CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and NINETEEN
Wednesday evening — 9 p.m.
Jill had just reached the kitchen when Jacob and Tres returned from Lipson Construcation. Jeraine came up from downstairs around the same time. Because everyone wanted to be together to share their day, Jill and Heather set up the clay chimineas six feet apart. Jacob and Tres barbecued lamb chops with potatoes and a salad from the indoor garden.
It was cold and perfect. Jill hadn’t realized how much she missed talking to people. Everyone talked and laughed. The children played together in the thawing garden. Blane came in late and revealed a cake he’d worked on during the day.
With the instruction to enjoy her evening, Jacob grabbed the boys and took Katy off to bed. Tres took Wyn and Mack inside. Jeraine carried Jabari inside. Mike pulled the cover off the hot tub and brought Eddie and Jackie inside. Blane brought out a bottle of wine and glasses before heading inside.
“Hot tub?” Valerie asked after the men were gone.
“Can you go in?” Heather asked.
“Oh,” Valerie said.
Valerie gestured to the hot tub. The women looked in.
“Whhaaa??” Jill asked at the same time as Heather said, “What is this?”
“It’s a swimspa,” Delphie said as she came out of the house with another bottle of wine. “There’s a hot tub on the end and a swimming place on the other end. I went for a swim today.”
“I bought it,” Valerie said. “I need to get some exercise but I’ve swelled up so much. My doctor in LA suggested this the last time, but I was able to swim at the rec center then.”
“The rec centers aren’t opening this year,” Delphie said.
“Because of the virus?” Jill asked.
“So I needed a place to swim,” Valerie said. “Jake paid the delivery guys extra to move the hot tub to the other deck.”
“When?” Jill said. “I was just up there with him.”
“Yesterday,” Valerie said. “Anyway, I can hang out in the cool if I get too hot. Go get dressed.”
Delphie took off her housecoat to show a flowery bathing suit. She got into the hot tub end of the spa. Jill looked at Heather and shrugged. They went inside and changed into the suits they had hanging in the downstairs bathroom. They grabbed towels from the stack.
When they came out again, Valerie and Delphie were in the hot tub. Delphie had a glass of wine in her hand. Heather got into the hot tub and Jill gave her a glass of wine. Jill poured herself a glass and set it on the edge. Jill climbed in.
They sat together for a long moment without saying anything.
“How are you, Delphie?” Heather asked.
“Sad,” Delphie said. “Scared. It’s the worst at night because he’s always here. Always. Sam Lipson has been in this house every night since… we moved here, basically. It’s…”
Delphie stared off into space for a long moment. Shaking her head, she took a drink of wine.
“I miss him,” Delphie said.
“Me, too,” Valerie said.
Heather and Jill both nodded in agreement.
“He’s there,” Delphie said. “Fighting it out. On his own. I don’t think he’s ever been on his own. Not really. He and Celia met when he was ten when he lived with his family. I met then a few years later. Since then, it’s always been the three of us. Now, he’s in the hospital and I…”
“You have us,” Valerie said.
Heather reached out to hold Delphie’s hand. Jill put her arm around Delphie.
“I just can’t believe it,” Valerie said. “I mean, I know that I’ve been gone and then even when I’m here I’m back and forth. But, Dad’s always been here. He’s so hearty. So tough. I mean, I knew that he wouldn’t live forever, but this? It feels a lot worse.”
Jill and Heather nodded.
“I hope he’s home before the baby’s born,” Valerie said.
Valerie looked at Delphie.
“I’m sorry,” Delphie said. “I don’t know.”
Lost in their own thoughts, the women fell silent for a while. Delphie took a breath and looked at Heather.
“How is Olympia?” Delphie asked.
Denver Cereal continues on Monday…
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