“You be quiet. You’re being too noisy, idiot.”
“Are we out of orange juice? That sucks.”
I could hear my three conspirators in the kitchen. I lay back on my pillows, mindful of my role. I was to remain in bed and feign sleep until their presentation.
I suddenly realized I was nude. I threw back the cover and jumped to my dresser. I quickly pulled on boxers and tucked myself back into bed. My eyes were closed tight.
“Shh, shh. Get the door.”
I breathed slowly.
“One, two . . . Happy Father’s Day!”
I opened my eyes. “Huh? Oh . . . oh my goodness, what’s this?”
Jason smiled, holding a tray. Collie danced, singing “Happy Father’s Day, it’s your Father’s Day. We’re going to party . . . like it’s your Father’s Day . . .”
“Look, I made you a card,” Lillie beamed.
“Oh honeys, this is so sweet. Here, Jason, let me take that tray.”
“Yeah, you were out of orange juice, so I made some water.”
“You like water, right Dad?” Lillie asked.
“I do, I really like water.” I sat up, putting the tray over my lap.
“I know, you drink it all the time.”
“Lillie wanted to give you wine and a bowl of olives,” Collie said, falling back in a chair. He made that face. “I mean, who drinks wine for breakfast?”
“Wine is good for breakfast,” Lillie maintained. “And olives rock. I like the sweet ones.”
“Lillie, no one eats olives for breakfast. That’s just stupid.”
“Okay, okay,” I interjected. “Hush up so I can read my card.”
Jason sat next to me. I put my arm around him.
“Do you see the front?” Lillie said, looking over my arm. “That’s a Father’s Day cake.”
“Yeah,” Jason said. “Her first card said ‘happy birthday.”
“Yeah, I messed up.”
“That’s fine, simply marvelous,” I smiled. “Now let’s see . . . ‘Happy Father’s Day’ . . . and balloons and streamers . . .”
“I used your favorite colors,” Lillie pointed. “Blue, purple and green.”
“Those are my favorite colors, honey. Okay, let’s look inside . . . Ha! Another balloon! Let me read this . . . ‘Party! Fun! Cool! To: Dad 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . ! Happy father’s Day! Hi dad! I can’t belive how many years I have been having with you! And now we get to celebrate it! I hope you love your father’s day! Lillie.’ Oh sweet, that’s so nice!”
“Look at the back,” she said, grabbing my arm.
“I will, let me see . . . ‘I heart U, I heart U, I heart U, I heart U’ . . . wait, what’s this one say? Oh yeah, ‘I heart U, I heart U . . . and I heart U.’ Oh honeys, well, I heart y’all, too.”
“Not ‘y’all,’ I made the card.”
“Yeah, but I heart y’all, baby. Now, what’s on this tray?”
“Um, it’s toast, obviously,” Jason said. “And Frosted Flakes.”
“Yum, I love Frosted Flakes.”
“Me, too,” Collie agreed. “It’s my favoritest. So my present is I’m going to do the laundry.”
“And I’m going to clean the bedrooms,” Jason said.
“Yeah, before I do the laundry.”
“No, after you do the laundry. It makes no sense for me to pick up the clothes when that’s your job.”
“My job is to take the hampers to the laundry room, not to pick up the clothes. That’s your job.”
“No, the clothes are the laundry. That’s your job.”
“Yum, this is great cereal,” I said. “Really hits the spot.”
“Hey, can we go on a picnic for lunch?” Lillie asked.
“Yes, let’s do that,” I nodded. “Great idea.”
“Do we have to go outside?” Collie moaned.
“Yes, because it’s Father’s Day, and because you’re too pale. I’m . . . I’m worried about you son. You’re wasting away.”
“You might have the consumption.” I sobbed. “My poor baby, taken so young . . .”
I turned to Jason. “Why? Why did Jesus take my baby home so young?”
Jason smiled. “I really miss him sometimes.”
“I’m right here!”
“It’s almost like you can hear him at times, especially at night, when all is still . . .”
Jason nodded. “It’s like he’s with us, somehow . . . ”
Lillie took my toast and bit it. “Are we pretending Collie is dead?”
I kissed her head. “It’s hardest on Lillie. So young.”
Collie stood up. He began to dance. “I’m a gho-oo-ost, I’m a gho-oo-ost, I’m funky, like a gho-oo-ost . . .”
“Well, loved ones,” I said, moving the tray. “I thank you so much for this lovely, lovely breakfast in bed. Now, I think I should make coffee and get ready for our day.”
“We didn’t know how to make coffee,” Jason apologized.
“All things in time, boy,” I said, kissing his head. “Mind you, by your age, I could mix a mean Bloody Mary.”
I leaned close. “The secret is Worcestershire Sauce.”
Jason nodded sagely.
The boys flipped on the Xbox as I took the tray. Lillie followed me to clean the mess they had left in the kitchen.