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Puppy for Sale - 4. Manic for Max

"Well," said Stuart Gentry, folding his arms and getting comfortable. "First of all, it's important that whatever I tell you, Puppy, you try and stay in the mindset that this man is a stranger until proven otherwise."

"What do you mean?" I asked, trying not to be slightly offended but not knowing why.

"Because Puppy, whatever I tell you about this man means nothing if he is not your real father, and I just don't want you to...well, I need you to stay as natural as you can and not get emotionally attached."

"Okay, got it, now spill!"

Stuart rolled his eyes at me. "Max Chase is thirty-three years old, which means if he is your father, he would have been seventeen when you were born."

"Wow, that's pretty young...but hang on, my Mum was_."

"Twenty-eight, yes, we know. So straight away, we need to look at how and why that would have happened."

"Okay, is there more?" I asked, not really giving a shit what age he is, or was, for that matter.

"Yes, he has a wife and..."

"And?"

Stuart sighed. "Well, this is where it gets strange, Puppy, and it's also an issue which gives us the biggest indication that he may not be your dad."

"And that is?" I asked, now getting itchy in my chair.

"Well, it appears he has a son, Puppy."

"Cool, a brother... so what's wrong with that?"

"Puppy, the boy is sixteen."

"Oh, oh so... hmm!"

"Yes, hmm," Stuart said, glaring right at me.

"So how could...I mean, is that...so is there a way that could happen and him still be my dad?" I asked, now baffled.

"Well, there are a few ways Puppy, yes, but none of them paints the man in a very good light when you think about it."

"I don't understand," I said, noticing everyone looking around the room at each other except me.

"Look Puppy, until we get the DNA test done, we really shouldn't worry too much about that part, agreed?" Mr Watson piped up.

"Okay, so what else?" I asked, ready to forget that little detail for a moment.

"Well, he lives in Croydon and has his own business as a tree surgeon."

"A tree what?"

"It's a person who looks after trees, cuts them down or trims them Puppy," Charlotte stated.

"So that's the basics Puppy, how do you feel about it so far?" Mr Watson asked. I started to swing from side to side on my chair in thought. My dad, a tree doctor, how cool! Yeah, I mean, I don't know what to say."

"So Puppy, we did some background checks, and Max has no criminal record to speak of, just a few parking fines and a speeding ticket from a couple of years. He has been married to his wife for eight years, and before he was self-employed, he worked on the railways as a ticket inspector."

"What else?" I asked, craving for information.

"Well, Puppy, that's it really; there are privacy laws that prevent us from finding out less important things so we can only get what we can get."

I dropped my head down and sighed. "Yeah, I know; I just got a little excited for a while, that's all. He sounds like a nice guy."

"I admit his credentials are that of an everyday person Puppy, but we must still be cautious. Even after we get the results back from the test and it shows he is indeed your father, I would still expect the first contact to be supervised by one of the staff and held here at the home," declared Mr Watson.

"So when can I take this test?"

"That's why I am here, Puppy; I have the equipment in my bag; I can do it now if you like?" So said Sam Stillworth, my General Doctor.

"Sure, yeah, let's do it now; I want to know as soon as possible."

"Okay, but just be aware we need to contact Mr Chase and let him know you have agreed to take the test, and then we need to arrange for him to have his sample taken; just be prepared Puppy this could take a week or so," Sam said.

"A week?" I yelled, my eyes bulging. "I thought this was gonna be like a day or something."

"Oh no, Puppy, we have to get the sample to a University lab up on Broad hill; they will then run the test and let doctor Stillworth know the results," Watson said. "Doctor Listern, did you have anything to add to today's meeting?"

"Yes, just a couple of things. Puppy, I know this must feel like a fascinating time for you and also one of great apprehension, but we must remember to remain calm and balanced. Increases in adrenaline and emotion are not good for your condition, and I urge you to take what Stuart said about trying to sit on the fence with this. At least until we know the final answer, you are looking for."

"I know, Doctor Listern, I know, it's just...well..."

"Let the words form in your mind, Puppy and take your time."

"It's just this is the first time it all feels actually real, like... like someone actually might want me."

"And this may well be the case, Puppy, and if it is, I want your mind to be in tip-top condition come the day when you sit down with this man and talk to him. So that means no anger episodes and no getting too excited."

"Okay, I understand."

"How are you sleeping, Puppy?"

"Fine, why do you ask Doctor Listern?"

"Hmm, you seem a little spikey on the surface. Have you had any bad dreams lately or any problems in the home?"

