Runaway Mother chapter 13
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‘Ethan, will you take off your shoes and hang up your coat? I’m just going to the mail box, ok!’ I say as I fish for the appropriate key from the bowl on the table in the hall.
The mail box is fixed to the wall of the house. As its exposed to the elements, the rust is starting to get the better of it. I put the key in the lock and fiddle with it a bit before it releases the envelopes. I look at them and sigh as they look like bills, my mother the addressee. I get to the end of the bundle and see that it’s for me. I open it as I walk back through the door, pushing it closed with my foot, and smile as its my first pay check. Its nothing impressive but it should keep the wolves from the door. I have must have a sombre look on my face as I put all the correspondence under the bowl and drop the mail box key back where it came from.
‘What’s wrong Mary?’ Ethan asks with a look of concern on his innocent little cheeks. Those cheeks have lost a lot in a short amount of time and I want innocence to glow on them for many more years to come.
I reassure him everything is fine. Finances are a problem for later, right now I have a four-year-old who has a knot in his laces. I just pull off the shoe altogether and tackle the situation standing up.
He runs into the kitchen where ducky waits patiently for him.
‘Are your socks wet buddy?’ I shout after him…after all, we did jump in some seriously deep puddles!
‘Yes!’ he says and I giggle at the honesty you get from someone who hasn’t been ruined psychologically by the state of the world.
I go into the kitchen after him and take off his socks. I feel his pants and they’re wet too! I go to the hamper and pick out last nights pyjama bottoms and yesterdays socks. Not the most hygienic of moves, but I need him not to get sick. I have to worry about a lot of things and I don’t want a sick child to be on my list!
‘Does ducky get new pyjamas like I got in the box?’ he asks.
I take a long deep look into his eyes trying to construct an answer that would be most practical. I turn to ducky, ‘you don’t need clothes because you’re a duck and that would look silly!’
Ethan smiles. ‘Where do ducks come from?’
I look at him dumbfounded at the things that keep coming out of this child’s mouth. These are ingenious questions!
‘I honestly don’t know where real life ducks come from, but ducky here came from Sweden!’
‘Where in Sweden?’
‘In a place called Ikea!’ We had gotten ducky in Ikea when Ethan was much much younger and they’ve been stuck together like Velcro since. He has a green and purple polka dot patch on his ass and a stitch or two here and there, but otherwise he’s doing very well. He’s also been replaced a couple of times so we keep a sheet of the material the patch came from and just sew it onto the new duck when needs be. This particular model is over a year old now. Its going to be time soon to change him because he’s threadbare. But that’s another days problem!
‘What would you like as a snack?’ I ask the little man in hopes to change the subject. I begin to take out the peanut butter when he shouts, ‘string cheese!’ from nowhere. I’m flabbergasted at the answer and quickly put the peanut butter back and grab a string cheese from the shelf.
‘You ready to catch?’ I ask him and he nods back at me beaming.
I throw the string cheese and am convinced we’re going to have another jock on our hands in a few years as he catches it first time!
‘Good job buddy!’ I say sounding a little bit surprised. ‘Would you like me to open it for you?’
‘No, I got it!’ he says and begins to pull off some cheese.
I’m flabbergasted as to how well his dexterity is improving. I see him give some to ducky by hanging it on his beak, and can’t help but giggle to myself as I walk down the hall to retrieve his backpack.
‘Do I have to do homework Mary?’ he moans when he sees me return and I rub noses with him and bluntly answer, ‘yes.’
‘Aahhaa!’ he says as he demolishes the cheese. I can’t help but be curious as to what he’s going to do with ducky’s bit. He leaves it there for the time being and I cringe when I see that the letter of the day is ‘E’.
‘Ok buddy,’ I say in an upbeat manner as I put the writing end of business on the table. I notice he not only has to do it in lower case, but upper case as well. I can see it being a long afternoon! ‘Here are your pencil and crayons!’
He reluctantly takes up his pencil and begins to trace the dots tackling the upper case first. I look towards the phone and see the answer machine light blinking. When I press play and hear Miss Megan, I quickly skip ahead. I hear a familiar voice, but can’t place her until the end of the message.
