Helping a Friend by Colin Kelly

Sometimes the best gift you can give — and receive — is when you help a friend.


Chapter 4



Friday, December 21, 2018


After dinner we all sat down to watch a Christmas movie on TV, Home Alone. I’d never seen it; it’s really old. But everyone was enjoying it. Well, except for me because I wasn’t paying any attention. I was trying to figure out how to get away from Chris when we went Christmas shopping tomorrow. My thinking was interrupted every so often when the others laughed at something on the screen. When that happened I’d chuckle without knowing what I was supposed to be laughing about.

A series of commercials came on. We weren’t streaming this movie; I guess they don’t do that with really old movies — I looked it up on IMDB and found out that it’s from 1990, for god’s sake. That’s last century, and a lot older than me!

Then Mom stood up. “Anyone want ice cream?”

There was a chorus of agreement and enthusiasm, mostly from the twins. And from me and Chris, too.

“Well, this is a self-service kitchen, so if you want ice cream get up off your duffs and come into the kitchen.”

So that’s what everyone did. Because of where I’d been sitting I ended up the last to leave the family room and head to the kitchen. For some reason, while I waited for the jam at the door to clear, something caught my eye: the family room bookcase full of books.

It was a revelation! That was it, I’d help Chris set up the Kindle app on his phone, and sign up for an account on Amazon. That way he wouldn’t need a Kindle reader.

I’d go shopping with Chris at the Amazon store to get one or two books for my mom for Christmas. He could look for books that he’d like, and I’d see what kind of books they were. When we got home I’d have time to go online and get that kind of book for him, the Kindle version, and maybe two or three if they were cheap enough. Christmas morning I’d gift them to his Amazon account.

Sometimes I surprise myself and come up with exactly the right thing to do. This was an excellent example.

After we were finished eating our ice cream, I poked Chris and pointed up, meaning I wanted to go upstairs. When we got to my room Chris looked at me and raised his eyebrows. “Did you want something?”

“Yes. Tomorrow I want to buy my mom one or two books for Christmas. I don’t want her to know that’s what I’m doing. You want to come along?”

“Sure. Where did you want to go?”

“The Amazon store.”

“Okay. I’ve never been there. Is it a big store?”

“Yeah. I think you’ll be surprised how big.”

“Can we walk or do we have to get a ride?”

“It’s in Broadway Plaza at the south end of downtown Walnut Creek. I checked and that’s about three miles from here, so it’ll take about an hour to walk each way. I’m positive that I can get my dad to take us and pick us up when we’re ready to come home.”

“Taking a one-hour walk to get there would be good exercise. After we’ve finished shopping it’d probably be nice to get a ride home.”

“Okay, that’s an even better idea.”

“Do you think the twins would like to come with us?”

“Maybe… actually, that’s a very good idea. Let’s go ask them and at the same time I’ll ask Dad if he can pick us up when we’re finished.”

Ryan and Sean were eager to go downtown — I didn’t say where in downtown we were going so Mom wouldn’t know — and they were willing to walk there. Dad agreed to pick us up after were were through shopping; I was to phone him when we were ready and tell him where we were. He gave me sixty dollars to pay for lunch and snacks. That might sound generous, but there were two teenage and two pre-teen stomachs to fill. Plus tax and tip.


Saturday, December 22, 2018


The next morning I woke up when my alarm started playing some old rock tune. I switched if off and got up.

Chris rolled over and pried his eyes open. “Time to get up?”

“Yup. I’ll shower. You can brush your teeth and whatever. Then we’ll swap places.”

After we were dressed we went downstairs for breakfast.

“What would you like?” Mom asked us.

“I’d like scrambled eggs, bacon, and one of those asiago cheese bagels, toasted. I’ll do the bagels. You want one, Chris?”

“That all sounds good,” he said. “Thanks for fixing breakfast, Mrs. Mathews. Thanks for fixing my bagel, Darryl.”

