Welcome to the Diary of Roxy Collins – The Serious Relationship Series.
Every Thursday you can read Roxy’s latest diary entry.
What has happened so far?
Roxy, a thirty something, single mother, is currently pregnant with her fourth child to boyfriend, Marcus.
She used to work for Marcus. After a drunken kiss over a photocopying machine at an office party and months of lusting after each other they finally got together.
Roxy and her kids have moved into Marcus’s big house on the expensive side of town.
She’s trying her hardest to adapt to her new life and to this serious relationship, however as the weeks have gone by Marcus’s controlling side has started to show itself.
Last week Roxy caught Marcus kissing her cousin Mags.
“Good game, ladies,” croaks Great Aunt Vera, as she sweeps the pile of plastic gambling chips into her handbag. The old ladies around the table mutter to each other with sour expressions plastered over their faces.
Great Aunt Vera is sat in the nursing home’s day room with her back to me. I reach out to tap my great aunt on the shoulder.
Before my fingers reach her, she says. “I was waiting for you to show, Roxy.”
Silence descends upon the day room and twenty pairs of eyes focus in on me. As Great Aunt Vera slowly turns round I feel a wave of emotion building inside of me.
When I am hurting about something in my life Great Aunt Vera is the first person I turn to. The day room goes blurry. My eyes are quickly filling up with tears. The image of Marcus passionately kissing cousin Mags is replayed once again in my mind.
Great Aunt Vera raises her arm. “You don’t need to tell me what happened, I already know.”
“Has my mother called you?” I say, wiping a solitary tear from my cheek.
Great Aunt Vera shakes her head and places her fingers to her mouth. She whistles to an attractive young male nurse. “Wheelchair please, Tom.”
As Tom leaps into action I frown at Great Aunt Vera. “So, how do you know about what happened?”
“Roxy, I saw it in my tea leaves, I know what Mark and Mags have been up to.”
“You mean Marcus.” Great Aunt Vera has never got his name right.
“I have always disliked the name Mark, Roxy, not a trustworthy name.”
The male nurse helps Great Aunt Vera into her wheelchair. “Take me into the room overlooking the garden, Tom. Follow us, Roxy.”
We are sat in a glorious room which looks out onto a pretty garden filled with an array of colourful flowers. Sun is streaming in through the large glass window.
Great Aunt Vera leans over with her walking stick and raps on the window to the old gardener. On seeing her he gives her a wave before going back to snipping.
“That’s my toy boy, Ron. Just turned 80 but to look at him you would say mid 70s, wouldn’t you, Roxy?”
I stare at the tiny, white-haired man with the crooked back, leaning against a walking frame whilst pruning a rose-bush. If I am honest would have said he was late 90s let alone mid 70s. “Yes, erm…definitely 75 or so, Great Aunt Vera.”
She turns to me.
I take a deep breath. “You said you saw them kissing in your tea leaves?”
Great Aunt Vera nods. “I see a lot in my tea leaves.”
I swallow back a lump at the back of my throat. “He says the kiss happened so quickly. One minute she was telling him how lonely she finds being single and the next they were kissing.”
Great Aunt Vera shakes her blue rinse perm at me. “And Mags – has she been in contact?”
I take a deep breath and recall Mags’s text. “She says it was a dreadful mistake”.
Tom offers me a cup of tea which I gratefully receive.
“Just so that you know I am dealing with Mags, don’t you worry about that. Mark said anything else?” croaks Great Aunt Vera.
My tea is hot and soothing.
Great Aunt Vera is staring at me, waiting for more of Marcus’s version of events.
I place the cup down. “Apparently Marcus struggles when he doesn’t get attention. This is why he kissed Mags. She gives him attention apparently. All his other girlfriends have made him their priority.”
Great Aunt Vera exhales loudly and drums her fingers on the wooden arms of her chair.
I hang my head. “He says he’s never had a girlfriend like me.” In my head I can hear Marcus’s late night rant about how I do the complete opposite of what he wants and how he feels like I am living in another world.
“You mean he’s never had a girlfriend who has her own mind,” says Great Aunt Vera, handing me a tissue.
“He wants us to try again,” I say, dabbing at my eyes. In my mind I can see the huge bouquet of flowers which arrived for me this morning, the extravagant breakfast in bed tray he made and his tearful plea across the pillows for us to make it work.
Great Aunt Vera is staring at my pregnant belly. “He has a problem with not getting attention. How do you think he will cope when a baby appears?”
I shake my head. “He says things will be different when the baby comes along.”
“Absolute rubbish. So, what’s your escape plan?’
“Escape?” I gasp. My heart is pounding against my chest.
Great Aunt Vera nods.
“But I wasn’t planning on leaving him. The kids are settled and its such a nice part of town where he lives. I am sure the kissing thing was just a blip. If I stop singing and tell Shaz I won’t work at her salon, Marcus thinks we will have a chance.”
Great Aunt Vera places a hand encased in exquisite diamond rings on my arm. “Roxy, do something for yourself for once.”
I give my swollen belly a rub. “But the baby needs a father.”
Great Aunt Vera leans back in her chair. “He will hurt you again, Roxy. Do you want to know why?”
“Because Roxy, you are waking up.” she croaks. “You haven’t had it easy, Roxy. Pregnant at 17 and you had to raise Matilda by yourself as Jon was coming to terms with being gay. Then there was that rat who sold half dead fish who gave you two boys and then ran off with the barmaid. Money has been an issue and with so many children you haven’t had any time to discover who you are. Then Mark comes along with his fancy house and gets you pregnant, before kissing your cousin.”
