Sweeping the Clouds Away

“Trust me, everything is all right with the baby. Every pregnancy is different, and you had a relatively easy time with Rebekah. I understand your worry, but “morning sickness” is really a misnomer. It’s quite common for women to feel nauseous at any time, even all day as you sometimes do.”

“Well, if you say so. At least I feel better knowing the baby is all right. Only five more months to go, unless Regan kills me first,” she sighed.

Dr. Ferris laughed. “Are you giving him a hard time, Trixie?”

Eighteen-year-old Trixie Regan laughed as well. “Not intentionally, but have you ever tried to take care of a five-month old baby and deal with constant morning sickness at the same time?”

He helped her down from the examination table as he answered, “No, I honestly can’t say that I have.”

He gave her a few words of encouragement before leaving her alone to dress. She then walked into the bright yellow waiting room where Regan sat holding Rebekah. She smiled at him, holding her arms out for their daughter. Snuggling Rebekah into her shoulder, Trixie told her husband of the doctor’s diagnosis that everything was fine. As she felt him squeeze her hand, she knew that he had forgiven her short temper that morning. She tried to control her mood swings, but didn’t always succeed. She ruefully remembered how when she was a young girl, her father had teased her that she would try the patience of Job. She had learned to control her temper, but evidence of it still seeped through once in a while.

When they arrived home, Regan watched her put Rebekah down for her nap. He closed the door to the nursery, leaving it slightly ajar so that Trixie could hear her when she woke up. He softly kissed her, pulling her into his arms. He whispered, “Sweetie, I’m sorry I hurt your feelings this morning.”

“Regan, I’m the one who’s sorry. I should never have snapped at you.”

“Shh…,” he soothed, tightening his hold on her. He kissed her again, the kiss threatening to turn into more as the clock struck the hour. Reluctantly, they moved away from each other, knowing that Regan had to return to the stables for the rest of the afternoon.

After Regan left, Trixie peeked in on Rebekah. She saw that she was sleeping soundly and contemplated taking a nap of her own. She decided to lie down for a few minutes. The baby’s cry woke her twenty minutes later.

She changed her daughter’s diaper, realizing that the nap had actually made her feel better. Carrying Rebekah, Trixie walked slowly to the mailbox, beginning to make plans as she went. She opened the box, somewhat surprised to see an actual letter among the usual bills and catalogs.

Within minutes, she was sitting in the rocking chair as Rebekah played in her playpen nearby. She noticed that the envelope bore Brian’s school address. She opened it carefully, finding a letter written on pastel notebook paper, accompanied by a short note. The note was indeed from Brian, saying simply that he would write or call her as soon as he had the time; if not, he would see her soon. She curiously unfolded the letter, reflecting that Brian had probably never written on pink paper in his entire life. She began to read, recognizing the handwriting immediately.

Dear Trixie,

I hope this letter finds you well. Actually, I just hope it finds you. I’m sending it to Brian, and asking him to send it to you. I’ve tried to get your new address, but haven’t managed it yet. I don’t even have Uncle Andrew’s new address. I really should have written you before now, but I have been thinking about you, hoping everything is all right for you.

This has truly been a strange year, for me, anyway. With Knut and Cap off at college, Mom and Dad have almost smothered me with attention. To be honest, as much as I love them, I miss the days when they were always in Europe or South America. I guess I don’t really mean that, but I’m so tired of having to give detailed accounts of my plans every time I leave the house. It’s not like I go anywhere besides school events and work. I don’t date too often, for the same reason you used to tease me about. Tell him I said “hello,” will you? I’m not getting my hopes up, since I’m sure he’s dating someone (or maybe even married by now, for all I know! I’ve really lost touch with everyone this year, so I haven’t heard anything that’s happened since your wedding. Speaking of which, congratulations! I wish I could have been there. You’ll have to tell me all about it when I see you!), but I do hope that I can at least see him this summer.

You can probably tell that I’m too excited to think straight right now, which is really why I’m writing, (other than to tell you I miss you and want to see you and all of that stuff). I just heard from the school I applied to- Irving Arts Academy in New York City. They accepted me! Can you believe it? Me, an artist?

Anyway, since my first class starts in August, I want to come to Sleepyside on my way. I’d like to stay a few days so I can really get to catch up with all of you. I’m writing to Uncle Andrew (through Brian, of course! I hope I remember to send him stamps!) to see if I can stay with him, since I don’t want to invite myself to Crabapple Farm, not after…, well, you know what I mean. I still can’t believe Aunt Helen and Uncle Peter acted that way! I know you’re too busy for company, especially trying to keep house by yourself! I remember how much you always loved doing chores!

