A Second Chance
By Dawn Natelle
This is the second last of the daily episodes, I think. I have one more episode almost done, and it will run on Sunday. After that they might not come daily, but I am really enjoying writing this story, so it won’t be long between episodes: Dawn.
SATURDAY, May 7, 2016
Rachael was one of the first girls to wake up in the Stoner’s photography studio. She made a beeline to the bathroom, knowing that seven other girls would want to be using it soon. She dressed in the clothes she had in her bag, and then crept upstairs.
“Ah, the first of the zombies awakens,” Mrs. Stoner said with a smile.
“She is Rachael, not a zombie,” little Danni retorted as she ate her breakfast. Which turned out to be an early lunch. It was past 11 a.m.
“Hungry?” Mrs. Stoner asked.
“I could use food,” Rachael said. “But you don’t need to make anything. The mix I used to make the pizza dough last night also makes great pancakes. Let me whip up a batch of batter, and I’ll feed the girls as they come up.”
“Can I have a pancake?” Danni asked.
“Sure cutie. I will make a little one for you, since you have already had some cereal.” She mixed up a batch of batter, and made full cakes for herself and Mrs. Stoner, and a half-sized one for Danni.
“You are an amazing girl, Rachael,” Mrs. Stoner said. “I can only thank you for what you did for us last night.” She used her eyes to indicate the ‘us’ meant Danni and her.
Rachael finished eating just as she heard someone downstairs use the washroom, so she put two more pancakes on. Then as they heard another flush, she made another pair of pancakes. As each girl came up stairs she was handed a plate with two pancakes on it, and allowed to choose their topping: butter, syrup, or icing sugar.
“You made pancakes?” Mikki said as she came up to see Larissa, Carly and Layla all eating around the table. Rachael handed her a plate, and then Lucy and Janice soon followed. Finally Becca came up, her hunger overcoming her desire to sleep. “I’m still tired,” she moaned. “But it smells so good.”
“You were all up pretty late last night,” Mrs. Stoner said with a smile. “All of us were. I hope you had fun, but we won’t be doing it again soon.”
“Mrs. Stoner, on behalf of all the girls, I would like to thank you for putting up with us. I know we were up late, and noisy, but this was the most awesome sleepover in the entire history of Ingersoll. Mikki is great, and we are glad you all moved here from Toronto,” Carly said.
“Why thanks Carla,” the touched Mrs. Stoner said. She knew that Carly was one of the girls who had shunned her daughter for the past half year, and to hear her speak that well of her warmed the woman’s heart.
Over the next half hour to an hour, parents came by to pick up their kids after getting phone calls. Mikki went back to bed, in her own bed upstairs, after everyone had left. Larissa and Rachael were last to leave, with Rachael getting a big hug from Danni before she left.
Larissa only lived three doors down, but on the way for Rachael, so the latter girl got a chance to see her house. Larissa invited her in, but Rachael begged off, wanting to get home. But even from the outside she could see that the house was as big as the Stoner’s or larger. A $3000 painting would fit nicely into such a place, she realized.
At home Bobby was already up, a little grumpy that he had not had a chance to read Harry Potter last night. Rachael promised him a long session tonight. She also suggested that a trip to see Grandpa was in order. Rachael put her chicken soup on to simmer in a big pot on the stove, and told Bobby to get his baseball and gloves. They could go to the park after stopping at Grandpa’s. She also packed up cold cuts and fixings for more sandwiches for Grandpa.
After making 5 more sandwiches for the old man, who sat in his chair and chatted with her all the time she was in the kitchen, Rachael and Bobby went to Miss Lajoie’s to release Goldie from her prison.
Rachael carefully chipped the cast off. “It would have been better if we could have shaved the leg first,” she said. “There are going to be little chips of plaster stuck to her leg for a while. You can snip them off with scissors, just cutting the hair they cling too. I’m only going to take off the big stuff.
As she worked, the dog was calm and peaceful, and Rachael could see within her to find that the bone had healed perfectly, and now seemed as good as new. When Rachael had the last of the cast off, Goldie got up and tentatively walked around the room, realizing that it was gone. They she leapt up to kiss Rachael, then Miss Lajoie and started to roll around on the yard with Bobby and Rudolph.
“Did you want me to start his lessons today?” Miss Lajoie asked.
“Yes, do.” Rachael said. “I will go to the store. Did you have a list for me?”
“I do, and here is $40. Let me know if it is more than that.”
“I will. And perhaps if Bobby gets bored, or restless, you can promise him that he can walk the dogs after if he is good. He is an easy boy to motivate. Oh yes, I found a boy who is interested in cutting your lawn in return for guitar lessons. He said he will be around tomorrow.”
“Thank you sweetheart.”
