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Jarod walked along the snowy lighted streets of New York. It had been a long time since he had visited New York City. He had not been here since one of his first pretends. He had been a doctor that time and had avenged a small boy who had been left paralyzed by a drunken doctor.
The sounds of merriment filled the air. City sidewalks, busy sidewalks. Dressed in holiday styles........... The smell of Sabrett hot dogs and salty pretzels filled the air. It enticed him to imbibe in one of each. The wonderful tastes reminded him how much he had enjoyed his freedom the past six years.
He loved this time of year. People actually had smiles on their faces while the bustled about their lives. Some going home early from work and others was doing some last minute shopping. He enjoyed watching people. It's the one thing he decided to do after coming back from the island. It had been a year since the scrolls and Mr. Parker had been lost. Also a year since he had confessed to Parker his feelings for her. The last year he had run, but he could tell that the chase was not the same. Too many times he had revealed himself and tried to rekindle what they had started on the island. "Turning points Miss Parker". She had let him go. But he had felt on some level she didn't want him to go or that she wanted to go with him.
Life at the Centre had become unbearable for her. More so that Lyle and Raines had seemed to have bonded. What a sick thought. Angelo had kept him abreast of Raines and Lyles' activities. Jarod knew that an ultimatum had been made by Raines to Lyle and Parker. So as he arranged his rendezvous'' with Parker, he sent Lyle and Raines on wild goose chases. As a Christmas present, he had sent them to Alaska. It wasn't like either of them celebrated Christmas. They were more like the Grinches who stole Christmas. Jarod had seen the show on television and had found it quite amusing. Unfortunately for them, they were going to be stuck for several hours in a Jarod made igloo. He figured it would take long to figure out which ice block to push would release them.
Jarod finally reached his destination. He had decided to give of himself this Christmas and model after Christmas George. He was going to spend Christmas Eve reading stories to children of one of the local shelters. He had resolved that he was going to start doing things for himself and right now it was this. He just hoped that the rest of his plan worked.
He climbed the steps, rang the bell, and entered the two-story home. Mrs. Campbell, the resident mother, directed him to the room with the giant Christmas tree that he had ordered for the children. The children came running around him yelling his name and hugging him. He had been in contact with the children via videotapes for months. He made his way to the next room where there was a chair set up in the corner. He noticed mistletoe hanging over the doorway. The children gathered around on the floor.
"OK Children. What do you want me to read?" Jarod asked. "Twas The Night Before Christmas? I know that one."
"NO! That's always saved for last." The children screamed.
"All right. Then what would you like me to read? Jarod posed to the group.
A small people girl, about five years old, wrestled through books that had been stacked next to the chair until her eyes popped open with excitement. She grabbed the book and handed it to Jarod. "Someone special told me you would like this one."
Jarod read the title. "Winnie the Pooh's Christmas Adventure in the Hundred Acre Woods" He saw an adorable yellow bear on the cover. "He is quite well rounded isn't he?" Jarod asked as he opened the book. Inside he discovered an enchanted world called the Hundred Acre Woods where everyone was a friend. A pink pig named Piglet, a gray donkey named Eeyore (whom always seemed to be sad- he could relate), an owl, and a very vibrant tiger named Tigger. He could never seem to keep quite still Jarod thought to himself. Adrenal gland problem possibly. He proceeded to tell the children about a boy named Christopher Robin who everyone was trying to find a present for. The group went on one adventure after another, each one more silly than the last. After he was finished reading the book, the children started singing - "Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh........."
Mrs. Campbell announced to the children that there was milk and fresh chocolate chip cookies in the dining room. The children all ran like lighting except the young girl who picked the book. She pulled a Winnie the Pooh doll from behind the chair. "The nice lady told me to give you this Christmas present." Then she turned and ran to join the others. Jarod looked at the bear and smiled.
"Jarod, I almost forgot in all the excitement. You have a visitor" Mrs. Campbell motioned to the darkened room. From the darkness walked out Miss Parker.
"Cute clues Wonder Boy. The beginning pretends brings you to the end and hopefully the end is the beginning. The freezing cold bucket marks the spot. Took me a while to figure it out. I almost went to Alaska with the rest of them."
"Better that you didn't. I would suppose they are stuck in my personalized igloo by now."
"Igloo? Jarod, sometimes I think you are insane. I knew that the first pretend that truly struck your heart was the one here. Boy left without parents and paralyzed. And then you sending me the address. You would think after all these years Lyle and the Wheezing Wonder would know you by now. Breadcrumbs. Always breadcrumbs."
"But you do. You've always known me and my heart Parker. You just never want to admit it." Jarod responded.
"What are we doing Jarod? I keep hearing my mother's voice telling me that things in my life are wrong."
"Turning poi.........." Jarod started to say , but Parker interrupted.
"I know - turning points. You've been saying it all damn year!" Parker retorted.
"Then just do it Parker. Take that first step and say - They don't control me anymore!" Jarod looked at her with those eyes.
Parker looked back into his eyes. "They don't control me anymore. I can think for myself and I may have even signed my death warrant."
Jarod looked confused. "What have you done Parker?"
"I brought you a present."
"I know. The Winnie the Pooh." Jarod lifted the bear.
"No. I'm giving you something the Centre should have given you years ago." Parker moved aside and motioned with her arm for three shadowy figures to come forward. When they came into the light, Jarod gasped. "The Pooh's from her."
Jarod could see Ethan, Major Charles, and if he could believe his eyes, his mother Margaret.
"Mom??" Jarod stammered. "Is it really you?" Tears started running down his face.
"Don't cry sweetie. It's really me." She hugged him and didn't want let go.
Jarod looked at Parker whose eyes were tearing and whispered. "Thank you."
Parker mouthed back. "Not me. Ethan."
Major Charles joined his wife and hugged their son. Ethan moved to Miss Parker and put his arm around her. At first Parker whipped him a look out of instinct and then softened under his touch. "Good job baby brother."
Ethan beaming said. "Merry Christmas big sister. Merry Christmas everyone."
And to all a good night.