Maureen called me. “I need to talk to you,” she said.
She came over after supper, round about half past eight. I got out a good cheese and a bottle of wine.
We sat at the kitchen table.
“There are a few things you need to know”, she said. “First, Norman is Lavinia’s father. Second, Melanie knows, but no-one else does — yet.”
I was very surprised, of course. Then I remembered one evening when Norman had asked me to go to dinner with him.
There had seemed to be something he wanted to talk about but I never found out what it was.
Maureen explained that Amanda had become very difficult when she was about seventeen and said she wanted to leave home. So finding Norman’s annex available at a very low rent was a “godsend”.
She said she didn’t know how it had all happened, but she didn’t think Amanda was a bad person, just very young and irresponsible at the time and sorry for Norman.
“Amanda once said to me that Norman needed a good fuck, but I didn’t take it seriously.”
She looked at me sideways.
I can tell we are both of a generation that is still shocked by the casual use of the f-word.
Maureen didn’t blame Norman. But she did blame Amanda for being careless.
“Oh, she has all the necessary skills to arouse an older man”, said Maureen coolly.
On her part, Amanda accepted responsibility and didn’t let on that Norman was the father.
They hoped people would assume the father was some teenager in town.
“Now we have this issue: Amanda wants to travel. Melanie can’t have children and would like to raise Lavinia, but is insisting on a legal adoption. Lavinia already treats Norman like an uncle, so that’s OK, but I have got used to being a grandmother to Lavinia now and I love her. Amanda doesn’t want to lose her completely either.”
“It would have been convenient if you had got together with Norman’”, I said.
“After my daughter has been there?” she said, with a forced laugh.
Then we talked a long time, about other things. She told me about her work in the county court, about how she admired the judges and how disrespectful some of the young people were towards them.
It was after midnight, when she looked at me and said: “Please take me upstairs.”
She made me show her where the bedroom and bathroom were, and then said, “Give me five minutes”.
I went downstairs again and checked all the doors.
When I slipped into bed beside her she said: “Like mother like daughter, but there won’t be a baby” and laughed.