She Could Not Believe It
She was standing in her open carport, peering out into the December snowfall. A chilling air rushed through the tiered white driveway in front of her.
She could not understand why her son wandered away from home again. She contacted her daughter and asked if she had any information regarding his location. She was then directed to her son’s laptop and told to investigate his search history. She was stunned by what she saw.
Fiona Hoover moved to Denver, Colorado, at the age of thirty-five. She desperately needed a change of scenery after the long and tedious separation from her husband, Mark. The pair were married for ten years when they decided to split paths.
Fiona got custody of their twins, Tommy and Leila, who had just celebrated their thirteenth birthday. Fiona wanted to give her children a wonderful life and that they needed to move so that they could start fresh. However, she was blissfully unaware of what Denver would hold for her.
They Tried To Make It Work
Fiona and Mark had a rocky marriage. They spent years in couple counseling to try and make it work, but after ten years, they knew it was for the best to separate.
However, it was not what was best for their children. Fiona knew that their separation would devastate them. She despised relocating them to Denver, but they all needed a change of scenery. She had no idea what she was getting herself into.
A Financially Straining Process
Fiona bought a modest house for her and her children in a very secure area in Denver. She took some money from her savings account to furnish their new home with all of the necessities for her family.
Fiona did not have a lot of money left after handling all of the financial aspects of the relocation. She prayed it would be sufficient to get them through till her next salary. However, she had no idea what her children were up to behind her back.
How It Started
The worst day of Fiona’s life started out like normal. It was mid-December, and the family had been living in Denver for about two weeks.
The city was blanketed with snow, and while this was a pleasant time for most Denver residents, it was a terrifying time for Fiona.
Not A Very Festive Season
Fiona’s issue with the holiday season was straightforward. She couldn’t afford to celebrate Christmas because she didn’t have any money. She’d already tapped into her funds a few times, and she didn’t have much left.
That night, she pondered whether telling her children the truth was the best course of action. She felt like she already expected enough of them by asking them to move to a new city, and she did not want to upset them even more.
Making A Plan
Fiona informed her children about their terrible circumstances, assuring that, despite how dismal it appeared, she would figure out how to make Christmas happen.
She started to look for alternatives to get money for the festivities, including calling her supervisor and begging for overtime. However, she began to notice something strange in the home that she couldn’t comprehend.
Fiona realized that her son was not home most afternoons since she shared her predicament. He would leave straight after lunch and only return around dinner time.
Fiona was immediately intrigued by this conduct. She was under the impression that he had made new friends, which made her very happy. She had no idea how far she was off the mark.
Tommy’s strange behavior persisted over the weekend, and Fiona noticed. She drove through the area that afternoon, eager to meet his new friends. All of the children were playing peacefully, but Fiona was unable to locate Tommy.
She started to feel concerned for her son and circled the area one last time. She could not find Tommy at all, so she drove back home to ask Leila about his whereabouts.
When Fiona returned home, it had begun to snow. She called her daughter and inquired about her brother’s whereabouts. Leila did not say a word and only stared blankly at Fiona.
Fiona rested her forehead on her hands. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest, and she tried her best not to think about all the awful things that could happen to her son. She made eye contact with Leila yet again, and this time Leila confessed everything.
Leila’s answer was a silent gesture, a simple glance toward Fiona’s laptop. Fiona’s brows quirked at the machine before she reached for it.
Little Leila got up and dusted her dress. “I didn’t tell you anything,” she said as if she wasn’t thirteen years old and walked out of the room. Dumbfounded, Fiona opened the laptop and went to the only place she knew Tommy frequented while using the computer.
His Search History
Fiona’s heart skipped a beat when she brought up Tommy’s search history. She swallowed a thick blob of air as her sight turned blurry with tears.
“Oh, my little boy,” Fiona said mid-sob. She wiped her eyes as she went through the numerous web pages Tommy had visited. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
Fiona found a dozen pages divided between organizations that collected plastic bottles for a small fee, the best places to find plastic bottles in Fiona’s neighborhood, and prizes of several home appliances and foodstuffs.
“We wanted to throw you the best Christmas surprise, mom,” Leila’s voice sounded from Fiona’s side. What she revealed next made Fiona’s tears double.
The Dream Team
“Tommy has been collecting bottles while I run the financial end of things,” said Leila. “We have thirty dollars so far,” she smiled, wrenching a cry from Fiona. “Come here,” Fiona held out her hand.
As if on cue, Tommy strolled into the living room, swathed in layers of sweaters and a jacket and covered in snow. He nodded at Leila, grinning, but seemed to read the room.
Us Against The World
“You caved?” Tommy lamented when Fiona beckoned him to them. “She found out on her own, Mr. I Don’t Clear My Browser History,” Leila said. Fiona shook her head, wondering how fast her kids were growing.
She threw her arms around Tommy too. “I am so proud of you kids,” she said. “I appreciate what you’re doing, but I told you I got this.” Tommy raised his head. “No, mom. We all got this,” he said, and Leila nodded.