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.
In the days that followed, it seemed as if nothing anyone could say or do would be able to get James out of bed. Even Michelle had no idea how to get James out of bed was becoming quite concerning.
In a way, it seemed rather strange to her because she was so used to walking to the bus stop with James, but her Cousin had hardly even made an effort to walk down the hall to take a shower.
"James is still not here," Clare asked the girls as they made their way to the bus.
Michelle nodded her head to confirm what Clare asked her. Following the letter from James's mother, Only the three other girls were made aware of the real reason for James's absence from school. According to Deidre, she felt that James' family problems did not need to be revealed to anyone else.
"Is James some kind of orphan now?" Orla asked suddenly. Getting the other three girls to look at her, she asked. It was no secret to them how odd Orla's behaviour could get from time to time, but this was even odder than her usual strange behaviour.
"What are you going on about," Erin asked her Cousin.
'Well, if James Ma isn't his mother anymore, then isn't that to say that he's an Orphan now ?' Orla explained to her friends as the girls walked off the bus and into school.
"Well, about whoever James father is," Clare points out. Honestly, none of them ever really considered James's possibility of having a father, even though they all knew he existed.
"Nah, not even my Ma knows who Cathy did to make James," Michelle answered.
The fact that Cathy originally planned only to go to London to get an abortion. When she decided to stay, she surprised everyone since they thought she would only be staying there for a few days. The truth is that Michelle and the rest of her family didn't even know James existed until both Michelle and James were around the age of seven. Michelle and her mother Deidre visited Cathy in London one summer when Michelle and her mother first learned about James.
Morning at school went pretty much the same as always. With Jenny Joyce and the rest of the choir, girls kept singing another of their awful songs at morning assembly. While at the same time, Sister Michael made some snide comments about the song choice.
"I see James is still isn't in school," Jenny said, coming up towards the girls in the hall after morning assembly.
Michelle found herself unable not to roll her eyes. "No, he's still sick" Michelle shared the lie about why James wasn't in school.
In general, the morning at school followed a pretty similar pattern as it always does. It would appear that Jenny Joyce and the rest of the choir girls continued singing another one of their awful songs as they gathered at the assembly the following morning. During this same period, Sister Michael made some very snide remarks about the song selection.
"I see James is still not at school," Jenny said, walking up to the girls in the hall after morning assembly.
Despite her best efforts, Michelle could not help but to roll her eyes. "No, he's still sick," Michelle said when she was asked why James wasn't in school.
"If he's too sick to be in school, then is it safe for you to be in school, Michelle," Jenny asked in the same sickly sweet voice that Jenny always seems to have." But, of course, you could also be sick."
After Michelle blurted out, "It's none of your fucking business," she walked away. But, unfortunately, it wasn't long before the other girls followed her.
"Jenny is kind of right," Clare brought up, getting the rest of the girls to give her a strange look. As Clare points out, "How long do you think that people are going to believe that James has been sick for so long without needing to go to the hospital"?
"Well, refusing to get up is not much different from being sick," Erin said with a sigh. Erin recalled that when her Mom had her baby sister, Anna, Mary had trouble getting out of bed for a few months. So it seemed that James was probably not all that much different from her Mom for whatever reasons.
"Perhaps we should go see him after school," Orla suggested since she had been missing James, just as all of her girls had been.
"Sure, but he's probably not going to be munch for talking," Michelle warned her friends. All the other girls were only able to hear about what James was going through. Michelle was the only one who had to deal with the consequences. Each day Michelle or one of her parents would go into James's room to try and get him out of bed.
Meanwhile, James himself engaged in nothing but lying under the covers of his blankets these days. On good days, Michelle and the rest of the family can get James to at least make a few words in return; however, on bad days, he doesn't interact with anyone at all.
The idea that Deidre keeps her emotions under control is that she would like to have considered herself. Still, she had never been this angry before. Not only did her sister Cathy give up on being a parent to James, but she also didn't bother to sigh over the parental rights of James to the Mallon family.
According to the government, James did not have any legal guardians or authorities acting on his behalf. As a result of this, a social worker came to take James away to a group home.
Deidre argued as she followed Mr.Gallagher, the social worker, up the house's stairs she followed the phone call. "You can't just take him," she said.
"I'm sorry, Ma'am. I'm just doing my job," Mr.Gallagher said as he entered James's room. "You can petition a judge to be his foster parent," the social worker offered.
"I am his aunt, and I have some rights to look after my nephew," Deidre argued, her hands on her hips as she watched Mr.Gallagher pull off the blanket from James.
"What's going on?" James asked. It was usually around this time of day that either his aunt or uncle would come to check on him, depending on who came home from work. So the last thing he expected was to be surprised by the appearance of a strange man in his room.
"Hello, I assume you must be James," Mr.Gallagher said pleasantly. There was no denying the fact that Debbie disliked the way the social worker talked to her nephew in such a nice-sounding voice when in fact, he was just here to take him away. "I'm going to need you to pack a small bag for when we go to the group home where you'll be staying for a while," Gallagher explained as he grabbed onto the boy. Pulling him out of bed.
