Chapter 28 – Elizabeth
Friday, April 12th and following
Elizabeth watched Paul’s car drive away. She turned to David, and he watched her. For the first time she wished he wasn’t. “I… I think I should go rest for a while.” She went into the house and to her room. When she was alone she let the tears begin to fall.
Why Lord? Why do I care? Why does it matter that he’s gone, and I might not see him again? Is he really the person he seems? Why is it that the only man I’ve ever felt I might want to marry tells me he’s not interested? Am I only interested because he’s not? Will he keep treating David like a son, or will David be hurt? Will he ever try to take David’s love from me? Lord! Lord! Please calm these thoughts. Help me to remember You’re in control. I know You’re in control.
She went to her CD collection in the office and grabbed Rich Mullin’s Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth album that had helped calm her thoughts through difficult times in the past. She went back to her room and put it in the small CD player there.
By noon Elizabeth felt ready to face David again. She found him playing with his new keyboard, but he stopped when he saw her. He came to stand before her. “Mom? I… Can we… Will you….”
“Do you want to go sit on the couch and talk?”
He nodded. They went into the living room, and David leaned against her. She put her arm around him and held him. “Do you really think he loves me?”
Paul better not break this boy’s heart. “I think so, David. There really wasn’t any reason to lie about it.”
He was silent. Then he asked quietly, “Why won’t you let him give you money?”
“What?” David jumped up in alarm.
Elizabeth shook her head and then said in a quiet voice. “I’m sorry, David.” She indicated for him to sit back down next to her. She put her arm around him again. “I just didn’t know you were listening last night.”
“I… You didn’t want me to? I… I had a nightmare.”
“I just didn’t think that you had been.” Elizabeth tried to remember everything that was said last night and decided that there was nothing she would have said differently if David had been in the room. “I was surprised. You should let me know when you’re up.”
“I didn’t want to interrupt you.”
“Don’t be afraid to come to me with anything, David.”
David was quiet for a while. Then he asked her again, “Why won’t you let him give you money?”
“We don’t need it.”
“But you spend so much on me.”
“I should start explaining our finances to you when I work on them. Then maybe you won’t worry so much.”
“But if he wants to give us money, why don’t we take it?”
“Because….” How could she make him understand? “There are a lot of reasons. For one, we don’t need it, and money rarely comes without obligations. Not that Paul would do it, but people usually expect something for their money. I’d rather not have to wonder about that.”
She couldn’t explain to him that she didn’t want anyone else to help her take care of him. One of the reasons the judge had given Jared to Wes was because she hadn’t been able to provide for him in his opinion. No one would be able to take David because she couldn’t support him. She had the records to prove that she could. She banked the government checks for his care for the same reason. If they ever wanted the money back, they would have it with interest. If not, it would go for David’s college or career. David was her son; she could and would care for him. Paul would never be able to say she couldn’t care for David without his help. She didn’t think he would, but then she hadn’t thought Wes would throw her out and take Jared either. She wasn’t going to be caught unprepared for any attack.
Elizabeth hugged David closer. It even scared her that David might care for Paul so much that he’d rather live with him, but she had to keep reminding herself that David needed a father. She had prayed for someone like Paul that David could talk to. She had to trust Paul. She had to trust her Lord that all would work for both her and David’s good. She hated it when she lost her focus and let herself start dwelling on things she couldn’t control. “I love you, David.”
“I love you, too, Mom.”
That afternoon Elizabeth called the school to talk to Jay, but he wasn’t in. She left a message for him to call her back. She hadn’t thought about driver’s training for David until Paul had mentioned it, but now she knew that she wanted David to have that opportunity.
It was after seven when Jay called. “What’s up, Beth?”
“Jay, I thought you’d call me back Monday. You’re not still at the school, are you?”
“No. But why don’t you tell me what you’re thinking about anyway.”
“Driver’s training for David. Don’t the fifteen year old’s sign up soon?”
“I didn’t realize you wanted to send him. You won’t be able to go to the class or be in the car with him.”
“I know, but he deserves the opportunity. I think he might be ready.”
“Are you sure? Today was the last day to sign up, but if you’re serious come in first thing Monday morning and fill out the form before I take them in.”
