When James was a little boy, he would often wonder if other children often reminded themselves that their parents loved them as often as he did. James was only about half-sure that his mother Cathy loved him at any given point in time. Usually, it was not easy to know whether his mother liked him or not. It seems that James was never sure where his position with his mother lay. She could be so wonderful to him, from allowing him to get the biggest ice cream sundae one could ever see when he had done well at school. Nevertheless, she would also tell her friends embarrassing things about James so that they could have a good laugh about it.
The other night, James recalled that Kathy once explained to him that she did not want her new boyfriend to find out about him just yet. So, if James was a good boy and waited quietly in his room, Cathy would take him to buy a new toy the following morning. If he was a good boy and didn't make a single sound
He stayed in his room for three days without food.
James felt at one point like more of a servant to Cathy than he felt like her child. The number of times James had been gaslighted by his mother had become so great that he could no longer count it on his fingers in ten years.
Since James was only a child, he assumed that it was how all parents were as well. Every mother must withhold affection until their kid gives them all of their money so that they can go drinking with friends.
Then James moved to Derry.
Obviously, James was not even aware that they were moving. Instead, he just thought they were coming to visit. The fact that James would be starting school did not even come to James' attention until the day before school started. This was when his Aunt Deidre gave him his uniform.
James had found living in Derry to be one of the most confusing things he had ever experienced. At times, he had a hard time even understanding what anyone else was saying to him.
It wasn't that he disliked the girls, but it was James who missed London. The house he grew up in was his home. He never even had time to say goodbye to any of his friends or even to his stepfather Paul, who James could be sure was the only person who ever loved him for what he was.
In James' view, the thing that confused him the most was how the others interacted with their parents. It seemed that, unlike James and Cathy, his friend's parent's love was never constrained by conditions.
Even though Mary Quinn could be strict with her daughter Erin, James could still tell that she still loved her a great deal.
"If I'm totally honest, there are times when I look at him and feel... well, it's pure hatred." Deidre at once said about James. She was saying that about being English, but that didn't seem to matter much to James.
His own mother could barely muster up the effort to love him half the time. How could his aunt have any different attitude towards him? As of now, James has just assumed that there was something about him that made him unloveable.
He thought that maybe if he could only work a bit harder, he would have a chance of being loved.
As a result, as soon as James went to live in Derry, he decided he would do his best to behave the best he could so that perhaps his aunt might at least love him. As a result, James would always try his best to get good grades in school and let Michelle have her way.
James tried hard not to complain as, like his mother, he assumed that he would just be called selfish. Then there were times, of course, when even James would lose his cool, such as when he went on a rant about how the food was just too greasy. He did his best to play it off, not wanting to attract too much attention. That night, Nevertheless, James was unable to sleep.
It never failed to surprise James when he and his cousin Michelle did something wrong. Both received equal punishment, and unlike his mother, James knew exactly what he had done wrong.
Initially, James was over the moon with joy when Cathy agreed to return to Derry. In fact, his Mom had wanted him to return with her to London. She had even asked him to become a partner in her new business venture.
James thought that meant she truly did love him.
James could not help but feel that something was wrong, even if he was even reluctant to admit it. Yet, in his heart, he knew deep down that Michelle was absolutely right. He knew it would only be a matter of time before his Mom abandoned him once again.
Maybe that's the reason why for once in his life, James decided to do something just for himself. That's when he made the decision to stay in Derry.
He was happy with the decision he had made. It seemed he was sure that at least his friends liked him, and perhaps if he worked hard enough, he might be able to get some love from someone else eventually. But his mind kept racing with thoughts. James still wanted his Mom to love him.
As a result, James desperately tried to find a way to reach Cathy to tell her his side of the story.
Due to the fact that it was a weekend, the girls had a little bit of time for themselves. So, as per usual, the girls made plans to go hang out. In spite of the fact that they did not have much money, they still thought that it would be fun to hang out around the town.
The girls at the agreed-upon meeting at Erin and Orla's house. In typical Clare fashion, she had been the first to arrive, and they were just waiting for Michelle and James to join them.
"Girls, Michelle is here," Mary called out as Michelle came into the Quinn family living room.
Erin Orla and Clare made their way down the stairs from Erin's bedroom. "Where James" Erin asked upon not seeing her one male friend.
'Please tell me you didn't leave him alone again.' Clare recalled when James had almost been declared a missing person in the past because Michelle had left him alone in a part of Derry he had never been to before. In the end, it was only by chance that Clare managed to find him.
