Regrets

 

For the purpose of this story, Daniel is seven years old and Jack is his guardian.

 

Daniel has always been an enigma to be. Big or small, he never ceases to amaze. Since his accident, or down sizing, or whatever you’d like to call this catastrophe, he’s been living with me. We do okay I suppose. Don’t get me wrong, Daniel isn’t hard to live with, it’s just that he can be… moody. Actually, more down in the mouth than moody if truth be known.

Being a boy again is a hard thing to ask of a man, especially one as creative and as intelligent as Daniel. However if wishes were horses beggars would ride, and until we can figure a way to fix this, we are all going to have to make the best of it. Chapter and verse.

Naturally, this isn’t a homily I’d normally say out loud. Not if I wanted to enjoy any peace for the rest of the week. Daniel’s temper can be electric at best, damn right filthy at worse! I learned that the hard way when I had to duck a bowl of Cheerio’s I’d thought he’d prefer to a cup of espresso and a slice of silence.

We’ve come to an agreement there, and one that is mutually advantageous. He pretends he didn’t throw the plate at me and I pretend I didn’t swat his six. It’s best this way. It was six months before we could even smile about that experience, it was just too humiliating. But eventually we came to see its funny side, and there’s been no flying cereal bowls since.

Not all stories happening around us are humorous or pedestrian like temper tantrums. Judge ‘Badboy’ Fontelle was a good friend of mine and he’d been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive cancer. Poor bastard knew he was dying, and when I mentioned that I wanted to visit him, Daniel offered to come along as a show of support. This is what I mean about him being an enigma. He is this mix of man-child that I can’t always work out. One moment I’m wiping syrup off his face and then the next I’m talking to him about losing one of the best friends I’d ever had. Never know if I should offer him a beer or a soda. 

We went to the hospital and Bob was in that half-drugged state where you’re neither awake nor asleep. I grabbed the only seat, and Daniel stood next to me, leaning against my leg. He suddenly stretched out his small hand and slipped it into Bob’s, paper-thin one. I looked at him, surprised that he’d do this, but he shook his head and I knew he was thinking.

“Judge Fonetelle, have you always enjoyed your career in law?” Daniel asked softly.

“No,” he answered fiercely, “I’ve hated every minute of it.”

Daniel must have been as astonished as I was I. I mean this from the man who served this country for twenty-five years and he tells a kid that he hated every moment of it?

Naturally this particular kid wasn’t about to let it go even when I raised my warning eyebrow.

“But what would you have rather have done?” Daniel asked, squeezing Bob’s hand gently.

The judge replied, “Medicine, for as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a doctor. A surgeon, to be precise. I wanted to heal people, make them better, not take away their freedom, or their will to live.”

Daniel edged himself so close he was almost sitting on the bed, and I knew he wanted to ask one more questions. Well, my *ahem* didn’t work and he asked anyway.

“Well, why didn’t you then? Why did you become a judge instead of a doctor?”

“Daniel!” I growled, but Bob’s eyes cleared and he smiled and gave his answer. He’d been clearly more aware than I’d first thought. Typical attorney, he’d never give a straight answer. He looked at me first, and when I nodded my head, he answered my nosey little friend.

“Because my parents wanted me to, and there was no way I was going to give them the satisfaction.”

If Daniel’s eyes had grown any rounder or his jaw dropped any further, he’d have been a ringer for a goldfish I once had. “Didn’t you like your mom and dad?” he asked softly, but Bob had fallen asleep again, and snored like a battery toy running down.

Daniel asked me to shove over and perching his little butt on my chair, leaned into me. We sat there like that in the airless room and said nothing for about five minutes. Bob snored and we listened.

Eventually Daniel looked at me and when I tried to wipe my eyes, he grabbed at my hand. He placed it against his cheek his eyes watering along with mine. It was an emotional time for us both, and the many injustices we’d faced seemed overwhelming. After what seemed a lifetime of hurt, he jumped to the floor and padded over to Bob, peering at his grey, thin, face.

“We can’t always have what we want, can we?” he said quietly.

“No,” I agreed, wondering where he was going with it. “Sometimes we have to make the best of a shitty situation.”

Daniel nodded his head and I could just about see the little white mouse running in that wheel. Finally, he came back to me and raised him arms for me to pick him up. This is rare and never done in public, so I figured he needed a hug. I obliged.

“Sam will find a way, won’t she?” he asked, burying his head into my chest in case I heard the sob.

“Hope so,” I replied. I learned that there is no point in lying to Daniel, and truth means everything to him.

“Okay, I can do this, for awhile.”

I smiled, and did the unpardonable. I dropped a kiss on the top of his head and sighed. “Yup, we can indeed.”

Daniel and I said our goodbyes to a man whose respect and friendship had meant so much to me, and hand in hand, we walked away. To make our own future one that wasn’t full of regrets.

The end.

 

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