“You’re welcome, Chris,” Mom said. Would you like orange juice? Or coffee?”

“Orange juice, please.”

“I’ll get it for you,” I said. “I’m going to have a cup of coffee.”

Chris and I were about half-finished with breakfast when the twins rumbled downstairs and joined us.

“Are you two hungry this morning?” Chris asked.

“Just normal,” Ryan said.

“Same for me,” Sean said.

After breakfast I went to my room and got my wallet and house key, and added seventy dollars from my stash to the just over thirty dollars that I already had. With the sixty dollars Dad gave me that made just over a hundred-sixty dollars. That was the most cash I’d ever had on me. I put my wallet in my front pocket; that way it wouldn’t fall out and it would be safe from pickpockets.

I chuckled to myself. I’d never heard of pickpockets in Walnut Creek. Still… this was the peak of Christmas shopping, and if there were going to be pickpockets this would be a day they would probably think they could be successful. I wanted to make sure their success didn’t come at my expense.

Chris came in my room as I was picking a light jacket to wear.

“You should bring a jacket, too,” I said. Then I turned toward him and saw he was crying.

“Chris, what’s wrong?”

“Your dad gave me money to use to go shopping. He said it was in addition to the allowance I’ll be getting while I live here.”

“But why are you crying?”

“I’ve never had an allowance before. And he gave me an extra hundred and twenty dollars so I can buy Christmas presents for you and the twins. And I’ll buy presents for your folks, too. A hundred and twenty dollars, Darryl. I’ve never had that much money in my life.”

“Well, I assume that you’ll get twenty-five dollars a week allowance. That’s what I and the twins each get. Of course, you’ll have chores to do, the same as us.”

He sat on the side of my bed. “You guys are treating me like I’m part of your family. I’m not, but it’s like I’ve been pulled into it by all of you.”

“Is that a problem?”

“No,” he mumbled. “It’s amazing. I just… I just never expected anything like this could ever happen to me.”

“So, why are you crying?”

“Because I’m so happy. I’ve been happier since you dragged me to your house on Thursday than I’ve ever been in my life. I can’t get my head around everything good that’s happened. And it’s been good because of you, Darryl.”

He got up and grabbed me in a hug. “I love you,” he said.

“And I love you too,” I replied. “Now, go get a light jacket and wash your face with cold water so you don’t look like you’ve been crying, and let’s get going. And don’t forget to bring your cellphone.” I smiled and sort of pushed him toward my bedroom door. “Go! We need to leave asap!”

“Okay, but you’re going to have to tell me what to buy your folks and the twins for Christmas.”

“Okay, just ask it when the twins are distracted in some store. That won’t take much. They’re almost always distracted.”

When we got downstairs it was obvious that the twins were anxious to get going.

“Jeez, what were you guys doing? We’ve been ready for an hour!” Sean said.

“That’s hard to believe since I invited you two to accompany me and Chris less than fifteen minutes ago. And you two aren’t even ready yet. You’ll each need a light jacket. Go get them then come down and we’ll leave.”

“And don’t run on the stairs,” Mom shouted as they ran upstairs.

“Are they always this way?” Chris asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Unfortunately,” Mom added.

“But they’re a lot of fun to have around,” I added.

“I like them. A lot,” Chris said. “It’s really fun having younger brothers around. Even if they aren’t my brothers.”

“Chris, as long as you’re living here, you can consider Sean and Ryan as your brothers, too,” Mom said.

They came downstairs, quickly but not running.

“I’ll phone you as soon as we’re ready to be picked up,” I told Dad.

“Alright,” he said.

“Have fun. Ryan and Sean, you two stick with Darryl and don’t go running off, understand?” Mom said, staring at the twins.

“We will,” they replied jointly.

“Come on,” I said, and they ran out the front door. It was about ten o’clock.

“How do we get downtown from here?” Chris asked.

