melissas_corner: (Horatio/Speed)
[personal profile] melissas_corner
Author's Notes: In Slaughter House, Speed tells Eric that his parents may have wanted him to disappear on occasion when he was growing up. And then in my story A Walk in the Dark, he is shown as having a good relationship with them. So this is my explanation of how they got from wanting him to go away to wanting him to come 'home'.
Warnings: Deals with dark emotional issues, cutting and drug abuse.


Mother's Day 1973

Irene's POV:


What am I doing? How can I possibly be someone's mother? I'm still a kid myself. I don't know how I'm going to survive this…this humiliation. I'm not even seventeen and yet here I am pregnant and married. Your father is a good man. Not someone I would have chosen for my husband, but… I guess maybe I did choose him. I did have sex with him and I ended up pregnant. There was no choice really. I don't believe in abortion… and well, after the shock wore off and he proposed… I guess it could be worse. I could be Mary Catherine. Her baby's father disappeared after he was told she was pregnant. At least David is doing the right thing. But is it really? Is keeping you and raising you the right thing? Would you be better off with a rich family, one that can provide for all your wants and needs?

I stop and reread what I've written as I feel my baby kick for what seems to be the hundredth time in the last twenty minutes.

"Stop kicking me!" I shout at my extended belly.

The shouting seems to work, sort of. The baby will stop moving for a few minutes and then just as I start to get comfortable again…wham! with the kicking all over again.

I wonder if this was how The Virgin Mother felt. She was around my age, according to Father Matthew. But, no. She couldn't have felt this way. She was carrying the Son of God, not the bastard child of David Speedle.

As I sit here gently stroking my stomach, wondering what my child will be like, the enormity of it all hits me. I'm going to be a mother in just a few weeks. I'm married to a man I hardly know and I'm going to have his baby. I won't be able to graduate with my friends, go to homecoming or prom… From now on my life will be so very different from what I had thought it would be. Tears begin to cloud my eyes as I bury my face in my hands.

"Oh, God! Please help me!" I beg, sobbing. "I don't know what to do. I can't possibly raise this child. I…"

"Irene? Are you home?" David. My husband of four months.

"In here," I say as I wipe the tears from my face.

"Happy Mother's Day!" he exclaims as he hops through the bedroom door with a pink carnation in his hand.

"Oh, David!" I wail as I start crying again.

"What? What's wrong?" he's just so wonderful sometimes. And of course I can't tell him what's wrong because I'm crying so hard.

I shake my head trying to let him know that it's really nothing. That I have realized that as long as we're in this together it won't be so bad or so hard.

"Oh, baby," he croons as he wraps his arms around me and rocks me gently back and forth. "Our child will be here soon. It will get better, you'll see."

But will it really? Will it be better once I've given birth?




Mother's Day 1974

Irene's POV:


I stand in the kitchen with my hands over my ears trying to block the screaming. Timothy is teething and all he does is scream. And drool. I can't take it any more.

"David!" I yell. I swear, if that man has left me alone with his child…

I stomp into the bedroom where Tim's playpen is and stare at him. "What? What do you want from me? I don't know what you want!" I'm crying just as hard as he is.

"Mama," he cries with a little baby hiccup, holding his arms out for me, his little hands opening and closing as he tries to tell me what he wants. "Mama!"

I pick him up and hold him close, both our tears slowing to tiny little snuffles every now and then. Eventually, he starts to squirm to get down.

"You're going to be one of those kids that's never still, aren't you?" I ask with a sigh wiping the tears from both our faces. Just my luck. I get stuck with a kid that likes to run instead of walk.

I sit him on the floor with some of his favorite toys. "Be good for Mama. I need to go finish dinner," I say as I rub his head before walking back into the kitchen.

Big mistake. Tim starts to scream again as soon as I'm out of his sight.

"Oh, alright," I give in. "Come on."

As I start to walk back across the room to pick him up, he stands up; he's been doing this for some time now, and takes a step.

His first steps!

He's eleven months old and is already walking. After about a dozen steps he loses his balance and falls on his diapered bottom.

"Timmy! You wonderful, smart baby boy, you!" I exclaim as I rush over to him before he can decide if he's hurt or not. I swoop him up into my arms and hug him until he squeaks. "Oh, you're so very wonderful," I tell him again and again as I press kisses all over his face and head.

"Mama!" he complains squirming to get down.

I set him on his feet and watch as he takes a few more steps before again falling on his bottom.

"That's okay. Everyone falls at first," I murmur as I help him stand back up and try again.

We spend the next hour like this. Him taking a few steps, falling, giggling, and trying again. He has such a sweet baby giggle. If he would only laugh more…




Mother's Day 1979

Tim's POV:


Mama is going to have a baby. That's what Daddy said. He says I have to be really quiet because Mama needs her rest.

But today is Mother's Day. It's her day and I made her a real pretty card in Sunday School today.

Mama doesn't ever go to church with Daddy and me. She stays home and cooks lunch.

I sneak into her room. It's dark. She's lying on the bed with her back to the door. She doesn't know I'm here.

"I don't know what I'm going to do." I wonder who she's talking to. "I have a hard enough time with Tim… How can I possibly take care of two children, my husband and do my job at Social Services? There just aren't enough hours in the day. Maybe if Tim wasn't so difficult…"

I'm 'difficult?' it's a big word. I'm not so big. But it feels like a bad thing. Like I've hurt her or something. What have I done to make her feel this way?

Just as I'm about to ask what 'difficult' is, she gasps, crying out, "Oh God. No! Please, no. This is not what I wanted. I want this baby!"

I turn to go find Daddy. Something is wrong. With the baby? He can help.

"Daddy! Daddy!" I yell, running as fast as I can down the stairs. "Somfing wrong wif Mama! Daddy!"

"Timothy? How many times do I have to tell you…" he starts to scold as I come running into the kitchen. "What's wrong, son?" he asks with a worried frown.

"Mama…said… somfing… about… the baby…" I gasp, trying to catch my breath.

"Stay here," Daddy orders as he goes running from the room. I follow as far as the bottom of the stairs. Listening to my parents' voices drifting down from their room, I can't do anything but stand there and wonder if this is my fault…If only I behaved more often…Did as Mama told me more…

The doorbell rings. "Tim! Answer the door." Daddy calls down.

"Hello, Timmy. Are your parents around?" Mrs. Young asks when I open the door. Mrs. Young is Adam's mama. Adam's my best friend: my only friend, really.

"They're upstairs," I say pointing up to the ceiling. "Mama is hurt."

"Oh, dear. What's wrong? Do you know?" she asks as she drops to her knees in front of me.

"Mama said somfing about the baby," I reply with a shrug.

