A boy returns home from his university during the holidays only to find the house in a state of disarray, the fridge full of expired, old groceries, and his mother to be missing...
"Are you serious, mom? You just called me because you wanted to ask if I had breakfast?! Look, mom, I'm no kid, okay. You need to stop acting like that!" Thomas snapped at his mother Alexis when she called him one morning.
"But, honey, all I wanted to know was how your health was. You know, this is the first time I've sent you this far, and I'm a little concerned. That's all, honey."
"Please, mom," retorted Thomas. "Aren't you sick of bothering me like this every day? I have a class at ten o'clock, so I'm leaving. Also, stop calling me every day! Goodbye!"
"But Thomas, listen…I just wanted to ask if you'd be home for the holidays. I was planning on making all your favorite dishes…Hello, Thomas? Are you there, honey? Hello?"
Unfortunately, the call had already been disconnected. This was the fourth time Thomas had abruptly hung up the phone that month.
After finishing high school, Thomas insisted that he wanted to study in New York. Alexis was concerned when Thomas declared his intention to attend a university outside of their hometown because she knew her budget would not allow it and also because she feared sending Thomas away.
Since Alexis's husband abandoned her, Thomas had been the only person she could rely on. However, she gave way to her son's request to study in a different state, even though she was adamantly opposed to it because she loved him a lot.
When Thomas first moved to his university dorm, everything was fine for the first few months. He called Alexis every weekend, regularly asked about her health, and to be precise, he was actually a mama's boy. However, everything had changed drastically a few months later.
Thomas went to New York for higher studies | Photo: Pexels
When Alexis called Thomas, he never returned her calls and instead left her a message saying he was busy and would call her later. But, eventually, even that stopped, and it was just hurried conversations that Thomas never bothered to finish.
However, one morning, as Alexis was about to leave for work, Thomas called her.
Alexis couldn't believe her eyes when his name flashed across her screen! She was overjoyed when she answered the phone, but as the conversation progressed, her joy faded. It wasn't a phone call inquiring about her health or how she was doing. Instead, Thomas had called to ask her to buy him a new laptop because his old one was giving him problems.
That day, Alexis' eyes welled up with tears, just as they did this morning when Thomas abruptly disconnected the phone and told her not to call again. The woman wiped her tears before leaving her house for work.
A week later, when Thomas arrived home for the holidays, Alexis was nowhere to be found. Thomas and his friends had planned a trip together at first, but as the number of COVID cases in the country increased, most of his friends dropped out and said they'd be visiting their parents instead. Thomas was irritated when the trip was canceled, and he had to return home, but his irritation soon turned into shock.
"Mom? Are you there?" he called out to Alexis several times while waiting at the doorstep. When no replies came, he reasoned she must have gotten off late from work as it was already evening.
Thomas found the house in a disorganized state with unwashed dishes on the table. | Photo: Pexels
He opened the door with a spare key, but he couldn't believe his eyes as he stepped inside!
The front table was caked in dust, and dirty dishes were just left on the table. The living room windows were open, and the entire house was filthy, covered in spiderwebs and dirt.
"Seriously, mom? Can't you at least close the windows before leaving?" the boy growled as he proceeded to close them. "And why the hell is the house so dirty? We need to talk, mom! This is too much!" he muttered angrily as he made his way to his room, which was in no better shape.
There wasn't a lot of dust there, but it wasn't exactly clean either. The bedsheet appeared to have been changed months ago, and there was no water in the bathroom. Thomas was on the verge of losing his cool at this point!
He went downstairs, furious at the state of the house, in search of water bottles, but there weren't any in the kitchen, and when he opened the fridge, all he saw were a few plastic boxes full of food that reeked of garbage meat and expired package food.
"What the hell is wrong with you, mom? What's up with you these days?" The boy was perplexed as he took a few packets out and checked their expiration dates. The cheese had gone bad two days before, and the bread was literally moldy.
