Saturday, July 09, 2005
Missing
This one is for OldHorsetailSnake and all the others who have been impatiently waiting for another of my life stories. Thanks for bearing with me.

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"How old is your son?"

"Brian's twelve," my voice cracked. "My God, he's just twelve!"

I stared up at the policeman who stood in my kitchen taking notes on a clipboard.

"How long has he been missing, m'am?"

That was really the question, wasn't it? I really didn't know. What kind of mother didn't know?

"I'm not sure. School lets out at three o'clock. He walks home, so usually he's here by 3:30 at the latest. Our rule is that he is supposed to call me when he gets here, so I know he's ok. My job is only 10 minutes away, and I'm normally home just after five so he 's not alone for very long. Today my boss kept me late, so it was close to seven before I got here."

"And did he call?" the cop raised a brow, looking up from his notes.

"No, he didn't." I bit my lip and my eyes burned with tears. "Once before when he forgot to call and I couldn't reach him, I found out he had fallen asleep on the couch watching TV. He sleeps so soundly that nothing wakes him up short of physically shaking him. I thought that's what happened this time. I never imagined . . ."

I looked pleadingly at this policeman, wanting him to understand. I am a good mother, really I am. I read to my kids, cuddle them, play games with them, laugh with them, listen to them, go to all their school functions . . . I don't usually lose a child like this.

Earlier in the school year I had tried putting my son in an after-school daycare, but he hated it. He begged me to just let him walk home. In typical Brian fashion, he reminded me that he was twelve-years-old and not a baby and pointed out that it was only for a couple of hours a day anyway. Other kids did it all the time. He would be fine. After some persuasion, I finally agreed, on the condition that he call me the minute he arrived and that he lock the door and stay in the house until I got home. And it had worked out fine. Until today.

"What did you do when you got home?"

"When I didn't see him in the apartment, I started checking outside. I searched the block around the building, asking the people in the businesses downstairs if they had seen him. No one had. I went next door to the library thinking maybe he was getting a book or a movie, but he wasn't there. My sixteen-year-old daughter came home from work, and the two of us took turns driving around the neighborhood, looking for him. Amber even checked with some of his friends, but no one had seen him. So finally I called you."

The policemen looked at clock over the door and made a notation on his clipboard. It was almost 8:30. "Do you have a recent picture of your child?" he asked.

My heart knotted in my chest. Pictures. . . milk cartons. . . kidnapped kids. . . chances for being found alive lessening with every hour they are missed. News stories flashed through my head. Not my kid! the voice in my head screamed. This can't happen to my kid!

I went into the living room, took Brian's latest school picture from the shelf, and handed it to the cop. Pulling his radio from his belt, he sent an APB over the air. ". . . Caucasion boy. . . 12-years-old. . . stocky build. . . short blond hair and blue eyes. . . " he looked at me. "What was he wearing?"

"Blue jeans and a navy T-shirt."

"Wearing blue jeans and a navy T-shirt . . . last seen in the Eastwood area." The policeman clipped the radio back on his belt and handed me his card. "All the patrol cars have been alerted and are on the lookout for your son, m'am. We'll let you know as soon as we find out anything." he stepped out into the hall, and I followed him.

"Thank you," I whispered, one hand to my throat, tears rolling down my cheeks. "Please find him. Please."

The cop looked at me compassionately and kindly put a hand on my shoulder. "I'm going to drive around the neighborhood now and see what I can come up with."

A door slammed on the bottom landing, followed by the sound of footsteps running up the stairs. They clattered to a halt as my son, startled by the presence of the cop, stopped halfway to the top.

"Brian?" the policemen asked.

My son nodded, fear coming over his face, not sure what was wrong but knowing from the tone that it was serious.

"Where have you been, young man?" the cop said sternly. "Your poor mother has been worried sick about you! Do you realized there's an APB out on you? All the cops out on patrol are looking for you right now. Where have you been?"

"I was across the street at WEIGHT WATCHERS!!!!" Brian blurted out, his face red with embarrassment and anger. "It's THURSDAY, and my MOM was supposed to meet me there but she never showed up for the meeting!"

Silence.

The cop looked from my son to me. Wordlessly he handed back the picture and walked down the stairs. Brian came into the kitchen and slammed the door behind him.

"Honey, I am SO sorry! I totally forgot . . ."

Brian held up a hand. "Don't, mom. Just don't." He whirled around and yelled at me. "You are unbelievable, you know that? Not only do you make me go to this stupid Weight Watcher's meeting, but you call the cops on me when I'm there! Do you know how humiliating that was?"

"Brian, I honestly forgot. You never called this afternoon, and I really was worried something had happened to you. I am so sorry!"

Amber walked in the door and caught sight of her brother.

"Where have you been? Mom's been going nuts looking for you. She even called the cops."

"I was at WEIGHT WATCHERS!!!!!" Brian yelled.

Amber looked at me. "You called the cops on him for going to Weight Watchers?"

"I didn't mean to. I just sort of forgot." I explained lamely.

Amber burst out laughing while her brother glared at her.

"It's not funny! Mom never showed up at the meeting, so there was no one to pay the dues. Then when I came home she was crying and there was a cop on the stairs yelling at me."

His sister grabbed her stomach and howled, tears rolling down her face. My lips twitched.

"I am NEVER going back there. NEVER!" He was furious.

Amber wiped her eyes and tried to regain control. "Well, look at it this way, Bri. It's another chapter for the book."

The kids have been threatening for years to someday write their own version of Mommy Dearest.

Brian stared wild eyed at the two of us then ran to his room and slammed the door.

Amber shook her head. "Therapy. Years of therapy."
Memories and musings shared by Juno
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I'm a 40-something writer, artist, and Jill-of-All-Trades. For me, magic is looking at the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary. My writing tends to take me to unexpected places--not so surprising when I think about it. I had an unusual growing up and have always chosen the offbeat over the "safe". I prefer interesting people over beautiful ones, and I am fascinated by people's stories. What I love most about life is its glorious imperfections and fantastic plot twists.

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