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    Mikiesboy
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Changes, Again - 9. Photographs and Chocolate Cake

It was going to take some time to get used to being home. We discussed what we wanted life to be like over breakfast on Thursday morning.

“Once Max arrives, just how busy do you want to be?” Donny munched on his French toast and bacon. “And while I love this meal, we cannot do this on a daily basis.”

I sipped my coffee. “Mmm, no I suppose not.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it, but I’d be putting on weight in no time.” Don wiped his mouth. “And you won’t have time for lots of clean up and stuff. Not if you want to keep working.”

“Well, we do have a dishwasher, and this is a treat. It will be the usual fare normally.” I put down my mug. “How busy? I don’t want to devote the entire day to work, frankly. I want time to keep the house, make dinner, spend time with Max, maybe run or go for a ride.”

“Good, I’m glad to hear it.”

“You work a normal day though.”

“Yes, Lous, because if I drove in to the office I’d be working full time.” He reached for my hand. “The point of you quitting was for you to stay home, to be here more, right? To slow down and not have to cram everything home-related into a weekend.”

“I guess I won’t be taking on too many clients then.”

He paused for a moment. “Lous, baby, because you are not going to be a full time worker doesn’t mean you are not still good at your job, or passionate about it. This decision is supporting me, but more importantly, Max. He will need you. How will you be able to go with him when he needs it, if you work full time? Isn’t that the whole point of all of this? And then there is the quality of life thing we talked about before.”

I smiled at my wonderful husband. “It’s just so ingrained, right? I mean get up, work, be busy all the time. We talked about getting out to ride in the morning, but how can we?”

Don sighed. “By getting up and doing it. I work full time, but how I do that is up to me. There is no timekeeper but myself. Some days I work eight hours; some days six; on another day, ten. Harry knows me and how I work. He knows he is getting his money’s worth. So right now we get up at 5:30am and put the horses out to pasture. Instead of that, we feed them a measure of hay or beet pulp, and by the time we are ready to head out, they should be fine to go.”

I nodded. “It’s not like they will be worked hard.”

“Nope, they should be good.” Don picked up his coffee and sipped. “Are you okay, Lous?”

“Yeah, Don, I’m fine. This is just going to take time, getting used to.”

“Worth it, I think.”

“Yeah, I think you’re right.”

“So, changing the subject.”

“Okay ….” I wondered where this was going.

“What more is needed for Max’s room?”

“Just a few things. Once we hear that we’ve got the green light, I’ll get them to come in and install the trapeze for him. Then, well, I thought maybe I’d take him shopping for a few things like clothes and sheets and stuff. The curtains in there are okay.”

“I wonder if he can get stuff from his old room? I mean, the house is his, right?” Don wiped his plate with the last of his French toast.

“Yeah, I think so from what I know. Didn’t Robert say that everything was left to him?”

“Yes, he said he’d like to go into the house to pick up his things. That’s going to be a rough day ….”

There was a knocking on the kitchen door. I got up to open it and moved aside to allow Rena and Robert entrance.

“Hey, morning. This is unusual.” Rena smiled and kissed my cheek.

“It’s nearly 9:00am, and you two being home is unusual,” Don said. “Sit and have a coffee if you have time.”

Robert nodded. “We have a bit of time. I bring news for you.”

My heart pounded. News could be good or bad. I poured coffee for everyone, and we sat at the kitchen table. I waited while everyone fixed their beverages to their liking.

“So … Robert? What’s the news? Wait. First, is it good or bad?”

Rena smiled. “Breathe, Louis!”

Don grinned. “I vote it’s good.”

“You’d be right, Don,” Robert started. “You’re approved as foster parents for Max.”

Don and I both cheered.

“Wait, there is more. Max is approved for a weekend visit … for this weekend.”

Don sat up straighter, and said, “Oh, wow! That’s great news.” Then he turned to me. “Is it doable?”

“Yes, I just need to put clean sheets in there. The room is ready for a visit at least.” I couldn’t help but smile. “I’ll get up there today and make sure it’s ready.”

