The last chapter of A New Me is finally here! If you would be kind enough , please review and tell me if you liked it. I`d love to hear anything you have to say about it.
Disclaimer: I don`t own the last bit of the fic, it belongs to Disney.
The next thing Lampwick felt was the water cooling his bare feet, sea foam circling his ankles. The night was cool and his red hair was blowing in the wind. As he looked around, every other boy was soaking in the pleasure of the icy water chilling their feet, something they couldn`t have felt as donkeys. It was still dark outside, crickets chirping in the forest and seagulls squawking along the rocks. Pleasure Island`s black shadow could still be seen in the distance, nothing but a lump in sea. Lampwick breathed in the cool air, looking up in the sky.
Lampwick was at peace knowing that nobody could ever again turn into a donkey and be sold for profit. Every one of those boys was going to be back home, safe and sound. Lampwick motioned for the boys to follow him, to go home.
The procession of boys was silent ,each one amazed by their transformation.
On the cliff and on a dirt road through a small forest they walked, exchanging stories about their families, their brothers and sisters, but mostly their mothers. It was still dark outside and the moon was high above them. Lampwick and Pinocchio began to talk about all that had happened, something they could never have done a year before.
Lampwick noticed his voice had been transformed during the time that he was mute. It had deepened, sounding much more like a man`s than it did years ago. But Lampwick also looked much more like a man then he did years before, and now he had a voice to match .
The group reached the cobblestone walkways of the village, their old home. Their bare feet tapped against the stone in the darkness, their bright and happy faces illuminated by the gas lights on the streets of the village. The night watchman of the town was the only one on the street and he stared warily at the procession of boys. The gang stopped and Alexander stood next to Pinocchio and Lampwick, his brown hair blowing in the wind. His eyes moved to a tiny little cottage with the kitchen window light on revealing a woman standing at a stove, cooking breakfast. Alexander`s brown eyes lit up and he shouted joyfully "That`s my home!" He ran towards the door and knocked loudly. "Mama! Mama! It`s me! Alexander! I`m home!"
Lampwick next saw the mother come to the door and exclaim "Alexander! My son"! She wept as she held the little boy close to her heart. "Promise me that you`ll never run away like that ever again!" Alexander embraced his mother and happily replied "I promise mama, I promise!"
The others all began to run towards their houses and Lampwick could hear the joyous cries of reunited brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers. By the gas night lights, Lampwick could see, through the shades of windows, people hugging, laughing, and rejoicing. It seemed that everyone in the village had woken up and come out in to the streets with their night shirts and caps on to see what all the commotion was.
Occasionally, boys jumped out of their mama`s arms, ran to Lampwick and said "Thank you! Thank you Lampwick, for everything!" and to Lampwick's surprise, they hugged him.
"You`re welcome" Lampwick said smiling. "Just live the best life you can ..."
"Oh I will" replied the boys in chorus, rejoining the celebration.
Soon, Lampwick and Pinocchio left the crowded and happy streets of the center of the village to the outskirts of town. They had reached farm territory and they could see barns ahead on the grassy hill. Lampwick approached one of them and inside, he saw that, where the donkeys had slept, a few boys dreamed on, unaware of their transformation back into boys.
The twosome moved on. They reached a little peasant home and Lampwick looked at the home in fear. "That`s my house ..." he said quietly. He brought his left hand up to his mouth and began to bite his nails, something that always comforted him in times of fear. Slowly he moved his free hand toward the doorknocker, but then pulled it away. "Oh, I can`t go home! Can`t I just stay an apprentice at your fathers workshop? " he asked.
Pinocchio shook his head. "Lampy, your momma must be worried sick about you..."
"But my momma married another man; she betrayed me!" Lampwick said. He continued to bite his nails and look helplessly at the home. "Besides, I ran away from home. What if she doesn`t want to remember me?" Lampwick began to bite his nails again.
Jiminy, now on top of the gas lamp on the side of the road said "Lampwick, you`re her son and she`ll love you no matter what".
