Finn put his pencil down and sighed. "Okay, I did finished that question," he said, pushing it across the table to Kim. Kim pushed her laptop aside and inspected the paragraph he'd painstakingly scrawled onto a piece of loose-leaf paper.
"All right," Kim said, "what are we looking for today?"
"Spelling and organization of sentences," Kerry replied, wheeling herself out onto the deck. "How'd he do?"
Kim nodded as she read. "Pretty good. You'll want to look up `people' and `decision,' but otherwise spelling is good." She reread it and then handed it back. "The sentences are well organized and they flow together. I'd give it an A."
Finn nodded glumly, took the page back and reached for his dictionary.
Kim gave Kerry a questioning look.
"Finn," Kerry said. "Are you all right? You've looked pretty discouraged about your lessons for a week now. Is it the schoolwork? Or are you worried about your Gran? Because she's doing really well, you know."
He shrugged and continued flipping dictionary pages. "No, I know she's all right."
"Is it your schoolwork then?" Kim asked. "Do you need a break from it maybe?"
He shrugged again. "It doesn't matter."
"Finn, sweetie, look at me," Kerry said gently. He raised his eyes from the dictionary. "What's the matter? Please tell us."
He fell back in his lawn chair and sighed. "It doesn't matter. There's nothing you can do about it."
"About going back to that stupid school."
"You mean the Blackburn Academy?"
He nodded. "My dad keeps saying that I'll get used to it, that I just have to be patient and everything and that he didn't make friends right away when he went there either."
"So it's pretty bad there for you, huh?"
He nodded, looking miserable. "And I have to stay there all week. It's a boarding school. And sometimes I have to stay there on weekends when my dad is away on business." He played with a loose thread on his t-shirt.
"Finn, have you talked to your dad about how you feel?" Kim asked. "He needs to know that you're unhappy at this school."
"Yeah, but it doesn't do any good. It's stupid because my dad didn't like it there either. He used to tell me how he would get homesick and how the big kids picked on him but no matter what happened, Gran made him go back every year."
Another knowing look passed between the two women.
"So it doesn't matter what I do, I have to go back and the big kids will beat me up and not get caught and I'll still be the stupidest one in my class and I'll still feel homesick all the time." He tore the thread off and wound it around his index finger, deep in thought. Finally, he sighed, scooted to the edge of the seat and picked up his pencil. "Okay," he said wearily, "what question do I have to do now?"
Kerry's eyes met Kim's gaze and held it. You do it or I will, Kerry saw in the blonde woman's face.
"You know what?" Kerry said, slamming two of Finn's textbooks shut.
"What?" Finn looked startled and intrigued.
"We have neglected to teach you another essential life skill," Kerry said.
"Oh yeah? Which one?"
Finn's face went blank. "What?"
"You heard me, young man," Kerry said, stuffing his notebooks and papers into his backpack. "I don't know what we were possibly thinking, overlooking such a crucial one as that."
"Crucial," Kim said, shutting down her laptop.
"But lucky for you, today is the end of the second week since my infection and I am supposed to get my leg x-rayed, this very day, to make sure it's healing properly."
"You're making that up," Finn said, but there was doubt in his face.
Kerry crossed her heart. "I kid you not. We have to get ourselves to the hospital and have my leg x-rayed and then, I'm going to teach you how to read an x-ray."
"Cool," Finn said, perking up a bit.
"Furthermore, as the head tutor here at the beach, I am declaring a two week homework holiday, beginning right now." She tossed his knapsack over into the corner for emphasis.
Finn's eyebrows shot up. "But, Gran - "
"Leave Gran to me," Kerry said. "Everybody needs some holidays, especially little boys who have already been working for over a month, don't you agree, Kim?"
"Absolutely," she said, with a smile.
"Good. Well, then, since we're all in agreement, who's going to get my crutches so we can get on our way?"
"I'll get them," Finn hollered, scrambling out of the chair. He galloped off into the house.
"Put some shoes on!" Kim called after him. She let her gaze fall on Kerry.
Kerry noticed the attention and half-smiled. "What?" she asked.
