Puppy For Sale
Chapter 29 - Coming Out for a Walk in the Park
"Could you please hold still, I am going to fall over in a minute?" I declared.
"Well don't move around so much, you are pulling me under the water… look, I'm getting soaked here."
"I'm sorry, it's just some bits require that I bend down, I'm not doing it on purpose."
"Maybe not, but every time I look, either your dick is dangling in front of me, or I have your hairy butt in my face… its disturbing."
"Well, to quote something you said, you've got the same equipment so what's the issue here."
"More wash, less talk," he bleated, quickly turning his face away as water spray bounced off my shoulder and into his face.
"You know, we should do this more often, that wet look on you is very appealing."
"I'm going to just ignore that and not encourage your fantasies, now, you have two minutes left and then I am letting you slide bonehead."
"Ok, ok, almost done, just gotta wash my hair."
With Morning obviously here, I was denied a lay-in.
"Oh for fuck's sake, why is it I can never fucking find ANYTHING?" The dulcet tones of Steven. I sighed. I had just been enjoying a rare pleasant dream when my lucid world was shattered with his whining.
"Good morning, what time is it?" I groaned.
"This is NOT a good morning Fuckhead, and it's late o'clock… I hate my life!"
"I'm really starting to realise you are not a morning person, do you wanna tell me what the problem is?"
"I can't find my school shoes, I bet mum has moved them or eaten them or some shit like… MUM, WHERE ARE MY SHOES?!" He bellowed, throwing various objects in all different directions like someone searching for their winning lottery ticket.
"Where did you last leave them honey?" she called up the stairs. "And hurry up, you're going to be late… breakfast is ready."
"Where did I last leave them? Can you believe she is asking that?" Steven barked, staring at me. I just shrugged and let my head fall back down on the pillow. "Stupid fucking school shoes, never know where things are. Ooh, where did you leave them, she asks? Well, no fucking clue mother, I have been off a week and slept SINCE THEN grrrr," he continued to mutter away to himself. I pulled my pillow across my face and tried to ignore the outbreak of his tantrum.
Without consciously realising it, the room had gone quiet. Either I must have dozed off, which was unlikely, or I had just become immune to the morning outbursts by Steven. Peace descended on me and I snuggled up tighter in my already warm duvet.
I was just drifting back into a light snooze when Steven entered our room again. This time he was more quiet, and if I wasn't mistaken, he was actually trying to be considerate by creeping around.
"What have you lost this time," I asked, one eye open.
"Sorry about earlier… oh, and just my watch, but I know where that is."
"No worries," I replied, a gentle smile on my face.
Steven looked seriously sexy in his uniform. It dawned on me that this was the first time I was seeing him in it, and boy was it a treat to see. His beautifully pressed, ice white shirt clung to his toned body really well, with a navy blue tie that complimented his already good looks. Steven pulled a navy blue blazer from the hanger in his closet, sliding it onto his torso, which completed the set.
His hair was immaculate, swept sideways, soft and fluffy, with a small tuft that half covered his right eye. I could see why girls found him appealing, he was a good catch, as Steven would say himself. But I found it strange that he had made such an effort to go to a place he hated.
"Oh Jesus!" he said, rolling his eyes.
"Can you try maybe being a little more subtle when you check me out?"
"Fuck you, I wasn't checking you out!"
"You were too, look at you, it's like drool could fall from your mouth that any moment."
"Oh, shut up, I was just looking at the logo on your uniform."
"Oh my God, you are so full of shit… I gotta go, I'll leave you to soil your sheets."
"What is it you say? Bite me!"
Steven laughed and left the room, leaving me once again in peace.
It took me a few minutes to get down the stairs, but I eventually made it… virtually on one leg. Hopping into the kitchen, heading for the back door, a few expletives and yelps fell from my mouth as I inadvertently put my bad foot down a couple of times.
All I wanted was to get out of the house for a bit. Stupid foot!
Standing outside in the yard, or rather leaning against the house wall, I inhaled a deep breath of cool, damp morning air. A light dew hung just above the ground, making the grass sparkle in the early morning sun. I could hear Annie and Clarabelle clucking away at the bottom of the garden as their cousins sang amongst the trees.
I planned to call Cindy today to get some much needed news on her adoption, and I would also find out tonight if Max had received permission for me to go see her on Tuesday. I was just so excited for her, but I also noticed something else. It was me, I felt… normal. I felt happy, carefree and slightly buzzy.
Standing here just listening to nature allowed me to hone in on that feeling that I had never noticed before. I almost considered telling Max not to bother with my blood test. It felt like Doctor Burrows had worked a miracle somehow. My head felt clear, I could think and I didn't feel at all tense… at all.
"Everything OK Button?" Susan asked, bringing a basket of washing out into the yard.
"Yeah, just enjoying the sunshine, although I wish it was warmer."
"My grandmother always used to say that the late autumn sun was the best you could get. She said everything felt bright, clean and fresh."
"I guess she was right, it does kinda feel like that. Hey, would you like help with that?" I asked, eyeing the load she was carrying.
