Monday, June 19, 2017

MICHAEL and HELEN

The family uses Skype to get together on selected evenings since the mother and wife, Helen, is in Afghanistan on her national guard duty. Six-year-old Mark talks about happy events so does Michael, to avoid creating more anxiety for Helen then she needs. Michael, a seasoned police officer, sees a mask on Helen's face that makes him believe that she had a terrible day.

Helen's deployment ends. Michael uses his vacation days for the family to be reunited before she returns to her job at the hospital. A month after returning to her job, she begins to visit family on the other side of the state. It becomes a continuous visit every month then twice a month; she begins to take Mark on the visits. Mark believes something is going on but refuses to think about it. On the last visit, she calls Michael from an aunt's house. "I filed for a divorce; I met someone on my last deployment." Michael recalls the mask that he saw on her face; it was not the pressure of the job that she was hiding; it was someone else hiding in her room. "It just was one of those things that happens," she says. His anger strikes her, "You damn whore, I am faithful to you and you do this to us."

After the divorce is finalized, Helen says, "we can make arrangements for Mark to visit on school breaks since I'll be living on the other side of the state."
"No. I don't want to see you or him again," Michael says.
"Michael, please, Mark will be hurt."
"You got over me so can he."

One day Michael opens his front door. It is Helen's uncle who rung the doorbell. He hasn't seen him since a few days before the divorce. "Hi?"
"Hi."
"What's up?"
"Helen called me to get in touch with you to tell you that Mark is in serious health trouble because something in his system is not working right so the doctors say that you might have the right stuff in your blood to keep him alive."
"I have to get ready for work."
"Did you hear me?"
"Did you hear me?"
"This is your son that we're talking about."
"I lost my son eight years ago." Michael closes the door.

A week later in the supermarket parking lot, Helen's husband walks up to Michael, introduces himself. "How far did you kick your wife and kids to the dirt to get my family?" Michael asks.
"I never had a wife or kids before."
Michael vicious right uppercut knocks Husband unconscious to the ground. "Damn family snatcher," he snarls then walks away.

Helen calls Michael's captain for help. "Get a court order," he tells her.

Two years passes.
At the end of his shift, Michael sits in the locker room, preparing to leave the day's work behind  when a call for all officers to respond to an active robbery and shooting with officers down and injured civilian victims.
Later that evening, in their living room, Helen, Husband and Mark listens to the news announcer as they look at scenes from the event. An employment photograph of Michael appears."Police Officer Michael White bravely rescued an fellow officer and two civilians from danger but lost his life. He leaves behind a sole survivor, his brother." Mark stares at the television for a moment then stand, stroll to his room, closes the door in a manner that makes Helen and her Husband feel his barrier.


























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