'Theo's Wish' - Eighth Instalment

'Theo's Wish' - Cover
'Theo's Wish' - Cover

‘Theo’s Wish’ – Eighth Instalment

By Tony DeLorger © 2011

CHAPTER EIGHT

‘The Human’s Christmas’

Theo was now on his Christmas school break. By night Joh and Cheryl stayed with Theo, trying to help him dream, but whatever they did, it had no affect and in the end seemed pointless. What kept Joh and Cheryl going was spending the days with Theo. They had all become such great friends and as much as they were able, Joh and Cheryl shared Theo’s life any way they could.

At suppertime, they would watch Theo, his Mum and Dad sit down for their meal and talk about their day. Both Joh and Cheryl loved those times, the closeness of family spurring them on to want the same for themselves. The caring that this family shared was obvious and Joh realised that a brother for Theo was not just for himself but for his whole family.

One night after Theo’s mum had tucked him in and turned out the light, Joh and Cheryl moved closer to the bed and sat down quietly.

‘What’s Christmas about?’ asked Joh, having seen so much of the preparation.

Theo sat up in bed and thought about it. ‘Well there’s this guy Santa Claus. Each year on Christmas Eve he brings all the good kids presents and leaves them under the Christmas tree. You’ve seen the tree downstairs, with lights and decorations all over it. Mum and Dad buy presents too and Mum makes a big baked dinner for lunch. It’s great,’ finished Theo.

‘Yeah, but why?’ asked Cheryl, not understanding.

‘I’m not sure how it started with Santa, something that happened a long-time ago I think. But Miss Lambert from Sunday school tells us that it’s about the birth of Jesus, who’s the Son of God. That’s what Christmas is supposed to be about, but it’s hard not to think about Santa and all those presents.’

Cheryl looked at Joh and he looked back a little bewildered.

‘It supposed to be a time of good cheer and people helping one another,’ added Theo.

‘So is it?’ asked Joh.

Theo hesitated for a moment. ‘We’ll go for a walk into town tomorrow and I’ll show you, OK?’

‘Fine,’ replied Cheryl. ‘I’d like to understand.’

‘Yeah, me too,’ said Joh.

The next day the three of them went into town, right into the heart of the city. Theo knew that he wasn’t allowed to go by himself, but wove some story about visiting a friend. His mother, trusting him, agreed.

‘You shouldn’t lie to your Mum,’ said Cheryl, as they walked from the house.

‘It’ll be fine. We won’t get into trouble,’ replied Theo. ‘I’ve got you two to protect me.’

As they approached the centre of town, they saw that Christmas decorations were everywhere. There was shiny tinsel and Christmas trees in almost every window and there were men in Santa suits on every corner ringing bells and shouting ‘Merry Christmas’ at the top of their voices. Music filled the streets and small groups of people were singing carols and wishing passers-by well. Joh and Cheryl wandered in awe of the coloured lights and decorations, dodging rushing shoppers in the constant stream of pedestrian traffic.

‘It must be important,’ said Cheryl. ‘People are spending lots of money and everyone is so busy.’

‘Yeah, I’ve never seen so many people,’ added Joh, stepping aside to escape a large woman carrying no less than half a dozen shopping bags.

‘Over here!’ suggested Theo, pointing to a side lane. The three sought shelter and watched the steady flow of humanity. There was a Santa on the corner, collecting for a charity of some kind, and he was holding out a red bucket. People would throw what change they could as they passed. ‘Merry Christmas’ he would shout after each donation. Then when no-one was about, the man took out a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag and drank from it, then placed it back into his pocket.

‘What’s he drinking?’ asked Joh.

‘Alcohol,’ replied Theo. ‘He’s a drunk.’

‘A what?’ asked Cheryl, having never heard the expression.

‘A drunk,’ repeated Theo. ‘A not too pleasant one, by the look of him.’

Cheryl turned to Joh. ‘Just like that man we saw when we arrived,’ she added.

Just then the man decided to take a break and stumbled over to the lane. He leant against the wall and took a long drink from his bottle, and as he put it back in his pocket he noticed Theo.

‘What are you lookin at?’ he spat.

‘Nothing!’ replied Theo, stepping back away from the man’s breath.

‘You wanna tell old Santa what ya want for Christmas, then?’ he slurred.

‘Nothing from you,’ replied Theo, indignantly. The man’s expression soured.

‘Get lost you little brat! ‘For I take to ya!’