Mr Watson cut in before I could speak. "We had a problem with Elaine Bates, which has now been resolved; I have made sure Puppy does not attend her class anymore and will be investigating the event and ones in the past with other children."

"Okay, thank you, Mr Watson, please see that Puppy is sent to me in future no matter how small the incident if you would."

"Of course, Doctor." Mr Watson nodded his affirmation. "So unless there is anything else that needs to be discussed, I suggest that Sam, you do Puppy's test, and we'll draw this meeting to a close. Puppy, I will contact Mr Chase in an hour to discuss his part of the test, okay with you?"

"Yes, thank you, Sir."

"Right then, that's sorted. Have a good day, everyone, and Puppy, make sure you eat before lunch ends; you have around twenty minutes."

"No problem, Sir, I will."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

After having my cheek scraped with what looked like an oversized version of an earbud, I had managed to get some scraps from the eating area, finding that almost everything had gone. Finally, it occurred to me that I wasn't eating enough lately, and this was contradicting what I should be feeling like eating since I was doing my weights regularly now.

I had the TV on back in my room but found it increasingly hard to concentrate as my mind was a whirlwind of thoughts ever since the meeting had finished in Mr Watson's office. The one thing that was screwing with my mind was that Max had a child and was the same age as me. How could that be? How is that even possible? I worried...worried that it meant the man I so hoped was my birth father was just some person playing a cruel trick on me. Inside I was getting impatient; I was getting anxious. I wanted that stupid test to be on my side!

I wanted Max to be my father!

Feeling suddenly out of control, I got up quickly from my bed and started to pace the limited space in my small room. I wanted to run, run anywhere; it was a claustrophobic feeling that was turning my mind to mush and propelling me into overdrive. I tried to think of what Doctor Listern had said, hoping that would settle me, but I could not control my emotions. It felt like a nuclear chain reaction had just started in my brain, and I was now a passenger.

Feelings of dread turned to feelings of elation. Ambitious plans with my new dad came flooding into my head. I felt alive, and then dead, happy, then moments later, suicidal. It was happening. That feeling was happening. No, no, calm down. Rebalance, rebalance! BALANCE, DAMN YOU!

I dived into the bathroom and ripped off my clothes. Then, turning the shower on, I got straight in and immersed myself under the freezing cold water, crying out in shock. It had to be done. I needed to be reset. My coping mechanisms sprang into motion. I felt my pulse, tapped my temples, and curled my toes.

As the water warmed up, so the bad feelings returned. Stop, stop, STOP!

I jumped out of the shower, and still, dripping wet grabbed a pen and started to scribble on my whiteboard. The sun, warm waters, hot sand, and planets I need to visit. Drawing a line through all of them all... yes! This created order, this created order in my life. Hot sand, warm sun!

The chill in the air was now attacking my wet body, but I continued to scribble. I had to get things in order; everything must be in order! If everything is together and in order, I can survive...yellow sand, yellow sun, blue water, blue planets.

This went on for hours and hours until I heard a voice followed by a knock on my door.

"Puppy, is everything okay?" I heard Cindy call from outside my door. I didn't answer. I was too busy scribbling stuff on my board. Moments later, she came in and immediately got a towel from the bathroom and wrapped it around me.

"I'm gonna be okay Cindy, look, it's all in order," I said, pointing at my pictures and smiling.

"Puppy, that's great; why don’t you come away from the boards now? It looks great." She said, prying me away towards my bed by the arm.

"Yeah, it does; things are great, and do you see what I did?"

"Oh yeah, Puppy, you did really well. Now, why don't you get into bed, and I'll go see if Doctor Listern is around."

"God, I wanna just meet Max; he’s gonna take care of me, don't you see?"

"He will, Puppy, now you just stay there, and I'll be back in a moment."

I wanted to get up and coat my boards with more stuff, but Cindy had told me to stay where I was, and Cindy was always right. I could see the coloured sparks of light in my mind again; it was brilliant this time like I was on the horizon of something amazing.

Blue water, blue planets, yellow sun, yellow sand!

Moments later, I was being spoken to by Doctor Lister before feeling something pricked into my arm. "Hey Doc, what did you just do?"

"It will calm you down. Puppy, Cindy said you were acting manic. Remember what we spoke about?"

"Yes, but I just needed to get... God, this is gonna be great; I can see everything so clearly now, Doctor Listen. You believe me, right?"

Doctor Listern stroked my hair and smiled. I looked up at his eyes wide, big smile.

"Balance, Puppy, balance. Right?"

