Chapter 11 – David
Friday, March 10th
David ran silently back to his room and crawled into bed when Elizabeth and Dylan stood up. He listened as Elizabeth made a bed for Dylan on the couch. When all the lights were off and everything was quiet he thought about all that had happened since Jared had come.
David knew he didn’t like Jared. Jared had been mean. He had made Elizabeth cry. When David saw her break down on the floor he felt an overwhelming protectiveness toward this woman who had been so kind to him. He had never seen a woman cry in real life unless they were drunk. He had never known anyone to hurt that much except himself and maybe some little kids at school.
And Elizabeth had hugged him when he cried. He couldn’t quite remember anyone ever doing that either… at least he didn’t think so. But she had held him, and he remembered the boy at the laundry. He wanted to know if he could hug her like the boy had done. His fear had almost kept him from trying, but he was glad he did.
When David first crept into the living room he heard her tell Dylan that she wouldn’t let Dylan take him away from her. He hadn’t heard one thing about Chicago, but Elizabeth had made it clear that she loved him and wanted him with her. It made him feel safe, although he didn’t know why. Dylan had even said that he might want him, but David didn’t want to be with Dylan anymore. Dylan had said that he cared, but he never said that he loved him. David wanted Elizabeth. He wanted to feel her hug him again. He longed to see the smile she gave him when she was pleased with him.
But Dylan was afraid that he would hurt her. He would never hurt her. Never! Dylan thought she needed a man around to keep him from hurting her. A man to hurt him. But they didn’t need anyone. Not Dylan, not Ben, not Keith, not Jared, not anyone. They were happy without anyone here. David hoped Dylan wouldn’t be able to make her change how she loved him. He hoped Jared didn’t, either. She said she’d always love him. Oh, Jesus… Lord, make it true. Don’t let Dylan or Jared separate us. In Jesus name, Amen.
Saturday, March 11th
The next morning David was up before Dylan or Jared. After he showered he went into the kitchen where Elizabeth was starting breakfast. She asked him to set the table and then make the orange juice while she prepared the biscuits and the bacon.
When the orange juice was ready she stepped over to him. “That looks good, David. Now pour a glass for everyone. Use those small glasses.” She turned back to her bacon.
“I don’t want bacon and eggs. I want cereal,” Jared said loudly.
David whirled around and dropped the glass in his hand, and it shattered at his feet. He hadn’t heard him come in. And Dylan stood in the doorway, also. The glass. Oh no. It was broken. What would she do to him? Would she hurt him? Would Dylan hurt him?
“Jared, you’ll eat what everyone else does. David, get the broom and clean up that glass.”
David watched Elizabeth turn the bacon with the spatula. He had to get away. She could burn him. He bolted through the door. Dylan grabbed for him, his fingernails digging into David’s lower arm through his thin shirt.
“David?” Elizabeth asked.
“I’ll get him,” Dylan said.
David didn’t hear anything else. He was in his corner. He wondered if he’d fit under the bed. It was a tight squeeze, but he made it.
“David,” Elizabeth said softly. “David, Honey, where are you?” David heard his door close, and then she was lying on the floor, looking at him. “David, will you come out and talk to me?”
No. I’ll never come out. My arm hurts. Dylan hurt my arm.
“David, how many times do I need to tell you that I love you and I’ll never hurt you?”
She’s mad at me. Her voice doesn’t sound happy.
“Why does seventy times seven come to mind? Is that how many times I’ll have to tell you these things, David?” Elizabeth waited. When she spoke again her voice was even and soft. “I don’t know what else to tell you, David. I know last night was hard for you, but I thought you trusted me. I thought you knew I wouldn’t hurt you. Is this some kind of automatic response? When something happens does it trigger some kind of fear and flight thing that makes it so that you can’t remember how I haven’t hurt you before and how I’ll not hurt you again?” Elizabeth paused again.
David didn’t understand what she said, but just trying to figure it out caused some of the panic to leave.