Anyway, I’m actually supposed to be studying for a trig test next period, so I guess I better go. I need to at least look over my notes, trig is definitely not my strong suit! I’m much better at drawing than I am at figuring sines and cosines! Know, though, that I’m really looking forward to seeing you soon!


Trixie reread the letter, remembering her own math woes during school. She smiled, watching as Rebekah attempted to pull herself up on the side of the playpen. She picked her up, settling her on her lap. She knew she wouldn’t be able to do so for too much longer, so she wanted to enjoy it while she could.

She told her about the cousin that would soon be coming to visit, wondering if Hallie and Dan would start dating. It was obvious that Hallie hoped so, and she was pretty certain that Dan still cared for Hallie. Trixie had noticed long ago that he was trying to date women that reminded him of her. She couldn’t help but wonder how her aunt and uncle would react to that relationship, since there was no telling what her mother had told them about Dan.

Trixie folded the letter, placing it on the desk in the corner of the room. She looked at the clock, knowing she would have to hurry with her preparations if her plans for the evening were to succeed. Debating with herself on whether to call Dan or her Uncle Andrew, she was pleased to find her question answered for her when Dan knocked on the door carrying something.

She invited him in, unable to suppress a giggle when he picked up Rebekah as soon as he walked through the door. “You do know you’re going to spoil her, don’t you?” She asked as he handed the child a doll with a pointed yellow head.

“I’m trying!” Dan laughed. “I waited too long for a cousin to spoil, so now I’m enjoying it!”

“I can tell,” Trixie commented drily, taking a closer look at the doll. “Oh, gleeps! What is that thing supposed to be?”

“That, as you should know, is a Bert doll. Don’t tell me you’ve never seen Sesame Street!”

“No, I haven’t. Of course, now the question becomes why have you seen it? Isn’t that a children’s show?”

“Yes, but it’s better than most of the other shows I’ve seen lately!”

Trixie laughed. “Okay, you win. As long as Rebekah likes the doll, I’m happy with it. Oh, by the way, do you have a date tonight?”

“No….., why do you ask?” Dan looked at her suspiciously.

“Do you want one? I know this really cute girl who would like nothing better than to spend the evening with you,” she said cheerfully.

“I don’t know, Trixie. You know I don’t like blind dates,” he grumbled. “The last one I went on was horrible!”

“Well, that’s what you get for trusting Sgt. Molinson to set you up,” Trixie laughed. “Don’t worry, you know the girl I’m talking about. You’ve even said before that she’s adorable with her blonde hair and blue eyes. As a matter of fact, you’re holding her right now!”

He laughed. “That sounds like my kind of date! But wouldn’t it have been simpler to just come right out and ask me to baby-sit?”

“Yes, but it’s more fun this way!” she proclaimed. “So will you?”

“I guess so. Isn’t this short notice though? What if I had had plans for tonight?”

“Well, I was really hoping you would say yes! I could have asked Uncle Andrew, but not only did he baby-sit last time, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask him to baby-sit just so I could have a romantic evening with my husband!” She didn’t notice Dan give her a look as she continued sheepishly, “You see, I lost my temper this morning and I want to make it up to him.”

“Aunt Trixie!” Dan broke in. “I’ll be glad to take care of Rebekah, but please, please, PLEASE remember I have no interest in hearing about my uncle’s romantic evenings! The less I know, the happier I’ll be!”

“Gleeps, Dan! It’s not like I gave you any details!” Trixie said, startled. It was unusual for him to call her “Aunt Trixie,” even though it was technically correct. “Oh, before I forget, Hallie wants me to tell you she said hello.”

“Hallie! That’s a surprise! I’d just about given up hope of ever hearing from her again.”

“Me, too,” Trixie admitted. “She said that she’s planning to visit this summer. She’s going to go to art school in the city next fall.”

Dan’s face became thoughtful. “Maybe I’ll have a chance with her after all.”

Trixie couldn’t resist teasing, “Well, if you do, I don’t want to hear about romantic evenings with my cousin!”

“Don’t worry. I don’t plan to tell you about them!” he laughed.

That evening, Dan picked up Rebekah minutes before Regan was due home. Immediately after he left, Regan called to tell her that he would be a few minutes late. She took her time with the last minute preparations, finishing right as he walked in the door. She went to welcome him home, stopping abruptly when she saw the roses he carried.

“Sweetie, I know your birthday isn’t for another week, but I know you haven’t been feeling well. So, I decided to surprise you.”

She took them from him, hastily running water into a vase. “Oh, Regan! I love them!” she exclaimed, wiping tears from her eyes.

He took her in his arms, pressing his lips to the top of her head. “Is something wrong?” he asked, concerned.

“No, I’m just happy,” she assured him. Her tears stopped flowing as his lips found hers. She lost herself in their kiss, only to be disappointed when Regan suddenly ended the embrace.

