“Waiting On the Other Side, 4”

by Brianna G. Harte

A stream of tears crawled down her face, dampening the floor. She seemed so fragile. Gazing at her led my eyes to white poppy beside a picture frame. In it stood the woman bent over in front of me, a little boy, and myself. At that moment, I realized that I started to forget what he looked like and indeed what anyone I knew looked like. But a memory sparked.

“Thanks for stopping by, Jess,” I had said, smiling in relief at the woman with soft blonde hair pulled messily into a bun. “Harrison’s growing up so much, and with the job and with Ralph’s temperament . . .”

She put a hand on my shoulder and nodded. “I know. And it’s good to see you two anyway. You don’t have me over often at all these days. I’ve missed my little nephew and his endless quests to dig to the bottom of the sandpits.”

At the moment, the little boy was running around, throwing around toys across the green yard, however hard it was. Joy seemed to be a part of him.

“I keep trying to bring him to the playgrounds to be with other kids, but it’s just been far too difficult. This, our family, it’s also getting dangerous. His father’s work has been so stressful, with the risk of losing the job for so long. It seems that he’s been resorting to drinking rather than spending time with me or Harrison. And, well, it’s rather scary. The more he drinks, the worse he acts.”

Jess’ eyebrows curled upward. “What does he do? Are you alright?”

“It’s complicated. I don’t blame him as much as I do the alcohol. If only he would sober up. Maybe we could be happy again.”

“Sue, tell me.” Jess said, a series gaze following out from her eyes. “Has he hurt you?”

I turned away, watching Harrison laugh as he fell over. I wished I could laugh again.

Jess bent her head down. “I’m worried about you.”

“Don’t be.” I forced a laugh, which quickly turned into a somber sigh. “But, if you could, maybe…”

“What?”

“Could you possibly take in Harrison?” My lips quivered. “I don’t want to see him get hurt if Ralph accidentally does something he might regret. Maybe I can try to help him get off of his alcoholism. Since withdrawal tends to be bad, well, I’d just rather keep my little boy safe.”

“I’d be happy to take him in, but don’t you want to come too? I have room in my apartment, and I would not want to abandon my sister,” she told me, looking straight at me.

I shook my head. “I want to help Ralph. He was a good man. I want to see that side of him again. I just can’t have Harrison get hurt.”

Jess nodded. “Alright. Just keep me in mind, alright? I love you. Be strong.” She called out to my son, “Harrison! Come gather your toys please! We’re going for a ride.”

Biting my lip, tears began to come down my face. “Do… do you need help with a bed?”

“I have sleeping bags that Harrison can use until I can get a mattress, that is, if you want me to take him now.”

I held my breath. “That should be fine. Today would be great, if you could. I’ll let you know when things get better so that he can finally see his father happy again.”

Copyright © 2016 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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