Out of Reach

This is a story of a teenage romance which blossoms into something beyond beautiful. It has twists and turns, where a young couple fall in and out of love with each other and other people. How do their lives pan out in the end though?


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37. April: a gift

 

I open my eyes in the early light of April, and turn over to see Megan sat up reading. I take a look at the clock, seeing that it’s 20 minutes past 7.     

   “How long have you been awake?” The words come out slowly and painfully, grating against my throat, the early morning sore-throat I get these days.     

   “A while. You were snoring.” She doesn’t take her eyes away from the pages.     

   “Sorry.” I grunt, and sit up. My body feels 10 years older than it actually is; the side effects of being 43 and a father of 3 kids.    

   “What’re you doing today?” I ask.    

   “Working on my new book and arranging a signing to take place sometime in the next few months.”    

   “Oh right.” I get out of bed, my body aching under the weight I’ve been gaining, a beer belly sitting where muscles used to lie.     

   I plod down the stairs and turn on the kettle, sitting at the breakfast bar with the newspaper I’ve read every day this week. It’s a normal Thursday, and I’m so glad the week is almost over.    

   I hear the shower turn on upstairs, knowing its Lucy. She’s fifteen now, believe it or not.    

   Then I hear brisk footsteps on the stairs, before Ethan runs into the kitchen and bounces onto one of the stools.    

   “Morning buddy.” I say, “What would you like for breakfast?”    

   “Cheerio’s please.” He says.    

   “Get them yourself then.” He does as he’s told as he’s always been well-behaved. I get back to the paper, then realise how bored I am of it because I’ve read the same stories for the past 3 days.     

   Megan comes into the kitchen and gets herself some toast.    

   “Get a move on Lucy; you’ll miss your bus.” She shouts upstairs.    

   There’s no reply other than a few doors slamming.    

   “I’m going to strangle that girl if she continues.” Megan huffs, spreading butter on her toast.    

   “She’s just a teenager.” I say, setting aside the paper and sighing through the cold morning air. I’m tired and feeling old, too old.     

   “It’s not a good enough excuse. I don’t recall Daisy ever acting this way, and I certainly didn’t.”     

   “Oh come on Megs, think of all the teenage strops you had. I certainly remember them.”    

   “Most of my teenage hood I was a mother, I had more on my plate, and I was never retched to my family.”    

   “Think about the time you cheated on your exams.” I state. Ethan’s eyes widen from the sound of the story.    

   “I did not. I asked to borrow a pen from Lisa who was sat beside me, and suddenly everything blew up.” She points out, sitting beside Ethan.    

   “Okay, what about the time I moved in with you?”    

   “Again,” she swallows a piece of toast and then continues, “The rest of my family approved.”     

   “Or when you got pregnant?” This sentence leaves her wordless, like she’s been winded and fallen flat on her back, knocking out her mind.    

   “Dylan, don’t stick up for her when she’s misbehaving.” Megan crunches on her other piece of toast, and I don’t argue back because she’s right.    

   “Sorry, you’re right. I’m just saying; try to understand how she feels.” She breathes out heavily and takes her plate, along with Ethan’s bowl, to the sink, where she runs the tap.    

   “Lucy, I won’t tell you again.” Megan shouts, tilting her head upwards.    

   A few seconds later and there’s heavy footsteps on the stairs. Lucy emerges from the hallway dressed in her uniform, the same uniform Megan and I used to wear when we went to her school.   

   “Now roll down your skirt and tuck your shirt in.” Megan instructs. She always had neat uniform when she was young, and expects the same from her children. Lucy does as she’s told; all four of us know that she’ll only roll it up again when she gets on the bus.    

   She developed early, at the mere age of 10, so is now curvy like a full-grown woman, which makes Megan and I especially protective over her and how she dresses. We don’t want anyone taking advantage of her.     

   Her face is coated in makeup, but not too much that she’s plastic. She has died her hair browny-red, and she’s rather slim. In her eyes, she resembles Megan.     

   She goes into the cupboard searching for cereal, but Megan stops her.    

   “You don’t have time for breakfast. Grab a cereal bar and walk to the bus stop.”     Lucy grunts at her mother, but does as she’s told. She slams the front door on her exit, and leaves 3 of us sat in the kitchen.     

