tagSci-Fi & FantasyA Beautiful Wish Ch. 06

A Beautiful Wish Ch. 06


Chapter 6: Mother's Love

George ran to the house in a panic. A million worst-case scenarios flashed through his mind, visions of blood, chalk-lines, his mother, dead. He burst through the open threshold expecting to see a scene out of a bloody cop drama. Instead he could hear is mother's distraught voice tearfully giving someone a description of George. He followed the voice to the kitchen where she was listing off George's physical attributes to a young patrolman while another was examining the pile of smashed dishes on the floor next to the breakfast table.

As he came into view Jessica gasped, leapt from her chair, and smothered him in a motherly embrace.

Sobbing, she cried, "Thank God, oh thank God!"

George was relieved but confused. A moment before he had been imaging the worst and now, while relieved, he wondered what could have happened to put his mother in such a state. Had they been robbed? Were his sisters alright?

In any case, his mother's tight hug was making him uncomfortable and he disengaged from her as gently as he could. "What happened?" he asked.

She wiped her bleary eyes as she answered, "Someone... someone broke in. I thought... I came home...." she visibly took hold of herself and with forced calm said, "I walked in and saw all this and called for you. When you didn't answer I feared the worst."

Burglarized? He had only been gone a couple of hours, three tops. He scanned his surroundings for signs that the house had been ransacked, but the only damage had come from his earlier romps with Dawn.

Then it hit him. That was what she was referring too, he and Dawn had left the house to go shopping without cleaning up the disaster left behind after their last escapade in the kitchen. The pantry had been almost completely emptied, the sink was filled with dirty pots, and even though the perishables had been put away, most of the food he bought was sitting around the kitchen in flimsy grocery bags.

"W-what did they steal?" he asked, already knowing the answer.

"Just a few of your father's clothes. I don't understand what someone would want with them though. They must be over ten years..." Jessica paused as she realized what George was wearing, "George, where did you get those clothes?"

"I, uh, borrowed them from your closet," he replied sheepishly. There was no use in being coy, she would put the two and two together on her own, but George couldn't help it. He knew this wasn't going to end well.

Her expression began to change as she started to get a glimmer of what had really happened. Her lips stiffened into a thin frown, her soft brown eyes narrowed, and her face went from hot anger to hurt to disappointment. Despite her obvious disapproval she asked calmly, "George, please tell me why you would..." she stopped.

George felt Dawn's gentle hands wind their way around his arm. She looked at Jessica square, not flinching or embarrassed, merely making her presence known. She exuded a quiet bravery, at peace with the fact that this could not be avoided. George was in trouble and she was putting herself in the line of fire. George was sure that if she only knew how terrifying his mother could become when she was truly angry, she'd be shaking in her booty shorts. However, he noticed that Dawn had traded in her much too short shorts for a pair of capris, along with a bra. She was definitely the smarter of the two of them, he thought.

"I see. Officers," she said quietly, "you can go now. I'm sorry to have wasted your time."

"Ma'am, are you sure this is your son?" asked the officer who had been taking down George's description. He stared at his notepad, then back up to George with a confused look on his face.

She merely scowled at him.

Not needing to be told twice, the two men headed for the door. One of them put a hand on George's shoulder and whispered, "Good luck." The sentiment didn't make him feel any better.

Jessica moved to the stove, where a kettle of water was beginning to steam. "Would you like some tea?" she asked quietly.

George was too petrified to answer, but Dawn immediately stepped forward. He screamed in his head Don't take the tea! She's going to tear us a new asshole! Don't take the tea!

"Yes, thank you, I would love some," said Dawn. George cringed.

Jessica's hands were shaking as she reached for two mugs from a nearby cupboard. "How do you take it?" she asked.

"Um, however you take it. I have not had much tea."

Jessica began to pour, but the heavy kettle slipped and splashed boiling water on her hand. She dropped the mug and it smashed to the floor with a sharp ceramic shatter. "Goddamnit!" cursed Jessica as she nursed her scalded hand. She knelt down to pick up the pieces.

