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I Dreamt I Could Fly; Chapter 3
“Grace, I need you to check on things in the kitchen. I have to continue being a host and our appetizers aren’t out yet. Go now,” My mother hissed into my ear. I smiled to myself, glad to have not been in trouble and to have a reason to enter the kitchen.
“Okay,” I whispered back and slid into the room we once called a kitchen. I surveyed the chaos present in the room and swallowed the laughter wanting to come out. A small toddler was on the table with a whisk in her chubby hand and another little boy crawled around the floor, a pot settled on his mat of brown hair. I let out a giggle and eased further in.
“Kate, I can’t find Laura,” wailed someone, I recognized as Miranda. A very pregnant lady stepped out from behind the fridge and looked past me towards the garage.
“Look in the back of the van, behind the large cooler. That’s where she usually hides out.” The woman, who I figured was Kate, turned around and started hunting through the fridge again.
There was a loud wail coming from the little girl and Kate hurried up to her. She swept her into her arms and started to rock her back and forth. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched her calm the screaming child.
“Hey Kate, where is Mike?” A deep familiar voice wafted through the room and entered my ears. The tears instantly disappeared and I looked away from the mother and child. I sucked in a breath, ready for what came next.
A long, lean figure strode through the door and rested against the frame. I shrunk back hoping to go unnoticed. But, my movement caught Jacob’s eye and he stared in my direction. I flipped through my brain trying to remember how to smile but he had already torn his gaze from me. He swallowed loudly and cleared his throat. “Never mind Kate, I will find him.”
Sadly, I watched as he took one more look at me before exiting the room with a graceful lope.
“I wonder what that was all about,” Kate said aloud, setting down the cooing child. She waddled back over to the fridge and sighed loudly. “Now where is the butter?”
“It’s on the top shelf by the milk,” I volunteered.
“Ouch,” Kate yelped and backed out of the fridge. I winced and leaned against the counter. She turned towards me with a packet of butter in her hands. “Thanks.”
“Yeah.” I said as she eased up to the counter and started to measure out ingredients in a pot. “My mom told me to come and check on everything. They don’t have any appetizers yet.”
Kate looked up at me with a frightened expression. “Your mother is the one who hired us? Oh no, is she angry?”
“No just, a little frustrated.” A loud crash came from the other room and we could hear my mom yelling at the person who dropped everything. “Never mind; now she is pissed.”
“Great,” Kate said sarcastically and went back to measuring her ingredients. Suddenly the door slid open and Miranda ran in with a girl trailing behind her. I scrutinized the girl with obvious distaste; her dark blonde hair was messily tied up in a scrunchie, her outfit was wrinkled and out of date, and to top it off, she was biting her nails. My nose wrinkled in disgust before looking at Miranda. She grimaced briefly at me before turning to Kate.
“We need food out there now. Her mom is about to lose it,” she pointed at me and Kate squeezed her eyes shut. I looked back and forth between the two and frowned.
“I can help.” The words shot out of my mouth before I could stop them. Everybody turned to me, widening their eyes in surprise. I am going to regret this. I need to leave now. “I’m a really good cook and I’m fast.”
“We would love to have you helping us.” Kate smiled at me. I raised my eyebrows and looked at Miranda.
“Yeah, I guess she could help,” Miranda muttered under her breath.
“What do you need me to do?”
“Arrange the shrimp on the platter and add a bowl of cocktail sauce. Then, hand it to Miranda or Laura.” Kate handed me a few silver platters and pointed to the table where a large covered bowl sat waiting for me. The toddlers were sitting on the floor playing with each other. “You will need to start peeling the shrimp after arranging the second platter. If you need help I will send Jake in here.”
Don’t be a fool. Leave them. Go back and call Nat or Bailey. Go party.
“That doesn’t seem so bad,” I said, ignoring the voice. I quickly set the platters onto the table. And I get to see who this Jake is.
The little girl giggled; it was a high-pitched happy sound. Kate let out a laugh too and smiled at the little girl. For the first time I noticed the little girl’s looks. She was small and chubby but in the cute way. She had blonde hair—like Kate’s—that was pulled up into two pigtails. The little boy was the same way, but with long brown hair that looked kind of like Jacob’s.
“Yes, and these are the twins. I couldn’t get a babysitter so they had to come with us. This is Bailey and Mark.” Kate slid her hand across her stomach, smiling to herself. “And this here, this is little Christopher. He is due in a month.”
“They are adorable,” I commented, watching the little kids play with each other.
Kate looked back up at me and smiled. “God granted us a miracle by putting you here.” I glanced at her from the corner of my eye.
“God?” I scoffed. “What does God have to do with this?” Kate’s smile wavered a moment before falling.