“To start we’ll take the Briones to Mt. Diablo Trail and take it to San Luis Road. Then we follow a bunch of different streets until we get to North Main Street. We take that downtown and we’re there.” I took a deep breath and let it out fast to show how exhausting the trip would be.

“How far is it?” Sean asked.

“About three miles. It’ll take us about an hour.”

“And where are we going?” Ryan asked.

“The Amazon store first, then whatever stores where we want to do our shopping.”

“Where’s the Amazon store?” Chris asked.

“Broadway Plaza. There are a lot of stores there. Including three department stores.”

“What are you going to get there?” Sean asked.

“One or two books for Mom for Christmas.”

“Have you guys ever been there?” Chris asked the twins.

“Nope,” Sean replied.

“So we’re really interested in going there,” Ryan added.

It took us less than five minutes to get to the trail, and we headed northeast.

“Wow. This is really cool,” Chris said, looking around at the hillsides and the back yards of people’s homes that were alongside the trail.

“Yes, it’s really nice to have it a short walk from where we live. It great for walking, biking, and skateboarding. Some of the trails even allow horses.”

We turned off the trail onto San Luis Road.

“If we’d stayed on the trail, where would it go?”

“To Larkey Park and the swim center, then it splits and you can go to Diablo Valley College, or to Martinez, or to Mount Diablo, or to Briones Regional Park, Lime Ridge Open Space, and lots of other parks and places for hiking.”

“This is a great place to live,” Ryan said.

Chris looked at me. “I never had time to go hiking.”

“We’ll change that,” I told him.

About thirty-five minutes later we turned onto Main Street at the north end of downtown Walnut Creek and headed south.

“Should we eat now? There’s a Jack-in-the-Box,” Sean suggested.

“No. If you want a burger…” I was interrupted by a chorus of voices: “Yes!” and I continued, “…we’ll get downtown around eleven-fifteen. That’s only 20 minutes from now, and right now it’s too early for lunch. So, let’s do some shopping and around twelve-thirty or one o’clock we can decide where to eat. There are a lot of places to get burgers downtown near Broadway Plaza.”

There wasn’t too much grumbling, so that’s what we did.

Broadway Plaza was crowded. We went to the Amazon store first, and it was very busy. The twins hadn’t been here before, and they were excited about all of the books.

“We’re going to find the science fiction section,” Sean said.

“Okay,” I responded. “Don’t get lost.”

“What kind of books are you interested in getting for your mom?” Chris asked me.

“I checked the book review section of last Sunday’s Chronicle. It has a list of the best sellers, both hardbound and paperback. I brought the list with me, so that’s what I’ll look at first. How about you? What books are you going to look at?”

“Science fiction, fantasy, mysteries.”

“How about young adult?”

“They have a section for that?”

“Yup.”

“How do I find it?”

“There’s a counter over there,” I pointed to one the side of the store. “You can ask and they’ll tell you where it is or even take you to where it is.”

“Okay, I’ll do that.”

We both went to the counter. Chris asked where young adult books were, and I watched as he was escorted to the back of the store.

The other clerk finished with her customer, and turned to me with a smile. “May I help you?”

I showed her the list of books from the Chronicle. “Where will I find these books?”

“I’ll show you.” She walked me to where the best sellers were. I found the prices were in the twenty to twenty-five dollar range, so Mom would have to be satisfied with one book. I found a mystery story — she likes mysteries — titled Jack of Hearts by an author named Christopher Greyson. It was $20.99. I took it to the counter and asked if it could be gift-wrapped for Christmas.

“Yes. It will take about fifteen minutes. Is that alright?”

“Yes.”

With tax it came to $22.72. I paid her from the cash I had. I needed a credit card! It would make my life much easier. I looked at books on the shelves near the counter so I was nearby when they called my name and handed me the gift-wrapped package.

I walked back to the young adult section looking for Chris.

“Hi,” I said.

