Out In The Wind

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The shooting star going overhead makes me feel like a kid again. A small kid at least and that’s something I haven’t felt in a while.

I can’t help but standing up from the semi-wet grass I have been sitting on in Mister Watson’s backyard, balancing on one leg and closing my eyes, wishing upon a star for probably the first time since I was six years old.

“I wish, I wish that everything can work out for us for a change. I just want this place to be the last place we sleep until we can find a home again…” I keep quiet for a while, not sure if I want to make the next wish or not. Not wanting to jinx my second wish I decide not to make it.

“Wishing on stars?” a voice says behind me.

I look at Mister Watson, but he isn’t looking at me. He is staring up into the skies, almost like he is trying to count the stars.

“I know it’s stupid,” I say and I am glad it is dark outside, otherwise he would have seen me blush.

“I still wish on stars sometimes. There is nothing wrong or stupid with having a little bit of faith in something,” he answers not looking at me, his head still raised toward the skies.

“Can I ask you something?” I ask and this time he looks at me before he slowly nods. “Are you helping us just because of what happened between you and me?”

“Why don’t you sit down Cory?” he asks as he lowers himself onto the grass, sitting with his legs crossed.

I lower myself and sit across from him, looking him in the eyes, questions all over my face.

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me, and sometimes I do things I can’t really explain. So I will try my best, and I am sure you probably won’t understand it, because I barely do, but please try and keep up with me, okay?” he answers.

I smile, nodding for him to continue.

“You remember I told you there was a guy I was once in love with? Well, he was probably the person with the kindest heart I have ever known, but we didn’t exactly start out that way. Sam and I were young and in love and totally wild. We used to go out to crazy parties, sometimes do drugs and drink a lot. He was this real emo type of guy. I was your typical average Joe. But I looked up to him. He had the guts to do everything he wanted to do. I didn’t exactly. This didn’t stop with wild parties. Later in his life he would adopt a teenager whose parents landed up in jail for murder. He was also a teacher and this was one of his students. This kid’s boyfriend was the one who was killed, also another student of Sam’s. He had the guts to do what I never could. He manned up and did something so incredible, taking in a kid with so many problems and in his way he probably tried to glue the poor kid together again. Sam died a while back, but not before seeing the kid he adopted become a famous author. I always admired him for that and I have wished upon stars so many times to bring me someone I could help. The last time I spoke to Sam, just before his death, I asked him what was his fondest memory, hoping that he would say it was me. Instead he told me that the day Elijah walked into his life and changed it is the fondest memory he will cling onto until his dying breath. He told me that he thought that he was Elijah’s hero, but in the end helping Elijah helped him even more and so the kid he adopted became his hero. Well… That’s at least the short version.”

For a moment while Mister Watson was talking he seemed to tear up a bit, so I looked away in case he wanted to cry, but he finished his story without doing so. Although now that I am looking at him again his attention is turned back to the stars.

“So I’m not just some charity case?” I ask.

“I’m doing this for Sam just as much as I am doing this for you and myself,” he answers, looking at me again. “Cory, you need to understand that I have made many mistakes in my life. I let go of the man I loved the most because of guilt. I can live with that. I can live with the guilt that I shocked my dad to death even. But I won’t be able to live with the guilt of Sam’s voice telling me I should have helped you if I walked away. What I am doing is not charity. It’s supposed to just be love and human nature.”

“I think I get it,” I answer, trying my best to wrap my head around it, wondering where in the world Elijah is now and if he is okay now. “But I really don’t want to trust you. I don’t want to get my hopes up only to land up on the streets again.”

“I promise you won’t,” Mister Watson answers.

“I have heard many promises over the last few months,” I say.

“Then my advice would be not to trust me just yet, but rather wait for me to prove myself.”

“I could live with that,” I tell Mister Watson before I move to stand up from where I am sitting, but then I decide to sit down again.

“What did you and my mom talk about in the park?” I ask, wondering again why they wanted to speak alone when I already knew everything that was going on.

“I think you might need to ask her that yourself,” he answers as he gets up first and walks into the house, leaving me outside on the grass.

