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    Parker Owens
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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.

A to Z - 19. Mistakes and Surprises

Mistakes and Surprises

No special warnings for this chapter.

Questions and issues raised in this chapter or any other chapter can be discussed at the A to Z story thread here: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/40860-a-to-z/

JUNE 29

I woke up this morning from a strange dream. I had the definite sensation of being held, comforted in someone’s arms.  It felt so good.  I don’t remember anything specific about the dream, like how I got to be held like that or anything.  I just know how good it felt. I’ve had this dream once before, when I slept in the church, back on the other side of the mountains. It seems forever ago now. 

Did the dream have something to do with sleeping under a roof? I can’t say, but I wanted so badly to go back to sleep and recapture the dream, relive the moment of knowing I was being held. It was a glorious feeling.

Unfortunately, I was truly awake and once the traces of my dream slipped away, I heard the sound of rain on the barn roof.  My first thought was that the rain must be coming down hard, from the sound of it. My second thought was that it was good to be under cover to sleep.  My third thought was to curse, because I was probably late for work. The light coming in the window was dim because of the rain, not because it was early.

I scrambled down the ladder and was about to hustle down the steep steps to the lower level, when I stopped to think.

If Mr. Whitley was waiting for me downstairs, he’d expect to see me wet from walking to work in the rain.  I didn’t have a raincoat, so I’d be soaked. I knew I didn’t have a choice, though, and I’d gotten wet before in the last month, so I turned and headed out the barn door and into the pouring rain. I walked around the barn and came into the sheep pen by the far gate.

By the time I’d slogged into the barn, I was plenty wet, and my sneakers squelched. As I expected, Mr. Whitley was there, waiting.

“You’re late,” he said, simply. 

I hung my head, waiting for the reprimand, the ridicule. Surely now it had to come.

When it didn’t, I looked up. Mr. Whitley wasn’t smiling, but he didn’t look angry, either.

“Get here by seven, OK?  We have work to do.”

And that was all. No questions, no rant.That was enough. He didn’t need to beat me or yell at me like Dad did. Hell, I’d work all day for a meal and a good word from Mr. Whitley. Losing that good word would be a huge loss to me.

“Yessir.”

“I’ve done the routine chores. We’re going to tackle some seasonal stuff right now.”

And for the rest of the morning, we brought the lambs and their mothers – the ewes, I have to remember to call them – into a separate pen to be tested.  It was slippery, dirty work, as the sheep were as wet as I was, but dirtier, and not as willing to enter the barn.  It was my job to coerce the selected animal into the pen, while Mr. Whitley waited.

When he was done, he had me release it and indicated the next one.

The testing turned out to last nearly all morning. Eventually, with the last animal turned loose, he turned to me and said, “Let’s get up to the house. I’m getting hungry.”

So was I. I was more than hungry. I hadn’t taken time to grab the last mouthful of cereal from my pack, or even to refill my water bottle.

On the porch, Mr. Whitley sat down and took off his work boots, and stood to unbutton his wet and dirty work shirt.  He wore a sleeveless tank underneath, showing sinewy arms and grey chest hair from underneath.  I looked away, and worked on getting my mud-soaked sneakers off. As for my strawberry-spotted t-shirt from yesterday, it was mostly mud and dirt, now.

He looked over at me.

"So what happened this morning?"

What was there to say? I shrugged.

"Sleep through your alarm?"

I didn't have an alarm. Not that he could know. But Mr. Whitley was going to press me for answers, and I didn't have any. Another shrug.

"Couldn't get anyone to give you a ride this morning?"

I hated to lie, but I didn't see much choice. Shrugs weren't going to work much longer. "Nobody up," I said shortly.

"No, I suppose not in Andersonville," he replied cryptically. There was something hidden in that, somewhere. Should I take offense? I decided to use my life experience to my advantage for once.

"Couldn't sleep. People were fighting outside my door." I knew a lot about that. I cringed to think about it.

Mr. Whitley made a face, and nodded. "Well that's no surprise," he muttered, adding, "Andersons," under his breath.

He paused, then focused on my feet.

“Haven’t you got any boots?”

“No, sir.”

“Hmpf.  That figures.  And I suppose you forgot to change clothes from yesterday?”

