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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 - 46. Chapter 46 Valentines

Valentines

No real warnings needed for this chapter.

Extended comments, reflections, questions, rants or tangents can be made on the A to Z story thread.

February 14 – Valentine’s Day

Today was Valentine’s Day – I’d forgotten all about it. It’s the day you show your boyfriend (or girlfriend, I suppose) how much you care. A card is supposed to be standard. What did my boyfriend do?

Instead of a card, Zander went with me to the lab so I wouldn’t freak out during the blood test. Zander’s mom let him drive me to the lab this morning, early – way early. The lab was super quiet at that hour, and I got into the lab right away. Zander insisted on coming along. He made sure to draw up a chair next to mine. He took my left hand in his. The nurse looked at us kind of funny, but Zander didn't seem to notice.

The nurses at the lab had purple uniforms. I wondered idly if the colors meant something special. My nurse had my name and paperwork all ready. I guess the doctor had already sent them my information the night before.

"Someone need a little reassurance?" my purple nurse asked, glancing at me.

"Maybe," I shrugged.

I guess I was more than a little nervous. But not as anxious as Zander.

When the nurse got out the tubing and the needle, I felt Zander tighten his grip on my hand. I rolled up my right sleeve, and she tied the tubing around my arm. She swabbed the area where the needle would go with antiseptic; it felt cool on my skin. She looked at the arm critically for a moment and evidently found a target.

“This might hurt a bit,” she murmured, and then pushed the needle in.

She was right, it did hurt. But I’ve been hurt worse; this wasn’t so bad. I looked over at Zander to see his face had gone very, very pale. He tried to smile for me, and I grinned back. He looked away. I turned to see what was happening to my arm. The nurse worked quickly, filling tube after tube with small samples of dark, almost purple, blood. She carefully labeled every one and placed them on a little tray off to the side. There sure were a lot of them. As she worked, I wondered what they needed all that blood for.

Before I knew it, she was all done. “That’s it, finished,” she said, undoing the tubing and putting a dressing on the place where the needle had punctured my skin. “You can go get some breakfast now,” she joked.

I think I was in better shape than Zander when we left the lab. He drove us to school; we’d eat there.

“I don’t know how you could stand that,” he told me as he drove.

I smiled for him. I knew now how much he really hated all that. “It’s okay now. Thanks for coming with me." I paused a moment. "Zander? It wasn’t so scary with you there. I wish you’d come to the doctor’s with me yesterday.”

This was true. I’d thought about it, and I don’t think the bad thoughts would have occurred to me with him present.

When we arrived at school, it dawned on me that there was something important about the day. Of course, now I remembered it was Valentine's Day – rooms and corridors had plenty of hearts and red roses for decorations. The student council had a fundraiser where you could buy a flower and have it delivered in class to a sweetheart. I thought about what someone would say if I bought one for Zander, but I was a coward and walked past the table in the corridor.

Still I thought about it all day. I should have done something – anything – for Zander, on this day especially. He and his family had done so much for me already. At lunch, Zander got another text from his mom telling me I had another appointment after school, and that she’d pick me up right after school ended.

Zander and I met her at the main entrance to the school as soon as art class was over. He was determined to come with me if this was another doctor’s appointment.

“Not this time, Zander,” she said, smiling. “This one is for Andy only.”

“Okay, I’ll stay in the waiting room,” he argued stubbornly.

“You’ll have swim practice before Andy gets done. You can ask him all about it when you get home. If there’s a big problem, I’ll text you,” Mrs. Stevenson told him.

Reluctantly, Zander agreed, but he wouldn’t let me go before giving me a one-armed hug and squeeze. “Good luck, whatever it is. And remember, I love you,” he said to me privately.

This time, we drove over to a pleasant looking house on a residential street, and pulled into a very small parking lot in back of the house. We walked up to a glass door labeled “Marilyn O’Shea, PhD.” We rang the bell. In moments, a youngish woman with long, crinkly brown hair answered. Blue eyes smiled out of a rounded face speckled with freckles.

“Come on in, I’m Marilyn O’Shea. You must be Andy Stevenson?” she spoke directly to me.

I nodded.

We entered a minute waiting room with a couple of comfy chairs and plenty of magazines. There wasn’t a TV.

“Mrs. Stevenson, why don’t you make yourself comfortable here, and Andy and I can chat in my office for a while.” She pointed to the chairs. She beckoned me through the office door. I entered, and she shut the door behind me. I found myself in a large room with a sofa and a number of well-upholstered chairs. Books lined the walls. A big square window looked out on a side yard, covered in snow.

“Sit down, pick a chair that looks good,” she invited.

I sat.

“I’m Dr. O’Shea, but you can call me Marilyn, if you want. Do prefer Andy or Andrew?”

