A Busman's Holiday

A Busman’s Holiday

by shalimar

Jenna looked at Ramon and sighed. There was something wrong with the young man who worked for her. Although the other kitchen help sometimes assisted the women who ran the Little Girls Kamp he had always volunteered to help serve the girls. Despite that, he always had a sad face. It was as if he needed more. Determined to find out what that was this time she waited until she could leave the children and went into the kitchen to find Ramon. The only other ones left were Derrick, the chief chef, and some of the cleaning kitchen help.

“Derrick,” she said quietly, pulling him aside. “Ramon always looks so unhappy. Do you know what it is? Is there something we can do to help?”

“I wish I knew, Jenna. Maybe, Julia, over there could help you,” he replied, pointing with his head to a thirtyish woman cleaning a large pot. He talks to her more than anybody else.”

“Julia,” Jenna called to her. “May I see you in the office?”

“I need to finish the pot, Mrs. Boyd. I’ll be finished in a few minutes.”

“You know I prefer if you call me Jenna, and I need you NOW.”

“Something wrong?” Julia asked.

“I don’t know. That is why I need to talk to you,” replied Jenna. “Don’t worry about the pot. Someone else will finish for you or you will get a little overtime.”

Julia took off her apron as she followed Jenna to the office.

“Julia, do you know what’s bothering Ramon,” Jenna asked after she closed the door behind her.

“He promised me never to tell anyone, not even you,” Julia replied. “But I know you can help him. He needs it so badly that it’s eating him up.”

“Then, please talk it over with him,” Jenna insisted. “I want to help. I know my sisters will, too.”

“I will try. If he gets the nerve to tell you I know he’ll thank you for your help.”

The next day, Derrick walked in the employee lunchroom and heard Ramon in a loud voice say to Julia, “I can’t. I just can’t.”

“But she said that she wants to help,” Julia replied. “What do you have to lose by talking to her?”

“Julia is right, Ramon,” Derrick said as he walked over to the two sitting and eating their lunch. “Jenna, like her sisters, is a kind and gentle woman who only wants to help. She will listen and maybe, just maybe, she can do something for you.”

“Or I can talk for you,” Julia added.

Ramon shook his head “yes.” His whisper was barely audible as he asked Julia, “Talk to her. I’m too scared.”

Later that day, Julia called Jenna aside and told her what Ramon wanted.
As a result when Ramon and Jenna were handing out the cake she whispered to him, “Stay a little late. Wait for me in the employee lunchroom and don’t punch out.”

“I think we can help,” Jenna told Ramon later as she sat down next to him. “But I need you to tell me in your own words what you need.”

“Thank you,” he responded. “But why must I say what I want?”

“We have an idea of what you want but we need to make sure. Everything here is voluntary, so I need to confirm what you need in as much detail as you can give me.”

“I’d like to be one of those little girls that come to this camp.” he said in a barely audible voice as he looked down to the floor.

Jenna gently lifted Ramon’s chin and asked, ”How old?”

“Four or five,” he replied.

Jenna could see his fear in his face as she said, “It’s alright. We can do it. When’s your birthday?”

When he told her she said, “Four and a half, then. You will have a month this way, if it is all right with you. That is a month with pay.”

“You mean it?” Ramon asked as his face lit up with the excitement.

“Bring in your bills tomorrow so we can pay them out of your pay stubs. And be ready to be changed.”

The next day, Ramon arrived at the main changing room with the required documents. Even before the change Jenna promised he seemed like a changed man. When he realized that he chuckled to himself because he will be changed into that little girl he desperately needed to be. Checking the details and then making sure the magic was done properly, Jenna magically changed him into that little girl that he needed to be. The new girl turned out cute in her brown pigtails, white t-shirt, black jumper and white tennis shoes with white socks that had hot pink trim. She was now called Tamar.

Jenna was taking Tamar to the playground to introduce this new little girl to the other girls when the roar of a Harley interrupted the quiet as the songbirds few away. The Harley stopped outside the entrance as Janet, Jenna’s baby sister, was climbed off the Hogg. Janet took off her helmet and shook out her mane of black wavy hair.

“Hi sis,” Janet said as she gave her slightly older sister a kiss. “School’s out for the summer and I need some rest and relaxation.”

“How were the grades?”

“A’s except for maybe a B in psych.”

“Do you think you will ever graduate?”

“Perennial student, Jen.” she replied.

“Is your boyfriend coming to visit while you’re here?”

“Boyfriend?” Janet sounded a little confused.

“The guy you spoke about to me a few times,” Jenna replied. “What’s his name? Walter? Wesley?”

“It’s William and he’s not my boyfriend,” Janet replied. “He’s my study partner.”

“You told me that you two were studying human biology a few times we spoke,” noted Jenna.

Janet blushed. They did have sex a few times. And although she preferred girls she actually enjoyed it. Might she actually be hetero?

But she answered, “He’s just my study partner. Don’t make anything of it.”

But Janet wasn’t sure if she should make anything of the idea that her sister put in her head. She did like him a lot and for a man a good study partner, bicycle riding partner and sometime roommate. She even thought about making the roommate part more permanent, but she was a free spirit and didn’t want to be tied down.

“And who have we here?” Janet asked as she knelt down to the new little girl.

“Tamar,” said the shy little girl as she hid behind Jenna.

“Are you coming or going?”

“We were just about to introduce her to the other girls.”

“I’ll do that,” Janet replied. And then to Tamar, ”If it is alright with you.”

“But you don’t know the names of the other girls,” Jenna protested.

“I’ll find your kid or one of our nieces. She’ll introduce Tamar to the others.”

“OK. And do you have any clothes? Last time you came here with a few “t’s” two pairs of jeans and some undies.”

“What else do I need?”

“How about a nightgown or better yet, makeup?”

“Me? Makeup?”

“At least come over and get a nightgown,” Jenna insisted. “No nude bathing, even in bed.”

“Yeesss, Mother,” Janet replied, ducking as Jenna made a slow motion pretend swat at her.

Jenna sighed as she watched her sister take Tamar. Janet loved children and always had fun with the kids when she stayed at the camp, but she didn’t want a child for herself. It was a conundrum that didn’t make sense to Jenna. It also didn’t help that Janet has all the femininity of a linebacker.

‘Perhaps Janet is still a child herself,’ Jenna thought. “The one good thing that Janet shows is that a girl could think “male” thoughts and still be a girl.”

In the little girls playground Janet found a group of girls lined up for jump rope while two girls turned the rope. The rest were singing a rope song, and patiently waiting their turn. Near the end of the line was Baruchah, one of Shelly’s twin five-year-olds.

“Baruchah,” Janet called her niece over.

“Aunty Janet?” Baruchah asked as she turned around. “Aunty Janet!” she shouted as she ran to her aunt and gave her a big hug. “You’re home! I misses you a wholes lots. Are you out of school? Whose dat? Are you her mommy?”

“This is Tamar, she would like to join in and play. Also, introduce her to the other girls.”

“You not her mommy?”

Janet rolled her eyes as she said, “No!” She pushed Tamar towards her niece.

Tamar held tightly onto Janet’s hand, pleading with Janet, ”Stay? Pees stay?”

“OK,” Janet answered after thinking about it. “I’ll stay and watch for a while.”

“Yeah!” both little girls shouted as they gave Janet a hug.

They then joined the line with the other girls as Janet sat down on a step a few feet from the children. Janet didn’t know it, but there was a big smile on her face as she watched the children. However her sister Prudence, who was on duty watching the children play, did notice.

After a while the two kids asked Janet to jump rope. At first, Janet said “No!” but Baruchah and Tamar insisted. In fact, all the girls wanted Janet to jump rope. Many little voices encouraged her and many little hands tried to drag Janet towards the rope. Finally she relented and jumped into the turning rope. When she finished her turn and easily jumped out she was hardly breathing heavy. Almost all of the little girls congratulated her, and asked her to do it again.

Baruchah and Tamar congratulated Janet by putting their arms around each of Janet’s legs so she couldn’t move well.

“Girls,” Janet said. “At least let me catch my breath before you make me walk with you attached to my legs.”

“We wants you to do it again,” the two insisted.

“Let me rest a second.”

“NO, NOW!” Baruchah and Tamar demanded.

“I need to rest and unpack,” Janet told the girls. “Maybe later.”

“Come back,” they said in unison. “Weel soon.”

“I wouldn’t miss my niece for the world,” Janet said as she lightly pinched Baruchah’s cheek.

“What about me?” Tamar asked.

“I like you, too.” Janet replied pinching her cheek just before she walked away.

“She likes me,” Tamar told her new friend. “She be good mommy.”

“Aunty Janet no mommy,” Baruchah replied. “No, never.”

“Why no, never?”

“Aunty Janet still kid, like us.”

“She look grownup to me.”

“She still kid, “ Baruchah replied.

“If she kid, she knows what I want.”

“What you want?”

“A mommy.”

“If she be kid, how cans she be a mommy?”

“Don’t know. Just know she be MY mommy.”

Baruchah looked at Tamar but didn’t say another thing. She didn’t want to disappoint her new friend. She hoped that Janet would persuade Tamar before the child became too attached to Janet.

Janet went into the building that included her suite. Opening her suitcase she took out about eight short-sleeve t-shirts, a few bras and panties and three pairs of jeans. As she inspected the clothes for possible repairs, she was deep in thought. She realized that Tamar is a nice kid and hoped that she would find happiness during her stay at the camp as she put aside the few items that needed some minor sewing repair.

