Chapter 19 – David
Friday, September 14th thru Saturday, September 15th
The seminar in Grand Rapids was far more interesting than David thought it would be. He learned so much, and there was much more that he didn’t understand and had to ask Elizabeth about later. And David was fascinated by the pianist at the conference. He glanced at Elizabeth, and she watched the man, also.
“He’s so good,” David whispered.
“Yes, he is. I believe he’s what you’d call a virtuoso.”
David studied the way he sat and the way his hands moved over the keyboard. If only he could make the piano sound so good. The piano the man played was larger than Elizabeth’s, but from his lessons with Shelly he knew the sound was the result of the musician’s skill.
But it wasn’t just the teaching and the music that made the seminar special. It was the first time he and Elizabeth had gone away together overnight since he had come to live with her. They were always together at home, but Friday night after the lights were off in the hotel room, and they were both lying in their respective beds he felt a freedom to talk to her that he hadn’t had before.
“Do you remember when I first met you, Mom?”
“Yes, David. It wasn’t that long ago, but it seems like we’ve always been together.”
“I… it seems that way to me, too. Mom?”
“Am I just another job to you? I mean, are you nice to me because you know Jesus wants you to be? Do you care because it’s your job as a Christian to care?” Elizabeth was silent, and David wondered if it was because he had said the truth. “I understand, really. That’s the way everyone is, I guess.”
“David, I’m not sure what to say. I thought you knew I loved you, but then I guess you’ve never known love before so you have to compare it to what you’ve known, don’t you? Maybe the first time I invited you into Dylan’s house, I cared because I knew God wanted me to care. But, David, something happened. I’m not sure what. But by the time we left Dylan’s I wasn’t caring because I had to or because God wanted me to. I love you. I want to do what’s best for you. I want to be your mom.”
“I always like to think you love me like that, but sometimes I wonder why no one else did, and then I think maybe you are like the others.”
David rolled onto his side to face her although he could only see the outline of the covers over her. “At the mission some people were nice to me. But it was their job. They left. Gary and Michelle. Dylan told me about Jesus; he gave me the tapes and the Bible. But he really didn’t care after all. It was his job.”
“You loved Dylan, didn’t you?”
“I… I wanted him to be my father, but he doesn’t like dogs.”
Elizabeth was silent so long that he thought maybe he had said too much. “David, I know it must have hurt a lot when Dylan didn’t seem to care, but he does care. When he commits himself to a friend, he stays committed. He and Kathy have been good friends to me, but he worries about me. He doesn’t trust my judgment. He thinks that I am a lonely woman who’s too scared to remarry and is losing what’s left of her only child, so I had to go find another one. He won’t say that’s what he thinks, but it’s pretty obvious. And parts of it are true, I guess. I was lonely until you came. And I don’t know if I’m scared of getting remarried or not. Kathy says I’m too picky, but I don’t want to marry someone I can’t trust and follow completely.” She paused. “Anyway, what was I saying… Oh, yes. I didn’t go out looking. God brought us together. And I don’t think my psychological problems are causing me to misinterpret who you are. But how did we get on this topic?”
“Mom, I don’t want Dylan anymore. I want you. I love you. And I never want to live with anyone else. Even if I was only your job, I’d want to stay with you.” They were both quiet. David thought about what she had said about Dylan and herself. “Do you think you’ll get married?”
“I don’t know. He’d have to be a pretty special man.”
“What would he be like?”
“Well, the first thing about him that I need to know is that he loves our Lord and Savior as we do, and understands why he loves Jesus and be able to explain it.”
Elizabeth laughed. “Yeah, I guess he seems to meet my theological conditions. Of course he could be married or seventeen. But there are a lot of other criteria a man has to meet before I’d agree to submit to him for the rest of my life.”
“Like he’d have to love you as much as I do and understand you. There’s no way I’d marry a man who would hurt you whether out of maliciousness, ignorance or misguided love for me.”