My cheeks are red-hot by the time Great Aunt Vera has finished summing up my not so great love life, to date.
“You won’t stop singing, Roxy. It’s in your blood. All your life you have been dismissing the wonderful gift you have with your voice. Now you are starting to realise how happy it makes you feel and how people notice you. Mark can’t handle this.”
“Do you think so?”
Singing does make me feel happy but I would give it up tomorrow if it would save this relationship. It’s not like I am going to be famous or anything?
“You do know you will be a famous singer one day, Roxy don’t you?”
I place my head in my hands. “Please tell me you haven’t seen this in your tea leaves?”
Great Aunt Vera taps me on the arm. “Yes it’s all there. Yesterday in my tea leaves I saw someone new entering your life, he wears a lot of leather.”
The face of the lead singer from the band I sang with a few weeks ago appears in my mind. I took his mobile number at the end of the gig as he was so impressed with my singing voice he wanted me to do a proper gig with him and his band.
After catching Marcus kiss cousin Mags, I tearfully locked myself in the bathroom to have an emotional breakdown. Whilst sitting on the loo I text the lead singer, who is called Zack. He didn’t reply so I assumed he’d forgotten about me.
“Zach,” I mumble. “He was that guy I sang with at the pub night.”
Great Aunt Vera looks inside her handbag and takes out a lipstick. I watch as she smears it on. “When he texts you, Roxy, accept his invite of going to a band practice.”
“How do you know he hasn’t text me?”
“For once in your life, do what I say. Now, let’s talk about your escape plan from Mark.”
I shake my head. “I can make Marcus and I work.”
Great Aunt Vera rolls her eyes.
“He’s sworn not to have anymore contact with Mags.” Marcus deleted her from his phone book in front of me. They’d been texting each other which Marcus claims was totally platonic.
“Until he runs off to Greece you mean?”
Great Aunt Vera lets out a sigh. “I am sending your cousin back to Greece. She’s been trouble ever since she returned. Bob’s taking her to the airport this evening.”
I stare at Great Aunt Vera. “I am having Marcus’s baby, he’s not going to run off to Greece to be with my cousin!” My hand goes to my bump and lovingly strokes it.
Great Aunt Vera shakes her head. “I am sorry, Roxy. Mark’s not ready to have children and looking at him I don’t think he will ever be. Getting you pregnant was a mistake.”
Tears well up in my eyes. “Your tea leaves are wrong! Marcus wants this baby and he will not run off to Greece!”
I put down my tea-cup and get to my feet. “It’s time for me to go.”
Without a second glance I race out of the nursing home with tears streaming down my face.
The next person I turn to when I am hurting in life is my teenage daughter, Matilda.
We are camped in her bedroom. Marcus has gone for a drink with Keith from next door. He’s pleased I have agreed to giving him a second chance.
“Great Aunt Vera said what?” shrieks Matilda, dipping a paint brush into a tin of bright silver paint.
I frown at the paint. “Did Marcus say you could paint your room metallic silver?”
Matilda grins. “No, but seeing the pain he’s caused you I thought this would be an ideal time for me to give my room a makeover. Now tell me again what Great Aunt Vera said he will do?”
I watch her start to paint her wall. The colour is already giving me a headache. “He will run off to Greece to be with Mags.”
Matilda dips her brush back into the tin. “I can’t see it, Mam, why would he leave you for Mags and run off to Greece?”
I shake my head. “Exactly! Utter nonsense.”
Matilda coats the wall with a thick layer of paint. “Ok so Mags does look hot in a bikini, she does know how to party, she’s wild, she doesn’t want or has any kids and she spends a lot of her time on nudist beaches, but I can’t see why he’d give up you, the new baby, your three other kids, living here and going for a pint with Keith.”
“Yea he’s crazy about the new baby,” I say, reassuring myself. He hasn’t read any baby books or taken an interest in the design of the nursery but that’s because I am dealing with it all.
Matilda stops painting to give me a worried expression. “Mam, I wouldn’t say he’s crazy about the new baby. I heard him on the phone telling his mother he thinks living with a screaming baby will be a nightmare.”
I rub my swollen belly. “He’s still excited.”
“He does ask Keith and Elizabeth a lot about the cost of nannies and boarding school.”
“What?” I gasp.
Matilda stands up to paint further up her walk. “Freddy told me.”
I get up from her bed. “Freddy must have got the wrong end of the stick.”
Matilda carries on painting.
“I have to make Marcus and I work.” As I place my hands on my belly I feel a fluttering deep inside.
I gasp. “The baby! I can feel the baby! This is a sign!”
Matilda shakes her head at me. “Mam, please calm down. You’re looking flushed again.”
I stride towards the door. “Great Aunt Vera’s tea leaves are wrong. Mags has gone to Greece. She’s out of the picture. I have to make this relationship work for all of us! The baby has given me a sign.”
Marcus and I are lying on the sofa watching a romantic film. He came back early from the pub because he wanted to spend time with me.
I know we can get through this blip in our relationship. The baby thinks so too!
“Does your friend with the office still have that job going?”
Marcus pulls me closer to him. “Yes he does. What about the beauty course you wanted to do?”
I shake my head. “I am going to give the money back to Great Aunt Vera and cancel my place.”
Serious relationships are about give and take. I have to compromise on some things like working in a beauty salon and singing.
He presses his lips against my cheek. “Oh Roxy, I am so sorry I hurt you but maybe this is going to put us on the right track?”
There will be more Roxy next week.