“Mom?” Finn’s voice trembled when he finally found his mother. They’d been home from school for nearly ten minutes, but she still hadn’t come downstairs. His older sister, Tonya, had acted like it wasn’t a big deal. But, she acted like that about everything lately. Dalila must have been napping in her room because he hadn’t been able to find her, either.
Usually his mother was waiting downstairs when they got home. And she usually had a snack ready for them, too. But, there’d been nothing today. She had been acting strange for the last two days. Ever since she’d talked to Uncle Mark Easter morning.
He might be not quite seven, but he knew when his mom wasn’t acting like she usually did. And it was worrying him.
She turned from her bed, and he saw the open suitcase laying on top of it. He’d seen one of them on that bed so many times before, it shouldn’t faze him anymore. He shouldn’t feel this heavy weight in his stomach. But, it didn’t make any sense. Dad was already away on yet another of his trips. He didn’t seem to stay home more than a couple days at a time anymore. He wasn’t always nice to Finn, but Finn still missed him when he was gone.
“What’s going on, Mom? Are you going somewhere, too? Who’s going to stay here with us?” Was he so bad that everyone had to leave? He tried to be good, really he did. He tried not to cry, ’cause that always made Dad upset. He tried not to fight with his sisters, but sometimes Tonya was mean. And Dalila could get on his nerves by always wanting to hang on him. But, he tried.
His mom’s eyes darted toward the doorway then came back to him. “I’m not leaving you, Finn. Not any of you. But, we’re going to stay at Amanda’s for a little while. You like Amanda, remember?”
He nodded. “But, why, Mom? What’s wrong with our house?”
“Your father and I…we just can’t live together anymore.” Then, lower she said, “I can’t live with him anymore.” He didn’t understand the difference between the two statements.
“So, we’re going to live with Amanda? But, her house is smaller than ours. And there’ll be more people in it. How are we going to do that?”
“It’s only for a couple months,” she assured him. “When school’s out, we’re going to move up closer to Uncle Mark. Won’t that be nice? You’ll get to see more of him.”
“What about Grandma and Grandpa? And Uncle Patrick.”
“They can come up and visit us there if they’d like. This is going to be the best thing for us, Finn. I’m trying to make all our lives better. I promise.”
“Can I take my books?”
He saw her smile then, and it melted some of the weight from him. “You can take some of them now. We’ll try to get the rest before we move up to Crystal Glen.”
Well, he supposed he could live with that. At least he didn’t have to leave his books behind. “Can we have a snack now?”
His mom let out a soft laugh. “Sure, Finn. I’ll be down in a minute.”
Because he could still sense some sadness from her, he gave her a quick hug before leaving the bedroom and hurrying down the stairs. He didn’t know what this would mean for all of them, but he could worry about that later. Right now, his biggest worry was what he’d have for a snack.
Note: We see Maura and Finn for the first time in Flames of Recompense, which is the one right before her and Nolan’s story. But, they’re mentioned in Flames of Retribution(‘Uncle Mark’s’ story).