The Little Runaway
Edited by Rock
Edited by Rock
"David, lunch is ready." Hearing his Nan, David as usual, skipped down the stairs at a rate of knots, but stopped in his tracks at seeing a large man standing within the front entrance.
"On time as usual, Charles," he heard Edward say, as he stepped off the stairway.
Charles Windsor was a man you could associate with class the minute you set eyes on him. His clothing was immaculate, set off with trousers pressed so sharply that you could no doubt cut through butter. His build was that of someone who consumed alcohol regularly, which no doubt meant more than the usual one or two glasses. At his appearance, it would be hard to say if it was wine or beer. David gave an inward smile… if not for the coat he wore, his midriff would cover his knees. Trying very hard to hide what was now an open smile at the thought of how the tailor managed to get both arms around what can only be described as the man's beer belly.
"David, you know it's impolite to stare."
"Sorry, Sir" David replied, the smile now gone from his features.
Edward and Charles made their way toward the dining room, expecting David to follow. But David, having other ideas, made an about turn to join his Nan in the kitchen.
Lunch was fairly quiet, except for the occasional words spoken between Edward and Charles. Tea and sandwiches made for a quick meal, leaving little crockery to clean up. Elizabeth's thoughts were she hoped it would shorten the man's visit. David, though hampered, carried what little he could to help in clearing the dishes away, earning a smile from his Nan.
Charles and Edward made their way into the study with the promise that tea would be brought in… David having been asked to follow them.
"Charles, this is the young man I was telling you about."
"Nice to make your acquaintance, young man," Charles said, as he moved a little closer to the fireplace. David tried, if barely successful, to suppress a giggle, as the man seemed to wobble as he walked.
Elizabeth brought in the tea and turned to leave.
"Don't go, Mother, this concerns us all," getting a look of pure dissatisfaction at the offer; Edward knowing of her feelings toward the man.
"So, Charles, tell me you have some good news."
"No. Well… yes and no," then there was a deafening silence as they waited for Charles to continue.
"Ah, yes. The good news is they won't be sending the boy back to Briarcroft."
"The boy's name is David," angered at the ignorance and disrespect that this pompous man, as his mother referred to him, was showing David.
"I'm sorry… David… then," Charles said, with little or no remorse.
"But social services are not in favour of you adopting David, and will fight to stop any attempt by you for any custody arrangements." Looking around the room, there was silence and shock at the statement.
"Perhaps, it's for the best."
"For the best! That boy, as you rudely attained to, has had nothing more than abuse from outsiders and people supposed to be taking care of him… you… you! Get out, Charles, before I do something I'll regret. An acquaintance you may be - but as a friend - you just lost that privilege. Opening the door and grabbing the collar of his coat, he unceremoniously threw Charles out onto the driveway, with no concern where he landed or how.
"What a pompous ass."
"What did I do wrong?" David broke the silence.
Elizabeth turned to face David. What she saw was a frightened, scared, little boy… a boy with everything taken away from him again.
David slowly walked out of the room, ignoring the two adults' pleas. There were no tears - no expression.
"GOD ABOVE! WHY? How much more hell does he have to go through to get a break?"
Elizabeth, shocked, but not surprised, glanced at Edward, then watched with tears in her eyes as her little man walked toward the stairs expressionless. "Edward, what are we going to do?"
Later, when Edward walked into David's room, David was absently looking outside with an empty look that frightened him. David had seen the bad side of almost everyone he knew; now, as he walked toward David, his concern was, has he finally been pushed over the edge?
"David, look at me, please." David didn't stir. "David, if you want something bad enough… you have to fight for it, do you understand?"
Looking at Edward. "But why do I have to always fight? I don't steal, I try to be good… what did I do? I just want to die!" putting his head down, he sobbed, his heart now broken.
"David, you have done nothing wrong, you have to believe me, things will get better," Edward said, as soft and as sensitive as he could.
"NO THEY WON'T! THEY NEVER WILL! I'D BE BETTER OFF DEAD! Edward was shocked at the venom; but the ferocity worried Edward even more.
"Leave me alone!"
"David, you know better than that. Show some respect."
Wasting no time, Elizabeth pulled David toward her as he sobbed. He made an effort to pull away, but that was more in defiance than will.
