Story 98

In continuation of Story 97.

“Mom” she heard her son call out to her.
She opened her eyes and looked around. She stepped out of the bathtub, wrapped a towel around herself and walked out.
“Coming” she called out as she got dressed and walked to her son’s room.
“What happened?” she said sitting next to him on his bed.
“I had a bad dream.” He said as he sat straight in bed and hugged her.
“It’s okay, I am right here. Now, go to bed.” She said as she ran her fingers through her son’s hair.
She put him back to bed and walked out of his room.
Back in her room, she slid into bed and fell asleep immediately.

The next day she woke up when she heard her son screaming. She rushed to his room to see that he was sweating profusely. She tried to wake him up as he continued screaming. He was having a nightmare, again. These nightmares had started recently when they had started visiting her ex. He did not remember the nightmares, he told her and she did not force him to recollect. She did not want him to go through it again. Unfortunately, he had these nightmares often.
She wondered whether they would stop if she stopped visiting her ex. She wondered whether she should tell her ex about the nightmares and whether he would understand and care? Maybe he would, since he loved his son as much as she did.

She wiped the sweat from his forehead and ran her fingers through his hair matted with sweat.
“Wake up, honey” she whispered in his ears and he opened his eyes and wrapped his arms around her neck. She picked him up and took him to the bathroom. She took off the sweaty clothes and gave him a bath and then watched him as he brushed his teeth.
She came to the kitchen to ready breakfast as her son got ready to go to school.
She was still in her PJ’s when the school bus arrived. She saw her son off and returned back to the empty house.
Even though she did not admit to anyone, there were moments when she felt lonely. She had never considered dating anyone else after the divorce, she had dedicated her time to taking care of her son.
It was not so much about the sex as it was about needing someone to wrap his arms around her and comfort her.

She ate her breakfast and got ready to go to the office. She checked her mobile and found a good morning message from her ex. She did not reply.
At work, she tried to put all thoughts out of her mind as she concentrated in the preparation for a presentation but she could not stop worrying about the nightmares. She needed to talk to someone about them. Maybe, the school counsellor, she thought. I hope the counsellor would give her some advice to put an end to the nightmares. She knew what the counsellor would say was the reason for the nightmares.
There had to be some option, apart from the obvious.
She worried that if her son had nightmares when he saw his father sick, how would he cope with the death of his father?
She jolted out of her thoughts as she felt a hand over her shoulder.
“Everything alright?” her colleague asked.
“Yes” she lied.

There were times when she had considered talking to this colleague of hers. He occupied the cubicle next to hers. He brought her coffee every day. They often ate their lunch together. He was more than a colleague. He was a friend. For him, it was more than friendship. He had asked her on a date couple of times and she had politely refused. He had taken the rejection with a smile. He continued being friends with her, he continued bringing her coffee; she knew, it was all in the hope that she would reconsider her decision.

Maybe, she should, she thought. Give it a try and see if it worked. He knew that she had a son, he knew that her son was her priority. He had made his feelings clear. It was to be understood that he was willing to accept her son as a part of her life.
It was only one dinner, she told herself. If he asked again, she would say yes, she decided.

“It’s time, we should go.” He said and she looked at him, clueless.
“The presentation?” he said, raising his eyebrows.
“Oh yes, right” she said and got up.

They had lunch together during the lunch break. He asked her how her ex was. What did her son think about the whole arrangement and she told him all about it! She even told him about the nightmares. And, talking to someone felt good.
She knew he would not have any solutions, but he helped by listening and that made a lot of difference.
She told him that she had considered talking to the school counsellor.
“Talk to your ex, tell him about the nightmares.” He told her.
She nodded.

On her way back from work, she picked her son from school.
“How was your day?” She asked him.
“Good” he replied, looking out of the window.
She did not like that her son was not making eye contact with her while talking.
Maybe, there was more going on in his mind. She had to talk to him before talking to her ex. She had to know what was bothering him.
“Let’s get some ice-cream” she said stopping her car in front of the ice-cream parlor.
Her son climbed out of the car without saying a word.
“Talk to me” she said as they sat at the table waiting for the ice-cream.
“About what?” her son asked her.
“Anything. Whatever you want to talk about.” She said.
He made a half-hearted attempt to tell her about his day at school.
“Do you remember the nightmare?” she asked him, hoping that it would not back-fire.
“I do not remember.” He replied, calmly. That alarmed her.

She had to talk to her ex about this. Preferably, when her son was not around. They visited twice a week. She decided to change the schedule. She had to meet as soon as possible.
“Want to visit dad tonight?” she asked her son. “Let’s go for dinner, okay?” she asked.
She could see a hint of happiness on his face.
“But we visited yesterday. Can we do it again today?” he asked
“Yes, why not? Let’s go.” She said.
“Okay” he said
They finished their ice-cream in silence. She got into the car and decided to text her husband that he wanted to talk and she was visiting for dinner. She picked up her mobile but saw that the battery had died.
She decided to visit without calling.

