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The Jacksons – for May. 21, 2009

Are Brady and Amanda coming for dinner?”

Jennifer Jackson set the salad bowl on the table and turned back to the kitchen counter where her mother Rose was busy mashing a large pot of potatoes.

“Yes, they are,” Rose answered without pausing in her work. “They should be here any time.”

Jennifer reached over to stir the gravy simmering on the stove. “I miss Brady,” she said. “He doesn’t come home often enough.”

Rose smiled. “Funny how that works,” she said. “Remember how you used to quarrel when he was still home?”

Jennifer laughed. “That’s just because he was so childish,” she said. “He’s more grown up now.”

“Somewhat,” said Rose, still smiling. “But then, so are you. At least a little.”

“Not too much though,” said Jennifer. She glanced out the window. “Oh, there they come!” she said excitedly as the familiar rumble of V8 engine in Brady’s Firebird could be heard coming up the driveway. A few moments later they heard the car pull up in the yard, the engine stop, and then the doors slam. Jennifer watched from the window.

“Amanda’s really pretty,” she said. “And she’s dyed her hair blonde. I like it.”

Rose turned and called out into the house. “It’s dinnertime, Andrew! The kids are here!”

Andrew appeared almost immediately, just as Brady and his girlfriend appeared from outside. Greetings were made and a few moments later they were all seated around the table.

“Where’s Randy and Jackie?” asked Brady. “I thought they were going to be here.”

“They’re having dinner with Jackie’s family,” said Rose. “They’ll probably stop by later if you guys are still around.”

“OK,” said Brady. “I just wanted to make sure everybody could see me gloat.”

“Gloat?” said Andrew questioningly. “About what?”

“About the fact that I no longer hold the record for worst report card ever in the Jackson family,” Brady said, grinning. “Ouch,” he added, as Jennifer landed a kick on his shin under the table.

“Don’t bring that up again,” she said, scowling.

“We’ve dealt with that,” said Rose. “Believe me, it won’t happen again.”

“Kids nowadays,” said Brady, shaking his head but still grinning broadly. “They just grow up way too fast.”

Jennifer landed another kick on his shin.

“Be nice to your sister, Brady,” said Amanda. “My mom always said if I wanted to know whether a guy would make a good husband I should watch how he treated his sisters.”

“If you want to know whether Brady will make a good husband, just ask me,” said Jennifer.

“I was just kidding,” said Brady. He winked at Jennifer. “Old habits die hard.”

Jennifer’s expression softened. “OK,” she said. “But don’t bring it up again. I hear enough about it from Mom and Dad.”

Brady rolled his eyes. “I’ve been there,” he said.

There was a break in the conversation while everybody concentrated on the dinner, which was fast disappearing from the table. Eventually Brady leaned back in his chair a little and paused in his eating.

“I have some big news,” he said, and took another mouthful of potatoes.

Everyone else stopped to look at him. “I’m trying to tell from your face whether it’s

good or bad,” said Andrew. “It’s good,” said Jennifer. “I can tell.” “I’m moving back here,” said Brady. “Next

month.”

There was a surprised silence around the

table. Jennifer was the first to speak. “Back here?” she said. “Like, into our

house?”

Brady laughed. “Good Lord, no,” he said.

“Can you imagine?”

“Well, Jenn was just saying she misses you,”

said Rose, with a smile of her own. “Not that much,” said Jennifer.

“What’s your plan?” said Andrew, always the pragmatic one. “How did this come about?”

“John Prentiss offered me a job at the body shop in town,” said Brady. “And he found us a little house to rent on Poplar Street for way less than I pay for my apartment in Winnipeg.”

There was another brief silence as his words registered on the family.

“Us?” said Rose.

Brady nodded, a little apprehensively. “Yup,” he said. “Amanda’s coming with me.”

“I got a job at the flower shop,” said Amanda, anticipating the question.

“Wow,” said Andrew. “That all seems very sudden.”

“Actually it’s not,” said Brady. “We’ve been talking about the possibility for months. I just didn’t expect to get a job offer out of the blue. But when it came we really didn’t have to think about it. It was just a matter of seeing whether Amanda could come up with something too, and she did, so there you go.”

“Well, it’s sudden for us,” said Rose. “But just so you know, I’m thrilled. It will be so good to have you close by again.” She smiled at Amanda. “And that goes for you too,” she added. Amanda smiled, looking relieved.

“What do you think, Sis?” said Brady, smiling at Jennifer.

Jennifer grinned. “Kids nowadays,” she said. “They just grow up way too fast.”

– Check out Rollin Penner’s music at www.myspace.com/rollinpennerandthetms

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