Castle Roland

Short Story

Published: 24 Dec 15

A Teddy For Christmas

Copyright © 2015 by Jeikor


That was Mrs. Carletti; she runs the foster home where I live. It's not too bad; better than the foster family I was put in at first. It would be even better if it weren't for the 'Trio' as I called them. Bray the Lay, as he called himself, Chester, who went by Chest (if you see him you'll know why he got that name. His chest is huge for a 15 year old.) and Leo the Lion, who also happens to be my roommate. They seem to live to torment me, especially Bray.

Anyway, back to Mrs. Carletti; she tried to make it as much like a home as she could especially at Christmas and on your birthday. Christmas was approaching now and Mrs. Carletti was in full swing with decorations and special snacks.

"Edward! We're waiting on you! Come on!" Mrs. Carletti yelled again and she was getting impatient.

"On my way, Mrs. Carletti! Sorry!" I yelled back. I really had to hurry because this was one of those Christmas traditions that she was famous for.

It was based on what I think is a Swedish, or someplace like that, tradition but she added her own touch to it. She had us write our Christmas wishes on a square piece of paper, next she would light a special candle that she called a Christmas Spirit candle. We would gather in front of the fireplace in the den and we would take turns catching our wish paper on fire from the candle then toss it into the fireplace. That was supposed to send our list to Santa Claus.

I almost tripped hurrying down the stairs and arrived breathless in the den just as Mrs. Carletti lit the Christmas Spirit candle.

"Sorry it took me so long. I couldn't decide what to wish for," I lied. I only had one thing I wished for and had written it immediately. I was just reluctant to commit it to this little ceremony when I didn't expect to really get it anyway. My wish wasn't something Mr. and Mrs. Carletti could run out to buy. I wanted a boyfriend.

Yeah, I'm gay! It's the main reason I was picked on by the Trio. I mistakenly thought my roommate was my friend and told him one night before bedtime. First thing next morning he went to Bray and Chest and told them. Bray decided they needed to spread it all over school. Bam! Just like that I was out!

I only lost a couple of friends and gained a host of female friends. Luckily, neither the wrestling coach or wrestling team cared one way or the other. My skill on the mat was all that mattered to them and actually two other teammates came to me privately and confessed they were gay too.

That part kind of backfired on the Trio; not only did it not make me lose my spot on the wrestling team but the Trio couldn't do much to me at school because my teammates had my back.

Oops! Back to the present. Mrs. Carletti is waiting on me to light my wish paper. Well, here goes nothing!

Yowee! Had to get rid of it quick. My wish paper burned to ash in no time. Mrs. Carletti says that the faster your wish burns the more likely it is to come true. If only!

After everyone had burnt their wish papers Mrs. Carletti had us sit in the den and listen to Christmas music. I sat on the couch facing the fireplace because I knew what was coming. In less than a minute Chester's 10 year old brother, Lester, was snuggled into my side followed by eight year old Sean on the other side and a moment later five year old Marie settled on my lap.

I leaned back on the couch and enjoyed the closeness with my three younger friends and the soothing sounds of the Christmas songs on the cd player. These three always wanted my attention whenever they could get it and I gave it as often as I could. I enjoyed playing with them, helping with their homework and listening to their problems. Chester scowled at us as usual although there was a different look this time, kinda confused. Chester didn't approve of Lester hanging around me but Lester told him off once and said he preferred me to being harassed by Chester's friends.

We were allowed to leave after half an hour but Sean and Marie had fallen asleep so I told Lester he could go on and play. He refused saying he was comfy right here. In about ten minutes he was out too. I think I even dozed off a bit.

When I awoke a little later Sean and Marie had left but Lester was still leaning against me with a light grip on my arm and watching me.

"Why didn't you go play when Sean and Marie did? You didn't have to stay with me." I said as I hugged him close then let go.

"I didn't feel like playing. Plus I did need to stay here. The Trio was eyeing you and I don't trust them." He replied standing and pulling me up with him.

"Not even your brother?" I asked.

"He's not much of a brother any more," answered Lester sadly.

I hugged him again then we went our separate ways. Soon it was time for bed. As I lay in the dark I thought again about how I was treated by the Trio.

