Chapter 7: Do Fish Get Thirsty? (4 years old--Day after the barroom brawl)
"Daddy, daddy, daddy!" Charlotte called, running into the house, Thackery close on her heels.
Edward came around the corner, looking terrible with a swollen eye. Charlotte and Thackery gasped. "Daddy, what happened?"
"A bad man wanted to fight daddy last night."
"Did you get a good punch in, daddy?" Thackery asked excitedly.
"Thackery, fighting is unacceptable."
"That means you did!"
"I did lose me temper and hit him back. But I quickly realized what I was doing and walked away."
"Why did he hit you?" Charlotte asked.
"Because he was a terrible person and he wasn't nice to mommy."
Charlotte furrowed her brow and looked at me. I sighed and said, "Why don't you guys tell your daddy what we did today."
Charlotte's face lit up once more. "We're going to Kindergarten!"
Edward feigned surprise for her sake and grabbed the wo kids into a hug. "That's wonderful. My two babies all grown up and going to school."
"Yeah, just a matter of time before they're both married and having kids of their own," I said, pulling a frozen pizza from the freezer and preheating the oven.
Edward looked at me sternly. "Don't even joke."
I laughed. Charlotte tugged on his shirt. "Will school be hard?"
"Not if you study and try very hard."
"Geez, Lottie. Quit worryin'," Thackery said.
"We'll go shopping this weekend and get you guys some clothes and supplies. How's that sound."
The kids launched into excited talk with each other and I finished preparing them lunch. I looked out of the kitchen window and the U-Haul in the driveway next door caught my attention. "Looks like someone bought the house next door."
"So I saw," Edward said. "They've got two kids, about Lottie and Thackery's age. And a Golden Retriever."
"Have you been watching our next door neighbors?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
He grinned. "Maybe. A little."
"That's voyeuristic," I told him. "Are they interesting?"
"I can't tell. they've been unpacking all day."
I laughed. The kids looked up and saw the two children next door. "Mommy, can we go talk to them?" Thackery asked.
"After you eat."
"But, mommy," Thackery argued.
"No, no arguing. Food first."
They ate quickly and Thackery jumped up. "I'm done. Let's go, Lottie."
She took a final bite of her pizza and I stopped her to wipe her mouth. "You're daddy will take you over. Don't overwhelm them."
The began out of the kitchen, but Charlotte stopped and smacked her forehead. "Oh, no! Daddy, we have to feed Emmy."
"Emmy?" he asked as she took her hand.
"The gold fishie I won last night."
Thackery stomped his foot impatiently and I chided him. "Thackery James, You can wait five minutes. These people are going to live next to us."
He pouted silently and I heard Charlotte telling Edward all about how she had tossed a ring around a glass milk bottle and won a gold fish, which she nicknamed Emmy after Emmett. Thackery gave up and follwed after them.
"I had to toss a rind around a bottle. And I won him," Charlotte was telling me excitedly.
I smiled at her happiness as she regaled the tale of her adventures at the carnival with Emmett. Thackery rolled his eyes. "Yeah. After you threw the ring, like, fifty gazillion times."
Charlotte frowned at her brother. "You're just jealous because I won Emmy and you didn't win anything!"
Thackery glared at her. "Nah-uh!"
"Kids, an we feed the fish?" I asked, breaking them up. "Thackery, leave your sister alone. She's happy she won a fish."
"Here he is, daddy!" she said, showing me a plastic baggie with a fish inside.
"We need to get him a bowl to swim in until I can get to the pet store and get him a fishbowl."
"Thackery, go get a bowl."
"No," he replied to her.
I sighed. "Thackery, go ask your mother for a bowl."
He stomped off and went to the kitchen. Charlotte turned back to her fish. "His name is Emmy, like Uncle Emmett."
"I can see the resemblance," I joked, poking the baggie.
"I have the food for him," she said, pulling it out.
A look of sheer confusion and terror crossed her face. "Daddy, do fish get thirsty?"