At Jiminy`s wise words Lampwick ceased his biting of his nearly destroyed nails. He sighed heavily and began to walk towards the doorknocker but he hesitated for a minute. Turning around he saw a smiling Pinocchio and ran towards him. "Thanks Pinokey!" he said, hugging his best friend. "You've been a great friend and I don`t know what would have happened to me if you did not come along".
Pinocchio smiled and embraced his friend. "You're welcome", he breathed.
Lampwick let go of his friend and walked to the door. Turning around again, he saw Pinocchio, with Jiminy standing on the little boy's shoulder. "Go on ..."
Lampwick sighed deeply and walked up the path to the front porch. He grabbed onto the door knocker and knocked three times.
Lampwick then heard a woman cry from inside "Oh, who could that be at this time?"
The door opened and Lampwick had to look down at his mother. "Hi momma".
"Romeo ..." she breathed. She exploded with joy and hugged her son. "You've come home!" Tears rolled down her freckled cheeks as she held the thing dearest to her heart, her boy, her Romeo. Pinocchio stood and smiled saying to his conscience "Let`s go home Jiminy". And with that the two walked down the country road back to the village.
"Yes, I have come home", Lampwick said. And for once in a long, long time, his bravado and self-pride slipped away and he allowed himself to weep. "I`m home ... I`m home .. I'm home ..." he repeated, barely grasping the idea that after so long, he was welcomed home with open arms.
Lampwick`s mother let go of her son and noticed how much he had grown since she last saw him. "My goodness, you`ve grown! You`re practically a man now ..."
"I`ll be 15 in July" he replied.
"I know that ..." she said and hugged him again. "Oh Romeo, I was so worried that something ... something awful happened".
"It's okay Momma, I`m fine" Lampwick said, letting go and placing his hand on her shoulder.
"But where have you been?" she asked, looking up to give a curious glance at her returning son.
Lampwick grabbed his right arm and squeezed it. "That might take some time ... and it`s best you sit down while I tell this".
The two went into the kitchen of the cottage and Lampwick`s mother called her husband - now Lampwick`s stepfather - down to the breakfast table. She poured some tea and Lampwick let the words of his amazing and tragic tale leap from his lips to their ears. They nodded as he explained that he was living with other bad boys and how he was offered a swell time at Pleasure Isle. He told them of the curse that came to the no-goods on the island and how he fell into the trap, and became a Salt Miner`s donkey.
Lampwick`s momma began to cry and said "I could have done something! I could have saved you ...".
Lampwick shook his head and grabbed his mother`s shaking hands. "You couldn`t have momma. I was stubborn and stupid, I would of never listened to you. I was just a bad kid and I deserved what I got" .
Lampwick continued the story with his transformation back into a human with the help of the Blue Fairy. He told them of the price he had paid to wish to become human and how tough it was to communicate in the year that he was silent.
When Lampwick finished the tale with his retelling of the battle between the donkey boys and the vile Coachman and his helpers. "As you can see" he said at last "I`ve done a lot in the last 4 years".
"Indeed you have ..." his momma said after he finished speaking. "But I`m just happy to have you home!" She embraced her son.
A little while later the family ate breakfast together for the first time, with four members. Isabella, his little stepsister, was pleased to have an older brother who could play games with her and read her stories. She was fascinated by his retelling of where he had been, although at the end she said, "Romeo, did you make that up on your own?"
"Maybe I did. After all, one chooses his own life, and builds a story from it." Lampwick said, shrugging and finishing his toast.
Just as Lampwick began to spread jam on another piece of toast, a booming knock came from the door. Lampwick`s momma went to answer it and Lampwick could hear the conversation from the table. "Bongiorno! What can I do for you?" she said.
"I'm here to talk to your son, Romeo. We need to take him to the jail and question him ..."
"Yes, it is very important that we do it now".
"But you don't understand officer! He just came home, what trouble could he have caused?"
