Authors: Christina Leija
Finally some relief, after all the stressful news and stress over the last four months, this chapter of her life is finally under control. Now if she could just pay off her lawyer. Sheeze how much does one idiot need to get paid? Honestly. At least she was able to keep her new found information quiet for now, she hated keeping secrets but this one could destroy her life and take her child away from her.
The thought of losing her little boy quickly consumed her. Andrew was her life and the only thing that kept her going most days. Her precious baby with the eyes of rain, Andrew was innocent and loving. She would do anything for that little boy. Her sweet little boy was the only good that had come out of her now ex-husband.
Floating into a day dream, to escape the boring and long divorce trial she was currently dealing with, she recalled the day she found out she was pregnant, it was the happiest day yet one she was so worried for at the same time. How would Alex react this time? He seemed happy when she was pregnant before but the day he found out it was a girl they had gotten into a fight over how unhappy he seemed and it ended up with her being pushed over a glass table and threatened, his angry outburst still rang in her ears; “If this little bitch ends up like you, I’ll be in hell for sure, why can’t you do anything right? All I wanted was a fucking boy and you screwed that up too, you’re worthless, just fucking worthless!”
She miscarried later that evening from the stress and the hard fall that she failed to mention to the hospital staff. She had made up her mind that she was going to leave Alex when she returned home from the hospital but he had persuaded her that he was under a lot of stress at work and it was wrong for him to take it out on her and that he would finally get help to control his anger.
Stupidly she believed him….again.
“Excuse me Mrs. Jackson can you answer the question,” “Uh, What? I’m sorry, I missed it” said Charlotte who was slightly embarrassed that she got caught by the judge day dreaming and not paying attention.
“Are you ill or just not interested this hearing?” snapped the judge who obviously was impatient and ready to get to lunch. “No sir, I’m not ill I apologize” said Charlotte, who now was red from embarrassment since everyone was looking at her, strangers included who seemed as impatient as the judge while waiting for their divorces to be heard.
“Well then now that we have that out of the way, do we have any other objections to the custody arrangement or child support?”
“No your Honor,” Charlotte kept her head down; a habit from the years of abuse her husband put her through.
Shouldn’t her lawyer be answering these questions instead of drawing stick figures on his legal pad? Charlotte couldn’t help but wonder what a kind of attorney she would have been stuck with if she had accepted a public lawyer for low income. Even though she now qualified for it she refused to take it and insisted on paying for it herself, all $3000 worth of his stick figures that her attorney was constantly scribbling on his note pad, pretending to take notes. Man, she really was a bad judge of character wasn’t she or really naive into thinking he cared about her case.
A court appointed attorney could have saved her time and money, at least then she wouldn’t have had a high expectation for a positive outcome.
At least her brilliant attorney had managed to get her joint custody and proven her to be a good mother, rather than let the court believe the lies of her abusive husband.
Alex, dressed in his best Armani suit was looking stunning, as always. No doubt he would be on his best behavior to try and prove to the judge that he was the best fit for their son. He had dark brown hair with a hint of auburn that shone through in the sun. His smile was devious at best and he had a cocky attitude about him that he wore like a glove.
Alex stood by his attorney sneering in contentment; he was at least able to keep some control over the filthy bitch that drug his name through the courts with her stories of abuse. She had no proof since she never called the cops and that he was thankful for. Smiling to himself, he knew she wouldn’t keep his son from him though, she wasn’t that stupid nor did she have the guts. Once Alex had Andrew in his custody he would make sure the boy had a proper upbringing as a real man, not softened by his mother’s incompetence. This was the one thing that he would keep his promise on.
Charlotte’s relief only came when she was able to leave the court with her sense of new freedom from 10 years of abuse and race through traffic with only a thought of holding her little boy and finally feeling like she can keep him safe, even if only temporarily. She walked by Alex with some hesitance, an unfortunate habit from her marriage and everything she had endured. She would focus on the next six months and try to fulfill her life and Andrew’s as much as possible. Only one thought of dread consumed her and she forced herself to push it aside before entering the babysitter’s home: what would stop Alex from turning his abuse on her son now that she was gone, did she make a mistake by divorcing him since she wouldn’t be there to keep the focus of hate on her? The danger now consumed her as she felt helpless to protect her son from the monster that was her living nightmare.
Upper East Side New York
Jesus, Alex how could you let this happen? I thought you had “the best attorney ever” mocked Alex’s mother who was just as cruel and thoughtless about anyone else’s well-being as he was. Those two were too much alike, selfish and self-centered, only to care about the money they could have gotten from the woman who ruined her son’s life.
Magda Wellbrand was a well dressed woman in her mid-60’s with salt and pepper hair that she wore styled in the latest trend, proudly showing off her wisdom that she often stated came with the grey that most people raced to cover up.