‘Hi Mary, I was just wondering if you’d like to meet up any time soon. I sensed you were very overwhelmed as you left the other day and would love if we could meet up on a 1:1 basis. I would be happy to answer any and all of your questions about your mother! Keep well! Connie from The Mint Leaf.’
‘She sure has gumption!’ I say to myself nodding my head and bring my focus back on Ethan and his ‘E’s’.
When Zach walks in the door, we are finally onto the colouring end of the homework. I cursed Miss Megan a few times as Ethan struggled big time with the lower case of the letter.
Zach kisses the top of Ethans head and says, ‘we’re using orange today!’ as Ethan looks up at him and smiles. Zach turns his attention to me, ‘we had the letter ‘D’ yesterday!’ letting me know he felt my pain.
I notice he has the mail in his hand, his eyes widen at the sheer volume of letters.
‘It looks like you’re going to have to produce one hell of a column tonight, Mare!’ he says reminding me its due. I had completely forgotten.
‘Thanks for reminding me!’ I smile at him and take out the computer to make a start. Every week I do this I take my inspiration from tv. ‘If only they knew!’ I say to myself as I read the first letter I’m about to answer. I only have to answer four, and sometimes the answers are cringeworthy but the editor sent a message with the letters this week complementing last week column. I feel honoured that I can actually call watching tv, work!
Zach wonders aloud what he’s going to make for dinner. He’s turning into a great cook, even though he does talk his way through the process.
‘Talking to yourself is the first sign of madness!’ I say over my shoulder as he peels the potatoes.
‘You need to be considered mad to be in this family!’ he retorts.
By the time Zach has the dinner made, I have the bones of the column written and Ethan has finished colouring inside the lines beautifully. We clear the busy table together and I notice the string cheese ducky was holding on to had disappeared and smile.
Zach announces the dish as he begins to serve it to his hungry family. ‘Today we have potato gratin, with carrots and chicken nuggets!’
‘Ooohhoo, potato gratin no less!’ I say, highly impressed at what he has presented to us…’tasty to boot!’
‘Imagine Ethan, this is our first proper cooked dinner in ages!’ Zach says and winks at me.
‘Hey Mr,’ I hold up my fork with a carrot attached, ‘I try, I’m just not a very good cook!’
‘At least she realises!’ Zach says to Ethan in a hushed tone and they high five.
‘Can you cook for us every day?’ Ethan asks Zach who winks back.
‘Are you saying you don’t like my spaghetti and hot dogs?’ I ask feigning offence.
‘This is yummy!’ Ethan tells ducky and gives him a spoon.
Zach takes over from me regarding the little man so I can go upstairs and study. There is a big trigonometry test on Friday…again, and this time I want to be prepared. The look I got off of Mr Bradshaw when he handed me back my last test was shameful. He was expecting me to get 100%. He actually shook his head as I slumped down in my seat feeling as though I had just crashed my hypothetical fathers Ferrari! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get over it, but since I started work and with Zach being so focused on his craft, all my grades have slipped. I curse my mother for it but deep down its fine! After all, if we don’t get her back soon, I’ll be working in ‘Bob’s Deli’ until Ethan is a teenager.
I can hear the men coming up the stairs for a bath singing a sea shanty. I look at my watch and can’t believe the time…its 19:45 already! I don’t feel 100% confident about Friday, but I have all the flashcards made and have done a math problem with each of the theorems so I’m content with that!
I hear water flying and laughter in the air, so I put my books away and go to see where all the fun is been generated from. I walk into the bathroom and there sits Ethan in the bath, a big ball of fluffy bubbles that remind me of candyfloss on his head. I begin to giggle until I see that Zach has them on his head as well. That’s when the real laughter starts. I can’t help but point and laugh at the vision in front of me, and get bubbles thrown at me for the pleasure!
I happen to dodge them but one thing leads to another and somehow, I find myself in the bath with Ethan. I get out of the tub awkwardly and push Zach in next. Ethan finds it all so funny that he loses control of his bladder. He begins to get upset. So Zach being Zach gets the shower hose and wets his crotch pretending it happened to him too. All three of us are laughing and having fun…the way it should be!
The laughter subsides naturally and the three of us need to get into some dry clothes. Ethan looks in the chest of drawers to see what pyjamas are on the menu today. They happen to be black ones with yellow stars on the bottoms and the solar system on the top. They look pretty cool indeed. Zach walks in trying to wipe the excess water from his hair. He stops and is dead still pointing at Ethans pj’s.
