27. Song For Another Time

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The sunshine's gonna fade, and we can't stop it. - Old Dominion

10:43 a.m. Saturday, October 16, 2021

"We need you on our team for the cup stacking," Patrick informs Harry. "It's important. We need six people, and since Michele got disowned at last year's challenge..."

"What?" Placing a checkerboard cookie on a napkin with his gloved hand, Harry passes over the treat to an excited Franny.

"Did you make these?" the retiree inquires. Continuing his job of distributing the treats he'd assisted Michele with making, Harry scoops another biscuit into the paper to pass along to the next customer.

Feeling shy and proud all at the same time, Harry flashes a sheepish grin at the older woman as he nods once.

"That explains why they aren't lined up perfectly," Franny examines the cookie. Taking a bite, she closes her eyes, "Tastes delicious though. You must have used Michele's grandmother's recipe."

"Oh, Franny. I'm going to miss you quite a bit, you salty minx!" The words escape from his lips like they've been released from a cannon. He can't contain them.

The older woman's eyes tear up as she moves away, and Harry feels badly for reminding her that he's leaving. Maybe he should watch what he says today?

"Harry?" Patrick asks, startling Harry back to the present.

"Oh. Yeah. Whatever you need."

"Cool! Meet us in the gym at eleven." With that, the young man races off to whatever is next.

"Nice costume!" Stan laughs as he examines Harry's purple, green, and gold tuxedo complete with top hat in a checkered pattern to match his clothing.

"Oh! Love your hat!" Harry exclaims. Stan's head is covered in clocks with bunny ears protruding through holes in the sides. "And your outfit is pretty amazing as well."

"Thank you, kind sir," Stan bows, tipping his hat. "Ace is over there somewhere. He went for the full-on Johnny Depp style Mad Hatter."

Truly the event is exactly what he would have expected. A white rabbit had proceeded the parade from the church down Main Street at 9:00 this morning, and every resident was in attendance. Some had worn store bought costumes, but the majority had created their own unique looks for the event. There were several Alices, White Rabbits, and Mad Hatters. But there were also Card Soldiers and Cheshire Cats. The whole shindig is precisely the perfect send-off for a celebrity who needed to get away from the real world for a bit. Not much could be more surreal than this.

"Harry?" Michele asks, taking some napkins from his stack. "Did I hear Patrick say we have to be somewhere at 11?"

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11:12 a.m. Saturday, October 16, 2021

"Go Paige!" Harry yells to the tiny dynamo. She races across the gym floor, snagging the teacup and saucer before the first player on the bowling team is halfway across the floor.

The tiny one returns to the team, passing the single cup to her mother who sprints to pick up a second cup, stacking it on top of the first.

"One hand, Tam!" Richie yells. "We don't want to get disqualified like last year when Michele made us lose."

"HEY!" Michele, dressed as the White Queen, calls from her place in line behind Liz who has taken on the persona of the Red Queen for the day. Ross nearly trips on his giant bunny feet as he returns to his teammates with the initial cup. "One mistake and I'm banned from the family team?!" Michele pouts.

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