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Weeks went by and Amanda heard nothing more from Julian. Saddened and a bit depressed, she decided to immerse herself in work and getting Ethan more involved with extra curricular activities. He was old enough now to start playing some kind of sport, and seemed exited about the prospect of soccer or T-ball. Night time was her nemesis, however, and given too much time to think, she found herself drinking more and more.
It had started so innocently, a glass of wine a couple of nights a week which turned into a glass most nights and then she found herself really pouring it on come the weekends. Sometimes, she and Sandy would go into town and have margaritas at the local taqueria, Los Gordos. These became more frequent the more Sandy saw that Amanda was pining over Julian. She thought she was helping her feel better, she was really enabling her addiction.
Amanda never saw herself as addicted, rather that she had a mild “drinking problem” and knew it was getting worse. To combat this, she busied herself and Ethan, getting him started with soccer since that was his choice, and tried not to think about Julian and got on with living. Life has a way of throwing you curveballs, however, and she kept finding herself in social and non-social situations involving drinking. She would take Ethan to soccer practice and next thing you know, she had a drink in her hand with the other soccer moms who hung out behind the bleachers. At night, she curled up on the couch to read or watch tv once Ethan was in bed and never realized how many glasses she drank before finally turning in herself. She never considered she was avoiding something.
Guilt is a strong emotion. Amanda felt guilty for even thinking about another man, much less lusting after him. She felt guilty that she didn’t give her full attention to her work, nor to Ethan, even though she was trying to do her best. She needed help, yet refused to ask for it. She was losing it, and needed a change, a change of scenery maybe or some new friends at the very least. She reached out to Anthony’s parents, but Mrs Clark didn’t really know what to say, she’d been known to tip a few back herself.
Then came the call she never expected and Amanda felt a ray of hope open up in her bleak existence. It was Julian! She didn’t want to appear too anxious or needy, so she tried to play it cool, once her heartbeat slowed a little. “Hey, what’s up?” Trying to sound nonchalant as she sat on the couch, gripping the cushion with her free hand to steady herself. Julian came back with “Oh, you sound busy, I can call back later if you like.” Amanda wasn’t about to let that happen but wanted to sound aloof, she replied “Nah, I’m just puttering around the cabin really, cleaning up before I take Ethan to soccer practice.” Julian chuckled and said “Well, I happen to be in town, maybe I could join you. I just so happen to have company, would it be ok if I brought her to watch Ethan practice?” Amanda thought, ‘Really, he wants to bring a date?’ then once she reconsidered she realized who he was talking about and said excitedly “Absolutely! She would really love to watch the kids I’m sure!” “Alrighty, then-when and where should we meet you?”
Amanda gave him directions to the soccer fields and hurried to get them ready. She felt a renewed sense of urgency and excitement and could not wait to get Ethan to practice. “Maybe this is just what I need” she thought to herself. Then, trying not to look like a typical soccer mom, she rushed around getting herself ready, freshening her makeup but not to the point of looking like a model or anything. Pulling on her best jeans and newest shirt, she donned her coat, grabbed Ethan and walked out the door to meet her date with destiny. Walking out on the porch, she was about to say something to Ethan when she felt what could only be described as a tug on her left arm. She had time to see the look of horror on her baby’s face, and then she never felt anything again. The bear carried her off and Ethan scrambled back inside and ran to call 911.
Fortunately, his mother taught him well, what with them living alone in the somewhat wilderness, and he knew this was an emergency and what he needed to do. As he waited with the operator on the phone until help arrived, he tried to be brave and not think about what he just saw. He knew his mom was probably gone, however, and panic started to set in. He answered the technician’s questions and she then realized he was all alone and sent CPS to the scene, along with the ambulance and police. Meanwhile, Julian got tired of waiting at the ball fields and could not get through on the phone to Amanda. He grabbed his daughter Lisa and together they headed for the cabin.
I sincerely appreciate all of you following along with this series and hope you have enjoyed it. If you would like to provide suggestions, alternate endings or chapter revisions, please let me know. I welcome all comments and feedback and may even compile the series into an ebook for publication.