I wish I could say Romeo's affections for me grew. That a romance blossomed, we fell in love and at 18 years old he moved in and we married - screw what others think!
However, on a Monday afternoon, I got a phone call.
"Is this Mr Wilson?"
"My name is Ms Lloyd-Johnson. Claire Lloyd-Johnson. I believe you've been tutoring my son? Romeo?"
"Yes? That is correct"
"Well, thank you for your help but. Well. I wanted to ring to say Romeo ask you to cancel the rest of Romeo's tutoring sessions." Her voice cracked and a small sob escaped.
"That's. That is a real disa……"
Before I could finish, the phone had clicked. What on earth had happened?
GCSE Results' Day
I had mostly forgotten about him. Or at least, I kept telling myself that. The long, hot summer had soothed my hurt body & feelings. I took my camper van on its usual tour into the Welsh mountains. I enjoyed it, too. But now, I was back. My patio doors open letting in the warm summer's breeze to the house.
Paper in hand, coffee by my side, I sat down by the television. This was always my favourite part of Results' day. Seeing happy students get their brilliant results always made me proud.
"Let's go over to our education correspondent who is in St Benard's School in Bury. Harry? I think you have some nervous GCSE students beside you!"
Harry Reynolds chuckled that wry chuckle of someone composed and experienced in their line of work.
"Yes, I do. I have here" He checked his cue cards "I have here Jessica Parker, Lucas Sherwick and Romeo Lloyd-Johnson"
I practically spat out my coffee!
"Romeo?!" I shouted at the television 'Fucking Romeo?!'
He wore black shorts and a black nike t-shirt. A new pair of white converse trainers adorned his feet.
The usual nervous, cringe-worthy questions came up. How nervous were they? What grades did they want?
Romeo was expecting B's and A's and wanted to head to the nearest Police Academy. Good on him
"Alright, I can see you're all eager to open your results, so go ahead" Harry told the three students who all nervlously laughed and opened their brown envelopes, reaching in to get the small white paper that held their future's in their hands.
Romeo was the last to speak but you could tell he had done well. That broad grin lit up his whole face even through the television. My heart swelled. So did other parts of my anatomy as he hugged his Mum. Either he had grown or his Mum was very small.
"So, Romeo, what did you get?"
"I er...yeah, I got all the grades I wanted. And an erm. An A* in English Language and English Literacy" He grinned out to the camera, that beaming smile again. I could practically hear everyone sighing.
That's it. Paper down. Standing up. Car keys and off to Romeo's school. I drove down as fast as I can. I couldn't not take up this chance to reconcile old differences.
There he was with Lucas & Jessica, posing for pictures with a local newspaper. I went down the path towards the school entrance and shouted
"Romeo! Rome!" He turned around and smiled
He was definitely taller. Had he been to the gym? How could he look both broader and thinner at the same time? Certainly, he was tanned. Nay, olive coloured now. Where had he gone? He looked so happy. So much older and wiser?
"Oh wow. Hi" He laughed, his hands behind his back, a hand down his black shorts, showing off his endlessly long, lanky legs.
"I just. I wanted to say" I sighed "Well done. I'm so proud……"
"Romeo!" I distant voice shouted from a car in the car park.
"In a moment, Rach!" He smiled, slightly blushing.
"I'm so. SO very proud of you. Did everything get sorted?" Ro nodded, biting his lip.
"My er. I just live with erm. A foster.. Foster parent, now" He muttered, his eyes squinting in the sun as I stood in front of it.
"Oh wow" I nodded, smiling sheepishly, now. "Well, I better let you go. I'm sure you have a lot of celebrating to do" He stepped forward, stretching out a hand. We shook. We smiled. "If you want any more tutoring now things have settled…"
"I know. I have your number still. Listen, I er….." He pointed over to the car
I smiled and nodded, trying not to cry "Go. Celebrate. Today is yours" And with that. He was gone. Suddenly, I felt both at peace and also empty. Like a void needed to be filled.
I spun around. A gentleman with his two sons. One, a teenager with his results envelope, the other a few years younger. "Hello? Oh, wow! Aiden Foster, so glad to see you!"
"I didn't expect you here, Si…….I mean." The man blushed, both of his children watching him slightly bemused.
I chuckled again. "Don't worry, I'm no longer a headteacher. I'm well past that"
"But you still tutor? Would you be able to take on my youngest? He's fourteen"
"Of course" I gave him his number and he promised to call me in a few weeks.
The circle was beginning again.
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