One Little Word

By Joy K

Today is Father's Day. It's a day to tell your dad that you love him. Me and JD didn't know what to do on Father's Day. Me and JD hasn't got fathers, least not ones we know. But we gots dads. 

We asked Uncle Ezra what to do on Father's Day and he got real quiet. Uncle Ezra don't get real quiet too much. Uncle Ezra is kinda like me and JD, and Buck too. About fathers I mean.

Uncle Ezra had us talk to Uncle 'Siah cuz he knows lots about lots of stuff. He taked me and JD to the Rec Center and we made presents and cards for Buck and Chris. 

We saw some things on TV and got an idea of somthin else we could do special. Chris and Buck liked it lots. 

I jist wish I didn't say that word today. It made Chris very sad.


"Is the computer on, Vin?"

"Yes. See. It's writing your words."

"K. Are you gonna tell about Father's Day and the presents we made and the barbecue and the ice cream, and Uncle Nathan, and Uncle Ezra, and Uncle 'Siah were there and..."

"You talk JD. I don't feel like talking."

"Don't be sad, Vin. Chris liked your present. I know Buck liked mine and he said Chris liked yours. And they both liked the special thing and…"


"Look Vin, the computer still don't know how to type a sigh. Vin?"


"Okay. Well, we saw this thing on TV and asked Uncle Ezra and then he said to ask Uncle 'Siah and he Uncle 'Siah taked us to the Rec Center and telled us all 'bout Father's Day and we made cards and Vin, why do they call it a wreck center? There ain't no crashes there…"


"Well, there ain't!"

Two little boys sat in the den with frowns on their faces. The commercial on the Television told them that Father's Day was Sunday. The kids on the TV gave presents to their dads, but neither Vin nor JD had any experience with Father's Day. They didn't know what was expected of them, or for that matter, whether Chris or Buck wanted them to do something for Father's Day since legally they weren't the boys' fathers.

"Uncle Ezra?" asked Vin.

"Yes?" Ezra, looking up from examining Vin's essay.

"We was watchin' TV," said Vin.

"And?" prompted Ezra, when Vin hesitated. Sometimes the youngster had difficulty putting his thoughts into words.

"There was this commercial."

"Yeah," added JD, "And there was kids and dads and it said Sunday is Father's Day."

"I see," said Ezra, setting aside Vin's paper. He waited for the boys, knowing they had something in mind.

JD edged over to Ezra and snuggled against the southerner, waiting for an invitation. Ezra smiled and pulled JD up onto his lap.

Vin grimaced, uncertain of how to ask what he wanted to know. He didn't want to sound dumb, but he really didn't know what to do. Uncle Ezra would know what to do.

Ezra watched Vin gathering his thoughts. The small mouth opened, and then closed several times, emphasizing the scowl of concentration. Finally the furrowed brow relaxed and he knew Vin was ready.

"Uncle Ezra, is it okay to do Father's Day for Buck and Chris even if they ain't our real fathers?"

Ezra smiled. That was a big question for one so young. "Absolutely. One does not need to be biologically related to be a father."

Vin chewed on his lip trying to decipher the answer, but JD just asked the question. "Huh?"

"Master Dunne, you consider Mister Wilmington as your father, correct?"

JD nodded vigorously, his black hair bouncing.

"Then it is entirely appropriate for you to honor him on Father's Day." Ezra looked at Vin. "The same is true for you, Vin."

"Okay," said Vin. "Can I ask you somethin' else?"

Ezra nodded.

"What's we supposed to do for Father's Day?"

Ezra hesitated. He had no practical experience with Father's Day. He knew that personally, he would enjoy anything the two waifs could come up with, and he was certain that Chris and Buck would as well, but he had a feeling that Vin had some deeper questions to deal with.

"I believe we should ask Josiah," suggested Ezra. "He is far more experienced with these things and will know the perfect thing to do."

"Yeah!" said JD excitedly. "Uncle 'Siah knows lots of stuff."

"And then we called Uncle 'Siah on the phone and Uncle Ezra took us to the Rec Center. Vin, how come they call it a…"

"Don't say it!"

??? "Hey look, Vin. It made the funny marks for me when I sighed."

"Go ahead and tell about the Rec Center."

"Well, we made cards and ties for Buck and Chris. And we gots paint and glue all over the place and Uncle Josiah had to help us clean it up, 'specially when the glitter and the macaronis fell off the table and went all over the floor, and some got on my shoe. See? It's still all sparkly."

"JD! Get your foot out of my face."

"Hey! Ow! I'm gonna tell!"

"Well don't stick your foot in my face!"

