“MOM! MOM! MOM!”
“I’m in the kitchen.”
“I’m in the kitchen!”
“I’M IN THE KITCHEN!”
I could hear the sound of ten little footsteps pounding against the linoleum floors.
“Mom!” Drako gasped, “You gotta- You gotta come outside! NOW!”
“PLEASE!” Harlequin pleaded, “It’s important!”
“Can’t you get your dad?”
“He just got home less than an hour ago and we don’t want to wake him up. Besides, you’re more sympathetic than him when it comes to these things,” Bellamy replied as she began to play with a random strand of her ginger hair.
“Ah, so this is strictly a ‘mommy job,'” I laughed placing down the dish rag, “Alright. What’s up?”
Draco and Harlequin rushed into the kitchen and grabbed me by my wrists. The next thing I knew, I was being ‘carried’ outside by five anxious eight-year-olds.
“Look!” Bellamy squealed.
“Are those what I think they are?” I gawked.
“It depends, Mom,” Shiki replied, “What do you THINK they are? I mean, as far as we’re concerned, they can be whatever YOU WANT them to be.”
I looked down at my son and frowned, “You know what-“ Sometimes, I just didn’t understand why that boy was so ornery. He gets it from Beau, Shayda. He gets it from Beau.
Merlot elbowed Shiki harshly between his rib cage, “Ignore him, Mom. It’s too early for him.”
“Yeah, I know,” I mumbled as my eyes wandered back to the baby raccoons who were happily scampering about in our front yard.
“Can we keep them, Mom? Can we?” Harlequin begged, “Oh, please! PLEASE!”
“Of course you can’t!” I laughed nervously, “Harlequin, they’re raccoons! Raccoons are known for having rabies; and even if I didn’t think they might carry that fatal disease, they’re only babies! I’m sure that they’re still pretty dependent on their mother right now!”
“Or they WERE dependent on their mother,” Shiki muttered as he pointed his rounded finger to the edge of our driveway.
Reluctantly, I allowed my gaze to travel to where his noble finger was pointed.
“Oh dear god,” I croaked.
At the foot of our driveway was the bloodied and mangled carcass of a full-grown raccoon.
“I-I-I need to move that,” I managed to whisper.
“Nah, I would make DAD move it,” Drako piped up, “After all, he’s the one who killed it.”
Since Beau, was, indeed, at fault for the death of the mother raccoon (he accidentally hit her on his way home from work), the kids and I decided to take the babies in under our wings (after a trip to the vet to make sure that they did not have rabies) until they were able to survive on their own. Since we would be taking care of them for approximately five to six months, I thought it would be nice if each of the kids got to name one.
Arkhimedes was the name that Merlot picked out for his ‘coon, which sparked a bit of a controversy.
“Dude, can you even spell that?” Shiki gawked.
“Sure I can! Arkhimedes!”
“I’m pretty sure ‘Archimedes’ is spelled with a ‘C’ not a ‘K,'” Harlequin correctly in a gentle fashion.
Merlot frowned slightly and lowered his head, “Oh…”
“Ha! See!” Shiki sneered.
“Shut up, Shiki, I didn’t say that to make fun of him, I was just telling him! So if Merlot wants his raccoon to be named ‘Archimedes’ with a ‘K,’ his name name shall be ‘Archimedes,’ but with a ‘K.'” Harlequin looked over at Merlot and flashed him a tender smile.
Merlot smiled softly as he looked over at his sister, “Thanks, Harlequin.”
“No problem, Lo.”
“What are you going to name yours?” Merlot inquired.
Harlequin looked down at the raccoon that was sitting in her lap. “BANDIT!” she squealed in delight after a moment of deliberation.
“Oh how origi-“
“Finish that statement, little brother, and I promise you, you will be in a world of pain,” Harlequin warned.
I had to give it to Shiki; at least he knew when to shut his mouth.
“And since you’re such a hypocrite, why don’t YOU tell us what you’re going to name YOURS.”
“And unfortunately,” Harlequin huffed, “There is absolutely nothing I can say about that.”
Harlequin rolled her eyes and looked over at Drako who was cuddling his newfound love, “Awwww!”
“Dare we ask what you want to name it?” Shiki muttered.
“I’m naming her Otter.”
Merlot, Harlequin, Shiki, Bellamy, and I looked at each other then over at Drako, “Otter?” Even I had to join in with this inquiry.
