Simon was a happy boy, a loveable boy, lonely, but with a manner that was pleasant. He had a smile that would 'warm the cockles of your heart'. A family departed, left a legacy of two children, his sister being the belle of the ball.
At eleven, Simon was an outgoing boy. His best friend Ian was a chum and a big brother - both of course were good boys! Hyperactive gave a better definition to the two boys with endless energy. Football was their game... Simon defence with Ian in midfield. They would have you believe that they would soon be snapped up by all the big clubs, watched by all the best scouts - I suppose we all have to dream. Many a rebuke came at the pool for dive bombing, teasing the girls, and of course, how can it not be right to run around the pool?
Ian had come to see him a lot, especially after school. That was until his parents moved away. He wrote for awhile... then nothing. Simon, of course, got upset. He didn't know why it upset him, but it wasn't shown, although all knew.
His dad died of something close to what Simon was now diagnosed with. His mum was a woman that could have any man she desired, but declined as her family meant more to her than outside attraction. On his grandma's side having a heart condition was hereditary, eventually leading to what took his mum. Now it was just Simon and Sherry, and he looked after her with the intensity of a father. She looked up to him and loved him as a brother, and wasn't afraid to tell anyone of that fact either.
Family had been his mum, dad, and sister Sherry. But with his mum and dad now dead that left them without any extended family...
Simon and Sherry were alone now. His dad... well, he was a nutter; always acting the fool, making everybody laugh. Simon smiled at the thought. He wouldn't drink, at least not at home, unless Christmas and New Year. Oh, he'd go to have a drink at the pub, but he never drank in excess. His route to the bar was for lunch, with maybe the odd pint. His dad worked long hours. They certainly weren't rich, but they got by.
Seeing his dad during the week was hit and miss, but on the weekends they had real fun - real laughter. Though not seeing much of his dad, Simon took it in his stride. He was grown up about it... he knew it was necessary. A quality seldom found in one so young. His mum... well, she was the best mum in the world, if only in a child's mind. In her eyes he did nothing wrong, even if others didn't think so. He couldn't remember once ever getting smacked or hit. He'd had a few ear bashings, but well... boys will be boys.
Mum was a housewife by choice. She had always promised that if she had children of her own, she would be at home looking after them - and that she did. Whatever was done or arranged was done as a family. Then there was Sherry. When he first saw her he thought she was beautiful. Every night he would go to her cot, talk to her, kiss her goodnight. He had to look after her. He did overdo the care a little bit, but that's what big brothers do, isn't it?
Simon needed to use the bathroom, forgetting the bag that was supported on the side of his bed. He lifted his head, then slapped his forehead for being so dumb. Getting to the bathroom was becoming a chore, but heh, you need to stay positive. Walking slowly, toe to heel, he arrived at his destination. After his none entity of an excursion, he at least washed up and brushed his teeth, which these days didn't matter much, apart from bad breath.
Wearily he walked towards his bed. The moon was shining bright like a beacon, so he stopped, positioning himself to look out the window. Staring up to the heavens he gave a sigh. He watched as the light flickered through the trees, as the breeze had the branches dancing in mid-air. His mind wandered as his thoughts drifted. Grass glazed, clean, and crisp. The sky a radiant light blue. The clouds swelled as if bragging they couldn't be beaten. Through this window he had seen all sorts of people, children, even animals, as the daylight shone or faded. He'd heard children laughing, giggling, even screaming. A warm smile crossed his face as his thoughts drifted to Sherry.
He wasn't bitter that in reality his world revolved around a room that was now home. On one side sink and taps. On the other side a window that spied his every move. At the farthest wall stood a door that led to a bathroom he used to clean up in. Why, he thought, no one will ever see how clean I am, or even how clean I smell. Simon wasn't feeling sorry for himself, he was just depressed and worked up. But Simon couldn't feel like that for very long... he had responsibilities.
The nurse came in just as he finally got back to his bed. "Should I fluff up those pillows? How are you feeling?" She asked, while giving his pillows a good boxing match that she was always going to win. Helping him into bed, she held and supported him till he was sat upright and hopefully settled.
He thanked her, but then had second thoughts as the same nurse took a syringe out of the kidney bowl removing the needle cover. He gulped.
"I need to take some blood. Do you need anything for pain?" She asked softly. Simon hated needles, but he knew he didn't have to put up with them too much longer.
The reaction she was getting from Simon told her all she needed to know. "I'll give you some painkillers after I do my training to become a Vampire, okay?" His face contorted differently now, giving a forced smile.
After she had robbed him of a little more of his life giving fluid he started to relax. "The doctors are going to let you self medicate, but don't you over do it, we don't want you attacking all us nurses... I mean a good looking boy like you." The mood was lifted as she walked out of his room smiling.
