tagNon-EroticThe Long Road Back Ch. 03

The Long Road Back Ch. 03


I stopped talking. I didn't know what to say. I could hear mom weeping but I didn't look at her. I understood now why she did what she did. But that didn't mean that I had completely forgiven her for sending me away.

I felt Hawk squeeze my hand and looked at him. He just looked at me sadly but didn't say anything. Then I did what I wasn't sure if I really wanted to do. I looked over at Robert.

It was like his face was made out of stone. There was no expression on his face whatsoever. His eyes met mine but he didn't blink. Didn't move a muscle. I tried to determine what he was thinking. Was he thinking about that day? Did he regret not doing anything? I searched his face, looking for answers, needing answers. Answers I knew I wouldn't find.

Finally I pulled my eyes away from his and looked down at John lying against my chest. His eyes were closed and he was breathing deeply. I looked over at Jeff. He had my mother in his arms and was just holding her as she cried. I forced myself to look at him. I knew if I looked at her I would start crying to. "Jeff. Is there someplace I can put John. He fell asleep and my arm is asleep."

Jeff looked over at me. Slowly he pushed mom away from him and stood up. "Yea, we can put him on the couch in the study. I would suggest putting him in one of the bedrooms but I'm sure you want him close." I nodded and moved John carefully in my arms. It was then that I noticed Hawk standing in front of me. I looked up at him with a question in my eyes.

"Let me take him. I promise nothing will happen to him." I looked at him for another minute then reluctantly handed my son to him. I watched as Hawk and Jeff walked out of the room then looked back at the floor. I heard; more then saw the two men come back into the room.

I heard Hawk move his chair closer to mine and then felt his arm go around my shoulders pulling me close to him. I breathed in his scent as I laid my head against his chest and closed my eyes. I wanted to forget the world existed. I wanted to hide in Hawk's arms and know that everything would be okay. But there was still a lot of my story to be told. So reluctantly, I pulled away slightly and began to talk.

"I didn't say anything on the trip for about the first 15 or 20 minutes. I was still trying to digest the fact that my mother was sending me away. I looked out the dashboard window at the lowering sun.

Looking down at my watch I was surprised to see it was after six. No wonder my stomach was growling. I rubbed my stomach and looked over at Mrs. Jenkins. I just stared at her for a minute then looked out the window on my side of the car and watched the 'Now leaving Sacramento' sign fly by. "Where are we going?" I asked surprised to hear a quiver in my voice.

Mrs. Jenkins looked over at me and smiled softly. She reached out and touched my arm almost lovingly and it took me a minute to choke back the tears that threatened to fall. "It's okay dear. Everything will work out." I watched her pull onto I-5 south and asked my question again. "Where are we going?"

She was quiet for a minute and I thought she wasn't going to answer. Finally she did. "There is a nice couple who live in Las Angeles that said they would take you in."

"LA?"I practically screamed. "But that's so far." I knew there weren't any places for me to go in Sacramento but there were plenty of places between here and LA.

There was Stockton, Modesto, hell even San Jose wouldn't be bad. I tried to point this out to her but she just held up her hand never taking her eyes off the road.

"Your mother requested that you be place at least 3 to 4 hours away. That way if you decided to run away you would have less chance of finding your way back home before the police caught up to you." She looked at me then. "I think you will be very happy with this couple that I am taking you to."

I looked at her in shock. Mom had requested this. She didn't want me close by? "I....I don't understand." I said weakly.

Mrs. Jenkins looked at me and for the first time I saw compassion in her aging eyes. "I don't know for sure why your mother requested this. I do know that she wants you to get help and she wanted to get you as far away from the people who are supplying you as you can."

I stared out the windshield, watching the sun slowly move beyond the clouds on its nightly descent. "It'll be dark soon." I said in a low monotone.

"Yes I know." Mrs. Jenkins said, "We aren't going to go all the way through tonight. If we had started earlier I would, but as late as it is getting, we will stop and get a hotel room for the night and continue on into LA in the morning."

We passed the exits showing Stockton and Tracy but I barely noticed. "I'm hungry." I said finally after what seemed like forever's worth of silence.

"We will be stopping for food soon."

