Read When I Found You Online

Authors: Catherine Ryan Hyde

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #General Fiction

When I Found You

When I Found You
Catherine Ryan Hyde

When I Found You
is a wrenching, fast-paced story about the risks, sacrifices, and faith necessary to accomplish something larger than yourself— raise a child, save someone’s life, and follow your dreams, even in the face of crushing setbacks and staggering odds.

When Nathan McCann finds, and saves, a newborn baby abandoned in the woods, he asks the baby’s grandmother to someday bring the boy around to meet him. She agrees, but by the time she brings young Nat around, the boy is an angry 15-year-old with a police record and dreams of becoming a professional boxer. And she doesn’t just introduce Nat to his namesake, “the man who found him in the woods.” She washes her hands of Nat and leaves him with Nathan. Now Nathan must learn how to be both a father and a friend to a troubled kid who doesn’t want his help, doesn’t trust anyone, and doesn’t understand his own heart or the possibilities of his young life.

Surprisingly gritty but ultimately heart-warming,
When I Found You
will appeal to fans of Alice Sebold and Mitch Albom, and to anyone who has ever raised a child or followed a dream.

Contents

Part One: Nathan McCann

 

2 October 1960: The Day He Found You in the Woods
  |  
3 October 1960: The Day He Lost You
  |  
5 October 1960: The Day He Spoke His Piece For You
  |  
7 October 1960: The Day He Tried and Failed to Find Out Why
  |  
2 October 1967: The Day He Watched You to See How You Had Grown

Part Two: Nathan Bates

 

2 September 1965: Feathers
  |  
3 September 1965: Different
  |  
24 December 1967: Cold
  |  
25 December 1967: Openings
  |  
26 December 1967: Trades
  |  
4 January 1968: The Issue
  |  
20 March 1973: Where
  |  
21 March 1973: The World
  |  
22 March 1973: Over
  |  
23 March 1973: Nothing
  |  
30 September 1974: The Man
  |  
1 October 1974: Nope
  |  
2 October 1974: More Nothing
  |  
4 October 1974: Mules
  |  
17 January 1975: Oh

Part Three: Nathan McCann

 

23 September 1975: He Still Feels That Same Way Now
  |  
24 September 1975: He is Willing to Die to Make It Happen
  |  
25 September 1975: He Will Not Wash His Hands of You
  |  
1 October 1975: He Still Doesn’t Really Know You
  |  
2 October 1976: He Tries to Answer Why

Part Four: Nathan Bates

 

8 May 1978: Gross
  |  
10 August 1978: Weird
  |  
27 September 1978: Happy To
  |  
3 October 1978: Inherent
  |  
4 October 1978: Two Somethings
  |  
6 October 1978: Late
  |  
7 October 1978: Pro
  |  
14 October 1978: Payday

Part Five: Nathan McCann

 

24 November 1978: You Would Think So, Wouldn’t You?
  |  
25 November 1978: A World Without Boundaries
  |  
4 March 1979: Like, Pretty Much Any Minute Now
  |  
7 March 1979: Or Did You Used to Be Like Me?
  |  
6 August 1979: A Very Good Question, Actually
  |  
7 August 1979: The Debatable Value of Arguing with Life
  |  
9 August 1979: Also Literally Terrible

Part Six: Nathan Bates

 

9 August 1979: Fragile
  |  
11 August 1979: Business
  |  
6 March 1980: What Fight?
  |  
7 March 1980: Tremble
  |  
8 March 1980: Seconds
  |  
9 March 1980: Worse
  |  
11 March 1980: White
  |  
12 March 1980: No

Part Seven: Nathan McCann

 

1 August 1980: Various Forms of Resistance
  |  
4 March 1981: Almost Any Idea Will Do
  |  
6 March 1981: Other People Do This So Easily
  |  
21 January 1982: A Semi-Voluntary Occasion
  |  
11 October 1982: Mandatory Emotional Responses
  |  
12 October 1982: But How Can I When They’re So Beautiful?
  |  
1 June 1988: The Code You Don’t Ever Break

Part Eight: Nathan Bates

 

3 January 1990: Home
  |  
4 January 1990: Exceptions
  |  
15 January 1990: Cake
  |  
19 January 1990: Stories
  |  
28 January 1990: Reasons
  |  
3 February 1990: Still
  |  
20 February 1990: Support
  |  
4 March 1990: Nathan?
  |  
5 March 1990: Call
  |  
7 March 1990: Why
  |  
8 March 1990: Mad
  |  
31 December 1999: Epilogue

Preview: S
ECOND
H
AND
H
EART

 

About the Author

 

Praise for Catherine Ryan Hyde

 

Also by Catherine Ryan Hyde

 

Copyright

 

For Harvey

Part One
Nathan McCann
2 October 1960   
The Day He Found You in the Woods

Nathan McCann stood in his dark kitchen, a good two hours before dawn. He flipped on the overhead light, halfway hoping to see the coffeemaker all set up with water and grounds and waiting to be plugged in and set to percolating. Instead he saw the filter basket lying empty in the dish drain, looking abandoned and bare.

Why he always expected otherwise, he wasn’t sure. It had been years since Flora set up coffee for him on these early mornings. Decades since she rose early with him to serve fried eggs and orange juice and toast.

Quietly, so as not to wake her, he took a box of oat flake cereal down from the cupboard, then stood in the cold rush of air from the icebox and poured skim milk into a yellow plastic bowl.

