Some very special friends of ours have a relative who lives in Australia, thousands of miles away. Recently they have been talking about a piece of invisible string that connects them all. Across the miles. Across their lives. Always connecting them. No matter what.
Tom had moved away from home to a new friend called Paul. They had only just met. (The story starts here 129600 – and continues here – Number 46). Tom had been away from home for ten days or so. I would send him text messages. Positive thoughts. Always leaving the door open for him to come back. I would check in with him. Not hound him. He would reply, usually with one or two-word replies, sometimes after what would feel like an eternity. Occasionally I would not get a response. I would send a message via Facebook to Paul, who he was staying with. Paul would generally reply, after some time, always making out that he was encouraging Tom to reply, or even come home. One time, there were no replies. I found Paul’s Dad on Facebook and sent him a couple of messages. Paul’s Dad would always reply.
The system became routine. Tom first, then Paul, then Paul’s Dad. All civilised. I went to work. I came home. I waited. James would be doing his thing. We would talk. Life was becoming eerily normal. This is how it would be. The invisible string was there. It was steady.
The Friday I was at work. Tom sent a message. He wanted money. I said no. He said “OK”. The invisible string slackened. The replies stopped. From Tom, Paul and Paul’s Dad. It went very quiet.
Friday night turned into Saturday morning. Something was different. I sent Tom a message. Simply saying good morning.
I left it a short time. Then sent a message to Paul within seconds he sent a barrage of abuse. Telling me to leave him alone. To stop messaging his Dad. He started sending really aggressive and threatening replies. I ignored the threats. I replied I needed to know that Tom was OK. Paul replied again. He simply said if I didn’t leave him alone he would “sort” me out. He said Tom hadn’t “sorted” me out, but he would.
I went on Tom’s computer, to see if there was any messages or activity on Tom’s account. There was nothing. Not for a couple of days. Then a message to Tom from Paul.
He knew someone was on Tom’s account. He would find out. He would sort them out.
My phone rang. It startled me. It was an old friend of Tom’s. Someone who was fairly sensible.
He had heard Tom was with Paul, but also another lad. The other lad was really bad news. He said Tom needed to come home. He hung up.
Ten, fifteen minutes later he rang back. He had taken another call. He had heard Tom had been punched, twice, in the face by this other lad, the night before. He said he knew where Paul lived. He would go round.
I phoned the non-emergency police number. I reported what had happened over the past week, and what was happening. That I was getting really concerned. The call handler was incredulous. She could not understand why I had called. I tried to reiterate that Tom was vulnerable. That I had new information. That I was scared for Tom’s safety. She still didn’t get it. She said she didn’t know why I had called. I asked to look back at our records. She curtly, said she was.
Another call came through on my phone. It was Tom. I hung up the police. Tom was there. He simply said
“I’m coming home”
We met in town. He looked drawn. He looked tired.
He wanted his bags and belongings back from Paul. He would get a friend to get them. He would call me when he was ready. I couldn’t stop him.
I had already arranged to meet up with my mate, Befuddled Mum. We changed our plans. She headed over to mine. She’s a rock at times like this. She’s a single adopter too, and the voice of reason.
We planned to go into town, for something to eat, and collect Tom after. Tom was set on getting his belongings back. Befuddled Mum and I composed messages to Paul. We would come round for Tom’s belongings. Paul was not happy with that suggestion. He said Tom should go and collect his things ( he was aggressive in his replies). We replied we did not want any problems, we did not respond to the threats. We said that Paul could leave Tom’s things outside, we would call by and collect them. If Paul was unable to do this, we would have to report the theft to the police.
This was a red rag to a bull for Paul. He was furious with me. How dare I threaten him with the police. He messaged he had dumped Tom’s belongings in the garden. We finished our food. We set off.
We hadn’t made it back to the car when Tom phoned. A group of friends had been round to Pauls and collected his things. There had apparently been a lot of shouting, but nothing physical. We collected Tom. We went home. Tom stayed for a bit with us, then went to his room. Befuddled Mum had a drink then headed home.
I went to check on Tom before I went to bed. He was laying on his bed, playing on his phone. He looked up and said he’d missed his bed, it was good to be home.
I wound the invisible string in. It was neatly back in its ball. Still attached to where it needed to be attached.
The awesomeness of Befuddled Mum can be followed here on Twitter
Love also to our friends who shared their Invisible String story. They have been my rock too. Thank you xxx