“Yo, guys,” Ty says, peering down into the stroller. “What the hell is that thing? Satan’s spawn?”
“You’d better watch it!” Henry says. He puts on a serious face, throws an arm around my shoulders, and pulls me in close. “That’s our child you’re talking about.”
Ty smiles, then looks at Jerry Rice. “Its eyes are seriously creeping me out. And I knew something was going on between you two.”
“You’re right,” Henry says. “Woods is my husband, and I’m her wife.”
“Love is… I don’t know. Something bigger than that. It’s like the sun.”
“In that you can get burnt by it?”
“No,” she says wearily, but already her eyes have that starry quality they get whenever she’s thinking of Alex. “In that it makes everything brighter and happier. And it warms you from the inside out.”
“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”
“Dad got me a … guinea pig?”
“For breakfast,” Zack said. “That’s why I named her Toast. You aren’t going to eat her, are you?”
“Woot!” Zack hugged the cage to his chest, carrying it off in the direction of his bedroom. “I hope you don’t want to eat Marmalade or Sugar Puff either!”
“Marma– oh, never mind.”
“The little island seemed to float on the dark lake-waters. Trees grew on it, and a little hill rose in the middle of it. It was a mysterious island, lonely and beautiful. All the children stood and gazed at it, loving it and longing to go to it. It looked so secret – almost magic.
“Well,” said Jack at last. “What do you think? Shall we run away, and live on the secret island?”
“Yes!” whispered all the children.