Acceptance

Todd turned off the car, unclicked his seatbelt, and stared out through the windshield. The only sounds were raindrops tapping on the hood and his restless leg bumping against the steering wheel. He reached for his phone charging on the dashboard.
“It’s too late to back out now,” he muttered to himself. He dialed a number and held the phone up to his ear. The call to a slightly longer than usual to connect and the first ring startled Todd.
“Todd is that you? Where are you?” A breathless female voice answered.
Todd was silent for a moment.
“Todd please..please just tell me where he s,” she sobbed.
“Meet me at Queen of angels cemetery in 20 minutes. Come alone, or I’ll kill him,” Todd said calmly.
“Todd, please don’t hurt him,” she begged.
“Just meet me at the cemetery,” Todd repeated.
“Where?” she asked.
“You know where,” Todd replied flatly.
“Please Todd just give him back to me I wo-”
Todd ended the call and dropped his phone on the floor.
He took a tissue from his jacket and dabbed away the tears welling in his eyes before getting out of the car.
Todd walked around the car to the trunk and looked around to make sure he was alone. He popped the trunk open and looked down and the bound and gagged child trembling in the tight dark space.
“I’m going to untie you. Don’t try and scream and don’t try and run. Do you understand?” Todd asked.
The little boy answered with muffled cries.
Todd opened his jacket exposing the iron handle of a pistol tucked in his belt “Do you understand?” Todd repeated more forcefully.
The boy nodded his head.
Todd quickly undid the improvised restraints and helped the terrified boy out of the trunk.
“Come with me,” Todd said grabbing the boys hand.
Todd led the frightened boy through the endless row of neatly arranged headstones, each marked by a name and a lifetime. The soft ground squished under their feet leaving impressions of footprints in the wet grass.
Suddenly they stopped. “Here,” said Todd.
Todd pointed to a grave. “Can you read the name?” He asked the child.
“I want my mommy,” The boy cried.
“Read the name!” Todd shouted.
The boy recoiled and fell backward into the grass crying hysterically.
“Get up,” Todd commanded.
The crying child wiped away the tears and got back to his feet.
“Read it,” Todd said again pointing to the grave.
“Todd William Aberdeen Jr. June 2021 September 2029,”
“Do you know who that is?” Todd asked.
The boy didn’t answer.
“Do you know who that is?” Todd repeated sharply.
“That’s my name,” the boy said in a shaky voice.
“We’re you born in June?” Todd asked.
Todd Jr nodded his head.
“No you weren’t,” Todd hissed. “Because you’re not Todd Aberdeen Jr. Todd was my son, and that’s where he is now!” Todd said pointing to the grave.
“Todd!” shrieked a woman’s voice.
“Momm!” Todd jr called back.
The boy tried to run to his mother, but Todd held him back.
“Thanks for coming Kate,” Todd said calmly.
Kate approached cautiously with her hands in the air. “Todd please just let him go.” she pleaded.
Todd pulled the boy in closer. “I love you Kate, but it’s time you faced reality.”
“Please just give me back my son,” Kate whimpered.
“OUR SON is dead Kate!” Todd snapped.
Kate stopped walking and burst into tears.
“Keep walking Kate,” Todd commanded. “Keep walking towards us.”
“P-Please just let him go,” she stammered
“No,” Todd shook his head. “You have to look at his grave.”
“No, no I can’t” Kate buried her face in her hands.
Todd took out his gun and pointed the barrel down at the top of Todd Jr’s head.
“Keep walking Kate,” he repeated in a low voice.
“Mommy, please help me,” the boy cried.
“Mommy’s coming baby. Mommy’s coming,” Kate reassured him.
Once she was in arms reach, Todd grabbed her and pulled her to him.
“Look at the gravestone,” he said.
“No!” she screamed trying to pull away.
“Look at it!”
She turned her head and looked down at the child’s headstone and lost all control. She bunched her fists and started hitting Todd. “Why did you make me see this?” she cried.
Todd pulled the hysterical Kate to him, and she sobbed into his chest.
“Why are you making me see this?” she repeated.
“I’m sorry Kate, but this is for your own good,” whispered Todd.
“He’s gone! He’s really gone!” She wailed.
“I know, I know,” Todd said softly.
“Mommy, what’s happening?” Todd Jr asked sounding equally confused and terrified.
Kate looked down at the boy unsure of what to say.
“I know its hard but its time to move on Kate,” Todd said firmly.
“I-I miss him so much,” Kate sniffled.
“I do too, but he’s gone.”
“No!” Kate said suddenly pushing Todd away. “My baby’s right here!” She rushed over to the boy and threw her arms around him.
Todd sighed and walked over to them. “Here,” he said offering Kate his gun. “You have a choice you can either accept our son and stop indulging this delusion. Or you can put me down because I can’t live with this anymore.”
Kate didn’t move. She looked at the gleaming handgun with wide eyes. With a trembling hand, she slowly took it from his palm. She gripped the gun tightly. She took one look at her ex-husband and one at Todd Jr. She shook her head and stepped back from both of them.
“What are you gonna do Kate?” Todd asked.
She didn’t answer. Her chest was heaving, and the color drained from her face. She gritted her teeth, pressed the gun to her temple and pulled the trigger.

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