The little girls, restless, are getting into everything until I shoo them out the back door. I fill up their water table, and they splash around in it before fussing over whose turn to go down the slide, then stomping in the only mud puddle the back yard has to offer. It grows later and later, and where is their daddy? He offered to pick up some steak from Food Lion, but for goodness' sake...
tick by, an hour. Darkness is falling when the phone finally rings.
8:05. I don't recognize the number, and my heart skips a beat, but it's
Jim on the other end: broken down on the side of I-295 but fine, just
waiting for AAA. He hasn't time to talk on the borrowed cell phone;
he'll call again, later, from a garage.
I say to the little girls: "We need to go inside and get ready to leave and help Daddy."
MeMe's eyes grow big as saucers, and she asks: "Is Daddy sick?"
"No, no," I tell her, "but his car's broken, and we need to rescue him," and the little girls, who watch Dora the Explorer, understand just what I mean.
broke," Charleigh says. "Rescue Daddy," and she says this over and over
while I change her clothes, then Sister's. I herd them into the play
room and latch the bottom half of the barn door, putting the
three-year-old in charge for my five-minute shower. I feed them hotdogs.
Still no call.
It's well after 9:00 when we hear a
loud rumble. "Run to the window, Girls, and see if that's Daddy." And
he's opted to be towed home, so we go outside to stare at the tow truck.
The little ones dance across the porch, scoot down the front steps,
skip to end of the sidewalk.
"Is that you, Daddy?" MeMe calls into the darkness.
"It's me, Clementine," Jim says.
can't see you!" she complains, but finally he walks toward us, carrying
grocery bags. He's brought strawberries for the little ones, and I
wash, slice, and serve them before throwing my arms around my husband.
He shakes his head and talks about how he needs to get a cell phone,
upgrade our AAA plan, and get rid of that clunker, but he rubs my
swollen tummy the whole time, and his eyes laugh.
this is home, and Jim's in it. The girls shove strawberries in
their mouths, and my brother calls to say he and his family (and Cade,
along with them) are settled in camp and roasting hotdogs. My
twenty-week ultrasound is tomorrow. I already know, based upon the
kicking: everything is fine. And--for the first time in a long time--I
feel completely happy.