Kara sat in the busy diner surrounded by the smell of bacon and by people who looked just as anxious and nervous as she. She folded and unfolded the empty sweetener packet and was so lost in her thoughts that she visibly jumped when Rachael Connor slid into the booth and sat across from her.
“This is a little more public than I expected,” said Rachael. “If we’re going to talk, I would rather do it out of the public eye.”
“I haven’t seen him this morning, and Jonah is at school. If he’s anywhere, he’s there, watching him, not me.” Kara was referring to Craig Foster, although she didn’t know him by name. She knew only that he was an FBI agent, and that he could take her Jonah away from her, away from society, away from existence, at any time.
Kara had only met Rachael the night before, but it seemed like she had known her forever. She had known, for what had seemed like forever, what Rachael had come to tell her. Rachael had risked her life to seek Kara out. It would have been easier to just stay away and pretend she didn’t know anything about the rest of her team finding the link, about the agency wanting to remove those with the link from society. It would be easier for her to believe, perhaps, that the agency just wanted to study them, instead of killing them. But she, too, was a mother. She knew of the need to protect your babies at all costs. And so she used her contacts to find the list, and that list led her to Kara.
“The last 12 hours have been a blur. My initial feeling was to take Jonah and run. I saw Chris’ face when you told us about the link. I saw the fear in his eyes, and I knew it wasn’t a fear of losing Jonah. It was a fear of keeping him. He wants to call the agency, Rachael. He wants to turn him over. Maybe he’s right.”
“What? Are you serious? This is your child. You can’t just let the FBI erase him from this world. How can you even consider that?”
“You don’t know, Rachael,” whispered Kara. “You don’t know what it has been like for us. You don’t know what it is to see the distant, cold look in the eyes of your toddler. You don’t know what it’s like to find dead animals behind your house and wonder what the hell happened to them. You don’t know what it’s like to have other mothers call you and tell you that your child isn’t allowed to come to their homes anymore. You don’t know what it’s like to have your child’s teachers suggest psychotherapy. Years of testing, Rachael, for everything from autism to schizophrenia, with no diagnosis. We’ve called everyone short of a priest over the past 7 years. I’ve been convinced it was something I did, or that he was sick and could be treated. And now you tell me that it’s a matter of genetics? That by some fucked up twist of fate, I have a one-in-a-million kid who has the biological propensity to murder and dismember and torture people?!”
“It’s just that, Kara. It’s just a propensity. It’s not a given.”
“You’ve met my son. You know he’s going there.” Tears streamed down Kara’s face as the waitress refilled her coffee.
“You ok, hon?” asked the waitress.
“Yes, thanks. Can I get the check, please?”
“I need time,” said Kara, after the waitress had gone. “I need to buy time to think, and time for Jonah to show me he’s not a monster. I’m taking him and leaving when school is out.”
“Be careful, Kara. I won’t ask where you’re going. Just watch your back.”
Kara assured her she would. She was just unsure from which direction she needed to watch.