'Theo's Wish' - Seventh Instalment
‘Theo’s Wish’ – Seventh Instalment
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
‘Theo and a Kid’s Life’
Joh woke up refreshed and a little excited knowing that today may be the day he’d find Theo. Not everyone shared his enthusiasm. The Mist people were still trying to deal with Zandra’s unexpected departure, but Cheryl soon joined him and they waited patiently at the park entrance to the shelter.
Eventually Chester appeared.
‘How ya doin?’ he said confidently. ‘The cats have been successful. Well… at least they found that sign, where the kids play. By the way, Alf says to say hello.’
‘Is it far?’ asked Joh, all agitated.
‘Can we at least get through the pleasantries?’ replied Chez.
‘I’m sorry Chez, Joh’s just a little on edge,’ explained Cheryl.
‘All right. It’s not far, just the other side of the park, down near the water.’
‘Let’s go,’ insisted Joh, not wanting to wait a minute longer.
‘Just like the humans, always in a hurry,’ sighed Chez, as he turned and lead them through the park and on toward the playground and sign.
Soon Joh, Cheryl and Chez were standing in an open flat area looking up at the sign that Joh had seen in his dream. It was huge, twenty or so feet across, painted in red, yellow and black, just as he had seen it. It read ‘Paramount’.
‘So where are all the kids?’ asked Cheryl.
‘At school. They’ll be here after 3pm.’
‘I guess we just wait,’ suggested Joh, a little disappointed. Chester stood there for a moment, then…
‘The rest I’ll leave for you guys,’ he said. ‘I’m feelin a little peckish.’
‘Thanks Chester, and thank Alf too. We couldn’t have found it without you,’ said Joh.
‘It was nothin. That Italian food’s more than enough thanks. I’ll see ya round,’ added Chez, before walking off, whistling.
Cheryl grabbed Joh by the hand. ‘Let’s sit over there on that bench. He’ll come, don’t you worry.’
For hours Joh looked expectantly at the entrance to the playground and by 3.15pm the kids started to arrive. Joh studied each one as they entered, but there was no sign of Theo. By 5pm the last of the kids left for home and Joh and Cheryl stood in the deserted playground, as the afternoon light slowly waned.
‘Well, I guess that’s enough for one day,’ said Cheryl. ‘We’ll find him, tomorrow.’
Joh was more than a little disappointed but he tried not to show it. He and Cheryl returned to the shelter to get some rest. Joh was quiet, now realising the time was here. They’d done what they could and now they just had to hope that Theo would turn up.
For three days more, Joh and Cheryl waited at the playground, and for three days there was no sign of Theo. At the end of the third day, having just about given up all hope, Joh walked lazily toward the playground exit. There were two kids talking near the gate and as Joh passed he heard the words that would change everything.
‘Chickenpox, they reckon,’ said one boy.
‘Gee, poor Theo,’ replied the other.
Joh turned around abruptly. ‘Did you hear that? He said Theo.’ Cheryl and Joh moved closer.
‘We should take him some lollies or something,’ suggested one of the boys.
‘I got some jaw-breakers,’ said the other, reaching into his pocket. ‘I guess we could take him these.’
‘I should get home,’ said the first boy. ‘It’s almost five.’
‘No!’ shouted Joh- knowing that these boys could lead him straight to Theo.
‘Well, maybe tomorrow,’ replied the other boy about to leave.
Joh went into a panic and without thinking of the outcome, put his foot in front of the boy and tripped him. The poor kid went for a six, landing face down on the ground, wondering what had happened. The other boy rushed over.
‘Gee, are you OK?’
The boy sat up and screwed up his face. ‘It felt like someone tripped me,’ he said, hardly understanding, because he was alone at the time.
‘I dunno why, but I think we should go to Theo’s.’
‘Did you hit your head?’ asked the other boy.
‘Dunno! I just feel we should go. Is that weird?’
‘Yeah! But I guess we got time if we hurry.’