Mrs. Young bites her lip as tears fill her eyes. "Oh, no. Well, you just come with me. Your parents don't need to be worried about you right now," she says as she stands up and holds out her hand to me. "Come on, Sugar. You can stay with us until your mama is feeling better," she murmurs.

Just as I take her hand a really scary scream comes drifting down the stairs.

"What about Daddy? He might need me," I ask. I'm starting to get scared.

"Don't you worry about it, Darlin'. Your daddy and mama will be just fine," she reassures me as we walk from the house.




I don't know how to tell time yet, so I don't know how long I've been at Adam's before his mama says it's time for bed. Guess I'm staying the night.

We've only been in bed for a few minutes when I hear the doorbell.

"Where you goin'?" Adam asks as I slip from the bed and tiptoe to the door.

"To see who's here," I whisper back.

"Can I come?" he asks as he follows me out of his room and to the top of the stairs where Daddy can be seen standing in the doorway, talking to Mr. Young.

"He's here?" Daddy sounds mad. I've made him mad again. Forgot to tell him Mrs. Young was taking me to her house. "Why wasn't I told this? Do you know how upset his mother is right now?"

"David, calm down. Tracey didn't want to bother you while you were dealing with Irene."

"So she thought that stealing my son wouldn't bother me?" Daddy's yelling now. That's always a bad sign. If Mr. Young knows what's good for him, he'll say he's sorry and never do it again. That always works for me.

"How long before you even noticed he was gone, huh? He's been here most of the day," Mr. Young gets right in Daddy's face, poking him in the chest with one finger. "It would serve you right if…"

"Mark," Mrs. Young interrupts pointing at Adam and me standing at the top of the stairs.

"Come on, Timothy. Time to go home," Daddy tells me, holding out his hand. He expects me to obey without a fuss.

I climb down the stairs and take Daddy's hand. "Thank you, Mrs. Young," I say remembering my manners. Mama will be so proud that Daddy didn't have to tell me to thank her.




Mother's Day 1982

Tim's POV:


We've been at the hospital for what feels like days now, even though it's only been a few hours.

Mom had a miscarriage. I… I think that means she's lost my little brother. Maybe it was a little sister? I would like a little sister… I could teach her stuff. Look after her. I'd like to be a big brother… Dad had asked me to stay home from church to keep an eye on Mom. She's supposed to be resting, but won't. Says she has too much to do to lie around all day. Dad tried to tell her that the doctors must know a thing or two about what they're talking about, they are doctors after all. But she still refuses to do what they say.

While she was napping in front of the TV I decided to go out and ride my bike. I know I'm not supposed to ride it in the street, but it's Sunday. There's hardly ever any traffic on our street on Sundays.

This morning was different. A couple of the neighborhood teenagers decided to have a race.

They came around the corner just as I did.

I was so scared that they wouldn't stop in time. But they did, thank God.

She woke up and when she found me gone, started looking for me. The first place she looked was the street where I was trying to avoid getting hit by a car.

I've never seen her so mad. She was yelling at me. Telling me how bad I was to be riding my bike in the street when all of a sudden she doubled over, clutching her middle and started screaming.

By the time Dad got home, most of the bleeding had stopped. He made her go to the hospital anyway.

This time I went too.

When we arrived they took Mom away and we haven't seen her since. The doctor did make an appearance about an hour after we arrived. He told Dad that Mom was going to have to have something called a DNC. I don't know what that is, but Dad seems to. He just pressed his lips together real tight and nodded.

I know it's part of my punishment. To have to sit here and watch Dad as he paces the hallway waiting for the doctor to come out and talk to him.

"Why, Timothy? Just tell me why," he asks, his voice quivering.

"I don't know," I shrug.

"Well if you don't then who does, Tim?" I can hear the barely controlled anger in his voice. "Answer me that, will you?" he has his back to me, like he can't stand the sight of me.

"I don't know," I whisper fighting back tears.

Why'd they keep me? If I'm such a disappointment to them, then why'd they keep me?

Just as I'm about to ask him that he turns around and I'm shocked to see tears running down his face. Dad never cries. He says that men are supposed to be strong for their women so they should never cry. 'Let the women cry, Tim,' he always tells me. 'They're good at it. But don't let a woman's tears sway you into doing something you don't want to do.'

"Dad?" I question. "Is Mom going to be okay?"

"I sincerely hope so," he replies before turning and walking away.

Is this all my fault? Everything else seems to be. I can't do anything right any more, even when I really try. Maybe…maybe if I had been what they wanted, I could have been enough. Maybe they wouldn't have needed someone else. My little brother, or sister, wouldn't be dead now because of me. If I'd only listened to them. Would Dad hate me so much? Will Dad ever stop looking at me like I've broken his heart? I'm not sure I can even face Mama any more. I've hurt her so much…




Mother's Day 1986

Tim's POV:


As I stare in to the crib at the…thing…my parents brought home last month I wonder why they even bothered. All it ever does is eat and sleep.

"Timothy. Leave your brother alone. I just got him to sleep," Mom scolds from her place in front of the TV. Where she can usually be found these days. Ever since coming home from the hospital she doesn't seem to have much energy. She doesn't even cook dinner any more.

"I'm just lookin'," I mutter.

"Well, just don't. Okay?" Mom replies on a sigh. "Come away from there before you accidentally wake him."

I turn to stare at the back of her head. How'd she even know I was standing over the crib?

"Go on now. Go help your father finish dinner," she orders without even turning to look at me. "Go."

As I turn and slowly make my way into the kitchen, I swallow the angry and hurtful things I want to say. Why can't I ever do anything right? What is it about me that she hates so much? I wonder if she'll treat this son better. Will he get all the love and attention that I don't? Will he be able to make her smile with pride? With joy?

"What's your problem, huh?" Dad asks as his slaps me upside the back of my head as soon as I enter the dining room. "Why you have to upset your mom? Huh? Especially today. It is Mother's Day, ya know."

"Yeah, I know," I mumble as I rub the spot where his ring hit. I pull my fingers away, expecting to see blood, but find none. I swear, one of these days…

"So? Where's your gift?" he demands getting in my face. "You know she'll want it as soon as we sit down to eat."

"I don't have one," is my reply. I look him in the eye, daring him to hit me again.

As soon as the words leave my mouth I wish I could take them back. His face gets all dark, his eyes narrow in anger. There's a vein throbbing in the middle of his forehead. I've just screwed up yet again. And his next words confirm it.

"Ungrateful. That's what you are. Your mom and I have sacrificed for you and how do you thank us?" he starts pushing me backwards with a finger in my chest. "You don't do anything but sit in your room and read those books of yours. You never go out, never help around here," he has me backed against the wall, his nose almost touching mine. "Well, guess what mister? That's all about to change. Starting today, you will help your mom with your brother and you will not complain about it. Am I clear?"

