Howie Arthur Starr was born on a Wednesday morning at Bridgeport City Hospital. Compared to her first time round, Howie arrived much quicker than his older sister which was a welcomed relief to Esme. This time it was just Alfie by her side as Carter was too poorly to leave the house and Anna stayed home to care for Georgia and her husband.
Alfie was over the moon to finally have a little boy. Of course he adored his daughters but a son to a man was completely different and he could not wait to build train sets with him and take him fishing. He would imagine what it would be like when he got older and he already had high hopes for his little boy. Maybe he would be a doctor, or even a famous football player? Either way, Alfie was sure his little boy had a big future ahead of him.
Anna and Esme would stand around and laugh at Alfie sometimes, watching him going about his daily business with Howie constantly attached to his hip like he was a trophy Alfie was parading around. If Alfie had his way, he would have taken Howie to work with him each day, but Esme put her foot down on this!
That’s not to say he ignored his other children. Georgia was his little princess through and through. She was a real girly girl and would hobble around the house dragging her oversized doll with her wherever she went playing mummy.
She was also so easy to make happy. She giggled all the time and whenever Alfie needed cheering up, all he would need to do was scoop her up and tickle her until she almost burst, savouring every last sensational giggle.
So much was his devotion to his little princess that he let her get away with anything, even letting her dress him up and put makeup on him.
It gave Esme endless amusement to see Alfie covered in makeup. “How do I look,” he would joke after Georgia had finished working her magic.
“You look just like a princess,” Esme would giggle loving Alfie even more for playing along with his daughters little games.
“You don’t think it’s a bit too heavy?”
“No way, Georgia’s done a stellar job!”
And we cannot forget about little Ronny – and nor did Alfie. Following the night when Ronny had snuck out to see her father, Alfie had it out with Joan. At first she was livid that her daughter had chosen to disobey her to be with Alfie. She blamed him for poisoning Ronny’s mind and luring her to him with promises of treats.
There was so much screaming that Esme had to scoop Georgia up and take her to the next room. She settled her daughter down and tried to stifle out the raised voices by reading her a story.
Luckily Georgia had been oblivious to the screaming and finally settled down to sleep. Esme sat next to her crib stroking her hair until the screaming finally subsided and was followed by a slamming door. Eventually Alfie came into their room looking tired and beaten down.
At first Esme had feared the worst – Joan had not backed down. She flopped onto the bed next to him and said: “go on then, spill it!”
“We’ve worked it out,” Alfie replied.
“Thank goodness. Dare I ask what happened?”
“This is really tough for me to say,” Alfie said letting out a large sigh and running his fingers through his hair. “I tried everything I could you have to believe me Esme.”
“What is it,” Esme asked cautiously. Did she even want to hear this?
“There is a condition for me seeing Ronny,” Alfie begun. “It’s that you are not allowed to be around when I do!”
“She can’t do that,” Esme shrieked. This could tear the whole family apart!
“I am still going to fight it Esme I promise but for the time being it’s better than nothing.”
“I guess so,” Esme replied feeling completely defeated. But she knew how important it was for Alfie to be with Ronny so if she had to make herself scarce, then so be.
“Thank you darling,” Alfie said wrapping his arms around Esme and kissing the top of her head. “I know how important it is for you to get to know Ronny too but I will keep working on Joan and one day we will all be one big happy family, I promise.”
Esme snuggled down into Alfie’s arms, everything always seemed better when she was here.
So the arrangement was that Alfie got to see Ronny every second Sunday. He would meet her in the city and take her anywhere she wanted. Being shy and rather timid, Ronny was no adrenaline junky so their time was normally spent together at the park or at a push in the arcades.
Alfie made sure to tell Ronny how much he loved her as often as possible. He had a lot of lost months with his daughter and he needed her to know how wanted she was. He showered her with treats and affection and relished every moment they got to spend together, however short it was.
It was a rainy Tuesday morning when Carter passed away, the day before Georgia’s birthday! It was not a shock, he had been poorly for a while now but it still did not ease the pain the family felt at losing him. They held the wake for just close family members at the Starr family house where Esme and Anna shared the catering duties.
From the older generation there were only two other members left – Kitty Boo and Charlie Junior. Kitty Boo was extremely old now but due to her healthy vegetarian lifestyle she was still going strong. She had never married but did have one daughter Daisy who had moved abroad years ago. Charlie’s wife Heather had passed away a while ago and his three children had also all moved away. He was devastated by the death of his twin brother and the rest of the family were very worried about his health wondering if the pain would soon finish him off too.