“Thanks. I’ll talk it over with David and let you know.”
That evening Elizabeth explained how he could get his driver’s license next year if he went to this class. She told him that he’d have to go without her, and that it would be nothing like his other school. David hesitated.
“I’ll try to teach you almost everything before you go to the class so the material won’t be new, okay? Maybe we can even find a parking lot, and I can let you practice driving a little before the class. You do want to drive, don’t you?”
“Then I could have taken you to the hospital.”
“Yes. It would definitely be a good thing to know for emergencies, and when we go on vacation we could take turns driving.”
David finally agreed, but she knew it would be difficult for him. That night she started praying that God would choose a kind instructor for him.
Rob came over Saturday afternoon. It didn’t take him long to get to the point of his visit. “Jared said that Paul slept here.”
“Yes, he slept on the couch while Jared was here. He stayed to help me out during my recovery.”
“Elizabeth, was that wise for a Christian like yourself to have a single man in your home over night?”
“It’s not like he’s interested in me in that way or that I was even capable.”
“Of course he’s interested in you. No man is going to stay with a sick woman he doesn’t care about. But that’s not the point.”
“I know, Rob. I know.” Elizabeth ran her hands through her hair. “I’m not sure why I let him stay after I came home, except that he had already done so much for me, and I still felt pretty awful. And you know Jared is a handful on the best of days.” She looked into his eyes. “I’m pretty sure it won’t happen again. But I can assure you, Rob, Paul is not interested in me in that way. He made it quite clear the first night I was home that he never planned to marry again.”
“I wouldn’t have said anything, Elizabeth, except that we are both Christians and….”
“And you are concerned about me. I appreciate it, Rob, really. But there’s nothing to worry about. He’s gone. If we see him again, I assume we’ll all be healthy, and we’ll have no excuses.”
Rob nodded. As he left he said softly, “You know, Elizabeth, he’s a fool if he lets you get away.”
“It’s not just his decision.”
“No. I guess not.”
Elizabeth signed on the net that evening and tensed when she saw she had a letter from Paul. She quickly put it on the screen to read.
“My Dear Beth, It’s late, but I guess I am missing our talks because I can’t sleep. I wrote to David earlier and asked if you and he might like to visit me sometime. Beth, I don’t want to upset you by what I’m about to say, so I will try to explain my motive as best as I can.
“The only visitor I ever have to show around Washington, D.C., my work, and other sights of interest is my father, and he’s just about seen it all. I would really like to show David everything. Since it would be a favor to me if you came and brought him here, I want to provide your hotel room and meals. I don’t want you to have to worry about anything on this end. I just want to see David. Please do this for me.
“My father wants to meet David also, and if I know when you are coming he can try to take a day or two off work to come visit at the same time. I know you probably won’t be able to make it for at least a month since you’re still recovering, but please let me know if you’ll consider coming sometime this spring or summer. Yours-in-Christ, Paul.”
Elizabeth didn’t answer him right away. Instead she turned to David. “Have you gotten a letter from Paul?”
David looked up from his keyboard. “I haven’t logged on.”
“Why don’t you do it now?”
David came to her. Elizabeth signed off and let him sit in her chair. She sat in the recliner which was still in the office and waited while he read. When he was finished he looked at her.
“Do you want to go to Virginia?” Elizabeth asked.
David was silent, and she waited for him to think through his answer. “If you want to go, I would like to. I think he is lonely.”
Yes. That was what he had said in the car, wasn’t it? “Okay. I’ll tell him that we’ll try to come. Do you want to answer your letter now?”
“No. Not yet.” David logged off and went to the CDs to find an album. Then he went to his room.
Elizabeth prayed about Paul’s proposal for a long time, trying to decide what to do. She wanted to reject his offer right away, but he made it seem like she would be doing him a favor to let him do this. And David’s words, “I think he is lonely,” ran through her head.
Then she asked herself why she didn’t want to accept his hospitality. She couldn’t see a way that he could actually use it against her in court. It wasn’t a necessity or even her only vacation. As she kept praying she started to realize that part of her resistance was just pride. It surprised her that it was there at all and that it was so strong.
