Milk Carton Mother

It was raining that day; the morning sky was dressed in the overcast of a storm falling from the sky. On the third snooze after the initial alarm she decided to get out of bed. It wasn’t a day that she was looking forward to.

She sat at the table like she did every morning before work with a typical breakfast: toast, jam, coffee, and milk. The milk carton sat across from her; She stared at it barley moving in her robe. A tear rolled down her cheek.

After the hustle of stormy morning traffic, she made it to her cubical early. She sat at her desk, scanning news reports from her computer in a daze. Her eyes meet the calendar pined to the partition. the 20th was circled in red pen. While staring, the daze caught up with her as it soon became a haunted memory.

Through the pathways in her mind she started to trace her steps back to where she was on this day a year ago. It was raining that day too. She got the call around dawn. It was a gruff and scratchy voice, “We think we’ve found her...” Her heart fell to stomach.

She was brought back from her thoughts when her phone rang. Wiping away her tears she answered it on the third ring. “Harris County Sheriff’s Department...” she wiped away her tears, and started her day. The voice on the phone was the same that she heard that morning a year ago.

“Rebecca?!? I told you to stay home today! What the Hell are you doing at work?” the voice spoke.

“I know David, but I have a lot to do this morning, and I wanted to at least get in half a day.”

“I can hear it in you voice Beck, You’re a wreck!”

She replied quickly to stop the conversation, “I’m forwarding my calls to voicemail, and I’m not going to the briefing this morning. I just need to get a few things done.”

“You’re as stubborn as the day is long, girl. Go Home--Get some rest!”

“Goodbye David.” she said as she hung up the phone.

She laid her head down on the desk, and again she started to think about that day a year ago.

She was still in bed when she answered the phone, “What are you talking about David?” she question him in a delirious state.

“It’s a mass grave,” he said, “about twenty kids spread out over about 300 feet.” he said coldly.

She paused, and with a trembled voice she whispered to herself, “... Bailey?”

“You should get down here--Tucket’s Pasture is where it is. I’ll be waiting for you.” David hung up the phone.

She pulled into a muddy dirt road in a panic hoping not to find what she would. Red and blue lights flashed from the police cars lining the entrance to the property. She was flagged down by an officer who asked for her ID. She showed her badge, and parked her car.

It was a blur. She saw a cadaver dressed in her daughter’s clothes that she was reported wearing three months ago when she went missing. Rebecca fell to her knees.

She lifted her head from the memory, staring at the calendar with the red circled 20th.

It was lunch time, and David walked in behind her. He stood and watched as she stayed glued to her monitor typing reports. “You should let me take you out to lunch,” he said.

“I’m not very hungry.” she replied.

“It’s an order.”

They were sitting under the over hang of a cafe’. Not much was being said over the salad and soup they were having. David lit a cigarette, and broke the silence after the waiter came and took their plates.. As the rain was clearing leaving a the blue of a mid day overcast he said, “You should talk about it.”

She sat there staring at her coffee. She started to speak:

“How old are you boys David?”

“18 and 20,” he answered.

“She would have been 9 this year,” she paused and looked up at him. “Your boys have a lot ahead of them: graduating from college, marriage, and grandchildren if you’re lucky,” she laughed.

“Bailey was 8 years old. She could have been anything she wanted to be. She could have been anything that I could force her to be for that matter. Our children are our legacy: the part of us that we leave behind.” She paused.

“She could have been anything,” she said staring off into the distance.
“Whatever it was: fate, destiny, God’s plan... Bailey is nothing now. Her legacy has been made, and it stares across the table from me every morning on the side of the milk carton. We found her a year ago, and they’re still printing it. Your kids are going to go on and be great men, but my baby will forever be that kid on the side of the milk carton.”