"I just wanted you to see the glitter. My shoe is sparkly. It was a mess to clean up. Not even the vacuum cleaner picked it all up. Uncle 'Siah said his knees were too old to be picking up macaroni and glitter. How old do you think Uncle 'Siah's knees are? I bet they're really old."



"Father's Day."

"Oh yeah. I forgot. Then when we got home we hide-did our cards and presents. Then we got up really, really, really, really, really -"


"Really early! It was 'fore the chickens got up. It was still dark outside and everything. And we maked Father's Day breakfast for Buck and Chris…"

Bare feet padding across the bedroom floor and soft whispers were the only sounds in the pre-dawn. Two little boys were up extra early. They had to make sure they had their surprises ready before Chris and Buck woke up.



"I can't find my shirt," JD whispered as he rifled through his dresser drawer in the darkness.

"Here," said Vin. "Put this one on."

"No!" JD whined. "I want to wear the one Buck gived me with my name on it."

"Is it in the dirty clothes?"

"Nope. I didn't wear it yet this week."

Vin shined the tiny penlight flashlight into the drawer so JD could see better.

"Here it is!" he proclaimed.

"Shh!" ordered Vin.

"Sowwy," JD whispered. He pulled the bright red tee shirt over his head and pushed his arms into the sleeves. It was his special shirt. On the front it said, "Team Wilmington" and on the back it read, "JD" and had the number "01". It was a simple symbol that JD belonged to Buck.

Vin grinned and dug into his own drawer, shoving shirts, underwear and socks around until he found his own version of the special shirt. His was black and said, "Team Larabee" on the front. Like JD's shirt, it had Vin's name and the number "01" on the back. Vin pulled on the shirt and tucked it into his denim shorts.

"Come on, JD," he whispered.

Both boys made a stop at their bathroom before moving stealthily down the hallway to the kitchen.

Chris smiled through the crack between his bedroom door and the doorpost, watching the boys head for the kitchen. It was early even for them, but the boys were allowed to get their own breakfast on weekends and watch cartoons if they were quiet. Chris quietly closed the door and climbed back into bed.


Two little boys stared into the refrigerator in frustration. Making breakfast for Buck and Chris was a good idea. Figuring out what to make was a different matter. They weren't allowed to use the stove. They weren't even allowed to use the microwave without supervision, but pancakes were Chris and Buck's favorite breakfast. The pancake mix was in the cupboard above the refrigerator and they couldn't reach it, even if they stood on the counter… another thing they weren't supposed to do.

"How we gonna make 'cakes, Vin?"

"I don't know," said Vin with a shrug.

"Hey, I know! We put jelly on pancakes, right?" said JD exuberantly.

"Yeah," said Vin cautiously.

"And we put jelly on bread, right?"

Vin nodded in agreement.

"Maybe we could make pancakes with bread!" said JD.

"Yeah!" Vin pulled open the drawer and put the loaf of bread on the counter. "What about bacon?"

JD frowned, deep in thought. They couldn't cook the bacon either, and Buck had told him you always have to cook the bacon. You weren't supposed to eat it out of the package.

"Wait! I know!" said Vin eagerly. He ran to the pantry and opened the door. He shuffled things around on a shelf until he found the prize. "We can use this for bacon!" he said proudly, holding up the package of beef jerky.

"Yeah!" JD encouraged. "And Orange Juice. We need Orange Juice!"

Vin dutifully removed the juice from the refrigerator and placed the carton on the table.

Not noticing that the little sign  on the dishwasher which indicated "dirty" or "clean" was turned to the "dirty" side, JD opened the door, removed a couple of glasses and put them with the juice. Then he went back for two more. He was thirsty. Making breakfast was hard work and his tummy was growling. He opened the half-empty juice carton and managed to fill his tall cup and Vin's without spilling too much on the table. Both boys drank their fill while they prepared plates and silverware for the breakfast.

With all the supplies on the table, it was time to make the pancakes. JD opened the bread wrapper and pulled out a piece of bread. He examined it carefully.

"It ain't very round and it's too fat."

"Squish it flatter," suggested Vin, taking his own piece of bread. Both boys placed the bread on plates and pressed it down with their hands.

Vin frowned. It didn't look much like a pancake, except for being flat.

"It's still not round," JD informed.

"I know," said Vin. "We need to cut it."

"But we ain't 'lowed to use knives," said JD seriously.

"We'll have to find somethin' else," said Vin, looking around the room. He looked in the cupboard with pots and pans, but all the lids were bigger than the squished bread. They could use a glass, but it was too small.

