Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Know What You Did Last Summer, Part 4

Today was Marcus Thayer Centowski's birthday.

For some reason, the boy was adamant about not having a party.

This surprised his parents, because Marcus had always been the happiest and most sociable child, but Meadow and Orlando figured that their son just wanted to spend his special day with the people he loved most, including his younger adopted sister, Ophelia.

Meadow and Orlando had had a lot of work done on their old farmhouse during the summer. In addition to their new kitchen,

they had had a stone fireplace installed,

and this faced a cozy seating area.

The '40s-era bathroom had been demolished (none of the antiquated plumbing fixtures had been salvageable) and had now become a hallway.

The existing door still led to Marcus's room, in which--in anticipation of his birthday--his mother had just that morning replaced his crib with a twin bed,

and added a small desk and chair.

The new second door in the hallway led to Ophelia's brand-new room (the toddler's crib had previously been set up in an unused corner of the living room), which Meadow had spent a lot of time decorating--

including sewing pink gingham curtains for her young daughter.

Each bedroom led to a new bathroom.

Orlando was now making good money as an artist, which was fortunate since the renovations had been fairly expensive. The farmhouse was 150 years old and, whenever a workman tried to alter any of the existing walls or roof, a part of the structure invariably crumbled or collapsed at least to some extent.

Orlando came home from work just after 6:00 p.m. Meadow met him at the door with a kiss.

"How was your day, honey?" she asked.

"Pretty good," he answered, "but all I've been able to think of was rushing home for Marcus's birthday!"

The couple picked up their toddlers,

and carried them over to the dining table, where Meadow had placed the birthday cake she had baked for their son. Meadow tooted on a noisemaker, and Ophelia looked on in wonder,

as Marcus squealed in delight over his cake,

blew out his candles,

and grew into a child as perfectly as his devoted parents had expected he would.

Marcus ducked into his new bathroom to fix his hair, and quickly rejoined his little sister.

Ophelia gazed up at her big brother. She had not yet learned to talk, but she wondered to herself whether Marcus would consider that he was now too grown up to be still playing with a little kid like her.

"Don't fret, Ophelia," Marcus assured her, sensing her worry. "I'll always be your best friend. Come on, let's sing a nursery rhyme together."

Orlando quietly regarded his son from the dining table, where he and his wife were having some birthday cake.

"'Marcus the Good'," Meadow whispered to her husband, her eyes shining with pride and love, as she used the nickname she and Orlando had recently come up with for their son.

The next morning, Orlando--who had the day off--dressed Ophelia in one of the many outfits that her godmother, Calista Gothier London, had brought the girl from Paris, and resumed teaching the child to talk.

He had let his wife sleep an extra half hour, knowing that she had a demanding day ahead of her.

The end of the summer and beginning of fall comprised the harvest season, and Meadow--who over the past few years had become an excellent gardener, and one whose efforts contributed quite a bit of money to the young family's finances--needed both to pick fruit from her backyard orchard and to work a long day at her farmstand downtown.

While Orlando tended to Ophelia and Meadow tended to her trees,

Marcus quietly occupied himself by drawing at the activity table.

After a while, Orlando gave Ophelia a break from learning to talk, and gave the girl her lunch.

While Ophelia ate,

and while Meadow--after harvesting the orchard--took a much needed shower prior to facing her farmstand customers,

Orlando grabbed himself some leftovers,

and Marcus quietly studied Creativity.

Orlando put Ophelia down for a nap,

and Marcus got himself some lunch,

and cleaned up afterward,

while his mother went out to her community lot.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next time, when we see how Meadow's Farmstand did for the summer, and when Meadow and Orlando finally tell Marcus that Ophelia is adopted.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Know What You Did Last Summer, Part 3

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.