“I overslept. I just grabbed what was there and…"

“OK, OK, I get it,” he said, cutting me off. “Hmpf.  No boots, huh?”

I shook my head.

“Well.  You’re an Anderson, I guess.”

Exactly what he meant by that remark, I don’t know, but it didn’t sound good. 

“Get those shoes off, and let’s get some lunch.”

Lunch was a silent affair.  Every now and then, Mr. Whitley would look over in my direction and shake his head.  Occasionally, his looks would be punctuated with another “hmpf. Andersons.” I don't think he knew I heard.

I’d displeased him.  I’d been late to work.  My clothes were smelly and ratty, but then, a lot of the work I did was sweaty and smelly, too. My sneakers were a sopping ruin, but I figured on trying to wash and dry them out as best I could in the barn overnight.

I got up, took our empty dishes to the sink, and began washing them. Mr. Whitley rose himself and peered out the window.

“Thanks for taking over the dishes,” he said quietly. 

I hadn’t even thought about it.  I’d done it automatically. It was what I’d always done at home.  At home. That idea lingered for a while, as I finished.

“You know,” he took up the thread of conversation again, “it looks like this is gonna be an all day thing. We’ve got some errands to run in New Salem this afternoon.  The work will keep until tomorrow.”

I looked over at him.

“That’s you and me going to New Salem, so you’re not off the hook yet, young Eric.”

He wore the beginnings of a smile on his face.

“First, though, let’s go upstairs to the boys’ room and see if there aren’t some dry clothes for you.  You’re going to get chilled walking around in wet gear all afternoon.”

Surprise must have registered on my face.

“My boys have all grown up, but they left some things behind.  Never got around to giving them away.  Hmpf.”

We ascended a set of stairs, and I followed Mr. Whitley as he entered a bedroom with a low, slanted ceiling. A footlocker lay at the end of a double bed, which he proceeded to open without ceremony. 

He dug for a few moments and extracted a much worn blue work shirt, like his own.  He tossed it to me.  It was soft, and light, and smelled faintly musty, of long storage.  He resumed his rummaging. Moments later, he took out a pair of green work pants.

“These might do,” he said with a hint of triumph in his voice.  “You get your wet things off and change.  Then we’ll be on our way.”

He exited the room and went down the steps, leaving me alone.  I looked around the room.  A few pictures of mountain scenes and of children posing perched on the various surfaces.  I peeled off my wet jeans. Today was a day I was wearing my basketball shorts as underwear, and these had stayed mostly dry.  I had considered going without underwear because all my clothes really needed washing, but I’d stayed with my habit of the few weeks.

Off came my t-shirt, which, while no longer plastered to my body with the rain and wet, was still quite damp. I put on the blue shirt.  It felt large and loose on me, but the softness made up for it. I could roll up the sleeves if I had to, and it wouldn’t be too bad. 

The pants, on the other hand, were about the right length, but far too big around the middle.  They would have been about as easy to wear as a tent. No amount of tucking in and hitching up would make them fit.  Still, they had the advantage of being dry. 

I made my way down to the kitchen, with my wet things draped over my arm. Mr. Whitley took one look at me, and stifled a laugh. 

“Well. You look drier, at least,” he said, taking my wet clothes from me and hanging them over the back of a chair, "I got out a pair of my socks for you to use, but I can’t do much about your shoes.”

I looked away, outside. Did my face feel hot?  I was embarrassed by the ill-fitting clothes and by his kindness all at the same time.

“Don’t worry, Eric.  You’ll be fine.”  He opened a drawer and fished out a piece of clothesline.  “Here.  Tie this around through the belt loops.  It isn’t elegant, but it’ll do for now.”

While I followed instructions, I heard him search behind the door.

When I looked up, he was handing me a bright yellow raincoat.

“Put that on, and nobody will notice your waistline,” he grinned at me. 

He was right.  Like the shirt, the raincoat was a bit large and fell past my rope belt. I wasn’t as obviously dressed in castoffs as a moment ago.

Before long, we were in the pickup truck, this time, headed out along the lane beyond the barn.  At this speed, I missed the different turns and landmarks as we found our way to a paved highway. The road looked a whole lot like the ones I had traveled, but it went by a whole lot faster. Before too long, the houses got closer together, and things looked more settled.  I realized we were entering a town.  It took us maybe 40 minutes to cover a distance that would have taken me the better part of a day to walk. 

