Pictures of You

Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt

Book: Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt Read Free Book Online
Authors: Caroline Leavitt
fought the soccer team to let Sam be the waterboy, if not a player. When she had to explain to him why he couldn’t go to a kid’s sleepover because it was held at a house with two cats and a dog. He knew Sam’s asthma wore her down, but why had she taken him out of school the day of the accident? Where were they going?
    He looked over at Sam, engrossed in his book, and then he went into the bedroom and shut the door so he could make some calls in private. Charlie called the school first, and spoke to Miss Patty, the principal. “I’ve been meaning to call you,” she said. “We’re all so sorry.”
    “What time did April pick up Sam on Friday?” he asked.
    Charlie heard a hum radiating through the wires. “She didn’t pick him up,” she said. “I told the police that.”
    “What? You told the police?” Charlie felt something burning in his stomach. “Wait … you just let him leave? Do you realize how serious this is? Don’t you watch out for your kids? Don’t you check where they are?”
    “Mr. Nash,” she said. “Your wife often came and got Sam, sometimes in the middle of the school day, often without signing him out. We had spoken to her about it.”
    “What are you telling me?” He thought of April, impulsively showing up, taking Sam somewhere. But where and why?
    “I have it on record that someone from the school did call the house to ask where Sam was and there was no answer. And that was—around lunchtime.”
    Charlie couldn’t speak. He gripped the receiver, his knuckles growing pale. “And you just let that go?” His voice splintered. “You didn’t follow up? You didn’t think to call me?”
    “Mr. Nash,” said Miss Patty, “I don’t know how this happened, but I assure you, we watch every child and something like this will never happen again. We are all so sorry and very glad that nothing happened to Sam.”
    “Something did happen to Sam,” Charlie said, and then he hung up the phone.
    He called the Blue Cupcake, and when Katie, the owner, answered, the first thing she asked was if they got the food basket she’d sent over.
    Charlie had no idea, but he thanked her. “Did April come in to work on Friday? She didn’t quit or anything, did she?”
    “No on both counts. I called the house around ten when we were getting busy, but there was no answer. I ended up waiting the tables myself.”
    He wanted to ask her if anything seemed wrong with April, if Katie noticed anything different lately, but the words jammed inside of him.
    How did things happen? He’d never been a religious person, though his parents had made him sit through church and had told him about God. He thought there might be something out there, some ordering force, but it certainly wasn’t a man in a beard who doled out punishments or who tested the innocent to see just how faithful they were. Still, he lived by a kind of code. He tried to be a good man, to do the right things, to make the world a little better than it had been before he had put his stamp upon it. You could be generous with the love you gave, with the care you took with others. You could follow all the commandments that made sense to you and still the world could sideswipe you. There was no cause and effect. There was no karma. The truth was that he wasn’t so sure he understood how the world worked anymore.
    He and April had fretted so over Sam. Charlie shouted at cars that didn’t stop. He scolded the crossing guards for not paying good enough attention. He worried about Sam all the time.
    And maybe his mistake had been that he had never worried about April.
    “Daddy?” Sam’s voice flew into the room. “Can we have lunch?”
    Charlie put the phone back in his pocket and walked out of the bedroom. He couldn’t imagine eating anything, but Sam should.
    Around six, Charlie’s parents arrived, honking the horn of their rented car, a Lincoln town car of all things, and then rapping on the screen door, their faces expectant. They were

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