Hello, My Name is Phillip: Chapter Seventeen

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(This is the serial release of the book Hello, My Name is Phillip. The previous chapter told of what happened the Christmas Eve when Phillip was 5 years old. This chapter begins July 27th, on Phillip’s sixth birthday. Order the book here. Visit my website at www.brianshimer.com for more information.)

So, that was last Christmas. The man with the car came back in February and never mentioned what had happened on Christmas Eve. It was like he thought it was fine not to revisit a night of horror to apologize or anything. I kept clear of him. And anytime they argued, I’d leave the room with Skye as quickly as possible. Skye also wanted nothing to do with the man. He didn’t trust him. I think everyone should take clues from dogs. They know.

The lady was still trying to be different, and I didn’t know why she let the man come back, but here he was. I think the man had taken a class of some sort. The lady mentioned that back in January while he was gone. But that didn’t matter to me. He wasn’t safe. He hurt people and hurt me, and worst yet, broke Skye’s leg!

Now, like I told you, it’s my birthday today, July 27th. But why am I here, in my closet, today?

It’s just passed breakfast. The lady made me pancakes with chocolate chips in them, like smiley faces, bacon, sausage, sliced oranges and some yogurt with fruit in it and plenty of maple syrup and chocolate milk. It was the best. The man was there eating with us today. He didn’t say much during breakfast but didn’t seem to be scary. I loved the food, so was just focused on that. Then, the lady and I worked on the dishes and the man had gone back upstairs to that room at the end of the hall. I didn’t like that room. I knew what he did.

My party was planned for that afternoon. It was after the dishes that the lady had gone back upstairs, saying she wanted to tell him something. I had followed and watched her, for I wasn’t about to go into that room. She opened the door and whatever she saw changed the whole morning. “Dear God, Michael! Pornography? How long has this been going on? You are sick. Much sicker than I ever knew. You’re committing adultery.” She began to cry.

He yelled at her. “How dare you just come in here like that!”

But she came right back. “And what defense would you make? Stop talking and get out!”

“What?”

“You heard me!”

But he didn’t just get out; instead, he got madder and began to yell and she yelled back at him and that’s when Skye and I went to the closet. But at least I knew that he had left twice before, so there was a good chance he would leave this time as well.

My 6th birthday. And I’m in my closet.

I don’t know what presents there might be. Maggie, Henry, and Nana and Papa are coming over along with some of my friends from Sunday School at 2 this afternoon. Grandma Faith and Grandpa Harlie live too far away to come this time. But they sent a present. Oh, and do you know what? There is a really, really big present wrapped up in the dining room on the table. It is almost as long as the table. Really big! On it, there’s a rainbow bouquet of balloons, a big two-layer cake that the lady got from the “You Gotta Eat Bakery,” and some smaller boxes. I’m excited because if she really makes the man leave again, then, he cannot cancel the party.

“Hey, little man.” It’s the lady, she’s talking through the door. “I am so sorry that these hard things happen and seem to happen on or around special occasions. But daddy has left for the day and so won’t be here for your party. It’s safe to come out, buddy.”

Getting up, I turn the doorknob and open the door. The lady is seated on the floor, cross-legged. She looks up, “Hey, sweetie. So, what a different change to the day, right? Come here.”

Her arms wrap around me, I’m glad she learned how to do this.

“Now, we are moving on. I have invited Mr. Clay from church to come over and clean the history on Daddy’s computer and gather the sites he has visited. Daddy might be in trouble for what he is doing with others, but he is already in trouble with me. He’s not coming back for a while, Phillip. He needs help. I cannot let him back here with what he’s doing right now until there is a change in him. Molly will be here soon as well to help with our preparation for your party. Are you ready to be turning six?”

I nod. 

“I’d say you are.  Let’s go downstairs then. We have a little time. Would you like to read a story for a while?”

 I smile. 

“Well, come on. We are in chapter 6 of Charlotte’s Web. I think we can finish the chapter before Molly and Mr. Clay get here.” I curl up on the couch next to her; she reads.

I love the pig, Wilbur, and, of course, Charlotte. Although, a spider is an unusual thing to have as a friend. And I love Fern and her dedication to Wilbur.

Molly arrives as we finish the chapter. As the lady opens the door, Molly comes in with flowers, a big wrapped-up box, and says, “There you are, birthday boy! This is going to be a great day.” Molly has blond hair now, and still is the kindest person to me. Her bright blue, full dress with flowers on it hugs her ample body. It hangs down to her knees below which she wears white sandals.

