I’ve taken the proper precautions. Everything’s gonna be just fine.
When we came around the bend, there was Jake. He sat almost on the edge of his
camp chair. He’s waiting. For me. West Virginia University
“How does he know what time it is?” my son said.
I shrugged. “I have no idea.”
Jake lifted his chin. “Dana? Is that you?”
“Yes.” Your hair. The gold's going silver. It looks good super short. Makes you look strong.
“Yep. She’s here.”
“And me,” my son said.
“Me? Who’s me?”
Silas pointed to his chest. “Me. I’m Silas.”
“Silas?” Jake said. “Silas! Man, last time I saw you, you were in a pumpkin seat.”
Silas tilted his head. “You saw me? But I thought you—“
I covered his mouth. Squinted one eye at him.
“I am blind,” Jake said. “But I haven’t always been.”
“Do you know Braille?”
I narrowed both eyes. Exhaled through my nose. “Cool it,” I hissed through my teeth.
Jake snapped his fingers. Whistled a high note. I liberated Millie. She went to him, tail ticktocking. Sat in front of him. Gave him her paw.
He accepted it. “Such a good girl,” he said.
I watched him try to locate us. I shuffled my feet a couple times.
“And, no. I don’t know Braille,” Jake said. “Not yet. I’ve been putting it off. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a pain.”
“But how do you read?” Silas said. I reached out and pinched his lips. Didn’t let go. He took a step back. Shook my fingers loose.
“Honestly? I haven’t had to. Jenny does whatever reading needs to be done for me.”
“You mean you don’t read just for fun?”
Jake sighed. “Silas, I’m gonna shoot straight with you. It’s been a long time since I did anything just for fun.”
In my mind I ran through a list of what I imagined he used to do. For fun. Read, play cards, golf maybe. Watch television, go on family bike rides. Play ball. He’d told me years ago, when we sat next to each other at the parent run pre-school, that he’d played baseball.
“I was really good,” he said.
“Did you pitch?”
“I did. How’d you know?”
“Could you throw really fast?”
“They didn’t have speed guns back then, but I struck out a whole lotta guys. Pitched a perfect game once. In college.”
“I have no idea what that is.”
That had cracked him up. “Ask your husband. He’ll know.”
Jake motioned toward the empty chair on his right. “Sit. Sit.”
I put my notebook under the chair, then sat. Adjusted my sun hat to shade my face. I pointed to the ground next to where Millie was sprawled. Silas dropped down beside her. Ruffled her fur with his hand, then collected the wads of shed, white hair. Blew on them and watched them float and drop.
“Hey, Silas,” Jake said. “There’s another camp chair on the porch. Why don’t you bring it down?”
Silas stood. “Okay.”
Jake keyed on his footsteps and after a minute turned to me. One corner of his mouth hitched up.
“Did Joel make you bring him?”
To protect me from a blind man? I shook my head. “No.” I made me bring him. “I didn’t want to leave him home alone.”
Jake leaned back. “Of course not,” he said. “What is he? Twelve?”
“Quit,” I said, “Besides, if I didn’t bring him, I would’ve had to sew you into a sleeping bag, like the courting scene in—“
He grinned. “Like in Patriot?”
I chuckled. “Exactly.”
I twisted in my chair and glanced back at the house. “Where’s Kevin?”
“Soccer practice. The coach’ll bring him home later.”
Silas returned with a green camp chair. Pressed it down. Spread it open. Flopped into it.
“Hate to make you get up so soon, Silas, but there’s lemonade in the fridge if you want to bring it and some glasses out. Or we can wait a bit.”
Silas sprang up. “I love lemonade,” he said. He headed back to the house.
Jake shifted forward. I lay a hand on his arm. Just for a second. “He’ll find it. You don’t have to go.”
Jake sat back. Sighed. “It sucks.”
I know. I mean, I can imagine. “What does?”
“Everybody doing everything for you. I mean, for me. All the time.”
I tucked my feet underneath me. I think I’d like it. For awhile anyway.
“Sorry,” he said. “Don’t mean to be a downer.”
Silas approached. “I have to make another trip,” he said. “There’s more stuff.”
He set a tole-painted tray on the ground. Handed me a glass of lemonade.
“Here,” he said to Jake. Jake reached out, his hand a C. Silas fit the glass into his grip.
He picked up the tray. “Be right back.”
This time he brought a bread basket, Longaberger I think, topped with a tea towel that looked like the Irish flag. There were plates and napkins too. I pinched the cloth and lifted. Banana bread. Jenny. I looked back toward the house.
“Is she here? Jenny?”
Jake shook his head. “No. She’s at work. She’s always at work.”
“She had everything set out though,” Silas said. “And little notes explaining everything.”
“Did she?” Jake said. Did she?
I handed Jake a plate. Then Silas. We nibbled and sipped in silence. I noticed the chocolate chips and coconut in the bread. Hers is prettier though. Bet she did an eggwash to make the top that shiny.
Jake put his empty plate on the ground. Sat up. “So?”
I tilted my head. So you’ve got crumbs on your face. There. And there.
I clasped my hands in my lap, beneath my empty plate. “So what?”
“Are you going to read me a story?”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. I leaned over and stacked my plate on his. Pulled my notebook out from under my camp chair.
“She brought ‘em all,” Silas said. With his mouth full. He lifted the three ring binder off my lap. Placed it on Jake’s. “It’s heavy, isn’t it? She’s got a ton of stories. What do you want to hear? Funny? Sad? Hamsters? Food? Birth? Death?”
I took my stories back. “Stop. I know exactly what I’m going to read. Jake was a ball player way back when. Baseball. He was really good too. Pitched a perfect game once, didn’t you, Jake?”
Silas’s eyes bulged. “No way. Really?”
Jake ran his hand across his chin. You got ‘em. Most of them anyway.
Jake’s mouth pulled to one side. “Yeah. It was pretty cool.”
I opened my notebook. Flipped through the stories. I had them in alphabetical order.
“Hey, Silas,” Jake said. “Kevin has a Wii down in the family room. If you want—“
Silas stood so fast his camp chair fell back. He righted it, then came over and stood in front of me. He blinked several times, like Puss ‘n Boots in Shrek.
I reached out and adjusted the waistband on his shorts. “May I. Sure. Go on.”
“Through the side door and down the steps,” Jake said.
A minute later Silas waved from the back porch. “Thanks.”
We’re alone now. That’s not the way I planned this.