They searched the entire room looking for something round that was the perfect size, but they were unsuccessful in finding anything… but they succeeded in making a big mess of the kitchen leaving dishes strewn about.

Vin started to put things back in their places as JD tiptoed down the hall to the bedroom. There he found the perfect sized round object to make their pancakes. He removed the food dish from the aquarium where Torkus the tortoise lived. It was just the right size and it was round. It was a little dirty, but it was round. He brushed the tortoise food off of the dish, and then he grabbed Torkus and carried both to the kitchen.

"Here Vin," said JD as he set Torkus on the floor, "This will work." He held up the dish.

Vin grinned. It was the perfect size.

JD turned the dish upside down and pressed it onto the squished bread. He held it tightly and peeled the excess bread from around the edges. JD lifted up the dish with a smile. His 'pancake' was now round. It had a few bits of 'Torkus' food on it but he brushed them away and then blew off the dust.

Vin took the dish and followed suit. He too, had to pick off bits of tortoise food. His bread was flat and round now, but it still didn't look much like pancakes. Maybe it would look better with syrup on it.

Syrup! He forgot the syrup. Vin pushed his chair over to the counter and climbed onto the chair, then the counter. He opened the cupboard where the syrup was stored and lifted the plastic bottle out with a groan.

"What's wrong?" asked JD.

"It's almost all gone!" Vin tipped the bottle upside down, showing JD how little was left.

"Do you know how to make syrup?" asked JD.

Vin shook his head.

JD opened the refrigerator, looking for something to use for syrup. It wasn't a problem for Buck. Buck liked jelly, but Chris only liked syrup and JD wanted Vin's breakfast for Chris to be special too. Using both hands he picked up the half empty two-liter bottle of Coca Cola.

"Will this work? It's brown like syrup and it's sweet," JD offered.

"But it ain't thick," said Vin. "It won't stay on the pancake."

"We could use that stuff that Mrs. Potter uses in the gravy," said JD, putting the Coke on the table.

Vin crawled across the counter to the cupboard where the baking supplies were stored. He looked carefully at the packages. One said c-o-r-n-s-t-a-r-c-h. One said f-l-o-u-r. Another said s-u-g-a-r. Sugar! He knew that word. And he liked sugar. It was white like the stuff Mrs. Potter used. He took the bag off of the shelf and set it on the counter. While he was still up there, he grabbed a mixing bowl, and then jumped down to the floor with a thud.

Carrying the bag of sugar and the bowl to the table, he set the bowl down and poured some sugar into it, ignoring the powdery substance that spilled to the tabletop and floor. He poured in some Coca Cola and watched in fascination, as the soda seemed to eat the sugar. He dipped his finger in and sampled the mixture.

"Yum!" he declared at the sweet taste.

He took Chris' fork and stirred, adding more sugar until the mixture was about the same thickness as syrup. Vin opened the butter container and used a fork to spread it liberally on the bread. Then he topped it with a pile of syrup. Now you couldn't even see the bread. It looked a lot like a pancake now. He popped his fingers in his mouth, cleaning off the rest of the syrup.

JD was busy working on his own masterpiece. Buck liked jelly better than syrup, so JD was busy spreading jelly all over the 'pancake.' Pleased with his creation, JD licked the remaining Jelly off of the fork and put it next to the plate. He grabbed his glass of orange juice and gulped it down, making a funny face when the sour of the orange juice met the sweet of the jelly.

"I needs some bacon," JD declared.

Vin tried to open the plastic wrapping on the jerky, but it didn't want to open. He even tried biting through the end of the package. Taking a deep breath of frustration, Vin pinched the front of the package and the back, and then pulled as hard as he could. The plastic finally gave way, spewing beef Jerky strips across the table and onto the floor.

JD hurriedly picked up some pieces from the floor, blowing the germs off of them and placing them on Buck's plate. Buck was going to love his surprise.

Vin put some of the jerky strips on Chris' plate before attempting to pour the orange juice for their foster dads.

"Oh no!" he groaned.

"What?" asked JD.

"There ain't enough," said Vin, glumly pointing to the glasses. One was almost full, but the other only had a dribble in it.

JD licked some stray orange juice from his lips guiltily. There would have been enough if the boys hadn't had their own glassfuls. JD trotted over to the refrigerator and pulled open the door. Nope. There wasn't another carton of orange juice, but…

"Hey, Vin! What about this?" JD held up a can of orange soda pop.

Vin raised his eyebrows and shrugged. He knew that orange soda and orange juice didn't taste near the same, but they were both orange. He nodded to JD.

JD struggled with the pull-tab on the can, managing to shake up the contents before popping the top and spraying the kitchen cabinet with the carbonated beverage.

