First Moment by planet p
Disclaimer I don't own the Pretender or any of its characters.
Everybody always said that James Edward Hooper had been a bright, outgoing little boy, quick to make new friends and win hearts.
But that'd been before his mother's disappearance, and later, the discovery of her death.
At the age of four, he'd shut down, and shut out the world.
His father, Edward Hooper, the only doctor in the small farming town where they lived – a demanding position in itself – tried his hardest to lay aside his own grief and help his small son through his. He took to calling him Jimmy, just like his mother had, instead of James, as he'd always done. He bought expensive gifts for no reason at all, and took frequent trips to the larger neighbouring town, Addison, with his son, to visit the cinema, or stroll through the town park, because Jimmy no longer played on the playground with the other children as he once would have, beaming with joy and red from running, or jumping, or climbing.
When he turned five, and it came time for primary school, Dr. Hooper enrolled Jimmy earlier rather than later, and set about buying all of the necessary items and allowing his small son to handle them, to get the feel of them, and to learn to like them, and use them.
He thought, and felt, that it would encourage his son to enjoy going to school when the time came. School, he was confident, and its regularities, and, more than that, interaction with other children his own age, would assist him to come out of himself, and to become part of the world again. And see that it was okay.
At the end of the year, Dr. Hooper, learned that Jimmy had failed his first year of education, and that he'd have to repeat the year again. He was hurt deeply, but, again, he put aside his own feelings to focus on his son's.
So, that first year hadn't gone so well, but it'd be better next year, not so hard, or scary, now that he knew what it was like, and how to handle the ropes, so to speak. He'd have an advantage over the other kids.
The following year, Jimmy was again enrolled into classes, and Dr. Hooper was surprised to hear that most of the other kids were Jimmy's own age, rather than younger. In fact, all the other kids in his grade were six, except for one, a little boy named Robert.
Warmed and gladdened by this fact, Dr. Hooper left his son, and the school grounds, and made his way to work, confident that this year would be different. This year would be an enjoyable year for Jimmy, and he'd do well.
As he drove, he thought of the years that lay ahead; there'd be bumps, there always were, but in the end, Jimmy would pull himself through, and he'd do more than just pass, as he grew older, and the importance of a decent, respectable education solidified in his mind, he'd excel. Dr. Hooper had always known that his son was a bright boy, and he'd go on, and move up, and out, and into bigger, brighter things, and he'd outshine them all.
Yes, everything would be fine in the end.
When he returned to the P-12 that afternoon to retrieve his son, the teacher explained, somewhat self-indulgently, he thought, that Jimmy had made a friend, and Dr. Hooper felt a not-hurtful stab of pride in his chest, confident, now, that everything would be just as he'd reassured himself time and again they would be, perfect.
Everything was perfectly fine.
He was elated.
His eyes found his son easily, amongst the mass of other children, all heading home, and he couldn't help smiling. Jimmy was looking much better already, making a friend had been good for him.
He watched his son collect his schoolbag, then turn to talk to one of the other children, a curly-haired little girl Dr. Hooper would have mistaken for a younger sibling of one of his classmates, too young yet to attend school herself, if she hadn't been holding onto her own schoolbag, which was rested on the ground at her feet.
Jimmy's teacher, seeing where his father was looking, approached him and explained that the other child was the banker, Bowman's son; his mother was a hairdresser in town, and she wasn't sure yet whether his hair was naturally curly, or whether his mother had given it an extra little helping hand.
She finished her exposé with a light, conversational laugh, but Dr. Hooper felt himself gripped by much larger concerns than the, now redundant, possibility that his son's only new friend was a girl, that he'd felt only moments before. It hardly seemed rational, that he'd been so happy only a moment ago, and that now he felt as though he was gripped in an unshakable, icy hold that was dragging him further down with every moment that passed, down past even his early-in-the-day apprehensions, and deeper still, into a stifling, unknown darkness.
Though she was less than a couple of steps from him, Jimmy's teacher seemed entirely oblivious to his panic, then she stepped closer, and leant a bit closer for emphasis – what she was about to tell him was confidential – and explained that Bobby wasn't yet five years old, but would be turning five in August. She didn't think it right – it was too early – but it only went to show, some people with money!
This last scrap of information was the final push that thrust him deeper into troubled thoughts, and into impenetrable blackness.
Mr. and Mrs. Bowman had only recently returned from the city, where Mr. Bowman had had been working, and they'd brought with them their young son, not yet turned five.
Yet they'd seen fit to enrol him in school!
Obviously, the boy was a genius – compared to his Jimmy – and why wouldn't he be, with the opportunities he'd been afforded, living in luxury, in the city!
His parents had obviously taken lesser paying – and much less glamorous – positions in occupation to be able to offer their only child a country education, in a small, rural school, with fresh air, and the open, welcoming country atmosphere of the people.
And they certainly weren't juggling what he was juggling, as the small – sometimes far too big – town's only doctor! They had money, they'd be able to offer their son everything that he needed, and wanted; more than that, they had time. Time to lavish their attention upon their son, and to lend him a helping hand with whatever he should need – and even when he didn't need it!
The only reason – the only reason – he'd nominated Jimmy as a friend was because he knew that that way, he'd look good, because Jimmy couldn't possibly compete with him – with what he had, with what was behind him – and he'd continue to look good, even as Jimmy looked worse and worse, even as his 'friend' failed at everything he tried, and eventually even that which he didn't – he'd given up trying, because what could he do right – he'd be magnificent!
Even more so, Dr. Hooper was assured, because people would see Jimmy dragging him down, but he wasn't falling down, he was doing better, he was fighting so hard, and he was doing better; they wouldn't see what it was that was dragging Jimmy down – who it was – they wouldn't see that next to his 'best friend,' how could Jimmy do anything but fall, time and time again!
That was the moment that Dr. Hooper first knew he hated Bobby Bowman.