He looked up from a book he was standing there reading. “Hi. I’m trying to find a book that I want to spend my money on. This one seems interesting. It’s about a high school soccer team and the kids that are on the team. Thing is, it’s almost thirty dollars.”

“Why don’t you buy the Kindle version?”

“I don’t have a Kindle.”

“Yes, you do. Your phone should have the Kindle app, and if it doesn’t you can download it for free. Almost any book from Amazon has a Kindle version, they are usually cheaper, and there are some websites that list free and low-priced books for the Kindle that you can get from Amazon. You can join my Amazon account as a family member.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“You know it now. Find some books you want to read, and enter the names into the notes app on your phone. Then later we can look up the prices.”

“That’s a great idea. Thanks. I see you found something for your mom.”

“Yes. It’s a mystery. Since it’s a hardbound book it cost almost $24.00 with tax. They gift-wrapped it for free. Did you find anything to buy?”

“I think I’ll wait and try to find some of the free Kindle books. We can check those when we get home.”

I noticed what Chris said: ‘when we get home.’ He was thinking that our home was now his home. I liked that.

“Could you do me a favor?” I asked.

“Sure, what?”

“Would you go with the twins so they can do some shopping without me being around? That way I can shop without them seeing what I’m buying.”

“Sure. How long do you want to give them?”

“An hour, hour and a half. Whatever you guys need. You can call me when you’re finished and we can decide where to meet.”

I think Chris thought I was buying gifts for the twins. But I’d finished shopping for them. Now I was going to some of the other stores to find something for Chris from me. I found some slippers on sale at Macy’s. I picked the same size that I wear and bought a pair for him. They had them pre-gift-wrapped for Christmas. They also had wallets on sale, and they were also pre-gift-wrapped. I bought him one because I noticed he put his money in his pocket; no wallet.

I looked for something else. I found a regular swimsuit, not a Speedo, that was in Edison High’s colors, orange and black. And it was on sale. I had to wait while it was being gift-wrapped.

By the time I got out of Macy’s it was time to call Chris and find out how much more time they needed.

He answered his phone. “Hi, Darryl.”

“Hi. It’s about quarter to one. You guys want to eat now, or do you still have shopping to do?”

“The twins said they still have some shopping to do. Maybe we can eat at one-thirty?”

“Okay. Call and let me know where to meet you, or if the twins’ stomachs begin to rebel earlier.”

Chris laughed. “Okay, both of those alternatives will work. I’ll call you when they’re done.”

He called in about a half hour. They were ready, and we planned to meet outside of J. Crew, a clothing store, which is where they had been shopping.

When I got there Chris was standing outside the store, alone.

“I’ll go in and collect the twins,” he said.

“Do I need to guard the door so they don’t try to escape?”

“I don’t think so.” We both laughed, and that’s when the twins came running outside and joined us.

“We going to eat now?” Sean asked.

“Yes. Let’s head for Gott’s Roadside. That’s where we’ll go for lunch.”

“We thought we were going to have burgers,” Ryan said.

“Gott’s Roadside specializes in burgers,” I said.

“Okay, that’s sounds good. Is it close?” Sean asked.

“Yes, just a short walk from here.”

As we were heading out of Broadway Plaza the twins saw The Walking Company; it’s a shoe store. “Hey, can we look at shoes?” Ryan asked.

“Sure,” I said.

We went in and they sat down in two adjacent seats. A clerk came over.

“Hi, guys. You two looking for something for school, for the gym, or for dress-up?”

“School,” Sean replied.

“Do you wear the same exact size? Do you like the same exact colors and styles?”

The twins looked at each other and grinned.

“Yes to all those things,” Ryan replied. “We share our shoes, and we always buy two pair the same so we can both wear them at the same time.”

“And that way the only thing we have to worry about is which is a left and which is a right,” Sean said, and the twins laughed.

The clerk took the measurements from Sean’s right foot, then checked them from Ryan’s left foot.

