This story full of Love is my gift to YOU.
Chapter 8. You are soooo beauuuutifuuuullll...
I woke up, still having my arms around my boys and holding them close.
Slowly, I opened my eyes, remembering everything from my induced trance, and still feeling on cloud nine.
At the same time, both boys stirred, opened their eyes, and squinted at me...
Little Harry got a naughty smile on his face, and teased me:
"You fell asleep, because you are an old sleepyhead."
"You fell asleep too, because you are a young sleepyhead!" John teased little Harry, tickling his ribs.
"This makes you our teenaged sleepyhead, because you fell asleep too!" I teased John, pulling both boys even closer.
"Yeah, I did, and it felt good. I even dreamed about Jack...
"I wish I could live here, having you as my Dad and Harry as my younger brother!"
For a moment, I marveled at the wonderful thought of being the father of these two fine young men.
I still thought about adopting little Harry, but what about John?
He had his own parents, and they would never release him...
Besides, wouldn't I be too old to raise them properly, without having a competent woman in the house?
Dreaming about it wouldn't do any harm; so I dreamed a bit more, thinking about when they would be a bit older...
Suddenly, little Harry announced, looking surprised and staring into space:
"I have a strange feeling, that all of us ARE going to live together for some time..."
John rolled off my chest and sat upright.
He looked at little Harry in sudden surprise...
Getting tears in his eyes, he exclaimed:
"I hope you will be right, because my so-called 'father' drives me crazy! He always complains about everything I do, and anything I do is never good enough!
"Yesterday, my mother threatened him with a divorce, and he yelled at her. This morning, she had tears in her eyes, and my father seemed to be away.
"I hope he doesn't come back for a long time, because we are better off without him. I think he hates me."
John's voice drifted off, and he started to sob.
Immediately, little Harry left my chest and put his arms around his big brother.
He held John close, while he whispered into his ear:
"It is okay to cry. Now, let it go, and don't bottle it up. In a few minutes, you will feel a lot better!"
John seemed to listen to his little brother, because he started to cry uncontrollably.
I put my arms around him from the other side and pulled him towards me, while little Harry continued to whisper soothing words into his ear.
Sobbing loudly, John let go of all the built-up aggression towards his father, and of all the hurtful reprimands he had to endure time after time.
Obviously, my little friend didn't have an easy life, despite his cheerful character...
I sent him all the love I could muster, trying to help him get rid of his desperation.
John continued to cry for quite a while; all the time clamping onto my chest.
Finally, he started to calm down and his sobbing slowly diminished.
His death grip relaxed, and he heaved a couple of deep sighs and looked up at me with a faint smile.
I kissed his wet cheek, and he kissed me back while his eyes started to beam again.
I reached for the huge package of tissues on my nightstand, opened it some more, and offered John a couple of them.
Now, little Harry looked at me as if he felt a bit reproachful...
He took the tissues out of my hand, turned towards John, and started to dry his brother's reddish and still teary eyes!
Ouch! Why hadn't I thought of this myself?
Now and then, I was a bit too insensitive, still living too much in my own private world...
Fortunately, my little soul mate was a lot more soulful; and, again, he taught me a valuable lesson.
I HAD to be more receptive to the needs of others!
Boys will be boys!
Immediately, they started to joke again.
With little fun lights in his eyes, John teased little Harry:
"I think I will hire you as my shrink and personal eye-dryer!"
Little Harry poked him in the ribs, and grinned with a smug face:
"Then, I will send you my bill, and I am not cheap. Now, come on, crybaby. Today, we have to move my stuff back to my old room!"
He turned towards me; draping himself across my chest for a quick cuddle.
Fortunately, he seemed to have forgotten about my obvious lack of consideration with John...
I didn't want to lose his valuable friendship over such a stupid thing!
Little Harry offered me a quick kiss, and rolled off my chest again.
All three of us left the bed, and John went to the bathroom to wash his tear-stained face.
In the meantime, little Harry helped me make the bed and tidy up the room.
Soon, John was back, and all of us dressed.
We raced downstairs, to begin our day...
We went straight to the kitchen, where John opened the refrigerator:
"Do you have any drinks? And I am hungry too!"
"What? Are you hungry again? Harry and I had breakfast barely two hours ago!"
"Of course I had breakfast at home; but we are growing boys. That means we have to eat lots of food, to grow as strong and be as well-built as you are."
