'Theo's Wish' - Final Instalment
‘Theo’s Wish’ – Final Instalment
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
Around 8.30pm a group of carollers arrived outside Theo’s home. Being one of the few houses remaining in an area that was now mostly industrial- it was their last port of call. Theo was thrilled as they stayed and sang for more than twenty minutes. He and his family sang along to all their favourites with ‘Jingle Bells’ the grand finale. Even Joh and Cheryl were tapping their feet by the end of it and Theo was so exuberant they didn’t feel one pang of sadness. The Christmas spirit was alive and well at Theo’s, and Joh and Cheryl were beginning to understand the warmth and goodwill that humans could share during this important season.
After the carollers left, Theo cleaned his teeth and got ready for bed. Mum and Dad tucked him in and Theo excitedly closed his eyes as they turned out the light and left his room.
‘Merry Christmas,’ they whispered.
‘Merry Christmas to you,’ replied Theo, snuggling into his bed.
Joh and Cheryl sat down next to Theo. ‘I know what you mean now, about Christmas,’ said Cheryl.
‘Yeah, the singing was great,’ added Joh.
‘Told you,’ Theo quipped. ‘And the best is yet to come.’
Cheryl and Joh looked at each other and shrugged.
‘Theo? Can we just try it one last time? You know, the dream,’ asked Joh, hesitantly.
Theo turned toward him. ‘Sure, but it’s already done.’
‘For me?’ pleaded Joh.
‘Yeah, sure. Hold my hand and we’ll see what we can do.’ Joh reached over and grasped Theo’s hand.
Moonlight was now streaming into Theo’s room, dusting it with a silvery glow. Joh and Cheryl were sound asleep with their heads on the side of Theo’s bed and Theo was on his back making little whistling noises as he slept.
Joh stirred and looked up at the clock, it was ten minutes to midnight. He was getting comfortable after placing his head back down on the bed when he heard some noises outside. He didn’t take much notice at first, but the sounds became louder and they kept pulling him back from his half-slumber. In the end, he just had to get up and look out the window to see what it was.
To his disbelief there were twenty or so animals gathered around in the street below Theo’s window. Joh shook his head in an attempt to clear his mind and to verify what he was seeing. He thought that he recognised Chez and cats, many cats all looking up to the window.
Joh raced over to Cheryl and gently shook her awake. ‘What?’ she mumbled.
‘Quick, you’ve got to see this,’ he said, grabbing her by the hand and dragging her over to the window.
Cheryl sleepily looked down. ‘What are they doing?’ she asked.
‘Don’t know, but let’s find out.’
Joh and Cheryl raced down the stairs, out the front door and went around to the side of the house. More and more animals were arriving by the second, There were dogs, cats, ducks, pigeons and mice, all standing peacefully looking up to the window.
‘Is that you Chez?’ asked Joh.
‘How ya doin?’ he said, casually.
‘What are you doing here?’ asked Cheryl.
Chez pointed his head upward and Joh and Cheryl followed suit. A huge brilliant star was hovering over Theo’s house. It was of course high in the sky, but it appeared to be right over the house.
‘Make way, make way,’ a voice echoed from the crowd. The animals slowly parted and there was Alf limping toward them.
‘I ain’t as agile as I used to be,’ said Alf, plonking his rather wide girth down in front of them.
‘Alf here actually told us about this. The cats always know first,’ explained Chez.
‘Told you about what?’ asked Joh.
Alf’s tail lashed back and forth for a moment as he looked up at the star. ‘Somethin’s goin down here tonight,’ said Alf. ‘Only seen it once before, some sick kid over by the river. Must be ten years ago.’
Alf looked at Joh. ‘Somethin special. It’s nearly midnight. You’d better be with the kid. Go on,’ finished Alf with a feline grin.
‘Come on Joh, let’s go,’ said Cheryl, grabbing him by the hand and dragging him back up the stairs.
As they entered Theo’s room, they found him sitting up in bed.
‘Two minutes to midnight,’ he said with the broadest smile. ‘Come and hold my hand, both of you.’
Joh and Cheryl sat on either side of Theo and held his hands tightly.
‘Please God, give me a brother to play with, and give Joh a face so he can be whole. And give Cheryl a normal body, so she doesn’t get tired any more. Please God. I don’t need Christmas presents. Just grant my wishes,’ pleaded Theo.
