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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.

Unbreakable Faith - 10. Chapter 10

Unbreakable Faith

Chapter 10

Ian was still glowing by the time he walked into the library at 2:30. Raymond was already there, notebook open in front of him at the table. He walked over and sat down across from him.

Raymond looked up at him and smiled. “Wow, you look uncharacteristically happy.”

Blushing Ian pulled his chair in closer to the table. “I’ve had a good day,” he said shyly. “Did you come up with some questions?” he asked to change the subject.

“Sure did, I’m afraid some might be too invasive, so if you aren’t comfortable answering just tell me. They aren’t all necessary; I just want to get the best perception that I can.”

Ian nodded bracing himself for the worst.

“Name?”

Looking at him sideways he was glad to see Raymond start to chuckle. “I’m just teasing you man. I’m sorry.”

Ian grinned actually finding it funny since he’d done the same thing a few days before.

“Okay,” Raymond looked down at his notebook and poised his pen. “Can you describe for me what a typical day in your house was like?” Seeing Ian blanche, he reworded his question a bit. “I don’t want to know the details of bad things, just what your schedule was like.”

Nodding his understanding and feeling a little better about the question Ian thought back. “Well I got up at six, got dressed then went to breakfast. After breakfast I cleaned up the dishes then it was time to go to school.”

“And you rode to school with your mom right?”

He nodded.

“Okay, in your day at school how much did you see your mom?”

“Well she walked me to my first class. I went into her room during morning break and lunch, and then met up with her back in her room after the last bell.”

“When you had lunch in her room did you talk?”

“Not really.”

“So you basically just ate?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay what about after school?”

“After school I had chores, they took me up til it was time to eat. After dinner I did the dishes then studied until bedtime.”

“Everyday?” Raymond asked shocked.

“Well every weekday and Sunday.”

“But you couldn’t possibly have had enough homework to fill up all that time.”

“Well I did the homework then it was checked. Usually there was a punishment or two resulting from that, and that took a while.” His eyes wandered around as he spoke. “And if I didn’t have enough homework I studied the bible.”

“Did you ever get to just sit around and read a book? Or when you were younger go out and play? How about TV, did you watch that?”

“Well I could read but my father chose my books. And they were to be read during study time, at the table. I never have watched TV and I don’t really ever remember just playing.” He stopped and leaned forward. “Oh, when I cleaned the church, when I was younger, I used to play with the toys in the childcare room.”

Raymond nodded frantically writing all this down.

“You aren’t gonna say this all are you?”

“No, not all of it, but I want people to see that the only opinions you heard were your father’s and mother’s, that you had no chance to find out people thought differently.”

Ian nodded as well. “Oh yeah that sounds real good.” He was very happy Raymond was taking this so seriously and was happy they’d been paired together.

“Now your homework. We get a lot of ‘write our opinions’ papers we have to write, we have a lot of debates to prepare for. Were those prepared for you?”

“Not for me. I wrote them. But I was told how to feel about it. If I didn’t write it well enough, I was told how to rewrite it and kept rewriting it until it was what he wanted it to be.”

“How much of your father’s opinions did you agree with?”

“I agreed with lots of them, though I always thought he went over board.”

“How many do you agree with now?”

“Now I have a lot to learn, a lot I’ve got to discover on my own. It’s gonna take me some time to sort everything out. I’ve not even begun to discover everything. It’s all so new. But I do know, that I don’t agree with him on more things than before. I see that maybe things with him weren’t right at all. That maybe, just maybe it was him and not me that had a problem.”

“Well of course it was him Ian. You are the best behaved person I have ever met. The most polite and you even seem to be a very caring person. I’m sure he was the one with the problem.”

Ian nodded. “I’ve been told that. But it’s something I’ve got to really see for myself. And I’m seeing it; it’s just that I’ve got more to learn before I make a firm decision.”

“What are some of the things you’ve learned so far?”

“I’ve learned that not everyone goes to church, that faith is a choice for some, not mandatory. I’ve learned that fun is allowed. That not every minute of every day has to be spent learning. I’ve learned that people can care about other people. That people can learn things without being hurt. That pain is not the only way to teach a lesson.”

“Just going to the cafeteria at lunch is a whole new experience. I always watched what was going on but I never got into it. Never saw or heard how things around a high school work. But with interviewing you and talking to the few people I have, I’ve learned about cliques, about bullies, about gossips, about what makes a person popular, and in your case what makes a person not.”

“What is it do you think that makes a person unpopular?”

