Chapter 7 – David
Tuesday, March 7th
It was a large house, David thought, as she turned off the car. He grabbed his bag, guitar, and the clothes she had bought him. He still had a hard time believing they were all really his. He expected her to take them away any moment, and then laugh at him for believing he could possibly be worth that much.
Elizabeth unlocked a door, went into a small landing, climbed four steps, and unlocked another door. She turned on the lights, and he blinked at the brightness of the kitchen. It was clean and large with a table on one side. She led him through it to the living room. A long curtain covered the far side of the room to the left of the front door. A hall extended from the left wall, and he followed her down it.
“There’s the bathroom.” Elizabeth pointed into a doorway on the left. “And this will be your room,” she said, turning to the right. She went inside and flicked on the light. “You can put your clothes in the top two drawers of this dresser until I clean my junk out of the rest of it. Also there’s some room in the closet, but I have to clean that out, too.”
David dropped the bags he carried onto the bed and turned to look at her. Jesus, is this really happening? Is she really going to take her stuff out and give me a whole room? Is this what she meant by love? She’s beautiful, Jesus. She isn’t going to hurt me, is she? Please don’t let her change and find out I’m a dog. Let me stay her son and be loved.
“You look tired, David. Do you just want to go to sleep, or do you want to see the other rooms first?”
“Yes. Come on.” Elizabeth led him further down the hall. They went into a bedroom on the left. “This is my room.” She set her suitcase and purse on the bed. She still carried the camera and the other bag that he hadn’t discovered the contents of yet. “There’s a bathroom in here, too.” She left the room and entered the room across the hall, flipping on the light. “This is Jared’s room.”
David felt a sharp twist in his stomach. The bedspread had cartoon characters surrounded by frames of dark fabric. A bookshelf held dozens of small books along with cars, trucks, puzzles, coloring books and crayons. The dresser sported an arrangement of horses. He had thought he was the only one. He had thought he was special to her, but he wasn’t. “Where… where is he?”
“Jared lives with his father. Right after Dylan’s accident his father left, or rather made me leave, and kept him. He isn’t here very much. Only every other weekend. And… And I don’t even think he wants to come that often.” She turned away from him.
She seemed hurt, but that couldn’t be, could it? Was she mean to him like that woman was? “Why doesn’t he want to come?”
Elizabeth walked from the room, turning out the light. She wasn’t going to tell him. She was mad at him. He didn’t know if he should follow or go hide.
“I can’t explain it very well, David,” Elizabeth said, right when he had decided to dodge into the room she had called his and hide. He changed his mind about hiding. “I guess things are just too boring here for him. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s what he’s saying now anyway.” She reached the large curtain in the living room before turning to face him. “David, I….” She looked into his eyes as if looking straight into him.
David returned the look without flinching away, no longer afraid of her. She really was hurt because he didn’t want to be there.
“I hope you like it here,” she said softly, and then she went behind the curtain.
He hoped so, too. A light came on behind the curtain, and David realized there was a room behind it. He hesitated only briefly before pushing the curtain aside far enough for him to look in. Straight across from him was a computer on long desk. He recognized it from TV. Several other large things sat on a table directly in front of him along the right wall, and in the corner was a filing cabinet.
“This is my office. It’s where I work most of the day when I’m not running around visiting clients.”
She could work a computer? She did know everything. And she still wanted him around. Why? He looked around the room. In the left front corner and along the left wall were shelves of books. When he looked on the wall of the door he had come through he saw it.
“A piano!” David went to it and ran his hands over the walnut finish before he thought. Then he pulled his hand away and looked back at Elizabeth. She watched him, but she still didn’t seem angry. “Is it… okay?”
“You can play it whenever I’m not on the phone and whenever the neighbors aren’t trying to sleep, which I think they are now. I know I’m about ready for sleep, but we still have to unpack.” Elizabeth glanced back to the computer, and David saw a red light blinking on the phone beside it. “It looks like I have a ton of messages, but they’ll wait until tomorrow.” She set the camera and the other bag on the table next to her computer before she turned off the lights. He followed her back to his room.
“I can help you put your clothes away. Then you can get ready for bed, and I’ll read you some more about King David, if you like.”
He nodded, obeying her command as quickly as possible. But it wasn’t fear moving him this time. She was going to read to him again about God and about the boy who had his same name — the boy who became King.
He had never worn pajamas before, just as he couldn’t remember ever wearing brand new clothes. Elizabeth was right. Everything was different and changing for him.
Elizabeth came into his room after he left the bathroom in his pajamas, and she straightened the covers over him. He tensed as she did it, but he knew now he didn’t care if she touched him. Her touch wouldn’t hurt. At least not at first. He tried not to think about it as he waited for her next move.
