Instead of mimicking Presley when he went over to Ms. Sillow’s cottage the following month, Joshua ended up being his complete and total self. While waiting for Sondra’s call to come through, Ms. Sillow had a heart-to-heart conversation with the boy, just as she used to do with her daughter when she was a little girl and the same way she used to do with her grandson when he was alive. She wanted to find out everything that she possibly could about her young neighbor whom she strangely felt such a strong connection to. She wanted to know his age; his likes; his dislikes; what he thought about living in the woods; what he thought about being homeschooled; what he thought about his parents; and, the topper: if he wanted to move in with her. As thought the boy wasn’t uncomfortable enough by simply being in her presence, Ms. Sillow’s deeply personal and over-the-top questions inevitably left him hushed. Instead of answering a number of her odd questions, he simply hung his head down and twiddled with his fingers. Noticing how uncomfortable she was making the child, Ms. Sillow quit grilling him and began telling him about herself in an effort to get him more comfortable with her. Unfortunately, her tales of being raised in the forest all her life, only knowing that her and her parents existed up until she was 11 years old, being beaten by an abusive man who she claimed was “laying crippled in one of those rooms down the hallway,” and other odd tidbits of information that she chose to disclose with him only made his time with her that much more awkward and uncomfortable. So one could only imagine the relief that he felt when 10 o’clock rolled around and Ms. Sillow told him that he could head home since she didn’t believe that Sondra would be calling that night. When Sondra wasn’t heard from yet again the following month, Ms. Sillow told Joshua that he no longer would have to come over to her place at the end of each month. Rather, she told him that she would come and get him whenever she needed him again. The next time that Joshua set foot in her place, he would be a teenager.
Years would end up passing before Sondra was to be heard from again. Knowing how much of an addict she was, Ms. Sillow could have sworn that her daughter had died and gone to hell. But on the contrary, Sondra had gone to rehab since the last time she had called her mother’s place. She knew that she was going to have to make a drastic change in her life in order to attain her mother’s respect.
Everything was going just fine for Sondra once she had completed her rehabilitation at one of Idaho’s underfunded CAA facilities. She was using all of the training that had been handed down to her by her counselors to remain drug-free. Unfortunately, the sober life didn’t last for too long. Due to a lack of check-ups and moral support after leaving the facility, Sondra ended up slipping back into her bad habits. Once her effort to stay clean had failed, she consulted with a shrink. Once again, her fix was only temporary. What Sondra needed was salvation. Though the harsh things her mother had said to her since figuring out that she was on drugs hurt, Sondra had no choice but to accept them as true. Perhaps the malign statements might have been said out of genuine love. Maybe they were said solely with the intention of setting her straight, Sondra thought to herself. To cope with the remorse of not calling Presley for such a long time, Sondra told herself that he would be better off forgetting that such a worthless person as herself ever existed. It was one of the fortes of an addict: playing the guilt card. But guilt is something that haunts. It nags. No matter what you do, you can’t shake it. Furthermore, Sondra was not some stone-hearted prison inmate; she was a mother: everything about her spelled compassion. Her son needed her in his life, and she knew it. It was just those thoughts of How would he react to me being absent from his life after all this time? and His grandmother has probably filled his head up with so much bullshit about me by now. that made her put off calling him. But after battling with the thought of picking up the phone and punching a few buttons for eight long years, Sondra finally built up the courage to call back to the cottage to speak to the boy she had neglected for so long.