As Edward walked out of the room, he looked back with sorrow at something so wrong it hurt.
He knew by the hour, that he wouldn't be in, but he rang anyway.
Ringing chambers… "Can I speak to Judge Moseley?"
"He's in court at the moment; may I ask who is calling?"
"Edward Whitmore. It's very important that I speak to him."
"Mr. Whitmore, it's nice to hear your voice again. I will relay the message, and ask him to ring you as soon as he gets out of court."
"Thank you, I will be at home for the rest of the day."
David stayed upstairs in his room… even avoiding coming out for meals.
Edward refused to talk to David, as that would be giving him carte blanche with his behaviour. But being a mother, Elizabeth let the discretion slide, going to his room to comfort her hurt little man.
As the night closed in, Edward, though not relenting on his attitude, went and sat with David. David would talk, but was not his usual bubbly self.
"I'm sorry, Sir," David said, as Edward turned at the door. David had his head bowed as tears fell. Edward walked back to where David was and held him tightly. "David, I may scold you, but it doesn't mean we don't love you." He comforted David for some time - well after the child drifted off to sleep.
Putting David under the blankets and lying his head on his pillow, he gently kissed his forehead. "They will take you over my dead body!" Then he left, closing the door behind him with no small amount of anger.
Waking, as was often the case, David made his way to the study. Slowly he turned the dimmer switch, keeping the lighting low. Looking around the room he slowly entered. Seeing the room empty, he sat in his usual armchair, feeling what can best be described as torture.
George though, quietly sitting in his usual chair, gained the attention of David.
Getting up from where he sat, David moved across to the other armchair and climbed onto the old man's knee.
"Tell me what's the matter?" George said, stroking the back of David's head.
"Nothing… leave me alone!" which made him feel bad instantly.
"David," George said softly, "this is not the boy everybody fell in love with."
There was a long silence. "With all the things I thought about you, I never thought you could hurt people you love with words, or would - or could be so selfish." David giving no reaction as George spoke.
George got up to leave.
"I'm sorry, Grandfather, I shouldn't take it out on you; but what did I do wrong? I just want to die - then I won't hurt anymore!"
"David, there are people who love you… don't you think they hurt... would hurt? What do you think they would feel if anything were to happen to you?"
"I'm sorry... I'm sorry," then he rolled into a ball sobbing.
Gently his cheek was being caressed - looking up, he saw the figure of a women. "Who are you?"
"She is your mother, David." David's eyes darted between George and the woman.
"David, please listen to me," she said softly. "Life has been unkind, but life is not always a bed of roses."
Sitting at the table that separated the two armchairs sat the figure of a man.
"David, I need you to listen to me." David gave a nod, looking between the two figures, not even sure who spoke.
George too, sat in disbelief at what can only be described as a storyline in a book.
"David, you are your father's son, and he would never have forfeited his right to what he strived for."
David bowed his head.
Joseph moved over to the far end of the table, prompting Marie to do the same. David felt a touch under his chin and looked up, what he saw was a beautiful lady smiling, the love in her eyes gave a feeling of warmth.
David looked on, his view shifting between his grandfather and the people who claimed to be his parents.
A parent's story
It seems that fate had two generations of two families locked together…
Tragedy struck baby Joseph... born Thursday 2:00 p.m.… family deceased Saturday 12:45 a.m. Though a blessing, Joseph was now, not only an only child, but also a child alone.
Being less than a week old… in the care of the local authorities came at a price. Transferred from one home after another - having a settled environment never materialised.
His ability to blend in deteriorated. He became what is widely known as a lost soul. Though never disrespectful or bad, he was almost discarded. Whichever children's home he resided in, he was doted on by the parents. But outside the care system was at times a mixture of good and bad. At six years old, he sank deeper within himself. Being in disregard of parental guidance, he slipped further and further behind. His disability was learning. Within the care system, he was a misfit.
At eight years old, he slipped into a depression that didn't disperse until he reached ten years old.
Though he was at times given both a mum and a dad, they couldn't break through the invisible barrier he'd erected. Though not intentionally, he separated himself from life outside his mind.
At ten years old, he read a book that gave him the confidence to sunder from his backwardness. If by fate or heavenly intervention, the bible lifted his spirits, and would stay with him throughout his life.
