Remember Me

by

Numb3rsfan

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: Tissue Warning, AU with possible OOC connections, H/C

Disclaimer: I don't own the Partridge Family or Unsolved Mysteries and am in no way affiliated with said tv shows. This story is only for the enjoyment of the reader.

Author's Notes: I was watching Unsolved Mysteries the other day. One story struck a chord with me; I could totally see it being revised in to a Partridge Family story, so here it is; a Partridge Family version of the UM story I saw.

Summary: 3 year old Keith Partridge and his father go missing. Days go by without any sightings. What happened? Did they just vanish or did something more sinister happen to them?

/.../.../.../.../.../

Sixteen year old Keith Partridge sat in front of his desk that was situated in his room. He had been there for several hours working on his daily homework but after finishing a rather difficult history lesson he stopped working. He wasn't looking forward to tackling his math homework; math being a subject that he would just skip...if he could; Algebra could only be so exciting.

In front of him on the smooth surface of the desk sat a small, pocket size black book. The book was creased and the clasp that held the book closed was in a severe state of disrepair; the internal mechanism being visible, however Keith did no more than just stare at the book. The book was a diary; his father's diary to be exact.

His father...the man who had married his mother and who had helped to create Keith and Laurie. Their father wasn't Danny, Chris and Tracy's father. Oh no. Their father had been different but sadly, just like Keith and Laurie...Danny, Chris and Tracy had lost their father too; only a year ago their father had had a sudden heart attack, passing away in his sleep. Keith and Laurie's father on the other hand...

Licking his lips, Keith reached out with slightly shaky hands. He ran his hands over the slightly smooth yet creased surface of the diary. He had found it in an old, dusty box that was stuffed in the attic. The box was filled with items belonging to his father; items that Shirley had packed up and stored just two weeks after the funeral.

In truth Keith had never known his father owned a diary, but after finding the book, Keith had known that he had to read it; if only to just remember his father.

That day had been his father's birthday; not that Keith really remembered his father. Shirley hardly celebrated the day any more, saying that it was just too painful for her, but Keith...he always celebrated his father's birth date in some form or fashion, whether it was a Hallmark card, spending some time alone in thought, or visiting the cemetery; it was something he always did even though he could hardly remember the man.

Taking the book in to his hands, Keith gently moved the clasp aside and opened the book. Despite the poor nature of the outside of the book, the inside pages were crisp and clean; his father's handwriting almost jumping right off of the page!

Glancing at the first page, Keith softly read "This is the diary of Kenneth Jackson Nesmith. If you should find this book please don't read it. Instead, please return it to me at 1312 Attica Boulevard, San Pueblo California."

Even though the ink was old, it was still striking in it's black boldness; the cursive writing structure was so reminiscent of Keith's own handwriting that it was scary.

Taking a deep breath, Keith turned the page and looked at the first entry.

"January 16. Today was an amazing day. I saw her again; Shirley Renfrew. She was so beautiful...so radiant; the sun bouncing off of her hair, making her look like the world's most beautiful angel. I was so nervous at first that I actually tripped and fell in to her flowerbed. I saw her smile and blush. Even though I crushed her newly planted tulips she was still so gracious. I have asked her parents permission to court..."

Keith paused. His father really was an old style traditionalist! Asking the parents permission to 'court!' really...who the hell said 'court' anymore? Besides being an old style traditionalist he really was a sap; a hopeless romantic. In that Keith and his father had nothing in common; Keith had trouble keeping the girls at bay; especially at their concerts and sometimes in the school hall.

Shaking his head, Keith decided to forgo reading any more sappy love scenes featuring his father and his mother. They got married and had children. So what else was new? Gently he thumbed through the rest of the pages until he got to the last entry. It was dated April 12...April 12? That was his birthday!

