Chapter 16: Quack-Quack
Lizzy sat at Ellie’s bed, holding Ellie’s doll. The clock ticked seven-thirty in the evening, later than bedtime for two-year-old Ellie. Ellie lay on her pillow and faced Lizzy with fluttering eyes. Lizzy played with Alice and sang Ellie goodnight. She insisted on helping get her sister to bed this night. Her mother and father surveyed the actions from the doorway.
“Goodnight, Ellie and goodnight, princess. Go to sleep. Sleep tight. Goodnight, I love you,” Lizzy sang. As she sang the last word, Ellie’s eyes closed for the night.
“She has a beautiful voice,” Evelyn said. She rested her palms on James’s shoulders.
“No doubt about it. Of all our kids, I worry about her future the least. I know she’s bound to get somewhere.”
“She truly has endless possibilities, and doesn’t limit anything she could do. I can’t wait to see everything she does.”
“One day she’ll shine,” James said.
“One day for sure,” Evelyn said.
“Hm-hm-hm-hm,” Lizzy hummed, tucking her sister in. She wrapped the blanket over Ellie’s shoulders and set Ellie’s doll on the dresser.
“There you are, Oliver,” Lizzy said.
“What’s going on?” Oliver asked.
“Nothing. I wanted to see you.”
“You’re always exploring or up to something interesting. I love spending time with you.”
“Always. Let’s go!”
“Alright, but don’t yank so hard,” he said.
Snowy hills covered this area. Between the hills lay paths too thin to fit Oliver and Lizzy side-by-side. Ice surfaced the passageways. The two wound up the middles of knolls and bent down to slide across the ice.
“Come on, this way!” Lizzy said.
“Off we go!”
They made their way across a seam of hills to a pond. While most had frozen to ice, a part remained of water. One duck still swam through the strip of water. Oliver spun to run, but Lizzy stopped and seated herself beside the pond. She gazed as the yellow duck swam back and forth between the ice sections.
“Awe, look at him,” Lizzy said.
“So?” Oliver said.
“He’s cute and quite friendly. Don’t you like him?” Lizzy asked.
“I guess so,” he said.
“Oh Oliver. Sit with me and pay attention. Then you’ll like him for real,” Lizzy said.
Oliver rolled his eyes and shrugged his chin into his hands. “I’m only doing this because you’re so helpful.”
“And I’m doing this for you, because you deserve the opportunity to meet him,” Lizzy said.
“Quack.” The duck glided across the pond’s water.
“Over here!” Lizzy said.
“Quack, quack, quack.”
“He’s coming!” Lizzy said. She tugged at Oliver’s wrist. He peeked at the duckling and scooted back.
“Don’t feel afraid Oliver, Quacker won’t hurt you. No you wouldn’t,” she said. She picked up Quacker. He fit perfectly in her two mittens.
“Quack,” he sighed. He tucked his eyes in and headed to sleep. He curled his head into her thumb and stopped moving. His little beak tried stabbing through to her hands, but it didn’t work. Quacker stretched his webbed feet and brought his wings in.
“Do you want to hold him?” Lizzy asked.
“Huh? No,” Oliver said.
“But how can you resist such a cutie? I bet you didn’t even look at him yet.”
“I saw that noise maker. He just quacks and quacks. There isn’t anything I need to see,” Oliver said.
“You’re stubborn. Just look at him,” Lizzy said. She held Quacker up for Oliver to see. Oliver rolled his eyes and peered down to please his sister. The real pleasure appeared on his face when he saw Quacker. Oliver’s eyes turned from cold to bright. The duckling reflected into his gleaming eyes. “He isn’t the ugly duckling,” Lizzy said.
“Not at all.” Oliver grinned. He opened his hands out and Lizzy handed sleeping Quacker off.
As Oliver delighted in his time with the duck, he recalled a similar time several years back.
Oliver raced his snowmobile over the carpet. His trains sped over the tracks his father had built.
“Who is it?” Oliver called.
“Dad-dy,” James said.
“Well, come in, what are you waiting for?” Oliver said. He propped the door open and James strolled in. He crouched down next to Oliver and his toys. “Watch these trains. I love them!”
“That’s nice Oliver, but I have a surprise for you,” James said. He placed one hand on his son’s shoulder.
“A surprise! What?” He jumped up and dropped his trains.
“If you want to see it, you must stay quiet.”
“I will be very quiet,” Oliver whisper-shouted. “Now, can you tell me what it is already?”
“Follow me and you’ll see. I don’t want to hear a murmur. We must tiptoe in quieter than mice,” James said. He gripped Oliver’s hand and led him out the door. Oliver galloped down the hall while James kept him in control. “Are you ready for us?” James asked.