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I awoke to find Cindy sitting on my bed, her knees drawn right up to her chin."Hey, what's up?" I said, closing one eye again, feeling half dead.

"You're awake; I’ve been in here like every day."

"Every day? Damn, I'm starving!"

"Puppy, you have been out for two and a half days; Doctor Listern has been in and out of this room more than me these last couple of_."

"Days?"

"Yeah, Puppy, days! You were crazy; he had you topped up on sedatives. What the hell happened?"

"Erm, I don't know," I replied groggily.

"How much do you remember?"

"Well, almost everything. I just remember feeling really great, but I needed to get things_."

"In order, yeah, I know, have a look at your boards."

"Damn, I did it again, didn't I? Did I do all that stuff?" I asked, referring to three whole whiteboards covered with pictures and writing in all the colours of the rainbow.

"Yeah, it's this whole Max thing, ain’t it," she said before sighing. "Puppy, you were doing so well, I hate to see you undo all that and be put back on sedatives, and god knows what else they give you."

I heaved myself up into a sitting position and stared at my boards. "I just don't get it; I thought these new pills I am taking is supposed to limit the symptoms; I thought I was fine one minute and then the next...it was just weird, Cindy." Before Cindy could say anything else, Doctor Listern came into my room and stopped in his tracks, seeing I was awake.

"Welcome back to the land of the living Puppy; how do you feel?"

"Starving and a bit groggy."

"That will wear off. I will have the kitchen staff bring you some food; I don't want you getting out of bed until doctor Stillworth has checked you over. You seemed to have gone on a wild one, Puppy, and I am surprised that happened. Oh, and wipe your cheek, son, you have drool running down you."

I wiped my face with my sleeve and yawned.

"Will he be okay, Doctor?" Cindy asked, ever the caring soul.

"Yes, but I think we will need to talk about why this happened, Puppy, when you are ready, of course."

"Sure, I just...God, it was so weird."

"Like the last time?" Doctor Listern asked, taking out his small pad.

"No, that's just it; this came on much more quickly than the last few times. It caught me by surprise. One minute I was ok, and then hours later, I remember being stabbed with a needle, and then blank. So that must have been the point you came in then and gave me something?"

"Yes, that was at...hmm, let me see, around six twenty?"

"And I got lunch at around half twelve," I said, tapering off and into thought.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Doctor Stillworth had checked me over and had given me a clean bill of health. Over the next couple of days, I tried to get back into my regular routine and tried not to get back into the mindset that had set me off on my wild ride of mania again. I did my weights, I took my pills, which Doctor Listern had temporarily increased, and I also tried to eat more, sometimes to the point where I felt sick.

Cindy had been a massive help as usual by keeping an eye on me when my doctors weren't there. To be honest, I felt okay and started to wonder what all the fuss was about. But I was only too aware that I needed to be normal should the day come when I met Max. Well, that's if the test results came back the way I wanted them to.

I had cleaned all the nonsense off my boards and made sure my room was tidy. Tidy room, tidy mind, Doctor Listern would say to me in our meetings. Cindy and I spoke more about Max and what I had found out. She seemed to be enthusiastic about the whole thing, but I did wonder if she just listened, so I had an outlet rather than anything else. I worried for her because she was so fragile underneath that hard outer shell, and I hoped things would turn out well for her one day. She deserved so much love and happiness.

To take my mind off things a little, I started to get involved with some of the younger kids, teaching them how to draw and write. It helped when all you could think about was one thing, and in my room, that's all I ever did.

As I sat and watched Danny brook, a sweet seven-year-old child, draw me a picture of a dinosaur, I heard the sound of hard shoes making their way over to where we were in the recreation room.

It was Mr Watson!

"Puppy, do you have a moment?"

"Yes, Sir, what is it?"

"Please come to my office."

"Uh...yeah, sure. Okay, bye Danny, Puppy has to go, you be good, yeah?

Danny was lost in another drawing, but never mind, now I was worried. I knew Doctor Listern would have to tell the home director what had happened to me a few days ago, and I know he was going to have to mark it in my file. So as we walked, I tried to get my thoughts together about what I was going to say. At least this time, it wasn't anger that I would be told off for, so I thought maybe things would be okay once I told him what the problem was.

As we approached his door, he let me go in front and told me to go in and take a seat. I entered the room and sat down, realising he had not followed me. Moments later, Sam Stillworth came in, followed by Mr Watson, and they both sat down, their faces expressionless.

"Puppy, I have invited you and Sam here as we have had the results back from your DNA test with Mr Chase."

