Then Another

Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts:  I’m sorry I dropped the rabbit, heft, knockout, too much early attention, a blessing, I have every right, stay inspired, after they ate, bedtime story, first one shoe then the other, talking to teenagers

After they ate, Allie went in to give the baby a bath while Larry watered the back lawn.  Allie’d been talking about digging up a patch with southern exposure to put in some tomato plants, but Larry was thinking it was already too late, middle of May and all.  He wanted to encourage her but he didn’t have the energy.  He knew she didn’t either.  They were new to parenting, and well, it’s not that he thought it’d be easy, but he was dog tired nearly all the time.  He stood there now, his gazes following the arc of the spray, listening to the gentle shush of water, sh sh sh, and—“What?”  Was Allie calling him or had he imagined it?

I’m sorry,” she was saying, her voice pleading above the sound of Evie crying.  “I dropped your rabbit.  He’s wet now.  Take the doggy.  Rabbit will be ready later.”

Oh, God, not the rabbit.  Rabbit was Evie’s favorite.  She refused to sleep without it.  

He moved to a shady spot to water the blue hydrangeas.  A month ago his mother announced they were giving Evie too much early attention, that they would spoil her.  That hit him in the gut, explaining in that one sentence all the aching pain of his childhood.  “I have every right,” he yelled back, “to spoil my daughter.”

“Not in my house,” his mother countered with matriarchal heft.

“Fine,” Larry said.

“Fine,” she replied, and out the door Larry went, Evie in his arms, Allie trailing with diaper bag, toys, hat, and sweaters.  Allie was so happy that when they got to the car, she offered to go down on him right there in the front seat.  Larry had to admit he was tempted, even though he suspected she was only kidding.  But it was Easter morning and she gifted him well when they got home.  She was a knockout, his wife.  What a blessing to have found her.

She came out onto the back patio now, the baby monitor in one hand, her other index finger raised to her lips.  “Evie’s asleep,” she said in a stage whisper.  Larry turned off the hose and they both snuggled up on the glider, rocking gently as they watched the sun melting into the redwoods.

“Tell me a bedtime story,” Allie asked playfully, and Larry cleared his throat.  

“First one shoe, and then the other,” he began.

“First one girl, and then another,” she responded, moving his hand to her belly.

“What?” he blurted, turning to look into her face.

“Don’t worry,” she admonished.  “Stay inspired.  Before you know it, we’ll be talking to teenagers.”

He sat up stiffly, knowing he wouldn’t be sleeping much tonight, or for a very long time.

Photo by Gaetano Cessati

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