"April 12. Today is Keith's third birthday. Keith...my son turning three. He is growing up so fast. It seems only yesterday that my darling Shirley and I brought him home from the hospital, wrapped up in that dark blue blanket. He had a white cap, white one piece onesie and white shoes on. He had a head full of hair; gorgeous thick hair and hazel eyes...just like mine and my mother's. Shirley is out of town today. She really wanted to be back in time to celebrate Keith's birthday but since her mother caught the flu three days ago, she and her father have been tending to her. So it's just me and Keith. To be quite frank I really don't approve of Shirley going to spend too much time with her parents. Don't get me wrong, I love them to death but Shirley's condition is delicate. She's pregnant again; God you should have seen my face when she told me. I think I actually hit the floor! We have decided that we don't want to know the gender until it's born but just between you and me, I hope it's a girl. A boy and a girl...the American dream. Anyway, in a few hours I am going to take Keith up to Carson Point, which is near Carson City Nevada. My dad used to take me there a lot and I think it's only fitting that I take Keith there; sort of pass on the tradition if you will. Uh oh...Keith is calling for me. Until next week..."

That's when the diary stopped. Underneath the entry, Kenneth had signed his name, as he had done with every single entry before that. That was it; his father had taken him to Carson Point...what happened during that trip? What had happened to his father?

Growing up, Keith had tried so hard to remember exactly what had happened, but he had been so young at the time he couldn't remember anything. The doctors had suggested that maybe he was blocking the memory; it being his mind's way of protecting him. Still...Keith had been the only one there with his father. He knew what had happened...he just had to remember.

A soft beep to his left made Keith look at the small alarm clock that sat just on the side of the desk. It read 1:15 AM. My, how time does fly when you are having fun. It was Saturday morning...early early Saturday morning. Keith had promised to take Chris and Tracy to the dentist to get some cavities filled, and then afterwords he had promised; as a sort of treat to them, to take them all out to a new store; Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy right? … to get them some soft yogurt ice cream. Keith wasn't that big of a fan of ice cream; he'd eat it if he had to but it was almost too sweet for him; every flavor had that sugary sweet flavor which bothered him...every flavor that is, except for Twist; the delicious combination of vanilla and chocolate soft serve ice cream.

Hearing and feeling his stomach start to grumble at the thought of the soft serve ice cream, Keith smiled and placed a hand on his gut to quiet the rumbling. 1 in the morning was the wrong time to go raid the refrigerator, now was the time for sleep.

Stifling a yawn, Keith turned out the small desk lamp and rose from his semi comfortable desk chair, smoothing down his red sweater as he did so. Within minutes he had changed in to his pajamas; a soft, dark blue material that looked like satin made up his shirt, and the pants were a dark black color made up of soft cotton. Okay, the colors clashed but Keith didn't care. Sometimes he liked to wear things that clashed and at night when no one could see him was about the only time he could wear clashy clothes.

Dragging back the covers on his bed, Keith turned and flipped off the bedroom light, plunging his room in to darkness. By memory, Keith walked the six steps to his bed and sat down on the mattress. His feet were still touching the floor; the cold bedroom floor.

"Happy Birthday dad." Keith whispered in to the darkness of his room. He closed his eyes for a moment, envisioning giving his father a hug. Even as he did this he could feel a warm breeze ruffle his thick, long, brown hair. It was almost as if his father were hugging him back.

Opening his eyes, Keith smiled and laid back in his bed, draping the covers over him. He glanced out his bedroom window, looking towards the full moon. It was so beautiful...just so beautiful...as moons go.

After a moment Keith closed his eyes once more and fell in to a deep sleep in which he dreamed...and remembered.

/.../.../.../.../.../.../.../.../.../.../

3 year old Keith Nesmith was having a blast. It was his birthday, or as he called it, his 'birfday.' His mother was out of town and that knowledge had stung young Keith but his father was there...his father; who had done his best to make his son's birthday special. Early that Saturday morning Kenneth had gotten his son up and in to the car for the drive down to Carson's Point. It took them most of the day; arriving at the Point at 7:30 PM; they had left the house at 8: AM. Until sunset, Keith and his father had hiked up the small basin that was at the base of the Point, and after sunset they set up camp and roasted marshmallows by a warm fire.

Even so; shortly after midnight Keith had woken up screaming as he always did; almost every single night. Shirley had said it was nightmares; kids were normally scared of monsters under the bed or in the closet, and she had feared that Keith was no exception to that, but as the nights wore on and on, Keith's nightmares had become more and more frequent. He kept claiming that a dark man was standing right in front of his bed, just watching him. Sometimes it would whisper hateful things to him as well.