Kim leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Nothing. Just thinking about how much I love you." She followed Finn into the house.
Kim heard them before she actually saw them.
" ... now in this one, look at these bones here, see how small they are?"
"Wow, I've got that in my hand too?"
"Uh hunh. Except for that broken one there."
"What about this one, what is this one?"
Kim rounded the corner to see Kerry, sitting in a chair with her crutches propped beside her. Finn was slapping another film onto the light table. Somebody had pulverized their elbow.
"Hey, you guys, sorry I took so long," Kim said. "It turns out Dr. Fisher and I went to the same medical school, a few years apart. We were catching each other up on our more colourful professors."
Kerry stopped herself from rolling her eyes. Maybe Kim wanted to catch up on old professors, but Kerry's money was on Dr. Fisher coming up with anything to entice the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen to stand there and talk to him for just one more minute. And of course, Kim probably hadn't even realized that he was flirting with her. Kerry shook her head. Incredible.
Kim leaned against the counter and crossed her arms. "Did they already shoot your films?"
Kerry nodded and said nothing.
"Do you want to see Kerry's x-ray, Kim?" Finn asked. He shuffled through the jumble of films on the counter and slipped the Kerry's x-ray up onto the light table. "See, this is where her ankle is and these are the bones in her foot ..."
Kim stopped hearing the words as she inspected the ghostly images on the x-ray. Her eyes traced the tibia and fibula up and down and then she turned to look at Kerry. "Are you sure this is your x-ray?" Kim asked, indicating the one on the light table.
Kerry nodded, her smile starting to grow.
Kim glanced at it again, then looked back at Kerry. "Kerry, the bones are ... it's like ..."
"They're healing better than I had ever dared to hope," Kerry said. "Better than I'd imagined." She beamed as she said the words, but Kim could tell that there were tears not too far off. Kim reached down and swept Kerry into her arms, kissing her forehead, her cheek, her mouth, then holding her tightly. Kerry did not pull away.
"This is wonderful," Kim said. She looked over at Finn who was clearly amused by the sudden display of affection. "This calls for a celebration. Let's go out for lunch. My treat."
"Can we get milkshakes?" he asked, replacing the x-rays where he'd found them.
"Absolutely," Kim said. She gave Kerry a hand getting to her feet, then passed her her crutches. Their eyes met and Kim saw once again the relief and sheer joy in Kerry's eyes. Kim kissed her once more, a lingering kiss on the lips. Kerry smiled and ducked her head a little.
Maybe life was a great big gift after all and you just had to receive it.
She crutched her way back down the hall towards the exit, Kim and Finn happily chattering beside her.
Captain Jack's Caf turned out to be better than any of them had expected, which shouldn't have been surprising, since they'd asked Anita for a recommendation as they left the hospital and she had told them that if they wanted good food and a pleasant atmosphere, Jack's was the only place to go. It was on the main street of the little town, flanked on one side by a hardware store and on the other by a store that sold appliances. Kim liked it immediately because the tantalizing smell coming from the kitchen told her that someone here knew how to cook with grease. Kerry gave it her approval because it was fastidiously clean. And Finn was delighted with the Billy Big Mouth Bass Singin' Fish that was near the cash register, which, when its button was pushed, would sing and dance to "Don't Worry, Be Happy."
They snagged a booth near the counter, Kim and Finn sliding in on one side to allow Kerry room to put her leg up on the other seat. They studied their menus carefully, Finn pointing out that they made a peanut butter milkshake here. He was not at all sure what to think of that.
"Oh, hey, I meant to tell you something," Kim said, closing her menu. "With all the excitement with your Gran, I forgot to tell you that I brought Kerry's telescope back that time I went to Chicago."
"Did you really?" He nearly bounced on the seat.
"Yup. It's in the trunk of my car. We can take it out when we go home."
"Oh boy," Finn said. "Do you think we could do some star-gazing tonight, Kerry? Could we?"
"I don't see why not," Kerry said. "So long as the weather's clear."
Finn clapped his hands on his legs. "This is so cool! I've never even seen a real telescope before."
