“Mommy? Can I ask you a question?” Marie turned briefly to face her ten-year-old daughter and smiled.
“Of course, Annie, you can ask me anything anytime.”
“Mommy, do you believe in fate?”
“Yeah, like somewhere out there are there the perfect men for us, enjoying the same things we enjoy, just waiting for us to find them?”
Marie stopped walking and got down on her knee so that she was eye-level with Annie. “Annie, do you believe in fate?”
“I really want to, Mommy.”
“Okay, then I believe in fate.” Marie stood back up and then turned into Weston’s bakery. “Go get a table, Annie, and start your new book. I’ll go order.”
Annie pulled out her new copy of Tuck Everlasting and began.
The first week of August hangs at the top of the summer…
And soon they were rolling on again, leaving Treegap behind, and as they went, the tinkling little melody of a music box drifted out behind them and was lost at last far down the road.
Jess closed his book and set it down on the table. He looked across the table to his Uncle Luke, who took a sip of his tea and looked back across the table at his nephew.
“Look, I’m really sorry, Jess. Your mom just sprung this babysitting thing on me, and I wasn’t prepared. Plus, I’m not that good with kids anyway, so…” Luke ended with a gesture of his hand that didn’t really mean anything.
“Hmm,” was Jess’s only response.
“So,” Luke tried again, “Did you finish your book?”
“What were you reading?”
Jess help up the book and Luke read off the cover, “Tuck Everlasting, Huh, is it any good?”
Jess shrugged his shoulders. Luke gave up and took another sip of his tea, this time glancing around the apartment.
“Do you think when this guy leaves, he’ll take the T.V. like Nathan and Peter did?” Luke just looked at Jess, unsure of what to say. Jess laughed softly in a bitter sort of way. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.” He paused for a moment then, almost as an afterthought asked, “Will I be cursed to date T.V. stealers like my mother?”
“No, C’mon, you don’t deserve that. Your mother doesn’t deserved that, she just doesn’t make the right choices all the time.”
Jess rolled his eyes and snatched his book off the table. “I’m going to bed.” Jess crawled into bed, and for a few minutes allowed himself to fantasize about being tucked in by his mother, and have her read him a bedtime story. Then he rolled over on his side and looked out his window. He could make out one faint star in the sky, and looking right at it, he whispered, “Goodnight.”
“And they all lived happily ever after.” Marie closed the book, and looked down at Annie, who was snuggled into her bed.
“You know, I have been reading for seven years now, I am perfected capable of reading myself to sleep.” Annie smiled.
“Yes, but you cannot take away mommy’s little joys.”
“Okay, fine, but when I enter middle school next year, I am going to have to put my foot down.”
“Fair enough. Goodnight, Annamarie Gilmore.”
“Goodnight, Annamarie Gilmore.” Marie left, turning off the light and pulling the door shut behind her.
Annie rolled over and looked out her window. Through the trees in the front yard, she could see a single star. “Goodnight.” She whispered, before closing her eyes.