(Taylor is concerned by the extended absence of her young art student, T, and makes an unannounced visit to his home to check on him.)
Taylor climbed the last flight of stairs up to Tony’s apartment slow and easy feeling every twinge of her eight months of pregnancy. The apartment building was a far cry from the home she shared with David and she could hardly believe the two dwellings were located within the same community.
Along the stairwell, there was trash but outside of a few trip hazards they seemed relatively safe. The elevator was broken and she had dreaded taking the stairs but she felt relatively safe and the climb was soon over without incident. She held on tightly to the banister as she reached the last few steps and opened the door that led onto T’s floor.
She stopped and reviewed the small slip of paper before proceeding even though she had the apartment number memorized. She heard a variety of sounds and voices spilling out into the hall from behind closed doors; babies crying, television programs, laughing voices, and just a bit further some shouting and banging around.
She reached the apartment she was searching for and was shocked to discover the shouting was coming from there. She could here a child crying and pleading and knew immediately it was T. She knocked and banged on the door repeatedly calling his name but the commotion inside continued unabated.
She grasped the doorknob and pushed through in one motion without even thinking about it and the unlocked door flew wide open. Her wide eyes flew wildly around the room taking in the scene before her. She saw what looked like a rag doll dangling from the clenched fists of a long lanky man. His face was twisted in fury and his small victim’s terrified face was almost unrecognizable as her quiet young pupil.
“Stop!” she screamed racing across the floor as quickly as her girth would allow but she didn’t make it in time. The lanky man flung the child across the room against the wall. Rage filled her and she flew at the perpetrator in blind fury catching him completely off guard. She didn’t see the flicker of alarm register in the man’s eyes at the sight of the small motionless form crumpled on the floor.
She leaped at him clawing and punching without any regard for her own well being. Her fists rained down punishment on his head and shoulders driving him back. He quickly recovered and shoved her away. Taylor felt as if she was falling in slow motion while her legs struggled to stay beneath her. She flew back against the hard edge of the kitchen counter and felt a sharp pain shoot from her back straight through to her abdomen knocking the wind out of her.
She slid to the floor and lay cradling her midsection trying desperately to draw breath. Tony stood between the two fallen forms looking from one to the other. He finally rushed to T’s side swallowing his fear. The boy opened his eyes before Tony could say anything and relief filled his heart and flowed from his eyes down his cheeks wetting his son’s face.
“Can you stand up?”
T didn’t respond.
“I’ll be right back.”
Tony rushed to the other side of the room and bent over the unfamiliar very pregnant woman. She stared at him wildly sharply panting all doubled over on the floor. She was in pain. He reached for her and she flinched back. He withdrew. She couldn’t speak. All her effort went into the act of breathing. She concentrated on taking air into her lungs so that her baby would have oxygen to breathe.
She looked past Tony and saw T rise from the floor. She wanted to scream at him to run but she couldn’t. She watched in horror as the boy walked on wobbly legs right up behind the man who had just tried to kill them both.