I looked over at her and watched the way the setting sun sparkled on her graying hair. Then I turned and looked out the window.

About a half hour or so later, we pulled off the highway into a small town called Patterson. We pulled into a truck stop parking lot and I slowly got out of the car. I wanted to run. I wanted to cry. But instead I did neither. I silently followed Mrs. Jenkins into the restaurant.

After we ordered, I took a drink of my water and looked at my case manager. It was then that I realized I didn't have any clothes or my favorite teddy bear that I had slept with every night since my dad left. "We have to go back." I said practically frantic.

Mrs. Jenkins looked at me and put her hand over mine. "Crystal, everything will work out. I promise."

"No...No...we have to go back. I don't have any clothes or other things that I need." I practically pleaded.

Mrs. Jenkins smiled softly. "The Mason's will buy you clothes and everything else you need."

I looked up at her. The Mason's would buy me clothes? "But I need my teddy bear. The bear I have slept with since my father left. I can't sleep without him."

She looked at me slowly with sorrow but determination in her eyes. "The Mason's can get you a new teddy bear if you want."

"No...No...I need that one. My dad got it for me when I was five. I need it." I practically screamed. I knew people were staring at us but I didn't care.

Mrs. Jenkins looked at me sternly. "I know this is hard for you. But we are not going back. You will just have to accept things as they are now. Like it or not." Her voice had a tone of finality to it and I just shrunk back in the booth seat and laid my head against the top of it.

I closed my eyes and didn't notice that the food had arrived until Mrs. Jenkins told the waitress thank you. I looked down at my cheeseburger and fries and then laid my head back down and closed my eyes again. I suddenly didn't have an appetite.

"Starving yourself won't get you home any quicker." Mrs. Jenkins said after she had swallowed a bite of her chicken cordon bleu.

I opened my eyes and looked at her. Then sighing I leaned forward, put ketchup on my burger and fries and took a bite. The food tasted like sawdust in my mouth but I continued to eat it. I had eaten about half the burger and maybe 10 of the fries, when my stomach rebelled.

Leaping up from the table I rushed to the bathroom and barely made it to the toilet before the food came back up.

I knelt in front of the toilet for a minute until I heard a voice outside the stall door. "Crystal? Are you alright?"

I laid my head against the cool chrome then forced myself to my feet. Flushing the toilet, I opened the stall door and walked past Mrs. Jenkins on my way to the sink. I quickly washed my hands and threw cold water on my face.

When I looked in the mirror I barely recognized myself. My blondish brown hair hung down my back in tangles, my eyes were dark with pain.

I heard Mrs. Jenkins come up behind me and put her hand on my shoulder. I wanted to cry at the unfairness of it all. I wanted to scream. But there were no tears to be shed. Only emptiness inside me.

I ran my fingers through my hair trying to untangle it, when I felt a hairbrush pushed gently into my hand. I looked down at it then over to Mrs. Jenkins. I smiled my thanks and started untangling my hair. In moments it flowed around my shoulders in waves. I was so proud of my hair. My boyfriend Terry had told me that it was my best feature.

I turned around to hand Mrs. Jenkins her brush back and was surprised to see a hair tie in her hand. I took it slowly and looked at her as she took the brush and put it in her purse.

"With the windows down in the summer wind, it will make a mess of your hair. It is so pretty, I don't think you want to untangle it again." She reached up and touched my hair then slowly let her hand drop to her side. I smiled at her slowly, and then pulled my hair back into a ponytail. After it was secure I moved towards the bathroom door. Right before I reached it, I turned back to Mrs. Jenkins. "Mrs. Jenkins..." I began.

She held up her hand. "Please, call me Marie. We are away from your mother's house now and will be in each others company for quite a while. We don't need to be so formal."

"Marie..." I said not sure I liked the idea of calling her by her first name. "Um...I know you are just doing your job and I wanted to say thank you. I'm sorry I have been such a pest."

Marie chuckled. "Compared to some of my other foster children, you have been a ray of sunshine." I smiled at her. "Do you feel like finishing your dinner?" She asked brushing a stray piece of hair off my forehead.