I laughed. Thackery stomped back in with a big plastic bowl. "Of course not, dummy. Fish can't drink."
Charlotte glared at him and I did as well. "Thackery, if you continue to act like a brat towards your sister, you will be sent to your room. Understood?"
Charlotte looked back up to me, the question still burning in her eyes. I smiled. "No, darlin.' The fish drink the water they live in. You just have to feed him a small pinch of food every day."
She tried to untie the knot that kept the baggie closed. She couldn't do it, and I gently took it from her. "Here, allow me."
I opened it swiftly and went to dump the water and fish into the bowl. "Be careful!" Charlotte warned anxiously. "Don't hurt him!"
I smiled and carefully poured the fish into the bowl. "There, now just a pinch of food."
She took a handful and before I could stop her, she had it at the top of the bowl. I sighed. "That was not a pinch."
I took a small pinch of fish food in my fingertips. "This much next time, Lottie."
"Oh," she said, frowning.
"It's all right, kid. Now you know for next time," I told her.
Thackery got up impatiently. "Can we go next door now?"
I stood up and nodded. "Sure, let's go. Be polite and don't overwhelm them. They're probably tired from the move."
"Bella, scoop some of that food from the top," I whispered to Bella as the kids led the way out the front door.
Charlotte walked shyly, with her hands clasped behind her back. Surprisingly, Thackery stood on the porch. "What is it, Thackery?" I asked, worried at his sudden hesitance.
I followed his gaze to where a small girl with bright golden hair was picking flowers from the grass of her front yard. Thackery's mouth had fallen open slightly. I smiled slightly at his reaction. "Are we going? Today?"
"I can't go over there," Thackery replied, horror-struck.
"Sure you can. Just go tell them your name."
"Daddy…she's the prettiest girl in the world. More than mommy."
I smiled at him. "Thackery, you're four years old. Get over there and say hi."
Thackery walked slowly to the next door neighbor's house, where Charlotte was introducing the whole family. "And this is my daddy. And that's Thackery. He's my twin."
"I'm older," Thackery said.
The middle aged woman who stood listening to Charlotte, while holding a box, smiled kindly at her. "I'm Ms. Debbie. This is Ashley," she said, motioning to the golden haired girl.
Ashley gave a shy smile to us all, and Thackery beamed back. Bella would get a kick out of this puppy dog crush when she found out. "My husband, Patrick, is out picking up lunch. And this little ray of sunshine is Christopher," she said, motioning to a grumpy looking boy of about five.
"Hi," was all he said.
"Be polite, Chris," his mother reprimanded.
"I don't want to live here, mommy."
"I know. We've talked about this, Chris."
Christopher rolled his eyes. I smiled. "Well, we'll let you get settled in. Don't be afraid to come and ask for help with anything. We're always happy to help."
"Thanks. It's nice to know that not all of our neighbors are going to be hideously rude."
I laughed slightly. "I see you've met old man Miller. He's been like that ever since his wife died a few years back."
Debbie frowned. "Ah. Still o excuse to treat the rest of the world like dirt."
"She was murdered. In a car jacking. He blames all other humans, suspects all."
Debbie's eyes widened. "Oh my God. That poor man."
I shrugged. "He's a lot better than he used to be. Anyway, come on kids. We should get home. Your mom will get mad if your rooms aren't cleaned."
"Bye, Ashley," Thackery said.
"Bye bye Thackery. And Charlotte. And Edward," she smiled shyly at me.
We went back home and Thackery ran up to his room. Charlotte lingered a little longer downstairs. "Thackery's being funny."
"He thinks Ashley's pretty. That's all," I told her.
I laughed. "I think your mother's very pretty," I pointed out.
"Yeah. But you're old," she told me.
I laughed once more. "Maybe I am. Why don't you go clean your room."
"What about the vacuum?" she asked.
"I'll do that. Just pick up your toys and make your bed."