‘I need a pair like that buddy. They are so cool!’ he says.
‘They won’t fit you!’ Ethan replies and sticks his tongue out with his thumb to his nose wiggling his fingers.
‘I bet you that I can get into my pyjamas quicker than you can!’ I set Ethan a challenge.
‘Oh buddy, I think that’s a bet you can win!’ Zach smiles. I like it when he smiles, as its so rare he does these days!
‘On your marks, get set, go!’ Ethan says with enthusiasm and starts to get dressed.
I run into my own room and try to beat him by moving as fast as lightning. When I re-enter his room, the pair of them are sitting on the bed, their arms folded with smug grins on both of their faces.
‘I win!’ Ethan announces.
‘Congratulations!’ I smile, ‘what would you like your prize to be?’
‘Two stories!’ he says with gusto raising his arms in the air.
‘Ok,’ I answer, ‘but I get to pick the stories!’
Ethan thinks a minute before smiling, ‘deal!’ and puts his hand out for me to shake.
With the business end of things settled, I pick ‘Winnie the Witch’, and ‘Cat in the Hat’, two stories I have never read before.
Zach retreats downstairs to ‘study’, when I really know he’s just going to watch some basketball on the tv.
‘Well, the little man is down!’ I say and look at Zach with papers in front of him, sitting on the edge of the couch, the tv screen black.
‘Did you see these?’ he asks with great concern.
I go to sit beside him and notice he doesn’t only have the electricity bill and phone bill in front of him, but a credit card statement to boot. He hands me multiple pieces of paper, full of charges that my mother had made with a credit card I didn’t know existed!
I rifle through the five pages of charges and notice she hasn’t stayed in the one place for more than a few days!
‘She seems to be having a whale of a time!’ Zach starts, ‘can you see all the restaurant charges?’ Zach takes the pages back. ‘She even has the audacity to get a five-day pass to Disneyland in California!’
I nod and take the pages back to have a look for myself, not necessarily at what’s she’s been spending the money on, but more the location she’s been buying from.
‘It looks like she’s spent a good amount of time in California!’ I say aloud.
Zach doesn’t hear me as he’s rubbing the palms of his hands against his thighs and rocking forward and back.
‘Ok, so from what I can see, her first purchase was a flight to New Mexico, where she stayed for five nights before flying to Los Angeles. She seems to have gone to spa’s and restaurant’s and high-end boutiques. Hell, there’s even a charge for Christian Louboutin shoes!’
‘Cheek of her!’ he says giving me a fright when he jumps up off of the couch and begins to pace the room, rubbing his hands through his hair. I can see the anger seep through his pores, steam emitting from his ears.
‘You’re not thinking of doing something stupid and go after her, are you?’ I ask with a knot in the pit of my stomach.
As Zach paces the room, I can see he’s getting too overwhelmed. I get up and stop him. I put one hand on each of his shoulders. ‘Zach, Zach, you need to look at me Zach!’
Once our eyes lock, tears are forming in his eyes and he breaks down crying in front of me. I pull him close and can feel his whole body convulse with each sob. He raps his arms tightly around me. He’s crying like a baby in my arms and I begin to feel my eyes begin to tear up as well.
‘Damn you mom!’ I think to myself as Zach lets out all of the emotions he’s been carrying around for weeks now. I can see now why he needs basketball. ‘Damn you!’
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This was a lovely family
This was a lovely family situation until the end. I have a feeling things aren't all what they seem and that is a big concern.
Looking forward to finding out more.
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Pick of the Day
This warm, funny and entirely relatable episode is our Facebook and Twitter Pick of the Day! Please do share/retweet if you enjoy it too.
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this was a rollercoaster
this was a rollercoaster episode! Well Done giving Zach even more depth too, I hope it is as much fun to write as it is to read!
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This is really well balanced,
This is really well balanced, and you keep the attention of the reader beautifully. Very well deserved golden cherries. I'm sorry you're not feeling too great, but glad the writing is helping. Keep going!
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CM I love this!!
CM I love this!!
it;s all about learning
'you can keep your road
you can keep your bike
youcan keep your street
don't you tell me what to do i shall show you up and im going down the lane to school
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