Chloe helped Alvin carry his prepared meals to the apartment he shared with his girlfriend, Brittany Parker.
As he was putting away the food, Chloe looked around.
"Hey, you guys decorated!" she observed. ('And it's about time,' she added, but only to herself.)
"Yes!" Alvin said happily. "I got Brittany to show me some things she liked in magazines, and she said I could get anything for our apartment that looked like that. You know how Brit likes modern stuff," he advised.
Chloe regarded the dining area,
and the TV/reading area,
and figured that "Brit likes modern stuff" wouldn't be lost on even the most casual observer. Chloe thought it all looked a bit cold and sterile, but didn't say anything.
Alvin, wondering about his friend's silence, offered, a bit defensively, "Of course, this is the wrong space for it--this apartment is way too dark. Brit says all of this stuff will look right in the house we'll have some day--probably something all glass!"
Lost for anything else to say, Chloe asked, "Soooo, Alvin, you picked out everything?"
"Except for the bedroom light," Alvin assured her. "Brit picked that out--she said the bedroom lighting had to be absolutely perfect."
Feeling slightly more hopeful about the prospects for her friends' relationship, Chloe enthused, "Well, she's right, of course--can I see it?"
"Sure!" Alvin replied, and opened the door to the bedroom.
"Wow--that's ... bright," Chloe said, haltingly.
"Well, Brit likes to read in bed," Alvin explained, sounding somewhat apologetic on his girlfriend's behalf.
Alvin closed the bedroom door. "Hey," he brightened, "want to play pinball with me? Brit won't be home for a couple of hours yet."
The living room still housed an immense pinball machine that Alvin had gotten from the gaming company that had employed him during the summer.
"Can't, I'm afraid," Chloe said. "I've got to pick Charlie up from Marie's apartment--she's got to leave for night school in a few minutes."
"Mind some company?" Alvin asked eagerly.
"I'd love some," Chloe replied.
Alvin adored Chloe's baby boy, and constantly offered to babysit whenever Chloe and Kevin were both working nights. It was common knowledge among their friends that Alvin desperately wanted to start a family but, since Brittany had so far not been willing to consider even becoming engaged to Alvin ("I've got to concentrate on my career right now!" she'd protest, sounding panicked as usual), a baby of their own seemed pretty far off.
The two friends retrieved Charlie from their neighbor, and Chloe puttered around, cleaning up,
while Alvin played with the infant. "Hi, hi, hi, little guy," he murmured. "I hear you're just the happiest kid ever."
"I hope I'll have a little boy some day," Alvin added, "and then--because you'll probably be a big boy by then--maybe you can watch out for him at school."
"So, what grade are you teaching?" Chloe called over her shoulder. "You've got high school, right?"
"Charlie," Alvin addressed the baby with mock seriousness, "tell your mommy her information is out of date. I got first grade--isn't that wonderful? A position opened up at the last minute!" Alvin sounded very excited.
"Wait--" Chloe said, grunting, trying to get something unstuck from the trash compactor, "you mean you'd rather teach elementary school than high school?"
"Of course!" Alvin enthused. "I'd love being around little kids all day. It's really important to get them off to a good start." He put Charlie in the jumpy swing and went over to help Chloe.
"And guess what!" he added happily. "That means I'll have Marcus in my class!"
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next time, when we see how Meadow Thayer and her husband, Orlando Centowski, are getting young Marcus ready to start elementary school, and how Marcus's young adopted sister--who is very attached to Marcus--will deal with the separation.