The vacuuming was hard for both kids (though Thackery tried to act tough) because the machine was simply too heavy. Charlotte liked when I did the vacuuming because I always danced and sang like a woman and it made her laugh. It was a very cheap and easy incentive to get her to clean her room. Thackery's room was almost always dirty. Until his mother grounded him.
I went upstairs to check up on his progress. "TJ, pal, how's it coming?"
I found him running away from the window quickly, trying to scoop toys into his tiny arms. I raised an eyebrow and went to the window. Ashley was sitting on a large box in the front yard, coming a Barbie's hair. "You are just smitten aren't you?" I asked.
"What's that mean?" he asked, turning red.
"Nothing. You better have all these toys in the toy box. Half an hour."
"That's not enough time, daddy."
"Stay away from the window."
He stomped his foot and I walked out and into Charlotte's room. It was relatively clean, and she was coloring at her little table."
"How's it going, kid?"
"That was fast. You didn't shove it all under your bed."
She glared at me. "No, daddy."
I laughed at her pout. "You're right. That would be your brother. What are you coloring?"
"A piggy," she said, showing me her paper.
"Why is he green. He looks a little sick."
"He's not sick. He's like the horsey on the Wizard of Oz."
"Ah. Very nice. Can I color, too?"
"Of course," she gestured toward her large piles of coloring books.
I picked up a book with an intricate rainforest scene on the front. "Not in that one!" Charlotte warned.
"Why?" I asked, placing it at the bottom of the pile.
"Because. That's the one uncle Emmett gave me. No one can color in it."
"Ah. How about this one?" I asked, holding up a Christmas coloring book.
She gave it a long hard look. "Okay."
I opened the book and began coloring a reindeer. I decided to follow her lead and color it purple. "Daddy, Rudolph's not purple," Charlotte told me knowledgeably.
I shrugged. "Maybe he fell in a tub of the paint the elves use to paint bicycles."
She looked up at me. "I don't think so, daddy."
I laughed. "Well then why is he purple?"
"Because your silly."
I shrugged. "I'll give you that."
"Daddy?" she asked meekly.
"When can we get bikes?"
"You have a bike," I pointed out.
"I want a big girl bike."
"You're only four."
"So?" she asked.
I sighed. "I'll talk to mommy about it."
I finished coloring and wrote, "To Lottie, Love daddy" at the top. She surveyed it. "How come you can color in the lines? Mine doesn't stay in the lines."
"You just have to be careful. Don't go so fast. You're doing pretty good, though. Not too much out of the lines."
"Are you gonna vacuum?" she asked.
I smiled widely. "I'll go get it."
She laughed when I kissed her hair. I started down the stairs to retrieve the vacuum when the doorbell rang. I went to answer it and found Christopher. "Can Thackery and Charlotte come out to play?"
"Come on in, I'll call them"
He stepped in and did the typical one over of our living room. "Lottie, TJ, come down here, please," I called at the foot of the stairs.
I heard the pitter-patter of their tiny feet and then they came running down the stairs. "Christopher!" Charlotte said in surprise, while Thackery asked, "Where's Ashley?"
"She's outside. Can you come out and play?"
The three children looked to me. "Please daddy?" my two kids begged, while Christopher asked, "Please, Mr. Edward"
I bit my lip. Bella could be potentially angry that I let them out when were supposed to be cleaning their rooms. "Okay. I'll handle mommy. Check in in one hour."
"Every hour. On the dot. And don't go any farther than next door."
"But," Charlotte started.
"No buts. No farther than next door. One hour. Stay where I can see you."
TJ sighed. "Fine. Come on."
I walked into the kitchen, where Bella was talking on the phone. "Bye, dad. See you."
She hung up and rolled her eyes. "He can talk a hole in your head. Who was at the door?"
"The kids next door."
"Oh? How are our neighbors? Evil Stepford wife? Crazy chauvinistic husband? Spawn of Lucifer himself?"
