It was Kevin’s fourth birthday and second birthday party. The children of PIGC were invited to the banquet hall to celebrate the birthday of their gym teacher’s son. They had heard rumors about the little boy but no one had actually ever met him. Some had caught glimpses of him as he was transported out of the building to a waiting car and spread stories about his strange green eyes.
Kevin had decided that his birthday party would be a good time to speak. He wanted his first words to be dramatic so that he could look back at the event and laugh. He thought talking to Tina would be the best way to go.
The hall had been decorated lavishly with streamers, balloons, and posters. The pushed back tables were set with bright paper plates, cups, and napkins. Near the front was a mound of pretty wrapped packages. On one table sat an enormous birthday cake. The children were seated in little chairs for the smaller children and larger ones for the older kids. They all faced the front as a magician in a clown outfit did his act.
Many children were watching Kevin instead of the magician. His eyes still sparkled but the pupils had increased in size.
“Who would like to help me with this next trick?” asked the clown as he looked at Kevin. Kevin stood up and walked over to the man.
“What’s your name little boy?” he asked.
“Oh, he doesn’t talk,” said Tina in the sweet voice she used around the Gaydos men and other important people. “Do you honey?”
“What would make you say that Tina?” Kevin said softly turning to look at her with his shocked, bewildered look. Scott, Trent, and Mr. Gaydos ran over to Kevin. Tina froze with her mouth hanging open.
“What did you say, Kevin?” Trent asked holding onto Kevin’s shoulders.
“I am four years old now. It’s time that I talked don’t you think?” Kevin’s had a little boy’s high pitch voice but his pronunciation was perfect. He gave Trent a huge smile that went straight to Trent’s heart. He gave the three men hugs, leaving Scott for last. Scott picked him up and gave him a bear hug.
Kevin pressed his lips next to Scott’s ear and whispered “Daddy!”
Scott couldn’t suppress his tears as he said, “My… my little man!”
The magician was forgotten when Kevin asked if he could open the gifts.
Kevin stood between Scott and Tina as the children introduced themselves one at a time as they left.
“Hi, Kevin. My name is Larry,” said the shy ten-year-old. He shook Kevin’s hand with his limp hand and walked on. The children had lined up according to age. Larry was the last of the ten-year-olds.
“Hi, Kevin. My name is Nancy,” the red-headed eleven-year-old said. Kevin shook her hand.
“Wait!” he called before she could walk away. “You look like my nurse who has a daughter named Nancy.”
“That’s my mother!” Nancy agreed. “Thank you for bringing her. I get to see her more now than ever.”
The next child was a big chubby boy with an arrogant look on his pale face. He pushed Nancy forward and she walked away with a look Kevin recognized as fear.
“Hello, Kevin,” the brute said. “My name is Todd.” Kevin shook his hand and Todd squeezed it harder than necessary. Kevin pulled loose and looked up at Scott. Scott smiled down at him, not seeing what had happened. Todd looked up at Scott and cooed. “Hi, Mr. Jones.”
“Todd,” Scott replied and nodded his head at him. As Todd started to walk away Kevin slipped his foot out. Todd stumbled over it and the children who saw him giggled. Todd shot Kevin an angry look. Kevin put on his smiley face but on the inside, he was disturbed.
The nurse had been absent from Kevin’s party. When Kevin got home he went to her room to find her. She was putting tape on a box of her belongings. On her bed was an open suitcase that was almost full and on the floor were three others that were closed.
Kevin ran into the room and climbed on the bed facing her.
“You have to go?” he asked sadly. She looked at him, shocked that he was talking. “Is it because I’m four now? She didn’t answer and put her head down. “What if I get sick? Who will care for me?”
“You’re very healthy Kevin. You don’t need a nurse anymore,” she replied finally looking into his eyes. Kevin saw that her eyes were red and puffy as though she had been crying for a long time.
“What about Nancy? Will she still get to see you?”
The nurse eyes got wide. “You met my daughter?” Kevin nodded. “This is her final year here. If she passes the tests she’ll be invited to the Greece campus.”
“She looks like you.”
“Yes... yes she does,” she stammered. She walked over to her almost empty dresser and took out a little dog. “This is for you Kevin.” She handed it to him and smiled. “So you don’t forget me.”
Kevin held the little dog in one hand. “I’ll never forget you. I’ve known you since I was born and you took care of my mother.” The nurse gasped. She fell on her knees before him as he stared at her from the bed.
“You remember your mother? How could you? You were only just born and very sick.”
Kevin’s face went blank and he stared out a window. The memory of the weak woman he remembered mingled with the memories of his dreams of her.
His voice sounded as far away as the memory. “She asked to see me. She asked if I were a boy and she called me Kevin. She touched my face then fell asleep.”
The nurse let her mind go back to that day 4 years ago. “Yes, that is how it was. When the doctor took you away she told me her name was Annie.” Kevin looked back at his nurse.