“The stupidest things.” Ian stated quickly. “Like the clothes a person wears, if they are quiet, if they get good grades. Just if they don’t happen to click with the right people. I think it’s all very foolish but still I’m fascinated by it.”

“And what are you feelings about God nowadays?”

Ian looked at him. “I love God. God will always have a big place in my heart. I’m finding that I don’t need to fear him at least not with all the fear I’m accustomed to. That God is not a mean person, that just my father was. God saved me from that. I will always keep him the most important thing in my life.”

“But if you believe God saved you from that don’t you think that God too put you there in the first place.”

Ian sort of froze in his seat. He’d never thought of that before and it scared him to think about it, but what Raymond said made perfect sense. This was something that needed some deep thought. And something that needed some prayer so he’d figure it all out. Maybe even something he should talk to Reverend Delmar about.

He was very surprised when he walked out of the school to see Mrs. Harvey there in the car and not Mr. Harvey there in the van. Once in the front seat he turned to her and smiled. “I thought your husband would be getting me.”

“Well he was going to. But I thought you and I ought to go and pick out an outfit for your hike on Saturday.”

“I got plenty of clothes ma’am.”

She nodded as she started the car. “But nothing appropriate for hiking. You have no sneakers, and you can’t go in your dress pants.”

“But you don’t have to buy it for me ma’am.”

“I’m not buying it Ian, the state gives us funds to buy things that you boys need.”

“Really?” This certainly surprised him.

“Yeah, that’s what helps us have all you guys. Kyle and I make a pretty good living but we do need a little help with extras for you boys.”

“Wow that’s incredibly nice of them.”

Kelly chuckled. “Yeah it is pretty nice.”

They walked into JC Penney’s about ten minutes later. Kelly guided him over to the jeans section. He looked them over then looked back at her. “I’ve never worn jeans.”

“Because you weren’t allowed?”

“No,” he shrugged. “Well, maybe. Just they weren’t bought for me.”

“You never got to pick out your own clothes?”

“No ma’am. Am I supposed to now?”

Kelly nodded, while she smiled at him. “And pick out a couple of pairs. You may need to wear them more than once a week.”

Ian nodded as he stepped forward to look over the jeans. He had no idea what to look for in a pair of jeans. “Do you know what size I should get?”

“Oh yeah, I checked a pair of your pants before I left the house.” She told him his size then where to look for it on the tag. After he’d picked out a couple of pairs she led him off to the dressing room. He changed behind the curtain while she waited on the other side of it.

He walked back out, a pair of the jeans on and stood in front of her. “They’re so stiff.”

“Well denim is until it’s washed a few times. I can wash them with the load tomorrow then they’ll feel a little better by Saturday. Turn around.”

Ian pivoted on the balls of his feet and turned himself around. He stood still while she tugged at the pants then turned back around when she asked. “Do they feel okay?”

“Yeah other then being stiff.”

“But not too tight?”

“No they feel good around the waist.”

Kelly nodded. “They’ll need to be hemmed but any pair would be. I think they look nice.”

Ian smiled at her. “So we should get these?”

“If you want them hon, they do look good on you.”

He nodded then walked back into the changing room. He decided after trying the second pair on to keep those too. After leaving the dressing room they walked over to the shoe department and checked out the sneakers. After choosing a pair of blue and white Nike’s they went to the checkout then left the store and went home.

After dinner and doing his chore Kyle motioned him to follow him into his office. “I called your social worker, she called Tony’s. If you want you can go over there tomorrow after school and see him. This visit wouldn’t be a long one. Just basically see how he’s doing. Soon after that, we can arrange for him to stay a night over here if you want.”

Ian’s face lit up. “That would be great.”

Kyle watched as he did his usual nervous look around the room, like he always did when he was about to ask something. This look looked even more nervous than the usual one. “What is it son?”

His eyes stopped their roaming and fell on Kyle. “Um, well I was just curious if there were ways for us to earn money.”

“What do you need money for?”

Not really wanting to say but knowing he should give some explanation he said, “I’d like to buy a gift, for a really special friend of mine.”

Kyle’s eyes widened as he hadn’t realized that Ian was that close with anyone. “How much money are you thinking the gift will be?”

Ian shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I have to decide what I want to get then go check out the price.”

“Have you been friends with this person long?”

“No just a few weeks. Well a little over a month probably.” Ian looked from the floor up to the man’s face while he swept his hand over his cast. “He’s the one that called the hotline.”