“Dear Paul, I miss our talks also. I have talked to David, and we will come. It will be after classes are out, and then I have to wait to find out when David will be scheduled for driver’s training before I can give you an exact date. Driver’s training will be the first time that David will be in a regular class room and without me. Please pray about that for him.
“I have considered your offer. I am hesitant to allow you to do anything more for me since you have done so much. I am sure that I have the money to pay our way. But since I have already had one vacation this year (two if you count my stay in the hospital) I will leave the decision up to you. We will come no matter what you decide. (Please don’t think that I will now accept any money from you because of this. These are two separate issues.)
“I have never been to Washington, D.C., and I’m sure David hasn’t either. I am looking forward to seeing you again, and I hope that I can meet your father also. — Beth.”
Monday Elizabeth took David to the school, and they filled out the forms. When she took them back to Jay, he asked, “How is Paul?”
“Last I heard he was okay. He went back to Virginia Friday.”
Jay sat on the corner of his desk and studied her. “Are you dating him?”
“No.” Why did he care? Was Paul right about him? And Kathy, too.
“I don’t understand, Elizabeth. What was his interest here?”
“I… He came to bring me a book his father is writing. He stayed to help out.”
“Because he was bored. I don’t know.” She caught David watching her intently. “He has decided to accept David as a son.”
“He has? But he doesn’t want you?”
Ouch, Jay. He sure knew how to cut to the point. “That’s about right.” She tried to say it lightly and almost succeeded. David still watched her intently.
“I really find that hard to believe, Elizabeth. I would more likely think that things would be the other way around.”
Elizabeth became angry. He hadn’t needed to say that. Especially in front of David. “Believe what you like, Jay. I’ve got to get to the printer and do some other running. I’ll see you.” She turned to leave.
Jay stepped away from the desk. “Okay. The schedule should be here sometime around the middle of next month. I’ll let you know when David’s class will be.”
Friday, April 26th
It was difficult, but with David’s help she managed to get back into her old routine. She didn’t allow herself to sign on the net more than every other day, but each time she did there was a letter from Paul. They both became less formal as the letters progressed, but still David was kept between them as the reason for their continued communication, or so it seemed to Elizabeth. David was getting just as many letters as she. In addition to the letters, Paul sent his articles, about one every other week, for her to edit and then post and put into booklets.
At the end of the second week after Paul left a large package arrived by UPS. Elizabeth carried it into the office where David worked on his studies. “It’s for you, David.”
“Me?” He stared at the two and a half foot square by one foot high box.
“It looks like it’s from New York. I think it’s from Paul’s father.” She handed it to him.
“But why me?”
“I don’t know. Open it and find out.”
David set the box on the floor and knelt down beside it to rip off the tape. Inside he found two envelopes on top. One had his name on it, and the other said, “Please give this letter to your mother, David,” in small cramped handwriting. David handed it to her. Then he hesitated. “Should I read first?”
“Only if you want to.”
David looked back at the box which was still hiding its contents. He grabbed the packing paper out of the box and came to a black leather case. He lifted it out carefully and then unlatched the buckles. “It’s a little harp. Mom, look.”
He didn’t wait for her reply as he gently lifted it out of the case. “It’s so beautiful.” He ran his hand over the smooth, rose-tinted wood of the frame. Then he let his fingers play over the ten strings.
“It is beautiful.” Elizabeth looked in the box to see if it was empty before placing the packing back inside. She found a book and pulled it out. “Here’s a book that tells you how to tune, play, and care for it.”
David took the book, but did not set down the small U-shaped harp. “Is it really mine?”
“Read the letter.”
David set down the book and gently stood the harp next to him. He opened the letter, and started to read. He kept bringing it closer to him and then away. Finally he said, “I don’t think I’m smart enough to read it. I can’t figure out what the words say.”
Elizabeth took the letter as he handed it to her. “His writing is a little hard to decipher, isn’t it. Do you want me to read it to you?” David nodded.
“Dear David, I must admit that I was more than a little surprised when your new father told me about you. Since I haven’t had a grandchild in years I may be a little rusty at it. I consulted my friends who are old pros at grandparenting, and they assure me that my job is simply to spoil you rotten. Your father tells me it is not possible to spoil you rotten since you are such a wonderful boy. I’ve never seen a father so eager to brag about his child.