The boy helped his friend to his feet and they both headed down the road with Joh and Cheryl following closely behind.
‘How did you do that?’ asked Cheryl. ‘You made him change his mind.’
‘I’m not sure. Maybe I can influence human thought.’
‘If that’s true, you’ll be able to do it with Theo. That’s wonderful news,’ said Cheryl, excitedly.
‘Wouldn’t it be?’ added Joh. Rushing to keep up with the boys.
For ten minutes Joh and Cheryl kept up a steaming pace and followed the two boys in and out of pedestrian traffic, across main roads and into the northern limits of the city. There, amid a block of warehouses and a few shops, was a small two-storey home. It was a quaint wooden cottage with a tiny garden at its front. It looked a little out of place, being one of the last non-commercial dwellings in the area. But it seemed a much-loved property and a real home.
The two boys dashed up the stairs to the front porch and knocked on the door. A well-dressed woman opened the door and the boys handed the lollies to her. She smiled and thanked them.
‘You can see him when he’s not contagious,’ she said, as the boys waved goodbye and headed off down the street.
‘This is it, Joh,’ said Cheryl. ‘He’ll be upstairs in a bedroom, I’ll bet.’
‘That tree should gives us a better vantage point,’ suggested Joh, heading for it.
Joh helped Cheryl up to the main branch, her old half giving her a little trouble. As they climbed out along the huge branch, a bedroom window came into view. There, lying in bed reading a comic, was a young boy. Cheryl looked to Joh. ‘Well?’
Joh’s face broke into a broad smile. ‘It’s him. It’s Theo. It’s really him!’
Cheryl grabbed Joh and gave him the biggest hug. ‘We did it, Joh. We finally did it!’
Joh sat there, hardly believing that he had found Theo, his dreamer. All that time in the Half World he had yearned to have this chance, and now that he had it, it seemed almost imaginary, hardly believable.
Eventually Cheryl persuaded Joh to go back to the shelter. They could return around bedtime and try to find out how they were going to influence Theo’s dreams. This was not going to be easy.
Back at the shelter, Helen had respectfully taken the reigns of power with the Mist people and was organising missions to help the humans. Joh and Cheryl spent the early evening preoccupied, thinking about Theo and how they were going to go about this task. Joh recounted his dreams in every detail.
Theo was about ten years old, with soft brown skin and tightly curled black hair. His eyes were dark and penetrating but his smile was broad and welcoming, giving him away as a gentle kind-hearted soul.
His bedroom was neat and tidy and Joh could remember a row of soft toys sitting like soldiers on a shelf over his bed. There were teddy bears and dogs, one stupid looking snake and a pig with glasses. Each one sat upright with a suitable weapon or hat or article of clothing that Theo had meticulously arranged. Joh smiled as he remembered, each memory endearing him more and more to this young boy…his creator.
‘Come on Joh, it’s almost dark. It’s time to go to Theo’s.’
Joh looked up at Cheryl, lost in thought, his mind having already been in Theo’s room.
‘I’m so excited,’ followed Cheryl. ‘Come on.’
Joh shook himself and as his mind returned to the present, he swung his legs over the side of the stretcher and sat up rather stiffly.
‘Sorry about that,’ he said.
‘Come on!’ snapped Cheryl grabbing him by the hand and wrenching him to his feet.
With eyes slowly clearing, Joh followed Cheryl up into the park and then on toward Theo’s home. When they arrived Joh was very excited, with butterflies the size of elephants in his stomach.
‘I’m a little nervous,’ he admitted.
‘You’ve got nothing to be worried about,’ replied Cheryl. ‘Joh, this is it, your big chance.’
‘Yeah, I know,’ said Joh, as he opened the front door and walked up the stairs. They continued up to the top floor.
As they entered Theo’s room, they saw his mother just finishing a bedtime story. As she tucked him in, Theo looked up with a questioning expression on his face.
‘Can Santa grant any wish?’ he asked.
