Sunday, May 15, 2011

Instant Parenthood

I woke up in the morning to the smell of Vigil's cologne. He was rushing around our bedroom, his movements tense with nervous energy. 

I reached down to pet Noah and scratch behind his ears. Instead of feeling a cool tongue lick my hand I heard a human giggle and felt human skin.

I leaned over the bed and saw a Human infant. 

The puppy with the cute blue collar was now a human baby with a collar. I reached over to pick up the baby and removed the collar. 

"What's this?" Vigil asked. 

"I let a stray dog, just a little puppy in last night and now..." I said. "This is so strange. Animals don't just turn into people over night-" 

"They do here. I saw something last night. Something amazing and at the same time frightening. Dangerous." 

"What?" 

"There's a sorceress living here. She has the ability to turn people into animals." 

Noah reached with his tiny fingers, for my breast. "Sorry, Little One. There's nothing on tap here." I said. "Is that why Blaze-"

"Had us come here? No. That was a trap set by a fake Blaze and Damiana. I would have thought I'd know my own brother." 

In fairness, I wasn't listening to my husband. I was making a mental list of all the things we'd need with Noah staying with us. Kibble, baby formula, diapers, a pooper scooper. Some clothing. 

Expectant mothers have baby showers, but what happens when a miracle shows up at your front door and you're thrust into instant parenthood with no preparations at all? 

Suddenly, we were parents and pet owners all at once. 

"C'mon, Holly. Get up and dressed for Mass. I'll look after our little changeling here." Vigil said and took Noah from my arms. "I wonder why this little fella didn't make any noise when I came in last night. No, not the tie. We'll find you something good for you to eat soon, I promise." Vigil said. 

I got into the shower and started running the water. I squeezed some shampoo into my hand and felt lips and breath on my neck. 

My husband was in the shower with me. 

"Vigil, what are you doing? You were dressed! What about Noah!" 

"Noah's fine. He's on the floor playing in an overturned laundry basket." Vigil whispered. "Water feels so good. Let's be a little naughty today. Skip church. I'll tell Uncle Mark something came up." 

"We do have Noah now. And no car seat or clothing or food for him to eat." I said. 

"Or a crib." Vigil added. "Hence my improvising with the laundry basket."

Noah

I finished putting away the dishes from dinner and heard scratching and whimpering sounds. 

I opened the door. A small white dog with pointy ears and a fluffy wagging tail danced excitedly at my feet. 

I reached down to pet the dog and he laid down and rolled over showing me he's definitely a he! I rubbed his belly and he licked my hand. 

The tag on his collar said his name was Noah. I checked him for fleas and put a pot on the stove to boil him a cup of rice. 

I took out another pot and hard boiled an egg for Noah. 

When the rice and egg finished cooking, I served them to the excited pooch and also set down a bowl of cool water. "I'm sorry, but this will have to do until I can get to the store tomorrow." 

Noah didn't seem to mind. He ate happily while I washed the two pots. 

After dinner, I went into the living room and turned on the TV, but there was nothing on. I thought about reading a book. 

I went upstairs and found an old pair of socks I didn't really wear much any more. I tied a knot in each  sock. 

"Look, Noah! Toys!" I said and dangled one of the socks. Noah jumped up and caught the sock in his mouth. He pulled and I pulled. 

He let go and I threw it. He went and got it and brought it back to me. 

I was getting attached to Noah already. If Vigil didn't like or want to keep the little pup, I would be devastated. 

Later, when Noah and I were both tired from our exciting game of Fetch, I took an old blanket out of the linen closet and put it beside the bed.

Noah arranged the blanket to his liking and curled into a ball. 

Neither of us woke until the key turned in the lock downstairs. 

Noah took off from the blanket, yipping. 

I put on my robe and followed Noah. Just in case, I picked up a large heavy book Vigil left on the night stand and a notecard flew out. 

Vigil had scribbled odd equations on the card in some kind of code. 

I opened the book back up and put the card back inside. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dependency Versus Independence

"I have to go." Vigil said and got up from the couch. 

"Go where?" I asked. 

"Sheriff Buckman just called-" 

"Sheriff Buckman again?" 

"He... Deputized me. Unofficially." 

"Deputy Merriday? I like the sound of that. Sexy." I whispered and started to put my hands around my husband's waist. "Not an ounce of body fat." 