“David, I can’t fit under the bed to hold you. I’m afraid I’ll scare you more if I try to take the bed apart to get to you. If Dylan weren’t here I wouldn’t even be able to be in here with you because Jared would need me and the food would be burning.”
Dylan hurt me. Dylan hurt my arm. The fear returned.
“I don’t know what else to do or say. I’m going to go back in the kitchen and finish breakfast for everyone. When you feel better you can come and join us, okay?”
David didn’t answer her. He saw her get up and watched her feet disappear out of the room. He stayed where he was. Sometimes he heard someone speaking. Usually it was Jared. Gradually his terror subsided, and finally he crawled out from under the bed.
David didn’t go into the kitchen though. Just the thought of going out there made his stomach knot. It was a new sensation, and he held his stomach. Usually he had eaten whenever he could grab food, but even if he had food now, he didn’t know if he could eat it. Did he upset Elizabeth too much? Would she make him leave now? Would she send Dylan…. A noise startled him, and David cringed against the wall.
But it was Elizabeth. “Dylan says he’ll watch Jared until Keith comes. We can leave now for the museum.” Elizabeth paused and then continued, “That’s right, you always need a direct command. Get your coat and come with me.” She turned around and left the room.
David followed, not wanting to upset her any more than he had.
“He shouldn’t get breakfast since he wouldn’t eat with the rest of us,” Dylan said.
David watched Dylan warily in case he might try to get him.
Elizabeth hugged Jared and kissed him. “I’m sorry you can’t come, Honey. Maybe someday when you’re not grounded we can go again.”
“Good-bye, Jared. Bye, Dylan. Come on, David.”
David followed her out the back door to the car. They drove in silence until Elizabeth pulled into a fast food restaurant drive-thru. She ordered an egg sandwich, hash browns and orange juice. As each item was handed to her, she handed it to David. “Eat this,” she commanded and then continued driving.
She was mad at him, but she was feeding him. David didn’t know how he would eat. His stomach felt strange. But if he didn’t eat, she would hate him more.
They kept driving. Nothing looked familiar. They were in a city now. He suddenly thought about the story where the puppies had been driven far away and dropped off. Kurt had driven him a long way, too, and then dropped him off. She didn’t want him anymore. His stomach seemed to fold and rebel.
Elizabeth drove into a building. She passed many cars already in the building until she found a place to park. Then she opened her door and got out.
He knew she’d leave him if he got out.
Elizabeth came around to his side of the car and opened his door. “Come on.”
She hated him. She didn’t want him. And his stomach rebelled again, sending his breakfast onto the floor of the parking garage as he leaned out of the car miserably.
“Oh, no, David. You’re sick.”
David waited for her to hit him, knock him out of her car and leave him.
Instead she reached over him, grabbed a napkin from breakfast, and wiped his mouth. “Here, Hon. There’s a bit of orange juice left. It might help.” She rubbed his back. “We should probably go home if you’re sick, Honey. You should have told me you weren’t feeling well. Do you want to go inside and find something to drink before we go?”
David looked at her in despair. She’d leave him, then. But since he knew she wanted him to go inside he obediently left the car. Inside the museum they found a water fountain, and he took a drink.
“How do you feel, David?”
He wanted to die. He wanted to curl up in a corner and melt away. He shrugged.
“Please, David. After last night I don’t understand why you can’t talk to me. Why don’t you trust me?” Elizabeth spoke in a near whisper. “You even said yourself that I love you. I care about you. I don’t hurt you. And then right away this morning it’s as if our talks and our hugs never happened. Do you even remember what happened last night?”
He nodded. Oh, yes. I remember. Please hug me. Please tell me that you want me. Please tell me again you’ll always love me and you won’t leave me here, he thought desperately, but he couldn’t speak it.
“Did it mean anything to you?”
He nodded again, and then his eyes stung.