You don’t have to be so quiet, he thought to himself. Flora was in her bedroom at the far end of the hall with the door closed. But he
was
quiet, always had been in such situations, and felt unlikely to change his pattern now.

As he sat down at the cool Formica table to eat his cereal, he heard Sadie, his curly-coated retriever, awake and ready to go, excited by the prospect of a light on in the house before sunrise. He sat listening to the periodic ringing of the chain-link of her kennel run as she jumped up and hit it with her front paws. Born and bred for just such a morning as this, Sadie recognized a good duck-hunt at its first visible or audible indication.

He often wished he could bring her into the house with him, Sadie who gave so readily of her time and attention. But Flora would have none of it.

•  •  •

 

Nathan stood in the cool autumn dark, a moment before sunrise, his shotgun angled up across his shoulder.

He insisted that Sadie obey him.

He called her name again, cross with her for forcing him to break the morning stillness, the very reason he had come. In the six years he’d owned the dog, she had never before refused to come when he called.

Remembering this, he shined his big lantern flashlight on her. In the brief instant before she squinted her eyes and turned her face from the light, he saw something, some look that would do for an explanation. In that instinctive way a man knows his dog and a dog knows her man, she had been able to say something to him. She was not defying his judgment, but asking him to consider, for a moment, her own.

“You must come,” she said by way of her expression. “You must.”

For the first time in the six years he’d owned her, Nathan obeyed his dog. He came when she called him.

She stood under a tree, digging. But she was not digging in that frantic way dogs do, both front feet flying in rhythm. Instead she gently pushed leaves aside with her muzzle, and occasionally with one front paw.

He couldn’t see around her, so he pulled her off by the collar.

“OK, girl. I’m here now. Let me see what you’ve got.”

He shined the light on the mound of fallen leaves. Jutting out from the pile was an unfathomably small — yet unmistakably human — foot.

“Dear God,” Nathan said, and set the flashlight down.

He scooped underneath the lump with both gloved hands at once, lifted the child up to him, blew leaves off its face. It was wrapped in a sweater — a regular adult-sized sweater — and wore a tiny, well-fitted, multi-colored knit cap. It could not have been more than a day or two old.

He felt he would know more if he could hold the flashlight and the child at the same time.

He pulled off one glove with his teeth and touched the skin of its face. It felt cool against the backs of his fingers.

“What kind of person would do such a thing?” he said quietly. He looked up to the sky as if God were immediately available to answer that question.

The sky had gone light now, but just a trace. Dawn had not crested the hill but lay beyond the horizon somewhere, informally stating that it planned to come to stay.

He set the child gently on the bed of leaves and looked more closely with the flashlight. The child moved its lips and jaw sluggishly, a dry-mouthed gesture, as if mashing something against its palate, or, in any case, wishing it could.

“Dear God,” Nathan said again.

He had not until that moment considered the possibility that the child might be alive.

He left his shotgun in the nest of leaves, because he needed both hands to steady the child’s body against his, hold the head firmly to his chest. He and his dog sprinted for the station wagon.

Behind them, dawn broke across the lake. Ducks flew unmolested. Forgotten.

•  •  •

 

At the hospital, two emergency-room workers sprang into rapid, jerky motion when they saw what Nathan held. They set the infant on a cart, a speck in the middle of an ocean, and unwrapped the sweater. A boy, Nathan saw. A boy still wearing his umbilical cord, a badge of innocence.

As they ran, rolling the cart alongside, a doctor caught up and pulled off the knit cap. It fell to the linoleum floor unnoticed. Nathan picked it up, stowed it in a zippered pocket of his hunting vest. It was so small, that cap; it wouldn’t cover Nathan’s palm.

He moved as close to the door of the examining room as he felt would be allowed.

He heard the doctor say, “Throw him out in the woods on an October night, then give him a nice warm sweater and a little hand-knit hat to hold in his body heat. Now that’s ambivalence.”

•  •  •

 

Nathan walked down the hall and bought a cup of hot coffee from a vending machine. It was indeed hot, but that’s all that could be said for it.

He stood for several minutes in front of the coffee machine, gazing into its shiny metal face as if looking at a television set, or out a window. Or into a mirror. Because, in fact, he could see a vague, slightly distorted reflection of himself there.

Nathan was not a man given to eyeing himself for extended moments in mirrors. Shaving was one thing, but to look into his own eyes would cause him to demur, much the way he would if looking into the eyes of another. But the image was just ill-defined enough to cause him no stress or embarrassment.

So he stood for a moment, sipping the dreadful coffee, allowing himself to take in the evidence of his own sentience. Feeling, in a way he could not have explained, that some history was being shaped, the importance of which could not be fully estimated.

Something had been set in motion, he allowed himself to think, that could never, and perhaps should never, be reversed.

When he had finished the coffee, he rinsed out the cup at the water fountain and refilled it with fresh water.

He walked back out to the station wagon to offer Sadie a drink.

•  •  •

 

Twenty or thirty minutes later the doctor came out of that room.

“Doctor,” Nathan called, and ran down the hall. The doctor looked blank, as if he could not recall where he’d seen Nathan before. “I’m the man who found that baby in the woods.”

“Ah, yes,” the doctor said. “So you are. Can you stay a few minutes? The police will want to speak with you. If you have to go, please leave your phone number at the desk. I’m sure you understand. They’ll want all the details they can get. To try to find who did this thing.”

“How is the boy?”

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