"Crystal," I grit out through my teeth. What'd I do to end up with this family? How can God be so cruel?

"Good. Now go get the glasses and finish setting the table," Dad orders as he turns to walk into the living room where Mom and the baby are. "How is he?" I hear him ask. The baby's been sick. The doctors were afraid Mom would lose him before he could be born so they took him early. She had lost several before she got pregnant this last time.

I don't stay to hear Mom's response. I enter the kitchen and start to pick up the glasses when I realize that they'd probably never even notice if I left. So instead I slip out the back door and head out to the tree house Adam and I are building in the woods behind the house.

When I get there I find Adam already using it.

"Oh, hey. Tim you know Deva Martin, right?" he asks as he sits up and helps her pull her shirt back down.

"Yeah. Hey, Deva."

"Tim," Deva is real pretty and if Adam hadn't already told me that he liked her, I would probably go for her. "I should go," she says as slips her shoes back on.

"No. You guys were here first. I'll go," I reply as I turn to exit the tree house.

"Tim," Adam calls. "Did something happen?"

"Of course, Adam. Doesn't something always happen?" I retort. "I can't ever seem to do anything right."

"So, Deva will go and you and I will talk. Okay?" Adam asks as he reaches out and grabs my arm.

I can't do anything but nod my head. Fighting back tears I turn my back as they say their goodbyes. The sounds of their soft kisses are like hot knives straight into my heart.

"See ya at school, Tim," Deva calls out as she climbs down from the tree.

"Yeah, see ya," I reply.

"Okay. Talk to me, buddy," Adam commands as he closes the trap door and locks it.

"You know the story. Why do you make me tell it over and over?" I can't keep the frustration out of my voice.

"Maybe you should tell someone who can help."

"Yeah? Like who?" I demand as I turn to face him, the tears finally falling down my face. "You know what my folks would do if they knew I had told you about any of this, much less some stranger?" My body is shaking from the force of my sobs. "Why do they hate me? What'd I ever do to deserve this?" These are all questions that neither Adam nor I will ever be able to answer. I'm hoping one day I'll get up the nerve to ask Mom and Dad. They're the only ones who can answer them for me.

"I don't know, man. Wish I did. Really," Adam just pats me on my shoulder. He has a good relationship with his folks. He's the youngest, and the only boy of six. His parents and sisters all dote on him. But I don't begrudge him any of it. I might get jealous at times, but I'd never wish my life on anyone, not even my worst enemy.




"Think they've noticed I'm gone, yet?" I ask several hours later. The sun has started to dip below the trees.

"Can't say for sure, man," Adam mumbles from where he's stretched out on his back staring up at the wind playing with the leaves in the top of the tree. "But whatever. Maybe we should both go home, now. It's starting to get dark and ya know how my mom worries," he continues as he rolls over and starts to get up.

"Yeah, I guess…" I begin to answer.

"Timothy Michael Speedle! You had better have one hell of a reason for worrying your mom and me to death!" I can hear Dad screaming for me not far away.

"Oh, yeah. They were so worried it took them four hours to realize I was gone," I snap.

"Tim…" Adam looks frightened. But then of course he would. All he's ever heard are the horror stories I tell him of how Dad and Mom ignore me and treat me like a male Cinderella.

"Don't worry, Adam. He's really not that bad," I lie. With how angry Dad sounds Adam has every right to be afraid for me. I just might get the beating that Dad has been threatening me with. "Really. I was just exaggerating," I can't let Dad catch Adam with me. I never know what he'll do to me so I definitely don't know what he'd do to Adam.

"You sure, man?" he bites his lip.

"Yeah," I reply with a nod. "Go on. Go home. Don't let him catch you. I'll be fine. You'll see," I reassure him as I start to climb down to confront Dad.

"Just where the hell have you been, young man?" Dad growls from right behind me as my feet touch the ground.

It takes every ounce of will power I possess to not respond with some smartass remark. "I needed some time to think," is the answer I do give.

"Your mom is so worried she's gotten Joshua upset. You are grounded indefinitely. Did you hear me?" he grabs my arm as I try to walk past him.

"Yeah. I couldn't help but hear you, what with you screaming right in my ear!" I yell back.

His face goes purple with rage as he raises one arm, his hand fisted. I squeeze my eyes shut and wait for the pain. But it never comes and after several seconds I open one eye and see Adam holding Dad's arm.

"You will not hit him, Mr. Speedle," Adam informs him. His face is pale with fear, but he's so much braver than I am… I would have just stood here and let Dad hit me. But not Adam. Adam would fight. Will fight even my father. He stands his ground and is courageous in the face of my greatest fear. Dad ready and willing to hit me.

"Oh, really? And just who's going to stop me?" he asks as he pulls his arm free.

"Me," Mr. Young replies. Adam, Dad and I all turn to see him striding through the budding trees to ours. Our fort. The one we tried to keep secret from our parents. Me as a refuge, Adam because he knew I needed one.

My knees go weak as I realize that Adam and his dad saw everything. They now know for sure that my family is not as perfect as theirs. When Dad gets me home…

"Stay out of this, Mark," Dad turns on Mr. Young. "This doesn't concern you."

"Of course it does," Mr. Young responds as he steps between Dad and me. "Tim is Adam's best friend. When Tim's upset, Adam's upset. And that I cannot allow any longer," Mr. Young looks at me over his shoulder. "You okay, Tim?"

I can't speak, so I just nod.

"See?" Dad snarls. "Now take your son and leave me and mine alone."

"I don't think so, David," Mr. Young states as he pushes me back away from Dad's outstretched hand. "He'll be spending the night with us. Maybe even longer."

"You threatening to call Social Services on us?" Dad gets right in his face with an evil smirk. "You seem to be forgetting that my wife works for them. They will not investigate one of their own. Especially ones like Irene and me. As far as anyone knows, we're the perfect American family. Now step away from my son and leave us alone."

"Mr. Young, please?" I beg as I step out from behind him. "I'll be fine."

"You sure Tim?" he asks again as he turns me to face him. The compassion in his face hurts. I don't think I've ever seen a look like that on the faces of my own parents…

I nod again, the bravest thing I've ever done, before walking backwards to stand next to Dad who puts his hand on my neck and starts to squeeze. I just barely keep from wincing at the pain.

"Okay. If you're sure?" Mr. Young asks one last time.

"I'm sure. Thank you for your concern, Mr. Young," I tell him, silently begging him to see through the bravado to the fear as Dad leads me away.

A few minutes later, we enter the back yard. "You just wait mister," Dad leans down to hiss in my ear. "Up to your room, until I can decide what your punishment should be."

