All shapes and sizes.
On Monday morning Simon’s office door is ajar so I tap and walk in.
“You’re in early!” I say brightly but he looks terrible. His face is ashen. He hasn’t shaved and his hair is matted. “Did you sleep the night here?”
His bloodshot eyes stare vacantly back at me. He has been crying and his face is puffy and nose swollen.
“The tekkies will be here soon. Go to the bathroom. Smarten yourself up and I’ll organise breakfast,” I tell him.
Ten minutes later I place steaming mugs of coffee and bacon bagels from the deli on his desk. “Eat!” I command taking a seat opposite him. I watch as he chews slowly and methodically, scrutinising each mouthful and following it with slurps of dark, thick, rich coffee.
I wait until he finishes his second bagel.“What’s wrong?”I ask. “Is it the business?”
He shakes his head.“It’s Louise,”he mumbles.
“Oh?” I smile. “Well, that’s lucky for you! I do have some experience in the Ladies department, so tell me…”
He grins and rubs the stubble on his chin.“She wants children.”
“Most women do,” I reply. I remember, when I arrived in Belfast, Auntie Annie telling me that Louise wanted children and that they were finding it difficult to conceive.
“But we can’t!” He screws up the empty bagel bag and fires it into the bin. “We’ve been to London, Germany and to America. None of the treatments or the IVF worked. She’s miscarried four times and I...”He runs his fingers through his hair and pauses. “Well, now she wants to adopt.”
“That’s lovely - isn’t it?”
He brushes his nose with the back of his wrist. “I’m not cut out for adoption. I don’t want to raise someone else’s child, a child that isn’t mine, someone else’s…”
“Is that a macho thing?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Is it a man-thing that the child has to be yours, from your sperm? Do you want your child to be your mirror image with your eyes and your temperament or character?”
He stares at me so I ask. “Why do people want children? What’s the point?”
“To have a family.”
“Exactly! Families come in all shapes and sizes. Nowadays there can be two male Dads or sometimes two female Mummies living together, but it doesn’t matter. If two people love each other then there are many ways to have a family.”
“But what if I don’t like the child? What if they’re awful?”
“You’ve no guarantee that you will like your own son or daughter, Simon. Life is full of surprises. Some kids have been dealt a rotten hand before they even come into the world but if someone kind or someone with a beautiful heart can give them a better start in life or help change that adopted child’s destiny for the better then doesn’t that make life just that little bit brighter and happier? - For everyone?” I add.
He is looking over my shoulder at the door and when I turn around Louise is standing there. She looks exhausted. I pick up the dirty mugs. “Morning Louise!” I say. “I’m just about to make coffee. Let me get you some breakfast…”