Theo repeated his prayer over and over, and as the time slowly dissipated and the minute hand drew nearer to the twelve, the tick of the clock grew louder and louder until it was shaking the room. Then just as the hand reached twelve and the first chime sounded, tiny specs of light began to appear above Theo’s bed. Only Joh and Cheryl could see them, for Theo’s eyes were tightly shut while he was saying his prayer. As each chime sounded the lights increased in number and began to swirl around and around, creating a tunnel of light over the bed.
Joh and Cheryl were simply speechless, lost within this magical vision, unable to even form a sound. Then, as the twelfth chime sounded, there was a huge explosion of light in the sky.
Outside the animals ‘Ooh-ed’ and Ahh-ed’ and then grimaced with the light’s intensity, and as it faded into the blackness of night they looked up and saw the star was gone.
Inside, Theo slowly opened his eyes. ‘That was amazing,’ he said. ‘Did you feel that?’
Theo looked all around the room, but to his amazement, Joh and Cheryl were gone. He raced to the window and looked out to see about one hundred animals slowly walking away from the house, all in different directions. ‘What happened?’ he murmurred, not understanding.
‘Joh? Cheryl?’ he cried. ‘Where are you?’
Theo’s mum suddenly appeared in the doorway. ‘What’s wrong? Is everything all right?’ she said worriedly, dashing over to where Theo stood. She held him tightly. ‘Did you have a dream?’ she asked, kissing him on the top of his head.
‘I must have,’ replied Theo, still confused.
Suddenly Theo’s mum gagged and stepped back.
‘Are you OK, Mum?’
‘Ooh. I feel a bit queasy,’ she replied, suddenly rushing to the bathroom. Theo met his dad in the hall.
‘She’ll be all right, son. You pop back into bed. Santa will be here soon and you don’t want to be awake, now do you?’
‘Are you sure Mum’s OK?’
‘I’m sure she’ll be just fine by morning. Merry Christmas Theo,’ he finished, giving Theo a big hug and then going to the bathroom.
Theo, still feeling off balance, wandered back to his bed and tried to go to sleep, but he kept thinking about Joh and Cheryl, hoping that they had in fact gone to the Dream World. But there was something strange about the whole experience that left him feeling unsure and it took him a long-time before he finally got to sleep. It was a deep, dreamless sleep that took Theo that night, his mind for once at rest.
It was Christmas morning, and as the sun beamed through Theo’s window, he began to awaken. He could hear the old floorboards creaking and leapt out of bed to meet his Mum in the hall.
‘Merry Christmas, Baby,’ she said, exuberantly hugging him.
‘Still in bed. You go and wake him and I’ll meet you downstairs.’
‘OK!’ said Theo, dashing down the hall.
Mum smiled a motherly smile and went to the bathroom.
Theo slowly opened the door to his parent’s bedroom, and it made a homely creaking sound. Dad didn’t stir so Theo crept in on his tippy-toes. When he got within range of the bed he coiled himself up, ready to give his Dad the best bomb ever. But just as Theo launched himself, Dad cleverly rolled to the side and in a counter attack, took Theo by surprise unleashing a merciless tickle attack. Theo squealed like a piglet while Dad targeted every tickle bone in his body.
‘Come on you two!’ echoed a voice from downstairs. The boys abruptly stopped what they were doing.
‘Santa!’ shouted Dad, throwing his legs over the side of the bed. ‘Last one there’s a rotten egg,’ he added, giggling as he dashed for the door.
Theo was hot on Dad’s heals as they arrived in the loungeroom and collected each other at the entrance.
‘Someone here called Theo?’ asked Mum, holding up a big box.
Theo dashed to the tree and began to unwrap his presents. After some frantic unwrapping, the loungeroom was a clutter with coloured wrapping paper, tinsel and ribbon, with gifts proudly stacked by each family member, their smiles as broad as the summer sun.
Theo sat on the floor, leaning up against the lounge, surveying his haul. He had a great lot of toys and clothes and games, but what he wanted was not something that Santa could bring. And he began to worry about Joh and Cheryl. What had happened to them? He’d probably never find out; and he’d miss them too. He knew there was a purpose for them all being together but he never once thought of what it would be like when it was over. Perhaps he didn’t believe it all.