Dawn immediately threw her purse on the table and moved to help with the cleanup. George was tempted to help as well, but he knew from experience that when his mother was this pissed he should keep his distance and wait for her to tell him what to do. He noticed that some of the contents of Dawn's purse had spilled across the table. There was a half-used Chapstick, a few dollars with some change, and a few crumpled gum wrappers. There were all typical things George knew would be in a woman's purse. But what truly surprised him was the book that Dawn had stashed inside earlier. It was a collection of stories by H. P. Lovecraft. He thought it was an odd selection for her first read, but figured she was probably mislead by the author's name.

The women finished cleaning up the mess in silence, until Jessica added a very curt, "Thank you." She went back to making the tea and Dawn quietly moved to the kitchen table and sat down. George sat next to her as far from his mom as he could get.

"So, I'm George's mother, Jessica. And you are?" she said as she finished making the tea and placed a mug in front of Dawn. Her anger over the situation was barely hidden behind a thin veneer of civility.

"It is very nice to finally meet you Mrs. Everhart. My name is Dawn," she said as she noticed the contents of her purse spewed across the table. She scrambled to cram everything back inside.

"Dawn, what?" asked Jessica as she sat down.

Dawn's face turned ghostly white as she struggled to come up with a satisfactory answer. George's mind went into overdrive as his eye's darted around the room for a something to remind him of a name. Suddenly, he caught sight of the book Dawn had been trying to push back into her purse. He just blurted out, "Lovecraft! Dawn Lovecraft." He regretted it as soon as he said it. How cliché could you get? But it was out there now, and there was no explainable way of taking it back. Under the table, Dawn's hand crawled into his. She didn't look directly at him, but he could tell that she approved.

"That's an... interesting name," said Jessica as she sipped her tea. "Well, George, I guess if I'm going to really understand why you decided to freak me out like this, you'd better start from the beginning."

George sighed heavily as he searched his thoughts for a place to begin. As he hesitated, Dawn started to explain, "Well, you see, I was..."

Jessica cut across her, "Thank you Miss Lovecraft, but if you don't mind I would like to hear his explanation first."

Dawn deflated in her chair and squeezed George's hand tightly. She was beginning to understand what George already knew, his mom was nobody to bullshit. He entwined his fingers with hers and gave her a gentle squeeze. You're worth even this, he thought.

"I was at work," he started, "I was having a really shitty day. I was late, Rocko punched me in the face, and Linda made me stay for the late shift."

"Wait, Rocko punched you? Why?" said Jessica, a look of concern momentarily breaking through her anger.

"Why does Rocko do anything? Because he's a fucking jerk, that's why." The memories of that day aroused a fury inside of George that he had forgotten about since Dawn's emergence, but he hadn't meant to test the limits of his mother's understanding at the moment. Jessica wasn't fazed by his harsh language. Instead she cursed something under her breath.

"Anyway, I was sitting by myself, just like I always do, thinking about how much I hated my life. I thought about quiting. I... I thought about... lots of things, when Dawn walked in."

Dawn stayed quiet as this was the first time she had heard George speak of the events leading up to the discovery of her vessel. She hung her head low and locked her eyes on their joined hands. She caressed his index finger with her own.

"She didn't work there or go to school there, but all she wanted was a swim, and I needed some company. So, I let her in. We talked for a while. She told me about herself. She's from Phoenix, she just graduated high school, she was looking into colleges, and... she liked me." Dawn's hand squeezed his like she would never let go. Jessica listened intently and said nothing.

"I like her," he glanced over at Dawn and made a quick, meaningful, eye contact. "She's new in town and needs a place to stay. So I let her stay here. And, I don't want her to leave."

"I see," said Jessica as she reached an understanding. She turned to Dawn, "So is that your scam then? You find someone vulnerable, then get a few nights under a roof, steal everything of value and move on?"

"N-no that is not..." cried Dawn. George stopped her. Now he was angry, and he didn't care if it was his mother who said it or Adolf Hitler. She had no right.

"Mom, I know I fucked up. And I'm sorry for that. You can yell at me, punish me, ground me till the end of time, but don't talk to her that way." It was all he could do not to scream at her, but Dawn's touch kept him grounded and prevented him from saying something he would probably regret later. "If you have any faith in me at all, you'll trust me that she isn't like that."

