The back story my muses were bitching about me writing first.
Beware the cute 9 year old boys here...
Author: D. Sanders
The bell rang letting out class for recess. It was Christopher SilverWolf’s favorite time of day being the typical third grader mentality and perfectly normal for a nine-year-old boy. He was returning his book to the bookshelf in the corner when he noticed a boy around his age sitting in the corner by himself, watching the other children run wild and spill out into the playground. His dark auburn hair a bright red in the light that spilled in from the window, his large blue eyes looking extremely sad, his cheerful freckles across his nose looking out of place on such a forlorn face.
He was the boy who had been sick and missing most of second grade and had just returned to school a few days earlier. Christopher walked over and smiled and said “Hello”, the boy didn’t look at him.
Feeling snubbed he poked the boy on the shoulder “Hey, I’m talkin’ to you.”
The boy turned and looked up and smiled, his voice sounded like he was talking in a cave and through his nose. It sounded funny and strange and was difficult to understand. “I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you.”
“What are ya deaf or something?”
The boy’s smile vanished. “Yes.”
“If you’re deaf how come you can answer me, liar?”
“I can read your lips stupid.”
Chris looked taken aback, his dark chocolate brown eyes as round and wide as his pudgy, youthful, dark skinned and round face. He smiled and his eyes crinkled.
“Cool. How come you can talk? Cause I have a cousin who was born deaf and she can’t talk. You
sound really weird.”
“They say I can talk because I could before I went deaf. I sound funny cause I can’t hear myself.”
“You weren’t born deaf?”
“How’d it happen?”
“They don’t know. They think it had something to do with pre-dispo-something and gentikicks and the really high fever I had last year. I think. I don’t know really. I just woke up after my fever and I was deaf.”
“That sucks man.”
“So you wanna go play or something?”
“You want to play with me?”
“Nobody else wants to, they think I’m stupid cause I sound like an idiot.”
“So you talk weird, big deal. They make fun of me cause I’m fat. The others are all dorks.”
“So ya wanna?”
They got up, Chris walking backwards as he continued to ask questions as they headed outside.
“Do you know that sign language stuff?”
“Just a little. It’s hard to learn. I’m lucky that I can read lips; that’s easier for me. That is if you’re looking at me.”
“I’ll remember to look at you.”
“No problem. What’s your name?”
“I’m Chris SilverWolf, I’m a Hopi Indian.”
“COOL! I never heard of an Indian named Chris though, shouldn’t you be like Geronimo or Tonto or something?”
“Well my middle name is Enapay. So yeah, most of us have like ‘normal’ first names cause that’s easier for most people to say and Tribal middle names.”
“I have no idea what your middle name is. I couldn’t make it out.”
“Don’t worry about it, Chris is fine.”
The pair made their way to a vacant and rickety teeter-tooter and began to play, while they faced each other and bobbed up and down they talked and asked each other questions and began the first tentative bond of a friendship that would be the most remarkable of their lives.
As the months passed, the friendship grew stronger and if you found one boy, the other was nearby. Robin’s mother, a single young mother, barely making ends meat still found the time to make cookies and let the boys make sheet tepees in the living room and do what little boys do.
Most of the time however Robin was at Chris’s house. Chris lived with his Grandmother, Hope SilverWolf, and his little sister Mary. His mother had pretty much abandoned them with her mother and his father was unknown, but Grandma was there and one of the kindest women there was to be found. She ran a little Native American tourist shop on Main Street, selling beaded jewelry and rugs, pottery and all manner of Native American trinkets and artwork.
They boys usually walked there after school and helped her in the store and let her tell them all manner of stories, some true, some legend. Robin was hopelessly fascinated with her, he hung on her every word like the faithful at a stirring sermon.
She called him ‘her little bird who could not hear his own song, but sang the sweetest.’ She didn’t treat him like he had a handicap, she treated him like a normal little boy, which he was in her eyes. He played, he laughed, he got into mischief, he just couldn’t hear.
She watched the interaction between Robin and her grandson, she was proud of Chris, he was such a good boy. He never once let Robin feel different or left out. If Robin was picked on, Chris was there to back him up, if he was sad, Chris was there to make him laugh. They were the best of friends and inseparable.
Robin in turn stood up for Chris. Chris was naturally large, he did not over eat, he played as hard as the other boys, but he still was overweight in a pudgy sense and he was teased. Robin got into more fist-fights defending Chris than he did defending himself and his own honor.
And if any one dared tease Chris because he was Native American, if any one dared show any predjudice or hatred or said anything remotely derogatory concerning Chris’ Heritage, Robin was fit to be tied and was usually sent home from school with a busted lip, livid and fit to be tied.