"Hmmm. Flattery will get you everywhere... But, I'm afraid we will have to visit a supermarket first, because Harry and I ate everything I had in stock."
"Okay, let's go! Don't forget your keys or your wallet, like Jack always did..."
John closed the refrigerator and headed for the door.
Suddenly, he turned around, looking at little Harry with concern in his eyes:
"Are you joining us, just like the last time when we had so much fun?"
Little Harry hesitated and slowly shook his head, heaving a deep sigh of sadness.
He stepped back and slumped down onto one of the folding chairs.
The light in his eyes went out, and his head slowly bent towards his knees.
He plucked at his clothes and mumbled, barely audibly:
"I don't know. You better go without me. Everybody will ridicule me again..."
Immediately, John went to his little brother, getting tears in his eyes.
He sat down on another folding chair, and tenderly pulled little Harry onto his lap.
He put his arms around the sad little boy, and asked him in a soft voice:
"Do you remember the last time we were in the supermarket with Jack, and you wore that comical teddy bear mask? Everybody laughed and had fun!
"You even started to dance with that Chinese girl. At the end, everybody applauded, and we each got a big chocolate bar from the shop owner. Wasn't that fun?"
"Yes, it was fun; but your father threw the mask and your chocolate bar away, and you were grounded for begging. Then, I shared my chocolate with you."
"I borrowed that mask from Thomas, for crying out loud! But, we HAD a lot of fun, and I want to do it again.
"Don't you have something else, to cover your face? Perhaps, you could make a robber's mask from an old scarf, cutting two holes in it for your eyes.
"Then, the owner will think you are really going to rob his shop..."
I felt very sad, and slumped down onto another folding chair.
How would I be able to help my discouraged little soul mate out of this dilemma?
It was quite understandable that little Harry didn't want to show his burnt face to all the staring customers!
Why didn't I think of this before...
Where had I left my still new silk scarf, a birthday present from one of my daughters...
I also felt very angry with Eric, for throwing away the comical teddy bear mask, without showing any consideration for little Harry.
Didn't that man have a HEART?
Where could I buy my boy another mask; or, even better, a complete robber's outfit?
An old TV show came to mind, of a man named Zorro.
He always wore a black mask, and nobody recognized him...
I turned towards John and little Harry, and asked:
"What if we go to a toyshop first, and buy you a Zorro mask and a cap with a big visor? You could hide your masked face under the visor, and enter the supermarket incognito, like a real superstar."
Little Harry looked up in sudden surprise, and his bright blue eyes started to sparkle again.
He looked at John for approval, and John nodded enthusiastically and pushed him off his lap towards the door.
First, he came straight up to me, threw his arms around my waist, and chuckled:
"Don't forget your keys and your wallet! Let's go find a toyshop."
He rushed to the front door, immediately followed by a beaming John.
I got my keys and my wallet and followed them outside, carefully locking the door.
Both boys raced towards my car, playfully jostling each other to be there first...
John had a lot of consideration for his little brother, because he let him win unnoticed by pretending to trip over some small branch.
"I WON!" little Harry shouted, jumping high into the air in triumph.
All his sadness was gone, and his bright blue eyes were sparkling again.
He tried to open the car door, but had to wait until I threw him the keys.
He caught them adeptly, and used them to open my door first:
"Entrez, monsieur." he told me in his best French, performing a deep bow.
Next, John and he entered the rear seats, and carefully buckled up.
Little Harry handed me the keys, I started the engine, and we drove off.
John knew where the toyshop was, and directed me towards it.
He showed me the way, telling me where I had to turn.
Now and then, little Harry jumped in, because he had been there before and recognized the streets.
After some time, I scanned our stereo for something joyful, and soon all three of us were loudly singing along with the music.
I wondered where John's parents were; so I turned the volume down and asked:
"John, do your parents know where you are?"
"Yes, I told my mother I would be with you and Harry. She had to go downtown, to do some shopping for Mark and Marrie, and I didn't want to join them.
"Normally, she doesn't come back for hours. I have no idea where my father is, and Thomas and Chrissy chose to join some other friends for a swim in their pool.
"I didn't want to swim either, that's why I decided to visit you early in the morning."
"You weren't surprised to see me almost naked in the kitchen?"
"Duh! Harry always hates clothes; and, whenever he has the chance, he prefers to walk naked through the house for the whole day!
