"Hey Teddy, are you home?"
Sarah slammed the front door shut and slung her purse across the hallway. With a soft THUD it landed on the pile of shoes and stuff which usually accumulated during the week. She'd clean it away tomorrow. Maybe. Having to choose between spending time with her precious little boy and a tidy home... well, if there was something like Judgement Day, God would probably frown more about a neglected child than about a messy kitchen. (And if he didn't, she didn't want to stay with him anyway.)
She hesitated, confused by the silence. Usually Teddy would fling himself down the stairs and right into her arms, never doubting for even an instant that Mommy would catch him. No matter how tired she was after a long work day or how extravagant the tune he decided to play on his mother's nerves, he knew she loved him and would never let him down. After all, he was the guy in her life, right?
With a sight, Sarah took off her high heels and padded upstairs to look for her boy. The door to his room was halfway open, light from the street lantern in front of the window tinting the carpet a sickly orange. A few toys lay scattered across the floor. What a relief to see a normal kid's room. In some ways, Teddy was just like all the big managers Sarah had to cope with all day long - selfish, childish, never bothering to pick up his stuff.
Teddy sat on his bed, looking at her with huge dark eyes. "Mommy, am I in trouble?"
She hugged him and smiled. "I don't know, what did you do?"
He did not hug her back. Instead, he handed her a crumpled piece of paper. "The teacher gave me a letter for you to sign. She said you need to talk."
Poor Teddy. He was used to being teased and being in trouble, and he constantly felt the need to prove himself in front of the other children. Sarah had never imagined it would be so tough for him to grow up without a father. Or at least not the usual kind of father. One could say that Teddy had been an accident - or maybe an unexpected gift. Sarah had been in college, a wild girl, and her experiments had included everything from beer to weird-looking plants her friends had bought in dark, shabby stores off main street. And her final, particularly wild trip, the one which caused her to vow never to take anything more sinister than Aspirin ever again, had somehow resulted in this cute little man, who was just like any other child, and yet so unique. Sarah remembered the look on her midwife's face when she had given her the tiny baby - surprise and awe and horror, all mixed into one.
She took her time to read the letter without switching on the overhead lamp. ... lack of discipline and modesty... got undressed inside the classroom... inappropriate use of Halloween equipment not approved by school rules... It took her a moment to understand what the teacher was talking about. Halloween equipment? No wonder that her little boy was upset!
Sarah turned around and hugged her son once more. She could feel the tiny bulges moving underneath his shirt. "Don't worry, honey. I'll talk to your teacher." She gave him an extra squeeze. "But how often have I told you? No tentacles at school!"