Robin did not tolerate anyone who hurt Chris, and deaf or not he went in fists flying.
Hope looked up from her book as the bell on the shop door rang and in walked Robin, clothes askew, black eye and looking angry at the world. Chris right behind him head hung low.
“Who had the fight this time?” She asked setting Robin down and going to the refridgerator in the back and bringing a ziploc bag filled with ice out to place on Robin’s eye.
“Robin.” Chris answered plopping down on a stool.
“Robin?” Hope queried tilting Robin’s eyes up so he could read her lips.
“Martin called Chris a fatso indy-nigger. I kicked his butt.”
“Robin, people will always call you or Chris names. How many times do I need to tell you to ignore them? Fighting is only going to get you into trouble. I know it hurts to be called names, but people can be mean and names are only names.”
“No ‘buts’ Robin. If you acknowledge them that they hurt you, they don’t ever stop. You can still be a warrior without fighting needless battles. A true warrior only fights when he has to, and he fights for a reason. Names are not a good reason.” Hope admonished tenderly as she held the bag of ice to Robin’s cheekbone.
“What is a good reason?” He asked and Hope smiled at him.
“To defend your home and to protect your family from harm because you love them.”
“I was defending Chris, I love him, he’s my best friend.”
Robin was logical, and Hope chuckled. “I mean harm from death or disease, something that is harmful to your health or life. Words are harmless even if they hurt.”
Robin seemed to accept her explanation and nodded and looked at Chris. “Sorry.”
“Hey is was cool. You laid him out flat.”
“Well is was Grandma!”
Hope rolled her eyes, a-typical nine-year-old boy mentality at work. She made Robin hold his own ice as she went to go call his mother at work just a few blocks away at the local diner where she waited tables to let her know about Robin’s antics this week.
The following week had Chris holding the bag of ice to his face, Hope prayed they’d grow out of this behavior, it was hard seeing them picked on so much to the point where they got in so many fights. The only redeeming quality about these fights, they only fought defending each other. Their bond to each other was truly special.
It was Chris’ tenth birthday and Hope threw him a party and the living room of her small house was full of classmates eating cake and ice cream and playing musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey. Robin was the hero for cracking open the piñata and showering the children in candy.
Everyone was laughing and having a good time when the phone rang and Hope answered and her face grew ashen. She immediately hung up and turned to her sister who nodded gravely.
Hope went over to where Robin was sitting next to Chris and knelt before him. “Honey, you need to put your coat on. We have to go to the hospital.”
“Why? Chris hasn’t open his presents yet!”
“I know my little bird. But we have to go, your mommy was in a car accident and we have to go see her.”
Robin looked like the entire world just dropped out beneath him, Chris, who had heard the exchange ran and grabbed their coats.
“No Chris. You stay here, this is your party, I’m sure everything will be all right.”
“No way. I’m going.” Chris said pulling on his coat and making Robin put on his, he was still in a shocked state and didn’t come back to reality until Chris took his hand. “Come on Robin, Your mom is fine I’m sure.”
Robin nodded and Hope herded both boys into her beat up pick-up truck as she headed toward the small local hospital.
Sadly Robin’s mother was not fine, she was badly injured and just barely conscious as Hope and the boys arrived and the Doctor greeted them. “She’s critical I’m afraid Mrs. SilverWolf. She can talk, but I don’t expect her to…”
“No. Not in front of her son.” Hope stopped the Doctor and turned to a now sobbing Robin.
“He can’t hear.”
“But he can read your lips Doctor Parker. Can he see her?”
“She’s quite badly injured, I don’t recommend him seeing her in this condition.”
“I recommend you let him say good-bye. He’d regret that more.”
The doctor nodded and Hope knelt before Robin and took his shoulders. “Listen to me Robin. This will be one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. But for your Mama, tell her how much you love her.”
“Is she gonna die?” Robin sobbed and Hope cupped his face in her arthritic hands.
“She might. I will not lie to you little bird. Show her you are a warrior who faces his fear, let her go onto the next world knowing she is loved and her only son is strong.” She took Robin’s hand and led him behind the curtain. Chris was at Robin’s other side holding his other hand.
Susan Wood was laying there, her heart monitor beeping slowly and her breath labored. Her eyes were open and glassy wet with tears as Robin came into View.
Robin bravely walked up and took his mother’s hand gently, the IV tubes coming out of the back of her hand made it difficult. She could not speak anymore, she just held her son’s hand.