“But you’ll never marry then.” He felt relieved.
“Perhaps not, Sweetheart, but I’m not going to abandon you for some man to share my bed.”
“I… You’re giving up so much for me. I could… I could try to please you.”
The silence stretched on for an eternity. He had to know. He loved her so much, and he longed to be closer. He never wanted anyone to come between them.
“David, I don’t know if I understood you right,” she said quietly.
“I was taught… I never really pleased her, but I could try to please you. I could come in your bed, if you… if you need me to.”
“David, you know that’s wrong.” Her voice was low, but seemed to shake.
Terror filled him. He’d ruined everything. Of course someone as pure as Elizabeth would never go for sin. But… “We could get married. Like Gary and Michelle or Dylan and Kathy. We….”
“David, you are my son,” she said firmly. “I would never want that from you. God would never want that from us. You know that, don’t you?”
He cringed into a ball on his side. “I… I just thought… thought you might need… we don’t need anyone else… but… I’m sorry. Maybe I should… I should leave.”
“Oh, David, my son, I know it’s hard to know what’s true and good when you’ve lived with evil and falsehoods your entire life. God has preserved you, taken you from that, and made you hunger for Him and that is a miracle.”
She paused for a moment. “We just have to fight these bad memories and temptations when they come and replace them with good ones. When thoughts like this start to bother you, you need to turn to God. Pray. Read His Word. Stay focused on what it is that you know He wants you to do. It’s the only way I know, David. I don’t know what else to do. And David, please don’t leave. We can work through these things together, my beloved son. You are truly my son. I just pray that I’m a good enough mother to help you grow into the man I know God has planned for you to be.”
David couldn’t hold back any longer. His tears ran down his cheeks. He wanted to feel her hold him as she did sometimes, but he ruined everything with his words. Now she knew how evil he was inside. She’d never come near him again. “I’m sorry,” he cried. “I just want to make you happy, and I don’t know how.”
Elizabeth sat on the edge of his bed and rubbed his shoulder. “David, you don’t have to do anything to make me happy. I’m happy that we are together. I’m happy when I see how you love God. I’m happy when I listen to your music.”
David wanted to hug her, but wasn’t sure if she’d leave him when he tried. Please, Lord, I’ll never say an evil thing to her again. I promise I’ll be good. Please let it go back to the way it was. He sat and looked at her, tears still flowing down his cheeks.
Elizabeth reached for him, and he settled against her, hugging her back. She kissed his forehead. “I’m happy just holding you like this — the way a mother should hold and comfort her child,” she whispered. “You’ll always be my beloved son. We’ll get through this, just like we worked through your fear.”
David hugged her tighter. “I love you, Mommy,” he said softly. He didn’t know how long she held him. He must have fallen asleep. He awoke with a start when she kissed his forehead and left him. He settled into bed and thought about how much he loved Elizabeth. He realized that if she had responded any differently to his offer she wouldn’t have been the mother that he loved so much. He thanked God that nothing had been ruined by his words.
Before the conference was over Elizabeth bought a CD of piano music of the man that they had heard. They also found a list of concerts scheduled to be held at the church. They decided to go to a Petra concert in November and sit in the back of the auditorium, so no one could come up behind him. They also saw an ad for a Rich Mullins concert and bought tickets for that also. David would go anywhere with her.
September thru November
At home David listened to the CD of piano music over and over, and in his free time he tried to imitate the man. He knew he fell far short of the sound he had heard, but it just made him try harder.
The Rich Mullins concert was on a Friday. Jared was scheduled to come that night, and David was relieved when he heard Elizabeth call Keith and ask if he’d watch Jared that night for them.
There were a lot of people at the concert just as there had been at the conferences, but David stayed close to Elizabeth. When the music started he forgot about everything else. He liked going places with Elizabeth, and even though the crowds made him nervous they started to regularly attend concerts that weren’t scheduled when Jared would be with them.
