Mom had been missing. Six days.
It wasn’t exactly unusual. She would sometimes be gone, days at a time. Generally, she would call or something, but I had learned not to expect it.
I guess she had friends she would go out with. She would take a few days off work, and she would never stay home. She’d be in Houston, or close to the border, or whatever.
I’d honestly rather stay out of it.
My uncle, who I haven’t talked to in years, apparently was looking for her. I think it has something to do with Granny’s old house. He had come by the house yesterday, figuring I would know where Mom was.
Ha. I barely know where my next meal is, much less my mom.
- - - - - - - -
Alex’s low sneer jolted me back to reality. I was in Chemistry class, pencil in hand, and the class was eyeing me.
I glanced around, hurriedly, confusedly. The color rose in my face as a mumbling chuckle filtered through the quiet room.
“Ms. Holmes?” Ms. Noelle looked at me kindly.
“Ah—did you ask something?”
“Stupi—“ Ms. Noelle silenced Alex with a look.
“C—could you repeat the question?” I cringed.
“Of course. What does the nucleus of an atom consist of?”
I answered, easily. If only I had heard the question the first time.
So it was a perfectly normal day, I suppose. And then it happened.
The door creaked, and a few curious heads turned. Of course Alex turned. He was always wanting to be in people’s business. I looked over at him.
His face was unusually drained, blanched. Surprised, I cranked my head to see the door.
Two HPD officers, full uniform, stood nearly uneasily in the doorway. Ms. Noelle looked confused. “How can I help you?”
The shorter officer, a young woman, spoke. “Ms. Allie Holmes?” She looked around at the students.
For a second, I sat there; stonily, lifelessly. Why would they need me? I hadn’t done anything.
The officer spoke again. “Is she not here?”
I started, and realized I had to speak. “Ah, yeah. Yeah, I’m here. That’s me.” I sounded like a granddad bullfrog, croaking out my words.
The officer nodded, and I realized she wanted me to follow. Hesitatingly, I looked at Ms. Noelle. She nodded as well.
Outside the schoolroom, I looked from one face to the other, uneasily. Their faces looked drawn, almost dejected.
“We found her.” The young HPD officer finally spoke. Her steely blue eyes dropped for a tense, chilling moment. She faltered.
Then her eyes met mine.
“We found her body.”
I started. “Dead?” I half-stuttered, half-choked. Mom was missing, sure, but I hadn’t expected…
“Yeah. I’m sorry.” She laid a hand on my shoulder. I pulled away.
Staring, dumbly, at her shiny belt buckle, I tried to comprehend the finality of this moment.
I looked back up at the officer. “How?”
She looked at me. “Ah, we had a lead to a cocaine transaction taking place in the Fifth Ward. Unfortunately, your mother was with the sellers.” She hesitated again, and then went on. “The buyer turned out to be an old ally of a rival gang—it was a setup. There was a knife fight, and your mother was fatally stabbed.”
Drugs. Of course it was drugs.
“Okay.” I didn’t know what to say. “Thanks for telling me, I-I guess.” I didn’t know what to say; what to feel. Because in this world, I was now alone. Without family; without a home—perhaps even without hope.
The officer glanced at my torn shoes. “Do…do you have someone to take care of you? I’m supposing you’re living with your uncle whom the other officer informed?”
“Yeah, that. Yeah, I’ll be fine.” I turned away. “Thank you.”
My Converse slapped the ground hurriedly as I walked back to class. I slipped back into my chair. Alex glanced over and snorted under his breath.
Ms. Noelle looked at me; concerned and questioning. I looked away, unemotionally.
I had lied to the officer. I didn’t live with my uncle, of course. I wasn’t going to live with my uncle. I didn’t even know him, nor did he know me, or care for that matter. I was going to have to figure it out. I would figure it out.
Chapter three of Redeemed on Tucker Street, a novel that follows the story of a true to life, yet fictional, abortion vulnerable woman.