And now... the long awaited for... chapter twenty!!I absolutely love the chapter, and I think I...

I have already apologized for the absence of the updates in a while, so I just really want you to...

So, here is a "What if?" chapter, and also the last 'filler' chapter.Scary to think after this...

Sorry for the horrible delay. x.x
I've been behind in... everything lately. Bwah, too much stuff to do! Dx

But I hope you like this chapter (whoever may be reading) and it's dedicated to my very kind, awesome friend and Neo-Twin Game_Grl_199 a.k.a. Kristen. Thanks so much for your awesome support in whatever it is I want to do at a certain point in time and your endless flow of great ideas, insight, advice, and joy. You're amazing. So read her story, guys! Teenage Dream is very addictive, adorable, and sweet. n_n

Chapter Five: My Favorite Gift

Summer was coming to a close, meaning that Sadie’s birthday was right around the corner. Today in fact. As all young girls (and all girls really--admit it), she could barely sleep the night before she would turn eight and all sorts of exciting things could happen because that meant she would practically be an adult by then.
“Good morning, Sadie!” Mrs. Cooper smiled into her daughter’s sunlit bedroom. She stumbled over a discarded panda bear and stepped precariously over a recent crayon masterpiece to give her daughter a hug.
“Yay! It’s my birthday!” Sadie sprang up from her pillow. She kicked her fuzzy blankets away from her and jumped out of bed. She scurried over to her mother and hugged her tight around the middle.
“Congratulations, Sadie. You’re almost ten years old, did you know that? Wow… a whole decade…” Mrs. Cooper had a mini-mid-life crisis.
“Duh!” Sadie laughed. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! It’s my birthday!” She ran out of her room screaming down the hall.
Daisy laughed and followed her daughter out and called after her: “Breakfast downstairs when you’re ready!”
Sadie dived into her parent’s room and tackled her father who was sitting on the bed, innocently putting on his socks. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! It’s my birthday! I’m eight today!!”
Mr. Cooper laughed and ruffled her messy bed head. “Yes you are! My, practically old enough to drive, eh?”
“Yay! Can you teach me?” Sadie stuck her face close to his in excitement.
He gently shook his head and helped her stand up. “Not until your next birthday. If you remember, we’ll talk about it again, okay?”
“So is that a yes?”
“Most definitely not.”
“Aw…!”
“Now don’t be disappointed—your mother made you breakfast. Go eat before it melts—“
“MELTS?! THEN IT MUST BE ICE CREAM!!” Sadie whooped at the top of her lungs and took off once again, falling down the stairs and sliding against the tile and wooden floors. She rounded the bend making airplane noises and crash landed in the nearest kitchen chair.
“Ready for breakfast?” Mrs. Cooper laughed, knowing the obvious answer.
“Yes, yes, yes!” Sadie cheered.
“Well… Even though this goes against every parenting book on the planet and all my rationality because you’re already hyper… Happy birthday, sweetie!” Daisy set an ice cream sundae in front of her daughter.
“Bank voo!” Sadie smiled through her gulps of the dessert. Mr. Cooper entered the scene, adjusting his tie with a little difficulty. Business-like as usual, Mrs. Cooper dropped what she was doing and efficiently fixed his tie, only to move on to the next task of delivering a napkin to Sadie and then go back to the sink to wash dishes.
“Thank you, honey.” Mr. Cooper smiled.
“No problem, dear.” Mrs. Cooper sighed and dunked another dish in the water, used to the routine of playing house.
“So, Sadie! Anything you want to do when I get home from work?” Mr. Cooper asked positively.
“Huh?” Sadie dropped her ice cream spoon and swallowed, feeling the slight tingle of a lingering brain freeze. “You have to go to work?”
“Sorry, hon, it’s Wednesday.” Her father shrugged and picked up a bagel and started to spread cream cheese over it.
“But… It’s my birthday…” Sadie mumbled, feeling much less excited.
“I promise—you’ll have plenty of things to do today.” Alex insisted and finished his bagel in three bites. He gave her a kiss on the forehead, passed his wife and gave her a kiss on the cheek, waved good bye to them both, and left for the office until six that night.