He was weak now, even things like turning over in bed were painful and tiring, taking a mighty effort. He wanted to say his prayers, but saying them while in bed seemed disrespectful. So with every ounce of strength and energy he had in him, he slowly and carefully manoeuvred himself off the bed. Getting down on his knees took a mammoth effort and a lot of pain, but he had to do it.
"God, I know you don't want to hear from a kid like me, and I'm sorry for taking up your time. But please God, I know that whatever I do can never make up for being such a bad boy, but I ask for my sister Sherry. She's seven and can't look after herself. Could you please find her a good family... please. She isn't bad like me and she doesn't deserve to suffer for what I've done. I know I have no right to ask, but… I'll do anything you ask - anything! I don't know what I did to upset you, but I'm sorry, I really am. I know I don't deserve to ask, but will you tell my mum I'm sorry and that I love her. Thank you, God. Amen," All colour was now drained from his face. Simon, a heart broken child, slowly raised himself into his chair, but refused to shed a tear. Even though he wasn't supposed too, he would sometimes sit in the chair at the side of his bed. Even as a youngster he had ants in his pants.
A nurse was just about to come into his room to check on him when she heard the conversation between his God and himself, she stood at the door as quietly as she could. She couldn't help but overhear the boy's prayer. At first she was shocked, then down right disgusted - not at the boy, but what could only be the boy's illness. With a tear in her eye she walked back to the nurse's station.
Simon was a lively boy, not a bad boy. But with first his parents dying, then his illness, which would leave Sherry alone, he must have been very bad... he just didn't know how or when. He'd over the past few months gone over all he'd ever done, but still couldn't fathom what he could have done that so wrong.
Struggling to get back in bed he lost his balance a few times, but before long he managed to get himself up. Lying on his side, head on his hands, he looked out the window to the heavens, virtually repeating his solemn prayer again. He didn't know if God was listening, but it was worth a try. Sleep came later to put his mind at rest.
"Well hello, stranger. You've not been doing any laps or chatting up the nurses to go out with you again, have you? Save one or two for me, yeah! Anyway, I hope you know that it's hands off of Nurse Robinson, she's mine."
"I really fancied Nurse Robinson, too. But if you're not good looking enough to get her yourself?" His laboured laugh was intoxicating.
"Funny, ha, ha. So how do you feel, sport. I mean all that work, chatting up the nurses must get tiring."
"Barry, how long have I got?" There was no time to think, the question came out of the blue.
"As long as you stay happy and full of life, you know, like you always are."
"You scared... never."
"I don't want to die alone," there was a crack in his voice as the words were spoken.
"Simon, you will never be alone. You hear... never. I promise."
Before anything else could be said, the good old nurse came back in to give him what they called breakfast, a concentrated version of tap water. "Nurse, if you keep feeding me this stuff I'm going to get, really, really fat, and we can't have that now, can we?" That seemed to break the ice.
Seeing despair in what were eyes that hurt. "I'll give you a run for your money on looks" Simon gave a smile that said, no chance.
"This isn't fair, I mean even if I wanted to get any of these nurses, but to be outdone by a kid!" That same kid gave a sly grin.
"Barry, can I see Sherry? I miss her so much."
"I'll see what I can do."
"She's my sister, they can't stop me. I haven't seen her for ages."
"You know, it's because of you being in here - they don't want her to get upset."
"What about me, me getting upset," he said, raising his voice as best he could.
"Tell you what, if they don't, I'll threaten to go to the newspapers, that should buck-em up." There was a hurting silence in the room. "I know you miss her, but..."
"Not you too, I thought you were on my side."
"I am, you know kiddo, you know that I am. I was just thinking of you getting even more upset after she leaves."
Then there was that hurting silence again, "I don't want to die and leave her alone, she'll be scared. I love her, Barry. I've got to look after her, she's my sister."
"Sherry will be looked after, I promise." That was a promise he shouldn't have made, but, well, attachments were always possible, especially now.
"I'll get you, Nurse Edwards. That's a promise."
"Yea, right, in your dreams. I'll see what I can conjure up, okay. I've got to go, but I'll be back later, deal?" He said, as the speaker blared out his name.
It seemed again that the fight had been taken out of him; but he knew he had to stay strong and alive, if only for Sherry. He turned on his stomach, upset, but again he refused to cry. He worked really hard not to shed a tear.
Barry walked into the hallway, upset and angry. He didn't return due to an emergency, but Simon didn't really notice, being in pain most of the day himself.
"Good morning, Simon."
"Try not to use this too often, we don't want you as high as a kite. This is so you can self medicate. It's morphine, so be careful, okay?" After explaining the use of what looked like a small remote control, the nurse came in holding two bags of fluid.
He knew one was to stop him from dehydrating... well, it gets old after a bit... and he guessed the other was the morphine. She smiled as she left the room, returning with a syringe to take more blood - smiling before the deed.
