Chapter 12 – Elizabeth
Sunday, March 12th
Elizabeth drove to the grocery store after church with Jared beside her. She hadn’t wanted to leave David at home alone. The burn mark and the few white lines on his arm near the scratches that Dylan had inflicted confirmed what she had suspected. She wondered how many other scars he kept hidden, physically and emotionally. At least his fever was down from the night before. If it weren’t for Jared suddenly wanting to go to church, she probably would have stayed home with David.
At the store she stopped to look at the flowers and balloons. “We should buy your brother a get-well balloon to help him feel better.”
“He’s not my brother.”
Elizabeth continued looking through the balloons. “If your step-mom has a baby boy will you tell her that he’s not your brother, either?”
“That’s different. David isn’t a baby, and you didn’t have him.”
“But I probably can’t have any more babies like your step-mom can, so I have to get my children a little older. What do you think about this balloon?”
Jared studied the balloons critically. “I like this one,” he said, pointing to one with Bugs Bunny on it. “Why don’t you get a girl instead?”
Elizabeth pulled the Bugs Bunny balloon away from the others. “Does Alisa get to choose whether she has a boy or a girl?”
“Well, I didn’t choose David. God just brought him to me to take care of. Do you want to give this balloon to David?”
“Can I say it’s from me?”
“Yes, you can. Do you want to carry it?” Elizabeth handed the balloon to Jared. He was quiet while they completed the rest of their shopping.
When they arrived home Jared ran into the house with the balloon. Elizabeth followed to make sure there was no trouble.
David sat up quickly in bed as they entered. It looked like he had showered and put on clean clothes. She was going to have to buy him a second pair of pajamas.
“Look what I brought you,” Jared said, handing the balloon to David.
He stared at Jared’s outstretched hand.
“It’s for you. Take it,” Jared said. “It’s to make you feel better.”
David looked at Elizabeth.
“It’s okay,” she said, giving him the reassurance she knew he needed.
David slowly reached for the ribbon on the balloon. Then he took it, watching Jared.
“You’re supposed to say thank you. Isn’t he, Mother?”
Elizabeth nodded, looking at David instead of Jared.
“Thank you,” David said, looking at Elizabeth for approval. She nodded again and smiled. He seemed relieved.
The rest of the day went much smoother than Friday. Elizabeth wasn’t sure if it was because Jared had finally accepted that he was grounded or whether her making him go to his room for mouthing off last night after Keith left had made a difference already. Maybe Jared was just in a better mood. Either way Elizabeth was grateful for the peace. David stayed in his room most of the day, which seemed to be fine with Jared.
After dinner Jared watched David leave the kitchen for the piano in the office. “He never talks. He isn’t very much fun. Are you sure you want to keep him? You could adopt someone that’s almost as old as me. Then we could play cars together.”
“Yes, I’m sure I want to keep him.”
“Are you gonna adopt any more kids?”
“Not unless God sends them to me.”
“How would he send them?”
Elizabeth smiled. “I’m not sure right now, but I’d know it if He did.”
“You still love me best, right?”
“Jared, you’ll always be special to me because you were my baby. But David is special, too.”
“Because he is.”
There was a knock on the door. The piano music stopped. “That’s Grandpa!” Jared ran to answer it. Rob was barely in the door when Jared began. “Guess what, Grandpa. Mother got a new kid. He lives here now, but he doesn’t talk very much.”
Rob looked up at Elizabeth. “You did what?”
“You heard him. I’ve got a new son. His name is David Timothy.”
Rob looked around for any sign of this new David.
“He’s in the office, Grandpa.” Jared took Rob’s hand and pulled him past the curtain. Elizabeth followed them. “See, Grandpa. He doesn’t talk, and his hair is too long — like a girls.”
“Jared, you are being rude again,” Elizabeth warned.
“You can’t send me to my room. Grandpa’s here.”