"Puppy, I want you to relax, okay?" Sam said, reaching over to squeeze my shoulder."

"Yes, I will try, but can you please tell me? I really need to know." I pleaded, sitting on the edge of my seat. My heart started to pound hard in my chest.

"Okay well, the test results come back this morning, and they tell us that Max Chase is your father with a ninety-nine point six accuracy."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My hands are clammy; I’m starting to sweat what feels like running water down my back. I feel cold and lightheaded.

Just like that, just like that, just like that! My mind fizzed!

It was like everything in the world went to sleep on hearing those words. An immense feeling of satisfaction rushed through my being. I felt vindicated in some way, putting aside all the doubt that had been presented to me. Then, however, joy gave way to a feeling of pure triple distilled shock, and suddenly it was like a plug in my stomach had been pulled out, and everything rushed to my large intestine.

"I really need to go to the toilet," was all I could say as I ran out of Mr Watson's office to the nearest bathroom.

Without going into detail, I felt everything solid, and liquid come rushing out of me in a massive wave of spasms which was quickly replaced by relief. Again, I wanted to cry, but my body wouldn't let me. Yet, I never gave up hope all this time, never stopped believing, and now it was confirmed.

Max Chase was my father!

I was consumed in a whirlwind of thought as I slowly took some paper and wiped my bottom clean. As I got up from the toilet, I suddenly didn't know what to do with myself. Pushing down on the cistern to flush, I walked over to the small white sink and turned on the tap. I looked in the mirror at the face that Max would soon see and wondered what he would think of me. Would I be everything he expected? Of course, but what would he expect, if anything at all?

I splashed my face with cold water to try and compose myself. Then, with my eyes shut, I blindly reached for the paper towel dispenser on the wall and ripped a few sheets out before drying my wet skin. It was time to go back and see what was going to happen now.

I took a deep breath and left the bathroom, hurrying back to Mr Watson's office. He was still sitting in his chair while Sam Stillworth had made his way over to the window to get some air, I presumed.

"Everything ok puppy; you looked in a mighty rush when you left." Mr Watson asked before taking a sip of coffee which must have arrived while I was indisposed.

"I would rather not talk about it. So what is going to happen now?" I asked, prompting Sam to turn round and look at me.

"What would you like to happen Puppy, this is now your show from what I can see."

"I don't know Mr Watson, I was so eager to meet Max, but now I know I feel suddenly nervous about the whole thing."

Doctor Stillworth walked towards me and placed his hand on my shoulder. "Puppy, you have been living here longer than anyone else. In that time, you have got used to routines, and with that, I imagine it's a scary feeling to think about change suddenly. After all, this place has been all you have ever known. But, my advice and I'm sure Mr Watson will agree, you need to take your time with this. Go at your own pace and know that everyone here is with you and will support you in finding out what you want to do next."

I looked at Mr Watson. He was nodding to Sam's statement, "D... do you think I should meet him?"

Watson smiled. "Puppy, I can't make that decision for you, but remember this is what you wanted. Once it sinks in, you will have that feeling back where you want to meet him, but as Sam said, do it at your own pace. I very much doubt Max is going to go anywhere. After all, it sounds like he's waited a very long time to find you."

"I guess," I muttered, looking down at the floor.

It was all I could say. For a week, I had it clear in my head that when I found out Max was my dad, the first thing I wanted to do was meet him and now? Now it just feels too much to deal with.

"Would you like me to call him?" Mr Watson asked.

"Does he know? I mean, about the results?"

"Not yet; we didn't want to tell him just in case it was something you wanted to do."

"Really? You would let me give him that news?"

"Well, he your father Puppy, we wanted to give you at least that option, but if you'd prefer, I can make the call and tell him."

"Can I think about this? Talk to Cindy?"

"Of course, Puppy, as we said, this is your show now, just don't leave it too long ok, I would imagine Max... I mean your father, is just as eager to know as you were."

"Yeah, yeah, of course. So can I go now?"

"You can," Watson said, giving me a warm smile.

I nodded, thanking Mr Watson and Sam before starting to head for the door. "Oh, and Puppy?" Mr Watson called.

"Yeah?"

"Congratulations!"

I beamed a smile and left without saying a word. Hurrying down towards my room, I almost tripped down the stairs and broke my neck. I was so excited. I rushed through the corridors creating a breeze that washed over me. I was running so fast. I zoomed past my room to Cindy's and was about to knock when I stopped just short. In all my glee, I suddenly wondered how she would feel if I burst into her room all excited. After all, when all was said and done, whatever happened, she was still going to be here, possibly alone.

