"There she is." Anastasia said chuckling. She and John were watching Angela jump on the trampoline with the other twelve year-olds in her gymnastics class. They laughed as she jumped around the perimeter of the trampoline laughing and teasing one of the other students.
"TIM'S A ROTTEN EGG! TIM'S A ROTTEN EGG!" She chanted in between laughter. Tim was kid curled up with his arms around his knees, legs drawn up. He was bouncing as the 'egg' in the familiar game of Crack the Egg. The gymnastics session in the Community Recreation Center was wrapping up. The Recreation Center was now a multi-purpose facility which contained work-out areas, classrooms for exercise or dance classes, a pool, gymnastic studio, and even a rehabilitative recreation studio. It was a far-cry from the brutal Training Center it used to be. Angela was spending her third summer in District 2 with her sister and was enrolled in her second summer gymnastics program.
"Angie-Pangie!" Anastasia called. "We're here!" To her satisfaction, Angela turned red.
"Wilily is waiting for her Auntie Angie-Pants!" John called as Anastasia burst out laughing. She had to sit on the bleachers doubled over in laughter. Angela hurriedly jumped off the trampoline and ran over to her sister and brother-in-law.
"YOU GUYS!" She yelped. "NO NICKNAMES in PUBLIC!"
"Hi. You must be John and Anastasia." A lanky twelve year-old boy said coming over to Angela.
"You must be Tim." John said smiling shaking his hand.
"And this is Wilily." Angela said pointing to the basket holding a squirming three month old in a pink blanket. "Pronounced Why plus Lily."
"She's cute." Tim said.
"Thanks." Anastasia said smiling. She picked up the bundle and bounced Wilily on her hip. "Ready to go, Angie?"
"Yeah. See you next week, Tim." Angela said grinning. She picked up Wilily's basket and walked with the Collins family back to their townhome. Angela took Wilily from Anastasia so she could fix a bottle in the kitchen. Angela giggled as Wilily giggled and reached for her long braids dangling in front of her shoulders. "Tickle tickle!" Angela giggled tickling her niece on the stomach. Wilily's large dark eyes lit up as she squealed.
"Here you go, little owl!" Anastasia said holding a bottle. "Do you want to feed her, Angela?" Angela nodded and was soon watching her niece eagerly eat her afternoon snack. Anastasia took a picture of the two girls and smiled as John put her arms around her waist.
"I can watch her if you need to rest before Beetee comes over." John said kissing his wife.
"Thanks, hon." Anastasia said before going upstairs to her room. "So, are you going to ask for Tim's address this summer?" John asked flopping down on the couch next to his sister-in-law.
"I dunno." Angela said. Wilily squawked and John took her so he could burp her. "Probably." She blushed. "Um – Stacia said that you liked each other when you were my age."
"We did." John said. "But that doesn't mean you'll necessarily marry Tim. You'll just have to see." Angie laughed. "You have more than enough time for that all to pan out." He smiled watching her giggle. It seemed like it was just yesterday that he was a foot-soldier accepting an MRE from her as an eager seven year-old.
Later in the evening, Anastasia, John, Angela, Wilily, and Beetee were gathered around the Collins' dining room table. "I'll cook when your parents come into town, Anastasia." Beetee said.
"Thanks." Anastasia said smiling. "Though I don't mind cooking."
"She does very well." John said. They passed around platters of steak that John had barbecued and a pasta salad that both Anastasia and Angela had made. "Beetee, Wi-Wi is looking at you." Beetee chuckled and waved at Wilily.
"Hey there, beautiful girl! Beautiful wide-eyed girl!" Warmth spread from his heart throughout his body as his biological granddaughter waved back at him.
"Stacia was super-surprised when Wi-Wi came out looking like her!" Angela said. "Though – that's what John told me. I wasn't in the room when she actually came out of there." She made a face. "That would be super- gross to see!"
"Angie!" Anastasia yelped. "Giving birth hurts, but it's not completely gross – ok – some parts are but –"
"There is still an element of beauty – even with the pain." Beetee said. He and John looked at each other knowingly. "From a husband's perspective, we're glad to be part of the process as much as we can."
"We're talking about when your mommy pushed you out! Yes we are!" Angela cooed at her niece before making silly faces at her. Wilily giggled before spitting up on her bib. John picked her up out of her high-chair and wiped her face. Soon Anastasia, John, and Beetee were talking about their work as engineers contracted by the government. Angela offered to clear the dishes from the table before bringing out dessert which was ice-cream. Anastasia returned Beetee's smile gratefully.. Thanks to the sacrifice he and Wiress made so long ago, and thanks to countless others who gave their lives to the revolution, this picture of love and security had become her reality. Anastasia knew that she would always treasure her circle of love with an extrordinarily grateful heart.