She sat on the edge of the bed, but then just opened the Bible and read God’s book to him. He watched her as she read, his fear leaving again. She had talked to God. She knew it was wrong no matter how it felt. If she made him leave tomorrow he would always remember what this was like to feel close and yet not afraid.
When Elizabeth finished reading she looked into his eyes. He tried to keep the fear from returning. After a moment she quickly leaned down, kissed his forehead, got up, turned off the light, and was to the door before David realized she was going.
“Elizabeth.” It was the first time he had said her name. It was a daring thing to say. He hadn’t been allowed to speak, and names were punished more severely. Would she be angry now? Why had he risked everything?
She turned to look back at him through the darkness. “Yes, David?”
Her voice was still soft. She didn’t sound angry at all! What could he say now that he’d gotten her attention? What wouldn’t upset her? Jesus, what nice thing can I say? Help me. She’s done so much for me today. Don’t let it end. That was it. She’d done so much. “Thank you,” he whispered.
“You are welcome, David. Have a good night, okay? And… and I love you.” Then she was gone.
She said it again, just like she did last night and at the store. Jesus, did you hear it? She loves me. No one ever loved me before. Let me stay here forever.
Wednesday, March 8th
The next morning David took a shower as soon as he woke up as Elizabeth had suggested yesterday. He put on his clothes and went into the kitchen. She was already there, standing in front of the stove, cooking.
“Hello, David.” She turned toward him, smiling, the spatula still in her hand. Then she shook her head. “Usually, Honey, people wear clean clothes every day instead of the same thing over and over. But it’s okay. We didn’t do much yesterday to get dirty. I just said it so you’ll know next time.”
He’d messed up. He did something wrong. He wasn’t good enough. David felt like Dawg again. He slumped into the chair, but wondered if he should be on the floor.
Elizabeth set down the spatula and quickly came toward him.
What was she doing? Oh no. He scrambled out of the chair, trying to escape, but he tripped, falling to the floor. It was too late. He curled into a ball with his arms over his face and waited for it to begin. If he fought her, she’d send her friends and it’d hurt even worse. He tried not to make a sound, but he was too scared to stop the small noises. He’d get it worse now.
“David,” Elizabeth said softly. “David, Honey, I’m sorry.” Her hand rested on his shoulder and rubbed it lightly. “I’m not sure how I scared you, but I’m sorry. I’m not going to hurt you. I thought I made you feel bad by what I said so I thought I’d give you a hug. I didn’t think you would… I’m sorry.” She kept her hands moving over his hair and shoulders.
What was she doing? Was she waiting until he didn’t expect it before she hurt him? Why was she touching him?
David smelled the food almost as Elizabeth said, “Oh no. Breakfast is burning.” She left him. David peaked out from between his arms and watched her take the pan from the burner.
She came back to him, sitting on the floor before him, instead of behind him like she had been before. “David, I didn’t mean to say anything to make you feel bad. I just didn’t want you to think you had to wear one set of clothes until they wore out before you could wear something else. I want you to know what is normally done, because I don’t know if you know that. I want what’s best for you. I know it’s hard to learn all these new ways of doing things. I’m not going to be angry with you for not knowing or forgetting. And David.” She paused and gently pulled his arm from his face.
He could have stopped her from exposing his face and throat, but her voice wasn’t angry. It was kind, and she was still talking like she loved him as a son and not a dog.
“David, I want you to know, I will never hit you or purposely try to hurt you in any way.”
David stared into her eyes. Was it true? Jesus, let it be true. Her eyes were so clear, and they were almost green. Her eyes were nothing like that woman’s. Her eyes were caring eyes. Slowly he sat up and backed away at the same time until his back was against the wall.
“Are you hungry, David? I had most of the French toast finished. It’s only the last couple pieces that burnt.”
Elizabeth got up and placed the towel covered plate on the table. When she was finished setting the table, David was calm enough to get up and come sit in the chair he had been in before. She sat across from him.
He had never had French toast before, and he watched as she poured syrup on it and started eating. Then he copied her.
“Do you like it, David?”
He nodded, hoping to please her.
“That’s good. So do I.” Elizabeth reached for the Bible next to her plate and read the morning’s lesson to him. When she was through she cleared off the table.
“David, there are so many things that we need to talk about. Things like chores, allowance, and education,” she said as she worked. “Unfortunately I have several appointments this afternoon, and I still have some work to get done before I go to them. I’ll have a stack of mail in an hour or so, and I have a ton of phone messages I’ll probably have to answer, so I don’t have time to do much with you today. You can play with the piano, except I will be on the phone a lot, so you’ll have to keep stopping. Or you can look through the CD’s and play them, but it’ll have to be low until I’m done. Come on.”