I didn’t know what kind of doctor she was, but I was on guard. “Andy.”

“Do you know why you’re here in my office today, Andy?” she asked, settling herself in a chair.

I shook my head.

“I’m a counselor. A psychologist. Your guardian and Judge Harrison both wanted you to see someone like me, so I got elected. Is that all right?” She smiled disarmingly.

“Does Mrs. Stevenson think I’m a nutcase?” I blurted out.

Dr. O’Shea chuckled. “No, I doubt that. But I understand that the Stevensons want you to live with them, and you might have had some rough experiences. More than that, I’ll have to learn from you.”

“What do you want to know?” I asked.

“Why don’t you tell me your story? Tell me what you think is important for me to know.” She countered.

I hesitated. It would be good to get things off my chest. Absolutely everything. But I wasn’t at all sure I could trust this pleasant faced woman.

She must have read my face. “Tell me only what you think you want to tell me, Andy. Everything you say in here is between you and me – that’s it. Period.”

“No exceptions?” I asked.

“Only if I think you’re going to be a danger to yourself or someone else,” she explained. “I’m going to take notes on what you say,” she added, holding up a tall yellow pad of lined paper, “but you can read it all before you go. The notes are just to help me remember what you said.”

I eyed her warily. I decided I could tell her the bare bones story – the one I had told Kaz and Terry. We’d see about the rest some other day. “Okay,” I said, “here goes.”

Dr. O’Shea was a very good listener. She interrupted me only a couple of times to clarify something I’d said, or to ask me to let her write something down. She never made any kind of face or made any comment on my tale.

“Wow. That’s quite a journey you’ve had,” she said when I finished by telling her about getting caught in the Stevenson’s barn a few days before.

I shrugged.

“Can I ask you a couple of questions?” she asked.

Another shrug.

“I just want to know why you didn’t just go home after climbing out of the principal’s window in Carlsberg. I mean, no one could have blamed you for leaving a burning building.”

“I didn’t want the police to find me there. They’d know to look. And besides, the school was calling my Uncle Ray, and I didn’t want him to find me at home, either.” Dr. O’Shea made a note of my answer.

"You didn't want to go home to your Uncle Ray?"

"No," I answered her shortly, cutting off that line of inquiry.

Dr. O'Shea frowned a moment, then asked another question. “Can you describe your father to me?”

Now why did she ask that?

I did the best I could to describe him, his intimidating size, his black, nasty moods and quick temper, his powerful arms that hurt me so much and so often.

“How about your mom?”

“I don’t really remember her very well. There weren’t any pictures of her at home, and it was almost nine years ago that she left. She had long hair. I remember she sang beautifully. She laughed a lot. And she had the best smile,” I said, wondering if I was remembering reality or dreams I’d had.

She asked a few more simple questions, and then shocked me by saying I’d spent ninety minutes in the office, and it was time for me to go. Surprisingly, I felt better for having talked with her. Maybe she was a good kind of doctor.

Mrs. Stevenson wanted to talk in the car on the way home.

“So what did you think of Dr. O’Shea?” she prompted.

“Good,” I replied promptly, “I liked her.”

“I’m sorry to have surprised you with doctor’s visits this week, Andy. But I think having a counselor to talk to is really important.”

“I’m not crazy or anything," I countered.

“I don’t think so, either,” she said carefully, “but with all you’ve gone through, I feel it would be good for you to have a neutral person you can sound off to.”

I considered that.

“Sound off about what?” I asked.

“Well, about questions you might have, or experiences you don’t know how to handle, or anything, I guess,” she concluded.

“Does that mean I’m not supposed to ask you stuff, Mrs. Stevenson?”

She was silent for a more than a few moments.

“Andy, honey, if you want to talk to me about anything – anything at all – you can. I can’t promise to be wise and all-knowing all the time, but I’ll do my best. I just meant that Dr. O’Shea might be wise in ways I’m not. And Andy – please – I know you don’t think of me as your mother – I understand that – but I’d really prefer it if you called me by my first name. Monica. When you call me Mrs. Stevenson, I start looking around for Zander’s grandmother.”

“Really?” I was completely surprised. “You want me to call you Monica?”

“Yes. I’d feel better about that. Please.”

That was something I wasn’t at all expecting. I always called Dad ‘sir,’ and other adults ‘Mrs this’ or ‘Mr. that.’

“Okay. I’ll try, but…it might be weird.” I smiled.

Mrs. Stevenson laughed at that.

“Mrs. – um…Monica? Can I ask a question?” I ventured. I was right. It was weird.

“Sure. What?” she responded brightly.

