The day was bright; the sun eased its way behind clouds that had begun to form. David looked content but unsettled. Uneasy. "Sir, I don't want to stay here," a lengthy silence, "bu.. but I don't want to stay with you and Mary." I was shocked, but just took the comment as best as I could.
"I understand you want some freedom, bu..."
There was apprehension that gazed in my eyes. "Sir," he said, dropping his look to the warm sand that lay beneath his feet. Quietly he started to talk, breaking his words as he spoke.
"Sir, dying was what my living deserved. I took the feelings of others and destroyed them."
This was a different David to what I had been with, seen, and even spoken to.
"I beg you to let me go, leave me as you found me, devoid of circumstances. My penance was my time spent alone. Having me near will give hardship and pain. Sir, my life was not worth living before, and it is not worth hurting someone I care deeply for, as what would have been kin. Sir, what I am trying to say is I am not worth the attention you display upon me."
"David! Stop it!" Uncertainty, guilt, but no fear, looked at me from head to foot. "Why do you do this?" Okay, I'll go along with this, the thought wanting to scream out at David. "So if I sold you, it doesn't look like I'll get a good profit." Now he looked directly at me. "What is your worth, David, for living a life for the people you know. What is your worth to your father? By your own words you are worth nothing. He stood there stunned.
"STOP IT! STOP IT!"
"Why, David, why stop? I just spoke your words."
"Why are you trying to hurt me?"
"I am not, but you continue hurting yourself, even now."
"My life is not worthy of the time given. I hurt people wherever I am."
"Now it's not worthy? I thought I heard you say worth. You hurt people wherever you're not... Maybe you just like feeling sorry for yourself, maybe even blame others for your troubles?"
"I DON'T. I DON'T!"
"So, you just take the easy way out and kill yourself?"
"NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO."
Then what's the worth? I could swear you're being what I thought you weren't capable of. Being selfish and thinking only of yourself. Go! Drown yourself, jump off one of the ridges, hang yourself. Go on, do it! Do it now! Then I can go home and get on with my life."
It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, letting him cry it out, leaving him to his own thoughts, but he had to come to terms with his... what... grief? Life? Loss? Maybe just himself.
"YOU'RE JUST LIKE MY FATHER, YOU DON'T CARE... IF YOU DON'T WANT ME, THEN I'LL LEAVE." He didn't cry, he stood resolute, challenging. The challenge on the other hand seemed an excuse. One that was beginning to get a little old, but he had to open up, let go.
"David! I care and so do other people, and you know it. Your head is overruling your heart. Your thoughts are literally killing you. David, stop feeling sorry for yourself. You have no idea how lucky you are. You kill yourself and are allowed a second chance ... then do it again..."
After what seemed like an eternity of silence, I broke it.
"So, David, tell me what you want."
"I want a life... someone who loves me. Wants me."
"I have offered you that, even given it, but you couldn't take it."
"I know, I'm sorry."
I know this was being rough, unkind even, but he needed to let the pain go. I had tried the soft approach and it didn't seem to be getting any closer to resolving what issues he had.
"David, if you were for sale, no one would buy you. I wouldn't buy you..." Again he looked. The look on his face was pure sorrow. I let the moment expand, letting the thought sink in. He looked up with tears flowing down his cheeks. Hurt... he looked beaten.
"Son, to buy you would be an insult... but I would take you... steal you even... Your true value is priceless." Worth comes in many forms. Monetary value is no comparison compared to what a person gives for free.
I had been very hard on the lad, but I hoped it would be a start to him coming to terms with what was a heavy heart and mind. It is sometimes said, you have to be cruel to be kind. I hoped this would be a final resort, that what was being said was being heard, his look of helplessness said that. Weeks were all it took to give him a lifetime of concern, but at the same time he heaped the pleasure he gave, and did it without taking anything in return.
I spoke to him softly. "David, you need to grieve. You lost a mother, your father was already lost to you. Don't mourn your past, that is what brought you here. Every second you rebel against yourself means another chance lost."
"Come here." Even with the tenderness in my voice he stayed rooted to the spot. I held my arms out. No second invitation was needed.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said as he sobbed. I think finally he was going to be alright.
"You are a great little man, and little men need adults to help them grow."
"I never want to leave you, ever! But, I look at the island and I can't stop but look inside myself. No matter how I try, my father is there inside me. I don't want him inside me; I want you to be in my thoughts."
"Son, you are already in my thoughts and my life, and I would like it if you stayed there." It seemed as his eyes became more and more moist and he didn't know where to look or even what to say. I again broke the silence.
"Son, we've got you, the island, and home. Mmm! Well maybe I can help. I may have to move, but I would like you to come with me."