Sadie didn’t say anything as she moodily finished off her sundae.
“Don’t be upset, honey. You know he has to go to work. It’s so I don’ t have to and can stay at home and wait on you!” Mrs. Cooper teased.
Sadie cracked a smile.
“Want to open presents?”
Sadie’s eyes lit up. “Presents?!”
Daisy laughed. “Hold on, I’ll have to get the camera so your father doesn’t miss a thing.” She left the room leaving little Sadie to bounce up and down eagerly in her chair. She finally couldn’t take it anymore and jumped up and started to run around in circles in the living room—an effective way to blow extra birthday energy.
Daisy soon re-entered with three boxes and a video camera dangling around her wrist. She set the boxes on the kitchen counter and unstrapped the camera from her wrist. “Sit down, Sadie! Right here on the sofa, please.”
Sadie obeyed immediately and politely folded her hands in her lap.
“Perfect.” Daisy smiled and held up the camera, pointing it at the girl wearing a white kitten night gown that went up to her knees with blonde hair disheveled and sticking out like pieces of straw from her head. Daisy cleared her throat and pressed the record button. “Today is August third, two thousand and three, and today is a very special day! Tell Daddy why it’s special.”
“He already knows!” Sadie giggled and hid her face in her hands.
“Show him how many fingers you can hold up now.”
Sadie uncovered her face and frantically waved all her fingers but her thumbs for the camera lens to see.
“Excellent! Okay, Daddy, this is the first present. This is your idea…” Mrs. Cooper smiled to herself and hurried over to the kitchen counter. She picked up the top box with a blue ribbon and brought it back to Sadie. “Open it!”
“Okay!” Sadie agreed and tore the paper. She squealed at the sight of the picture imprinted on the box. “It’s a Barbie!”
“What kind of Barbie is it?” Daisy asked curiously and zoomed in a little on the excited face.
“It’s a gynecologist!”
Fumbling with the camera for a moment, Daisy stuttered and snatched the Barbie. “Wh-who told you that?!”
“I heard some kids talking about it on the bus. They said all lady doctors were gynecologists.” Sadie explained innocently enough and held out her hands for her Barbie doll.
Blushing fiercely and feeling altogether very awkward, Mrs. Cooper took a second glance at the seemingly innocent doctor doll with a stethoscope and check up kit and handed it back to her daughter. “Well, we’re not going to call her that, are we? She’s just a baby doctor.”
“Oh. Okay.” Sadie shrugged, completely unphased. “I think I’ll name her Stella.”
“That’s very nice, dear. Let’s open Mommy’s gift, okay?” Daisy asked. While walking back to the kitchen counter, she muttered: “Kids have nothing else better to talk about…? How old are these people anyway…?”
“Here’s Mommy’s gift~!” She announced cheerily enough and laid the pink package on her daughter’s lap.
Sadie tore into the paper and stared at the blank box inside. “What is it?”
“You have to open that box, too!” Daisy prompted.
Sadie opened that box and removed all the tissue paper. “Ooo!”
“Do you like it?” She asked eagerly, a bit nervous at Sadie’s reaction.
Sadie stood up and lifted the dress out of the box. Little bits of glitter fell from it and sparkled the couch.
“Do you recognize it? Hold it up to you.” Daisy set the camera down for a second to help out. Once things were figured out a couple of silent moments later, Sadie let out a gasp. “So you recognize it?”
“It’s Belle’s dress from Beauty and the Beast!” Sadie whispered, holding it close to her and spinning around the yellow, fluffy ball gown from Disney.
“You like it? I thought she was your favorite, but I can never keep up these days…” Daisy mumbled doubtfully.
“I love it!! Thanks, Mommy!” Sadie grinned and gave her a hug. “Can I wear it now?”
“That would be lovely dear, but you still have more presents to open.”
“But what’s the harm? Please, please, please?”
Daisy rolled her eyes, set down the camera without turning off the recording device, and helped Sadie pull the dress over her night gown. Her white collar suck out from the top by her neck, but otherwise, she was all ball gown. Sadie twirled for a few minutes, posing for the camera and holding up her new Barbie Stella, and finally sat back down with a crinkle to open up her final present.
