Enchanted Valley: End of Summer - Part 1

Enchanted Valley: End of Summer

SUmmer_End.jpg
Written by Nuuan
Copyright © 2017 by Nuuan

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the Author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

~o~O~o~

Began writing this as a short story and it turned out a bit larger than I originally planned once I began editing. Depending on how the editing goes on the last part it I should have the conclusion posted sometime next week.

The thin older man put down the fishing reel he had been working on and looked up at the clock that hung on the wall above the work bench he sat at. “Bout that time,” mumbling to himself as he stood. Walking out of the workshop slash storeroom in the back of his store, the older man walked around the glass top counter picking up a boonie hat that was lying on top the counter as he passed, walking on past the shelves of fishing supplies toward the solitary wooden door at the front of the store.

The upper half of the door was a single pane of glass, with block letting on the glass that was painted backwards on the glass making it only readable from the other side. Opening the door to exit, the lettering became legible, the top line read, ‘Harkness’s,’ and the second line read, ‘Hook, Line & Sinker.’ Closing the door behind him, the old man walked across the small covered porch angling toward the boat dock thirty yards away.

The dock was a single straight all wooden structure six feet wide that stuck straight out into the lake forty feet or more, large round wooden posts stuck up out of the water holding the heavy wood planks that formed the walking surface of the dock. Only one boat was tied to the dock, an olive drab green flat bottomed boat that was easily half the length of the dock was tied up on the right hand side. At the end of the dock a small child sat, legs dangling off the end of the dock, with a fishing pole.

The old man immediately recognized the small child but then with so few children living in the their town he didn’t need to be one of the super Brainiac scientists that lived there to figure out who the child, dressed in cut off blue jeans, a red and white plaid shirt with the sleeves cut off and a straw hat was. If anything the long golden pig tails that hung down her back where a dead giveaway.

Walking past the boat Jack used as a ferry to transport the residents and the occasional visitor from the dock at the far side of the lake to their small town. “Well if it isn’t Miss Huckleberry Finn!” Jack chuckled at the way the girl was dressed, “having any luck?”

“Hey Captain Jack,” Charlie twisted her head around to see the older man wearing gray trousers, lighter gray short sleeved polo shirt and a camouflaged floppy boonie hat, as she reeled in her line slowly. “Just thought I would sit out here and get a feel for those new lures.”

“Yep, kind of figured you’d be out here, it being Friday and yer momma coming home fer the weekend.” Jack smiled at the young girl that loved fishing as much as he did. He had been told the story of how the Charlie and her mother had come to live here in their small town and knew it to be the truth, but having never met Charlie before the accident he found it difficult to think of her as anything but the cute little tomboy he had met several months ago. “So which lure ya using? I haven’t had time to try any of the new ones yet.”

Charlie finished reeling in her line, then reached down grabbing the line just above the two to three inch long bright red and yellow plastic lure, being careful that the double set of treble hooks stayed clear of herself and the line.

“Dang young’un ya done got those new lures wet ‘fore I even got mine outta the packaging!” Jack chuckled while shaking his head. Not a week after Charlie and her mother had moved to town, Charlie had almost became a permanent fixture in Jack’s sporting goods store. Not long after that Jack found himself paying her to work part time in the store and one of the perks he gave her was that any time the sales reps gave out free samples of fishing gear he would get her one too. The lure she held up was one of those perks they had gotten in early that same day. “I got a feeling that one would work best to draw somethin’ like a bass or pike out of the cattails.”

Charlie sighed, knowing the only way to fish around the cattails was by boat, something that would have been no problem before she had moved to Enchanted Valley . But now with her smaller size and apparent age she couldn’t take the chance of a visitor spotting the five hear old on the lake by herself and calling the authorities.

Seeing the look on the young girls face, Jack grinned, “Ya know it’ll be a good hour or more ‘fore your momma arrives. If we’d jump on the boat and head out now, we’d have time to troll along the cattails all the way up.” Watching her features brighten up while a smile spread across her face Jack laughed, “What’cha waiting on? Make fast that lure and get yer tail onboard!”

Charlie quickly hooked one of the treble hooks into an eyelet of her fishing pole and tightened the line to secure the lure from swinging around and hooking into anything before standing up and taking her fishing pole and tackle box and scrambling onto the large flat bottomed boat Jack used as the ferry.

~o~O~o~

“Why are we stopping here?” Jerry looked across to his girlfriend who insisted on driving them in her land cruiser.