Thomas found expired food in the refrigerator | Photo: Pexels
When Thomas saw all this, he became enraged and immediately called his mother. But the call didn't go through the first few times, and the one time it did, Alexis didn't answer.
Thomas sank on the living room sofa, fuming, waiting for Alexis to return home and confront her, but several hours passed, and she didn't. Thomas called her again, but she did not return his call.
"Mom, where the hell are you? It's getting late in the evening!" the boy mused as he decided to look around the neighborhood to see if she'd stopped by any of the neighbors' houses on her way home. Alexis had previously told Thomas about their next-door neighbors, the Millers, who were extremely friendly to her. So the boy decided to pay them a visit first.
When he knocked on their door, a woman in her late 60s answered it. "Hi, how may I help you?" she asked.
"My name is Thomas Duncan. I'm your next-door neighbor's son. Actually, mom hasn't returned home yet, and she hasn't returned my calls, so I was wondering if she had stopped by you or one of our neighbors on the way back."
Thomas visited their next door neighbor to inquire about Alexis | Photo: Pexels
"You're her son, and you don't know where she frequently spends the night?"
"What do you mean? Mom comes back home every evening by 7. She works as a cashier at a grocery store."
The woman gave him a disappointed look and told him to wait. Then she returned with a piece of paper which bore an address. "Go here, and you'll find her. And yeah, try to be a better person in the future," she said before slamming the door on Thomas's face.
Woah. What's with that attitude? I just asked a simple question, the boy thought to himself. Then he boarded a cab to the address the woman gave her.
However, when he arrived there, he couldn't believe his eyes! The entire area appeared to be a slum, with a shady animal shelter in one corner.
Thomas went inside and asked the owner about her mother, who directed him to the dumpster behind the shelter, where his mother was packing all the trash and putting them in bins, as well as dumpster diving for food and occasionally eating whatever she found inside.
Thomas found Alexis dumpster diving | Photo: Shutterstock
"Mom, stop doing that!" Thomas rushed to her, teary-eyed. "What the hell is wrong with you, mom? What are you doing here?"
"Thomas!" The woman was stunned. "I didn't expect to see you here, honey."
"First, you tell me what you're doing here, mom. Why are you working at such a disgusting place?" The boy almost burst into tears.
"Oh, honey," Alexis said, embarrassed. "I started working here after I was fired at the grocery store…." The woman said and narrated the whole story.
It turns out Alexis was fired because she was frequently sick and tired and arrived late for work. After that, she struggled to find a job and finally found one at an animal shelter a few weeks ago. However, the pay at the shelter was low, so she saved all of her earnings for Thomas so that he wouldn't have any problems at the university.
"I frequently work the night shift here, honey. My job is to clean the shelter every day, which isn't too strenuous, and I frequently find food or coins. However, because I come home in the mornings and am exhausted by the end of the day, I am unable to clean the house. Still, I enjoy my job, and it's not too bad!" Alexis said with a faint smile on her face.
Thomas apologized to Alexis | Photo: Pexels
Thomas's eyes welled up with tears. His mother was clearly in a terrible state only because she was trying her best to support him. "I'm sorry you had to go through all of this, mom," the boy hugged his mother and sobbed. "It's all because of me. You will no longer work here, mom. You don't need to."
"But honey…" Before Alexis could say something, Thomas cut her off.
"I will support you, mom, and I'll try to be a better son. I'm so sorry!" And Thomas did as he had promised.
During the holidays, he started working part-time at a diner near their house, and with his first paycheck, he bought his mother a bouquet of her favorite flowers and a card that said, "You're the best, mom!"
When it was time for him to return to university, he requested the college dean if he could work part-time as a lab assistant, citing his mother's health problems and financial difficulties, so that he could send some of the money he earned to his mother and save the rest for his own expenses. Thankfully, the dean agreed to his request, and Thomas could continue supporting Alexis.
Meanwhile, Alexis also began working as a cashier at a clothing store and supported her son.
A few years down the line, when Thomas finished university, he found a good job, moved back in with his mother, and cared for both of them.
What can we learn from this story?
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