07 Heaven

The boy tiptoed into the driveway. He was very careful not to tread on the flowers scattered on the ground. His mother fished her keys out of her pocket while balancing her bag full of groceries on one knee. Father was coming home early to spend some time with them. She told him so this morning. His mother kept the door open with her back and called his name. He jumped as far as he could, but did not clear the flowers completely. Then he ran inside.

Their house was made of yellow bricks. In all the storybooks the houses were red. He made a point of only drawing yellow houses. ‘To make up for it,’ he told anyone near enough to hear it.

The house was large, larger than any other he had been in, and it had an even bigger garden. When his mother called it their little heaven, he always corrected her. It was not little. And neither was he for that matter. Then his mother would laugh and lift him up and call him her big boy.

His mother made the dinner while he played; in his room, the living room, up and down the stairs, in the second bedroom, in the hall, on the terrace and in the garden. When he got tired he went inside and into the kitchen.

‘When is father coming home?’ he asked.

‘Anytime now, dear,’ his mother put the food back in the oven, ‘I called the office, but he had already left.’

The boy’s stomach growled.

‘I’m hungry,’ he said.

‘I know, dear,’ his mother smiled, ‘but your father will be home anytime now, and then we can all eat together.’

The boy went to his room and rummaged around. He found his Action Man and a Dr. X death ray. When he heard the front door slam, he jumped up. He went down the stairs as quickly as he could, but still one step at a time for they were very steep.

When he came down into the hall he noticed his father’s coat. There was a bulge in one of the pockets. His parents were talking in the kitchen. He edged closer and put his hand in the pocket of the coat. It was a box, like the ones his mother had and said he could not play with. He opened it. Inside was a little heart on a chain.

Steps came into the hall from the kitchen and he turned. It was his father. An expression the boy did not recognize crossed his father’s face when he saw the necklace in the boy’s hands. His father took it out of his hands and put it back in the box.

‘It’s a secret,’ whispered his father, ‘you can’t tell anyone.’

‘Not even mother?’

‘Not even mother.’

His father put the box into his suitcase and locked it. The boy studied him and picked his nose.

‘Is it for her?’ asked the boy. His father raised his eyebrows.

‘Excuse me?’ he said.

‘Is it for her,’ repeated the boy, ‘for mother?’

There was a pause while his father rubbed his forehead with his fingers.

‘Yes,’ said his father, ‘yes it’s for her.’

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