What an interesting thing Jake’s cast was. When he brought it home, I jumped up on the couch to check it out. It was long and hard and covered everything from right above his toes up to his knee. I sniffed at it down by his toes, but Jake yelled, “Hey, Millie, stop. You’re tickling me.”
I rolled over and stuck out a back leg so I could bend down and lick my belly. Jake liked to watch me take a bath.
Ruthie spent a long time drawing on Jake’s cast with crayons. She drew a Christmas tree with decorations on it and then wrote her name under it.
“That’s a masterpiece, bug,” Jake told her.
Bug was a name he sometimes liked to call Ruthie, a nickname she told me. Hmmm. I remembered little buzzy things called bugs that flew around when it was still warm outside. Sometimes one would fly in my face, and I would bat at it with my paw. I didn’t like them. I don’t know why Jake and Ruthie thought it was a cute name, but then there were a lot of things the people did that I didn’t understand.
Daddy and Jake sat in the living room later reading books after Mommy and Ruthie were already in bed. I’d been lying on a rug in front of the fireplace, and nobody seemed to notice me, so I just stayed and listened to them talk.
“How are you feeling, buddy?” Daddy asked.
“Okay I guess. I’m going to take another one of the pain pills and try to get some sleep.”
“We’ll practice more with your crutches tomorrow, try to get you more comfortable with them. Then maybe you’ll be able to sleep in your own bed upstairs tomorrow night.”
“Yeah. That would be nice.”
They were quiet for a minute, and I almost fell back to sleep, but then Jake talked again.
Jake was sitting up on the couch. He looked down at his cast. “I guess I won’t be able to fly to visit Mom for Christmas this year, huh?”
I understood about Jake’s mommy now. Ruthie told me that she and Jake have different mommies, and Jake’s mommy lived in another place far away. She was still sad then, because she was thinking about how Jake wouldn’t be home for Christmas, so she was talking to me about it. I liked when she talked to me about important things.
“No, I don’t think so,” Daddy said. He closed his book. “You know, you and I haven’t been together for Christmas since your mom and I first separated. That’s ten Christmases I’ve missed out on with you.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s true.” Jake made circles with his finger on the cast.
“I think it will be nice to have you here with us at Christmas this year.” Daddy tapped his fingers on his book. I sneaked a little closer to Daddy, to see if I could pull on his shoestring.
Jake didn’t say anything.
“I’m sure sorry you hurt yourself,” Daddy said. “And I know you’ll miss seeing your mom. I know this is all hard, Jake. But I still think it will be nice for you to be able to have Christmas here with us.” He smiled. “Ruthie’s sure gonna love it.”
“Yeah, that’s true.” Jake made the big, breathy noise Ruthie called a sigh. “I guess I’ll try to sleep now.”
“Okay.” Daddy stood. “Don’t get up. I’ll get your pill and a drink of water.”
After Daddy went to bed, and Jake fell asleep—I could tell he was asleep, because he made the snoring noise—I went looking for Mama. Jake seemed to be happy here with Daddy and Ruthie and Mommy, but I guess he missed his mommy too. I was sure glad I had my mama. I found her sleeping in a basket of towels in the laundry room. Crawling in with her, I snuggled close.