Farah and her growing brood of four children came. They were certainly a rowdy bunch running riot throughout the house. Farah was too devastated to pay them any notice so it fell on Esme’s shoulder to shoo them outside and slam the door of silence on them.
Danny also made it back for the funeral. He had been living all these years in Japan exploring his heritage and then becoming part of the help aid designed to help re-build the country after the devastating Tsunami that destroyed most of the land a few years back. He had never married nor had any children, but considered the Japanese people his family dedicating himself to looking after them. It was so nice to see her brother after all these years but Esme could see the lines of worry mapped across his face and knew that he had chosen a very difficult and lonely path for himself.
Because of the funeral, Georgia’s planned birthday party had fallen at the waist side and Esme and Alfie had agreed to let her age up overnight instead of make a big celebration out of it. When she woke up the morning after the funeral, she had spouted significantly.
The first thing she did was dash to the mirror, checking out her new longer and leaner physique. Her hair had sprouted all the way down her back and was so bright orange she could not help but wonder if she would ever look inconspicuous again!
“Mummmmm,” she called sprinting down the stairs and into the front room where the rest of the family were.
“Well look at you big girl,” Alfie remarked glancing at Georgia from out of his newspaper. “All grown up.”
“Ooohh Georgia! Hunny! You look so pretty,” Esme gasped clapping eyes on her daughter.
“Let me look at you, give us a twirl,” she said dashing over to her and looking her up and down.
“But mummm,” Georgia moaned rolling her eyes. “I don’t have anything to wear.”
“Of course you do. I bought you that new outfit just the other day. It’s hanging in your wardrobe waiting for you.”
“Yeah but I don’t really like it. I’m sorry mum it’s real pretty and all but it’s just not me!” Esme turned at looked at Alfie is shock. “I think someone takes after their mother,” he said from behind his newspaper and chuckling to himself.
“Ok hunny,” Esme sighed. “Pop up stairs and at least put the outfit on for now and then we will go shopping and you can pick out something else out for yourself.”
“Yippy,” Georgia shrieked running off.
She may look like her father, Esme thought, but she takes after me when it comes to the finer things in life.
“Yes hello I was wondering if you could help. My little girl has just aged up and we are looking for a new outfit for her.” Esme, Georgia and Howie had headed down to one of the clothes boutiques in Bridgeport straight after breakfast that morning. Georgia had moaned and fidgeted the whole way complaining about the outfit Esme had bought her and how much it itched. By the time they arrived, Esme was just as anxious to buy her daughter something else as much as she was.
“Right away madam,” the sales assistant replied. She was so polished Esme could nearly see her own reflection in her face and she did not have the heart to tell the girl that she had lipstick on her teeth. “We have had a lovely new stock of children’s outfits in just yesterday – straight from Paris can you believe.”
“Sounds perfect,” Esme said winking at Georgia who was grinning from ear to ear. She loved seeing her little girl so happy.
The sales assistant directed Georgia up onto the dressing pedestal and then strutted around her sizing her up and making oohs and arrs every so often.
“Now your hair is the colour of fire – almost strawberry but not quite there yet,” the sales assistant said. “And your completion is fair but not too understated. We must steer clear of pinks they will just wash you out. Very dark, muted purples, plums and berry shades will look amazing with your hair. Plus green is a versatile colour but I would go for a warmer shade with your colourings.”
Georgia watched the sales assistant in awe evaluating her and calculating everything to get the perfect combination. She was spellbound by her ability to size her up just by sight loving everything the assistant made her try. Georgia thought she was the most glamorous and well put together girl she had ever seen!
In the end they settled on a ruby red stripped dress and platted her hair so it was not so conspicuous. Georgia skipped out of the shop like she had had the biggest revelation of her life. “I want to be a sales assistant when I grow up,” she told her mother. “Just like the girl in there!”
Esme could not help but laugh a little, it was a great ambition to have but she had always had higher hopes for her daughter. “What a wonderful idea kiddo,” she said. “But how about you take it a step further. You don’t just have to sell things you know, you could make and design things too. The pictures you’ve already drawn your dad and I are so pretty. Maybe you could put your skills to designing then you can open your own shop one day?”
Georgia had not considered something so elaborate but the more she thought about it the more she loved it. “I’m gonna get started right now,” she shrieked racing off and the road towards the car.
“Hold up kiddo,” Esme called, “I can’t run with your brother hanging onto me.”
“Come on mum we have to get home, I have work to do.”
Esme could not believe how big her little girl was getting and she already knew what she wanted to do in life. Maybe they weren’t as alike as she had thought – she had only just properly realised what she wanted to be!