“Yes, I can.” Elizabeth stood next to David, hoping it might reassure him. She put her hand on his shoulder. “David, this is Jared’s grandfather, Rob Weaver. Rob, this is my son, David Timothy.”
“I’m gonna tell Daddy, and then he’ll make David go away, because I don’t like him very much.”
“Jared, your father cannot make David go away.”
“He won’t let me come over here unless he does,” Jared said smugly.
Elizabeth looked to see if Rob would agree or disagree. Could he? Wesley couldn’t do that, could he? David moved under her hand, and before she knew it, he had fled between them to his room. Elizabeth’s indecision left as anger swept through her. “Jared Ryan, go to your room now. I warned you about mouthing off, and you did it again.”
“I don’t have to. Grandpa’s here.”
Rob shook his head, raising his hands and backing away.
Elizabeth took hand. “You’re on my time for another half hour, and you’ll spend it in your room.” She pulled him toward the doorway.
“If she asks me to, Jared, I’ll paddle your bottom. I know your father doesn’t put up with that kind of talk.”
“That’s not fair. You don’t love me anymore. I hate you,” he wailed, as Elizabeth led him to his room and then shut the door. On the way back she stopped to look in on David. He was sitting in the corner, holding his dinosaur. She was going to have to put a chair over there for him to sit in. “It’s all right, David. Jared’s father has no control over me or who lives with me. Try not to let his mouth bother you. You can come back out and listen to music or play the piano if you want.”
David didn’t respond. She hadn’t expected him to. Elizabeth went out to the living room where Rob had seated himself in an armchair.
“I came early expecting to discuss the conference, but I now have so many other questions I doubt we’ll be able to.”
“Or we could discuss the sovereignty of God as in His providence. For example how He works every little thing together, even to the last minute detail, from me staying an extra day in Florida, to my flat tire in Georgia, to Dylan being gone when I arrived, and David waiting there for him.”
“So you brought this kid home from Tennessee. Why?”
Why? How could she explain it all in less than half an hour? “He needed a home. I needed a son.”
“What about Jared?”
“What about him?”
“I mean, what about Jared? You already have a son. Don’t you think it’s possible that this older kid might hurt him or be a bad influence on him?” Rob leaned forward in the chair.
Elizabeth stood and paced the room before turning back to Rob. “Jared has hurt David and has been the bad example all weekend.” She hadn’t wanted to get into this with Rob, but Jared’s demonstration made it inevitable. “You’ve heard him, Rob. You might as well know that he’s been threatening to have his visits removed and telling me that he hates me for quite a while now. Over the past few months it’s gotten to the point that I don’t even know if I really care anymore. And maybe I’m just angry right now.”
“Why haven’t you said anything about this before so we could work on discipline?”
“I’ve talked to Alisa. Wes just says he shouldn’t come here anymore. And you… I only know one thing, Rob. I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive you a second time if you try to take either one of these sons away from me.”
Rob looked into Elizabeth’s eyes until she turned away and sat down. “You still haven’t forgiven me, really. You don’t trust me.”
Elizabeth couldn’t meet his gaze. “I don’t know. I want to believe that you’ll support me, but Wes is your son and….” She couldn’t continue. She couldn’t admit to him that she wasn’t a very good parent after all.
Rob waited for her to continue.
“I didn’t plan to find another son. It’s not like I’m trying to replace Jared, you know. It just happened. Alisa can have all kinds of kids, and I just get one more and….” Don’t you dare cry, Elizabeth Marie. Don’t you dare.
“I’m not against you, Elizabeth,” Rob said softly. “I understand. Wes won’t go back to court. I have some leverage with him. But I want to get to know this David. I want to have an unbiased opinion, and I know I can’t get that from either you or Jared. He looks old enough that we may be able to do some things together that Jared and Lorraine’s Raymond are too young for. Why don’t you tell me about him, or bring him out here?”
“David isn’t very comfortable around strangers, but hopefully the more he gets to know people and the longer he’s here, the less his fear will be.”
