Daniel's Letter From Heaven

Submitted into Contest #112 in response to: Write a story where something magical happens when it starts to rain.... view prompt

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Fantasy Inspirational Kids

The sky is gray and rainy.  Rain pelts down, and suddenly, an envelope descends.

Daniel Wilson, 11, carrying a school backpack, counts off on his fingers as he points to the raindrops. 

The letter falls onto the sidewalk. Maria, 11, cute, picks up the letter and looks at the writing, then held out the envelope to Daniel.

“Take it.  It's got your name on it,” she calls out.

Daniel takes the envelope and sees the name "DANIEL" on it, but he can't read the rest of the writing though the rain.

Maria smiles. “That's you, right? Daniel? Danny?”

Daniel waves with the letter and walks into his apartment building, up the stairs, into his apartment. 

Lots of computers in various states of being fixed litter the room. Daniel enters and hangs his key on a hook near the door. Daniel's father, Bill Wilson, 33, in jeans, shirt and tie, rolls around in a wheelchair out of the darkness, tinkering with a motherboard. 

“The guy sold me an iMac motherboard, would you believe? It's still good. Expand the memory slots and no problem,” Dad said enthusiastically.

“Cool,” Daniel replied.

“What you got there? Report card?”

“Love letter.”

Dad laughed. “Little schoolyard smooch doesn't do any harm. That's how I met your ma.”

At the mention of her Daniel brightens. “I forgot! We're supposed to Skype.”

He runs to the one working machine in the room, an iPad, and turns it on. He clicks on Skype.

Dad frowns. “We already Skyped, pal. Sorry.”

Daniel stares at "ANNABEL WILSON" in the contacts. Her Skype status reads "Offline". Her Skype image is of the US Air Force symbol. 

Dad says, “She had to fly out. Recon mission.”

“But she's coming home for Thanksgiving. Right?”

Dad hesitates. “That's the plan, champ. Hey. What do you say we go for tacos after you finish your homework?”

Drawings cover the walls of Daniel’s room. The letter dries on a radiator. Daniel sits at the desk and draws. A rainstorm takes shape on the paper, and then several white rectangles.  Daniel draws stamps in the rectangles. 

Dad’s voice echoes. “Your grandma always gave me an apple after school.”

Dadputs an apple down on Daniel's desk, then leans closer, looking at Daniel's drawing. “This is homework?”

“Teacher says we're supposed to tell a story with a picture.”

“You do your math first. Okay?”

Daniel nods and takes a bite of the apple. “Thanks.”

Dad looks as if he wants to say something, but goes out. Daniel gets up and goes to the window. He picks up the dry letter. Reads the name and address. "Daniel Gomez." He opens the letter, takes out a photo of a smiling Latina woman and a tiny baby. Daniel reads the writing on the back.

"M'ijo, my baby. I have been trying to find you. I am your mother. You see you and me? I am so sorry. I don't know who you are. I only have this address. If you look at my face and find something good, come and find me. I'll explain everything. Vaya con dios, m'ijo."

Daniel turns the photograph this way and that.  He goes to his backpack and unzips it. He takes out a book titled "Spanish I" and flips through it. 

“M'ijo...mi hiho....hijo. Son. Vaya...con...dios...Go with God."

Daniel goes to the window and looks out in wonder. “I'm God's post office.”

He opens his math book and hits the book. He has a tough time, eventually finishing the assignment. All the while he stares at the picture of the woman. 

Algebra and numbers dance over the woman's face. As Daniel is working on his math, he draws a doodle of the woman with algebra equations around it: Baby - Mom = x.

The door opens, and Bill pokes his head in. “Taco time.”

Daniel and Bill share an enormous taco platter in a tiny homey restaurant. 

The next day at school in Daniel’s big classroom, a line of students jockey to use the computers. Some kids are playing with iPads. Daniel sits at his desk with the photograph, drawing the mother and baby.  

Maria comes over and looks at him. Daniel hides what he's doing. The other girls giggle. Frank, the class bully, shoves Maria out of the way. “Hey...hey...nerd, watcha doing?  You don't like computers?”