"You would give up your home for me?" He stood staring into nothing, no sound, no emotion... a statue. After sometime he came out of his reverie.
"If it meant you being safe and happy, yes. So, you think you can teach this old dog some new tricks?" Nothing was said, his emotions said all that was needed to be said.
"I've been thinking, I may even buy a cottage somewhere out in the wilds, you'd like that. So what do you say?" Again nothing spoken. "Looks like he's finally lost his voice, maybe I can get a word in now."
"Fair is a word I like to use when I get my own way," I chuckled. He sat down on my lap and hugged my neck, I felt my shirt get wet. "None of that now, you just smiled, no more glum, okay?"
The breeze seemed to break the mood as David looked back up to the sky. I hoped that the remorse David was showing would be met with compassion. I also hoped the gesture he made to the heavens with his smile would be met with love and kindness. I even gave a timely look myself to give my support and assurance.
I don't know where this is going to lead, but I know that even if David is a spirit to many, he will hopefully be better equipped for his journey. The peace of mind will come slowly, but it will come. What has been a lifetime of rejection for a mere 10 year old, who has come to the century mark, can 'as they say with God's help and the people who care for him' only get better.
"Okay, I'm going home, you coming or staying?" He looked a little indecisive. "You could try and do your appearing and disappearing trick. I mean, I know you can do it, I've felt it." He gave a smile.
""Wait a minute, was that a smile? Nah, couldn't have been." Another smile, but you could see it was false.
"I need to speak with my heavenly Father."
"Okay, David, but remember you've still got a home." I walked to the boat slowly, hesitantly. I hoped I hadn't misread David, not just for myself, but for David's sake, too. The page needed to turn one more time in David's favour.
I sat on the porch as Mary came outside with a pot of tea. "How did it go? With David I mean." "Okay, well at least I think so. I've done all I can do, it's now up to David."
Indeed, it now was up to David. He had been a living, breathing human being, then was ostracised without feeling or mercy. From the good and the bad of his ten years he ended the pain and the suffering in one devastating act.
Next came his ability to adapt to another living situation. A new kind of living, but with the scenario different from before. Before he could mix and mingle with the adults and children who also lived on the island. He had the birds and animals to interact with. Now he was alone, in the sense that no one else was there. He could swim in the ocean, read, even play. Now was a source of loneliness, sorrow, thoughts... lonely thoughts.
So ninety years of being alone threw another change. Now he could live again, couldn't he? All the pressures of life we take for granted were now thrust back on him. Simple? Easy? NO! He now had to again adapt to living in what we call the 'real world'. At first the task was easy, but gradually it became harder. Harder to evolve. Harder to adapt. To nigh impossible to take everything in his stride, and as is said 'go with the flow'. Support doesn't seem readily available when you're alone.
Now he's back at the beginning. David again has to start again.
"Father, what can I do?"
David was now with his heavenly Father. "Son, you have to control your feelings, don't let them overpower you. Your now second father was right, you need to listen to your heart. Your father is your nemesis, but he can no longer hurt you. Why do you need his acceptance? He never gave it in life, nor as surely as I speak, does he give it in death. I will as in your well being, grant you to see your kin... your mother. But I warn you, what she will say will be hard and painful."
A voice so soft, so tender, melted into his ears, a smile again came to his face. "Mother!" He turned at a pace with fear and satisfaction. He saw a faint glow, but there his mother stood, beautifully. He ran to her with a longing for her affection. His mother held her arms out to accept him.
"David. Oh, David, I have missed you." With tears they embraced.
"Why did he hate me? I loved him, but he hated me. Why?"
"In the beginning he loved you, David, he really loved you. But money was too strong for him to resist. Greed is not the root of all evil, money is an addiction." She stopped to again embrace her son. "David, please forgive me, I tried to stop your father, but he was too strong. As I became ill, it became harder to ward your father away from you." David started to speak. Resting her finger across his lips, he quietened. "David, you need to forgive your father before you can forgive yourself." Again trying to speak, she hushed him. "What your father did does not have any excuses. Before he became rich and powerful he was a gentle man, even a loving father. Your father's happiness has no bearing now, but for you it can be a start or an end. Choose wisely, Son, I beg you. I must go, but always remember I love you. I love you, David!" Then she drifted away as the light faded.
"Don't go, don't go!" His hand in front of him as he willed his mother to return. He dropped down on his knees and sobbed. Sobbed for his mother, even somewhere in between, himself. Why did you do that? WHY?"
"Son, you need to see the errors of what you do. Go child, give your heart some peace. Return when you are at one with yourself." Slowly the light faded, leaving David to mourn. Mourn his life, his mother, and maybe his father.