Kyle nodded understanding a lot more. “Well after we go see Tony tomorrow we can stop at the store if you’d like. You guys have an allowance here. We don’t just hand it over to you guys because the money is from the state, we kind of reserve the right to make sure you guys don’t waste it all so that’s why I just gave you the third degree.” He stopped long enough to grin, which Ian grinned back at and continued, “but I think it’s a great idea if you want to buy this person a gift. So we’ll stop tomorrow and you can pick something out. Though nothing too extravagant, keep that in mind.”

“Okay sir, thank you.”

“No problem Ian.”

The next afternoon after dropping all the kids except Ian off at the house Mr. Harvey pulled the van back out of the driveway and drove for about five more minutes before he pulled into the driveway of another large two story home. This one was brick with white trim. The front lawn was fenced with white pickets; within the fence were tons of toys including a small slide, teeter totter, balls, a sand box and small bikes.

Ian had to smile looking the yard and the house over thinking that it sure looked like a fun place for a five year old to live. Kyle got out of the van and Ian followed suit. They walked up to the front door and Kyle rang the bell. A petite blonde haired, very pretty woman opened the door and smiled out at them. As soon as she ushered them into the house she closed the door behind them and stuck her hand out to Ian.

“My name is Wendy dear; it’s so nice to finally meet you. Tony talks a lot about you.”

Ian smiled at her, as she seemed incredibly nice. “It’s nice to meet you too Ma’am.”

“Come on in the living room. Tony will be home within a few minutes.”

Ian followed Mr. Harvey into a very large living room. It as well had lots of toys in it but for now all the toys were contained in a large toy box on the far wall. A toy box that was bigger than his bed. He sat down next to Kyle on the large overstuffed sofa while his eyes continued to survey the room. He felt nervous though he didn’t really understand why. He loved Tony he was sure of that, he didn’t know why seeing someone he loved would cause him to be so nervous.

“So how are things going for you now Ian?” Wendy asked as she sat in a chair just opposite the couch.

“Very good ma’am.”

“Well I’ll tell you, Tony sure livens up this house. He’s a little whirlwind that one.” She chuckled as she shook her head. “Very sweet boy though. He loves you a whole lot. That’s obvious.”

Ian smiled his eyes misting over. Quickly blinking he blocked any tears threatening to form. “I love him too ma’am.”

The front door opened and suddenly the house was filled with children’s voices and the sounds of feet running up the stairs. Ian flinched when Wendy’s voice hollered out, “TONY,”

He looked to the doorway where Tony was just coming to a stop. The boy turned his head into the living room, at first he had an expression on his face like he thought he was going to get in trouble. Then his eyes fell on Ian and a huge smile filled his entire face. “IAN,” He jumped up and down a few times in place then took off into the room and literally flew up into Ian’s lap.

After straddling Ian’s thighs Tony pressed his little body into Ian’s torso and buried his face in his chest. Ian, his heart expanding, wrapped his arms tightly around the little boy. They hugged in silence for a couple of minutes before Tony pulled himself back and sat up straight on the bigger boy’s lap. “I misses you.”

Ian smiled at him as he chuckled and nodded. “I miss you too Tony. How are you doing?”

“I’s good.” he nodded and smiled over at Wendy. “It’s fun here. Lots of kids to play with, and the food’s is’s good.” He put his small hand on Ian’s neck, leaned over and put his mouth to Ian’s ear. “And no one hit’s me here. Sometimes I’s get yelled at but not too bad.” He whispered.

Ian rubbed his hand up and down Tony’s back. “I’m so glad Tony.”

Tony leaned back again beaming from ear to ear as he nodded enthusiastically. “I’s thoughted so.”

They stayed and visited for about half an hour. Tony cried as they left, which made Ian cry the whole way to the department store. After parking the van Kyle looked over at him. He’d had an idea the two were close but apparently his idea hadn’t even begun to let him know how close they were. He found it amazing as they’d only lived together for a few weeks. Knowing what they’d lived through in those few weeks though helped it to make a little more sense.

Ian saw in Tony his liberation. If Tony had never come along Ian would have never seen how wrong things in his life were. Tony saw Ian as his savior, as the boy who saved him from a horrible situation. The one that mended his wounds and tried to comfort him after he was beaten. To each of them, the other represented the first person in each of their lives that truly cared about them.

“You okay?”

Wiping at his tears Ian took a deep breath getting himself under control. “I guess I didn’t realize ‘til I saw him just how much I missed him.”

Kyle nodded as he squeezed the boy’s knee. “Anytime you want to see him Ian, you tell me okay? I think the relationship you two have is worth hanging onto and I’ll do everything in my power to see you never lose touch with each other.”