“But what about his parents? Is he an orphan?”
Elizabeth glanced toward the hall. She knew that David could listen if he wanted to, and he probably was. She shrugged and nodded toward the hallway, hoping that Rob would get the hint that she didn’t want to talk about it.
Rob looked down the hallway. Then he glanced at his watch and stood. “I’ll try to stop by sometime next week, maybe during school hours.”
Elizabeth stood, also. “I’m home schooling.”
“Save it for later then. Will you get Jared?”
Elizabeth walked down the hall and opened the door. Jared shot past her. “I hate you. You love David more than me. I never want to come back here unless he leaves.”
“We have to do a lot of things in life we don’t want to do. Might as well get used to it now,” Elizabeth said, following him to the front door.
“I’ll talk to him, now and before I drop him off next time.”
After they left, Elizabeth felt an overwhelming weariness. She was almost glad the monitor was broken so she had an excuse not to work. She tried not to think about the things she could get done on the laptop computer. Elizabeth turned out the lights before stopping in David’s room on her way to bed. Then she realized it was only a little after seven. Oh well. David was sick anyway. He could use the extra sleep. She hoped she hadn’t caught his flu.
Elizabeth looked in. David was lying across his bed with his head on the dinosaur. She thought he was asleep until he sat up quickly.
“Are you feeling better?”
“Are you gonna make me leave so Jared will come back?”
Elizabeth sat on the bed next to him. She put her arm around him and gently pulled him over to lean against her. “I will never make you leave. I want you to stay with me. I love you.” She kissed his forehead and then tucked him into bed before she went to her own room.
Monday, March 13th
The next morning Elizabeth was relieved that she hadn’t caught David’s flu yet. David was better, also. She was thankful, but more aware than ever that she had to get David’s past straightened out in case she had ever had to take him to the doctor. She wondered if Dylan had found out anything yet.
Before David’s reading and math lessons Elizabeth called a piano instructor that she knew from church and arranged to have David’s piano lessons start tomorrow afternoon. It would cost more to have Shelly Greene come over to her apartment, but Elizabeth knew that David would feel more comfortable at home.
David was more relaxed with her. He remembered everything she had taught him last week and surprised her by answering quickly in response to her queries. His responses were slower when he encountered new material, but it was still faster than last week.
They settled into the office. David listened to music and worked on the school work Elizabeth had assigned him. Elizabeth set up a new database for one of her programming customers.
Someone was on the porch. David tensed. Elizabeth saw her sister, Robin, pass the window. “It’s just my sister, David. It’s okay.” Elizabeth went to the door as the knock sounded.
“Hi, Beth. I was just passing through and decided to drop in and see what you were up to. Oh, you have company,” Robin said, glancing through the open drapes to the office.
“You can be the first in the family to find out that I’m adopting a son.” Elizabeth led Robin into the office. “This is David Timothy. He lives here with me now.”
“Wow. When did you decide this, you secret keeper?”
“Barely a week ago, but I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to do anything but work and get adjusted.”
“Excuses. We called you from the hospital.”
“Well, I didn’t have a little hospital vacation to make my phone calls in.”
“No, you just go to Florida. I much prefer your method to labor. Look at this hair.” Robin reached out to touch David’s hair. He cringed, but she appeared not to notice. “Promise me, David, that when you want it cut you’ll come to me. Look at this wave. I know just the style that would be perfect for you. Please let me do it.”
David stood quickly, backing away and knocking over the chair.
“Robin, please. I don’t think he wants you to mess with his hair right now. When he decides to have it cut we will remember you.” Elizabeth reached for David’s hand to reassure him, and he clutched it tightly. “She is good with hair, David. Robin has her own shop with three other friends, and she’s been doing it for years. But we’ll go in the kitchen and let you get back to your work.” She let go of his hand, gave his back a quick rub, and then walked out of the room in hopes that Robin would follow.
In the kitchen Elizabeth gave Robin a diet Coke and they settled at the table to talk.