"Oh no miss, he`s not in trouble. No, he is to be rewarded!"
"He has captured a criminal, a kidnapper" the officer said. "If he could just come down to the station to answer a few questions, then he shall receive his reward money".
"Gee, a reward!" Lampwick heard his mother say. "Romeo, could you come here a moment?"
When Lampwick came in, the officer immediately recognized him. "You! It was you who captured that criminal? Ironic how such a troublemaker could do such a noble thing."
"I know, I know" Lampwick said. "I was a bad kid, but 4 years can really make an impact on a person's life."
The officer nodded. "I see. Now if you would be so kind to follow me to the court and answer a few questions, I can give you a rather handsome reward."
As the red head and the policeman reached the court, they went into a nicely furnished room. The officer took off his coat and hat and placed it on a rack. Sitting down behind his desk he began to speak, "Last night, two men came in to the jail, one, a policeman from another town with him, a coachman. When the Coachman was questioned, he said that he and many others were guilty of kidnapping boys and turning them into donkeys. Of course, we had no other evidence that he did it, so we were going to put him in the stocks for an hour or two. But grown men started flocking into the station, claiming some man had turned them into donkeys, some from 20 years ago. When we looked up their records, they went missing, true to their word, 20 years ago."
Lampwick nodded. "Yes, he turned me into a donkey as well. He turned all bad boys into donkeys."
Lampwick did the best he could at explaining Pleasure Island and the battle with the Coachman. "It's true, every word they say."
The officer nodded. "For the past 30 years, women have claimed that their sons have gone missing and we set up searches. Rewards offered to anyone who could find them. And you have boy, you have." The policeman opened his desk to pull out a box of cigars. He plucked one for himself and offered Lampwick one. " Smoke?"
"Oh, no thank you" Lampwick said, even though his fingers and mouth twitched for the taste of tobacco.
"There have been so many boys who have gone missing and almost everyone has been found, except a few ... where are they?" The policeman inhaled the cigar and sent rings of smoke from his pursed lips.
"They are dead sir" Lampwick replied and looked down, feeling the loss of some of his friends. After that, he stated that so many boys died of starvation, pain, overwork, and grief.
"I see. Well, give me a minute to come up with your reward for capturing the kidnapper and finding the lost boys." The officer left for ten minutes and when he came back, he had a piece of parchment in his hand. He slipped it into Lampwick's hand. When Lampwick opened the paper he saw the reward amount and let out a gasp. "That much? But sir I couldn`t ... "
"You must. You have solved the mystery of the lost little boys and returned nearly all of them home. Any boy who has done that has earned the money. It is all yours ..."
"No it isn`t, not entirely mine sir. Half of this belongs to my best friend, Pinocchio, who has stuck with me through it all" Lampwick said, pushing the paper back across the desk. "And I`d like some of it to go to the orphans, the boys with no families. Though I can`t give them the love and joy of a real family and a real home, a donation should help. "
The officer nodded one last time. "Very well Romeo. If that is the way you want it, I shall reduce it to this to keep for yourself." Then the officer took out a quill and scribbled out the math and placed the note back into Lampwick`s hands. Lampwick looked at the sum and then he glanced up, smiling a broad grin. "It is just enough for my family to move to a new house and have good food for the rest of their lives ."
Later that night, Lampwick was lying down on his bed, trying to go to sleep. The night`s cool air came through his window and made his soft curtains blow around. He turned around to face the window and looked up to see the glowing wishing star once again .
Everything was perfect. It was hard to wrap his mind around the fact that he was a donkey just one year ago and his life had been miserable and lonely. He had suffered great trials and tribulations, but now his life was swell. It was all the work of the Blue Fairy. Nothing would of been possible without her ...
Looking up from his bedroom window he said "Thank you Blue Fairy, thanks for everything. "
The star twinkled back as if to say "You're welcome ..."
"When your heart is in your dream no request is too extreme ....
When you wish upon a star your dreams come true..."