“Where’s Rebekah’s diaper bag?” he asked. Seeing her confusion, he explained, “I called Dan this afternoon and asked him to watch her tonight. He should be here any minute to pick her up.”

“Oh?” she managed. “Um, actually, he’s already picked her up. I guess we had the same idea, because I asked him to baby-sit tonight, too.”

Regan laughed softly, pulling her into another embrace. “So, Mrs. Fidget, what did you have in mind for tonight?”

She smiled, hoping he would agree to her plans. “Well, I thought we could take a picnic basket to that new park they just built in town. It should be pretty peaceful this late in the day. We don’t have to pick up Rebekah until ten.”

“Correction. Dan’s going to bring her home in the morning on his way to work.”

“So that’s why he insisted on taking extra everything!” she exclaimed.

He nodded. “The park does sound nice, but….” he paused. “How do you feel right now? Are you hungry?”

“I feel a lot better than I did yesterday and this morning, but I’m not too hungry. I admit I ate a piece of fried chicken as I was packing the basket,” she confessed, giggling. “Why?”

“Well, for one thing, it would be nice to wait until we could watch the sunset. I thought that if you weren’t hungry, we could wait until then to leave. I do want us to see the new park, but I would really hate to get arrested tonight.”

“Arrested!” she exclaimed. “Why would you be arrested?”

“Because,” he dropped his voice to whisper in her ear, “it is illegal to have sex in a park or any other public place. After our kiss this afternoon and holding you this close to me for this long, I don’t think I could wait until we would get home to make love to you.”

She blushed, whispering, “I don’t want you to wait.”

Their supper was cold by the time Trixie and Regan made it to the park. Neither one of them cared, even though they were both ravenous. As they ate, they noticed a group of children playing in the distance. Most were involved in what appeared to be a game of hopscotch, but Trixie’s attention was focused on a little boy playing on a pogo stick. She watched as a red Irish setter loped after him, reminding her of Bobby and Reddy. She sighed wistfully, pushing the bittersweet memories away. She didn’t want anything to spoil the evening.

The sun began to sink in the west. Trixie situated herself on the picnic bench so that she could lean against Regan’s broad chest. Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her closer to him, resting his chin on her head.

“Isn’t that beautiful?” Trixie asked, staring at the pink and orange sunset.

“Yes, but not as beautiful as you,” he replied.

She sighed happily, saying, “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Early the next morning, they were awakened by the sound of a car door closing. Glancing at the clock, Trixie knew that it was probably Dan bringing Rebekah home. Regan quickly grabbed his pajama bottoms, telling Trixie to stay right where she was.

“Oh, gleeps, I wish I could!” she moaned softly.

“You know I’d go through this for you if I could,” he kissed her forehead.

“I know you would,” she assured him, grabbing her robe. She put it on while she hurried into the bathroom. “Um, Regan? Please tell me that’s not Dan whistling!”

“Sorry, sweetie, but I’d know that off-key whistle anywhere,” he said as the sound came through the slightly open window.

She looked at him piteously before shutting the door behind her. She couldn’t help but wonder why Dan had chosen the song Saturday in the Park for an early morning concert. She soon heard his car pull away, so she didn’t worry about getting dressed before leaving the room. She made her way to Rebekah’s room, where she found Regan sitting in the rocking chair. Rebekah sat in his lap, laughing as he talked baby talk to her.

“How was she?” she asked softly.

“Dan said she was fine. She even slept through the night.” he replied. “Of course, knowing Dan, I would have to say he didn’t. I got the feeling he spent most of the night watching her breathe.”

Trixie smiled. “I hope he got some sleep. At least enough to function at work today.”

“Dan’ll be all right, I’m sure. Besides, what about me? I’ve got to work today, too, and you don’t seem too worried that I didn’t sleep much,” Regan teased.

“That’s because you were the one who wanted to stay awake so much,” she laughed, “not that I’m complaining, though!” She took Rebekah from him, saying, “We’ll go fix breakfast while you get ready for work.”

“Are you sure you feel up to it?” he asked, concerned. “I don’t mind grabbing a bowl of cereal if you don’t feel like cooking.”

“No, I’ll be okay. I feel better now, and I have to feed Rebekah anyway.”

Regan shook his head. “Dan’s already fed her, sweetie. If I didn’t have to go to the stables, I’d fix you something, though, instead of you having to fix mine.”

“You know I like to do it, though. You need to hurry, I know the horses are hungry, too.”

“I’ll be there on time,” he said, embracing his wife and daughter.

Trixie kissed his cheek, enjoying the moment. Telling him she loved him, she carried Rebekah out of the room, feeling truly blessed.