Of course neither Shirley nor Kenneth believed Keith, thinking that it was just all in his head, but young Keith had been adamant; that being another reason why Kenneth had wanted to take his son on a camping trip; spend some time away from the house. But when Keith woke up screaming, Kenneth didn't know what to do.

Hearing his son screaming, Kenneth had opened his eyes. There, in the dim light of the moon he saw something he'd never forget. It was a black mist, but it was in the shape of a man or a person. Kenneth could make out the outline of a head, arms and legs, but there was no face. To Kenneth it was as if evil simply radiated off of the whatever the hell it was.

Beside Kenneth, Keith was beside himself with fear. Tears were rolling down his young face and he was just visibly shaken.

Kenneth himself was scared but whatever this thing was...it was totally new to him. How could he fight it?

"Who are you...what do you want?" Kenneth asked the misty man figure. The figure didn't reply, but he did raise his arm towards Keith. After a minute, Keith yelped and started to cry harder as three distinct scratches suddenly appeared on his left cheek.

Seeing this, Kenneth became angry. No one, but no one hurt his son! Whatever this thing was, it was going to regret that. Leaping up from where he had been laying, Kenneth jumped at the thing, intending to tackle it to the ground, but Kenneth passed right through it as if it wasn't even there. Even as he passed through it, Kenneth felt his whole entire body become chilled, as if someone had stuffed him in a meat locker.

Hitting the ground, Kenneth turned around, expecting to see the mist man but there was nothing there. No one was there except for Kenneth and Keith.

Deciding not to take any chances, Kenneth just grabbed his son and high tailed it to the car. Carson Point was no longer safe; whatever that thing was that had hurt Keith...they had to get Keith away from it.

Upon reaching the car, Kenneth simply opened the driver's side door and got in. He gently placed his son in the passenger seat beside him. He didn't want to take the time to put Keith in his car seat; if that figure reappeared he wanted to be long gone. Firing up the engine, Kenneth shut the driver's side door and put the car in to gear; punching the gas pedal with his foot almost as an afterthought. Wheels spinning, kicking up dirt, the car rocketed out on to the road, their destination? Home.

/.../.../.../.../.../.../.../.../.../

Three hours in to the drive and Keith had finally settled down. He was still in the passenger seat, young hands in his lap as he stared out the blackened window in to the darkness. Thankfully the scratches on Keith's face; though deep, didn't look to be that bad. Once he got home, Kenneth would clean the cuts and put the boy to bed.

Putting a hand to his mouth, Kenneth stifled a yawn. It was late and the long, winding road was making him tired. He should have stopped off to get some caffeine, but he was still worried about that mist figure. What was it? Was that what Keith was so afraid of; the reason for his nightmares? Kenneth and his wife Shirley were very religious and as such neither of them believed in ghosts; though they did believe in demons and angels. Was that what Keith was seeing? A demon?

No no...that was impossible. What demon would want to harm such a young boy?

Kenneth thought on that for forty five minutes. The road was empty, dark and desolate; nothing around except trees and grass. Up ahead was a sharp curve. The road along the curve dropped down in to a gully, meaning that if one missed the curve and went off the road, then no one would be able to see them if they dropped below the gully. Kenneth blinked once...twice...God he was so tired. He tried to focus on the road; focus on the problem of what to do with his son but before he knew it Kenneth had shut his eyes...only for a moment, but a moment was all it took. The car left the safety of the road and hit the gully, rolling down it at a fairly high rate of speed. The car hit tree limbs and grass before smashing in to a large tree at the bottom of the gully; the roof of the car having been sheered off.

Once the car hit and the sound faded, nothing but the sound of the radiator hissing could be heard. Both Keith and Kenneth were dead silent. One of them had died on impact and one of them was still alive, but the question was...which one of them was still alive?

/.../.../.../.../.../.../.../.../

7AM Sunday morning rolled around. Everything in San Pueblo was quiet; normal. At the Nesmith house, Shirley was tired. She had just pulled in the driveway, stifling a yawn as she parked the car and got out. Her mother had been sick; the flu no less, and so Shirley had gone to take care of her. Oh how she had wanted to be back in time for her son's birthday but she couldn't just leave her mother. Oh well...her father had told her to go back home, be with her family, so here she was.