“Your father told me what a great musician you are. When I asked him if you could play the harp like King David, he said you probably could learn it quickly enough. Since I know how he likes to brag about you, I decided to find out for myself. I went to New York City and found this kinnor for you. It is the same type of harp used by King David, and you can play it for me when I see you.
“I know I just missed your birthday, so I hope you had a happy one, and I hope I get to hear you play soon. Love, Grandpa Saul Israel.”
David took back his letter and studied it. “It does say all that, doesn’t it? I just couldn’t make it out at first.” He looked up at Elizabeth. “Paul bragged about me?”
“It sounds that way, David.” She smiled at his excitement.
“And… and his father wants to be my grandpa?”
Elizabeth nodded. “That’s what he said.”
“But he doesn’t know me.”
“Paul knows you, and it sounds like that’s good enough for him. You’ll have to write and thank him for the kinnor.”
David agreed and carefully folded his letter, placing it back inside the envelope.
“You know, I think I have a recording of a kinnor. One of Greg Buchanan’s songs.” She reached over, pulled out the CD, and handed it to David. “The last one on that album. It’s called David’s Song.” Elizabeth got up off the floor and went back to her computer. David cleared up the packaging and then handed her the letter that she had forgotten about.
“Dear Elizabeth, or would you rather I call you Beth as Zach does? Of course, he has you call him Paul, so maybe this is something you two do to confuse everyone else.
“I have decided on both yours and Zach’s advice to add more to the book about the beliefs of my ancestors. And you are definitely right about Zach massacring the end of the book. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that chapter. I’ve also gotten married, which I’m sure Zach told you, and I have had trouble finding the time to work on it. So, I guess it will be a while yet before I’m ready for your help again. Just keep the pictures safe for me until then.
“Zach tells me you’ll be coming to see him soon. I hope to meet you and David then. – Saul Israel. P.S. Let me know how David likes the kinnor.”
Two days later Elizabeth replied to Saul’s letter.
“Dear Saul, Yes, Paul and I devised the name changes as part of a conspiracy against you, but you found us out. Actually you can call me either Elizabeth or Beth since I have friends who use either or both names. I will keep your pictures safe in my file cabinet until you are ready with your changes.
“David loves the kinnor. He is practicing every chance he gets so that he can play for you when we meet at Paul’s this summer. He has a letter ready to send you, so you probably have it in your hands now. See you soon. – Elizabeth”
For a week after he received the kinnor, David seemed to have a hard time concentrating on his studies. He would rush through them to play with his instruments. Once when Elizabeth worked very late finishing a project he asked a little guiltily if she needed any help, but she assured him that she did not.
He settled back to his school work, but Elizabeth wondered with the driver’s training this summer if she shouldn’t give him a break from the rest of the books completely. He had been learning steadily since he had come to live with her, and he had learned a lot. She mentioned it to Paul in the letters, and he agreed with her. She wished she could stop his studies now, but knew that he would need to continue to take his unit tests for Jay and show improvement on the placement test in June.
Beginning of May and Sunday, May 12th
At the beginning of May, Keith came over to visit one last time before he left for Tennessee. That night after he left, David and Elizabeth sat in the office talking. “Mom, Keith says that Mother’s day is the Sunday after next. I know what I’m supposed to do now, so you don’t have to worry about that.”
Elizabeth smiled. “I wasn’t worried, David. You don’t have to do anything.”
“Yes, I do. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I asked, and he said that Father’s Day is in June. I… He wouldn’t understand, so I need to ask you. Should I do something for Paul?”
“You mean like send him a card?”
“Is that what I should do? Should I buy him a present? Do men get flowers, too? And how would I give them to him when he’s so far away.”
Elizabeth tried hard not to laugh. “I don’t think men generally get flowers for Father’s Day. But if you really want to honor him as your father then you should at least get him a card, or you could always make one on the computer. Then you could say what you wanted to.”
“But what would a Father’s Day card say?” He looked a little frustrated.
“Tell you what, David. After Mother’s Day the stores will take out all the Mother cards and replace them with Father cards. Then we’ll go around and look at them, and you can get an idea about what you want to do.”
“Mother cards? Keith never said anything about cards!”