"Not right now, Holly. I'll be home as soon as I can. Don't open the door to anyone while I'm gone." Vigil said and kissed me. 

I kissed back, trying to give him a reason to stay. 

"I can't." Vigil said. "I have to-" 

And then I thought about what I was doing and why and I stopped. 

I'm not that kind of wife. I realized. Dependent. Begging. 

Needy. 

Not attractive. Not attractive at all. 

"Never mind." I said, straightening myself up. "Do what you need to do and come home." I said and kissed Vigil again. This time on the cheek.

Vigil looked at me. "Are you sure you're all right?" 

"I'm fine. I just realized that I was being a little clingy." 

"That's fine. At least I know I'm appreciated. I promise I will be home as soon as I can. Besides, next weekend, you and I have a date." 

"A date?" 

"I'm taking you to the prom to co chaperone with me."  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

I decided to call my Mom. I'd put a card in the mail last week, but I just thought that was the proper thing to do when it comes to a long distance relationship with one's parents.

"Good Morning, Mom. Happy Mother's Day!"

"Are you pregnant? A grandchild would be a wonderful gift-"

"No, Mom. Not yet."

Mom sighed on the other line.

"Vigil and I have only been married for sixteen months. And Father Mark has been asking as well. As soon as anything happens, you'll be the first to know, I promise."

The truth was that we were actually trying, but just hadn't been successful yet.

Kind of a shame given how nice Vigil's gene pool would be to "swim" in.

When I first introduced Vigil to Mom, her comment was how "pretty" he is.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

First Day

I walked into the office on Monday with my best purse, wearing my best suit dress, my hair was even behaving itself. 

"What are you doing here, Holly?" Blaze asked. 

"You wanted me to come in today-" I said. 

"I called Vigil last night. There's been a change of plans. I don't want you here right now." Blaze said. 

"Why not?" 

"It's for your own protection, Holly. Damiana is a bigger threat than I originally thought." Blaze said. "Sheriff Buckman will escort you home. Make sure you're safe." 

"Come on, Mrs. Merriday. I don't want to deal with your husband if anything happens to you." Sheriff Buckman said and extended his hand in my direction.

"Are YOU O.K., Sheriff? " I asked.

Sheriff Buckman just looked at me. 

"You seemed pretty upset yesterday morning at the church." 

"Oh, that?" Sheriff Buckman waved off what appeared to have been a nervous breakdown of some kind. 

We were both quiet for the rest of the walk home. Then I remembered something that he said earlier that upset me. Something about how he didn't want to make my husband mad by leaving me unprotected.

"What did you mean when you said you wouldn't want to deal with Vigil if something happened to me? He's just a schoolteacher. YOU'RE the town sheriff!"

"And Clark Kent is a journalist and Bruce Wayne is a businessman."

"Are you implying my husband has some kind of double life I don't know about?" I asked.

"Has Vigil told you why he moved you back to Sparkle Grove with him?"

"Back? You mean he lived here before?"

"Yup. He and Doc Merriday grew up here. Father Mark raised them. He wasn't a priest back then, though."

"Why did he lie to me?"

"Same reason any noble guy would lie: to protect his lady." 

"Protect me from what?" 

"It's best you not know. At least for now." 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Morning Surprises

As nice as it was to have a sunny and beautiful Easter the week before, we were doubly blessed with perfect weather for Divine Mercy Sunday as well.

Blaze saw us coming and rose from the kneeler to greet us. He hugged both of us, but gave me a kiss on the cheek as well.

"Did you tell Holly about the job offer?" Blaze asked Vigil.

"Friday night." Vigil replied. "This isn't going to be much of a secret if we discuss it in public, Blaze."

"Fair enough. Damiana IS the type to plot retaliation anyway. Which is why Sheriff Buckman will also be at the office after the termination conference. If Damiana tries anything, she'll be arrested. On the spot." Blaze said.

The Procession music started and we saw Father Mark standing in his white and gold Easter season vestments.

Uncle Mark was smiling, radiant and at perfect peace.

And then a disheveled, filthy man in torn clothing appeared in the doorway with a sobering annnouncement: "The Devil is here! Ancient Evil has come to Sparkle Grove! In female form! Help me! I have Fallen from Grace!"

The congregation turned to see the distraction pulling us from perfect Peace.

Our resident peace officer, Sheriff Robert Buckman, practically naked and wild eyed, stood in the narthex.

The law man was shaking and crying.