They were mostly annoying, playing stupid little pranks that were easily dealt with. Sometimes they were even amusing. The best one happened last wrestling season. The Trio thought it would be hilarious to urinate in my bed so I would have to change it and get in trouble with Mrs. Carletti for not making it to the bathroom. What they didn't know was that the wrestling team had been invited to an out-of-town tournament and I wouldn't be home for two nights. Leo had to suffer through the night with the strong smell of all three of their pee in the bed clothes. The next day he found out I wouldn't be there. Somehow Leo talked Bray and Chest into helping change the sheets but they got caught by Mrs.Carletti instead of me.

She started keeping a closer watch on them after that and it was harder for them to pull off any more stunts like that. Instead they resorted to trying to trip me, bump me into doors and walls and flip the back of my head whenever they walked past. I began to worry more about them because a couple of times I was pushed hard enough into a door or wall for it to hurt.

Two days later I was headed back upstairs to my room after helping Sean and Lester with their homework when I heard voices coming from Mrs. Carletti's office.

"This is your last chance. No more fighting. I won't put up with it." Mrs. Carletti was using her stern voice which meant she wasn't kidding. When we heard that voice we didn't test her. We'd lose big time.

Apparently this kid had been around enough to know about that kind of voice judging by his answer.

"Yes, ma'am. I'll do my best to stay out of trouble."

"See that you do. Tomorrow we'll get you settled in school. Now let me see what room to put you in. Ah, yes. With Bray should do."

I hurried away not wanting to get caught eavesdropping plus I didn't want to be anywhere near this guy. In trouble for fighting and rooming with Bray. Great! Looks like the Trio is gonna become a Quartet.

I wasted no time getting showered and jumped into bed with the book we were reading for English class.

New Guy:

Another new home placement because of fighting. The social worker told me if this didn't work out I could be in juvie next because they had no place left to send me. So here I am in an office listening to the lady, I think her name is Car- something. Yeah, Mrs. Carletti.

"This is your last chance. No more fighting. I won't put up with it."

I recognized that tone of voice. You didn't argue; you just agreed with it.

"Yes, ma'am. I'll do my best to stay out of trouble." I answered with my head down. I hadn't meant to get in so many fights.

"See that you do. Tomorrow we'll get you settled in school. Now let me see what room to put you in. Ah, yes. With Bray should do."

I caught a glimpse of a smallish boy hurrying away and wondered if that would turn out to be Bray. I shook my head to clear it and decided I better try to explain to Mrs. Carletti why I got in those fights.

"Mrs. Carletti, I know this is no excuse but I did have a reason for the fights. I can't stand bullies and the boys I fought with were picking on younger, smaller kids. I just wanted you to know that."

"Thank you for telling me but you are right. It is no excuse; there are better ways to handle such a situation," said Mrs. Carletti as she led the way out of the office. "Follow me to your room and you can get settled in for the night."

I met Bray and he most definitely was not the guy I saw outside the office. He was bigger; also I found I didn't care for him. He started talking about one of the other guys calling him faggot and queer. The description he gave sounded like it could be the boy I saw but I still didn't learn his name. Bray only called him faggot. The only ones he named were Chester, called Chest and Leo the Lion when he introduced them before lights out. They were both fifteen years old and Bray was sixteen like me. I don't think I'm going to like them at all.


I got up early, dressed, ate breakfast and was ready to leave for school before most of the others were out of bed. Lester came in the kitchen before I left so I fixed his cereal for him as usual before grabbing my backpack and heading to the front door.

I was almost out of the house when I heard his voice calling, "Hey! Hey!" I pretended I didn't hear anything and increased my pace. I didn't need another tormenter.

At school I found out he was a sophomore like the rest of us older ones at the home but I got lucky. We only shared one class, geometry, which I had with most of my friends so they set up a buffer around me. He had to sit on the other side of the classroom.

At lunch once again I was surrounded by friends who filled the table leaving no room for anyone else. The end of the day came and I went to the locker room to get ready for wrestling practice. I had just entered when I heard his voice again talking to Coach Jensen, the wrestling coach. Great! Not! He was trying out for wrestling.