“Baby,” I whispered, “You do realize that she’s a RACCOON.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s short for PB&J Otter!”
“Peanut Butter and Jelly Otter?” Harlequin mused lifting her eyebrow, “Oh, dude, come on! You’ve gotta be kidding!”
Drako shook his head firmly, “Nope!”
“Aren’t you allergic to peanut butter?” Bellamy chimed in.
“So?” Drako puffed.
“Seriously though! Be reasonably, Drako!” Shiki yelped. His voice then dropped, “If that is even humanly possible.”
Drako jerked his head up. His scarlet eyes were glowing with rage. “What was that?”
“Drako, love, count to ten,” I cooed, “Shiki, leave him alone!”
“I didn’t do anything!” Shiki groaned.
“Just go upstairs, please!”
“Fine!” Carefully, Shiki placed Rocco back in the box and stormed out of the room.
Sometimes I oftened wondered where I went wrong as a mother when I came to Shiki. He seemed to get some sort of sick pleasure out of picking on his siblings, but especially Drako. What made it so bad was that Drako had an extremely short temper and was quick to hit, kick, punch, or push. When they were toddlers, Drako was a biter and Shiki was always the person he bit. Now, I was starting to see why.
“A-a-a-re you okay, Drako?” Bellamy hated to see Drako upset almost as much as I did.
“I’m fine,” Drako mumbled.
“Don’t let Shiki get to you,” Harlequin said putting Bandit on her shoulder, “I think PB&J Otter is a nice name, it’s just strange,” Harlequin giggled, “But I like it.”
“No problem, bud!”
We all turned our gaze to Bellamy who was still eyeing Drako oddly.
“Belles, I’m fine,” Drako sighed, “I’m not going to do anything.”
Bellamy nodded softly, “O-o-okay.”
“Are you still stuck on the name Clarissa?” Drako asked in an attempt to lighten the mood.
“I am,” Bellamy replied with a smile. Suddenly, her radiant smile turned into a sorrowful frown, “But you guys all picked out fun names and mine sounds all-“
“Nice? Professional? Lovely? Yeah, so?”
“I don’t know,” Bellamy murmured, “Maybe I should find another name.”
“No way! I like Clarissa!” Harlequin declared, “It’s pretty and you put more thought into naming your raccoon than any of us did!”
Merlot and Drako nodded, “Agreed.”
The corners of Bellamy’s lips twisted upward into a smile, “Alright,” she crooned, “Clarissa it is.”
I took a step closer to the woods and shook the bag again. Still, there was no response.
“Well, that’s odd,” I mused taking a step back.
Usually the ‘coons always came out when they heard me playing with the large bag of cat food.
“Come on, babies! Come out! I’m here to feed you!” I called out giving the bag another shake.
Once again, I was answered with resounding silence.
“This is getting scary,” I whimpered. “Ark, Bandit, Rocko, Otter, Clarissa? Where are you, my loves?”
Even after the death of my children and Philemon’s still birth, as broken as I was, I continued to care for the raccoons. Since they were now living in the woods behind our house, I didn’t get to see them as often as I would like, but it didn’t stop me from leaving a treat for them every two weeks. Usually all I had to do was rattle that bag of cat food and all five of them would come scampering over to me like old time, which always brought a smile to my face.
With Beau leaving the house at strange hours of the night and returning home the following day completely drunk off of his ass, my relationship with him was completely falling apart. Taking care of those little orphaned raccoons was the only thing that made me feel like there was something worth living for.
When I heard Will’s voice, I didn’t feel the need to turn around, “Beau isn’t home right now.”
“I’m quite aware of that,” Will replied, “He wanted me to come check on you and I’m glad that I came when I did.”
“Oh?” By now I was facing Will, “Beau sent you to check on me?”
“Amazing, he leaves me by myself for the most part, yet he somehow manages to show that he cares.”
Will frowned slightly, “Of course he cares, he’s just going through a hard time right now, Shayda.”
“Oh, and you don’t think I am?” I turned my back towards Will and gave the bag of cat food another shake, “Come on, little loves! I’m worried about you! It’s been six weeks since Mommy has seen her babies! I’d like to know that you guys are alive!”
“They aren’t,” Will’s voice was barely above a whisper.
“Um- They- Shayda, it was believed that they were possibly bitten by another animal they had rabies and we had to-“
“Shayda, please listen.”
