"Hello Ms. Lu!"
Charlotte jumped in alarm at the unexpected interruption. "Mr. Collins, I didn't know we were expecting yo—" she trailed off, as she looked up and noticed the tiny child in his arms. "Is that a baby?"
"Oh yes! Little Winnipeg and I just dropped in to greet everyone before we get settled into our new dwelling."
"What is happening here?"
"Did Ms. DeBourgh not inform you that I was returning?" Mr. Collins frowned. "I thought for certain she would have enlightened you on our plans." He grinned. "No matter. We are here now and tomorrow, you and I can sit down to review our most recent analytics. I have already peeked at them and, I must say they are very fascinating indeed."
"Uh, sure." Charlotte looked down at the calendar on her desk. "I'm free at 10:30."
"Perfect! We shall see you then."
"Myself and Winnipeg of course!" He jiggled the small child. "We go everywhere together."
"What about Jamie?" Charlotte asked, but the doorway was already empty and no answers were forthcoming.
Over the next several weeks, Mr. Collins showed up to work every day with the baby as though it were perfectly normal to return from another country with a child, no wife and no explanation whatsoever. The baby was always impeccably dressed in tiny little suits complete with clip-on ties (since real ties were a choking hazard, Mr. Collins had explained to Charlotte one afternoon), and Mr. Collins spoke to the baby, well, the same way he spoke to everyone else.
"Now you see these graphs, Winnipeg?" he told the baby in the middle of a meeting one day. "They are most exciting because they show us that our projected viewers are indubitably equal to —"
"You know the kid can't understand all that, right?" One of the interns interrupted. "It's just a baby."
"Oh, not so," Mr. Collins returned. "Babies have very intelligent minds and are very commonly underestimated. I have done extensive research into the subject and it is incredibly fascinating."
Although Charlotte thought the whole situation to be odd, it didn't really bother her. The baby was surprisingly calm and, for the most part, her job hadn't changed much at all.
When Lizzie heard about it however, she was full of questions. "What about Jamie? Don't you think it's weird she didn't come back with him? Are they even married? Does she really exist?"
Charlotte had rolled her eyes and smiled at Lizzie's continued theory that Jamie wasn't real. "I don't ask questions, I just do my job."
"But aren't you the least bit curious why he suddenly turned up with a baby? Ricky Collins with a baby! I mean, how is it even still alive?"
"It's a pretty healthy baby, actually."
"Also, are we even sure it's his child? How do you know he didn't kidnap it and flee from Canada? It would explain the unexpected return."
"I'm pretty sure Winnipeg is his, Lizzie."
"That's another thing. Who saddles a child with a name like that? The poor thing."
"Mr. Collins really likes Winnipeg, I guess."