The lady hugs Molly saying, “I love your moomoo.”

So that is what the dress is called. She hands me the box and says, “I bet you know where this goes.” I do. I put it on the table with the other presents.

The lady and Molly have a whispered conversation while I am out of the room. I am glad Molly had come. She makes the lady laugh. And we need some laughter around here. As I come back into the room, the lady is taking all kinds of things out of the refrigerator. She places a container of sliced cheese and summer sausage on the table and says, “Phillip, could you arrange the cheese and sausage on a tray?”

I nod. I love arranging things and putting them in order. I like to see how straight I can get the rows. It’s one of my favorite things. So, I am given an empty tray and set to work. Molly cuts vegetables while the lady works with a fruit tray and above me, they chatter away. Skye lies by my feet.

Finishing my tray, I pick it up and carry it to the table. When Molly sees it she says, “Phillip! You have an eye for things. Dorothy, look at this tray!”

The lady comes over, “What did I tell you Molly? This boy sees things.”

My tray has the cheeses arranged white, then yellow, one after another, overlapping separated by the circles of sausage marching down the tray all lined up.

Mr. Clay knocks and comes inside. The lady takes him upstairs and he works on the computer. He leaves before the party saying, “I cleaned it all off the computer and cleaned the history. I’ve stored all the data of what was being viewed here. I’m going to take this to the Sessions Committee. Thank you, Dorothy. And I’m sorry about all this.”

She and Mr. Clay have a conversation before he leaves while Molly and I work on setting up the living room. There are balloons, we need to fill the bags of party favors, hang the “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” game, and wrap the package for the “pass the package game.” She chatters with me while we work, about her vegetable garden and her prize-winning tomatoes.

After Mr. Clay leaves, Molly and the lady lift the cake and flowers off the big, big box and then take the big present and place it in the living room. They moved the other presents in there as well. I help set the table with the food, birthday balloon napkins, a basket of plastic forks next to the plates and glasses, the trays of sausage and cheese, veggies, fruit, six kinds of crackers, and the punch bowl with “Prayer Book Punch,” which if you haven’t had it, you must. It tastes better than anything.

“There!” the lady says. “I think we are set. Today, my little man, you will get a birthday party.”

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Yes!

Maggie and Henry knock and walk right in about then. They carry a big present as well and a plate of cookies and bags of potato chips. Molly takes the food to the kitchen and pours the chips into a bowl and returns them to the table. After hugging the lady, Maggie turns to me, ruffles my hair and says, “Happy Birthday, Laddie!” She hugs me, then looks right at me, eyes twinkling, a big smile and says, “Today is the beginning of a new kind of life for you.”

She doesn’t know about the fight that morning, yet, but I think she is right. Something is going to change in my world.

Soon the house is buzzing. Nana and Papa arrive, ask about the man with the car, and the lady tells them quietly what had happened. Tears come to Nana’s eyes then, but she wipes them away and says, “I will redouble my prayers. And perhaps this is part of what I have been praying for all that is hidden to be exposed that he can be healed! Today is Phillip’s day and nothing will steal it from him.”

Kevin lumbers in next carrying his present. “Hello everybody!” he shouts as he walks in, to no one in particular, “I’m Kevin, I sit by Phillip in Sunday School, Skye and I are good friends, and I’m glad to be here.”

Henry laughs and says, “Good ttto have you here son, I’mmm Henry. We are friends of Phillip’sss from the other ssside of the park.”

“Good to meet you sir,” Kevin says. “I love that park and my favorite place in it is the tree with the root cave.”

“Funny you should mentionnn the root cave tree, fffor my wife had a vision from Jesus of a bbboy and his dog hiding in the rrroot cave the night of the big stormmm last year. I’m telling you, I was unconvinced, bbbut was not about to let my Maggie gggo out there alone, so we wwwent. And we found Phillip and SSSkye there, just like Jesus had ssshowed her and brought themmm to our house.”

“Really? Wow, Mr. Henry. You helped Jesus rescue Phillip! So that’s how you came into Phillip’s life! You guys live things just like the Bible stories.”

Henry laughs, “It’s like that wwwith my Maggie, fffor certain! There’s Phillip.”

Kevin looks toward me, punches my shoulder and says, “Hey Phillip, Hey Skye! I brought you a present.” He hands me the heavy gift bag. I take the present from him and smile. I like Kevin. He follows me into the living room where the presents are gathering.

