Runaway Mother chapter 28
I collect Ethan on Monday afternoon at the usual four o’clock. As Connie kindly drove us to school, Zach was on time and not sweaty for the first time in months. I waved goodbye to Ethan as he was on his way to preschool, courtesy of Connie, dinosaur in hand.
‘Why didn’t we come up with this arrangement sooner?’ Zach rubs his belly full of pancakes.
‘She is making life much easier!’ I admit.
Zach spots some of his basketball buddies, ‘Mare, I’m gonna head! See you at home later?’
‘Yea,’ I reply, ‘see you later!’
As the bell rings, indicating the start of the school day, I long for it to ring again to signify its end.
As I stand outside Ethan’s school, I don’t remember getting there. The whole day is a blur. All I keep doing is playing out the night before over, and over in my head. I don’t regret a second of it, the way Chad touched me, the way I touched him! I can’t wait until the next time!
My brain snaps back into focus when I hear the bell ring and look up to see hundreds of kids coming at me from all directions. I scan their faces and am delighted when I see my little man’s face as he runs towards me. I go down to his level and give him the biggest hug I can muster.
‘How was school today buddy?’
‘I played dinosaurs!’ he says, holding up the one he brought in and makes a roaring sound.
‘Did your friends bring in their dinosaurs?’
‘No!’ he says matter of factly.
I take his free hand and we jump over the cracks in the pavement like old times.
‘Was it good going to school in the car rather than on Zach’s bike?’ I wonder aloud, trying to see if he’s taken to Connie or not.
‘It was good because it was warm.’ He says not giving me a hint either way.
‘What do you think of aunt Connie?’ I ask without beating around the bush.
‘I like her, she’s a nice lady, but I like you more!’
My heart starts to do summersaults! The bond we have created over the past few months has been magical and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Hearing what he just said solidifies in my mind that he feels the same! We continue jumping until we come to the top of the road.
As we come closer to home, I recognise Thumpers car parked across from the house. Maybe he has news on Carolyn! My heart skips a beat! In fact there are a couple of cars I don’t recognise in front of the house.
‘When we get inside, I want you to take off your shoes and get ducky and I’ll put on paw patrol and you can eat your snack in the living room, that ok buddy?’
‘Yup!’ he smiles up at me as I turn the key in the door.
As we cross the threshold, I hear numerous voices in the kitchen.
‘Actually bud, I’ll bring in ducky with your snack!’ I say as he kicks off his shoes. We go into the living room and I find that one of the channels are playing paw patrol on a loop, so I won’t have to put on new episode after new episode. ‘Now Ethan, you stay in here, ok?’
‘Who are all those voices?’ he asks.
‘I honestly don’t know! But look, here’s a new episode starting and I’ll go get ducky!’ I smile down to the little figure as he sits, his legs like a buddha, as the theme tune for his favourite tv show starts. What I wouldn’t give to be young and innocent again!
I close the living room door tightly and take a deep breath before walking into the kitchen. I’m surprised when I see Thumper, Blaze, Shadow, Sienna and Connie all sitting there looking at me with forced smiles.
‘Hi Mary,’ they all say.
I look around the room and my heart sinks.
‘I’ll be in in a minute! I just have a hungry little man who needs his ducky in the living room.
As I take out the bread, peanut butter and jelly out of the fridge, my hands begin to tremble and I can’t seem to take the lid off the jar of peanut butter. Connie comes over and makes the sandwich for me. I go to pour a plastic cup with milk and I spill it. ‘Shit!’ I mutter under my breath.
Connie comes at me with kitchen roll and wipes up the little bit that escaped the cup. ‘Does he have anything else with this?’ she asks.
‘Ducky!’ I answer.
Connie places the two squares of sandwich onto a plastic plate and orders Thumper, in a friendly way, to hand her ducky who she places in the crook of her arm and brings them, along with the milk, into Ethan.
‘This isn’t good news, is it?’ I ask when Connie closes the kitchen door out tightly.
Thumper stands so I can sit. I’m trembling all over.
‘We should really wait for Zach!’ he announces.