“Why haven’t you told me about these appointments I’ve had for the past few days? They were both a big surprise, and, well, I had no idea what to expect. Today was really good, but yesterday…” I left the sentence unfinished.

Mrs. Stevenson paused to reflect before answering. “I’m sorry we didn’t tell you what we were doing, Andy. It’s just that we were trying to get Dr. Wagner and Dr. O’Shea to squeeze you into their schedules when they could. Dr. O’Shea had a cancellation, and we got lucky to have an appointment today. But you know, she wants to see you again on Thursday.”

“Zander has a meet on Thursday. I don’t want to miss it,” I said.

“Don’t worry. You won’t,” she said, smiling again. She went on, shaking her head, “But I think you’re right. We should have let you know what’s being planned. I’m sorry, we just got so caught up in getting you taken care of, we forgot to say anything to you.”

“So is there anyone else I have to see?” I asked.

“Yes,” she nodded, “Besides seeing Dr. O’Shea again on Thursday, we need to have you see the dentist and the eye doctor at some point soon. Garrett says we need to meet with the principal at the high school this week to let the school know officially about the change in your status. We may need to see Dr. Wagner again about any follow-up from the tests he ran yesterday and today. And finally, Judge Harrison will want to see you sometime this week. That about covers it, I think.”

It sounded exhausting. And scary, too. “Does the school have to know? I’m not sure that I want everyone there to know about…everything.”

She was quiet for a moment. “I think we can count on the principal – Mrs. Vetter, isn’t it? – to be discreet and careful. She does have to know, so your records get straightened out, and so we can make sure you graduate properly next year. And if you have to miss school for a doctor’s appointment, well, she’ll know why, and maybe give you a break. Anyways, I think this is something that only she has to know.”

Mrs. Stevenson turned onto Main Street. She appeared to be taking a detour.

“You don’t mind if I stop for something at the drugstore on the way home, do you?”

I shook my head. “No.”

A few moments later, we pulled into a parking lot; the large chain drugstore had hearts and flowers all over the windows, advertising the latest bargains.

“Can I come in with you?” I asked suddenly.

“Of course, Andy. What do you need?” Mrs. Stevenson inquired, curiously.

“Ohhhh, just a little something I forgot to get earlier,” I replied, trying to be mysterious.

Mrs. Stevenson just laughed at that. "Stubborn boys," she smiled.

Once inside, I hurried over to the aisle with the greeting cards. I couldn’t take too much time to choose, so I bought two that looked fairly good. And in a sudden inspiration, I took a bag of dark chocolate kisses off the shelf. I had paid for my things from the money still in my backpack before Mrs. Stevenson had gotten in line. I guessed I had been quick, after all.

Once back at the house, I raced upstairs. I was on a mission. On one of the cards, I wrote a quick message to Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson: “Thank you for making me part of this family. You will always be in my heart. Andy.” I slipped it into its envelope and got out the other card. This one was for Zander. I knew I didn’t have much time to write – not nearly enough time to say everything I wanted to – but I had to get it done quickly and into its envelope before I was missed much. And there was more to do. I picked up the bag of chocolate kisses.

Stealthily, I tiptoed down the hall to Zander’s parents’ bedroom. I tucked their card on top of their pillows but underneath the bedspread, so they wouldn’t find it until they went to sleep. Then I opened the bag of candy. In a few minutes, I managed to hide the little foil-wrapped chocolates in a dozen places – in their sock drawers or in a pair of shoes, for example - and others I set out in the open, camouflaged by curtains or the color of the furniture. I’d used up about a third of the bag.

Back down the hall to Zander’s room, which was where I really went to work. I left his card on his pillow, but in plain sight. On the other hand, I was much more thorough about hiding the candy kisses all over Zander’s room, in his clothes, in his desk, in the bindings of his sketchbooks – everywhere. I wanted him to know I loved him every time he found another one.

When the bag was empty, I wandered nonchalantly downstairs to the kitchen. Nobody was there, so I looked around. On the refrigerator I spied a list headed with the word “Chores.” I figured this was the list of chores Mrs. Stevenson mentioned on Sunday in the car. She'd talked about chores (like this list), ground rules (like no locked doors; study with the door open) and so on. Anyway, the chore list looked pretty long. The tally included: “Shovel out barn. Laundry – wash and dry. Sweep and vacuum downstairs. Supper. Mop kitchen floor.”

It was a little sad to realize I’d need to get down to work again. Still, Dad’s lists had often been longer and nastier. I estimated that if I started right away and thought things through, it would be possible to get everything done before going to bed around midnight or so.

