Everything was back to normal. Devin went with his mother to the diner more frequently now. Nicky and Sheila seemed to come to their house or they went to Nicky’s house four or more times a week. Devin and Sheila became closer as friends. Life was good for Devin.
It was a struggle for Belinda. She had not received any envelopes lately and the tips from the diner were lower than usual. She barely had enough to make the rent. They also hadn’t heard from the school. Perhaps Devin wasn’t gifted enough. She was relieved.
It was strange that Devin thought he saw a picture of his father. Devin was not a child who made things up. If he said it happened, it did happen. But why?
She had wanted to ask Trent about it before they left the school but he had to leave before the tests were completed. Devin had been disappointed that he didn’t say goodbye.
“Oh well mom,” he had said, “I guess you’re stuck with me for another school year.”
“If only it were so simple,” she thought.
One day when they returned from the diner there was a package from The Pearce Institute for Gifted Children.
Belinda held the box in her hands as Devin anxiously stood next to her.
“Open it,” he whispered.
Belinda slowly opened the small box. There was a lot of packing foam. Devin reached in and threw aside the foam to discover a DVD.
“Come on mom,” he said as he ran to the television. Belinda dragged herself behind him. By the time she caught up Devin had already popped the DVD into the player and was pushing play.
The DVD was directed specifically to them.
“Good day Mrs. Winslow and Devin.” It was Trent. “First, let me apologize for not meeting with you personally. My schedule is taking me all over the country but it seems I can’t make it to your state.
Second, I want to congratulate you both for doing well on the tests.” Belinda crinkled up her face. She was certain she had failed.
“We are offering Devin a full scholarship to PIGC. We are also offering a $2,000 monthly stipend to you Belinda for allowing us to have Devin at the school.
We understand how difficult it is to send your child away. To help assure you that PIGC is a fine place for your child, you will be receiving another package in a few days that will tell you more about PIGC and the campus Devin would be going to. Watch the DVD together and discuss what you want to do. I will be calling next week to get your decision. Until then…” Trent smiled as the DVD faded to black.
The DVD had been made at his office in New Jersey and he was wearing the same light blue suit he had had on when Devin first met him.
“They are going to pay me to let you go to their school?” Belinda mused. “How weird is that?”
“That is strange,” remarked Devin. “I wonder if they do that with all the parents. I wonder how they pay for the school if they are giving money away and not taking any in from the students. It is an institute. Maybe they receive funding.”
“Maybe so,” Belinda treasured this conversation with her son. She knew that if he left it may be months before she got to sit with him again. She would miss listening to his voice and seeing those green eyes. She didn’t know if she could bear it.
Devin peered into his mother’s face. He knew what she was thinking. He had never been away from her even one day. The thought upset him too. But then again, if he left his mother wouldn’t have to take care of him. It would be less food to buy and she wouldn’t have to have him at the diner. She would have $2,000 more a month. As hard as she worked she deserved the extra money.
He touched her face. “I should go.”
They stared into each other’s eyes. “Let wait until we get the package to decide, okay?”
The package arrived the next day. They took it to the living room and sat it on the coffee table. It was larger than the previous one. It contained a thick colored catalog, a DVD and two adjustable baseball caps that had PIGC embroidered across the top. Devin put a cap on and pulled out the catalog.
There were five campuses located in Montana, New Jersey, Hawaii, Greece, and Ireland. The one in Hawaii was for children ages five through eleven.
They looked at the pictures of the Hawaii campus. There were children of all races and cultures. The pictures showed them in classes intensely listening to their teacher, outside doing research, in the massive library studying and reading. They all seemed so happy.
Devin put the DVD in. It talked about the institute being formed in 1929 when a set of twin named John and Peter Pearce went through the high school curriculum at the age of eight. They had a desire to learn more and their father, Adam Pearce, refused to put them in a college at that age. Instead, he opened The Pearce Institute for Gifted Children in Montana. The camera showed the small schoolhouse in Montana.
Adam Pearce searched for the most brilliant minds to instruct his children. Soon the school found more brilliant children who needed a place to expand their minds. They were welcomed at the institute. Now there were five campuses where the most brilliant and brightest children from all over the world attended.
It showed all the campuses. All were beautiful and filled with children and young men and women who seemed so happy.
At the end, an African boy came on. He was dressed in a dark blue uniform with PIGC embroidered on the jacket.
“Hello Devin and Mrs. Winslow,” he said with a slight accent. “My name is Matthew M’Diaye. I am nine years old. I have been going to PIGC …” It sounded like he said pixy. “…ever since I was six years old. This school is the best thing that has happened to me and my family. They help support my family while challenging my mind with their awesome curriculum. I have learned three languages since I came here. Thanks to this institute, I can now build a computer and design computer programs. This year I will be taking premed. Won’t you come and join us here in Hawaii Devin?” Matthew stared at the camera until it faded to black.