"But I thought that I could stay here," James Sighed. When Deidre saw James, she immediately realized that he had been neglected again, from what James could tell.
No, James, it's all right," Deidre said, watching the social worker hurry James into packing a bag containing a few clothes as she tried to explain what the social worker was doing. "I'll figure this out," Deirdre said as she accompanied James and Gallagher outside.
When James tossed his bag into the car after he said, "It's all right," He explained, "I've come to expect it.".
During that time, she was profoundly affected by the English accident of her nephew. In an instant, Deidre recalled why James went to an all-girls school. The social worker replied by saying, "You know they'll beat him to hell in there?" Deirdre said as she hoped, in a way, that she would effectually get the social worker's attention. Her eyes followed James as he got into the back seat of the vehicle.
"I assure you that he will be completely safe," Gallagher said as he jumped into the driver's seat. "I will personality make sure of that," Mr.Gallagher said, But Deidre could easily tell that the man was lying through his teeth. As a result, James was not even glancing at her. On the contrary, he just looked down at his lap in an expression of total defeat.
Upon hearing her mother let out a large sigh, Michelle watched as her mother told the girls everything that had happened. According to her, Cathy had only terminated her parental rights. However, it should be noted that she failed to sign over the parental rights of James to the Mallon family.
In other words, a social worker took James away so he could live in a group home.
"What the fuck is wrong with that, Lady?" Michelle yelled about her aunt. She was furious.
"Michelle, there is nothing unnecessary about that," Deirdre told her. She was just as mad at Cathy as her daughter was, but that does not mean it is right to use such language.
"What is going to happen now?" Erin inquired. The two of them had been growing closer to each other ever since the school dance happened. Erin and James thought they wouldn't tell their friends just yet, but both were starting to like one another more than their friends.
"I'm on the phone right now, trying to find out how to be James' foster parents," Deirdre explained. There is no doubt that they have only made it to that point for now. But there do seem to be plans in the future to adopt James formally.
"Is that all?" Clare asked.
"Can't we just go and break James out?" Orla question. Considering how everyone was acting the part of her, Orla naturally assumed that James was in a place similar to a jail.
In the end, Deidre said, "I'm afraid that's all that can be done for now.". After hurrying the girls out of the room, she said, "I need to make phone calls now.".
When he was back at the Mallon household, or James guessed it was then his house. He was sad about his mother saying she didn't want anything with him, but at least there he was still feeling something.
Since staying in the group home a few days ago, James felt as if he had stopped feeling anything at all.
"This is James Maguire" Mr.Gallagher introduced James to the six other kids who lived in the house.
'Um, hello,' James murmured, not really caring at this point in the conversation. All he wanted to do was get into bed and never get up again.
The question posed by the girl was, "why does he talk so strangely?".
A sliver of laughter was evident in Other Boy's voice as he asked, "Is he sick or something?".
"James is an Englishman whose roots are in London," Mr. Gallagher explained. In response to this, each of the other Teens in the house began to make jokes about it. The fact that James's accent had led to people making fun of him was no stranger to him. There were hundreds of insults that could have been directed at him.
"Play nice," Mr.Gallagher warned before turning to introduce James to the adult in charge of the house. "These are the Doyles," Mr.Gallagher instructed.
"It's nice to meet you, James," Mrs. Doyle gently added as she introduced herself.
James asked, "Is it alright if I just go to my room now?". Then, Mr. Gallagher looked up at James and nodded before showing him the room where he would be staying.
At the moment, James's mind was divided into two different parts. Initially, a part of him wanted to go back to Mallon's house and crawl back into bed as soon as possible.
Additionally, there was a part of James that screwed his family as well. Similar to his mother, they acted as if they cared about him. Still, James felt as if he stopped being useful and he was just being disposed of for the sake of so-called convenience.
James might have felt that his life would be better if he stayed at the group home. Then there would at least be a possibility that he would find someone who loved him.
Only none of the other Irish Teens living in the group wanted anything to with the English accent speaking James. Meaning that in his days at the group home, James would find himself alone most of the time.
It was alright it was something he was used to by now. So James didn't mind when one afternoon he was left in the group home all by himself as he spent most of his time hiding in his room.
James wasn't sure what brought his mind to it, but he decided to try and call his Mom one more time.
The phone rang a few times before someone picked up on the other end. Then, finally, "Hello," Cathy's voice came out on the other end of the phone.
In an effort to sound casual as James could, but certainly aware of his nervousness, he said simply, "Mom.".
Cathy responded quickly, "I am glad to hear from you again, James. There was no way James could be surprised by the fact that his Mom spoke as if nothing had happened between the two of them. 'I apologize for not calling you back earlier because I have been so busy with my new business.'
James could have died while thinking how whiny he thought his voice sounded when he said, "you said you didn't want me anymore.".
"Don't be so silly, Jamie," Cathy said. As a result, James quietly braces himself for what is to come. After all, his Mom only ever referred to him as Jamie when she wanted something from him. 'You were the one who decided to stay in Derry.'
James Fretted, sounding more and more like a child, said, "I like it here.". When James finally got up the courage to ask the question he had been thinking about since he was very young.