In some ways, it was a pity, I thought.  I missed the sound of the birds calling, and the smells of earth and farms.  I missed the chance to pull a stalk of grass, or the freedom to stop and consider a brook, or a wild rosebush.  On the other hand, it was wet enough out that I’d probably not have wanted to stir out of whatever shelter I could have found.  If there was any. 

I wondered for the hundredth time what errands Mr. Whitley had brought me along to do. 

It didn’t take long for me to find out.  We made a stop at an old building with a dusty sign letting me know that this was “Valley Ag-Mart  & Feed.”  Whitley got out, but I hesitated. 

“That’s OK. You wait here until I come and get you.”

He disappeared inside.  There was more activity here than I might have expected. Vehicles pulled up and then departed.  People entered and left. I must have dozed, because I awoke to Mr. Whitley tapping on the window, motioning me to get out.

“OK, young Eric, you follow me.”  

Wordlessly, I followed. We marched over to a raised, covered platform which I hadn’t seen earlier.  A black-haired, broadly built guy in a green t-shirt – older than me, but not that much older – dropped a large sack on the deck of the platform. 

“Chicken feed,” said Mr. Whitley.  “You get that sack and put it in the back of the truck. I’ll get the next one.”

I nodded.  I grunted with the effort of heaving the deadweight of that sack onto my shoulder and walked it over to the truck.

When I turned back for the next one, I encountered Mr. Whitley, carrying two sacks.  One under each arm.  That’s some strength for you. At the platform, I got ready to lift the last sack. I hefted the sack and tried to carry it like my employer.  That didn’t last long.  I felt pretty skinny and weak.

After the sacks of feed, there were a number of tight rolls of fencing, and a heap of fence posts. As I lifted the last load for the truck, I heard a question.

“You working for Eustace this summer?” 

The black-haired guy was back.  I looked up at him and was treated to a smile.  Beautiful dark eyes. Curly black hair. Muscles on his arms. Ugh.  I can’t think like this. Message to self – good looking guys are definitely not good news.

“Uh-huh,” I nodded, and looked away.

“I’m Toby. Toby Harris.  My folks live over the ridge from Eustace. You are…”

“Eric. I’ve been working for Mr. Whitley since Monday.”

“Mr. Whitley, you say?”  He scratched his head. “Huh.  Well, I’ve always called him Eustace. He’s a good guy. I worked for him a couple of summers until I graduated school and got this job. Catch you around town, maybe?”

“Yeah. Maybe,” I said softly. 

I turned to my task. I wasn’t trying to make any friends.  Toby Harris looked like the kind of person I could like, but I didn’t trust him.  Trust and me do not go together. Not since growing up in Dad’s house.  Not since Merle’s Diner.

Mr. Whitley covered everything up with a tarp to protect it from the light rain that still fell, and I got into the truck.  The next stop was a bank.  I looked around curiously; I’d never been inside one before.  Phones beeped softly, people spoke quietly at the counters to one another.  Nothing seemed really alive in the bank. I got uncomfortable in the unnatural hush, but I watched what happened with interest.

Mr. Whitley waited his turn at the counter and then stepped up when motioned to do so. He and the person waiting on him spoke, and then she had to step away for a moment.  A second later, I was startled by a woman speaking quite loudly for such a quiet space.

“Sir?  Can I help you?  Sir?”

I looked around to see who she was speaking to.

“Sir? I can help you here.” 

I felt hot embarrassment creep over my face.  I realized she was speaking to me.  I stepped over towards her station at the counter. 

“I’m sorry.  I’m not a ‘sir;’ I’m just waiting for someone else.”

“Oh, okay then,” she smiled pleasantly and then returned to her duties.

His business finished, Mr. Whitley motioned me over to the side of the room.  Out of an envelope in his hand, he pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed to me. He proceeded to count out five more.  One hundred twenty dollars.

“That’s three day’s pay I’m giving you right there,” he stated.  “Now, normally, I wouldn’t tell you how to run your life, but today, I’m going to. “

I tore my gaze from the untold riches in my hand and looked up at him.  I’d never possessed this much money of my own, ever.

