Nicky and Sheila came over the next evening. Belinda and Nicky sat on the couch drinking tea. Devin and Sheila were in Devin’s room eating cookies.
“We leave tomorrow. Can you give us a ride to the airport Nicky?”
“Absolutely!” Nicky took her friend’s hand. “You know you’re doing the right thing don’t you?”
“I suppose. It does bother me that only one ticket is round trip. I’ll have to leave Devin in Hawaii.”
“They just don’t want him to miss any more school. He’s already going to be starting late. You read the letter.”
“Do you have to go Devin?” Sheila whimpered.
“My mom needs me to go. She doesn’t want me to leave though. I have to go to help her.”
“How are we gonna get married if you are in Hawaii?”
“Don’t worry Sheila! We will get married as soon as we are old enough. You are my best friend and I’ll never replace you. Never! I promise.”
“Here’s the check they sent me.” Belinda handed the check to Nicky.
“Why haven’t you cashed it?”
“Cus it will feel like I’m selling him.”
“Belinda, you need to pay your bills. If you are homeless you’ll have more than Devin to worry about.”
“I want you to have something,” Devin said as he got on a chair and felt around on an upper shelf in his closet. He wrapped his hand around something and came down. “My father gave me this when I was a baby.” He opened his hand and showed Sheila a small stuffed animal. It was a black and white dog that fit into his hand.
“How cute!” Sheila squealed. She carefully took it from his hand and kissed it. Then she kissed him right on his lips. “Thank you so much, Devin.”
Devin stood there with a goofy grin on his face. Sheila grabbed his hand and pulled him into the kitchen. She grabbed some scissors out of a drawer and snipped off one of her braids.
“Don’t tell my mom or I’ll get in big trouble.” Devin took the braid with beads still encasing it. He put it into a small plastic sandwich bag and gave her one for the dog.
“Whenever I miss you I’ll have a piece of you with me. And whenever you miss me you’ll have this dog to keep you company.” Devin wiped a tear that began to roll down Sheila’s cheek. They both wanted to say more but neither could come up with the words. Instead, they just stared at each other.
Nicky and Belinda came into the kitchen with their empty cups and saw the children staring at each other.
“Come on honey,” Nicky said to Sheila. “We need to let them finish packing.” Sheila ran to her mother as she wiped another stray tear from her cheek. As they walked out the door Nicky looked down at her daughter and noticed the missing braid. “What happened to your hair!?” Sheila turned and smiled at Devin as she was pulled out of the house.