Grace gazed out the open window at the stars, her hat in her lap. The warm night air tugged at her hair. She hadn't seen stars this big since...well, she couldn't remember. And for once, not remembering didn't bother her. She gave a small humph of surprise.
"What?" Ray asked, his voice a whisper. Benny slept in the back.
Grace shrugged. "Somehow things don't seem as important out here." She looked over at him, his features cast in eerie shadows from the dash lights. Exhaustion pulled at him, but the day's tension appeared gone. He had his left elbow resting out his window, his right wrist draped over the steering wheel, like the car drove itself and the steering wheel was just a place to park his hand. He didn't say anything to her comment, but she could see him mull it over then give a slow nod. It didn't seem possible she met him only a day and a half ago, what with the afternoon they had.
"You got any kids, Grace?"
"Four. Luella and her husband own a bakery in Cincinnati. Eddy Junior's a dentist in North Little Rock. Olivia's a preschool teacher, and Sidney, our youngest boy, is doing missionary work in Guatemala."
"Six, and our first great-grandbaby's on the way." Sibyl and her husband, Isaac, made the announcement last month. "Is Benjamin an only child?"
"No, my daughter, Karen, and her husband live a couple blocks from our place in Beavercreek. They've got twin boys, two years old."
"Lord have mercy, I bet they're a handful."
"That they are. But Karen's a good mother, had a lot of practice on her little brother. She didn't want us to make this trip, for fear something might happen." Ray sighed. "Guess she was right."
"Why do you suppose he did it?" Grace asked.
"I figure he heard us talking about the cost of things and got worried. He's always been a worrier. If something's not right, he sets out to fix it." He told her about his wife's vase and how Benny cut himself trying to put it back together. "One time, when he was about two and still in diapers, he was playing on the kitchen floor while Virginia washed dishes, and this turd fell out of his diaper. Well, he knew that wasn't good and he had to do something about it. So he picks up the turd and chucks it into the dishwater."
"Oh!" Grace slapped her hand over her mouth to keep from waking Benny.
Ray flashed her a smile. "Gin didn't know whether to laugh or cry. She finally fished the turd out of the dishwater and showed Benny that it belonged in the toilet and how to flush after." He paused and cocked his head. "Huh."
"What is it?"
"Benny used the toilet from then on to do his number two."
Grace smiled. "Hold onto those memories just as hard as you can."
He nodded. "In the end, that's all ya got left."
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