 “Are there brands that you prefer?”

Ryan looked at Sean. “New Balance and Abeo fit a little better, and they last us longer than some other brands,” he said.

“Would you like to take a look at what we have on display?”

The twins nodded simultaneously, and they followed the clerk to the display of men’s and boy’s athletic shoes.

The clerk went in the back and the twins returned to the chairs after less than a minute.

“You found something?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Ryan replied. “They’re Abeo in three-tone grey and they’re on sale for $57.97.”

“They look real cool,” Sean said.

The clerk returned with two boxes.

“Let’s see,” Ryan said, “for two pair that’s a hundred-sixteen dollars minus six cents, a hundred-fifteen and ninety-four cents, plus tax.”

“The tax is eight and a quarter percent in Walnut Creek,” Sean said, “so the total’ll be… a hundred twenty-five dollars and fifty-one cents.”

Chris and the clerk both looked at the twins, then at each other, then at me.

“Don’t look at me,” I said. “I’m good at math but the twins are unbelievable at arithmetic. They can calculate almost anything in their heads.”

The clerk opened both boxes and helped put the shoes on Sean and Ryan. They got up and walked around, then looked at each other.

“We’ll take them,” they said simultaneously.

“Would you like to wear them now?”

“Sure!” they again said simultaneously.

The clerk put the the shoes they’d been wearing in the now-empty boxes, and we all went to the checkout counter.

Sean looked at me and grinned. “Mom gave us two hundred dollars to buy shoes. Our feet are growing, and these new ones are a half-size bigger.”

“Is that enough?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Ryan said. “The ones we were wearing are already a half-size bigger.”

They paid for the shoes with seven twenty-dollar bills, got their change, and we left the store.

Chris grabbed my arm and held me back. “What did the bill come to?” he whispered.

“$125.51. The exact amount Sean and Ryan calculated. But the clerk gave them $14.50 back instead of $14.49, the difference between what the shoes cost and the hundred and forty dollars they gave him. That way he avoided having to count out four pennies plus forty-five cents in small coins. So they saved an extra penny. They’ll tell my mom about that penny, too. You know, ‘a penny saved’ and all that.”

We both were laughing as we walked across to Gott’s Roadside for lunch. I overheard the twins chuckling and talking about the reactions of the clerk and Chris about their arithmetic prowess.

The twins ordered burgers medium rare, with bacon and cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato, and guacamole, on a ciabatta roll. No mustard. No catsup. With a side of fries. With chocolate shakes. Chris and I ordered exactly the same thing. Yeah, the burgers were really, really messy to eat, but delicious. I don’t know about the twins and Chris, but when we finished I was totally stuffed.

After we left Gott’s I checked the time. It was two forty-five. I asked, “Does anyone need to do some more shopping or are we through for the day?”

Chris shook his head. Including mine, that was two ‘nos’ for more shopping. The twins shrugged their shoulders. I knew that meant they wanted to say something.

“What?” I asked.

“Could we go to Peet’s?” Sean asked.

“Uh… yeah. Why?” I asked.

“We want to buy some coffee for Mom and Dad.”

“Whole bean or ground?” I asked.

“Well, Mom grinds coffee beans but she complains that it’s messy to do,” Ryan said. “After the beans have been ground and the bin with the ground coffee in it is pulled out of the grinder, because of static electricity some of the ground coffee tends to fly all over the sink. It’s real messy to clean up.”

“We know that because most of the time we’re the ones who have to clean it up,” Sean said.

“So, what you want to do is buy some coffee at Peet’s and have it ground so Mom doesn’t get ground coffee all over the sink so you two won’t have to clean it up?”

“Basically, that’s correct,” Ryan said. “Not only will it save us a lot of unnecessary work cleaning the sink, it will save Mom a lot of time instead of having to grind the beans.”

“Don’t you think there’s a reason she likes to grind the beans herself? Like, the closer the beans are ground to the time she’s going to make coffee, the better the coffee is going to taste?”