Erika grinned as she put the vehicle in park and turned off the engine, “We take the boat from here.”

Jerry looked out across the parking lot they were in spotting a wooden dock that protruded off into the lake beside a concrete boat ramp, “What boat? And why can’t we just drive to your house?”

“The man who runs the sporting goods store runs a boat back and forth several times a day for us. And there isn’t any roads that go to town, only some hiking trails.” Erika explained, “And as much as I love hiking, I am not going to walk all the way through the woods carrying everything we brought.”

“How the hell do you get around town with no roads!” Jerry gasped.

“God Jerry don’t be so dramatic,” Erika snickered, “It’s not a big deal, we walk everywhere on campus, and it’s bigger than our little town.” ‘At least the part of it that is above ground,’ Erika thought to herself.

“I just can’t imagine you living out here in the middle of nowhere like this,” Jerry shook his head.

“What’s so hard to imagine about it?” Erika shrugged, “No car horns, alarms or sirens going off in the middle of the night. I don’t need to worry about locking my doors at home and if nothing else, smell the air!” Erika breathed in deeply for emphasis, “It doesn’t smell like freeway and garbage!”

“The nearest Wal-Mart is like two time zones away!”

“It is not!” Erika giggled, “Bellevue has one and that’s only twenty five or so miles from here. And there’s the outlet mall in North Bend.”

“Okay but do you have electricity?” Jerry twisted his head around mockingly looking for power lines.

Erika sighed heavily, “Yes we have electricity, and we have a coffee shop that puts every coffee shop you’ve ever been to or heard about to shame.”

“Now that I’ll have to see to believe,” Jerry chuckled.

They both sat silently for the next several minutes, the only sound to be heard was that of frogs croaking nearby and an occasional bird singing, as they looked out across the lake through the windshield of the SUV.

Looking down at his watch for the third time Jerry broke the silence, “So when is this boat supposed to get here?”

“Oh Jack knows I get here around this time on Fridays, he shouldn’t be too much longer.” Erika responded, “If you’re in that big of a hurry, we can go ahead and take all our things down to the dock.”

“That doesn’t sound like a bad idea,” Jerry opened his door to get out. “Maybe the old geezer will see us waiting on the dock and hurry the hell up.”

Opening the rear hatch of the Large Toyota SUV Jerry grabbed the backpack he had stuffed all his things into, while Erika pulled out a folded up cart that once unfolded turned into a wire basket with two wheels and a handle to pull it along with. As Erika gently moved the several bags of groceries from the back of the SUV into the cart, Jerry pulled the half full army duffel bag out and placed it over his shoulder.

~o~O~o~

Charlie grinned up at Jack after dropping the third largemouth she had caught into the live well, “I think I may have a new favorite lure.”

“From the action you’re getting of that thing it just may become my favorite too,” Jack laughed.

Sitting back down in the swivel plastic seat to the left of the outboard motor, Charlie checked her rig and cast out once again as Jack twisted the handle on the outboard motor propelling the boat forward slowly alongside the overgrowth of cattails and watergrass that grew in the shallows along the bank of the lake.

~o~O~o~

Down at the dock Jerry could see it consisted of more than the one dock beside the boat ramp as another wooden planked walkway led off to his right where several more shorter docks jutted out into the lake a couple of which had small boats with outboard motors tied in place. “What are these boats?” Jerry motioned over to the two smaller boats.

“I think pretty much everyone is town has a small boat or access to one.” Erika answered, “Those belong to some of my neighbors, who probably went shopping or something.”

“Do you have a boat too?”

“No, I’m not very good with them.” Erika explained, “And I don’t want Charlie out on one by herself, so if I really need one, I use one of Jack’s. He has several and Charlie knows where all the keys are kept if Jack isn’t around.”

“You’re sure this guy knows to pick you up?” Jerry sat down the duffle and his back pack on the dock, while looking out across the lake, “The only boats I can see are guys fishing.”

Erika looked out over the lake then pointed toward a boat that was slowly moving along the shore to the south of a large cove, “That looks like Jack’s boat.”

Jerry spotted the boat she was pointing at, and on the other side of the jetty he could see what looked like cabins in the back of the cove. Pointing at the cabins, “That the town?”

“No that’s Camp Riverbend, a scout camp.” Erika raised her hand over her head and began waving at the boat, “Can’t see the town from here because of that peninsula that forms the cove. Home is a few miles up the lake from there.” From where the two stood on the dock they could see someone on the boat stand up and wave back toward them.