While Mum and Dad got breakfast, Theo helped tidy up the loungeroom and then took his presents upstairs. They would have more than twenty guests today for Christmas lunch and he would have to help. In his room, Theo sat on his bed and suddenly felt sad. How could he have ever thought that Santa would bring him a brother for Christmas? Joh and Cheryl had become his closest friends and now, in the blink of an eye, they were gone. This Christmas was suddenly feeling particularly unChristmassy!
‘Breakfast, Theo!’ shouted Dad.
Theo wandered downstairs and into the kitchen. Mum had cooked bacon and eggs, his favourite. Theo sat down and began to devour his breakfast with his Dad, but Mum wasn’t feeling hungry.
‘You two enjoy your breakfast, I think I’ll just have a shower,’ said Mum.
‘You OK?’ asked Dad, with concern.
‘Just a bit funny in the stomach, still,’ she replied, heading upstairs.
Theo finished his breakfast and took his plate to rinse it in the sink. Dad finished too and was on his way to the sink to do the same when Mum called from upstairs.
‘Can you come up here for a minute, Dear,’ she called.
‘Wash this up Theo, I won’t be a minute,’ said Dad, handing Theo his plate and cutlery.
Theo rinsed the plates and then wiped down the sink, stacking the plates ready for a wash up. When he’d finished, he wiped his hands on a tea-towel hanging on the oven door and was about to go to his room when Mum and Dad came down the stairs.
‘I’m just gonna…’
‘Theo, come into the loungeroom,’ interrupted Mum. Theo looked at her strangely…she was smiling, well beaming. Theo followed them into the lounge and sat down, wondering what was wrong. Mum was holding a pen or something and kept looking at it and smiling. Theo couldn’t remember it as a Christmas present and thought her behaviour rather odd.
‘Mum’s got something to tell you, son,’ said Dad, with a goofy looking smile.
‘What’s going on, you guys?’ asked Theo, not getting it.
Mum looked at Theo with the warmest smile and with the beginnings of a tear in her eye. Theo frowned with worry, not understanding at all.
‘Theo, I’m pregnant. You’re going to have a brother or sister,’ she announced.
These words just rattled in Theo’s head for a long moment, and then as the realisation struck him, he stood up, staring at his mother’s stomach.
‘You really mean it? I’m going to have a brother?’ he asked.
‘Well, we can’t be sure about the sex, but one or the other,’ added Dad, with a chuckle.
Theo leapt on to his Mum and the three of them had the longest cuddle.
‘This is the best Christmas ever,’ said Theo, silently giving thanks. Hardly able to believe the news, Theo suddenly realised that real magic had taken place, and Santa delivered yet again. How could he have ever doubted him? As far-fetched as it seemed, Theo’s Christmas wish came true.
‘But what about Joh and Cheryl?’
‘The Miracle of Life’
Many weeks later on a pleasant autumn day, Theo’s mum returned home from her check up with the doctor. Theo had just returned from a hard game of basketball at the local playground and was trying to drown himself in orange juice.
‘Not from the bottle, Theo!’ cried Mum, as she entered the kitchen. Theo quickly removed the bottle from his mouth and placed it back in the fridge.
‘Sorry. I was just thirsty.’
Mum seemed a little preoccupied, so Theo thought it best to evacuate the kitchen, in one piece. As he climbed the stairs he remembered his mum’s appointment.
‘Is everything OK with the baby, Mum?’ he shouted. There was silence for a long moment, and Theo began to descend the stairs, a bit concerned. Mum suddenly emerged from the kitchen.
‘What did you say?’
‘I just asked if the baby’s all right?’
‘Oh, fine. Everything’s fine,’ she said, passing him on the stairs.
‘Mum’s kinda acting weird,’ thought Theo as he watched her disappear into the bedroom.
‘God, I hope everything is all right.’
Theo followed her into the bedroom. She was lying down on the bed, staring vacantly up at the ceiling.
‘You all right?’ he asked with concern. Mum turned to him and smiled, patting the side of the bed. ‘Come and sit down, Sweetie.’
Theo sat down, slightly uneasy.
‘I just got some news. I guess I’m a little in shock,’ she explained.
