Lost [Excerpt]

3 days ago

Did he wash his face, brush his teeth, comb his hair? Are his shoes tied properly? Is his shirt on straight? Did he finish eating his breakfast? Did I forget something while packing his lunch? My keys, where are they? I have my purse, my wallet, my phone… Oh no, the bus is here. I call his name, give him a kiss, and walk him to the bus. Shit! The permission slip. I ask the driver to hold on one second, run back inside for the paper, and give it to Chase. I wish him a good day at school again and watch the bus pull out.

I go to work. During break time, I make a to-do list. I have to go get some groceries and materials for the history project. The windows need cleaning and there are two loads that need washing, drying, and folding. I need to make an appointment with Dr. Nelson. Chase needs a haircut. He’s got basketball practice in the evening. Chase needs to do his homework, shower, and feed the dog. I have to cook dinner and then clean up the kitchen. Put Chase to bed and then… the phone rings.

Today

I’m tired and I’ve perpetually been that way for nearly a decade. Being a single mother is hard. Everyone knows that. But only the characters in the tale really understand those words. When Chase was born, I knew I’d have to make many sacrifices to raise him. But he was mine and there was no doubt in my mind that I would give up whatever it took for him. And I did. What I didn’t expect was that, to a certain degree, I’d do so reluctantly. There would be evenings where I would sit on the edge of his bed, finally having been able to put him to sleep, wishing I could go join my friends out having fun. There would be times when I’d have to turn down invitations or leave early because I couldn’t find someone to look after Chase (and I was always immediately followed by the thought that I am his mother; I brought him into this world. It’s my job and no one else’s). Through it all, however, it was just me and Chase and I learned to appreciate that. I grew up alongside him and was able to adapt to these new circumstances. In these six years of my new life, I learned to let go of the desires of a version of myself that no longer existed and became Chase’s mother.

            And up until an hour ago, that was my job.

            That was my job.

By the time I arrive, they’re removing Ewan’s corpse. The disgust and anger I feel as I see that man burns in my veins. His greasy hair clings on to the blood seeping from the bullet hole in his forehead. He’s wearing shorts and a white undershirt. This is the man that ruined my life. This is the man that took my happiness away and ensured I never saw the world as a kind place again. This is the man who stole my identity, my reason of being, who took away my baby’s innocence. I wanted him alive. I wanted to kill him myself. I close my eyes trying to regain myself. But I can’t. I open them and see them pull up my son’s lifeless body from the cellar. I feel my heart stop. No. No. No. No. No. NO! I yell his name and push the cop who’s trying to stop me aside. My baby’s naked. His disheveled dark hair highlights his pale grimy skin and his lips have lost color. I yell his name, cup his face, and shake him. What is wrong? What did that son of a bitch do to my baby? The feel of his cold skin breaks me. I wail. I yell his name. My heart breaks into a million more pieces as I notice the bruises, the cuts, the broken fingers, and the dried blood on his legs. I tell the paramedic to wake him up. “Wake him,” I yell a third time. “He’s sleeping!” The cops try to pull me back to let the paramedics work and I resist. I see the man put two fingers under Chase’s jaw. He gives his partner a grim look. I scream. I scream, kick, and cry. I curse, I pound the grown, I beg for mercy. Every part of my body is hurting. Chase’s life flashed before my eyes. The pregnancy test, the morning sickness, the first time I held him, his first steps, his first words, his favorite toy, his favorite show, the dimples that appear when he smiles, the way his nose wrinkles when he frowns, his first day of school, when he lost his first tooth, the Mother’s Day card he drew me, when he learned to read, to write his name, when he told me he loved me. “MY BABY!” There’s a black leather bag unzipped. They put Chase in it. My Chase. Wake up, baby, I beg with every fiber of my body. Mommy’s here, Chase. Open your eyes. Please! I’m here, sweetheart. Open your eyes, baby. Please. Please. PLEASE! They zip up the bag, the sound of each teeth clasping together.

My baby was dead.

I’m not a mother anymore.

 

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