~o~O~o~

“Hey squirt, better start bringing in your line,” Jack instructed as he sat back down in the plastic swivel seat opposite Charlie. “I see your momma over on the dock.

Nodding in answer, Charlie began reeling in her line as Jack twisted the throttle open further and pointed the boat toward the dock. The boat had just begun to speed up when Charlie’s pole jerked downward pulling Charlie forward out of her seat. Releasing the throttle, Jack managed to grab Charlie around the waist with one arm before she went flying off the back of the boat. “Big one!” Charlie almost screamed clutching the fishing pole with all her might while Jack pulled her back down into the seat.

“Well we can’t have the damn thing dragging ya outta the boat. I’d never hear the end of it from your momma,” Jack chuckled as he took off his belt and wrapped it around Charlie’s chest and around the back of the seat, essentially tying Charlie into the chair with it. “There ya go kiddo, no chance of that there gold fish taking ya swimming. Now show it who’s boss and reel that blasted thing in!”

Placing the heavy end of the fishing pole against the seat between her legs, Charlie grabbed the pole as far up above the reel she could with both hands and pulled back forcing the small end of the pole that hung out over the water to slowly rise up away from the water. Once she had the pole up as far as she could, Charlie dropped her right hand down to the reel and began reeling in line as she let the far end of the pole slowly drop back toward the water, repeating this tug and reel several times. Suddenly Charlie felt the line go slack, “It’s trying to run under the boat!” Charlie yelled while reeling in the line as fast as she could, trying unsuccessfully to keep the slack out of her line. Jack was an old hand at this and was already maneuvering the boat so that the fish would pass on Charlie’s side of the boat instead of under it where the line could get snagged and cut.

“Release some of yer drag, so it don’t pop yer line when it goes taught again!” Jack coached.

“Got it!” No sooner than Charlie yelled her acknowledgement the tip of her pole jerked hard back down toward the water and her reel’s drag began to scream as the fish began stripping line off the reel.

“Keep yer pole up and start giving it more drag, let it wear itself out fighting against yer drag.” Charlie was already doing just that when she heard Jack’s coaching.

Moments later everyone got their first glimpse of the fish Charlie had hooked as it jumped straight out of the water thrashing it’s head back and forth trying to dislodge the hook.

~o~O~o~

Standing on the dock, Jerry couldn’t understand why the boat that Erika said would be their ride suddenly turned around as if it was going to go the opposite direction, “What the hell is that guy doing, can’t he see that we’re standing here waiting on him?”

Erika had a puzzled look on her face when she turned to Jerry, “Umm, Jack really doesn’t have a set schedule and I’m sure he has a good reason for turning around.”

“How can you have a ferry without a schedule? That’s just ludicrious!” Jerry’s anger evident, “Can’t that old man see he has paying passengers waiting? Instead he’s out there ignoring us while he lets some kid fish.”

Both Erika and Jerry saw a very large fish jump up out of the water, throwing its head back and forth. “Holy shit!” jerry coughed.

Erika couldn’t hear Jerry, since just as he turned toward her she had cupped her hands around her mouth and was shouting, “Way to go Charlie! That’s my girl!”

Jerry’s eyes widened when he realized the kid on the boat he was complaining about was her daughter, “That’s Charlie, your daughter Charlie?” Jerry could see a gleam in Erika’s eye and a wide grin on her face as she turned to him and nod emphatically at him.

It was close to a half hour later when the boat carrying Jack and Charlie pulled up to the dock Erika and Jerry had been waiting on. Charlie who had moved to the bow as the boat neared the dock, stood up and jumped over onto the dock before the boat came to a stop, then raced across the wooden planking to wrap her arms around Erika in a hug, “I missed you.”

“It looks like you did,” Erika snickered. “Do you do anything other than fish all week?”

Jack looked over to Erika as he sat down the duffel bag in the boat that Jerry handed him, “She’s been a little angel all week. The couple times she wasn’t in the store helping me, she was over at the coffee shop helping. Business has really picked up with her at my store too, I think half of ‘em come in just to see if they can stump her with a fishing question she can’t answer,” Jack chuckled.

Erika had already knelt down to return the hug Charlie gave her, looked over where Jack stood in the boat, “Charlie, a little angel?” Pushing Charlie out to hold her at arm’s length, Erika looked Charlie in the eye and laughed, “Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?”

