“Now, please, stay in bed Lucas. Julian— err, your father won’t be home until extraordinarily late.”
“No buts about it, young man.”
She tucked him in, shut off the lamp, and left his chambers.
Lucas was uncomfortable in his sheets. They squeezed him too tightly and agitated the bruise on his right arm.
The boys at school were picking on him for playing house with the girls again. He liked his girl friends and didn’t see why the other boys were so cruel about it. It wasn’t like he never worked on projects or played games of imagination with any of the boys.
He let his thoughts drift away from the school day. Out of the window, he could see the stars over the tops of the buildings in their nice section of Gearford, then known as Optilocus. His father had been a busy doctor lately with some horrible illness spreading around.
Lucas sat up and — against his mother’s express wishes — walked over to the window overlooking the street. He waited there for a long time, gaze darting to every shadow and movement. The moons shone brighter than the streetlights.
His father came down the street and up to the house, carrying something.
Lucas almost called out to him, but caught himself in the act.
His dad heard the squeak and looked up.
Lucas jumped back into bed, pretending to be asleep. He heard every footstep and sound through the house, just excited to see his father home.
“Lucas, wake up,” his dad said.
Lucas opened his eyes. He hadn’t heard him enter, but the lamp was on again. “Hey, father.”
“I brought something back for you.”
His father lifted, onto the bed, a magnificent cuckoo clock.
“Wonderful!” Lucas whispered.
“I’m going to leave it on your desk, and I’ll show you in the morning how it works,” his father said.
“Get your rest, Lucas.”
Julian Buford smiled at his son, shut the lamp back off, and closed the door.