So, first things first. Supper plan. I checked the time. Late – I had to get moving quickly. I wondered what the Stevensons had planned for supper. I looked in the fridge and saw milk, eggs, a block of cheese and ingredients for salad. In one of the cupboards, I found a box of macaroni. In a flash, I had water on the boil. I searched the drawers for a grater. I hurried to assemble everything I needed to get supper started; they would expect supper to be ready when Mr. Stevenson got home, and that would be very soon.

I started to feel panicky, but I suppressed it. Still lots of time.

I put the pasta and eggs on to boil, found a broom, and started in on sweeping the living room, dining room and entryways. I hesitated about the study. The study was Mr. Stevenson’s private domain, and I didn’t know what to do about that. I decided to sweep there, anyway. I’d need to ask where the vacuum cleaner was.

By that time, the macaroni was done, and I was able to drain it, mix in the milk, flour and cheese, peel the eggs and slice them, and then add them all to the pot. Time to sprinkle on some breadcrumbs I found in the cupboard. I set the oven temperature and put the whole thing in. I would wash the greens and get the salads ready later. I still had time to find the vacuum or get a start on the barn. I put the timer in my pocket, grabbed the red coat, and headed for the barn.

Opening the door, I realized that this was where Mrs. Stevenson had been all this time. I’d interrupted her combing down the llamas. She looked up at me.

“Andy? Is there something the matter?”

I shook my head. “No, just getting the shovel.”

She looked at me strangely. “What for?”

“I was just going to shovel out the stalls and the barn, like the list said,” I tried to explain.

“What list was that?” she asked.

“The one on the fridge in the kitchen. I had some time before I…” my words trailed off as she fixed me with a concerned gaze. Perhaps she thought I was crazy, after all.

“Before what?” she probed carefully.

“Well, before the timer goes off, and it’s time to make salad for supper.” I responded, unsure of myself. “Did I do the wrong thing? I didn’t know where to find the vacuum cleaner, so I thought I should come out here, instead…”

“Oh, sweetie, please don’t tell me you started sweeping the downstairs,” Mrs. Stevenson said, almost in pain.

I nodded. “I finished that,” I said simply.

“And I imagine you made supper, too?” she asked.

I shrugged. “It’s in the oven.”

She stepped out of the llama pen and deliberately put the comb in its place. Mrs. Stevenson walked over to me and put her arms around me. It felt comforting. “Andy. That list is for both you and Zander, too. You don’t have to do it all yourself. And that list is for a whole week. You two are supposed to do one of those things every day. Not all of them at once. How were you going to get your homework done?”

I shook my head, feeling dumb. How could I have been so stupid? I just assumed it would be like it had been back in Carlsberg. Back in my Dad’s house. Back when it was just me against him.

“Come on, then,” she said, leading me back to the house, “let’s finish getting supper ready and then you can get your homework started, okay? Zander and Garrett will be home soon.”

Not long after, I heard Zander come home. What I heard were his feet as they bounded up the stairs. He burst into my room, his hair still damp, face still glowing from swim practice. In an instant, I had him in my arms. He smelled like the pool, but clean and lovely. I kissed him then, and he responded happily.

“Hey you,” he said after our lips were thoroughly reacquainted, “I missed you.”

I grinned. “It’s been, what, five hours?”

“Too long,” he said, kissing me again. “Hey, wait a minute. I have something.”

Zander dug in his pocket. He pulled out a small bunch of fuzzy red flowers.

“I got these from the Student Council table; I said I’d deliver them personally,” he said, shyly. He held them out to me. “Please, Andy. Be my Valentine?”

I took the little flowers in my hand. Nobody had ever done anything like that for me before. I’d been the kid in the corner, the invisible boy, a boy discarded like some gum wrapper. Now I had friends, and I had the best boyfriend in the world. I nodded; I couldn’t speak. I hugged Zander fiercely, and was about to kiss him again when I heard Mrs. Stevenson shout up the stairs, summoning us for supper.

I’m still getting used to eating supper with everyone. I’m not always sure how it works. This time, we served our plates in the kitchen. When Mrs. Stevenson remarked casually that I’d made supper, Zander looked at my version of mac and cheese with interest. I couldn’t help feeling a little pleased as I carried my plate to the table. In the dining room, Zander and I each found a small package, tied with a ribbon, at our places. I looked up at Mrs. Stevenson, then at Mr. Stevenson, then at Zander. They all avoided my eyes – something was up.

“These are kind of ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ presents for you two, from us.” Mrs. Stevenson explained briefly, smiling.

I watched Zander open his – he beamed when he discovered a new pair of bright red earbuds inside. I remembered his had broken one day at school after one too many times getting smushed in his book bag.

I opened mine very slowly, very carefully. Nobody gave me presents – not wrapped ones, anyhow. I couldn’t believe what I saw when I got it all undone – they’d gotten me a new cell phone. It looked identical to Zander’s, except it was blue, not red like his. I looked around and saw three goofy grins.