“Yes, dear. Only Oliver for now,” Evelyn said.
“Remember to go in without a murmur,” James said.
“I know,” Oliver said. “Sh!”
“Even quieter than that,” James said. He cracked the door open.
“We’re going to squeeze in.” Evelyn lay in bed with her head resting against a pillow. In her hands, a lavender blanket wrapped around a child.
“Come here, Oliver,” Evelyn said. Oliver glanced at his dad. James nudged him and raised him on the bed. Oliver crawled to his mother’s station.
“Oliver, meet your sister, Lizzy,” Evelyn said. She revealed his sister’s face. Oliver peered his head over hers and found her blinking her eyes open. Her amber eyes shimmered in his eyes. She gazed up at her brother and beamed.
“Her eyes sparkle,” Oliver said. He beamed at his Mom.
“They’re pretty, huh? You know, you’re the first person she’s ever smiled to,” Evelyn said.
“Was this my surprise?”
“Yep, a new sibling. This one’s a sister for you. Don’t tell me you’re disappointed.”
“Are you kidding, this is the best surprise ever!”
“I’m glad,” Evelyn chuckled. “We’ll have to quiet though. She’s back to sleep now,”
“How long will she sleep for?”
“I don’t know. Maybe an hour. We have yet to see her habits.”
“When will you know?” Oliver asked.
“Soon. Would you like to hold her, Oliver?” Evelyn asked.
“Yes,” he said. He scooted closer.
“You must hold her tight and keep her head up. Sit tall and hold out your arms,” Evelyn said. She set Lizzy into his arms. He wrapped one hand around her torso and the other below her head.
“Hi, Lizzy,” he said.
“Sh,” James said.
“No need to worry, dear. He won’t wake her. She’s stayed peaceful around him,” Evelyn said.
Indeed not a single problem occurred. Oliver didn’t squeak another peep or sound, but gazed at his sister. She never fussed or rustled in his arms and he couldn’t stop smiling.
“Are we ready for Charlie to meet her? It seems like the right time,” James asked.
“We are. Is he playing with Betty?” Evelyn asked.
“He should be. I’ll grab him,” James said.
“Can I have Lizzy?” Evelyn asked.
“She’s mine. There’s no returns. Sorry,” Oliver said.
“I need her, dear. You’ll hold her again soon,” Evelyn said.
Oliver carried Lizzy many other times as she grew. He always used a gentle touch for her attention, but at this moment, Lizzy wanted his attention.
“Oliver, you here?” Lizzy asked.
“Huh? Oh yeah,” he said.
“What went through your head?” Lizzy asked.
“Nothing of importance.”
“Oh.” Lizzy twirled around the knolls.
Oliver rotated his head away from her and grinned. That last memory is the most important.
Lizzy skipped across the slippery ice to Oliver again. “Can I hold Quacker again?” She extended her hands.
“He’s quite peaceful in my hands. I wouldn’t want to wake him,” Oliver said.
“Oh I see. You like him, don’t you?”
“No, but that doesn’t mean we should wake him.”
“Admit it, forget your stubbornness. I know you can’t help it.”
“Eh,” Oliver said.
“Whatever. I see through you,” Lizzy winked and turned the other way.
“Where are you going?”
“I don’t know.”
The breeze whipped her hair and leaves tousled in. She made her way up the curvy hill to where three more hills loomed in front.
She lingered to the tippy-top of the third knoll and glimpsed at both sides below the mountain. On one side she saw Ellie playing and on the other, Oliver held Quacker.
She reached into her pocket and drew out a notepad. How did I forget about drawing? I have to draw everything, otherwise I’ll never remember it all. What a shame. I’ve always wanted to draw my entire life. She flipped to the first empty page. From another pocket she pulled out a short pencil. She peered over at the rolling hillside and copied everything.
Her pencil scraped across the paper in every way. She dragged it in a straight line, before squiggling down. She pressed and smeared the lead down, adding texture. She colored in the shadows dark and light gray. She put the pencil down and held up her picture. It looks right, but something’s missing. What could it be? I have all the parts, oh wait! There’s nothing to color it. She sighed. “If only I had color.” All my other drawings have color. This one must disappoint. I miss home. What happened to our marvelous set of colors? Darn it. I should’ve brought at least some of my markers and crayons. I guess drawings can appear pretty in black and white. No, It’s not the same. It’s too dark and gloomy. The bright colors make everything so fun and pretty. As soon as we find the ice pond, I’m sure there’ll be color.
Though at this present time, she must say goodbye to color. With white snow and gray clouds over the land, no color remains to keep her bright personality. We must say a goodbye to her too, for several other children trot about. We better catch up before we miss anything!