A Noisy Past.

The sound of utensils against porcelain ricochets about an awkwardly silent dinner. Jake amongst the four—the stark definition of a dysfunctional family excluding Micah and his innocent obliviousness, remains quiet. Claudia chose to sit beside the youngest son, though he barely uttered a word to her. He only stared at her, after the big reveal that she was his mother, time and time again, trying to figure out her motives for coming back. Micah was just a baby when she left, so he hadn't gotten a chance to get to know her—to bond with her.

George knew point blank that things could escalate, but his desire for them to be a family again, made him weak. Jake knew the effects all too well because he'd fought a querulous war to fend that feeling off himself. He knew that accepting her abrupt arrival as a godsend was unsafe, but after his father's implications of his mental health, he had something to prove. Even if not rushing to make amends landed him in a facility then fed pills to stay docile. He had a dangerous level of pride.

"I heard you've been learning Spanish at school, Micah." Claudia smiles down at the boy, who instead of answering, shoves a forkful of rice into his mouth. "How are you liking it?" She smiles, expecting an answer, yet not expecting it to be engaging.

Jake on the other hand, was not as nice with his curiosity. "Golly, she actually knows things about us." Jake mumbles, and his father's fork falls noisily into his plate. The reaction even captures Micah's attention, but the boy was completely oblivious to the rising tension. All he knew was that the strange woman that sat with them, called herself his mother.

"If you're our mom," Micah presses and Jake shifts his gaze to the boy. "How come you never come over to visit?" Micah's question stops the presses, and halts the tension just enough to implode it’s daunting effect.

"Micah, your mother was sick." George states, and Jake scoffs, entirely unconvinced. "She had to get better." Claudia smiles at his words and places her own fork down. "But she loves you very much, and you should always remember that."

"Good luck, kid, I'm 12 years older than you, and I still can't figure out if that's true." Jake departs a languid frown, then scowls down at his plate of chicken. Untouched, solely because of his growing frustration that halted any need to satiate his non-existent appetite.

George on the other hand, was sick of Jake's passive aggressive attitude, so he decided to put a stop to it. "Jake, your mother is sitting at this table with us. I understand that you don't feel as elated as I do, but you need to tone it down. I've raised you better than this." His voice stirs about the dining room, and Jake who sighs in desperate need for an excuse to leave, but instead leans back in his seat, equally unable to avoid the truth.

"Don't expect me to just forgive her within four hours of knowing she returned. You also shouldn't be exploiting Micah's curiosity, by telling him fantasies either. He needs to know the truth!" Jake retorts, feeling feverish for he'd never taken that tone with his father, who was just as surprised by his outburst as he was.

"Young man," George warns, clenching his fists, tightening his grip on the steak knife he'd somehow kept in his hand.

"No, George. He has every right to be angry." Claudia smiles forcibly, yet Jake wasn't buying into her little charade.

"I'm not angry." Jake states matter of factly, hoping she would get the idea. "You left when Micah was barely crawling unsupervised, and five years later you're suddenly back? I'm disappointed it took you this long, but carry on, sister hopeful. Why? Why are you back?” Jake takes a stock, then continues his onslaught. “Are you back for good? Or, are you gonna disappear again?

"I had no choice!" She argues in a raised voice, but Jake had already heard enough. "Let's not do this right now, please." She begs and Jake grits his teeth, shifting his gaze to Micah who seemed even more confused and dejected.

"That doesn't answer the question." Jake challenges her with a stare of pure lividity.

"Jake, take it down a notch." George's tone grows warning. "There's only so much of this grown-ish attitude that I will tolerate."

"My apologies for being hurt. Or have you forgotten how much it hurt you when she left?" Jake insists on stirring the pot, at his own cost for his father was sure to dish-out whatever punishment he thought fit for the brash behavior.

"Forgive and forget."

"May I be excused?" Jake grins, certainly not amused but assuredly grounded by his will to challenge those that tried to manipulate him.

"I think it's best if you retire to your room for the rest of the night." George's silent order rings through the air like a dense cloud of disdain, or something less complicated, but Claudia makes the mistake of butting in.

"I deserve this, George, don't escalate the situation." She tries, but her efforts were futile and only makes Jake more irritated.

"She sees it," Jake gestures to Claudia who peers away, ashamed, then he continues. "Why can't you?"

"Jake, stop it this instant, I mean it." George is visibly shaking, trying to control the burden of having to deal with Jake's disdain.

He was right, and George had too much pride to even admit it because he was blinded by her arrival. He thought it a miracle and instantly began having hopes and dreams that things could go back to normal, but in a much better way. There were countless challenges when Jake was growing up. Claudia had a pressuring career that demanded two-thirds of her attention and George's career was equally demanding. The family suffered a dramatic loss when Claudia turned to prescription drugs to soothe the terrifying rush of daytime lawyering. Rehab was just the beginning, but what followed was her disappearance after a year of sobriety. Instead of returning home, Claudia decided to vanish to the city of Boston, to earn her license and reputation back with the bar. She had claimed she needed time away from all other distractions, and those words had hurt George ever since she'd mentioned them.

"Yeah, I'm out of here." Jake rises from his seat at the table, wincing as the scrape of the wood against the floorboards rings in his ear. With his anger amplified, he'd forgotten he was still a bit dazed in the head, so he sits back down, clutching the edge of the table.