“I love you Mommy.” Robin said, fighting his tears.
Susan squeezed his hand and turned her eyes to Hope.
“Never you worry Susan. I’ll take care of him for you.”
Susan took a deep breath, the tears falling from the corners of her eyes and Hope gently wiped them away from her cheeks with a tissue.
“You’ll be Okay mommy. You will.” Robin said, adamant in his optimism. He refused to believe the worst. He’d lost everything in his life, he was only just starting to get some of it back, losing his mother was not something he would believe would happen.
Susan squeezed his hand again and struggled to talk, the oxygen mask obscuring her mouth. Hope seeing the desperation, reached down and lifted it just enough so Robin could see her lips.
No sound came out, but Robin didn’t need the sound, all he had to do was read. “I love you baby. I will always love you. Be strong, be good, I am so proud of you.”
“I love you too Mommy.” Robin, huge crocodile tears streaming down his face replied.
Susan smiled, struggled to lift her hand to his face and laid her palm against his wet little cheek. “My beautiful boy. Don’t cry. I will always be with you.” She said trailing her hand to his heart. “Right here.”
Those were Susan’s final words, she had held on to life just long enough to see her son it seemed. Content he’d be cared for she slipped away with a smile on her lips.
Robin was screaming for her in hysterics as the heart monitor began to sound an alarm and the hospital staff rushed in. The alarm thankfully he could not hear, but he had seen her eyes, he knew she was gone before the heart monitor or the hospital staff did. Hope quickly picked Robin up and ushered him out, Chris in silent tears of his own running behind them.
She collapsed with the boys on the floor in the waiting room, holding them both tightly to her in her lap as Chris held onto Robin. Who sobbed and struggled and railed against his grief. Chris was a rock of comfort, even through his own tears, he was there for Robin to lean on in his most desperate emotional turmoil.
Hope wanted to cry herself, but would have to wait to shed her own tears until Robin had cried himself out. He did not need the burden of her sorrow on top of his own.
The funeral was quiet and small and attended only by Hope, Robin, Chris and the few friends Susan had made through her job. Her husband had left her while pregnant, abandoning her in this small town and she had taken the waitress job just to keep their heads above water and to try and pay off the mountain of medical bills for Robin.
Hope had her sons move over the few possession Robin had so he’d not have to face the empty trailer he shared with his mother. Hope stored away all the photo albums and precious mementos of Susan’s to give to Robin when he was older and could handle them and remember them fondly without tears; for now he was still too Raw emotionally and heartbroken with grief and his losses.
He shared a room and bed with Chris, who amazed Hope. He was showing remarkable strength during this tragedy. He was a pillar of strength for Robin who clung to him desperately for support. When Robin awoke sobbing with nightmares, it was Chris who held him.
When Robin tried to give up, Chris refused to let him.
Hope said a prayer of thanks to the heavens, thanking them for bringing these two together. Chris was infinitely in-tune with Robin and knew precisely what to do instinctively almost to help him. He was very empathetic towards Robin as if they shared the same soul.
As the funeral service ended a tall, auburn haired woman, the same shade as Robin’s came walking over, dry-eyed. “I’m Helen Smythe-Wood. I am the boy’s aunt. I’ll be taking him.” She said coldly, Robin thankfully could not read her lips through her veil from her smart black hat.
“You will not. What makes you think you can waltz in here, at his mother’s grave site no less, and make such a statement? Susan left him in my care.”
“I’m his father’s sister. I’m family.”
“And that argument is supposed to let me hand him over? I don’t think so, your so called family bond has been strangely absent these last nine years. Where were you for him then?” Hope said acidly as she stepped in-front of Chris and Robin protectively. Her small chubby frame standing defiantly between the children and the tall woman in the Chanel Business Suit and Prada pumps.
“Susan was a cheap whore my brother thankfully left when he came to his senses. He doubted Robin was even his.”
Hope reached out and slapped her, knocking the hat off her perfectly coifed hair. “How dare you disrespect a wonderful woman at her own funeral. Take your pompus, self-righteous backside and leave. I’d sooner chew glass then let Robin leave with you. He needs people who love him right now, and he has enough worries then to have to deal with you. Chris take Robin to the car, now.”
Chris nodded and pulled Robin, who was blissfully ignorant of the conversation that just took place and headed toward the car.
“Stop! Robin come back!” Helen called and Hope stood her ground.
“Some family you are. The child is deaf, so screech all you’d like he can’t hear you.”
“It figures with a mother…”
“It was a fever you vile woman.”
“I can get him help for his problem.”
“Where were you when that help would have made a difference? It’s too late now. Get out.”