“Oh David. I love you so much. I wish I knew if I were doing the right thing for you. Dylan and Kathy would know how to make you feel safe. I don’t mean to be so selfish and hurt you. If you want to go with Dylan….”
Tears ran down David’s face. He shook his head and backed into a corner, sliding to the floor to sit. “You don’t want me.”
“Oh David. That’s not true. I want you so much. I’m just afraid that I’m hurting you by not knowing what to do. And I know… I know you wanted to live with Dylan.” Elizabeth sat down next to him.
David shook his head. “I don’t want….” He didn’t continue. He hugged his knees tightly and rocked.
“What do you want, David?” Elizabeth asked softly.
David looked into her eyes — the eyes of the only person in the world who loved him — the only person he loved. “I want to be with you.”
“Oh, David.” Elizabeth threw her arms around him. It wasn’t hard for him to resist the urge to run this time. “I love you so much. I want you to be with me, also.” She sat back against the wall and held his hand. They watched the people going by as he began to relax. She still loved him. And she wanted him.
“Do you feel better now, David? Or is your stomach still upset?”
“What would you do if I told you that you couldn’t ever shrug or nod in response to a question?”
His eyes opened wider, and then he shrugged. Elizabeth laughed. He wasn’t sure why.
“Do you want to see the dinosaur bones while we’re here?”
He nodded. He’d do anything with her.
They saw most of the museum, including the planetarium. Elizabeth explained the displays to him and read the descriptions. David still wasn’t hungry at lunch, but he ate the hamburger she gave him.
Before they left the museum, they stopped in the gift shop. “See anything you want?”
“Just what I thought.” Elizabeth grabbed a stuffed blue brontosaurus from the shelf, held its nose to David’s, and growled.
David stared at her. What was she doing?
Elizabeth positioned the dinosaur’s nose in David’s ear and growled again. Then she spoke in a funny voice, “I love you, David Timothy. Do you want to take me home?”
David couldn’t help smiling. He reached for it, and she gave it to him. He put the dinosaur to her ear. “I love you.”
Elizabeth grinned. “Well, then we’ll have to take him home, won’t we, David, since he loves both of us.”
On the way home Elizabeth sang to her CD’s, and David held the toy dinosaur. He couldn’t remember if he had ever had a dinosaur before. He had only had a stuffed toy once or twice a long time ago, and those disappeared shortly after they appeared. But this one was special. Elizabeth had given it to him. He hugged it.
David didn’t know why he felt so tired. His stomach was hurting again. He wished they would get home soon. She had been very good to him before, but he still didn’t want it to happen again.
They finally arrived home. David’s legs almost buckled when he stood. He ignored them and followed Elizabeth into the house.
“You’re home,” Jared said, running to the kitchen. “What did you bring me?”
“Why should they bring you anything? You’re grounded,” Keith said, coming up behind him.
Elizabeth took off her coat and then bent over to hug Jared.
Jared looked past her to David. “A dinosaur. You bought me a dinosaur.” He snatched it out of David’s hands.
It’s mine. It loved me. David looked after the dinosaur as Jared carried it away. It loves him better.
“Whoa, Jared. Wait one minute.” Elizabeth ran after him, retrieving the dinosaur from his hands. “This is David’s. If you had been there, you could have chosen one, too.”
“That’s not fair.”
“Fair?” Keith asked. “Hey, Buddy. If she were fair, she wouldn’t buy you anything until she bought David over three hundred dollars worth of stuff because that’s how much she has to pay for that monitor.”
“But David doesn’t belong here.”
Elizabeth handed the dinosaur back to David. “Yes, he does. And if you don’t watch your rudeness, you’ll have to go to your room for ten minutes.”
“Now that sounds familiar,” Keith said. “We ate dinner already. I hope you two have.”
“No. But I can fix us up something pretty quick. Why don’t you sit down, David. You look tired.”
David wanted to go to bed, but he sat down at the table instead.