Going back home and then going to her ex’s house did not make sense; so, she drove directly to his house. She parked the car at her regular spot and got out. Her son was asleep in the back seat. Good, she thought.
She could put her son to bed in his old bedroom; her ex and she could then talk in the living room. She picked her son in her arms and walked towards the house. She climbed the steps to the porch and was about to ring the doorbell when she saw her. The same woman she had seen in her bedroom. The same woman she had caught her ex having sex with. He was sitting at the dining table and she was serving dinner to him. She did not know what to do. Should she ring the doorbell or should she walk back to the car and drive back home?

She took a step back from the door and turned around to go when she heard the door being opened. She turned back and saw the woman, up close. The woman invited her in. She stepped in and without saying a word she climbed the steps to her son’s bedroom and opened the door. There was someone else sleeping in her son’s bed. A girl. Obviously, the woman’s daughter.

The tears threatened to flow but she did not give in. She took a deep breath and walked back down. Her ex and the woman both stared at her as she put her son on the couch.
“We need to talk.” She said, coming straight to the point.
“Please sit down, I will fix dinner for you.” The woman said. She ignored.
“We need to talk about our son.” She said looking at her ex.
The woman walked past her and went upstairs.

She did not know that her ex was still seeing this woman. The woman was married and for reasons she did not understand, the woman had continued the relationship. She continued cheating on her husband, for all these years. Or perhaps, her husband was out of picture, too; just like she was, she thought. Well, sort of.

“Let’s sit on the porch” her ex said.
Good, she thought. She did not want the woman to listen to the conversation. For some reason, she did not want the woman to know that her son was affected the way he was.
She stepped out and her ex followed. They sat on the chairs and then, she told him about the nightmares, she told him what she thought the reason was. It was obvious that their separation had affected their son and they had to do something about it. She had not told her son about the reason they had walked out of the house, they had not told their son that his father was dying. Obviously, the kid was confused. He had a lot of questions he needed answer to, questions he never asked.

They were his parents, they were supposed to hear the unasked questions, they were supposed to take care of him; they were supposed to shield their son from the bad. But, they had become the reason their son was disturbed.

She wanted to ask her ex about the woman. About what she meant to him, after all these years. Did she visit regularly? Did she make him dinner when she visited? But, she did not ask any questions. She tried her best not to care.
She realized that the reason she never dated anyone was because she still loved this man. This horrible man, who had hurt her badly. This man, who was still in touch with the woman who had ruined her life.

Seeing the woman with her ex had affected her the way she thought was impossible. She was on the verge of crying, she was shattered but she held the pieces together for her son.
Right now, her son needed her. She had to work out something for him.

“What do we do?” she asked. She knew there was nothing she could do alone. She knew she needed him, she was willing to accept it. She was willing, even, to beg for help, if that helped her son.

She waited for response from her ex but he seemed to be lost in thoughts. She would have given anything to get into his head and figure out what he was thinking. Was he going to help her or not?
She felt vulnerable at this moment. She was ashamed that she was not able to take care of her own son.
She should have started dating. Perhaps, things would have been different had she introduced another father figure into her son’s life. Maybe, he would have not missed his father so much, then. She held her head in her hands.
Her ex was silent. Was he really giving it a thought? Or, was he waiting for her to leave? Perhaps, he had plans with the woman.
She should have not come.

“I need to check on him” she said and got up to check on her son. She was alarmed when she did not see him on the couch. She pushed the door and rushed back inside. She looked around the house and then climbed up the stairs to see her son standing outside his bedroom door. He stood frozen at the door, watching the girl sleeping in his bed and the girl’s mother sitting next to her.

Her son had faced the truth, which was no doubt more disturbing that the nightmares. Her son was now in the same position she was in, when she had seen her ex having sex with the woman. She stepped closer to her son and put a hand on his shoulder.
He turned around, shocked. As he saw his mother, he wrapped his arms around her waist and hid his face in her bosom.
“I want to go home” he said and she picked him up in her arms.

She climbed down the stairs and stepped out of the house onto the porch. Her ex had not gotten up from his chair. How rude, she thought as she looked at him in disgust and climbed down the steps to walk towards the car. That’s when she heard it. The heart-wrenching scream. She turned around to watch the woman hold her ex in arms. She rushed towards the house, her son still in her arms.
The woman was crying out loud, the heart-wrenching scream that had escaped the woman’s lips spoke volumes. She realized that the woman did not merely have an affair, she really loved him.

Her son and she watched from a distance as the woman continued crying, holding the dead man in her arms. Her daughter had woken up, too and was now standing next to the woman. Clueless about what to do.
She put a hand on her son’s shoulder and signaled him to take the girl inside.
She watched as her son held the girl’s hand and stepped inside the house.
She took a step closer and knelt down near her ex and his lover, tears flowing silently.

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