Rena said, “Maybe we could have a BBQ on Saturday evening? I’d love to meet Max if you think it would be okay.”

Don grinned. “Yeah, I think it would. We promised a feast with a chocolate cake I think, didn’t we, Lous?”

I nodded slowly, thinking now of what I needed to get to make the cake. “We did. I’ll bake it tomorrow and let it rest until Saturday. Damn! I have a meeting with the bank tomorrow at noon!”

Rena jumped in. “Listen, give me your shopping list. I’m home. I’ll shop and then can help you.”

“Terrific, thanks, that would be great.” I reached for her hand and squeezed. “Robert, what time can we pick Max up?”

“Anytime after 3:00pm. He’ll be finished with his physio and stuff by then.”

Don was making notes on his phone. “Lous, your appointment with the bank won’t take too long, an hour most likely. Mom will shop, then you come home and bake the cake. We’ll do Max’s room prep today so it will be ready and done. Once the cake is done tomorrow, we can go get Max. Maybe for tomorrow night’s dinner we can go out for fish and chips. The Barley and Sow makes good ones and we can get Max in there. Assuming he likes fish and chips.”

He looked up, into each of our surprised faces. “What? I’m organized … sue me!”

We all laughed. Plans were made and we all went on our way to complete them. Don went out to the office to work for a few hours. I went up to Max’s room. I cast a critical eye over the space. I found the room to be devoid of any colour or comforts.

I stood there, wondering what I could bring in to liven it up; make it more welcoming. Books were a start, but it would need posters or pictures. I sat on the bed to think about what we had in storage. That stuff was in the attic in the barn. I decided to go over and see what I could dig up.

I knocked on Don’s office door and let myself in. “Hey.”

He turned from his computer. “Hey, yourself. Are you missing me?”

I smiled. “No … well, maybe a little.”

Don laughed. “Did you need me for something, babe?”

“Not really. I was just in Max’s room and it feels so … empty. I thought maybe I’d go upstairs and see if there’s anything worth hanging up.”

The chair creaked as Don sat back; he moved from his wheelchair to an office chair while he worked. He was quiet for a moment before he spoke, “You know … there’s those framed pictures of your dad’s. The puffins, remember, and a few landscape pictures? Why not put those up? I mean, they’re nice, and if Max wants to get stuff from his old room, well, he can change them out, right?”

“Yes, of course he can.” The pictures Don spoke of were nice and deserved to be on a wall. “I think he’ll like the puffins for sure. Great idea; I’ll go dig them out.”

The attic—well the upper room—was finished and dry. We mainly used it for storage. When the barn was refinished a set of stairs were put in to make it easier to access.

Once I opened the door, I flicked the light switch and went to find the stored pictures. Pa had taken them years before and then mounted and framed them himself. He’d given them to us for a first Christmas present after we got married.

I sat down on a milk crate while I unwrapped them. Beautiful scenes of the rugged Newfoundland coast, crashing waves and wonderful pictures of that cheeky clown, the puffin. In amongst them was a small five-by-six picture of my parents.

They were holding hands sitting on a large rock, the ocean behind them. They were smiling, and the love between them was caught there forever. And suddenly, I felt tears on my cheeks. I put the photograph down and let them come.

I was just wiping my eyes when I heard something from the bottom of the stairs.

“Lous? Lous! Are you okay? I’m going to come up.”

He’d do it too, to get to me. I knew that. It wouldn’t be easy, but he’d pull himself up. Don had already gotten back into his chair.

Shit! “No, Donny. I’m fine. I’ve got what I need.” I stood up and put together several of the pictures and added the one of my folks. “I’m coming down. Stay there.”

He sat at the bottom of the stairs, gazing up, searching my face. “Are you okay?”

I reached for the light switch and stepped onto the small landing to pull the door closed. I looked down.