I choked up. “I can’t…I don’t deserve this!” I finally got out.

“Actually, you do, honey,” Mrs. Stevenson said gently, “think of this as Christmas plus today. Think of this as getting officially tied to the Stevensons. And this way, I don’t have to text Zander to tell you about appointments and reminders.”

“And you already have my number programmed into your phone,” chipped in Zander.

I held the phone in my hand and stared at it. Did having one make me normal, like everyone else? I doubted it. But I couldn’t doubt the kindness and generosity of the people at the table with me. I smiled and thanked them, wondering who I would call, besides them. Maybe they’d be enough.

After supper, Zander and I went upstairs to do our homework – and to write. I can’t wait until he sees what I did to his room.

That Valentine’s Day was one of the most memorable ever. Mom said you made supper – and did half the other chores – before I even got home. After supper, we tried doing homework together on your bed. It was so hard to get any homework finished and have you curled up next to me on the bed at the same time. Finally, I made you stop writing in your journal so we could snuggle up together. Instead of watching a movie or something online, we tried out your new phone. It was fun teaching you how it worked and how to use it. You sent texts to me, and then Terry – finally she had a number for you! – and then Kaz. When Mom knocked on the door, you didn’t pull away, even though it startled you.

“Boys, it’s time you got some sleep,” she said, looking at us with a raised eyebrow. “Andy has to run or shovel in the morning, and it’s a school night.” She looked at the pair of us expectantly; it wasn’t hard to get the message.

Sharing the bathroom with you wasn’t weird; sharing anything with you just seemed completely natural. We bumped shoulders brushing teeth in front of the sink, and took turns washing up.

You gave me space to use the toilet and that. Your shy kiss and quiet “Good Night,” left me yearning to prolong our contact after the door closed. I felt so alone, stripping down for bed. Then I found your card on my pillow. What you wrote almost broke my heart.

“I have nothing to give you but my heart today. You’ve given me so much. Be mine today. I am yours forever. Andy.”

My mind felt troubled as my body slipped under the covers and into my cold bed. Then I felt something. Several hard, small somethings. I reached down under the sheets and pulled them out into the light. Chocolate kisses. You’d put chocolate kisses in my bed. Laughter bubbled up from deep down inside. You and your surprises. How did you know I’d like this? And then I realized how wrong it was for me to be where I was.

Switching off the light, I got out of bed and padded across the room and through the bathroom. Your room was dark, and I tried not to make a sound. You heard me, anyways.

“Zander?”

“Yeah. Move over.”

Blankets rustled and the bed creaked.

“Funny, I can’t sleep without you,” I explained, snuggling in. I whispered in your ear as you let me spoon up behind you, “I’m definitely yours. Forever.”

Craftingmom edited this and every chapter. I am deeply grateful for her advice and wisdom.

Please leave reviews. Your comments of any type and variety are always 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



What a perfectly beautiful chapter Parker!
And what a perfect Valentine's Day for both boys.

 

It's good to see Andy getting help. I'm sure he'll fill in more of the horrible details as he gets more comfortable. And yes, he's becoming more of a 'normal' boy, and by more than just getting the phone.

 

Thanks for this!

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On 01/05/2016 10:46 PM, skinnydragon said:

What a perfectly beautiful chapter Parker!

And what a perfect Valentine's Day for both boys.

 

It's good to see Andy getting help. I'm sure he'll fill in more of the horrible details as he gets more comfortable. And yes, he's becoming more of a 'normal' boy, and by more than just getting the phone.

 

Thanks for this!

Imagining Zander getting into his bed full of kisses was a wonderful writing moment. Dr. O'Shea looks like someone who will help Andy confront some of his past. This chapter let Andy be more of the 'himself' we'd like to see. Thanks for your review and thoughtful response.

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What can I say? I teared up several times. I really like the way this is going and hope Andy continues to improve.

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Another happy chapter. I'm starting my day with a smile. I wondered when Andy's "I'm responsible for 100% of the chores in the house" mentality would reassert himself. Thank you.

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I love to see Andy finally being able to let all the love he has inside him out and be the caring, sweet person he's destined to be. For him to not be all broken and bitter is a miracle.

 

Dr O'Shea will be very good for him though. What he's been through will require more than a sympathetic ear to get through.

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On 01/06/2016 12:09 AM, Bart said:

What can I say? I teared up several times. I really like the way this is going and hope Andy continues to improve.

I am happy that this chapter warmed you up on a January morning. He is discovering how different life can be - and how differently he can live, too - when survival isn't the first item on his agenda. Thank you for reading and letting me know your thoughts.