"How come you get all the attention while I have to buy them a meal to get them to notice me?"
"Good looking and cute."
"Ha, don't make me laugh." To which Simon put his tongue out, making everyone in the room laugh too.
"KIDS!" was the doctor's reply, to which Simon put on his hurt face, and that started them all laughing again.
Simon looked to the sky, his mind wandering to when he was a kid. "Dad, don't do that. Not fair." He laughed so much he couldn't breathe. Sherry sat on the sand, giggling so loud that people stopped and smiled.
"Ice Cream anyone?" That got Sherry running on the sand, falling as she moved. A smile lightened his face, but turned as quickly to a frown as he remembered that those happier times were now gone.
Finally, after doing a double shift, Barry was ready for home. Fatigue forced him unduly to go home... no supper, just straight to bed. After getting up at close to one o'clock, he eventually had a meal and a strong cup of tea.
Simon watched as the clouds, which mirrored his thoughts, drifted in. There looked a definite chill in the air. He smiled as his thoughts again filled his head with Sherry. How she would whinge about being cold, and having to give her his coat to stop her complaining.
It was his day off, which would be a surprise, if he didn't already know about it. Yesterday, before his double shift was actually his day off, so it'd reverted to a day later.
Simon in mind, he rang a friend about the thoughtless social services, or should that be blind?
"Are you still ripping off your clients on what you call a paid job?" Colin was an industrialist. A very powerful industrialist. Business Tycoon was more appropriate, but being old school, the name was never used. Colin Firth started his own building empire from being a simple craftsman who went door to door fixing household problems, i.e, a door hinge, a leaking tap, etc. He was a good man, a lonely man, even with all the alternate employees he had just at his house. And what a house, but it was a house that was just a residence, not a home.
"No, I let them think they're ripping me off. What can I do for you, Barry," he said with a little sarcasm.
"I need someone who'll weigh-in on what we call 'child care'."
"What stray have you picked up now?"
"He's not a stray, he a dying boy... have a bit of respect," he said while making his anger heard.
I'm sorry, Barry. This must be serious, if it's got you so riled."
"There are few deserving people in this life, and this is one of them. Look, can we meet for dinner, say seven? Anyway, it's about time you paid for something, you old Scrooge."
"No, come to my house, we'll have dinner, a few drinks, and maybe some good conversation... but I won't hold my breath."
"For the meal or the conversation? See you at seven."
Dinner was more acquainted to a fancy restaurant than a home cooked meal, which on his own resources Barry couldn't afford, not on a nurse's wages. After dinner they sat outside on the back porch watching the weather change from sunshine to drizzle. "So what is it about this boy and child care? I mean you made it so obvious earlier that I'm glad I'm not around when you get angry."
"I'm sorry about earlier... no sleep, long hours, I'm just downright tired. Okay, here goes. A youngster, Simon, is dying," his emotions were raw for a moment. When it's a child - not getting involved - well, protocol goes out the window. Again, trying to get his emotions under control and after clearing his throat, "In their wisdom, social services are refusing to let Simon see his sister. We have argued with them to back down - but no chance. I know this is asking a lot, but this kid needs a little support. I know I'm using our friendship as a tool, but I thought... well, you know a lot of people. You do have a bit of clout... you know, with all the charities and donations, I just thought you might be able to rattle a few cages. This is a long shot request, with a short, very short time line."
"I'm not sure I can get involved."
"So you'll give a minister hell if he's short paying a pound in tax, but you'll turn a blind eye when it comes to one child. Listen, I have to go, I'm at work tomorrow." Then he got up to leave, annoyed at the lack of support from someone he called a friend.
"Okay, okay, I'm not the bad guy here."
"Yes, you are. You're as bad as all the others in this story. This is a child we are talking about, not one of your politicians who thought he was hard done by because he didn't get a seat in the house."
Okay, okay, I surrender. Tell me where I can help."
"Do whatever you do best. Raise it with a few friends. Try talking to some of your rich buddies, politicians." He then went on to explain as much as he could about Simon without completely breaching protocol. "Simon has been in our care for the past two years. About eighteen months ago his health was in question, which again, child care was slow of the mark. But that's another story." Again his anger was clear. "Tests were done and he was found to have AML. As soon as he was diagnosed, he was brought straight into hospital. A short explanation is, he doesn't have enough white blood cells, so he has an increased possibility to infection. He was started on a course of chemotherapy and drugs, but treatment was stopped a few months ago. To cut a long story short, the chemotherapy was just making Simon ill, as in sick, not killing the leukaemia. It was decided to stop treatment and let Simon live as normal a life as possible.
Colin sat, no words spoken... bemused; then cold and surmised. "Why this boy? I mean, there are other children, why this one boy?"
