Feeling sick at the thought of the younger boys knowing he’d just wet himself at their house, Jack dejectedly made his way down the stairs, pausing for a moment as he was unsure where his Mum would be, before hearing voices coming from what tuned out to be the living room. With some trepidation, worrying whether he was going to be told off for showing his Mum up in front of her new boyfriend after she’d been so keen to make a god impression, and also that Graham would think him a baby, Jack tentatively eased the door open. He was surprised to find Lucy and Ellie sprawled across the sofa, and no sign of the adults.
The girls were clearly getting on well – as Jack entered the room, Ellie was crying with laughter as Lucy recounted some tale or another, although both fell immediately silent as they saw him walking through the door.
“Remember what I said El, that stays between us. Not a word to ANYBODY else.” Lucy spoke in hushed, conspiratorial tones whilst looking pointedly at her little brother, who was standing rather awkwardly staring at them,
Nodding in understanding, Ellie turned her head to address Jack. “Hiya mate, feeling a bit better now?” Smiling encouragingly at the boy, who looked lost and sad.
Jack just shrugged, lowering his head and looking at the floor. In truth, he just wanted to go home. He’d never felt so embarrassed before, and didn’t know why he felt as bad as he did. He’d had plenty of accidents, but none had ever made him feel like this.
“Come on Jack, come sit with me and El. We were just telling each other funny stories from school, I bet you’ve got a few of them too yeah. We’d love to hear them.” Lucy patted the empty space on the sofa, and held out a hand to her baby brother.
Intrigued, Jack padded softly over to the sofa and sat on the very edge, looking curiously at the girls. Maybe they weren’t going to make fun of him after all, he thought, maybe just maybe tonight would be ok.
In the kitchen, Graham had made a pot of coffee, and both him and Lesley were sat at the table cradling steaming mugs and chatting over how their days had been, although Lesley of course missed out her earlier mishap, deciding that Graham really didn’t not need to know about that, an confident that he’d run a mile if it came out that she had wet herself just like her young son. They had heard Jack switch off the shower, and then the creaking of him descending the stairs, but he didn’t appear in the kitchen as they had expected. Just as Lesley was getting to her feet to look for him, however, they heard loud laughter from the front room, Jack’s voice intermingled with the girls, and decided to leave them too it for a while, hoping that Jack would be able to forget about what had happened and enjoy the evening as they were planning to do.
“Sounds like they’re having a ball in there.” Graham remarked, chuckling. “Such a difference to the normal teenage stroppiness I’ve become accustomed to.”
“Agreed! Lucy’s just as bad, and she’s not even 12 yet, never mind a teenager! Only a couple of weeks until her birthday, but I’m dreading it.” Which caused Graham to raise an eyebrow enquiringly.
“No, no, not her actual birthday, I don’t mind that – well, apart from the mess of a party at any rate! No, it’s her getting older that’s the problem, the moodswings are already starting, and apart from anything else it’s making me feel old, how can I have a child who’s very nearly an adult?”
Ever charming, Graham reached out a hand and took hold of Lesley’s. “Well you certainly don’t look old enough to have a teenage daughter, that’s for sure.” Which caused Lesley to blush slightly, as Graham kissed her hand gently.
“I should go and see if Jack’s ok.” Lesley announced suddenly, a little embarrassed by the attention which she wasn’t used to, and rising to her feet. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Worried that he’d put his foot in it somehow, Graham was tempted to follow her, although he reasoned that she probably did just want to check on Jack, and that if she needed a bit of space for a couple of minutes then him stalking around the house after her wasn’t going to help matters. Instead, he busied himself with making another drink, and began some preparations for dinner, having decided on a hot buffet style spread so that there would be something for everybody, and no need to sit down together formally which may have been a little awkward.
Knocking loudly on the living room door to anon her arrival, Lesley swept in having taken a moment to compose herself in the hallway first.