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On 01/06/2016 12:09 AM, xleroc said:

Another happy chapter. I'm starting my day with a smile. I wondered when Andy's "I'm responsible for 100% of the chores in the house" mentality would reassert himself. Thank you.

So very happy this chapter made you smile. After all the darkness and fear in his life, Andy has been slowly discovering light and hope. That sense of responsibility was beaten into him over many years; it's not surprising that it came back again.

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On 01/06/2016 12:09 AM, xleroc said:

Another happy chapter. I'm starting my day with a smile. I wondered when Andy's "I'm responsible for 100% of the chores in the house" mentality would reassert himself. Thank you.

So very happy this chapter made you smile. After all the darkness and fear in his life, Andy has been slowly discovering light and hope. That sense of responsibility was beaten into him over many years; it's not surprising that it came back again. Thanks so much for your review!

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On 01/06/2016 12:23 AM, Puppilull said:

I love to see Andy finally being able to let all the love he has inside him out and be the caring, sweet person he's destined to be. For him to not be all broken and bitter is a miracle.

 

Dr O'Shea will be very good for him though. What he's been through will require more than a sympathetic ear to get through.

The priest did mention miracles not too long ago. I think you have hit on another one of them, though Andy may not recognize it. All he can see is that he has people he can love, and who love him back - Zander, especially. Dr. O'Shea is an interesting character. The medical doctor was efficient, businesslike, not unsympathetic - but utterly unable to reassure Andy. She appears to be different. Thank you for a perceptive review and for continuing to read Andy's journal.

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For being somebody who was so isolated from everyone else around him, and for really having a hard time relating to other people around him, Andy is so incredibly sweet and thoughtful. The little note he left to the parents Stevenson just pulled on my heartstrings a bit. Also what a little romantic sweetheart he was with his gift to Zander. That boy is going to be finding those surprises for a little while and I can just imagine all the smiles he'll have for Andy every time. Andy has this surprisingly romantic instinct, and it still just breaks the heart to think of someone with so much love to give being hurt by so many people like he was.

 

Also, the chores list incident was a little heart wrenching, as well as Andy's desire to be "normal." I do wonder if anyone realizes that he was trying to do all that himself because for him that was the standard expectation he grew up with. It kinda makes me glad his dad is dead cause it's the least that man deserved.

 

Let's see what else... The appointment with the psychologist went well thus far. It definitely wasn't traumatic yet, but he didn't really go into detail about any of his experiences yet. She did zero in on Uncle Ray, so Andy will for sure be discussing that probably in several of their future sessions. I keep telling you that you have great storytelling instincts and it's definitely showing I these chapters Parker. You've got me constantly looking forward to the next chapter.

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On 01/06/2016 01:14 AM, spikey582 said:

For being somebody who was so isolated from everyone else around him, and for really having a hard time relating to other people around him, Andy is so incredibly sweet and thoughtful. The little note he left to the parents Stevenson just pulled on my heartstrings a bit. Also what a little romantic sweetheart he was with his gift to Zander. That boy is going to be finding those surprises for a little while and I can just imagine all the smiles he'll have for Andy every time. Andy has this surprisingly romantic instinct, and it still just breaks the heart to think of someone with so much love to give being hurt by so many people like he was.

 

Also, the chores list incident was a little heart wrenching, as well as Andy's desire to be "normal." I do wonder if anyone realizes that he was trying to do all that himself because for him that was the standard expectation he grew up with. It kinda makes me glad his dad is dead cause it's the least that man deserved.

 

Let's see what else... The appointment with the psychologist went well thus far. It definitely wasn't traumatic yet, but he didn't really go into detail about any of his experiences yet. She did zero in on Uncle Ray, so Andy will for sure be discussing that probably in several of their future sessions. I keep telling you that you have great storytelling instincts and it's definitely showing I these chapters Parker. You've got me constantly looking forward to the next chapter.

Andy can finally show appreciation - and love, perhaps - safely. This is a big change. He is discovering that he can do this, though he might find it hard to be articulate. What he knows is that he loves Zander. And yes, Zander is going to have smiles for a long while. The chores incident is part of the discovery the Stevensons will go through as they get to know Andy. Dr. O'Shea was certainly much less threatening to Andy than the medical doctor. While he was kind and not unsympathetic, his work was far too close to Andy's pain not to send him spinning. I blush at your kind words; it was very good to write about Andy discovering himself a little. That you look forward to reading more of Andy's story makes me very happy.