“I hope to see her again,” Janet said as she finished unpacking. “Get that thought out of your head, girl, or you’ll end up like Jenna, or worse, Shelly. How many kids does Shelly have now, a dozen? It is more like a dozen twins. And what’s worse, some kids call her grandma.”

It was still early, so Janet went back outside and watched some of the kids again. This time Tamar was playing hopscotch. One of the other girls was Maggie, Baruchah’s twin, and the other was Katlyn, also know as Piper, affectionately called, cub by Janet. Eventually, Piper will understand and appreciate the joke that was implied.

As soon as Maggie saw Janet she ran to her. Piper, Vicky and Tamar were barely behind her.

Maggie gave her aunt a hug and started talking, “HiAuntyJanetImissesyouand lovesyouI’splayinghopscotchwithPipermynewfriendTamarBaruisondaswingsand mommyisatthecallcentermommysaiddatifIseesyousdatyoushouldcallheras soonaspossiblewanttaplayhopscotchwithPipermeandTamar?”

Janet, like the rest of her brothers, sisters and cousins still can’t understand how Maggie could get all those words out without taking a single breath. It was a talent that the little storyteller seemed to need.

“May I watch for a while first?” asked Janet. “I don’t want to spoil your fun.”

So Janet watched the children play for a while. Eventually she joined in the game and allowed herself to lose to Tamar who seemed talented. It was near lunchtime for the children and Janet led the four of them to her home and feed them their favorite, pizza, which she got from the main camp cafeteria. Tamar remembered that as Ramon she had made many pizza pies for the children. Despite not eating much that morning and all the exercise she did, Janet, like the children, was only able to finish a half a slice.

As Janet was putting the pizza away in her freezer for another day, Piper asked, “Cans we have a tea party, Aunty Janet?”

“OK,”

“We’s not dressed,” Maggie noted. “And we’s only three.”

“Why don’t you all go and get your dresses on?” Janet suggested. “I’ll make sure there is milk and cookies.”

“Yeah!” Piper and Maggie shouted as they ran out of the suite.

But Tamar stood there and started to cry.

Janet picked her up and asked, “What’s wrong, sweetie?”

“I not know wheres I stays and not knows if I habs a dress for da party,” Tamar choked through tears.

“I’ll tell you a secret, princess,” Janet explained. “I also have the magical powers that my sister, Jenna has. So, I’ll create the best dress possible for a little girl. And I’ll check with Jenna and make sure you have a place to call your own even if it is one of my spare bedrooms. OK?”

With tears beginning to dry up, Tamar nodded her head, “yes.”

“While I call the kitchen to get that milk and cookies for you kids think of what that dress will look like.”

“You wears dress too?”

Thinking fast, Janet replied, “I can’t. I’m going to be the hostess and the one serving you girls.”

Janet HATED wearing skirts and dresses. Even when she did something special with her study partner, William, she wore her jeans. Although he preferred that Janet wore something a little more feminine, he never pushed her after he expressed his desires early in their relationship. It lead to their one and only “disagreement.”

As Janet promised, she created a fairy dress and a crown of lace, both in dusty rose for her. Looking at the girl after she had it on, Janet suggested that a little makeup would be perfect for the tea party. She put some blush on Tamar’s cheeks and added a little lipstick. Looking at Tamar’s nails, Janet decided to file them a bit, then add bubble gum colored polish. When she was finished, the child was pretty as a picture, so Janet got out her camera and took some pictures of the pixie. They were just finishing when Maggie and Piper came in with their cousin, Allie in tow. All three of the guests also wore cute dresses.

“Girls,” Janet suggested. “Stand together so I can take a picture of the four of you. I’ll put it on the computer and you can look at it. If you like it I’ll send it to your moms.” As Tamar was about to cry Janet told her, “I’ll give you your copy to keep, Tamar, if you like it.”

That lit up Tamar’s face.

While the girls were having their milk and cookies at their tea party, Janet called Jenna on her cell phone, “That girl, Tamar, asked me where she is staying while she is here. I told her I’d find out.”

“Could she be in that spare bed in your second bedroom?” Jenna responded. “We’re pretty filled up at the moment and I don’t know if there IS an extra bed.”

“But…”

“Just for the time being. The guests should be down to a normal size next week.”

Janet sighed. She knew appealing to her elders would do no good. Her dad, uncle and two aunts were the elders and as they wanted Janet married and a mother they would consider Tamar staying with her a great idea. Going to the counsel would be just as successful as her brothers, sisters and cousins who were on the counsel also wanted the same for Janet.

That evening before Janet tucked Tamar in for the night, Tamar asked, “Cans I come to you in your bed if I bees scared?”

“Yes,” replied Janet.

“And if I needs a hug?”

“Or a hug or any other reason, little one.”

“As long as I stays a kid cans I stays here?”

“Wouldn’t you like to stay with other little girls?”

“Buts I’s needs you.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Janet replied. “But it is time for you to get some sleep, so let me read a story to you, then off to bed for you.”

“I’s not sleepy,” Tamar replied with a yawn.

After reading the story, Janet put the sleeping child into her bed and pulled the covers over Tamar.

Just after Janet left the room Tamar whispered in her sleep, “Tank you, mommy.”

It was the next day, and Janet had already done her exercises so she decided to mend her college clothes outside her suite.

“What ya doin?” Tamar asked as she looked into Janet’s room.

“I’m sewing,” Janet replied. “While at school some of my clothes needed repair. Now that I’m out of school, it is the first time I’ve had to fix my clothes.”

“Yous rich,” Tamar noted. “Yous owns dis camp. Get new clothes?”

“I could,” Janet admitted. “But why throw something out because a button needs fixing or a seam wasn’t done right and by the time I found out I’ve worn it ten times? There are only a few pieces and each will take about a minute.”

“Cans I watch?”

“Sure.”

They sat silently for a few minutes as Janet continued to sew. For each garment she took the proper needle and thread needed to take care of the minor repair. Tamar watched intently.

“Why ya using dat thread?” asked Tamar.

“See, the t-shirt? The color is what is called royal blue,” Janet replied as she repaired the seam. “The thread is also royal blue.”

“Oh, is dat like kings and queens and pwincesses?”

“Yes,” Janet replied. It is worn by kings and queens and princesses.”

“Is you a pwincess?”

“No.”

They went silent for a few more minutes.

Janet was the one who broke it, “By the way, you need some clothes, Tamar. We can go to the mall and buy some things for you. Maybe tomorrow?”

“Make dem clothes pretty.”

“I’ll do my best. We’ll see what we can find.”

Again they were silent.

This time Tamar was the first to speak, “Cans I help?”

“A needle is very sharp. It can even cut you and you could bleed,” Janet replied. “I don’t know if a four-year-old can do that safely.”

“Want ta help.”

After thinking for a while, Janet conceded, “Maybe you can help me pull the needle and thread but we have to be very careful. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

When Tamar pulled the first thread with Janet’s help Janet said, “Very good.”

“Why no do at school?” Tamar asked.

“College is a very hard school, especially because I’m studying physical engineering,” Janet explained. “I have to prioritize my time. I have to study by reading the books and doing very hard homework. If I don’t, I won’t know what the teacher is talking about and I would fail the course. Sewing is something I could do when I am not in school.”

“What’s ‘pie or it ties?’”

“It means to decide what needs to be done and in what order. And then you do the things in that order. And it is pronounced, ‘prioritize.’” Janet said the word slowly so that Tamar would hear the word better.

“Pry or it ties,” Tamar repeated.

“That’s better,” Janet said as she gave Tamar a hug. “You’re a good learner.”

Tamar looked up at Janet, smiled and gave Janet a kiss. Janet felt a warm pleasure inside and relished the thought while Tamar thought that she needed this woman who was so thoughtful and patient with her to be her mommy.

Later, as Janet was finishing sewing, Tamar asked, “Cans yous sews a flower on my jeans?”

“Why do you want a flower on your jeans?”

“Jeans plain. Want pretty.”

“I don’t know if I can do that,” Janet honestly replied.

“Yous a grownup! You cans do anything! And … and yous … yous doos magic.”

“I’ll try,” Janet sighed. “What color would you like?”

Tamar chose a hot pink thread, took off her jeans and sat down next to Janet and watched her sew.

“Will you help me?” asked Janet.

“Yeah.”

They worked together with Janet pointing the needle and Tammy pulling it. In the end the flower was not perfect, but it did look like a daisy.

“OK?” asked Janet when she was satisfied with their work.

“YEAH!” replied Tamar. “Helps me puts it on!”

After Janet helped Tamar with her jeans Tamar looked down and said, “I sees it!”

Tamar climbed onto Janet and gave her a hug and kiss. Excited, Tamar ran to find Baruchah to tell her what Janet helped her make. Janet smiled.

What neither of them noticed is that Janet’s sister, Emma, saw most of the action. She knew that these two were bonding as unlikely as it seemed. Janet was actually caring for Tamar. Even more amazing was that Janet was more patient with Tamar than she usually is with the other children. Like the rest of her family, Emma could only hope.

Later that morning Janet asked for one of the company cars so that she could get Tamar some clothes. Finding out about the trip, Holly suggested to Janet that she could join them and take Heather. After making sure the two children were buckled in properly in the Hyundai Accent Janet drove the few miles to the regional mall that the sisters owned and parked in one of the general parking spaces, like the family insisted. The elders and counsel didn’t believe that the family should have special privileges. Making sure of their safety, Holly and Janet put a protection spell on the children before letting them out of the car.