“What’s on your sleeve?” Jared asked, pointing at David’s arm. “It’s ruined.”
Elizabeth looked over the refrigerator door to see the small dark spots on David’s light blue sleeve.
“It looks like blood,” Keith said, who was standing next to Jared.
Leave me alone. Please leave me alone, he begged silently.
Elizabeth closed the refrigerator and went to David’s side. “Let me see, Honey.”
David wanted to snatch his arm away from her and hide it, but instead he watched as she unbuttoned the cuff and rolled up the shirt sleeve to his elbow.
“What are those marks?” Jared asked, pointing to the scars on his lower arm.
David couldn’t stand it anymore. He pulled his arm away and hid it underneath the other. There weren’t that many marks on his arms. They didn’t need to stare at them.
“David, where did you get those scratches? It’s all right, Sweetheart. You know I’m not going to be upset with you. I’m just concerned about you. Please tell me.”
He couldn’t refuse her. “Dylan hurt me.”
“Dylan hurt you?”
“Beth, that’s crazy. Dylan wouldn’t hurt him.”
David started to tremble slightly. He couldn’t help it. He was cold, and he just wanted to go to his room.
“Keith, please. When, Honey? When did Dylan hurt you?”
Maybe if he told her, she’d let him go to bed. Or she’d send him to his room, like she told Jared. “This morning.”
“Before the glass was broken?”
He shook his head.
Elizabeth looked at him as if she could see right through him and then she said, “Okay. Tell me if this is right. When you ran out of the room Dylan tried to grab you, and he accidently scratched you.”
“That makes sense,” Keith said.
“David, is that what happened?”
David nodded. He didn’t think that he could be hurt accidently, but his mind didn’t want to work. He closed his eyes.
“Beth, I think he’s sick.”
A hand touched his forehead, and it wasn’t Elizabeth’s. David jerked away and stood quickly. He almost fell as pain shot through his head. His stomach hated him. He ran to the bathroom and closed the door.
When David could think about something other than his rebellious stomach he realized he had forgotten his dinosaur. Now Jared had it. He wanted to cry. Instead he stumbled across the hall into his room and fell on the bed. He heard a noise, and sat up quickly, his head pounding again.
“It’s all right, David. It’s just me. I have some medicine for you to take, but first I want to take your temperature. Here put this under your tongue.” She held out a thermometer.
David did as she asked. Then she took off his shoes and socks. He wondered how much she would remove, but he was too miserable to fight her. Besides he loved her. He tried not to think about what Gary had said at the mission.
But she didn’t try to touch his shirt or pants. Instead she took the thermometer. “101.6.” She set it aside. “Here, take this Tylenol.” She handed him two pills and a glass of grape juice.
Keith came into the room and handed the dinosaur to David. “I found him under the kitchen table.”
David put the pills in his mouth and then hugged the dinosaur.
“Thanks, Keith,” Elizabeth said. “Do you need help with your pajamas, Sweetheart?”
He shook his head, his conviction returning with Keith’s presence. No one needed to help him with his clothes. They didn’t need to see him.
“You change then, and I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Elizabeth and Keith left the room, closing the door behind them.
David ignored the pounding in his head and changed as quickly as he could. Then he crawled back into bed.
A few minutes later there was a knock on the door. Then it opened a crack. “Is it all right for me to come back in?” Elizabeth asked.
David didn’t say anything.
The door opened enough for Elizabeth to step in. “Here are some crackers and more juice just in case you get hungry.” She set them on the table next to his bed. Then she pulled the covers up around him and tucked him in. She brushed the hair away from his forehead and kissed it. “If you need anything, let me know. You try to sleep now, and I’ll check in on you in a little while.”
David didn’t know how long he slept when he felt someone touch his forehead. He knew it was Elizabeth. She always had a good touch. She wasn’t mad because he was sick. She loved him. Then he fell back to sleep.
Go to Chapter 12
© 2013, 1995 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.