“Is he in Jared’s room?”
“No. Of course, not. His room was the guest room.”
Robin shook her head and laughed. “Renae’s gonna hate that,” she said, referring to her twin.
“Why should she care?”
“Oh, she’s in one of her moods where she says she’s going to leave Bill. She’s even got it all planned out this time. Halley and Billy will stay with us because they’re in school, and Laura, Nicky, and her will move in with you.”
“It’s a good thing she let me know this. She can’t be too serious, but even if she is, this isn’t a good time.”
“Oh, get real, Beth. I know you. You’ll let her stay if she asks.”
“Robin, there is no room. And I’m not going to hurt David to indulge her whims. If she wants to move out, she should just find a place to rent.”
“That was her second choice. She wants to rent one of your places, but the only one big enough for her and the kids is this one.”
“So she’s hoping I’ll move out and give it to her. I don’t think so. I need this place for my work and each one of the bedrooms.”
“You could buy another house.”
“Why don’t you and Tony buy one for her?”
“Are you kidding? Tony wouldn’t go for that. He says I can’t loan her any more money either.”
“I seem to recall when Wes said that to me, you just smiled and said, ‘What Wes doesn’t know….’”
“Yeah, but you went and told him, anyway. But this is different, I can’t really afford to loan her any more right now.”
“I can’t either. I upgraded my equipment last month, and now I’ve got a new son, remember?”
“She knows you’re rich. You have three houses.”
“I’m not rich, and you know it. Don’t even let her think it.”
“But it’s so convenient for me.” Robin stood. “Well, I’ve got to get home before the monsters come in from school. I’ll see you later.”
Robin had not been gone more than fifteen minutes when Rob stopped in. Elizabeth saw David tense up again as she and Rob walked into the office. “David, Honey, I’m going to be outside if you need me.”
When they were outside, Rob said, “Are you sure it’s safe to leave him alone?” They climbed into Rob’s truck, and he turned it on to warm up the cab.
“Safe in what way?”
“How old is he?”
“I’m not sure. Don’t worry. Dylan’s checking into it for me.”
“Are you sure he won’t burn the place down?”
“I hadn’t worried about that one yet. Thank you.”
“Any time. But what do you know about him.”
“Not much except that he’s a Christian. He comes from some kind of abusive background in Chicago, and he’s terrified to go back. He’s starting to trust me, but then he had nowhere else to go and no options left at the time. And still there are times when I see fear in his eyes.”
“He seemed pretty nervous both times I’ve seen him.”
“He is. Are you serious about wanting to get to know him?”
“I’m serious about wanting to do what’s best for you. Elizabeth, please don’t take this the wrong way, but I want you to really think about this. Are you absolutely positive that you want to take on the responsibility of a kid that messed up?”
“He’s not just any kid, and he’s a Christian, remember? That counts for a lot.”
“You’re clinging to that, aren’t you?”
Elizabeth stared out the window at the house where David was. “It’s all I’ve got. I know I can’t do it unless God is with us. It’s impossible. But it’s also impossible that a kid his age remembered Dylan from two years before, somehow made it to Tennessee and found him while at the same time being terrified of most people.”
“How old do you think he is?”
“Physically somewhere between thirteen and fifteen. Emotionally, maybe a terrified five. Academically he’s about first grade, but he seems to have an excellent memory when he’s not scared. He can play the piano and the guitar by ear. He seems to like taking pictures with my camera. If you’re serious about helping out, maybe you could start teaching him how to do the repairs and yard work this summer. Of course, I know that’s your busiest time,” she added, giving him out. He had no obligation at all to David.
“It’s busy, but Wes and I talked about me working less this year. You know, kind of gradually easing my way into retirement a little bit more every year. Maybe David and I could do the painting and yard work on this place ourselves this year, if you think he’s able to.”
“He’s a good worker once he knows what’s expected. But he needs to get used to you. I may have to be with you for a while.”