Kim slung an arm around him pulled him closer, dropping a kiss on top of his head.
The waitress, a plump woman who was probably younger than she looked, sidled up to their table, pad and pen in hand. She looked from Finn to Kim then back again and smiled. "Well my goodness, it's sure not hard to see who you belong to," she said to Finn. "You are the spitting image of your mommy, now, aren't you?"
Kim froze, momentarily uncertain what to say. Then she saw Kerry's hand slide across the small table and close on hers.
"Actually," Kerry was saying, "he belongs to both of us." She squeezed Kim's hand.
The waitress looked from face to face, mentally doing the math. Then she tried to smile again and didn't quite make it. "Oh, I see, well isn't that nice?" she said. "Can I take your order?"
Finn immediately launched into the description of the milkshake he wanted. Kim looked across at Kerry who smiled benignly at her. Kim looked at their hands together on the table.
She hoped this wonderful woman never stopped surprising her.
Kim flipped the living room lights off and stepped out onto the deck. The night was balmy and the lake was almost perfectly still. There was only the slightest ripple of sound from the shore and from the crickets in the dunes beside the house. So still and peaceful. She had brought Kerry here looking for peace. It had taken a while, but they might just have found it. Finally.
She snapped on her flashlight and carefully made her way across the deck, down the stairs and out onto the sand, heading for a small oasis of light near the shore. As she approached, she saw that Kerry was shining a flashlight on Finn's astronomy book. Kim turned off her light and stood there, staring up into the heavens, letting her eyes adjust to the darkness.
"But why do they call them radio telescopes?" Finn said. "They don't have anything to do with radios, do they?"
"Well, no, but radios, just like radio telescopes pick up radio waves. But radio telescopes can also pick up lots of other waves like microwaves for instance."
"I still don't see why they just don't build humungous regular telescopes and look into them," Finn said.
"Because there are some stars that are so far away, we can't see them looking through a regular telescope," Kerry said.
"Then how do they know they're there?"
Kim chuckled and headed over to join them.
"Who was on the phone?" Kerry asked when she saw Kim.
"It was Luka," Kim said, settling back into her lawn chair beside Kerry. "He phoned to say that he has the next two days off and he wondered if he could come up and visit."
"Luka's coming?" Finn said. "Excellent!"
"Is he going to drive up tomorrow?" Kerry asked.
Kim nodded and snuggled deeper into her hooded sweatshirt. "Yup. He said he's going to leave early so he can be here before noon."
"Do you think he'll want to go swimming and play Frisbee again?" Finn asked.
"Oh, I'm pretty certain he will," Kim said. "And Finn, by the way, there was a message for you from your Gran."
The little boy paused. "Really?"
"Yes. She said she hoped you were behaving yourself and that you weren't having so much fun that you were neglecting your schoolwork."
Finn bit his lip and nodded. "I guess she's feeling better."
Kerry laughed. "Sounds like it."
Finn gave Kerry a long look. "We're not going to tell her, are we?"
Kerry shrugged. "Well, we're not going to tell her everything, if that's what you mean."
Finn beamed and went back to his astronomy book.
"Okay," Kerry said, "now you try and find Cygnus."
"Cygnus," Finn repeated, sitting down in the sand and adjusting the telescope's eyepiece. "That's the swan one, right?"
"Right. Now do you remember how I told you to find it?"
Kim turned her gaze to study Kerry in the glow of the flashlight as she talked to Finn. She longed to reach out and touch her face, her neck, to bury herself in Kerry's arms, to undress her slowly and deliberately, kissing every inch of skin that she exposed ...
She felt a flush and a rush of moisture and she glanced over at Finn wondering when they might finally get him to bed.
"There it is! There it is!" he said. "I found it Kerry, come and look!"
"Okay, give me a minute," Kerry replied.
She gave herself a shake and chuckled. It didn't take much to get her all hot and bothered these days. She took a deep breath and let it out, let the tension drain with it.
She could wait. She would wait all night if she had to.
After all, some things were just worth waiting for.