Spencer arrived at Kate’s in short order and entered when Kate hoarsely called, “Come in.” Buttons came running to greet him, so Spencer scooped him up and gave him a quick rub from head to tail. Spencer put him down and then slipped out of his shoes. He set his grocery bags on the kitchen counter. After chatting with his neighbor, Spencer picked up some things at the store.
“We’re in here.”
Spencer headed for the dimly lit living room, hearing sounds from the TV. “Ah, an old Disney classic.” Spencer heard the beep beep of Herbie, a car with a mind of his own in the film Herbie Goes Bananas.
“I didn’t think it would warp her mind too much.” Kate lay on the sofa, with a blanket over her. Sarah was on a pile of blankets near the TV, holding her puppy. “Hi, Mr. Daddy,” she gave Spencer a quick greeting before laughing at Herbie’s antics.
Kate and Spencer exchanged a look. Spencer shrugged. Kate frowned.
Spencer sat on the chair and slid out of his coat, laying it behind him. “Have you guys eaten?”
“Just movie snacks.”
“Are either of you in the mood for chicken soup?”
“Got some?” Kate perked up at the suggestion.
“No, not yet. I brought some ingredients from the store.”
“Sounds good to me. Have at it if you’re so inclined.” Kate blew her nose after a sneeze.
“Bless me you,” Sarah said to her.
Spencer and Kate both grinned. “Well, I’ll see what I can do in your kitchen. One pot of hot chicken soup coming up.” Spencer hopped up and rubbed his hands together. What they didn’t know was that the recipe was a favorite of Mrs. Pettigrew’s she gave him months ago. All he had to do was follow her simple instructions. He already had the broth after boiling the chicken the night before. He turned on the radio, still tuned to his station and got to work washing carrots and celery. He was glad to cook, especially for three. So much easier and more fun than just cooking for one.
Sarah came in after a few minutes out of curiosity. “What you do?” she asked. She was still in her pajamas, a purple set with kittens on them. She held her puppy and a small soft pink blanket.
“I’m making some homemade chicken soup for you and your mom. Do you like soup?”
“I think you will. I’ll make it special.”
“I try it.”
“Sounds good. Do you want to watch me or your movie?”
Her answer surprised him, but he went into the living room and asked Kate if it was ok. “Sure.” Kate clicked off the set and closed her eyes.
“Okay, then. Sarah, can you sit on this stool?” Spencer pulled out a low foot stool from the pantry floor. “There you go.” He got her settled with her puppy and blanket. “Now I’m going to chop up vegetables for the soup. It might be loud.”
Sarah nodded, her eyes wide. She sat very still and watched his every move. She probably hadn’t been in a kitchen much, considering where she’d been for the last few months. And before that with her mother, she probably didn’t remember.
So Spencer shared each step with her and they talked about vegetables, what they were and how they grew. Sarah seemed to take it all in, storing it in her little mind. Spencer enjoyed chatting with her. He offered her bits of carrot and celery. She scrunched up her face with the celery which made Spencer laugh. But she enjoyed the carrots.
Soon he had all the ingredients in the pot with the simmering broth. “Now, we just let it do its magic.” Spencer scraped all the scraps in the trash and washed up the utensils and cutting board, leaving them to dry in the dish drainer left by the sink.
Then they rejoined Kate in the living room. “You want to color, or read books?” Spencer spoke in a soft voice, so as not to disturb Kate.
“I’m not asleep. Just have my eyes closed.”
“Oh, ok.” Spencer answered in a normal voice.
“Color,” Sarah answered.
“Ok, I can do that.” Spencer sat at the end of the coffee table and waited for Sarah to get her coloring things. She had some markers that only color on certain paper. Sarah plopped on Spencer’s lap. He was startled for a minute, but quickly recovered and resettled her in a more comfortable place. She pulled off the lid of a blue marker. The picture she chose had Minnie Mouse and some flowers on it. Very girly. Not a Superman or Batman in sight. Spencer thought he would have to broaden her horizons on the sly.
“Want me to color a flower?” Spencer asked her. She nodded and handed him a purple marker. “You want some purple flowers, I take it?”
She nodded again, leaning on the table and scribbling on the page.
A few minutes later, they ate some delicious soup with warm French bread Spencer had picked up on his way over. “Absolutely delicious. This hits the spot. Thanks.” Kate dipped a piece of bread in her soup.
“Thanks. It’s Mrs. Pettigrew’s recipe.”
“It’s fantastic. I’ll have to get a copy.”
After they ate, Spencer washed up the few dishes and stored the rest of the soup in the fridge for the girls. He put Sarah to bed for Kate and then took Buttons for a short walk. Kate wasn’t in the mood for company, and with Sarah in bed, Spencer didn’t need to hang around so called it a night.
Before Spencer left, he said he’d check on them in the morning. Kate mentioned she had laundry to do and he offered to come and watch Sarah or help with the chores. She readily agreed which surprised him. She must not be quite herself yet.
Until next time,