   “Have you brushed your teeth?” She asks Ethan.    

   “Yeah.” Megan picks up her car keys.    

   “Right, let’s go then. See you later darling.” Megan kisses my lips a sweet goodbye and they leave the house.    

   I walk upstairs and dress into my shirt and trousers then grab my jacket and also leave the house for work.    

   The roads are busy and the streets are bustling with people walking their dogs, making their way to work, and dropping their children off at school. School kids flood the bus stops, leaving pensioners looking more and more uncomfortable in their surroundings. The pavements are slick and reflective due to the damp left from last night’s down pour, and everyone is wrapped up in outside-wear. The trees bare branches swing down from their great heights, a few leaves beginning to show against the harsh black colours and tones. The clock on the dash board tells me I’m already late, and my heart races faster as the traffic doesn’t move; I have a meeting this morning.    Finally the road clears up, but it is still a slow and painful drive. The sky is a miserable gray, full of cloud, which paints a sad picture on the town which is usually a beautiful place to be. The harsh greyness of everything – the buildings, the pavement, the sky – makes my mood go south, and this morning’s happenings don’t make it any better.    

   I turn the radio on as a last resort, listening to the news. The man reports death, small pensions and increase in global warming, so I turn it off.    

   I pull into my reserved parking space, all the others already taken as I’m 45 minutes late. The day starts badly, and doesn’t get any better. Work is stressful, and I’m in everybody’s bad books for the pure fact that I didn’t make it on time this morning. I sit at my desk, trying to focus on paperwork when I already have so much on my mind, but my mobile rings loudly in my pocket, distracting me.     I pull it from my pocket and see that it’s Kyle who’s phoning me; my son in law.    

   I press the receiver and put the phone to my ear.    “Hey son, how’re you?” I ask down the line.    

   “Great thanks, but Daisy’s just gone into labour. I’ve rang the hospital and I’m about to take her down if you want to meet us there.”    “Oh god. Thank you Kyle, I’ll be as fast as I can.”    

   “Okay, see you later.” I close the line, my heart thudding heard against my chest, as if trying to escape me.    

   I fumble in my pocket checking my car keys are in there and then make my way to my bosses office.    

   The door is deep mahogany, and when I knock my clenched fist against it, the sound that echoes off is soft and low.    

   “Come in.” I hear my bosses pale voice.    

   I walk inside, seeing matching mahogany furniture; a desk centre stage with a regal chair, a wall-length bookcase and a small coffee table surrounded by 2 easy chairs.    

   “What’s the problem?” She sighs, taking off her glasses.    

   “My daughter’s in labour, I’ve been called by family and asked if I could make it to the hospital. Would that be possible?” She sighs and looks down, observing her documents she was interrupted from sorting out.    

   “I don’t see why not.”     

   “Thank you so much.” I fly out of the room, down the stairs and out into the open, where the air has warmed considerably.     

   

Once in my car, it doesn’t take long to reach the hospital. I find a parking space and make my way inside, finding my family, and breathing deeply to catch my breath.    

   The room we’re situated in is big and open. Metal chairs with blue fabric cushions line the outside, and in the centre is an old wooden table with dated magazines lying sloppily on top.     

   Megan is sat on one of the chairs, her body tense and her eyes alert.     

   “How is she?” I ask, and she jumps with a start.    

   “She’s in that room, having contractions.” I sit beside her and put my arm round her shoulders.    

   “Are you nervous?” I ask.    

   “More than I was when it was me in labour.” Her body stays tight beneath my touch.    

   “She’ll be fine, she’s always been brave.” I say, soothing her.    

   “God Dylan, we’re so old.” She says after a while.    

   “I know, I know. We used to have so much fun, do you remember?”    

   “Yeah.” She laughs, reminiscing in our memories. “We were messy, but we were perfectly messy, in our own unique way.” She smiles to herself.    

   “And if we weren’t like that? Well, I don’t think we’d be here right now, do you?”     

   “No. I honestly don’t.” A sad expression plays on her face.    

   I look down at my hand that’s lay pathetically in my lap. My knuckles are dry and cracked, my nails short and clean, and my skin that pulls loosely over the rigid bones is tanned. It looks weathered and doesn’t quite fit me properly. I look across at Megan’s and the skin fits in a similar way, sad looking and old. Her bones are thin beneath her pale skin, and her nails are perfectly filed.     Kyle steps out of the room with a grey face. I stand and walk towards him, squeezing him in my arms.    