Elizabeth turned in the seat to face him better. “Rob, he has panic attacks, or maybe terror attacks are a better word. I hope they’ll disappear in time, but in the meantime….”
“Has he hurt you or anyone?”
“No. He just gets… I can’t explain it.”
“But he may as he gets older.”
“He’s never done anything like that.”
“Just let me know if he does.”
“You and Dylan both.”
“We don’t want you hurt.”
“Rob, I need to know something. I may have to fight to keep David. It depends on what Dylan finds out. If I do, will you support me? Will you have a problem with his name becoming David Timothy Weaver? Will you help me in court if I have to go?”
“He means a lot to you, doesn’t he?”
“I love him,” she said quietly. “I don’t understand it myself. Ever since we prayed in Dylan’s barn, I’ve felt that he was my son, and I’ve loved him.”
“I’ll support you. There will be no problem with the name. It is your name, after all. If Wes says anything, let me know. I’ve got to go now. I’ll be by in a couple days and talk to David about helping me this year.”
Elizabeth got out of the truck and went back into the house.
Tuesday, March 14th
The next day Elizabeth picked up her new monitor and was glad David was along to help carry it. She forced herself to get to work as soon as it was set up. At two thirty Shelly Greene, David’s new piano instructor, arrived. David nervously sat at the piano bench. When Shelly tried to sit beside him on the bench, he jumped up and ran to the doorway.
David just stared at her.
“Shell, do you think you could sit in a kitchen chair if I brought one in? David prefers not to be touched.” Elizabeth went to stand near David.
“I suppose so. But David, I haven’t bitten anyone yet, although I have been tempted a few times.”
David’s eyes showed his surprise and terror.
“I’m joking,” Shelly assured him. “Really. I’m harmless.”
“David, will you bring in a chair from the kitchen?”
David obediently left the room.
“Is he okay?” Shelly whispered.
“He frightens easily,” Elizabeth whispered back. “Please try to be as nonthreatening as possible until he gets used to you.”
David came back with the chair. Elizabeth took it from him and set it near the piano. “Come on, David, Honey. I bet Mrs. Greene wants to hear how well you can play.”
“Yes, I would. Have you had lessons before?”
David looked at Elizabeth and then reached out for her hand. Elizabeth took his hand and led him to the piano. “Do you want me to stay right here?” She had been hoping she could use the time to catch up on her work, but….
“Okay. Sit down, and I’ll stay right here beside you.” Elizabeth moved to stand next to the wall on the opposite side of David. “Have you had lessons before, David?”
He shook his head.
“Why don’t you play one of Dylan’s songs? You’re very good at them.”
David looked at her for reassurance and then turned to the piano. He closed his eyes for a moment as if in silent prayer and then started to play. Elizabeth knew that Shelly wasn’t expecting what she heard and was pleased to see her surprised expression. When he was finished he turned to Elizabeth.
“That was very good, David,” Shelly said.
David turned to look at her warily.
“Do you know how to read music?”
He hesitated, staring at music holder on the piano.
“Do you know the names of the keys?” Shelly pressed her fingers down on the first few keys.
David leaned away from her hand as it came toward him.
She stopped and asked the question again. He finally said, “I listened. When others had lessons, I listened.”
“So did you have lessons, too?”
Over the next half hour Shelly Greene began teaching him, relying on Elizabeth to keep David focused on the lesson instead of her. It seemed he only needed one reminding of things, and was able to pick it up. Shelly was able to take him through several sets of scales, and finally had to stop only because of time constrains.
“Well, David, it looks like you are far more advanced than we thought. You practice all the scales and even look ahead if you can, and I’ll bring more advanced study material next week,” Shelly said.
Afterward David practiced the lessons Shelly left for him, and Elizabeth was able to get back to work.
She wondered if Dylan had found out anything yet. She wished he would call and let her know something — anything.
Go to Chapter 13
© 2013, 1995 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.