Ch40: Stolen Feb 9th
By lisa h
“Let me hold him.” Ian stands over me, hands outstretched. Ian arrived just before lunch, and took me unawares with his arrival. “I won’t hurt him or do anything to make him cry, I just want to hold my son.”
I clutch Ewan to my breast and he wakes up, panicking himself into crying because he can feel my stress, my unease. “I’m not sure…” I turn sideways to Ian, rocking Ewan, trying to get him to stop hollering.
“I’ll only have him a minute. He’s my son, I have rights to hold him as well.” He’s getting angry, the tone of his voice deepening and growing more threatening. “Give him to me.”
I glance at the door, the only way out of the cottage. I walk over there and only when I have my back to the door do I hand over my squalling infant. “Make sure you support his head.”
Ian takes Ewan from me, and it’s obvious he’s never held a baby before. He’s awkward and his arms seem all at odd angles as he tries to cuddle Ewan to his chest. Maybe he doesn’t have a secret family on the mainland. So what is his reason for keeping me here?
“Can you stir the soup?” Ian says as he finally gets Ewan in a comfortable position.
My hackles go up, I have visions of Ian making a break for the boat. “Let’s get the two of you sat on the sofa, you’ll be loads more comfortable.” I direct them there, get Ian sat on the far end, nearest the stove. I give the soup a stir at lightning speed and then sit down at the other end of the sofa.
“Looks nearly ready. You want to hand him back so you can do the honours dishing up?”
Ian has a soppy look on his face as he gazes down at Ewan. One of the baby’s hands is wrapped around his finger.
“Can you? I’m really enjoying this.”
Ewan has stopped crying and is staring back at Ian. Does he know that’s his father? Can he know what a terrible man he is?
“Go on, or the soup will overheat.” He doesn’t look up, but I catch the tone, I’m being ordered.
Somehow I stand and walk around the sofa. I need to cut wedges of bread and butter them. I get started, keeping myself angled so I can keep an eye on that man and my son.
“I got a baby coat and a baby carrier for Ewan so you can walk around the island with him. I’ll nip down to the boat to get them while you finish up.”
I go cold as he stands. This is it, the moment I lose my child. “No,” I almost shout. Somehow I need to keep calm. “It’s far too cold out there for him. I’ll hold onto Ewan.” I’ve run to the door and somehow blocked his way. “Come on, we’ll eat first. The soup will be ruined by the time you get back.” I’m using his own excuses back at him.
Ian hesitates, then moves away from the door. He’s eyes me up strangely. Maybe he realises for the first time that I will not fall for his stupid cons and excuses anymore. If he wants to try and steal Ewan from me he’s going to have to try a whole lot harder.
“Yes, the soup. It’s butternut squash, sweet potato and ginger. Hope you like it.”
“I’m sure I will.”
Ewan is squirming in his arms. I know what he needs – my breasts know as well as the first tingles of milk production make them ache.
“He’s after a feed as well.” I reach out for my son. “Can you serve up? I’ll feel the little one.”
He can’t excuse him out of handing him over. Ewan is rooting, searching for food, and he’s not getting any off Ian.
“Certainly.” He passes the baby to me, and the relief I feel is palpable.
Ewan starts to cry and I sit on the sofa, whip out a boob and let him latch on. Ian’s watching and I don’t care. Let him get his old man letch looks in. It’s as far as he’ll get now.
We eat, and I’m not letting go of Ewan. Somehow I negotiate spoonfuls of soup without spilling any on the baby. Ian offers to take him, but I make every excuse I can think of until he gives up.
“I’ll get the baby things from the boat.” He’s in the bathroom, washing up.
“Thank you, Ian.” More fake pleasantries. I just want a chance to put my favourite blade into his cold heart. I glance at the cutlery drawer. Maybe now is the time. I get up and keeping half an eye on the bathroom door, take a knife from the drawer and slip it up my sleeve.
I can’t do it with Ewan in my arms, but don’t want to put him down. Ian comes out of the bathroom, drying his hands on a tea towel as he goes over to the aga and drapes the wet towel over the handle to dry.
“Be back before you know it.”
I smile, thinking, I’m counting on it. He closes the door on a strong wind that’s come from nowhere. Mind you, the weather changes so fast and erratically here I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. The moment the door closes, I go to the bedroom and put Ewan down, snuggled up in the duvet. I kiss him on the forehead and make sure he settles back into sleep.
My heart is going like the clappers. Watching from the living room window I see that Ian is down at the boat already, grabbing a couple of bags from the deck. He turns and heads straight back to the cottage. The wind is catching him, and the waves are pushing the boat about, slamming it up against the pier. Good thing for the rubber tires between the wood and the boat, otherwise no one would be leaving.
I drop the knife out of my sleeve and scramble on the floor for it. My palms are sweaty and the blade feels foreign in my hand. I’m about to commit murder.
Ian’s nearly to the cottage. I hide my weapon behind my back and step away from entrance.
The door slams open in the wind. Ian drops the bags on the sofa and grabs at the handle. “Getting wild out there, I’m heading straight out. See you in a few days.”
I don’t get a chance to even reply. He closes the door and he’s gone.
“Shit!” I was ready to do it. Ready to kill the bastard. I debate running after him, but the sound of the door crashing into the wall has woken Ewan. His growing cries make me put the knife on the arm of the sofa and go to him instead. Frustration makes me let out a scream which scares the baby even more, and his cries turn to shrieks.
I pick Ewan up and cradle him in my arms, shushing him and rocking him back and forth. A song, long remembered, probably from when I was not much bigger than Ewan, comes to mind, and before I know it, I’m singing Hush Little Baby.