Writer's note: This is it, or maybe it isn't. Not sure yet!
Epilogue: See You Soon
Josiah Rippner Reisert was born at 1:15 a.m. on September 22.
Lisa's father held her hand the entire labor asking every 5 minutes if she was all right. She was all right, even through the blindly pain of giving birth. Holding her baby boy for the first time covered all of it as if the years of emotional torment were a distant memory set in another lifetime. Josiah was her fresh start.
She called Jackson that evening. She promised she would. He was happy, she could tell in his voice. In the euphoria of the moment she promised to bring the baby for him to meet. It wasn't until the day of the visit that her mind reeled with doubt and fear, and she clutched Josiah to her chest, shielding the tiny babe from the harsh reality surrounding them.
Lisa didn't know what to expect as she handed the bundle of powder blue blankets to Jackson's outstretched arms. She never asked if he had any experience with children. He cradled Josiah's tiny body against him, his grip secure and gentle, and gazed down with intense eyes focused on his son's round face.
That was the first and only time she brought Josiah to visit his father.
She realized that day that letting a child visit a prison was not how Lisa wanted her son to be raised. She would not keep Jackson from knowing his son, but it would have to be from a distance. She sent new pictures every month and called Jackson as often as a new mom could spare.
As Josiah grew older, she encouraged his relationship with his father with phone calls and letters and any way possible Josiah could be in contact with Jackson, as long as it was never a visit to the prison. When Josiah asked for the first time where his father was, Lisa told him Jackson was far away and could not come home. The boy didn't understand why his daddy couldn't come home to be with them, but it was all she could give him. The truth was not an option.
Lisa knew it was reckless, but she did see Jackson. The visits were far and in-between, but she couldn't keep herself away from him. No matter how hard she tried to move on, she was still his. Prison was the most awkward place to make love and the first couple times, she feared the guards were watching them on a video monitor. Thankfully, that was not the case and it grew easier to just enjoy the whole affair the more she came.
In the back of her mind, Lisa was afraid Josiah would become his father. She couldn't fathom Jackson as an innocent child. All she saw was manipulative blue eyes and an overly charming smile. But Josiah was none of that even if he was a spitting image of his father. He was a kind boy, and his only fault was being a bit too curious and full of youthful mischievousness. He openly loved his Mama and Grandpa, and showed excitement with any chance to talk to his Dad.
On Josiah's 6th birthday, a package came in the mail. Jackson always sent his son gifts, and Lisa wondered how he managed that being behind bars. Josiah waited with baited breath as his Grandpa cut the package open, finding a square game set inside. Lisa didn't catch the name until her father read it aloud, "Nine Men's Morris" Joe said, curiously. "Never heard of that game."
But Lisa had and her heart nearly stopped. Josiah was too busy tearing off the plastic and opening the nicely carved wooden box to notice his mother's reaction. "I know how to play it," Lisa stated, her voice quivering as suppressed memories flooded her head. "Jackson taught me."
Joe glanced into the box, leaning over to pick up something. "There's a note." He stared at it with a frown for a moment then looked up at Lisa through troubled eyes. He handed her the white sheet of paper, only 3 words written in crimson red were on it.
"See you soon," Lisa read aloud and the sinking feeling of those words cut through her like a burning thread.
She felt safe with Jackson in prison. The mile high fencing and cinderblock walls kept him at bay as she raised their son to have a normal life without the tainting of his father. He wouldn't escape again. There was no way possible he could. Several years were still ahead before he could be granted parole.
Lisa shook herself out of her frightened stupor, crumpling the note with one fist. Jackson knew how to mess with her mind. This was just another way to keep control over her. She wouldn't let him do that to her again. He was the one behind bars and she was in control.
Months passed as the threat of Jackson's return faded to the back of her mind. She hadn't visited him since before the package arrived. She refused to even talk to him over the phone. It was her way of showing dominance and she'd keep it up as long as she could stay away from the urge to lie with him.
One spring day, Lisa was upstairs putting away laundry. As she descended the stairs landing in the kitchen, she came to a dead stop at the bottom nearly dropping the laundry basket on her bare toes. There, in the middle of the kitchen, stood Jackson holding Josiah as the boy beamed at him. Blue eyes, as deadly as a roaring ocean wave, met hers as Lisa felt her whole body tremble from head to toe. He wasn't supposed to be free.
He wasn't supposed to be here.
Jackson's lips curved into a leering smirk, animosity dripping from his tongue. "Hello, Leese."