The journey South was unbearable. For five hours he had sat looking out of the train window as the English countryside sped past. Anna had slept most of the way, and for that he was grateful. He couldn’t make up his mind whether he preferred the silent treatment or the stern glances. Anyhow, pending motherhood had certainly shut her up; she’d hardly said a word since she’d told him about the baby. He stared at her sleeping form and wondered what his mother would make of it all. That was his next port of call; Lincoln, his childhood home and the place where he felt safer than anywhere.
He had left the band back in Scotland after the last gig. Somehow, he’d managed to sing his heart out and the crowds had gone wild, especially the women. On the stage he was someone else, someone more important than a small time singer from the Midlands; one who was now tied down by a woman! He sighed to himself. Jazz had been in raptures at the crowd’s response, so had given him leave to spend time at home.
‘Go and rest that voice! Sleep in all day if you like as long as you take care of that voice; its your fortune.We’ll be on the next stage of the tour before you know it. I’ll be in touch.’
His mother had laughed when he had told her that he was coming home for a few weeks, and that he had some news.
‘Do you have a record contract yet Josh? I’ve told the neighbors how good you are. They want to see you on the telly next!’ His mother had giggled.
They’d walked the short distance from the train station. Josh could see her plump form standing in the doorway of the small but comfortable terrace house. A pang of nostalgia ripped through his heart at the sight. The street looked just the same; the row of terraces with long gardens that led down the the common beyond, and the corner shop perched on the end of the street. He walked past the lottery sign that stood in the middle of the pavement like an awkward statue. The ching! ching! sound of a till could be heard from the shop, and a group of young lads spilled out onto the pavement.
‘Watch it lads! There’s a lady here, and she’s in the family way.’ Anna glared at him, and her face turned crimson.
‘Josh, did I just hear right? Is Anna having a baby?’ Josh looked over his shoulder. His mother Julia was standing right behind him. In the confusion, he hadn’t realized that she’d left her post on the doorstep and walked over to greet him.
‘Er, hello mam. This is Anna.’
Suzanne Bowditch, 2016.