It was already dark outside, the little boy’s mom had already put him in bed to have a good night’s sleep, but even though he was closing his eyes, the sleep never seemed to come. His mind was full of ideas and dreams that little Josh wanted to share with his mom. Quietly, he got out of bed and managed to open the door that separated his room from the hallway. Josh went down the stairs being careful to make as little noise as possible.
At the bottom of the stairs, Josh could see his mom, sitting at the kitchen table with only a small lamp illuminating the place. She looked different. Her smiley eyes were tired and, in her hand, she was holding her phone anxiously, her legs were trembling maybe because of the cold coming in through the window, or maybe she was scared of something. Usually, she was calm and relaxed no matter how serious the situation was. She worked day and night to save other people, and never let anything be lacking for her son. But at that moment she looked so anxious and worried, Josh was afraid to go towards her. Maybe all she needed was a hug, but she could be mad at him that he was out of the bed so late.
The boy heard the familiar sound of the door opening and apparently his mother also heard it, quickly directing her eyes to the back door and standing up, still holding the phone firmly. A man came into the kitchen walking in her direction, buzzed. Josh couldn’t see his face, because of the lack of light in the room, but he clearly saw when the man went over to his mom to try to kiss her. “How dare he? Dad is the only one who can kiss mom, and he is not here anymore to do that.” A sorrowful expression covered the little boy’s face with the thought. However, the woman stopped him, putting her hands in his chest and pushing him away.
"You’re drunk again," she said steadily.
"What makes you think that, honey?", the man said, putting his keys on the table, and sitting loosely on one of the table chairs. Something in his voice sounded awfully familiar to Josh.
"Don’t ever call me that again, you know this is never going to happen. I told you that if you come back here like this I wouldn’t let you in again" she said, maintaining the posture.
"Oh honey, come on, we both know that you weren’t being serious", he said with disdain.
"Yes, I was. Get out of here. Now", she exclaimed, while pointing at the door. “If you don’t get out of here in three seconds I’m going to call the police” she raised up the phone to show it to the man. Josh had never seen his mom so strong, but at the same time so shaken.
"I don’t want to." the man said, laughing at her, making Josh’s blood boil with anger. The man stood up from the chair and started to walk towards the woman while she receded. He pushed her against the wall, consequently making her fall to the ground.
Josh didn’t care about the tears in his eyes, he didn’t care about his fear, he didn’t care if his mom would be mad at him or not. He ran in her direction and bit the man's hand with all the strength that he had. The man recoiled due to the unexpected pain, while the boy threw himself in his mother's arms to protect her. Quickly, the man ran and turned on the kitchen lights to see what was going on. The light covered the room and now Josh could see clearly the face of the man who was threatening his mother.
It was impossible for Josh to hide the shock in his expression. His uncle James, the man who took care of him and his mother after Josh’s dad passed away, was standing before his eyes. James was his father’s brother and he had been living with him and his mom since his father left. He was the man who would take Josh to the school every day that his mother was busy working, the man who saw all of his basketball matches, the man who would take him on crazy and random adventures every time he was alone and the tears wouldn’t stop coming.
Josh saw him as a hero; he was the best person in the world for him; James was the father that Josh didn’t lose. The person that the boy most admired, was also the one who was causing pain to his mother.
When James saw his nephew sobbing in his mother’s arms, something changed in his eyes. At that moment he understood that what he did was irrecoverable, and that his nephew would never see him in the same way. Josh was everything to James, he promised his father that he would take care of Josh and his mother no matter what. But since then he gave in to his old enemy and started drinking again. At the beginning it was just a few visits to the bar every other week after work, but now the stress and worries of adult life caught up to him, and he couldn’t find another way to deal with the pain.
He made an attempt to come closer and try to explain, regret was all they could see in his face, but Josh skirmished over him and yelled, begging him to go away and never come back. James looked at the angry eyes of the boy he loved the most and knew there was nothing he could do at that moment to repair the damage he caused. He rushed out the door wiping away the tears.
Josh’s mom hugged him, tears rolling nonstop down her cheeks.
“Why mommy, what happened? Uncle James, what did he do to you… why?” The boy said in between sobs.
His mom looked at him, her expression was a mixture of sadness and helplessness.
"I’m here baby, I’m okay, and everything is going to be okay", she said with sorrow in her voice.
“What happened to him?” Josh said, pulling away to look at his mom’s face.
His mom looked at him and then back at the door.
“He is a good man, Josh but he got lost and there’s no way we can find him now,” she replied sadly.
"I was so scared, mommy. Please never let him hurt you again".
After hearing his son’s words she closed her eyes, trying to stop the tears and whispered to Josh and herself: "It’s going to be okay".
Josh hugged her even harder.