Bastard(2)

By: J.L. Perry



“One … two … three … four … five.” I count the stairs in my head as we climb them before we stop in front of the big yellow door. I hear my mum let out a big breath. Letting go of my hand, she makes a fist as she raises her arm, but she stops mid-air. Looking down at me, her lips turn up before finally knocking on the door. I can’t wait to see my grandparents. I hope they have chocolate. I love chocolate.

Reaching for my hand, she gives it a squeeze. When the door opens, I look up at the man who stands there. He doesn’t look happy when he sees mummy.

“Elizabeth,” he says sternly.

“Hi, Daddy,” she replies nervously. He relaxes when mummy says that. The corners of his mouth turn up slightly. I feel my own big smile. Wow, this must be my grandpa. He looks so strong.

“What are you doing here?” he asks.

My mum doesn’t say anything for what feels like one hundred years. “I wanted to see you. I … ummm, wanted you to meet your grandson, Carter.” She gives my hand another squeeze as she looks down at me.

“Hello, Grandpa,” I say. I’m seeing my very own grandpa. I want to hug him.

He looks angry again as he stares down at me. Then his head snaps back up to look at my mummy. “Why did you bring that little bastard here?” he asks really, really meanly. “Get him out of here. Don’t you ever bring him here again.” Stepping back, he slams the door in our faces.

My mum makes a strange sound and I feel like crying. I’m sad because my mummy is sad. She only makes that noise when she’s upset. I don’t like my grandpa. He’s mean. “Come on, baby,” she says. When her eyes meet mine, I see her tears are already falling. I don’t like seeing my mummy cry.

I’m almost running behind her as she tugs on my hand. She hurries down the driveway and back out into the street. “What’s a bastard?” I ask. I’ve never heard that word before. The way my grandpa said it, it doesn’t sound like a nice word.

My question stops her walking. Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she squats down in front of me. “You’re not a bastard,” she says sadly. “Pay no attention to what he said. You’re a beautiful boy.” She gives me a kiss on my forehead. “I’m sorry I brought you here.”

“It’s okay, Mummy,” I say trying real hard to be brave. When my bottom lip starts to quiver and the first tears fall, I know I’ve failed. I’m not brave.

“Oh, baby.” She opens her arms, pulling me tightly against her as I cry into her chest. “You’re not a bastard,” she whispers.

I want to believe her, I do, but why would grandpa say it if it’s not true? I hate that I’m a bastard. Even though I don’t know what it means, I know that this moment and that horrible word are going to stick with me for a long time. Maybe even the rest of my life.

••••

bas·tard

1. Offensive A person born to parents not married to each other.

2. Slang

a. A person considered to be mean or contemptible.

b. A person, especially one considered to be unfortunate.

3. Something that is of irregular, inferior, or dubious origin.

It’s funny how one fleeting moment in time can change you. One stupid, crazy, fucked-up word can define you. I didn’t know it at the time, but after that day things changed—I changed. I was only five years old the day I learnt I was a bastard, and sadly as the years progressed, that’s exactly what I became.





PART

ONE





CHAPTER ONE

The Present …


Carter


Packing the last of the boxes into the trunk of the car, I turn and take one final look at the only place I’ve ever called home. The place I’ve lived for the last seventeen years of my life. Sure it’s just a shitty old apartment block, but it’s my home. It’s all I’ve ever known. I’m fucking pissed they’re forcing me to leave here. I’ve been dreading this day. I hate that I’m going to have to live with that fuckwit my mum now calls her husband.

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