Elizabeth did laugh a little then. “Don’t worry about it, David. I’m not going to be upset over a card.”
“But I need to do it right. You’re the best mother, and you should have everything the way it’s supposed to be.”
“Honey, there is no single right way to celebrate these days. In fact, sometimes I think they’re just holidays created by the card companies to make money. Don’t worry about it. You tell and show me every day how much you love me, and that means more to me than any card or gift you could buy.”
David hugged her. Later after she had tucked him into bed and they had completed their reading he brought up the subject again. “Mom, do you think we could go to Virginia at Father’s Day? That’s the only thing I know he wants.”
Elizabeth brushed the hair away from his forehead. “As long as your class isn’t scheduled that early, I think that would be a good time to go. I’m glad you thought of it.” She kissed his forehead and got up. “Good night, Sweetheart. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Mom.”
Jared came that weekend. It was his second time with them since Paul had left, and Elizabeth noticed that David still avoided him as much as possible. Sunday afternoon she was about to go into the office when she heard Jared voice. “Why do you still hide from me, Wimp?”
Elizabeth stopped. Should she go in? Did David need to be rescued? Why didn’t he stand up to him?
“Why don’t you hit me and get it over with? I’m not afraid to hit you.” Suddenly Jared’s voice changed from taunting to a little panicked. “Hey, what are you doing? Let me go. I’ll tell, Mother.”
Then she heard David’s low, even voice. “You will not hit me again, ever.”
“Let me go. Mother!” Jared yelled.
“You will go to your room,” David said in the same voice.
“No. I don’t have to listen to you. Mother!” Jared rushed out of the office and ran into her. “Mother, David hurt my wrist. He grabbed me.”
“I believe you were sent to your room. You need to spend half an hour in there before you can join us again.”
“But Mother! He hurt me.”
“Go to your room, Jared. Now!”
“I hate you. I hate David.”
“You can stay in there for an hour,” Elizabeth said evenly.
Jared ran down the hall and slammed his door.
David was staring at her, and he was shaking.
She brought him to the couch and held him. “You did well, David.”
“You’re not mad?”
“Not at you, Sweetheart.”
“I didn’t want to touch him, but I kept thinking about what you and Paul said. And then he hit me in the back.”
“I’m glad you did what you did, Honey. Jared has to learn that it’s not right to treat other people the way he’s been treating you. No one should treat you that way no matter who they are.”
David held onto her tightly. “I love you so much, Mom. I don’t ever want anyone to make me leave you.”
“Neither do I, Sweetheart. Neither do I.”
When Rob came to pick up Jared, Elizabeth had to explain the entire incident and history to him because the first words out of Jared’s mouth were, “David hurt me, and Mother doesn’t care.” But when Rob understood the whole situation, Jared was surprised to find that he was on their side and not his. “Just wait until Daddy finds out.” But Elizabeth never heard a word from Wes so she had to assume that Rob took care of that for her.
The following weekend was Mother’s day. David had walked downtown on Saturday, and on Sunday morning when she went to make breakfast she found a vase of flowers and a computer made card. He had used one of his photographs of her for the front. Inside he had written a letter.
“Dearest Mom, The day God brought us together at Dylans is the day I was born to you. I barely new life until you taught me. I didn’t fully understand my Lord until you showed me His love. I pray every night He will let me stay with you forever. You are the first person to love me and the first person I loved. Happy Mother Day to the best Mother. I love you forever, you son, David Timothy Weaver.”
Elizabeth held the card and started crying. She heard the shower stop and tried to dry her eyes. He would be out soon, and he wouldn’t understand her tears. When he did come out she held him tightly. “Thank you for the card and the flowers,” she whispered through her tight throat. “I love you so much. I pray we’ll always be together also, my son.”
After church they went out to eat. The restaurants were crowded with people taking their mothers out to eat, but Elizabeth didn’t mention that to him, because she didn’t want him to think he was supposed to pay. His letter had stirred her memories of their early days, and they talked about all that God had brought them through together.
At home they sang together, and when they noticed the other tenants gone from upstairs they turned up the stereo like they did on Friday afternoons and danced to the Newsboys, Whiteheart, Petra, Tony Vincent, and any other group or artist whose song they remembered and wanted to sing and dance to. It was the first time Elizabeth had been able to do that with him since her surgery. Elizabeth laughed when they were so into the music that she tripped over the couch and fell onto it, breathing heavily.