“I’ve got to go to the barber for a trim and then stop at the auto parts store. I’m going to drop you off at the shoe store.  I expect you to purchase a solid pair of work shoes with that money. You need them.”

I nodded, awestruck.

New shoes.  He wanted me to get new shoes. New; not fished out of the lost and found at the end of the school year; not purchased at a yard sale or a thrift store.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve gotten good stuff at thrift stores and yard sales. But Dad never, ever got me anything new. Speech wouldn’t come.

Finally, I whispered, “Thank you, sir.  I’ll do that.”

“Thank me for what?  You earned the money.  It’s just that you need the right tools to do your job, that’s all.”

He repeated that point when we parked at a small plaza on the outskirts of town. I tried to thank him again, but he interrupted, “It’s your money, you understand?  I’m just expecting you to use it for being equipped this time.” 

I nodded furiously, and he added, “And don’t get cheap stuff, either.  Cheap wears out and lets you down. It’s worth it to spend money on quality.”

I found my voice.  “Okay, Mr. Whitley, I’ll do that.”

We parted company, and I ventured into the shoe store. It smelled of leather and rubber.

In moments, a pleasant older man asked me what I needed.  He sat me down and sized my foot with a weird metal plate.

“Sir? I really don’t know what I’m looking for.  I work at a sheep farm, and I was told to get some work boots, but…”  I trailed off.

“No problem,” the gentleman replied smoothly. “Let me bring you some possibilities.” 

As he ambled off, I stood up and looked at the display models on the wall.  I saw some work boots for forty dollars, and these were the lowest priced ones there. There were others for sixty five, and others for eighty.  There was even a pair for one hundred ninety dollars!  I couldn’t believe the price tags.  I didn’t feel so rich after all. 

A few minutes later, I was being shown several different boots and learning the advantages and disadvantages of each in bewildering combinations. Finally, I settled on a pair that was marked way down to $62.99, which I was assured was a great bargain.  As long as Mr. Whitley didn’t think I was being cheap with his money, I would be fine.

I walked out of the store with a big box under my arm and looked around.  Over to my left, I spied a different store.  Goodwill.  I knew stores like that. Thrift stores.  Second hand stores.  When Dad was feeling generous (not very often), or when I absolutely had to get new clothes for school, he’d drop me off at the local thrift store with a ten-dollar bill and say “knock yourself out,” and drive away.  Well, I was used to buying clothes there. I thought about my two ragged t-shirts and my jeans and wasted no time hustling over. 

 I could have stuffed a closet full of clothing with the money I still had in hand.  Instead, I did my best to choose carefully. I basically bought several spares of everything I had, especially long sleeved shirts; I even found some real underwear and socks.  But the most satisfying find in the store was a digital wristwatch with an alarm feature.

I tried not to linger. I hurried out to the truck, but I needn’t have worried. I stashed my shopping bag of clothes underneath the tarp with the sacks of grain and fencing and then got in the cab with my shoebox to wait.  I didn’t have to wait long.

I spied Mr. Whitley returning, freshly trimmed and carrying several large boxes. I got out, and overcoming his protests, took them from the old man.  I carried them to the back of the truck and covered them up with the tarp.  I didn’t really want him to see I’d done some extra shopping.

“So, how’d you make out?” was his first question.

I opened the box and showed off my selection.

“They fit OK?” 

I nodded.  “They’re fine.  The salesman made sure I got the right size and all.”

“They don’t look too cheap.  What did you pay for them?”

I told him the price, and Mr. Whitley seemed satisfied. 

The rain had diminished to an intermittent misty drizzle by this time. As we drove back to the farm, I tried harder to pay attention to the route we took.  If I had to make a journey to town, I figured I’d better know the way. 

Mr. Whitley respected my silence, which I appreciated, but as we neared the farm, he spoke up again.

“My son Ambrose and his family are coming up Friday night.”

I tried not to let my surprise show.  Mr. Whitley seemed so independent, so solitary, that it didn’t seem possible that he’d had a family once. 

