Disclaimer - Original story, plots and characters belong to Emmerdale and ITV. I own nothing.
It's august the 7th 2019. Twenty-eight, he would have been twenty-eight. Hazel Rhodes thought to herself. So young, he could of still lived a normal life, with a few adjustments, be he would of still had a life. But it was what he wanted. Hazel sits at the window seat of the Hutton coach. Her heart is heavy, today, of all days. Her son's birthday. She flashes back to an old memory, that's all Jackson is now, a memory. Her throat starts to tighten, she fights back the tears. She is now standing on a football pitch, the icy air around her her cheeks and nose red. But she didn't care how cold it was or how the other women across the pitch kept giving her odd looks. Hazel cheered for her son as he scored his third goal. She screamed with excitement. The happiness on Jackson;s face, made her grin until her cheeks hurt. He was so care-free, ruthless and most important, happy. Jackson use to say that was one of the best days he ever had and now it's one of Hazels fondest memories of her son. The past eight years, Hazel has been traveling around the world, seeing places she could only dream of but as her son's 28th birthday lingered, she knew she couldn't avoid it any longer, she had to go visit him, visit him at Emmerdale cemetery. As she looks out the bus window, no more sights of Hutton or busy streets, just color's of green from the country fields. She knew she was getting closer to the village. She hadn't kept in touch with anyone since she left. She sent a postcard to Bob seven years ago but didn't leave a forwarding address. But it's not her plan to see anyone, she just wants to go the graveyard, lay down a football she got in Barcelona, which reminded her of Jackson and a birthday card. Then it's back to Hutton to visit Aunt Polly, who has been poorly lately. Hazel thinks back to what would of happened if Jackson never had met Aaron Livesly. Sitting on the couch, eyes stuck on the green country side, she starts to imagine. Her son would have extended his business. Having employers who would do the hard graft, while he took care of the books and the business. Settled down with a lovely lad, who she loves to wind up. Watching her only child getting married and starting a family of his own. Who she would babysit and spoil rotten. Which Jackson would moan about, but she didn't care. She loves them just as much as she loves her son. "Approaching Emmerdale, Approaching Emmerdale" Hazel snaps out of her daze as the bus drivers voice echos the bus. She sits with a smile on her face, thinking of what she just imagined. But sadness now shows on her face, as she remembers, that it will never happen and that her only son, is gone.
When Hazel arrives in Emmerdale, she wastes no time and heads to the graveyard, it's been eight years but clear as day she still knows where her son is. She stares at his headstone Loving son and boyfriend. She places the football next to some wilted flowers, whoever was here, hadn't been here in a while, she thought. She takes the flowers out of the small vase and puts them in an empty plastic bag she had in her handbag. She wasn't really a flower type women, but she was grateful that someone still cared, even though it may have been a good while since they were there. She takes out the birthday card and reads it out loud "Happy birthday, my beautiful boy. I miss you so much" she doesn't fight back the tears this time and lets them run down cheeks, sobbing her heart out. Once she controls her cries, she reaches into her handbag and reaches out two cans of lager. She opens the first can and places it next to the headstone, she opens the second can and takes a sip, her face scrunches up "bleugh, how could you drink this cheap rubbish?" she moans but also chuckles to herself. She goes on to tell her son about her life the past eight years. About getting arrested in Brazil for getting mistaking for a sex worker and none of the officers could speak a word of English and had to bring in a translator. "Okay, maybe I was wearing a dress three sizes smaller than me, but I said to myself, I said Hazel, be body positive, but turns out being body positive for a women a certain age means trouble" she makes a face.
Hazel Jumps at the sound of footsteps behind her. She doesn't turn around, she just assumes it's someone visiting a loved one. "do ya mind, love. I'm having a private conversation" she spits.
"Hazel?" the voice behind her speaks
Hazel, still kneeling on the crass, freezes. Great, I've been caught, she thinks. She lets out a big sigh, she was really hoping to avoid all this. She gets off the ground and brushes herself off. She turns round and shows a a displeased smile. "Hi Bob"
"Hazel! It's so good to see you!" Bob Hope grins with happiness as he opens out his arms and moves forward to wrap his arms around his old friend.
"I forgot you were a huger" Hazel says displeased.
Bob releases her quickly "Sorry!" He places flowers in the now empty vase at the headstone.
"I take it the old bunch was from you then?"
"yeah, I popped up with them the day-, um back in June"
"The day he died, Bob, you can say it" she then shows a smile "Thanks"
"I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting to see you here"
"Well, I've missed Eight years of birthdays, couldn't miss this one"
Bob places his hand on her shoulder to show his symphony. "Do you fancy coming for a coffee?"
Hazel makes a face. The thought of going into the village, makes her stomach flip with anxiety. "I don't think so, Bob"
She glances back over to her son's gravestone. "Aaron not come here much then?"
Bob shrugs, not knowing what to say. She doesn't expect him to come visit, he has a life of his own to lead, she just prays he's happy. "You know what? I do fancy that coffee, but not in your fancy cafe, I can't deal with anyone right now"
"Mines it is then" Bob grins yet again. Hazel rolls her eyes.
"So, let me get this straight, Carl king is dead, Adam is on the run for murdering his Aunt, Charity married Declan and Jay and is now a lesbian? Blimey, I have missed a lot" Hazel says as he takes her cup off of Bob. The cafe owner sits down next to her.
She takes a few small sips of her coffee then places it on the table "Bob, you've told me everyone's lives in the village, but everytime I mention Aaron name, you change the subject, there's something you're not telling me, what is it?" frustration shows on her face.
Bob sighs. "how much time do you have?"
Hazel sits frozen and gobsmacked by what her old friend had to say. All the things he has gone through, she just couldn't believe it. But the positive things he had to say, she also couldn't believe it. "Who'd of thought it, Aaron Livesly, a married man" she smirks
"Dingle, he changed his name to Dingle" Bob states
Hazel just nods. Her heart was heavy thinking the horrible things Aaron had to go through. She wished she was there to support him, but she knew he was in good hands with his family.
"Are you going to go see him? He lives in Carl's old place"
Hazel shakes her head "Nah, he sounds like he's got enough on his plate right now, he doesn't need me there to remind him of-well you know"
"Then just come for one drink in the woolie"
"Nah I can't"
"Oh come on, Hazel. Who knows the next time I will see ya, for old time sake, come on" Bob smiles
Hazel forces out a smile "Go on then…"