Easter time – six months down the line of Bella’s courtship.
Bella was out with friends, Boyfriend was out with his. She entered a club, the boyfriend saw her, and pretended not to. A messenger approached Bella–asked whether Boyfriend was hers? Confirmed. ‘Oh,’ said the stranger, ‘You know there’s a girl pregnant with his baby?’
‘Get rid of him.’ Was my advice.
‘Hang on,’ Dad jumped in, ‘Let the lad have his say.’
Boyfriend came to call; he looked shifty. Out they went, Bella and him for a walk and a chat.
Bella came home, alone. Shared this time-honoured fable: drunken one night-stand, wham! They had conceived. He felt real bad about this, didn’t know how to tell Bella. Said the guilt weighed heavy on him.
What did she do? Believed him, and tried to forgive.
But the deceit?
The baby issue whimpered on.
There was a family celebration, my nephew’s eighteenth. Bella stayed home, ill. The boyfriend was absent. I came home early from the party to be with her. Bella was on the telephone, crying. I tiptoed to the bottom of the stairs to listen. Heard her plead, heard her promise not to question the baby betrayal. Begged the boyfriend to stay hers.
Hold me back. I put the brakes on. It took power not to run upstairs, and rip the phone out of her hand, to tell him to *off.
My daughter deserved better. My, beautiful unique daughter deserved better than this. She had done no wrong. Boyfriend held Bella’s and his future in his clumsy hands. She masked her feelings of betrayal. She obeyed him.
She would wear this mask and come familiarly with it. She would hide behind it. The mask of alcohol.