Chapter 24

Exactly on time, the door buzzer rang. I called into the speaker, “Come on up!”

Christine Hickey, the C.A.S. appointed supervisor, knocked softly.

I cracked open the door while trying to hold Blue-Casey back with my foot. “Hi, Christine. Please come in. Caitlin’s almost ready.”

Christine stepped into the apartment and waited for Caitlin, pulling her gloves off one finger at a time.

Caitlin came out of her bedroom and skipped over. “Hi, Chrissy!”

Christine knelt down to meet Caitlin’s eyes and said, “Hi Caitlin. Ready to go?”

“Yep,” Caitlin said with a smile. She turned and gave me a hug. “Bye, Mommy.”

“Bye, Caity-Cat. You have a great day. Love you.”

“Love you, Mommy.”

Christine took Caitlin’s hand and moved into the hall.

Christine turned her attention to me. “We’ll be back around 6:30 again.”

I didn’t feel near the anxiety I had the first few times Caitlin had gone with Christine. I had a strange sense of peace about the whole arrangement.

When the phone rang, I quickly shut the door, and picked up the receiver.


“Hi, Heather. It’s Sarah. I know that Caitlin’s gone for the day and so I wanted to ask if you’d like to join me for some Christmas shopping?”

“I’d love to! I haven’t even started yet.”

“Pick you up around 10:30?”

“I’ll be ready.”

Sarah showed up wearing a chocolate brown sports jacket and white jeans. Climbing into the passenger side of her van, I felt a buzz of excitement about spending the day shopping with a girlfriend.

“Where would you like to go? Anywhere in particular, or do you just want to hit the mall?” Sarah asked while backing out of the parking lot.

“I’d love to go to the mall. It’s been so long!”

We chatted about the weather and the girls and school. We talked about our parents, siblings and how we both missed the one-of-a-kind craft show. We reminisced about high school days. It’d been a long time since I got to chat about every day girlie stuff.

“Let’s start with a latté!” Sarah said as soon as we walked through the doors of the mall.

“Great idea.” I took hold of Sarah’s arm and we marched over to Starbucks. With hot drinks in hand we browsed the mall to map out our plan of shops to hit. We bounced gift ideas off each other for our families. I wanted to buy Caitlin some winter clothes but she was more interested in toys and games. We roamed around in our conversation from books to gardening to health, jabbering at each other incessantly just as we roamed around in the mall. We finished our drinks, simultaneously looked at our watches and hoofed it to the first store.

After a few hours, I felt elated to be weighed down with four large bags of gifts. I had completed my list in one day. I’d never been so efficient and had so much fun.

Sarah looked down at her bags, “Steve’s gonna kill me,” she said with a laugh. “And I haven’t even got anything for him yet!”

“Well, we still have time. We could dump our bags in the van and focus on finding the perfect gift.”

“Great idea. Let’s do that.”

We headed back towards the parking lot when Sarah decided to stop at the mall convenience store for a pack of gum. I waited while looking over the magazines on the rack. My eye caught the cover of one of the books on the top shelf. It was a pornographic magazine. “Oh, isn’t that stuff disgusting! I can’t believe they can sell it here at the corner store,” I said shaking my head.

Sarah offered me a piece of gum. “My brother, Sean, is a counsellor who deals a lot with porn-addicted guys. He’s convinced that’s the strongest predictor of the desensitization and objectification that leads to abusive behavior.”

“I can believe that now. Rod loved pornography. Honestly, the stuff he looked at embarrassed me. He kept magazines in his office and I interrupted him a couple of times looking at it on the Internet.”

Sarah blew her breath upward to riffle her bangs. “Sean says it operates like an addiction to an internal chemical and the guy will do whatever it takes to get his fix.”

“That’s scary. Especially considering how accessible it is.” I gave a wave at the magazines on the rack as we walked back into the mall.

“And like you said, anyone can access the Internet. Kids as young as grade six are exploring pornography on websites.”

The cold air hit us like a wall when we opened the doors to the parking lot.

“That’s something I didn’t think I’d have to worry about.” Spotting the van, we picked up the
pace to get out of the cold.

“How about we take our minds off this and do more shopping!” Sarah dumped her bags into the backseat.

“I’m with you, my friend.” Dropping my bags, I felt ready to tackle more shopping. We headed back to the mall, bumping against one another companionably as we walked.