Discover more from Rosy’s Ramblings
It’s time for another short story written especially for you. And while we’re on the subject of you, my subscribers, I would like to say a huge thank you for sticking with me and continuing to read Rosy’s Ramblings.
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Pete hated Monday mornings but this one was going to be particularly tough because it was his first day back at Bellwood Sawmills after a week’s paternity leave. He had loved every minute of being with his partner, Lisa, and their new baby son and he wasn’t ready to go back to work. He was still riding the wave of euphoria after becoming a Dad for the first time and he wasn’t looking forward to his mundane, repetitive, and boring job. But he had no choice, especially now that he was a father and vowed to work even harder than when he and Lisa had saved up a deposit to buy their first home together, and now they had their terraced cottage, he would work even harder to provide a bigger and better home for his family.
Lisa had opted to take maternity leave from her job as a secretary in a small firm of Accountants and although the package wasn’t overly generous, it was better than nothing. She and Pete were a good team and faced whatever life threw at them, choosing to see the positives in everything, even when Lisa discovered that she was pregnant shortly after they moved into Hazel Cottage and Pete was still halfway through updating their tiny kitchen.
Pete was so proud of her and admired the way she had taken to motherhood so well, although those first few days after she came home from hospital after the C-section hadn’t been easy. In fact, it had been pretty tough because the burden fell on him because she could only lift and carry light objects, the baby not being one of them.
Being a parent was everything he had ever dreamed it would be and holding his son for the very first time in the maternity suite had humbled him more than he ever thought possible. He hadn’t had an easy childhood. His father had left when he was eleven, choosing to move in with the woman he had been having an affair with for several years. His mother had never got over it and often said that she still loved him and would have him back. Pete would never forget that day as long as he lived and tried not to think about it because it was so painful, so he compartmentalized it, tucking it far away into the deepest, darkest recesses of his mind. He hadn’t had any contact with his father since the day he left.
‘I ordered some cooked chicken from Tesco’s and there’s some wholemeal bread in the freezer,’ Lisa called through from the small sitting room where she was breastfeeding the baby.
‘I’m on it! Sandwiches made and lunchbox all packed, including some fruit that you insist I take every day.’ He stood in the doorway looking at her feeding the baby and still couldn’t believe that they had produced such a beautiful baby. ‘I’ll be back at six, and don’t worry about cooking if you don’t feel up to it. I can pick something up on the way home.’ Lisa smiled up at him and he kissed her on the cheek and then held Liam’s tiny hand gently, careful not to disturb him as he suckled contentedly. ‘I’ll manage,’ she said, stroking Liam’s soft, downy head.
‘You will be all right, won’t you?’ he asked, backing away holding the huge Tupperware lunchbox in his work-worn hands. Lisa smiled up at him reassuringly. ‘I’ll be fine. Go! Don’t worry about us, we’ll be grand.’ Her soft Irish accent had captivated him when they had first met in a bar in Dublin three years ago. He’d been over there on a rugby trip and watched, humiliated, as Ireland thrashed England by 22 points to 6 but on his way out of the Aviva Stadium he had stopped to let a group of pretty young lasses through and he and Lisa headed to the same bar and hit it off straight away.
Driving into Bellwood Sawmills, Pete wished that he could stay at home forever helping Lisa and being a good Dad to Liam, but he knew he was just being ‘an old romantic’ as Lisa would say and who could blame him? The most beautiful girl in the world and a perfect new baby boy.
Reversing the pick-up into his favourite parking spot in the yard overlooking the small brook, he took his lunchbox through to the workshop and slid it into the grubby fridge where the lads kept milk and a few bits and pieces like cakes and chocolate bars. They were in the midst of a heatwave so the fridge was pretty full today and he had trouble cramming his lunchbox in amongst all the others.
‘Here’s the Daddy!’ Ben shouted over to Pete the second he clapped eyes on him as he climbed out of his truck. ‘How’s it going? Enjoying all them sleepless nights are we?’ He laughed jovially and slapped him on the back. ‘How’s Leese doing? And the little ‘un? All good, are they?’
‘Yeah, they’re fine, thanks. All good. Better than good, they’re bloody brilliant to be honest, mate. Liam’s perfect.’
‘Always told yer Leese was a good ‘un, didn’t I? I like the name. We must go for a pint sometime, you know, to celebrate. Wet the baby’s head.’ Pete was touched by Ben’s genuine happiness for him. He was a good mate.
Kevin sauntered over and as he approached, Ben whispered, ‘Oh, here he comes, leader of the shit squad.’ Pete smirked. Kevin was always shit stirring and liked nothing better than to pit one of the lads against another and was always winding people up.
‘Good to ‘ave yer back, Pete. We’ve missed you around here. The works startin’ to pile up.’
Great, Pete thought. No congratulations or ‘How’s the new baby?’ Kevin was an ignorant sod.