At least at 5'5" wrestling in the 120 pound I won't have to face him in practice. He looks to be about 6' and probably wrestles in the 170 or 182 pound class. I rush through changing clothes so I can get out of the locker room before coach releases him to change. All through practice I can feel him watching me from time to time but we remain on opposites sides of the gym.

He heads my way when coach ends the practice but once again I rush through the locker room, shower, dress and walk home.

New Guy:

I woke early, dressed and snuck out of the room making sure I didn't have to talk with Bray again. I don't like his attitude. I managed to find the kitchen just in time to see that boy grab his backpack and head for the front door.

"Hey! Hey!" I called trying to get his attention but he kept going. I had missed him again.

"Why are you hollerin' for Eddie?" asked the boy sitting at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal. He looked to be about ten years old and bore a resemblance to Chest who I met last night.

"I think I saw him outside the office when I got here last night then Bray was talking about a boy that matched his description." I started but was interrupted by the boy.

"Leave him alone! He don't need nobody else picking on him!" The boy stated angrily. "The Trio won't leave him alone; he don't hurt anybody and he helps us younger ones. He's more my brother than Chester is."

"I was right! I thought by the way he talked about . . Eddie? . . that they were bothering him. I won't pick on him, I promise. I don't care for those guys' attitude."

"Good! I gotta go now! Oh, I'm Lester!" and he was gone.

I helped myself to breakfast then headed to school myself. Maybe I'll see Eddie there.

I did see Eddie at school; once, disappearing around a corner. Then in geometry class, the only one we had together, but there wasn't a seat available around him. It was the same at lunch. At the end of the day I went to talk to the wrestling coach about trying out. I used to wrestle at my old school.

While I was in the office with Coach Jensen I saw Eddie again; he was entering the locker room. By the time Coach sent me to the lockers he was already in the gym. Because of the difference in our weight classes we were on opposite sides of the gym. I used to wrestle 170 but this year I needed to move up to 182 pounds. Eddie was in a much smaller class, 113 or 120, maybe as much as 126.

His group was closest to the locker room door and he disappeared again. Man! Could he move fast!

I didn't see him at the home either until supper. He arrived at the table barely on time and sat at the spot saved for him between Lester and a smaller boy.

After supper was homework time so I went to my room and hoped to finish quickly to have some free time. Maybe finally get to meet Eddie. No such luck! Just as I came out of my room he went into his and didn't come out before it was bedtime.

I talked to Lester again downstairs and he introduced me to Sean, the boy on the other side of Eddie at supper, and to a cute little girl named Marie. Apparently Eddie helps them with their homework before he does his own.

I spent the rest of my free time playing with these three and actually had a pretty fun time. No wonder Eddie likes to spend time with them.

This is how the next few days went; me trying to meet Eddie and Eddie must have been trying to avoid me. He probably overheard Mrs. Carletti warning me about fighting but not my explanation. Then I get put with Bray who obviously has a problem with Eddie.


Once home I stay in my room studying until supper then go down at the very last second. After supper I help Lester, Sean and Marie with their homework and claim to need to finish mine. I make it to my room just in time; the other guy was just coming out of the room he shares with Bray.

I do everything I can the next few days to avoid him. I don't need more trouble. The Trio is bad enough and getting worse.

On Tuesday about a week and a half before Christmas I got held up in the class I had right before lunch. Before I could get to the table with my friends to surround me the guy started calling my name and coming toward me.

I tried to ignore him and increased my pace toward my friends but couldn't go fast enough with my lunch tray in my hands. I felt his hand on my shoulder and flinched.

"Get off me!" I yelled dropping my tray on the nearest table and running for the door to the courtyard.

"Eddie! Wait!" I heard him call after me but I was out the door in a flash.

I walked around the courtyard trying to calm down and hoping he wouldn't follow. There wasn't any other way out of the courtyard.

I wasn't paying attention to where I was or what was going on as I was lost in my thoughts wondering why this guy was after me when he didn't even know me.

I heard the door open and looked up in time to see a hand coming at my face. It exploded with pain and I fell backwards.

New Guy:

Finally on Tuesday at lunch I was able to catch up with Eddie but he tried to ignore me again. He wasn't as fast with his lunch tray in his hands so I was able to get to him before he reached his usual table full of his friends. I reached for his shoulder and felt him flinch when I touched him.