“Well, whatever you lot are up to in here certainly sounds like a lot of fun! Everything ok Jack? I thought you’d be upstairs playing with Sam and Ben, I know they’re dying to see you…”
Jack looked up at his Mum sadly, gesturing to the pyjamas he was wearing. “I don’t want them to know, Mum. Can we just go home please?” Tears beginning to glint in his eyes once more.
Lesley’s heart broke as she heard this, and she was all ready to make her excuses to Graham and head back home, seeing just how upset and embarrassed her poor son was. But Ellie soon came to the rescue.
“Jack mate, accidents are nothing to be ashamed of. They happen to all of us sometimes, don’t they?” She glanced between Lesley and Lucy briefly before continuing “I bet even your Mum has had an accident before now, Lucy too, and you know I have because you were there! Yeah it’s pretty embarrassing, but it’s just wee. And the boys aren’t going to care what you’re wearing, I bet they wouldn’t even notice.”
Moved though she was by this little speech, Lesley couldn’t help but feel a pang of shame herself when Ellie mentioned that even she had probably had an accident, the girl not realising just how close to the truth she was after what had happened only a couple of short hours ago. She smiled her thanks though, and did her best to reassure Jack that what Ellie had said about the boys not being bothered, carefully skirting around the subject of accidents.
Even Lucy chipped in “If I can get over wetting myself at school in year 6, in front of EVERYBODY, then I’m sure you can cope with this. Come on Jack, you can do it.” For some reason, Ellie giggled a little at this, causing Lucy to shoot her a warning glance and throw a nearby cushion at her new friends head, but Lesley decided against asking why, thinking it was probably for the best that she didn’t know.
Jack still looked unsure, but some of his worries had been put to rest, and he was starting to feel maybe he could go and see Sam and Ben after all, although not quite yet. “I’ll go upstairs later, Mum, promise. But I wan’t to hear the rest of Ellie’s story first, if that’s ok?”
Satisfied that her son was going to be ok, Lesley left the kids in peace, heading back to the kitchen where she found Graham busy slicing salad, a fresh mug of coffee was waiting for her on the table.
“Ooh, thanks love, I’m ready for this.”
She then went on to explain Jack’s worries, but quickly reassured Graham that between her and the girls they’d mostly calmed him down, and that hopefully he’d go upstairs when he was ready, giving the girls some time alone together which she was sure they’d appreciate.
“You know Les, I think I may just have the answer. I’ll be right back!” Graham had a twinkle in his eye, and a look which said he was on a mission, as he dashed out of the kitchen and she heard his heavy feet clattering up the stairs. Only a couple of minutes later, he returned looking very pleased with himself, but wouldn’t offer any explanation and simply held a finger up to his lips every time she asked what he was up too.
Whilst he’d been gone, Lesley had taken over the food prep, and now they worked side by side in the small kitchen, playfully feeding each other small tasters and generally acting like a couple of lovesick teenagers themselves, Graham even testing the boundaries a couple of times, pleased to discover that they were quite flexible and that Lesley seemed to enjoy his teasing and gentle advances as much as he did.
When they heard what sounded like a herd of elephant running down the stairs, Lesley braced herself for a further upset, worried that if Graham’s boys went into the living rom and saw Jack he may struggle, but Graham just smiled and winked, causing her to roll her eyes in exasperation when he still wouldn’t explain what was going on.
Then, suddenly, the kitchen door burst open and there stood not onlySam and Ben, but also Jack, Lucy and Ellie, all clad in pyjamas. “Guess what Mum?” Jack yelled excitedly “We’re all having a big pyjama party!” And he had the biggest beaming smile on his face that Lesley could have wept, but this time tears of joy.
She turned to Graham “Was this your doing? Thank you! I don’t know where you’ve been hidden all of these years, but you really are a very special, truly wonderful man.” And without a thought to the audience watching on, she wrapped him in her arms and kissed him passionately.7
Audio Version of Chapter