The boy's curly hair danced in the wind. And young muscles ached from carrying moving boxes.
Mom's hearing was like an eagle's. "You're a big boy now," she said. "So help your dad as much as possible, okay?"
His father called him "Wish" because he was always wishing for something. Like having his very own family.
The suitcase was heavy against his eight- year old leg. Now why did he decide to wear short pants today? Wish looked down the driveway.
A month ago they came to look at this house. And then bought it.
Wish liked the blue vinyl siding.
It was neat Mom and dad adopted him six months ago. "Buzz off mosquito. I'm so hot," He added loudly.
"Wish. Hurry up please," said dad.
"Ma, how about a glass of lemonade? The boy asked.
"The fridge is still in the moving van," mom said quickly.
Wish dragged himself and his load upstairs, one groan at a time. He finally made it to his new room, looked around then lifted the window.
Something black and bushy rushed across the yard below.
"A monster squirrel!" he shouted.
Wish discovered a bag full of energy and thumped downstairs. It didn't take long to check their small yard.
"Ma? Ma?" he called out.
"What dear?" she answered, as she wrestled with another box.
"Did you see that black shadow?"
"Oh honey, we don't have time right now. Come and give me a hand."
At that moment a pair of eyes looked like green headlights. The cat hurried away like a shaggy buffalo, fur dragging on the ground.
She did, but... "Sorry dear. Missed it."
The "shadow" was gone. What a neat name. "Shadow," Wish said to himself.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with more grunting from carrying boxes. His shirt stuck to his back. He was growing up.
Maybe dad would notice his muscles, too.
"Wish! Did you see a black furry thing in the backyard? Looked like a walking rug. Ha, ha, ha."
"Very funny," Wish said, trying not to be upset. "Dad...it was a cat. It was a huge, hairy cat. I'm calling him Shadow."
"Oh, a new friend already?"
"Sure." Wish loved cats. "DadI've got a great idea!"
"For goodness sake. Are you going to help us move or not?" the boy's dad asked impatiently.
"Yes dad, but..."
As Wish turned to go, "Darn" slipped out.
"Watch the mouth, no whining."
That night, the wind whispered through Wish's window screen as he lay in his sleeping bag.
He listened to "Meows" drifting up from the backyard. Was 'Shadow' lonely? He wondered.
If only the cat were right beside him.
"I can pretend he's mine," he said in the stillness. But, what if the cat belongs to some other little boy?
Wish turned and twisted on his mattress. The bed frame was still stacked in the corner. Dad was right. It's not easy sleeping in a new place the first night.
The boy promised to work harder tomorrow to get everything set up.
"Wish?" Mom rapped at the door. "Talking in your sleep?"
"I was trying to help Shadow feel better. I don't think she has a home."
"May I come in?" mom asked.
"Sure," the boy answered.
"I was so busy unpacking dishes, I forgot to tuck you in, dear."
"Is dad coming up to tuck me in too?" Wish hoped.
"Ma, okay if I ask you somethin'? Do you think dad would...?"
"Go on, dear."
"I wish I could keep that cat. I even gave him a new name... Shadow."
"That's a nice name," said mom. "You really want a pet, don't you?"
"Shadow needs a good home. I could be his foster parent. Or, even adopt himjust like I was," Wish said excitedly.
He repeated his idea when dad joined them.
"We already know how much you want a cat," mom said.
"Lots of room here," dad smiled.
But first, everyone agreed an ad should be placed on the radio about a stray cat. Wish went to sleep wondering what kind of food Shadow liked.
The next day, before anyone could say "Shadow" a hundred times, a man phoned. "I'm so glad you found my cat," was all Wish remembered.
The owner heard the radio announcement and came right over. In the backyard he called out "Frisky."
And the bushy black cat came like a rocket. Not "Shadow" but "Frisky."
That night, over a delicious meal of chicken, Wish was sad and happy. Frisky was home, where he really should be. He knew his master was happy to have him back.
He saw how mom and dad watched their new son. They understood how much he wanted to keep Shadow.
A bright smile stretched his face.
"It's okay, mom. Dad." It was not easy to say the words out loud. But he had to.
"This is where I belong," Wish said to the parents he loved so much.
"And Shadow is where he belongs."
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2008
NOTE: This is one of our favorite stories, since we have three adopted sons. One day we would like to have an E-book publisher turn this story into a picture book. (R&E)
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.