CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and SEVENTY
Sunday morning — 6:01 a.m.
In her drug induced slumber, Sandy heard the door open. She roused to near waking. Whoever or whatever had opened the door hadn’t moved.
She fell back asleep.
There was a sound of quiet scratching across the floor. Cleo lifted her head to look at whoever had entered.
There was a jumping sound.
Third time a small body landed at the end of the bed. A short woman, there was plenty of space at the end of the bed. She could just feel something at the end of her feet. Sandy opened her eyes.
There was a kind of scrambling on the bed. There was a weight near her feet at the end of the bed.
Unable to look because of the neck brace, Sandy attempted to say, “Hello?”
She heard Aden get up off the smaller bed.
“Rachel!” Aden said. He walked to the bed. “How in the world?”
“But Cleo can be there!” Rachel said, her voice choked with tears. “I won’t bother her.”
Aden lifted their daughter off the bed. The little girl stayed in her curled up form. Sandy tried to smile.
“I just want to be close,” Rachel said. She sniffed back her sorrow. “Noelle and Nash and Teddy and you and everybody, Charlie, but not me … I won’t be a nuisance! I won’t! I just want to be close!”
Aden’s eyes caught Sandy’s. She nodded. Aden set the little girl back on the bed.
“Stay away from her broken foot or ankle,” Aden said. “Even the slightest movement causes pain.”
“I will,” Rachel said. “I promise.”
“I was going to show you,” Aden said, leaning over so Sandy could see his face.
He held a chunky knitted blanket and draped it so that Sandy could see it.
“Rachel knitted this for you,” Aden said.
“W-aaw,” Sandy said.
“Uh huh,” Rachel said. “I love you, Mommy. It was made with love!”
Sandy’s hand stroked the soft blanket.
“Delphie blocked it,” Aden said.
“Be-ti-fl,” Sandy said. “S’ Sfft.”
She stroked the blanket.
“Th-nk yu,” Sandy said.
Rachel sniffled. Her head nodded against the bed. Sandy’s eyes drifted shut.
“Let’s rest of a while,” Aden said. “Breakfast will be soon enough.”
Sandy was asleep. Aden touched Rachel’s shoulder. He pulled the new blanket down a bit so it covered his daughter and went back to bed.
He rolled on his side to watch Sandy.
Their daughter was tucked in a ball at her feet. Her cat was tucked in a ball above her head. He smiled. She was well protected, well loved. He drifted to sleep with that thought on his mind.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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