THE LEISURE DAY
The last night, Kate couldn’t sleep well. She dreamt about her childhood spent in the Appaloosa Plains orphanage, about Mary and the other children who lived there… Then she found herself as a young girl in her pajamas walking in the cemetery… She stopped in front of a white marble tombstone with her surname engraved on it when suddenly she heard a dog barking. When it got unpleasantly loud, she opened her eyes. It was Snowball who was scratching the door of the bedroom. Kate quickly got up and went to let him out so he wouldn’t wake up the entire house. She looked at the clock in the kitchen, it was 5.30 AM. Since she wouldn’t fall asleep again, Kate decided to get dressed and have a coffee. It was early morning of the Leisure Day. When she finished her cup of coffee she went outside to find Snowball. She walked in the terrace and looked for the dog when she saw the ghost of Mary Graham sitting in the wicker armchair…
“Mary? What… what are you doing here?”
“Good morning, dear,” answered Mary and stood up. She hovered through the air towards Kate. “I’m waiting too long, Kate. I need to find the place to rest. You promised me you’d help me.”
“I know Mary, I know…”
“I noticed the willow tree in the corner of your garden so I came to ask if…”
“Yes, Mary. I talked to David and we decided to have our little graveyard. Once we pass away from this world we’d like to stay close to our children, grandchildren and all the future generations.”
“That’s exactly what I wish for. I need to stay close, Kate. I have only you and the boys… you know I always took you as my own.”
“I know Mary… you can stay with us,” told her Kate and smiled.
“I am so glad you said that…,” said Mary and looked towards the willow tree. “It looks so peaceful. Thank you, Kate. Thank you so much.”
“Is that Lizzie’s doll?” asked her Kate when she noticed that Mary was holding Hesper in her hand.
“How did you come by her doll? No, don’t tell me that you have talked to her.”
“I apologize sincerely. I had to do that. For Lizzie.”
“Had to do what?”
“You’ll see… or actually, you won’t,” smiled Mary.
“I really have no idea what you’re talking about, Mary, but I noticed that Liz was searching for Hesper all around the house so you must give him back.”
“Of course I will,” she said and placed Hesper in the armchair. “Well, it’s time to go.”
“Good bye, Mary.”
“I’ll see you soon, Kate,” said Mary and a kind smile appeared on her lips.
What do you mean see you soon? Kate thought to herself but before she could say it out loud, Mary disappeared with the wind.
The very moment Elisabeth woke up and went downstairs still dressed in her pajamas.
“Mommy, what just happened? I had this dream about Hesper… He was like the boy from the book.”
“Everything is all right, sweetie. Go back to bed.”
“But mommy, what about Hesper?”
“Oh right. Ahem.. I.. found him! He’s right there in the armchair,” told her Kate. “Take him and go back to your room, Lizzie.”
“But mommy, what if he really is the boy from the book? What if he really is Pinocchio! He’s made of wood as well!”
“Oh, come on, Lizzie,” Kate caressed Lizzie’s hair and went inside.
The moment Kate moved from Elisabeth’s field of vision…
“Hesper? Is that… is that… YOU?” Elisabeth asked the doll which became somehow bigger than he was the last time she’s seen him. Hesper didn’t answer, but he waved at her.
Elisabeth decided to approach. As she walked towards him, she was thinking about Pinocchio’s story. Could her doll become a real boy one day?
Elisabeth stood right in front of him. “Can you talk?” she asked Hesper. Although she wished he said yes, she was also a little afraid of the positive answer.
“Oh, wow… Where have you been all this time? I was searching for you everywhere…”
“You were with the… the ghost?”
“Oh… So… She did this to you? I mean… you grew and… you move… and talk. Wow! What else can you do? Can you do magic?”
“No magic, no.”
“Shame… Well, what can you do? Can you eat? Do you sleep?”
“No eat. No sleep. Play and help.”
“Oh, ok. So you can do my homework?”
“Homework. Hesper learn.”
“Oh, so you want to learn? But I am afraid, that I can’t take you to school… Someone could see you.”