"You're sweet, but no, it's fine. I sort of have OCD with the washing, I like it all to go in order, but Thank you, Puppy, that's very kind of you."
"What, what's up?"
"Puppy… you called me Puppy."
Susan snorted. "Must be your father rubbing off on me, that's all he calls you."
"It's fine you know, I prefer it anyway. After being called it for so long by so many people, I kinda feel Jensen is someone else's name."
"Yeah, I know what you mean, when I was at school, people used to call me Sue, I found that quite alien too."
I sat on the back step and watched Susan start taking out the washing. She did seem to have a system going, and as I followed her progression I saw that items were arranged as to where they went on the body. Jeans and trousers went together, then jumpers and shirts and lastly came all the underwear. The rest, like towels and vests seemed to go in the naughty corner as they didn't have any relations.
"There, all done. So what shall we do today?"
I shrugged. "I dunno, don't you have stuff to do? I don't wanna get in the way."
"Nonsense, would you like to go sit in the park for a bit? If you are anything like Steven I'll bet you like to be outside whenever possible.
"Well, I'm not really up for walking," I sniggered.
"Nice to see your sense of humour isn't waning, Puppy. It's fine, we'll take the car, maybe grab some lunch from the kiosk nearby and have a chin-wag, what do you say?"
"Sounds great," I said, forming a smile.
"Excellent, I'll go throw something warm on and you just let me know when you're ready."
"Just like that?"
"Well, what's to wait around for, the washing is done, Kitchen is tidy, and you are on sick leave," She said, cackling.
I shook my head. "I don't know where you get your energy from Susan."
"Call it being a housewife, and mother of two teenage boys, you get used to the grind, and once you get into a routine, you tend not to think about what needs doing. All Steven worries about is having enough food in the cupboards and having the latest gadgets, and your father just enjoys having hot water and a soft bed at night."
I smiled and started to limp away. All I needed to do was grab my warm coat and put on my plastic support boot and I was good to go. Due to the way it was designed I could actually just about walk when I had that on, but it was a clumsy and awkward thing that was not designed to wear around the house. Max had asked for crutches for me, but the Doctor advised against it for some reason.
I heard the jingling of Susan's keys alerting me to the fact she was ready as soon as I was. I strapped up my boot, pulled on one sneaker and slipped on my jacket, before leaning against the wall near the front door.
"Ready?" She asked, pulling out her long brown hair from under her coat collar.
"As I'll ever be."
She reversed the car out to give me extra room to get in, an act that was classically Susan, always thinking ahead and being thoughtful. I opened the door and pretty much threw myself in, lifting my bad foot into the foot well.
When Susan said shall we go to the park, I kind of expected there to be a small field that contained a slide and swings for small children with a few benches scattered around for doting parents. But as I was quickly finding out, this was something much more beautiful.
Walking away from the small gravel parking lot we stepped onto the grassland. The area was littered with huge Horse Chestnut trees that were ripe with their prickly balls. Little man made paths winded through creating many different walkways that you could stroll along. Every few meters there was a high back bench you could sit down on. What hit me first was the smell of fried onions, and I could see a small mobile building with smoke coming from a chimney.
"Hmm, can you smell that?" I asked, as Susan and I made our way to the nearest bench.
"That's the kiosk I was talking about, we can go there soon if you like… maybe have a cup of tea and something to eat?"
"You spoil me, Susan."
"I know," she squealed, clapping her hands together rapidly. "Isn't it fun?"
I giggled, loving her enthusiasm.
"All these trees… God, I remember coming here when I was a little girl with my parents. I remember there was a little boy called Sammy, who used to walk on the reigns with his mother, we both must have been about five or so. One day, much like this one actually, a big conker husk fell from one of those trees and hit me square on the head, Puppy. I remember screaming my heart out in tears, and then Sammy ran over to me and kissed me on the cheek."
"Oh, poor you, that must of hurt."
"I don't recall actually, all I remember was that I stopped crying when he kissed me. Silly really, but these trees always remind me of that little boy I used to see so often."
"Do you still see him?"
"Oh no, I haven't seen him since I was six or seven, I think his parents must have moved away or something because one day I just didn't see him anymore. He will be in his forties now. Funny… time moves so slow when you are a child, and so fast when you get older. It feels like I was friends with little Sammy forever, but in reality, it was a snippet compared to the time that has passed since."
"There is a Holly tree at Greenstone that I used to play with, and-"
"You played with a holly tree?" she cut in.
"Yeah, it was silly really, but when the prickly leaves used to die some of them got stuck within the tree itself. I used to see how many I could pick out without stabbing myself… but anyway, that's not the point of the story. You mentioned how time passes and I thought about that tree because it was about two feet tall when I first arrived at the children's home. It's now about twice the size of me."
"Yet you never noticed it grow while you were there right?"
"Exactly, how did you know."
"Just thinking the same as you were I think. I'm guessing the whole time you were at greenstone, in your mind that Holly tree never got bigger and its only once you leave a place and then remember it back that you realise, actually, it grew with you. Yes, Puppy, I know exactly what you mean."
"Wow, that's… that's just profound."
