“I’ve got one pair of hands Toby.” Liz called to her son.
“Well anyway,” Roman said again.
Liz looked round at them. Gabby seated in front of her because she wanted her hair plating and Roman bouncing up and down on the sofa and then Toby in the other room. She wondered why she hadn’t sent the lot of them to boarding school and then moved. Like to Borneo, or Quala Lumpoor. She lifted her fingers to her mouth and whistled loudly.
“Pay attention. You have one mother not three so I suggest you wind it in.”
“I think it would be confusing.” Roman said first before the others could get in.
Liz turned and looked at him.
“What would?” she asked blowing out a breath between pursed lips as she focused on finishing Gabby’s hairstyle.
“If I use Roman.”
Liz stopped what she was doing and turned to look at her son.
“What are you going on about?” she asked , her accent sounded British in that moment and she could see her kids look at one another knowing that she only sounded like that when she was about to lose her temper. She rolled her eyes and breathed out again, slower this time if that were possible.
“I mean, he’s like called Roman isn’t he?” her son continued. “And with Toby not being called after him it would just get confusing for when he meets us.”
Liz sighed before she fastened the band around Gabby’s hair. She looked over at Roman and smiled in a sad way as she thought through what he’d said.
“Come on.” She told them and moved over to the long sofa.
She sat down and patted the seat next to her. Gabby sprinted over to her whilst Toby sauntered and she smiled at the difference in her twins. Toby was cautious even as Gabby dove in head first usually. They reminded her so much of her and her brother Michael, Roman’s natural father.
“A long time ago, when I was 19 I met a man called Roman.” She began slowly looking round them all. “He looked at me and then the camera strap I had around my neck and christened me Ella.”
“I like that name.” Gabby said in her soft voice.
Liz smiled at her.
“So did I.” she agreed with her daughter remembering the way that Roman used to say it. The name slipping out softly between Roman’s lips like he was giving her a verbal kiss each time he said it. “Well anyway, your Dad.” Liz stopped herself for a moment when her voice broke. “he knew me as Ella.”
“Then he’s going to get confused about you being called Liz.” Roman pointed out logically. “You should change your name too.”
“Yeah.” Gabby agreed.
“Might be a good idea.” Toby said after a minute.
She looked at them all before sighing.
“I don’t think so.” She murmured. “It was a very long time ago. He may not even remember.” She added trying not to actually think about him.
“I think he does. I mean he gave you the name.” Gabby said.
“Ah bless babes.” Liz murmured reaching out and stroking her daughters hair. “But no, I don’t think so. “
Toby and Gabby exchanged a look before looking at their mother.
“You should change your name Mum. Ella is nicer than Liz. We know loads of Liz’s but well Ella.” Toby said with a shrug. “And well he will probably call you that anyway so when you see him it’ll be confusing.”
She could see from the serious expression on her son’s face that he had been thinking a lot about meeting his father and she couldn’t deny that he looked a lot like Roman and she didn’t mean his brother. They had a point; she conceded this name business would be confusing.
“I will think about it.” She told them. “But if we don’t call you Roman what name do you want to use?”
“Mike.” Roman answered immediately. “My name is Roman Michael Addison and my dad was known as Michael more than Mike isn’t that right? So if I use Mike I won’t make you sad.”
She gulped as his words hit her like blows.
“I’m not sad thinking of him. I mean sometimes of course I am, and your Mum, Jennie. They were both so young but they gave me something special, they gave me you to raise.”
“And I think they wanted you to find him.” He told her. “So they called me after him to keep him in your thoughts.”
“Did you love him?” Gabby asked.
Liz eased up from the sofa and moved over to the unit along the far wall. She opened a drawer and took out an old battered photo album. She’d shown them a picture when she’d first told them about Roman but the bulk of her thing had been in storage including this. Walking back over to the sofa she placed the album on her lap and opened it up.
The memories came flooding back. They’d been so happy. And in love. The year she’d spent in Afghanistan she felt so incredibly alive. He’d been protective and caring and romantic.
“Here.” She said after a moment feeling a lump in her throat. “This is Roman Harris.”
They looked at a different picture of the man that was changing their lives.
“I look like him.” Toby told them an excited note in his voice.
“You both have his eyes.” Liz said to them.
“And this is..”
“You know very well young lady this is your uncle Michael, Roman’s real dad.”
“And you don’t think it’s going to get confusing.” Roman said logically.
“Fine, let’s all change our names.” She muttered. “From now on you are called Fifi and Goose and you are Mike….”
“And you are Ella.” Gabby told her. “Although I think I’ll still call you Mum.” She added in a sad voice.
“Ok.” She said to her daughter.
“Will we meet him soon?”
“We will.” Liz said softly. “In the next holidays.”
She was prepared for Gabby and Toby to look subdued at the announcement but not for Roman, well Mike to look crestfallen. She bit back more words resisting the urge to promise them something that she couldn’t deliver just to stop the hurt looks on their faces.
“Hey.” She murmured reaching out and touching Roman’s hand, well Mike. And rolled her eyes at the way her brain refused to think of the new name as she thought of him.
“It’s ok.” He shrugged off his disappointment.
She looked at them all before standing and leaving the photo album resting on Gabby’s knee. Walking over to the table she picked up her phone from where she left it and dialled Jacko’s number. He answered on the first ring and she spoke quickly into the phone as she eased out of earshot of the kids. She came back into the room after a moment and looked at the three kids.
“Mike get your laptop out.” She instructed and grinned as ‘Mike’ looked blankly at her.
“That’s you idiot.” Toby muttered poking his brother in the ribs.
“Oh er…” ‘Mike’ stood up quickly his face going red and ran into the bedroom collecting his laptop.
“That was funny.” Gabby said giggling. “Maybe I would like to be called Fifi.”
Liz rolled her eyes as she looked at them before groaning as Toby fixed her with his intense gaze.
“Ella.” He told her. “You have to be Ella.”
“I..” she trailed of as he continued to look at her with his father’s eyes. How could she resist? She’d never been able to resist Roman when he looked at her with the same appeal in his gaze. “Fine.” She all but whispered.
Toby nodded once in confirmation before turning and looking at his brother, ‘Mike’. He grinned and moved towards them as Mike set up his laptop on the table. His mother, ‘Ella’, moved to sit in front of it and soon she was surfing places to stay around somewhere called Summer Bay.