The four girls walked the mall until they passed R & J Toys. A brainchild of Jenna’s, it was one of the businesses that the family started to cover the expenses of the camp.

“Cans wees go in da toy store?” asked Tamar. “I wants a dolly.”

After thinking about it for a few seconds, Janet agreed, “OK, we have the time. Heather, do you think you can help Tamar find a nice doll?”

“Yeah, Aunt Janet,” Heather replied.

As the adults walked into the toy store the children took off at a gallop.

“SLOW DOWN!” both Janet and Holly yelled at the children who were already too far away to hear them.

Giggling to herself, Janet shook her head, “no,” as the women tried to follow the children. They found the girls discussing the merits of Tammy getting the Raggedy Ann doll or one of the Cabbage Patch dolls.

“Raggedy is softer,” Heather explained. “Easier to cuddle.”

“Don’t know. Caddige Patch is bigger,” Tamar responded.

“Which do you want?” asked Janet.

“Want both,” Tamar said as she looked up to Janet.

When Tamar’s eyes pleaded with Janet, Janet sighed, knowing that one way or another, the girl would get both of those dolls.

“Well, ok, both” replied Janet, making Tamar light up a smile as Holly seemed surprised.

Holly was surprised at Janet’s generosity. She turned to her daughter, “And what do you want, Heather?”

“More clothes for my Barbie!” Heather explained as she ran to the display.

Holly and Janet each held Tamar’s hands as they took her to the display. Tammy decided to jump every few feet making it harder on the two women but still fun for all three. As Heather chose some items she wanted for her doll, Tamar looked and decided she also wanted a Barbie. Barbie’s friends were in that display. When she saw the dolls Tammy looked at them hungrily.

‘A Barbie doll?’ Janet thought. ‘Of all the toys in the store, why a Barbie?’

“Want dat one,” Tamar pointed and looked up at Janet with the same pleading eyes that had gotten her the two other dolls.

The child was pointing to one of Barbie’s friends, but Janet couldn’t tell which one, so she picked up the child and asked her to show her again. Tamar picked out the Kiesha version.

“Heather,” Holly asked. “Would you be willing to share some of Barbie’s clothes with Tamar?”

“’Till she gets her own,” Heather Rose replied.

“That ok with you?” Janet asked Tamar.

“Yeah,” Tammy replied. “I likes dose clothes Hedder showed me.”

After the women paid for the toys Holly told Janet, “I’ll bring the packages back to the car and I’ll meet you at Girl Rave.”

When Holly arrived at the store, Janet had already picked out a few things and was discussing them with the girls. Some of the clothes the girls liked and some they didn’t. What amazed Holly was that Janet didn’t argue about some of the clothes being very girly. After watching the three girls for a while Holly helped Janet try the clothes on the girls and decide the final items. Tamar wanted to wear immediately one peasant skirt. Seeing how pretty her friend looked in it Heather asked her mother if she could also have one. The two girls walked out of the store wearing identical skirts and tops. Their shoes were different until the four left the Buster Brown Shoe store.

After that the girls were hungry so they ate at the food court. The girls had chicken nuggets and the women had salads.

As they ate, Holly suggested to Janet, “Why don’t you get the same colored peasant skirt, top and shoes that Tamar got? You could look like a mother, daughter pair.”

At the mention of “skirt” Janet accidentally spat out some lettuce.

“What do you mean by that?” Janet angrily asked.

“You are spending a lot of time with Tamar and I thought that you might like to share something else with Tammy,” Holly replied.

“No skirts, thank you,” Janet whispered through clenched teeth. “Let’s go. I can’t shop anymore.”

Janet stopped eating and didn’t say another word while the children finished eating and Holly suggested she should drive back to the camp. After strapping in, Janet just stared out the window and cried softly. Janet thought she might like to wear something that Tamar would also wear, but NOT A SKIRT!

At a red light Holly noticed Janet crying.

Grabbing Janet’s hand she said, “I’m sorry sis.”

Janet squeezed Holly’s hand and gave her the ghost of a smile.

After they got back and Janet put Tamar’s clothes away she took the sales tags off the dolls then sent Tammy outside to play. Although she forgave her sister, she was still angry with Holly so she took her baseball uniform out of one of her dressers and grabbed her bat from her closet. She thought if she hit some baseballs she could get rid of her anger safely. Walking out her door she saw that Tamar was happily playing jacks with Katlyn.

But her movements didn’t escape Tamar’s notice.

She didn’t get far on her way to the baseball fields Tamar ran up to her and asked, “Where you going?”

“To the baseball fields. I’m going to hit some balls.”

“Cans I come? Peas, peas, peas?”

Kay, one of Shelly’s twin fourteen-year-olds, was walking by at the time and overheard the conversation. “I can watch her until you finish then I’ll hit some balls myself,” she suggested.

“I need to go first, Kay.”

“No problem, Aunt Janet. We’ll take Katlyn so neither kid gets lonely.”

“How about it, Piper Cub, want to join us?” asked Janet.

“Yeah!” Emma’s kitten agreed.

When they got there, the older girls took one of the fields and took a pitching machine from the scorer’s booth to the mound, as the younger girls began playing just beyond the fence with their jacks. They hauled several baskets of baseballs to the machine, and then Janet settled by home plate and started to hit the machine’s pitches. The first ball, Janet whiffed. The second was a liner to the gap in left center field. The third was a fast grounder that hit the machine, but did no damage. Janet felt her anger dissipate as most of the rest of the balls were excellent shots to the outfield and a few flew over the outfield fence. Switching with Kay, Janet enjoyed talking to the young girls as they played.

“Cans I hit the ball?” Tammy asked after a while.

“These are baseballs,” Janet explained. “You could get hurt”

“What if we change the balls into whiffle balls and the bat into a whiffle bat?” asked Kay.

“I think Nerf bat and balls would be safer,” Janet commented as she did the magic.

Janet played pitcher and Kay played catcher as first Tamar then Piper swung the child sized bats. The youngsters hit many of the balls including a few that managed to get into the outfield. When both younger girls finished their batting practice the four of them walked back towards the camp. They stopped by the swings where Janet and Kay pushed the two little girls. All four would fondly remember that incident for years.

The next morning Janet did her regular exercise routine. She started with some simple stretching exercises. She then went to her Bowflex and did a number of routines on it. She took her speed bike down from its hook, went outside and got onto the bike. Tamar ran after her.

“What ya doing?” asked Tamar as she stopped.

“I’m going to ride my bike hard and fast,” Janet told her. “It is the last part of the exercises that I do every morning.”

“Cans I come?”

“I’m going to be riding hard and fast,” Janet tried to explain. “You wouldn’t be able to keep up.”

“Peas, Peas?”

Janet sighed. She knew taking the kid along wasn’t such a good idea, but, also, that Tamar wouldn’t give up.

“Alright, get your bike and come along,” the elder girl agreed.

“No bike,” Tammy wined, as she looked down, disappointed starting to cry.

“If you did have a bike what color would it be?” Janet asked as she knelt down to Tamar’s level.

“Dat be purple,” Tamar whispered, as she was still unhappy that she couldn’t go with Janet.

Janet concentrated then said to Tamar, “Turn around and get on your bike.”

“Turn around?” asked a confused Tamar.

“Your bike is behind you,” Janet explained. “It is part of the magic.”

“Cans I do magic too?”

“When you get older, if you are part of the family.”

Tamar turned around and saw a girl’s 12” bike that had training wheels. Happily she got onto it and followed Janet. Janet had to change her gears to the slowest setting so she wouldn’t move too fast for Tamar. Part of that bothered Janet as she could fly like the wind on her bike, but Tamar’s smile more than made up for the slow exercise that morning.

About a half an hour later, Tamar told Janet, “I tired.”

“What am I going to do with you?” Janet asked in exasperation. “I can’t leave you here.”

“Don’t know,” Tamar said. “No cans rides no mores.”

Janet put down her kickstand, wondering why she was doing all these things with and for this little girl. It didn’t make sense, yet she felt she couldn’t disappoint Tamar, and she actually felt a need to care for and protect this pixy.

After thinking about the situation Janet finally told Tammy, “Come over here by my bike, as I have to do some changes. But be careful. Don’t touch my bike because it may fall, especially on you.”

As Tamar walked to Janet’s bike, Janet turned Tamar’s bike into a child seat for it. She went over to the seat, brought it back to the bike and magically attached it securely to the bicycle. Turning, she picked up Tamar and put the girl in the seat. While holding onto the seat so Tamar and the bike wouldn’t fall, Janet turned around and got on the bike. Just before Janet started to move, she felt tiny hands and a tiny head touch her back. Janet savored the precious hug.

“Lean back, Tamar,” Janet said after a while. “It’s safer that way.”

After Tammy followed Janet’s instructions, Janet started to pedal and got to her normal speed. Eventually Janet was able to go over the two hills that was her original goal. Breathing heavily, she turned around at the bottom of the second hill and stopped.

The peacefulness of this location is the reason why she liked going there. The birds chirping in the broadleaf trees always calmed her down. The small brook, and waterfall above the bridge they had just come over was always a pleasure to watch. Looking back at the child seat, she noticed Tamar sleeping, looking like an angel.

Janet stroked the child’s hair and said, “I wish you could see this place the way I do. It is one of my favorite spots. I sometimes come here to think.”