I toned down my body language and gently knocked on her door. "Come in," she called from the other side. I turned the small brass knob and pushed open her door. She was lying on her front, waving her feet about slowly while on her bed.

"Hey you, whatcha doin'?"

"I'm reading the encyclopaedia on cats."

"Cats?"

"Yeah, I found it in the library; it’s fascinating. Did you know that when a cat quivers its tail around your legs, it's his way of greeting you?"

"Really? Hmm, well, having never had a cat, I can't say one has ever...well quivered around my legs." I replied, walking over and peeking at the page she was reading.

"So, where have you been? Cindy asked, kind of dreamily, lost in the cat book. "I came by the recreation room as you said you would be there, but there was no sign of you."

"Yeah, I erm... Cindy, would you put that book down for a moment, please?"

"Sure, Puppy, you wanna talk about something? Are you feeling unbalanced?"

"No, no, it's nothing like that," I said, deciding to take a seat on her bed. "The reason I wasn't in the rec room was because Mr Watson called me to his office."

"Are you in trouble? Oh my God, what did you do?"

I managed a light chuckle. "Why do you always think that?"

"Do I need to answer that?"

"No, I guess not. But, look, I was there because they got the test thing back."

Cindy suddenly became very focused on me and got into a seating position on her knees. "Oh wow, so...so what was the reason for__."

"Max Chase is my dad Cindy," I said, cutting her off, just wanting to get it out.

"Oh my God, Puppy, that's like...oh my God," she said again, beaming. "I'm so happy for you," she said, suddenly throwing her arms around me tightly.

"Yeah...yeah, I guess it is," I replied, a little distracted by her reaction.

"You guess it is Puppy?" she asked, pulling back and staring me in the face. "This is wonderful news, and you act like you don't care anymore; what gives?"

I sighed deeply. "It's not that Cindy, you know it's not that, I mean its, it's... it's you and me. I mean, what happens to you and me?"

A solemn look came over her face; it was an expression that killed me to look at. I knew she was excited for me, but I knew inside she was sad. I hated it when she was sad.

"When I think about you sleeping at night, Puppy, I wonder about all the dreams you might be having about finding a family. I know how long you have waited; I've seen you look out of that window in my room and waited...searching. You are so brave, Puppy Stibbs, and I love you so much. But to see you happy means I can let you go because I love you enough to let you go." She softly said, placing a finger on my chest as the last sentence came out.

My eyes started to sting as my objecting emotions failed to stop wetness develop in my eyes. From that second on, I was officially heartbroken, heartbroken because I saw a future where she was alone, and I was no longer here to protect her.

"You are the most beautiful, loving girl I have ever met. Your sweet smile, your kind nature... why are you still here, Cindy, why?"

"Maybe because you needed me, and maybe because I needed you." She said as a lone tear streaked down her soft face. She didn't know, but I saw the faint look of despair that came from those eyes. I looked deep into her soul and found it yearning once more, probably already starting to feel alone and abandoned. How could I do this? How could I break this chain that was us?

I needed to think!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


A whole week had passed since the results from my DNA test with Max Chase, also now known as... dad, had come back.

Everyone was asking me when I would make contact with a man I never knew existed until very recently. All the positive feelings I had, all the yearning to meet him, had now gone, being replaced with severe apprehension and anxiety. I was scared and frustrated...frustrated because I was frightened, and nervous because I didn't know what to say to the man.

Discovering I had a father was starting to feel like the biggest anti-climax of the century, and I almost felt like I hated him already because he had brought large waves to my otherwise calm life. But, in a dark corner of my subconscious, I knew how much I longed to get out of this place and find some normality, and normality had to start with having a family.

Sitting at the small desk in my room, I stared at a blank notepad, pen in my hand. I had been here for about ten minutes now, thinking it would be good to write down some questions that I wanted to ask my new relation. If I could just get past the feelings and get to the questions, I thought as more minutes ticked on by. The feelings I had were mainly about Cindy. After everything we had said to each other, I still felt so guilty for even thinking about leaving her.

So I was told by Charlotte, my dad was contacting the home daily asking to speak to me, each time resulting in him being told I was not ready. I had decided to let Mr Watson handle the conversation telling Max I was his son, mainly because I couldn't bring myself to hear his voice or let him hear mine. Mr Watson said that my father had broken down in tears on the phone when he heard about the results. This was after I had asked him how he took the news. All he kept saying was, at last, at last, I found my son. I should have taken that as a positive sign, a sign that he really was genuine about wanting me in his life. But as with all my feelings about him now, all that happened was, it left me feeling more nervous and anxious.