As this was going on Jack noticed an older four door sedan slow down as it went past the parking lot, then suddenly speed up as he was watching.

~o~O~o~

After the trip across the lake, Jack insisted on taking the tiger muskie Charlie had caught over to his shop so it could be weighed and measured and of course taking the required picture of Charlie standing beside her catch as it hung from the scales outside of the store.

It was obvious to Charlie that her mother’s ‘friend’ was annoyed by being forced to take the time to weigh in Charlie’s amazing catch. The way he went form one foot to another, even going as far as asking how much longer this would take. He reminded Charlie of the way a little kid in a car that kept asking, ‘are we there yet?’

“I don’t think it’s a state record, but it’s definitely one of the largest I’ve seen come outta our lake. If it’s okay with y’all I’d like to put this critter on ice and take it over to some friends so they can make a wall mount?” Jack asked, being intentionally vague as to who he would take it to with a man not from their town in their presence.

“I think it would look really cool hanging behind the counter,” Charlie grinned up at Erika.

“I have to say that is one impressive fish you caught,” Jerry smiled at Charlie before quickly glancing up to see how Erika took his compliment toward her daughter. “As big as that thing is, I’m surprised it didn’t drag you out of the boat.”

‘Suck up,’ Charlie grimaced when she saw the way he looked at Erika, hoping the compliment impressed her mother.

“Oh it tried to alright,” Jack chuckled.

“Yeah, Jack had to tie me to the chair,” Charlie giggled.

“What!” Erika gasped.

“It’s not a big deal mom,” Charlie stepped over and leaned against Erika while wrapping her tiny arm around her upper thighs. Looking up at Erika, “It’s the same thing those deep sea sports fishers do as some of those fish are powerful enough to pull a grown man off a boat.” Jack shrugged his shoulders, and then took the large fish off the scales it hung from before opening the door to the store and walking in.

Jerry noticed that the old man had never unlocked the door before entering leaned over to Erika, “You think letting Charlie hang out with this old man is a good idea?”

“Of course, why would you ask that?”

“I think he may be senile or something,” Jerry explained. “I never saw him unlock that door, which means he forgot to lock it when he left.”

Erika held her hand up to her mouth trying to stifle a laugh, “Sorry Jerry I don’t mean to laugh at you. Nobody around here locks their doors.”

“What you’re kidding?”

Erika shook her head, “It’s a small town, everybody knows everybody and you already seen how difficult it is for someone to get here. Think about it, what thief would want to hike six miles or more around a lake to steal something, then carry whatever they stole the six or more miles back.”

“They could come by boat?”

“Only two places to put a boat in are where we parked and the scout camp, both have security cameras.”

Charlie held up the stringer with the three large bass she had caught, “These are getting kind of heavy, can we go home now?” stepping off the store’s front porch.

“You going to leave your fishing pole and tackle box?” Erika motioned toward Charlie’s things.

“Yeah," Charlie nodded. "Got to be here bright and early tomorrow for the customers. I can take care if it in the morning."

Once at home Charlie went straight to the kitchen with the Bass she had caught, while Erika guided Jerry to where he could put his things. Noticing the room seemed quite plain, “Seriously the guestroom?” Jerry asked.

Erika quietly closed the door behind her before stepping over and putting her arms around Jerry’s neck, pulling him into a kiss, “It’s for Charlie’s sake, we want her to get to know you and that won’t happen if she becomes all defensive thinking she needs to start protecting her mother.”

Jerry frowned down at Erika, “But I thought you were going to tell her…”

Erika interrupted him with another kiss, “I am, I haven’t had time. This is something we are going to have to approach her with gently. ”

“Making me sleep in another room isn’t the answer,” Jerry tried to reason with her. “She five and you’re her mother, you should just tell her how things are.”

Erika sighed, “Charlie’s not your typical five year old. She’s like a miniature version of my dad.”

“I know you said your father helped a lot in raising her so you could go to school.”

“He didn’t just help, with how far away college was I only got to see her on weekends and almost not at all in the winter due to the pass.”

“But Erika, the guest room?”

“She goes to bed early.” Erika grinned mischievously at Jerry, “We only need to make it look like you’re down here.” Erika dropped her arms from his neck, taking Jerry by the hands, “Now let’s go find what she’s up to before she thinks something’s wrong.”

Jerry gasped when he walked into the kitchen behind Erika to find Charlie standing on a step stool by the sink with a large knife in her hand cleaning the fish she had brought home, “Oh shit! Charlie what are you doing?” he lunged toward the small child.