As she headed towards the house she noticed that Kenneth's car wasn't parked in the driveway. Oh well...not too surprising. He had said he would take Keith up to Carson Point and if he had in fact done so then of course they wouldn't be home...right? But...what of Keith's nightmares? If he had a real bad one then he could have convinced his father to take him home; Kenneth was a softy when it came to Keith and his nightmares.

Shaking her head, Shirley entered in to the house and shut the door. She was tired from her long drive back home so she went in to the living room and laid down on the couch, falling asleep moments later.

There she stayed in a deep sleep until sundown. When she had awoken and found that neither Keith nor his father were home she began to get worried.

Kenneth had assured her that they would be home before nightfall on the second day...which it was! … and they still weren't home! Taking a deep breath, Shirley tried to calm her nerves. Okay they were late. Maybe they stopped off for a bite to eat...or maybe they had car trouble. Yeah...that was probably all it was, but as the night wore on and still no Kenneth, Keith and no phone call, her worry increased ten times over.

Slowly one day rolled in to the next. When morning came Shirley was panicking, but after a quick phone call to the police, she was told that nothing could be done for yet another twenty four hours. Shirley was angry and scared; why forty eight hours? Why did Kenneth and Keith have to be gone forty eight hours before a missing persons report could be filed?

Shirley knew she couldn't wait that long. Something had happened to her babies; she knew it...she could even feel it in her bones, but in her situation she knew that she couldn't just go up and look for them. Her doctor had told her that she could have her baby any day now, and it would only complicate matters if she went in to labor when she was driving. No...best to stay home; stay by the phone in case Kenneth were to call.

It pained her so much to stay at home when all she wanted was to be out there looking for her son. He and his father were her life and now they were gone; disappeared without a trace. What if Keith had gotten kidnapped and his father killed? Keith could be anywhere by now and the police wouldn't even take a missing persons report until the next day! Shirley had gone up to her bedroom after talking with the police. Once up there she collapsed on to the bed, automatically going in to a fetal position despite her pregnancy. Tears were rolling down her cheeks; tears for her son and husband. What if the unthinkable had happened? What if she would now raise her child alone, without a father and without a brother? The baby wouldn't know the difference but Shirley would. If that were to happen Shirley knew she would just lose it because she wasn't prepared to raise a baby all by herself.

Slowly the days ticked by and by. On the second day the police had finally taken a missing persons report from Shirley, and had assured her that they would do everything they could, but Shirley didn't trust the police or their promises; not after the way they had treated her. Slowly two days turned in to three, and three days in to four without any word from Kenneth or the police. What was taking them so long? Why couldn't they find them?

Shirley spent most of her days in her room crying, or cleaning house; trying to do something...anything to take her mind off of the fact that her son and husband were gone. The police had discouraged her from leaving her house because of her pregnancy and because of the fact that if her son was kidnapped, the kidnappers might call, asking for a ransom. For Shirley, the knowledge that some evil man might have her Keith was very hard to stomach; it made her sick to think of it, but it was the cold, hard reality of the situation and there was nothing she could do to change it.

/.../.../.../.../.../.../.../.../.../

It was late at night. On a lonely stretch of road; otherwise known as Highway 9, Jackson Varner and his wife Lisa were driving down the road, talking and singing to keep themselves awake. They were headed back home to Texas from San Pueblo California. It had been a great vacation but now it was time to head home.

They had heard and seen the news reports in San Pueblo about a missing three year old named Keith Nesmith and his father Kenneth. Apparently Keith and his father had set out for Carson Point and that was the last anyone had seen of them. Park rangers had verified that Keith and his father arrived and then left Carson Point but after that there was no new reports about them. Jackson and Lisa both felt sorry for the mother; both of them knowing the pain of losing a child.

Lisa had been expecting twins two years before, but at only three months she had a miscarriage. That had torn her up, causing her to slip it to a depression which she had just recently crawled out of; in fact the vacation had been a sort of 'get away' for the both of them.

