This story is by Julie Wootten and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Struggling to climb the last few stairs to her fifth floor penthouse, Samantha wondered why she hadn’t taken the elevator. “Another stupid decision”, She said outloud to herself, shaking her head in self discust as she put the key in the lock and opened the door to her apartment.
The air conditioning had been on all day. The coolness of the room felt refreshing as she entered. The temperatures outside had hit an all time high, another reason taking the stairs had not been a great idea. Kicking off her high heels and sheding her blazer, Samantha pulled the pins out of her gray hair, letting it fall down her back. She was so tired.
Walking to the liquor cabinet her mind drifted to where it always did… Eric. She poured herself a Scotch and sat on her overstuffed 19th century apolstered couch. As she looked around the room at the antiques, velevet curtains and victorian wallpaper, she felt her decor was like her, lost and forgotten.
The Scotch relaxed her. She tried to decide what she was going to do for dinner when her thoughts went again to the same tormenting place… Eric. No matter what she did she couldn’t forget him, he had never left her. Always there, but never there. Real, yet unreal. It had been so many years. It had all happened in another life, another time, to another person but it hadnt. The pain of it all was constantly with her. Samantha believed it was going to go with her to the grave.
She turned the TV on hoping to find a distraction, but nothing interested her. Even the classic movie channel offered only a dark noir movie that she really didnt have the emotional strength to deal with. A comedy would be a nice diversion, but genuine comedy was hard to find, most of what was available in Samatha’s opinion was mere stupidity. She shut the TV off.
Finishing her Scotch Samantha laid her head back onto the soft cushion of the couch. There he was again…. Eric. Tears began running down her face.
He had been sitting at his own little table in his underwear in front of the television watching Sesame Street. He was eating a bagel covered in cream cheese, and had the cream cheese all over the outside of his mouth. He laughed and pointed at the blue muppet that was singing. “Funny mommy, Grover funny.”
It was early, about 7am. She was getting dressed for work when there was a knock on the door. When she answered the door she saw a man in a suit standing off to the side of the door but didnt think anything of it. “Yes can I help you.” She said in her sweet innocent voice.
The man looked at her and looked surprised. “Samantha Cole?” the man asked.
“Yes” she said smiling. Then she saw another man appear in the corner of her eye, who seemed to have come from around the back of the house. She had no idea what was going on.
The man at the door handed her a paper saying something about a court order. “Oh yes” she had said still smiling as the men came into her house. She started reading the paper he had given her thinking it was for her divorce. Her heart sank as she realized those men were there to take Eric away from her.
The paper stated from the father that the detectives were to use extreme caution as the mother would resist with violence. That explained the man who had gone around back thinking she would escape out the back door weilding a machine gun or something.
She didnt know what to do. She went in and sat on a chair, put her head in her hands and started crying. If they took her baby away from her, it would kill her. Eric was still eating his bagel and watching his morning show only 2 years old not understanding what was happening.
“Please Mrs. Cole, can you dress the boy for us so we can take him. Im sure if you get a lawyer you will be able to fight this but we have to take the boy with us and give him to his father.” The man spoke as if he were apologizing to her for doing his job.
She called Eric to her and dressed him in a nice pair of blue pants, his favorite sneakers, and nice blue stripped shirt. “Do you need me to pack his clothes for you?” she asked trying to control herself from weeping hysterically more than she already had.
“No, just dressed would be fine, thank you.”
“Eric sweetheart, these nice men are going to take you for a ride.” She hugged him like she would never see him again. “Mommy will see you again soon honey, ok?”
“Ok mommy,” he said excitedly. All he knew was he was going for a ride and he always got excited about that.
Samantha stood on the front porch as she watched the men walk Eric down the sidewalk to his father. Something in her died that day.
That was 35 years ago, she hadnt seen her baby since.
She had fantasiced that when he was 18, Eric would come and see her and they would get to know each other. Her fantacies of him showing up at her door one day had long faded into oblivion.
Rex, his father had also made no legal provision for her to see Eric. Rex had told the court she was an unfit drug user with a tendency towards violence, who associated with men of ill repute. She didnt own any guns and never had. She didnt do drugs and never had. The only man of ill repute she had been involved with was Rex.
Rex had always talked about what a great guy he was, how he had character and morals, how he would always do the right thing, how he was just an all around noble fellow. That turned out to be a facade. After they were married and Eric was born, finances got low and hardships came one after the other. The great guy who would always do the right thing turned into a spoiled brat who blamed her for everything, yelling and throwing temper tantrums at the slightest thing. He was obviously too big of a coward to face up to a little hardship. Samantha loathed him.
She wanted to leave Rex. Her mother kept telling her she should stay. Samantha knew her mothers motives were only that she was afraid she would have to take care of Samantha and a baby. Her mother had never been the kind of woman to put anyone before herself, not even her children. Samantha came to the conclusion that there was not one single person in the whole world who truly cared about her.
As a result, she had taken Eric out of Delaware moving to California. She would have gone to China if she could have afforded it. Turns out China would have been a better choice. She hadn’t told anyone what she was doing or where she was going. Everyone in her family was offended at her because she had left like that. They spoke all kinds of lies and accusations about her. Especially Rex who had to keep his great guy facade up at any cost. Samantha imagined all those things were told to Eric, he probalby thought his mother was an uncaring evil, selfish woman who had abandoned him for a good time. If he only knew how far from the truth it all was.
She did not regret getting away from Rex or her family, but losing Eric had been the cost. Smantha didnt know what she would do if she could do it over again but she knew she would have to be smarter and less naive. Despite it all she had made a good life for herself even as lonely as she had been. She worked hard, her co workers thought highly of her abilities, and her clients paid her well. She laughed as she remembered her mother telling her “You will never make it in this world unless you marry money.”
Samantha got up to pour herself another Scotch, she really should make something to eat before going to bed. There was a knock on the door, probably the maintenace man who was coming to fix the dishwasher. She put the Scotch down and wiped the tears from her face. When she answered the door, there stood a tall handsome man. He was about 6’ 2”. He had a thick crop of brown hair and his eyes were a familiar blue.
‘Samantha Cole?” he asked.
“Yes”, she said curious.
The young man smiled. “Im your son, Eric Cole.”