Author Caitlin Mazur Logo-white.png

Author Caitlin Mazur

There's No Love
Like A Mother's Love

The perpetrator was her firstborn son. 

He looked almost unrecognizable at first glance behind the scratched, plastic wall that separated them both. A black phone hung from the receiver, its metallic throat winding up into the wall like a snake. The flickering fluorescents winked in its reflection, taunting her.

Come here, Tabitha. Pick me up. Hear of your transgressions by proxy. 

She wrung her hands nervously, standing just before the metal chair, eyes inspecting every detail of the prison phone booth. Faded decades remained on the sill, pen marks and dirt stains, fingerprints, and dried snot. 

Brody sat on the other side, a shadow of the boy she had raised. His once straw blonde hair had darkened and thinned since she’d seen him last. His hollowed cheeks and narrowed lips made him look impossibly old, like he’d been drained of life. Like his very soul had been sucked out of his body. Well, Tabatha thought, it serves him right after what he did. 

She sat in the metal chair, a cold sting finding its way through her cotton pants. She shivered. Brody smiled — at her discomfort, she assumed — and picked up his receiver at last. After a moment's hesitation, Tabitha followed.

The phone nearly slipped from her sweaty fingers, but she gripped it, pressing it close to her ear. A moment of silence hung between them.

“Mother.” Brody’s level voice sent a chill down her spine. He was her son, sure. Love hovered at the edges of their relationship, a feeling she would never be rid of. Even after the horrible thing he’d done to her.

“Hi Brody,” she answered in a near-whisper. “It’s been a long time.” 

“Nine years,” he said, with a nod. “To the day.” 

Tabitha’s heart skipped a beat. What was today? Could it really be the day? 

“That’s right, mother.” Brody’s eyes flickered to the clock that sat on the wall behind her. “Don’t tell me you forgot our deal.” 

2022. MAY 31. TUE. 10:42 a.m.

“I haven’t had enough time,” she pleaded, fingers curling around the belly of the phone receiver. Horror soaked her nerves, tearing through her thin veil of confidence. “Please.”

“Tsk, tsk,” Brody taunted. “We made a deal. And now, the only way you’re getting out of here is if they cart you out in a body bag.” 

“Brody.” Tabitha winced at the desperation in her voice. “Please. You’ve betrayed me enough.” 

“Have I?” Brody’s eyes glinted as he leaned forward, his forehead nearly touching the divider. “I spared you,” he seethed. “I went easy on you. Gave you a chance to do the right thing. To fight for your life. Well,” he leaned back in the chair, “clearly you don’t think life is worth living.” 

“Where the hell do you expect me to drum up five million dollars, Brody? How?” 

He leaned forward again, his features scrunched up in fury. “That wasn’t your only option, mother. You know that. Plus, you had nine years to get me that money. Nine years of restless nights, of all-consuming guilt, of whispers, stares, and speculation. Now I have to take matters into my own hands.” 

“You little shit,” she spat, unable to stop the anger from bubbling up in her chest. “I took the fall for you. And this is how you repay me?” 

Brody laughed into the receiver. “You took the fall? That’s how you justify what you did?” 

Tabitha blinked away the tears that threatened the corners of her eyes. “I did what I did to protect you,” she hissed. “You should’ve thanked me for what I did — instead, you shut me away for life. Told a truth that didn’t need telling. I helped you, Brody. You have a life and a future because of me!” 

“I have no future. There is nothing here to live for. I’m a broken man because of you.” 

He dropped the receiver so that it hit the table with a thunk. Tabitha drew the phone away from her own ear, unable to stop fear and pain from settling within her very bones. She watched from the scratched, plastic divider as he disappeared in the distance. 

“Brody!” she pleaded. “No! Brody!” she tried again, this time louder, and before she knew it, her fists were on the plastic screen, pounding, so that the whole booth rattled. “Brody!” she cried. “Come back!” 

She was on her feet then, hands slamming against the divider, until she felt a tight grip on her shoulders, pulling her back. 

“C’mon, Tabby,” the guard breathed, squeezing her flesh beneath too-long fingernails. “Get a grip.” 

But she couldn’t. She wouldn’t. Her ten years for burglary in the 2nd degree was almost up. She had almost made it to freedom. But Brody knew the whole truth — where she’d buried that whore of a girlfriend who had pretended to be pregnant with his child. He knew where she’d stashed the firearm and the clothes she’d worn that fateful night. 

She’d come to him, nine years prior, covered in blood. Brody had a bright future ahead of him — an acceptance letter to Yale, a generous scholarship for their lacrosse team, and enough charm to find a new girlfriend. A better girlfriend. One who actually deserved him.

Brody had turned her in for burglary, unable to cope with the idea that he’d lose his mother forever. His final caveat had been a sum of five million dollars he could deliver to the girlfriend’s family, or lead the cops to the body, to the murder weapon, leaving his dear old mother, the only family he had left, to rot in a prison cell. 

He had perpetrated the worst crime of all — not being loyal to his mother. Yet still, even as they locked her back in her cell and she turned over the details of their conversation, Tabitha still loved her son. And she would do it all again for him if she had the chance.