He opened the box and sat down. He lifted the letters out and read them one by one.
They started in 1976. Notes from Bali, from Jamaica – each one written in a childish scrawl. He smiled – he’d never been able to keep the originals, but he’d learned long ago if he copied them nobody gave them a second look.
Nobody gave a second thought to the ‘flights of fancy’ of a child.
All the psychologists had told him repeatedly his fantasy life was unhealthy. Eventually he’d told them what they wanted to hear, and they’d pronounced him ‘cured’.
But he was never ‘sick’ to begin with.
He’d learned from that to hide – to tell the little lies people wanted to hear. Perhaps he told them so much part of him even believed it himself.
The truth read like Hollywood fiction, but it was his reality. He knew from his many therapists that abandoned children often had fantasies the abandoning parent was a victim – kidnapped and taken away – and would be returning when they could get free.
But in Blair Sandburg’s case – this was no fantasy.
When he was born, he and Naomi were a happy and content family. She loved him – he was her world. Under her watchful eye, he grew and blossomed.
Until he was six years old. Halfway through his first year of school, Naomi met and married Jason Porter. Porter was old money and big dreams. His millions could pay for lavish gifts, big dreams, wonderful trips.
There was just one problem, and they didn’t know it till it was too late.
Jason Porter hated children. He made no secret of it, either. He never laid a finger on Blair, but he made very, very sure Blair was excluded from their lives.
Naomi fought this, of course. Blair knew very much he was loved and cherished by her. Porter and she fought bitterly several times in Blair’s hearing. Naomi would not permit her boy to be excluded from her life.
Realising this, Porter resorted to drastic and underhanded methods. He would drug Naomi insensate and forcibly remove her from the country. Naomi would awake in Bali or Tahiti or Tibet or Sri Lanka – places like that – with no memory of how she got there or where Blair was.
Always, always, always she would track him down, get away from Porter, and escape with Blair. But it never lasted – Porter would inevitably track them down, drug Naomi, and the cycle would begin again.
Blair folded another letter and put it back in the box. He knew his mother loved him. That was the one constant in his life. Even when tat day would come that she was gone forever, Blair would carry in his soul the knowledge that Naomi loved him.
Shaking himself from that thought, Blair opened another letter and smiled a tired, sad smile This one was in Naomi’s handwriting – as were the others from here on out.
Blair turned sixteen and enrolled in Ranier in Cascade. He’d been there a year and a half when this letter had come – from Morocco.
Porter had – true to form – drugged and taken Naomi away. But once they got to Morocco, the man had suffered a fatal stroke. Naomi was trapped there until the paperwork could get sorted out.
“But I’m coming for you, baby,” she’d written. “Mamma loves you.”
Under it, Blair had written “I know”.
It had taken three months, but Naomi had returned. And when she had, Blair knew something had gone very wrong with his mother.
Repeated exposure to the drugs and the mental and emotional shocks Porter had subjected her to had driven Naomi Sandburg insane. The forced nomadic lifestyle now seemed normal to her – and her judgment was impaired in other ways as well.
So Blair – at the age of seventeen-and-a-half – became the responsible one. Naomi had a network of friends he knew he could trust. He was realised he couldn’t take care of her, but he was able to find people that could.
So he did. Naomi was soon back to her nomadic wanderings, but this time she was in the company of friends and searching for inner peace. Blair kept track of her, always knowing where she was – even if she was in places that couldn’t easily be reached.
And that was the routine they had been in ever since. The letters still came – and they still went into the private box. Each one still ended the same.
“Remember, baby – Mamma loves you.”
Blair closed the box and replaced it under his bed. Caressing it with reverent fingers, he spoke in a husky whisper.
”I know, Mamma. I love you too.”
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