Epilogue 4 – The Fourth Baby

March 29th, 2023

Another talk with Vicki  –

“As I recall it…,” Vicki says, rocking back and forth on the oversized rocking armchair that her son had insisted on, looking down at the blond curls of the wailing baby in her arms.

Ruud looks over at her, shaking his head. “You’re not holding her right,” he says.

“But as I recall, that’s what he told me…”

“Give her to me,” he insists, strong arms reaching out.

But Vicki holds the baby tighter in her arms, and snuggles her close to her breast, breathing in the scent, oblivious to the heaving cries of the child. She starts to sing, “Hush little baby, don’t you cry…” and immediately the baby looks up at her, cheeks still glistening with tears, mouth open. So, Vicki resumes the song, “Gramma’s gonna bake you an apple pie…”

At that moment, Thomas walks in and puts down his suitcase.

“What are you doing back here?” asks Ruud, putting his fingers to his lips.

“Apparently” he stretches out the word for effect… “Apparently we forgot some essential items. Or took what we weren’t supposed to.” As he’s bending down to open up the suitcase, he whispers, “I think he wanted to check in, but don’t tell him I said that.” Just at that moment, the door widens again, and Josh rushes in, and then stops suddenly, as he sees their baby reaching up to Vicki’s mouth, who is still humming the tune she was singing and rocking gently.

“Um, we forgot to unpack May’s bankie. Without it, she usually won’t calm down…” his voice softens and slows as he says the sentence. “What did you do to calm her?” he asks.

“While you’re here,” Ruud says, “Why don’t you settle an argument I’m having with your mother. She insists the whole thing started when a parakeet hit the window and the two of you went to bury it under the trees, and she saw that as an omen.”

Thomas goes over to his mom, and whispers in her ear, “I’m glad we could finally get you a fourth baby.” He squeezes her arm, smiles at his dad, unpacks the bankie, and steers Josh out the door. “I told you they’d be fine,” he whispers as they shut the door quietly behind them.

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