David watched her laughing, and soon he was laughing, also. She loved to hear his laugh. It was so rare. They didn’t stop dancing until she saw the upstairs neighbors come home.
Elizabeth didn’t log on the computer that day, although it would have been time for her to do so according to her every other day schedule she had limited herself to. She knew Paul would have a letter for her, but she didn’t want to think about sharing her son with anyone today, especially a man who wanted him, but not her, as Jay had so bluntly put it.
Jay called the next day to tell her that David was scheduled for the second session of Driver’s Training from the middle of July through the end of August. He would send her a paper with more details. Elizabeth stopped by the Secretary of State office and picked up a “What Every Driver Should Know” book so that she could start preparing David. Over dinner she and David planned the dates of their vacation to be in Virginia the weekend of Father’s Day.
Later Elizabeth signed on to the net prepared to tell Paul of their plans. She was surprised to see three letters. One was labeled an article so she saved and printed it out first. Of the other two, one said in the subject line, “Read first.” A planned two-part letter. She went into it to begin reading.
“My Dear Beth; Happy Mother’s Day! I imagine that you will read this then if you stick to your schedule. I hope you had a good day. I know this letter is short, but I guess I just need someone to talk to, so I’ll write it in a different letter that you can save for Monday. And Beth, read it when you’re alone. Thanks. – Paul”
Alone. He knew the only one here was David. He must want to talk about David. She was glad she hadn’t read this yesterday. What in the world was so depressing that he didn’t want her to read it yesterday, and he wanted her to read it alone?
As soon as David was in bed she got on the computer to read the next letter.
“Hello, Beth, After I sent that I realized I should have waited. I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t disturb your day. I’ve just had a trying day at work. And I wanted to talk to you about David.
“Beth, tell me what you really think, please. David answers my letters, but he rarely volunteers anything. I find out far more from you about how he is doing. His letters are usually one or two lines in response to something I said. He has never said that he wanted me to be his father. Please tell me the truth, Beth. Does David want me for a father, or am I just forcing myself on him and you? If you don’t want to come visit, just tell me so I know.
“It was so clear when I was there with you and him. I guess I just need to hear again that you miss our talks, because for some reason we haven’t been talking in these letters like we did at your apartment. I’ve thought of calling, but I wouldn’t know who was listening, and we still couldn’t talk, could we? Tell me what you think. – Paul.”
“Paul, I do miss the time we spent together here. You asked what I thought. Well, here it is. I think the reason these letters haven’t been the same is because I’ve felt that you’re only interested in David and when you were here you seemed to care about what I thought, also. This is the first time you’ve mentioned our talks or that you miss them since the first letter, and frankly it was just a sub topic.
“I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining. I’m just trying to analyze why the letters seem different than the talks.
“As far as David goes, he would be devastated if you decided you no longer wanted to be his father. Please don’t do that to him. You know he’s not very talkative, and he may still be afraid to commit himself in writing to the relationship. But I do know that he does care about you. The fact that you bragged to your father about him really meant a lot to him. And he is looking forward to our coming to see you.
“I just found out today that David’s class will be the last half of the summer. If it is good for you we can arrive late Wednesday, the twelfth of June, and stay until very early Tuesday morning, the eighteenth.
“There are a couple other things I think I should say. If you call I promise I will let you know who is around and possibly listening, including when David is. You also said something about forcing yourself on David and me. Paul, as far as I am concerned, I value your friendship. I’ve missed it over the last month. I’ve been afraid of forcing myself on you because I know you made it clear that you didn’t want me, and I didn’t want you to think I was chasing you. Friends, – Beth”
After the letter Elizabeth didn’t feel like sleeping so she started working on a newsletter. A little over a half hour later the phone rang. After calming her heart from the start, she picked up the receiver before it could ring a second time. “Hello?”
“Beth? I just got your letter.”
“Paul! You got it already? I… the phone, you were worried. No one’s here. David’s in bed. I’m using the hand piece. Does that cover it?”
