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Sammy said almost nothing the next day. He didn’t want to talk. He didn’t want to think but his mother kept appearing in his head no matter how hard he tried to shut her out. The image of her brought the pain with it, the pain that sat heavily in his stomach and refused to move.

He tried to draw pictures to take his mind off of things but the paper would turn soggy and useless as his tears fell onto the page. He watched as the red and the green mixed into a muddy brown and then he crumpled the picture up.

Why did it hurt so much? There was nothing wrong with him. There was no blood, no bruises, so why did it hurt? Every time his mother came to mind he felt the tightness in his chest and then the tears would come. He could feel them now running in little streams down his face, leaving his eyes sore and red. The pain sat inside him and he couldn’t push it away. It kept billowing up inside of him and he would hold a pillow close in hope that it would muffle the pain somehow.

Brian had sat by his side all day holding Sammy’s hand and holding him close. Sammy would bury his face in the soft, warm jersey and feel safe and secure in his arms. But even Brian couldn’t keep the pain away.

At teatime, Sammy was sat hugging his knees downstairs. He had sat there for over an hour not moving or speaking. Brian tried to tempt him with a sandwich but Sammy shook his head.

“I’m not hungry,” he murmured.

“You have to eat,” Brian said gently. “I know it hurts, but you have to keep your strength up.”

Sammy turned his back on Brian. He didn’t want to eat. He felt too sick for any food.

“Come on,” Brian encouraged. He tried to touch Sammy on the face but Sammy cringed away. He saw the hurt in Brian’s eyes. He couldn’t stay down here. He stood up and without a backward look at Brian, he began to climb the stairs. Each step he took bought more tears to his eyes. At the top of the stairs he gave a slight sob.

Once in his room he shut the door and buried himself in his bed covers, crying as he felt the heavy pain inside of him rise up again. He didn’t want to hurt Brian. He hadn’t meant to hurt him. He was so confused… It had felt like he and Brian were a real family, but now his mother’s death had changed everything. He felt so lost and alone and he knew that Brian wouldn’t be around forever to take care of him. Maybe if he stopped loving then he would never hurt this much again…but he couldn’t do that. He needed Brian and when he thought of losing him the pain inside him intensified so much that he began to sob uncontrollably.

He wanted to go down and apologise to Brian for walking out on him. He wanted to tell him that he loved him. He wanted to ask him if he could… but he couldn’t do that. Brian might not like it and may think that he was only doing it because his mother was dead, even though he had wanted to ask it as soon as he moved in.

He wondered if Brian was angry with him. His mother had used to get furious if Sammy turned his back on her. Was Brian the same? Sammy pulled his knees up to his chest as the memories returned. He remembered hiding in the bathroom the time his mother had come home from work in a bad mood. She’d pounded on the door for him to come out but he’d been too scared to. His mother had frightened him but he had still loved her…. Did that make any sense? And what if Brian suddenly decided that he didn’t like him? Things were great now but would every thing stay that way?

“Sammy?” There was a light tap upon the door.

He looked up from his cocoon of blankets and pillows and saw Brian standing in the doorway. He didn’t look angry. He looked…upset. Sammy had upset him. Brian didn’t get angry like his mother. He loved Sammy too much to ever hurt him and Sammy knew that now.

“I’m sorry,” Sammy said, sniffing and rubbing his eyes until every thing around him was blurry.

“For what?” Brian said, sitting down beside him. “You haven’t done anything wrong.”

Sammy’s eyes threatened to over spill again and he felt Brian take him up his arms. This time he didn’t pull away. He didn’t want to. He wanted Brian close.

In that moment, he let himself go completely. The grief escaped from his heart and his tears showed the awful loneliness and despair that had been bubbling within him all day. Now, the emotions claimed him and Sammy could do nothing to stop them.

He could hear Brian speaking to him softly and rocking him in his arms. Sammy just clung to him tightly and prayed that they would never be separated. He was so happy with Brian. For the first time, he was no longer scared or alone. He was loved.

He wanted to ask Brian the question. He wanted Brian to know how he felt. He wanted them to be a proper family…

“I – if I can, can I stay with you forever?” Sammy asked.

“Sure you can.” Sammy could hear the tears in his voice. He was sad because Sammy was. “I’m going to see about getting adoption papers.”

“I – if y – you adopt me, then c – can I… c – can I…”


“Can I call you daddy?”

He’d wanted to ask it since he’d moved in with Brian. It felt like he already was his father and Sammy wanted it this way.

Brian hugged him tighter. “Okay.”


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