"That's cold, even for you. The honest answer is he's a child with no future, no hope, but his concern is not for himself. Look, we try and make them comfortable, like to let things run smooth for them, but this is something I've never had to deal with before. You know, for as long as I've been doing this. You never hear any of the children complain, not like us adults, they take it in their stride, they are resilient. It pains me to say it, but they're more grown up about it. I see him every day. Simon, well he's part of the system, you know children's homes… He has a sister that he's more worried about than himself. Social services are objecting to bringing the sister in to see him - not good for her they say. But it's no good for the brother either. Does he have no rights?" The anger made Colin take a step back, but then just as defiant.
"Yes, a right he should have, but he's a child, so his right goes to the adult, that adult being his case worker."
"Bull! If this was their own child, they'd mow everybody down to get it to happen."
Still the hardened businessman, "I don't know if I can. But..." his words faltering.
Talking seemed to take a back seat. He hoped it would be enough to get some well needed support. "So, you will you help me?" Barry looking again towards Colin, who was in deep thought, hoping that whatever was on his mind that at least he was considering it.
"How would they feel if they were put in that position." With Colin still deep in thought, he continued. "It pains me and the nurses. We try to make them happy, let them go happy... with some dignity. But for Simon Harding, it's a tad different, he has nobody apart from his sister Sherry. They show no feeling. It's wrong. If it wasn't for the doctors and nurses, he'd get no company, never mind visitors. He's a good kid, never complains. I feel sorry for him and admire him at the same time. God, I'd like to put them in his place, no organisation behind them and see how they'd feel or even cope."
Colin, still in thought, looked up. "Look, from what you've said, it's a travesty and I'll do what I can, okay?" Cautiously, he told Barry not to get his hopes up. "Can he have outside visitors? I'd really like to see this, from what you are virtually saying, perfect child. I've never seen one before."
"Stop it, Colin. I'm not saying that and you know it."
"So, can he have outside visitors?"
"I'm not sure," still perturbed with Colin's attitude. "It would depend on his physician, but I don't think they'd stop it. They know the situation, and everyone needs somebody, right?"
The conversation was halted as Barry's beeper came blaring into life. Mobile found, he dialled, and after a few words slammed his phone shut. "I have to go... emergency. Do what you can at least, and call me." Just after two in the morning he arrived home. Sleep was not long coming.
Just before twelve the phone rang. "Hello. Colin. Hi. Well I'll be back at the hospital about five. Okay, meet me at A&E. Bye."
Just before five he met Colin. Something didn't fit. There was a look he hadn't seen for a long time. They went to the cafeteria to get some well needed refreshment. The conversation was all about Simon. Barry thought he saw scepticism in his face, but shrugged it off. Colin wanted to see the boy and maybe get to know him.
They sat in the cafeteria drinking tea with a snack, which at the least would keep Barry going till his first break; which was, at best, hit or miss. Colin told him that he'd said a few timely words to social services, which didn't go down too well, so he contacted the local councillor, threatening to stop his donations to campaigns and local charities if something wasn't done. He even spoke to his friend the judge, grinning. Barry gave a sigh, at least he now had support.
"Look, I know you don't want to hear this about this perfect child, but I heard Simon saying his prayers the other day. I'm not sure if he blames himself for being ill, and his sister suffering because of it, or he thinks he's done something bad and that's why he got sick. It's heart breaking."
"The sarcasm I will take." Getting up, Colin asked what ward the boy was on.
"Excuse me, who are you? What are you doing spying on my patient?"
Holding his hands out. "I'm Colin Firth. And you are?"
"Doctor Fielding. Colin Firth, I've heard that name before. Oh, yes. Donations, contributions. Your generosity to this hospital is a godsend"
"Nice to meet you, Doctor Fielding. I hope they are, but I try and keep it quiet."
"The reason I'm here is I spoke to a good friend of mine, Barry Edwards, he told me about a patient of yours, a Simon Harding."
"Barry is a good man, and yes, Simon is my patient."
"Actually, I've just left Barry sucking air in the cafeteria. Does Simon get many visitors?"
"Visitors? I'm afraid not. My staff and I are what you would say are his visitors."
"I was told he has a sister he's desperate to see."
"Yes, he has a sister Sherry. May I ask how you are involved?"
"It's the wrong word to say involved. Barry asked for some help to give a bit of happiness to someone who really needs it."
Yes, I see. The last time he saw her was a few weeks ago. I would say a month. Since then, well, social services refuses to bring her back to the hospital. The boy is hurting and there's very little we can do apart from making him comfortable."
"Bureaucracy," Colin said with disdain. "May I ask about Simon, I know about him having cancer... one so young. How's he coping?"
"I shouldn't really be talking to you, but no doubt, Barry has already told you about his condition and the outcome."
"Believe me, I know very little more than that he's dying." There didn't seem much point in getting his friend in trouble.