November came, and the temperature dropped. One day when Elizabeth worked past dinner without realizing it, David started to go into the office. He knew if she saw him she would stop working and feed him. She always fed him. He used to have to find food himself. She did so much for him; he hated to bother her about food. She may have to stay up really late again, and she was so tired all the time. Instead he went into the kitchen.
Dinner was almost finished when Elizabeth joined him in the kitchen. “What are you doing, David?”
He thought she was upset and backed away from the stove.
Instead she hugged him. “I’m sorry, David. I lost track of time. It smells good. How about I set the table for you today, and you finish up since it looks like you’re doing a good job?” Elizabeth seemed so pleased that he had cooked for her that he tried to cook often. It didn’t always turn out as well as if Elizabeth had done it, but she was always pleased. After that he watched for other things that he could do that she normally did. She always seemed pleased and happy when he did, and he noticed by the end of the month that she wasn’t staying up as late anymore, and she wasn’t as tired.
Monday, November 20th
It was a Monday evening when Jay and Becky stopped by unexpectedly. Elizabeth greeted them warmly and took their coats. They sat on the couch, and she offered them some hot chocolate. David went to prepare it, listening to them from the kitchen.
“So, what are you doing for Thanksgiving, Elizabeth? Do you usually visit family?”
“Usually. But things are a little different this year. Dylan invited us, but Jared will be here this weekend, so I guess David and I will just hang out around here. How about you? I imagine that things will be hard for you this year.”
David entered with the chocolate in time to see Jay nod, his white scalp coming through his dark hair. David set the cup on the table beside him.
“Thank you, David,” Jay said, as David handed Becky hers. “Cheryl and I would fix a large dinner and invite everyone over who didn’t really have a family to go home to. Sometimes we had as many as twenty to thirty people in the house.” He stirred his chocolate and then took a sip. “Becky and I have talked about it. We know it’ll be hard, but we want to have people over again this year. Maybe not as many, but I know that Edith Sharock will be alone. Her grandchildren and children are all in other states now. She has come to our house for the last two years.”
“And Grandma Edith always makes the best apple and pumpkin pies,” Becky said.
Jay smiled at Becky. “Yes, she does. Then we’ve also invited Ray Broadstrek, you know his wife left last year, and Ami Miller and her two girls. We wondered if you and David would like to come, too?”
Elizabeth looked at David. David didn’t want to go anywhere. He didn’t even remember the people Jay had mentioned, although he was pretty sure they all went to their church.
“I don’t know, Jay. It sounds nice….” A knock on the door cut off Elizabeth’s reply. David didn’t know whether to be relieved or more nervous because someone else was invading their home.
Karen and Craig stepped inside when Elizabeth opened the door. “Hi, Beth. Oh, we didn’t realize you had company,” Karen said, looking expectantly at Jay.
Elizabeth introduced her parents to Jay and Becky. Craig and Jay shook hands. Elizabeth offered to take Craig and Karen’s coats.
“Oh, no. We aren’t staying long. We just came to invite you over for Thanksgiving. Jay, you and Becky are welcome to come, also. I’m so pleased to know that she’s dating again. Beth, I’m sure there will be plenty of leftovers so that you can bring a plate home for David.”
David had been surprised by the invitation, but now he knew that he was expected to stay home. He wasn’t sure what was so important about Thanksgiving, but he’d rather stay home anyway. It would be lonely without Elizabeth, though.
“Well, it’s kind of you to invite me,” Elizabeth said, stressing the word me. “But David and I have already been invited to Jay’s for Thanksgiving, and I’m sure that would be more convenient for everyone.”
“Oh. It’s just that we rarely see you. Jay, join us. You’ll be able to meet Elizabeth’s sisters and their families then.”
Jay smiled. “Thank you for the invitation, but I’ve already invited a group of people.”