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Wonderful chapter. Andy is such a sweet boy. I've noticed that being raised in adverse conditions affect people differently. Some are destroyed or warped by it and others just struggle through and with timely intervention come out the other side stronger. We all can see which Andy is.
I liked Dr. O'Shea and think she seemed the perfect therapist for Andy. She started slow and let him get used to her. I know future sessions will not all be easy for him, but it is what he needs. It was good to see he seemed to realize this and cooperate.
It's good Andy has all the help he does because eventually the mess he left behind will need to be dealt with. I have also recently found myself wondering about Andy's mother and if she really left of her own accord. iI just can't conceive of a mother leaving her child with such a man. Ignore me. it's just my suspicious read-too-many-mysteries mind but I wanted to get it down in case something does happen.

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Thank you for this beautiful chapter. The writing is fluid and evocative, truly a pleasure to read.

 

I especially enjoyed seeing an easy going, yet self assured, Andy emerging. That hidden self worth snuck through when he asked Monica why he had not been for warned of his appointments. If my memory is correct, this is only the second time we have seen Andy genuinely assert himself. I think the first was asking the judge about a legal change of name.

 

I echo the sentiments of other reviewers; it is amazing that such a battered person has so much love to give and so little bitterness. It seems clear that he experienced genuine love from his mother. Perhaps something miraculous ...

 

If you get a spare moment Parker, please send Andy a text on my behalf: 'welcome to the 21st century :) '.

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On 01/06/2016 01:32 AM, avidreadr said:

Wonderful chapter. Andy is such a sweet boy. I've noticed that being raised in adverse conditions affect people differently. Some are destroyed or warped by it and others just struggle through and with timely intervention come out the other side stronger. We all can see which Andy is.

I liked Dr. O'Shea and think she seemed the perfect therapist for Andy. She started slow and let him get used to her. I know future sessions will not all be easy for him, but it is what he needs. It was good to see he seemed to realize this and cooperate.

It's good Andy has all the help he does because eventually the mess he left behind will need to be dealt with. I have also recently found myself wondering about Andy's mother and if she really left of her own accord. iI just can't conceive of a mother leaving her child with such a man. Ignore me. it's just my suspicious read-too-many-mysteries mind but I wanted to get it down in case something does happen.

What emerged in this chapter is a sweeter natured, generous Andy. He's finally getting out from under the ghastly burden he's had to carry for years, and perhaps he's grateful for it. Dr. O'Shea certainly helped Andy let some of his guard down - at least better than the medical doctor did. Of course, there's more for Andy to unpack, but for now, not all the kisses have to be in Zander's bed. Thanks for staying with the journal, and for your perceptive review.

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On 01/06/2016 03:56 AM, said:

Thank you for this beautiful chapter. The writing is fluid and evocative, truly a pleasure to read.

 

I especially enjoyed seeing an easy going, yet self assured, Andy emerging. That hidden self worth snuck through when he asked Monica why he had not been for warned of his appointments. If my memory is correct, this is only the second time we have seen Andy genuinely assert himself. I think the first was asking the judge about a legal change of name.

 

I echo the sentiments of other reviewers; it is amazing that such a battered person has so much love to give and so little bitterness. It seems clear that he experienced genuine love from his mother. Perhaps something miraculous ...

 

If you get a spare moment Parker, please send Andy a text on my behalf: 'welcome to the 21st century :) '.

I won't deny that Andy is a little miraculous in that his nature seems sweeter rather than bitter. Experiencing genuine love now seems to have brought out some of his own. Glad you caught that one moment of assertion. Many thanks for your very kind remarks and your insight. When I ever get a cell phone of my own, I shall certainly send that text.

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I have been looking forward to every new chapter of your story for weeks now and cannot seem to get enough. Reading how Andy has been recovering and discovering himself has not always been easy - some of his experiences are so harrowing and terrible. But there have been so many moments when I felt relieved happy and for him. I was wondering whether he would see a psychologist and how he he would react. And again I cannot help but admire how consistent and realistic your descriptions and your moving story are in every chapter. I am so glad that he now has a doctor to help him who knows what impact treatment and checking out, touching can have on a young person who has suffered such terrible abuse. Dr. Wagner seems to have been unaware of his patient's reactions. And the Stevensons, too, have no idea what some of their everyday situations mean for Andy like his confusion over how to eat as a family, like his responses to Mrs. Stevenson in the car home from the mall, like the list of chores.
By the way, in one aspect I do not quite agree with Oxala on this being the second time that he asserted himself. There was also the episode with the snow blower, where he in a way stood his ground, persisting in his shy way to be allowed to repair it, then his initiative in helping the priest, where he, too, acted, not just reacted, even asking for the machine he had just succeeded in repairing. Where his self emerged as helpful and considerate, grateful and kind. But I see that this was the second time where he actually asked for something for himself. The way he develops his self-worth is so moving.
Thanks for another great chapter!