Ian, trying to get his crying under control looked up at the man and smiled. “Thank you sir, for that and for always looking out for me.” After a few more minutes waiting for Ian to regain his composure, they got out of the van and went into the store. They walked all over the store before Ian walked back to the jewelry counter. He didn’t really want to get Nathan a necklace as he felt that would just be like copying. He would have liked to just give him something of his own that was real special to him, but truth was he had no things that were real special to him.

Walking around the display case he stopped at a carousel on the counter that was displaying men’s watches. “Do you think he’d like a watch?” he asked turning the thing slowly as he glanced up at Mr. Harvey.

“Can’t go wrong with a watch I think Ian. Everyone needs one.”

Ian nodded looking them over more closely. After much deliberation he pulled a watch with a brown suede leather strap and a gold trimmed face down off the display. “How about this one?”

Kyle nodded. “I think that one is very nice.”

Ian flipped it over looking for a price. “It’s thirty two dollars. Have I got that much to spend?”

“Oh yeah, that’ll be fine.”

         

The next morning Ian got up earlier than he did even to go to school. He took a long hot shower then pulled on his jeans and a gray sweatshirt that Kelly had bought for him. After walking back into his bedroom at nearly seven o’clock Mike and Jeff were both sitting up in bed. They both looked at him looking surprised.

“Wow man, you are wearing jeans.” Mike’s shocked voice sang out.

“They look good on you. Or you look good in them.” Jeff blushed and chuckled. “Not hot or anything just good.”

Ian looked at him a little surprised himself. Seeing Jeff’s blush he realized the guy had been trying to sound complimentary and must be embarrassed because he’d come off sounding a little flirtatious. “I feel funny.” He admitted looking down at himself. It was almost like his head had been attached to another body and it was not really his he was looking down at.

“You’ll get used to it man. It’s just cause it’s new. After you wear them a few times it won’t feel funny at all.”

Ian nodded as he sat down on the bed. He laced up his new sneakers then slipped them on his feet. He’d only had them on for about a minute in the store but as his feet slipped into them he still couldn’t get over how incredibly comfortable they were. Like his feet were wrapped in little clouds.

After his feet were dressed, he pulled his bed out from the wall and made it up with his usual precision while Mike snickered and Jeff told him to shut up. Mike, Ian figured, was basically a nice guy. He just was not the type to hide how he was feeling on anything. Ian knew the other kids thought he was real weird. Mike made a few comments and snickered sometimes but could also be nice. Not like Kevin who seemed to spend his days coming up with ways to humiliate him.

At 7:20 he walked down the stairs where Kelly, Kyle and Jason were already at the table. “Wow Ian you look good.” Kelly said as she stood up and walked up to him. “Are you excited?”

“Very,” He nodded his eyes nearly glowing. He sat down at the table and poured himself a bowl of cereal. He bowed his head and said his prayer then slowly ate.

“So when are you going get back?”

Ian looked up at Kyle thinking he was talking to him but seeing he was looking at Jason.

“They said they’d bring me back tomorrow afternoon.”

He looked over at Jason himself. “Where are you going?”

“Respite.”

“What’s respite?”

Jason looked to Kyle not too sure how to explain it himself.

“It’s a family that he goes to stay with on some weekends. Just so he can get away sometimes.”

“Like a foster family?” He’s heard lots of mention of foster families since his stay there began, but still didn’t really know how they worked.

“They may become my foster family.” Jason spoke up. “That’s why I go to respite there. To make sure I like them and they like me, you know before I actually move in.”

Ian nodded figuring that was a good idea. That it was good to get to know where you’d be living before you actually made the move. He said, “Oh” and finished up his breakfast. He carried his glass and bowl into the kitchen. Mrs. Harvey turned to him as he walked in. As he put his dishes in the sink she went to the fridge and pulled out a brown paper bag.

“I packed you a lunch hon. There’s also a few snacks in there if you get hungry on the bus or before they have lunch.”

He took the bag from her and smiled. “Thanks so much ma’am.”

“You’re welcome. And I hope you have a great time today.”

“I’m pretty sure I will. I’ll tell you about it.....if you want when I get home.”

“Of course I want. I’ll be looking forward to it.”

“Well I better get going.” He wanted to give her a hug but just didn’t know if it was appropriate and didn’t dare.

“Okay dear.” She as well wanted to give him a hug but wasn’t sure how he’d respond to it and just didn’t dare upset him before his big trip.

Five minutes later, lunch in hand, he walked into the parking lot of the church. A large dark green bus was parked there with about twenty kids and a few adults including the pastor and his wife standing around it. They were dressed in casual clothes and he figured, though he was incredibly surprised by it, that they were both going on the trip too.