Out of his depression, he asked questions of his deceased parents and family.
Mr. and Mrs. Ward, Joseph and Ann, were a loveable couple, neither rich nor poor. They, as was their son, had been wards of the court… no family of their own. Roman Catholic, being their religion, was never a part of their lives.
Marie was a beautiful girl, and though of similar circumstances, she was different from Joseph… she was never akin. As with Joseph, she could never become close or bond to any who took her in. At times, there came loneliness, though never sufficient to slip inside herself. Marie was of English parents, born in Poland, brought up in England. Questions she asked were as to her parents' life before and after she was born, which she expressed at an early age.
Her parents, though English, were of Jewish heritage. As Marie grew, religion was not something she followed. At a young age, she was, as far as education went, enrolled to the Church of England.
Saturday, unlike other young adults, Marie left the library after doing read-up to a subject at college… learning seemed to be the only thing that gave her life any meaning. She walked down Market Street to the little corner café.
Taking a seat at the table in front of the window, she took a sip from her cup. Hearing the door open, she glanced over. A boy about her age walked to the counter, ordered, and took a seat opposite her.
Joseph, for the use of a better word, was a loner, never openly starting a conversation with anyone. He looked at the girl sitting across from him.
She watched the boy take a sip of his drink, then look across, as if staring. Marie was cussing herself, as she herself started to look across at the boy that sat across from her.
Joseph, not known for his bravado, found the courage, and waved at the girl, who at first just ignored his attention. The more he tried to get her attention, the more she ignored him.
The girl finally looked his way, and he whispered the first thing that came into his head "I think I love you" all the while arguing with himself, under his breath, how stupid the comment was.
Marie, though not really flattered, smiled back in response, and returned to the drink she held.
Joseph, with more courage - from where it came he didn't know - got up, taking his drink with him. "Hello, my name is Joseph," he said, as he sat down. Marie, being caught by the sudden turn of events, sat in silence.
"Okay, do you live around here?" Still, he got the cold shoulder. Getting the girl to notice him, let alone talk, was frustrating at best. Looking at the cup she held, he comically started talking to her drink; and that had the desired effect… all Marie could do was laugh.
"My name is Marie," she said laughing, "and you are bonkers."
"That's why you like me … so how about a drink?"
"It's a little early for me."
"That's a pity. I'm told the tea is warm this time of day," he said, while giving her a look of 'your loss.' "And no driving, we wouldn't want you getting pulled over for excessive tea consumption."
"I don't drive, I use public transport."
"There goes my free ride again."
She smiled, but behind the façade, she didn't know what to make of him.
Sitting close to the window, Marie absently took in the buildings and the views as she always did. Joseph? Well, he kept the conversation going, a man of few words.
"Can I see you again? I mean, if you want to."
"I'll put another spoon of sugar in your tea, not as though you need it," he continued, getting a slight blush as an answer.
"As long as you let me say something," Marie answered. Joseph gave a wry smile and said, "How about we go to the park? We'll buy ham sandwiches and milk, and have a picnic." Joseph acting as a teenager would when taking his girl out for the first time. "Yes!" a little louder than he intended.
Supplies in hand, Joseph gently took Marie's hand in his own. Marie shook her head and smiled, she knew from the moment they walked from the café, what love at first sight meant.
Before sitting on the grass, being the perfect gentleman, he laid his coat down. As he actively acted as the host, Marie just watched. Though his conversation was constant, she thought he was quiet by nature - giving no airs or graces. He was brash, but sincere.
At times, when the conversation stopped, his face looked beaten. Then he would smile, which seemed to grasp his contented feelings.
They met that weekend, and the weekend after - just as friends and companions; but eventually, meeting at all times of the day or night.
Weeks and months had gone by; and it seemed all that was timid within Joseph had disappeared - at least toward Marie.
They made arrangements to meet the following day in front of the park gates. This was, he thought, going to be the hardest thing he had ever done… talking about his past, his upbringing; little knowing that Marie had the same uncertain upbringing.
As he told her of his upbringing, the number of children's homes he had been in. Marie saw the helplessness, the loneliness, and she watched as he slumped, dropping his gaze to the grass.
