Brian stared out of his hotel window. Out on the fresh, green grass he could see a small group of young children tossing a bright blue ball about carelessly and laughing. That’s where Sammy should be, out having fun, not locked inside a home.
“Brian?” AJ called.
“It’s open,” Brian replied, not taking his eyes off of the children.
He heard AJ come in and tore his eyes away from the window to face his friend. “Hey,” he said, trying to smile.
“Hey Rok, me and Nick are gonna go find a park to play some B Ball in. Wanna come?”
Brian shook his head and turned back to staring at the outside world.
“You okay? You’ve been real quiet since we got here. Cheer up, now we’ve got the last press conference over we can go home.”
“C’mon, what’s the matter?”
Brian nodded and closed his eyes. It was too easy to picture Sammy with big, blue innocent eyes. He wondered what he was doing now… crying because nobody loved him?
“You’ve been really taken with him haven’t you?” AJ said, sitting down on the edge of Brian’s bed.
“I just… I mean how could someone have left him? He could’ve died or - ”
“But he didn’t and he’ll be okay. They’ll find a family for him.”
Brian said nothing but for some reason he felt even more miserable. One of the girls outside squealed as she tripped over. A parent immediately came dashing over to see if she was all right.
“Why don’t you ask if you can see him? That’s what you want isn’t it?”
“You think they’d let me?” Brian asked, hope arising in his heart.
“Why shouldn’t they? And Sammy would love it. He really likes you. Why don’t you give the home a call and see if you can sort something out?”
“I – I might do that,” Brian said, quietly.
Brian looked out of the window once more. The little girl was with her friends again. “Can I borrow your phone?”
Sammy sat on the edge of his bed cuddling Rocky and staring at the pale yellow walls. Hilary had been in earlier trying to interest him in various toys; big plastic blocks and cars with missing wheels. He had refused to take anything she had offered him, he preferred Rocky.
When he had first arrived at the home yesterday, they’d taken Rocky away from him saying, “He has to be cleaned, darling.”
They’d snatched him away and left him with a shabby replacement; a green bear. Sammy had cried silently and ignored the bear. He hadn’t spoken or ate until Hilary had bought Rocky back, clean and smelling of cheap soap which made Sammy’s eyes run when he held him close. Hilary had been displeased at his behaviour and scolded him for being such a baby.
Now he would not let any of the nurses near Rocky in case they tried to steal him again. Rocky was his only friend. There had been Brian of course, he had liked him a lot, but he’d been taken away from him as well. He had tried to ask a nurse if Brian would come and see him but she had just laughed and said, “You’ll be lucky.”
That had hurt Sammy. Brian might as well be an imaginary friend because Sammy doubted if he would ever come back.
“Sammy, someone wants to speak with you. He can’t stay for long though. It’s almost dinner time for you,” a ginger haired woman said, entering his room. “Come with me, sweetie.” She held out her hand for him but Sammy cringed away, refusing to take it.
He clutched Rocky close as he trailed after the nurse down the corridor and up some stairs. She pushed open a blue door and let Sammy inside. There was a man seated in one of the red plastic chairs. He fidgeted with his hands, nervously and looked up expectantly when Sammy walked in. he gave him a weak smile as he stood up.
“Bri Bri!” Sammy cried, excitedly dashing over to him.
Brian grinned and lent down to pull Sammy close. Sammy smiled happily as he buried his face in Brian’s woolly, blue jumper. He knew Brian would never forget about him. He felt himself scooped up and then Brian sat down with him upon one of the chairs.
The nurse sat down opposite them with one of those big smiles that all of the nurses in the home wore. Sammy scowled slightly. He didn’t want her to be here. Brian was his friend and was nothing to do with her.
“He’s been asking for you,” the nurse said to Brian.
Brian held Sammy onto his lap. “How you doing?” he asked, pushing Sammy’s blond fringe back.
“Okay. I’m glad you came to see me though. I don’t like it here,” Sammy replied, ignoring the nurse’s frown.
“But we are treating you well, Sammy,” she said.
“I’m sure you are,” Brian said to her. He turned back to Sammy. “But I bet it’s not like a real home,” he added quietly.
“No,” Sammy said softly.
Brian held him close. “So how’s Rocky?”
“The nurses kidnapped him and gave him a bath, look!” Sammy said, waving Rocky in front of Brian. “He smells horrible now!”
Brian took Rocky from Sammy’s hands. “It’s not that bad!” he said. He started to tickle the little dog and made him bounce about Sammy’s lap. “He can still tickle people!” With that he immediately began to tickle Sammy all over.
“No!” Sammy squealed, trying to jump away from Brian but it was too late. Brian seized him around the waist with one arm and then mercilessly used Rocky to tickle him. “No!” Sammy said again but now he was laughing uncontrollably.
Brian kept hold of him for a little longer and then, grinning, he released him and handed him Rocky back. Sammy still laughing, began trying to tickle Brian back.
“No, no, no!” Brian said, trying to push Sammy back but failing.
The nurse on the other side of the room was laughing as well. “Okay, break it up now,” she said. “Sammy, your friend is going to have to go now because it’s your dinner time.”
“Yuck,” Sammy said quietly so that only Brian could hear him.
Brian gave him another hug and Sammy wished that he stay with him and forget all about this home and his troubles. He clutched one of Brian’s hands. He didn’t want him to leave. He was the only person in the world who cared about him. He wanted to ask Brian if he could take him home with him, but he couldn’t. Brian might not like that and might not visit him again.
“Will you come and see me again, Bri?” Sammy asked, hopefully.
“Just try and stop me,” he replied, tidying Sammy’s hair.
“Stay,” Sammy whispered. He didn’t want to go with the nurse again. He didn’t like this home with it’s faded yellow walls. And what if Brian never came back? What if he left him like his mother?
Brian straightened Sammy’s jersey. “Listen Sammy, the man I spoke to on the phone said it might be possible for you to visit me at my house sometime. Would you like that?”
Sammy almost bounced with excitement. “Yes,” he said. “Yes please.” He looked at the nurse, imploringly. “Can I?”
“If Brian wants you to,” she said. “We’ll sort the details out later. Come along, Sammy.”
Sammy gave Brian one last hug. “Bye bye,” he said. “Thank you for coming to see me.”
“Bye,” Brian whispered. “I’ll see you soon.”
Sammy kept his eyes on Brian until the nurse had shut the door. “When will I get to see him again?” he asked.
“Don’t get your hopes up, Sammy. Mr.Littrell is a very, very busy man.”
“But he said I could visit him!”
“We’ll see. Hilary will have to approve it, of course. Personally, I don’t approve of a man with his kind of job. You hear all those stories… He’s probably after even more attention. The press will love him for this.”
Sammy was confused. What did she mean by ‘his kind of job?’ Didn’t Brian care about him after all?
“Here we are, Sammy. Go get your dinner.” She stopped outside of the dining hall and pushed the door open for Sammy. He stepped inside and watched as all of the children chatted happily at the tables. He didn’t have any friends so he sat by himself. But he didn’t want to be here. He wanted to be with Brian.