For a moment I just sit and wonder if this is really just too good to be true, but at the same time I don’t want to question any of this at all. What does it matter if we do land on the street again tomorrow? I should be happy that tonight I get to take a proper shower, sleep in a proper bed, and that my mom and Chloe would be comfortable as well at least. Even if it is just one night is is more than what we had a few hours ago.

I contemplate phoning Patrick, maybe having a bit of a chat with him, but I decide to rather just send him a message, saying goodnight, and for the first time I text him that I love him. I don’t however wait for a reply before I switch of my phone and go back inside the house.

I expected Mister Watson’s house to be extremely modern for some reason, but he must have gotten most of his furniture from his parents or old antique shops. Everywhere in the house, expensive antique stood, each one older than the other. I recall him telling my mom about the piano in the living room being over a hundred years old. I walk up to it, stroking my fingers over it just as Mister Watson appears in the doorway from the kitchen’s side.

“Where did you get this?” I ask, wondering if this piano has a story of multiple owners, moving from one country to the next.

“It belonged to my grandfather,” he answers. “It became a family heirloom, but I think he bought it on an auction if I remember correctly.”

“So you don’t know who the original owner was or how many owners it has had?” I ask, still stroking the keys, feeling their cool touch under my fingertips.

“Not the slightest idea,” he answers walking into the kitchen and reappearing with two mugs of what I smell could only be hot chocolate. He places one on the table next to the piano before he takes a seat on the couch.

“Do you play?” I ask, sitting down in front of the piano this time, taking my mug and having a sip of the drink that seems to melt my insides.

“No. You?”

“I used to…” I answer. “I haven’t played since my dad died really.”

“Would it be too much if I asked you to play something for me?” Mister Watson asks, putting down his mug, indicating for me to do the same which I do.

Without answering him I turn around.

For the first few notes my fingers feel stiff, but before I know it muscle memory takes over and my hands and fingers starts dancing over the keys, strumming together a symphony of sounds, blowing up in the room and floating out of the windows into the night air. I can’t help but thinking that maybe if I played hard enough, well enough, somehow the star I wished on would hear me. I make the song my plea to heavens that all will be okay. That Patrick will still love me tomorrow when he wakes up and realizes I cheated on him this morning. I play a song of wanting that everything Mister Watson said would be true and that all I need to do is my schoolwork in exchange of him helping us. Above all, I play a melody of sweet, bittersweet love, hoping that it will reach my mom and make her feel alive again and not like the tired corpse she has become.

When the last note dies under my finger I only notice the tears staining my face, and when I turn around on the stool Mister Watson is crying as well.

“That was beautiful Cory,” my mom says, standing in the doorway, tears running over her cheeks as well.

For a moment there is complete silence before Mister Watson breaks the silence. At first his hands barely touch each other, but within seconds he claps them so hard I wonder if he could be hurting himself. And there, in the living room of my vice principal I receive my first standing ovation as he brings himself up from his chair, clapping and crying, not even trying to hide it, making my mom clap as well as she walks closer to me, tears running, a smile on her face, and love in her eyes.

I fall into my mom’s arms, sobbing against her chest as soon as she gets close enough.

“It’s okay baby. Everything is going to be okay now,” she whispers over and over as I feel her hand making circles on my back.

“Are you sure?” I ask the moment I can stop the tears and look at her. I notice that Mister Watson must have left the room, because we are all alone in the room, Watson gone to give us our privacy.

“Yes baby, we’re going to be okay,” she answers as she leads me over to the couch, making me sit down next to her. “Mister Watson had a bit of a talk to me at the park. We’re staying here, and I am going to be working at your school. Nothing great, but they need someone in the admin office. It’s not paying so much that we would be able to get a big house in a few weeks, but we’ll be able to afford and apartment, and there will be enough left to feed ourselves.”

“Can I still keep my job at Bookstairs?” I ask stupidly, not knowing what else to say. Not knowing how I will ever be able to repay Mister Watson for what he has done for us.

“You can do whatever you’d like. You know, your dad always said you’d end up either having your own bookshop someday. I told him you would become a concert pianist,” he says with a little laugh.

“Maybe I can do both,” I answer with a smile, wiping the tears still lingering on my cheeks away.

“Cory, you can be anything you wish to be and more,” she answers pushing my fringe out of my face and gently kissing me on the forehead before she pulls me into a hug again.

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