He was silent for a minute, and I could tell that something was bugging him. Eventually he said, “My momma had to get stitches one time.” He looked out the window, and I could see the worry in his eyes when he mentioned her.
“You think we should call her? Tell her you’re at the special spot?” I asked.
I was reaching in my back pocket for my phone when a commotion at the front door caught my attention. A young woman rushed over to one of the waitresses and started talking hysterically. Her cheeks flushed red with alarm as she spoke, and after a few seconds, she turned and looked in our direction. Frozen in her stance, her dark brown eyes slowly met mine, a stunned look crossing her face as her eyes roamed over me. I noticed that she had a lot of the same features as Wyatt, even the same freckles along the bridge of her nose. There was no doubt that she was Wyatt’s mother. She obviously had no idea what to make of me, and the fact that I was sitting with her son clearly scared the shit out of her. Her troubled eyes locked on mine as she started advancing towards our booth. Wearing an oversized t-shirt and sweats, she wasn’t like the girls at the club. There was a wholesomeness about her, a goodness that I wasn’t accustomed to. She stopped at the edge of the table, shooting me a nervous glance, and knelt down next to her son.
“Hey, Buddy. Are you okay?” she asked in almost a whisper.
I knew instantly by the way he looked at her that she wasn’t the one who had put those bruises on his arms. “Hey, Momma. This is Griffin. He got me some chicken nuggets, but I’m done now. Can we go home?”
“Hi, I’m Wren,” she said, before turning back to her son. “Yeah, buddy. We can go. You did a good job getting here like we talked about. I’m so proud of you,” she answered.
“Went down Tucker Street, and turned right on Main. Just like you showed me.”
“You are such a smart boy,” she said, brushing his long bangs out of his eyes. She looked over to me with a pleading look and said, “I know this looks bad… really bad, but I’m doing the best I can.” I had no idea why it even mattered to her what I thought, but I could see that it was important that I understood. “I’d tell you what this was all about, but it would take a lifetime to explain. Right now, I need to get him home. How much do I owe you for the food?”
“Don’t worry about it. I got it,” I told her.
“Thank you so much,” she said.
Before I had a chance to say anything else, she took Wyatt by the hand and helped him out of the booth. I stood up along with him and watched as she started towards the door. When we got to the exit, she turned towards me and reached out to shake my hand. Her touch was soft and gentle as she said, “I don’t know how to thank you for this. I just…”
“Not a problem. I understand.” The second she released my hand, I felt the loss of her warmth. I couldn’t remember a time when someone’s touch had affected me like that, and I didn’t know what to make of my reaction. I just knew I didn’t want her leave, not until I knew what was going on. Knowing it wasn’t any of my fucking business, I stood frozen in my spot as I watched them both walk out to her car. I should’ve left things alone – let them walk out that door and never think about it again. But I found that I just couldn’t and that surprised me.
Wyatt was quiet as he got in the car. His little hand reached up for his seatbelt, and my heart practically shattered on the spot when I noticed the bruising on his little arms. I had no doubt how they’d gotten there, realizing instantly that my worst nightmare had come true. I’d prayed that this night would never come, but deep down, I always knew it would. I had to fight back the tears when I looked over to his precious little face. It killed me to think that his father had hurt him, and everything in me wanted to take Wyatt and run – get as far away from Michael as I could. I had to make sure it never happened again. Wyatt was such a wonderful little boy. He filled my life with so many blessings, and I just couldn’t understand how Michael could hurt him. My mind was full of questions. I desperately wanted to grill Wyatt about what had happened, but I knew I needed to tread very carefully. If he thought I was upset he would shut down, and I’d never find out exactly what happened.
I started the engine and said, “I’m sorry that Mrs. Daniels had to leave you tonight, Bud.”
“It’s okay. She had a family emergency,” he answered, looking towards the diner. Something had momentarily caught his attention, causing him to turn back in his seat to get a closer look. A few seconds passed, and then he turned back to me and said, “I think it was something bad. She was crying.”