Up ahead there was a sharp curve to the right. Lisa always hated curves like that because if one wasn't careful they'd be in a world of hurt before they could blink an eye. Thankfully though her husband saw the curve and slowed the car down, taking the curve with ease. As they turned in to the curve, Lisa looked towards the side of the road, seeing the trees and dead grass and...wait...what the hell was that?

Slowly, almost as if in slow motion, Lisa's eyes locked on to something that was laying on the side of the road. As her eyes roved over it, she discovered that it was a man, stark naked, arms by his side, curled up in the fetal position.

"Oh...my God..." Lisa whispered, watching until the car had passed the body by. Her husband, who had been focusing on making the curve, looked at his wife and asked, "What is it honey?"

In answer, Lisa looked at her husband, a little bit of panic in her eyes. "I saw...a body! Don't stop, don't stop! Just...drive to the nearest phone booth. I need to call the highway patrol!"

Lisa was afraid that it was some sort of sick prank or an attempt at stealing their car, but then again...what if it wasn't? What if it was someone who actually needed help? Either way, the police would be able to provide more help than she ever could.

Even though Jackson hadn't seen what his wife had seen, he did oblige her by smashing his foot down on the accelerator. He knew where there was a phone booth just twenty miles away. At the speed he was now going they'd be there in ten minutes.

/.../.../.../.../.../.../.../

Within fifteen minutes Jackson and his wife arrived at the phone booth. Lisa jumped out and phoned the police, telling them exactly what she had seen and where. It was really the only thing she could do. She hadn't felt safe stopping to check to see if that person was dead or alive because it was late at night and she was scared.

The police assured her that they'd check it out as soon as they could and within fifteen minutes, two police cruisers had arrived at the spot that Lisa had indicated, but because it was so dark and there were no landmarks to speak up, the police couldn't see anything.

There was no body; dead or otherwise. Nothing to be seen except trees and grass, and the occasional beer can or candy wrapper. The police searched the area for a good forty minutes before heading back to their posts. It was impossible to search in the dark, and since they really hadn't found anything to support the lady's claim, there was nothing more that they could do.

/.../.../.../.../.../.../.../

Slowly the sun rose up, blanketing the area in a warm glow. One of the troopers that had gone to check on the 'dead body' report was still up, winding down the hours until he could go home to be with his own wife. As he sat in his patrol car he began to think of the report and the location. It was strikingly familiar to the supposed possible location of a missing person report that had been filed a few days ago. Kenneth Nesmith and his three year old son Keith...yes that was the report. The lady hadn't said whether the body had been male or female so it was possible that perhaps if she had seen a body, that it could have been Kenneth's.

Now that the sun was up it would make searching the area easier, so Trooper Serviss radioed in that he was headed back to the location and then he put his car in to gear. After ten minutes he approached the location, slowing his cruiser down to a mere ten miles an hour...just in case. Approaching the sharp curve ahead, Trooper Serviss squinted, seeing something literally on the road. It was small, black and red but what it was he couldn't tell.

Pulling his car over, Trooper Serviss parked it and got out to inspect the whatever it was. As he got closer he saw that it was a small, child size shoe! There was dirt and other debris on it but it was a child's shoe none the less! Keeping calm the trooper walked to the side of the road and gazed down the incline towards where the gully was located. There at the bottom he saw something that he didn't except to see. It was a crash site; several days old from the look of it.

As quickly as he could Trooper Serviss descended the incline, arriving at the crash site within seven minutes. Approaching the car, Trooper Serviss saw that it was completely totaled; the roof of the vehicle having been literally sheered off by a tree limb.

Stepping around the sharp debris, Trooper Serviss peeked in the car. He saw two occupants; both male. One appeared to be in his early to mid thirties, the other was a child, no more than three years old. Kenneth and Keith Nesmith...it had to be!

Reaching in, Trooper Serviss felt Kenneth's neck. It was cold; no pulse was detected. Kenneth was dead and from the look of him he had been dead for some time; perhaps he had died on empact.

Shaking his head, Trooper Serviss rounded the car and managed to wrangle open the passenger door, even though it was bent. Reaching in, he placed his hand on Keith's neck, expecting to find that the boy too had died, but even as he reached in to touch the boy, Keith gave a small breath of air. In awe, Trooper Serviss watched the boy's hazel eyes slowly open and look on his dead father's body.