"Get off me!" he yelled then dropped his tray and took off.

"Eddie! Wait!" I called as I watched him make a beeline to the courtyard door. I waited as he walked in a kinda circle around the courtyard. I decided to go out there and try to talk to him. I was fussing at myself the whole way getting more upset at how I had mishandled things. I shouldn't have tried to grab him when I knew he was being harassed by the Trio at the home.

I was so mad at myself by the time I reached the door that I slung it open too hard. I tried to catch it but that just swung me around off balance. I flung my hand out in an attempt keep my balance before I noticed that Eddie was finishing a loop around the courtyard.

I hit him directly on the nose, knocking him down and sending blood flowing down his face. I couldn't believe what I had done! I promised Lester I wouldn't hurt Eddie! I'll never get him to listen to me now. I just wanted to get to know him, maybe eventually go on a date.

"I'm sorry, Eddie! I didn't mean to do it!" Tears fell as I continued to stare at what I'd done.

"Come with me, Mr. Beorn. I think you've done enough." It was Mr. Cavanaugh, the principal. "Everybody else clear out! You three; you go to the home with Eddie, don't you? Help him to the nurse."

I followed Mr, Cavanaugh to his office still in a fog over what happened.

When his door closed I heard him say, "What am I to do with you? Not here a month and reverting to your old ways."

That brought me to my senses. "No, sir, I haven't. I never meant to hit Eddie. I've been wanting to be his friend but I think he overheard Mrs. Carletti warn me about fighting. Now he thinks I've sided with Bray and his buddies."

"What do you mean about Bray and the other two from the home?" He came back around his desk and stared into my eyes.

"They don't like him because he's gay and they pick on him. They wanted me to join them but I refused." I explained not shrinking from his gaze.

"We need to get back there! Now!" he said as he guided me toward the door.


Through the tears in my eyes I saw a look of horror on the face of the new boy from the home. I had avoided him so much I didn't even know his name. He was the one who hit me but the look on his face said it was an accident. Then I heard Mr. Cavanaugh.

"Come with me, Mr. Beorn. I think you've done enough. Everybody else clear out! You three; you go to the home with Eddie, don't you? Help him to the nurse."

NO! No, no, no, no! I thought; not them. But I couldn't find my voice then he and the boy were gone.

"Now's our chance! We can cause him some pain then take him to the nurse and the new guy will get blamed. That will take care of his refusing to accept our invitation." Bray chuckled. The next voice gave me chills.

"He'll wish he was dead when I get done. It ain't gonna be some pain but a world of hurt." How could my roommate, Leo, hate me so much?

"I don't know guys. People saw what happened if he shows up with more injuries they'll figure it was us. Maybe we should just do what Cavanaugh told us or leave him here and tell the nurse she's needed in the cafeteria." Chester didn't like where this was heading. A few pranks were one thing but to really hurt him was too much. Besides Lester liked him and Eddie took care of Lester when he should have been.

"I'm not passing this up" said Bray and he kicked me in the stomach. It hurt but wrestling workouts made it bearable.

Two more kicks from Bray landed on my ribs and the pain was excruciating. The next kick missed because Chest pushed him back. That just gave Leo his chance.

"I ain't missin' out either." I saw a foot coming at my head, then pain followed by nothingness for a moment.

"That's enough guys! Let's get out of here!" yelled Chester as he shoved the other two towards the door.

I next heard my best friend, Courtney, yelling for Ms. Richards, the manager of the cafeteria. Then I heard Mr. Cavanaugh's and his voices but I couldn't understand what they were saying. I felt a hand slip into mine and it felt good. I relaxed with that hand holding mine and a soothing voice whispering to me. His voice!

When I woke again there were more voices that I didn't recognize and the hand was pulled out of mine. No! I tried to say but again couldn't find my voice. I felt myself being lifted on to something then passed out again. When I came to I was higher and I heard the voice and felt the hand again.

"I'll come see you at the hospital." The voice said then the hand withdrew again. I was rolled forward and passed out yet another time.

New Guy:

Mr. Cavanaugh and I practically ran through the school from his office to the cafeteria. When we got there the lunch lady and one of Eddie's friends were standing over him and the lunch lady was on the phone with 911. I nearly collapsed when I saw the knot on Eddie's head and him curled up in pain.