After all, Charlotte came from a wealthy family but that stupid girl couldn’t even keep her family interested in her, as they threw her out the day she became engaged. Charlotte swore it was because of her engagement to a man her father felt was trouble, but Magda knew better; her precious Alex was a saint and a good man, it was the whore’s fault for acting like a slut and dishonoring her family that caused her so much trouble. Not her Alex. Had Charlotte been smart, she would have remained a virgin until marriage and played that part of daddy’s little girl long enough to maintain her inheritance, at least for Alex’s sake if nothing else. But no the little slut had to spread her legs and tempted my poor Alex with her devil ways. Ha! And she said she loved him. Whatever: love was for fools and her son had married the biggest one. Magda’s blood was boiling and still rising….
“Oh calm down mother, I don’t need the money and Charlotte didn’t win. I still have my son and control over where she lives, who she’s with etc., she won’t make a fool out of me twice, and divorcing me was the biggest mistake she has ever made!” Sneering at his ex-wife’s incompetence and insatiability he thought about how she caused so much many problems during their divorce with her constant incompetence. “Now it’s her turn to see what happens to people who cross me.” Alex was still livid that his lawyer couldn’t come up with anything to prove she was a bad mother or at least mentally incompetent. I mean come on the woman was seeing a therapist! A therapist and for what? She could never handle her emotions, constantly crying during their marriage and whining that she wasn’t loved or respected. One thing his mother had taught him was that respect was only given to those who earned it and love was reserved for a child and even then it was a woman’s job to give it and a man’s job to raise a boy right to be a man, ruthless and tough in today’s world that demanded only excellence. Survival of the fittest, nothing else mattered.
“Alex?” called a soft and seductive voice, “are you in here my love?”
The sweetest voice in Alex’s ears at that moment couldn’t have come at a better time. His temper calmed to a more manageable degree. What was it about those long satin legs and gorgeous blond hair that made him weak? Weak was one thing Alex didn’t like. But on the inside Victoria was just as ruthless as he was and deep down he knew it.
“Aw, Victoria darling come in” called Alex’s mother with pride. Victoria happened to have gone to school with Charlotte and Alex during primary. Victoria, in Magda’s eyes, and along with most other socialites considered Victoria a woman of fine breeding, and Magda noted that she was loaded to boot. A sense of satisfaction swept over Magda but was quickly washed away by the memory of her son’s stupidity. Alex’s mother had picked Victoria out long ago but then her idiot son had “fallen in love” with that tramp and almost ruined their lives.
Alex had been given a scholarship to Primary school and his mother had sent his father into thousands of dollars of debt just to prove that Alex belonged in high society. Anything for her little boy and her future: she refused to die in poverty as a working class citizen.
Outside their family, no one knew the difference except Charlotte’s father, who tried to persuade his daughter that Alex had been in trouble since he was a juvenile.
But it wasn’t her Alex’s fault; he was just hanging out with the wrong crowd. Alex’s mother felt a twinge of sympathy for her baby. Her poor little boy who was lost in this world and who’s judgment was clouded by Charlotte, if only she could get rid of her for good. Suddenly Magda had an inkling that she may soon set into motion.
Charlotte thought her father was being overprotective and mean to Alex; that worked in her favor but when her father blew up and disowned her, Alex’s mother tried her hardest to get Alex to call off the engagement. He refused, of course and stupidly convinced her that he could help mend their relationship and reinstate her inheritance that would provide them with enough money for 5 life times.
Alex’s mother did everything she could to have Alex’s records sealed so he could get into a good school and that bitch’s father found a way to get a hold of them, damn them all! She needed to pay for everything and Magda was more determined than ever to make Charlotte’s life a living hell, and if Magda had her way she wouldn’t be living that hell for long.
Alex’s father had been full of stupid dreams that eventually left him dead and her full of debt. But Victoria could change that. Widowed at 27, by her older wealthy husband and both parents dead, there was nothing to stop her from marrying her son and providing them with the life they wanted and yearned for.
“Andrew, wake up my love. Today is a new day, and we can celebrate by doing anything you want.” Smiling Charlotte looked into those sleepy gorgeous eyes. “I want to see daddy today,” a twinge of sympathy struck Charlotte as she knew that Andrew didn’t understand a divorce or why his parents weren’t together anymore. Her therapist told her to softly tell the truth and not keep things hidden from Andrew, though all she wanted to do is protect him from the horrors that had been her life behind the closed door.
With a big sigh she aimed towards a possible storm as she tried to explain why she and daddy were no longer together, or why they couldn’t be again. “Honey, daddy and mommy couldn’t get along anymore so it was best for both of us to live apart, but we still love you and get to share you, so now you get mommy and Andrew time and separate Daddy and Andrew time, won’t that be fun?”
“Why can’t we live with daddy?” Innocent and full of love, at four and a half years old, Andrew reminded Charlotte of her; naive and wanting everyone to get along at all times, she had learned the hard way that life doesn’t always go as planned. “Andrew you know what, let’s go to the park and go see that new movie that just came out, you know the one with the dragons, but first I think we need pancakes, what do you say?” Andrew’s face lit up and Charlotte was pleased that she was able to divert a conversation that she wasn’t yet fully capable of having right now. After the swift diversion of the “dreaded” conversation Charlotte knew she wouldn’t be able to avoid forever she scampered off to the kitchen to cook Andrews’s favorite Saturday meal.