"Keith...Keith!" Trooper Serviss called out, to see if Keith was even coherent. Slowly, Keith turned his head and fixed the trooper with a dazed look. It was obvious that the boy wasn't totally there but after spending roughly five days alone in the heat of the day and the cold of the night, it was no surprise that the boy wasn't coherent.

"Just hang in there buddy alright. We'll getch'a out of here." Trooper Serviss called. He got on his radio and requested an immediate ambulance with a paramedic unit; they had a survivor.

/.../.../.../.../.../.../.../.../

"RISE...and shine, brother dearest!"

Slowly Keith peeled his eyes open; gaze immediately going to the bedroom window to see the sun pouring in through the window. He moaned. His body begging him to go back to sleep. His mouth felt numb, having actually slept with his mouth open. As such he could feel a bit of wetness on the side of his face and on the side of his bed; obviously he had drooled a bit in his sleep. Lovely.

Raising his head, Keith wiped the wetness from his cheek and placed his pillow over the wet spot on the bed.

"Laurie," he began in a slightly whiny voice, "what do you want?" He raised himself up on his elbows and watched Laurie take a tray of food from off of the nearby dresser and place it on his bed. Oh no...not this again! The last time she had done this Danny had written those ridiculous stories; one having been focused solely on him. He remembered how his teacher had read love poetry to him, and how the guys were actually all staring at him in the locker room. God...that had been one of the worst days of his life!

"Danny didn't do it again did he?" Keith asked, his voice taking on a slightly evil tone. If Danny had posted another untrue story about him, he was going to hang the little bugger out to dry and then he was going to hang him!

Laurie looked at Keith, a slightly confused look on her face. It became clear to Keith that she didn't remember the magazine, so reaching under his bed, Keith withdrew the offensive magazine that he had decided to keep. Seeing the magazine, Laurie understood the question.

"Oh, no no nothing like that. Chris and Tracy are just a little anxious to go." Laurie explained. Now it was Keith's turn to look confused. Chris and Tracy excited about going to the dentist? Where had his brother and sister gone?

"Well not that part. They were talking about trying to convince you to skip the dentist and go straight for the ice cream." Laurie said.

"Fat chance of that ever happening." Keith shot back. He eyed the breakfast on the tray. A glass of orange juice, scrambled eggs and ham with two slices of slightly greasy bacon, plus a slice of toast covered in peach jam. Normally he hated jam on his toast but ever since his Grandmother had actually started making her own jam...it really was to die for!

"Still...what's breakfast in bed for? I am capable of walking to the kitchen." Keith said. It was then that he saw Laurie snicker. Something was obviously going on downstairs.

"Uh trust me, you want to eat breakfast in bed. Really...take as long as you want...don't come downstairs for several hours." Laurie said.

Keith's curiosity was seriously spiked so he got out of bed, making sure not to destroy or tip the tray off of the bed. Getting in to his dark blue slippers, he had just opened his bedroom door when he heard Laurie snicker again. Turning to look at her he asked, "What now?"

Laurie just shook her head, trying so hard not to start laughing. "Oh nothing nothing...just...unusual sleeping wear!" she replied.

Keith glanced down at his pajamas; noticing the clashing colors. He rolled his eyes, shooting back, "Everyone's a critic."

Marching out of his room, Keith went down the stairs, leading in to the living room. When he got to the foot of the stairs he stopped. The living room looked okay; nothing missing or damaged but when he looked in to the kitchen...oh brother!

Walking to the open window that looked in to the kitchen, he saw that the kitchen looked like a battle zone! There was mounds of flour everywhere, not to mention flour dust floating in the air! Egg shells littered the floor and bread slices littered portions of the wall and the table! What looked like chocolate syrup coated the walls which was causing the bread slices to stick. A bowl of ham slices was on the floor by the fridge and the jar of peach preserves was open, on the counter; a knife sticking out of it. Grease juice was running down the stove which was still lit. Glancing down at the floor, Keith eyed two tracks; one of orange juice and one of milk, leading towards the outside door.

Mom was sure going to flip when she saw this mess! No one made a mess this big and didn't clean it up! No one that is...except Chris and Tracy, the youngest members of the family.