“This is from your Aunt Maggie.” Mrs. Cooper said and handed her a small package that was from her older sister Margaret. Margaret lived in California, so she had to mail her niece a gift.
Sadie opened it and threw the box down to the floor with the discarded paper. She held the little silver bracelet up to the light and stared. “Ooo!”
“It’s a charm bracelet.” Mrs. Cooper explained. “See how it has all those little doo-dads on it?”
“Yeah! This one’s a giraffe!” Sadie laughed and examined it. There turned out to be seven charms on the bracelet: a giraffe, a monkey, a dolphin, an elephant, a bear, a frog, and a bird.
“Let me help you put that on. Careful now, it’s all real silver.” Daisy fairly warned and clasped it to her skinny wrist.
“Thanks!” Sadie smiled and sat there for a few minutes jingling the charms together before tearing the cardboard off her Barbie to free her from her twist-tie bonds.
“Sure you don’t want to see your super secret surprise present?” Mrs. Cooper teased, shutting off the camera for.
“Huh? There’s more?” Sadie jumped up.
“Yup!”
“Where?” Sadie bounced up off the couch, discarding the disappointed Stella.
Mrs. Cooper smiled sneakily. “Oh, I don’t know… I think you’ll just have to find it…”
“Okay!” Sadie squealed and ran out of the living room. She slipped on her dress as she scrambled up the stairs, ready to check the second floor first. After a thorough search that took about thirty seconds, Sadie whined: “Mommy! I can’t find it! Gimme a hint!”
Daisy laughed and shook her head, picking up the pieces of gift wrap off the carpet. “Hm… It’s not upstairs!”
The thuds that came from the staircase told Daisy Sadie gave up and decided to check around the first floor. Sadie buzzed all around, diving under sofas, peeking into the piano, opening the refrigerator, but nowhere could she find her secret birthday present.
Just when Sadie started to ask for another hint, the front door bell rang with a cheerful tune. Mrs. Cooper tossed all the garbage into the rubbish bin and briskly walked to the door. With a quick turn of the lock, she yanked the stubborn door open to see Mr. Simms and Nathan standing there.
“Hello!” Mrs. Cooper greeted kindly.
“Hi, Daisy, is Sadie around here? Nathan wanted to give her a birthday present.” Scott grinned and ruffled his boy’s hair. Nathan moodily fixed his hair but agree and held up the birthday gift bag.
“Oh, how nice! Come on in, come on in. Sadie! Come here!” Mrs. Cooper shut the door behind the two. “She’s so excited. Hyper, really—my fault for giving her a sundae for breakfast—but she’s off looking for a present Alex and I hid.” She made conversation with Mr. Simms while Nathan stood around waiting for someone his age to show up.
“Sundae for breakfast, eh? Lucky, huh, squirt?” Mr. Simms asked Nathan who just shrugged.
Sadie suddenly burst into the room from the right, coming from the dining room. Her hair was still all over the place and she was in her night gown and new ball gown with the noisy charm bracelet dangling off her left wrist. Nathan raised a curious eyebrow, thinking her quite insane, but held out his gift.
“Nathan! Hi, Mr. Simms.” She waved happily. “Today’s my birthday!”
Scott laughed. “I can see that! Nathan’s age, huh?”
“They grow up so fast, don’t they?” Daisy sighed.
Scott nodded in agreement, letting out a tired sigh of his own.
“Want some coffee?” She offered while the kids ran into the living room to open the present.
“Sure, thank you, ma’am—er—Daisy.” Mr. Simms nodded and followed her to the kitchen.
Meanwhile, Nathan and Sadie were sitting on the beige carpet tearing into the bag that Nathan wrapped all by himself.
Sadie scattered the tissue paper and snatched the box up from inside, eager to open it and see what her best friend got her.