“Just you see.”
“That’s so cool! I am so happy you’re back, Hesper!” said Elisabeth and hugged him.
“Happy Hesper,” he whispered.
In the meantime, Kate was preparing apple pancakes for breakfast.
When she heard someone open the fridge, she automatically said: “Finn, the breakfast is almost ready. Close it.” Finn just mumbled something and closed the fridge with his leg.
When Zachary woke up, the first thing he would to do was to finish his homework. Although it was the Leisure Day, he wanted to get rid off it as soon as possible so he wouldn’t have to think about it all day long.
What is this? Zachary thought to himself when he looked at the task. I don’t remember ever hearing of this, he thought and stared at the paper. After a while he started writing something down but it wasn’t convincing him. Maybe I’ll rather ask Finn, I’m sure he finished his homework already yesterday.
He closed his notebook and picked the lamp he hid under his bed. He cleaned it with the corner of his cushion and the next second Tenille appeared in the room.
“Good morning, Zac,” said the Genie.
“How did you sleep tonight?” asked her Zac.
“Well, to tell you the truth, I feel more comfortable now,” she giggled.
“I can imagine. The lamp is really tiny…”
“Yes, it certainly is. So, tell me Zac, what can I do for you. Is there something you wish for?”
“Well… No… Not really. I haven’t exactly thought of anything…,” he said and scratched his head. “When I figure out something, I will tell you.”
“So why did you summon me?”
“Well… I don’t know. Just to make sure you’re still in there…”
“I see, well, now that I’m not in there, I think I’ll go for a walk,” said Tenille and left the room.
“No! Wait!” screamed Zac when he realized someone could see her. When he ran out of the room, Tenille was already going down the stairs.
Kate just finished preparing the breakfast and called everybody to the terrace.
Finn was playing chess on the computer, but when he smelled the pancakes he immediately joined his mother outside.
Zac caught up with Tenille in the living room.
“You cannot just walk around the house like this! Someone could see you… and… and there would be questions!”
“I’m sorry Zac. I didn’t know you haven’t told them about me,” Tenille apologized.
“Well, the thing is that I cannot just say ‘Hey mom, I have a blue friend in my room and it’s a girl… and she lives in a golden lamp…’, you know?”
“Do you have something against my skin tone, Zachary?”
“No… I don’t. It’s just… uh… nevermind. Listen, could you please go back to your lamp?”
“Is that your first wish, Zac?”
“No! It’s not!”
“So I don’t have to go back to my lamp then,” she smiled wickedly.
“Oh, come on, Tenille! Please…,” praised her Zac.
“Ok, ok. I was just fooling around with you,” she smiled. “The next time you summon me though, have the first wish ready,” she said, clapped her hands and disappeared.
This was close, Zac thought to himself and went upstairs to change from his pajamas.
“… and you can be really standing close to me and nobody will see you?” Elisabeth kept on assuring herself about Hesper’s invisibility to others.
“And if you talk to me, can they hear you?”
“No,” said Hesper and giggled.
“What? Is something funny?” asked him Liz.
“You talk to yourself. Funny,” Hesper giggled again.
“Oh, right! They will think I have gone mad, if they’ll hear me talking to you… They will think I talk to myself,” figured Elisabeth.
“Yes yes,” agreed Hesper.
“Well, in that case, we should avoid talking to each other in the presence of my family… especially my brothers, because they would make fun of me for the rest of my life,” said Elisabeth and headed towards the terrace. Hesper followed her. She grabbed a plate of pancakes.
“You’ll get really fat,” Elisabeth told to Finn when she saw the pile of pancakes on his plate.
“Mind you business Liz,” he answered while chewing.
“Ok everyone, when you’re done, go to pick your swimsuits and towels! We’re going to the sea!” cheered Kate.
“To the sea? Why?” asked Finn.
“It’s a very nice day today and a little bit of movement will do you no harm,” she smiled.
“Even you, mom?” asked Finn and looked at her uncomprehendingly. “Does anybody else have some problem with my weight?”