Reverend Delmar walked up and put a hand on his shoulder as he approached the bus. “So glad you could make it Ian. We were really hoping you’d be able to come.”

Ian smiled up at the man. “Thank you sir, I’m really looking forward to it.”

“It will be a fun day I’m sure.”

Ian was just about to get on the bus, one of the last to get on, when the door to the Parish swung open, slammed closed and Matt came running towards the bus. He stopped below the buses steps, put his hands on his knees and bent over to take a few deep breaths.

The reverend, who was behind the wheel, chuckled as he looked down at his son who he could see past Ian. “Run out of time again Matt?”

Matt straightened himself out and looked up at his father. “Ha ha ha.”

His father chuckled again as he shook his head. Matt climbed up onto the bus and nudged Ian towards a seat in the center where they both sat down, Ian by the window. “Would he really have left you?” Ian asked once they were settled.

“No, but he would get the bus started. Get it pointing out at the road then take off the minute I walked out of the house so I’d have to chase the bus down the road looking like a total fool.”

Ian’s mouth dropped open. “How far would he have made you run?”

“Just far enough so that everyone on the bus would see me.” Matt chuckled and shook his head.

“You think it’s funny?” Ian asked thinking that was an awfully mean thing to do.

“Well Ian, he’s trying to teach me to be punctual, something I seem to be inept at learning. I’d rather him fool around like that than yell at me or ground me. So yeah I guess I do think it’s kinda funny.”

Ian nodded, his eyes raking over Matt’s face. He figured if it was okay with Matt, even made the guy laugh that it must not be that mean. Actually getting a mental picture of Matt running down the road after the bus he chuckled a little bit himself. “I guess it is kinda funny. So you really like him as a dad then?”

“Oh sure, I really love my dad. He’s a really great guy. You won’t hear too many people say that about their fathers. I don’t mind saying it though. He’s a great guy and I like people to know it.”

Ian smiled thinking they must sure have a great family. “Are you an only child?” He asked as the bus rolled out onto the road.

“No I have a sister. She’s already married though. She’s five years older than me. So we were never really close. I mean we love each other but never really hung out.”

“Does she have kids?”

“No, but she wants them.”

Ian nodded and looked out the window for a minute. After turning back to Matt he asked. “Did you always live here? Or did your dad have to move from church to church?”

Matt shook his head as he unzipped his jacket. “We always lived here. Dad’s been the pastor at United Methodist since he got out of pastor school.”

Greta, his mother who was sitting in the next seat up on the other side of the aisle turned and laughed at him. “Seminary, dear.”

Matt blushed, “Oh yeah.”

Greta grinned at Ian who grinned back at her then turned forward again. Ian looked back at Matt. “She sure seems like a good mom.”

“She’s an incredible mom.”

Confused he’d said it so quietly Ian questioned him on it. “Why don’t you want her to hear you?”

“Cause next time I get mad at her she’ll say, ‘remember that time on the bus when you said I was incredible?’ And I’ll have to succumb to the argument.” He rolled his eyes dramatically and shook his head. “I just don’t need her having any more ammunition.”

Still not really getting it Ian nodded and grinned, as from the look on Matt’s face now he got the idea the guy was being humorous. “Do you mind me being nosey?”

Matt laughed. “Not one bit Ian. You ask whatever you want.” He’d discovered the previous Wednesday that Ian loved to ask questions. He knew of Ian’s confusions and actually found it a good thing that Ian wasn’t shy about asking what was on his mind. It was like the guy was hungry for knowledge and he was making up for the fifteen years he’d not learned anything if it didn’t come out of the bible.

Half an hour later after many more questions the bus pulled into another parking lot. This one had no building surrounding it. It wasn’t even paved. Reverend Delmar put the bus in park then stood at the front of the bus. “Now if you don’t want to hear me prattle on for an hour about the rules one of you veterans had better volunteer to stand up and say them.”

About fifteen hands shot up and Ian had to chuckle at everyone’s insistence on not hearing the preacher himself do it and the fact the reverend looked to be finding it quite humorous himself. “Wayne why don’t you go.” The man nodded to a boy that looked Ian’s age who was sitting near the front. The boy stood up and walked up near the reverend where he turned back to face the crowd puffed out his chest and took a deep breath.

“Ladies and gentlemen.” Everyone on the bus chuckled though Ian wasn’t entirely sure why. “Today we are representatives of our church. We must be on our best behavior.” Amidst the snickering the kid continued on. “We need to stay with the group and be mindful that we will be in places today that you could get hurt. No rough housing on cliff sides.” He pointed his finger out at the group. Ian was totally shocked to see the reverend laughing along with everyone else.