I threw the pen down and got up from my desk, deciding that I wasn't getting anywhere fast apart from being more frustrated. Then, pulling out my weights from under my bed, I began to do some reps in front of the mirror. I was still really slim, but I had noticed my ribs that had previously been on show were now starting to be covered in a thin layer of muscle and fat. My chest was also beginning to develop, too, and although I was not going to win bodybuilder of the year, at least the top half of my torso didn't just look the same as my bottom half.

Yes, I was developing pecks!

I was starting to work up a sweat when there was a knock at my door. I wanted to ignore it, seeing as every knock previously was just some do-gooder asking me if I had decided to make contact with my father yet. "Go... Away... Go...away," I muttered in rhythm with lifting my weights.

"Puppy, are you in there?" Cindy called. She was the only person I was willing to break my cycle for, and upon hearing her voice, I placed the heavy weights down on my bed and went to the door.

I eased it open just a few inches, suddenly worried someone might have been with her, ready to pounce on me, but there was no one there.

"Hey, Cindy, sorry, I thought you might be someone else; come in," I said before opening the door enough for her to wander in.

"Still doing that body building thing then," she asked, placing my weights on the floor before commandeering my bed like she always did.

"Yeah, I was trying to clear my mind. Cindy, I dunno what to do."

"About your dad?" she asked, manoeuvring herself to a horizontal position.

"Yeah, it's all I think about, and it's driving me crazy," I suddenly smirked, thinking how ironic that comment was, seeing as I was... well, a little crazy.

"Look, you wanna know what I think?"

"Always!" I said.

"It's not doing you or your dad any favours by holding off contact. Each day that goes by is making you worse, Puppy. I think you need to bite the bullet and call the guy. If you like, I will sit there with you and hold your hand if you want some support, but you need to do this. I think you will feel much better when you do."

"You really think so?"

"Yeah, and you might find it will clear all that mess from your head once you do." She said reassuringly.

"And you mean it about holding my hand?"

"Well, I was trying to make you smile with that, but yeah, if that's what it takes."

"I guess a quick phone call wouldn't be too painful...but what if he starts asking loads of questions I'm not ready for, or... or worse, what if he asks to meet me or something like that, then what will I do?"

"What if, what if... Puppy, he might ask all of those things or none of them. Whatever happens, just be honest and tell him if you are not ready for whatever he asks and that you need time to think about it." She shrugged.

"You know, you are WAY better than Doctor Listern Cindy," I said, managing a chuckle.

"Not really Puppy, I just know what makes you tick, and you have this wonderful way of getting yourself into a state when really, one does not exist. But that's you, and I love that part about you as much as the rest, got that?"

"Yeah, I got it," I said, deciding to push my weights back under the bed for the day. I sat down on the mattress with Cindy, and she got back up into a seated position. She draped her hands on each of my shoulders and looked into my eyes.

"This may be your break Puppy, don't waste this opportunity."

"I know, and listening to what you have said, I am going to do it... I am going to go and see Mr Watson, and I'm going to call my dad and speak to him," I said, courage coming back to me once more.

"That's my dog!" Cindy said, winking at me. "And listen, if it goes bad, then hey, you can press the reset button and try again another day, just remember to breathe and keep an open mind."

I nodded. "And you're ok to come with me still, yeah?"

"Of course, it's not like I have anything better to do."

"Cool, thank you, Cindy."

"Hey, no sweat, and look on the bright side, later on when all this worry is just a distant dream, one day you might even find yourself peering into the Grand Canyon standing next to your dad," she exclaimed, peering over to my poster on the wall and smiling. I looked over too and gently nodded, more to myself more than her. It was a lovely thought.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

After a two hour class today with Mrs Baxter (my new teacher), I headed out of her room, a book of homework to be completed shoved under my arm. Mrs Baxter was so lovely, and she really got into her class, unlike Norman Bates. As it was my first lesson with her since having to deal with Elaine Bates, my new teacher used the first twenty minutes telling us about herself before asking each of us to tell her some stuff. She seemed to immediately have a soft spot for me when she found out how long I had been at the home, even commenting on how it was astonishing someone so polite had not found parents. I naturally told her she was seeing me on a good day and that things in the recent past were not always so good.