"Do you even love me"
The sigh of his mother could be heard in James's ears. "Honestly, James, your so difficulty some, That I think it would have been easier for both of us if I had gotten that abortion."
While Cathy put forth some reason to hang up the phone, James found himself lost for words.
As if he was on some sort of autopilot, James found himself walking up to the bathroom in the group. Mrs.Doyle had some difficulty with sleeping to the point that her doctor prescribed her some sleeping pills. Before James knew it, he nearly downed either bottle.
James felt highly selfish for this, but a part of him didn't want to die completely alone, leading him to pick up the phone and call someone.
"Hello," Erin voiced. Leading James to be thankful that it was her that answered the phone.
The voice of James started to sound more and more sleepy as the effects of the pills began to take effect. "I'm sorry," James replied.
"James, Hold on, the others are here," Erin said. His ears picked up Michelle Clare and Orla getting closer to the phone in the background.
At this point, James started rambling at about the same time that he said, "I tried did try as hard as I could.". Then, finally, he realized that he was incapable of coming up with anything at all.
"Are you alright?" Clare asked. She noticed that James seemed to be slurring his words a bit, so she found that odd.
As James Faltered lay on the ground laying barely able to keep his eye open, he groaned, "Couldn't get it.".
"Maybe we can get something for you if you need it," Orla offered. According to the girls thinking, Michelle seemed to have rubbed off on James that he got drunk because of Michelle's influence.
"Made it better," James murmured. When he was at school, he had been taught about the concept of an afterlife. Then, finally, it began to dawn on James that maybe he might be able to find love there. "I took a bunch of pills," he confessed.
As soon as James was about to fall asleep, he heard the girl's panicked voice as she told Michelle and Clare that he needed to stay awake. He could then hear Erin screaming to Mary that she needed to contact someone for help.
It was just as he fell asleep that James heard the sound of sirens somewhere in the distance.
When James woke up again, he noticed a breathing tube up his nose, and his stomach hurt as well. While James was looking over, he noticed his Aunt Deidre was on the other side of his bed. At that point, James realized he was in the hospital.
"Hold on there and don't move too much," Deirdre instructed her nephew. "I'll go get the Doctor."
After his aunt left, James watched as a fifty-year-old woman in a lab coat followed along with her aunt.
"Hello, I'm Dr. Walsh." The woman said as she flashed a light in James' eye. "Would you mind telling me your name?" Dr. Walsh asked.
A mumbled, "Um, James Maguire," He replied as he asked, "Why does my stomach hurt?" James asked.
Dr. Walsh explained, "They have to pump your stomach to get all the pills out of your system.
All of a sudden, it came back to James. The phone call he had with his mother and how he had taken all of Mrs. Doyle's sleeping bills. "I'm sorry," James said.
"No need to apologize, James," Deirdre said. "However, could you please explain why you did that?"
When James was a kid, he used to think of it as pride that he had never cried. However, he realized that he never did cry because his mother had conditioned him to think that it would be selfish for him to cry and make things about him.
Despite his best efforts, James found himself repeatedly wiping away tears from his eyes. It was with sadness that he told Deirdre and Dr. Walsh all the secrets he had kept for what seemed like his entire life.
"I'm sorry for getting in the way of all this," James apologized, still believing that it was selfish to make it about him.
"You don't have to apologize anymore," Deirdre said. When Deirdre looked back, she could remember the first time she met James.
James was this shy little boy of seven. The kind of boy who seemed to delight in any kind of affection to which he could be exposed. She thought she and everyone else in James' life might have begun to take advantage of his need for love.
Doctor Walsh said, "you know that you're worthy of love, James," and the boy was caught looking up at her as she said it.
"You're not selfish at all, James, but your Mother is," Dr. Walsh explained to James. "She withheld love from you to get her way."
Despite that, James thought, "If I work harder, I can still do it." For whatever reason, James thought he might still need to defend Cathy in some way. Still being the little boy who wanted his mother's love.
"James, I know my sister Cathy, my sister, and even I know how difficult she can be," Deirdre said.
Dr. Walsh finished, "but there are people who will give you that unconditional love that was withheld from you.".
James had been hospitalized for a few days while he was recovering from his suicide attempt. During this period, James had been receiving therapy. In hopes of releasing the sadness that he had been holding in.
It was good to be able to have visitors during those good days. But then, Erin, Michelle, Orla and Clare would always come and visit him during those times. There was always a sense of laughter as the five friends talked simultaneously, sometimes even forgetting where James was.
It came as a bit of a surprise to James when Sister Michael came to see him. Her purpose was to tell him that there would be no conquests for James because of all the missed homework.
Despite this, he sometimes had a bad day as well. During these days, James comes to terms with the fact that he has been a victim of emotional abuse throughout his whole life.
When James confessed how much munch Cathy's abandonment had affected him, that was the most difficult moment.
While James was still in the hospital, Deirdre and Martin managed to get the paperwork passed to get custody of their nephew.
In other words, when James came back home, it was at that moment that he finally felt as if he had found belonging.