“I’m sorry. I have been to bold. But if you ever need a job, we’re available.” She slipped out of the room, leaving me to my work. Sighing, I started shoving shrimp onto a tray and grabbed a bowl of the red sauce. I thrust the tray a Laura who left quickly, wanting to get out of there as fast as she could.
“Are you not a believer?” I heard Miranda ask behind me. I kept shoveling shrimp onto another tray and didn’t look at her.
“Am I a believer of what?” I asked but still did not turn.
“God, Heaven, the Bible.” She placed a comforting hand on my shoulder. “All of that kind of stuff.”
“My mom does, but I-I just don’t know right now,” I replied, shrugging her hand off. Without taking my eyes away from the shrimp, I handed her a tray. “You need to get out there.”
Miranda left quietly and I sat down, peeling shrimp as fast as I could. Bailey sat on the floor beside my chair and I smiled down at her. She held her hands up; a silent plea to pick her up. I did as she wanted and set her in my lap. Continuing to peel shrimp, I began to sing softly into her ear. Soon enough, Bailey fell asleep in my lap and Mark was curled into a ball at my feet. I eased Bailey in next to him and watched as the twins snuggled closer together.
Suddenly, there was a pair of hands working silently beside mine. They were tan with long fingers and quick movements. I smiled wryly to myself and threw another shrimp skin on the plate in front of me.
“You must be Jake,” I accused lightly. The guy beside me chuckled and mumbled agreement under his breath. “Well I’m Gra—.”
Looking up, I froze in mid-sentence. Bright blue eyes stared back down at me and Jacob smiled.
“I know,” he said and looked back down at his shrimp.
“I didn’t know you had a nickname,” I replied still looking at his profile. Up close I could see the faint stubble shadowing his chin as if he didn’t shave this morning and his hair curled slightly at the nape of his neck. I clenched my fist, not wanting to reach out and touch him.
“A lot of people have nicknames,” he mused aloud. “You don’t?”
“Nope,” I laughed; a low, nervous laugh, unusual for me. “I guess I’m not up to par am I?”
“I guess not,” he murmured. “By the way, you are a great singer.”
I grinned at my plate of shrimp. “Thanks.”
The silence that followed was deafening. I could literally feel the awkwardness in the room.
“How are you doing that so quickly?” Jake asked abruptly. I looked up at him, shocked at his outburst.
“W-what?” I stammered. He looked intensely at my hands as if they were going to break away from my arms at any moment.
“You’ve peeled five shrimp while I have only peeled one.” Laughing, I threw the skin on a plate and grabbed another one. In one swift motion I pulled off the skin and legs at the same time. “Six. Now I feel like a wimp.” He chuckled and tried to pull off the legs and skin the same way I did. The little shrimp slipped out of his hands and landed on the floor. We both laughed and I handed him another shrimp to try. My skin brushed against his and goose bumps slid up my arm.
“When I was younger, my dad used to eat shrimp all the time. He loved it and if you didn’t peel shrimp fast enough then you wouldn’t get to eat. It was really funny when I had friends over and my dad cooked shrimp and...” I stopped and cast my eyes downwards.
“And what?” Jake’s voice bubbled inside of him like little kids on Christmas day.
“Nothing.” My voice broke and I wiped angrily at my watering eyes. The door opened and I turned, hoping to see Miranda. But instead, my mom stood at the doorway with her arms crossed over her chest.
“Grace Lowry, where have you been? You have family to talk to,” my mother scolded and glared at me, fire burning brightly in her eyes. With tears burning in my eyes, I pushed past her and ran into the hallway.
“Hey Grace,” Aunt Linda said and smiled at me.
“There’s my Gracie-bear.” My Grandfather held out his arms to offer me a hug.
“Gracie!” my sister yelled from across the room.
“No,” I mouthed and slowly shook my head. Turning away from them, I sprinted up the stairs and into my room. I slammed the door behind me and hopped onto my bed. I laid my head down on a pillow and stifled a sob. Reluctantly, I glanced over at one of the frames on my bedside table.
I reached past the pictures of my friends and the photo of me and my sister to another frame behind them.
A black square with red hearts dotting the edges, it held one of my favorite pictures. I plucked it off the table and looked once more into my dad’s smiling face. In the photo, he had his arm around me and we were both making funny faces at the camera. With my finger, I started to trace the outline of our faces. I saw my eyes in his and even our hair color matched; pitch black that could not curl no matter what.
“Dad,” I sighed. I held the photo frame against my chest and finally let the tears come. They streamed down my face and I choked out a sob. Soon, the sobs turned to shudders and I fell into a restless sleep.