Chapter Six Hundred and Forty-eight - Back to school
Chapter Six Hundred and Forty-nine - Now. What? (part two)

Chapter Six Hundred and Forty-nine - Now. What? (part one)


(part one)

Monday morning —11:02 a.m.

After breastfeeding and burping Grace, Valerie set the tiny infant down in the crib. Mike peaked into their bedroom to see if Valerie was free.

“She’s asleep,” Valerie said.

“Breakfast?” Mike asked.

“I’m okay,” Valerie said. “I had something with Jackie and Eddie before they went to school.”

“Pregnancy pounds?” Mike asked.

Valerie snorted a laugh.

“I didn’t gain any weight this time,” Valerie said. “I mean I gained what I’d lost with my insanity after Eddie. I’m lucky that I don’t carry weight.”

“And you workout so much,” Mike said with a sigh.

“What?” Valerie asked, squinting at him.

“I guess I was hoping for a month of bacon and pastries,” Mike said.

Valerie laughed.

“You know, Jake’s still weighing me,” Valerie said.

“Yes!” Mike said. “Bacon and pastries!”

While Valerie laughed, Mike opened the door to their apartment. He was gone only a second before returning with warm chocolate croissants, a plate stacked with bacon, and a thermos of tea. Valerie gave a soft cheer and a fingertip clap. Mike set the tray at their small dining table. He got up and made Valerie a mix of psyllium husk for her bowels. She drank it down while he grabbed plates.

Mike set the plates down. He piled his plate with bacon and some pastries. He made her a plate with less of everything. She reached over to take a piece of bacon from the mound on his plate.

“You can always get more,” Mike said.

Chewing a piece of bacon, Valerie nodded. She swallowed.

“We need to talk about everything,” Valerie said.

“Yes, our children have been in school for two hours,” Mike said. “Time to talk about what’s next.”

Valerie grinned at him, and he smirked. When she didn’t say anything, he said, “So?”

“Oh, sorry,” Valerie said. “I was wondering what you were going to say about what was next for you.”

“Oh,” Mike said. “Nothing, really. Or nothing special. Noelle did a massive clean-up before she went back to school. She got Charlie and Nash to move things so we could clean the floor. I hardly recognize the place.”

Mike shrugged.

“I have a couple of commissions, but mostly I’m just painting,” Mike said. “Playing with the kids. Hanging out with everyone. Helping Delphie.”

“We’re moving toward Harvest Day,” Valerie said, her eyes gleaming. She gave a little clap.

“Delphie said something about doing it in waves,” Mike said. “We have so many gardens this year. The backyard, the gardens by the school, the greenhouses. . . Across the street. She planted LaTonya’s house or Tanesha’s house — whatever — and Tanesha’s grandmother’s house. Oh, Rodney and his guys have gardens too.”

Mike shook his head.

“It’s a lot,” Mike said.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


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