“On Saturday, we’ll tackle the re-fencing job in the upper pastures together.  That’s what all this stuff is for,” he added, jerking his thumb toward the rear. "You didn't have any plans down in Andersonville for Saturday night, now did you?"

“No sir,” I told him.   

“Good. I plan on wearing you out Saturday," he actually smiled. "Tomorrow, we’ll get these supplies loaded onto the trailer, and we'll be ready for the job.”

“Yessir, sounds good.”

By now, we were nearly there. I tried to figure a way to get my stuff up into the loft where my pack was without being seen.

“Sir?  When we park, I’ll unload into the barn.  You can go on in and…”

“Young Eric, slow down a second,” he interrupted, as he pulled the truck in by the barn. 

“First off, you don’t have to call me ‘sir.’  I’m Eustace, and you’re Eric.  I appreciate you being respectful, but it isn’t necessary to be so formal, okay?”

“Yessir,” I replied automatically.  When I realized what I’d said, I added, “Sorry.”

He just shook his head.

“Second,” he continued, “my family treats me like a crippled old man who can barely take care of himself. I love them, but it sometimes drives me crazy. I’m glad of your help, but I can unload the truck competently, thank you.”

Stung, I hung my head.  I’d done just the wrong thing again.

“Now, don’t get all mopey on me,” I heard him say.  “I just wanted us to be clear, all right?”

I nodded. 

“And just this once, because I need to use the bathroom inside, you can unload – not because the old man needs to be babied, all right?”

I looked up at him and saw the smirk plainly on his face. 

“Okay,” I got out, softly.  “Thanks.”

"Come on up to the house once that's done," he directed.

After the truck was unloaded, I walked up to the house to find Mr. Whitley in the kitchen, chopping onions.  I picked up my jeans and t-shirt from over the chair – still damp, but wearable. I made to walk into the bathroom off the kitchen with them.

“I was thinking,” he said conversationally, glancing up at me, “that I’d get supper started if you wouldn’t mind bringing up the flock from the meadow tonight.”

“Sure,” I agreed, standing in the doorway.

“And I thought that you’d better keep that shirt you’ve got.  None of my grandkids are going to use it, so you’d better do that.”

“Thanks…Eustace.  Thank you.”

I tried to smile, but I was embarrassed by how kind he had been to me today, especially given all the mistakes I had made. He turned back to his chopping, and I got back into my jeans. 

Somehow, I felt more certain, more sure of myself, as I walked down to the meadow in my new boots.  Maybe it was that I didn't have to pick my way down the path, or maybe they just feel more solid on my feet.  Or maybe they make me feel like I could belong here, at least for a while.

Craftingmom edited this chapter and provided cogent commentary, for which I am most grateful.

Please leave a review. Your comments or thoughts of any description are most welcome.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; 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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Chapter Comments

I have a feeling that Eustace suspects something, but I sure am glad that Eric gets a break - finally. I hope things continue to improve for him

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I'm wondering if there really are Andersons in Andersonville... ;) I think Eustace isn't as clueless about Eric's plight as we might think. This seems like a great place for Eric to settle down for a bit and learn about kindness and the good in the world. I can see him occupying one of Eustace's son's former bedrooms. Hopefully he'll stick around for a bit instead of high tailing it out of there after only a week.

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On 11/01/2015 06:29 AM, ninecila said:

I have a feeling that Eustace suspects something, but I sure am glad that Eric gets a break - finally. I hope things continue to improve for him

Eustace may not know what to make of Eric, but then, he has lenses of his own through which to see the world. But getting work, pay and the occasional good word is a vastly new and better experience for Eric, :)

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On 11/01/2015 07:02 AM, Valkyrie said:

I'm wondering if there really are Andersons in Andersonville... ;) I think Eustace isn't as clueless about Eric's plight as we might think. This seems like a great place for Eric to settle down for a bit and learn about kindness and the good in the world. I can see him occupying one of Eustace's son's former bedrooms. Hopefully he'll stick around for a bit instead of high tailing it out of there after only a week.

No spoilers. Andersons? Sometimes you learn about something indirectly. Sometimes not. Anyhow, Eustace is likely to take the world as it comes, and mind his own business. Sometimes farmers survive that way. At least Eric seems to want to stay there, and that's half the battle isn't it?

