Runaway Mother chapter 20
As Chad pulls up outside the house, he takes my hand and kisses the back of it.
‘So, what do you think of dinner and a movie tomorrow?’ he smiles, his dimples simply divine!
I brush the back of my free hand against his face and smile. ‘That sounds lovely!’
‘Don’t worry, this time we will go into town and I promise my mother won’t be there in her robe and slippers!’
I laugh at the memory of Chads face when he saw his mother walk in for her dinner that night. ‘A girls got to be comfortable!’ I correct him.
He playfully bites my thumb and leans in for a kiss. His tongue is like magic in my mouth! I wonder will he try for second base tonight? He still hasn’t tried anything further than kissing and I respect him for it…but I wonder if it’s because I’m only sixteen or if he’s just being a gentleman. I’m ready for second base! Hell, I even wore my good bra. What I’m not ready for is for him to explore my Antarctic region.
As he’s kissing me, he lets go of my hand and puts his fingers through my hair, the other hand resting comfortably on my face. He begins to move his hand down and I wonder if it’s actually happening? is he about to fondle my breasts? Just as his hand reaches my breast bone, my phone rings and we break apart.
When I look at the caller ID and see that its Zach I am about to scream! Instead I take a deep breath in and answer his call.
‘Yea?’ I answer
‘It’s 9:30!’ he says sounding alarmed!
‘You got off work at 7:30! It doesn’t take two hours to walk home!’
‘I’m actually outside in Chads car! I had to work late again!’
‘You could have…oh, you did text me! Sorry, my bad!’
‘I’ll be in in a minute!’ I tell him and look at Chad apologetically.
He steals one more kiss and as I exit the car he shouts, ‘I’ll pick you up at 6!’
‘I’ll be ready with bells on!’ I shout back smiling. He waits until I’m inside before he drives off.
I close the front door as quietly as possible and go into the living room. Zach is laying on the couch and when he sees me, he moves his feet and I slump onto it.
‘Did I interrupt something?’ he asks.
‘Yes actually!’ I shoot him daggers with my eyes, ‘we were about to hit second base!’
Zach covers his ears and begins to hum. I can’t help but smile and throw a cushion at him.
‘Do you want your sandwiches?’ I ask reaching inside my bag.
His head is nodding like a bobble head in a car only forwards and back. I throw two BLT’s at him and show him the deli meat and egg mayonnaise that Bob gave me for the lunches tomorrow.
I groaned as I got up from the comfort of the couch and walked into the kitchen to put the rare delicacies into the fridge before returning to the couch. I was starving and dove into my own BLT.
‘Was Ethan good today?’
‘We did some serious training Mare. He was so tired that he fell asleep watching Paw Patrol as I worked on some homework and I had to carry him upstairs at 7:15!’
‘Impressive!’ I say enjoying the first morsel of food that passes my lips since lunch. ‘God I’m starving!’ I say with only a couple of bites left.
‘Here,’ Zach says, ‘have another!’
‘But that’s yours!’
‘I have to watch my figure for next week’s game!’
I look from the sandwich to Zach and back again. ‘How about we split it?’ I suggest.
He thinks about it for a minute before agreeing, and we cheers to free food!
‘Please tell me you got your pay sorted out today!’ Zach says licking the last of the juice of the tomato from his thumb.
‘Why do you ask?’
He sighs, ‘when I was putting Ethans homework back in his bag, I noticed a couple of envelopes stuffed behind the table in the hall. They must have fallen somehow and…well…the rent was due two weeks ago and we got another letter from the phone crowd and…’ he goes silent.
‘…and we have to pay the quarterly water charge as well!’ Zach looks at me horror stricken.
‘What about the cheerio money?’ I am of course referring to the money I get from the column every week. We buy the groceries out of it and put the rest in an empty cheerio’s box.
‘It doesn’t even cover half the rent!’ Zach looks at me desperately!
I shake my head and reach for my bag. I take out the three envelopes Bob gave me personally after summoning me from the deli floor into his office. I notice Zach is now sitting upright.
‘Do you know how much is in them?’
‘Well I know the delay was that he wanted to backdate my wages from the day he gave me the pay rise, and that he owes me overtime!’
‘So…’ Zach asks anxiously, ‘…how much?’
‘I honestly don’t know! I haven’t opened them yet!’
Zach snatches the three envelopes from my hand and opens them to count and see if we had enough to keep a roof over our heads. I look at him and he is gone so pale I think he’s about to be sick!
‘Well?’ I ask biting my index finger and closing my eyes.
I hear him take some deep breaths. ‘Not only do we have enough for rent, but the phone bill too, and the water, along with a good portion of the electric bill that’s due next week!’
I open my eyes and can’t believe what Zach just said! ‘So we’re going to be alright financially!’
‘You can now work as late as you want if you keep bringing in this type of dough!’