"What happened to him?" asked Mr. Cavanaugh anger rising in his voice and face.

Courtney answered vehemently, "The Trio happened. I saw them running off. I came looking for him when he didn't show up at the nurse's office."

"The Trio are the three boys from the home that you left here with him. They pick on him every chance they get. It's my fault they got a chance to do this to him." I answered then started crying. I knelt down by Eddie and gently took his hand in mine.

"I'm so sorry, Eddie. I didn't mean to hit you or to let them get you. I'll take good care of you if you'll let me." I whispered quietly near his ear. He seemed to settle down when I did this.

Several minutes later the paramedics arrived and I was forced to let go of his hand. He left his hand stretched out and started moaning. When the paramedics were sure he was stable and nothing broken they lifted him onto the stretcher and raised it up.

I grasped his hand again and told him, "I'll come see you at the hospital." He seemed to relax again when I spoke to him.

After they wheeled Eddie out I smacked my right fist into my left palm and exclaimed, "I'm gonna pound the daylights out of them when I catch up with them! They're gonna pay!"

I jumped around when a hand fell on my shoulder but dropped my fists when I realized it was the principal.

"Let me handle the boys, Mr Beorn. You take care of Eddie," Mr. Cavanaugh paused then continued thoughtfully. "I'm going to deviate from the rules in this situation. Ms. Richards will you drive Mr. Beorn here to the hospital? I'm sure Mrs. Carletti would rather you be there than fighting, even for a good reason."

"I would be happy too, Mr. Cavanaugh. Come on, son." Ms. Richards put her arm over my shoulder.

As we left Courtney came over, stopped us and asked, "You really like him, don't you?" I nodded. "The more I learn about him the more I like him."

"Take care of him, please." Then she practically ran out of the cafeteria.

At the hospital we rushed into the emergency room and looked around the lobby but didn't find Mrs. Carletti. Ms. Richards checked with the registration desk to see how Eddie was and where he was but they said they could only give that information to family members.

Ms. Richards was trying to convince the woman at the desk that I was Eddie's brother. She read the information she had on Eddie then looked at me. Eddie's flat black, straight hair and bright blue eyes didn't match my wavy, light brown locks and hazel eyes. Then there was difference in size while being almost the same age although I guess I could say I was a year or two older.

Luckily the paramedics who had taken Eddie walked into the lobby and one of them spotted me standing there and turned my way.

"Hey, kid! Glad you made it! We've been looking for you. That boy is restless and won't settle so the docs can do their stuff. I remember he got still every time you held his hand. C'mon. This way." He took me by the arm and guided me back to the room where Eddie was.

Chaos reigned. Eddie was thrashing about. There was a male nurse or assistant on each arm and leg trying to force him to be still. It wasn't hard to see why he made such a good wrestler.

I couldn't take it any more. "Stop! Stop it! You're gonna hurt him!" I yelled as I rushed to Eddie's side and clasped his hand. "Shhh! Shhh! I'm here. Relax and let the doctors do their job." I crooned in his ear caressing the uninjured side of his head.

The effect was immediate. Eddie stopped flinging himself about and lay quietly letting the doctors finish their exam and the nurse was able to start an IV in his left arm.

The doctor told me there were no broken bones but plenty of bruises on his abdomen and ribs. However, he most likely had a concussion from a kick to the head. The doctors wanted to keep him at least overnight.

I was allowed to walk beside him and hold his hand to keep him calm as they moved him to a regular room. On the way Mrs. Carletti joined us, wrapped her arm around me and smiled.

"Thank you for taking care of Eddie."

"You're welcome, Mrs. Carletti." I replied then hesitantly added, "There's something I didn't tell you when I came here. . . . I'm like Eddie. I'm gay . . and I think I'm falling in love with him."

She didn't say anything but I felt a gentle squeeze where her arm was still around me. Encouraged I kept talking.

"He seems to respond when I hold his hand and talk to him but I'm afraid of what will happen when he wakes up. I don't think he likes me. He's been avoiding me ever since I arrived."