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On 11/01/2015 07:07 AM, Diogenes said:

What a sweet, beautiful chapter. I'm so glad your story has developed this way, finally.

For Eric, he might have some reassessing to do. How long can he stay? Finally, there is a place that feels safe enough on his own terms. Maybe managing just one relationship, just one day at a time is enough...

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A nice break for Eric! Eustace reminding him it was Eric's own money was both poignant and interesting.
I agree with the others (feels odd not to be the first review) that Eustace knows something is up, but as you mentioned, is one to mind his own business.
Ambrose's family. That's interesting. Could be some grandkid who will be a bit of a test for Eric. He didn't trust Toby and won't trust anyone for a long time.
Thanks for a very rewarding chapter Parker!

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On 11/01/2015 01:39 PM, skinnydragon said:

A nice break for Eric! Eustace reminding him it was Eric's own money was both poignant and interesting.

I agree with the others (feels odd not to be the first review) that Eustace knows something is up, but as you mentioned, is one to mind his own business.

Ambrose's family. That's interesting. Could be some grandkid who will be a bit of a test for Eric. He didn't trust Toby and won't trust anyone for a long time.

Thanks for a very rewarding chapter Parker!

The mental picture of Eric in cast offs for the trunk was both poignant and funny as I wrote. Eustace has been at that farm forever, probably has seen a lot in that neighborhood. But he's clearly an older homebody who stays down toe the farm, mostly, especially now that he's become increasingly isolated as his years advance. No, not surprising that Eric doesn't trust Toby. Still, all things considered, Eric is in the best place he's been in for a decade.

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Nice again. Soon our boy will be a sheep farmer! Nothing wrong with that. As of now, he knows more than I did at his age. Good for him.

 

I'm liking it.

 

tim

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I'm with the others and think Eustace knows there's something wrong. He help anyway. Eric can't relax, but at least he can live a little easier. As can I - for a while I guess.

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On 11/02/2015 01:46 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Nice again. Soon our boy will be a sheep farmer! Nothing wrong with that. As of now, he knows more than I did at his age. Good for him.

 

I'm liking it.

 

tim

Well, he certainly learned about the joys of livestock testing on a rainy day. That he'll go through it without complaining says a lot about how much he's already beginning to stick with Eustace. It's hands on work, and I think he likes that. I think he trusts Eustace, if only so far. There are barriers and secrets that will take lots, lots, more to break down.

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On 11/02/2015 02:41 AM, aditus said:

I'm with the others and think Eustace knows there's something wrong. He help anyway. Eric can't relax, but at least he can live a little easier. As can I - for a while I guess.

Thank you for your very perceptive review. Eustace will probably let Eric make the decision, if any. Eustace is pretty laconic, and probably would be an excellent listener, but not a coaxer. Right now, Eric can rely on safety, for the time being.

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Andersons, the way Eustace says it, is a euphemism right? He clearly is waiting for Eric to crack and tell him on his own. If that keeps Eric fed and sheltered, I'm ok.
The parts where he's expecting the worst and surprised to be treated normally just break my heart. It is so good to have Eric feel pride.
I really liked this chapter.

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On 11/06/2015 02:14 PM, Defiance19 said:

Andersons, the way Eustace says it, is a euphemism right? He clearly is waiting for Eric to crack and tell him on his own. If that keeps Eric fed and sheltered, I'm ok.

The parts where he's expecting the worst and surprised to be treated normally just break my heart. It is so good to have Eric feel pride.

I really liked this chapter.

It was a really good chapter to write, too. No, I think Eustace is kind of a mind my own business kind of fellow, learned over a long period of time. Maybe finally Eric won't feel like every thing he does is being weighed carefully. Or maybe that is still a long way off. Fear is a very hard thing to unlearn, I think. Thank you for your patience and persistence - and especially for your review.

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I grew up wearing hand-me-downs (my older brother's, cousins', sometimes family friends), but my parents were too proud to shop at thrift stores. They always shopped for bargains.

 

When I got a job and finally had money of my own, I wasn't really fully prepared. For many years I followed my parents' example and didn't spend a lot of money. I paid off my credit cards every month.

 

I didn't like having cheap stuff, so I'd buy mid- or upper-mid-priced stuff (so I wouldn't feel poor). More selective: fewer, but nicer.