After settling into the class, we did a little Maths and English before moving on to Science. For the first time in ages, I had walked out of class without feeling anxious or terrified. On the contrary, I even looked forward to the homework she had given me, really wanting to do an excellent job for her.

As I headed back towards my room, I planned to knock on Cindy and tell her I was ready to make the phone call to my father. Cindy had spent most of the day in her room after saying she had a stomach ache. She appeared to have these little strips of thick tissue on her bed, and I think they were to rest on her stomach to ease the pain; I wasn't sure, though, because whenever I had pain, the Doctor always gave me tablets to take.

I turned right into the corridor where our rooms were located and went straight in, chucking my book on the bed. I stripped off my clothes, immediately darted into the bathroom, and threw my shower handle to the on position before pulling on the extractor cord.

Plumes of steam erupted into the air as the water increased in temperature, and I quickly used the mirror to pull an extra-long eyelash out before it steamed up. A quick scratch of my balls and groin, and I hopped in, my shoulders dancing and darting to escape the rather too hot water. "Ouch", I cried as I moved out of the spray, adjusting the handle which let cold water in.

I stood under the shower for ages; in a way, it was another comfort mechanism I used when stressed or anxious. A good shower always seemed to calm me. It was like washing away the dirt that was the worry, and even on a terrible day, I never failed to feel even a touch better when I vacated my bathroom after soaking myself in hot cleansing water. Today was no exception, as I was finally going to do the one thing I thought I would never have the courage to do.

Call my father!

I was now done in the shower, so I got out and started to scrub my wet skin with a towel. Wrapping it around my waist, I went and sat down on my bed, letting the rest of my body air dry. I got some clean underwear from my little bed compartment and then gave my head one last frisk with them a towel. Then, pulling some clothes from my drawers, I got dressed, making sure to spray myself with deodorant before leaving my room for Cindy's.

I gently knocked on her door and waited for the familiar voice to invite me in. As I walked in, I saw she was sitting up in bed clutching a hot water bottle. She managed a smile, but I could see she was not feeling her usual self, and I made a sad facial expression at her to let her know I knew.

"Girl problems Puppy, I won't go into detail." She declared. I just gave her a funny look and decided not to pry. Also, I didn't have a clue what she meant by that, so I didn't want to make a fool of myself asking either.

"Listen, if you don't feel good, I can always_."

"nuh-uh, no you don't. I’m not having you use me as an excuse to get out of this Puppy. You’ll only regret it if you back out now."

"But you look unwell, and I don't want to drag you upstairs if you just want to sit quietly."

"I'll be fine Puppy, let me just go to the toilet, and we'll go."

She edged herself off the bed and went to her bathroom. I sat on her bed and waited, casually looking around her room. Cindy was different from other girls I had met. She had no dolls or stuffed toys lying around. There were also not many things you would usually expect to find in a girls bedroom. No, Cindy was, in a way, more like me. She had giant posters on her wall of famous monuments. Scattered all over were pictures of Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, Ayres Rock and so on. She also had a hobby that involved tiny rubber bands called loom bands. She would sit there for hours making these bracelet things, two of which I wear with pride on my wrists. They were multicoloured and beautiful, and I cherished them because they came from her.

Moments later, Cindy appeared from her bathroom looking a little better, and she asked me if I was ready. I nodded, still unsure, but decided it was now or never.

"Now remember Puppy, keep it simple and remember to breathe. If you don't feel like answering any questions he has, then just be honest and say you're not ready."

"Okay, Cindy... so shall we go?" She nodded, and we both left her room with me closing the door behind us.

On route to Mr Watson's office, I began to feel jittery, which Cindy immediately noticed, taking hold of my hand and squeezing it. I felt better knowing she was here, and I knew without her, well, I wouldn't even be thinking of doing this.

We got upstairs, and I knocked on Mr Watson's door, waiting for a response. Watson called out, telling us to enter, and we both walked in. He greeted us with a smile and immediately knew what I was here for, I could tell.

"Well, I wondered when I might see you Puppy... hello Cindy, feeling any better?"

"How did you know I was unwell, Sir?"

"Cindy, it's my job to know how all of the children are in this place. There is not a lot I don't know about, but it’s ok, I understand you might not want me asking about it, so I won't."

I gave Mr Watson a funny look, wondering what he meant. Was Cindy really ill and not telling me? I made a mental note to ask her later.

"So, Puppy, Cindy, what can I do for you?"

"Like you need to ask, Sir," I said, not impressed he was playing this game.

"I didn't want to assume, but yes, I had an idea what it might be about. Do you want to use the phone in here, or shall we see if Charlotte's office is free?"