“That would be a valid argument except for one little fact,” Ryan said.

“And what’s that little fact?” I asked.

“When Mom grinds the beans she grinds the whole pound all at one time. And puts the ground coffee into a container which she keeps in the cupboard.” Sean said.

“So, the coffee, other than if she makes a pot immediately, is made with coffee that isn’t freshly ground,” Ryan said.

Sean explained, “Our idea is to buy some coffee that’s already ground and have her try that, saving a lot of effort on her part and a lot of cleaning on our part.” Sean and Ryan both grinned.

“Makes sense to me,” Chris said. “So, where’s the nearest Peet’s?”

“It’s on Locust, about five blocks from here,” I replied. “After they buy the coffee we can call Dad from there to have him pick us up.”

We left Gott’s and started walking the five blocks to Peet’s.

“Can I assume that because you clean it up you know what kind of coffee Mom buys at Peets?” I asked.

“Yes. It’s Garuda Blend,” Ryan said.

“It’s a dark roast,” Sean added.

Chris was trying to keep from laughing, and so was I. But I had two more questions. “Does Peet’s gift wrap?”

“We don’t know,” Ryan said. “If not, we can do that part when we get home.”

“Do you have enough money to buy a pound of the Garuda Blend coffee?”

“Yes, we called to find out. It’s $17.95 a pound and no tax,” Sean said. “So, no será un problema.”

I whispered to Chris, “They’re taking Spanish 2 this year.”

The walk to Peet’s took less than ten minutes. Waiting in line took another seven minutes; it was very busy with people buying coffee for their holiday get-togethers. Then it took another five minutes to order the coffee, which turned out to be Holiday Blend, a dark roast, because they were out of Garuda, and to have it ground, medium fine grind because Sean said that’s how Mom sets the coffee grinder. Then it took about four minutes to have it paid for and for me to get a free cup of coffee. No one else wanted a cup of coffee. I like coffee, especially Peet’s, and especially when it’s free. Unfortunately for the twins, Peet’s doesn’t gift-wrap coffee.

“What can we do to hide the coffee so Mom won’t smell it?” Ryan asked.

“Put it in one of the boxes that has the shoes you’d been wearing today,” I said.

Ryan looked at Sean. “That’s actually a good idea.”

We sat on one of benches outside of Peet’s, and with some effort they crammed the bag of coffee inside one of the shoe boxes so it was hidden. I thought about that; Mom wouldn’t be able to smell the coffee, but that pair of shoes was going to smell like coffee.

“Are we all ready for me to call Dad and have him come and pick us up?” I asked.

The twins were starting across the street, and shrugged their shoulders. Uh-oh. They were staring at San Francisco Creamery, known for their huge servings of excellent homemade ice cream.

“How about an ice cream cone first?” Ryan asked.

“That’s an excellent idea,” Sean said.

“How can you even think about eating ice cream after that huge lunch you just had? With chocolate shakes, too!” Chris asked.

“I agree with Chris,” I said. “You won’t be able to eat your dinner tonight.”

“We’re growing boys,” Ryan said with a smarmy grin.

“We need calories, and ice cream is good for us,” Sean said.

“Well, I’ve run out of money, so you’re going to have to wait until some other time to gorge yourselves on ice cream.”

I pulled out my phone and dialed Dad’s cell number.

“Hello, Darryl. You guys ready for me to pick you up?”

“Yes, we are. We’re sitting on one of the benches in front of Peet’s on Locust Street.”

“I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes.”

“Okay, thanks. See you then.”

“Dad’s going to be here in fifteen minutes,” I announced.

“Good. We have some money leftover so we’re going to get ice cream cones,” Sean announced.

He and Ryan got up, walked to the crosswalk, then crossed the street.

“How can two twelve year old kids eat so much?” Chris asked.

“I have no idea. They don’t get fat, either.”