Janet stood on her bike a while longer before she rode back over the hills to the camp area. When she arrived back where the children were she rode slower to help prevent accidents. Gina was relaxing from her work as one of the camp’s physicians, watching the children when Janet rode in. When Janet stopped in front of Gina, Gina took the still sleeping Tamar off the bicycle.

“I’ll take care of the baby for you,” she offered.

“Thanks, sis,” Janet said as she turned her bike back to its original form. “When I finish putting my bike away I’ll look in on her.”

Gina was surprised but noted that Janet was happy, and seemed to have actually enjoyed the experience with Tamar.

When Tamar woke up she went out and played tag with Maggie, Baruchah, and Cathleen. After they ran out of breath they sat under a tree and talked.

“You is Jenna’s kid?” Tamar asked Cathleen.

“Yeah, she’s the bestest mommy.”

“Jenna was my boss. I likes her.”

“Is you going back to being a grownup?”

“I hopes not.”

“You needs a mommy to stay.”

“I gots a mommy.”

“Aunty Janet?”

“Yeah.”

“I hopes you right. Dat means you bees my cousin.”

“Yeah,” Tamar said as she smiled and hugged Cathy. “I bees your cousin.”

That night, when Janet told Tamar, ”Time for a bath,” Tammy asked, “Do I hab to?”

“I’ll tell you what,” Janet suggested. “I’ll make it fun by making it a BUBBLE BATH! Or if you want, I’ll get in with you.”

“Both!”

“Both?”

“More fun dat way!”

Janet drew the water and made sure it wasn’t too hot or cold. When she was satisfied she threw in some bubbles and then stripped before getting the munchkin who ran and tried to hide. But Janet was too fast and strong for the little girl who was quickly made naked as both girls giggled. Janet took off her robe, stepped in and lay down in the tub as Tamar sat on the small part of Janet’s tummy. They played, putting soap on every part of each other’s body.

“Whens I grows up I wants to have boobies like you,” Tamar told Janet.

“That may happen,” Janet replied as she startled Tamar by starting the whirlpool jets that made Tamar giggle, making Janet giggle. Soon after Janet pulled the plug and started the shower so she could rinse the soap from their bodies, however that got their hair wet. Noticing that Janet, got some “No More Tangles” shampoo and washed their hair.

After drying them off and putting on their nightgowns Janet brushed the baby’s hair and then her own as the child yawned.

“You’re a tired little girl. I’ll read a book to you and then off to dreamland with you,” Janet said as she pick Tamar up and took from the shelf a copy of “Good Night Moon” sat down in the rocking chair and settled in with the child.

By the middle of the book Janet noticed Tamar’s rhythmic breathing. She put the book down and continued rocking Tammy for a while making sure that the child was completely asleep before putting the child in the bed and making sure that Tamar’s plushies were asleep with her. Then Janet kissed her on the forehead.

Janet went back to the rocking chair and rocked. Although she would be a bit stiff in the morning, Janet somehow knew she needed to sleep in the rocking chair. The gentle rocking motion quickly put her to sleep. She awoke with a start. She thought she heard a noise. Looking around and not hearing it a second time almost allowed her to drift off into dreamland again.

But the sound bothered her, so she looked closely at Tamar and noticed that the little girl seemed to be trying to grab something below her in her sleep. In the dim light Janet noticed the Raggedy Ann doll on the floor, just out of reach of the girl. She got out of the chair and put the doll in Tammy’s extended hand. Quickly, Tamar pulled it in to her chest, andturned over on her side. Janet noticed the smile on the baby’s angelic face.

Happy that she solved the sleeping child’s needs, Janet finally went to her own bed in the next room, hoping that the kinks she’d gotten from sleeping in the rocking chair would unwind in her own, softer bed.

Early in the morning Tamar succeeded in waking Janet by climbing onto her bed and bouncing on her back as if Janet was a horse.

“Don’t do that when I have a full bladder,” Janet told the child. “I could have an accident.”

Tamar giggled.

“You’re impossible,” Janet remarked with a smile as she got up to pee, making Tamar fall onto the bed. When she returned, she told Tamar, “Go pee, then you may come back to my bed.”

Tamar frowned and exclaimed, “I’s in da bed!”

But Janet repeated, “Go pee first. And make sure you wipe yourself.”

As the child followed Janet’s instructions, the older girl pulled up the covers and crawled into bed. Digging when she felt something soft and lumpy under her behind she found the Raggedy Ann doll that that waked her from her sleep in the wee hours of the morning.

The child returned to find Janet on her back playing with the doll. “My doll!”

“Yep, your doll,” Janet agreed. “I was just keeping her company until you came back.”

Carefully Janet rolled over onto her tummy as Tamar played with the doll. The next time she woke, she found Tamar lying asleep next to her, with the doll in between. This precious moment warmed her heart, but she quickly got out of the bed, needing to start her exercise. She had just finished with her Bowflex when Tamar entered the exercise room.

“Ride bike?” asked Tamar.

“Yes,” Janet replied. “We’ll ride the bikes then have breakfast.”

“Otay!” Tamar shouted. “Where’s my bike?”

As fast as she could, Janet conjured up another bicycle, as she put the child seat on her own bike. She vowed not to get rid of either of them until Tamar’s time as a child ended. This time, Tamar was awake when they reached the end of the ride. Janet showed Tamar some turtles sunning themselves on some rocks in the small pool below the waterfall. After watching for a while, the child couldn’t be happier as she leaned into, and looked up at Janet.

Joining them for breakfast when they returned were Cathy, Heather and Sarah. Relieved of breakfast duty that morning, Prue stayed and watched with interest and could only hope for Janet’s sake, as well as Tamar’s, that Tamar was crawling inside her sister’s heart.

After the other children left following breakfast, Janet suggested to Tamar, “You were so intent on riding a horse this morning, that maybe we can do something.”

“Ders horsys here?”

“We don’t have any horses, but we have something better, unicorns. There should be one available we can ride.”

“Yeah.”

Janet called the stable and found that there were still a few available and one would be brought by her place in a few minutes. Taking Tamar to the cafeteria, Janet asked for a few lumps of sugar, and an apple for the unicorn.

When the stable hand arrived with the unicorn Janet petted the animal and gave it the sugar cubes. As it was eating its treat Janet got on the “horse” and the stable hand handed Tamar to Janet. They took the “Unicorn Trail” around the great lake on their property. On the boy’s side of the lake, they stopped and watched some of the boys fishing. One of them caught what looked like a twenty-inch trout.

A little further down the road they stopped when Tamar spotted some frogs jumping along the shore. Janet let the child down so she could try to catch one, giggling all the time. While this was happening, Janet got off the unicorn and fed it the apple she’d brought with her. Then she caught a small frog and let Tamar look at it.

When Tammy’s curiosity waned Janet put the frog back in the lake and told the girl, “We’re going to let the froggy live so it can grow up and be a mommy or daddy someday.”

Tamar followed the frog until it went underwater, then looked up at Janet, happy that she was sharing this experience with the one she was sure would be her mother.

When they got back, they saw Vicky, one of Kimmie’s children, playing with her unicorn plushy.

“What ya doin?” asked Tamar.

“Playing with Darla.” Vickie’s eyes were on the stuffed unicorn.

“Cans I join you?”

“You gots a unicorn?”

Tamar pointed to the animal she was riding.

“No, a stuffy one,” Vicky insisted.

Tammy looked at Janet and asked, “Cans I hab a unicorn?”

“Like this one here?” Janet asked as she patted the unicorn.

“Nos, likes Raggedy Ann!”

Janet opened the saddlebag and put her hand in. There had not been a unicorn doll in the bag until she did the magic to make it. She pulled out a pink one with long white hair and gave it to the girl.

Tamar smiled as she cuddled and kissed it, and then ran to play with Vicky, stopping only long enough to say, “Thank you,” then whispering, “Mommy.”

As the girls played with the two stuffed animals, Janet took their ride back to the stable.

When Janet got back she went to her dresser and took her figure skating competition outfit out of her sports drawer. First she slipped on her ice blue tights followed by the ice blue leotard with sparkles that had a small skirt. That and her tennis outfit were the ONLY items she owned that had any skirt, and she only wore them because of the competitions she sometimes entered. She was an excellent skater, but just below the best, once placing third in the Regionals but never higher. She knew she could have used magic to place higher, but believed that would have been cheating, and when she talked that idea over with her siblings they agreed.

Grabbing her skates, a towel and a change of clothes and putting them in her knapsack, she walked out her door where Tamar who was talking to Vicky confronted her, “Yous pretty! Wheres yous going?”

“To the ice skating rink,” Janet replied. “I need to do some skating.”

“Wanna watch,” Tamar insisted. “Cans Vicky come too?”

“You just want to watch?” Janet asked.

“MAYBE SKATE!” shouted Vicky.

“OK, kids,” Janet agreed. “You watch me for a little bit, then if you still want to, we’ll skate together.”

“OTAY!” they shouted.

Janet set up the four cameras when they got to the rink, so she could see later the results of her exercise on her computer. She then put the girls in seats that were close to the rink, yet high enough that the pixies could see her. Walking till she got onto the ice, she did double and triple Lutzes, camels, double and triple jumps and spins. She fell twice, but finished her exercise with a spiral that turned into a spin and ended with a camel. Despite her flaws, the girls clapped.

“OK, girls,” Janet finally said after she caught her breath. “Come over here and we’ll skate.”

“No skates,” Tamar complained.

