“Did you have fun today Riley?” Sammy glanced in the rear view mirror at her two and a half year old son and chuckled, as she watched him frantically nodding his little blonde head.
Riley had the looks of his father, but had somehow managed to inherit her curls too, which looked much better on him than they did on her. It was a wonder that no one ever questioned whether or not he was her son. He was as light as she was dark.
Sammy half listened to her son recounting his day, as she clicked on the indicator and changed lanes. The drive back from her friend, Elisha’s place, was a long one, which seemed all the worse when she had spent all day running after a bunch of sugar filled pre-schoolers.
She pulled up at the traffic lights and leaned back into the driver’s seat, closing her eyes. She took three deep breaths before reopening her eyes, then concentrated on the red light in front of her. The sudden sound of melodic ringing made her jump. It took a few moments for her to realise what it was. Looking down at her handbag, she saw the screen on her mobile lit up. She told Riley to be quiet as she pressed the button on her mobile, the hands free spurting to life.
“Hey Honey, how was the party?” Her husband’s echo filled the car and Riley squealed with delight at the sound of his father’s voice.
“Hectic,” She sighed. “The kids were all full of energy and the mothers were all too tired to care. So I hope you’re ready for us when we get home.” Sammy smiled as she pictured her husband’s raised eyebrows directed at the receiver.
“No worries Hun, so how far out are you?”
“We’ll be home in about fifteen minutes.” Sammy slowed the car down for the next set of traffic lights.
“Okay Honey, I’ll see you then, drive safely.”
“Don’t I always?” Sammy chuckled and glanced back at Riley, who was excitedly bouncing his body weight from one side of the booster seat to the other. She took off again as the light changed to green.
“I know sweetheart, I’ll see you soon, love you.”
“Love you too Honey, bye.” Sammy waited to hear the click of the phone, before she pressed the ‘end’ button on the hands free, sighing as she approached yet another red light. She marvelled at how the long stretch just before their home always happened to have a run of red lights for her. If she caught the first red light, she always managed to catch all of them. She couldn’t wait until the new freeway was built, it would halve her travel time to and from Elisha’s, making it possible for her to visit more often.
The excitement of the Birthday party had started wearing off and Riley began to grizzle in the back seat. “It’s okay sweetie,” Sammy comforted. “Not too much longer, we’re nearly home.” She looked back at Riley, noticing his increasing agitation, then added, “Daddy’s at home, do you want to see Daddy?” She smiled as some of Riley’s enthusiasm returned. Devon seemed to work so much these days that her and Riley often missed out on spending any quality time with him.
She had broached the subject with Devon a couple of times, but when it came down to it, the only way they could spend more time together as a family, would be if they sold the house. Devon’s wage only just covered the repayments as it was. Selling the house was pretty much out of the question anyway. They had both worked too hard to get it, even if they had borrowed more than what they could comfortably afford. Other than Riley, the house was their greatest achievement together.
Sammy’s thoughts turned to her friend Elisha; she was a single mum with two boys. One had just turned four, the other was Riley’s age. Sammy had often tried to offer Elisha cheap babysitting, so she didn’t have to pay so much for day care, but now she was wondering if it would be worth placing Riley into day care and going back to work herself.
But someone needed to spend time with Riley and Sammy knew that if she went back to work Devon’s hours wouldn’t change. Then they would both end up being too busy to spend any time with Riley, and she wouldn’t allow that to happen.
The sound of a blasting car horn snapped Sammy out of her thoughts. She glanced in the rear view mirror and saw a dark haired man cursing at her. She realised finally that the light had changed to green. She apologised, even though she knew he couldn’t hear her as she began to take off.
She saw the other car out of the corner of her eye, hurtling toward her. Her body stiffened and her feet slammed down on the brakes as she instinctively flung her arm out toward Riley. All she managed to do was call out his name before the cars collided.
The left hand side of the car crumbled before her and she heard Riley scream. It was as though her heart was being ripped from her chest at the thought of her son’s pain. She covered her face with her arm, as glass showered over her. Riley’s scream was cut short and Sammy let out a helpless, whispered cry, then she saw and heard nothing.