Nathan nervously watched as she opened the box and stared at it for a few minutes without saying anything. Finally he sputtered: “Well? Do you like it? I didn’t know what to get since you’re a girl and junk, but…”
“It’s so cute!!” Sadie cried and squished it tight. The stuffed turtle, the size of a sleeping pillow, was crushed under her arms. “Thanks so much!”
“You sure?” Nathan asked doubtfully.
Sadie gave her a withered glance. “Really? Why would I lie? I really love it! Really, really, really! Thanks so much, Nate.”
“No problem.” He shrugged, content with her answer.
“Okay! Let’s go find my other present.” Sadie grinned mischievously, still clinging to her turtle.
“Oh, yeah. Where’d you check so far?” Nathan asked, getting up and looking around in the vicinity.
“I checked the whole house already! Nothing.”
“Nothing?”
“Nothing.”
“Wow.”
“I know.”
“Let’s check outside. Got any idea how big it is?” Nathan asked as they walked to the door.
“No. Mommy won’t tell me…” She grumbled. As she put her hand on the door knob, she saw what she was wearing. “Oh! I’ll be right back! Wait down here while I go get dressed!”
Nathan agreed and waited by the front door while Sadie jumped up the stairs and slammed the door to her room. As it turns out with all girls, she didn’t feel comfortable enough in her clean clothes and decided to take a bath, too. Then she had to get dressed again. All the while, Nathan waited sitting on the floor in front of the door.
Sadie bounced down the stairs, panting and hair dripping because she didn’t bother to touch a hair drier in August. She wore a yellow tank top and jean shorts. Slipping on her flip flops next to Nathan on the floor, she jabbed him with her elbow and prompted him: “Come on, lazy! Let’s go!”
“Took ya long enough…” Nathan wearily got off the floor and the two sped outside.
They checked the backyard and the front yard. They checked the nearby woods and the back porch. They even got distracted by a quick game of tag, claiming the tree with the yellow ribbon around it in Nathan’s yard as a base.
“Hey, no fair! I tapped you!” Nathan whined.
Sadie kept a stubborn hand on the tree, claiming herself safe. “Nu-uh!”
“Yeah-huh!”
“Nu-uh!”
“Yeah-huh!”
“You’re such a crybaby!”
“I am not!”
The front door to the Cooper home opened and Daisy and Scott stepped outside. Seeing the two fighting in the distance, Daisy called out to them: “Hey! What’s going on?”
“He’s cheating!”
“Nu-uh, she is!”
“Hey, guys!” Scott called back. “Did you find Sadie’s present yet?”
Snapping back into their original intent, all thoughts of a feud vanished as the kids scrambled around like metal detectors searching for the treasures in the soil. As they started to look in ridiculous places like trash cans and behind trees, Daisy let out a good-natured laugh.
“Ever check the garage, Sadie?”
Sadie and Nathan exchanged excited looks and raced for the Cooper’s garage. They went around the side, opening the door and climbed down the stairs as Scott lifted the heavy, car door to fill the room with light.
“Wow!!” Sadie jumped up and down, yelping and shaking Nathan in case he didn’t believe it.
“Nice.” Mr. Simms smiled.
“Yup. Your very own bike.” Daisy grinned. Suddenly slapping her leg in frustration, she moaned: “Oh, I forgot the camera! Everyone freeze!”
Mrs. Cooper reappeared a few moments later with the video camera turned on and pointed at Sadie’s new red and purple bike with matching basket and tassels and complete with training wheels. “Okay, wanna get on? Try her out!”
Sadie warily straddled across the bike, wobbling back and forth. She would’ve been on the ground if the training wheels didn’t catch her.
“I—I don’t really know how…” Sadie called out uncertainly.
Mr. Simms smiled. “Riding a bike’s the beginning, Sadie. Once you learn, you never forget.”
“I bet I could do it!” Nathan jeered, goading her into trying it out.
Sadie frowned but with the extra competition, hopped right onto the bike and started to push on the pedals.
“That’s right, Sadie! Around in circles! There ya go!” Daisy clapped and cheered.
“Remember: if you want to stop, just pedal backwards!” Mr. Simms reminded.
“Good thinking.” She nodded and watched Sadie pedal steadily around the cul-de-sac.