A massive timber lorry pulled into the yard and the men immediately scattered and set to work. William Bellwood was a force to be reckoned with and his employees knew better than to shirk when there was work to be done. He paid them well but expected them to work hard and they all knew that if they didn’t pull their weight, there were plenty of others willing to step into their steel toe-capped boots.
By the time lunchtime arrived, Pete was knackered and settled down onto one of the tatty old sofas in the staff room and wolfed down his sandwiches, leaving the fruit untouched, and the next thing he had dozed off. He woke up a few minutes later when he heard the lads laughing at him. ‘Told ya them sleepless nights would catch up with ya,’ Ben said gently, ‘But mind old man Bellwood don’t catch ya, that’s all.’
Pete sat bolt upright and rubbed his eyes. ‘Christ, is he around? I’d better get back to work.’ He leaped up, made himself a strong coffee, and headed out to the yard. The last thing he needed was to get fired because he’d fallen asleep during working hours. How would they manage with a new baby and all? He took a deep breath and strode purposefully across to the Foreman to see what needed doing next. He loved the smell of freshly cut timber and had always enjoyed working with wood.
‘Congratulations, son. I hear you’re a Dad now.’
‘Yeah, a baby boy. Liam.’ Pete’s face broke into a broad grin when he told the Foreman his news.
‘Well, you mark my words. They grow up so fast, enjoy every minute of it.’
‘Thanks.’ Pete was touched by the tough guy’s words but he soon reverted to his stern persona.
‘Now, I need that bloody great pile of branches over there all chipped up and bagged. The wagon from Madeley’s Garden Centre is booked in for first thing in the morning to collect the chips so you’d better get started pretty pronto.’
Pete put his mug down on a nearby log and surveyed the job in hand wondering if it was possible to finish by five-thirty because he couldn’t work late, not today of all days, so he got stuck in and worked as fast as he could, forgetting all about his coffee. He would ask Kevin for some help if he felt that he was falling behind.
It was late afternoon when Bellwood Sawmills came to a grinding halt. All hell broke loose as somebody shouted something about an accident over at the wood chipper. The yard was immediately put into lockdown and Mr Bellwood took control, ascertaining that the employee at the chipper had sustained catastrophic injuries to both hands. It was all he could do to stem the bleeding and prevent the shock from killing the young lad.
The paramedics arrived quickly and took over, expertly wrapping the stumps and arranging for the patient to be airlifted to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
When Pete failed to materialize at six as he had promised, Lisa was worried. She had been alone all day with Liam and was feeling the strain, physically and emotionally. It was exhausting feeding him, changing him, winding him, putting him down for his nap every few hours and it seemed that no sooner had she finished one round of this routine than it was time to start the next. She was shattered and couldn’t believe that Pete was late home on his very first day back at work. It wasn’t like him and she wondered why he hadn’t messaged her. Perhaps he’d gone for a swift pint after work to celebrate the new baby and time had got the better of him, but by six-thirty, she decided to give him a call. His phone went straight to voicemail. Now she was getting really worried. Something must have happened. Liam was asleep and due to wake any minute so she quickly fixed herself something to eat, warming up some leftovers she found at the back of the fridge.
By seven o’clock, she decided to ring Ben, Pete’s mate at the sawmill, but his phone went straight to voicemail as well. What the hell was going on? Her stomach was churning and she feared the worst. She knew that the sawmill was a dangerous place to work but Pete had assured her that the Health and Safety measures in place were stringent and they had regular visits from H&E Executives to make sure everything was properly monitored. She was just about to call her mother for some advice when her phone rang. She didn’t recognize the number but answered it immediately.
‘Yes. Who is this?’
‘It’s Bill Bellwood from the sawmill.’
Panic crept slowly through Lisa’s body like blotting paper soaking up ink.
‘It’s Pete, isn’t it? What’s happened? Please. Tell me!’
No, Pete’s fine. I’m just ringing around to let everybody know that the men have been detained following an incident. Pete should be home in an hour or so.’
‘Lisa? Are you there?’
‘Yes, yes, I’m fine. Thank you.’ The relief in her voice was clear.
Liam woke up as she ended the call and she took a minute or so to process the news. She wondered what the incident was and who was involved. She was so relieved to hear that Pete was okay that she’d forgotten to ask for more information. Liam started making snuffling sounds and then began to cry so she went straight to him. ‘Come here, my sweet boy,’ she said softly as she picked him up gingerly out of the crib, losing herself in his softness and revelling in the unique smell that all newborn babies have.
When Pete finally arrived home he gave Lisa a huge hug and held her close. Then he stood over Liam’s crib and watched his baby boy sleeping soundly. He sat Lisa down and told her that Kevin had lost one of his hands and several fingers of the other in an accident involving the wood chipper, and he had decided that it was time for a change of career. He was going to re-train as a carpenter. It was something he had always wanted to do but had never got round to doing anything about it.
Things would be tight for a while but they would manage. They always did. Besides, if he was self-employed, he could be more flexible, which meant that he could spend more time with his family.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.