Lifting his chin, she looked him in the eyes. They were empty, glazed -she could almost feel his whole world disappearing. She knew his feeling… or was it longing. After a while, you get used to being alone; and after that, time becomes addictive, and the familiarity of being alone sets in.
"Joseph, I know. I wasn't moved from home to home, but I did have to live with a few foster parents." He looked her in the eyes, but she couldn't put her finger on his expression. He hugged her with a force so tight that she could feel the relief ebb from him.
"Marie, I know we barely know each other, but I love you." He gazed deeply into Marie's eyes, waiting for any reaction. "Will you marry me…?" the anticipation made her smile.
From within his hand, he opened a little black box.
As he opened the box, the sunlight caressed the single diamond, giving a sparkle. She gazed at Joseph with a smile.
"Yes," she said, with all the enthusiasm expected from a young adult crying with happiness.
"I love you… I think I loved you the first minute we met." Joseph said, giving a wry smile.
"Yes! Yes! I will marry you. I think that makes me as 'bonkers' as you."
Unable to speak, a lump in the back of her throat, she cried with happiness as she threw her arms tightly around his neck.
After their giddy spell, things calmed down - Marie's at least. Unable to give a reason why, the only way to describe it would be a motherly instinct. She herself had adapted; though at times, getting upset at the situation. Though Joseph had overcome his pain, it could come to the surface without warning. She knew that feeling all too well, a 'loss' she had many times over the months seen in his reaction to his past and himself, though not knowing or understanding why.
Marie, taking both his hands, squeezed them gently; he just looked at Marie with a gleam in his eyes. "Joseph what happened to us was not our fault. I'm not ashamed of who I am, neither should you be. You know, I think we were destined to be together. We both lost something, someone dear. We were both brought up single-mindedly, and we were meant to meet each other."
"I know, but to others, we are different."
"Different, yes… but that will always be our shoulder to lean on. I think because we were different, but the same, is what brought us together. Remember when we first met?" He gave a concentrated look. "I still think you are bonkers" watching as a devilish smile contorted on his lips, "but you have a stubbornness inside that said you weren't going to give in… that took some guts - I'm the extravert. See what I mean?"
He gazed at her for some time, then kissed her. Marie felt the love that swelled with such a simple gesture.
A love so short, but never parted….
Each, in turn, gave their life story, both was enough to make a novel of their own. Both lives, as was the case, were short lived, but they shared a happiness that has shone through the years.
Life had dealt them both a blow, and now their child was in the same predicament. However, David, if given the chance, would better both Joseph and Marie. As with Joseph before him, David had gone into a world within' himself… never daring to come out to the harshness of life. As both looked on, they hoped and prayed that this would be a catalyst for him to again face the world.
As David looked on, both parents asked him to join them, now seemingly attached at the waist, with arms open wide to accept their son. David moved gingerly, he was the missing piece in this three way embrace. As he shared their embrace - he wasn't alone now. And he knew that he had never been alone - nor would he ever be alone again.
David cried as he held both Joseph and Marie. George himself was taken aback as their same story was repeated - one generation after another.
Wiping away the tears, Marie slowly raised David's head.
When you were born, I swear I had never seen such concentration. He stroked your cheek as if to make sure you were real. Then I swear, I thought he'd lost something. But come to think of it! I'd always known he was crackers.
He turned you this way, that way, upside down, even lifting you above his head, before he said, "Where's his wings?! 'Bonkers,' I tell you!" Getting giggles from all in the room.
"On the day of your christening, he was like a hen being chased around the back garden; you know the one, were the man shows a free hand, but has an axe in the other. He so much wanted to show off his little boy to the whole world, or as he so delicately worded it. 'He needs to be 'registered,'" which again, got laughter and smiles from the room.
"Joking apart, David, you had the will to succeed, even when things were against you. And David, despite what has happened in your life; you, though no one ever saw it, refused to be beaten. That same courage will give you everything you search for."
Looking over to the old man, "George, please watch over David, be our voice to his happiness."
This would be a promise he couldn't resist, and he gave a smile that said more than words ever could.
Looking at her son, with a smile and a tear, she slowly waved.
As his mum and dad slowly faded away, both waving, both smiling, David gave a look of both sadness and contentment… with a note of loss. "I love you both," he choked out as tears again started to fall.
To Be Continued….