Leaning forward and resting her elbows on her knees, Lennie stared across the empty living room. The day Duncan ran from her had been one of her most painful. He had always been a high-spirited child. More prone to wander, break a rule, or lead his younger brothers astray. However, he’d never done anything that warranted more than a time-out. Duncan had never been cruel to anyone or deliberately put anyone in harm’s way. Had someone told Lennie the argument in the high school parking lot with her son would take place, she would have thought them crazy.
But it did happen.
Insistent on not entering counseling, Duncan had run from Lennie. The anger building inside her at his disrespectful tone dissipated immediately at her last glimpse of his eyes.
The memory of it all in her son’s face made Lennie even more determined to get him to a therapist. She would not allow this to scar his life… not if she could help. Ranard had received no help for the verbally abusive childhood he had because of his father. Lennie knew his failure as a husband and father were directly related to his relationship with his father.
Duncan deserved a better life.
The memory played on rewind in Lennie’s mind.
Sitting in her Chevy Tahoe, still taking glances in the direction Duncan had gone. She wanted him to come back… but knew he wouldn’t. The despair Lennie knew he felt would now be enhanced by the shame of his behavior with her.
Consumed with the situation with her eldest son, Lenore Porter drove home. Pulling her vehicle into the garage, she exited and went through the garage’s rear entrance to her back door… and found Duncan sitting in the old swing near the Sugar Maple tree.
He shook his head slowly without meeting her gaze.
“I’m sorry, mom.”
“I’m glad you’re safe, sweetheart.”
“I shouldn’t have run away like that.”
“You were feeling overwhelmed. Looks like you still are.”
“I’m not crazy, mama… I’m not.”
Lennie’s chest tightened. He had not called her that since second grade. Sitting her bag at the bag door, Lennie walked over and took the swing next to Duncan.
They both silently rocked for a few minutes.
“Most people who go to counseling aren’t mentally ill, Dunc. Life just has a way of dumping too much on us at once,” she touched his hand, “the drowning feeling you mentioned? That’s where it comes from. It happens to us all at some point during our lives.”
“Have you ever felt like you were drowning, mom?”
“Not drowning so much as helpless.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Well, don’t take this as clinical or anything, but I knew the problem, and I knew the cause. I just couldn’t fix it.”
“Dad.” It was a statement, not a question.
Lennie’s smile was bittersweet. “Yes.”
“He hasn’t been very nice to you, mom.” Taking a deep breath, Duncan continued. “But you never gave up. You’ve always been… mom.”
“Darlin, the obstacle doesn’t exist that could separate me from my Porter Patrol. Good days or bad, you and your brothers always got the best of me, and you always will. I couldn’t give you the stereotyped version of a good family life, but I tried to make sure you have a good life. I don’t think we’ve done too badly. This is a bump in the road, and-”
“Can you make me another appointment with the shrink?”
Duncan laughed at the smirk on her face.
“Okay, okay. Counselor, therapist… whatever. I still don’t want to go, but I’ve let you down enough.” He stared at his feet.
Lennie didn’t speak again until he looked at her.
“You have never let me down. You’re sixteen years old and going through a bad time because of the actions of adults. You haven’t done anything wrong. But this is something you have to want. You cannot do it for me, baby. You don’t have to want to go to counseling… you have to want to get better and be your old self again.”
“So, you’ll make the appointment?”
“We haven’t missed today’s appointment yet.”
“I was picking you up from school early… to give us time to talk before the appointment.”
Lennie looked at her watch.
“We’ll just make it. Run in and wash up and change your shirt. I’ll wait right here.”
Nodding, the teen stood and headed for the back door, but turned, walked back and kissed his mother’s forehead. Still silent, Duncan entered the house.
The smile on Lenore’s face faded as Duncan walked away. Her son was angry… and afraid.
The past had scarred them all.
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