You know how sometimes you have moments of brilliant insight, where you can see something that you take for granted in a whole new light? That’s how I saw my husband then. It was like seeing him for the first time again; he simply took my breath away. I loved him like I would never love anyone else.

I smiled. “Yes, I’m just fine. I’ve got what I need.”

His eyes didn’t leave my face. “You’re upset.”

“Memories.” I reached the bottom and bent to kiss him, pulling my precious burden closer to my chest. “I’m okay. Let’s go and look at them in the office.”

“Okay.” Don had spoken carefully and followed me. I sat on the small sofa there and he rolled as close to me as he could. We spent a few minutes viewing pictures we both knew so well. They’d always hung in our first home.

Don laughed at one of the puffin shots. “Ah, this is my favourite. I’m glad we’re going to hang them again, Lous. I love these.”

“Yeah, me too.” I handed him the picture of my parents.

He took it and smiled. “Yeah, this one for sure needs to be hung up. Where do you think?”

“My office. I’d like to hang it up in there. I thought maybe our bedroom at first and then decided maybe there’s stuff in there they’d rather not see.”

Don grinned. “Yeah, your mother would be most upset about how you leave your gotchies and socks!”

I laughed out loud then. “You are such a shit.”

“I try, Lous. I try.”

He leaned over to kiss me, and not only once.

~~~

 

I made the bed in Max’s room, hung the pictures, and texted the grocery list to Rena. Don and I spent a quiet evening together.

 

On Friday we got up and took the horses out for a cool ride at dawn. It was glorious to be in the freshness of the autumn morning. The horses were enjoying it too. They danced around themselves and were ready for a brisk canter up across the field.

Upon our return, we showered, ate oatmeal and fresh fruit for breakfast, and then Don went out to his office. I worked my way through my email, and since there wasn’t much there, I called Ma to see how she was doing.

“I’ve got the house up for sale now. Once it’s sold I’ll move into St. John’s. I’ll have lots to do there.”

“Will you stay with Laura and Maureen?”

“Only until I find a little place of me own. You know, I think they are going to get married.”

“Really?” I smiled, glad that my mother sounded so well. “That’s great news! When?”

“I think sometime next year.” Ma paused for a moment before she said, “I wanted to ask you, will you and Don come for Christmas here?”

“Well, Ma, we will have Max then.” I hadn’t thought of Christmas. Robert had never mentioned Max’s grandparents, so I had just assumed they were deceased.

“That’s wonderful. You’re doing the right thing, helping that boy, Louis. I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks, Ma. Let us get him here and see what’s what, then I can tell you about Christmas. It would be nice to come home though.”

“Max can come of course. If he wants to. He’ll part of the family, won’t he, Louis? Still, it will be hard with them both in wheelchairs, Max and Don.”

“Yeah, well that’s what we need to work out. But let me work on that once he’s here. I’d love though, if we could, Ma.”

We talked for another twenty minutes or so, and filled each other in with all our latest news. I told her about the pictures in Max’s rooms and his interest in Pa’s books. That pleased her. She sounded happy, did Ma, and I felt less worried.

I went upstairs to change into my suit to go and meet with the Business Advisor at the bank.

As I finished knotting my tie, my phone rang. It was a text from Rena saying she was shopping. I decided to text Max to remind him to pack his toothbrush.

I have. I’m ready to go when you guys get here!”

He sounded excited.

I sent: “So, do you like fish and chips? Maybe at The Barley and Sow.”

Love them! OMG that sounds great. Thanks!!!”

Okay, we’ll see you in a few hours!! xox

 

With that, I grabbed my portfolio and keys. Then I quickly ran over to the barn to tell Don I was going.

“Okay, Lous. Listen though, you don’t have to decide anything today at all. You can, but just don’t be pushed if you don’t want to be.”

“This is a fact-finding mission! Yeah, as well, I texted Max and told him to be ready. He said he was ready now!”

Don chuckled. “He’s excited; that’s nice. Did you mention dinner?”

“Yes, he said he likes fish and chips.”

“Excellent, my craving will be satisfied.” Don regarded me. “You look good, babe. You better get a move on so you’re not late.”

I bent to kiss him. “’K, I’ll see you in a bit. Your mom will be here soon with supplies.”

“Okay. I’ll watch for her. See you later on.”