“Whoa! What is the huge box, Phillip? I mean, that’s a mondo, big present!”

I gesture, raising up my hands.

“Well, I’m impressed. You know how to turn 6! I’m eight, but I have never seen a box that big. Well, my bike was big last year, but it didn’t come in a box. I wonder what it is?”

I have no idea. Another knock and Molly welcomes in Susanna, Trudy and Rosie. They chatter away as they entered. They come first to the living room and set down their presents. “Hey Phillip! Happy Birthday,” Susanna says, her short blond hair pulled into a ponytail and her teeth gleaming. She is wearing blue jeans and a pink and blue striped shirt.

Trudy and Rosie put down their gifts, quietly say “Happy Birthday,” and smile. They don’t talk as much as Kevin and Susanna. Once Nemo arrives, in his black pants, white shirt and tie, we have everyone there. Nemo always wears a tie. Today’s tie is an underwater scene reminiscent of his name.

The lady says, “Welcome everyone. Thanks for being here for Phillip’s sixth birthday. I invite you to come get some food and punch first and then we will sit in the living room. I’d like everyone to share their name, favorite flavor of ice cream and one thing you love about Phillip as we first sit down, just so we get to know one another. Then, you can just eat and chat.”

Opening introductions take a long time for people have lots to say. Henry says he likes vanilla ice cream for you could add flavors to it to make it colorful. Then he says, that reminded him of me. I was full of light and color and flavor even though it might appear I was plain since I didn’t speak.  “There’s lllots to you Phillip, lots wwwes have yet to discover and sssee.”

Kevin speaks up next, never one to wait to talk, “Phillip, I love your dog Skye,” everyone laughs. “But you know I do. We sit on each side of him and pet him and sneak him snacks in Sunday School. But I want you to know, you may not talk but I like how you see things. I can tell this by your responses, by the pictures you create, by your music. I’ll never forget the way you played ‘O Holy Night’ on Christmas Eve. I’ve never liked that song until you played it.”

Around the room, each person identifies something amazing they see in me. I had never heard that many blue bubbling words all in one place. Papa says for him my smile lights up the room. Nana loves the way I hug her and enjoy her stories. Susanna says she admired my ability to observe life without needing to understand it. Trudy likes the freckles on my nose and the way my blue eyes crinkled when I smile. Nemo likes how I draw pictures that look real.

Molly says, “Phillip, your music has changed my life, which I don’t think you knew. Remember the day I heard you play at your lesson at Maggie and Henry’s place, sometime late last fall? Since then, it is like my brain opened up and I could see again. I don’t know how to say this. When you played, I saw this picture unfolding in my mind’s eye that was splendid. It was like a glimpse of heaven, a heavenly earth. There was this meadow, a stream, trees around the edges, that was filled with wildflowers. As you played, it was like I was not just seeing the meadow but inside it. And” she paused, her cheeks getting wet as tears flowed. “And…” again she stopped. The words were not coming. Trying again, “And, Phillip, Jesus met me in the meadow. It was just Him and me. Your music, Phillip, brought me back to Jesus.”

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Crying in earnest now, and still trying to talk. “I never could accept or know him. I couldn’t believe He could really enter my life and change it. I didn’t think He had actually risen from the dead. But on the day of your music, it all changed. I knew He was alive, real, and present in my life. I accepted His love for me.” Taking a huge breath and blowing her substantial nose on the Kleenex Nana had handed her, she paused, pursing her fire-engine lipstick red lips. “Your music restored my faith, changed my life trajectory, and brought me into communication with Jesus again. I cannot thank you enough.”

The air in the room changes after Molly says this. Everyone is still and quiet, like when the owl had taken flight the other evening, like still water in a deep pool. No one wants to talk for a moment. They all become as silent as me in an amazed kind of way. Then, Papa gets up and walks over to Molly and says, “Thank you so much for what you said, my dear. It takes courage to be that vulnerable.” And I watch as he gives her a hug.

I have never seen Papa do that before. He is kind of stoic. He stays on the fringe of a room. He never spoke much to me.

The lady is next to speak. She looks at me and says, “My little man, you have brought sunshine, joy, color, and sight to my life. Because of who you are, I too have encountered Jesus and have begun to follow Him more than before. In a way, I lived previously as if Jesus was a word not a person. But because of you, Jesus now is personal and real. I love the way you see, as others have said. I love how you process life. I love your laughter. I love your love of order, and how you see space. I think you are a gift to the whole world Phillip. You will help many people see in color.”