"Just keep by his side here, Be here when he wakes up and tell him how you feel while he can't run away. He needs someone to look after him like he looks after the young'uns."

I must have had a stunned look on my face; it was certainly how I felt. Mrs. Carletti chuckled and told me, "Yes, I'm letting you stay here with Eddie. They tell me he only relaxes and rests when he knows you're with him."

"Thank you, Mrs Carletti!" I hurried into the room and pushed a chair close to his bed so I could sit and hold his hand.

Off and on all night I would fall asleep, drop his hand and be awaken by his moving around. I would grip his hand again and he would settle. Towards morning when this happened Eddie didn't settle; he continued to thrash around and started moaning.

Not knowing what else to do I climbed into bed, spooned up to his back and wrapped an arm around his chest. He then quieted as I whispered soothing words of encouragement in his ear. We both went back to sleep laying like this.


I could vaguely remember his hand and voice off and on as I slipped in and out of consciousness. I desperately wanted to wake up completely and find out who he was but every time he held my hand I would drift back out. One time I resisted and kept trying until he climbed in bed with me and wrapped me in his comforting embrace. I drifted off once more feeling better than before.

I awoke some time later feeling clearer in my head than I had since . . .well since whenever. I opened my eyes and saw I was in a hospital room. There was a warm body against my back and an arm draped over my chest. So it wasn't just a dream or my imagination; there really was someone there.

I thought about just snuggling in close again and going back to sleep but I had to know who it was. The feeling I got from being close to him made my wish for a boyfriend seem possible after all.

Turning carefully avoid waking him I came face to chest with him and couldn't tell who he was. As I pushed myself back to see his face he grunted and opened his eyes. HIM!

I pushed him away from me and yelled, "Why are you here? Get out! Haven't you done enough?"

His feet hit the floor with a plop as I had nearly caused him to fall before he managed to get his legs under him.

I wanted to run but was trapped by the IV in my arm and the wires to the monitor. I couldn't believe they let the guy who has stalked me the entire time he's been here and the one who punched me stay in my room with me alone.

"Eddie, please! Let me explain!" The guy pleaded with a desperate and imploring look in his eyes. Eyes that seemed to change colors as I watched fascinated. Huh, where did that thought come from?

"What's to explain. You've practically chased me everywhere I go then you punch me and let your buds the Trio beat me. There isn't an explanation good enough to justify that." I was angry and on a roll. I started to add more but he stopped me cold.

"I know," was all he said. My words died in my throat as I watched the silent tears stream down his otherwise handsome face. Whoa! There I go again.

He stepped closer and I tried to climb out the other side of the bed but got tangled and nearly fell. He lunged and caught me and pulled me back up into the bed. I couldn't breath then I felt a relaxing, comfortable, safe feeling spread through my body starting from where his hands were in contact with my skin.

I looked into his face with confusion and wonder. This guy, The one I thought hated me and was after me. He was the one I had felt all this time. The one I felt safe with. I melted into the mattress and finally took a shuddering breath.

Then he spoke again and that was the voice I had longed to hear.

"I'm sorry, Eddie, for everything. I just wanted to be your friend. Then listening to Lester, Sean and Marie talk about you and how you always helped them I thought you might be someone who could be more than a friend."

It took a second for what he was saying to sink in then it hit me, "Are- are you gay?" I asked.

"Yes," he answered and went back to apologizing. "I didn't mean to hit you. I didn't even see you until it was too late. I was in such a fog I didn't hear Mr. Cavanaugh leave the Trio to take care of you. I should have said something then."

As he spoke some of what had occurred came back to me. The horrified look on his face when he saw what he'd done. The principal taking him away and leaving the Trio in charge of helping me. Bray and Leo's delight in having me helpless with no one around. Chester trying to talk them out of it. The pain in my stomach and ribs from Bray's half-hearted kicks then the explosion of pain when Leo connected with my head.

"It wasn't your fault. You came back and you've stayed with me all this time." I wiped some of the tears from his cheek. "Thank you!"

Just then the door opened and in walked Mrs. Carletti and Lester. I was glad to see Lester; I had missed him while I was dodging . . . Crap! I don't even know his name. Well, except for Mr. Beorn.

"Hey, buddy! How you been?" I asked expecting to hear about school and stuff like that. What I got was a surprise.