She led him to the office and showed him the CD collection under table and the player above, briefly explaining how to use it. “I’ll keep the remote so I can lower the volume when I need to. But you could also play your guitar. This is your home now. Do whatever is comfortable.”
Elizabeth opened all the blinds before she sat in the chair in front of the computer. He heard the low whine of the computer as it came on. Then she pulled a pen out of the drawer of the desk and pressed a button on the phone.
A woman’s voice said she had an addition for May’s letter. Elizabeth wrote something on the paper. Two more people talked, and Elizabeth wrote.
Then David heard Dylan’s voice. “Elizabeth, please call me. I didn’t mean to upset you. You should have stayed so we could work this out. I didn’t want you to give the key back. Why didn’t you even say good-bye? Just give me a call.” Then the machine said, “Monday 6:28 PM.”
Then Dylan’s voice came on again. “Elizabeth, Kathy says you were only being compassionate. Ben warned us about that drifter, but you didn’t know that. Your actions were dangerous, but you had a right motive, I’m sure. You just didn’t have all the facts. I’m sorry I became upset. Today’s just been… But I’ll tell you about that when you call.” “Monday, 9:34 PM.”
“Wrong Dylan. You’re the one who doesn’t have all the facts,” Elizabeth said. “Like the fact that Ben’s a jerk.”
A female voice spoke. “Hi, Beth. This is Kathy. I guess you’re still not home. Dyl’s afraid that you’re still mad at him. But Beth, he was just worried about you. I’m surprised you weren’t scared to invite that guy in, but I guess you’re okay. Please call.” “Tuesday, 4:15 PM.”
Dylan’s voice. “Elizabeth, I just talked to Ben. He said he warned you about that drifter, and you wouldn’t listen to him. He said that you kicked him – Ben – out of the house and stayed with that man. What are you thinking? You were rude to my friend, and you put yourself in danger at the same time. I doubt you’ll be able to patch things up with Ben either. Why aren’t you home yet? Please call.” “Tuesday, 8:53 PM.” The machine was silent.
“Yeah, right, Dylan. Call so we can argue about the same stupid thing. I don’t have time right now, so you’ll just have to wait. And how in the world can you patch up something that never was?” She worked on the computer as she talked. Then she looked around quickly and her gaze rested on David.
He sat on the floor near the CDs, watching her. He’d taken out the first one, but maybe he shouldn’t have.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve worked alone for so long that I’ve started talking to myself, to the computer, the printer, the camera, the copy machine, and even the answering machine. Don’t worry. I don’t expect answers, except when I talk to myself.” She smiled and turned back to the computer.
Then Elizabeth dialed a number. She had her phone speak out so she didn’t have to use the handset. Then she spoke and typed or wrote at the same time. The conversation was about her work, and David couldn’t follow it very well. He looked down at the CD he held, but didn’t know if he should make any noise at all even though she had said he could make quiet noise.
He thought about what Dylan had said. He’d never been called a drifter before. Dylan thought he’d hurt her? Would he hurt her? He had broken that woman’s arm. He hurt those kids at school when they kept bothering him, and he’d never even tried to hurt anyone. It just happened. He wouldn’t hurt her, would he? She didn’t hurt him. She loved him. She let Dylan get mad at her, and she let that Ben get mad at her just for him. Jesus, I don’t want to be hurt and I don’t want to hurt anyone. Is it possible to live someplace like that? This is like being at the mission only better.
When Elizabeth was no longer making any phone calls David put in the CD and pressed the button with the large arrow on it. Men sang without any instruments. He hadn’t heard anything like it before. He looked at the rows of CD’s and knew that he could spend days and days just trying to listen to each one once. He wondered what other treasures were hidden in all those discs.
There was a thump on the porch. “Can you get the mail for me, David? I imagine he set it on the small table out there.”
David did as she asked immediately, bringing the large stack to her. Then he sat back down on the floor near the CD’s.
The phone rang. Elizabeth pointed the remote control toward the stereo and lowered the volume. Then she said, “Hello, Weaver’s.”
“Beth, you’re home,” said a female voice. “Why haven’t you called?”
David stared toward Elizabeth. She didn’t have the phone to her ear. She was still typing, and he could hear everything. He’d never seen a phone like that.
“I got in pretty late last night, Kathy, and I haven’t had a chance today,” Elizabeth said.
“You’re not mad at Dylan, are you?”