 An hour has passed as we shared and then ate some more. As we finish, the lady says, “Okay. Check under your plates before you toss them.”

Everyone does.

Trudy says, “My plate says, ‘It is You!’ on the bottom!”

 “Okay, Bravo Trudy! Everyone put your things away and Trudy gets to be the first one to play our first game. Come over here Trudy. I’m going to blindfold you and turn you around and around. Now, here’s a tail and I will point you in the right direction to pin the tail on the donkey.”

So, we begin. The lady has planned one game after another.

For “Pass the package,” we sit on the floor in a circle, even Maggie and Henry and Nana and Molly join in this. As we pass the package, each person unwraps one layer of wrapping paper, and within each layer is a surprise. Nana got a piece of candy, which she says was her favorite. Molly finds a necklace, which she gave to Susanna. Trudy finds a ribbon with a gold medal on it.  She hangs it around her neck, beaming. And so, it went until the last paper and that person, Kevin, gets the real party favor.

“Hey,” he exclaims, “It’s a Hot Wheels 1967 Mustang! Cool!”

The lady places a large, wrapped chocolate bar from Trader Joe’s in the middle of the floor on a cutting board, and a plastic knife and fork next to it. “Now, roll the die until someone gets a 6. Then, that person must don the hat, scarf and mittens and use the fork and knife to open and begin to cut pieces of chocolate and eat them.”

Amazing! We get to eat that chocolate bar?

Of course, actually getting into a wrapped chocolate bar with mittens, and using plastic cutlery is harder than it sounds. We laugh and laugh, watching one another try to do so. Kevin finally cuts off a piece of chocolate. But when he tries to get it on the fork to eat it, the fork breaks, and he never gets the piece to his mouth. This game goes on for quite a while.

“Okay, all of you,” the lady says. “Now you are sleeping lions. All the adults are other animals who will come and try to disturb your slumber. We might tickle your nose with a feather, or just tickle you, or tell jokes. Your job is to not move, not giggle, not itch or wriggle!”

We all lie down on the floor as still as can be while the adults come around and try to disturb us. I won this one! I’m good at being quiet!

“Okay everyone, come to the table for cake and ice cream,” the lady announces. As we sat around the table, she invited us to sing. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to me. What a good feeling that is.  They smile and look at me and clap and congratulate me on being six. This is the best birthday ever.

As I sit there surrounded by these people who love me the room was brighter than normal. Joy bubbles inside as there was a fragrance to the air around me. Jesus’ presence. He shows up all the time, even on my sixth birthday.

Maggie says, “I wish to say something. Phillip, I want you to know that teaching you piano, well, I’m not really doing teaching, but watching as you absorb theory and music has been the greatest treat of my life. The way you see music is fascinating to me. Having taught children piano for decades, I can truthfully say I’ve never met anyone with a gifting like yours. Not only do you play by ear but by sight, insight I might say, you see what needs to occur. This continues to delight me. I cannot stop thinking about it and am so grateful that you dropped into our lives. I just want you to know today, my life will never be the same now that you are in it.”

Everyone applauds. What do you do when people applaud? Some people bow, but I cannot imagine bowing to applause. I blush for truly it is the best feeling in the world, people clapping. It is not really to me, but it feels like it goes through me. Tears come to my eyes, sitting there. And then we dig into the rich, yellow cake with chocolate frosting and Mocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream. 

Henry even says, “I must admit.  I like thisss ice cream. It is better than vvvanilla with all the sauces on it!” Everyone laughs.

 “Okay. Let’s move back to the living room,” the lady says, “for Phillip to open his presents.”

Sitting around the room, the pile of presents in front of me, I began to open them. I really want to open the BIG BOX but think I will save it for last. Such great presents. Maggie and Henry gave me the entire set of the Chronicles of Narnia! Trudy brought me a map of the United States tablecloth to color. Susanna’s package held watercolor pencils, a blank pad of watercolor paper, and water brush— a paintbrush with a small tank that holds the water, and you can squeeze the water into the brush to use it. I love color. Kevin brought me a football. “That way we can play catch together!” Well, I knew he could catch and figured I might be able to learn, eventually.

Finally, the big box. I tear off the paper. And I can’t believe the picture was for reals. There on the box was a picture of a keyboard. A new keyboard? I’ve missed having one so badly. The only way to practice now was to go to the church or Maggie and Henry’s house. So, I have been without a means of music since the man with the car had destroyed the keyboard that Maggie and Henry had given me. But a keyboard?