"Jack mostly didn't bother about being dressed either; and I saw them often in the kitchen, clad only in their birthday suits...
"The first time, I felt embarrassed at seeing Jack like that; but, after a while, I got used to it. All boys have the same equipment, so why should we feel embarrassed about showing it?
"One day, Harry asked me to wash his hair in the shower; and, from that time on, we always showered together. Many times, Jack joined us; and we always had lots of fun...
"During the last two months, I've missed our togetherness. Fortunately, from now on, we can have fun with YOU.
"But, it's private; and we promise to always keep it a secret from everybody else, to avoid any silly questions. Nobody knows about us."
I felt very relieved about the mature way John handled this delicate question!
He also squelched my remaining fears, about one of them unintentionally blabbering to their friends or their parents.
Now, I was sure I could trust them.
I turned the sound up; and, again, we started to sing along with the music from our car stereo.
It felt good, to be able to do something that might help my little soul mate.
It also felt good to have my special friend around, still helping me find the way.
Suddenly, a delightful song started to resonate from our car speakers...
All three of us sat upright at the same time, looking at each other with huge grins on our faces.
We started to sing loudly along with the catchy tune, stamping our feet and trying to raise the roof of our car.
Howling at the tops of our lungs, we screeched:
"You are soooo beauuuutifuuuullll..."
Shrieking with laughter, we tried to outdo each other screaming and bellowing.
The song ended; and an advertisement took over.
At the same time, we entered a small town where we found the toyshop in a small square, and I parked our car.
This early in the morning, the square was still empty, and the shop looked deserted.
Little Harry was very silent, looking pensive and staring into space...
He seemed to linger on a decision, thinking it over and over...
Suddenly, he straightened his shoulders, displaying his aura of aristocracy.
Again, I thought of a little Prince, graciously addressing his beloved subjects...
He smiled at us, and announced with a proud voice:
"I'm going with you inside. Jack told me to always be proud of myself..."
He hopped out of our car and headed for the toyshop, without waiting for us.
John and I looked at each other, both of us feeling very surprised.
This certainly wasn't what we had expected!
Obviously, our little friend had made a major decision about his fears.
Wow, what a courageous boy he was!
We started to smile at the same time, left our car, and went after little Harry.
Had this anything to do with what Jack told me in my dream, about my boy coming out of his shell and leaving his fears behind?
Little Harry waited until we joined him.
Then, he stepped forward and opened the door.
"Ting," a hidden bell happily announced as we went inside.
For about ten seconds, nothing happened.
Then, from the back of the store, an elderly woman slowly waddled towards the front.
She was wearing very thick glasses, and didn't seem to see very well.
For a moment, she just stared at us, as if she examined a couple of species from another planet.
Then, she stepped closer, grunted something unintelligible, and again looked us over from head to toe...
Suddenly, she shifted her glasses to the tip of her nose, and stared at little Harry:
"Oh, my dear! You poor little child!" she exclaimed, opening her arms.
She threw herself at our surprised boy, in a clumsy effort to embrace him.
Little Harry looked at her with sudden panic in his eyes, and swiftly stepped aside.
The woman almost tripped over her own feet; and she had to hold onto one of the shelves to keep her balance.
She pushed her glasses back onto her nose, looking for where her poor little prey suddenly went...
My poor assaulted boy turned towards me with a look of shock in his eyes.
He threw himself into my arms, and I closed them safely around his small body.
From there, he glared at his assaulter, trembling with indignation...
His eyes were shooting daggers, and suddenly he blurted out:
"I am NOT your poor little child! Do you act this way with all your customers? Shame on you...
"Come on, Dad, let's go. This isn't the right shop for us."
He freed himself from my arms, turned towards the door, and took my hand.
Determinedly, he pulled me out of the shop, closely followed by a snickering John.
Still trembling with anger, he glared back at the shop:
"Did you see that, Dad? That crazy woman ATTACKED me!"
He stomped to our car, and impatiently waited until I unlocked the doors.
Still muttering and looking angry, he went inside and buckled up.
John and I followed him inside and buckled up as well; still chuckling about the strange woman.
What a crazy adventure!
We drove off; leaving a confused woman, staring at us from behind the windows...
Where should we go now?
Would there be another toyshop in this small town?
John looked around; carefully studying the various bystreets.
He looked into every alley we passed, as if he tried to remember something but wasn't sure...