As he raised himself from the sand, silence invaded his thoughts. His bubble gave images of distorted views. The lights flickered like the waves it fell on. The water swelled into a kaleidoscope of colour. The sky seemed to move in and out of focus, leaving a sight so large it burst at the sides. He again looked over the ocean and followed the black line that stood out on the horizon. The line seemed to swell as if what lay beyond was blackness and emptiness. Then as the tears dried in his eyes, the world again became a heaven on earth and looked more beautiful than he'd ever remembered.
Day passed, night entered. The light sparkled on the ocean, on the waves, like it was bringing the light to his feet.
Looking at his feet, he saw his toes. He saw the pink that gave off a shade of white. Looking at his hands, his fingers danced shadows across the sand, making him giggle at the pictures it made. He moved his head to either side and watched the light splash against the trees, making them dance to the tune it made. The music was smooth and welcoming as images seemed to smile at what was a dark shade of blackness that gave the colours a smooth edge as they moved. David now felt like a part of what he saw. He blended into the background like a tree that's never seen. A flower that grew without notice. Track of time was now a mystery. It came, it went, without notice at what was now the colours of daylight, David looked up to the heavens, waiting to be greeted at the dawn of his new beginning.
He stood at the fountain where the water burst and swelled into the colour it displayed. "Do you mourn or accept your passing?" That was the question given.
Looking around he saw children, young and old. There was a smile that greeted him wherever his eyes drifted. The smile was not a child or any living thing, it was his surroundings that were happy, and that made David happy. He had never seen it before, but now he knew, he was part of the smile, the laughter... He was alive.
"Father, why was I chosen?"
"Because you gave 'Life' a 'Living'." No more needed to be said.
"Please, may I stay for awhile?" Knowing there was a need, his heavenly Father smiled, then departed.
David ran over to the children, joining in their games. He laughed, even cried. He had now crossed the divide between sorrow and happiness. The time passed, if such a thing existed here, to where it cooled but never darkened. He walked back towards the fountain in silence. He smiled, a smile that shone so brightly that if seen would resemble a second moon.
His heavenly Father held out his hand. David betrayed the hand and gave his heavenly Father a hug. "I love you, Father."
The light shone as David walked along the sand. He again took the pathway to his home - no, the house, this was not his home. It was just a place to rest before he continued his journey. He came to the house and momentarily fell on his behind. What he saw was an island that now resembled a home. The house stood proudly as if saluting him. He walked up to the steps and climbed them into the house.
The living room was as John had restored it. He ran upstairs and saw what was his room as new as was the TV that he knew was his own. Running downstairs, he went into the kitchen. He smiled when he saw the light above the breakfast bar, the one that had scared him when it was first turned on. Flying back outside, he went to where the cottages were. As he stared, he saw only two, then remembered the night of the storm. This was a turning point for David, but he didn't succumb to the sad events. The third cottage was gone. Gone as if it was never there. As he walked towards the trees he saw where John had started his gardening exploits, exactly in the same place. The grass was short, the weeds lay below one of the trees as if it had just been done.
David's second challenge was his place of peace. He looked up at the balcony and smiled. He weaved his way through the back of the house up to his favourite view of the ocean. Laying as if only just put down was the book he'd carried with him. The edges still worn, the cover of black defaced over time still felt rough to the touch. This was now a remembrance of his past and his future. The longing for something new was now a distant memory. He walked back downstairs into the kitchen. He sat at the breakfast bar, pulling a chair up to sit. He looked at where the stove stood and then shook his head at the mistake. Cooker. The thought of Mary went through his mind as he thought of the times he was told, not so pleasantly, to go wash his hands with a clip on the back of the head to reinforce the point. What was once a memory was now a fact. His smile became a giggle at the thought of the face she used when he was slow to move and finish what was his task.
What of his task to be a helper? Then the thought turned as he realized he had been sitting at the breakfast bar reminiscing.
"Father, what is my task?"
"To be happy, my Son, to be happy."
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be.
John sat outside eating dinner when, as was usual, Mary came to the table carrying a pot of tea. "Don't go, Mary, sit with me for awhile, have a cup of tea and give your feet a rest."
Thoughts of David were still strong from both he and Mary. Like a puppy, he had wormed his way into their hearts. But this was a struggle, no, a battle that only David could win.
They talked for the rest of the evening, drawing on memory the antics both had got up to as children of David's age. There was laughter, but also a tinge of sadness at what might be the outcome of the boy who had brought laughter to what was a declining household.
That evening, John, not being able to sleep, pulled a chair close to the window and stared out into what was a glorious night. He followed, as David had done so many times before, the horizon. He looked in the direction of what at one time had been his second home with hope, more than fact, of seeing the island. It had been two days since he'd left David, who with no thought or action referred to him as father. He smiled at the thought of David being his son. But that was far from what concerned him right now. Slipping back into bed, he dozed but never slept.
