“Morning sleepy head,” said Michael, as Mary slowly opened her eyes and stretched lazily.
“Michael!” She exclaimed blushing prettily upon realizing the sheet and light blanket covering her were tangled around her, showing a good part of leg and thigh. “What are you doing here and where is Wanda-Ann?” She asked, untangling herself and pulling her bedcovers up around her neck.
“Wanda-Ann is probably down in the cafeteria enjoying some free time and her lunch break. I also gave her a couple of hours off,” said Michael, grinning broadly at her.
“Lunch,” she exclaimed, “what time is it?”
“Oh, it’s only twelve thirty, give or take a few minutes,” he said still grinning.
“Stop that Michael!” Mary demanded, playfully taking a swipe at him. Missing, she tried again and this time hit her mark.
Michael still grinning had tried unsuccessfully to evade her.
“Stop what?” He taunted playfully. Taking her hand, he brought it to his lips, and quickly gave it a kiss, causing another deep red blush to cover her pretty face.
“Stop that infernal grinning,” she said, hiding her hands under the blankets so he couldn’t get them.
Mary and her children had carried a haunted, frightened demeanor, when they’d first met. It had thrilled Michael when Mary had return the light banter tit for tat.
“You slept through breakfast and I thought you were going to sleep through lunch as well,” said Michael. “Although I can’t say as I blame you, with hospital food being what it is and all. Still I’m betting you’re probably about starved being you’re eating for three and all!”
“You can stop anytime now, Michael,” said Mary, laughing at his antics “and to answer your question, no, I’m not hungry. I’m just about starved!”
“Good, I was hoping you’d say that,” said Michael, as someone knocked on the door. “I’m betting that’s our lunch.”
“Henry, Myrtle, Angelia!” Mary exclaimed surprised and pleased to see her friends coming through the door.
Henry carried a large box with delicious smells coming from it. It smelled like, Mary sniffed the air. Yes! It was her favorite chicken noodle and dumpling soup!
“We thought you’d like something besides hospital fare.” Said Angelia, giving Mary a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.
“My turn,” said Myrtle, squeezing in beside Angelia and hugging Mary to her.
“Hey! Will ’ya all move over and give someone else a chance?” said Henry, as he handed Michael the box and joined the ladies at Mary’s bedside. Henry was pleased and surprised when Mary reached up, drew his head down to hers, and gave him a big smacking kiss on his forehead.
“Whoa there,” said Michael, setting the box down and watching Mary return every hug and kiss to those at her bedside. “That’s quite enough,” he retorted in mock anger.
“I’m the fella that’s been here through thick and thin, and I don’t even get one little ole peck on the cheek! Now I ask you, is that fair? Tell me, how do you guys rate all the attention!”
Mary giggled mischievously and on impulse looked up at him and laughingly said, “Is that a fact mister?”
Then to everyone’s sheer delight and before she had a chance to change her mind, she quickly reached up, grasped the front of his shirt and pulled him to her, giving him a quick, sweet, gentle, kiss.
The kiss had startled and surprise them both by its intensity. In fact, the kiss had, so surprised Michael that he hadn’t even had time to return it before it was over, and Mary had blushed a bright red, as she buried her face in her pillow.
Myrtle suddenly sensed that the kiss, given only because of Michael’s teasing remark, had somehow backfired on both of them. Instinct told her something had subtly changed or somehow became clear to them both, just by their reaction.
Michael, overcome by the sudden, absolute sweetness of her kiss, not only felt faint, but was suddenly speechless as well!
Henry looking the situation over decided to change the center of attention from them to something else. “I don’t know about any of you,” he said huskily over the sudden lump that had mysteriously appeared in his throat. “But that soup and those fresh hot rolls sure smell too good to ignore any longer. What do you say, can we eat before my stomach eats a hole plum through to my backbone, for lack of something to nibble on, between it and my stomach!”
“I’ll second that idea,” said Myrtle.
“Me to,” said Angelia, looking questioningly at Michael and Mary to see if they too were ready to eat.
The two young people seemed to be lost in a world all their own and oblivious to everyone and everything around them, as they gazed into each other’s eyes. It was as if they were suddenly seeing each other for the first time.
The kiss had brought hidden feelings rushing suddenly and unexpectedly to the surface. In their heart of hearts, they knew, their relationship would never be the same again. They, like Adam and Eve, could no longer play the innocent.
In one swift moment, they had moved from Michael the protector, to something so different it made their hearts pound while leaving them vulnerable and shaking. Unknowingly, Mary had unleashed all the buried, pent-up feelings they’d been hiding from themselves and each other.
“Earth to Michael,” Henry said, gently shaking his son’s shoulder to get his attention. “Son, I hate to intrude, but don’t you think this young lady needs to eat? I’m thinking that our probable future grandchildren could use some nourishment. In fact, I’m betting that both of you could use some nourishment right about now,” he said, taking a laden tray for each of them, from the ladies.
Mary relieved and grateful for the interruption, smiled up at Henry and the ladies and said, “Thank you!”
“Don’t you people have some place to be, like somewhere else?” Quipped Michael. Giving his father a ferocious look, he took the tray from his Mother and set it on Mary’s bedside table, before taking his and setting it on the stand next to hers.
