Chapter 24

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Gemma stared at her little brother’s pouted face, trying to think of how to explain the situation in a way that wouldn’t make him upset. Before she could open her mouth to speak, Harry grabbed a section of her hair and tugged on it hard. “Ow! What the hell?” Gemma yelled and smacked his hand away, which elicited a loud giggle. Gemma scowled and snatched Harry’s teething ring right out of his mouth, chucking it out her bedroom door.

                “NO!” Harry wailed and pinched Gemma’s arm before running to get his Chew-Chew. Gemma yelped at the pain in her arm stormed over to Harry angrily. “What’s your problem, huh!? You don’t just go around yanking people’s hair for no damn reason!” She ranted and didn’t stop to until she noticed how Harry began to pull on his curly hair while bouncing on his toes. Gemma frowned worriedly and cupped Harrys face. “Hey, what’s the matter?” She asked softly.

                Over the past few years, Gemma had accustomed herself to learning what she now calls ‘baby talk.’ When Harry was in the beginning stages of relearning how to speak, he often used body language to convey his wants, needs, and feelings. Gemma knew that tapping the tips of his fingers to his mouth meant he wanted food, flapping his hands meant he needed to wash his hands, pulling on the hem of his shirt meant he was ready to change into his pajamas for bedtime, and pulling his hair meant he was sad. Gemma hadn’t seen Harry use baby talk in the past six months, so she instantly knew something was wrong.

                Harry sniffled and brought Gemma’s pointer finger up to her lips, making her do the quiet sign. She sighed and nodded, now understanding that he didn’t want her to be angry with him. “I’m sorry for yelling, but you may not pull my hair or pinch me anymore, got it?” She asked sternly, to which Harry nodded and sucked on his Chew-Chew. Gemma sighed in relief and started jogging downstairs with Harry close behind her.

                Anne was sitting in her in-home office; glasses perched low on her nose, working up design sketches for her next fundraising event when she looked up to see Harry poking his nose in the door. “What is it, babe? Are you hungry?” She hummed giving her watch a glance, seeing it was almost time to start dinner. Harry didn’t answer, staying in the same position at the door. Anne pushed her glasses further up on her nose and looked back down at her work. “What do you need, H?” She asked, wondering why he was being so quiet.

                “Ah-Mah,” Harry gurgled around his Chew-Chew and stepped further into the room. Anne sighed, and looked at her son, slightly frustrated. “If you need to say something, take Chew-Chew out of your mouth, and say it. We’re not doing baby talk anymore, okay? Use your words.” She said and started typing in notes on her computer. Harry giggled and got down on his hands and knees, crawling over to Anne like an infant. Anne looked down at her son and shook her head, showing him she wasn’t amused with his antics.

                Harry whined and tugged on his shirt, reaching up for Anne to hold him. “No, it’s not time for pajamas yet.” Anne sighed and turned to face him. “C’mon stand up you’re not a baby anymore. Up.” She said and tugged on Harry’s hand, trying to get him off the floor but Harry just spaced out while playing with Anne’s bracelet.

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