His mummy was dying. He stared at her face, usually so beautiful and serene now sweat-soaked and puckered as the pain finally claimed her.
‘Mummy, don’t leave me, Mummy!’ he said, his voice trembling with sobs.
‘Craig,’ she reached out, her warm hands patting his flyaway hair. ‘I have to go.’
Granny interrupted, ‘There, there, Rose. It’s all right, it won’t be long until the end now.’
The end. His mummy was near the end. She couldn’t be. He needed her. He was only six. He needed his mummy.
‘Granny will look after you. I’ve got to go to the hospital now,’ Mummy tried to get to her feet, but pain tore through her and she slumped against the chair.
‘I don’t want Granny to look after me. I want you to, Mummy. I love you. I don’t love, Granny. She won’t let me watch Scooby-Doo. She makes me watch stupid gardening programmes and she won’t let me play in my room. I hate her!’ Craig stomped upstairs and slammed his bedroom door behind him.
He ran to his bed, yanking the Toy Story covers back and climbed into the safe, snug den. Tears drenched the pillow, slowly ebbing as the welcome respite of sleep took over.
His breathing deepened and the dream began. A smile flickered on his face, the familiar scene playing out in his mind. Daddy was there. Daddy ran to him, taking him in his arms and twirling him round and round. Mummy joined them and together they walked hand in hand to the park, just like they used to.
He and Daddy sat on the roundabout spinning faster and faster until Mummy shouted at them to stop otherwise they would be sick. He and Daddy laughed and laughed. Mummy ruffled his hair and threatened to clip him round the ear. She didn’t. His mummy loved him.
Craig’s body jerked, the dream dispersing and reality dawning. It could never be like that again. Not now. Daddy had gone. He should hate Daddy. Mummy did. Daddy said he couldn’t cope with Mummy’s condition. Mummy said all men were the same.
The knock on the door was loud in the still room. Perhaps it was Mummy. His mummy would never leave him.
‘Craig, love, it’s Granny. Can I come in?’
Craig groaned and pulled the covers back. Bright sunlight stung his eyes.
‘Are you all right, pet?’ Granny tiptoed in.
‘I want my mummy!’ Craig said, getting back under the duvet again.
‘Mummy will be all right. Everything will be fine, you’ll see.’
‘No, it won’t. Go away. I don’t want you.’
‘You don’t want a choccy biccy, then? How about a Jaffa Cake? They’re your favourites.’
The wrapper crinkled as Granny tore the packet open. Craig’s nose wrinkled, the sweet scent wafting closer. His stomach grumbled, getting the better of him.
‘Okay, then. But I’m not going to watch your silly gardening stuff. Can I have two Jaffa Cakes?’
The lights flickered, bright images on screen mirrored in Craig’s eyes. He chomped on his cakes, crumbs spiralling down onto his jeans. Granny tutted. He turned to look up at her and she wrapped her arms around him, each leaning on the other for support.
Craig started to cry. ‘She’s been gone ages, Granny. It’s happened. I know it.’
Part Two next week