“And you’re taking David, Elizabeth? Are you sure that’s safe?”
David watched Becky’s eyes widen, and Jay’s brow furrow. He wanted to disappear into his room, but he was closer to the office. He stepped behind the curtain and sat in the chair next to the computer, bringing his knees to his chin and holding them. He could still hear them though. He wished he could block it out.
“Why wouldn’t it be safe?” Jay asked.
“Elizabeth didn’t tell you?” Craig asked. “Elizabeth, for the sake of his daughter and any other children who might be there, you should have the courtesy to tell him about David’s violent behavior.”
“David isn’t violent. And please stop talking about him as if he’s not even here.”
“How can you say that after what happened? We’ve tried to get her to send him back to whatever orphanage she got him from, but she refuses.”
“I don’t understand,” Jay said. “What has he done that is so terrible?”
“Nothing,” Elizabeth said. “And I wish you’d stop repeating it.”
“Nothing? Nothing?” Karen’s voice raised. “You call kicking an eight year old boy in the mouth so that he almost lost his teeth nothing? You call breaking Bill’s nose, nothing? Elizabeth, I’m terrified that one day I’ll get a phone call, and you’ll be in the hospital or dead. Either you or Jared.”
“Mother, you are worrying about nothing. David is not violent. He is not going to hurt me. I doubt he’ll hurt Jared either. Now if you can’t stop talking against my son, I’ll have to ask you to leave.”
David heard someone start crying, but it didn’t sound like Elizabeth. Then he heard Karen’s cracking voice. “You’ve turned against your own family; after all I’ve done for you.”
“Come on, Karen. We better go,” Craig said. “Nice to have met you, Jay. I only wish it were better circumstances. But maybe you’ll be able to reason with her as we can’t.”
David heard the front door open and then close. Footsteps sounded on the porch and down the steps.
Then he heard Elizabeth’s voice. It was hard and low. “I’m sorry. If you wish to change your invitation, I understand. But don’t you ever say a word against my son, or you can leave right now.”
“I’ve never taken David for a violent person, so perhaps you can explain what really happened.” There was a pause, and then he continued. “I know it’s really none of my business, is it? But I thought we were friends, Elizabeth. You may not want to explain in front of Becky, but she’s already heard your mother’s version. Are you going to let us go away with that?”
“David is not a violent person,” Elizabeth said firmly. “Okay, this is it. Jared’s jealous. We were at the park. Jared and his two cousins decided to sneak up on David and pull him under the water. David didn’t know what was happening or who it was and kicked out underwater. Billy’s face happened to be there. Billy’s father was already on his fifth beer and attacked David. David defended himself. We are banned from family gatherings. So unless you have people at your little party who plan on acting obnoxiously you have nothing to worry about.”
“I understand why you’re angry, Elizabeth. If it helps, I think your family is overreacting to a normal family accident. My brothers and I were always knocking each other around, most times by accident, sometimes on purpose. I got a black eye one time by sneaking up and dunking my brother. Of course then I got a blistered bottom from my father. ‘It’s dangerous to dunk people underwater,’ were his words of wisdom. I remember it well.”
David couldn’t believe it. Jay sounded like he really did understand. He got up and looked around the curtain. Elizabeth was sitting in the stuffed chair, staring at Jay like she didn’t believe him either.
“You and David are still welcome to come Thursday. We’d love to have you both, wouldn’t we, Becky?”
Becky nodded. “Yes. David is welcome at our house any time.” Becky smiled at him.
David dunked back behind the curtain. Why did she keep looking at him whenever he was around? Was he that strange that she must stare?
“We’ll come,” Elizabeth said softly.
No, Mom. Why can’t we just stay home?
Soon after Jay and Becky left, Elizabeth found him. “I’m sorry, David. At least Jay seems to be a bit more understanding. I can’t believe my mom thought he was my boyfriend. I hope he never says anything about that.” Elizabeth sat down in a chair in front of the computer. David sat near her in the arm chair. “You don’t mind going over there, do you?”
