"James, are we going to your mother's this weekend." The usual morning rush… Baby Samantha sucking gently on her bottle as young Jeremy makes good with the cereal, only leaving a stream of milk and the odd Rice Krispie on the table.
James entered the kitchen with the expression of the Monday morning blues, although a few days late. With the cross referencing of results, the new schedules, covering for staff being at home with the sniffles, emergencies - and time became late. Even top-class physicians are on call or recruited to work overtime. All this and more led to a short, but welcome, five hours of sleep.
Ruffling his six year old son's hair; talking goo-goo-ga-ga with Samantha, his three month old daughter; kissing Louise, his over worked housewife; and sitting down to his early morning cup of tea was a lifesaver. Looking at his family with pride... he couldn't be more proud or happy.
"I'll ring her when I get to the University. We could get there for lunch and stay for the weekend. I think she'd love the company."
James was the older brother to Edward, who was the stronger of the two. Edward being the one driven; James was more laid back. They were 'kith and kin', but individuals.
At thirty and twenty eight, respectively, they had distance between them, be that age or travel, but they were as close as any brothers could be.
As youngsters, even teenagers, they were inseparable.
During pre-school, they were well behaved, but gave a little push here and there. Girls being their pet hate.
Edward was the one who gave as good as he got, while James took his time, not being too hasty, not to be rushed, but preferring to stay in the background… invisible. Edward took the dares, which he sometimes spectacularly lost.
As they progressed into primary school, their heads were down and they worked hard, topping most subjects with ease, but falling behind on what they called pet hate subjects. But they were always near the top, or round-about.
Sports were a no no. If they were given no other choice, Edward would swim; and if pushed really hard, James played football. Goalie being his best position - he couldn't play for the life of him anywhere else.
They made friends easily all through secondary school. And they would find that these friends would be there when needed - no matter when or where help or advice was needed. They would see them, follow them through school, and into their different ways of life.
At University was where Edward and James' lives began to separate. James studied medicine with a view of earning his doctorate, while Edward studied criminal law on the side of prosecution. With their attributes, their education and dedication, they had a good base from which to work from in later life.
Time moved at its own pace. Time was a help and a hindrance, especially to Edward. He must have thought, emphasis on thought, that time would stand still.
Edward being the daredevil, whereas James being the quiet one. Not to say his brother was loud… he was, well, more sure of himself, hiding behind nothing or nobody. Having the brains was sometimes more of a nuisance.
James would do a wind-up on his brother. His best foot forward, sometimes going in reverse.
An example was learning to drive, for Edward that was not a happy time. But fun for James, who passed his test the first time, while his brother failed miserably. 'Instructor was bloody awful', being his excuse for failing.
"You didn't drive bad or do anything wrong then?" Which gained James a trade mark disgusted look for even asking. "I can help you, if you like," which again was the wrong thing to say. Determination won in the end - four times being the number of tries.
Being caught off guard made both boys stutter and stumble. "Brian, you may go back to your residence. David, will you come into my office?"
As David entered, he saw Edward standing close to the desk looking intently at him as he stood in the doorway. Hobbling inside, he stood slightly behind the man. "Please sit down, young man." Seeing apprehension, Mister Thomas smiled at David as he took his seat behind his desk.
"Sir, please don't send me back," was his heartfelt plea. Mister Thomas looked at Edward, then David.
With his heart in his mouth, David sat quietly, his face drawn with worry, every muscle straining as if waiting for the executioner.
David looked at Mister Thomas as he started to speak. "I have spoken to social services; they agree it would not be in your best interest from a safety point of view for you to continue to reside here. So, for the time being at least, you will stay with Mrs. Whitmore." David put his arms around Edward, showing relief as his eyes flooded with tears.
"You have to thank Judge Moseley, he was the one that said some special words," which even at David's age, he understood the meaning.
"Okay, young man, go get your belongings and I will see you in my office before you leave." David looked at the headmaster with reluctance.
"I'll go with you and just hope that Mister Heard has something to say," looking at Mister Thomas with challenge. David squealed as Edward crouched, throwing him over his shoulder.