   “How is she?” I ask.    

   “Tired.” He replies, looking down. He looks ill.    

   “I’m sure she is, I’m tired from the mere thought.” I shake my head, not because I’m thinking about the comment I just made, but because I still don’t believe I’m going to be a grandfather.     

   “Dylan, why don’t we go home love?” Megan asks, placing her hand delicately on my chest.    

   “Well, I don’t want to miss my grandchild being born.” I say, looking anxiously at the door.    

   “It won’t do anybody any good us being here, and you’re obviously not comfortable.” She rubs my arm with her other hand, soothing me.    

   “I suppose you’re right.” I give in.    

   “Come on, let’s get home. We can always come back if we hear any news.”   

 

 I swallow back my fear and anxiety and sit down on the bed.     

   Ethan is asleep, Lucy is supposed to be asleep, and Megan is taking a shower.     

   I frown, wishing I could be at the hospital right now, because if anything bad happened, I’d be there, holding Daisy’s hand and willing her to pull through. I think back to the time when I was there for Megan, holding her hand whilst she cried and screamed, yet at the end of all the pain the most beautiful little girl was in our arms.     

   I don’t want to let Daisy go. She’ll have her own baby to look after, and I’ll be the grandfather who babysits when she goes on dates. The sad thoughts keep whirring round my head that I’m too young for all of this, and the fact that this shouldn’t be happening. It’s like time is against us.    

   Resting my head on a pillow, I look around the room. It is lit my two glass lamps on either side of the bed, which are sat on oak bedside tables. A chest of drawers is sat opposite to the bed, and then next to that is a double oak wardrobe with glass handles fashioned to look like diamonds. Three walls are a pale cream, and the one that the oak framed bed is pushed against is a light earthy green that makes it always feel like spring. Megan picked the colours.   

   Megan pads into the room with just a towel rapped round her like a dress, her hair hanging wet and limp down her back. It curls loosely behind her, as if each strand of hair is a secret.     

   We don’t talk, but I watch as her towel drops to the floor, revealing bare skin pulling tightly over her spine. She opens the bottom draw, and pulls out some pyjamas, dressing herself in them before climbing into bed beside me. I get into the covers and turn to face her, giving her a warm smile. Her hair is still damp and wets the sheets slightly, like it does every night. I breathe in, smelling her shampoo-y scent, and loving the moment we share between each other, just looking into each other’s eyes. I move in and kiss her, and she kisses me back softly, before closing her eyes and smiling with perfect lips. I keep my eyes open for a few minute longer in case she decides against going to sleep, but then I hear her breathing heavily and turn off my lamp.   My phone awakens me from a nightmare, and I switch my lamp on, reaching for the mobile that’s lay on my bedside table. I answer with a hello.    

   “Hi Dylan, Daisy’s got to have a c-section.” Kyle’s voice breathes heavily down the line.    

   I nudge Megan awake, and she fumbles in the light for a few seconds.    

   “What?” She grunts.    

   “Daisy has to have a c-section.” I tell her whilst getting out of bed, “Kyle, we’ll be right there, thanks for ringing us.” I hang up the phone and pull on my jeans that I slung across the floor. Megan rushes to her feet and scrambles for some clothes.     

   In the car the air is tense and Lucy and Ethan sit uncomfortably in the back. I cross my fingers sub-consciously and tell myself that everything is going to be fine.     

   The waiting room is also tense, and I feel panic creeping through me as she’s in the operating theatre for longer and longer.     

   The door swings open surprising everyone, and Kyle’s face beams. In his arms is a little baby, red and sleepy.    

   I walk up to the pair that are stood in the door way.    

   “Is it a boy or a girl?” I ask.    

   “A little boy.” A tear falls from his eyes, and I look at Kyle and my grandson fondly, remembering when Daisy was born, and how complete I felt.    

   “Can I hold him?” I ask. Kyle steps from the room, the door shutting behind him as Daisy gets stitched up, and he passes the new baby boy to me. I look down at him, watching his beautiful features, and say a silent prayer full of thank you’s.  

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