Cheryl, not having a mild temperament, went right up to him and kicked him hard on the shin. Old Santa hit the floor with a thud and dropped his pail of money- coins rolled out all over the footpath. Santa hit his head on the way down and was out cold and out of sight. People began to gather, down on their haunches and knees grappling for the spilt money. Joh and Cheryl were horrified seeing humans fighting one another over a few coins. The three quickly left the scene and raced off down the street to find shelter, without people.

A few blocks later the pedestrian traffic had subsided and Theo stopped to catch his breath.

‘Why is everyone so greedy?’ asked Cheryl, leaning against a shopwindow.

‘I don’t know,’ replied Theo. ‘It’s supposed to be a time of goodwill and being happy, but all the adults want is money. I don’t get it either.’

‘At least in the Half World, people showed respect,’ added Joh, now wondering what he was doing.

‘You wanted to see it,’ said Theo. ‘But it’s not all like that. We always have a great Christmas- you’ll see. Come on…let’s go home. I promised Tom I’d drop in today. It’s not far.’

So the trio left for home and had a pleasurable day of play with Tom at the local playground. Joh and Cheryl watched as always with great interest and pleasure, but the Christmas experience had so far left a bitter taste in their mouths. Humanity on mass was becoming a little too much for both of them and they questioned what they had previously thought about how perfect the human world was. Joh and Cheryl were fast realising that life itself was not perfect for anyone, in any world.

Each night they kept trying with Theo and each night he just wasn’t able to dream. But unlike Joh and Cheryl who were becoming more than disheartened, Theo remained positive, always ready to work on it and always clear about his wish.

‘But it’s Christmas,’ he’d say. ‘Wishes come true at Christmas. You wait and see.’

But for Joh and Cheryl, the magic of Christmas was far from real and all they had seen so far was greed and selfishness.

It was one week from Christmas when Joh and Cheryl once again sat next to Theo’s bed after his mum had tucked him in. Something was in the air, but not one of them could put their finger on it. Joh had just finished talking to Theo, encouraging him to dream, when a faint voice just arrive out of nowhere.

‘Can you hear me, my boy?’ it said.

Theo sat up, a little disconcerted. Joh stood up, concentrating his hearing.

‘Joh, are you there?’ sounded the voice, a bit louder.

Cheryl turned to Joh. ‘It…it sounds like Nester.’

‘Nester? Is that you?’ asked Joh, rather bewildered.

‘You can hear me,’ said Nester. ‘It’s working!’

‘It’s so good to hear your voice,’ said Cheryl, hardly believing the possibility.

‘How did you do it?’ asked Joh.

‘No matter my boy. Listen, I only have a moment. I discovered something, about your quest.’

‘Discovered what?’ asked Joh, straining to hear the distant voice.

‘You must….’

‘Say it again, I didn’t hear,’ shouted Joh.

‘You have to….’

‘Louder,’ said Cheryl.

‘It’s not enough to think, you must…’

‘Nester, we can’t hear you!’ shouted Joh in frustration.

‘Touch him, you must…’

‘Touch Theo, you mean?’ asked Joh

‘While he dreams. It’s the only way,’ said Nester, as his voice faded to nothing and disappeared.

‘We’ve never done that,’ said Joh. ‘How would Nester know?’

‘It’s Nester, Joh. We have to try it,’ said Cheryl excitedly.

Theo was a little confused, having to deal with yet another visit, but slid down under the covers and left one arm out.

‘Come on then Joh, hold my hand,’ he said, closing his eyes. ‘This just may do it.’

Joh held Theo’s hand and they sat by the bedside all night long. As the warm rays of sunlight streamed through the window of Theo’s room, Joh and Cheryl began to stir. As they lifted their heads from the side of Theo’s bed, Theo sat bolt upright and scared them both half to death.

‘I did it!’ he shouted, launching himself to his feet on the bed and jumping wildly up and down.

‘What?’ asked Joh, his vision rather blurry.

‘I dreamed you a face you ninny! I dreamed a face, I dreamed a face!’

‘You mean…you…you did it?’ asked Joh, now on his feet.

Theo stopped bouncing and reached blindly for where Joh was standing. Joh reached out and grabbed his hand.

‘Nester was right, Joh. He was right. I dreamed you the best face. And do you know what that means? I’m going to have a brother. I’m so excited,’ he squealed.

Cheryl was hugging Joh joyfully and the two were jumping up and down on the spot. Then, Joh stopped abruptly, looking vacantly out of the window.

