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A Mother's Loss
By Leisa B., Grade 11, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

I sat by the window and observed the people that entered the doughnut shop, most of whom were lonely gentlemen out on an evening stroll. Some were young, some much older and the odd few in between. There was one man whom I recognized from the moment he removed his cap. Richard Hemming was his name and he wore black dress pants, matched with a white collar shirt, navy blue tie and black jacket. His shoes were recently polished and his gold watch caught the light from the overhead. I turned away and stared out the shop window, looking up once or twice to see his reflection in the glass before hurriedly looking away again. That man, with the well paying job, lovely home and car, was a husband, father, and my son. I was embarrassed to even make eye contact with him; it had been far too long, and I doubted he would even know my face. I was afraid he would be ashamed of me and turn me away, just like so many others had done. I looked over my shoulder to see his whereabouts and was surprised to see him standing right there beside me.

"Hello mum." He said quietly. "Mind if I sit?"

Before I gave him an answer he slid into the booth and was now facing me. He placed a warm coffee down in front of himself, and one in front of me. I stared at it blankly then lowered my eyes to my hands which were folded in my lap.

"Can I ask you something, mum?" He inquired, looking through the steam of the coffee he now held close to his face. He took a sip.

Puzzled at how he knew who I was and ashamed to be seen I kept my eyes down, believing it would make me invisible. I nodded.

"Why do you go on like this? Why donít you ever stop by?"

I slowly lifted my eyes to meet his piercing gaze. His face was aging noticeably. Laugh lines creased the sides of his mouth and corners of his eyes. Small wrinkles had formed on his forehead under his receding hairline. His skin had toughened over the years and his 5 oíclock shadow made him appear much older than he was.

"Richard," I began. "You know why I left; you know what I went through living with your father. I have to live like this; what else am I to do? Get a job? Who would hire an old bag lady like me?! Ha, yes stop by, just drop right in!" I could feel tears congest my eyes. "Just drop right in on you and your perfect little family in your nice big home! Wouldnít that be a lovely surprise?!"

"Mum, youíre raising your voice, people are staring."

I used a napkin on the table to dap my eyes.

"Iím sorry, Richard." I hung my head in shame.

He sat there sipping at his coffee and periodically looking at his expensive watch for the time of day. Here I was, sitting in rags across the table from my only son and not one word I had to say to him.

"You know you are welcome in our home anytime you please. I wish you werenít so stubborn." he said, setting his coffee down and looking across the table at me. I looked back at him and could see flicks of pain and anger in his light blue eyes. It was the same pain and anger that ate away at me every hour of everyday of my pitiful life.

"You know I canít do that. A mother is not to depend on her son to get by. You donĎt worry about me, I will be fine, always have been." I smiled slightly, although not convincingly enough. Richardís face hardened.

"No, mum, I donít think you get it! You left me at an orphanage! An orphanage! Do you know what that tells a child? It tells them that they have no parents. Apparently things havenít changed." He began to slide out of the booth when I reached across and took hold of his wrist. Once again my vision was blurred with tears.

"Please, Richard. You donít understand your father"

"I donít want to hear about my father!" He nearly screamed. "I want to help you! But apparently I canít even do that!" He pulled away roughly from my grasp. "I donít know why I even bothered with you, mum. I came down here to help you; why wonít you accept my offer? I knew I never should have come; I knew you would just cast me away like before."

"Richard, I did it because I loved you, and still do. Will you please just listen to me for two seconds?" I pleaded.

He began to walk away but stopped and turned back.

"Why would I want to listen to you, mum? I already told you I tried to help and if you are not going to accept my offer then why should I stay here and listen to your excuse of a life story when I know that you will just end up back on the streets? Do you think I want to see you like this?!" His eyes were now watering and he brushed the tears away with the back of his hand. "I canít deal with you anymore, mum. I am sorry, but I did what I could. I canít have anything to do with you anymore."

"Richard, please donít go." I could feel tension pulling in my jaw.

"Good evening." He said as he put his cap on and pushed open the glass doors and faded into the darkness.

I buried my face in my arms and rested them both on the table, sobbing. I didnít care if people were looking, I didnít care about anything. My life flashed before me and my emotions were screaming. Agony swept over me and I prayed for death to kiss me now and end my misery.

I had failed my only son, and I had failed myself.


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