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The next morning Colin was already waiting at the spot. His eyes lit up when he saw her coming and she couldn’t help the huge smile that beamed on her face.
Over the next weeks, the old lady and the young boy could be seen around the town. She took him shopping for water guns and flip flops and a wakeboard. She let him do all the adding up and paying. She felt happy and maternal. He felt responsible and needed.
When the holiday was over for Colin, and he had to return to Australia with his guardians, Annie said goodbye with tears in her eyes.
“Don’t cry, Annie. We’re mates now so we can Skype and I showed you how to do Facebook so we can keep in touch.” And true to his word, over the next few months, he did keep in touch.
Annie got the computer set up for her weekly Skype with Colin. His face came up on the screen but instead of a happy smile, he appeared upset.
“What is it Colin? Is there something wrong?” she asked.
“Bloody right there is! They left me again and went to Byron Bay for the weekend. I wanted to go. It’s school break now but they said I had to stay here. I hate being alone.” He growled at the screen.
“Colin, I know you are a very clever and resourceful young man but you are too young to be left all alone. This isn’t right.” Annie pursed her lips and thought for a moment. “I think I had better come out there and have a chat with these guardians of yours.”
It didn’t take long for the adoption to go through. Annie armed herself with a high-profile Sydney barrister who tossed around phrases of neglect and abandonment. A generous cash settlement to the guardians helped move things along. Annie would have paid anything for Colin’s happiness. And what made him happy was being with Annie. In the end, Colin gave his auntie a perfunctory hug goodbye and Annie reassured the ex-guardians that they could visit Colin as often as they wanted. They only needed to let her know when and she would arrange for the flights and accommodation.
Years went by and they never contacted Colin. Not once.
It was really difficult for Annie to climb out of her sleep pod today. Her old bones were aching but this was the beginning of a special week so she smiled and muddled through it. This was the week of Colin’s wedding and she had promised him that she would be there no matter what.
She self-injected a vial of chemicals that promised all manner of revival. Instantly she felt awake, alert — and a little anxious. Months ago, when Colin had asked her to make the trip, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to hang on till the big day, but here it was only 48 hours away and she was still alive and lucid. Her doctor had been skeptical about her making such a long journey. Her illness was wearing her down.
“I am going and that is that!” she told to the doctor. “This will be my last visit to my son.”