No, I'm not back. "Sar sars." I just wanted to share my story with you.
Lacey and Lucas Fletcher had been wanting a child since the very day they got married. Specifically, a girl. They had it all planned out: her name would be Evelyn(A/N: meaning “wished-for-child”) Hope Fletcher. She would have the room across from Lacey and Lucas, the one with the window bed. The room would be painted in her favorite color -- blue. Both Lacey and Lucas adored the color blue. She’d play the violin like her mother, and would burn down the kitchen if left alone. She had her mother’s voice, like the wind in the treetops, and her father’s love for nature.
They each had high expectations for the child, and were both delighted when the pregnancy test was announced positive. They made all of the preparations: Lacey invited her female friends over to paint the baby’s room royal blue; Lucas fixed up his violin and began looking at baby-proofing the house.
When the ultrasound was taken, the couple was walking on air. It was a girl! The very thing they had wanted so long would soon be their own.
And then? There was nothing. No heartbeat. No sign of life. The little baby girl they had been preparing so long for would never come.
They were both heart-broken, of course. Lacey spent the next four months sleeping in the baby’s room, fingering the tiny pink socks a neighbor had made for the baby. When she wasn’t at the middle school teaching music, she was in that room. Lucas did everything he could for his wife, but he still had a job. He was hurt inside, of course, but he became weary of the pitying looks of the people at work.
A few years later, they tried again.
By then, they had given up. Lacey had moved her instruments back in the baby’s room and returned the gifts from the baby shower.
And then, Lucas got the call.
He was sitting at his desk when it came. His fingers hover over the keyboard of his laptop, searching for words on the newest story.
He was the lead editor for the sports section of the Cabiz, Kentucky newspaper. It wasn’t that exciting of a job, but it fit Lucas’s capability and it paid.
He remembers all the “Thank You” notes he had written after the first baby’s party...
Lucas shakes his head a little, to clear his mind. “Buck up, Luc,”he mumbles to himself, straightening his black glasses and blinking a little. It seems like he couldn’t do anything without thinking about the baby. He knows he needs to be able to, though. For Lacey -- she needed him.
He rubs the bridge of his nose, attempting to ward off a coming headache. Man, he could use some coffee right about now. Just as he was standing up to walk to the coffee machine, his phone buzzed. He glances down, puzzled. He didn’t receive many calls as it was, but he didn’t even recognize the number.
He accepted the call and put it to his ear, “Hello, this is Lucas Fletcher. How may I help you?”
“Er, yes, hello,”said a gruff sounding voice on the other line. “This is Deputy Colin Barnes, from the Tampa Police Department. Do you by any chance know of a Seth and Elisabeth Fletcher?”
Dread ices his stomach, freezing his ability to breathe. Seth Fletcher was Lucas’s brother, who he knew lived down in the Tampa, Florida area these days. Elisabeth “Ellie” was his wife. “Uhm.. yes’r. Seth is my brother. I-is there a p-roblem?”
Deputy Barnes coughs uncomfortably, “I’m very sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Seth and Ellie were good people.”
Lucas drops the phone.
It was a car accident. Three cars involved, including the beat-up dark green pick-up truck Seth drove. Seth wasn’t at fault, but it didn’t matter. Both Ellie and Seth were dead, leaving only one child behind.
“Come on, Lacey, the kid has no where else to go,”Lucas explains to his wife as she looks at the picture of little Grant Fletcher. He was about four years old, with his father’s mussed-up brown hair and his mother’s bright ice-blue eyes.
“I know,”she groans, pushing away the photo and laying her forehead on the wooden table. “I just don’t know if we’re ready to raise a kid. I mean, we tried, and it didn’t work out.”
“Hey,”Lucas coaxes, grabbing her hand from across the small table. He rubs the top of her hand with his fingers, knowing how it calms her. “This is another chance, Lace. I know it isn’t exactly what we planned... but what if this is God’s plan?”
Eventually, she sits back up, pulling her long brown hair into a high ponytail. She looks at him with those eyes, dark as chocolate. After a moment, she sighs and rubs Lucas’s hand back, “I guess God’s plan always works, anyways.”
The next week, Grant shows up at Lucas and Lacey’s place. Lucas is shocked. Every child around that age had that look in their eyes. The look that said I’m going to rule the world one day, and when I do, everyone eats candy for breakfast! The look that said Come on! Let’s play! Or in some volatile cases, I’m about to blow you up.
There was no such look in the kid’s eyes. Only emptiness. He was thin, too. Very thin. Lucas was sure Lacey would have something to say about that.
He looks at the social worker accompanying young Grant, and almost instantly chokes up. “Does-... does he understand?”
The social worker, a young woman with dark skin and hair, shrugs sympathetically. She pats the young boy’s head and looks back at Lucas, “I do not think so. All he knows is that his Mama and Daddy have gone away.”
His eyes become hot with tears as Grant looks up at him, the very picture of his father, Lucas’s brother. “Come inside, buddy.”he says, picking the child up, who weighed seemingly nothing. “Let’s get you something to eat.”
The next few years, for Lacey and Lucas, were great. Sure, they didn’t have a baby girl like they had wanted, but they each felt like they were doing something incredibly good by taking in little Grant.
Years flew by, and Little Grant turned into First Grader Grant. First Grader Grant turned into Middle Schooler Grant. And Middle Schooler Grant turned into High School Grant. Grant never had many friends, except for one odd-ball, Alexander “Xander” Franklin. He was this red-headed kid who was always cracking jokes, but none of his jokes were all that funny.
If anyone was Grant’s friend, it was nature. Sure, it wasn’t like he was all that athletic; in P.E., he was destroyed. But he still liked to feel nature. He loved the sound of the wind rushing through the leaves, almost like music; urging him to dance, to play. He loved the feel of the soft grass running through his toes; he adored the soft caress of the cool spring water as it rushed into the pond, compelling him to follow and explore.
But most of all, Grant loved his willow. It was this huge, strong willow, probably pretty old. It had the greenest leaves and the most unique bark: all curved and and creviced, like some great pattern to a larger quilt. It was in the perfect place, just beside the pond inside of this little clearing. Gosh, he loved the Kentucky plains.
The most concerning thing, Lucas thought, was that Grant didn’t seem to like much of anything else. He wasn’t a people person, he wasn’t popular, he didn’t really have that many friends. He hated theater, the idea of singing and dancing in front of people brought this scary look into Grant’s eyes, like, If you make me do that, I’ll jump off the stage. He wasn’t particularly good in school; Lucas had noticed a lot of C’s and D’s worming their way into Grant’s report card last year. He wasn’t talented in sports, and he couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler. Lucas wasn’t sure what to do, so he didn’t do anything. He just let the kid alone.
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