Chapter 6 – Elizabeth
Monday & Tuesday, March 6th & 7th
It was almost midnight when Elizabeth put on her flannel nightgown. David cringed again when she came out of the bathroom. All she could do was be as nonthreatening as possible. She slipped past his bed and began another reassuring monologue. “Time for bed. Since you don’t have any jamies yet, I guess you have to sleep in your clothes, but you should take off your shoes.”
She usually read a story to her son, Jared, before bed, but all she had here was the Bible. That would be an excellent habit for her to impart to her new son. “I’m just going to read the Bible for a little while. Do you want me to read out loud? I can read about King David.”
She hadn’t expected a reply, but she tried not to look as surprised as she was. “Then take off your shoes and get tucked in.” She pulled her Bible from the suitcase, and then sat on the edge of her bed.
David slowly took off his shoes, but then sat stiffly on top the covers.
“Why don’t you lie down and cover up? I bet you’ll be a lot more comfortable,” she suggested.
He watched her as he did as she said. It was as if he expected something.
A chill crept through her. The boy had been molested. Lord, what should I do? How can I help? But all she could do was pretend she hadn’t noticed. He needed to know what a safe, caring relationship was like. She tucked herself under her own covers, briefly realizing how vulnerable she was. The boy could probably overpower her if he was so inclined. Father, please help me do the right thing. Help me give this boy what he needs. Help me show him the love You have for him.
Elizabeth opened her Bible and read about David until he had been forced to flee from King Saul. “We can read more tomorrow night, David. My eyes are tired.”
She turned out the light, but couldn’t sleep. So much had happened. It was hard to believe that she had just met David that afternoon. She loved him so much. It was more than just compassion or empathy, and she didn’t understand it fully. Even the momentary fear was gone. She was sure he wouldn’t harm her.
When they had come back to the motel room she had shown him her camera. He had actually forgotten to be frightened as his curiosity had taken over. She had repeated the main points twice, because hers was no point and click camera. She used it to take pictures for the newsletters and small booklets that she published on her computer.
David had been able to take two pictures of Elizabeth after her short lesson. She hoped they turned out. It’d be a great thing to help him learn. It probably wouldn’t take long to teach him to read, either.
Before he had gone to bed David had sorted through his bag. He pulled out a map which looked like it might have been used as a blanket, a tape player, and five tapes. All the tapes were Dylan’s, and three looked very worn. Maybe Dylan’s tapes were the only thing he knew about God. Oh Dylan. Why were you such a jerk today? You wouldn’t even listen. I tried to tell you.
Did you, Elizabeth? Did you really try very hard? If Dylan knew everything that you did you probably wouldn’t have your son, would you? There’s no way Dylan would have refused David’s request if he knew all the facts, is there?
O Lord, I’m so selfish. David would be better off in such a good family, wouldn’t he? But maybe all those people would make him too nervous, and maybe they wouldn’t have time for him like I do. Or maybe I’m just selfish. I want him, and I didn’t give Dylan a chance.
A sliver of light came between the curtains from the parking lot, breaking the blackness. Elizabeth shifted in bed so that she could look toward her new son.
David sat up quickly and stared her way.
She’d startled him again — the poor child. She pretended she was sleeping.
After a minute he settled back down on his side and curled up into a ball, like he had been before.
My Lord, my God, please don’t take this child away from me. Please. She waited. I’m sorry. Your will be done. I know You will do what is best for him because he is Yours, isn’t he? Please help me to do what’s best for him also. In Jesus name.
Elizabeth knew there would eventually be some kind of custody battle. Something would happen. She couldn’t just hide him out in her apartment indefinitely. They would have to deal with his past, whatever it was. But this time she would be prepared. She would keep receipts and records of everything that happened between her and David so that she could prove to the court that she could be a good parent. She had read several books on finding a lawyer since Wes divorced her, and this time she wouldn’t settle on one so quickly. If anyone wanted to fight her for David, she would be ready.
Elizabeth drifted off to sleep but awoke to the sound of whimpering. She looked over at David. He moved only a little, more like a tremble, and the little scared whimpering came again. Quietly she went to him, sitting on the edge of his bed and laying a hand on his velour covered shoulder. “It’s all right, Honey. You’re safe. It’s just a nightmare.”
David jerked awake, his eyes wide with terror. She brushed his hair away from his face, gently, like she would Jared’s. “It’s okay,” she said as soothingly as she could. “You were just having a nightmare. You’re safe. They can’t hurt you anymore.” And she prayed it would be true. “I’ll let you get back to sleep now.” She leaned down and kissed the small scar on his forehead. “Good night, David. I love you.” Then she went back to her bed.
The kiss and the night time confession of love was something Elizabeth had done with Jared since before the divorce, and it seemed natural at that moment to perform the ritual with David, although he’d squeezed his eyes shut tight as she did. She hoped he didn’t take it as an expression of what had happened to him before, but as she intended it. He needed to be loved and cherished as a child. He also needed guidance, she was sure. She thought about how to guide him until she fell back to sleep.
When Elizabeth came out of the bathroom after her shower the next morning, David was sitting on the bed playing his guitar. He stopped and watched her warily.
“I didn’t get to hear very much, but what I heard sounded good. Are you ready for your shower?”
“I take one just about every morning.” Start him out the way he should go, she reminded herself. He needed guidance.
David studied her before he set down the guitar and went into the bathroom.
Elizabeth used the brush from her purse on her hair. She’d let him keep the comb he used last night, and she would need to buy some special shampoo for lice and have him treat himself as she did her own hair. She hadn’t seen any bugs, but didn’t want to take any chances that the parasites would take residence in her hair.