I reached a hand down to my stomach which was still reeling. "I don't think I can handle any more food right now. My stomach is protesting most vehemenently."

"No problem dear, we'll just get a take out carton and take it with us in case you get hungry later."

I nodded and followed her out of the bathroom.

I sat and looked out the window at the darkening sky as Marie finished her dinner. I took a few drinks of my soda but didn't touch the food on my plate. When we had my food in a take out box and had paid the check. We made our way back out to the car.

We had been on the road about 15 minutes when I looked over at Marie again. She had her eyes on the road and a few minutes before had turned on the radio to a soft country station. Some man was singing about love and I just sighed. "What are Mr. and Mrs. Mason like?" I figured if I had to live with these people I should know a little bit about them.

Marie never took her eyes off the road but started talking in a slow, low voice, as if she was talking to a small child.

"Nancy and Andrew Mason are very nice people. She is 37 and he is 42. They don't have any children of their own although their last foster child just left about six months ago.

They live in a modest house, not in the poor side of town but not in the richest either." She looked over at me as if to register my reaction but I showed no feelings one way or the other on my face so she continued.

"They live in a small 3 bedroom ranch style house. It is a nice neighborhood where they live and the local high school is only about 5 blocks away."

I looked out the window. "Are they kind?"

I felt Marie's eyes on me but continued to look out the window. "They can be strict when they have to be. But for the most part yes they are kind." I felt like her eyes were boring into the side of my head but I didn't look at her. "You won't be able to manipulate them or walk all over them if that is what you are thinking. They have been taking in foster children for the past 10 years and know how to handle a rambunctious one."

This made me look at her. "I won't give them any trouble. I just wanted to know what kind of people they were."

The scowl and the hard look in Marie's eyes left her face and were replaced with compassion. "I'm sure you will dear." She reached out and grasped my hand in hers and gave it a little squeeze. I just smiled at her softly then turned back and looked out the window again.


I opened my eyes and looked out the window as I felt the car slow down. Looking around I noticed we were outside a small hotel. It looked to have maybe 20 rooms if even that many. Marie pulled up in front of the office and turned off the car then left the car to get us a room while I stretched and yawned. I didn't realize I had fallen asleep. I had finally relaxed after Marie told me about Mr. and Mrs. Mason.

She came out a few minutes later with a key in her hand and pulled the car over in front of number 16. I watched as she turned off the engine then slowly got out of the car. "Where are we?" I asked as I waited for her to unlock the door.

"Just outside Bakersfield, It's a little after ten in case you were wondering." I looked down at my watch but couldn't see the numbers in the little light that shown from the porch light.

I looked up as she opened the door and slowly followed her into the room. It was a nice room. Small, but clean. There were two double beds against one wall with a TV sitting on a dresser across from them. There was a small table with two chairs sitting off in one corner and I noticed a small nightstand between the two beds. I walked over to a half opened door and looked into a small but tastefully decorated bathroom. There was a small sink behind the door next to the toilet and a shower stall against the other wall.

I moved back into the main room and watched Marie drop her purse, a small duffle bag and a briefcase she had brought from the car onto the bed closest to the door. It was obvious she didn't trust me not to try to run tonight. I had no intention of running. Mom had made it perfectly clear she didn't want me there when she had sent me away and I wasn't going back to somewhere where I wasn't wanted.

I looked around the room again, then flopped down on the other bed and lay back against the pillows. "There are some things we need to discuss before we arrive at the Mason's tomorrow." Marie said in her business like tone. I looked over at her but didn't say anything. "If you would like to take a shower first we can conduct the business when you get done."

"I don't have anything to wear." I said once again realizing how vulnerable I was.

Marie picked up the duffle bag and threw it at me. Out of reflex I caught it. "There is a serviceable nightgown and a pair of underwear, bra, jeans and a t-shirt in there for you."

I looked down at the bag in my hand. "How...when?" I stammered.

"While you were sleeping, I stopped at a small town on the way at the local Walmart. I picked you up some things. I figured you would want to freshen up before you meet you foster parents tomorrow." She looked well satisfied with herself. It made me sick and I looked down at the bag in my hands again.