~~~

 

The meeting with the Small Business Advisor went well. He gave me lots of resources and information about starting up, including having to register the business name and other details. So, I had a bit of homework to do.

After the meeting, I returned home. I did have a lot to do to set up my little business, but right now I had a cake to bake for a special young man. That, and he, were my priority.

I’d changed and pulled out the mixer to start the cake. I was prepping the cake tins when Don rolled into the kitchen.

“Hey, baby. Too early to lick the spoon?” He was grinning.

“I haven’t started yet.”

“Just wanted to tell you, your desk and new computer are upstairs. The delivery guys said if everyone had an elevator in their house, tips would not be necessary.”

I laughed. “I guess that’s a bonus. Thanks for letting me know.”

“No problem. I do want to lick the spoon though.”

I put down the cake pan and chuckled at my husband. “You’re a very large child, Donny.”

He laughed out loud. “You’re just noticing that now?” He rolled around the island to be closer. He put his fingers through my belt loops and pulled me nearer. “Come here.” Don tugged me onto his knee and kissed me.

I wrapped my arms around him and kissed back. All these years and this feeling never left me. I closed my eyes and leaned against his strong body. Breathing in his scent, loving the feel of his arms around me. We sat this way for several minutes, just holding each other. His right hand rubbed small circles on my back.

It felt so good, I didn’t want to move. “Mmmm, I love you.”

“I love you too.” He squeezed me gently. “I should let you get back to that cake.”

“Yep, you should, but I like it here.”

“Me too, Lous.” He pushed me away gently, after a soft kiss on the lips. “But that cake needs doing so we can go and pick up our foster son.”

I looked at him then. His eyes were warm and brimmed with tears; this meant more to him than I realized. Donny loved children and they loved him. He’d never asked me to have any, and I’m fairly sure he’d always known that I wasn’t too interested. So, this was his chance.

“Having Max means a lot to you.”

He nodded.

“Then I’m even more glad we’re doing it.”

“I haven’t pushed you, have I?”

“I don’t know, Don. It doesn’t matter anyway. We’ve talked about this. Maybe I needed a push. I’m glad Max is coming. I’m glad it’s what we both want.”

He smiled at me. “Please bake this cake. I really want to go and get him.”

I slipped off his knee and kissed him. “Oven’s hot. Let me bake.”

After a final pat on my ass, he rolled out of the kitchen back to his office.

 

The kitchen was clean. The cakes were cooling, and Don and I were in the van on our way to pick up Max for his first full weekend visit.

“I’d like to take him riding.”

I glanced in the rear-view mirror and moved into the left-turn lane. “You can take him. I think we’d best let him get used it first though.”

“You think he’d be better on Clyde or Badger?”

“Badger for sure. He’s steadier then Clyde; easier to handle for a beginner, I think. Clyde can be such a shit.”

“He goes well for you.”

I heard a tinge of … of something in Don’s voice. “Hey, you’re taking him, not me. Well, not unless we decide to get another horse. We haven’t talked about that.”

Don sighed. “A third one?”

“We’ll have to wait and see. No rush. In the meantime, if Max likes it, you’re taking him. I think that’s the best way.”

“You do, do you?”

I turned the van left into the hospital parking lot and drove around to the rear of the building to park. “Yes, I do.”

“What about you?”

“What about me, Don? You know we can make time to go ourselves. Max will start school, there will be time for you and me. Anyway, right now it’s about him.”

“You’re right. Let’s go get him.”

I got out of my seat, kissed him quickly, unlocked his chair, and then got out the side door. I pulled out the ramp, and Don stopped before rolling down.

I peered at him. “What?”

“You go get Max. I’ll wait here so we don’t have close up and lock the van again.”