Erika grabbed him by the arm before he could reach Charlie, “It’s okay. Charlie’s fine, she’s better at filleting fish than either of us could hope to be.”

“But she’s five years old!”

“Like I said, Charlie isn’t your normal five year old,” Erika snickered.

Charlie twisted her head around to look at Erika, “So I guess your boyfriend is really going to freak when he and I have our little talk?”

Jerry furled his brow, “What talk is that?”

Charlie grinned lopsidedly at Jerry, “The one where I explain the three ‘S’s’ to you.”

Jerry seemed even more confused, “The three ‘S’s’?”

“Yep, Shoot, Shovel and Shut up.” Charlie’s smile while meant to look evil, was over exaggerated and looked extremely cute, “If you ever hurt my mommy, they’ll never find your body.”

“Charlie!” Erika raised her voice.

“She has guns?”

Charlie wiggled her eye brows up and down while giggling.

Erika sighed heavily looking down at the floor.

After a dinner consisting of pan fried bass and seasoned potato wedges Charlie excused herself going upstairs to her room while Jerry helped Erika clean up the kitchen. Erika cuddled with Jerry on the living room couch noce they kitchen was taken care of. The two had been sitting close for around thirty minutes when Erika began to untangle herself from Jerry. At Jerry’s confused look Erika spoke, “Charlie has to be done in the bathroom by now, I’m going to go braid her hair.”
“As independent as she acts, I’m surprised she lets you?”

“Dad taught her how to do a lot of things,” Erika gave Jerry a quick kiss on the lips, “but the girly stuff she only gets when I was home.”

Jerry chucked, “So your little super girl does have a weakness?”

“Oh she can do it herself just fine, but don’t let her know I said that,” Erika giggled. “She knows I love doing it for her so she pretends she can’t when I’m home.”

~o~O~o~

Jerry sat on the edge of the bed in the guest room listening intently for any noise that would tell him Charlie might still be awake. The last noise he had heard was close to forty five minutes ago and had to have been Charlie walking around as the footsteps were too light to be Erika, then a noise that had to have been Charlie dropping a bag of something that spilled out on the floor. Whatever she had spilled sounded light but solid and plentiful, like those little beads his mother used to make bracelets and other jewelry.

As it was approaching eleven pm the though she should be fast asleep, but then he had thought the young girl would have been asleep soon after Erika came back downstairs from brushing and braiding the Charlie’s hair. That hope had gone out the window when not long after Erika had returned downstairs to settle on the couch snuggled against him, he heard the soft haunting music of a violin from upstairs.

He was only slightly surprised when Erika told him that it Charlie playing and not a CD or the radio. What he had seen so far of Charlie, if anything Erika’s warning him that her daughter was very mature and independent for her age was an understatement, being a mature five year old was one thing, but it seemed to him that the small girl was five going on fifty.

It wasn’t just a matter of her acting more mature than her age, it was that Erika played into it so heavily. Jerry hadn’t said anything when Erika and Charlie were cooking but it was obvious that Charlie took charge and Erika followed her every instruction in the kitchen, a completely role reversal of what one would think a mother and daughter in the kitchen would be.

Looking over at the digital clock on the bedside table that read ’10:52PM’ Jerry decided he had waited long enough. Charlie’s violin music had stopped close to an hour ago and he had not heard anyone walking around upstairs for over thirty minutes. Wearing only a pair of jersey shorts he slept in, Jerry quietly got up and left the guest room.

“Give it about an hour after Charlie puts down her violin,” He remembered the grin on Erik’as face when she whispered in his ear before getting up to get ready for bed, “then come upstairs and tuck me in.”

Easing his weight slowly down on each of the thick wooden planks of the cabin’s staircase, Jerry slowly made his way upstairs in his bare feet. Looking down the short but dark hallway Jerry saw two doors, one on each side, stepping into the hall from the stairs he could hear Erika in his thoughts once again, telling her which room was which. His sight focused on the door on the right side Jerry started for the door only a handful of steps away. On his third step Jerry felt excruciating pain from his left foot. So sharp and sudden it caused him to put his right foot down hard and fast as his left foot came up on reflex. Although the pain only moved from one foot to the other as whatever he had stepped on with his left foot, his right foot had found even more of.
Charlie woke to the sound of something large falling to the floor outside her door. Realizing what it was a grin spread across her face. Rolling over so her back was the her closed bedroom door she pretended to be asleep. Noticing the darkness of her room brighten a bit, Charlie twisted her head back over her shoulder to see the hall light seeping in from under her door.