"Would you mind if I just had Cindy with me, Sir? I don't wanna be rude, but I'm just a little nervous right now and_."

"Puppy, it's absolutely fine; I know this is a big deal for you. I am happy to leave you to it. Just let me call charlotte and make sure it’s ok for you to use her room."

"Thank you, Mr Watson, thank you very much," I said.

Watson got on the phone and dialled an internal number. I assumed Charlotte picked up because he was soon off the phone again, telling me it was OK to go ahead and use her office. As I thanked him again, he took a key from his desk drawer and dangled it in front of me before ripping a piece of paper out of his notepad containing a number. I took both from his hand and smiled before leaving the room with Cindy close behind.

Inside Charlotte's office, we both took a seat on the guests' side of her desk, and I stared at the telephone. Finally, I placed the scrap bit of paper out in front of me and remained silent.

"Take your time, Puppy; there is no rush."

"Yeah," I replied quietly.

"Just get the first few sentences in your head as to what you want to say and stick with that. I'm sure as the conversation goes on, it will get easier anyway."

"Cindy, how do you know all this stuff? I mean, it's not like you have been in this situation before."

"Call it girl power Puppy," she said, cracking into a giggle. "I just have more time to think about this rationally, and so I can look beyond the chaos you probably feel. It is as simple as that Puppy."

"Hmm, well, I just wish I could feel like you do now, believe me."

Cindy turned her lips up at me and lifted the telephone off the receiver, and held it out in front of me. Watching her reassuring expression, I took the phone from her hand and took a deep breath before slowly dialling the numbers laid out on the desk.

As I hit the last number, I waited for a second and placed the phone against my ear. Finally, it began to ring, and after three or four seconds, I could hear a voice.

"Hello?"

"Uh, erm hi, is this... erm, is this Max Chase?" I asked, fighting the need to swallow hard.

"Yes speaking, who is this please?"

A surge of adrenaline entered my bloodstream on hearing that question, and quite simply...

I panicked!

Copyright © 2021 James Matthews; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

It's great that Puppy's real Dad has found him. The panic attacks are not good for Puppy, but they just seem to pump him full of drugs, that can't be good for his health.

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you manage to portrait puppy and his anxiety so well - I almost get into a state myself, just by reading it! Well done

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1 hour ago, pvtguy said:

What a beautiful job of not only describing, but taking the reader through a manic attack!   I could feel the anxiety Puppy felt and was also comforted by Cindy!  Would Puppy really know how to use a telephone if he had no one to call before?  Hmm.....

Thank you for the comments on Puppy, Pvtguy. I took my own experiences with some of Puppy's feelings and laid them out bare. I'm really glad you felt I was able to give an accurate insight into his afflictions. Many thanks again.

In regards to the telephone. Much of Puppy's knowledge on life have come from the TV. It is a good question, but I think he may have learned about the telephone from the TV programs he watched. 

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44 minutes ago, IBEX said:

you manage to portrait puppy and his anxiety so well - I almost get into a state myself, just by reading it! Well done

Thank you IBEX, I really hope I didn't trigger you too much. I felt it important when writing about a kid with mental issues that it was accurately described. I'm glad I was able to capture that.

Stay well, and thank you for the kind comments. 

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My heart goes out to Puppy!  His anxiety is felt and I wish I could hold his hand as well!  Great characterization James!!

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20 minutes ago, KayDeeMac said:

My heart goes out to Puppy!  His anxiety is felt and I wish I could hold his hand as well!  Great characterization James!!

Many thanks KayDeeMac, really glad you enjoyed it :) 

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6 hours ago, chris191070 said:

It's great that Puppy's real Dad has found him. The panic attacks are not good for Puppy, but they just seem to pump him full of drugs, that can't be good for his health.

No, getting pumped full of drugs is not good for him, but because of his history of bipolar, I can totally understand the doctor doing it.  Puppy was so far gone into the episode that he needed more than simply talking him out of it.  This is a highly emotional time he is dealing with, and despite the control he has had, it is not surprising that he was unable to keep the panic and mania under control after receiving the news he had waited for for so long.  He tried, but luckily Cindy recognized what was happening and got him help.  Thankfully, he trusts her and will do what she tells him, knowing she won’t telll him to do anything that would hurt him.

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I am so happy and sad for Puppy. Cindy is a gem! We will see how the panic and doubt work out as Puppy moves forward through this new adventure. It might work out the both Puppy and Cindy get new people in their lives. Yea, I am hopeless...

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