“Phillip, it has weighted keys, so it feels more like a piano, and it has the full number of keys just like a piano,” the lady continues. I stop and go to hug her. Kevin says, “Hey, let’s get it out and set it up, Phillip, and you can play something. Would you do that?”

Yes. Absolutely.

Me and Kevin and Henry work on getting the big keyboard out of the box. It is really heavy. Kevin sets up the stand next to the wall where the keyboard I had borrowed from Henry and Maggie used to sit. Suddenly I remember the night of its destruction. The horror of that night. The meanness of the man. The pain. I sit on the floor. And right there, right in the living room, right in the middle of that gathering, on my birthday, I hear the Voice speaking: “Look back, child. Remember not just the pain but look at where I was with you then.”

The video was replaying in my heart of the night of the man’s anger. There was Jesus, behind me, his arms around me, between me and the man so he had hit Jesus first before his fist landed on me. Jesus was there. Jesus had helped Skye and me get to the closet. Jesus had brought the lady home. Jesus had been there in the closet with me, but I had been too upset to see or feel him then. Jesus. That very fact, as it played within me, as I sat on the floor as Kevin and Henry put up the keyboard, and others were picking up things around me, removed the sting.

You ever have a sliver in your hand? You know it hurts crazy, but once it is out, the place where it had been feels better? The sting is removed. That’s what it felt like. I could see the night, remember the night, but the sting was gone. It was an event, a memory, certainly; it felt like the place when a sliver has been removed from my hand. I could tell where it had been, but it no longer hurt as much. As I looked at myself in the memory, it looked like I was covered with lots of black guck. Then, Jesus spoke again.

“Trust Me to talk with the man. You don’t need to hold onto your anger about the loss, about his anger, about the meanness. Let me take your feelings about the night and your hurts. That’s what it is to forgive him, it is for you to no longer hold onto him, instead, I will.”

I watched what happened as I told Jesus, “I forgive him for hitting me, for kicking Skye, for pulling my hair, for hurting me. I forgive him for yelling, for destroying the keyboard.” Tears slid down my face. “I forgive him for chasing me. I forgive him…” and I began to repeat the things I remembered he had shouted. I told Jesus, and as I did this, it was like all the black went away from me.

I don’t know how long this took. But it was not long. I am still sitting on the floor, feeling like I had taken the best bath ever, when the lady places a hand on my shoulder and I hear her say, “Hey, my little man. You doing okay?” I look up and she sits down beside me. She wipes away the tears. She knows.

She says, “It’s hard when we remember difficult things.” She wraps her arms around me. “You’ve had a tough little life. There have been some challenging things.” I lean against her and receive the hug. I could get used to this.

“Are you ready to play?” she asks. I look up, and the keyboard is all set up.

And I nod.

I walk to the bench. It has a bench! The bench has been hiding in a closet. I climb up and sit there in front of the keyboard and I know, right then. If I really need to walk back to walk forward, then my first song needs to be “O Holy Night.” I had not played it since that Christmas Eve. As I play, I see the scene I had seen that night. Deep, rich colors, blue, purple, angels and there is the man, Jesus, smiling at me again. I play and feel like the song plays through me.

When I finish, everyone claps and shout, “More! More!”

I play some easier pieces, the Bach “Prelude in C Major,” and “Minuet in G Major.” Then play some hymns and everyone sings along. Then, “How Great is Our God” and the room becomes the most beautiful colors. I see that mountain scene again. I begin to take requests, usually preceded by “Remember the one you played when…” and so we travel from song to song. Molly remembers a song she wants me to try. But she can’t quite describe it. She hums it a bit, but I can’t get it. Then Henry catches which one it was, and he hums it too. Then Maggie. And then a conversation starts about “What’s the name of that song?” Nana remembers the words and then she sings the song with the words. From that, I see the melody, like I do, in my head, and know where it is on the keyboard and can play it.

Songs are like that. I see and feel them. I just know what to play and how to get there. It is less a thought than a picture. I see exactly what I need to play. It is like a well-worn path. I just follow it. I know others who are not wired to play like me, who don’t have what the lady calls my savant gift, cannot see like this. But for me it is as natural as drinking a glass of water. It just comes to me.

After a long time of such fun playing and being applauded, the lady says, “How about you play an encore, Phillip, one more song.”