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You are such a good writer that I'm totally "in the moment" as I read. You make me FEEL along with Andy and Zander. Very well done. Thanks for sharing this (now) heartwarming story with us!

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Another chapter that was very sensitive and soothing to read!! Love the way he's being slowly withdrawn from his shell, with all the love and caring that has been absence from his life!! Also very glad to see him getting professional help...Beautiful chapter!!! :thankyou:

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Geez Parker, after all the hurt, hiding and being lost you come up with the perfect chapter for Andy. Being Valentines day makes it perfect. One can only hope that Andy's life is going to be so much better. To find a Dr. counselor that he feels comfortable with is only going to make things better. Love this story!

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On 01/06/2016 05:17 AM, slapshot said:

Geez Parker, after all the hurt, hiding and being lost you come up with the perfect chapter for Andy. Being Valentines day makes it perfect. One can only hope that Andy's life is going to be so much better. To find a Dr. counselor that he feels comfortable with is only going to make things better. Love this story!

This Valentine's Day really was Andy's very first. He realized - finally - that he could participate. Dr. O'Shea certainly helped Andy feel more comfortable than the medical doctor, though that doc probably had to get closer to Andy's pain. He wasn't unsympathetic, just doing his job. Certainly, the last few days with the Stevensons mark the best days Andy has had in almost a decade. Thank you for your review and for staying with Andy in his journal.

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On 01/06/2016 04:42 AM, Onim said:

Another chapter that was very sensitive and soothing to read!! Love the way he's being slowly withdrawn from his shell, with all the love and caring that has been absence from his life!! Also very glad to see him getting professional help...Beautiful chapter!!! :thankyou:

In many ways, this was a great chapter to write, as Andy slowly discovers how to live with people who love him, but who haven't got his understanding about what he's gone through. Valentine's Day was a great place to begin. Dr. O'Shea was a fun character to create, too. Thanks for your kind words and for reading Andy's journal with him.

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On 01/06/2016 04:32 AM, Zenith said:

You are such a good writer that I'm totally "in the moment" as I read. You make me FEEL along with Andy and Zander. Very well done. Thanks for sharing this (now) heartwarming story with us!

Andy's story has evolved, slowly, into a happier, warmer one. It's that way because so many stories never really convince their readers of the trials that temper their characters. I am happy you can feel Andy's pain and his happiness through his journal. I appreciate your encouragement.

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On 01/06/2016 04:29 AM, mayday said:

I have been looking forward to every new chapter of your story for weeks now and cannot seem to get enough. Reading how Andy has been recovering and discovering himself has not always been easy - some of his experiences are so harrowing and terrible. But there have been so many moments when I felt relieved happy and for him. I was wondering whether he would see a psychologist and how he he would react. And again I cannot help but admire how consistent and realistic your descriptions and your moving story are in every chapter. I am so glad that he now has a doctor to help him who knows what impact treatment and checking out, touching can have on a young person who has suffered such terrible abuse. Dr. Wagner seems to have been unaware of his patient's reactions. And the Stevensons, too, have no idea what some of their everyday situations mean for Andy like his confusion over how to eat as a family, like his responses to Mrs. Stevenson in the car home from the mall, like the list of chores.

By the way, in one aspect I do not quite agree with Oxala on this being the second time that he asserted himself. There was also the episode with the snow blower, where he in a way stood his ground, persisting in his shy way to be allowed to repair it, then his initiative in helping the priest, where he, too, acted, not just reacted, even asking for the machine he had just succeeded in repairing. Where his self emerged as helpful and considerate, grateful and kind. But I see that this was the second time where he actually asked for something for himself. The way he develops his self-worth is so moving.

Thanks for another great chapter!

You are most kind in your comments, and I appreciate that you are (now) enjoying Andy's story. Dr. Wagner did his job, but I think his work was very close to Andy's pain and hurt. Dr. O'Shea has a different task; at least she made Andy comfortable enough to talk with her and feel better afterwards. Andy has subtly asserted himself from time to time, as you say. I appreciate your remembering the story so well. However, the new dynamic of having a family - and a boyfriend - who love him must be a real adjustment for everyone, Andy included. Thanks again for your comments and for reading Andy's journal.

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I'm so glad that they found Dr. O'Shea for Andy. She's exactly what I was hoping for for Andy. She's letting Andy set his own pace and talk as much or as little about whatever he wants to talk about. That was the best way to start with Andy.
It's also so cute that Andy thought that the chores list was just for him to get all done in one day. What a sweet, fragile and beautiful boy.

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What a sweet chapter :wub: Andy is such a good soul. I think he'll really start to blossom under the Stevenson's care. It's good that he's got a counselor that he feels comfortable with. He's got so much that he needs to process and a counselor will be invaluable for that. Great job :)

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