“Hello! Tamara, this is Janet. I do magic. When I lift you into the rink you’ll have skates on.”

“Can’t skate,” Tamar noted.

“I’ll teach you.”

They skated and, as Janet promised, Tamar gradually learned to skate. The girls fell down a few times, but Janet just picked them up and helped them continue skating. After about a half an hour, Janet grabbed the girls’ hands and they skated around the rink for the last time. Janet changed into her sneakers then took the girls to the showers where she cleaned herself and the children, despite their protests at this extreme cruelty.

When they left, Janet grabbed the cameras. On the way back the girls joined the other kids climbing the “jungle gym” apparatus and using the slides. Eventually, Janet pushed the two girls on the swings.

That evening Janet received a phone call.

“Hello,” she said as she picked up the phone.

“Hi, Janet. It’s Bill. I miss you and want to see you.”

“I miss you, too,” she replied, “Although I’ve been busy taking care of the girls in the camp.”

“Maybe I could stay a few days and see how you care for the kids.”

“That would be nice.”

They talked for a couple of hours. In the end, they made a date for him to stay starting that weekend.

“Friday night I’m taking you to a nice place so we can dance. I understand that Judy’s is a great place to see new acts.”

“They have great bands,” Janet replied, “I’d love to go.”

She was mesmerized by his voice.

The next evening Cynthia came into Janet’s suite acting like she was on a mission, “Your boyfriend, Bill, just called me and wanted me to make sure you look pretty for that date you two are having this weekend. That means we’re going to the salon and getting you a dress. And you’re going to wear heels.”

“What date?” asked Janet. “Do I have a say in this?”

“No, You don’t have a say in this! I’ve already made an appointment for you to get your hair done in the morning and after that we’ll find that perfect dress for you, and a bra, panties and shoes to match. If you want to, you can take that Tamar kid. She might like getting her hair done.”

Janet sulked. She loved going shopping almost as much as she liked wearing skirts. Now she had to do one to get the other. For what? Well, it was a guy she liked, but she just liked him. She really didn’t think she loved him. Or did she?

“I guess I have no choice,” she reflected.

“Nope,” Cindy explained with a sinister smile. “I’ll pick you up at nine.”

Later, Janet told Tammy, “We’re getting our hair done tomorrow. Then my sister, Cindy will help me buy a dress.”

“You no wears dress!” Tamar commented. “Why you wears dress?”

“I’m doing something special with a guy named William. He’s my study partner at college.”

“You likes him?”

Janet sighed, then, despite herself, smiled, “I guess so.”

“You make kissy, kissy?”

“Yes we’ll make kissy, kissy. Now I’ll read you a story, then off to bed for you. We’re going to have to get up early to get our hair done.”

“Mine too?”

“If you want to.”

“Peas!”

Janet read Tamar a Strawberry Shortcake story before tucking the child and her dolls into her bed.

It was five o’clock in the morning when Tamar woke up. Knowing what Janet would say, she went to the bathroom before taking her dolls and opening the door to Janet’s bedroom to creep in next to the sleeping beauty. She needed the warmth that represented the love of the adult next to her. Tammy wasn’t completely successful in getting into bed without waking Janet, who briefly opened her eyes as the child settled in.

About ninety minutes later the phone rang and when Janet answered, Cindy sang, “Rise and shine and give G_d your, glory, glory.
Rise and shine and give G_d your glory, glory.”

“It’s too early for such nonsense,” Janet replied.

“Come on, get up, girl,” Cindy insisted. “Besides, we ain’t nuns.”

Janet sat on the side of her bed with her eyes closed, protesting, “I’m up. I’m up.”

“And your little charge?”

“I’ll get her up in a few minutes. I’m up. I’m up!”

“She dost protest too much, me thinks.”

“I’ll do some of my exercises then get the kid up.”

“Just be ready for our ten o’clock appointment with the salon. This is going to be an all day affair.”

“This is getting worse and worse.”

“You know you like the guy. Do it for him, just this once.”

“Yeess, Mother.”

“If you want to be putty in his hands, you need him to want to be putty in your hands.”

Janet did her exercises, excluding the bicycle, took a quick shower, and then woke Tamar. Cindy came to the apartment and the three ate breakfast as Cindy explained the itinerary for the day. The more Cindy explained, the less Janet liked the idea. Why couldn’t William accept her as she is? She was a tomboy and she accepted who she was.

She thought about William. She was beginning to want to do a few special things for him and this was the ultimate test, as she would be wearing a dress. She also realized that he was starting to do things for her that endeared him to her. Maybe they were beginning to fall in love with each other.

When they got to the hairdressers Cindy, Janet and Tamar were whisked away to chairs near each other. All three girls had their hair washed, slightly frosted and permed.

While their hair was being blow-dried, the nail girl came and discussed the nail polishing that Janet would get.

Despite her head being under the dryer Tamar said, “Want pretty nails too!”

“Honey, Cindy is paying for this,” Janet explained. Then to the nail girl, “Robyn could you play twenty fingers?”

“And twenty toes?” asked Robyn. “I’m supposed to do your feet, too.”

“Would you also like your toes done, Tammy?” asked Janet.

“Peas.”

“I hope you don’t mind, Janet. Doing it that way will take a little longer,” Robyn explained.

“You will be well rewarded for a happy little girl’s smile,” Janet noted.

Before Robyn started counting the fingers, and then the toes for Tamar, she said, “A happy girl’s smile is also a reward.”

When they were finished at the salon, they all went to Neiman Marcus and searched the dress department there. A sales lady that Janet swore looked the statue of Venus de Milo having arms came to help. She suggested a spaghetti strapped cherry dress with flowers in silk. It came with a sheer jacket. Somehow, Janet fell in love with the dress and changed into it to see how she looked. When she came out, both Cindy and Tamar gave their voice of approval as Janet admired herself in the mirror.

“Damn, I look hot!”

“That’s the point, girl,” Cindy noted.

As Janet went through the opening to the changing room to get back into her street clothes, Tamar told Cynthia, “Mommy pretty.”

Cynthia asks Tamar, “Does Janet know you call her ‘Mommy’?”

“Not know.”

“This is important, Tamar,” Cynthia continued. “Does she know?”

“I’m afraid,” Tamar admitted as she started to cry.

When Janet came out she saw Tammy crying in Cynthia’s arms so she picked up the girl.

“What’s wrong Tammy?” Janet asked.

“I’s ‘fraid,” the little girl cried.

“Tell me about it and we’ll chase the scaires away together,” Janet coaxed.

“Can’t. Nots now.”

“Promise you’ll tell me eventually?” Janet asked as she dried Tamar’s tears.

“Promise.”

They left shopping in a good mood again. Even Janet was anticipating her evening with William. Arriving back at the camp, Janet didn’t want to ruin the work that had been done, so she asked Cindy to watch Tamar.

As she waited for the time she needed to get ready Janet wrote down some of her thoughts. Eventually, Tamar came in and had dinner. It was during that time that Janet got ready for her date.

Tamar finished eating and asked Janet, “Cans I get pretty too?”

“How would you like to dress to meet my boyfriend?”

“A pretty dress?”

“How about that skirt and blouse you got at Girl Rave?”

“Dat be good.”

Janet quickly washed Tamar’s hands and face then put on the child’s outfit before finally putting on her dress. Janet went to her vanity and finished her makeup and adding lipstick and blush to Tamar. A few minutes later they heard the doorbell ring.

When Janet opened it Bill was stand there in a jacket and tie and holding a bouquet of flowers. Janet put her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately. Of course, Bill returned the same passionate kiss.

Feeling left out, Tamar tapped Janet’s hip and asked, “Dat your boyfriend?”

“Oh, sorry,” Janet said as she turned still in hanging onto Bill. “Bill this little angel is Tamar, Tamar, my boyfriend, Bill.”

Janet took the flowers and put them in a vase with water as Bill bent down and shook Tamar’s hand gently and said, “You are a pretty angel, Tamar.”

“Tank you.”

Tamar smiled at the man with the kinky hair and the light brown skin as the doorbell rang again. It was Elsa, one of Shelly’s twins, had volunteered to baby sit that evening. Janet got her things, kissed Tamar and her niece good by before walking hand in hand with Bill to his car. As they drove the few blocks to the restaurant Janet was talking about Tamar.

When they ate they talked about a number of things, but Janet always seemed to turn the subject back to Tamar. Bill noticed how animated she was when she talked about Tamar.

“I’ve noticed, even in this dim light, that when you talk about Tamar your eyes light up. I’ve also noticed that a number times when you’re with me,” Bill told Janet.

“She is a nice little girl.”

“In fact, no matter what we start talking about this evening you eventually turn the conversation back towards that NICE little girl.”

“I don’t know. She’s on my mind a bit.”

Bill took Janet’s hand and led her to dance floor as a slow dance was played.

“Janet,” Bill said.

“Mummmm”

“I’m asking you this a little earlier than I expected to. I didn’t plan to do this tonight, but the way you’ve been talking about Tamar this evening I realized that it is not just you and me anymore. I know about the magic of your camp. If you want it, I would be proud to be your husband and for us to be Tamar’s parents,” William suggested.

“Huh?”

“I just asked you if we could get married, and if you wish I’m willing to be Tamar’s daddy.”

Janet began to cry, “I don’t know what I want. I don’t know if I want to marry you. I don’t know if I want to be a mother. And I defiantly don’t know if I want to be Tamar’s mother.”