“Ah, you do mind, but you’ll humor me and not say it.”
David smiled. “You know what I’m thinking.” Then he was serious again. “I’m not good with a lot of people. Can I stay home?”
“You should go. You need to learn to be around people. Even if you are never completely comfortable inside, it’s something that you’ll have to do your whole life. I’ll be there, and don’t worry about interrupting me. You can always find a quiet spot to hide out for a while if you start to feel overwhelmed.”
Thursday, November 23rd
Thursday wasn’t as bad as David had feared. He and Elizabeth cooked a vegetable casserole and made a fruit salad to take. When they arrived, Ami and her two girls, Tara and Saralyn, were already there. Ami was helping Jay in the kitchen, and Becky was entertaining the two younger girls in the living room. Elizabeth volunteered to help in the kitchen. Soon Edith and Ray were there, and Jay sent everyone into the living room to visit saying that he and Becky would finish up.
David stayed close to Elizabeth and spoke only when asked a direct question. He noticed that Elizabeth did not say much at first either.
Jay called them in to eat. David sat next to Elizabeth, and after Jay’s long prayer, he copied everything she did, taking identical portions. He did not want to appear as stupid as he was. Afterward Elizabeth helped Becky and Edith clean up the kitchen. David wanted to help, but Edith shooed him away. “The men don’t have to worry about this. Go enjoy yourself, young man.”
David went into the living room and sat in a chair in the corner.
Ami came in and sat near him. Jay and Ray had left the room. “So, where are you from, David? Did you grow up in Flint? Detroit?”
David didn’t answer her. He wasn’t going to lie, but the fewer people who knew anything about where he was from, the less chance he had of being found.
“I know Elizabeth isn’t your real mother unless she has secrets she never tells anyone.”
David still didn’t answer. He wanted to get away from her.
“I haven’t heard you say one word. Don’t you know how to speak?”
All dogs learned that command. He just wanted to be left alone. David got up and walked away. He looked into the kitchen, but Elizabeth seemed to be busy talking to Edith and Becky. He saw Ami coming and dunked down the hall. At the end of the hall, he found the room where all the coats were lying across the bed. He went in and sat down on the floor behind the door so no one would see him if they passed by or came in quickly for their coat. He needed Elizabeth. He needed… He started praying silently.
David was startled a short time later when Edith and Becky came into the room. They didn’t see him and sat on a clear section of the bed. “Grandma, I don’t want a new mother,” Becky said.
“Have you told your father that?”
“Yes, but Mom told him before she died that she wanted me to have a new mom. She said I would need one. But I don’t want one.”
“Perhaps your father won’t find anyone he wants to marry right away.”
“Yeah, right. He did promise me to wait at least a year, but I can’t believe how many single women Dad actually knows. And then some of them are even nice to me just so Dad will like them. They never talked to me before, and now I’m Miss Popularity.”
“I think that you are seeing this wrong, Honey. They are probably just concerned about you because of all that’s happened this year. They know you need someone to talk to and are just checking up on you. It probably has nothing to do with your father being available.”
“I just want my own mom back.” Becky started crying. David had known that Becky’s mother had died, but he hadn’t realized she was hurt. Then he thought about Elizabeth. Jesus, my Lord, please don’t let Elizabeth die. I love her so much. She’s the very best mother in the world.
Edith and Becky didn’t talk much after that, and when Becky was through crying they left. David waited a few minutes and then went to find Elizabeth.
As he approached the living room he heard her laugh. He looked in. She was talking to Ray, and he was smiling at her. David hesitated. Elizabeth looked up and held out her hand to him. David came and took it, sitting down on the floor next to her chair. Ray watched him, but then continued to talk to Elizabeth as if he weren’t there. David was glad when it was finally time to go home.