I laughed. "Normal middle aged housewife. Haven't met the husband. Cranky son. Shy daughter."
"Darn," she replied.
I laughed again. "TJ's quite smitten with the daughter. Ashley."
Bella looked up from the counter she was wiping. "He's four."
"Almost five. He thinks she's pretty," I shrugged.
"Should we be worried?" she asked.
"He's four," I reminded her with her own words.
"True," she sighed. "We'll be worried when puberty hits."
I nodded. "I let them out for an hour."
"Are their rooms clean?" she asked.
I gave her a guilty look. "Charlotte's almost is…Thackery…Well…you know him."
She slapped her thigh. "Damn it, Edward. I've been telling them for three days to clean their rooms. And here you go, undermining my authority."
"They were excited about our new neighbors. They can clean them after dinner."
"They take their baths after dinner, and then bed time," she said, her lips pursed.
"They can clean while the other one bathes. Come on, lighten up. They just wanted to meet the new kids."
She sighed. "Asshole."
I laughed. "Nice. Really mature."
She looked up at me and sighed. "Your eye looks terrible."
"It feels terrible," I said, touching it lightly. "Throbbing like a mother."
She nodded sympathetically. "I wonder what the next door neighbors thought."
"Who cares? I don't really give off a dangerous vibe, do I?"
"Not at all," Bella replied.
"Bella," I said, acting offended. "You're supposed to tell me I am dangerous."
I wrapped my arms around her waist. "But you aren't," she replied, placing her hands on my shoulder.
"Take that back. Tell me I'm dangerous," I told her, leaning down to kiss her.
"Nope," she replied, kissing me gently.
"Ew, God!" Thackery said.
"Mommy!" Charlotte said.
I looked to four small children in my kitchen. "What's the matter?" I asked.
"Can we have some popsicles?" Thackery asked.
"You can have one. Dinner's soon."
Bella got them from the freezer and cut the ends off of them. They were the kind that you pushed up. "What color?" she asked.
"Pink," Ashley said.
"That was the one I wanted," Charlotte said. "You can have it. I'll take green."
"Red," Chris said.
"Yes! Yellow!" TJ said.
The kids turned to run away. "How about a thank you?" Bella called.
"Thanks, mommy!" the twins called while the kids next door said, "Thank you, Mrs. Edward's wife."
I laughed and plopped down in a chair. The kids came back, ten minutes late, but back nonetheless. "Can we stay out longer, daddy?" Charlotte asked.
"Please," Thackery added.
"I don't think so guys. How about you guys come in and have some dinner. Mommy made chicken nuggets and mac and cheese."
"Oh, chicken nuggets!" Thackery said. "I'll see you tomorrow, guys."
"Bye, TJ. Bye Cherry," Chris said.
"Cherry?" I asked as I closed the door.
"Her hair reminds Chris of cherries," TJ said.
"Cherry?" I asked again, this time in disgust.
"I like it," Charlotte said. "That's what I want to be called."
"Okay," I replied. "Cherry, then. C'mon TJ and Cherry."
"They have a doggie named Russ," Thackery was telling Bella.
"Can we get a dog?" Charlotte asked, sitting down to her plate.
The kids kept talking asking question after question and telling us everything they knew about Chris and Ashley. "We need a vacation," I told Bella as the kids argued at the table.
"I agree. How 'bout California?"
"Oooh, relive our teenage years?"
She laughed. "I think I'm happier now. The sex is better now," she whispered quietly so the kids couldn't hear.
I laughed. "I dunno. That first time was like magic."
"First time for what?" Thackery asked.
"The first time I rode a bike. Your mother and I are discussing get you big kid bikes."
"What about Canada. Take a week in BC and get some early Christmas shopping done," Bella said.
"Who's going to Canadia?" Charlotte asked.
"Canada. And no one. We'll discuss it later," I whispered to Bella. "But now," I said to the kids. "It's time for nug-nugs. Who wants ketchup?"
Another chapter. Another day. Review for me?