As the morning returned, Mary knocked on his door with the invitation for breakfast. Little did he feel up to the chore of rising to eat, but he did.
Over breakfast and a cup of tea, they talked of the day's exciting involvement of chores. Breakfast, as was the case when the morning was warm, was usually taken on the porch, but this morning, unknown to either why, they ate inside.
David spent what was another night on the island sitting on the balcony watching the ocean rise and fall. The ripples on the ocean stretched further than the eye could see. The light was calming David even more, if that was at all possible. Now, as had not been the case for so long, after what was a nightly routine of relaxing as the night rolled in, he leaned back against the window and slipped into a restful sleep.
As David slept, daylight rolled in with the silence of a whisper. He opened his eyes, stretched, and looked out towards the sunrise with a glint in his eye. Back in the house, he walked casually downstairs, then headed for the trees. He looked up to the heavens as the path ended and the sand came into view.
As if reading his mind, "Your ride will arrive as soon as the morning comes to its limit," came from above. David just gave a nod and wandered back under the trees.
With no thought, John asked Mary to pack a lunch as he was going to the island, and asked Mary if she would accompany him. She declined, stating she needed to stock up on a few items from the market. John smiled; she would probably be buying out the place. She noticed the grin, seemed to get the gist, and told him, "Be away with you."
David was still sitting under the trees when he noticed the boat heading inland. With no more time than it takes to blink, David was running towards the boat. As John docked, he saw what he later described as an express train running towards him. In no time at all, he was trying very hard to keep his balance as he was steamrollered backwards. "Nice to see you too." David just hung on as if for dear life. After he finally settled down, he spoke at a thousand miles an hour. "Calm down, Son, calm down."
"Si ... err … Dad, the house, the island..." Nothing else said, he dragged John up the pathway to...
"My God! What happened here..." After making his way around the island he stood back in amazement. It seemed everything was as it should be, till he noticed, as had David, that the first of the three cottage was gone, as if it was never there. The thought that it had been a lifesaver brought a little emotion without the thought dissolving the moment of awe they both felt. They both sat on the balcony taking in the view and the breeze that drifted as it worked its way around the house.
He turned, looking at David, "You still want to ..." there was thought, then, "come home...?"
"I don't know." The beauty had returned ... would the thoughts too?
"You don't, huh?"
"I don't want to spoil anything." He saw the look of apprehension on the face of John. "I'm joking."
"You wind up the old man and think it's funny, huh? So, what if I grab the little pipsqueak and tickle him till he begs me to stop?"
"That's not nice; you wouldn't do that, would you?"
"Before he had a chance to finish the sentence he was screaming with laughter.
"You would, you would, I give in, I give in..."
Coming down off his tickling fit, he grabbed his future dad and started to tickle him - return the compliment, but without success. As they say, 'not a cat in hell's chance'.
"Okay, now you're in for it." With an evil grin he stopped smiling and laughing, grabbed David around the waist and threw him up in the air, who came down giggling like a toddler being blown a raspberry.
"I won't let my thoughts win again, I promise ... if only not to ruin your life."
"David, do it for you. That's the only way to get through this, be stronger and be a winner. You promise. Eh, eh?"
"I promise. I love you. And I still wish you had been my father, even then."
"Only so you could get a laugh and pick on the old fella?" He watched for a reaction, which never came. "Anything wrong I want to know, you hear me, anything." A hug, some tears, and a nod gave an agreement that he would. He would he promised - a promise that he'd honour till the day he died.
There was still the fact that David would at some point answer to his God for which his services would be required, but that was for another day. Till then David had the freedom to be what he had often overlooked or simply never been... a boy with a whole life in front of him.
At home, Mary turned into a shrieking maniac as she watched John and David walk up to the back porch. As was the case at the island with John, David got proverbially mugged.
"Dad, will you take me fishing... "
"Now? What have I let myself in for?"
"DAD!" That got a more than forceful tap in the ribs...
The preliminaries were now out of the way, but one problem still hung, what were they going to come up with regarding David's sudden appearance? I mean they couldn't just pluck a boy out of thin air ... could they? But with the resourcefulness of John, he would come up with a solution ... hopefully.
And as a last resort, there was always his lawyer, Jack.
the end ???
Time present and time pastAre both perhaps present in time future,And time future contained in time past.If all time is eternally presentAll time is unredeemable.What might have been is an abstractionRemaining a perpetual possibilityOnly in a world of speculation.What might have been and what has beenPoint to one end, which is always present.
T. S. Eliot