"You mean beyond the grounding?" I can't keep from asking.

"Boy, I swear you are working my last nerve," Dad snarls as he slams me up against the backdoor his body holding mine in place.

We just stare at each other, both breathing hard. The stalemate is broken by Mom opening the door at my back and Dad letting me fall to floor at her feet.

"I see you found him," she states in a monotone voice, showing just how little she really cares.

"Yeah. And he almost caused me to get into a fight with Mark Young," Dad informs her as he steps over me to take the baby from Mom, cooing at him. "How's my little man?"

I roll to my feet and after a moment's hesitation I run from the kitchen up to my room where I slam my door and then wait for the sky to fall on my head.




Mother's Day 1990

Tim's POV:


We've almost made it through dinner without a single blow up, which is nothing short of a miracle.

"Josh, do you want to give your mom her gift now?" Dad asks as Mom gets up and goes into the kitchen to get dessert.

"Uh-huh," the little brat says, nodding his head while jumping up and down in his chair.

"Well, go get it," Dad tells him with a chuckle. "Tim?" he turns to me, one eyebrow raised disapprovingly.

"What?" I snap as I slump even farther into my chair. I haven't gotten Mom a present for Mother's Day since before the brat was born. I sure as hell wouldn't get her one now. He knows it, too. Asshole.

"Sit up!" he growls as he leans over to slap me on the shoulder. "Do you have something for your mom?"

"No," I mumble, rubbing away the hurt.

"Why not?" he demands, his brows lowering over his eyes. "Why must we always go through this?"

"She doesn't even like me. Why should I get her a stupid present?" I yell as I get up from the table and stomp upstairs to my room.

I slowly start to count. The door to my room slams open on the count of one hundred. That was fast. I can usually get to three or four hundred before he shows up.

"Just what the fuck was that all about?" he shouts, getting in my face.

"You know what that was all about," I shout right back. I will not be cowed by him anymore. "Neither one of you likes me. So why should I show you respect when you don't show any to me?" I demand as I thump my fists on my chest for emphasis.

"How about the fact that we gave you life? A roof over your head? Food in your belly? And clothes on your back?" he screams at me, backing me up against my desk, spittle hitting me in the face. "You will show us respect because we're your parents, damnit!"

"You've never shown it!" I test my limits by shoving him back a little so I can stalk away. "You've never shown me anything near what you show Josh on a daily basis," I state as I spin to face him.

He pokes me in the chest with his finger. "I don't owe you a damn thing. If I want to treat the dog better than you, that's my prerogative. And there ain't a damn thing you can do about it."

"I can leave," I raise my chin as I try to bluff my way out of this hole I've just dug for myself.

He just laughs. "Oh, really? And just where would you go, huh?" he backs up a step and spreads his arms. "Everything in this house belongs to me. You wouldn't get very far without any clothes. So, go ahead. Leave. But if you do, remember that you'll leave with exactly what you arrived with. Nothing," he walks from the room, still chuckling. "'I can leave,.'" he mocks me as he makes his way back to the dining room and his perfect little family.




Mother's Day 1991

Irene's POV:


I stand outside of Tim's door listening to his pain, wishing I could help him but knowing that I can't. That he won't let me. My own son hates me and there's nothing I can do about it.

"Tim, please," I beg, placing my hand on the door after one particularly loud crash that sounds an awful lot like his computer hitting the floor.

"Go away, bitch. I don't need anything from you!" he shouts with a thud that sounds like his fist hitting the wall.

"Why are you torturing yourself?" David asks as he comes up the stairs. "You know he'll never let you help. He has to do everything on his own."

"He's my son, David. It's my job to be here for him," I have my ear pressed to the door. It's gone quiet.

"I know he's your son, Irene," David sighs as he rubs my back. "He's my son too. But you have to be realistic, here. He doesn't even like us. What makes you think he'll let you help?"

"I have to keep trying," I whisper.

"No you don't!" Tim yells from the other side of the door, making me jump back in surprise. He was quiet because he was listening to us. "You've never been there for me before, why would you want to be there for me now?"

"Adam getting hurt wasn't your fault, baby," I try to tell him for what feels like the millionth time since the accident six weeks ago. "It was an accident. It could have happened to anyone."

"But it happened to me and Adam," he replies with a broken sob before screaming and throwing something against the wall.

"Tim, please. Let me help you," I whisper as I place my forehead wearily against the wood panel door.

"No!" his voice is shrill, frenetic, the sheer kinetic energy that has ravaged his already gangly body in the last weeks crackling through his vocal chords. His pain is utterly horrific. And I have yet to find a way to help him.

And then it hits me. I've seen this kind of behavior before. One of my cases is a young mother addicted to Meth and when she's strung out she acts just like this.

The shock of that realization flows through me like the same high-voltage current that has amped my son through the past six weeks. The only reason it's taken me so long to figure it out is that Tim has always been a bundle of nervous energy, and since becoming a teenager, has been known to throw things in a fit of temper.

"Oh, my God," I whisper as I step back from the door one hand pressed to my mouth in horror.

"What?" David asks, a frown on his face.

"I think I know what the problem is," I turn to face my husband. "He's a tweaker."

"What?"

"A tweaker. Someone who's addicted to Meth," I answer. "That's why he hasn't been sleeping and is so easy to rile up."

"Oh, come on, Irene. This is Tim we're talking about here. He's the original homebody. He never goes out, only has one friend," David scoffs as he leans up against the wall opposite Tim's door, arms crossed over his chest.

"Think about it, David," I tell him as I start to pace the hallway. "He's always been the kind of person who's never still, but nothing like the past six weeks. He can't sleep, he won't eat. And he's always on edge," I stop in front of Tim's door, tears in my eyes. "I can see the signs, but I don't know how to help him." The enormity of it overwhelms me. I can only thank god that Josh is at his friend Zeke's house for the day. He shouldn't have to bear witness to this. "My own baby and I can't help him," I whimper as I chew on the nail of my right thumb.

"So where'd he get the Meth? He never leaves the house," David's voice is stubborn. Mulish.

Denial. It's something I deal with every day in my job. I never expected to have it turn around and bite me in the butt in my own family! Anger fills me. I turn on him coldly. The reality of life in troubled families has been my life's work. And somehow, I have completely missed that my own family is as troubled as any I have dealt with in my job. "Except for school. There is always someone in each group of friends who knows someone who can get their hands on something," I point out. The anger has evaporated as fast as it arrived and left in its place is despair.

"So what are you going to do?" David walks up behind me and places his hand on my shoulder, squeezing it gently.