Paul laughed. “Yes, Beth.” He sobered. “I’ve missed you. I guess I’ve held back, too, because I didn’t want to mislead you. You said I didn’t want you. That’s not true. I want your friendship very much.”
“I’ve missed you, too, Paul.” She felt her throat tighten and didn’t know if she could speak anymore.
“I wish… I wish things were different.”
What did he mean by that? Neither one of them spoke for a moment. Elizabeth had the crazy urge to tell him she loved him. That would really scare him away, though. “Is it okay for us to come that week?”
“Couldn’t ask for a better Father’s Day than to have you and David here.”
“You figured it out. It was David’s idea.”
“Yes. He suggested it a couple weeks ago, but I had to wait for the class schedule.”
“Thanks for telling me, Beth,” he said quietly. “It means a lot to me. I’m glad you’re coming at that time. I usually spend Father’s Day with my Dad, but with his new family things won’t be the same. Sheila just doesn’t like me for some reason.”
“You have no idea why?”
“Well, I know she had a bad experience in the army, and our first meeting wasn’t that great. But I think it’s more she wants to place me under the kid category, and I won’t let her. When I was there last she kept trying to order me around like she does Greg and Holly. I tell you, she barks out more orders in a day than I ever have. If I treated my men the way she treats Greg and Holly, I may have some cooperation, but I doubt I’d have any lasting loyalty in a tough spot. You have to treat people with respect whether they’re over or under you. She doesn’t understand that, and it irritates me, so I don’t think I’m as polite as I should be to my father’s wife.”
“It sounds like she doesn’t try to make it easy for you.”
“No. I think she goes out of her way not to, maybe in hopes I’ll stay away. Maybe not, but that’s the impression I got. But I’m not an unbiased observer.”
They talked for over an hour before Elizabeth glanced up and saw David in the doorway. “Hello, David,” she said partly to let Paul know he was awake and in the room. “Do you want to talk to Paul?”
David looked surprised, but nodded. He took the phone that she handed him. “Paul?”
David didn’t say a whole lot, but a few times he nodded. “He can’t see you nod, Honey,” Elizabeth gently reminded him.
“I miss you, too,” David said, and then handed the phone back to Elizabeth.
“Well, Beth, it’s almost two. I should let you go. Next time I’ll try not to call so late.”
“Call whenever you want, Paul. I’ve missed these talks.”
“So have I. I’ll see you in a month. Bye.”
“Good-bye, Paul.” Again Elizabeth had the urge to tell him she loved him, but she resisted again, and they hung up. She had to stop these thoughts. He wanted her friendship. He didn’t want to mislead her.
Elizabeth looked up, and David was watching her. “Did you have another nightmare, Sweetheart?”
David nodded and came to her. “It wasn’t as bad as some, but I heard you laughing when I got up.”
She held him. “Laughing? Oh, yes, we were joking around about unnecessary government regulations. It was actually quite funny at the time.” Which was about one fifteen a.m. Most things were funny then. She tried not to yawn. “Do you want me to tuck you back in since we’re both up?”
David smiled. “You are too good to me.”
“It’s impossible to be too good to you, David.” Elizabeth followed him back to his room.
“Do you talk to Paul very much when I’m asleep?”
“No. This is the first time he’s called here.” She straightened his covers and held them back for him as he climbed into bed.
“Did he tell you he loved you?”
“Why would he tell me that?”
“He told me.”
Elizabeth froze, still holding the blanket over him. “That he loved me?”
“No. He said he loved me.”
“Oh. Well, you’re his son. I’m just a friend.”
“People don’t love their friends?”
“Well, they might, but they usually don’t say it as much. Especially friends like me and Paul, because he wouldn’t want me to think he wanted to marry me or anything like that.”
“Why wouldn’t he want to marry you?”
“He doesn’t love me that way. You should try to go back to sleep.”
“Do you love him?”
Elizabeth hesitated. “I… David, it’s not important what I feel. Let’s just get some sleep.” She started to leave his room.
“Mom, it is important what you feel. I love you.”
“I love you, too, David. Good night.”
David rarely voiced a disagreement. He was growing up, but she wished he wouldn’t ask such difficult questions.
Go to Chapter 29
© 2013, 1995 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.