Charlotte always had good genes and a fast metabolism, something she had gotten from both her mother and her father so she indulged in pancakes as much as her son with the bottomless appetite. Man that boy could eat, where did he put it all? She knew that he would be hungry again soon so she gathered a few healthy snacks like fruit snacks and trail mix for their walk to the subway from their quaint west Bronx apartment. It wasn’t what she grew up with or what she had with her husband, but she loved that it was hers and she loved the simplicity of it, anything more and it would bring on nightmares that she would rather soon forget.
“Now where are my keys, Andrew have you seen them?” She was always losing them and frustrated beyond belief at how she could lose her head if it wasn’t attached at times. Andrew looked stern, which caused concern for Charlotte, since that was the look he always gave when he knew he was in trouble. “Andrew what’s wrong, did you do something with my keys?” “I put them in the flower pot like we used to do at daddy’s in case you wanted to get into the house, I thought daddy might want to have a key too.” “You what? Andrew I told you that daddy didn’t need a key, he can’t come visit us, and that we would go to a park to visit daddy.” Charlotte gave an exasperated sigh she searched outside for a flower pot outside their apartment. “Oh Mrs. Nelson, have you seen a flower pot around here?” “Why yes dear, but I threw that old thing out this morning before the garbage men came, nasty old thing nothing ever grew except mold.” Charlotte sighed and tried to control her temper, she didn’t have a short one but she was definitely irritated at the outcome of this problem. Mrs. Nelson looked at Charlotte as if trying to read her expression, finally she spoke up; “Why are you asking about that old thing? You know Andrew asked me a good place to hide things yesterday or where people put extra house keys at and I told him a flower pot or under a rug or rock.” Great, Charlotte thought to herself, just great. Thank you Mrs. Nelson for not seeing the signs of that one. “Alex put my house keys there yesterday, as a spare key.” The look on Mrs. Nelsons face when she realized what had conspired said it all. “Oh my, well dear maybe the landlord can make a new set, I hope nothing was important on that key ring, it’s probably halfway to the Brooklyn Bridge by now.” Great, she thought, now she had to pay her attorney and a lock smith, just her luck.
After the new Dragon movie that Andrew had been begging to see for a month they walked to a little café for lunch. The Grand Central Star Café was located between 47th St and 46th St on Lexington Avenue, and was only a few streets from her work. This had always been one of her favorite spots to eat. Charlotte was a nurse and loved her job working at the local children’s emergency clinic, a satellite office of Mt. Sinai Hospital and volunteering her time at the homeless shelter. She was well under paid but she didn’t care, seeing her patients happy even when sick was the greatest payment she could ever receive. The Grand Central Star Café’ always called her name at least once a week. Their coffee, bagels and pricing was what she loved the most. You could smell the deliciousness 5 blocks away. Andrew was always ready to eat and Big Joe worked on Saturdays. Big Joe, according to Andrew could make a mean grilled cheese and chocolate milk. Even though money was tight, today she would forget about her worries and enjoy what little time God would offer her.
“Mommy you really need to try this!”
“No honey I think I will leave it up to you, I might look a little silly riding the toy horse in front of the corner market.”
“I won’t laugh at you, mommy.”
“I know sweetheart, I know you won’t, you’re the only one who never does.” Charlotte had been self-conscious of everything in her life and the result had turned into what her father would call a perfect lady of raising. But since her divorce she had grown more self-conscious, not confident at all, and her ex-husband didn’t help those matters either.
“Come on Andrew, we better hurry mommy has to get this shopping done before my shift tonight.”
Once home they unloaded the groceries and put everything away before laying down for a small nap. It was already 4pm and she really could only afford to lay down for about 20 min before she needed to prep dinner for her son and her sweet elderly neighbor that had all but adopted them, but a short nap with Andrew was what she needed.
Mrs. Nelson was a 68 year old widow who just adored Andrew. She told Charlotte that she was never blessed with children of her own the first day she had come looking for a place. At that time, Charlotte was upset and frustrated with everything and just needed to get herself and Andrew out of the oppressive house she had shared with her ex. As the landlord, Mrs. Nelson had taken them in to her home until the upstairs unit had become available. From that moment on Mrs. Nelson was in their lives for good and Charlotte wouldn’t have it any other way.
In no time, Mrs. Nelson was shooing Charlotte off to work as she finished cooking dinner. Charlotte really did love that lady as her own mother. As Charlotte made her way to work she started day dreaming about her mother, but some memories were too painful so she often tried to suppress them. Susan, her mother had been taken from her by breast cancer when Charlotte was barely a teen. She never even knew her mother was sick because she hid it so well and Charlotte knew then how strong her mother was. She missed her so, and after she passed her father became distant and cold, always scolding Charlotte for little things that reminded him of her mother. Charlotte guessed the pain was just too much for him to endure so instead of embracing their normally close relationship he pushed her away.