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Face Down by Raeann

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Author's Chapter Notes:
To Sammy, because she said she hadn't read anything of mine in awhile, and 'Reap, because I'm so lazy with our other story.
My children are memories. There are no new thoughts for them, for me with them. I am mother in regret only. Oh but look, I have a grand new bed! It's blue with tiny plum roses stitched in. The room smells of gardenias, just like my own mother's had.

I think.

It's so cold in here.

I have a window hidden behind bulky curtains. I remember my oldest son, Michael when he was little. I have this memory-

~**

He was angry about company at the house. He'd hear the doorbell ring and run to his brother's room screaming, his hands stationed over his ears. He'd usually hide behind Samuel's crib.

"This is wrong!" he'd holler.

My husband, who would be cradling Sam in his arms, politely demanded Michael's presence. "Come on, Mike!"

"Make them go home!" Michael would yell from the floor.

"Michael? Honey?" That was me.

"Nooo!"

"Baby, are you in here?" Sam's room was an explosion of toys, board books, soggy teething rings, and diapers.

"No?"

Now we played pretend. I'd sit in a too small chair and pick up a teddy bear the boys shared. His name was Magic. I hugged Magic to my chest and confided sadly.

"Magic, I have some terrible news. Our Michael has disappeared and I don't know where he went or when he'll be back. And I miss him so much. Did you see him? No? Well, that's too bad. You see, we have some friends over, but there are so many of them that I feel kinda lost in in the crowd. And I really need some company in there. Someone to help me out. And now this! How will I tell them I misplaced my own son? What will I do, Magic?" I paused to listen to his reply. "Oh you don't know either." We sat in silence, the three of us. Until, "Magic, would you keep me company? Until I find Michael? I know you're not as special as he is, but I guess you'll have to do 'til then."

I stood with the bear and left the room.

"Where is he?" my husband asked. "And what's with the bear?"

"Oh, well, he's here until Michael shows up."

"Uh huh," he smiled with caution, as if afraid of this woman armed with a stuffed toy. His exasperation became resignation, and he kissed my cheek.

"Kiss," said Sam.

"No, crazy woman," my husband responded.

"Mommy."

I looked down. "Hi, Michael."

"Up please?"

"Of course." I looked at Magic. "Excuse me," I told him, and put him on a chair. Then I gathered my son into my arms. He lay his head on my shoulder. I ran my fingers through his dark curls. He picked out a song he liked and we sang quietly together. I think it was the "Itsy Bitsy Spider". We dance-walked to our guests. The weight of his love was an anchor. You see, I didn't know Sam well enough yet. But Michael, he was my friend.

~**

Michael.

My view at the window is of a small, brown church. Its bells are silent. They sit still, angry at me. I think there are statues in the little front yard. Always weeping and reaching. I turn from their inconsiderate eyes. I won't feel guilty.

The room really isn't that cold. I place my hand around my neck. Maybe I'm cold. Maybe I'm sick. I find my new bed. Isn't it wonderful? Smells like gardenias here, too. Mmmm. Fresh sheets. Pillows that comfort and hold onto my head.

~stopscreamingatme~

Under the covers. Far under. Don't move. They can't find you if you don't move. If they don't know where to look. Right.

~stopitididtherightthing~

~**

"Lucy? What are you doing here?" He is unhappy. Frowning. I hate when we're not friends.

"Can I come in and talk?" I smiled, my hands open in camaraderie.

"What? Now? I got class in twenty minutes." He blocked his apartment with his body, his arm across the door.

"Oh. I thought classes took place in the day."

"This is college, Lucy. We have night classes?"

Was he annoyed?

"I'm sorry, Michael."

He sighed. "No, it's alright. I just have to go. But maybe tomorrow night."

"Okay. I'll go. I'm sorry."

"No, it's okay."

A man stepped next to me. he said, "Hello, Michael."

Michael's eyes narrowed. "Hello. Who are you?"

"Michael this is William. Remember?"

"Uh, yeah, I gotta go." He moved into the hallway and locked his door.

William blocked him. "I don't think you do."

Michael stared hard at William. "Excuse me." He shoved past him and was gone.

"I told you Lucy. He'd never accept us."

"But he's my son, William," I cried.

"And you're..."

"And I'm his mother. That means something," I spoke softly.

"Not anymore."

"No!" I pushed him out of my way and raced down the stairs after my son.

My son.

"Michael!" my voice carried through the empty lobby of the apartment building. I saw him through the glass door. He was getting onto his bike. He looked up.

"Michael. Please. How can I make things right between us?"

"Lucy..."

My face fell. He responded, "Sorry. Mom."

"Please."

"I don't think you can. Not anymore."

"Stop saying that."

"Saying what? You chose to be this way."

I touched his face. My eyes filled with tears.

"And I can't be around you, or him, and I won't let Sammy be around you either. Not like this, Ma."

I ran my fingers through his dark curls.

"I need you boys in my life."

He slapped my hand away. "How can you call it a life? You're dead." He turned from me. I began sobbing.

"Don't you leave me Michael Emerson!"

He started driving away from me, and I yanked him from the bike.

"You can't leave me like your father, like Sammy." I shook him, my words garbled through my sorrow and rage. "We're family! Who are you to do this to me? We're friends. Remember?" I began singing about a spider in the rain.

"No!" he exclaimed.

"No?"

Who is this?

I looked into his hateful eyes.

"Who are you? What did you do to Michael?"

"Let go!"

I hugged him to me, and with a clean jerk, snapped his neck. I threw his body away from me, bewildered.

~**

"See?" I tell the covers. "I did the right thing. He almost hated me. And I couldn't have him hate me." I curl up in a tight ball. My arm reaches from beneath the covers to find Magic sitting sideways on the floor. I pick him up and use him for a pillow.

"Stay with me Magic. I've misplace my son. Will you keep me company? Until he comes back to me?"

~finis
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