Wayne looked up at the man. “Well how was that?”

“A very good impression Wayne, a job well done.” He answered still in the throes of his chuckling. “Well let’s get hiking then, take your lunches because we are going to have lunch at the peak.”

They all exited the bus into the chilly mid October morning. Ian was glad he’d worn a sweatshirt and wondering if maybe he should have brought a jacket as well. He and Matt followed at the end of the line as the group walked up an embankment and onto a well trodden path in the woods.

The ground was covered with yellow and red leaves and several leaves still clung to the trees leaving them walking in a brightly colored tunnel. The leaves crunched under their feet as they walked up the steady incline. “This is so beautiful.” Ian said about five minutes into the walk.

“That’s why I love that we do this in the fall. The whole hike is pretty not just the view at the end.”

Ian turned and looked at him, while he continued to walk. “View at the end?”

“Yeah, we go right to the top of this mountain. There’s a big lake plus you can see other mountains in the distance and the colors of course are all over the place.” He paused in his talking then said, “Hey why don’t you let me put your lunch in my pack. You’ll need your hands as we get closer to the top.”

Ian looked down at his brown bag. “Well okay if you’re sure you don’t mind. I didn’t think to bring my pack.” Matt pulled his pack off his shoulder and unzipped it. He took Ian’s bag from him and tucked it inside then zipped it back up and put the pack on his back.

About an hour later the terrain got much steeper and as Matt had said, he needed his hands to help steady himself as he climbed over the large rocks that went up the trail. At some points he even pulled himself forward with tree branches. The rough terrain lasted about half an hour before they came back onto another path with a slow incline. That lasted another hour before the woods broke away around them and Ian found himself in an open field with the clouds seemingly within arm’s length and the air was crisp and cool. Much cooler than it had been down in the parking lot.

Ian was dragged by the crook of his elbow to the left where a rock ledge stretched out over the land. “Wow,” was all he could get out of his mouth as he looked over the incredible vista below him. The lake stretched out before him, its waters sparkling brightly in the sun. Around the lake he could see camps and cabins that looked little more than dots at this great height. “This is incredible.”

“I know, I could stare at it for hours.” They both did stand there and stare for about fifteen minutes before they turned back to the field where the other kids were either lazing around on the ground or throwing a frisbee back and forth.

“I’m ready for lunch.”

Ian looked at Matt. “We don’t have to wait for the others?”

“Like one pig waits for another.”

“Huh?”

Matt shook his head and grinned. “No we don’t have to wait; we can eat whenever we want.”

Matt walked to just where the grass started then got down onto his knees. He put the pack on the ground in front of him and unzipped it. He pulled out two bag lunches, one his and one Ian’s then pulled out a red and black checked blanket.

“Wow you really came prepared.”

Matt looked up at him and chuckled. “Mom packed my bag for me. She knows I’d forget things.” He got the blanket straightened out so it was flat on the ground then patted one side of it. “Have a seat.”

Ian lowered himself down on the blanket. He reached over and picked up his bag as he sat back on his butt. He bowed his head then said his prayer. Matt already had his bag ripped open when he reopened his eyes. “You don’t pray?”

Matt shook his head. “Well I pray but not at every meal. ‘Cept when we have family dinners.”

“And you’re parents don’t mind that?” he asked amazed.

“No, I pray every night before bed and we have the family prayer at supper. They don’t really believe in certain times to pray just as long as you find time in the day to do it at least once.” Matt looked at Ian, as he appeared to be thinking this over. “How often did you have to pray?”

“At every meal, usually once or twice in the evening and before bed.”

“Why did you pray in the evening?”

Ian peeled open his bag and reached a hand down in. “For when I got in trouble. You know for forgiveness.” He pulled out a sandwich that was in a baggie and peeled back a corner of the bread. “Oh roast beef. I love roast beef.”

“Yeah it’s good.” Matt said thinking more on what Ian had said in the first sentence.

“What do you have?”

“Cream cheese and olive.”

“Really? Is it good?”

“Oh yeah it’s great. Here.” Matt ripped off a piece of his sandwich and handed it over to Ian.

Ian looked it over then popped it into his mouth. “Oh yeah,” he said once he’d swallowed. “That’s really good. Nice and salty.”

Matt chuckled and nodded. “I sure like salt.”

“You want to try some of mine?”

“Nah I’ve had roast beef before. You eat it.”

Ian nodded, took another bite then reached back into his bag and pulled out a can of soda as well as a bag of chips.

“Having a good time Ian?” He looked up to see Reverend Delmar smiling down at him. He finished swallowing as he nodded.