"And you know this, how?" she asked incredulously. "I love you, but we both know that you aren't very experienced when it comes to this. For all you know she could be on the run, or worse!"

"So far, all she's done is be polite to you! You're always telling me to see the good in people, to give them the benefit of the doubt. Why is it any different when I finally bring a girl home?"

"Oh c'mon, George! Who goes across the country, by themselves, without some plan as to where they are going to stay? I suppose she doesn't have any money either. I taught you to be smarter than that."

"First of all, she has no family, she grew up in an orphanage. Secondly, I don't have any money either. Only what you gave me, and she hasn't so much as looked at it!" He took a sharp breath to calm himself. "I understand why you are upset with me, but why are you taking it out on her?

Jessica looked away from him. She looked ashamed and confused, but still very angry. "Fine, in the interest of finding out why my kitchen looks like the aftermath of a natural disaster, let's assume you're right and move on. "

Don't say something you'll regret he thought. He found it impossible to hide his scowl. "Fine. She spent the night, the next day we hung out and got hungry. We were looking for something to eat but there wasn't much, so we got a little creative." He paused as he struggled to keep his explanation strictly PG, "But we got carried away. I had meant to clean it up before you got back. I thought you weren't coming home until tomorrow, so I wasn't worried about it. Why are you home so early anyway?"

"That investment I had been tracking turned out to be a bunch of bullshit. Run by two college kids who were trying to run a scam, so I came home early. I figured you would be lonely here by yourself, so I was going to surprise you. I didn't realize you had found ways to... entertain yourself."

"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked pointedly.

"Nothing," she said with a dismissive wave. She took another big sip of her tea.

George continued, "As I was saying, I remembered that you asked me to go food shopping, so we went this afternoon. But I didn't have any clean clothes that would fit me. I found these in your closet. I'm sorry, I didn't know... that you still kept his things. I should have asked."

Jessica looked away in an attempt to hide the sudden swell of emotions that made her begin to tear up, "Yeah, well, if you would do your part and keep your room cleaned up, and put your dirty clothes in the laundry room, you wouldn't need to go through my closet."

"You know, you're right," he admitted. She was trying to change the subject away from what was really bothering her, George could tell, but she echoed what George had only recently come to realize. "I need to take better care of myself, and my things. I will, from now on."

"So, thats it," said George, "after we finished shopping we dropped off the food and went to Walt's for lunch. Then we stopped at a store on the way back. When I saw the police car, and your car, I thought something really terrible happened. I bet I was just as freaked out as you were."

"Well, I didn't think about it that way." She took a deep breath along with another sip of her tea. "Maybe I overreacted a little. I just... when I saw the house like this... and you weren't around... I suppose I should have noticed that your car wasn't here, but I just panicked." she wiped a tear forming at the corner of her eye.

"I'm sorry mom, I didn't mean to scare you. Things have happened kinda fast around here. I wasn't thinking."

"Alright," said Jessica, her anger dissipating, "you are going to clean up this mess though, right?"

George nodded.

"Okay. I'm sorry I scared you and I'm sorry I overreacted. I should have had a little more faith in you." She reached for Georges hand from across the table and gave it a reassuring pat, before finishing her tea. "Now, George, will you leave the room please? Miss Lovecraft and I need to have a chat."

George and Dawn cast quick nervous looks to one another. "Um, why?" asked George.

"If I'm going to let a stranger stay in my house, I'll need to interview them first. I think thats fair, isn't it?"

Dawn squeezed George's hand so tightly he thought his fingers might pop off. He had faith that Dawn would be okay, but he hadn't planned on throwing her to the wolf so soon. He stroked her hand reassuringly, "I'll be upstairs then."

He leaned over and kissed Dawn on her temple, then he stood and headed for the stairs. He made a lot of noise as he pounded his way up, and shut his bedroom door, but it was only so that his mother would believe he was out of earshot. He moved back down the stairs very slowly and quietly, until he was sitting on the bottom step. With his new body, moving silently was much easier. He couldn't see them, but he could hear them perfectly.

He could hear his mother getting herself another cup of tea. "How's your tea?" asked Jessica.

"Oh!" She sipped fast, "Wow, this is delicious! What did you put in it?"

"Just some milk and a little honey. I have a cup or two every night. It helps me unwind."