“There was a lot going on Monday. His sister’s house is a trial to visit. Her kids have friends running in and out all the time and all Em does the whole time is complain about it. Ruben abdicates his job of keeping things under control and practically lives in the barn and field. Gave me a fierce headache just being there. Then Rachel has to start her dog thing on the way home, and Matthew decides to open the door while we’re driving down the road. If Kim hadn’t been back there, I hate to think what would have happened. So you see, Dylan was just tensed up from all that. You shouldn’t have left like that, you know.”
Elizabeth flipped over a paper and continued typing. “I know I left too quickly. I’m sorry. Ben came over and acted like a jerk, and I overreacted when Dylan got upset.”
“Ben did something? He said you kicked him out, and I couldn’t believe it. I told Dylan there was more to the story. What did he do?”
“It’s rather complicated.”
“I have time.”
“Kathy, don’t sound like that. I just have some appointments this afternoon I’m not quite prepared for. I goofed off too much while I was away this time.”
“I’m sorry. I just don’t want this little misunderstanding to hurt our friendship. When you left the key without saying anything Dylan was afraid you were saying good-bye for good.”
“No. I just don’t want a key if you two don’t trust me.”
“We trust you.”
“Dylan doesn’t trust my judgment. He apparently would rather take the opinion of a jerk like Ben instead of mine. He wouldn’t even listen. I know that he had a bad day, but if he had known all the facts I’m sure he would have done what I did. But he doesn’t even want to listen.”
“I’m listening now,” Dylan said.
“How long have you been eavesdropping?”
“I just came in. Now what are the facts that I don’t know about?”
Elizabeth didn’t say anything, instead looking back at David.
She was still defending him, he realized. She still thought he was worth caring about, and Dylan didn’t.
“Elizabeth, maybe I couldn’t listen because you’re not talking.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I told myself on the way home that maybe I didn’t try hard enough to tell you.”
“What happened, Beth? Did that drifter hurt you in any way?”
“No!” Elizabeth said sharply. David had only heard that tone when she’d confronted Ben to protect him. But then her voice was even again when she continued. “No, Dylan. But Ben might have tried to hurt him if I hadn’t made him leave. He’s just a kid. He wasn’t out to try to take advantage of you. And part of the reason I was upset with you is because you were so rude to him.”
“He didn’t look like a kid to me.”
“You saw him for all of thirty seconds in very dim light, and you only exchanged one sentence of conversation.” Elizabeth moved her hand over the keyboard with a flourish and then let them rest on the table.
“But Ben said….”
“Of course, I understand. You’ve known Ben longer. You and he have been through some rough times together, and you did give him a key to your house.”
“Beth, sarcasm doesn’t suit you. But I have known you far longer, and I do trust you. I just don’t understand why a kid would come to me. How old did he say he was?”
“He didn’t. I’d guess between thirteen and fifteen.” Elizabeth glanced back at David. Then she stood and came to him, kneeling down in front of him. She brought her hand to touch the top of his head and then ran it over his hair to rest on his shoulder. “Do you want to talk to Dylan?” she asked in a whisper.
He shook his head. Her touch made him nervous. He wasn’t sure what she wanted, but he knew he’d never have the voice to say anything to Dylan when Dylan didn’t even like him. He looked up as something on the table beside him made a whirring noise.
“That young?” Kathy asked, while Elizabeth spoke to David. “Are you sure?”
“Why me?” Dylan asked. Then after a pause. “Elizabeth, are you there?”
Elizabeth stood and walked back to the phone before speaking. “Yes. I’m here. I was distracted.”
“I want to know why he would come to me instead of someone else. Did he say?”
“What did he say?”
“So you have no idea why he’d come to my house and say he wanted to live here.”
“Not really. I think you’re going to have to answer that one yourself, Dylan. I’ve got to get going. I’ve got a one o’clock that I’m going to be late for. I’ll call back tonight.”
“Don’t forget, or I’ll call you back at midnight.”
Elizabeth laughed. “I’ll try not to forget you, Dylan. I may not get back to the house until later in the evening, so don’t hang by the phone all afternoon. Bye, Kathy.”
After they stopped talking, Elizabeth walked toward him, but then reached for something on the table instead. David stood and saw that one machine was spitting out paper. She showed him the pages she pulled from the machine’s tray. “What do you think?”
They looked like pages from a magazine with printing and color pictures. It looked like what she had on the computer screen. What should he think? She was the smartest person he had ever met, and she asked what he thought. She even knew he was stupid, and still she asked. He shrugged.
“Yeah, I probably should have cropped that picture a bit differently, but I don’t have time to change it.”
The pages stopped coming. Elizabeth stacked them together into a folder. Then she placed the folder in a bag and gathered some other things together. “We’ll have to drive through lunch, David. Get your coat.”
Go to Chapter 8
© 2013, 1995 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.