 

And then I got a job where I was overwhelmed and underpaid. I started not being able to pay off my credit card balances. My creditors kept raising my limits, ignoring the fact that my limits totaled significantly more than my gross annual income (maxing out more than double my income!). I haven't filed for bankruptcy, but because of the source of my income (SSDI), my creditors cannot seize the funds. I have a couple more years before the debt drops off the books. I've learned my lesson and will never let things get out of control again.

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On 06/28/2016 01:30 PM, droughtquake said:

I grew up wearing hand-me-downs (my older brother's, cousins', sometimes family friends), but my parents were too proud to shop at thrift stores. They always shopped for bargains.

 

When I got a job and finally had money of my own, I wasn't really fully prepared. For many years I followed my parents' example and didn't spend a lot of money. I paid off my credit cards every month.

 

I didn't like having cheap stuff, so I'd buy mid- or upper-mid-priced stuff (so I wouldn't feel poor). More selective: fewer, but nicer.

 

And then I got a job where I was overwhelmed and underpaid. I started not being able to pay off my credit card balances. My creditors kept raising my limits, ignoring the fact that my limits totaled significantly more than my gross annual income (maxing out more than double my income!). I haven't filed for bankruptcy, but because of the source of my income (SSDI), my creditors cannot seize the funds. I have a couple more years before the debt drops off the books. I've learned my lesson and will never let things get out of control again.

Eric hasn't really ever shopped anyplace else but thrift stores; I know what you mean about credit and its insidious creep, ever upwards. Eric may not have that worry, just yet, but he surely is learning about the need for things to last from Eustace. Thanks for your reviews and support! Your comments are appreciated, even if I have had to get to them late!

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So great to see him progressing, whereas not so long ago it looked like he was getting worse and worse.

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Getting new clothes and boots will do wonders for Eric's well-being. Now he just needs to find a way to have a bath.

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2 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

Getting new clothes and boots will do wonders for Eric's well-being. Now he just needs to find a way to have a bath.

Eric is unused to kindness, let alone new clothes. All of this is bright new uncharted territory for him. He’s an ingenious fellow - he’ll find a way to wash. Thanks so much for reading and commenting ! 

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So great to see Eric progressing, new clothes and boots will do wonders for him. Eustace doesn't know what to think of Eric.

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6 hours ago, chris191070 said:

So great to see Eric progressing, new clothes and boots will do wonders for him. Eustace doesn't know what to think of Eric.

Eric and Eustace are each trying to figure the other out. Eric can't believe in the kindness of the old man. Eustace has a hard time believing that this Anderson kid is as guileless and hardworking as he appears. But Eustace seems to be giving him the benefit of the doubt.

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I honestly almost stopped reading this story.  I don't handle angst too well.  I made it through the first 5 chapters and keep looking for it to have a little bit of hope.  At chapter 15 I had about given up.  I decided that I would plow through three or four more chapters.  Finally, things began to get better when Eric met Eustice.  So, I can finally give a chapter a positive reaction instead of the anger or sad emoji.  Hope it continues for some more chapters.  I do have to admit that the writing is exceptionally skilled.  The character development and pace are excellent as well as the dialogue and realistic feeling to the story. (Which is so real that I was having angst for the first 18 chapters.) 😊

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1 hour ago, raven1 said:

I honestly almost stopped reading this story.  I don't handle angst too well.  I made it through the first 5 chapters and keep looking for it to have a little bit of hope.  At chapter 15 I had about given up.  I decided that I would plow through three or four more chapters.  Finally, things began to get better when Eric met Eustice.  So, I can finally give a chapter a positive reaction instead of the anger or sad emoji.  Hope it continues for some more chapters.  I do have to admit that the writing is exceptionally skilled.  The character development and pace are excellent as well as the dialogue and realistic feeling to the story. (Which is so real that I was having angst for the first 18 chapters.) 😊

I don’t blame you for feeling the weight on Eric’s shoulders. Clouds as dark as his don’t disperse easily or quickly. Finding Eustace was the first sustained bit of luck he’s had in a very long time. Thanks for your comments. I’m very grateful to you for sticking with Eric/Stefan through his journey. 

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