Pushing open the door to the kitchen, Keith called out "Chris...Tracy!" as he entered, but just as his slipper covered feet hit the tile floor, they slid out from under him.

Keith reached out desperately, trying to grab something, anything that would keep him upright! His hands grabbed at the table that was just out of reach. He was scrambling so much that he actually scooted up just enough so that as he fell, his head literally clipped the very edge of the table. Hitting the floor, Keith was dazed; the pain in his head suddenly making itself known.

He was so dazed that he didn't notice the door to the kitchen open to admit Shirley. Shirley at first was dumbstruck at the mess. Oh those kids of hers! They were going to clean up everything! Even as her eyes raked along the wall and to the floor they settled on the downed figure of her son, who was dressed in some really clashy colored pajamas. Noticing blood on the floor by his head, Shirley instantly become concerned.

"Keith!" She called, easily entering the kitchen and gently dropping to the floor by Keith's side. She reached out and touched his head, noticing with gladness that the blood wasn't coming from his head but from his mouth!

After a moment Keith moaned and put a hand to his own head to try to quiet the pounding. "Mom...I..." Keith began to say, but he stopped speaking. Something wasn't right! He opened his mouth and stuck his index finger in, raking it across one of his molars. Slowly his face paled...oh no...oh no!

Removing his finger from his mouth, Keith looked at his mother. "I chipped a tooth!"

So that's where the blood had come from!

Glancing down at the floor, Shirley saw that more than that had happened. Picking something up off the floor, she gazed at it. "I'd say you did more than that." she said moments later.

Keith looked at what was in her hand before paling even more. He felt along the other side of his face before he found something; a hole! A literally empty hole where one of his teeth had been only five minutes before!

"My tooth!" Keith proclaimed angrily!

At that moment the back door opened to admit Chris and Tracy who had gone outside to play. When they saw their mother and eldest brother on the floor; not to mention the look on their mother's face, they both knew that they were in trouble.

"Uh oh..." Chris mumbled, closing the back door behind him.

"Uh oh is right! Look at this mess! When I went to bed last night the kitchen didn't look like someone set off a bomb in here. Now, the two of you are going to clean up everything and then you are going to your dentist appointment. I am going to call the dentist; see if I can get Keith an appointment that coincides with yours." Shirley said as she helped Keith to stand and led him in to the living room.

Keith didn't want to go to the dentist but he knew he had to. Chipped teeth weren't easy to fix. Not only that he knew that he would have to get a gold or silver tooth placed in that gap. He couldn't just leave it because of the risk of infection and another tooth wouldn't grow because he had already gone through the baby teeth to permanent teeth phase.

Keith sat on the couch more or less being miserable while his mother called and set up a dentist appointment for him as well.

/.../.../.../.../.../.../.../.../

Four hours later found Keith, Laurie, Danny, Chris, Tracy and Shirley at Braums Ice Cream and Dairy. Both Chris and Tracy were smiling as they chowed down on their ice cream. The cavities hadn't been deep so the dentist hadn't even needed to use any Lidocaine to numb their teeth. Keith...on the other hand...

Keith felt as if his whole face was numb. The dentist not only had to pump him full of Lidocaine because of how nervous Keith had been, but they had also had to give him Nitrous Oxide. Keith had relaxed and his muscles were still relaxed. While Danny, Laurie, Chris and Tracy were happily munching on their ice cream, Keith was delicately trying to eat his. His lips and mouth were so numb that he didn't have the muscle control to eat the ice cream with anything but a spoon, and even that was weird.

"So what'd the dentist say?" Danny asked Keith, watching his brother try to eat his ice cream. Danny just wanted to hear Keith try to speak again. It had been so hilarious hearing him the first time. Keith's tongue was so numb that he couldn't speak clearly and from the way Keith was eating, Danny knew his older brother still had to be numb!

Keith glared at his brother but remained silent. He then looked to his mother, who understood the look. Keith didn't want to have to speak again until the drugs wore off; which was understandable. Being numb like that had not being able to do anything about it wasn't fun.

"Keith is going to have to go back in four days to get a tooth to replace the one he lost." Shirley said. Hearing that, Chris and Tracy were confused. "I thought teeth grew back, like my front tooth." He said.