Bill looked disappointed as they continued to dance.

“Bill, if I was to marry ANYONE it would be you, or someone like you. I don’t know if I’ll ever marry anyone. I haven’t said yes, but I’m not saying, ‘no.’ I promise to think about it.”

“Fair enough, for now,” Bill conceded. “But I won’t give up. I love you too much to do that.”

“I hope I won’t disappoint you.”

“In fact, the proposal still stands, with or without Tamar. I know that you are not ready now, but when you are, you tell me.”

Janet just nodded her head, “yes.”

Later, Bill took Janet back to her place. They kissed outside her door as they held each other in a warm embrace.

“Good night,” Janet finally said.

“I was hoping to stay with you tonight.”

“I want you to stay, but you can’t be in my bed tonight, even though I need you there. Tamar won’t understand.”

“Could I at least look at that angel that is preventing me from getting to Heaven tonight?”

“OK,” Janet agreed. “Want to take the third bedroom?”

“Is this the closest I’m going to get tonight?”

“Just tonight. Things will eventually get back to normal.”

“But, that’s what I meant before. You are looking out for the kid’s welfare before yours or mine.”

“So?”

“You are her mother, at least in your heart.”

Janet went quiet. What he said hit a nerve she didn’t realize she had.

They walked in and saw Elsa sleeping on the couch. Not wanting to wake her they looked in on Tamar who was cuddling her three dolls.

“She must be a sweet kid,” Bill said as he put his arm around Janet’s shoulder.

“She is,” Janet replied as she cuddled closer to the man that was slowly becoming her lover.

“I understand now,” Bill said. “I’ll go to the other room before I insist.”

Reluctantly, Janet walked to her room and got dressed for the night but she had a tough time sleeping knowing that her William was only a few feet away. Bill also felt similar needs.

In the morning Tamar found her way into Janet’s bedroom, lay down and slept with the woman she needed as a mommy. About an hour later, Bill knocked on Janet’s door.

“May I come in?” he asked.

“Hi!” Tamar exclaimed. “Yous have fun last night?”

Janet yawned and said, “Come on in. And, yes, we did have fun. Last night we went out to a nice restaurant and danced.”

“Is yous gonna be my daddy?” asked Tamar.

“I don’t know,” Bill said as he sat on the bed. “I could be. Would you like that?”

Tamar smiled at the man that seemed to have stolen Janet’s heart, and said, “yeah.’

By then Janet had sat up and was leaning on Bill as Tamar climbed onto Janet’s lap. Although she knew full well what Tamar’s question and Bill’s answer meant, their conversation didn’t seem to bother Janet.

“Cans I play wid your hair?” asked Tammy.

“Well, OK.”

She patted Bill’s hair and grinned.

“If yous bees my daddy den I can do dis when I want.”

“That may make it worth while.”

Later that morning, Bill and Janet did their exercises. When Janet went for her bike, Bill asked if he could borrow one. Instead, Janet conjured up a duplicate of Bill’s bike. Wanting to join them, Tamar slowed them down for a bit until she got tired. Janet gave Bill the child while she reset her bike to have a child seat and then had Bill put the baby on her bike. Quickly they rode until they reached the waterfall and small pond under the bridge that Janet liked to think at.

“So this is the spot?”

“Yeah, with the waterfall, the small pond, the broadleaf trees and the animals I have time to think without being disturbed. This place now has a name, Turtle Falls.”

“Tamar?”

“Yep, the first time she came here awake she saw some turtles sunning themselves on the rocks below,” she said as she took Tamar off her seat.

Janet carried the child as they walked down the path to the pool below. There were many wildflowers one of which Bill broke off and put into Janet’s hair. Not wanting to be left out, Tamar asked for the same and Bill accommodated. Tamar asked to be let down and skipped ahead of the two lovers.

In the evening as Janet put her to sleep, Tamar said, “I wants to keep the flower.”

“What else would you like?”

“Dat picture of us at da tea party, and us skating.”

“I know what. How about we make a memento book. You’ll have a keepsake of everything that is important.”

“Cans you help me?”

“Sure, honey. Meanwhile, I’m putting the flower on your dresser. Now go to sleep we’ll take care of that memento book tomorrow.”

After breakfast in the morning Janet said to Bill, “I’d like to take you up to Picnic Lake. We can ride the unicorns up there. It is a peaceful spot to spend the afternoon.”

“I wana go too!” Tamar exclaimed.

“Wouldn’t you want to play with the other girls?” asked Janet.

“Maybe one would like to come wid me.”

“That ‘s a good idea, Tammy,” Bill agreed. “We could take one of Janet’s nieces so you would have company.”

They looked outside and saw Kimmie taking her Allie someplace so Janet hailed her sister.

“I need to work the intake today,” Kimmie explained. “I don’t know what to do with Allie, yet.”

“We were going to Picnic Lake and Tammy will be alone so we’ll take Allie and the girls can play together.”

“Are you sure you want her for the day?”

“It will be easier for us to take care of Tammy that way.”

“How are you getting up to the lake?”

“By unicorn.”

“Now remember, Allie can only ride in front of you on the unicorn. She is not old enough to ride by her self,” Kimmie explained.

“I don’t know if Tammy can ride by herself either,” replied Janet. “They will have to ride in front of us on the saddle.”

“Well, Allie, do you want to play with Tamar today?” Kimmie asked.

“Be fun,” the child replied as she and Tamar hugged each other.

The stables brought over the two unicorns, a young male and female pair. After loading up the picnic baskets, Bill and Janet put the children onto the unicorns then got on the saddles themselves. The rode around the main lake for about two miles then followed a stream to Picnic Lake. The area where they picnicked was flat, grassy and way above the high water line. In the distance of this grassy plain some of the other unicorns were grazing, so they let their animals loose.

Some of the young male unicorns were practicing dueling. When they grow up they will be able to choose their mates based on how well they duel, but the mating season is in the fall so when the foal comes in the spring there is enough grass for them to eat.

Beyond the grass was the area known as the Bamboo Berry Forest where the Zenghung Peacock lived. About fifteen inches long in addition to its tail, and looking mostly like the Chinese mythical bird it made its nest in the bamboo trees and usually had a diet of insects, worms, fruits and seeds and the occasional small rodent they could find. While the “family” was there those birds would fly near the picnic area or strut their magnificent tail feathers near the lake as the girls looked at them with wonder. One of the birds rested on the ground near the playing girls who tried to capture it without much success, but it made the adults laugh at the children’s actions.

After a pleasant afternoon where Janet and William felt they got closer they rode the unicorns back to Janet’s suite. Allie stayed with them for dinner.

It was during dinner that Bill told Janet, “I’d like to talk to the men about working for the camp, with your permission.”

“Why?” asked Janet.

“I need to see what’s involved if we do become a married couple.”

“I have no control over you,” she replied.

“You have my heart.”

“True and you have mine, but you are still free to do what you think is best.”

“So, may I?”

“I didn’t say ‘no.’”

“But you didn’t say, ‘yes.’”

“I don’t know. I really don’t know. Please don’t pressure me.”

After Allie left Janet conjured up a 12x12 black book with a removable binder and took Tamar into her room.

“Here’s the picture of you in that tea party dress,” Janet explained. Would you like to put it here?”

“Dat be good.”

“And here is the one of you and the girls together before the party.”

“Dat’s a nice one.”

“And here’s the one of me serving you milk and cookies.”

“How you do dat?”

“Magic.

“Oh.”

Janet turned the page after attaching the pictures.

“This is the three of us skating.”

“I likes dat.”

“Now, the flower from yesterday we will put on this page,” Janet explained as she turned the page. “We’re just pressing it so it will stay on the page and be preserved.”

“Sos I cans keep it forever.”

“Right.”

“What if the book gets full?”

“That’s why the binder is removable so we can add more pages later on. I’m putting it here on your nightstand,” Janet said as she put the book down and covered the girl and her dolls. “Now, be a good girl and go to sleep.”

Janet then kissed Tammy before closing the light, closing the door then went to Bill and cuddled him.

That night Janet thought before she slept. William DID have her heart, so why is she so reluctant to commit? Was she just afraid, was it the pressure to make a decision, or was there more? Sleep overtook her hours later before she could find the answer.

In the morning Bill went to the main office and made arrangements to speak to some of the men about working for the camp. An hour later he met Norman and Wolfie who showed him around the boys’ side of the camp. He was impressed with the facilities that had every kind of musical instrument, sports apparatus and field. They watched as Lynx taught some boys how to play the guitar. Later, Bill took a twelve string and joined Lynx in a number of songs. They had a wonderful time. While they were playing, Rick, Jenna’s husband arrived and listened to the two of them play.

“You play like you are a professional,” Rick told Bill. “I used to have a band. Sometimes Judy, Lynx and I join up and practice together. Would you like to join us?”

“I think Janet has a lot to say about me joining you,” Bill replied. “I’m her boyfriend.”

“That explains your noncommittal at this time,” Wolfie said.

“It is not my noncommittal,” Bill answered.

“But you can’t commit until she does,” Norman noted.

“That sums it up in a nutshell. Do you have any advice?”

“Nothing we’ve done seems to work,” Lynx told Bill. “The only thing I could recommend is patients.”

“That is what I have been doing. I proposed to her two nights ago and I told her to let me know her answer when she is ready. I told her I already made the proposal and that she has to come and tell me she wants it. I don’t think pressuring her would work.”