His mum smiled warmly. ‘I guess that depends on what you wish for,’ she replied.
‘Last year I wished for a new bike, and Santa gave me that. He doesn’t have to make me anything this year, I just…’
‘What Darling? What do you want?’ asked Mum.
Theo looked up to the ceiling, a little embarrassed. ‘I don’t want any presents this year- just one thing,’ he added.
‘What Theo? What do you want so much?
Theo turned his head toward his mum and with a serious but slight voice said… ‘I want a brother.’
Theo’s Mum frowned for a moment and then her face just about melted. ‘Theo, that’s not something that Santa can do. That’s, well… I can’t…’
‘It’s OK Mum. I understand,’ he replied, rolling over.
Theo’s Mum felt bad, not knowing what to say. She placed her hand gently on Theo’s shoulder and clenched it reassuringly. ‘I love you Theo,’ she whispered.
‘I love you too, Mum.’
Theo’s mother quietly left the room and Joh and Cheryl moved closer to the bed. As they moved around the bed and saw Theo’s face, they watched a single tear slowly form in his eye and as it rolled down his cheek he whispered… ‘I promise I’ll be good. Just give me a brother. That’s all I want,’ he finished. Theo then closed his eyes and fell fast asleep.
Joh sat down on the floor next to the bed and looked into his creator’s face. It was such a pure innocent face, displaying such longing.
‘It’s sad,’ said Joh, looking up to Cheryl. ‘He wants a brother so much.’
Cheryl smiled. ‘You’re his brother in his dreams, Joh. He just needs to give you a face, just like his.’
‘But why can’t he? Why hasn’t he been able to dream me a face? Maybe Theo will never have a brother. That’s even sadder,’ added Joh, looking back at the bed.
‘Joh, it’s time to try. You’ve got to try. Remember how you got that boy to change his mind? Get Theo to dream of his brother. You can do it, Joh. I believe in you,’ said Cheryl, kneeling down and placing her arm around his shoulder.
Closing his eyes, Joh tried to imagine himself with a face. He thought that if he could do it, then perhaps he could transfer the thought into Theo’s dreams.
He sat there for ages struggling with this vision, but no matter what he did, he could not imagine himself with a face. Joh could just about imagine anything else, but when it came to imagining himself, there was a brick wall in front of him, and he just couldn’t get past it.
‘It’s no use Cheryl. I just can’t see it. I’m trying, really trying but I just see me like this, a big nothing!’ he said in frustration.
‘Don’t worry Joh. It may take some time, that’s all,’ suggested Cheryl, trying to soften his disappointment.
‘I’m just going to be like this forever, aren’t I?’ he sobbed.
Just then Theo mumbled and turned over, as if he had heard Joh’s outburst. Joh put his hand over his mouth, thinking the same thing, but quickly realised the human’s couldn’t hear him.
‘I thought for a minute that he could…’
‘Who’s there?’ asked Theo in a sleepy voice.
‘It’s Joh,’ said Cheryl, as a joke.
‘Who’s Joh?’ asked Theo, sitting wearily up in bed.
Joh and Cheryl fell back against the wall in complete shock.
‘He can hear us,’ whispered Joh.
‘You can’t hear us can you, Theo?’ asked Cheryl.
‘Is that Santa?’ asked Theo, hopeful.
‘No, but we may be able to help you dream up a brother,’ said Cheryl.
‘You can’t say that,’ whispered Joh.
‘Did you say brother?’
‘Yes Theo,’ answered Cheryl, with Joh elbowing her in the ribs.
‘How do you know about my wish? And why can’t I see you?’
‘Theo, we’re magic and we’re here to help you,’ said Cheryl.
‘You’re elves aren’t you?’ asked Theo.
Joh sat up. ‘Sort of,’ he said softly, looking at Cheryl and then back to Theo.
‘Theo, I’m Joh and my friend is Cheryl. We’ve come a long way to see you, to help you.’