“Come on, Finn, finish your breakfast and let’s move,” encouraged him Zac.
When everybody ate the breakfast, David collected all the plates and cleaned them. Kate went to find Snowball as he was supposed to go with them as well. Elisabeth happily hurried in her room to gather all her diving equipment. Snorkeling and searching for sea shells was one of her favorite summertime activities.
They arrived to the beach and to everyone’s surprise it was completely empty.
“Do you see people? Noone goes to the sea in September. Let’s go someplace else,” commented Finn.
“How not? We do!” exclaimed Elisabeth and headed towards the water.
“Not so fast little lady,” called Kate. “Let’s put on the swimming costume first, shall we?” she smiled. Elisabeth smiled back and followed her mother to the changing rooms. David has changed to his swimsuit already at home, so when Kate and Liz finally left the changing rooms, he was already lying on his towel reading a book.
Finn headed directly to the bar to get some refreshment. Although it was September, the day temperatures in Monte Vista were still very high.
As Kate walked to the beach she noticed Finn at the bar. “Can I have a drink, please?” she called. “Sure! I’m making drinks for everybody,” he called back.
Elisabeth already tried the water, but it was quite cold so she decided to wait for it to get a little warmer.
“Thanks for the drink, Finn.”
“No prob, mom.”
“Why don’t you join your brother in the water?” asked him Kate when she saw Zac snorkeling in the sea.
“I don’t like swimming so much… I’ll rather read a book,” said Finn and went to lie on his towel.
While everybody except Finn were enjoying the fresh water, Elisabeth found her first shell of the day. She called everyone to come to give a look. It was a scallop, a common find.
When the lunch time approached, the family headed home. Later in the afternoon, Finn decided to call Malika. He went to the park close to his house, because it was the most peaceful one in the town. He took his cellphone and dialed her number…
“Hello?” said Malika.
“Hi… It’s Finn.”
“Hey Finn! What a coincidence, I was just thinking about you!”
“You were thinking about me… really?”
“Yeah, I though that maybe we could go out, it’s such a nice day today!”
“Yes, you’re right… Well… I am actually out already… Would you… Would you like to meet me in the park close to my house?”
“Sure! I’ll be there!”
“See you soon, Finn!”
Wow… this wasn’t as hard as I imagined… she probably likes me too, Finn smiled to himself.
He walked around the park and when he was on the bridge, he saw Malika arrive.
“Hey Malika! I’m over here!”
“Hello Finn, it’s nice to see you,” she blushed a bit.
“Yeah, you too. So, how was your day?”
“Quite nice actually. I went to swim in the sea in the morning with my parents and then we went for a lunch in the restaurant close to our house,” she said happily.
“Really? We went to the sea as well! I love swimming!”
“Yeah, me too,” she blushed again. “This park is lovely… so peaceful,” said Malika and looked around. “Do you come here often?”
“Sometimes… It’s right behind our house.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“So do you want to take a walk around?” proposed Malika.
“Yeah, we can,” agreed Finn. Malika walked off the bridge and when she turned around, she saw Finn standing on the same spot. “Why are you still standing there, come on!” she smiled.
“I actually changed my mind,” he said.
“Ok, what do you suggest we do then?” asked him Malika as she walked back towards him.
Here she comes, here she comes, Finn thought to himself. He was getting pretty nervous. When Malika approached close enough, he jumped on her and kissed her lips.
To his pleasant surprise, Malika didn’t struggle. On the contrary, she took his hands and placed them behind her, getting closer to him. Finn noticed she was a good kisser.
“I suspected you’d kiss me, you know,” she smiled at him.
“Did you really,” he smiled back.
“Yes… When I saw you standing on the bridge, I knew what was your plan. By the way, now that I think of it, it was very romantic,” she blushed once more.
“I was afraid to kiss you… I thought you didn’t like me…,” said Finn and looked down.
“Why would you think that? Of course I like you, Finn! I like you a lot!”
“Me too, Malika. You’re the prettiest girl I’ve seen!”