Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Growing Pains--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Thursday, May 9

     “Tom isn’t doing very well,” JB texted this morning. “Now he is complaining about pain in his legs. That started last night. He is walking very gingerly and I had to help him up a few times. I keep telling him he can’t afford to miss more school. He might be playing it up but I don’t think he’s faking.”

     “Take him to the doctor. Mention he’s been running track and doing the long jump.”

     JB called from the doctor’s office. “Tom couldn’t get out of bed this morning. I had to help him up and walk.”
     “Growing pains and shinsplints?”
     “He insists it’s not growing pains. I think it’s more than that.”
     “Let me know what the doctor says.”

     “Still at the doctor’s,” JB texted later. “Nothing really specific. They drew some blood to screen for any issues. They say he doesn’t look one hundred percent but nothing they can really put their finger on. His legs still hurt but not as bad as last night/earlier this a.m.”

     “Decided to keep him home," JB texted awhile later. "Back at my place. If you could come pick him up before four that would be great. Please let me know. Thanks.”

     I called Tom.
     “Hey!” I said cheerfully. “I’m excited to be picking you up soon. I miss you. What’s going on with your legs?”
     “I miss you, too,” Tom said. “My legs hurt really bad.”
    “Growing pains?”
     “No, it’s not that.”
     “Are you sure? You’re getting tall really fast. And you’ve been running and jumping a lot. That’ll make your legs hurt.”
     “Mom, it’s not growing pains. I know what those feel like. This is different. When are you coming to get me?”
     “I’m writing. I’m going to write for another hour or two, but I’m not far away. I’ll be there in two hours, okay? I’ll text you and let you know when I’m leaving.”
     “Okay, good.”

     I finished writing and as I was putting my computer away, Tom texted, “Are you coming?”

     “Yep. I’m leaving here in ten minutes. Be there soon. Love you. XO”


     I turned down JB’s street and my phone dinged. I pulled in front of JB’s house and saw Tom and JB standing outside waiting for me.

     “Where are you?” Tom had texted.

     Tom smiled brightly. I got out of the car and he gave me a big hug. I took his face in my hands and looked in his eyes. “You feeling better now?”
     “Yeah,” he said. “My legs still hurt but not bad now.”
     “Good,” I said and kissed the top of his head.
     Tom jogged to the passenger’s side of the car and hopped in. No sign of leg problems.
     Blake and Tom shoved each other, laughed, and started watching TV. Tom appeared healthy until nine o’clock, when Blake went to the gym and I told Tom to take a shower.
     “My legs are starting to hurt again,” Tom complained.
     “You seem totally fine.”
     “I was, but now they’re hurting again.”
     “I’ll give you an Aleve and rub essential oils on your legs.” I kissed the top of Tom’s head. “Get in the shower and we’ll do that when you get out.”
     Tom limped into the bathroom.
      “Lay down on my bed and pull your pajama legs up.” I said. “Where does it hurt?”
     “Right here and right here,” Tom said, pointing to his femurs right above his knees and right below on his shins.
     I rubbed oils where he indicated. “You’re going to school tomorrow, you know,” I said. “You can’t miss anymore. You only have a few weeks left. You have to finish strong. You’ll have the whole summer off soon.”
     “Yeah, okay.”
     “Okay Sweetie. Go to bed.”
     “Will you help me up?” Tom asked. “My legs hurt really bad. Really.”
     “Give me your hand.” I said, yanking Tom to his feet and giving him a bear hug. “I love you.”
     “I love you, too.”
     Tom dramatically limped into his room and groaned loudly.

     “Hi,” Golf Guy texted.

     “Hi. Did you have a decent day?”

     “Kinda wet.”

     “Doesn’t look nice for tomorrow either. But still better than working in a cubicle.”

     “Good point. How’s the writing coming?”

     “Good. Weird day with my 12-year-old. Now that the divorce is final, there’s some troubling behavior.”

     “I’m sorry, might take a little while.”

     “You deal with that?”

     “Not really. My kids have adjusted very well, so far. But my ex and I get along very well, which helps a lot.”

     “That’s good.”

     “Do you and your ex get along?”

     “I’m cordial, but I don’t like my ex. It’s complicated and shitty.”

     “I’m sorry.”

     “Tom’s going through a rough patch. I feel really bad for him. Night.”

     “Sleep well.”

     “You, too.”

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