Vin poured half the full glass of juice into the other glass so they were even, then JD poured in the soda, making both glasses fizz. Both boys giggled at the fizzing orange juice.

Vin looked at the clock. It said 6:05. Chris usually got up at 6:00 to go to work, so he figured it was okay to wake him with breakfast. Vin went back to the pots and pans cupboard, digging through to find two baking sheets. He placed them on the table and both boys began to load their improvised trays with the best Father's Day breakfast ever.

Making sure both trays had the plate of food, the glass of juice, a fork and a napkin, Vin declared it was time to take breakfast to their dads.

"Look out, Torkus," said JD, moving the tortoise out of the path. He reached up to the table and tried to lift the baking sheet. The glass tipped precariously.

"Vin help!" called JD.

Vin steadied the glass as JD settled the tray back on the table.

"Vin, will you carry mine? I don't want to spill it," JD pleaded.

Vin nodded. "I'll carry the juice. You take the tray." He lifted the glass and watched as JD picked up the tray. It was much more manageable without the heavy glass.

The two boys moved quietly down the hall to Buck's bedroom. Vin put the glass down on the floor and opened the door for JD. He picked up the glass and carried it in, setting it on the nightstand by the bed.

"What's do I say, Vin?" asked JD in a loud whisper.

Vin shrugged. "Just wake him up, I guess."

"Bu-uck," said JD. Buck didn't even stir.

"Bu-uck!" he called louder. The man grumbled.

"BUCK!" shouted JD.

"What?" came the groggy reply.

"Wake up. Happy Father's Day!" JD chirped.

Buck grinned at the little cherub in front of him with the breakfast tray.

"Why thank you, Little Bit." He winked at Vin, who nodded back to him and then hurried out of the room.

"What have we got here?" asked Buck as he examined the contents of the tray. It appeared to be smashed bread, covered liberally with jelly, beef jerky and suspiciously bubbling orange juice. Buck said a quick silent prayer, hoping God was listening and would help him through the 'special' meal.


Vin hurried back to the kitchen to get Chris' tray, hoping that JD's voice hadn't already awakened Chris.

He carefully lifted the tray, curling both arms beneath it and grasping the glass of juice at the front edge so it wouldn't tip. He slowly made his way from the table to the hall. With the tray in front of him, he couldn't see that Torkus was also making his way down the hall.




Chris jumped out of bed at the sound of the crash of metal and glass. He paused long enough to pull on a pair of sweat pants, and then opened his door to a pitiful sight. Juice and a shattered glass covered the wood floor. A baking sheet and a broken plate now decorated the lower portion of the wall outside of his room. And Vin sat huddled in the middle of the mess, arms wrapped around his knees and his head bent low. A new scrape adorned his knobby knee.

A fleeting thought crossed Chris' mind of how long it had taken them to get the shy seven year old to wear shorts.

"Vin?" he called softly.

Vin raised his face to look at Chris. The tears streaming down his cheeks tore at Chris' heart. He had heard JD's call to Buck in the next room and knew the floor was now decorated with his Father's Day breakfast, and before him sat a broken hearted boy.

He wanted to scoop Vin up and hold him and kiss away the tears, and if it were JD or even Adam, that is exactly what he would have done, but Vin Tanner was not JD or Adam. Chris slid down the wall, sitting next to Vin, acknowledging to Buck and JD who were now standing at Buck's door, that he had the situation in hand. Chris was silent for a moment, and then wrapped an arm around Vin's shoulder.

"Thank you," Chris said softly.

"I messed it all up," Vin hiccupped in between sobs.

"You must have put a lot of effort into this. Juice…" Chris peeled the plate from the wall with his free hand. He was puzzled by the odd concoction, but recognizing the round shape, he took a shot at it. "Pancakes… and…" He paused, not having a clue what the tortoise was munching on, but he was certain it was part of his breakfast.

"Bacon. It was s'posed to be bacon, but we can't use the stove so I got some jerky," said Vin, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand.

"That was very creative, Vin. Thank you," said Chris sincerely.

"But you didn't get to eat it," said Vin.

"I didn't have to," said Chris. "The gift was you wanting to do this for me, not the actual eating of the food."

Vin looked at Chris, reading the truth in his eyes, and slowly a smile crossed his small face. "I didn't see Torkus," he admitted.

"Ah, so that's how it happened," said Chris. "Maybe we'll have to put a cow bell on Torkus so we know where he is."

Vin giggled at the thought of a huge cowbell on a relatively small tortoise.

"Is your knee all right?" Chris asked, brushing gently at the scraped area.