The next week David heard Elizabeth receive a phone call from Ray. He wanted to take her out to dinner, but she refused him. “Why didn’t you want to go to dinner with him?” David asked. “Is it because of me?”
Elizabeth shrugged. “I just didn’t want to lead him on. He really isn’t the kind of guy I want to marry.”
She smiled. “Nothing in particular. I guess he’s nice enough, but like Kathy says, I’m too picky.”
Saturday, December 2nd
The following Saturday Keith came over in the morning. Keith came frequently, and David was getting used to him. He was probably as comfortable with Keith as he had been with Rob before the fight. David let him into the house.
“Hey, David. I came to see if you got your Christmas shopping done yet,” Keith said, as he walked inside.
“Christmas shopping?” Last weekend when Jared was there they had set up the Christmas tree and decorated the house. David had seen the mission decorated for Christmas, but he had never participated before. He liked it when Elizabeth turned off all the lights at night except for the tree lights, and then they sat on the couch. Sometimes she held him as they talked.
“Yeah, you get an allowance, don’t you?”
“You want to buy something for Elizabeth for Christmas, don’t you? You should probably get something for Jared, although I’m sure you’d rather not.”
Buy something for Elizabeth! “Yes. For Elizabeth. Will you take me?”
“That’s what I’m here for. I thought you’d want to.” Keith glanced around the curtain into the office. “Just as I thought, Beth. You’re always working, or are you netting.”
“Working, Keith, but I suppose you’ll want me to stop.”
“No. I’ve got other plans today. David and I are going shopping.”
Elizabeth came to them. “Are you okay with this, David? There are going to be a lot of people in the stores.” She looked into his eyes and put her hands on his shoulders.
But Keith was right. He must buy her something. This was his only chance to ask Keith what to get her. “I… Yes. I want to go.”
“Okay, Sweetheart.” She kissed his forehead. “I’ll be going out later myself. Make sure you have the key I gave you.”
When Elizabeth returned to her computer he went into his room. He pulled the wallet out of his drawer. Then he opened the closet, moved his dirty laundry basket, and lifted the carpeting. He wondered how much money he should take. He finally left one hundred and fifty at home and took two hundred. He carefully replaced the carpeting and the basket and closed the closet door.
David was nervous when he climbed into the car next to Keith, but he knew that he had to find out. After Keith started the car, David began to ask his questions. “Everyone buys presents for other people at Christmas?”
“Not everyone, but a lot of people do.”
“And then they just give them to them?”
“Don’t tell me you’ve never celebrated Christmas before?”
David hesitated. Keith didn’t want him to tell him the truth?
“No. What I should do? What should I buy? Do I give it to her tonight? What do normal sons do?”
Keith laughed. “You’re finally talking to me, David. At my house everyone buys presents for each other and hides them. You have to wrap them in Christmas paper and then on the night before Christmas we put all the presents under the tree after the little kids go to sleep. That would be Jared for you. Then in the morning the kids run down and see all the presents. Of course, Mom and Dad’s presents are under there, also. Let’s see. I don’t know if I’m a normal son, but when I go home for Christmas I’ll probably help Mom and Dad get ready. I don’t know what you would have to do. Probably just help Elizabeth do whatever she plans to do. By the way, what do you think you want to get Elizabeth.”
“I… I don’t know. What are you getting your Mom?”
“Probably jewelry. I’ve found a woman can never have too much jewelry. I usually get her jewelry for Christmas, some kind of fancy doodad she can put on her shelf for her birthday, and flowers for Mother’s day.”
“When… when is Elizabeth’s birthday?”
“In June. I’m not sure which date. Didn’t she tell you when she got a year older?”
“Oh no. She gave me presents, and I didn’t…. What about Mother’s Day? Did I screw up then, too, or do I still have time.”
Keith shook his head. “That was May. You were here. But don’t worry. All this stuff comes every year. You can make it up to her next year.”
