I sprinted to the principal’s office as soon as my name was called, leaving my stuff in the classroom. Senior Constable Rogers stood as I burst into the Admin building, panting. The receptionists hurriedly looked away and shuffled papers on their desks.
I scanned Roger’s face for any sign of what he had to tell me, any hint that the nightmare of the past two weeks was over. Because there were two possible outcomes – the one that we hoped and prayed for, the news delivered with a triumphant smile that the police had done a praiseworthy job – “We’ve found your mother”.
Of course, there was another possibility. The one that I did not dare to think about but that haunted my thoughts and twisted my guts day and night. The reason that tears leaked from my eyes with no provocation at all. The other possible meaning of “We’ve found your mother” –this time said in the gravest voice, delivered with platitudes such as “we’re so very sorry”.
Roger’s face and voice held no clues as he greeted me gently.
My heart thundered in my ears. I had to know. Now. “So what’s…” I started.
My brother Jeremy leaped through the door, wearing just his PE shorts, his back glistening and wet. I guessed he’d just been showering after sport when he heard the announcement and tumbled out of the cubicle barely stopping to put anything on. His desperate expression mirrored mine as he gazed at Rogers.
How desperate we both were, him semi-naked and me just watching him glisten as my heart thumped to the beat of Rogers' pants.
If only my brother were wearing pants instead of PE shorts maybe Rogers' face would make with some regular emotion like "we nearly found your mother but got a dead tramp instead" or "I'm sure as hell sorry I never made the Bug-eyed Cops' necrophiliac weekend in Haiti".
Before Rogers could speak my sister Molly popped in through the window.
“Children, I have news,” Rogers said. “We have found you a mother.”
Just then my stepsister Josie descended through the open skylight, her expression bleak, her parachute billowing.
"Seriously?" Senior Constable Rogers said.
“You found our mother?” Jeremy asked. “That’s terrific! Is she all right?”
“We’ve not found your mother. We haven’t time for that. What we’ve found you is a new mother. Much easier job, that was. And she’s delightful.”
Jeremy and Molly and Josie and I stood silent for a moment. None of us had been prepared for a third possible outcome. We expected good news or bad news, but this was … fabulous news. After all, our original mother could never have been described as “delightful.”
“Thank you,” I said. I looked around the room. “Where is she?”
Rogers smiled and waved a hand at the empty chair next to him. “She’s –” His smile faltered. “She was here a moment ago. Are you telling me you've lost yet another mother?”
Opening: Jo Antareau.....Continuation: Whirlochre, Chicory and JRMosher