He grabs the photograph and drawing.  Daniel glares at him.

Frank snickers. “Awww...is this Mommy? I heard she left you guys.”

Daniel sniffs. “She’s in the Air Force.”

Frank makes a move to rip the photograph and drawing. Maria snatches them out of his hand and gives them back to Daniel. Maria shoves the Bully. The Bully, shocked, makes a beeline for the other side of the room. Daniel and Maria exchange smiles.

After school, it hasn't stopped raining. The kids rush outside toward the school bus. Daniel runs with them. He walks down the aisle of the school bus. He sees Maria, hesitates, and sits next to her. “Thanks.”

“What were you doing?”

“Where’s Meadow Brook Acres?”

Maria smiles. “First tell me what you were doing.”

“Drawing. Where's Meadow Brook?”

“Over where I live...but you don't get out there.”

Daniel sits quietly.

“I'll show you where it is,” Maria offers.

“Thanks.”

Maria surprises him when she says, “Can you come over?”

“Not today. I’ve got something to do.”

“Tomorrow. We can have enchiladas. I bet you've never had them.”

Daniel grins. “Have too.”

“Not like my mama's.”

Twenty minutes later they stand outside a small brick house. Daniel and Maria look at it.

“Who lives here?” Maria asks.

Daniel shrugs.

“You'll tell me tomorrow.” Maria kisses him before he can react and walks away.  Daniel rings the bell. He waits patiently. No one answers. He sits and waits.

A voice wakes Daniel with a start. “Hey, kid.”

Daniel wakes up to see Danny Gomez, Latino, mid-40s, wearing a raincoat with a hood.

“Daniel Gomez?”

Danny Gomez takes off his hood. “Yes? How do you know my name?”

“I’m Daniel too.” Daniel unzips his backpack, takes out the envelope, and hands the envelope to Danny Gomez. “I'm God's post office.”

Danny Gomez looks at the open envelope, then looks at Daniel. “You shouldn't open other people's mail, especially these days.”

He takes the photo out of the envelope and stares at it. He turns it around and freezes as he reads the back of it.

Daniel rummages around in his backpack and takes out the picture he drew from the photo. He hands it to Danny Gomez. “This is for you.”

Danny Gomez studies the photo, the drawing, and the envelope. He looks down at Daniel and waves the drawing. “Come inside. We'll call your parents, let them know you're OK.”

The house is full of easels and paintings. Danny Gomez spreads out the photo and drawing on the kitchen table. He studies them both. Daniel stands. Danny Gomez looks up. “Not going to eat you. Take off your raincoat before you catch cold.”

Daniel does, and he puts down his backpack. Danny Gomez goes to the stove.  There's a kettle on the stove. Danny Gomez turns on the stove. “Sit down. You like hot chocolate?”

“Cool. Please.”

Danny Gomez opens a cupboard and gets a tin of cocoa. “How'd you find me?”

“School bus.”

Danny shook his head. “The school bus doesn't stop here.”

“You don't have kids?”

Danny Gomez sets two cups down and goes to the kitchen table. “They're with their mom. In Miami. I guess you know my story. If you read what's on that photograph.”

Daniel nods.  

Danny clears his throat. “I guess we better call your folks.”

“They're not home. My mom is in the Air Force.”

Danny looks sympathetic. “Where's your dad?”

“Fixing people’s computers at home.”

“Then he should be home.”

“He was meeting people all day,” Daniel says, a little too fast.

Danny stared into his eyes. “They don't know you're here, do they?”

Daniel doesn't respond. Danny Gomez goes to the table and picks up the photograph.

“Do they know about this?”

Daniel stays silent.

“What’s your phone number? Don’t all you kids have a cell phone?”

“I left mine at home.” Daniel gets his sketch pad out of his backpack and writes his phone number on sketch paper. He rips off the sheet and gives it to Danny Gomez, who quickly dials the number. 

“Hello? Mr. Wilson? This is Danny Gomez. Your son's here at my house…” 

Daniel hears his father’s raised voice on the other end.

“He’s perfectly fine. He took the bus here. He was returning something I lost.”