“What else do I need to know to be a good son?”
Keith pulled up to a light and turned to look at David. “You really care about her, don’t you?”
“I… I love her.”
The light changed, and Keith pressed the accelerator. They drove in silence until Keith asked, “So what do you think, David. Do you want to get her some jewelry?”
“How much do you want to spend?”
“I… I only brought two hundred. Is that enough?”
“Two hundred? Where in the world did you get that kind of money?”
“Elizabeth. She gives me an allowance.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t realize it was such a large allowance.”
“Fifteen a week. I have thirteen fifty after tithe.”
“You’ve been saving for months, then.”
“And you want to spend it all on Elizabeth?”
“Well, you probably should save ten or twenty to spend on Jared.” Keith pulled into the parking lot of a jewelry store. “Since you want to spend so much, we’ll go for the real stuff. You know you can get something Elizabeth will love for twenty dollars if we go to a discount store, but usually with jewelry the more you spend the better the quality.”
They went inside, and at Keith’s prompting the attendant explained the various properties of the pieces that caught their attention.
David had never seen so many pretty things. “What should I get? What do you think she would like better?”
“If I know mothers, Elizabeth will like anything you give her. But you do have enough to get her a necklace and earrings if you get smaller stones. Something like this, maybe.” He pointed to an emerald pendant set in a gold teardrop shape. “Emeralds would match her eyes. How much is this?” He asked the attendant.
She pulled it out for them to see. “One hundred and ten. The earrings are the same price.”
“Oh, too bad, David. You’re twenty dollars short for both. But you can get just the necklace.”
David looked at the necklace and then at the matching earrings still in the case. “Do you think… Do you think you could bring me back to get the earrings?”
“I’ll be on my way home in two weeks.”
“No, today. I have more money at home.”
“David, you don’t need to spend that much. I’m sure you can find a nice set for less. Look at this one.”
David looked at the one Keith pointed to, but the stone was smaller and didn’t seem to shine as brightly. “I want this one.”
“Do you have another fifty at home?”
Keith pulled out his wallet and took out a fifty dollar bill. “You can pay me back when you get home. We’ll go to the toy store after this. You can get something for Jared, and I’ll buy for my three.”
David bought the set, and he watched Keith buy a necklace for his mother. He didn’t spend anywhere near what David had.
At the toy store Keith helped him find something for Jared. There were so many people at the store, making David nervous as soon as they entered it. People brushed against him. It kept happening. There were people everywhere. He grabbed his wallet and handed it to Keith. “I’ve got to get out of here.” He rushed to find his way outside.
In the parking lot David breathed deeply of the frigid air as he walked to the car. There were people out here, but at least they weren’t bumping him and closing in on him. He leaned against the car until his thoughts began to slow. Then he sat on the ground and leaned against the rear tire of the car. He didn’t feel the cold too much. Elizabeth had given him a good warm coat and gloves. He pulled the hood of the parka up over his head. Elizabeth gave him everything. She had even given him the money that he had spent on her. He hadn’t liked the idea that his stash of money was almost gone, but she was worth it.
The car trunk opened, and David stood quickly.
“There you are,” Keith said, setting his bags into the trunk. He closed it and handed David back his wallet. “If you hadn’t run off so quickly I would have let you have the keys to the car.”
Keith shook his head, smiling. “Okay, now we have to get paper, and then we’re through. By the way, I just thought of something. You and your mom will probably have Christmas with Jared before Christmas. I think that’s what she does. I’d wait until Christmas day when you’re alone with her to give her your present. For some reason, I think it would be better.” Keith helped him complete his preparations before he left for home.
Sunday, December 24th and Monday, December 25th
David followed Keith’s advice and did not take out his gift while Jared was there. But Elizabeth had bought gifts for both of them to open that day. Twice he went into his room and even took the two small boxes out of his closet. But then he put them back. He didn’t want Jared to see how she liked his gift. He hoped she liked it. What if she didn’t?