"He's gone, Eddie! I won't ever get to see him again!" With that Lester launched himself onto my bed and into my arms.

I held him tight while the other guy rubbed his back. "What do you mean, Lester? Who's gone?"

It was Mrs. Carletti who answered my questions, "The boys who attacked you have been sent to juvenile hall. You don't have to worry about them anymore."

"But why is Lester upset?" I asked confused why Bray and Leo going away would bother Lester. He didn't like them either.

Muffled by my chest came Lester's heartbroken reply, "My brother's gone. Chester can't stay with us."

It dawned on me suddenly that I was the only one who knew that Chester hadn't touched me and had tried to stop the other two.

I looked straight into Mrs. Carletti's eyes and stated slowly and clearly, "Chester didn't attack me. It was just Bray and Leo. You've got to get him back. If it wasn't for him they may have kept at it until I died. Please, Mrs. Carletti!"

"All right. I'll see what I can do. Come on, Lester."

"He can stay with us. We'll take care of him." My guy said as he turned to me to make sure it was okay. I nodded still hugging Lester closely.

When Mrs. Carletti left I scooted me and Lester over so he could join us on the bed. I looked him over and then confessed, "I don't know your name. The principal called you Mr. Beorn but I spent so much time running from you I never learned your name."

"Hi, I'm Teddy."

I started giggling uncontrollably until his frown caught my attention. "I'm sorry, Teddy but it's funny. All cuddled up here together with Teddy Beorn."

He still didn't look happy so I quickly explained, "In the book, The Hobbit, there's a character named Beorn who transforms into a bear. So Teddy Beorn equals Teddy Bear. I'm cuddling with my big, strong, handsome Teddy Bear." I stroked the side of his face as I said the last sentence.

The look on his face was better but I'm still not sure he was taking this well.

"Okay, you still don't see the humor. Maybe that's because you don't know my whole name. I'm Edward Arturo. Arturo also means bear so I am Edward Bear."

Now there was a kind of confused look on his face. "You're not much for reading are you?" I asked with a soft smile.

"No," he answered, "I'm better at math."

"Okay, Edward Bear is the proper name for the A.A. Milne character Winnie the Pooh. Both our names end up a cuddly teddy bear and here we are cuddled together in bed."

When he had digested all that he started giggling too. We giggled a little together while we rubbed Lester's back to comfort him.

"This is nice." We said at exactly the same time which set off a new set of giggles. After the laughter subsided we drifted into slumber.

Some time later we were awakened by the door opening as Mr. and Mrs. Carletti, a doctor and Chester entered. Chester looked at the adults then came forward alone.

"I'm sorry I couldn't get them to stop sooner. Can you forgive me?"

"As far as I'm concerned there's nothing to forgive; you did the best you could. But there is someone else you need to ask," and I indicated Lester.

Chester hadn't noticed his little brother tucked in between me and Teddy until now. I shook Lester awake and had him turn over. When he saw Chester he launched himself from the bed into his brother's arms. The two stood there embraced and crying on each others' shoulders. It was great too see them back together again.

The doctor checked me over and pronounced me fit enough to go home with a warning to take it easy. Everybody in the room except me and the doctor said I would.

It was Christmas Eve in the foster home and Mr. and Mrs. Carletti stood in the doorway of the den looking at their charges. Hot chocolate and cookies had been consumed and now Christmas music was being listened to before bedtime.

On the couch in front of the crackling fireplace was Teddy with Marie tucked into the crook of his left arm. Sean was between Teddy and Eddie with Eddie's arm over his shoulder and Teddy's right arm over Eddie's shoulder. Next sat Lester with a grip on Eddie's right arm while beside him was his brother, Chester, whose arm went over Lester's shoulder. All were relaxed and nearly asleep.

The Carletti's had been told of the joke with Teddy and Eddie's names and Eddie confessed that his Christmas wish had been for a boyfriend. He also told them and Teddy that he had run away from his first foster family because he had asked for a teddy bear but only got ill-fitting second hand clothes. This Christmas he had gotten both gifts in one.

Thinking of all this as she watched the scene before her, Mrs. Carletti remarked to her husband, "It looks like they all got a teddy for Christmas."