Danny Gomez winces as he listens. “I understand. He’ll stay right here.”

He hung up the phone. “Kid, you were lucky. He’s on their way.”

Danny Gomez makes the cocoa and brings it to Daniel. “Why'd you bring me that picture?”

“I miss my mom too.” Daniel sips the cocoa and grins. “You paint?”

“You change the subject a lot. Yeah, I paint.” He studies Daniel's drawing and the photo. “Let's talk about you. How long have you been drawing? You’re good.”

“Mom says I should show my work to my teacher so I can get scholarships.”

“So do you show them?”

Daniel looks into his cocoa. Danny Gomez sighs. “I didn't want to show anyone either. Thought I was no good.  But I was just scared.”

Danny Gomez gets up, takes their cups and pours more cocoa. Daniel holds up the photo.

“Are you going to go see her?”

Danny Gomez freezes, holding the cocoa cups.

“She's really sorry.” Daniel says.

Danny Gomez comes to the table. “You think I should?”

“Definitely.”

Danny thinks about it. “Tell you what. You show your work to your teacher, and I'll go.”

Daniel thinks about it. “Okay.”

Danny Gomez hands Daniel the cocoa cup and clinks it with his own. Daniel smiles.  

After they have cocoa and talk, Danny Gomez shows his paintings to Daniel.

“Really cool,” Daniel says.

“You do portraits?”

“Weather mostly.”

Danny is thoughtful. “You do well on portraits.  Ever thought of setting up a table, when it stops raining, and charging people to do their picture?”

“Could I do that?”

“No one says no to a kid.”

Daniel touches the paintings. The doorbell echoes through the house. Danny Gomez looks at Daniel. “I'll be right back.”

Danny Gomez exits. Daniel stares at the paintings. He turns all around, looking at them.  

His dad runs in and swoops down on him, grabbing him. “What were you thinking?

You know what could have happened?”

“I was hanging out with Danny.”

Dad stares at Danny for a long moment. “Thanks.  This won't happen again.”

“Actually...I'd like to ask you if I could give Daniel art lessons.”

Dad’s mouth drops open. “Why?”

“I think he’s talented.”

Dad looks around at Danny’s paintings. “Maybe…But we insist on paying you. Let me talk it over with my wife.”

Danny gives Dad his phone number, email, and address. “We’ll be in touch.”

Danny Gomez shakes Daniel's hand. Dad clumsily shakes Danny Gomez's hand. “Where's Danny's coat and backpack?”

Danny runs and gets the coat and backpack. “Hey, Daniel. You keep on painting.”

As Dad and Daniel walk outside, Dad pulls him close. “Don’t ever do this again…He was nice, but you have to be careful.”

“Can I go to Maria's tomorrow?”

Dad shakes his head. “We'll see.”

The next afternoon, Danny Gomez stands on the doorstep of a large split-ranch house in a quiet neighborhood. He looks at the envelope, then knocks on the front door. The door opens and Danny’s mother Angelica Rossi, the woman in the photograph, opens the door. She and Danny stare at each other. Danny holds up the photo and Daniel's drawing. Angelica gently touches them.

At the same time, at Maria’s house, Maria’s mother Isabel holds Maria's and Daniel's hands. Daniel’s dad waves as he gets into the Ford Pinto. Daniel grins. 

Maria sits on her bed as Daniel sketches her.

At school the next day, Daniel’s teacher sits at a desk grading papers. The students line up once again to use the computer. Daniel, holding his drawing of Maria, walks up to the Teacher's desk. The teacher looks at Daniel. Daniel lays the drawing on the teacher's desk and grins shyly.  The other kids stare curiously. The teacher holds up the drawing. Daniel offers another one, the one with the envelopes. The teacher smiles at Daniel.  

After school, Daniel sits outside in the rain, sketching an elderly couple.  A gust of wind blows an envelope out of the sky. Daniel grabs it and looks at it. He holds out the envelope to the couple. “I think this is for you.”

The couple give him money and hugs. Daniel shows them the completed sketch.

September 20, 2021 01:17

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