‘What’s wrong Joh? He did it,’ said Cheryl.

Joh looked at her. ‘But nothing’s happened,’ Joh replied. ‘If I now have a face, why am I still here, and like this?’

Cheryl looked down to the floor, trying to digest the thought. “Perhaps it takes awhile,’ she suggested. ‘We don’t know the rules.’

‘I hope you’re right,’ replied Joh, not sure.

Cheryl placed both hands on Joh’s shoulders. ‘Don’t worry Joh, Theo’s dreamed your face. You just have to be patient,’ she followed.

Joh smiled. ‘Good old Nester. We couldn’t have done any of this without him.’

‘And you, Theo. You never gave up,’ said Cheryl. ‘Thank you so much.’

‘And I get the best Christmas present,’ followed Theo, excitedly.

Being so close to Christmas Theo’s life became hectic. He spent most time with both his mum and dad, buying Christmas presents for all his aunties, uncles and cousins. This particular year Theo’s parents were hosting a big family Christmas dinner, and there was so much preparation that Theo had to be involved with.

Joh and Cheryl could do little but watch the excitement and preparations with great interest. But as each day passed and nothing changed with Joh, he became more and more depressed, thinking that even with a face dreamed by his dreamer, he may never get to the Dream World.

Sitting under an old tree behind the house, Joh was watching a threadbare car tyre on the end of a rope, creak back and forth from one of the larger tree branches. He was lost in thought when Cheryl walked over and sat down next to him.

‘We could be here for ever, you know?’ said Joh.

Cheryl looked down thoughtfully. ‘I guess none of us knew what was going to happen. But we had to take the chance, didn’t we?’

Joh looked at Cheryl with sadness in his eyes. ‘I miss Nester, and Errol and all those crazy Half Worlders. From here it doesn’t look so bad.’

‘Come on Joh. All is not lost. We’ll just have to have faith,’ added Cheryl, hardly believing her own words.

‘Faith? I thought I had faith in the real world. Now I’m not so sure,’ said Joh, feeling sorry for himself.

Leaving him by the tree, Cheryl went upstairs to see Theo who was busily wrapping some presents for his mum and dad.

‘It’s Cheryl, can I come in?’

‘Sure! Close the door though. Mum or Dad might come in.’

She entered and sat gently on the bed. ‘Joh’s upset that nothing has happened,’ she began. ‘I told him to be patient, but I thought he’d be gone to the Dream World by now.’

‘I don’t know, Cheryl. But somehow I know that this will work out. I have no idea why, but I know. I’ll have a brother and Joh will have a face,’ he finished, putting the final touches on a gift.

‘There, that should do it,’ he said. ‘Presents all finished.’ Then turning to Cheryl… ‘Look, just enjoy Christmas. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and the carollers will be out and we’ll all sit around the Christmas tree. You’ll love it,’ he finished.

‘I guess you’re right,’ replied Cheryl.

‘I’ll just take these downstairs,’ said Theo, and off he went.

The next morning, Christmas Eve, Theo woke early and was downstairs admiring the tree when his Dad walked into the loungeroom.

‘Theo, I’m going to have to ask you to stay home today. Mum’s not feeling well. Poor thing just threw up. Must have been something she ate.’

‘It’s Christmas Eve. Will she be all right?’ asked Theo, with concern.

Dad smiled. ‘I’m sure she’ll be fine. She just needs to take it easy today. Most of the food’s all ready for tomorrow and I’ll be home early from work, OK?’

‘Sure Dad. No problem.’

‘I’ll see you this afternoon, then.’

‘See ya!’ replied Theo.

Theo’s mum stayed in bed for a few hours and felt a little better, so she got up and polished all the silver cutlery. Theo played in his room quietly and Joh and Cheryl hung about, not knowing what else to do. All day long on the radio Christmas carols were broadcast, and Joh and Cheryl began to feel a little more festive and perhaps resolved to enjoy the occasion rather than think about anything else.

By midafternoon Theo’s dad had arrived home with another armful of wrapped presents for under the tree. The mound of colourfully wrapped gifts was almost as big as the tree itself and spilt out all over the loungeroom floor. Coloured, sparkling lights adorned the tree and as the sun went down, the whole room became a fairyland. Theo sat excitedly by the window, awaiting the carollers, while Theo’s mum was busily preparing dinner.

Joh and Cheryl came downstairs and sat on the lounge, in awe of the decorations


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