Colin looked on, not a word spoken. The doctor went through details of his illness, but was wary about giving full details about the boy's private life, relatives, etc., if any. "Simon is in the final stages of leukaemia, AML. He's a very sick young man. He's in a lot of pain, but rarely says anything, if at all. And only when asked.
"AML. You say final stages?"
"Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. He has his good days and his bad days. All the nurses adore him. I can't give you an exact time line, but I would say at best, seven days. I am telling you this in strict confidence, I ask you to please keep it to yourself, and please don't say anything to Simon. I think he already has enough on his plate."
"That goes without saying. Going back to earlier, he's someone who really needs help, wouldn't you say? May I see him?"
"Precisely. I'll go and ask him, I'm sure he'll welcome seeing a new face. But please accept that any visitors he has, has to be with his consent. Personally, I think... no, I'm sure it will be good for him, take his mind off things. It would be good for him to laugh again. Laughter is part of the treatment, you know."
"Please, if he agrees, have patience. Simon is a good kid, but his good days are few and far between. He can give as good as he gets, but I think that's just bravado, he's really not that type of kid. Social services... well, if they had any feelings, if they had any at all, they wouldn't be holding back. To see his sister, that's all he wants. To be with her, it's all he ever talks about. I mean, do they have no sympathy, no heart? He's simply got enough to worry about without some so called bureaucrats adding to it. Present company accepted."
Knocking on his door, the doctor entered with a call of, "You can't do that."
"Doctor, he won't let me change his catheter." Nurse Brown was new to the unit, and as you know... well boys. The doctor held a grin at the expression on Simon's face.
"I don't want a girl to see me naked. Sorry, a nurse."
"I am well past the stage of being a girl, young man."
Suppressing a giggle, Dr. Fielding said, "I'll do it nurse." The nurse walked away, shaking her head and mumbling about men not growing up. "You're not Mr. Popular today."
Doctor Fielding closed the door and went about inserting the catheter. "Simon, You have a visitor, are you up for visitors?"
"No, son, I'm sorry. It's a friend of Nurse Edwards." Another let down.
Giving a smile, he nodded. "He thought it was about time you had visitors. Should I let him in?" With a look of apprehension he agreed. The doctor walked over to open the door.
Walking into the room Colin stopped short before he got right up to the bed, saying nothing, just in deep thought. He looked at the boy in front of him. He was a very sickly pale colour, looking like feeding him was a formality that was never done. A lump stuck in his throat as he walked a little closer to the bed.
"Hello, young man, how are you today. I'm Colin, nice to meet you." Simon stared at the man in front of him all dressed up in a shirt and tie that looked really expensive. He came to his senses, stuttering as he spoke.
"He... hello, Sir, I'm fine," then apologised for being rude.
"With all these doctors and nurses hanging around, I had to get away with murder just to get in here"
"You did?" He said with some extra tone.
"Not really," then laughed, watching Simon pull a face.
Putting his tongue out, "You fooled me, I'll get you for that."
With a devious look, "So they put your catheter in, then." Simon's face turned beet red.
"That was mean," he said, as Colin tried to hold back a giggle.
"So, you're the famous Simon. What do you like to do, pardner? I like vampires, but I don't like how the girls kiss my neck, leaves the biggest love bite you've ever seen. Anyway, it takes me past my bed time. Then I get grumpy in a morning." Simon giggled at how silly the man was being.
"So what do you do all day, girlfriends, nurses, I'm not sure I'd leave you alone with all the nurses, especially after what I've been told of your exploits. Is it true you have to take them for a meal before they'll go out with you?"
"Nah, that's the doc and Nurse Edwards. They get jealous."
"You're going have to watch this one, if you know what I mean," Doctor Fielding said.
"Your right, Doctor, I'd better not take him anywhere, especially where my ladies are." Colin put his face behind his hands, peaking between two fingers, which got a smile from a certain bed bound captive.
"I hear you're not feeling so good. Well between you, me, and all these nurses, I think you should be outside playing. I mean, who would want to be stuck in bed all day," causing Simon to get a look of physical pain, then some tears. Walking over, Colin slowly lifted the boy, gently sitting him on his knee. "Now what brought that on? I didn't mean to upset you, my little friend."
"I'm sorry, Sir." Simon pressed the button to get some pain relief, not saying another word. Colin watched, near to tears at the expression on the boy's face.
"If you had one wish, what would that be?" Silence was a blessing as Simon waited for some relief.
"See Sherry, Sir."
"My sister sir, she's seven." He said with a smile.
"Your sister, huh? Seven. Wow!"
"She's only small, but you'd like her, Sir."
"I think I already do, just because she's your sister." A smile peaked through the hurt and pain. "Why can't you see her?"
"Social services said no."
"Do you know why they won't let you see her?"
"They said that she would get upset, but why? I know she misses me too."
"Do you want me to talk with them?"