“Great time sir, it’s so beautiful up here.”

“That it is, one of God’s great wonders I’d say.”

“Sir, is it alright if I talk to you after church tomorrow?” He knew an outing was probably not the proper place to talk to him as he imagined the guy wanted to have fun today along with everyone else.

The man bent down on one knee. “Sure Ian, in fact we were kind of hoping you’d come to the house after services for our Sunday lunch.”

His mouth dropping open in surprise and he found himself filling with happiness. “Really?”

“Well sure, I know Matt would like it and my wife and I have discussed it also. We’d like you to visit us every Sunday afternoon if you want.”

Ian smiled a brilliant smile. “I sure would love that sir,”

He reached out and patted Ian’s shoulder. “We sure would love that too.” After he left Ian looked back over at Matt.

“You sure you don’t mind me coming over?”

Matt looked up at him. “Of course I’m sure. I think it will be a lot of fun.” He paused as he took another bite of sandwich. “Do you mind if I ask what you wanted to talk to my dad about?”

“I just got so many questions. New ones that just came up this week. I figure the best person to answer them is your dad. That’s okay isn’t it?”

“Of course it is Ian. I was just wondering if maybe it was something I could help you with too. But you’re probably right, you better wait and ask my dad. I’m not always the best at giving advice.”

“You sure are good at answering my thousands of questions.”

“I like answering all your questions Ian. Don’t ever feel funny about asking them.”

They spent the next few hours playing frisbee and exploring the nearby woods. At three o’clock the reverend and his wife gathered them all up and they headed back down the mountain.

Ian walked back into The Harvey’s house at shortly after seven o’clock. Mrs. Harvey met him in the doorway to the dining room. She motioned him into the room and they both sat down at the table. “Well how did it go?”

“Oh it was incredible. Everything was so pretty and I played frisbee and talked all day with a real nice guy. Thank you for packing my lunch, it was really good.”

“No problem hon, I’m glad you had a good time.”

Ian looked up as Mr. Harvey walked in. “The Delmar’s want to know if I can spend the afternoon tomorrow at their place.”

“I don’t see any reason why not Ian.” Kyle spoke up.

“Well I guess I better get to my laundry.” He stood up and walked up to his room. Taking his hamper he carried it down the hall to the laundry room where to his dismay it was already running with a full load in it and another load waiting to be put in.

He left his hamper in the corner of the room having a good idea what was going on and walked back down stairs. Kevin was sitting on the couch, Ian never walked into the living room when the TV was on so he stood in the entryway. “Kevin.”

Kevin turned his head and eyed him. “Ian?”

His voice and face were smug, giving Ian all he needed to know. He knew exactly what he was doing to bug him. “Why did you wait til you knew I’d be home to do your laundry?”

Kevin stood up from the couch and walked into the entryway. “I do mine at night, you do it in the morning.”

Not backing down Ian looked him dead on. “I told you yesterday I’d be gone during the day. That I couldn’t do it in the morning.”

“So, you expect me to change my schedule for the likes of you?”

“What exactly is your schedule Kevin? Would you have missed your cartoons?”

Kevin’s eyes narrowed and Ian actually felt a little satisfaction that he’d made the guy angry, even if it wasn’t nearly as angry as he was feeling.

“Maybe if you had prayed about it, God would have told me to do it earlier.”

Growing even angrier Ian was ready to march up the stairs and pull the jerk’s laundry out of the washer and throw it all over the floor. He looked to the doorway of the living room where a few of the other kids had gathered to watch their argument. He didn’t see the Harvey’s anywhere. “Someday Kevin you’re gonna get you’re due,” he seethed between clenched teeth.

“Someday Ian,” Kevin seethed right back. “You’ll get yours too.” He looked up at the ceiling. “What’s that God?” He put his hand to his ear to add to his acting. “Today is the day?”

Kevin lunged at Ian punching him in the face, Ian stumbled back having no idea that it had been coming and put his hand up to his face. Kevin’s fist came at him again this time catching him in the stomach and doubling him over. He was pushed backward and crashed into the coat rack and fell back on his butt. His eyes filled with tears as he could hear several of the other kids laughing.

“WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?” Kyle yelled coming out of the dining room doorway. “Kevin go to your room!”

“It wasn’t my fault.” Kevin argued.

“I don’t care whose fault it was. You go to your room ‘til I find out.”

Ian heard Kevin stomp off up the stairs then felt himself being lifted to his feet. Too hurt and too humiliated to remain there being gawked at by the rest of the house he broke away from Mr. Harvey and headed up the stairs himself. He walked through his room and into the bathroom where he walked over to the corner, slid down the wall and sat down. He pulled his knees up to his face, buried his head in his arms and cried.