‘In shock? What’s wrong.’
‘Absolutely nothing, actually,’ she replied, wiping a tear from her eye. ‘I was going to wait until your father came home, but I guess it doesn’t matter.’
Theo’s ears pricked up, ready for anything but in a way not ready at all. He looked down at his mum nervously. ‘Well, what is it?’ he asked hesitantly.
‘Well, I went for my check up and ultrasound today.’
‘Yeah,’ said Theo tentatively.
Mum pulled a Polaroid photo out of her pocket and leant up on one elbow. ‘It’s a picture of your brother,’ said Mum with a smile.
Theo grabbed the photo and looked at it carefully, then turned it upside-down. ‘Are you sure it’s a brother?’
‘Very sure,’ replied Mum, wiping another tear from her eye.
‘But what’s this,’ asked Theo, pointing to the photo.
‘It’s the baby’s head, Darling,’ she replied, smiling.
‘But what’s this other one?’ asked Theo, now confused.
Mum sat up and placed her hands on Theo’s shoulders. ‘That’s his sister, Sweetie. We’re having twins.’
‘One of each?’
‘Yep, one of each,’ replied Mum, wrapping her arms around Theo, who was now beside himself with excitement.
He leapt to his feet and started bouncing up and down on the bed. ‘I’m gonna have a brother and a sister!’ he squealed with delight, over and again. Mum was laughing and crying all at once as Theo celebrated his greatest wish come true- and the best Christmas that any kid could ever have.
That evening after Dad arrived home with flowers and a bottle of champagne, the family celebrated their gifts of life, and there was none happier than Theo was. He only wished that Joh and Cheryl could be there to share it with him. He sure missed them.
After dinner they were all in the kitchen washing up when Mum suddenly looked down at Theo. ‘How about John?’ she asked. ‘For the boy.’
Theo looked up, slightly off balance.
‘Dad wanted Joe, but I think John is more complete somehow,’ she finished.
Theo’s mind was in turmoil and he looked at his mother’s stomach and then back at her several times. Then staring at her stomach he reached out and touched it.
‘Is that you Joh?’ asked Theo, wide-eyed.
‘Would you prefer Joe?’ enquired Mum.
Theo looked up at his parents, bewildered. ‘No… John is kinda Joh anyway, but complete, isn’t it?’
‘I guess it is,’ replied Dad.
‘Well, John it shall be,’ announced Mum.
‘We were thinking of Cheryl for the girl,’ said Dad, casually.
Theo’s eyes nearly popped out and then the news took his breath away and with his eyes rolling back in his head, he fainted, falling limply to the floor.
Dad worriedly picked him up and dashed to the lounge to lay him down, while Mum got a wet cloth to place on Theo’s forehead. He soon came around, slowly opening his eyes.
‘What happened?’ he slurred.
‘You fainted, son,’ said Dad. ‘Gee, I didn’t think ‘Cheryl’ was that bad a name.’
Theo smiled. ‘Dad, I think that’s the most perfect name in the world.’
‘You feeling a bit better?’ asked Mum, running her fingers through his hair.
‘I’ll be fine. In fact I’m great.’
Like having just woken from a long exhaustive dream, Joh found himself in a warm moist unfamiliar place. His vision was blurred, but he could see a soft pink glow before him. He reached out to touch it but felt only part of the fluid wall that surround him. Suddenly, he was aware of someone else. He blinked several times and squinted to try to focus. Then a hand touched his and he clasped it. ‘Cheryl?’ he thought. ‘Is that you?’
As Cheryl squeezed his hand, the strangest thing happened. The warm fluid that surrounded them just flowed away, first from their feet and slowly rising to their heads until it was gone. Suddenly there was a feeling of weight and Cheryl slipped down further away from Joh, her feet now near Joh’s head.
‘What’s happening?’ Joh thought, unable to speak.
The walls around them began to contort. One moment they were soft and pliable and the next stiff and rigid. Joh found himself twisting around, facing down as Cheryl moved slowly further from him. These waves of pressure were coming more and more often, squeezing their bodies harder and harder. Then Joh saw a light in the distance. It switched on and off and he noticed some muffled voices and someone groaning. His heart was now pounding, and he was not feeling safe at all. Suddenly the light ceased and Cheryl flinched and gave him a solid kick to the face. ‘Cheryl!’ he thought. ‘That hurt!’