"They do...one time. The first teeth you get are called baby teeth. When you reach a certain age your teeth are supposed to come out to make room for your new, permanent teeth. Your permanent teeth you have for life; they aren't supposed to come out. If, by some accident your permanent teeth do come out, then you have to get a replacement tooth." Shirley explained to her youngest; doubting that they actually understood that concept. She saw them shrug and continue eating their ice cream.

Glancing at Keith, Shirley saw him put his plastic spoon in his cup of melting Twist ice cream and shove the paper cup forward. He had obviously given up on eating.

"Oh Keith, it's not going to be that bad. The medication will wear off soon." Shirley said, guessing that that was why Keith was so upset.

In reply, Keith just stood up and pointed out the window towards the bus. Because his tongue was numb, when he tried to say 'Bus' he ended up saying "Vus." Hearing that, Danny started laughing. He couldn't help himself; Keith was just so funny!

Shirley glared at Danny, who immediately stopped laughing. Looking back at Keith, she watching him head outside and board the bus.

She felt sorry for him. What had been a favor he had been doing for her and turned in to his own personal nightmare; at it wasn't even 1pm! That evening they had a concert to play...oh joy. Oh well, the medication would have worn off by then; that was one good thing.

As the rest of them finished up their ice cream, Shirley once again glanced out the window. Yesterday had been Kenneth's birthday. Kenneth...her first husband and Keith and Laurie's father. She missed him greatly; missed his warm, caring nature. She could just imagine his take on the situation with the dentist. He would have laughed but he would have been caring and supportive of Keith, Chris and Tracy.

As everyone stood up and began to head for the bus, Shirley grabbed her purse and shouldered it. Walking outside with the rest of her family, Shirley stopped when she entered the bright sunlight. Closing her eyes, she took a single moment and whispered, "Happy birthday sweetheart." Opening her eyes, Shirley felt a warm breeze hit her face; almost as if Kenneth were hugging or kissing her.

Smiling, Shirley boarded the bus, and closed the door behind her. Glancing in the rear-view mirror she saw Keith sitting in the back, arms folded. Laurie was sitting one seat up from Keith. Danny was in the chair across the isle, pestering Chris and Tracy who were trying to play with some toys that Chris had brought.

Oh what a family moment. As she watched, Shirley felt her heart take a picture; it was something she wasn't likely to forget.

Firing up the engine on the bus, Shirley got it in to gear and began the journey home. As she drove, she thought back to that night that the police had discovered the crash site; the crash that had taken Kenneth from her. She remembered the doctor telling her that when Keith had been found he had been so weak that he had only had an hour left to live, so now as she glanced back at her eldest son, she knew it was a miracle that he was walking, talking, breathing...living! She firmly believed that Kenneth had been so connected with Keith that he had saved his son's life from beyond the grave. There was no other way to explain it. When he had been found Kenneth had been wedged in to his seat; no way could he have gotten out and gotten to the road. So if it hadn't been Kenneth on the road, then who did that one couple see? Shirley didn't know but she was glad that they had phoned the police because if they hadn't, then her Keith wouldn't be there now.

Arriving at home, she parked the bus, killed the engine and opened the door. Danny was the first one off, followed by Chris, Tracy and then Laurie. As Keith moved to get off, Shirley stopped him. She wrapped her eyes around him and hugged him tightly, whispering in to his ear, "I love you so much Keith."

Keith for his part returned the hug, wondering where this loving attention was coming from. He never knew just how frantic is mother had been during those days he had been missing. Shirley had never told him that, but now as he hugged his mother he guessed that she had probably relived that night. There was no other explanation given that the previous day had been his father's birthday.

"Ove you too..." Keith said; his tongue still numb. Releasing his mother, Keith finally exited the bus and headed inside the house. Shirley remained in the bus a moment later before following Keith inside. After entering the house she stopped and closed the front door behind her; a smile still plastered on her face. She loved her family; loved them dearly and deep in her heart she knew that Kenneth and Shawn; her two husbands loved their children as well...and were protecting them; even now...and truthfully...she wouldn't have it any other way.

~THE END~