"I don't know,." I tell him as I step up to the door again. Me? What am I going to do? When did he stop taking any responsibility for our first born's happiness? When did we BOTH stop caring? "I have to find some way through this door," I state firmly as I place my hand on the offending obstacle, knowing deep down that it's not the literal door that I need to get through. There is a huge hurdle between me and my oldest son. One that I had a hand in building and will have to start tearing down on my own.

"Well, I could always break it down for you," David, sweet David. Always so very practical.

"It's not this door that's in my way," I inform him as I slip to my knees. "It's a symbol of all that stands between Tim and us," I continue as I lay down on the floor on my side so I can see under the door.

I can just barely make out Tim's prone form on the other side. His face is barely recognizable to me as the sweet baby I gave birth to almost eighteen years ago. He is facing the door with one hand stretched out towards it.

"Mama. Make it stop," he whispers as tears fall from his eyes. "Mama, please," he begs over and over. So quietly I doubt his father can hear the plea, or the pain.

I can't reach my son. And it's killing me. He needs me. He's reaching out for me and I can't get to him. All I can do is lie there on the floor, with David spooned up behind me; the fingers of one hand pushed as far as I can get them under the door, and watch my son begin his slow decent into darkness. A darkness that I can't protect him from.




Mother's Day 1993

Irene's POV:


It's been two years since I realized that Tim was addicted to Meth. Two years of watching my son slide slowly into a darkness I can't protect him from and where I can't follow. He somehow managed to graduate from high school with honors, his natural intellect and curiosity overriding the Meth's destructive nature. How I envy him that ability.

I had to study late into the night just to make a passing grade. Especially once I found out I was pregnant. I just barely graduated. But my oldest son, a Tweaker, was third in his graduating class and went on to Columbia to study biology. He's looking for a cure for Adam. He still feels guilty. Like he could have, should have, been able to prevent the snowmobile accident that left Adam paralyzed from the neck down.

Today I have the unlucky job of calling Tim and telling him that Adam died from complications of his last surgery. I have spent the better part of the morning trying to do just that. I have picked up the phone countless times and each time couldn't dial that last number.

"Stop being such a coward, Irene!" I tell myself. "Just call him. He can't hate you any more than he already does."

I finally gather the courage to drive the wedge just that much farther between Tim and I and dial his number.

"Mm, hello?" the groggy voice is barely recognizable.

"Tim?" I ask.

"Yeah. What ya want?" he grumbles. I have obviously woken him up.

"It's two in the afternoon. Why are you still in bed?" I can't stop myself from asking.

"Did you call just to berate me for my sleeping habits or do you have something to say?" he snaps, sounding a little bit more awake.

"I…I have…" I take a deep breath and push on. "I have to tell you something."

"Fine, then tell me so I can go back to sleep," he mutters.

"Adam…Tim, I'm so sorry," I say tears running down my face.

"Mom? Just say it. What about Adam? He had surgery on Friday. Didn't it work? What?" the last words are shouted at me.

"Adam died this morning. Oh, baby. I'm so very sorry," I finally get the words out.

Silence. All I hear is silence.

"Timmy? Did you hear me?" I ask.

"Yeah, Mom…I heard you," he says real slow almost like he can't remember how to speak. "What…um…what…what happened? Do you know?" his voice is congested sounding. Tears he won't let me hear? Will he allow me to comfort him?

"He…uh…he had a…" I stop to clear my throat before continuing. "He had a stroke during the operation. He slipped into a coma and passed away this morning."

"Why'd you wait so long to call?" he demands.

"I've been trying to call all day. Do you know how hard this is for me?"

"Do you think I really care?" the words are like a slap in the face. He really believes I don't care about him.

"Tim, baby…"

"Stop calling me baby!" he screams. "It just sounds fake coming from you. I have never been your baby, so just stop trying," and with that he hangs up on me.

I think I've just lost my son.

As that realization hits, I slide slowly down the wall to sit on the floor, silent tears flowing down my face.

How did everything get so screwed up? How did Tim go from my sweet little baby boy to the man that just told me he doesn't believe anything I say to him?

How can I get him back? Make him see that I have always loved him? That I will always love him?




Mother's Day 1994

Irene's POV:


It's been a year since I called Tim and told him about Adam's passing. A year in which I didn't know if my oldest son was still alive or not. After the semester ended, Tim disappeared. No one knew where he went. His roommate said that when he returned to their room after his last class, all of Tim's things were gone.

I've spent the better part of the past year looking for him. Hoping, wishing, praying, that he was alive and well. I even hired a private detective, for the two weeks I could afford to pay his fees.

Then six weeks ago, we got a phone call from Joe Bowen, Adam's uncle. Telling us that Tim was alive and in Miami. The very fact that Joe didn't say that Tim was okay told me everything I needed to know. Tim had slipped even farther into the darkness.

I am determined to find my son again and bring him home.

I flew to Miami to get Tim and almost died when I saw him. He was so ragged looking that I wouldn't have recognized him if Joe hadn't been sitting next to him.

It was all I could do not to break down right then and there.

Now I am sitting next to his bed watching as he writhes in agony. Once he realized that I wasn't going anywhere this time, he finally agreed to let me help him. And true to his stubborn nature he wants to do this the hard way. With no medical help. Which means he has spent the better part of the past six weeks in pain as his body begs for more of the drug it has become dependent upon.

"Mama," the pain in his voice is like a knife to my heart. I can't help him. All I can do is sit here and watch him suffer. "Mama, please. Make it stop. Make the pain go away," he begs over and over.

"Oh, baby. I'm sorry. I can't. I can't," I tell him time and again as I stroke his face, his hair, any part of him I can reach, trying to calm him. Help him stay connected and focused through the worst of the pain.

As he curls in on himself I drop to my knees beside his bed and do something I haven't done since he was five, and I suffered my first miscarriage. I thought I'd lost my faith that horrible day. But here, now, I feel I have no other recourse than to ask for help from powers greater than I. I pray.

"God, please help him. Take this pain from him so that he can be made whole again," I have a death grip on his arm as I feel the tension building in him.

He's been going through cycles of pain. Some worse than others. This one feels like a bad one. He rolls from his side onto his back and arches up, with just the crown of his head, his elbows and the heels of his feet touching the mattress, his mouth open in a silent scream of agony.

My scream is not so silent. "Why, God? Why are you doing this to him? What did he do to deserve this punishment?" I demand of the ceiling. "Please help my baby. Please!" I beg as I bury my face in the sheets.

I don't know how much time has passed when I notice a difference in his breathing and the muscles under my hand are no longer so tense.

I open my tear swollen eyes and see that he has fallen into a restless slumber.

"Thank you, God," I whisper. "Thank you for allowing him some peace from this torment."

"Irene?" David asks as he steps into Tim's room.