After a while, he hesitantly pointed to the left:
"Somewhere around here, I once saw a shop that makes masks for actors... but I'm not sure where it is. It's a studio, located halfway down a small alley..."
Suddenly, little Harry sat upright with a confused look on his face.
It was as if he sensed something unexpected, and didn't know what to do.
He shook his head as if trying to wake up, and told me hesitantly:
"Dad? I don't know why, but I think we have to turn around here and enter the second street to the left..."
Was this again one of the extraordinary abilities my little soul mate seemed to have?
I decided to trust him and his special 'gifts'; so I turned around and entered the second street to the left.
Much to our surprise, we immediately found the small studio!
'Make-Up And Costumes For Actors', a small sign told us in ancient characters...
I parked our car along the sidewalk, and all three of us went out.
Hesitantly, we approached the only window the studio had, trying to look inside.
All the lights were on, and everything inside the small shop looked cozy and welcoming.
This time, little Harry seemed to be a lot more hesitant.
He came up to me, leaned against me, and safely worked his little body into my embrace.
Obviously, he didn't want to take any risk of being attacked again...
I put my arms around his small frame, to give him some more confidence.
Walking together, we opened the door and went inside.
"Good morning, gentlemen!" a pleasant voice greeted us.
A young man with a friendly face showed up from the back of the store.
He used a small towel to dry his hands, and threw it onto a chest of drawers when he was done.
He smiled at us, and invitingly pointed to a couple of chairs:
"It's nice of you to visit my humble studio. Please, have a seat!"
He turned towards little Harry, with interest and warmth in his eyes:
"You are a little young to be an actor, I suppose?"
Little Harry freed himself from my arms and straightened his shoulders.
He stepped forward, again showing his aura of aristocracy.
A broad smile appeared on his face, while he joked:
"Of course, I am a little young. But, I don't need a mask, because I already have a beautiful one of my own..."
"Yes, I see... and, may I tell you something important? It's not how you look, but who you are, that counts."
"Yes, I know; and it feels nice here!"
"Thank you. And, may I offer you one or two suggestions? My name is Peter."
For the next hour, little Harry and Peter sat glued to each other at a small table.
They looked at photographs, deliberated possibilities, sketched outlines, and asked zillions of questions.
Every time, they consulted John and me for approval or advice.
Little Harry told Peter everything about the fire and all his operations.
Trustfully, he let Peter touch his face and look at his scars, even on his chest and legs.
After some time, Peter went to the back of the store, and returned carrying a wooden box.
He sat down again, opened the box, and started to model small pieces of skin-colored clay.
Carefully, he put the modeled pieces onto little Harry's face.
Little Harry looked into a nearby mirror, closely watching everything Peter did.
Now and then, he directed Peter, telling him what he thought could be done better...
Peter carefully listened to his remarks, and casually accepted his advice.
Slowly, little Harry's face started to change, until both he and Peter were satisfied.
Finally, little Harry turned around, to let us have a look at his remodeled face...
John and I were astonished, and stared open-mouthed at our burnt little friend.
Suddenly, little Harry looked like any other normal eight-year-old boy!
Now, he had a cute pug nose, slightly stuffed cheeks, and nicely formed lips.
The transition was more than amazing!
Peter had done a wonderful job.
Little Harry beamed at us, basking in our surprise and joy.
Then, he slowly got tears in his eyes, trying to suppress his sobbing.
Abruptly, he turned back, to have another look in the mirror.
He sat down in front of it, studying his face again...
Tentatively, he tried to remodel his plastered nose some more.
Peter smiled proudly, and told him:
"Be careful, because it's only clay and will come off easily. It's only an indication of how your real mask will look when it is finished.
"Your nose will be slightly bigger, and your lips will look even more natural when the final mask is fitted to your face."
Suddenly, little Harry rose from his chair.
He went to Peter and threw his small arms around Peter's neck, trying to suffocate him.
He started to sob again, and sniffled:
"Thank you, Peter! Finally, I will look normal again..."
"You are very welcome!" Peter reacted, blushing and getting tears in his eyes.
"Uh oh..." little Harry suddenly muttered, looking a bit worried.
He squatted down, and fished a small piece of newly modeled nose from the floor.
Hesitantly, he showed it to Peter, unsure about how his new friend would react...
However, Peter smiled and reassured him:
"That is not a problem, because it's only clay. Now, we will remove all of it from your face, and I will make a nice mold for your mask."