Downstairs Kyle ushered all the other kids back into the living room where Kelly joined them. After all the kids had sat down he shut off the TV and stood in front of it. “What happened?”

“Ian was mouthing off.” One kid announced. “Kevin was only defending himself.” A few others murmured their agreement.

Jeff rolled his eyes. “Kevin was supposed to do his laundry today. Ian had explained to him yesterday that he couldn’t do his at his regular time. Though Ian didn’t actually get Kevin to say he’d do his in the morning Ian just assumed that after he told him Kevin would. He doesn’t know Kevin as well as the rest of them do.”

Kyle nodded knowingly and Jeff continued. “Well Ian must have gone up to do his laundry and Kevin’s stuff was in there so Ian came down to talk to him.” He shook his head again and looked up at Kyle in amazement. “He was actually sticking up for himself Kyle. I think that’s a good thing.”

Kyle nodded again agreeing with Jeff. “What did he say exactly?”

Jeff reiterated all he remembered of the conversation, both Ian and Kevin’s parts. Kyle grew angrier and angrier, Ian may have stuck up for himself but if the end result was him getting beat up he doubted he would do it again anytime in the near future.

“Okay I’m going to go talk to him.”

“Uh Kyle,” Jeff spoke up.

“Yeah?”

“Can I?”

Kyle looked at him a moment while he thought, then shrugged. “Okay Jeff that may be a good idea. But I still want to talk to him when you’re done okay?”

“Of course,” Jeff stood up. “Thank you.”

When Jeff walked into the bedroom he didn’t see Ian there and worried he’d gone out a back window or something. Seeing the bathroom door closed he crossed the room and opened the door. He could hear Ian’s cries as soon as the door was opened. He turned on the light to see Ian pressed into the corner his arms wrapped around his head that was pressed down on his knees.

Jeff walked over to the corner and knelt down in front of him. He’d never seen or heard Ian cry. The crying tugged at his heart strings making his own eyes mist over. “Ian?” he said quietly putting his hand on Ian’s bicep. The crying continued and Jeff figured that maybe it was better to wait until it slowed down a little bit.

It was several minutes before Ian lifted his head off his knees, wiping his hand down across his tear stained face he looked up at Jeff. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” He cried his voice hoarse. “I try to act good but still no one here likes me. I don’t know what to do so they’ll stop hating me.”

Jeff moved himself off his knees and onto his butt. “Only one who doesn’t like you is Kevin, Ian, and he’s the one who has something wrong with him not you.”

Ian shook his head as he wiped at his eyes again. “He’s not the only one. The others like it when he picks on me. Otherwise they wouldn’t laugh.”

“Those younger boys Ian, they just don’t want to get on Kevin’s bad side. They don’t even like him. They just laugh at his stupid jokes so they don’t get teased and beat up themselves.”

Sighing he put his chin down on his knee and hugged his arms around his legs. “I just don’t understand why people want to be so mean. I don’t see the reasoning behind it. How can it make someone feel good to make others feel bad?”

“The world is full of different types of people. Not all of them are good. You just need to stay clear of Kevin. He’s a jerk, none of us really like being around him. You are a good person Ian. I’m sure that’s why the two of you clash so.”

“I don’t feel like a good person.”

“How so?”

“I feel like an idiot most of the time. Always nagging people with my constant questions. Sometimes I just wish I could keep my mouth shut. I just want to know things so bad I can’t seem to do that.”

“You have every right to ask questions. It’s the only way to learn things.”

“I’m just mad I know so little. Everyone else seems to know all this stuff.”

“And that’s not your fault Ian, you know that don’t you?”

Though he felt miserable he chuckled at the question. “Well that’s part of what all my questions are about. I’m trying to figure it out.”

“Well then you have to keep asking your questions. Cause you need to know it wasn’t your fault. That’s an order from me.” He pointed his finger into his chest and smiled a big smile that Ian smiled back.

“You are so nice Jeff. I don’t know why that stupid family wouldn’t adopt you. If I were an adult I’d adopt you in a second.”

The smile that filled Jeff’s face was priceless. “Thanks Ian that really means a lot.”

“It’s totally true Jeff.”

Jeff nodded eyeing him. “You want a hug?”

Chuckling weakly Ian nodded. “Yes please.”

Jeff moved over closer and Ian met him halfway. They embraced in a strong warm hug that made Ian feel a lot better and made Jeff feel real good.

Copyright © 2011 vlista20; 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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