“If you tell me that you had something to do with this William, I swear, I SWEAR-“ What was I going to do? Absolutely nothing. I couldn’t do anything but cry.
“Look, please, don’t cry. I’m sorry! I didn’t want to tell you! Beau was supposed to tell you weeks ago when they were euthanized!”
“Well he didn’t!” I growled through my tears, “He didn’t tell me anything! How the hell were you expecting him to tell me something this important when he doesn’t even talk to me, Will? This is how Beau spends most of his day, he sleeps! When he’s not sleeping, he’s out somewhere getting drunk! Hell, for all I know, he has a plethora of woman on the side and had father only god knows how many illegimate babies! Face it, Will! He doesn’t care about me!”
Will let out an exasperated sigh before turning his gaze to the night sky, “You know, you’re the reason he feels so low.”
“Oh, yeah right! Just go ahead and blame me, why don’t you?” I hissed picking up the cat bag, “Just go away, Will. Please.”
“Fine,” Will replied with a shrug, “I was just following through with Beau’s request.”
Once Will was out of sight, I began to trudge back to the house with the cat food.
I’m the reason he feels so low? What in the hell did I do? I’ve been trying to get him to open up to me but he won’t talk! How can I know what’s going on inside of his head if he won’t talk to me?!
On my way up the slope leading to the back porch, I lost my footing due to the weight of the bag. With nothing to grab on to, I fell backwards and tumbled down the hill towards the woods. Somewhere along the way, I lost my grip on the bag, but I had no clue where it went. My tumble ended when I smacked head first into a tree.
I could feel a thick trail of blood trickling down my face and touched my head gently. There was a gash. I couldn’t tell how deep it was, but it large enough to draw, what seemed like, a river of blood. When I got the strength to turn myself over onto my back, I felt something fall on top of me.
I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t even move. I was being suffocated by the bag of cat food.
“Help…” I croaked, “Somebody, help.”
I could hear footsteps approaching in the distance.
“Help,” I repeated.
“I’m coming,” Beau laughed.
His words, they weren’t slurred together or jumbled. For the first time, in a long time, I could understand him, “B-b-beau y-you’re sober.”
“And you’re eating your words about me not caring about you. I do believe, Miss Buckley, that we are even,” Beau replied as he hopped down from the hill. “Ooh,” he whistled poking out his lip when he noticed the wound on my head, “That doesn’t look too good. How hard did you hit your head.”
I frowned while making a helpless attempt to move the bag.
“Beau,” I wheezed, “Seriously, I can’t breathe.”
His auroral scarlet eyes widened in concern and within seconds the bag was off of me.
“If only I had your strength,” I murmured taking deep breath, “None of this would have happened.”
Beau chuckled deeply as he picked up from the ground, “It’s alright, you may be puny, but I still love you.” A devious grin formed on his face when he noticed the blood running down my face, “I think we better get inside so I can take care of that.”
I rested my head against Beau’s shirt and clung to him as he carried me to the house, “Beau?”
“Why didn’t you tell me about the babies?”
Beau let out a small sigh as he shifted my weight so that he could open the back door,“I didn’t know how to tell you. I just want you to be happy and I know that they were the only things that brought you happiness.”
“That isn’t true. You bring me happiness.”
“Well, no, not when you’ve been coming home whenever you want to completely drunk,” I replied.
Beau kicked the door shut and locked it behind us before placing me in one of the kitchen chair, “I know, and for that, I’m sorry.”
“I just want you to talk to me.”
“I know, but I can’t.”
Beau shook his head softly, “I want to, but I don’t know where to begin or what I say.”
“Well, sit down,” I demanded, “And we can try to figure that out.”
“In a minute,” Beau whispered as he began to examine my wound, “First, let me take care of this.”
“What do you mean? Are you going to lick me?” I asked.
“I’m debating,” he laughed. “I might be good and actually clean it up the proper way.”
“Well, I hope you decide soon, because I’m starting to feel a little lightheaded.”
Beau grimaced, “Hmm, well if that’s that case, let me go get the first aid kit. I wouldn’t want to add to it.” He quickly pulled off his over shirt and handed it to me, “Here, use this to keep the blood from getting in your face.”
He kissed my wound and licked the blood off of his lips before flashing me a smile.
I laughed softly as I took the shirt from him, “Oh, you fiend.”