I lay back on the couch and think to myself that our luck is definitely starting to turn around. I have Ethan and Zach both happy at home, work is good, Chad is good, and we have Connie to lean on if needs be. I do some deep breathing exercises and Zach joins me, holding my hand.
‘Is now a good time to ask him?’ I wonder. I look at my brother and how calm he is and I’m sure this is as good a time as any.
‘Chad asked me out for dinner and a movie tomorrow night. Is that ok?’
He sits up and laughs and says the last word I expected from him…’no!’
‘What?’ I’m completely blindsided, ‘I thought you were delighted I’d started seeing Chad!’
‘So what’s the problem?’
‘Well, let’s travel back in time…go back maybe six weeks. I distinctively remember you having a conversation with me about leaving you with Ethan all the time! So I changed, albeit reluctantly, and rejigged my whole life so you could go out and work. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that work isn’t the same as a date with Chad, but it gets you out of the house! It gives you a break from these four walls and the struggles we deal with day in day out within them. Basketball was my way out! You were the one who gave out when I went out at night! So I stopped! We said last week that we’d do alternate Saturdays, right?’
‘Well, let’s do alternate Friday nights as well. I deserve to get a bit of head space with the guys every second week, wouldn’t you agree?’
I nod again.
‘Please, I’m begging you from the bottom of my heart, let me have this weekend. The big match is on Tuesday! I know you won’t be there, but the scouts will! Coach Hux has asked all of the guys to keep their weekend free because he is going to be on our asses like a paper cut. It’s going to hurt and burn and sting! It’s going to mean a lot of ice and a few prayers! It’s going to mean a scholarship or not!’
I inhale slowly. I understand exactly what point he’s making and respect him for it. Of course I feel disappointed, but I’m sure Chad will understand! What’s a week? I look into the distance thinking and wonder if I was being selfish in the first place for asking for Friday night…again.
I put my hands to my mouth and wonder aloud, ‘am I acting like mom?’
‘How so?’ Zach says with a furrowed brow.
‘Because I wanted you to sacrifice your dream so I could have a bit of fun!’ tears begin to form and I blink hard feeling them roll down my cheeks.
‘Don’t be silly Mare!’ Zach reassures me.
‘You are a sixteen-year-old girl, and you should get the opportunities to make plans with your boyfriend, but our mother…wait…she doesn’t deserve to be called a mother!’
I nod in agreement.
‘Carolyn Fisher has made both our lives harder than they should be. We should be climbing down drain pipes to get to parties we were warned not to go to! We should be going to second base in the car of the man, or woman, of our dreams. We shouldn’t have to keep a secret that is so great it involves keeping a four-year-old boy out of the foster system. We have given up our hopes and dreams to keep life as normal as possible for that little boy sleeping upstairs with his stuffed duck! We are not normal teenagers, and we won’t be normal until well into our twenties!’
I rub the tears from my face with the sleeve of my top.
‘Carolyn Fisher did this! You and me are here wiping up the broken glass that she broke when she left. She didn’t even have the decency to tell us personally. To read it on a scrap of paper is the way Carolyn Fisher does it! You Mare have asked the person who is both your brother, and the person you coparent Ethan with, if you could have a break for a few hours to yourself! You are Mary Fisher! You have a conscience! I’m guessing I’m not going to find Ethan left alone at six tomorrow with a sign hanging around his neck, right?’
‘No!’ I laugh. ‘You’re a great person to coparent with!’
‘Thank you!’ he smiles. ‘If only we could tell our friends without getting the family torn apart!’
‘It would make things a lot easier!’ I agree.
‘I’ve an idea!’ Zach frightens me by jumping up off the couch and clapping his hands together. ‘Why don’t you take Ethan to The Mint Leaf to see Connie tomorrow!’ He looks at me as if he wants me to answer, I just shrug my shoulders. ‘That way you can blow off some of that mental steam that I can see behind your eyes with Connie and Zach can meet the rest of the group!’
I smile, and I think him a good brother because he wants me to talk to someone about the weight that I’m carrying around my neck constantly.
‘Are you ok with me bringing him there?’ I ask.
‘Absolutely!’ he answers, ‘especially if you promise to talk about how emotionally draining it is to keep a secret so big to yourself!’
I get up off the couch, my feet burning from taming Betsy all day, and embrace Zach in a hug. ‘Thank you!’ I say barely audibly. He kisses the top of my head and whispers back, ‘thank you as well!’
We stand there for what seems like hours, but it’s a hug both of us really needed. It was a talk that had to be had also. I feel happy when we finally break away.
‘Do you know, that you are the wisest person I know!’
‘I ought to be,’ he chuckles, ‘I learnt it from you!
I go to bed with a heavy heart knowing I have to tell Chad I can’t go out with him tomorrow. Zach’s right, we aren’t your average family and this isn’t an average relationship. I can’t tell Chad one of the biggest secrets of my life, for fear of losing Ethan. It is lovely having a boyfriend, and if he truly likes me the way he says he does, then he should be ok…I hope.
