When William was three years old, his father had died suddenly of a heart attack and left him his fortune and the house in Surrey. Rosanna was not allowed to sell it – it was in trust – nor could she spend any of the money. She would not dream of it. Besides, she had enough of her own. After she married Mitch, the trustees agreed to pay for the best boarding school in the area, allowing William to see friends and cousins, offspring of his late father’s family, at weekends. Neither of them wanted to be separated but, as Rosanna explained, work would take up much of her time and she did not want to move William to New York, where he had no friends or family other than herself. She admitted to nobody that Mitch was unwilling to take on another man’s child – that had left a bitter taste in her mouth when he told her on their honeymoon.
She thought about William all the way to New York. Mitch slept most of the flight, and smiling attendants had offered her refreshments, magazines and even something to help her sleep, but she had refused it all as penance for leaving her son behind with adults and children he did not know. She wondered how long it would take him to settle in and make friends, and she hoped her ex-brother-in-law would visit often and make William’s weekends with his cousins enjoyable. She eventually fell asleep with his little face imprinted on her retinas, his eyes pleading, lips pressed together.
Kim M. Russell, 21st March 2021