"Of course I would. I'll give 'em hell." That seemed to raise Simon's spirits up a notch or two as a smile crossed his face. "But you have to do something for me?" A look of dejection was evident. "Just leave a couple of nurses for me, okay... you promise." The sly grin returned, giving an answer.
He laid him on the bed, his head on the pillow as sleep took over his pained body. But there was a glow, a glow that brightened up the room from the smile that was etched on what in truth was no more than a little boy's face.
Something had to give, and it certainly wasn't going to be Colin. Time was now like a message. With an answer of hope for Simon. It seemed, he had had nothing but bad luck in his short life, everything had or was being taken away. Now he thought it was about time, something was given back. To Simon, the pain was not seeing Sherry. The pain was his sister being left with no one. What should be given as a blessing, was turning into a sacrifice. 'For them both'.
He sat at the bedside with nothing but admiration. A boy with so little, that thought so much about someone else, even if that someone else, was his sister. Yes he was going to give them hell.
Dr. Fielding had left sometime ago, but within a couple of hours he returned to check on his patient. "How long as he been a sleep?"
"Not sure, an hour or so." He looks so peaceful. Both looking hard, at the settled boy, it seemed hard to imagine, that within the week, he could die. After checking on his patient, he again went on his rounds.
Barry soon joined Colin, asking if he wanted anything to eat, perhaps a drink. After bringing in two tea's he did the usual tests. BP, pulse, and temperature. Colin went outside the room, to use his phone. I'll be back shortly, then left.
Simon woke, with a scare. Tears rolled down his cheek. He opened his eyes, staring directly at Barry. Closing his eyes again, forcing tears to stream down his face. "Are you in pain?" The reply was shear painful.
"I'm a bad person. I wished my sister was like me, then she could come with me."
"Did you want her to be ill?"
"No! I would never want that. I don't want to leave her alone."
"Sounds to me like you want to protect her. That doesn't make you a bad person, that shows you care." His face stained from his tears, he looked up at Barry, as if trying to find truth in what he said. Barry squeezed his hand, telling him he was brave for caring for someone else. "What is happening to you is bad, but you are a good person, never forget that." He gave a nod, then looked towards the window.
Colin quietly entered the room, walking slowly back towards the bed, looking at what can only be described as destruction. Simon looked across towards Colin, then looked away, remembering the tears. "Simon, I've got a little errand. I'll be back, I promise. Okay." He gave a nod, his gaze, still looking through the window.
You could see the upset, as Colin left the room. Barry left shortly afterwards, after assuring Simon, he would see him after he had had his tea. "How can you see this everyday, and not get mad, or even shout at what in all intense and purposes, is suppose to be a loving god. If he was then, why!"
"We do get mad. Do you think we are immune" he said, raising his voice a little higher than he meant to.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it to sound like it did."
"I know, I'm sorry. Sometimes we feel so helpless. I mean we are here to heal."
"Look, I'll see you later. Okay."
"Okay. Will you be back for visiting. Six till eight."
"I'll be here. I think that boy has had enough let downs."
"Okay, Colin. See you later."
Arriving home, he went straight to the phone, disregarding any other chore that had to be done. "Hello, Judge. I need a favour. A big favour."
Judge Ellison, had been a good friend, since before High school. Their humour was a case of each others downfalls, and putting each other down.
"If its that big, someone must owe you a lot of money."
"What's the problem. Your not usually this uptight."
"Simon, he's a boy. He's dying."
"Look I know that's not good, but what can I do. I'm not God."
"Don't you think I know that. I wish you were." Then Colin went into as much detail, has he knew to explain. "If I wanted to adopt, what would I have to do?"
"Slow down, boss man. Adoption, that's a big step."
"Al, I have got all I will ever need, and nothing to use it on. I'm hard in business, that doesn't mean I don't care…"
"Okay, okay. I'm not sure what I can do, if anything, but I will look into it. It's late now, but I will do what I can in the morning. I will have to speak to social services. You want to adopt the boy. What about the girl?"
"I'll get back to you, as soon as I can. Bye."
"Hello, sir. Do you want me to ask cook to serve dinner?"
"No, James, but a drink would be nice." Giving him a Brandy, he sat in his easy chair, glaring out into what looked like what was going to be a chilly night.
His friend the judge was in his thoughts all that evening, but Colin still kept his appointment with Simon, who was over the moon to see him comeback and visit.
After his visitor had gone, Simon sat staring longingly out of the window. He was getting tired, but didn't want to sleep. Not yet.
While eating breakfast, James came in holding the phone. "Judge Ellison, Sir."
Good morning you old goat, have you any news for me."
"On my recommendation, you now have temporary care of both Simon, and Sherry, that is until they go through the usual red tape, and investigations, of your status, shall we say. I gave a good account of the way they had treated the boy, regarding his sister, Sherry. With all the bad press social services are getting at the moment, he could at the very least consider my proposal." He laughed into the phone heartily.