"Yes?" I respond wearily.

"Let me sit with him for a while. You won't do him any good if you get sick," David offers as he moves to help me up off the floor.

"No!" I whisper emphatically. "I won't abandon him again," I struggle against my husband as he tries to make me get up off the floor.

"Irene. Irene, please," David begs. "Let me help. If I'm here he won't think he's been abandoned," he grabs my face. "Please. Go lie down for a while. When he wakes I'll send Joshy to wake you. Okay?"

I bite my lip as I gaze at my sleeping son and realize that David is right. If I'm to help Tim, then I must stay healthy. "Okay," I agree with a nod. "But no more than two hours, David. I mean it. I want to be woken after no more than two hours."

"Okay. Two hours," he kisses me on the forehead and gently pushes me out the door.

I take one last look at Tim's pain-ravished body and feel the hot tracks of tears as they course down my face. I can't help but think of how very different this could all be if I had only seen that Tim felt unloved for so very long.

When I get to my room I realize that there is no way I'll be able to sleep, so I pull out my old journals and reread them. I started keeping a journal after I found out I was pregnant with Tim. The first entry is from Mother's Day 1973. Twenty one years ago exactly. I was so young and scared. But hopeful too. Hopeful that my unborn child would be everything I wasn't. And he is. He's smarter than me and has the potential to be something far greater than I could ever have dreamed of for myself or him.

I flip through the remaining pages and am shocked that I wrote so little about Tim. Most of the entries were about how overwhelmed I was feeling. Tim was the kind of child that had to do everything on his own and he was never still for very long. It was very frustrating, especially after Josh was born. Josh was so sick when he was a baby that I couldn't take him out much. That meant that Tim had to stay home a lot too.

The entries after Josh was born make Tim seem like a troublemaker. They are all about how he had either argued with David or gotten Josh upset. While Tim was complained about, Josh was fawned over. Every word I wrote about Josh was complementary. I never had a kind word for Tim after his fifth birthday.

The proof of Tim's claims cuts me deep. I just stare at the words as pain squeezes my throat, my heart, as I realize how very badly I treated my oldest son.

No wonder he turned to drugs after Adam's accident. He felt that he couldn't turn to us, and in fact he couldn't. David and I were blind to his pain. His need to be loved.

I am determined to try to put this to rights. I pull out a new journal and begin to write. I tell Tim everything I have ever felt for him, starting with how scared I was at finding out that I got pregnant the first time I ever had sex. And ending with the feeling of being overwhelmed after Josh's birth. How difficult it was having delivered him early and then the struggle to keep him healthy.

By the time I finish filling up the first book, more than five hours has passed. I knew David wouldn't come to get me in two hours.

I leave my room and make my way back to Tim's, only to find it empty. Both David and Tim are gone.

"David!" I run from the room yelling. "David! He's gone. Where is he? David!"

"Irene? What's wrong?" David asks as he comes bounding up the stairs.

"Where's Tim? You were supposed to be watching him," I get right in his face. "So where is he? Why aren't you with him?" I demand as I pound on his chest with both fists.

"He was asleep so I went downstairs to fix Josh lunch," he replies with a confused frown capturing my fists in his hands.

"I told you not to leave him alone," I say tears filling my eyes.

"He was asleep, Irene," David restates. "I didn't see the harm in going downstairs for just a minute or two."

"Didn't see the harm?" I demand. "The harm is that he woke up and found himself alone so he thought we abandoned him again. That's what the harm is!" I shout pulling my hands free from his grasp.

"How far do you really think he could have gotten, huh?" David asks. "He's in no condition to leave the house. You know that," he reaches out to try and stroke my face. I can't stop myself from flinching away from his touch.

"That's not the…" I start when we hear a moan coming from the bathroom. I push past my husband to find the source of the sound and find Tim on the floor, David hot on my heels. There is a slowly spreading pool of blood coming from cuts on his forearms. And a bloody razor blade lying next to him.

"Tim! What have you done?" I moan as I fall to my knees to try and stop the bleeding. David drops beside me, his breath a hot exhalation on my neck.

"Oh, God," David whispers. His horror, odd as it sounds, grounds me. I am no longer the only one who understands the depths of our son's pain, now. More than words, this bloody deed has shown him what I've been trying to tell him for years.

"Needed…to…feel…alive," Tim pants. He turns his face away from us but I can still see the pain he's in, in the tension of his shoulders.

"Oh, baby," I whisper as we clean him up. "Why won't you let us help you?"

"Don't…need…you…" he replies as we begin to bandage his wounds. "Don't…love…"

"Of course we love you!" David tells him.

"I don't… love you," he corrects bitterly, the words broken but no less intense for that.

I choose to ignore it. Everything he did as a child, even as a young man, has been a testament to his yearning for love, his hopeless love for us, the parents he believed didn't care for him. "I know we've hardly shown it, but we do love you Tim. You're our son. I carried you under my heart for nine months," I whisper against his hair.

As we start to help him up, his eyes cloud over and he slowly starts to cry.

He has slipped as far into the darkness as I'm willing to allow. I decide right then that I will find a way to follow him and show him how to find the light again.

"Oh, baby. Please let me in," I plead as we lay him down on his bed and I curl up along his side, my head on his chest. David pulls the desk chair over to the bed and sits down. Watching over both of us.

As I lay there listening to his ragged breathing and watching him sleep, I make a vow to never again let him think I don't love him. I do. More than life itself. He has my utmost respect and admiration that he could have come as far as he did on as little as David and I were able to provide, emotionally. But that has to change. Somehow, we must find the means to bring Tim back from the brink he has found himself on. I am determined to rescue my son and become not only his mother again, but also his friend.




Mother's Day 1995

Irene's POV:


"Don't go," I say yet again as I stand just inside the door to Tim's room, watching him pack his bag.

"I have a job waiting for me, Mom," he sighs as he turns to face me. "We've been through this. I'm not running away. Not this time. Megan said I could work at the crime lab once I got my degree. I've done that. Now it's time for me to be an adult."

I bite my lip to keep from begging him again and again to stay. This past year has been an eye opener for all of us. Once Tim was free from the grip of drugs we, as a family, went to counseling. What we learned about each other…

He had returned to Miami for a short time to thank Adam's uncle for his assistance and started following him to work at the Miami-Dade police station. There he met Megan Donner and they became friends. She saw the potential in him and convinced him to return to Columbia to finish his bachelor's in biology with an offer of a job as a CSI once it was completed.

He received that degree just yesterday.

"I've only had you back for such a short time," I say.

"I know, Mama," he responds with a smile. How I'll miss seeing that sweet smile.

"I…uh…" I have to clear my throat several times before I can continue. I refuse to cry. Not today. "I have something for you," I tell him as I turn to walk to my room.