Rob picked up Jared Sunday evening and then Elizabeth and David went to the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church. Afterward David and Elizabeth sang songs by the piano. It seemed forever before it was time for bed. They read as usual, and then she kissed his forehead, told him she loved him, and went to her own room.
David waited until he was sure she was in bed. He thought she was once, and then he heard her go back into the living room. He waited a while after she went back to bed before he crept out and put the two small boxes under the tree. He was afraid they’d get lost under there, but he finally left them and went back to bed. He didn’t sleep well until almost morning.
When David got up Elizabeth was already making breakfast. He wondered if she’d seen his presents and rushed through his morning routine. He checked the tree. The two little boxes were still there, barely visible, and there was another larger package under the tree. Who could that be for? She had already given him gifts when Jared was there.
David glanced toward the kitchen and then quickly looked at the gift’s tag. His name was written in the TO section and it was from Mom. What was it? What could it be? And there were two other smaller presents back there, too.
“I see you’re up, David.”
He jumped and whirled around at the same time. “I… I was just….”
“Looking?” Elizabeth smiled. “That’s fine. But you have to eat first.”
David followed her back into the kitchen and started eating the French toast she put in front of him. “You’ve already given me presents, Mom.”
Elizabeth shrugged and smiled. “Maybe I found something else I wanted to give you. Actually there’s something from Keith and Dylan under there for you.”
“Keith and Dylan! But doesn’t that mean that I was supposed to get them something? Keith never said….”
“Really, David, don’t take the fun out of it. They don’t expect something from you. If they did, I would have told you.”
“But….” Elizabeth was the only person he had really wanted to buy something for. Not Jared, not Dylan, not even Keith, although Keith had been pretty nice to him. But still he only really wanted to please Elizabeth. He looked at her. If she was satisfied that he hadn’t bought for the others then he was, too.
When they were finished Elizabeth handed David the two smaller presents first. The one from Dylan and Kathy was a selection of sheet music by various composers. Keith had given him a wallet to replace the worn and ripped one that had been in the bag when he left Chicago. The new one even had a section he could put pictures in. He knew he would put Elizabeth’s picture in there to carry with him.
Elizabeth handed him the large present. “I thought you might use this.”
David opened it and took out a heavy black carrying case. Inside was a laptop computer. He looked at Elizabeth. “I don’t… I’m not smart enough for this.”
“Sure you are, David. I thought you might like to use it to write your descriptions for your photo albums. And there’s also a modem. I got you your own log on ID. I know you like to watch what’s going on when I’m on, and remember those couple times when you wanted to say something, and we put it under my name. Now you can put it under your name. And then there are all kinds of other programs you can use, also. Some of the school stuff you are doing is available on the computer, too.”
David hugged her. “I love you. I… I hope….” He hoped he didn’t disappoint her. Then he remembered his gifts for her. He took them from under the tree and gave them to her.
“For me?” She looked pleased so far. David watched as she took them to the chair and sat down. Then she opened the first one. “David, oh it’s beautiful. You shouldn’t… I mean….” She looked into David’s eyes.
“Do you like it?”
“Yes, David. Very much. I….”
“Here, Mom. Open this one.” David picked up the other box from the arm of the chair, handing it to her.
“David? You didn’t….” Elizabeth finally looked away from his eyes and opened the other box. “Oh, David.” She hugged him. “I don’t know what to say. Thank you. I never expected you to spend all your money on me like this.”
“I… I didn’t spend it all.”
“I’m glad you didn’t.” Elizabeth picked up the boxes and went to her room. When she came back out she had changed into a white blouse, and the emerald was displayed on it. The earrings sparkled against the reddish brown of her hair. “What do you think, David?”
“I think you are beautiful.”
“Thank you, David. It’s always nice to know someone thinks so.”
Go to Chapter 20
© 2013, 1995 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.