“Hi, mom it’s me, Brian,” Brian said, as soon as his mother had picked up the phone.
“Hi honey how are you?”
“I’m okay. How are you and dad?”
“We’re both fine. Your father’s out at the moment though. Are you home now?”
“Yeah, after the tour had finished we had one press conference and then we were free to go.”
“I’ve not seen you in a while, Brian. You’ll have to come down to see us.”
“I was planning to anyway,” Brian said, grinning. “I’m sorry I haven’t called you during the last few days. I lost my phone!”
“I did! I think I left it at one of the arenas.”
“You’d lose your own head if it wasn’t screwed on, Brian!”
“Yeah, I know. So when do you want me to come down?”
“Any time you want, dear. I’ve missed you a lot and I do worry when you’re running about the country. I’m glad you’re back now.”
“Yeah, it’s nice to be home. No more hotels…” He paused. He was saying everything except the one important thing he needed to talk to his mother about.
“Brian? You still there? You’ve gone all quiet.”
“Mom, on the way to the hotel we, um, almost hit someone on the road.”
“Were they all right?” his mother asked, in concern.
“Yes but… Mom, it was a little boy we almost killed.”
“What was he doing in the road? What did his mother say?”
“That’s just it, mom,” Brian said, feeling the tears spring to his eyes. “He’d been left there. His mother had abandoned him!” Brian found himself crying. This whole incident had unsettled him but it was only now that he let it all out.
“Abandoned?” his mother said in disbelief.
“His mother just left him in the road all by himself! How could someone be that cruel!” Brian sobbed.
His mother went silent for a few seconds and Brian could imagine how shocked a loving parent such as herself would be. “Can’t the police find the mother?” she asked eventually.
Brian shook his head and then remembered that she couldn’t see the gesture. “No. They went to his home but the land lord said that she’d left for good.”
“Where is the boy now?”
“In a children’s home! Sammy’s only five! He should be with his family!”
His mother sighed. “Brian, sometimes parents can’t care for their children and - ”
“But she shouldn’t have - ”
“I’m not saying it was right. But sometimes a parent has no choice but to give up their children for adoption. Maybe there was a reason that she couldn’t look after him and thought he’d do better to be with someone else.”
“He could’ve died on that road!”
“Maybe she had no choice.”
“No choice? She could’ve left him in a town at least! What if he’d wondered into the forest or something?”
“You said the boy was only five? If she didn’t want him then she would have put him up for adoption as soon as he was born. To hold onto him for five years and then let him go, I’ll bet it hurt her a lot and I don’t think any parent would leave a child on a road unless there was a good reason.”
Brian could not believe what he was hearing! He respected his mother but how could she be defending someone so cruel and heartless? “How can you say that?”
“I am a parent, Brian and I know that I love you and Harry very much. Every parent loves their children. They may hurt them sometimes or do bad things but a mother will always love her children.”
“Would you have left me alone on an empty road?”
“Don’t be silly, Brian!”
“Would you? If there was a ‘good reason’?”
His mother hesitated. “What if someone was after you? What if someone was chasing us and I had to hide you? It would hurt more than anything in the world to leave you somewhere but if it was for your own safety… But that would be the only reason. You know that I would never hurt you in any way unless there was a reason.”
Brian said nothing. A part of him understood what his mother was saying but he doubted if he would ever understand completely.
“Brian? You still there, honey? Please understand what I’m trying to tell you,” she said. There was a hint of tears in her voice.
“I’m still here, mom. I’m sorry, I was just thinking.” Something she had said had started a niggling sensation in his brain. What was it?
“I’m sure the child will be fine.”
“I hope so. I went to see him a few days ago and I rang the home this morning. They’ve agreed to let Sammy come and visit me tomorrow.”
“You care about him don’t you? That’s why it upsets you so much.”
“I like him, he’s so sweet. I hate to think about anything happening to him. It just upsets me because… I always thought parents were supposed to look after children, like you look after me.”
“I can’t tell you why she left him. Nobody can. Not for certain. How’s the little boy doing?”
“Sammy? He was okay but upset and shocked. I stayed with him to keep him company.”
“You’d make a wonderful parent. Brian.”
“Why do you say that?”
“You care about Sammy so much, that’s what a parent does to a child.”
“Thanks for talking to me, mom. I needed to get things off of my head.”
“I’m your mother, you don’t have to thank me. It’s my job to look after you.”
Brian smiled. “I’ll come and see you this weekend. Bye mom.”
“Bye dear. Just one last thing.”
“You say that Sammy is sweet… do you really think it would have been easy for someone to abandon him?”
“I guess not,” Brian said, softly. He thought of Sammy’s little face. Any parent would love a child like him, surely?
“See you at the weekend, honey. Bye.”
“Bye,” Brian said. He placed the receiver down and slumped into a nearby chair. His mother had made him feel a bit better. She always did. He just wished he could understand it more…
There was still something about what she had said that rang a faint bell. He remembered back to when they had found Sammy. He had been curled up into a terrified ball beneath their bus. What had he said to Brian?
“P – people were chasing us.”
He remembered what Sammy had told the police. That people had been chasing them.
Oh god. Was that why his mother had left him?