Rose Jackson looked up from her book to see her granddaughter Allison come running up the walk at full speed, a towel draped around her shoulders and her hair flying behind her in the wind. The little girl ran nimbly up the stairs onto the deck and launched herself into the air, landing directly and accurately in Rose’s lap, where she immediately huddled up close, shivering just a little.
“Wow girl! You are quick!” Rose laid the book, which she had barely had time to move out of the way, onto the deck beside her chair. “What’s the hurry?”
The little girl shivered again, but smiled. “I’m a little cold,” she said.
“I can tell,” said Rose. “You’re shivering.”
“That’s OK,” said Allison. “You can warm me up.”
“That I can,” said Rose. “Where’s Daddy?” she added. “He didn’t send you up from the beach all by yourself did he?”
Allison snuggled closer and gave a contented sigh as she relaxed in the warmth and comfort. “He’s coming,” she said. “He couldn’t keep up. I’m pretty fast. I was going 50 kilometres. Or maybe even 30.”
Rose looked out across the back lawn and down the tree-lined path that led to the beach, and sure enough, there was her son Randy, still a distance away, towing Allison’s little brother Andy Jr. in his little red wagon slowly towards the cottage. She turned her attention back to Allison.
“Did you have fun?” she asked.
“It was super fun! I swimmed all by myself.” Allison wrestled an arm out from under the towel to demonstrate. “I did this,” she said, moving her arm in slow motion as though she were performing the world’s most elegant front crawl, “and then I kicked my feet really hard, and then I swimmed! Daddy was holding me but then he let go, and I didn’t sink or anything!” She pulled the towel back up over her arm. “It was pretty amazing,” she concluded.
“I assume you were wearing your life-jacket,” said Rose.
Allison gave another little shiver. “I assume I was too,” she said.
Rose smiled and hugged the little girl close. “I’m so glad you’re here,” she said.
“Everybody’s glad I’m here,” said Allison innocently. “Especially me.” She looked up at Rose. “Where’s Mommy?” she asked.
“Mommy’s in the kitchen with Uncle Brady and Auntie Amanda,” said Rose. “They’re making dinner.”
Allison pushed a wet strand of hair out of her face. “What are they making?” she wanted to know.
“Spaghetti,” said Rose. “With homemade sauce and fresh salad and garlic toast.”
Allison gave her grandmother a look. “I meant for dessert,” she said.
Rose laughed. “Of course you did,” she said. “I don’t know. What would you like to have for dessert? An ice-cream cone?”
“What?” said Allison.
“An ice-cream cone,” Rose repeated.
Allison looked skeptical. “Do we have any?” she asked.
Rose nodded. “Yup,” she said.
“Here?” said Allison
“In the kitchen,” said Rose.
Allison sat up so fast she nearly smacked her head on Rose’s chin.”
“Daddy!” she yelled at the top of her lungs. “I’m going to have an ice-cream cone for dessert! That’s just crazy!” She relaxed and sank back into Rose’s lap. “What’s an ice-cream cone?” she asked.
“Really sweetie?” Rose was surprised. “You’ve never had an ice-cream cone.”
Allison shook her head. “But I love ice cream,” she said.
“Everybody loves ice cream,” said Rose. “But I guess you’ll have to wait till later to find out what a cone is.”
“OK,” said Allison agreeably. “I’m nice and warm now.” She sat up again and threw the towel off of her shoulders. “Hey Daddy,” she said, as Randy and her little brother finally reached the bottom of the steps. “We’re having ice-cream cones for dessert.”
“I heard,” said Randy. “Actually I’m pretty sure everyone heard. You were pretty loud.”
“I’m pretty loud and I’m pretty fast,” said Allison.
“How was the beach?” asked Rose as Randy came up the steps and plopped himself down on the chair next to hers. Little Andy clambered up the stairs and sat down on the deck, playing with a green plastic beach shovel.
“The beach was exhausting,” said Randy, “in the best possible way.” He took a moment to survey the surroundings, the sun slanting in through the pine trees and the dragonflies humming around the yard. “This place is awesome,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting in the hot tub later.”
“Yeah that’ll be nice,” said Rose. “Andrew and I have been enjoying that all week.”
“Can I go in the hot tub?” asked Allison.
Randy shook his head. “The hot tub is for later, after you’re in bed.”
Allison yawned. “I’m not tired,” she said.
“You will be later,” said Rose.
Randy smiled. “So will I,” he said. “So will I.”