Ryan waved the cricket bat around above his head, narrowly missing the ceiling light. Martin moaned helplessly, both of his arms held out in front of him as he pleaded with his young son.
‘Put it down, Ryan. Put the bat down. Just give it to me.’
‘No!’ Ryan shouted, swinging the bat closer to Martin, who took half a step back. ‘Mummy would let me have it!’
He was referring to the four hundred pound gaming system that had just been advertised on the television. Martin could not afford it, not on what he was paid, but his ex-girlfriend (and Ryan’s mother) had got four different consoles at her house, as Ryan had repeatedly told his father.
‘If you’re good, then you might get it for Christmas,’ Martin said, trying to buy himself some time.
‘No! Now!’ Ryan demanded.
‘Just – just give me the bat, Ryan, and I’ll see what I can do.’
‘I want it now!’ Ryan screamed, and this time he swung the bat all the way around, smashing it into the flat screen television behind him, which fell onto the floor with a horrible crashing sound. Martin had to force himself not to react to the destruction of his hard-earned property.
Ryan had once been such a good boy. Then, at the age of eight, his mother had decided to get back in contact and had asked to see Ryan again. It had not been easy for her to persuade Martin to grant her access, but he had eventually agreed that it was the best thing for Ryan. Now, every time that Ryan went to see his rich Mummy, he was spoiled beyond any comparison. Martin had never known anyone to throw so much money around.
Then when Ryan came back to Martin’s house, he expected to receive the same treatment.
Well, it looked as though they would have to do without a television for the next few weeks, until Martin got his next pay check. Ryan, realising what he had done, dropped the bat in horror, and as his son was turned away, Martin wiped the tears from his eyes.
He had always worked so hard to make Ryan’s life the best that it could be, but with the return of his mother Ryan was being pulled this way and that, and that way promised more presents than what Martin could provide.
It would be over soon enough. Ryan’s mother had never stuck around for very long; she was sure to get bored, and then Martin would be the one who would pick up the pieces.