Rachael went back to Grandpa and got his list, and the last $20 he pulled from his little purse. She then walked quickly to the store, and soon had a full cart of groceries. Mrs. Lajoie’s bags cost $38.55, and Grandpa’s cost $28.54, mostly because she insisted on buying additional things for him that weren’t on the list. Her family’s groceries came to nearly $80, which were covered by the money her mother had given her this morning. The taxi ride home was a two-parter, with the cabbie waiting at the Cartright house while she put her groceries away, gave her soup a good stir, and then they went to the Lajoie house, where Bobby’s lesson was over, and he was out walking the dogs. Rachael then took Grandpa his groceries, and put them away, tucking the old man in for his afternoon nap before going to get Bobby.
“Remember, dinner tomorrow night at our place. The Legion man will come pick you up at the usual time,” she called out as she left.
“Miss Lajoie thinks you did really well on the piano for a first time,” Rachael said as she walked Bobby to the park. “Did you like it?”
“Yeah, it is neat. It is a row of buttons, and when you push the buttons, you get to make noise. And if you do it right, the noise is music.“ He then played Chopsticks on air-piano. “Like this.”
“Good. You keep it up, and you will get to be really good, and you can play for Momma, and she will be so proud of you. We are proud of you anyway, but if you can do something special like play piano, we will be even more proud. So, do you want to go to the park and play some ball?”
“Okay. Is Mikki coming?”
“No, I think Mikki will be just getting out of bed now,” Rachael laughed. “She had a late night. It will just be us.”
“I am better now,” Bobby said. “The boys who play ball at school say I am good enough to play with them. I’m still outfield, but at least I get to play. I can’t hit very good though.”
“Oh, I wish I knew,” Rachael said. “We could have brought the baseball bat and practiced hitting. Maybe tomorrow, if the weather is nice again.”
“Yeah, I don’t like the rain. I didn’t get to play ball. Recess was in the gym.”
Bobby’s skills with the ball and glove were greatly improved. He no longer feared the ball, and could look it into the glove from any distance. Rachael made him stand a ways away and she threw him long, arcing balls, to simulate a pop fly. At first she threw the ball close to where he was standing, but later she threw it off line, so he had to run for it. By the end of the session he was catching those balls about half the time, and was gaining the skill of judging where a ball in the air was going. Finally Rachael called quits.
“My arm is tired, Tiger, I can’t throw any more. But you seem to be doing well. Let’s go home and get ready for dinner.
At the house it seemed that the soup was just right, Rachael strained it, getting out the bones and fat, leaving the meat and broth. She then tossed in a sack of egg noodles from the store. She wanted to try homemade noodles one day, but that day was not today, not without the proper tools.
The soup was complemented by a Bobby ‘sallid’, and sandwiches. Maria was impressed by the little meal. There was quite a bit of soup left, and Rachael put it into margarine containers to take to Grandpa to eat with his sandwiches during the next week. Then it was dishes and bed, and a peaceful end to the day, with Rachel, Bobby, and Maria spread out on his bed, reading Harry Potter to him.
“So the sleepover was a success?” Maria asked as they left the sleeping boy.
“Yeah, we all had a blast. You saw the boobs thing. It was hilarious. They took a picture of me dressed up like Jessica Rabbit. I will show it to you when Mikki gets done with it. The cookies were a hit, and the pizzas were a hit. You just wait until I get another jar of tomato sauce from Mrs. DaSilva. It is so awesome. But the most important thing about the whole night was that Mikki and Larissa made some new friends. From the cool kids. I bet the sleepover will be the talk of the school on Monday.”
“I’m glad you had fun, but I want to tell you that a little guy in there really missed you. I can’t believe how much you two have bonded over the last few weeks. He missed reading Harry Potter with you. I offered to read it with him, but he wouldn’t because then you would miss a part of the book.”
“Aww, I could have read to catch it up.”
“I know, but he didn’t think that way. Harry Potter is a Rachael and Bobby thing in his mind. I did read to him from his library books, but when he went to bed you could see sad eyes. He missed Harry Potter, but mostly he missed his sister.”
“Aww, you are going to make me cry,” Rachael said.
“So have you heard any more from officer Steve?” Rachael then asked.
“He has been to the café several times,” Maria said. “He wants another chance, but I told him I just didn’t think we are right for each other. You know men though. They don’t get it easily. I think he will keep chasing me until I find another man. Like I have a lot of chance doing that as a 30-year-old mother.”
“You’ll find a guy, Mom, I know you will. Look, I’m going to bed early. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
Please help me help Bobby become a good person. I can be there for him for a few years, and what I need to do is make sure that he is a good man when I can no longer be there for him. And can you find me a good man for Mom. One that she will love. Officer Steve is a good man, but somehow they weren’t right for each other.
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