She also wished she could take him to the doctor for a checkup, but that would have to wait until the legal things were taken care of. She tried not to think about that. It didn’t work. She could remember when the judge awarded Jared to Wes just as clearly now as if the four years were one day past. They wouldn’t take David from her! she vowed. But she didn’t know how she’d stop them if they decided she couldn’t care for him. But she made enough money now. They couldn’t use that excuse. And his real parents… they couldn’t want him back. It must have been them that hurt him. She pushed the thoughts from her mind. She needed to focus on now, and now it was time to get breakfast for her new son.
She took him to a fast food restaurant. She usually did her daily devotions at breakfast and decided to read out loud and include David in the lesson.
David listened as he ate. He seemed less tense than before and more interested.
She hoped that really was the case. The lesson had some things in it that she wasn’t sure he would understand if all his Biblical training came from Dylan’s albums. Dylan didn’t hide the truth, but there was only so far a subject could go in four minutes of song lyrics. She decided to add a few explanations for him.
David’s attention stayed on her. He didn’t ask any questions, and she still didn’t know if it was her or what she was saying that kept his gaze.
At the department store he cringed away from the other people, staying closer to Elizabeth than he had before. At the clothes racks she held up items, but he made no comment. Finally she just asked him to try on things and show her. After an initial hesitation and fear at the first request, he obeyed every request instantly.
His waist was thinner than she expected. Even the slimmest pair of slacks were a little big. But she hoped he’d gain weight quickly now that she would be feeding him regular meals. She bought three pair of jeans and two slacks and then matched up five shirts. Then there were socks, underwear, T-shirts, a belt, and a spring jacket.
She took him to the shoe department, but it was hard to get him to tell her if they were comfortable or not. It didn’t seem to be something he had ever thought about. She finally settled for some Nikes and black hard shoes for church.
“What do you think, David? Have I remembered everything?”
He eyed the pile of clothing on the counter. “All that?”
“Yes. You need it.”
“I never had….” He stopped as if he had said too much.
“I think your life has been very different from what most people take for granted. Maybe someday you’ll feel comfortable enough to tell me about it, but it doesn’t matter. I love you. I don’t even know why. I just know that now you are my son, and I want what’s best for you. Now before we both start crying, Beloved, let’s find you some pajamas.”
David followed her again, watching every move she made. If anyone else had tried to watch her so closely, it would have made her nervous or angry, but David just made her feel that she wasn’t alone any longer. She wondered if he felt the same way. He wasn’t as nervous today, and she hoped it was not only because he was getting used to her, but that maybe he might like her company.
But this shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Wes and Alisa made it one with Jared, and of course, she had lost. But David needed guidance. She had to be the one to teach him the basics, and she couldn’t give in because she wanted him to like her. Oh, Lord, help me do what is right for him. Don’t let me make the mistake I did with Jared. And Lord, about Jared… please. She couldn’t voice her anguish over Jared, but God knew, and she needed to focus on David right now.
After Elizabeth paid for David’s new clothes she took him to another fast food restaurant. She selected a set of clothing and cut the tags with scissors from her purse. After placing the items in a bag, they went inside.
She handed the bag to David. “Now, go in the bathroom here and change into these clean clothes. I’ll go buy us something to eat and be waiting at that table for you.” She pointed to a table near the rest rooms.
She’d just gotten their food when he came out nervously, and maybe a little pleased, carrying her clothes and shoes in the bag that his had been in.
“You’re looking good, David.”
David flashed her a shy smile that lit up his serious face.
She wanted to hug him, but resisted, afraid of scaring him. “Let’s eat quickly. It’s a long way home.”
Belatedly she realized how inappropriate her admonition had been. He wolfed down his burger and fries before she’d taken three bites of her fish sandwich. She took the rest with her to eat as she drove.
They listened to the different CD’s that Elizabeth had brought along. Sometimes she told him little things about the singer or band that she had read on the CD insert or in a magazine. Sometimes she just sang, hoping he would become more comfortable with her.
As they came closer and closer to Indianapolis though, she noticed him becoming agitated. She was about to ask what was wrong when he spoke.
“Where are we going?” His voice held panic, fear.
“Didn’t I tell you?”
He shook his head.
“We live in Michigan. A little town called Flushing.”
“No, we’re over two hours’ drive from that lake. We’re closer to Lake Huron, but that’s still a good drive away from us. Have you ever been to Michigan?”
“I like it. It’s still cold there, and we may even get some more snow before spring. You never know in Michigan.”
He seemed to be relaxing again, and since her monologues appeared to comfort him, she continued. “I wanted to get you a warmer coat, but they didn’t have any in Louisville. I don’t even know if they’ll have any in Michigan this late in the season. If we can’t find anything you can always use my green coat, and I can use my dress coat.”
He didn’t say anything, but his breathing indicated he was calm now.
“We have an apartment that is the whole bottom floor of a large house. We’ll turn the guest bedroom into your room. I have my sewing stuff in there, but we can move it out some time this week. You can arrange it any way you want.”
David still didn’t say anything.
Not too far into Michigan they stopped for dinner. When they finally exited I-69 onto M-13 it was after ten. “Do you know I first met Dylan four years ago on this very road?” She told him how Dylan had been hit by a car after he’d left the rental car he’d crashed avoiding a deer. Elizabeth had seen the hit and run accident and taken him to the hospital. She even pointed to the scene of the accident when she passed it. “I can’t help but remember it every time I go by here.”
Go to Chapter 7
© 2013, 1995 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.