"Nah, the dickhead is still trying to call My Aunt Cathy," Michelle said. "It's some sort of obsession with him."
"But it has been weeks since his mom left," Erin complained, somewhat whiney.
"It's almost like he went back to London anyway," Orla pointed out. In the time since they decided he would stay in Derry, the girls had very rarely been able to see him.
It appeared that all James wanted to do outside of school was to call Cathy, leave a voicemail, and wait for her to call him back. The problem was that she never did, which caused James to repeat the cycle. When he was in school, it was almost like James was on some kind of Autoplay mode at all times. As a result, it was extremely difficult for the girls to engage James in conversation.
"Oh, let the poor lad be," Mary said. She has grown up with Cathy Maguire in her life and can recall knowing how difficult she could be at times. "I'm sure he'll get it out of his system soon enough."
Since Deirdre Mallon was a nurse, it was not uncommon for her to come home at odd hours of the day or even at night. Usually, like today when she came home late, all the household members would be asleep. But, in this case, Deirdre merely made her a quick meal and some tea before heading off to bed.
Only this Night, Deirdre was completely surprised when she discovered her Nephew James waiting by the phone, sitting on the floor. He looked as if he were half asleep on the floor.
Deirdre touched James's side, leaning over to shake him awake, as she said, "James, wake up!"
"Huh," James murmured as he woke on the ground. "Has my mom called me back yet?" He asked, looking up at his aunt, who was looking down.
Deidre just looked down at the boy in sadness. Then, she voiced, No, I'm sorry, James," as she shook her head in apology. Upon seeing her defiant, James looked as Deidre helped him up off the floor.
"It's late. I'm sure she'll call you back soon," Deirdre explained to the boy before hurrying him off to his room.
James's bedroom was what once made up the Mallon family guest bedroom. However, after James decided to stay in Derry, the room began to take on a more James style as he could shop for new furniture with the help of his friends. A majority of the things that James picked out for himself were things that he had found for himself, but there were a few things that his friends picked out for him.
After reaching his bedroom, he laid down on his bed and did not bother to remove his clothes and change into his pyjamas, just laying there. In this period in his life, James had grown accustomed to giving up things for his mother. However, before he came to this point, he had never before given up himself for her. He had a hard time sleeping at night, but during the day, he could barely function. It wasn't uncommon for James to forget to eat most of the time, worrying about how things would be without him. Too worried that would be the time that Kathy would finally call back.
The morning of the next day, when Michelle made her way down to the kitchen for breakfast before school. It was as if she had expected James to be already up and waiting by his phone.
"Haven't you ever heard of sleeping?" Michelle asked her cousin.
"I sent the wee lad off to bed when I got home from work," Deidre responded on behalf of James, who made no attempt to listen to her. "But I don't think that he's sleeping."
As a Nurse, Deidre saw how All the stress of waiting for his Mom to call back was starting to have a physical effect on her Nephew at the time. As of late, James has been losing weight, and she has been noticing a giant bag under his eye. As a result, he had a hard time focusing on anything but the phone the past few days.
"I have a letter from your Ma James," Maritn said as he came into the house after getting the mail outside.
It was the first time in a long time that James seemed to react to anything other than the ringing of a telephone. Finally, in response, James stood up from his seat on the floor and replied, "Really?". The letter was then handed over to him by his uncle Maritn.
As the envelope slowly opened, James's mind began to race with thoughts about what the letter may be about. His Mom wrote to him that she surely loved him, but she never called him back.
In a moment, James felt as though everything had just stopped when he opened the letter. "Letter to Terminated Parental right," James read the letter out loud that he recognized at being sighed by Kathy.
In a rare occurrence in Michelle's life, she had nothing else to say. As she watched any kind of life that James still had slowly dwindled away from him, she made no attempt in any way to insult her cousin. So Michelle felt lucky when she heard her Ma begin to speak.
Deidre got up from the seat she had been sitting in and hugged James after saying, "I'm sorry, James.".
"I don't think I feel well anymore," James replied with the most monotone sounding voice that Michelle is sure she has ever heard come out of one of her English cousins.
"I think you should go back to bed," Deidre said with an understanding look in her eyes. At that moment, Michelle knew the severity of the situation, as her Ma never let them out of going to school. "I'll just have Michelle tell your teacher that you won't be attending school today."
After Deidre finished speaking, James nodded and walked back to his room.