Chapter 11

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Two more calls came from Jeff. I did the exact same thing. As soon as I heard the operator trying to connect a call from England, I hung up. One more letter came. I ripped it up and threw it away as I had the others. After that two weeks passed with no word. Then three. It was the end of May, by then and the orchards were abundant with white and pink petals. They had blossomed two weeks before and it was just as Mary and I said; the petals fell in little, soft snow flurries whenever we walked under the orchard. I had hoped for the same at my new house, once my garden matured. I had spent the morning with Mary and Frank. I was planning on seeing Tom in the afternoon. My feelings for Tom were growing and I loved going into town and walking the perimeter of Mirror lake with him, holding hands and talking. I thought maybe I was falling in love with him.

Mary and Frank were having so much fun with Charlie now. He'd try to escape from Frank, holding on to the sofa and cruising around, laughing hysterically as Frank pretended to try to catch him. In Frank's eyes there was nothing Charlie couldn't do. That morning we had been at the table with Charlie in his high chair. He was eating little pieces of fresh bread with grape jelly spread on top. His little cheeks were sticky purple as he devoured the food. Frank was beside him drinking coffee, having toast and reading the newspaper. Suddenly, Charlie began babbling. At first it was to himself, but then he stared at Frank and raised his voice babbling different consonants and sounds.

Mary turned from the sink where she was washing dishes. She laughed. "Frank, I think you're boy is talking with you."

Frank folded the paper and put it on the table.

"Yes, little boy what is it that you need?"

Charlie stopped babbling, looked at Frank with a serious expression. Then he changed the tone of his babble to match Frank's intonation. Frank pretended they were in a conversation and listened intently, Charlie gestured and then stopped babbling. Mary and I stood watching and laughing, but Charlie was not distracted. He waited for Frank's turn.

"Well, it's going to be nice today little boy, should we go out to the farm and pet the goats?"

Charlie smiled and his eyes twinkled. Then he babbled a short stream of consonants. They went on like this for about five minutes until Charlie looked at me and did a sideways wave "bye-bye." I walked over and kissed his sticky cheeks. Mary had a wet washcloth and as she tried wiping him clean, he squirmed and fussed and started crying. Once she finished he was back to his twinkle-eyed self. He raised his arms to Frank to pick him up, as if to say "I'm ready grandpa, let's go out to the farm." We were all so delighted with him.

Frank teased, "well your boy and I have some work to do. Just us men." Charlie kept waving by to me.

I went over to him and kissed him "bye—bye sweetheart."

He watched me over Frank's shoulder as they walked out the yard. He waved his little bye bye the whole way while Mary and I waved exaggerated waves back and said "bye-bye" over and over.

"That boy has us around his finger," I said to her.

She smiled, "what time are you seeing Tom?"

"Later this afternoon. I'm going to work on the garden before we go out."

"It's coming along so beautifully. I'm surprised at how much is coming up already. You're such a talented gardener."

"Well, thank you. What time should we pick up Charlie?"

"He's welcome to stay here. You know he does very well overnight."

"I don't want you to think—"

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