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Outside by the gate to the garden, Tina set up a large beach umbrella to shade Yaya, adding an extra chair for her wife. Close enough to the picnic table and house, it was the perfect location for Yaya to see the water, the flowers, the people. With the children also outside, Bette and Tina would need to rotate and take turns but the smile on Yaya’s face told everyone that she was right where she belonged. And so was the Kennard-Porter family.
Bette read to Yaya from a book of short stories, their heads close to each other as the day danced around them. At times, Bette thought Yaya was sleeping, her eyes closed with her head back on the pillow but then she would open them if Bette paused too long, telling her to keep going.
“Listening to you read is like drifting on a canoe in the stillness of the river, your voice is so soothing, Bette. There is nothing but sun and sparkling water for miles….”
Bette swallowed thickly, turning the page. She would read every fucking book in the damn house if Yaya gave her any indication that was what she wanted.
Rosie and Angie ran down the garden path after their walk, happy to see everyone by the flowers and Yaya clapped her hands at seeing the two small children in her yard. “Just look at them, Bette…” she said, and Bette did, seeing them through her friend’s eyes, seeing the joy and the dirty knees, the blueberry-stained smiles, the way Angie held a fistful of wildflowers, Rosie a rock. The squeals and the chubby knees, the sun kissed cheeks. Her children. Her world.
Tina rose from the nearby rose bush where she was trying to restore a semblance of order to the garden, knowing the girls could use lunch as well. Inside, she busied herself with cutting grilled cheese sandwiches, fixing a tray with bowls of fruit and small chicken nuggets, then filled a cooler with juice boxes.
Out on the porch rail was a large glass container of sun tea, brewed the southern way, where the heat of the morning slowly infused the tea with the taste of large lemons and sugar, warm from the sun. Over crushed ice in a mason jar, Tina knew it was a secret favorite of her wife’s… so she prepared it hours ago, before Bette even woke… knowing it would be a treat when the day got hot. Knowing how happy it would make the brunette.