Bobbi never knew her father. She was raised with the dedication and care of a twenty-one year old mother who had been abandoned by her lover the second he learned she was with child. But, she learned how to take care of herself pretty well, pretty quickly. It wasn’t that her mother couldn’t take care of her–she just didn’t want to put extra pressure on her mother if she could help it. It was a nice balance, because it allowed her mother to go out and fall in love again. When Bobbi was 16, her mother asked her if she wouldn’t mind adding her new love to the family, and Bobbi was the maid of honor at her mother’s wedding. It was a good thing that she agreed to it, because Bobbi’s mother got married already two and half months pregnant, and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Bobbi’s half-Brother Charles. They all took the last name Johnston.
Perhaps it was teenage rebellion, perhaps it was underlying sibling jealousy following the birth of Charles, or perhaps it was just who Bobbi was, but on the day her little brother turned three weeks old, Bobbi realized that she was pregnant herself.
Unlike her mother’s luck, Bobbi’s boyfriend, a Sebastian Blaine, was delighted to find out she was pregnant. He wanted to marry her right away. He made plans with her mother and new step farther, he got to know little Charlie as best as one could get to know a newborn. And throughout it all, everything moved so quickly that Bobbi was walking down the aisle in a white dress before she even had time to process if this was the kind of thing that she wanted to do. So, less than a year after she changed her name to Johnston, she changed it to Blaine.
At first, Sebastian seemed great. Since they were only sixteen and seventeen, they continued to live with Bobbi’s mother and stepfather. Bobbi’s first son, Henry, shared a nursery with his Uncle Charlie. Two years later, she gave birth to Sebastian’s second son, Martin. They moved out into their own place. Bobbi knew it was less than ideal, but she thought that maybe she could turn this little family into something to be proud of.
Bobbi didn’t that kind of luck. It wasn’t long before she started to suspect Sebastian of having affairs. When she gathered evidence, and tried to talk to him in the way an open and honest married couple should, Sebastian freaked out. He accused her of cheating instead. He argued that Martin looked nothing like him, and that he wasn’t sure that he was actually his son. He threaten to just take Henry and leave in the middle of the night, to take the only family he knew for sure was his.
Faced with losing her son, and knowing that Sebastian was the kind of man who could disappear without a trace, Bobbi shut up. She didn’t complain about Sebastian’s affairs. She reminded her sons every day that she loved them, just in case.
She bore it all alone, and in silence. She didn’t tell her mother or step father because she was afraid of Sebastian’s wrath if he found out. She couldn’t tell her brother, because he was still practically a child himself, this was not something he was equipped to deal with. So–Bobbi did it alone, holding together as much as she could, making sure her children always knew that they were loved, and making sure that her husband’s mistress-es knew when to stop, to not put it in his head to run away with them.
Until she met Grant. Grant was tall, beautiful, kind. He was everything that she’d always hoped her husband might be, instead of the terrible one she ended up with. And he was nice to her. He was only in town every now and then, but when he was, they made sure to meet up. It started just as the occasional coffee, and then dinners and movies on the other side of town, and eventually to hours locked away in his motel room, getting as much of each other as they could manage. She tried to be as careful as possible, but either through her passion filled carelessness, or potentially sabotage by Sebastian who wanted to prove that she was doing to him what he’d been doing to her for years, Bobbi became pregnant again. She hadn’t slept with her husband in over a year when she took the positive pregnancy test–and apparently the double standard was too much for him to bear. He announced to sixteen year old Henry and fourteen year old Martin that their mother was a slut, and that he wouldn’t stay around to be cuckolded by her. He was gone within the hour. That was the moment that her two sons began to turn against her.
Grant didn’t take it much better. He was married himself, and had never wanted kids. He accused her of being intentionally lax with her birth control, to try to trap him into paying child support or something of that nature, accused her of having a child to be nothing more than a get rich quick scheme. Bobbi discovered that she really knew how to pick them, and let Grant leave without a word to stop him.
Her mother had done this, of course she could too. Her mom tried to offer some comfort and ease, at the very least allowing the boys to have sleepovers with Charlie every other weekend or so that Bobbi could have a night to herself. Charlie offered her part of his paycheck in an attempt to help counteract the loss of Sebastian’s pay check. She declined, but made a mental note to make sure to spend more time with her brother, whenever she could find a minute.
The baby was a girl. She named her Charlotte, in her own way for her little brother, and found that she couldn’t help but love that little girl in spite of the changes her conception had caused in her life. She struggled to balance raising the new kid with giving her attention to Henry and the increasingly hostile Martin. Even though he still looked just like her, through his actions more and more Bobbi could see his father in Martin, and she feared what he might one day grow into if he didn’t watch himself. She tried to steer him in the right direction, but she never knew if her thoughts and messages got through to him. He was such an angry young man.
Just before Charlotte turned four years old, two days after Martin’s 18th birthday, her boys approached her with bags packed.
They told her they were leaving, both now legal adults, and both already having dropped out of their respective schools, and were going to stay with some friends up the coast. They said they were leaving because they didn’t like that she’d chased their father away, and they were going to try to track him down if they could. Bobbi may have lost her temper, and said something’s that she seriously came to regret in the morning. Her boys didn’t pull their punches either. Their fighting eventually woke up Charlotte, who began to scream and cry, afraid because everyone was yelling downstairs. Bobbi went to reassure her that everything was alright, but by the time she made it back down the stairs, her sons were gone.
Bobbi was heartbroken, but angry, so she let them stay gone. She promised Charlotte to always take care of her, especially since now it was just the two of them. And while she still loved her sons with all her heart, she hoped that Charlotte, without the poisonous effect of Sebastian in her blood line, might turn out to be okay. Might be the kind of child a mother could be proud of.
With her stepfather’s permission (and blessing) Bobbi and Charlotte both changed their last names to Johnston again. They moved into the apartment over the garage. Her uncle Charlie was a big brother to Charlotte, and she remained a relatively happy girl in spite of all the strife that surrounded her early life.
Charlotte was 20 when Bobbi was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Although Bobbi was now in causal contact with her sons, she decided not to mention it to them. She didn’t want them to believe that she’d only rekindled with them out of dying guilt.
So her only sons, the boys from her only marriage learned about her death through the uncle who had spent most of his life growing up with those boys, and most of his adult life trying to get them all to rekindle their familial relationships. After sixteen years, they returned home for the first time in order to attend their mother’s wake. And that’s where our story begins