My hands shaking, I slowly pulled back the zipper on the bag until it was open fully. Reaching in I pulled out a plain, cotton nightgown that would rest against my neck and I knew without even looking at it that it would reach down to my feet. I had never worn anything like this in my life and almost chuckled. Instead I put it down on the bed beside me and reached into the bag again almost afraid that everything else would be like the nightgown.

I pulled out a pair of underwear. They weren't silk or anything but serviceable cotton. They were blue with butterflies on them. I looked at the size and was surprised to see they were my size. I put the underwear down on top of the nightgown and reached into the bag again.

This time I pulled out a black sports bra, nothing special. I set it down and reached into the bag again suddenly curious about what else it held.

I pulled out a greenish blue shirt, with red ¾ length sleeves. Turning it around I read what it said. "The pride of the Irish." I chuckled a bit at the irony since I was in fact part Irish and put it with the underclothes and the nightgown. Almost afraid to wonder what she would get as far as jeans went I put my hand into the bag once again. They were nice jeans. They weren't the most expensive or even the latest style but they had a quality that I liked.

There was a butterfly on the right pocket and two more butterflies stitched on the back pockets in beads. I looked up at Marie and smiled. "Thank you. How did you know I like butterflies?"

Marie just looked at me. "Your mom took me up to your room before you got home. I like to go into a foster child's room and try to get an impression of what they like. It usually helps to make the transition easier." She smiled faintly. "I saw your room was covered in butterflies."

I blushed. I had five figurines of butterflies that my dad had brought me home from business trips, pictures taken from magazines of different varieties of butterflies and even a few pictures of butterflies I had won over the past few years at the county fair.

They were my most prized possessions besides the picture I kept by my bed of my mom, dad, Robert and I at the beach taken a couple of years ago." As I thought about that picture and how it had been left behind with everything else I closed my eyes as they filled up with tears. I quickly brushed them away and put the pants down on top of the other clothes. "Thank you." I said again without looking at her.

"Your welcome."

"Um...how did you know my size?" I asked finally looking over at her."

She looked at me straightforwardly and said without emotion. "Your mother told me."

I nodded as I swallowed back my tears. Quickly pushing the jeans and t-shirt off to the side, I picked up the nightgown and underwear and rushed into the bathroom. As I stood under the hot water letting it rush over my body, I let the tears I had held back for so long finally fall.

I moved back into the room. I was right about the nightgown and watched it move around my ankles. I looked over at the bed and saw a brush laying on it. I turned to look at Marie but she was looking at some papers from her briefcase.

I sat down on the bed and put the clothes I had been wearing hurriedly into the duffel bag and zipped it up. Then I looked over at the jeans, t-shirt and bra still lying on the bed where I had left them after I pulled them out of the bag.

I looked down at the duffel bag in my lap. I didn't want to put the new clothes in with my dirty ones. So I carefully folded them and put them on the other side of the bed away from the side I would be sleeping.

I heard papers rustling but didn't look at Marie, I glanced over at the TV while I brushed out my hair and saw that some old movie was on. "You can change it if you want to."

I was startled when I heard Marie's voice and looked over at her. "No...no, it's fine. I don't really watch much TV."

She nodded at me and scribbled on the piece of paper in front of her. I had a feeling she was writing down what she knew about me to tell the Mason's.

I finished brushing my hair and let it fall loosely over my shoulders, letting the light air conditioning in the room dry it. I watched the television for a few minutes until I felt Marie's eyes on me again. I moved back further onto the bed and curled my feet beneath me in an Indian style position letting the nightgown fall graciously over my lap.

"As I said before there are a few things we need to discuss before we arrive at our destination tomorrow." I heard the businesslike tone in her voice and just nodded. Not sure I was gonna like whatever it was she had to say.

"Good." She rustled some papers on her lap then turned her eyes back to me. "Very well let's get this over with." I winced. "First off; you will have a curfew. You are to be in the house no later then 10:00 on weeknights and midnight on the weekends. It doesn't matter if it is during the school year or not. Until such time as you turn 18 which will be in a little less then a year." She looked down at the papers in her lap. "March 22nd if I am not mistaken." She looked at me. I realized she was waiting for a yes or no so I just nodded.

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