As they got to David's residence, Edward watched for any reaction after seeing some of the kids run off inside. As was expected, Mister Heard approached the main door.
"Don't even look at the boy or I'll show you how Master Oliver felt." Looking at Edward with a confused look, he stepped aside to let them both enter.
His clothing, though inadequate, was enough to serve his needs. Three of everything, which included a suit for best. His school uniform was clean and pressed, but worn. Personal possessions were learning materials, with books covering a wide range of subjects. Literature advanced to Dickens and Shakespeare. It seemed the impression that David gave his peers, young and old, was far from close to the boy that lived behind closed doors. Though he was constantly 'put-down', he rose above it to forge a path from his own guidance… of making something of himself. His obvious intelligence only lacked belief, at least at this moment in time. David was quickly earning Edward's respect.
At the headmaster's office, they both shook hands, promising to enlighten each other on how things were progressing. "David, you behave now."
"I will, sir, I promise," as he made his way as quickly as his impediment would allow to Mister Thomas. "Thank you, sir," he said with a look that can only be described as ecstatic.
"Okay, young man, let's get you home."
Driving David to his new abode was almost a silent affair. Staring out of the window David was in another world with his thoughts and his concerns. He would eventually open up, but that would only come with time and trust… something it seems he hadn't possessed or received before from anyone at this point.
Thinking of his mother, Edward pulled over to the side of the road in front of a phone box to give her a call. As he thought about it, he'd already known what would be said, he just didn't know what her exact reaction would be. He just hoped it would be within his hearing range. Very rarely did his mother let her feelings be known; other than a smile and a word of encouragement. "This is going to be fun," were the thoughts running round in his head concerning his mother.
"You seem preoccupied; do you want to talk about it?"
Looking at Edward, he gave a determinate view with a pitiful look, "I'm scared."
"Can you tell me what you're scared of?"
"I don't know. You... here... there."
"Okay. Well, as for me, I'm a pussycat. That is until I find a dog to bite." That earned a sort of a grin. "As for here, I think you mean where you, shall we say, wandered to that evening." A sly grin seemed to hold a little longer. "Now the there… that's a hard one," Edward said, trying his hardest not to let the cat out of the bag.
"I don't want to go back. If I have to go back, I'll kill myself."
"David, please don't say that. I know things seem hopeless now, but... "
"I won't go back!" his voice was tense.
"David, from what I've seen, things can only get better. They surely can't get any worse. If you have to go back, things will be better than they were before."
"I won't go back! If I had to go back, I wouldn't have people I like being with. You didn't treat me like I was different, so I know you aren't doing this because you feel sorry for me," he said with raised eyebrows, his voice nothing above speaking tones.
"David, what you have is a disability. I can't say it never entered my head, but I would never pity you. I would never do that… believe me. I admire you for never complaining. Not feeling sorry for yourself." David sat looking at Edward, his eyes moist.
"Please don't send me back. If you send me back, you won't need me anymore. You won't care about me." Tears ran down his cheeks. Then he sat looking beaten, not saying a word.
Knowing David was sad would not change his resolve. Things had gone David's way more than he knew. It seemed… no, it was cruel… but Edward wanted what he had to say to David to be a surprise that would give him a little hope, where David was now seeing that there was none.
"I know a lady back home who cares deeply about what happens to you. I know she will support you, so I think you have at least two people on your side… not forgetting me of course. And don't forget Judge Moseley and your headmaster Mister Thomas. So, you know we'd win hands down in a three-legged race." Throwing darts, David thought about it for a second, shaking his head with disgust, then giving something of a smile, he turned again toward the window.
"David, I don't know what will happen, but I will do my darndest to make sure you aren't hurt again."
As I pulled away from the kerb, he looked up as if trying to say something, but not knowing the right words.
"What do you say to us starting again from the beginning? I'm Mister Whitmore, so you must be Master Ward, if memory serves me." I couldn't take my eyes off the road, but I could imagine the thoughts going through his head. I have no doubt that his loss for words earlier would have been forgotten. In earnest, I was hoping it would change his mood, which was all too evident.