“No problem. I’ve seen too many of Claire’s Hallmark movies, I guess to expect the typical ‘How do I stop?’ question.” Scott smirked.
Daisy laughed. Nathan eagerly watched Sadie circle around a few times. On her way back around, he ran out to meet her. “Hey, Sadie! Think I could try?”
“In a minute!” Sadie called back. “After this circle!”
Nathan waited patiently and Sadie kept her promise. She came to a jerky halt next to the curb and jumped off. “That was so fun!”
Sadie held the handle bars to steady the bike while Nathan got on. “Okay, all you have to do is pedal like it’s going in a circle. And then pedal backwards to stop.” She explained.
“Okay.”
Nathan started to pedal and left Sadie behind in her yard. The parents watched carefully as Nathan made his first circle around the cul-de-sac.
“You’re doing great, son!” Mr. Simms called.
Distracted, Nathan suddenly swerved. Expecting a crash and scraped up knees, Daisy and Scott sprung into action. But it wasn’t needed. Nathan regained control like nothing happened and continued to circle around.
As his ride came to an end, Mr. Simms suggested they come in to take the training wheels off.
“Oh, I don’t know… They only just got it today…” Daisy worried like a hen.
“It’ll be fine! They’re eight years old. Training wheels were built for five and under. Anyway, we’re right here if they need us.” Scott explained as he already worked to unbolt the training wheels.
The deed was done in a matter of seconds. Sadie and Nathan jumped up and down, eager to try out the big kid bike.
“Sadie, you’re first.” Mr. Simms smiled.
“Yay!” She giggled and jumped on. Feeling how unsteady it was, her smile immediately diminished and her grip tightened on the handle bars.
“It’s okay, Sadie, I’ll be right here with you.”
“You’re not going to push me off and let me go, are you? Grown-ups always say that on T.V., but I don’t want you to let me go… please.”
Scott smiled, wondering why he groaned when his wife said she wanted a daughter all those years ago. “It’s alright, I promise I won’t let go. You can trust me. Just pedal like last time, okay? Get a feel for what the handle bars feel like.”
Sadie nodded and started to pedal. Scott held the back of her seat and one of the handles and jogged along beside her.
“Oh, I wish I bought the helmet and knee pads…” Daisy fussed, watching her daughter go with the camera.
“Mrs. Cooper? I think my dad’s a lot safer than some dinky helmet.” Nathan commented.
Mrs. Cooper let out a laugh and was soon in hysterics, thinking Nathan hilarious. Nathan on the other hand was kind of creeped out.
“You’re so adorable!” She cooed and gave Nathan a hug, kneeling in the grass next to him. Mr. Simms and Sadie had disappeared down the street, going to the road and coming back.
“Thanks… Mrs… Cooper…” Nathan awkwardly replied.
“Sorry! Hate making kids uncomfortable!” Mrs. Cooper backed off with a grin. “Ooo! Looks like they’re coming back!” She held the camera up and tried to adjust to the late summer sun.
The two stood to greet the smiling Scott and giggly Sadie. “That was so much fun!! Nathan, you’ve gotta try the bike now!”
“Okay! Dad, could you take me? Please?” Nathan begged as Sadie jumped off.
“Sure, thing, soldier. Hop on.”
The father and son soon disappeared down the road, Nathan a little less sure in his skill than Sadie. The mother and daughter eagerly awaited their return. It didn’t take long for Nathan to speed up and gain a little confidence and on the way back, Scott was running alongside the bike.
“That was so cool! And neither of us fell!” Nathan yelled.
The adults laughed and Nathan got off the bike.
“Thanks for letting me ride.” He grinned crookedly.
“No problem. Thanks, Mommy, for the bike!” Sadie hugged her mother’s waist.
Daisy finally shut off the camera. “Happy birthday, Sandra.”
“Phew, it’s hot!” Mr. Simms complained. “How about I set up… oh, I don’t know… a sprinkler or something—“
“Yay!!” Came the collective cheer. Without another word, Sadie and Nathan scampered off to their separate rooms to find their bathing suits.
