Jenna refuses to go on a date with Beefcake. She didn’t equivocate, even in the slightest. She told me yesterday she isn’t interested in going out with anyone. I didn’t have the nerve to ask her if that’s because she’s involved with Dr. Cohen; I brought up his name a couple of times but she didn’t take the bait.
I ended up spending three hours at her house last night. A glass of lemonade turned into me staying for pizza with her and the boys. Each of her sons is articulate and ambitious in his own way. Theo is a tree climber, sailor, and budding scientist. He takes their Sunfish out on Lake Michigan by himself. The next brother, Gregor, is only sixteen months younger; he draws well and is obsessed with puzzles. Seven-year-old Timothy is wonderfully sweet and asked me to read to him from a mildewed book about knights who live in a grove of pine trees together. The knights must leave their pine trees every day to save someone in their community from a terrible plight. Just thinking about having to do that makes me tired, yet the knights express no weariness. They’re gung-ho every minute, as far as I can tell. They just love being knights.
When I started reading, Timothy sat on the arm of my chair, but gradually he migrated unselfconsciously to my lap. The other boys ended up on the floor beside us, listening to the story while Jenna took care of the dishes in the kitchen.
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.