Working together, they removed all the clay from little Harry's face.
Peter carefully cleaned his skin, using a couple of cotton swabs.
He took a bottle of yellowish oil from a shelf, and gently applied some.
Now, he told little Harry to wait for him, while he went to the back of the store.
After a few minutes, Peter returned with a towel, a spatula, and a container of greenish paste.
He put everything onto the table, and got an adjustable stool from a corner.
He smiled at little Harry, and asked:
"Can you sit on this stool, be motionless, and breathe through your nose?"
Little Harry nodded, and enthusiastically clambered onto the stool.
Peter adjusted its height, until our grinning boy towered over all of us.
Next, he draped a towel around his slender neck and shoulders.
He took the container and the spatula, and told little Harry:
"Please, now close your eyes and sit very still for a few minutes, until the paste will be sufficiently hardened and I can take it off."
Little Harry nodded, and Peter started to apply the greenish paste all over his face.
Our brave boy sat upright like a statue, and underwent everything like a professional.
He only flinched when Peter put two straws into his nostrils before covering his nose.
A couple of minutes later, Peter peeled the hardened paste off little Harry's face, with the straws still sticking out:
"That's all for today. You may wash your face in the sink at the back of the store."
Little Harry opened his eyes, squinted at the sudden lamplight, and raced to the back of the store to wash his still oily face.
Peter waited patiently until little Harry returned, meanwhile having some small talk with us.
He told us he loved his work, and helped many disfigured or malformed people live a more normal life...
Little Harry returned, and Peter showed him the negative impression of his face:
"From this mold, I'm going to make an exact copy of your face, as a help to model your mask. Within two days, it will be ready, and you will look like a newborn boy!"
He turned around and looked at me, secretly wiping his eyes:
"You have a wonderful son!"
"Yes, I agree. I am very proud of my brave boy!"
Little Harry beamed at me, threw his arms around my waist, and kissed my face:
"Thank you, Dad. I love you, and I am very proud of you too!"
Next, he threw his arms around Peter, and told him with sparkling eyes:
"Thank you, Peter, for helping me. I KNEW you would be the right person!"
Peter beamed, and lifted him off the floor for a hug.
Little Harry smiled and offered him a big kiss, making Peter blush fiercely...
We made an appointment, to return in two days to fit little Harry's mask.
Peter named his price; and I immediately agreed.
I would happily have paid twice the amount!
We shook hands, said good-bye, and went outside.
We returned to our car and went in, feeling a bit strange but happy.
I started the engine and we drove off, waving at Peter until we disappeared around a corner.
We all seemed to be rather overwhelmed, and were very quiet on our way back.
The boys just stared out of the windows, without their normal bantering.
One time, little Harry threw his arms around my neck, and told me:
"Sorry, for calling you 'Dad'... It just slipped out of my mouth a couple of times, but I really wish you WERE my Dad!"
I got tears in my eyes and choked up.
Furtively, I wiped the tears away with a sleeve of my shirt, trying to keep my eyes on the road.
I LOVED it when my boy called me 'Dad', and hoped he would go on with it...
I patted his small hands, and told him with a quivery voice:
"I really wish you WERE my son! Maybe, I can adopt you?"
"Would you really do that? Yes, Dad, PLEASE..."
Thank you again, for all your wonderful and stimulating emails!
I will still try to answer them all; unless I am getting too many of them.
Here are a few (maybe abbreviated) excerpts:
Thank you for this delightful and touching story, especially as it is written with characters almost unknown in this modern world - the Gypsies. On rare occasions there would be a couple, at most, who would appear in town back when I was a child. Now I gather they are for the most part assimilated into the culture in which they live - at least in this country. It may be otherwise in Europe.Your writing style is personal and warming, making the reader feel as if you were speaking directly to him. Thank you again, and may I wish for you and yours a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with blessings.
I really enjoy your work. I am very happy you are continuing and I love "born to be a king." You have given me many hours of great reading. Thanks.
I have avidly read everything from your web and have become very involved with Harry's life story. Now I'm embarking on his rewritten stories, and I'm enjoying Harry as much as I ever did. Thanks for writing such a moving tale.
Did you enjoy my story? Then, please, send me your email!: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a look at my site, to read all my stories and buy my books: http://www.harryanders.com
Thank you very much in advance, for all your wonderful stimulations to go on!
Harry AnderS, writer of 'books with a message'