“Annie,” he whispered reverently “Did she tell you her last name?”
“She did. Let me think now. It started with a B. Bridges. It was Bridges.”
“My mother is Annie Bridges.” Kevin felt a stir within him. It was like a piece of something that had been missing had been restored. He looked deep into his nurse’s eyes. “Where is my mother? Did she die? I remember the doctor told you to let her die. Did she die?”
The nurse looked away from Kevin’s intense gaze. After a few moments of silence, she closed the suitcase on the bed then gave him a huge squeeze. She held him a long time as if she couldn’t let him go. He laid his head on her shoulder and knew he would probably never see her again.
“Where is she?” he pleaded. She abruptly released her hug and looked at him.
“I did what I could for her. She was losing so much blood. I hid her in an empty room and cared for her as best I could. They found her… and they took her away.”
“Who took her?” Kevin demanded. The nurse grabbed her suitcases from the bed and floor and made her way out the door. “Who took her?” Kevin yelled running after her. He grabbed her arm. “Is she still alive?”
The nurse stopped and looked compassionately at him. “I really don’t know Kevin,” she whispered frantically. “But I do know I’ll miss you. I love you as much as I love my own child.” She put her suitcases down. Dropping again to her knees she said, “I took care of you like she asked me to but now they’re making me leave. They said you don’t need me anymore.”
Kevin ran down the stairs to the living room. Trent and Mr. Gaydos were still there talking with Tina and Scott. He stomped up to Mr. Gaydos who was sitting on a recliner.
“Why are you making Nurse Jane leave?” he yelled angrily. The nurse ran up behind him and pulled him back.
“No Kevin don’t.” she insisted.
Mr. Gaydos smiled at Kevin. “You’re really using your voice well Kevin.”
“Why does she have to leave? And where is my mother?” Kevin balled. The nurse’s grip on him tightened. He sensed she was afraid.”
“Why Tina’s right there.” Mr. Gaydos pointed to the couch where Tina sat. Kevin looked at her with actual disgust and turned back to Mr. Gaydos. He put on his sad face and looked into his eyes.
“Please don’t make her go. Please.” He put his hand in Mr. Gaydos’ hand.
Mr. Gaydos put Kevin on his lap and turned him so he could see his face.
“Listen, Kevin, you are too old to have a nurse and there is another child who needs Nurse Jane. Besides, you may be moving to the school soon to live with the other students.” He turned to the nurse and said without compassionate, “There’s a car waiting for you.”
The nurse hesitated. She looked at everyone in the room. When she met Scott’s eyes he put his head down. She looked at Kevin last. She turned slowly and walked away. Mr. Gaydos put his arms around Kevin as he struggled to go after her.
When Kevin heard the front door close he stopped straining and hung his head. He knew he would not win this battle.
“Kevin?” It was Trent’s voice. “I know this is hard for you especially on your birthday.” He said the word birthday harshly. Kevin then knew Trent did not agree with what had happened. “But we would like to talk to you about moving to the campus.”
Kevin leaned back on Mr. Gaydos with his head still downcast. He didn’t feel like talking at all. Large tears began to fall down his face and he started to sob. He had never really cried before and didn’t know how to control himself. Soon his whole body was shaking with the intensity of his crying.
Scott came over and cradled him in his arms.
“It’s okay son. Daddy’s here little man,” he soothed. Kevin could not stop weeping.
Scott looked at Mr. Gaydos. “We can talk about this tomorrow right?”
“Yes, yes.” He replied gently. “Why don’t you take him to his room.”
As Scott carried Kevin to his room the crying did not diminish. Kevin felt all broken inside. The woman who had been a mother to him since he was born was ripped from his life and with her the knowledge of his real mother. It seemed he had lost two mothers in one instance. Plus they wanted him to move away from his home on the island and live with children he didn’t know. It was too much for his four-year-old emotions to handle.
Scott held Kevin tightly. He was afraid because he had never seen his son act like that. No matter what he said Kevin wouldn’t stop crying. Scott’s shirt was soaked with tears, snot, and drool as he held the shaking child. He rubbed his back, rocked him back and forth but to no avail. After forty-two minutes Kevin suddenly stopped. He thrust himself off of Scott’s lap, walked to his nightstand and grabbed a tissue. He vigorously blew his nose then climbed on his bed. He turned his back towards Scott and laid down.
“Kevin?” Scott called to him. Kevin ignored him. Scott sat on the bed next to his son and put his hand on his shoulder. “It’ll be okay son, I promise.” Kevin closed his eyes and pretended to fall asleep. He did not want to listen to that man. He knew Scott didn’t care for the nurse and he had probably suggested that she be made to leave.
Scott laid down next to Kevin and wrapped his arm around him. “I’m here son. I’ll try to always be here for you.”
“You are here for me.” Kevin thought. He took a hold of the hand attached to the arm that was wrapped around him and held it in both his hands. “You are here until they take you away too.” He pulled it tighter around him and fell asleep.