“It usually makes here more resistant,” Rick added. “Say, why don’t you two have dinner with us tonight. Take that Tamar kid with you so Cathleen has someone to play with while we talk. Jenna is the closest to Janet in both age and friendship.”

They got out their cell phones and made the arrangements.

After the meal at Jenna’s the women did the dishes as the men talked and the children helped dry the dishes. Then the women sent the children to play in front of the men as they took a walk outside.

“I understand he proposed, and you said, ’no,’” Jenna said.

“I didn’t say ’no.’”

“What did you say?”

“I told him I didn’t know. I don’t know. Part of me wants to accept, yet part of me is afraid of what will happen. I don’t know if it is the only reason.”

“It is a big step. It is probably the biggest step you will ever take. Ask you some questions. You don’t need to answer me, but you need to answer you. Do you want to take this big step with Bill or without him?”

“I don’t know.”

“Would you be happier having him with you or not have him around?”

“I don’t know, probably with me. That’s the problem. I don’t know.”

“I’m trying to help.”

“I know but I’m only a little less confused than before.”

Over the next few days Bill and Janet did a number of things together, but finally it was time for Bill to leave.

“I need to do other things,” he told Janet.

“Please don’t go,” she said with tears.

“Give me a reason to stay.”

“I’ll be here.”

“I know. I can’t be here and not have you. It is not just the sex. You also need time to think and my being here will just pressure you. You fight pressure by resisting it. Just so there is no confusion, the offer still stands.”

He took her in his arms and gave her a kiss to remember him by then hoped on his Ninja and rode away. She was sad because she already missed him, but she also knew he was right. She would have the time to think. She knew that she would soon know what to do.

“Baruchah, Tamar said a few days later. “I wants to stay a liddle girl.”

“It’s fun.”

“Buts I goes back to being da big me in a few days.”

“Yous can stay a liddle girl if yous has a mommy,” Baruchah told her. “My mommy can keeps you dis way if yous has a mommy.”

“Is dat all?” asked Tamar. “I’s just needs a mommy?”

“Dat’s all, ‘cept dat yous and da mommy have ta agree.”

“You’re mommy’s a good mommy.” Tamar reflected. “Buts she’s no good. Yous has too many sisters.”

“I’s loves my sisters. Yous can join us.”

“Too many sisters. Aunty Jenna?”

“Cathy’s older sister died.” Baruchah explained as tears came into her eyes remembering Becky. “Jenna won’t have another. She still cries.”

“Oh.”

“Aunty Janet? I likes her the bestest.”

“No’s never. Janet’s no mommy.”

“Aunty Prue?”

“She may.”

“Aunty Holly?’

“Heather be her daughter just before we gets da magics. Dey needs time together.”

“Want to do da magics too!”

“Be in der fambly. Den grows up.”

“Aunties Kimmie or Gina?”

“Dey’s ok for doctors. Der kids still get sicky sometimes.”

“Aunties Emma or Cindy?”

“Deys and the others be good.”

“I’s still wants Janet as my mommy.”

“Others be bedder mommies.”

“Don’t wants bedder. Wants good.”

“Janet no do.”

“No way?”

“No way.”

Tamar looked dejected. She wanted the one mommy she couldn’t have. She started to cry and Baruchah held the hand of her friend.

“Don’t cry,” Baruchah told her friend. “I knows dat my mommy or one of my aunties takes you.”

“But I wants…” Tamar said as she spied Janet walking towards them. “Her!”

Tamar had a wide grin as she pointed to Janet who was walking past them.

“Where’s you going?” Tamar asked as she ran to Janet.

“To the unicorn breeding grounds.” Janet replied. “I am going to see my unicorn and her foal. The last time I was here she was pregnant and I missed the baby being born.”

“Cans I come?” Tamar asked.

“It is a very long walk,” replied Janet. “Too long for little girls.”

“I cans make it.”

“You will get tired way before we get there and it is too far to carry you.”

“I wants ta go,” Tamar insisted. “Peas, peas, peas, peas, peas!”

Janet sighed. She knew when a little one pleaded with the peas like that there was no stopping the child. Besides five peas make a pod.

“Would you promise to eat your peas if I let you come?”

“Yes,” Tamar agreed. “Eben da peas.”

“Give me a minute. I want to get a stroller. Just in case.”

“Otay”

“You go make pee-pee while I’m getting it.”

Tamar gave Janet a hug and happily skipped to the bathroom. When she came out she saw Janet with a stroller. In the stroller was a changing bag. Janet already knew that she should be prepared.

“Is the unicorn special?” asked Tamar as they stared walking.

Janet explained, “She is special to me because I was there when she was born. We own the property where the unicorns live so in that way they are our property. We allow the zoos to help with their upkeep giving the zoos enough money that they can hire the staff and still have money left over. We gain because they are experts. They gain because they have more money for their other projects and the ones they hire have jobs. We all win. That’s the best way to help others.”

“I likes that we’s can help.”

“That’s our job,” Janet added, not noticing that Tamar included herself. “Even I help that way. I do most of my work back at school. Although I sometimes get money for my expenses from those I help, I find that my greatest reward is the good feeling that I’ve helped make a difference.”

“I wants to help,” Tamar said proudly.

“Maybe someday you will.”

“Do you mean it?”

“There’s always that possibility,” Janet explained. “There would be a lot of learning involved.”

“Baruchah doos magic?”

“No.”

“Why nots?”

“She is too young,” Janet explained. “She is not ready to learn the why yet.”

“I cans do magic,” Tamar noted. “Eventually. Yous cans teach me.”

“It is not just how to do magic. That’s the easy part. It is when to do magic and also when not to do it and if necessary what to do.”

“Cans you teach me?”

“Perhaps when you get older.”

Tamar smiled. She was sure that Janet was promising to be her mother. She happily skipped for a few minutes as Janet walked towards the special coral that her unicorn stayed with her foal.

“Tamar come here,” Janet whispered. “I want you to see something.”

“What’s dat?” Tamar shouted as she ran to Janet.

“Shuush!” Janet whispered as she pointed. “Look over there through the leaves, a pair of baby raccoons playing.”

“Oh yeah,” Tamar whispered.

Janet held Tamar so the little girl would not disturb the raccoon cubs. She also knew that their mother could be close by and attack if she though her babies were in danger. Aware of the danger Janet knew she would feel miserable if anything would happen to Tamar so she put a protection spell on the girl.

After watching the cubs for a while they walked again for a few minutes, but just as Janet knew before, Tamar got tired and asked to be picked up. Janet picked the girl up and rocked her. Eventually, Janet removed the changing bag from the stroller, then placed Tamar in it and the bag on the handles and walked the last half with Tamar in the stroller. When she saw the fence and the unicorns beyond it Tamar got out of the stroller and ran to the fence. Janet calmly walked the final few feet, climbed the fence then picked up Tamar and took her over the fence.

“Biker Chick,” Janet’s unicorn walked over to Janet. Following along was her foal. Scared, Tamar hid behind Janet as the unicorns came closer. As Biker Chick got near, Janet took an apple out of her pocket. Biker Chick accepted the apple and the hug and pats that Janet gave her. Seeing the unicorn baby, Tamar got a little braver and slowly got closer to the little filly. The young unicorn walked towards the child. Tamar hugged the animal. The two babies acted like they would always be friends. Janet gave Tamar an apple to give to the filly. With help from Janet she gave the apple to the unicorn.

“Cans I have her?” asked Tamar after the apple was finished “Can I have da baby?”

“If you stay this way and if you are part of the family,” replied Janet as she started to brush the coat of Biker Chick.

“Yous da best mommy in da whole world!” Tamar said as she hugged Janet.

Tammy ran to the fence, climbed under it and skipped back to the camp to tell Baruchah the good news. In her mind, Janet had just agreed to be her mommy.

“Mommy?” asked Janet when she realized what the child said. “I think I have a problem.”

Still petting Biker Chick Janet pulled out her cell phone and called Jenna. To Janet the phone seemed to ring forever. Finally Jenna answered.

“Houston, we have a problem,” Janet said.

Realizing she needed to catch up with Tamar, Janet started climbing the fence to hurry back towards the main area of the Little Girls Kamp.

“I haven’t lived in Houston since I worked for Enron,” replied Jenna. “But seriously, what’s the problem?”

“Tamar thinks I will be her mother,” Janet said as she started to cry.

“Considering how you two have been together since her transformation I’m not surprised.”

“What do you mean?” asked Janet as she stopped to listen what her sister was saying.

“You have been acting like her mother since I introduced you to her.”

“I have?”

“You have been taking care of her just like I do with my Cathy.” Jenna replied. “Do you think Prue’s actions with Sara is any different then ours? Or Shelly with her girls?”

“Maybe I have,” Janet replied. “But I am not her mother.”

“Be honest with yourself,” Jenna demanded. “Didn’t you help Tamar be the little girl she could be and as a result she crawled into a special place in your heart? You’d miss her if she wasn’t a part of you.”

Janet thought about what her sister said and stopped. Jenna’s words hit a nerve that Janet didn’t believe she had.

“I don’t know and I’m not a mother,” Janet answered as her tears flowed like water.

“Where are you?” Jenna asked. “I’m coming over and we’ll straighten this out.”

Meanwhile Tamar had found Baruchah.

“Baruchah! Janet is going to be my mommy! And she said I could have her unik corn baby!”

“Dat means dat you is gonna be my cousin!” Baruchah shouted. “Wes gotta tell mommy!”

