There’d been times when Ben wondered if there might have been women other than Marlo. But her loyalty to the kids made him dismiss such thoughts, thankful she’d been their mother. Until now. Now the thing that had kept them together was tearing them apart.

It was Daniel. He was old enough to take responsibility. Instead he’d gone off the rails. She didn’t want to know.

‘You’re being ridiculous.’ She cranked the TV volume.

‘Turn the bloody thing off, Mar. You can’t keep your head in the sand. The boy needs help.’

‘You mean that unfortunate business with the Henderson girl? Good heavens, Ben, he’s a young man. He ——’

‘If his mates hadn’t been there who knows where we’d be. And the money from your purse—don’t kid yourself about that either. He’s hurting everyone, including himself. And you keep finding excuses.’

‘Oh, you’d understand, of course.’

Ben ducked as the remote whistled past.

‘You’d know. Where were you when he was growing up? Who bandaged his knees? Who fed him and washed his stinking sports gear? Where were you?’

He’d mostly been unblocking toilets and septic tanks. But he couldn’t say it. Couldn’t say anything. So he snatched his keys from the sideboard, unsure where he’d drive or when he’d be back.

 

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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