She slipped away and Joh felt his body fall, his head now surrounded by this great pressure. Behind him the walls were tightening then relaxing over and over, pushing him further into this vice like grip. ‘It’s hurting,’ thought Joh, his tiny body at the mercy of this overpowering force.
Noises outside were intensifying, and the sounds of someone’s gasping cries were unnerving him even further.
‘One more!’ he heard someone shout.
Joh’s head felt like it was about to be crushed, as it slid forward until the pressure was only around his neck. He tried to open his eyes but the light was so bright he clenched them shut again and let out a noisy cry. Then with a huge squeezing pressure he felt his entire body move forward and eventually fall into someone’s arms. He was shaking from head to toe as he was carried to a table and wiped briskly. He screamed louder, not happy about any of this. The light was too bright, he felt vulnerable and frightened, and where was Cheryl?
Joh felt himself being wrapped up and he suddenly felt a little better. But when he was laid down again he felt different. He felt as if he was home and he slowly opened his eyes to see a face that he felt like he already knew.
‘Hello beautiful,’ it said, in a soft reassuring voice. The face was still blurred but somehow familiar and made Joh forget about what he’d just been through. Turning his head to the side he saw another small person, just like him, and he knew right away that it was Cheryl. ‘Thank God,’ he thought, feeling everything was now as it should be.
Theo and his Dad were walking down the linoleum-clad hallway towards the maternity ward, carrying a huge bunch of wild flowers, soft toys and balloons. Meanwhile the ward sister was wheeling in the babies for their feed. As Theo and Dad arrived, the sister was placing the two babies in Mum’s arms and explaining how best to breast-feed. When the boys entered the room, Mum looked around excitedly and the sister smiled.
‘I’ll come back later,’ she said. ‘Congratulations!’
Dad raced over to the bed and kissed his wife.
‘Come on Theo, come and meet your brother and sister.’
Theo slowly edged his way toward the bed. Both babies were all rugged up in little bundles, one wearing a blue outfit and the other a pink outfit, and both with matching bonnets. As Theo reached the end of the bed and the babies little faces came into view, he got the strangest feeling.
Both babies looked up at him and appeared to smile. ‘Look at that,’ said Mum. ‘They’re smiling.’
‘It must be wind,’ replied Dad. ‘They can’t even see yet.’
‘They’re smiling at Theo, I tell you.’
Theo’s face simply transformed. ‘It is them,’ he thought. ‘It’s Joh and Cheryl.’
Theo moved closer and kissed the babies both on their foreheads, one after the other. ‘We’re gonna have so much fun,’ he whispered with a grin.
‘Look! They’re doing it again!’ cried Mum.
‘It’s wind, can’t be anything else,’ replied Dad, now frowning with a little doubt.
‘They know their brother,’ added Mum.
‘They should,’ replied Theo with a mischievous smile.
Mum and Dad looked at each other a bit confused, but let it go to simply enjoy this family’s first moments, together. As unlikely as this all seemed, Theo would never, ever forget that moment, when he first saw his brother and sister. These invisible friends had miraculously arrived in his hour of need and now, just as his wish had been granted, they would share their lives with him, he their older brother. All Theo knew was that wishes could come true.
Back in the Half World, life continued as always, with absurdity the main course of the day. Nester’s little shack was as messy and dusty as ever with books and knick-knacks stacked everywhere. But a few things were notably missing- one book of magic, a stick that was now a wand and the man himself, Nester.
Having regained his magic, Nester was now complete and no longer belonged in the Half World. After communicating that last time with Joh and Cheryl, Nester simply disappeared and arrived in the Dream World. He now lives in a more complete little shack, one that is just as messy as the first. Old Nester is now happily weaving his magic within normality, with single sunrises and sunsets, and as always, he was enjoying every single one of them.
Errol misses Joh of course, but knowing that he is where he longed to be, is a comfort. For Errol, life is as it has always been, and he simply makes the best of it, whistling through his snorkel and rolling around happily among all the people of the Half World. But Errol never looked at life in the Half World in any other way. For him this was his world, and it was complete in every way.
I really hope you enjoyed my book.
Theo's Wish by Tony DeLorger
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