Father Mark went to him and embraced him. "Come, my Child. Come and hear the healing Word. It will be all right."

Blaze slid out of our pew and headed toward Father Mark and Sheriff Buckman.

"Blaze, take your seat." Father Mark said.

"I need to examine Sheriff Buckman for head trauma, Uncle Mark. He could have had a seizure."  Blaze replied. "Possibly drug induced."

Vigil sighed, removed his glasses, closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Here we go. The age old debate of Faith vs. Modern Medicine."

"Sheriff Buckman came HERE to the Church. He did not go to the hospital." Father Mark said. "He came to seek Spiritual healing."

"And now the debate over which is more important, the Spirit or the Body." Vigil said and put his glasses back on.

"They do this a lot?" I whispered.

"All our lives growing up. Uncle Mark raised us when Dad died. Then, well, we never really knew what happened to Mom. Uncle Mark never got married or had any kids of his own. He went into the seminary when Blaze and I went off to college."

I watched as Father Mark took off his vestments and put them on Sheriff Buckman. The congregation gasped and whispered among themselves.

Father Mark and Blaze helped Sheriff Buckman to a pew in the front row.

The deacon pointed out to the narthex and an altar server hurried away. The altar server came back a few moments later with another pristine vestment, which Father Mark promptly put on over his own pants and shirt.

The Processional hymn started all over again and though delayed, Mass began.

Sheriff Buckman sat in the front pew on the right side of the Church, his arms folded and rocking back and forth. Blaze stayed beside Sheriff Buckman.

I couldn't concentrate on the Mass.

I was too worrried about poor Sheriff Buckman and what had happened to him on Saturday night. 

I was also beginning to reconsider my promise for Monday morning.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Another Day, Another Drama

"Why don't you go and work for Blaze?" Vigil asked between bites of eggplant parmesan last night.

Even though Lent had ended for the year, I was on autopilot and made a meatless dish out of habit.

"Your brother?" I asked, nearly dropping the roll I was buttering.

"Yeah. Unless you know another Blaze..."

"No. I think we're thinking of the same one, but he's your brother and I'm your wife and won't that look bad?"

"You care too much about what people think, Hols."

"Are things going okay at the school?"

"Things at the school are fine. I just don't want you to feel unfulfilled."

"Then you don't know me as well as you think you do." I said.

The truth is, I'm a homebody. I can be perfectly comfortable at home cleaning, cooking, and baking. Nothing makes me happier than the scent of a loaf of fresh bread baking in the oven.

"You'll get to know people in town."

"Can't I do that at the church?"

"I just don't want you to feel like I'm holding you down or back or anything like that." Vigil said and started pushing his food around his plate with his fork.

He's cute when he pouts. Well, he's cute all the time.

It still amazes me how we got together.

I clean up okay, but most of the time I'm sort of your average Plain Jane.

Bare minimum make up wise. A little eyeliner. Maybe some mascara if my allergies aren't too bad. Swipe of blush and something on my lips to make them a little shiny and keep them from chapping.

Pippa insisted I get a cute new dress and have my hair done for her birthday party. Where Vigil and I met.

"You got quiet."

"I was just thinking about when we met."

"And Pippa."

"How did you know?"

"You always smile when you think about Pippa."

"How can you not?"

"Have you heard from her lately?"

"She sent me a text the other day. Her mother is definitely slipping away a little bit at a time every day. But Pippa is still her same bright, cheery self."

"Pippa would tell you to take the job with Blaze." Vigil said and smiled.

I sighed. I knew Vigil was right. We both knew our mutual friend well. "O.K. First thing Monday morning I will go over there with my resume-" I promised.

"You don't need a resume."

"That's not fair to other applicants."

"There are no other applicants. There are only three people who know there's a job opening at the practice: Blaze, me, and now you. He asked for you specifically, Holly."

"Really?"

"He knows you have compassion and empathy. Something lacking in his current personnel."

"I'm replacing someone?"

"Morale is practically non existent. Blaze is even losing patients. Pun intended. Blaze knows you well enough to know that you will be fair, but kind. He can't say the same for his current employee and her minions."

"I'm not sure I want to work someplace with 'minions'." I said.

"You'll do fine, Holly."

I took a sip of my wine and frowned. Something about this job sounded like I might be taking on more than I bargained for. Of course, it was a difficult economy. Some extra money might be a good idea.

Just in case an emergency of some kind came up.