"What about, papers, you know, to make it legal."
"I'd hate to be your attorney. The papers will be on my desk for you to sign, Oh! In about ten minutes. How soon can you get here?"
"What about, Sherry? will she be there, when I sign?"
"No, but they have assured me, her things will be packed, and she will be ready for you, as soon as you can get to the home."
"I'll be knocking at your door, in about thirty minutes," he said, as he gave James the phone to replace.
Picking up Sherry was a little disturbing, especially for Sherry herself. A strange man. Well, she was hesitant, which was to be expected. On the drive back to her now, new home, Sherry became a little more comfortable. When she saw the house. "WOW! You live here?"
"So do you now."
Sherry deposited her belongings, leaving them on her new bed. In her new room. With her new family. Then they had lunch. James and the rest of the staff adored her. Sherry was a beautiful girl, polite, respectful, and very bubbly. Before leaving, Colin rang Barry. Getting no reply from his home, he rang his mobile phone." Are you on duty today."
"I am, and to prove it, I'm just leaving the cafeteria. Why?"
"Stay where you are. I've got some news for you. I'll see you in about half an hour. Bye."
"How did you pull this one off?"
"Friends, dear boy, friends. I'd like you to be there when I go to see Simon. His doctor as well, if that can be arranged." Barry put a call out for his physician.
"DOCTOR FIELDING TO RECEPTION. DOCTOR FIELDING TO RECEPTION."
At reception, Barry met Simon's doctor. "What's so urgent?" Then he noticed the little girl with Colin. "Well hello, Sherry."
"Hello, Dr. Fielding. Can I go and see my brother now?"
"You sure can. I am going to like this part of my job. Lets go."
"Doctor, I would like you to stay awhile, if that's possible. I know you have other patients, but I really would appreciate it if you could. All will become clear." Confused the doctor led the way into Simon's room.
In his room, Simon slept. Ghost would be a good description, of his appearance. Barry, and Dr. Fielding walked in as if taking his customary, BP, etc. His eyes opened slowly, a little unconsciously. "Simon, you have a visitor." He looked up with little concern, until he noticed his sister. His response wasn't as loud as would be expected, but his eyes told a different story.
"Sherry!" She ran with a smile that spread from one ear, to the other.
"Simon! I missed you."
"I missed you to. Mr. Firth, you did it. You got them to let me see my sister." Tears falling like rain. "Thank you, Sir, thank you."
"Something else. You can see her whenever you want." Simon couldn't say anything. His heartbreak was now happiness.
"I don't know how I can thank you, But thank you sir, thank you." He gripped Sherry like a vice, he was so happy. In the hallway all looked on at what seemed a miracle unfold before them.
In the hallway he told Dr. Fielding, with a little force, that he was taking Simon home. What the good doctor didn't know was he was taking both children home. As was the case with Sherry.
"I know what you are trying to do here, but that will dependant on how is condition is. Simon is a very sick young man."
"I know that, doctor, but with care and medication. He would have all the care, and attention, and people to run after him at home." Colin argued that it would be more beneficial if he was in, more homely surroundings. He would be happier, and more content. Still the doctor refused to agree until he knew Simon was well enough.
"Doctor, please. I'm not saying that you don't know your job, and I'm not saying that it's right he should die so young. What I am saying is if he has to die… wouldn't it be better to be in his own home surrounded by people that loved him?" The doctor nodded as he went back into Simon's room.
"How do you feel, Simon?" The doctor asked, trying not to show his concern.
"I'm tired, but I'm okay."
"Do you feel like going out for maybe a ride?"
"Please, Sir, that would be nice… can Sherry come to?"
"Off course, can't leave your sister here, she needs you to look after her."
"Thank you sir."
"My pleasure. I'll get the nurse to help you get ready, then if you're still feeling okay out you go. Oh yes, Mister Firth brought you some new clothes."
"WOW! Thank you, Sir."
It seemed hard to fathom if the good doctor wanted his patient to go at all. Not a case of what was said, but as the way it was said.
Everyone stood by the door when the nurse came in closing the curtains.
"You're not chatting up another nurse are you?" Asked the doctor.
"I can't, it's Nurse Robinson. I promised Barry I wouldn't."
"He's so kind, isn't he?" was Barry's reply. They heard the snigger coming from behind the curtain and all gave a giggle.
"He's all yours," said Nurse Robinson as she opened the curtains.
"It's a good thing he's going home or you'd lose your Nurse Robinson to him," Colin whispered to Barry. Barry just smiled.
"Are you in any pain?"
"Just a bit, but it's not bad, honest."
The doctor gave him a knowing look, smiled, then said, "Okay, Mister Firth, I hear you have some news for our young friend here." Colin had walked in with some papers in his hand and was about to explain when there was a knock on the door and in walked the judge.