"Wow, and you know a lot of intellectual words," she said, laughing. "So tell me about you and Steven, how are things going, that boy tells me nothing… I swear its like trying to get blood out of a stone when it comes to his emotions."
"Much better, I really didn't know how it was all going to turn out. As you know, he didn't give me the most inviting welcome, and if I'm honest?"
"And you can be."
"Well, if I'm honest, there were a couple of days when I really thought it would be better if I had gone back to the home, I was that scared of him."
"His bark is worse than his bite, he's highly strung I'll give you that, but I've seen him with his friends… yes they bicker, but if there is one thing Steven shines in, that's loyalty. Once he accepts you, he takes care of you, and I love him for that part of his personality."
"So do you think I've been accepted?" I asked, looking at her."
"From what I've seen? Oh yeah!"
"That's good to hear. I know that he's had a rough life, although he doesn't talk about it."
"He has, and I can only hope that's made him stronger. My ex-husband… his father, was a nasty man towards the end of his life. Like you I'm sure, there are some things a child should never witness. I think Steven went through an inner struggle, especially when his dad was so cruel to me. He wanted to stop it, but he was far too young and I think that affected him for quite a few years."
"Is that why he is…"
"The way he is?" Susan finished for me. "It's funny you know, because Steven was such a quiet little boy. He only started to come out of his shell at around eleven or twelve. Before that, if you had said boo to him, he would have run and hid behind the sofa. Max has a lot to do with his personality. He's given him the proper male influence that my husband could never give, because he was a weak man."
"Mentally, and emotionally. He never showed too much interest in Steven, whereas your father is the complete opposite."
"Yeah, Max is funny."
"And engaging. Very laid back too, I think that's where Steven gets his cocky, I don't care, personality from."
"So what's it like being married to a tree Surgeon?" I said, giggling.
"Ha-ha, I used to tease your dad about that. Lost any patients today, I would ask. He takes his job very seriously actually. I used to think he just cut down trees, but he and the two other men that work for him are actually specialists in tree disease."
"Tree, disease?" I repeated, raising a brow.
"Yes, sometimes you can get sick trees with parasites and fungus problems. I never thought much of it until he came home one day and told me a story I will never forget."
"What was that?"
"Well, he had been called to a very old lady's house somewhere in the country. She had lost her husband about ten years previous, and was now a widow. When he died, she planted a tree in their garden to remember him by."
"Aww, that's really nice."
"Yes I thought so too, but then the tree got some illness that was slowly killing it. The old woman was beside herself because she thought that if the tree died, then her late husband would be forgotten. Your dad went to that lady's tree once a week for two months to treat it with some special chemicals. In the beginning he used to come home and be so upset because he thought that he might not be able to save the tree, and knew how upset the lady would be, but after a few weeks it started to show signs of repairing itself and in the end it was fine."
"Wow, that's awesome, Max the miracle worker, eh?"
"Ha-ha, yeah. What I thought was really sweet though, is your dad told the old lady that her husband was helping the healing process from heaven and that he was just there to supervise. He made the old lady cry with happiness that her tree was saved, and it's the only time I have ever seen your dad get upset about a job he had done. I thought it was very touching."
"Yeah, it's a beautiful story."
"Uh huh, so like I say, never tease your father about his job," she said, winking at me.
"So, where are your parents?"
"I don't know, Jensen. Sometimes families don't get along and you end up not seeing each other anymore."
"Are you sad that you don't know where they are?"
"Susan paused for a moment, staring ahead, before looking back to me. "There was a time, but now I have a wonderful family of my own, including you of course and I couldn't be happier."
"So… so what happened to them?"
Susan sighed, and I got the feeling she wished I hadn't asked… maybe I shouldn't have, it was a personal question after all and one that could have waited a while longer, but I was curious that she never mentioned them. But then again, I never knew who any of my family was apart from my mum.
"It's a long and complicated story, Puppy."
"I'm sorry Susan, I should not have asked."
"Of course you should have, it's only right you wanna know who you're… well sort of grandparents are."
"The thought had crossed my mind… about Max's too."
"Parents?" She asked.
"Oh, I thought he told you. Well, they're in Australia, and they come over now and again, but they are quite old so he doesn't see them as much now days. My parents? Well, they are what we call old style Catholics."
Susan burst out laughing. "Not quite, but you're on the right track. It's more the religious side of it really."
"Yeah, well they had their beliefs that once you are married that you stayed married no matter what. But unfortunately Jensen, I could not stay married because of the way Steven's dad was. What made things worse, was they made an assumption that your father and I were… hmm, how can I put this? I guess they thought we were more than friends at the time."
"So they abandoned you?"
"Some people are misguided, Jensen. I don't hate them for who they are, I'm just very disappointed for what they believe."
"I think I understand." I said.
"But that will never happen to my boys, that is a fact. Whoever you are, whatever you do, I will always love you for what's in here," she said, tapping on my chest."
I thought about what she had said for a moment, before looking right at her, swallowing hard.
"Hmm, even if I happen to like boys instead of girls?"
"Yes, even if you like… oh my God!"
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