Just as I hop into bed my cell rings, its Chad.
‘Hey beautiful, watcha doing?’ he asks.
‘I have just gotten into bed!’
‘Don’t tease me woman!’ he says as though he is getting sexually frustrated. ‘You were going to let me go to second base tonight, weren’t you?’
‘And what if I said I was?’
‘Again with the teasing!’ he sighs. ‘It was lovely seeing you tonight, however briefly. I hope tomorrow we can really catch up…far away from the deli!
‘Listen, about that, I…
‘…I’ve made reservations at thunder roads and pre booked the tickets to a film I think you might like!’
‘Yea, but …’
‘Don’t worry baby, I’m going to pay!’
‘I’m not…I can’t…just listen for a minute! Ok?’
‘You’re cancelling on me, aren’t you?’
‘Zach has this big basketball game on Tuesday and I…’
‘…let me guess! You have to look after Ethan!’
‘Yes!’ I say apologetically.
The phone goes silent for a minute, I am afraid he has hung up on me so I look at the screen and when I see the seconds passing, I give in and say, ‘hello?’
‘I’m still there!’
‘But you’re mad, right?’
‘I’m not impressed…’
My heart starts beating a hundred miles an hour waiting for him to finish his sentence,’
‘…but family is family!’ Chad says finally.
I breathe a sigh of relief! ‘You’re not dumping me then?’
‘Why would I dump the most amazing girl I have ever met?’ he asks.
‘If only you knew!’ I say.
‘So tell me!’ the phone goes silent again. I’m mouthing words but no sound will come out. ‘You still there?’ he asks.
‘I’m just bowled over at how lucky I am to have a man who understands how important family and looking after your own means!’
‘I’d be a fool if I let you slip through my fingers and not fight for you!’
‘Oh,’ I giggle, ‘so were fighting now?’
‘…I’m only teasing you!’ I laugh this time and he joins in.
‘Seriously though,’ he inquires, ‘you were ready for second base in that car, right?’
‘A girl never kisses and tells!’ I tease him.
‘AAAhhhhh,’ I hear Chads frustration and laugh, ‘damn your diligent brother and his incapability to read a text!’ he laughs.
I can hear someone in the background ‘ask Mary if…’ the rest I can’t hear! Chad must have put his hand over the phone as I can only hear static. I wait a minute, and as I’m just about to say, ‘hello?’ into the phone, Chad is back.
‘Sorry about that babe,’ my insides do a tumble…he actually called me babe! ‘It was just my dad, I mean Bob, asking if your pay checks were fair enough?’
‘You can tell him yes!’ I answer. ‘Can I ask you a question?’
‘Why do you call your dad Bob?’
‘Well, for starters, you have to understand that having a father as a boss can be very taxing, so I call him Bob at work and dad at home in order to separate the two roles he plays. I want him to treat me just the same as he treats every employee, and I feel that if I call him dad at work, people might think I get special treatment!’
‘Well that’s genius!’
‘I have worked at the deli three years now and have earned the respect he shows me out of pure determination and hard work, not because I’m his son! He made that quite clear as it took me about three months to learn how to work Betsy!’
‘Oh yea! She isn’t someone you mess around with! In fact that’s why I’m working in the deli end of things…I can’t keep up with the orders!’
‘Are you messing with me?’ I ask.
‘Just ask Jesus!’ he tells me, ‘We all dread when you’re not there…you’re the only one who seems to be able to keep up!’
I blush and smile at the compliment.
‘And don’t think that we don’t hear you talk to her!’ he adds. ‘Why do you do that by the way?’
I take a deep breath in, ‘you need to try to teach a probably dyslexic four-year-old how to not turn his ‘6’s’ into ‘d’s’ before you’d be able to understand that one, I’m afraid!’
‘You mean you talk to her because she reminds you of your brother?’ he sounds confused.
‘I talk to her so that she produces the perfect vortex each time I’m steaming the milk, saying to her how we did it only a minute ago, that it’s her time to shine by producing perfectly steamed milk over and over again!’
‘In other words, you show her the respect she deserves and praise her for perfectly steamed milk?’ he asks trying to understand.
‘Exactly!’ I grin.
I hear a beep signalling that my battery is running out.
‘My battery is about to go! Can I call you tomorrow?’
‘Sure,’ Chad says, ‘but I’m going to go to the deli and help out!’
‘You are?’ I sound surprised.
‘You see I had a date with this most awesome chic, but she has another man in her life and I need to keep busy to stop the pain!’
I can help but laugh. ‘Goodnight Chad!’ I say to him.
‘Love you!’ he says back and hangs up with urgency.
Did he say that out of habit or because he really does love me? My phone dies and I say to myself…’I guess we’ll never know!’ and plug it in, falling asleep as though my body is floating on a cloud!