“Oh my god Jerry!” Erika screamed, then knelt down beside the fallen man, “What happened?”
“Careful where you step,” Jerry reached down beside him feeling around on the floor until he found one of the offending devices that he had stepped on before holding it so Erika could see the tiny caltrop of a child’s toy.

Seeing the jack form a jack and ball set in Jerry’s hand Erika took a deep breath before yelling, “Charlie!”

A minute later Charlie’s door swung open. Charlie stood in the doorway rubbing her eyes wearing an adorable capped sleeve pale violet night gown that came all the way down to her ankles to end in a ruffled hem, with several Disney princesses displayed on the front.

“What’s this?” Erika motioned to the jack Jerry held between two fingers while glaring at Charlie.

“I forgot I left them out and went to put them away after you went to bed, but I dropped the bag and they went all over,” Charlie began spinning her tale. “I didn’t want to turn on the light and wake you so I thought since I always wake up before you, I could clean it up in the morning.”

“You want to try that story on someone that believes you?” Erika glared.

Jerry, who had sat up by then on the floor, reached over to Erika taking her arm, “Calm down honey, she’s only a kid, it was an accident. I’ll be fine.”

“Get this picked up before someone else gets hurt,” Erika shot at Charlie as she helped Jerry to his feet and into Erika’s room.”

Charlie let out a heavy sigh as she watched as the door to Erika’s room closed. ‘Well that backfired,’ Charlie thought to herself, ‘ I wanted to piss him off, get him cussing mad not Mom.’ Going back into her own room she grabbed a heavy magnet before going back out in the hall and using it to gather up all the jacks she had scattered out in the hall earlier.

Looking closely at the wooden floor of the hallway to make sure she hadn’t missed any, Charlie turned off the hall light and went back into her room, closing the door behind her. Laying the jack ladened magnet on the corner of dresser in her room, Charlie walked over and climbed up into her bed.

Laying under the covers staring at the ceiling Charlie began dissecting the failure of her little trap to produce the desired outcome. Charlie expected Erika’s first thoughts to be why Jerry was even upstairs near their rooms but it wasn’t. Going over the scene in her mind that she saw after opening her door, Jerry was laying on the floor up on one elbow with one of the jacks in between his fingers. Mom was kneeling beside him, wearing a robe. One Erika’s legs was sticking out of the robe, Charlie took in a long gasp of air when she realized Erika had been wearing sexy black nylons. Charlie could even see the end of the black lace garter that held it up. ‘God I’m so stupid!’ Charlie thought to herself, ‘She was expecting him to come up!’

~o~O~o~

Erika came out of the bathroom wearing only her robe, tied closed by the belt that went around its waist. Walking over to where Jerry lay in her bed, she kissed him on the lips.

“Morning beautiful,” Jerry opened his eyes and grinned up at the face of Erika hovering above him.

“I’m going to go start us some coffee,” Erika smiled, giving him another kiss before standing up and walking toward the door.

Throwing the covers off his nude body Jerry sat up, “I’ll be down soon as I go to the bathroom and find my shorts.”

After reliving himself Jerry found the shorts he had worn the night before then scurried down to the guest room where all his things were. After getting himself dressed he walked into the kitchen to find Erika sitting down at the table with a half-eaten Belgian waffle covered in butter, sliced strawberries and syrup in front of her on a plate. “You had time to do all this?”
Erika’s mouth full she shook her head then pushed a note toward Jerry that was lying on the table.

Picking up the note Jerry read it,

Mom ,
Sorry about last night, it was really stupid of me to leave those out. Please tell Jerry I’m sorry he got hurt.
Had to get to the store, Saturday is always Jack’s busiest day. Made you coffee and left a peace offering in the oven.
Love,
Charlie

Looking up from the note to Erika, “This is Charlie’s handwriting?”

Erika nodded while cutting off another piece of waffle. “Yes, I found that on the table this morning along with a stack of homemade Belgian waffles in the oven,” motioning at the large stack of waffles on a plate in the center of the table.

“Wow, It’s really hard to believe she is only five.” Jerry sat the note on the table, “Five year old should be working on learning their ABC’s. Apparently Charlie not only knows them she can write in cursive! Is she some kind of child prodigy genius or something?”
“God, don’t let her hear you call her that,” Erika giggled. “We would never live it down!”

To be continued...


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