“Don ….”

“No, you go please, Lous.”

I decided not to argue. “Okay. We’ll be back soon.”

 

When I arrived on his floor I went to check in with the nurses.

“Hi, Mr. Taylor. Max is ready, but just to let you know, he’s a little upset.”

“Is he okay?”

“I’m afraid that one of the boys on the floor passed away last night. It’s upset all the patients.”

“Was Max close to him?”

“No, I don’t think he knew Kyle very well.”

“Kyle!” Not that sweet boy. I felt a bit ill. “I met him. He was a sweet kid.”

The nurse nodded. “He was. Frankly, there was little expectation that he’d live too long, but we hope, you know?”

“Yeah, I do know.” I gave her a small smile. I flashed back to Don laying on the racetrack after the accident. I had been so far away, I couldn’t tell if he was alive or dead.

“Max is ready. He’s in his room. Do you want me—”

I interrupted. “No. I’ll go get him. Is there anything for me to sign?”

Nurse Myers put a clipboard on the counter. “Thanks. Just make sure all the information is correct and sign at the bottom. We’ll expect him back on Sunday night by 8:00pm.”

“Sure.” I read the paperwork over, confirming names, address, and phone numbers were correct. I flipped the page. On it appeared information about his physical limits. These included that while he was getting some feeling in his legs, he required support to stand and a trapeze to assist with bed. He’d also require help moving himself onto a toilet.

All this sounded familiar. I signed and took my copy of the forms.

“Thanks very much. I’ll go and see Max now.”

 

I pushed open the door to Max’s room. He sat at the table near the window. He appeared to be drawing. He glanced up at me as I approached.

“Hello, Louis.”

“Hey, Max. What are you doing?”

“Oh, just drawing.”

It didn’t look like just drawing. “That’s really good.” It was a picture of the sea crashing over a large outcropping of rocks.

“Thanks. I’m ready to go, Louis. Where is Don?”

“He’s waiting downstairs so we didn’t have to close up the van.” I sat in the chair closest to Max. “Are you okay? I just heard about Kyle.”

He turned his eyes to me. “Yeah, I guess. They told us that his injury was way different to mine, but … but it scared me. And well, he was so nice, Louis.”

I reached out to rub his back.

“Yeah, he was nice. I met him before I met you. I’m so sorry you were worried.” I held his gaze. I wanted to reassure the boy. “Max, your injury is different. Yours is more like Don’s. You will be okay, Max.” I turned around and saw a small bag on the bed. “Is that your stuff there?”

“Yes, it is. Can I bring my sketch pad?”

“Of course you can.” I got up to get his bag. “Here, pack it in here and we’ll get going. If you’re ready.”

“Thanks.” He tucked in the pad and the pencil and zipped the little case. He put the case on his knee. “I am really looking forward to getting out of here.”

“Good.” I moved behind him and took hold of the hand grips. “Do me a favour and text Don, please. Say we are on the way?”

“Sure, Louis.” Max turned a bit in his chair. “Thanks for doing this …coming to get me.” He pulled out his phone and sent the text. “Done.”

“Great, thanks.” As I pushed him out of his room, past the nurse’s station and to the elevator, I leaned forward and whispered. “Wanna know a secret?”

Half-grinning, he glanced back and said, “Yeah, what?”

I pushed him onto the elevator and pressed ground. “We’ve been looking forward to it just as much as you.”

Max unleashed the biggest smile I’d seen so far.

 

~~~

Thank you all for reading and for your likes and comments. They make me smile.

 

Thanks to my wonderful team; @AC Benus who is generous with his time and talent. To beta readers, @mollyhousemouse and @BHopper2, thanks you two, for all of your thoughts and questions. You all make this story better.

Copyright © 2019 Mikiesboy; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

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An extra benefit for Max leaving the hospital is that he won’t be having to face additional losses like Kyle.

 

I love how even though she’s never met Max, Louis’ mother is already looking forward to spending time with him!  ;–)

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