01 - A Moment of Perfection - Amerika
"You need a change, honeygirl," Taylor picked up his crying sister from her crib and swayed gently as he laid her on the padded table beside.
"You know why? Because you smell," he cooed at her, and she hiccupped. They exchanged small noises of delight as he began to change her.
"You smell downright funky, you do," he said for her to hear his voice, and he lifted her carefully to place a fresh diaper beneath, then fastened her all up.
"Do you know you smell?" he looked down at her, and she giggled. "Do you know you have monkey feet?" He sprung upon her and gobbled her toes with his lips, triggering an excited squeal.
"You probably have a monkey belly, too," he said and tugged her shirt up over her round little tummy, "Yup." He held her and blew a raspberry into her bare stomach and she screeched with pleasure.
"Tay? Honey, what're you doing?"
He turned around to see his mother standing in the doorway with a loving smile on her face.
"Just changing Katie," he said and lifted up his baby sister, who clung to him with chubby little hands and buried her round face in his neck.
"Thank you," his mother said softly, wondering if speaking would ruin the perfect moment in progress.
"No problem," he said and came to her. She was surprised when he leaned forward and kissed her gently on the cheek before exiting the room with the new baby. She touched her fingers to the point of his kiss, as if to keep it from fluttering away, and sighed to hold back the tears of sudden and inexpressible joy.
"Baby, baby," Zac breathed contentedly as he stroked his best friend's hair down along her neck. They were nestled together on the futon rocker of her back porch, facing the late afternoon sun on the Cimarron River.
"Where d'you wanna go this evening?" he asked her.
"Anywhere you wanna go," she smiled with a light southern accent.
"How about I take you to dinner?" he suggested.
She grinned and laughed softly, watching the maple leaves floating in the water.
"Like a date?"
"Nah, no," he shook his head, smiling. "Just dinner."
She considered it. "Alright."
They sighed almost in unison, and listened as the autumn wind rattled the crisp leaves on the lawn and those still clinging to the trees. She shivered.
"Here," Zac said and pulled the afghan from its place on the swing, wrapping it around her shoulders like a cocoon.
"Better?" he asked, holding her close.
They listened to the woods and the river, and all the sounds that escaped the rush of the city. For a moment they were both unaware of the warmth of each other.
"Hey," she said suddenly.
"D'ah ever tell you ah love you?"
He smiled. "Yeah, I think once. Maybe."
"Ah love you, then," she said. He chuckled and patted her shoulder.
"I love you, too."
* * *
"Oh, we don't have the salt-"
"Don't get up," Isaac stopped his wife and stood, rushing out to the kitchen. "Salt... anything else I can get for you?"
"A glass of water?" she asked.
He filled a glass and brought it to her, then settled back in his chair.
"This is so sweet of you, Ike, you didn't have to do all this," she smiled.
"I know," he said, and lifted the lid of the bowl of sauerkraut. "I wanted to. Here - just what you requested."
"Oh, Isaac..." she chuckled, and he set up her plate with the various things he'd made. "Oh, that's too much, Ike–"
"You can eat that much," he said. "You're eating for two now, Em'."
"That's so cliche," she shook her head, smiling.
"Wait, one more thing," he said and stood again, ducking into the kitchen and retrieving a book of matches. He struck one and lit the candles on the table.
"For sauerkraut, Ike?" she asked at the absurdity.
"Sure," he said, shaking out the match, turning down the dining room lights, and taking his seat for the third time. "It's romantic. I'll feed it to you."
"I'm pretty sure I can handle that," she laughed, and sighed as she looked down at her round stomach. *I feel so big and gross*, she thought to herself.
He leaned over the table on his elbows and gazed into her eyes for a long moment, taking in every different shred of emotion - mainly self-consciousness and sweet selflessness - in them. He held out his hand and she gave him her own.
"You know something, Em'?"
"What?" she smiled.
He pushed her bangs away gently, kissed her forehead, and whispered into her ear, "You are so beautiful right now."
She bit her lip to keep from smiling too wide, and shifted closer as he kissed her mouth.