“We need to tell mum what?” asked Baruchah’s older sister, Ally.

“Dat Janet will be my mommy!” shouted Tamar feeling very happy and very proud to have Janet as her mother.

“Mum’s in the main building today,” Ally told them. “She’s the CEO today.”

“See E OH?” asked Tamar. I don’t see a “e” or a “o.”

“CEO means the chief executive officer,” replied Ally, Shelly’s other sixteen-year-old, as they walked towards the main building. “Mum’s running everything today.”

“Your sister sounds funny,” Tamar whispered to Baruchah.

“Ally came from far away. A pace called Engie Land,” Baruchah told her. “Dey say dey talk in English but dey say it funny likes. Like Ally says tings.”

“I talk bloody funny?” Ally asked. “I’ll get you!”

“Runs!” Baruchah shouted.

The little ones ran away from Ally as the older girl charged them.

“Come back you two!” shouted Ally. “NOW! We need to talk to mum and it won’t wait!”

“Promise you won’t do notin?” asked Baruchah.

“I promise I’ll give you a head start!” answered Ally.

“Wes gots head start!”

“I mean later,” replied Ally. “Now we need to talk to mum.”

“OK!” the girls told Ally.

Ally opened the door to the main building and ushered the two munchkins in.

“We need to see mum,” Ally told the receptionist. “Its an emergency.”

“She said she should not be disturbed,” the receptionist noted. “But I know the rules.”

The girls went into the main office and found Shelly saying things like, “Decisions, decisions. I hate this job. I don’t want to be the boss.”

Shelly, like most of the family hated to make the executive decisions. She would rather watch the kids, or work the nonsmoking clinic. She would rather be on the camp cleanup patrol or clean her bathroom than be the C. E. O.

“So what brings you here?” Shelly asked her children. “Hello Tamar.”

“Tell mum, Tamar,” Allison suggested.

“Baruchah saided I’s coulds stay a liddle girl if I’s has a mommy. Janet saided she woulds be my mommy!”

“JANET said that in those words?”

“Sort a,” Tamar explained. “She saided dat I’s learns magic. She saided I’s keep da unik corn baby. Den I’s comes and tells Baruchah. I wants ta stay a liddle girl and I wants ta hab Janet as mommy. She da best mommy in da whole world.”

“No mommy is!” replied Baruchah.

Shelly smiled with pride. Listening to that argument between the little girls would make both mothers know that they are doing something right with their children, except Shelly knew that Janet wouldn’t want to be a mother.

It was then that Jenna called Shelly on the phone, “Tamar thinks that Janet is going to be her mother, but Janet doesn’t want that.”

“Tamar told me. Bring Janet here while I get Holly, Kimmie and Prue. We’ll see what we can do. I’d hate to disappoint the kid. She seemed so happy and proud of Janet when she told me.”

When she got off the phone Shelly did a silent prayer asking the Boss to give her the wisdom to guide her sister and potential niece to a happy and loving conclusion, but she knew she was asking for a miracle. She then called the doctors’ office explained to Holly and Kimmie and told them to get to the CEO’s office as soon as possible. She then called Prudence who told Shelly that she would need to bring her Sarah with her, as she didn’t have anyone to watch the kid. Ally heard, and agreed to watch the children. A few minutes later Prue came into the room with Sarah.

“Come kids,” Ally told them lets go outside until the grownups have their meeting.”

Having heard the phone conversations Tamar asked, “Its about me?”

“Yes, Tamar, its about you.”

“I’s scared!” Tamar screamed.

Ally picked up Tamar and rocked her but the tears were already flowing.

“We’ll do the best we can,” Prudence explained. “But everything here is voluntary.”

“But I wants mommy!”

“We know, honey,” Shelly said. “I promise we’ll do everything we can to convince her, but it is up to Janet.”

A few minutes later Holly and Kimmie arrived still in their doctor’s white overcoats.

They saw Tamar crying and Kimmie said after they closed the door, “We got to convince her somehow.”

“I know,” Holly agreed.

When Jenna and Janet passed, Tamar cried out as she reached for Janet, “Mommy I’s scared.”

It was only after the door was closed that Janet allowed herself to cry.

“Janet, she’s afraid you won’t be her mother,” Jenna said.

“What about my fears? I’m afraid I’ll mess the kid up.”

“That’s my greatest fear also. You won’t be alone. All of us here and the rest of the family will help you,” Kimmie explained.

“Besides, your crying is the reason YOU need to be her mother,” Prue noted.

“I can’t,” Janet responded. “I can’t be tied down. Not now. I NEED to finish school.”

“So you’ll be ready in about forty years?” Holly asked.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Janet explained.

“Children don’t come with an owners manual,” Kimmie explained. “We do the best we can. I’ve asked advice from mom and our sisters and they’ve asked me. Believe me when I tell you, you’re not alone. We’ll do the same for you.”

“But it will be hard to raise Tamar.”

“I won’t kid you, Janet,” Shelly explained. “Helping a child become an adult will be the toughest job you’ll ever love.”

“But we turned out ok,” Jenna added. “So mom and dad did right with us, and you will do right with Tamar.”

“NO! NO! NO!” Janet exclaimed. “I can’t do it!”

“We’ll help,” Holly added. “It takes a village to raise a child. I know that Heather is happier that we’re a big family.”

“The same with our kids,” Kimmie added.

“And with us,” Jenna noted.

“And our husbands,” Shelly told Janet.

“Husbands?” Janet asked. “I’ll have a husband? How much worse could this get?”

“That guy William that you have been hanging out with the last few days,” Jenna explained. “We know he proposed to you and is willing to be Tamar’s father.”

“I can’t.”

With nothing settled, Shelly told Janet, “You created this problem. YOU tell Tamar you won’t be her mother.”

Sadly, Janet barely shook her head, “yes.”

“If there is nothing else to discuss,” Shelly said. “Let’s get this over with.”

Everyone at the meeting looked unhappy, but there were no tears, yet. Janet walked out of the room first, followed by Holly, Jenna, Kimmie, Prudence and finally, Shelly.

Standing in front of Tamar, and with tears in her eyes, Janet says to her sisters, “I can’t. I can’t tell her I won’t be her mother.”

“Why not?” asked Holly.

“Because I lo…”

Janet stopped. She realized what she was about to say.

“Yes, I love her. She DID crawl into my heart. I’ll probably regret this for the rest of my life. Make her my child before I change my mind again, and I can’t do this alone. I need Bill to help me.”

The women changed Tamar to Janet’s daughter. Janet felt something heavy on the ring finger of her left hand. When she looked she found engagement and wedding rings. Around her neck her “me” charm changed to the “mommy” charm that all her other sisters wear and the “me” one materialized around Tamar’s neck. The Hugglebug charm bracelet that all the females in the family have also materialized around Tamar’s wrist.

Janet picked up Tamar and told her as she dries Tamar’s eyes, “I do love you, kitten.”

“Mommy no calls me kitten before,” Tamar told Janet.

“Well, I’m the mother cat and you are my kitten.”

Tamar held her hands like she had claws and roared making the adults and the kids laugh at Tamar’s antics. One of the voices laughing was one Janet hadn’t heard in years.

“Mom?” asked Janet as she turned to the voice with her daughter still in her arms.

“Yes, dear,” her “mother” replied. “Your daughter introduced me to your nieces as we waited for your meeting to end. We had fun. Didn’t we Baruchah and Sarah?”

“Yeah,” replied Sara. “I likes Tamar’s odder grandma.”

“She may be here for a long time,” Prue told her daughter as she picked her up. “I spoke to Tamar’s grandma earlier and she should be working here. Tamar’s daddy and other grandpa are at the boy’s camp discussing things with your uncles. They will be working here too.”

“Dat means yous stay!” Baruchah shouted to Tamar as they hugged each other and Sarah joined in.

“Yeah, and mommies too!” Tamar added just as loudly.

“I don’t understand,” Janet whispered to Prudence.

“When you changed from Bill Davenport to Janet, you saved your former mother’s life, as William’s birth date was moved back a year. Because of this when your mother became pregnant she had medical insurance and the doctors found the problem in time. All your mother-in-law knows is that she was very sick, and that the doctors were able to cure her. But she doesn’t know that in the other reality she didn’t make it.”

“Guess I gave myself an added bonus,” Janet replied. “And its only one kid.”

“Not if your mother-in-law has her way,” Kimmie whispered to Janet. “She couldn’t have children after your Bill, so she wants you to be like Shelly.”

“Over a dozen children? No way!” Janet protested. “And I’m finishing school so I’ll have to transfer from Georgetown to State.”

“It does take a village to raise a child.”

Epilogue: Two mornings later Tamar got out of her bed. That woke the puppy that her parents bought for her the day before and was sleeping with the child. She took her Raggedy Ann doll and the puppy into her parents’ room climbed onto the bed and lay between her folks. None of them knew it at the time that there were five of them in that bed, four humans and a dog, because nine months later Tamar became a big sister.

Notes:

We thank Davenport for being such a good sport and his comments, Holly Logan for her suggestions as this story developed and her editing, Maggie O Malley for her encouragement and allowing me to use a version of her story, “Sweet Dreams,” Pippa for her suggestion of playing with the unicorn plushy, and The Professor for not claiming any special rights with the Roman Pantheon.

There is a quote from Shakespeare. It is in both “Romeo and Juliet,” and one of
The “Henrys.”

This is the third story in the “Little Kids Kamp” universe. It is an open universe with restrictions.



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