FYI…The link below takes you to a post with the links to all of the Arf stories in case you would like to read them all together.
It was a peaceful moment. Jamie and Brad were leaning against the fence around the paddock watching Arf and Annie play as the sun was slowly sinking. Brad knew it was nearing the time when they would have to walk up the path and go back to the house. He wished now he had told Jamie about Barbie, but there wasn’t enough time for that. He was pretty sure Barbie and Gloria wouldn’t be there tonight, anyway. He hadn’t even asked Tom to come.
Even without his brother and sister there, it was going to be a great night. Everyone else he cared about would be gathered around the dinner table with Arf and Annie close by.
“There is a surprise for you in the kitchen,” an excited Katie said the minute Brad and Jamie walked in. More and more Katie was using her crutches instead of the wheelchair, which was mostly due to Arf’s dedication to helping her.
“A surprise? What kind of surprise? Are you going to come with me to see what it is?” Brad teased Katie as she slowly walked with him to the kitchen.
He was more than surprised, he was shocked to see Tom standing there eating a bowl of Grandma Helen’s banana pudding.
“Happy birthday, Brad,” Tom said. “Judging by the look on your face, I must be the last person you expected to see.”
“Not quite,” Brad answered as he walked over to shake Tom’s hand. “Thank you for coming. It’s really good to see you.”
“It’s great to see you, Brad. You have quite a family here and I know dinner is going to be the best. I want you to pay special attention to the potatoes. They were peeled by an expert.”
After a little bit of small talk and a few slightly awkward moments Brad and Tom seemed to get more comfortable with each other and the rest of the family helped to keep the atmosphere light.
***I’d rather be outside playing with Annie but I have to stay inside so I don’t forget Katie and I are putting on a show with Steve.
“Brad, would you please show everyone where to sit?” Miss Bessie asked. “Tom, you can sit here by me.”
Grandma Helen rushed to sit on Tom’s other side. “I don’t usually sit here,” she said, “but I’ve been meaning to switch places with Mark, anyway. You don’t mind do you, Mark? When everyone is seated, Katie will say Grace.”
After dinner, the group moved to the great room for coffee and dessert.
Once again, Tom marveled at Brad’s very close knit family. It was abundantly clear that each of them adored his older brother.
As Tom looked around the room, he suddenly realized there were two women standing in the doorway.
The younger woman was wearing dark glasses and she held a cane. She was very beautiful. The older woman did not seem at all happy to be there.
“Happy Birthday again, dear brother.” The younger woman said. I hope we’re not too late for birthday cake. After all, it is my birthday, too.”
Tom began to absorb what he was hearing and seeing, and soon realized it could only mean one thing.
“Are you Barbie?” He asked.