Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Current Affairs (05/31/12)
TITLE: Loving Baby Drew
By Genia Gilbert
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Sometimes Michael spoke politely, though she’d never describe him as friendly. On other days, he barely acknowledged her, speaking only enough to coordinate their tasks.
It was rush tax season in their small southern town. While Michael electronically processed refund checks and rejections, Marge printed copies and prepared client back-up files. Louise, Michael’s grandmother, was owner/ manager, working with two other tax preparers in the front office.
At first, Marge thought Michael was just uncomfortable with her because she was much older. However, after the first couple of weeks, a disturbing pattern emerged.
For two or three days, Michael would work rapidly. Nicely dressed, he communicated well. He even laughed occasionally, though there was a noticeable tremor in his hands. Following that were contrasting periods when he wore rumpled clothes, looking extremely tired, with eyes glazed and vacant. He sometimes fell asleep in the antique rocking chair that sat in the corner. His work was sloppy, becoming impossible to follow. Louise began to show her exasperation.
Michael was young, maybe twenty-two, but already had a family. Tanya, his thin, dark-haired wife was obviously pregnant. In addition, they had Baby Drew. At thirteen months, and barely walking, Drew had stolen Marge’s heart. He had golden blond curls and dark, sad eyes. He walked about solemnly, clutching his bottle with every labored step. He cried often, for no apparent reason. Tanya paid him little attention, and Michael, even less. The young couple was absorbed in low conversations, sounding irritable and angry. More than once, they left the building, having heated arguments in front of the office. Louise, caught in the tax rush, couldn’t deal with the crises.
The situation rapidly grew worse. Michael’s good days all but disappeared, and sometimes he failed to show up at all. When Tanya came by, she showed that same unkempt, tired appearance, and Drew was usually tagging behind, in tears. Michael routinely went to the cash register to remove cash, telling Louise he would repay it on payday. Things were out of control.
Marge’s husband Dave already had a burden about the mounting methamphetamine use sweeping their rural area. By now, Marge realized that Michael and Tanya were deep into it. Little Drew was a victim, as the unborn baby would be.
What could she do? This troubled family was new to her; they were unreceptive when she tried to get close, or tried talking with them about the Lord. Marge prayed earnestly.
One Monday morning the final crisis erupted.
Michael had only been there a few minutes when Tanya appeared, placed Baby Drew on the floor beside him, and walked away. She mumbled something about leaving for a few hours. Michael rushed after her, creating a scene throughout the office.
Hearing both cars leave at a high speed, Marge knew they were not coming back. Louise cried, asking her to watch Drew until she could find a sitter.
Marge looked down at the distraught little boy who was now screaming. Bending over, she picked him up, and found a fresh bottle. Sitting down in the old rocker, she began to stroke his head, singing softly to him. She didn’t care if clients had to wait. It was time to love Baby Drew. His tiny body finally relaxed and he slept quietly in her arms. Marge choked back tears.
When the sitter came for Drew, Marge went home for lunch, only she wasn’t hungry. She sobbed until she couldn’t cry anymore.
The next day, in the awkward silence, a new young man worked in Michael’s place.
Before Marge decided how to report the situation, Michael was arrested, not only for possession of meth, but also for selling it. Tanya, too, was charged with possession, and Baby Drew was placed with his other grandmother.
With a heart that would never be the same, Marge thanked God for His intervention. She prayed for the baby yet to come.
Based on a true story, with names and locations changed.
In 2010, in the state where I live there were 91 children affected and two injured by the production of meth. This doesn’t include those emotional scars on children like Baby Drew.
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