‘He won’t be home for hours!’ I say, ‘he has a game tomorrow and is their teams best player so…’
‘Can you ring him?’ he interjects.
‘I can try!’ I get my phone from my pocket. I have Zach’s number on speed dial and when he answers on the third ring I’m surprised.
‘Is everything ok?’ he asks me.
‘No!’ my voice begins to tremble. ‘You have to get home, and you have to get home now!’
‘Is it Ethan?’ he asks.
‘I’m on my way!’ he says and hangs up.
‘He’s on his way!’ I tell the others who all look at each other and nod.
I know I can’t sit in this kitchen looking at their sombre faces, so I go into Ethan and we watch tv together until I hear the front door slam. I tell Ethan to keep watching his show with ducky. He probably couldn’t have been happier. I smile at him and kiss the top of his head, ‘I love you!’ I whisper. He looks up and whispers, ‘I love you too!’ making me smile.
I close the living room door out tight again and join everyone somewhat reluctantly. Thumper gives me his seat as Zach is chugging down a pint of water.
‘Sorry, I just…I just ran the whole way here!’ he says slowly getting his breath back.
‘It’s ok son,’ Blaze gets up, ‘here, you sit here beside your sister!’
‘What’s happened to our mother?’ I ask getting straight to the point.
Its Thumper who answers. ‘When you gave me the email on Saturday, I made a report and emailed it to all of my connections in Texas, and the domino effect was ignited. By yesterday morning we found out that the Paul Carolyn is hostage under, is Paul Allen! He’s a major psychopath who had warrants out on him for armed robbery and multiple counts of rape. Thanks to you, there wasn’t a cop in Texas who wasn’t on the lookout for him.’
‘I had a meeting with one of my colleagues yesterday morning and they were planning to raid the house you visited this morning before sunrise. They figured that was the time they would have the best chance of pulling him out alive!’
‘The raid proceeded, and as predicted, Allen was armed, but he wasn’t the only one! Carolyn was coerced into pointing a gun at the detectives who lead the raid. When things got heated, Allen threatened to come after the three of you if she didn’t shoot her way out with him.’
I let out a gasp and grabbed for Zach’s arm. ‘Are you ok Mary? Would you like me to stop?’
I shook my head, no, because I needed to hear what kind of a woman my mother is.
Thumper continued, ‘once Allen mentioned the three of you, the puppet strings that tied him to Carolyn were severed and she began to show some sense by pointing her gun on him as well. He was outnumbered and knew he was going to jail! He also knew that there were criminals in there who wanted him dead! He inched his way towards Carolyn and tried to tell her that he knew people in high places who he had told all about the three of you, so that if she killed him, they would come after you regardless, and that the baby would be taken away.’
‘Carolyn knew that he had no way of knowing where you were as he only found out you existed when you went out there on Friday. He didn’t know your names or what state you even lived in. It played to her advantage that she was making a completely new life for herself and had left, not only you three, but her whole existence that day she walked out. He was under the impression you lived in Florida!’
‘Carolyn begged him to put the gun down and just as he was within touching distance of her, she closed her eyes and pulled the trigger!’
I gasped again, as did Zach. We held each other’s hands tightly and nodded towards Thumper to continue.
‘She hit him in the face at close range. He was dead before he hit the floor!’
‘Is she ok?’ I ask, tears forming in my eyes.
‘Physically, yes. But she murdered a man who had her held hostage abused and raped her. I’m afraid, she’s going to need a lot of therapy to get over that!’
‘Where is she now?’ Zach asks, his voice trembling.
‘She will probably do time, at least she would if she was brought to my court!’
‘For murder?’ I enquire.
‘For leaving the three of you to start with. I think she’s facing voluntary manslaughter as well!’
‘What’s voluntary manslaughter?’ Zach asks, still trembling.
‘The intentionally killing of a person by another who had no prior intent to kill.’ Thumper lets out a big sigh, ‘it can mean up to thirty years jail time!’ he says, his own eyes tearing up when I gasp and let out a moan.
