There’s Friction In The Valentine Family…
Autumn, Year 4
Christopher scowled at the textbook. These projects always seemed so pointless and irritating; much more so since Rosie usually sailed through them with no trouble. He always got stuck with the difficult ones and always when his father was in a foul mood. It was just his luck.
While his youngest son quietly cursed his teachers, William was down on the beach, jogging to clear his mind. The story he’d read in the paper only a few weeks ago was still burning in his brain. The picture of his eldest son; the one son who did what he was supposed to do, not what he wanted to do; that same son seen kissing some pop singer at a music festival, of all things. What had Ryan been thinking?
Emilio usually visited after school. Today, it was Rosie who answered the door. She was really pleased to see him; she’d not seen much of him since they’d kissed in the summer and she wasn’t sure what to make of it.
As it turned out, she didn’t have to worry. It definitely hadn’t been a one-off at all.
Christopher smirked as he came back into the hall and spotted his sister and best friend as they sprang apart. Rosie muttered excuses and disappeared into the den.
“Well!” Christopher high fived his friend. “It’s nice to see you taking care of my little sister!”
Emilio blushed. “Give over,” he laughed nervously.
“So what’s next, you become ‘we’ people?” Christopher asked, punching his friend lightly. He pulled a face and switched to a sarcastic voice. “We can’t make it tonight. We’re going out this Saturday. We don’t want to come.”
“Piss off,” Emilio said, laughing. “It’s not like that.”
“Well whatever. I assume ‘we’ are still playing basketball soon, or does Rosie not want you to come?”
Emilio stuck his tongue out at his best friend.
Rosie smiled to herself as she pulled her homework books out of her back and sat down in the den. She could hear Christopher and Emilio talking in the hall. She’d liked Emilio for ages and it was great to find out her liked her back!
Upstairs, Maggie was enjoying a quiet soak in the bath. Since Celestia’s birth, she hadn’t had much time to herself and it was time to seriously think about getting back to work. She knew William didn’t approve and she also knew he didn’t relish the thought of being home with Celestia all the time. However, Maggie knew she needed her time away from the family sometimes.
The following morning, William put on his coat, grabbed a cup of coffee from the coffee maker and stood on the deck in the back garden, watching the autumnal sunshine rise. There was a definite chill in the air in the mornings now but the crispness of the leaves on the lawn made William appreciate the little things in life. He’d made a decision the night before, during a long, sleepless night.
“For goodness sake, William! It’s none of our business!” Maggie suppressed a sob.
“Margaret, our son is dating a pop singer. Did you hear? A bloody pop singer!” William raged. “I’m sorry Margaret but this is ridiculous. He’s got a very good position in the army, for heaven’s sake. He’ll ruin his career if he keeps being seen with a bloody pop singer. Especially one who’s never out of the papers!”
“It’s still none of our business, William. Ryan is an adult and can do as he pleases. He doesn’t even live at home any more! And so what if this Hayley girl is in the papers? She’s a singer, William, it’s her job.”
“Margaret, she’s in the papers because she was dating a university student. A student!” William’s eyes flashed dangerously. “Are you really so stupid you’re not seeing this?”
“Right, that’s it.” Maggie stood up sharply. “I’m going out. Call me when you grow up a bit.”
“Please yourself.” William sat back and folded his arms. He waited until he heard the front door slam before getting his phone out.
Ryan bit his lip and hung his head a little as he trudged reluctantly up the drive towards the house. The brief summons from his father was really not what he’d had in mind for his day off but beggars couldn’t be choosers and here he was. He knew what this was going to be about; the repercussions of his very publicised kiss with Hayley at the music festival had gone on and on ever since and he was beginning to regret it, deeply.
“Ryan! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you! In person, anyway.” William hugged his son.
Ignoring his father’s remark, Ryan pulled away. “What do you want? Why the summons?”
“I see. Come through.” William gestured to the living room and Ryan followed apprehensively.
“I want you to finish with this singer of yours.” William said bluntly.
Ryan was silent for a moment. “Why?” He asked finally.
“She’s an embarrassment! Oh Ryan, for heaven’s sake, wake up! Look at her dating record! She’s a dreadful influence and not the sort of woman I expected you to date! What is the matter with you?”
Ryan shook his head. “I’m not doing this. Not here, not now.”
“Right.” William stood up. “Get your jacket, we’ll do this somewhere else. We’ll got out for coffee and we can talk then.” When Ryan didn’t move, William raised his voice. “MOVE!”
“I don’t know why you think bringing me out for coffee is going to make a difference,” Ryan said stubbornly. “The fact is, it’s none of your business, Dad. I’ll date whoever I want to date and there’s nothing you can do about that.”
“Does your commanding officer think it’s none of his business?” William asked. “I don’t suppose he was too pleased to see you in the papers. What an insult to the armed forces!”
“Dad! It’s still none of your business. The conversation between my commanding officer and myself is MY business. So please butt out and leave me alone.”
“What an image is it for you, Ryan? To be seen out and about with a woman like her?” William shook his head in disbelief. “She’s nothing more than an entertainer, Ryan. Certainly not somebody you should be seen out with.”
“Really?” Ryan glared at his father. “But it’s okay for you to be seen out with a style influencer? Do your old navy buddies know about Mum’s new career? Because you know, she’ll probably end up advising people like Hayley on their style choices.”
“This has nothing to do with your mother!” William snarled.
Ryan held up a hand. “Save it, Dad. I’m done.”
As he downed his remaining coffee, he watched Ryan get up and walk away. Only briefly did he wonder if Ryan would ever come back.