Summary: Here is my story for the March challenge. A trip taken in secret causes an argument between Ben and Adam.
Rated: K+ WC 1700
A Gift of Memories
Ben awoke to a noise coming from downstairs. He knew it was late, very late, so he cautiously made his way down the steps ready to defend his sleeping sons with his life.
Adam was startled by his father’s presence. “Pa! I…we…”
“You what Adam? Joe, Hoss get on up to bed.”
“Joseph go to bed.”
“Hoss take your brother and go before I make you stay.”
Adam gave his brothers a weak smile. “Go on up I’ll be fine.”
As his anger kindled Ben stared into the dying fire while he waited for his youngest sons to get to their room. Once he heard the door close he turned his attention to his eldest son. “I don’t know where to begin Adam. I know you wanted to go to Carson City but I thought I explained to you how I couldn’t miss this meeting in Virginia City. I did try to make it home early and even though I thought I had when I arrived and found the house dark I, wrongfully it appears, assumed you were all in bed. I decided not to disturb you, besides I was exhausted and I had faith in you.”
“I know pa…” Adam had seen his father like this before. He knew the more he tried to explain the angrier his father would become and the less likely it would be that he would get a word in. The best thing to do was to let his father rant until he’d gotten it all out then calmly try to give a reason for leaving the house at such an hour with his two younger brothers. At least the time his father took in yelling would give him time to come up with a good one.
“But what?! You gave me your word you’d watch your brothers! I trusted you and you’ve gone on to betray that trust!”
Those words hurt and despite what Adam knew was the best way to handle this that pain made him defensive and angry. “No I haven’t! I watched them all night just like I said!”
“That makes me feel so much better! Did you take them into the saloon with you!? Dear God I hope it’s the only place you took them!”
Hoss and Joe sat on the bed listening to the angry words being said between their father and brother. They both knew that if their pa only knew the truth he’d stop yelling. They knew he would understand. So neither could grasp the reason why Adam just didn’t tell him the truth.
“Hoss you don’t think Adam’ll go away again do ya’?” Because despite what Joe may say the thought of his brother leaving again scared him. Especially now that things were finally getting to be like they were before he’d left. It had taken Joe a little while to trust that his brother was really home to stay.
“Come on Joe you know Adam only left to go to school. When he was done he came back just like he promised he would.”
“Yeah but he and pa yelled a lot at each other then.”
“That was only cause pa didn’t want Adam to go.” Hoss could have said it was more because their pa couldn’t stand the thought of one more empty chair bein’ that Joe’s ma had died not that long before Adam was suppose to leave. “You remember how once pa saw how bad Adam wanted to go he stopped yellin’ about it. Don’t you remember how when Adam left he and pa hugged right in the middle of the street. They wasn’t fightin no more.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“And they ain’t really fought since Adam got back and that’s almost six months ago now.”
By now a silence had fallen downstairs and as both Joe and Hoss thought that it frightened them even more then the yelling had they heard that silence broken by the front door slamming shut. They both sat breathlessly waiting to hear whose footsteps would come up the steps. When they recognized them to be their father’s they knew what they had to do.
Ben sat up and waited for his eldest son to return. It made him remember how many times during the four years previous he had spent doing the same. Alright maybe he hadn’t sat up but each night had been filled with the same anxiety, the same question. Would Adam return? Ben closed his eyes and lowered his head. ‘Lord please bring him home to me once again and I will do whatever you want me to. I promise I will find a way to repent for this sin of mistrusting my own son.’
“Pa shouldn’t you be in bed? I thought you said you were exhausted.”
“I was.” But the fear of losing you has awakened me as nothing else could.
“I gather they told you the reason for our trip.”
“Yes, why didn’t you.”
“It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if I did.”
“Well it will still be a surprise; they didn’t exactly tell me what it was.”
“It would have been hard for them to since they don’t exactly know what it is. Are they still sleeping?”
“They had better be seeing as to how late they got to bed and also seeing how early it still is. Adam why did you leave?”
Adam wasn’t sure if his father meant tonight or four years ago. He supposed the answer he was about to give could fit either question. “I figured it was better then staying and saying things I would regret. Pa would you like to find out what it is? After all it is after midnight so officially it is your birthday.”
“Yes I guess it is.”
“Pa I’m sorry for all the trouble but I wanted this gift to be extra special seeing how it’s your first birthday since I’ve come home. I asked grandfather to send it and it should have been here in more then enough time but as so often happens things were delayed. I had planned on picking it up when I was in Carson City last week but it didn’t arrive on the stage it was scheduled to. I left money for them to send me a wire the minute it got in. That’s why Tim was here this afternoon he said he’d gotten that wire and that it had arrived today. I asked Tim to wire them to let them know that I would be in to pick it up and to not close up until I got there. I found a note on the stage line’s office door telling me where to go to pick up my box. I woke the man up and I think I scared his wife. After she had chastised me for having two young boys out at such an hour she gave us all some cookies and milk. And once Joe had confessed as to why we were there she even apologized for scolding me.”
“Still Adam you could have told me. I would have preferred a ruined surprise then the regret I now feel at the things I said to you.”
“Pa forget it. I just really wanted this to be a surprise.”
“I can’t forget it. I’m sorry Adam and I promise I will never again doubt you.”
There fell an awkward silence and where once Ben would have taken his son into his arms without hesitation he now saw that while the man standing before him would always be his son he was no longer his little boy.
“Pa wait here and I’ll go get your gift.”
Adam laid the box on the table before his father. Unlike the gifts Joe and Hoss had Adam knew his father would more then likely want to open this one in private.
“So what is it?”
“You’ll have to open it to find out, but before you do I want you to know that I first saw this while I was staying with grandfather and he told me how when we left Boston to start west there were so many things you wanted take but that you left behind knowing that to take them would be too difficult.”
“I took with me the only thing I needed Adam.”
“Yeah, well when I saw these I knew I should bring them to you but in all the excitement of graduation and coming home I forgot. Then when I was trying to think of what I could get you for your birthday I remembered these and I wrote to grandfather asking him to send them. The rest of the story you know. Now I think I’ll go on up to bed.”
“Don’t you even want to see me open it?”
“Yes, but I think letting you open it alone is the best gift I can give you.”
“Well I said I would never doubt you didn’t I?”
“Yes you did pa.”
Ben stared at his son questioningly as he headed up the stairs.
Ben looked at the box before him. It had caused so much trouble and Ben thought that one way to avoid any more was to try to never again question his son’s actions, at least around his birthday. He lifted the lid off of the box and couldn’t believe his eyes. He would have thought they would have been thrown out long ago. He knew that to someone else they would have appeared to be nothing more then a stack of old, worthless papers but he knew what they were without reading a single word. He could still smell the perfume she had scented each letter to him with. He tenderly lifted the pile out of the box and untied the green ribbon that she must have put the bow into with her own hands. He unfolded the top letter in the pile and was drawn to the bottom of the page. He tenderly caressed the words that were there. It was how she had signed every letter to him and it stirred his heart just as much now as it had then.
‘I miss you my love and until we meet again know you have my heart and I will remain forever your faithful Elizabeth’
Other Stories by this Author
- Ring of Memories (by Storm)
- Memories (by Storm)
- Valentine’s Day (by Storm)
- Blue Ribbons (by Storm)
- Ante Up (by Storm)