Daisy laughed again. “Thanks so much, Scott. You’ve been really… fatherly. It’s good to see this side of you.”
Scott smiled and held the back of his head. “Glad to be of service, ma’am.” He said, not catching the ‘ma’am’ thrown in there. “I have to admit, I love kids. They have so much spirit.”
“Yeah…” She agreed. “Well, I better get this camera inside before I drop it. Heaven knows I will.”
“I better set up the sprinkler before they come back outside or we might find a protest.” He joked and hurried to the garage to dig out the sprinkler and the hose.
The kids pounded down the identical stairs from their separate houses with their bathing suits already on. Nathan in his Spider-Man swim shorts and an old one-horizontal-striped blue T-shirt and Sadie in her Dora the Explorer purple one piece. Mr. Simms was outside, deftly putting together the toy and Mrs. Cooper was preparing lemonade in the kitchen.
Squealing, the kids raced to the ready sprinkler. Scott backed up just in time before the cold water rushed over him. Sadie went first, screaming like a banshee, with Nathan close behind her, yelling and laughing at the same time.
“Lemonade?” Mrs. Cooper offered, walking across the lawn with a tray.
“Thank you, Daisy.” Scott said carefully, trying to remember to the leave off the ma’am, and took a sugary glass.
“Does it taste alright? I never seem to add enough sugar…” She fretted, watching him closely.
Scott swallowed, smacked his lips and shook his head. “Tastes fine to me. Here, let me hold that. You should have some, too.”
“Oh—thank you!” Daisy smiled, passing off the tray. She took a glass, sipping at it tediously and watching the kids jump through the sprinkler, creating games and competitions between themselves.
“Okay, okay! No, now this time we have to jump backwards!” Sadie determined with chattering teeth.
“Sure, that’s easy!” Nathan scoffed, water dripping off of him as well. He went first, running backwards and missing the jump. He tripped over the sprinkler, making it askew, and rolled, landing on his back.
“Nathan!” Mrs. Cooper gasped.
“You okay, soldier?” Mr. Simms called.
Nathan got up quickly from the grass, pieces clinging to him, and smiled. “Fine, Dad!”
“Super!”
“Are you sure he’s alright?” Daisy watched as he and Sadie fixed the sprinkler to continue on a different plan of attack.
“Sure. He’s a big boy now. Nice and tough. Could use a beating every now and again anyway.” Scott laughed.
Daisy smiled and remembered the tray. “Oh! Let me go get a table!”
“Oh, that’s alright—“
“No, I insist! Be right back!” She sped-walked across the lawn to her porch, picking up a small table there and bringing it back with her glass balanced on top. “Here, we go. Right like that.”
“Thanks.”
“No problem!”
“Mommy! Mommy!” Sadie called from the sprinkler.
“Yes, honey?” Mrs. Cooper looked up.
“Look at this! Watch me, watch me! Okay? Ready? Watching?” Sadie asked, getting ready and double checking.
“Watching, dear!”
Sadie ran at the sprinkler and jumped, twirling around in a very impressive manner that any mother would care to see. “Did you see? Did you see? I spun!”
Daisy chuckled. “Yes, you did! It was very good. Be careful though, okay?”
“Okay…” Sadie groaned good-naturedly as Nathan tried the twirling stunt behind her.
A car pulled up around the cul-de-sac and into one of the driveways. The four heads turned and saw the famous black pick-up truck.
“Mom!” Nathan shouted and waved.
Slamming the car door behind her, Claire’s frown from a rough day disappeared. “Hey, guys! Whatcha doing?”
“Dad hooked up the sprinkler!” Nathan said, running up to her.
“Oh, look at you! All wet and cold.” Claire observed. She gave him a hug anyways, getting her waitress uniform all splotched. “Having fun?”
“Yeah!”
“Good.”
“Hey, have a good day?” Scott walked up with Daisy.
“Dreadful.” Claire sighed. “Hello, Daisy, how’re you?”
“Sadie’s birthday today. All smiles!” Daisy laughed in a quasi-maniacal fashion indicating the stress level past the eye balls with a wave of her hand. “Lemonade?”