Zach begins to sob uncontrollably and puts his head between his knees. I rub his back with one hand, the other over my mouth as the realisation of the gravity of the situation Carolyn has gotten herself into begins to sink in. Zach jumps out of his chair and runs to the kitchen sink where he vomits violently. Blaze goes over to him hands him some kitchen paper. He dabs his mouth and runs the tap to clean up after himself. As he is halfway back across the kitchen, he shakes his head and double backs, vomiting again.
As he’s doing that, Thumper comes over to me and I bury my head in his shoulder, my body convulsing with each sob.
After Zach has nothing left to expel, we find solace in each other’s arms. In this family, I am the one with the brains and Zach is the one with the brawn.
‘Will this effect Wednesday?’ I ask with trepidation.
Thumper puts his hand on my shoulder. ‘It wont effect Wednesday, no. But…’ he looks around and focuses on Connie.
‘But what?’ Zach asks, the colour drained from his face.
‘If your mother were to…let’s say, give up her parental rights, it might put Connie in a position to adopt you!’
I look at Zach and I can actually see a glimmer of a smile cross his face. ‘That would mean, no matter what, Ethan could stay out of the system!’ He shakes his head and mutters, ‘silver linings!’ and shakes his head some more.
‘That is presuming Connie would want that though, right?’ I ask.
‘Put it this way Mary, there are five people left from our group in the mint leaf. Do you really think we are there for the good of our health? No! I for one am there because I’m lonely! I would happily adopt the three of you in a second if I get the chance!’
I look at Zach smiling when Thumper pipes up, ‘and I will do it if she won’t!’
‘Same from me!’ says Sienna, ‘and me!’ from Blaze, ‘and me!’ Shadow gets in at the end.
Zach begins to get excited. ‘Wow! We both thank ye so much!’
‘Absolutely! I’m blown over at your selflessness!’ I say and hug my big brother. As I look at the supportive faces staring back at me, a tear falls down my cheek, a happy tear! ‘She’s gone, but ye are here, like a phoenix rises from the ashes.’
‘You are all safe now!’ Connie smiles at us.
Something pops into my head and I begin to feel panicky. ‘What about the baby?’
‘What baby?’ Connie looks at me with a furrowed brow.
Thumper tries to calm me down. ‘Its not going to be sold if that’s what you mean!’
‘What’s wrong Mare?’ Zach asks confused.
‘Will that baby spend its whole life in the system?’ I turn to Zach, ‘it is our sibling after all! Our little brother or sister! Is it going to have to go into care when its born?’
‘If Carolyn registers with an adopting agent, there could be a family ready and waiting for it when its born! There are some very good agents out there who match babies with wonderful people! You just keep focusing on your family now! Ok?’ Thumper tries to calm me down. It works to a degree.
‘I just know that no matter what, I will always think of that little guy or girl out in the world alone, without its brothers and sister! It was different with the last one because I had no idea about him, but I can’t lose a possible sibling!’
Connie looks at me with a twinkle in her eye. ‘I’ve often wondered what it’s like to be sleep deprived again!’
I look at her with a side glance. ‘Are you saying what I think you’re saying?’
‘If Carolyn allows it, it might be nice to hear the pitter patter of tiny feet again!’ she winks at me!
A little knock wraps on the kitchen door.
‘Come in!’ I say and Ethan walks into the room, ducky under his arm. I try to get up to hug him when Zach stops me and gets up himself. He picks the little man up and flies him around the room, his laughter infectious, lifting all of our spirits!
Wednesday comes and instead of going to school, I am sitting in a court with Zach and Ethan on one side, Connie on the other. Behind us sits the mint leaf crowd, and a man who I believe to be my soul mate…Chad!
When the judge grants Connie custody of the three of us, we all cheer and whoop and Zach flies Ethan around like a superhero.
I walk towards Chad. ‘You didn’t have to come you know!’ I say to him.
‘I wanted to know whether the woman I’m madly in love with is free on Friday night?’
‘You came all the way here for a date?’ I wrap my arms around his neck.
‘Amongst other things!’ he smiles and kisses me, the judge banging his gavel on the bench over and over again trying to get his court back in order, but smiling at the same time.
The nine of us walk out of there victorious!