|Chapter 94||Table of Contents||Chapter 96|
Four Mouths, October 4, 2060
Having a baby in the house again was not at all the same as with Anna. This time I was not a curious bystander. I had duties. We took turns getting up at night, but sometimes I was slap-happy from lack of sleep,
With Andrew taking so much of our attention, Anna’s birthday was in danger of passing without making a ripple, so both Edie and I went out of our way to celebrate her day. Anna invited some friends from summer school. We had cake and ice cream and a crying baby. I gave Anna an illustrated book of Aesop’s Fables. Edie gave her clothes. I think she had a good day.
The first day of school for Anna rolled around. I walked the kilometer and a half with her the first day. She could have taken her bike, but we were warned during registration that bike theft was an ongoing problem.
I felt a little strange when I recognized the teacher monitoring the arriving children. He was an old student of mine. Anna was a little startled, but pleased I think, when he spoke to me.
“Good morning, Dr. Fontaine.”
Anna was looking back and forth between us. I kept my focus on her.
“You go ahead now. Mr. Cartwright will see to it you are in the right room.”
I think it made the transition easier for her. The next day she declined my offer of walking with her again. She was going to meet a friend on the way.
I didn’t hear anything but good news until about a week later when Anna complained about one of the other girls.
“She’s mean. She pinches and pulls hair,” Anna pouted.
I wasn’t sure it was time for some fatherly advice, but I decided to try. “As you get older, you are going to run into some people like that. Sometimes you can find out why they misbehave and stop it, but in the end you have to stand up for yourself.”
The next day when I got home, Edie informed me the school had phoned about Anna slapping another student. I asked Anna about it and she said, “I asked Ruth why she was mean to me and she just laughed. So I hit her.”
I never heard about Anna having any more trouble with Ruth.
Friday of that week, when I got home, Edie met me at the door with “Rations have been reduced.” I could see she was worried.
First, I tried to be light. “I’ve been wondering how the tension with the AU would work out. I guess now we know.”
That didn’t cut any ice. I gave her a hug and tried a different tack. Holding her close in my arms, I said, “You know I have been thinking that with another mouth to feed around here, we should expand the greenhouse. What do you think?”
Edie looked at me and I could see her worry lines fade as she began to think about the greenhouse.
“That’s a good idea. I’ll start making panes.”
“Oh no! Not the sludge in the storeroom again!”
She laughed and kissed me on the nose.
“Don’t complain. It’ll only be a week or so.”
I shrugged and kissed her back. “We’ll make plans after supper.”
Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor
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Last modified June 3, 2014