Joseph finished making tea and toast, adding it to the bacon and eggs that were now sitting on appendages at the table. Joseph in attitude was nineteen, but a boy in anything but age. His wife Marie, like himself, was alone; that is to say, neither had family of their own.
Coming into this world was for most children a blessing, but fate gave Joseph a bad hand... losing his parents before he even knew them. A tragedy that would arise again in the future.
Not seeming to have a past, Joseph was made the responsibility of social services, with a degree of good and bad when it came to children's homes. Not a bad child or teenager, just one of the unlucky ones, who it seemed came up short for wanting parents or families... as if up for auction.
Marie, though different from Joseph, was never with kin, or close to any who took her in. Marie, though of English parents, was born in Poland. Her parents, as her husband's, were now deceased. It was an affinity that they were brought together as one.
At twenty two, she was three years older than Joseph, but they were a match made in heaven. Born into a Jewish family she never, at losing her parents at a young age, practised their Faith, but was attained to the religion of the school she was placed into... the Church of England. C of E, if you prefer.
The loving couple, especially Marie, brought a silent baby boy into the world. As to say, most babies cry, scream even, but not a peep of a complaint from the new arrival was heard. But his baby smile warmed the little tyke to all around.
Joseph was all fingers and thumbs as he called Marie to the table. "Joseph, calm down, we have hours before we go to the church." It seems that this proud father had stemmed beyond the birth; she smiled at the thought.
"I think I love you."
She smiled at the words. Her thoughts drifted back to when they first met, those being the very first words he'd said to her. She remembered him looking across from the table from where he sat, smiling, and whispering, "I think I love you." Though flattered, she looked down at the cup in front of her. Not perturbed though, he came and sat across from her, bold as brass. Remembering at the time how he could probably talk a glass eye to sleep. So sure of himself, or maybe nervous, but she knew as they walked away from the market what love at first sight meant.
"I know I love you," she said, as she put her hand in his.
The drive to the church was quiet, not anxious, but solemn. Driving into a new beginning for them and one of God's own children.
The sun shone with the glaze of glass. There was a glow, but a sharpness to the air as the clearness entered your being. The freshness was intoxicating though cold. A light dusting of snow seemed to light up its surroundings helping to look at distances miles away. The landscape was a beauty… a painting. Though only of hills and trees, eyes watered at the lines and fine detail. The land became a sea of sky as it attached its self to the heavens.
On this reverence of a morning, a child would be given the key to heaven, a place where thoughts and dreams would be stored as a keepsake of life.
As they drove from the church, there was a peace that shone with an invisible glow, a glow to light up heaven itself.
Life has a cruelty that can take more than it gives. Losing their lives, mercifully, does not give a true deflection of their loss… leaving a child as a defender of themselves.
The senses of youth are our future, are they not? Without the same concern, a form filled and signed, then filed so coldly. Two lives vanished and were scripted to a single sheet of paper.
Having to stop to remotely open the gates was never a chore, but at this instant he objected with a silent cuss.
David, though happy, was sad from the uncertainty of 'if'. Away from a nightmare, but still not part of anything or anyone. Loneliness though used to, can feel exaggerated when brought out into the open.
"David, look at me please." Though silent, he looked up anxiously. "Mrs. Whitmore has taken a shine to you," Edward said with a smile. There was a short silence; again trying to alter the mood, Edward looked at David with a playful grin, "It's said that the house has invisible boarders."
Lines appeared across his face trying to solve what to him was a puzzle. Edward smiled as David's face lit up.
"It's haunted?" He received a nod as an answer.
"You're not scared, are you?"
"No!" Seeing a contradictory smile and what he guessed was some bravado, Edward smiled.
"I'm glad, I wouldn't like for them to keep you awake at night." Receiving a scowl for his trouble, he gave a hearty laugh, which after a few seconds was doubled by a certain little man.
As they reached the front of the house, Elizabeth opened the main door looking herself anxious.
His struggle to get out of the car was obvious. Refusing help, David slowly made his way toward the main door. Once inside the main entrance, Elizabeth led them into the kitchen, where the kettle was whistling a tune.