‘Cool!’ replied Theo. ‘Do you have pointy ears?’
‘Yes!’ interrupted Cheryl, giving Joh another jab to the rib. ‘We‘re here to help you dream your brother.’
‘You mean, I’m going to get a brother?’
Joh looked at Cheryl with disapproval, shaking his head. Cheryl thought about her reply for a moment and then looked at Theo. ‘We’re going to try, Theo. We’re going to try.’
‘So what do I do?’ asked Theo, ready to do just about anything.
Joh moved closer to the bed. ‘I want you to dream of your brother, what he will look like. Theo, this is important. I want you to make sure that he has a face.’
Theo frowned. ‘How did you know that in my dreams he doesn’t have a face?’ he asked, feeling more and more confused. Joh hung his head, not knowing what to say. Then, as if he’d thrown all caution to the wind, he answered.
‘Theo, we come from a world of incomplete dreams. I’m the boy you dreamed of, and I’m here to help you to dream of a face…so that I can be complete.’
Theo sat there for a long moment- no doubt trying to absorb what was said to him. As a young child with an active imagination, he was coping rather well with this strange confrontation. Now, with the news of the Half World being thrown into his lap, it would be no surprise if he ran screaming from the room. But, to his credit, he simply said. ‘Maybe we want the same thing.’
Smiling at each other, Joh and Cheryl rose to their feet. ‘If it’s all right with you, we’ll come here every night about this time and see if we can’t help each other. Would that be OK?’ asked Joh.
‘You got a deal. Now let me get to sleep,’ finished Theo, snuggling down in his bed.
They walked to the door of the room.
‘Goodnight Theo,’ said Joh. ‘See you tomorrow.’
‘Mm, hmm,’ he replied, already half-asleep.
Joh and Cheryl left the house and rushed back to the underground shelter, overjoyed and surprised with what had happened. Joh hadn’t been able to even imagine how he would communicate with Theo let alone get his help. Now, as if by magic, Theo could hear them and was more than willing to help.
For the first time, Joh saw possibility as a real outcome, and all that night he ran his fingers over his face trying to imagine having eyes, a nose, cheeks and a mouth. The prospect of having a real face now excited him more than ever, and it would be like torture, having to wait each day for the sun to go down and to be with Theo again.
Cheryl too found it difficult to sleep that night, also feeling expectant about success. She lay still in bed and thought about her own body, half-withered as it was. She dared not think about her dreamer and finding her as Joh had done. She was there in the real world by default, by accident and to support her friend Joh. But it was hard not to think of herself, her disability even more limiting than Joh’s.
‘Joh, are you awake?’ she whispered from her stretcher.
‘Yeah. I’m too excited.’
Cheryl rolled on to her side to face Joh’s bed. ‘What do you think will happen when Theo dreams you a face?’
Joh turned his head toward Cheryl and looked up pensively. ‘I’m not sure, but I hope I’ll go to the ‘dream world’. At least I’ll be whole and maybe I can have a mother, just like Theo.’
Cheryl rolled on to her back and looked up at the ceiling. ‘Joh, what will happen to me?’ she asked, meekly. Joh smiled.
‘Cheryl if this works, then you’ll know how to do it too. I’ll see you there…in the dream world,’ replied Joh, excitedly. ‘We’ll be like brother and sister. You’ll see.’
Cheryl reached out for Joh’s hand and Joh clasped it supportively.
‘I hope you’re right,’ she replied, letting go of his hand and rolling over.
‘See you in the morning,’ whispered Joh.
For the next week Joh and Cheryl visited Theo each night and each night Theo tried to dream a face for Joh. But by morning, Theo could remember nothing…not a single dream. No matter what they did, nothing worked. In fact Theo, who was normally a vivid dreamer, couldn’t dream anything let alone help Joh.
The following week Theo was well enough to go back to school and Joh and Cheryl went with him each day thinking that perhaps knowing more about his life would help their cause.
