Gary was a very smiley baby, and the first soft tufts of brown hair were starting to show on his head. His eyes were so much like Emery’s it was impossible not to see him in his son. I wondered if he would look like me at all when he was older, but loved him all the same. Emery had been a handsome man, and I didn’t care who Gary took after more. He was healthy and happy, that was all I wanted.
Half a year after he was born, Mum was hospitalized. Grandma called and told me what the doctors had told her – that we should say goodbye now if we wanted to have the chance. I wasn’t sure whether I should arrange for someone to look after Gary or whether he should come with me, but decided to take him with me in the end. Mum wouldn’t get to see him grow up. I wanted her to be able to see him again.
I stayed for the funeral. Once I was back home I put all my energy into losing the baby fat. I was still on maternity leave for another month, so I hadn’t had the same kind of busy routine I’d had before Gary was born. My body wasn’t used to being lazy, and the first two weeks of working out did a number on my body. I felt like I was sore everywhere, even though my boxing bag was my only training partner.
It felt good to be more active again. I loved being home with Gary but I looked forward to being back at work, too.
Chief Chau put me on a number of different jobs, to help me get settled back in. I wanted something bigger, but she insisted I take it slow after having been gone for months. I knew she was right, but I missed being on the street, fighting crime directly. All I could do here was take fingerprints and take mugshots. The things some of the criminals thought they could smuggle into prison amazed me every day.
And then, finally, we received a bit of good news.
Blaine Raegan had died in prison.
I thought I’d be ecstatic, but instead I only felt relief. It really was over now. The man I had sworn I’d hunt down was gone. Mum and Emery could rest in peace, and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
Grandma and Grandpa Milan moved closer to me. Now that Mum was gone they wanted to be closer to their family and bought a house together, only two roads away from me. Having them so close to me felt great, and I loved that they’d be a part of Gary’s life.
“I love your house, Grandpa.” Grandpa Milan had insisted that I don’t call him ‘Grandpa’ since we weren’t related, but I insisted. He felt like a grandfather to me, and using the title felt natural. He had earned it, and I wasn’t about to let him forget how important he was to us.
“Your grandmother chose it. She has good taste.” They had turned the small spare bedroom into an office for her, so she could continue writing her books.
“I need to talk to her. Does she have a moment?” I didn’t want to interrupt her while she was writing, but there was something important I needed to ask her.
“Of course!” I got up, ready to knock on her door when he stopped me. “Wait. Sophia, I’ve been meaning to talk to you. I don’t want you to think that I’ve forgotten about what you’ve asked me. I’ve been trying to get in touch with the spirits, but they haven’t been very… forthcoming.”
My heart sank. “What do you mean?”
“It’s their realm, their home. I can’t force my way in, and neither can the spirit that lives inside me since he’s bound to me.”
“I don’t understand.” What did this mean? Did the spirits avoid him because they knew I was right? Did spirits have appointments? Would they care whether their answer hurt me or not?
“I’ll keep trying, Sophia. I promise.”
I nodded, needing to change the subject.
“Sit down over there,” he said, and nodded to the table. “I’ll get Morrigan.”
I quickly went to check up on Gary who slept in his pram in the kitchen, and sat down.
“I need to ask you a favour,” I said once we were all sitting together. “A big one.” Grandma was as dedicated to our strange cause as anyone could be. If anyone agreed, it’d be her.
“What’s the matter, sweetheart?”
“I was wondering if you could write about what happened here, at the police department. We’ve got the names of officers, politicians and other high-ranking people who were all conspiring with Blaine. If you write about it – an accurate record, not the stuff they publish in the paper – you could stop the same thing from happening again.” I didn’t know if it would really work. It could backfire, too, and people could end up blaming us for allowing the corruption to get so out of hand in the first place.
Grandma nodded. “That would help us work towards a better future, if the people were to be made aware. I see what you’re getting at.”
“Blaine was a bad man,” I said, my hands balled into fists. “I want people to understand how influential criminals can get, how ruthless they can be, and that it’s possible to stop people like him.”
There was a gleam in Grandma’s eyes that gave me hope. “A story like this could really inspire someone, Soph.”
“Your name is famous. If you write it they will read it.”
If I didn’t know my Grandma any better I’d have thought she blushed. “I’d love to help you. Of course I’ll do it.”
“I’ll speak to the Chief on Monday. We might be able to give you access to our files.”
For the first time since Emery’s death I felt truly hopeful. I had lost Emery and I had lost Mum, but I had Gary, Blaine Raegan was dead and with Grandma’s help we could really do some good. It was exciting to think about it all.
I had achieved my dream. My father was gone. My future belonged to my son now. When Chief Chau asked me to be her replacement, I would accept. Willow Creak wasn’t a large city by any means, but I’d make it a save place for Gary and all other residents. Something like what had happened with Blaine wouldn’t happen again. Not on my watch.
I could focus on work while I was at the station, but while I was home I belonged to Gary. Being a single Mum wouldn’t be easy, but my grandparents weren’t far away any more and I’d manage on my own. Gary would have everything he needed to be happy.
I swore my life on it.
I gave Morrigan and Milan a small make-over to go with their new home ^^
Apologies if Lilliana’s death seemed sudden. I’m sure you wanted pictures. I did, too. The game didn’t even tell me that she was close to dying, so I was just as surprised as you were when her portrait was greyed out -.-