|Subject: À la Vie! - Chapter 42
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Date Posted: Saturday, November 06, 07:22:48pm
In reply to:
's message, "À la Vie! - Chapter 41+" on Friday, November 05, 11:09:31pm
Michael found a picture of Adam when he was about 11 months old. He was standing with one bare foot forward, fists raised high in triumph and a beatific smile on his face. Michael turned the photo into a pen and paper drawing, sketching himself behind Adam, kneeling at his back and holding the tiny fists in his hands. He was looking at Adam with joy and love. This is the message he wanted to send his son. He signed the picture “To Adam, with all my heart, Daddy.” He had the 5”X7” picture laminated, and gave it to Nikita to give to Adam.
Adam was ecstatic. This was the first time he had seen his father and himself together, and it made the Daddy in his pictures seem more real in his head.
“Does my Daddy still love me?” he asked Nikita as she helped him hide his picture.
“Of course he does, Adam,” answered Nikita, surprised. “What would make you ask such a question?”
Adam lowered his eyes and scuffed his boot back and forth over the carpet. “He never comes to see me,” he said softly. “I thought maybe he found a new little boy he liked better than me.”
Nikita sat down and pulled him onto her lap. “Oh, Adam, your daddy loves you very much. The law in France is very silly. It says that when Mummies and Daddies get divorced, only the Mummies get to keep the little boys. It doesn’t mean the Daddies don’t want to. Your daddy wants to see you very much. He would never look for another little boy, because he has you.”
“Can he see me when I go to Germany?” asked Adam, inspired.
Nikita was taken aback. “What do you know about Germany? Who said you are going there?”
“Mummy did,” Adam shrugged. “She said, ‘the sooner we get out of this hell hole and move to Germany, the better.’”
“Do you want to go away to Germany and live with your mummy?” probed Nikita.
Adam was silent.
“It’s okay, Adam. You can tell me the truth. I won’t be upset, and I won’t tell Mummy.”
Slowly, Adam shook his head. He said in a voice that was nearly a whisper, “I really don’t like Mummy very much.” He flung his arms around Nikita’s neck and buried his head in her shoulder. He was frightened by the enormity of the sin he had just committed. Nikita could feel his small body trembling. She stroked his back and whispered soothing words. She promised that his secret would stay safe with her—Mummy would never ever find out.
* * *
Michael was upset and frustrated. It had rained every day for the past week, and there had been no opportunity for Nikita and Julie to take Adam outside. Julie had been surreptitiously been smuggling some of Adam’s clothes over to the gallery, as well as some of her own. Adam would need someone to look after him while they were on the run.
Today, Nikita was singing to Adam—silly little German songs and lullabies that she remembered from her days with the Fannings. Her husky voice was sweet and clear, and Adam was growing drowsy, nestled in Julie’s arms. It was this charming tableau that Elena chose to disrupt.
“You’re supposed to be teaching the boy German,” she leveled at Nikita accusingly. “Why are you singing him idiotic songs? And why are you all sitting on the floor? It’s all very unseemly.” It was clear that she was high on something—probably amphetamines.
“I apologize, “Mlle Vacek,” said Nikita as she stood, eyes downcast. “I was singing to him in German so that he would get used to the sound of the language.”
“Sitting on the floor was my idea,” broke in Julie, partly to deflect attention away from Nikita. “Adam and I usually sit on the floor unless he is eating or doing desk work. His little legs are so small—he finds it more comfortable that way.”
“I’m not interested in his comfort,” said Elena dismissively. “How are his lessons progressing?”
“He knows his numbers 1 to 10, and his colors,” began Nikita. “He can say, ‘Good day, my name is Adam; what is your name?’ and ‘I am fine; how are you?’”
“That’s it?” asked Elena, clearly displeased. “Ten days and that’s all you’ve done?”
“He is just two years old,” said Julie defensively. “He can name most of the objects in his bedroom and in the nursery. We are waiting for a nice day to take him outside to teach him words like grass and bush and tree.”
“Why are you defending her,” Elena said to Julie, gesturing at Nikita. “Can’t she speak for herself?”
“Yes, Mademoiselle,” said Nikita deferentially, “but I agree with everything Julie just said. We’re working very closely together with Adam’s lessons”
Elena took a closer look at Nikita. “What did you say your name was?”
Nikita answered, “Maxfield, Mademoiselle. “Fräulein Maxifeld.” She held her breath.
Elena announced “I’ve seen you somewhere before.”
“It’s possible, Mademoiselle. I’ve tutored other children in and around Marseilles. Perhaps you saw me when you were out with Adam?”
Knowing this was not possible, Elena shook her head. “No, that’s not it. But it will come to me.” She turned to leave. “Make sure he’s ready as soon as possible. We leave the day after tomorrow.”
She flounced out of the room without speaking to Adam. Nikita and Julie looked at each other in dismay.
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