The drive to Forest Park was long an awkward. Apart of me wanted to escape. Ever since we began our affair, I knew it was only a matter of time before one of our spouses found out. I thought it would be mine considering how crazy and controlling his mother was, but it was Chris’s. I had only met her once. That is, if you call running out on them during the charity event meeting someone, still I heard she was a lovely woman, so I couldn’t help but feel bad about what I had done. But at the same time, I loved Chris and I loved his daughter. I hadn’t met his sons yet, but I was sure the moment I met them, I’d love them as well. Chris and I had a connection, something that Lenny and I never had, and we had been together for 20 years. I didn’t want to leave my husband and ruin everything that we had built but if it came down to it and I had to choose, I’d choose Chris every time.
“Come on,” he said, opening my door when we arrived at Forest Park. I didn’t even see him get out the car or realize we stopped. Still I grabbed his hand and joined him. “You ready?” He asked, nervously staring down at me.
“No, you go, I’ll stay here and wait.” I said, chickening out.
“Really,” He chuckled.
“Yeah, you go talk to her for a few minutes and I will be over there in ten minutes,” I promised.
“Five,” he ordered.
“Fine five,” I said, caving. He then kissed my cheek and walked towards the direction of the playground.
I stood there trying to figure out what to say to this woman whose husband I had stolen. I love him wasn’t going to cut it, because I knew she did as well. They were married after all and she had become stepmother to his children. Frustrated I looked towards the playground. There were a group of children running around playing but my eyes rested on one child. It was a little boy no older than five with cinnamon brown skin just like mine, curly brown hair and blue eyes. I knew who he was the moment I saw him and as my feet began to pull my body towards this little one I screamed “CJ,” and an image of me at a church hugging the little boy popped in my head.
I was happily talking to some women that sounded like my friends Paula, Cece and Tiana about something I couldn’t remember. Then the scene changed to a woman with short brown hair and butterscotch skin telling me that something had happened to my son CJ, but he was fine, he was standing in front of me playing with a ball and laughing. Next thing I knew my arms were around him and tears were fallen from my eyes.
He looked at me puzzled and said, “Who are you?”
Shocked I said, “I’m your mom CJ. It’s mommy.”
He shook his head no then ran away towards some other kids and I called after him crying his name.
“Laura?” I heard Lenny say from behind me. He was with his parents and they were looking at me as if I had lost my mind.
“What are you doing here?” I cried.
“What I’m doing here? We came together. Don’t you remember. You wanted to go to the park,” Lenny said, eyes full of concern.
I shook my head no, “I didn’t come with you. I haven’t seen you all day,” I said, remembering the hours I spent underneath Chris and my conversation with the doctor.
“What the hell are you talking about Laura? We’ve all been together all day. I cooked, you said we should have a picnic to celebrate Lenny’s promotion.” Julia said, sounding equally as worried as Lenny.
I shook my head no, “You’re lying. I wasn’t with you, I was with Chris. But that’s not important. I saw my son. I saw my CJ,” I said, pulling at his shirt begging him to listen.
“Again Laura, for the last time, you never had a son named CJ.” John said, “Son I think you need to take her back to Maine and see the psychiatrist, she’s obviously lost it.”
“No, I didn’t, I know what I saw, my baby’s over there,” I said, turning around and pointing towards the direction that my child had run, but there was no one there. The children that were once playing on the playground had all disappeared even Chris was gone which made no sense.
“There’s no one there,” Lenny said, standing in front of me begging me to see reason.
“But Chris?” I found myself saying. My voice caught in my throat as the tears pour down my face. It was all real, I know it was. My son was there. Chris was there.
“Baby, let’s go back home okay. You’ve had enough excitement for one day.” He said, escorting me to the car.
Then just as I was about to get in I heard, a little boy say mom, “I started to turn around, but Lenny stop me forcing me in the car as his parents sandwiched in alongside me.
“Mom,” the little boy repeated, his voice sounding desperate. I caught a glance of him through the mirror. Same eyes same skin only taller, older with braids. That was my little boy and he was calling me.
“Kid, go home my wife has had enough excitement for one day and she’s not feeling well.,” I heard Lenny say to my son as I tried to figure out a way to escape the car.
“That’s not your wife, that’s my mom. Mom?” He called again. “It’s me it’s CJ,”
This time I reached for the door and attempted to escape but they wouldn’t let me. I tried kicking them to get out the car, but it was no use John had my arms and Julia my legs as Lenny ran to the driver side. CJ was beating on the window crying and I was crying calling him while trying to fight them off me, so I could get to him. Then the car took off leaving CJ running after me with what look like Cory behind him.
“Hold her,” Julia ordered, As, she pulled out a needle that I kicked out her hand. “Bitch,” she said, slapping me.
“Let go of me.” I demanded. Everything about that moment felt familiar. The car, CJ, the people, then I realized why as my memories started flooding back. They weren’t my family. I wasn’t Lenny’s 40-year-old wife. My fiancé was Chris. I was 25 and Sandy tricked me into leaving out the church while her psychotic mother forced me to forget my life and her father stole my children from me.
“Everything will be okay Laura. The medicine will help you forget and we can resume our lives,” Lenny said, speeding through traffic like a madman as I locked his mother’s arms between my legs and bite his father’s hand.
“Ouch,” John said.
“My name is Tonya Braden not Laura. Take me back to my family,” I demanded. Then I felt a pinch in the back of my neck and as I began to lose consciousness, my thoughts turned to two days before my wedding day to Chris. We were lying in bed with our sons CJ and Cory watching TV and I remember thinking I was the luckiest woman in the world.