They returned in about five minutes, each with an ice cream cone with one scoop.

“What flavor ice cream is that?” Chris asked.

“Carmel Swirl,” Ryan replied.

“How about yours, Sean?” he asked.

“Carmel Swirl, too.” There was a pause as the twins stared at Chris. “How did you know Ryan said it first, and then you asked me? Did you just guess?” Sean asked.

“Well, the odds are 50-50. But being with you so much today I finally figured out the differences between the two of you.”

“Wait a minute, we’re going to test you,” Sean said.

They walked into Peet’s and disappeared, then returned.

“Who am I?” Ryan asked.

“Ryan.”

“Let’s test him again,” Sean said.

They walked down the street to the bagel shop and went inside, then returned.

“Who am I?” Ryan asked.

“Ryan. Again.”

“Damn. We’re going to have to test him again when we got home,” Ryan said.

“I agree,” Sean said.

“That was Ryan, then Sean,” Chris said. He was grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

The two of them stared at me — actually, they glared at me.

“Hey, Don’t look at me! Chris figured it out all by himself. So, if you’re thinking I told him how I can tell the two of you apart, you’re wrong. I never tell anyone how to tell the two of you apart.”

They shrugged their shoulders and finished eating their ice cream cones. Just in time, because Dad pulled into an open parking space across the street and honked the horn.

“Dad’s here,” I said, pointing.

We went to the crosswalk, crossed the street, walked back to where Dad had parked, and got in our SUV.

“So, how was your day?” Dad asked.

I let the twins tell about everything they did. They weren’t even half finished with their tale about all the stores they visited and the things they bought and the burgers we had for lunch by the time we got home. But they did tell him about Chris being able to identify them. Chris and I were laughing as we walked in the house.

Of course, Mom wanted to know what was so funny.

“Just ask the twins,” I said.

Mom stared at the twins with her squinty-eyes expression. “Well?” she demanded.

They looked at each other and started laughing.

“Today while we were shopping Chris figured out how to tell us apart. And he figured it out on his own.”

Mom looked at Chris. “Really?”

“Really,” he said. “And so you know that I can do it, that was Sean who told you that I figured it out.”

“I’m amazed,” she said.

“Not as much as we are,” Sean said.

“Other than that, can I assume you all had a good time?”

“Yes, we did,” Chris replied.

“We did, too,” Ryan said.

“I’m going upstairs,” I said. “I’m stuffed. So I won’t need a snack before dinner.”

“Same for me,” Chris added. “But I’m not sure about the twins. You should ask them yourself. They might still be hungry.”

Chris and I went upstairs, laughing.

When we got to my room Chris said, “Now I know that the twins are like this all the time. They are very entertaining, and really nice kids. I’m going to go to my room to unpack all the stuff I bought today.”

“I’m going to do the same, in my room, then I’m going to take a nap. I’ll see you later.”

“Sounds like a plan,” he said.

I opened the bags of things I’d bought and put them on the top shelf of my closet for safekeeping. I still had some things to wrap, but I could do that tomorrow.

I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling. I liked that Chris was living with us. He completed our family. The twins were twelve, Chris and I were sixteen. Now I had someone I could talk to about things sixteen-year-olds wanted or needed to talk about. I couldn’t do that with the twins. Chis was like… no, change that. Chris was my brother now. I wanted him to live with us from now on.

The only problem was his mother. Where was she? If she couldn’t be found, how could we have Chris move in and live with us full-time, legally? But what if she was found? This could end up being very complicated.



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This story and the included images are Copyright © 2019 by Colin Kelly (colinian); the original image is Copyright © by Sabphoto | Adobe Stock File #70786207. They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey's World web site has written permission to publish this story and has licensed use of this image. No other rights are granted.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story may contain occasional references to minors who are or may be gay. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG (in a more enlightened time it would be rated G). If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don't want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don’t want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren’t supposed to be here, be careful and don't get caught!