His view of the world narrowed as they traveled along rain-streaked streets in darkness.
The flashes of light in passing windows were glimpses into the lives of strangers.
Riding the bus all night, his thoughts were a confusing jumble and his eyes ached.
Hunching down inside his green canvas overcoat, he tried to sleep.
Every time he closed his eyes, he replayed the moment over and over again.
If he hadn’t been snooping around in the attic he would never have come across the small bundle of letters, neatly tied in a package with red ribbon.
Lucie was going to freak when he told her.
But first, he had to actually see if his mother was with the guy.
The logo on the letterhead was a big giveaway; when he saw it he realized that it was the same event company that was in town organizing the concert.
So he went and talked to the guy in charge and got the address of the main office in Vancouver.
That’s when he decided to go to the city and see for himself. If he found her, he’d call Lucie and let her know, not before.
They were just about to turn off the freeway when a flatbed truck loaded with lumber crossed into their lane, cutting them off.
The truck’s load broke loose and slid onto the highway in front of them.
The bus driver swung the wheel hard, missing the lumber but then the bus plowed into the guard rail and flipped on its side, sliding to a crunching grinding halt.
Justin was thrown against the window with a crack, smashing his head.
Everything went black.
Head held high, wearing her best dress and shoes, she carefully walked down the narrow wooden stairs with a suitcase in each hand.
He stood by the front door leaning slightly toward her, still needing her, yet knowing it was futile to hope.
A picture of despair, he begged,” please don’t do this to our family. The children need you. We all need you.
We can work it out, whatever it is.”
She smiled sadly and said,” It’s the only way, a clean break.
It’ll be better for them in the long run.
You know I only had kids because you wanted them, so you keep them.
I’ve never been any good at being a mother. They’re both in school now, you’ll be ok.”
She placed her keys on the sideboard and walked out of their lives.
“Hey Lucie, how’s it going,” Mr. Taylor waved at the chair next to him; “Come sit with me for a minute.”
He folded up the papers that he had been marking and pushed them into an old leather pouch.
Straightening his faded cardigan, he took off his wire-framed glasses and placed them on the well-worn table between them.
“Thanks,” Lucie replied, perching carefully on the edge of the chair.
She took out her phone and thumbed the screen with a worried look on her face.
Tucking it back into her purse, she looked at the intricate pattern of birds and flowers that her mother had stitched and wished she was here.
Most of the students were back in class.
There was a loud burst of laughter from the ones playing cards at the far end of the brightly lit room.
“Any news?” Mr. Taylor asked, leaning forward in his chair. “What can I do?” Producing a wrinkled kleenex from his jeans pocket, he wiped at his glasses, smearing the dirt around.
Replacing them on his face, he squinted at his watch.
“Nothing. It’s freaking me out. The police aren’t any help and I just know he’s in trouble.”
Lucie’s face crumpled and there was a glint of tears in her eyes. Mr. Taylor handed her the kleenex.
She took it tentatively and wiped her eyes.
“ I’m the one who usually keeps track of him. He tried to ask me something the other day and I was too busy. Now he’s missing and it’s my fault cause I didn’t listen.”
Mr. Taylor reached over and patted her arm softly.
“They’ll find him,” he said gently. “The police are pretty good at what they do. I know you’re worried, it’ll be ok, hang in there.”
He reached into the leather pouch and pulled out a package of butterscotch candy.
He held them out to her, “Want one?”
“No thanks,” she made a face, “too much sugar.”
Lucie pulled a metal water bottle out of her purse and unscrewed the cap.
She held it to her lips and took a long swallow. Mr. Taylor took the chance to look at her more closely. Her black eyeliner was smeared and there were dark circles under her eyes.
Usually, Lucie looked carefully made up and she stood out in a crowd, often just skirting the dress code.
Today, she had on plain black pants and a hoodie, the hood covering her short spiky red and black hair.
He popped a butterscotch into his mouth.
“Do you think Ryder went to see a friend or something? He has all those gamer friends, maybe…. did he go into the city?”
“I doubt it, but I’ve been asking around and one guy — Mason something — said Ryder was talking about going to see someone. I told the cops but they don’t think it’s anything. The last time I saw him was yesterday when he left for school. They say he skipped classes that day. He does that sometimes, but they don’t make a fuss cause his marks are so good.”
She pulled her phone out again checked it.
“I wish I knew more of Ryder’s friends,” she said. She put the phone back into her purse along with the water bottle. “He’s really smart, but I worry about him, it’s not like him to go wandering off.”
She settled back in her chair and looked around the room.
“Oh, here I almost forgot.” Mr. Taylor rummaged in his bag and brought out a couple of tickets. “The extra concert tickets I said I had.” said Mr. Taylor. “I can’t use them but I’m glad that someone can.” She took the tickets and glanced at them.
“Thanks, Mr. Taylor, it’s really nice of you. I really want to go but I’m not sure if I can now.” She looked at the tickets more closely. “Hey, this is interesting, this logo looks really familiar. I saw one just like it in Ryder’s room. He’s not into that kind of music. That’s weird.”
“Ryder is an artistic guy; maybe he just liked the design. Drawing is one of his best classes, isn’t it?” He glanced down at his watch. “I have to get going, I have a late meeting.”
“Yeah ok,’ Lucie replied, “I’ll ask Justin: they hang out sometimes.” Lucie stood up, leaned over, and picked up her purse. “See you tomorrow.”
“Sure,” replied Mr. Taylor. “You take care of yourself. If there is anything I can do, remember, you can count on me to help.”
He watched her walk out of the room. As she left, she glanced at her reflection in the window and caught him looking.
She smiled uncertainly.
See The Letters - Part 2 for more.
This story is Fiction. It was created entirely from my imagination. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental.