Whisper 1.34

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Marigold has taken up dance. I installed a barre in upstairs, and she practices most mornings. I think that it has something to do with the school dance, or maybe it’s a form of cross-training, since she tends to practice on the mornings she doesn’t lift weights or do aerobics.

But then I hear Shae ask her about it.

“Are you interested in ballet?” he asks. “We have a great program in it at the University.”

“I’m just practicing so I can keep up. You see Riley dances better than I do.”

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I am surprised. I haven’t heard her talk about Riley in a long time. I’ve been relieved, actually, especially since those all-night pillow fights have become a thing of the past. But now I learn that Marigold hasn’t outgrown her childhood friend.

Shea joins me downstairs. We sit and talk while listening to a Brahms quartet on the radio.

“Quite a family you have, Cathy,” he says. “You’ve got it all under control.”

“You really think so?”

Shea assures me that everything seems well in order: Bobobo is healthy and happy; Marigold is talented and unique, and he thinks I seem happy, too.

“Guess I’ll be heading home, then,” he says. I can’t persuade him to stay. We say goodbye, and as I watch him leave, I feel how fortunate to have a friendship like this that lasts a life time.

“Say hi to the squirrels!” I tell him.

“Will do.”

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Sunday morning, I hear the blare of a party horn from Marigold’s room.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

“It’s Riley’s birthday!” she says.

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She spends the morning dancing.

“Who are you dancing with?” I ask her. “Just shadow-dancing?”

“It’s Riley! Duh!” she says. I don’t see anyone.

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She giggles and talks. I hear one side of the conversation–hers.

“I do SO know how to dance! Just because I two-step it. Two-step is a dance!”

Pause.

“Oh, nice move! I wish you’d gone to the prom with me. Chet had a cute friend. You would’ve liked him.”

Pause.

“No, needlenork! Chet’s friend wasn’t named Patches! Geez!”

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I have to smile to myself. It’s sweet, really, that Marigold has kept her childhood affections.

That night, Marigold wants to go play in the snow under the full moon.

“I just love the way the snow sparkles in the moonlight!” she says.

I try to warn her about zombies.

“I don’t care!” she says. “I love it when they attack! They’re so cute! They’re like, ‘Oh, rawr!’ I just roar back. It’s hilarious!”

Sure enough, I look out later, and she’s doing a happy dance as one of her zombied friends approaches.

“Ah! You’re so cute!” she squeals.

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I head in to see how Bobobo is doing.

Martin is holding him. That’s when it strikes me–just how weird my life has become. My adopted son–green vegetable matter, no less–is being cuddled by the ghost of a vampire whom I barely even knew while my daughter is outside cheering the attacking zombies. Oh. And let’s not forget. The love of my life? Also a vampire ghost.

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I don’t really know how this has come to pass, but somehow, life is strange.

And what’s stranger still is that I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way.

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