“I’ll call you when I get there, Mom.”
Betty placed the framed photo back on the shelf and rubbed the back of a hand across her eyes. She turned just in time to see David’s legs hurry down the stairs.
She could hardly believe he had spent his last night at home.
“You’d better, young man.” She stood in front of him and reached up to tousle his hair. It seemed like just yesterday she had to lean way over to help him comb it into place for school each morning.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to drive you?”
He smiled and threw a light jacket over his shoulder, then walked toward the front door.
“I got this, Mom,” he said. “Besides, you have to stay here and keep Henry company. Don’t want him getting lonely while I’m gone.”
David grinned at his mother, and she strode across the room to kiss him goodbye, choking back her emotions. It had been years since she’d thought about her boy’s imaginary friend.
“And here I thought Henry would be going with you to college!” she said.
“Nah, Henry’s more of a home-school type of guy,” David said. “Besides, he wouldn’t like dorm food. He needs regular doses of your special mac and cheese.”
David squeezed his mother around the shoulders and walked out the door and across the lawn to his car. As the engine hummed to life, tears spilled down her cheeks and soaked her shirt.
“Don’t be sad, Betty,” a voice behind her said. “I’ll still eat dinner with you.”
She gasped and turned turned toward the kitchen. A little boy stood in the doorway.
She’d know him anywhere.
“Henry!” she said.
“You can’t tell anyone I’m here,” he said. “People won’t understand.”