Michael, his lips still tingling from where hers had touched his moments ago, wasn’t the least bit happy about the interruption, especially now. For weeks, he’d dreamt of this very scenario, and had wished he had the nerve to do, in earnest, what Mary had just done in jest.
Henry was immensely enjoying his son's discomfort. “No, I can’t think of a single place we need to be at this moment, can you, ladies?” He asked, winking at them in hopes they’d take the hint and play along. Angelia looked questioningly at Myrtle.
“Were we supposed to be somewhere and somehow it just slipped our minds, you know, in all the excitement of finally getting to see Mary, and all? She asked.
“Why, I really can’t think of anywhere we need to be, so I guess not,” sighed Myrtle thoughtfully, “but then at our age it’s really easy to forget things. I really can’t say for sure, either way.”
“Right Mother, you’ve never forgotten a thing in your whole entire life,” roared Michael. “What makes you think I’d believe all of your minds have suddenly wandered south for the winter! Or that none of you can remember a darn thing!” He bellowed, before he realized they were spoofing him.
Mary, getting the teasing, was laughing so hard she almost fell out of bed.
“That’s not funny,” he said, glaring suspiciously at his parents, then at Angelia.
“Just look at what you’ve done! Mary’s hysterical because of your nonsense.” Everyone would have collapsed in a fit of laughter at Michael’s outrageous statement if they hadn’t been setting in the comfortable overstuffed chairs in the spacious dining area. They got down to the business of eating, as soon as Michael and Mary joined them.
Forty-five minutes later, the soup had been savored to the last drop, every hot buttered roll had mysteriously disappeared, and two, hot apple cheddar pies were just a delicious memory.
“Everything was so delicious!” said Mary. “Even with your friend arriving at three today, you took the time to visit. I thank you all for coming.” She said.
“You’re right, Mary!” Michael said, with a twinkle in his eye and a wink at Mary. “So why,” he asked them, “aren’t you at home waiting for Caroline instead of here bothering me and my patient.”
“Has something happened to her that you aren’t telling us?” Mary asked, shaking her head at Michael and trying not to laugh at his antics. “She hasn’t changed her mind about coming has she?”
“No, nothing like that. Her plane was delayed by bad weather. She should be here around nine o’clock tonight,” explained Angelia.
“I hope you don’t mind Henry and Myrtle, borrowing Kimmey’s room. I’d like to put Caroline in your room, if you don’t mind.”
“If I don’t mind?” Mary exclaimed with a puzzled look. “Why would I mind? Of course I don’t mind, but thank you for asking.”
A sudden knock on the door startled them, “It’s me,” said Wanda-Ann as she gave Michael the code they had agreed upon earlier that morning.
As if on cue Henry looked at his watch, and exclaimed, “Oh my, look at the time.”
Kissing Mary good-by, they collected the dishes and headed for the door. Wanda-Ann and the two young people with her, entered, as they left, closing the door behind them.
“Mommy! Mommy!” Yelled Billy and Kimmey racing to her bedside to give her hugs and kisses.
“Michael said our visit was going to be a surprise Mommy.” Said Kimmey.
“Did we surprise you Mommy?” asked Billy beaming expectantly at his Mother.
“Guess what Mommy? Doctor Michael said we could spend the night, if you’re feeling up to it, and if we were good. Are you up to it Mommy?” Kimmey asked hopefully.
“If you’re sick Mommy,” said Billy, nodding his head up and down for emphasis, “Doctor Michael will make you all better, like he did us, ’member, Mommy?”
“Yes, Billy I remember,” she said smiling at Billy, as she hugged him extra tight, and covered his little face with kisses.
“Look, Mommy!” Said Kimmey, waving a fistful of papers in the air. “Were in school! See Mommy. Billy and I can spell our name. I can count to one hundred and write my numbers to fifty.” Said Kimmey, waving the papers under her mother’s nose.
“Look Mommy! We drew you a pretty picture. See our horsy and our pretty house, said Billy.
We drew a picture of our family too, Mommy. Kimmey said holding up a picture of her and Billy standing next to a mommy and daddy. They were all holding hands and smiling. Under each stick figure a name was written, Kimmey, Billy, Mommy and Michael. Looking up at her mother, Kimmey ask, “Do you like our picture, Mommy?”
“Oh yes, Kimmey,” said Mary, blushing to the very tips of her ears, “I like your picture very much!”
“My picture too, Mommy,” said Billy, tugging on Mary’s arm to get her attention.
“Yes Billy, your picture too,” she said smiling at him and ruffling his hair.
“Maybe Angelia will put your picture on the refrigerator when we go home,” Mary said, unaware that she’d referred to Angelia’s, as home.
Michael seeing Mary yawn, and not wanting her becoming too stressed from all the excitement, ask Wanda-Ann to see to the children, so Mary could rest.
“Look what I’ve got,” said Wanda-Ann, setting glasses, straws, chocolate marshmallow ice cream and a small bottle of cream soda on the sink counter. Going to Billy and Kimmey, she said “I have a yummy snack, just for you!”
“Oh Michael, thank you for letting the children stay here tonight and for allowing Angelia and your parents to visit,” said Mary.
“Did we surprise you?” asked Michael fluffing up her pillow and tucking a blanket snuggly around her.
“Oh yes Michael,” she said, “it was such a nice surprise!”
Michael chuckled softly to himself as he smiled down at her. It seemed that she had fallen sound asleep in mid-sentence.