I play one of the Rachmaninoff pieces because they make my fingers feel like they are racing around the keyboard and bring so much joy into the room. Everyone claps again and then the lady says, “Thank you, Maestro! Now, we have one more game before your friends’ parents get here. Here is a piece of paper with pictures of many, many things on it.”

“A scavenger hunt?” shouts Trudy! “Those are my favorite games!”

“Exactly! So, your mission is to collect all those things you see on the list from the house and yard. Here is your paper bag to put everything into. Also, outside in the yard there are hidden gifts for you to find as well, which are not on the list. So, look carefully. There is one for each of you kids, so if you have found yours, then leave another you might notice for someone else to find.”

Bags in hand, we race outside first and began to search. It is a bright, sunshiny day. Skye and I work together with Kevin. It is like me the midget with him, the giant!

“Phillip, this has been the best party,” he says. “I love the games you chose, the music you played, and the food we ate! I mean, it was incredible. Thank you for inviting me, I really like your mom and I like this house, and I like hanging around you. You are a really cool guy.”

I can’t believe he was saying this to me. I mean, that’s how I feel about him!

“Hey, there’s the stick with a leaf! That’s the first thing on the list.” He grabs it and sticks it into the bag. I reach and pick up an acorn and show it to him.

“Hey, good job. That’s the second thing!” Kevin announces.

I point under the Rhododendron bush and there, wrapped in blue paper with a silver bow is hidden a present! “Hey, Phillip! There’s your present,” Kevin says! “Good seeing man!”

Kevin grabs it for me and sticks it into the bag.

“You know how Molly said she sees things when you play? Well, so do I! When you were playing that Minuet in G Major do you know I saw this bubbling brook! It was so beautiful it nearly took my breath away. I nearly forgot you were playing.”

Looking at Kevin, this amazes me. I thought at first only I saw the pictures, but now I was seeing that others did too. It is like music is a language for me better than words. Kevin looks at me looking at him and smiles. “I know! Cool, huh?”

I nod.

We have found all the items on the list outside, except Kevin’s present, when Trudy yells over to us. “Hey, guys! Come help! Nemo got his foot stuck beneath the fountain!”

Kevin, Skye and I run over. Nemo has one foot on the grass, but his other foot is wedged down between the fountain and the rocky base.

“How did you ever get your foot in there, Nemo?” Kevin laughs!

“I slipped on the grass, slid, and my foot wedged into here,” he says, embarrassed.

Let’s see.”  Kevin is looking at the situation. “I think we need Henry to help get you out,” he says, evenly. “Trudy, would you go get him?”

“Does it hurt?” Kevin asks Nemo.

“No, not really,” Nemo says. “Just feels stuck.”

“We will have you out in no time,” Kevin promises. “While you’re here, did you find your present?”

“We had just finished the scavenger hunt and found both our presents, when I slipped and landed here,” Nemo tells us. “Kind of a lousy reward.”

Henry walks up and says, “Well, well, well, Nemo. What’s gggot you stuck there?”

Nemo explains and Henry lifts as he says, “Looks like ifff I lift up on the fffountain here, it ought to rrrelease your foot below. Now, tttry to pull out your fffoot.”

“It isn’t moving,” Nemo says.

Then he starts to cry.

“Nemo, we are gonna get you out,” Kevin promises again. “Don’t be afraid.”

Sometimes it doesn’t help to say that, but it worked for Nemo. He looks at Kevin and says, “Okay. It’s going to be okay.”

Henry lifts again and says, “Try it again, nnnow.”

Nemo still can’t budge his foot.

Then I notice that the stone that was wedged above Nemo’s foot was loose. I point this out to Kevin, and he just reaches down, and pulls on that stone with all his might. It moves slightly. Henry and Kevin both try the stone, and it wiggles out, and Nemo is freed.

By that time everyone is there watching the ordeal. Seeing him free, everyone cheers.

Skye then walked over snuffling along behind the azalea bushes and comes out carrying a small golden box!

“Skye! My present! Thank you!” shouts Kevin!

Skye drops it at Kevin’s feet. Kevin gets down and hugs Skye and gives him some love and then adds the slightly slobbery present to our bag.

“Hey,” he says as we all reached the back porch. “There’s my mom. I better go get my things. Thanks again, buddy. You’re a champ.”

Soon my friends had left. I walk into the living room and sit on the couch next to Nana.  She puts her arm around me and says, “Well, that was a birthday party, if ever I have seen one,” and hugs me.

Yes, it was. A birthday party I will remember for a long, long time.

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