“Would love some.”
Scott gave his wife a kiss and the adults walked across the lawn to watch the kids some more. Claire kicked off her shoes and threw them at the house, almost making it to the porch. “Eh, close enough. Thanks, Daisy.” She took a glass of lemonade and downed it easily.
“No problem. Good to see you like it.”
“These two learned how to ride a bike today.” Scott explained with a smirk. Behind him, Nathan and Sadie were suddenly playing tag, slipping and sliding all over the grass.
“Oh? Wish I could’ve seen it.” Claire smiled.
“I have it taped!” Daisy piped up.
“Yeah?”
“Yeah… I thought Alex would like to see it. If you want a copy, I’ll be happy to make one for you.”
“Oh, really? Thanks, I’d love it. Do you do that on a computer or something? I’m not the most tech savvy.” Claire admitted.
“It’s really rather simple.” Daisy tried not to boast. “Alex taught me all about it—he’s really good with computers and the like. It all goes on a little CD.”
“Neat.” Scott chimed in. The three grew silent as Nathan and Sadie had a rather gruesome encounter across the lawn where they both went down after a tackle. They got up laughing though, so the crisis was avoided. Instead of playing more tag though, the two simply sat in the grass for awhile before Sadie flung herself on her back and started pointing at the clouds. Nathan did the same and they both started to laugh at the funny things they pictured in the sky.
“Is it weird…?” Daisy began.
“That they’re really cute together?” Claire finished with a sly grin.
“Oh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one thinking this!” Daisy breathed with relief and a giggle. “It’s just so… perfect. They get along so well.”
“Probably grow up into something more, hm?” Claire giggled with Daisy.
“I don’t know what you two are talking about.” Scott defended his son. “They’re best friends.”
“Exactly! Remember Ben?”
“Yeah…?”
“Well, Nathan’s just projecting Ben into Sadie. So Sadie has become the new ‘Ben’ or best friend. Only difference is Sadie’s not a ‘he’, but a most definite ‘she’.” Claire explained.
Scott didn’t get it. “So?”
“Really?”
“Well, perhaps it’s just our girlish fantasies.” Daisy tried to wave it off. “But how I would’ve killed to be able to grow up with Alex! Might change everything, you know?”
“Yeah…” Claire nodded with a smile.
“I don’t know…” Scott looked doubtfully at the two. “Although…”
“See?” Daisy and Claire said at the same time, breaking out into giggles.
---
“So what do you think they’re talking about?” Sadie looked up from the grass at their parents.
“I dunno. Adult stuff, I guess. It looks so boring…” Nathan muttered, picking at the grass.
“Yeah. Who wants to just stand around and talk?” Sadie wrinkled her nose and Nathan gave an affirmative shrug. “So whatcha wanna do?”
“I dunno… I’m kind of tired.” Nathan complained and rolled back over onto his back, letting the sun dry him out.
“Me, too… I hate being tired.” Sadie agreed but stayed on her stomach. “Whatcha doing?”
Nate sat up, staring more intently at the pieces of grass. He was wrapping them around each other and tying them together. “Tying the grass.”
“Why?”
“I dunno. Bored.” He shrugged and tied another piece of grass to the strand. After a couple pieces of grass more, the string was a decent size with a bunch of knots in it. “Ta-da.”
“Neat! What do you do with it?”
“Toss it.”
“Wait! Can I have it?” Sadie pleaded and held out her hand.
“Huh? No, why?” Nathan looked at her like she was nuts.
“Please? It’d make a good bracelet.”
“That’s dumb.”
“PLEASE? For my birthday?” She asked sneakily with a seemingly innocent smile.
Nathan rolled his eyes and held out his hand.
“Yay!” Sadie cheered and held out her wrist to him. He carefully tied the strand around her wrist and let it go.
“There. Happy now?”
“Very!” Sadie smiled. “Oh! And I came up with something we could do.”
“What’s that?” He asked, outwardly more interested.
“Know how you tried to talk to me through our windows that one time?”
