Open Your Eyes

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Every day at noon for the past seven days, Calvin left the volunteer disaster relief crew along the shoreline to return to the steps of the Donovan home. Each day, he was greeted by a sharp-tongued Mrs. Donovan, who shooed him away, telling him only that Theodora had not gotten any better and that he should stop pestering them.

He wondered why she didn't try to have him arrested because every day, after being expelled from the Donovan's front porch, he took his sack lunch and sat across the street against a tree.

Every now and then he'd see the old woman, peeking from the curtains. He watched as Ben strode back and forth between her house and his own smugly, tossing him dirty looks every now and then. Ben was obviously pleased he was the one who got to see Teddi and not Calvin.

Harper Cooper happened by on a daily basis as well. She always stopped to talk to Calvin after spending about an hour inside. She complained that she didn't get to spend much time with Teddi and when she did she was made to sit in a chair across the room. The doctor told Harper that she wouldn't catch much more than a cough if she came in contact with Teddi. Harper was willing to risk that and more to keep her friend company. Calvin began to see why Teddi had chosen her as a friend. Not only was she fiercely loyal, but she was honest about the world, and Calvin knew that was rare, especially in Brookhurst.

Day after day, Calvin sat against the old tree, his lunch gone, his heart aching, his head tired. He stayed every day until the sun went down. Then slowly he'd pick up his feet and carry them back to the orphanage in time for dinner and whatever chore followed. Miss Pinchley had not spoken a word to him about being gone for nearly two days when he'd returned home after the storm, dripping wet. She did look like she wanted to hug him when he returned, but she remained cast in her iron suit, only smiling gently and telling him to head to bed and thank heavens all of her boys were safe and sound after such a horrific day.

"You know your face could get stuck like that if you frown too long." Harper Cooper came to stand beside Calvin. It was just dusk then and the sky was purple. The leaves rustled down the old street and if anyone looked twice they would have never known that a storm had ravaged it just a week earlier.

"I saw the doctor go in again," Calvin said.

Harper nodded, a grin creeping onto her lips. "She's gonna be okay."

"Are you sure?" he asked, trying to remember to breathe.

She nodded again, still grinning. "She is, and she's asking for you." Harper released a heavy breath as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

Calvin, however, did not smile even though the ache his heart had been harboring had just been set free. Instead, he stared solemnly up at Teddi's bedroom window. The curtains were drawn like always.

"I told her you were here," Harper said, sensing what Calvin might be thinking. "That you've been here every day."

Calvin sat silently, contemplating this new information. Harper stood beside him, not uttering a word. She'd been very supportive of him this past week. Calvin didn't understand why, but he was grateful. "I want to see her," he said finally.

Harper shrugged. "Then see her."

"They won't let me."

"Have you thought about asking Judge Donovan?"

"I never see him."

"That's because he leaves in the morning to go to the courthouse and comes home after you leave in the evening."

"But I was here over the weekend, and I didn't see him."

"He was inside with Teddi then," she said, brushing an auburn lock over her shoulder.

"What exactly are you getting at?"

"Stay until the judge gets home. He might be able to help you."

Calvin considered this. Judge Donovan seemed to be a little softer than his wife the night Teddi got sick. But he had been so scared for his granddaughter, Calvin thought he had momentarily let his defenses down. He eyed Harper skeptically. "Are you sure about this?"

"Couldn't hurt," she said. "And Calvin? Remember. She wants to see you, too."

"Thanks, Harper."

Not long after Harper left, he saw Judge Donovan's burgundy Cadillac pulling in front of the house. The old man climbed out of the driver's side and went around to gather a few things from the passenger seat.

It was now or never, thought Calvin, as he rushed across the street. "Judge Donovan," he said with urgency.

The judge looked up, holding his briefcase, arms stuffed with files. His eyes held Calvin's for a moment. They looked full of something. Remorse, perhaps. Calvin couldn't be sure. "Mr. Wynne, isn't it?" the judge asked, his eyes clear of whatever had just clouded them.

"Yes," started Calvin nervously as he helped the judge close the car door. "I, uh... I was wondering..." He looked around, trying to get his tongue to cooperate. He had to ask just right.

"What is it, dear boy? Speak."

"Well, Teddi," Calvin sputtered out a ragged breath, "She, uh, the doctor says she's going to be okay."

The judge placed his unoccupied hand over his heart, his eyes slipping shut for a moment. "Thank goodness. Have you been to see her today?" His tone was curious.

"No, but I'd like to. Do you think it'd be all right?"

The judge nodded. "If you agree to share a few minutes of her time with an old man."

"Yes." Calvin gulped, his heartbeat quickening. He didn't think it would be this easy.

"Come along then. You can help me carry these files inside."

"Of course, sir." Calvin relieved the judge of the bulky papers and followed close behind him. The judge was known in the community for being fair-minded but stern. He was liked by most, but, excluding the night of the storm, Calvin had not been in contact with him directly since his father had been killed.

"Come on, son, put those down on the table there, and let's go see our girl."

Calvin looked at him quizzically. Our girl? Surely, he had not meant to say that to him. Teddi wasn't his girl. She was just someone who he admired very much, someone who made his heart tickle and flutter, someone who was a damn good kisser. He felt heat rise up his neck, fearing that he might have thought that out loud. The judge may have been a fair man, but Calvin doubted that he would want to hear that some lousy orphan had been locking lips with his granddaughter.

When they made it upstairs, Calvin noticed the door to Teddi's room wide open. Panic crawled up his back as he pictured Mrs. Donovan standing inside. What would she say to him? Would she talk her husband into throwing him out before he even got a chance to speak to Teddi? The desire to see Teddi overwhelmed him. His heart thumped in his chest. He had to see her, even if it was only for a moment.

The hallway seemed to stretch even further than it had that night he'd carried Teddi upstairs. As he reached the end of it, and stepped over the threshold into her room, he was greeted with the most amazing sight in the world—Teddi's lopsided grin. She wore a dark red robe with candy-striped trim and sat in a patch of fading sunshine. Her face was ashen but her eyes bright. From her place on her bed, she held out her hand to him.

Calvin slid to his knees and brought her hand to his cheek then placed a soft kiss on her palm. He'd missed her so much. She was going to be okay. His mind raced as he looked at her, forgetting for a long, foolhardy moment that they were not alone in her bedroom. 

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