A crippling feeling gripped him in the very pit of his stomach. He knew he would never see Beckham again.
“Relax,” Tamara said. “It’s only kindergarten, he’ll be fine. Wait till we have to send him off to college.” His wife took his hand. “C’mon, I’m due in court in an hour. Sure you’ll be okay? I can have Dad come over and take you to lunch.”
“Ha, ha. Don’t worry, I have clothes to wash and floors to sweep. Oh, and don’t forget to get milk on your way home.”
“I won’t—see you at six. Love you,” Tamara let go of his hand.
“Love you.” Tim watched his son dump a pile of blocks on the carpet. He’ll be fine, he told himself as he left the classroom.
At home, he wandered from room to room. He’d lied to Tamara. The laundry was done, the floors were swept, and he’d even finished the dusting while Beckham had watched his Sunday morning cartoons. Why didn’t I play with him more yesterday, instead of having the TV babysit him?
He turned on the TV and looked for a tennis match. There was none. And the TV noise annoyed him more than the sound of his wife’s business-on-weekends phone conferences.
Milk, he decided. He went to take his car keys off the hook by the door, only to realize he was still jingling them in his hand. The noise echoed in the quiet house as he left.
He got milk last, going up each aisle and gathering everything to make Beckham’s favourite meal, spaghetti and meatballs. Tomatoes, grated cheese, pasta, ground beef, spices and herbs thrown on top of a cartful of things he didn’t need. And red wine to toast his wife’s court victory after Beckham was in bed.
On the way home, he switched “Wheels on the Bus” for a top 100 mix of artists he pretended to recognize. Beckham’s fine, and he got on the freeway instead of the back way that would take him past the school. He merged and then typed a text to his wife: Got the milk.
Tamara knew she would win—she always did—but she was still energized as she left the courtroom.
“Congratulations, Ms. Sanders. You’ve helped yet another criminal avoid prison time.” The prosecuting attorney shook her hand a little too firmly.
Tamara hid the wince with a smile. “Thank you,” she said, resisting the urge to comment on his lunchtime happy hour. Or, more likely, his liquid breakfast.
She practically skipped to her SUV, unused to getting out of court so early. She took her phone off silent mode. She scrolled through her text messages, all business. I’m not going back to the office, she decided. But it was the missed call from Beckman’s school that caught her attention. She began dialing the school, but another call came in. Business, she sighed, and took the call.
“Who is this?”
“Mrs. Sanders, my name is Officer Hudson of the Boston Police Department…”
“What happened to my son?”
“Ma’am, your son was not in the vehicle your husband was driving when the accident occurred.”
He’s fine, my son is fine, she thought.
“My husband has been in an accident?”
“I’m very sorry, ma’am.”
He’s not fine.
The phone shattered against the pavement.