"What? You gave me a gift yesterday at the party," he states as he follows me.

"Yes, but this is more personal. Something I wrote over the course of this past year," I reply as I open my hope chest.

He comes to stand behind me watching as I sift through all the things I had hoped to one day pass down to my daughter. I'm now hoping to give them to Tim's bride.

"Here," I finally find what I'm looking for. "I want you to take your time reading these. And think about what I say in them," I turn to face him, my journals clutched tightly to my chest.

"Mom?" he questions uneasily as he eyes the books in my arms with a frown.

"Don't worry. There's nothing in here that could cause you any embarrassment. These are my thoughts and feelings about you. Not Josh or your dad, just you. Please. Take them and read them," I hold them out to him. I can't make myself look in his eyes as he takes them from my hands.

"I…uh…I don't know…" he stammers.

"Please, Tim. Just read them. We can talk after that. Okay?" I finally look up at him.

He just nods, still confused, still wary.

"Tim! If you don't get a move on, you're going to miss your flight!" David calls out from downstairs.

"Well…" we both say at the same time then chuckle.

"Call me when you arrive in Miami," I order through a tight throat. Today is not a day for tears.

"Okay," he responds, his voice equally as strained.

We hug and then he's gone.

I stand at the window and watch as his taxi drives away. Wishing I could turn back time to when he was a baby and retain everything I now know about him. He has become a wonderful man and a loving son. We now share a bond that I am hoping will never be broken again. The darkness has been transcended and we have returned to the light both stronger and closer than ever.




Mother's Day 1996

Tim's POV:


As I approach the door of the house I grew up in I can't help thinking again about what I now know about my mom. She was braver than I had ever imagined. Having me at such a young age. Without her family's support.

When Mom announced she was pregnant, her father threw her out of the house. Dad had already proposed and she accepted that night.

This was just one of numerous things I didn't know about my parents before this last year.

I shift the present under my arm yet again. It's the first time in too long that I've bought her a present for Mother's Day. This will also be the first one in too long where we will actually celebrate it as a family. There will be no arguing, no screaming, no nothing, other than watching Mom open her gifts, and celebrating the woman who gave me life.

"Timmy?" Mom calls as she opens the door. "Why are you just standing there? Come in. Lunch is almost ready," she steps aside and beckons me with her hand.

"Not yet, Mom," I tell her. "Can we take a walk? Just you and me?" I ask.

"Sure. Just let me tell your dad so he doesn't worry," she steps back into the house and I can hear her yell at Dad that we're going for a walk and to not hold lunch.

"Is that for me?" she asks after we've walked several blocks from the house pointing at the present under my arm.

"Oh, uh, yeah," I stammer as I shift it to my other arm.

"Are you going to give it to me?" she asks with a chuckle.

"Not yet," I inform her as I stop walking and stare at the ground, trying to gather my thoughts. "This past year has been wonderful. And not just because of the new job," I state as I start walking again. Mom falls into step with me, her hand in mine.

"I love you, Mom. More than I can ever say," I pause to clear my throat of the tears clogging it. "The things you gave up for me… I can never repay you for them."

"You don't…" she starts.

"Please, let me finish. This is hard enough," I interrupt.

"Okay," she allows with a nod.

"I've read all your journals several times. And they make me cry every time. So many misunderstandings on all our parts. If we could have just talked to each other back then…" The tears will not be denied any longer.

We both sniffle at the same time and then laugh together. Two years ago this shared moment would have been impossible. Not because I was hooked on speed, but because the chasm between us did not have a bridge. Mom built that bridge when she followed me into the darkness and pulled me out. She, or Dad, sat beside me every minute of every day for over two months watching as I fought the cravings.

"I thought I was never good enough for you. I really thought you hated me. But that night when you and Dad caught me with the razor… I have no words. I…" I give a little humorless chuckle as I try to describe how low I had fallen at that point. "I honestly never thought that you loved me enough to follow me into the darkness," I stop walking and turn to face her.

"I know you love me. I no longer question it, but I need to know something that you don't mention in the journals," I gaze into her eyes. I know that she'll want to lie about this and I'm hoping that by forcing her to look me in the eyes she'll tell the truth. "I really need you to be honest with me here, Mom. Okay? Even if you think it's not what I want to hear or what you should say. I need the truth."

"Okay, Tim. I'll tell the truth," she promises.

I glance down at our interlaced fingers, take a deep breath and look back up into her face before asking, "Did you ever wish that I'd never been born? Or that you'd given me up for adoption?"

I see the truth on her face in the split second before she can control it. And before she can think of a lie I remind her of her promise.

"You said you'd tell me the truth, Mom."

"You're right. I did say that," It's her turn to glance at our hands.

When she meets my gaze again, there is a fire in her eyes that I haven't seen since I got clean two years ago. "There were times when I used to wonder why I kept you. When you were very little. Before you could walk, when I wanted to go out with friends. Be a normal teenager. But never, not even for a split second, did I ever wish that you'd never been born. I did wish and sometimes still do, especially after a hard day, that I could turn back time and do things differently. But I can see now that you wouldn't be the man you are today if things had been different. If you had felt my love from the beginning. Seen how much you mean to me. I was just too young, Tim. I know that's not an excuse and I'm not trying to make it one. It's the truth."

By the end of her little speech she has walked several paces away, her back to me.

"Would you have mourned me like you did the others, if you had miscarried?" I ask, a little sharper than necessary.

She spins to face me, her eyes narrowed in a flash of anger. "How can you ask me that?" she stalks up to me standing toe to toe as she yells at me for being so very obtuse. "While I have mourned every baby I ever lost, I would have mourned you the most. You are my first born. The one that showed me how wonderful being a mom can be," her voice has lost some of the anger but not all of it.

I've screwed up again. And after I came here to give her the kind of Mother's Day she never had.

"I'm sorry. I was just being stupid. But I really needed to know," I hang my head and scuff my toe on the concrete. "I saw how hard each miscarriage was on you and Dad and I…" I swallow past the lump in my throat. "I just wanted, no, needed to hear you say that you would've mourned me if I'd've died before you met me."

"I've loved you since before I knew you were on the way. And yes you were being stupid. I should smack you upside your head for that one, Timothy Speedle," she says with a smile.

I snort a little with ironic laughter. "It never worked when Dad did it," I remind her, and the humor fades a bit from her face.

"No, it didn't, Tim. But we simply didn't know what to do with a child who was so much brighter than we are," she says as she takes my hand again in hers. "You scared us, still do actually. And you frustrated us. Because we didn't have any experience as parents, we made mistakes. Oh so very many of them," She takes a step closer to me and hugs me with her free arm, the embrace awkward between the package I'm carrying and the way our other hands are linked.