After Matthew, a white girl with bright red hair came on. She too was dressed in a uniform. Her uniform was light blue in color with PIGC embroidered on it.
“Hello, Devin and Mrs. Winslow.” Her voice was raspy and enveloped in a thick southern accent. “My name is Angela Lockett and I am from West Virginia. This is my second year at PIGC and I love this place. My school in West Virginia was so very boring. They could not keep up with me. Now I am at a school that respects me and my intelligence. I never thought there was a place like this. It is absolutely wonderful and Hawaii is the most beautiful place to which I have ever been. I want you to come to PIGC and discover how awesome you are. They are helping me to see how awesome I am. I am not the same person I was a year ago. I am running out of time so let me just say I really wish you would come and be a part of our school.” She faded to black.
Belinda and Devin watched the screen expecting another person to come on but the DVD just ended.
“Oookay,” Devin said slowly. He looked at his mother. She was still staring at the blank screen. He could tell she was thinking.
Finally, she looked at him and said rashly, “I don’t think I want to send you all the way to Hawaii. If it was in the states maybe, but that is just way too far.”
Devin didn’t answer. He had made up his mind that he would do whatever his mother decided even though Hawaii was a state. He really did want to go, especially after getting the package, but he would miss his mother and Sheila.
He leaned over and kissed Belinda on her cheek. “That’s fine mom.”
She put her arm around him. “You don’t want to go?”
“I don’t want to leave you.”
“Then it’s settled. I’ll call Mr. Gaydos.”
“Yes. It’s settled.”
“You’re joking!” Belinda said with panic in her voice. “How can you do that to us? I have a son to care for. But I’ve been working for you for over eight years.” She began to cry into the phone. “This is just …wrong… I don’t think you are sorry. What am I suppose to do? It’s not that easy to find another job…” She slammed down the phone.
“What happened, mom?” Devin asked. He had toothpaste on his mouth. He had heard his mother shouting and ran to see what was wrong.
“They closed the diner,” She wailed trying to take control of her emotions. She took a deep breath and wiped her eyes. Devin didn’t need to see her like that. “Don’t worry Sweet. I’ll find another job.”
“So you get a vacation?” He tried to cheer her up.
“Yeah, I guess so,” She laughed, wiping off an escaping tear.
Dear Mrs. Winslow,
I was sorry to get your message that Devin was not coming to our school. We really believe that we can be a major benefit in his life. It is our mission to find children like him and help them develop into the best that they can be. We see great promise in Devin and really would like you to reconsider your decision.
We would like to offer you a $3,500 a month stipend. Also, I have enclosed the first check and two plane tickets to Hawaii so that you and your son can see the Institute for yourselves. I’m sure once you see the wonderful environment of PIGC that you will want Devin to attend there. We ask, in case you change your mind after visiting, that Devin brings his belongings with him. The semester has already begun and it would be best that he begin right away.
I hope to see you soon.
Devin took the check and the plane tickets out of the envelope as his mother read the letter. One ticket was a round trip and the other was one way. He knew Belinda was way behind on the bills and was having a rough time finding a job. They desperately needed the money. Even working at the diner it would have taken Belinda two and a half months to make that much. There was also a list of things for him to bring.
“I think we should go, mom. It will be like a vacation to Hawaii and you can pay all your bills without finding a job.” He glanced at the pile of unpaid bills on the counter and Belinda’s eyes followed. She sighed deeply.
Things seemed to be going in a direction of their own. She had been searching for a job for three weeks now. She had been behind on bills before she lost her job and now things were getting desperate. Every place she went for an interview seemed as though they were willing to hire her but without fail, she would receive a call saying they were sorry. She couldn’t even get a job in a fast food joint. The mysterious packages and envelopes had stopped completely.
Devin handed her the check. $3,500.00. She knew if she cashed it she would be sending Devin away.
“We need this money mom. This is enough to pay the bills and for you to visit me in Hawaii any time you want. You can even get a computer now and we can email each other. We can even send pictures to each other.”
Belinda looked at the check. So many thoughts raced through her mind. It would be like selling her son. But then her son could have a great education. She certainly couldn’t teach him to fly or speak another language. He could be taking premed like the African boy. Perhaps the best thing she could do for him was to let go of him. Seven years seemed a very short time to have spent with him. He was the joy of her life. Maybe her reluctance to let him go was based on pure selfishness. She would be all alone and no amount of money would change that. But again she was being selfish. Only good for Devin could come out of PIGC. She knew she should let him go. She didn’t want to.
“I guess we should start packing,” she sighed.