Greeting her son, she offered him tea, then looking down toward David. "And what is your pleasure?" David gave a grin, asking for milk. Moving farther into the kitchen, Elizabeth got the drinks, then moved over to a little table off to the right and sat down.
With everyone settled, Edward was about to give details of the day's events, ignoring the arrangements that had been given to David. But before he could begin...
"I can stay here till they," not holding back with his disgust, "get 'rid' of Mister Heard," David said, remembering the words spoken earlier at the school.
"Well, that's not strictly true." Both looked at Edward with mixed emotions. Trying very hard to keep his own emotions to himself, he waited till he saw anxiety start to overtake the two, maturity stopping Elizabeth from demanding further details.
"David will stay here till a social worker comes to check the environment he will be living in... in other words, check the place out... then if everything is suitable he gets to stay." Elizabeth then seemed to relax... somewhat.
"Edward Whitmore! What are you trying to do to me?"
Looking at David, his reaction wasn't any better. "You're mean."
"I'm sorry, forgive me?" There were equal looks of disgust from both. Elizabeth pulled David up from his seat, squeezing the life out of him; a burden of relief had been lifted from both of their shoulders. "Mother, you may want him still alive when the social worker gets here!"
David stumbled over slowly toward Edward, stopping just in front of him. Giving a coarse look, "You're mean," he said again, then launched at Edward, who steaded himself just before the boy rocket hit.
"I know, but wasn't it worth waiting for," he said rhetorically.
After a deafening silence as everyone took in what had happened, Elizabeth was the first to break the mood.
"Edward, will you take David upstairs to pick out his own room?" David was caught between differing emotions.
After picking out his own room, Edward left to give David time to settle in and put what little he had in its proper place. Looking each way and every way, David stood in shock. His wildest dreams never looked like this... hobbling over to the base of the bed, he pulled himself up and sat. Looking here, looking there, looking up and down and side to side… David was in shock. Everything started to blur as his tears fell one by one.
Elizabeth stood at the bedroom door looking at a lost and lonely, but happy little boy, who sat, breaking his little heart at something as trivial as a room of his own. Not wanting to see the hurt any longer, she walked over and took David in her arms, crying with joy at the gift that had so fearfully walked into her home.
"It will be alright, David, I promise," bringing more heartfelt tears as David sobbed. It was a little while before tears ended for both. "Edward, will you finish up," she was going to give this precious bundle time to calm himself.
George looked on with admiration at his betrothed. Again his mind drifted to when his own sons Edward and James were growing up. Though he missed those times, he still had a glint in his eyes remembering. Fifty years of married life only added to the love and feeling he had for his first and only love. Though wishing she was with him, he wouldn't take a day of life from her - he would wait his time, as he did in the beginning.
Shortly after supper, Edward left for home. Kissing his mother, then David, he got in his car and was gone.
David had mixed emotions. Boys don't get kissed, but right then he hoped to get the same feeling again.
Inside, David asked if he could go to bed. "I'll be up to tuck you in." David smiled, and with a spring in his step, seemingly managing to take two steps at a time, though near impossible, seemed no burden. "You be careful now." Elizabeth smiled, wondering if he had another leg hidden about his person, and then smiled to herself as she went to finish cleaning up.
Securing the house for the night she felt a peace… a peace this old house had not seen in a long time. She looked up to the heavens saying a silent prayer to her beloved George.
David felt a warmth as he pulled back the cover. "You little streaker..." David blushed, jumping quickly into bed. Elizabeth smiled at him as she raised the covers to just under his chin, she brushed his hair back with the palm of her hand and kissed him on the forehead. She left the curtains open enough to see the moonlight, then tip-toed out of the room leaving the door slightly ajar.
"Goodnight, Mum," he said quietly, bringing a tear to her eye. David, not realising, made an old woman feel wanted. That night, the words spoken, even though they were never meant to be heard, brought a wealth of unspoken joy and happiness.
With a mile wide grin, David drifted into a happy and peaceful sleep.
To Be Continued