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Phoning Home

Heartbroken Robert,
in a red and black phone box,
summer, ’95.

Heartbroken Robert,
in a red and black phone box,
summer, ’95.

Phoning Home (if you can still call it that)

Robert: I’m not going back. 

Marianne: What?

Robert: I just can’t face it, Mum. Everybody’ll know. 

Marianne: So what?

Robert: So, I can’t face all the looks. The questions. The unasked questions. God, the pity. 

Marianne: Don’t be ridiculous. No-one will pity you. Besides, you’ll be snapped up in no time. 

Robert: I don’t want to be snapped up, Mum. I don’t want anyone else. Not now. Not ever. 

Marianne: Darling, I know that’s how it feels at the moment. 

Robert: This is how it’ll feel forever. 

Marianne: No, darling, it won’t. I promise you. 

Robert: How do you know? 

Marianne: I know. 

Robert: But how? 

Marianne: You’re only 21. 

Robert: What difference does that make? 

Marianne: You’ve still got your whole life ahead of you. 

Robert: Yes, without Elspeth. 

Marianne: Don’t be so…

Robert: So, what?

Marianne: Nothing, nothing. But don’t throw away your education. Come back. Do your final year. Perhaps at home instead of Oxford? If that’s easier? 

Robert: Of course it won’t be easier. There’ll be even more reminders of her at home. And I could bump into her. 

Marianne: Well, a different uni then? Where you don’t know anyone? 

Robert: Mum, you’re not listening. I’m not coming back. I’m staying in Italy. 

Marianne: Think about your future. It’s just one year, but then you’ll have finished your degree. 

Robert: My mind’s made up. 

Marianne: Ugh, don’t give that trollop– 

Robert: Don’t call her that. 

Marianne: Well, she is. Running off with that bloke. Ridiculous, it is. And now I hear she’s knocked up. 

Robert: Elspeth’s… Elspeth’s pregnant? 

Marianne: Yes. Stupid girl. Anyway, Robert. Enough about her. Robert? Robert?

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