“Kind of…”
“Well, all the grown-ups could hear everything we were saying so they sent us to bed. What if we wrote things really big on those dry erase board things we used to use at school? Just get a couple of them from Wal-Mart or something and write REALLY big and then press it against the window? I bet we could talk way easier that way!”
Surprised at how clever it was, Nate went over the plan in his mind, looking for a flaw. Huh. Guess girls were smarter than he thought… “Sounds cool! How’re we supposed to get the boards and markers and stuff?”
Sadie shrugged. “I’ll ask Mommy. She likes crafts and stuff, so she’ll let me get them.”
“Okay.”
---
Later that night after her birthday supper where the Simms all came over, the Coopers prepared for bedtime. The presents had all been unwrapped, the candles blown out, the cake eaten, and the parents were exhausted. Yes. It was time for bed.
“But Daddy!” Sadie whined. “It’s my birthday…”
“Yes. Yes it is.” Alex agreed with his daughter, picking her up. “And you’re done using that excuse for a whole ‘nother year. Bedtime.”
“Aw…”
Alex walked up the stairs with her leaning on his shoulder. He smiled, realizing she was tired, too, but not wanting to admit it. He crossed the cluttered floor of her room and set her down in her bed. Sadie reached up like a baby and took off his rectangular-shaped glasses, putting them on herself.
“What are you doing?”
“I can’t see!” Sadie giggled with wide eyes.
“Give me those—you might hurt yourself.”
“Aw…”
After the glasses were back on the proper face, Mr. Cooper smiled down at his daughter. Unbeknownst to the pair was Mrs. Cooper peering in the doorway with a cup of hot tea.
“Did you have fun today?” He asked hopefully.
“Yup.” Came the satisfied sigh.
“Good.” He chuckled. “Sorry I had to leave, sweetie.”
“It’s okay. Mommy told me how you work hard and stuff. It’s okay.” Sadie gave him a hug. “Love you, Daddy.”
“Love you, too.”
Mrs. Cooper, almost ready to scream with fangirl-y hysterics, bounced excitedly at the touching moment.
“Good night!” Sadie waved as he stood. He noticed the grass bracelet around her waving wrist and stared at it in confusion.
“What’s this, Sadie? What’s on your hand?” He tried to grab her arm, but she pulled away, hugging her bracelet.
“It’s a gift!”
“A gift? Of what?”
Sadie let out a heavy sigh. “Nathan got me a turtle.”
“I see that.”
“But after our game of tag, he started making a grass string by tying it together. So I wanted it. So then he gave it to me. So technically, it’s my birthday present from Nathan and you can’t have it.”
Alex laughed. “I didn’t want to take it from you. Just wondering what it was. It’s all dried out though, sweetie. You should probably throw it away before it gets all over the place and in your sheets.”
“Aw…! But it’s my present!”
“How about this--?” Alex looked over at her nightstand and found a Ziploc baggie that used to contain a snack from lunchtime. He opened it up and held it out to her. Sadie wriggled the bracelet carefully off of her wrist and stuck it in the bag. “There. Now it’ll be preserved and it won’t get everywhere.”
“Okay… Good night!”
“Good night.”
Alex shut off the light and closed her door, making sure the night light was on and Sadie fell back into the covers.
Seeing her father was gone, Sadie grabbed the Ziploc baggie and ran to the window. She tapped on the glass and Nathan showed up, poking his head up to the window to see out. She excitedly pointed at the bag. He didn’t understand so she mimed out the movement of putting the bracelet into the bag. He understood and gave her a thumbs up. She returned it and waved, basically saying good night. She ducked down to her bed and put the baggie underneath her pillow like it was a tooth for the tooth fairy. She then snuggled into her thin, summer sheets and closed her eyes.
Surprised to find his wife in the hallway, Daisy made Alex turn around and peer into their daughter’s room. They watched in amusement as Sadie silently explained to Nathan about the bracelet and said goodnight.
“What was that all about?” Alex whispered as they walked down the hall to their room.
“Yup. That about settles it.” Daisy smiled triumphantly. “I can’t wait to call Claire tomorrow…”
“Settles what? What was that?” He lingered in his confusion that would last for the next fifteen years.


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