“You’ll be hearing from my lawyer. I’ll not leave my dead brother’s son here in some poverty stricken, Indian pow-wow. It’s beneath him.”
Hope was furious. Not only was this woman evil to the core, she was a bigot as well.
“I’ll fight you tooth and nail for him. Bring your lawyer, I love that boy and I refuse to let him go with you without a fight. This conversation is over.” Hope turned around and walked away.
Helen snatched her hat off the ground and stormed off, catching her heel in the dirt and snapping it off in the process. “Get me out of Smallville James.” She said in disgust to her chauffer as she hobbled into the back seat and slamming the door behind her.
Things had settled into a routine after several long months. Chris and Robin would come to the store after school and do their chores or play in the back room until closing time. Often in the company of Chris’ little sister Mary who has started school and was walked home by her big brother and Robin.
Robin had shown a talent and appreciation for the stone and bead jewelry and Hope had taught him how to make the intricate tribal patterns. He had even made a few pieces of his own design that were quite beautiful, he had a real gift and a good eye for the craft so Hope indulged it.
Chris on the other hand liked to draw. So while they sat in the back after school, watching television and after school cartoons, Robin would mess around with his projects and Chris would sketch on whatever scrap paper lay about. Mary was the only one who actually watched the television. They had stopped getting into fights at school and were just in a world of their own most of the time. They had become very close, Hope would tease them saying they were joined at the hip.
They had just gotten home and Hope was in the small kitchen fixing dinner. Mary was with her cat on the front porch swing and Chris and Robin were in their room playing with matchbox cars when a knock came to the door.
Mary came running in “It's the police!”
That caught Chris’ attention and he poked his head out of the door.
“What is it?”
“Sssh, and I’ll tell you in a minute, let me listen.” Chris said eavesdropping.
“Mrs. SilverWolf?” The officer asked politely.
“Listen ma’am. I really hate doing this. We all knew Susan from the diner, and we all know she wanted Robin with you. But we have an order from the family court. I guess the boy has some high falutin’ Aunt in Chicago. She’s got a court order. We gotta take Robin.”
“No! It can’t be! You’ve not met that horrible woman, you can’t send him to her, she’ll destroy him.”
“I’m sorry ma’am we’ve got no choice. You don’t have no legal right and Susan left no will, we have no legal leg to stand on here.” The officer said handing over the papers to Hope who fell into a chair weeping.
Chris in panic grabbed Robin’s hand and threw open a window. “Come on Rob. They’re gonna take ya! We gotta run and hide!”
Both boys were out of the window and running out into the woods. They didn’t stop until they were out of breath.
“What did they say?” Robin asked panting.
“That lady Grandma slapped. I guess she’s your aunt and she’s going to take you to Chicago.”
“Take me? I don’t have an aunt!”
“Yeah you do. It’s your dad’s sister.”
“I don’t have a dad. He left.”
“I know Robin, but I heard ‘em say they got a court order.”
“I don’t want to leave!” Robin began to cry and Chris held him.
“I don’t want you to go either!” Chris cried back, reaching down and picking up a sharp rock and cutting his palm and Robin’s. He held their hands together.
“You’re my blood brother now. You’re family! Maybe they won’t take you now.” Chris said as they heard a twig snap and saw an officer standing there looking very sympathetic.
“I’m sorry boys, I really am. I don’t want to take him either, but I have to.”
Chris jumped in-front of Robin, arms held out wide. “No, he’s family, I made him my blood brother! He can stay!”
The officer sighed and squatted eye level. “I wish that could help, but it doesn’t I’m afraid. We’ll give you time to say good-bye and get his things together. But we have to go back boys.”
Defeated and sobbing Robin and Chris packed what few things he had into a small suitcase. Hope was on the phone calling every lawyer in town all of them telling her the same thing. She had no case.
Even the officer’s were teary eyed as the boys said their final farewells on the porch. Chris running beside the patrol car making every last second count as Robin drove off out of his life.
Chris, out of breath and sobbing was picked up by hope and carried back to the house.
Robin spent that night, cried out and exhausted and on a red-eye flight to O’Hare airport… alone and terrified. His only companion on that flight was a stewardess who made him hot-chocolate and walked him out to the waiting limo and the austere woman in blue, chattering on her cell phone.
She didn’t even greet the depressed little boy. Just grabbed his hand, never halting her argument on the phone, and dragging him out behind her.
She stopped one to address him and her only words were “Stop dragging your feet! Honestly Boy, I have a schedule to keep.”
Thankfully Robin couldn’t hear her.