They would sit in his classroom right up the back and shout out the answers to the questions that Miss Lassenby would ask. Theo tried hard to ignore them, but a few times he forgot and turned around and told them to ‘pipe down’. Everyone else thought he’d gone mad. But after a while Theo learned not to respond, and used their answers for his own response. He was surprised just how smart they were, and Miss Lassenby was more than a little impressed with Theo’s new-found enthusiasm and knowledge.
At lunchtime Theo would play ball games with his friends and Joh and Cheryl would watch with interest. Theo was a popular child and both Joh and Cheryl could see just how much he wanted a brother to play with at home.
It was now late November and with Christmas approaching, Miss Lassenby had enlisted three of the students to help decorate the classroom. Theo, Chad and Mary were chosen and at lunchtime they were busily hanging up tinsel and streamers when ‘Belly’ Hanson and his apprentice idiots strolled in. Belly was the school bully, his nickname gained from his rather enormous stomach, which had a life of its own, poking out like a lump of bread dough from under his T-shirt. He wandered up to Theo and cracked his knuckles pointedly, his two rather puny sidekicks behind him.
‘So what are you now, teachers little helper?’ said Belly, sarcastically.
‘It’s Christmas, Belly, someone’s got to do it,’ replied Theo, continuing to work.
‘And how come you’re a brainiac, suddenly? You been studying so you can show us all up?’
‘No! I’ve done nothing to you Belly. What’s your problem?’
Belly moved closer, his face hardening.
‘Leave him alone,’ shouted Mary. ‘We’ve got to finish the decorations.’
‘Keep out of it, if you know what’s good for ya!’ snapped Belly. ‘Grab him!’
Belly’s two cronies pulled Theo off the chair he was standing on and held him, one on each arm. Joh and Cheryl had been watching the kafuffle, and just as Belly was about to strike Theo, Cheryl rushed over. She kicked Belly squarely on his shin, sending him into a screaming fit, and rolling around on the floor, grabbing his shin.
‘You’ll pay for that!’ screamed Belly.
For a moment Theo didn’t know what had happened, and when he finally realised, he smiled and looked down at Belly.
‘You boys want some too?’ he asked, suddenly confident.
‘Don’t you let him go, you two!’ shouted Belly, trying to compose himself.
Theo and the two thugs were standing on a small rug and suddenly Joh had an idea.
‘Theo, when I say jump, you jump, OK?’ he asked.
‘Ah, ha,’ replied Theo, as Belly slowly got to his feet with revenge in his eyes.
‘Jump!’ shouted Joh, and Theo jumped.
Just then Joh and Cheryl pulled hard on the end of the rug and the two boys fell flat on to their backs.
From where Belly was standing, he saw Theo jump and then the rug magically slide away, sending his boys flying. He freaked out and hurriedly limped out of the classroom, his two sidekicks close behind, all licking their wounds.
‘And don’t come back!’ shouted Theo. Joh and Cheryl were laughing hysterically and Chad and Mary gathered around to congratulate Theo. No-one had ever stood up to Belly, not ever.
‘You were fantastic!’ said Mary.
‘I’ve never seen old Belly back down to anyone,’ added Chad.
Theo felt like a fraud, but had no trouble accepting all the praise. From that day on, Belly never came near Theo again. Theo had suddenly become a hero among the children and Belly had quietened down a great deal, his bullying days finally at an end.
While Theo was downstairs having his dinner, Joh and Cheryl sat together in his bedroom and thought about what had happened.
‘You know, maybe it’s better if we stay away- you know from school,’ suggested Joh.
Cheryl nodded emphatically. ‘It could go very wrong for Theo, and just can’t be explained.’
‘Agreed,’ replied Joh. ‘We’ve got more important matters, than just play games. This whole dreaming thing has me beat.’
‘There’s a way, I just know it,’ replied Cheryl.
‘You’ve got to have faith.’
Theo's Wish by Tony DeLorger
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