"Hello, Judge. Simon, this Judge Ellison."
"You didn't think I would be late for this, did you?" Without further ado, Colin handed Simon the papers to read. Taking them, he read them, then with tears evident, he looked up at Colin and held his arms out without saying a word. After a long embrace he let go and told Sherry the news.
"You're our new Daddy?"
"If you'll have me, but first, I have to sign those papers in front of the judge." He looked at Simon, then Sherry, and they both smiled and nodded. Handed a pen, he signed the papers. "You know, you both belong to me now." He was rewarded with two broadside smiles that said enough to make the sun jealous.
"Sherry, you'll have someone to look after you now, isn't that great?" Everyone in the room went silent, apart from Sherry. They were just taken aback by the thoughtful notion of a dying boy.
"I want you to look after..." But he was cut off by the comment from Colin about how he would and had many years to do it in. Then holding his finger to his mouth, Colin said it was about time they got out of this joint, which got a round of "Yeahs."
Simon felt like a king as he was wheeled from the elevator to the car to officially go home… his new home. Colin put Sherry on his knee and an arm around Simon.
At the house, Simon was pushed indoors to "'WOW'." The staff, and even Colin, laughed at such an original homecoming.
"Pepsi or check out the house first?" Silly question on both counts. "Fish and chips for tea." That was met with approval by all. Tea got another tick from Simon. It was the first time in weeks he'd eaten anything solid. Laughter seemed another remedy, till Simon started getting tired - it had been a long day.
While Sherry ran around trying to catch birds, Colin sat with Simon on the back porch. Taking him from his movable chair, he placed Simon on his knee. "You had a good day?"
"Fantastic. Best ever, Sir... no, Dad. Thank you for what you did for Sherry and me."
"No thank you necessary. You have both made me so happy. You have also opened my eyes. I got set in my ways living alone. This is the happiest I have been for a long, long time, and it's thanks to you. I have both of you now, and I couldn't be happier." Simon smiled and started yawning at exactly the same time.
"Let's get you indoors. You have to keep up your strength." Getting Sherry to come indoors was going to take a little longer than expected.
Colin carried Simon to the lounge, placing him on the couch to get some rest. Looking down he saw the tiredness that overwhelmed his boy. There was a sadness, but in parts a warmth. He kissed Simon on the forehead, asking him to close his eyes and sleep. "You are a brave little man. Sleep now... sleep and let the world drift as you float into your dreams. You are a brave and genuine young man." Colin knew time had come for his little soldier, but he knew he would now be at peace. He had hung on long enough to see that his sister was cared for, and he knew now that he could leave, knowing Sherry was safe. "You are free, Son. Let go. Rest... your dreams are your happiness. Your hurt is gone."
Sitting beside Simon, sad that time had taken away the chance of watching this brave young man grow up. "One so brave should not have this agony, but you took it like a trooper. Rest, Son. Rest and have the freedom you deserve."
Simon smiled, hugging Colin as hard as he could. "Thank you," was all he said as his final breath left him. Colin rocked him from side to side with pride, a pride that he got to know one so meek and so selfless. Then he cried quietly.
"You take good care of this boy. You give him his fill of what he wants. His thoughts were always for someone else, so give some thought for him now. Return goodness with interest, you hear, with interest!" His prayer was heard loud and clear.
Sherry came bounding in and saw the scene in front of her. "Simon... SIMON!"
Holding out his arms, she quickly ran to him. "Baby, he's sleeping. He's somewhere now where he can't hurt any more. I know he promised to take care of you, and he did. He gave you a home, a family, people who care. That was his only wish - that you'd never be alone." Pushing her way forward, she lay on top of her brother crying. A glow wrapped around them both. He truly was at peace - never to be alone.
Some six months later, his new daughter and himself, as was the case, went every week to pay tribute to a very brave young man. They sat and talked to him as if in normal conversation. After saying a prayer for Simon, "Daddy, where is Simon?"
"He's in heaven, Sweetheart. He's happy, watching over us both, probably laughing at us right now." As they lay the flowers on the grave, a bird flew over and rested on the headstone.
"He's watching, keeping a special eye on his favourite girl." She petted the bird, which then soared into the air and flew above in circles as if protecting its own over this, his resting place. A place of peace.
"Yeah! Bye, Simon. Bye. I Love you."
They walked from the site with a heartfelt smile. Long ago it had been distressing and upsetting. The feeling now was for a boy who was now free from pain, and with little doubt happy for his now new existence. Simon saw peace in the happiness of his sister Sherry, his kin.
We leave this world with the soul we carry inside. A soul is never dormant, but chasing its past. A soul will find a heart to breed, a heart that will keep a memory of its past alive. As is with all that is good, it will enlighten the heart it claims for its own, leaving a memory of good over evil.
This is not an end, but a new beginning.