck, and Alan and I are laughing as he wiggles his toes, before Bella can cover them with the sandy pile. The sand turns darker, and it becomes soil and his toes are not wiggling any more. I tell Bella to stop. Enough. Let Joe get out now he’ll catch cold in the ground Bella. Now the beach is a graveyard, and Alan is putting more soil on Joe’s head. I’m running to Joe, but as fast as I run his muddy grave gets further away, and now Alan’s pushing damp soil into Joe’s mouth and he can’t breath and I can’t run any faster.
I wake up sweating and panicking, my eyes trying to adjust to the bright daylight which fills the room and Sebastian is beside me stroking my hair and hushing me, telling me it was a bad dream, everything’s ok. But it’s not ok. My son is still gone, and so is Alan whom I miss and love and despise all in equal measure.
My mother appears in the doorway to my bedroom and lays a tray on my bedside table.
“Try a little porridge Beth dear, please – just for me ok?” She looks haggard and spent and I realize I have been selfish not caring for her, and for Bella who both must be hurting dreadfully. I ask where Bella is and mum tells me Sebastian went to fetch her. She’s here, in her room but she is in pieces, bless her. I’ve been dozing I’m told, since the doctor prescribed a sedative for me and the whole night has passed. My mouth feels dry and my tongue is coated in a foul tasting gunge. I take a mouthful of the porridge and enjoy the comforting warmth from the creamed oats. Then I give my mother a long hard hug and tell her how much I love her and she sobs and tells me she loves me too.
Bella cuts the call on her mobile phone as I enter her room, and we sit on the edge of her bed. I can see she’s been crying, her eyes are red and puffy and scrunched up tissues are strewn about her room. I pull her into my arms and hug her tightly, afraid to let her go as she sobs against my shoulder.
“Shh it’ll be ok darling,” I soothe - not believing what I tell her. Nothing will ever be ok again.
I pull on jeans and a baggy sweater, not caring about my appearance or my matted hair, everything such as eating and making conversation seems a pointless exercise today.
Alan’s parents have been to see Alan and Joe at the hospital mortuary, and are coming over at eleven this morning and I dread facing them. How do I console two people who have lost their son and grandson when I am consumed by my own loss and have no capacity to sympathize with others?
Sebastian is sitting in the lounge, in Alan’s chair reading The Times. He jumps to his feet, and hugs me tightly when I come downstairs. His face is full of concern for me and I feel so thankful that he is here, but also aware that Alan’s parents will be arriving soon and it would be extremely tactless for Sebastian to be here when they arrive. As intuitive as ever, Sebastian picks up his coat and heads off elsewhere for a couple of hours.
Dora walks up the garden path supported by Brian, both looking frail and desolate, followed by Alan’s sister Sarah and her husband Nathan; a bleak and forsaken group for whom I feel an overwhelming sense of sorrow and compassion.
I meet them on the doorstep and Dora crumbles into my arms followed by a sobbing Sarah. Nathan guides our forlorn huddle into the lounge and goes to the kitchen to make a tray of tea while Brian sits grimly in Alan’s armchair. After a few minutes our group regains composure and Nathan returns with a pot of tea, jug of milk and 5 mugs and proceeds to pour the steaming brew.
“Sugar Nathan!” barks Brian. “Hot sweet tea. That’s what the doctor ordered. Hot sweet tea for shock.”
Nathan nods and returns to the kitchen to retrieve the sugar. We all take a mug of the compulsory hot sweet tea regardless of whether we take sugar.
“Terrible business Beth,” states Brian glumly. “What I don’t understand is why this happened eh?” He’s glaring at me with an expression full of accusation and blame and I can’t meet his pained stare.
“Thing of it is, in my view, if you hadn’t kicked our boy out he’d be here now with our little Joe instead of … lying on that bloody trolley in that BLOODY MORGUE…” his voice grows to a shout and startles us all and Dora sobs again.
Nathan, standing next to Brian, puts his hand gently on his father-in-law’s shoulder. “Come on Brian mate, it’s not Beth’s fault. She’s as cut up about this as the rest of us, now’s not the time,” says Nathan.
Brian shrugs off his hand, gets up and walks out of the room and we hear him opening the kitchen door and exiting into the back garden.
Alan’s family stays for an hour, until Brian comes back into the house, and informs us all that they’re leaving. I have talked with Dora, Sarah and Nathan about undertakers but Nathan tells us that we have to wait for Alan and Joe to be released for burial as, he says, there will be an autopsy. This news fills me with horror and the knot in my stomach clenches tighter with the dread and pity I feel for my two loved ones who face such an undignified ordeal after all they have been through.
We all hug goodbye, except Brian who gives me a curt nod, and we agree to call each other when we hear from the hospital. We will then meet again to agree funeral arrangements.
Feeling drained and totally spent, I sink down onto the sofa and close my eyes in the darkness, I hear Sebastian return and hear him talking quietly on his mobile phone in the kitchen. “Scarlett you’ve done well. You’ll be rewarded when I return.” What’s she done that’s so incredible?
The next few hours are a blur to me. A Detective Inspector called Pete Chambers and family liaison officer, WPC Laura Viney, visit in the early evening and ask questions about Alan’s car. I give them the number of the garage, which maintains our cars and they make notes of everything I tell them, which unnerves me. For some reason they make me feel as though I’m under suspicion for the accident, so I go to great lengths to explain to them the events leading up to the crash.
I tell them about Alan’s drinking and his mood swings, our arguments and Alan’s departure from our family home. They nod sympathetically and scribble in notebooks but I am glad when they leave. The WPC assures me, as she leaves, that she is there if I need her but it is not yet possible to release Alan or Joe to the family. They will be in touch in due course.
I watch their police car pull away, conscious of the many pairs of net curtains twitching at the windows of the houses opposite ours, and call Sebastian down from upstairs where he has been chatting with Bella until the police leave.
“Darling I’ve been thinking, I want you and Bella to come to Penmorrow after the funeral. Scarlett and I can look after you both. Give you some time and space to heal. What do you think?” he asks.
I’m sitting next to him at the breakfast table and I place my hand gently on his knee.
“You’re so thoughtful Sebastian, what would Bella and I do without you? I’m just not sure that’s a good idea though. Bella needs to be near her friends and I don’t want to leave Mum at the moment, she’s devastated. We’re all devastated.”
His disappointment is palpable and I feel his knee stiffen beneath my hand.
“Why don’t we take one day at a time and see how things are after the… after the funeral?” I say, tears stinging my eyes once more, and Sebastian drops the subject.
It is the third telephone call of the day. Still the obstreperous woman in the General Office at the hospital will not confirm if the autopsy has been completed, nor when it was likely that my chosen undertaker – the aptly named Heart Brothers – will be able to collect Alan or Joe. I slam the phone down in frustration.
Dora is sure to call again this afternoon, and I’ll have to listen to her telling me it’s now six days since the accident and how it all seems very suspicious to her and Brian.