They sat in silence for a few moments, save for the sound of tea cups rattling on saucers. It seemed neither knew how to begin. In one corner was the reigning female champion in George's life, and in the other was the challenger threatening to disrupt the status quo. His mother had always tried to encourage him to be better, to get out in the world and mix it up, to chase his dreams. But to have the fruits of her encouragement sitting across the table from her must have been quite a shock. George wasn't sure for whom he felt more sympathy: Dawn and her inexperience, or his mother with her own.

"Well then, I'll just come out and ask it. Are you two sexually active?"

George would have spit out his tea if he were drinking it. Dawn however, seemed unaffected, "Yes, we are."

"Are you using protection?"

"Yes." George forgave her for telling a half-truth. The protection she was speaking of came from no normal means of prophylactics. "And there is no worry of disease, George was my first."

"You'll pardon me if I find that hard to believe."

Another uncalled for remark. Why was she acting so cruel? There was silence for a few moments, George could hear Dawn sipping her tea again. "There is nothing that I can say that will make you believe me at this point. But I think that you will find, in time, that I am trustworthy."

Another pause. He heard Jessica stand up, along with a frustrated sigh. He could hear her fumbling with some dishes in the sink. Then she stopped, "You know, I really thought this would be easier. I've always wanted George to find a nice girl. It's just, George has been through a lot. Not just with the teasing and the whole embittered geek thing he has going on. I mean real trauma."

"And you think, that I am going to build him up with false affection, and then leave him?"

"It isn't fair to assume that. But that's how I feel. I can see how he looks at you. I haven't seen him act like that... well, ever. If you take that away from him I'm afraid I'll lose him forever.

I'm not foolish enough to think that I can stop you two from going down whatever road you've already chosen. But please, if you aren't a hundred percent serious about this, leave now. I'll blame it on me, that I drove you away. I'd rather that he hate me then have whatever is left of his soul be crushed by a passing fling."

Dawn paused to sip some more tea before answering, "Mrs. Everhart, I appreciate your caution and your obvious concern for George's well-being. I wish... I wish I had a mother who cared for me like that. But George isn't some scam to me, or a fling, nor is he a guy I can change if I work hard at it." Her voice began to crack as she became more impassioned. "I love your son. I will always love him," George could tell that she was trying very hard not to cry. "P-please believe me."

Hang in there, thought George. His heart ached to be with her.

"Have you told George, that you love him?"

"Yes," whispered Dawn.

The dishes Jessica was washing made louder clinking noises, like they were being pushed around forcefully. "Then there's no turning back now. What did he say?" said Jessica, defeat evident in her voice.

"He didn't say anything, but, he cried."

"Wow," she sounded genuinely astonished, "that's way more than I've ever got out of him."

"What do you mean?"

"I must have told him that I loved him a thousand times, but he always waves me off. No 'thanks', or 'I know', or 'I love you too'. It's like he thinks I'm just kidding. But you actually made him cry?"

"Yes. He wouldn't let me say it at first, but I felt like I had to. He needed to know. And then I said it and he broke down. I may not understand why George feels the way he does, but I do understand what he is feeling. I know how much it means to him to hear that we love him. I would never say it unless I really meant it."

Jessica was moving around the kitchen now, opening and closing cupboards as she put food away. "You know, I can't remember the last time I saw George cry, or laugh, or smile. "

"Mrs. Everhart, why does George have such a hard time telling someone he loves them?"

George panicked. Please don't tell her, mom! She'll never look at me the same way again! Please don't tell her about dad!

Jessica stopped roaming around the kitchen and sat down. There was a pregnant pause as she searched for a way to explain. "George's father, Henry...," she said sadly, "he died a while back. Let's just say, it had a profound impact on George. He was only eight at the time."

Dawn started to ask something presumably, but Jessica stopped her, "It really isn't for me to say. It should be him who tells you, not me."

George, on the verge crashing the conversation, felt a sudden wave of relief.

"Anyway, after that he changed. He used to be so happy, he was a handful let me tell you. He and his father were so close, more like best friends than anything. And when Henry died, much of George died with him. I tried everything I could think of to help him: therapy, drugs, I even remarried... nothing worked."

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