Howie and Nick’s visit had helped to take Sammy’s mind off of his awful dream. It was sunny outside, so they sat on Brian’s patio playing a game while Tyke basked in the sun.
“You’ll have to meet my brother, Aaron,” Nick said. “Maybe he can baby sit one night if Brian goes out.”
“Absolutely not!” Brian replied. “He’d burn the house down!”
“He’s not that bad!”
“He’s almost as bad as you are!”
Afterwards, Nick insisted upon teaching Sammy how to play basketball. Nick, Brian and Howie spent ages showing him how to shoot properly.
Sammy’s brow was furrowed with concentration as he aimed the ball at the hoop on the wall, but it was too high for him to throw the ball into.
“I’ll have to get you your own hoop,” Brian said. “This one’s too high for you.”
“You’re better than me!” Howie said, laughing. “You can almost get the ball in the net all ready!”
Sammy grinned as all three of them fussed about him. It was a good start to the day.
Later that evening, Brian was helping Sammy to wash his hair. It was something Brian had been extremely nervous about at first. He’d never really been involved with a child before and he hadn’t thought about having to teach Sammy things.
“Can’t you do it yourself?” he’d asked, nervously.
“I don’t know how.”
So, Brian had had to do it for him. It wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. The hardest part was getting Sammy to keep still instead of playing with the soapy bubbles bobbing on the water. He was just drying Sammy when the doorbell rang. He wrapped Sammy up in a red, fluffy towel.
“I have to get that. Here’s your clothes to get dressed in. I’ll be back in a minute,” Brian said.
Brian quickly ran down the stairs and opened the door. He was met by Harsen and another policeman. This time, Harsen was in uniform and Brian knew from the looks on their faces that there was something wrong.
“Mr. Littrell, you remember me Sergeant Harsen? I need to speak with Sammy. I’m afraid I have some bad news… Is he in?”
Brian felt himself turn cold. A horrible dread was sitting in his heart.
“I’ll go get him,” he said, quietly.
He showed Harsen into the sitting room and then, with heavy feet, he climbed the stairs. Sammy was just trying to pull his jersey over his head.
“Come here,” he said, softly. Gently, he helped Sammy into the jersey. “Harsen is here. He says he needs to speak with you.”
“Okay,” Sammy replied.
“Good boy,” Brian said.
Slowly, he carried Sammy down the stairs. Harsen was standing uncomfortably in the sitting room.
“Hello Sammy,” he said, uneasily.
Brian pulled Sammy down onto the couch and sat beside him while Harsen fiddled with his hands.
“Sammy, we found your mother. She was in a car accident. I’m afraid she didn’t survive,” he said, eventually.
“W – what?” Sammy asked. “She’s – She’s - ”
“I’m sorry,” Harsen said.
Brian felt Sammy slip his hand into his own. He squeezed it.
“What happened?” Brian asked.
“Her car was found on a deserted road, near where you found Sammy. She’d skidded off the road and hit a tree. She’d been there for days. I’m sorry.”
“You’re sure it’s her?” Brian said.
“Afraid so. The dental records match and I tracked down a friend of hers. She gave us some photos while we were looking for her. There’s no mistake.”
Sammy leaned against Brian and clutched him close.
“What happens now?” Brian asked, putting an arm around Sammy.
“You keep Sammy until the main review.”
Brian nodded. He knew that Sammy would need his support.
“I’ll show myself out,” Harsen said, gently.
Brian heard the click as Harsen shut the front door behind him. As soon as he was gone, Brian looked down to discover tears on Sammy’s face.
“I knew,” Sammy whispered, crying quietly. “I knew from my dream.”
“I’m so sorry,” Brian said, but he felt utterly hopeless, as he knew there was nothing he could do to ease Sammy’s pain.
Sammy stayed with Brian for the rest of the night and slept in his bed again. He’d known his mother was gone, but hearing it made the pain erupt inside of him. The worst thing was that he had dreamed it and it had come true. In that same dream he’d seen Brian dead.