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Leo & I
I held his small hand tightly in mine as we walked down the hallway. In my other hand I held Leo’s favorite toy - my hulk action figure. I knew he was hungry, I was too.
“Mom did you buy bananas?” I yelled from the kitchen. I tried my best to put Leo on the counter but realized he was too heavy. I wanted him to feel right at home. “Leo, don’t touch Mom’s dishes.”
“Charlie, I’m home. I picked up some dinner on my way and thought we could -” Mom put her bags from Kenny’s Market on the table and slowly walked towards me with a strange look on her face.
“Mom, this is Leo. Mr. White brought him over so I could have someone to -”
“Charlie, come here. Get away from him. Come here,” she said afraid. Leo kept his eyes fixed on me.
“No mom, it’s okay! He’s friendly I promise!”
I turned towards Leo and grabbed his furry hand. “He’s not scary mom. He’s actually quite sweet.” I began to bring Leo closer to her.
“Charlie, you shouldn’t be out of bed. I’m going to call Mr. White. He needs to take this animal out my house and away from you. Go into your room and be careful please,” she responded worriedly. I knew she wasn’t happy with me but I enjoyed Leo’s company. Instead of feeding Leo bananas, we each split the last pop-tart from the cupboard while Mom was on the phone with Mr. White.
“C’mon buddy, let’s go play with my toys,” I said as Leo climbed up my leg and into my arms.
Leo was very smart. I assumed he was trained before Mr. White got him because he would flip through my books and point to yellow things in my room. I dressed him up in my Old Navy blue shorts and my Tonka Truck t-shirt. It looked better on him anyways.
Mr. Harrison came over that afternoon to help Mom with broken things around the house. I guess Dad forgot to fix the broken light-bulb, the loose step, and the cracked swing outside. Mom told me he was just a friend, but I knew better.
“Hey Charlie, who’s that you got there?” Mr. Harrison asked while coming into my room unannounced.
“Leo,” I said rudely. I didn’t like Mr. Harrison.
“Wow, neato. What kind of monkey is he? He’s a friendly little guy.”
I knew Mom put Mr. Harrison on “bonding with Charlie” duty, I heard her from the living room. I also heard her say that Mr. White was coming to pick up Leo tomorrow.
“I don’t know. I’m not that smart.”
“Look Charles -”
“Charlie. My name is Charlie,” I snapped.
“Charlie, I’m your mom’s friend and you’re going to have to get used to me whether you like it or not,” Mr. Harrison said while petting Leo on the head. He then went to my rock collection and started to toss them up in the air. I told him to keep his hands to himself. I guess the uncomfortable silence made him leave. Thank goodness. It took me a minute to realize Leo was lying on my bed.
“Good boy Leo,” I said as I laid down beside him. Leo yawned. So did I. But instead of letting myself fall asleep, I spoke to Leo for a very long time about absolutely everything. He was a very good listener. I told him how I was doing in school, the awards that I won, the things that I like, and the disability I was born with. I explained that Osteogenesis Imperfecta just meant that I had weak bones. I told him that I had to be extra careful everywhere I go. I don’t remember much after that, I think we both fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up to find myself in an empty bed. “Leo,” I mumbled. Mom came into my room with my medication. I couldn’t stand the taste. “Where is Leo?” I asked.
“Mr. White came to get him Charlie. I’m sorry.”
“No! Why would you make him leave?” I cried.
“Charlie, he’s not good for you. You can’t have a pet in your condition honey.”
“But he kept me company. I liked talking to him. Mr. White said Leo was depressed because of his maternal separation. We cheered each other up.” My face was wet with my tears. Mom hugged me carefully as I cried. She began to cry too. Although, I was crying for Leo, I knew she was crying for me.