The party had left a scar that repeated itself when specific memories replayed in Jake's mind. Forgetting the night, with the happenings of a repressed memory, wasn't the only thing he suffered from. Headaches—piercing, skull-splitting pain that left as quickly as they came. The effects lasted a mere second for him, but enough would happen around Jake to persist that it lasted much longer than that.

"...now, don't think about coming back until you've decided to apologize to your mother." George's voice rings in Jake's eardrums, pulling him back from the painful reverie he was experiencing.

"Go ahead, Dad, take her side. Can't say I didn't warn you. She will hurt you again and leave, but this time, Micah will be my age soon so you might want to recollect how hurt I was back then." Jake uses the time it takes for his words to sink in, to waltz away from the table.

"Get back here this instant, young man!" George rises from his chair as well, glaring daggers at Jake's back. "Jake!" He bellows, then pushes away from the table to chase behind him.

By the time Jake makes it into his room, George was bursting through the door, entirely disappointed, which is displayed by the daunting look he sports. "Jake, you need to stop this assault on Claudia, she's your mother." He wrenches Jake's arm around, forcing the young man to look him in the face—in the eyes. "I let you off the hook after getting drunk and doing god knows what at that party, but you won't get away with disrespecting her." The man snaps and Jake tears his arm from George's grasp with ease, surprising the jolted man.

"That adult didn't face her truth."

"You don't get to determine that, Jake, because you don't have a child with her." George retorts, and Jake scoffs, walking towards his bed to sit at the edge. George sighs, raking fingers through his hair as he begins pacing the moderately sized but clean room. "When I married your mother, I told her that I'd do anything to make her happy." He remarks but Jake looks away from him, unwilling to accept his words, for no amount could convince Jake that Claudia should be forgiven. "I gave up on her, and you keep blaming her for that but she doesn't deserve your contempt."

"Maybe you're right, but I'm her son and so is Micah. Did she even think about us at all when she made the decision to deny your attempt to help?" Jake queries, and the man scowls at him instead of realizing how hurt he was.

"I thought I was doing the right thing when I️ granted her, her request for freedom." He challenges, unconvinced by his own words as they'd begun to not make any sense.

Jake bites his bottom lip, then frowns. "I'm going to get Micah ready for bed." Jake announces dismissively.

"Claudia asked if she could tuck in Micah tonight." George says firmly, and Jake gawks at him.

"Like hell she is." Jake finally snarls after too many seconds of awkward silence had past, walking round his father to leave the room.

Allowing Jake to walk away from him twice in one night was a hard decision, but George knew nothing would come of the prolonged argument. They both were too riled up, and Jake was intentionally distancing himself from Claudia, so it would hurt less when she up and left again. Something that George understood, but had never tried doing because of the unconditional love they shared.

George trounces into the kitchen, hands stuffed into the pockets of his jeans, a look of frustration masking his addled expression. Claudia places the last bowl into the dishwasher, then closes it as she stands up straight, almost startled when she realizes that George had returned.

"I take it your chat with Jake didn't go too well?" She asks, leaning against the edge of the sink, crushing her dress.

"Just give him time, he'll come around." He assures Claudia, walking up to her to rest his palms atop her shoulders.

"He's had a lot of time to manifest hate for me, George, and I'm sorry to say this but he has every right to." She wipes her damp hands in a towel, then hastily discards it with a shallow grunt of displeasure. "I don't like it one bit but I can't force him to come around or guilt him into it by playing the mother card." She places her right fingers against her face, averting her gaze from his in shame.

"Bullshit, Claudia! You and I both know that." He retorts as he steps away, saddening her as her hand slips from her lip.

Claudia gazes at George, who walks towards the edge of the granite island, peering up at the familiar cupboard. "You don't need that," She says, and he spins around swiftly and scowls—more at himself than her.

"Jake is too young to understand your-,"

"Illness?" She buts in and George groans, ready to deny the notion.

"That's not-,"

"I️ have a mental disorder, George, but that doesn't mean I'm blind... or stupid." She quips, and he purses his lips, fighting to find the words to reply to the astounding amount of truth.

"I'm sorry." He finally says, after pondering a thousand retorts to fire back at her. "I told him the truth the other day, but he's an adamant little wiseass." George spits but felt a little pride tingle the back of his thoughts.

"I should've fought for them, George." She finally admits, and he peers at her, a little too overwhelmed to reply. "I should've believed that you and kids would help me, but I was scared, so I ran like all scared animals do." She confesses out loud, but George was still trying to fathom the first half of her confession.

"I know that, but Jake doesn't." He replies, silently suggesting that Claudia attempt to at least talk to Jake.

"As you said, he needs more time and I'll be here when he does." She smiles at him.

"You're staying?" He stands up straight, a glimmer of excitement in his eyes. Hope so powerful Claudia could feel it bearing down on her like the warmth of the sun.

"I have good news." She announces, and he eyes her quizzically.

"Good news?" He queries, and she grins.

"You know my license was reinstated, but I met with the bar, and they were impressed with my progress. I'll be returning to my duties as a lawyer this upcoming week." She attempts to not squeal in excitement, and George feels his whole world light up.

"That-that's amazing, Claudia." He practically shouts as he instinctively gathers her into his arms, catching a whiff of the cologne she wore, remembering the memories of their happiness.

Jake, who had completed his nightly task of tucking Micah in, walks into the kitchen, halting as he sees the intimate embrace. It was no surprise that it made him sad, albeit irritated. Watching them hug as if all the years he'd suffered, went by in a blink, leaving no stone unturned, or scars that didn't burn his skin with prejudice.

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