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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Wonder 17

Mae

Charlie came home from school wearing the craziest outfit. When he gets home, he has this thing he does: he stands at the entrance to our front yard, closes his eyes, and swings his arms.

I asked him once what he was doing.

“Getting home,” he said. I think he means that he’s letting go of all that happened at school so that he’s ready for the next thing.

So there he was, standing out front in his new pirate outfit that I have no idea where he got or what it means.

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“I had a good day at school, Mae,” he told me when we sat down for supper.

“What was so good about it, Charlie?” I asked him.

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“Three guesses,” he said. “What could be the best thing that could happen at school?”

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I thought about his crazy costume. “Are you in a play?”

“Bong! That’s wrong. Guess again.”

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“Um. Did your team win at kickball?”

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“No. That’s two wrong guesses. You only get one more.”

“Or what?”

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He thought for a moment.

“Or you won’t have guessed what might be the single most importantest thing ever to happen to me at school.”

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“One more guess, huh? Ok. Did you do well in school today?” I ventured.

“You’re getting warmer.”

“Did you get your term grades?”

“You’re getting hot.”

“Did you earn an A, Charlie?”

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“Bingo!” he said. “So that’s why I’m dressed up like a scurvy nave. All us A kids got to go through the big costume chest and choose. Maria chose a princess suit. Of course! And Samantha also chose a pirate outfit, like me. But mine’s the only one with the red vest. Hers is yellow.”

I chuckled. “That’s a crazy custom!” But I was happy. Some things at Charlie’s school they do right, and letting the kids choose their own costume after a success is right up there with the best traditions, I thought.

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“Can I go outside?” Charlie asked when we finished supper.

“Of course.”

He left on his pirate costume and ran outdoors. After I washed up the dishes, I saw him lying on the ground with his little pony beside him, pointing at the purple and orange clouds of sunset.

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He was still out there when the moon rose, playing his fiddle like a boy on a pirate ship.

Oh! These magic moments! Savor, savor. Turn around twice, and he’ll be grown up.

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