Chapter 26- The Strange Stranger In No Strangers' Land

                                                          Date: Tuesday, May 24, 1966

                                                                       Time: 4:18PM

                                                                  KATHERINE'S POV

I patiently sat in the hospital wheelchair, ready to get out. I knew it would be any second before...

"Alright, Mrs. Jackson, it's time for you and little Janet to get back to the family," my nurse told me soothingly. She grabbed hold of the wheelchair handles and began moving the chair.

I beamed with pride. Today was the day thatI finally came home with little Janet. Today would be the day that Randy would officially be a big brother. Today would be the day that Marlon, Michael, and Randy got a little sister. Today would be the day that eight kids turned to nine. Today would be the day...

The nurse began wheeling me out as I cradled my little Janet to my chest. I silently whispered into her ear, welcome, baby Jackson, into our life.

Apparently, the nurse heard me, as she chuckled warmly after I said that. I grinned up at her. At least she was one of the nicer nurses.

Once I was outside, I was greeted by Joseph, who had been standing at the front door. He handed me a small wooden box upon finding me. "Here you go," he whispered into my ear. "you wouldn't accept this on your birthday."

I opened the box up... and found the jewelry that Michael gave his teacher. "What's this?" I asked, staring up at Joseph.

"I found a replica. I thought it would be better than nothing at all." He shuffled his feet shyly.

I hugged Joseph, with little Janet still in my lap. He really was the greatest... even if he yelled a lot at everyone, he was the greatest.

The nurse left us alone after that, wishing luck with the baby. Once we were by ourselves, the three of us began to make our way to Joseph's Buick.

 "So, are the kids okay?" I asked. 

Joseph looked ahead while he answered. "Yep. I gave them all the day off today. Kayla seemed to have been relieved. Well, actually, they all seemed relieved. But guys aren't supposed to. They can be pansies sometimes."

I hit Joseph lightly. "Don't you call any of my babies pansies!"

He chuckled. "Alright, alright... Oh, and I made extra dinner last night. That can be reheated for tonight. And we have Gerber's in the cabinets. And I got back to work at US Steel!" He pranced in the parking lot.

I grinned approvingly. "Good! And thank you, Jose-..." I stopped. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a strange figure. By its looks, it was obviously a woman. I couldn;t really make out many of her figures, but I did know that she had tan skin.

I turned back to Joseph. "Honey, did you see that?"

He stared at me sweetly. "The only thing I see right now is youuu-"

"Joseph! Did you see the woman over there?" I pointed to the direction of the lady. However... she was gone without a trace. It was as if... she was never even there.

"I don;t see nothin'," Joseph stated blankly. "Here, babe, just get in the car and relax. We'll be home in a few. Just relax and hold the baby."

He's right, I thought, there is no need to worry about anything. It could have just been a hitchhiker. There is absolutely no issue in that. 

But... how come I didn't recognize her? I know even the hitchhikers around here. I scratched the top of my head in confusion. Ah... better not think about it now. I've got a minor headache, as it is.

Once we were home, I readied myself in the car. It was the official moment... Was I ready?

I sat in my seat, giddy as a child, wondering when I should head in with the newest addition tothe family. I made little squeaks of excitement every couple seconds.

The next time I had turned around, I realized that Joe was already inside. Oh, I thought. I guess that means I should, um, head in.

I placed Janet as safely as I could into my hands. I was ready for this... I was, I was absolutely, positively ready.

I walked inside of the house.

Inside, I was bombarded with everyone. Even Rebbie, who was usually not home until about 5PM, was here, her expression as joyful and carefree as a child's.

Michael, of course, was the first to say his hello's. After greeting me back, he looked at little Janet. "She's my baby sister... She's my baby sister!" His eyes grew wide with pure joy.

"Shh! We can;t be too loud!" I scolded. "Babies are very sensitive to everything."

"Oh!" Michael whispered, nodding vogorously, "Okay." He stepped away so that everyone else could meet the baby.

The last perosn to see the new one was little Randy. Thinking that he may be a little jealous, I approached him carefullt. "Randy...,"I started explaining, "this is your baby sister, Janet. Can you say 'hi' to Janet?"

"He's not a girl; he's a boy!" Randy claimed. "He has no hair!""

"Well," I said, trying to hide a chuckle, "babies are born with little to no hair. It's just the way babies are. She is a girl, I can assure you."

"He's a boy!" Randy yelped, crossing his arms.

Randy, my little argumentative one, I thought, rolling my eyes. He was always like this, even in daycare. It could be the simplest thing, and he would argue. If a crayon was blue, he would call it green just to start a fight. Of course he knew, he just... loved getting on people's nerves.

After everyone was done meeting the baby, I gave her to Rebbie. "Would you please..." I explained what I wanted Rebbie to do. She gladly obliged, like the good girl she is, and skipped away with Janet safely tucked in her arms.

Grinning, I turned around to the kitchen. However, before actually doing anything, someone caught my attention. It was outside, close to our sidewalk. 

It was the same woman as before. This time, she was roaming around all of the houses. She almost approached our front door, but backed away after only taking a few steps. She visited some houses across the street, and finally... she saw the Wells household.

She studied their mailbox for a few moments. She did nothing else; just stare at it. After about a minute, she began to dart away.

I squinted. What was that all about?

"Mom, are you okay?" I heard Jackie's voice from my left side.

Snapping out of my little 'daze', I replied back with a 'yes' that sounded somewhat scattered. Jackie simply walked away after that, but by the looks of his face, he didn't seem convinced.

However, that did not matter right now. WHO was that woman, and what was she doing, stalking people in the neighborhood?

Wait... stalking? Could she be stalking? ... No, I didn't believe so. Well, tht is what I told myself. I hope that I wouldn't be right.

Shaking the thought off from me, I turned back to the kitchen and got to work reheating some food for the family.

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