The Best Lesson Learned

By: Charlie Conwell

Chapter 1

I sit in the car and lean my head back closing my eyes. This shift has been difficult and on days like this, all I want to do is go home, curl up in a ball and be held by Orla. I smile at the thought of Orla. We have been together for the past six years and were blessed with the best little boy, Cory. He is a bundle of joy and full of energy.

Depending on my shift, I may only get to see him an hour before his bedtime or maybe twenty minutes before I have to leave in the morning. That time is sacred to me and on weekends, I always do things with him and Orla. It’s important to make memories and to have family time.

Being a police officer is tough with a young child. Orla is busy too, with trying to make partner in the law firm that she works at. I try to get her to join us as much as possible on weekends.

When Cory was smaller, she was always making time to come with us. Lately, however, there has been a change, she spends less time with us and more time at the office.

It has caused countless arguments between us; the excuse is always the same. She is busy and needs to put in the hours to become a partner. I understand, but it shouldn’t be running her life to the point where our son suffers. I have gotten used to less attention, but I miss her terribly.

I turn on the ignition and make my way home. As I pull up to the drive, I notice Orla isn’t home and sigh. I go in and meet Beth, the babysitter.

“Hi Beth, has Orla not come home yet?”

Beth frowns. “She came home to say that she was going on a trip for the next few days with a new client. I’m sorry Kim, I thought she would have already rung you. I’m going to be here for the week to look after Cory while you’re working and to get him ready in the morning. She told me to stay here in the guest room to make it would easier.”

I run my hand through my hair and I’m a little mad but not surprised that she had not called to tell me herself. Beth looks awkward and I know it’s not her fault. I smile weakly at her. “That’s no problem, Beth, you know you’re always welcome to stay here and Cory loves it when you have sleepovers. Where is he anyway? The house is quiet.”

Beth laughs. “I put on his cartoons while I picked up his toys and got dinner started for all of us.”

At the mention of food, my stomach starts to grumble making Beth chuckle.

“Go see Cory and I will fix your plate and bring it into you. He will be excited to see you and has something to show you. I need to talk to you, too.”

“Oh really? I wonder what that could be. Thanks, Beth.”

She touches my forearm and smiles at me. “It’s no big deal, only mac and cheese. Go and sit down, I will explain it all then.”

I make my way into the living room and there’s my boy sitting on the sofa, his eyes transfixed on the TV screen. I take off my gun belt and lock it away. As I turn around my reflexes are quick enough to catch the bullet that is my son.

“Mommy, you’re home.”

I smile as I cuddle him close to me. “Hi baby boy, have you had a good day? What are you watching?”

“Disney Club mommy, come over here and sit with me, Mickey Mouse is singing.”

He takes my hand and the two of us sit on the chair. He sits close to me. He dances along to the music and then looks at me. “Mommy, I made you something, do you want to see?”

“I would love to see what you made me.”

He grins at me, jumps down from the chair, and goes to get what he created. He rushes past Beth just as she is coming in with my dinner.

“Here you go, Kim.”

“Thanks, Beth, it smells delicious.”

She sits down on the sofa and we talk a little about our day. Beth has always been almost like a piece of the furniture in our house. She has been a godsend to us and Cory loves her so much. He runs back in with a piece of paper in his little hand.

“Here mommy, look at my present for you.”

I take the drawing from him and make the appropriate noises that make him smile so big.

“This is brilliant Cory, I love it. You are getting so good at drawing now. So, is that you and me? Where is mom, Cory?”

I see him look at Beth and he looks sad. I put the drawing down and pull him up onto my lap. “What’s the matter, buddy?”