No One To Blame But Marlee: Part 2
It was 3am. Nothing in particular had woken Marlee. Ever since Ethan had been born, she hadn’t been able to sleep through the night without waking at least once. She turned over in bed. She was too hot, even with the windows open. Marlee starred up at the ceiling.
Her mind drifted back to her lunch catch up that day with Clare. Marlee wanted to say it had been good to see her oldest friend after all that time. But in truth, it hadn’t. Clare seemed to bring out the old, timid, self-conscious Marlee. And as much as she’d been loathe to rub Ethan under Clare’s nose, it had given Marlee a small thrill to see her friend’s jealousy.
Marlee glanced over at the baby monitor on her bedside table.
A scream pierced the stillness of the night. The cot was empty.
“Ethan! Ethan! ETHAN!”
Marlee raced into the nursery and threw open the wardrobe in Ethan’s room. She looked under the cot, flung the throw off the arm chair. But he wasn’t there.
Blood rushed in her ears and he eyes bulged with fear. The edges of the room wavered as her eyes filled. She wanted to sink down and hug knees to her. But she had to get up, she had to look for him. He was her baby, he needed her. She needed him.
Marlee struggled to her feet, her body moved slowly as though she were drugged. Her chest was tight but she forced the air in and out until at last the paralysis lifted and Marlee ran. In to the kitchen. The backdoor was wide open. Had she left it open? Had someone been in here? Her breath quickened now, the pumping of her heart a ticking clock urging her onwards, as fear prickled at the insides of arms.
Marlee fled the empty house, searching the backyard with her eyes, struggling in the dim light. The night was overcast and the moon only a sliver. The air felt electric, the icy tendrils of wind whipped at her hair, covering her face. There was a storm coming. Her stomach clenched.
She darted around the side of the house, running down the path to the front, the gate was wide open, swinging on its hinges as though ghosts were passing in and out. It’s just the wind. Marlee steeled herself and charged through the gate, onto the bitumen, oblivious to the sharp stones cutting at her bare feet. Her wide green eyes were almost glowing as she turned her head this way and that, frantic for any trace of her baby.
But there was nothing.
“It’s not possible that he wandered off. It’s just not possible.” Marlee said. She rested her head on her palms as she sat at the kitchen table trying to convince the officer that her son had been taken. Why wouldn’t they believe her?
“Where is the boy’s father?”
As far as Marlee was concerned, Ethan didn’t have a father. She looked at the kitchen window as the rain pelted against it. Ethan was so scared of thunder; she usually brought him into her bed during storms. She was the one who knew how to comfort him, what he needed. He was her son.
“Jack’s gone,” Marlee said to the world beyond the window.
“What about other family?” the officer tried again.
Marlee turned her head back to him, her pupils so large her eyes looked black, matching the fear that had become a stone in her stomach, dragging her down, back to the darkness.
“They don’t know about Ethan. None of them know about him.”
“Well, who do you think would want to take your son?”
“I don’t know, I don’t know!” She exploded now, all this talk, they should be out looking. “We get stopped in the street all the time. He has the most amazing blue eyes and really long lashes. Just look at him!” Marlee pointed at the photograph on her wall, he was 5 months old then. “People are always commenting, they think he’s beautiful. Maybe some psycho followed us home and snatched him.”
“Is he able to climb out of the cot by himself? I know my little fella was doing that at about 18 months old.”
“No, that’s why I always put him in a baby sleeping bag. He can’t climb out with the sleeping bag on. He’s been abducted, damn it! You need to find him!”
“Calm down Mrs Saunders. We need to cover off every possibility.”
“So you think he climbed out of his cot, opened the back door, went around the side of the house, opened the front gate and ran away? All with a sleeping bag on?”
“Perhaps he took the bag off?”
“Well if he took it off, where the hell is it?” Marlee was feverish, her body trembling. The longer they sat here talking about impossible scenarios the less chance they had of finding the person who took Ethan. She wished Clare were here. Clare would know how to make this man see sense. But she didn’t want Clare’s help. She didn’t need Clare’s help anymore. No, it was up to Marlee alone to find Ethan.
Marlee stood up from the table so quickly that the chair clattered to the floor behind her.
“Where are you going?” The officer said.
“To find my son.”