"And unfortunately, we'll probably keep right on making mistakes," She smiles up at me, her chin resting on my chest. "Life is a work in progress, Timothy. I don't think we ever stop learning, not if we're really alive. I've learned at least that much in the last couple of years, with everything we've been through together."

I return her smile. "So… mistakes are a good thing, huh?"

"If they teach us something, I'm beginning to think it's alright to make a few," she smiles back, warm as the spring sun on our shoulders. "And I think the ones we've all made have taught us a lot, don't you? Maybe the most important thing of all is how not to make the same ones twice."

I nod and give her a quick squeeze before I let her go. "And maybe how to listen," I add.

"Especially how to listen," she confirms with a strong nod, and lets go of my hand to hook her arm through mine.

"Good. So now you'll listen to me?" I ask.

"Of course, baby. That is why we're out here isn't it?" she cocks her head to the side as she gazes up at me.

"Yeah," I pull my arm free so I can pace away from her while I gather my thoughts.

There is so much I need to tell her and only so much she'll be able to handle at once.

I decide to start with my reasons for getting clean.

"Um… I… uh…I met someone. She was an addict too. In fact her brother was my dealer," I glance back at her over my shoulder to try and gauge her reaction. When all she does is stare at me I continue. "Her name is Amanda. I thought she might be the one for me. But she's not. A coupla days before Joe found me strung out in the ER of Dade Memorial, she told me she was pregnant. She wanted to celebrate by trying something new her brother's cooks had made," I stop my pacing to once again look at her.

"Is there something I'm supposed to say here, Tim?" she asks as she walks up to me and takes my face in her hands. "You are my son. My first born child. Despite what I've led you to believe over the course of your childhood, there is not a goddamn thing in this world that you could do to make me stop loving you. So whatever it is you need to say, just say it," There are tears in her eyes.

I swore that I would never make her cry in anything other than joy ever again.

"Mama, please don't cry," I whisper as my own vision gets cloudy. "I never meant to make you cry."

"Oh, baby. These are for your pain," she informs me. "Please go on."

"Well, I didn't know these new cooks and didn't trust their stuff, so I refused to try it. Amanda said that if Marcus trusted them, then that was good enough for her," I can't look her in the eye as I tell her the rest. "She took her usual amount, but nothing happened, so she took more. What she didn't know was that it was slow acting. She ended up overdosing and almost dying. She lost the baby," I end on a sob, remembering that awful day and knowing firsthand how helpless my dad had felt over the years as he watched my mom struggle to give him another child. Watching as she suffered the worst loss any woman can suffer. The loss of an unborn child. Having to hold her as she blamed herself. Not being able to comfort her. Not understanding her pain.

"My God," Mom whispers. "I'm so sorry you had to go through that. But glad too. Glad because it brought you back to me."

"I never knew… never even suspected… how hard it was for you and Dad. To go through that over and over," I drop to my knees and wrap my arms around her waist. "I'm so sorry for every horrible thought I ever had for each child you lost."

"Tim, please get up," she pleads as she tries to make me stand up again.

"You don't understand, Mom. I felt responsible for most of them," I say as I bury my face in her stomach.

"Baby, please don't. They were no more your fault than they were mine," she's sobbing really hard now as she grabs my shoulders and forces me to stand up again. "Look at me. Tim, please. I know your father and I allowed you to think that you caused my miscarriages, but you didn't. Not a single one."

"I know that now, Mom. But back then…" I turn and walk a few paces away, kicking at the grass as I try to find the words to tell her what is in my heart. "I really don't know how to tell you what it felt like. Standing by that hospital bed, watching as Amanda lost my child. But of course you know what it feels like to lose a child," I turn back to face her. "As I stood there, holding her hand, knowing that I could never help her get through this…I…" I take a breath and look up at the sky, fighting back tears. "I decided that I was never going to go back. Marcus had stolen more than I was willing to give. He stole my child before it even had a chance. I'm pretty sure that he talked Amanda into trying the new drug. Knowing what would happen."

"But why would he risk his sister's life?" Mom asks the one question that has been haunting my every waking moment since that horrible day.

"The only reason I can think of is that he didn't want her to have my child."

"Tim…" Mom begins when I don't continue right away.

"No, Mom. There's more. I…I really don't know how to thank you and Dad for everything," I take her hand with my free one. "This was all I could think of to give you to show you that your love isn't misplaced. That I love you, too," I hand her the gift that I agonized for days over. "I am so sorry that I never truly gave you a gift while I was growing up. Maybe this will make up for all those Mother's Days when you had nothing from me."

I watch out of the corner of my eye as she opens the box.

"Oh, Timothy. It's wonderful," she exclaims as she throws her arms around my neck. "Did you make it yourself?" she asks as she fingers the edges of the shadowbox.

"No," I say with a chuckle. "I'm not that talented. But I did have it made just for you."

"'To the best mom I could ever have'," she reads the engraving. "Tim, I wasn't always…"

"There's more," I interrupt to show her what the box holds.

"Ooo," she squeals as she picks up each item.

First is a dried rose bud. I know that roses are her favorite flower. Next is a figurine of a mother and child. I had our names printed on the bottom along with the date. Then she picks up one of my baby shoes. "I was wondering what happened to this," she grins up at me. "What is this?" she picks up a small blue medallion.

"That's my two year chip."

"Tim. I can't take your chip. You earned it yourself," she tells me as she tries to return it.

"Please, Mom. I want you to have it," I inform her as I press it back into her hand. "It belongs to you as much as it does to me. Without you and Dad I don't know if I'd be standing here today. I know Joe was trying to get me clean, but I would have fought him. And he would have made me go in to rehab. You allowed me to detox outside of a center, keeping it off my record."

"Why was that so important to you? I never did understand that," she prompts me to finish my tale as she links her arm through mine again and turns us towards the house.

"I knew that Joe had done his best to keep my name out of whatever reports he had to write whenever he raided Marcus' house. I asked him about it during one of the few lucid moments I had before you showed up in Miami to get me. He said that he felt partly responsible for my turning to drugs. Hinted that Adam's accident wasn't all my fault and that if I ever wanted to turn my love of science towards police work he'd do his best to see I got every opportunity to do so."

"So you couldn't have drug abuse on your record. Not even a tiny hint. Which would include checking into a rehab center," she finishes for me.

"Yeah. I'm lucky that Joe was able to find me a NA group a few towns over so I don't risk running into someone who could blow it for me."

"Well, I'm glad you're happy now," she smiles up at me.

Uh-oh. I know that smile. I try to head her off at the pass, "Mom, please…"

"Now, to find you a wife…"

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January 2017

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