Vin nodded.

"Just the same, we ought to clean that scrape. Might need a band-aid," said Chris, enjoying the glint of excitement in Vin's eyes. He didn't know what it was about kids and band-aids, but they seemed to enjoy the 'badge of honor' the little plastic strips represented.

"Hey," said Buck, as he re-entered the hallway, "Maybe JD can help you pick one out, while I finish my breakfast and clean this up. Wouldn't want either of you to get glass in those bare feet."

Chris nodded his thanks, noting that Buck had eaten a few bites of his pancake and had a sip or two of his juice. Buck's eyes were pleading with Chris to give him an 'out' so he didn't have to finish consuming his breakfast in front of JD. Chris hesitated long enough to make Buck think he was going to make him suffer, and then he smiled.

"That sounds good," said Chris. He stood up, picked up Vin, and stepping carefully over the broken glass and carrying him to the boys' bathroom. JD followed close behind.

Buck hurried to the kitchen. After shuddering at the disarray, he quickly disposed of his special meal, careful to hide the evidence. He grabbed the shop vacuum, paper towels and some cleaner and went to work on the hallway.

Meanwhile, Chris set Vin on the bathroom counter and retrieved the antiseptic and band-aids from the medicine cabinet. He cleaned the scrape and put a band-aid over a portion of it. The band-aid wouldn't do much for the scrape, but it was a comfort to the 'wounded' party.

JD tugged at Chris' pants leg. "Chris?"

"Yes, JD?" asked Chris, turning his attention momentarily to the younger boy.

"Buck will share," said JD.

There it was. Another stab right in the heart from the hazel eyed cherub. Chris smiled at the genuine offer of sharing Buck's special breakfast.

"Thank you, JD," said Chris as he scooped JD up and set him on the counter next to Vin. "You know, I haven't told you two lately how proud I am of you. Both of you. It means a lot to me - Buck too - that you went through all this work to make the day special for us. Thank you."

"Gwoup hug!" announced JD.

Chris grinned and wrapped both boys into a bear hug, growling and pulling both of them off the counter.

"Hey! What about me?" protested Buck, from the hallway.

"Get your own hug!" said Chris.

"I hug you, Buck!" said JD, squirming free from Chris as he was lowered to the floor.

JD ran and launched himself into Buck's arms, completely trusting that Buck would catch him.

"Did you eat?" Chris asked Vin, quietly.

Vin shook his head. "We was too excited about making…"

"Breakfast," Chris finished hearing the disappointment in Vin's voice. It might take a couple of hours, but he hoped Vin would set aside the accident and realize that Chris really did relish the thought of the gift.

"I tell you what. You give me a few minutes to get dressed, and then you and I will whip up some more breakfast," said Chris. "Anything you want, Cowboy."

Vin blushed slightly at the nickname. It always made him feel warm and happy inside when Chris called him that. He wondered sometimes if Chris would feel the same way if he called him "Dad."

JD called Buck, "Papa," occasionally, and Vin knew that Buck really liked it when he did. Chris had told him long ago that it would be all right with him if Vin wanted to call him "Dad", but Vin was hesitant to do so. He didn't know exactly why. Part of him was afraid to use the word, afraid that it would make Chris sad because it would remind him of Adam, his real son. Part of him was afraid of that too… that Adam was Chris' real son and he could never be a real son like Adam was.

Vin went to the kitchen to clean up before Chris helped make breakfast, thinking about his foster dad.

"And then we had a big breakfast, and Buck liked my pancake so much that he wanted more pancakes. So Chris maked lots of pancakes and we even used the syrup Vin maked. But Chris said we could only use a little or we'd be bouncing off the walls all day. Vin, how could we be bouncing on the walls? The syrup is sticky not bouncy.

"I don't know."

Oh, wait! I forgot to say, then Uncle Josiah, Uncle Nathan and Uncle Ezra camed over and we had a barbecue with hotdogs and steaks and lots and lots of chips and 'tato salad and even ice cream! And then we gived Buck and Chris the presents!"

After the mid afternoon barbeque, the boys presented their foster dads with the cards and gifts they had made the previous day at the Rec Center with Josiah.

Ezra, Nathan and Josiah were all smiles as JD hopped up and down impatiently.

"Open it, Papa!" he shouted.

Buck grinned and pulled JD onto his lap, glancing over at Chris.

Vin was more subdued in his excitement, but he too was shifting from foot to foot, anxious for Chris to open his present. He was right next to Chris, smiling in anticipation.

"You want me to open this, Cowboy?" asked Chris, teasingly.

Vin nodded eagerly.

Both men opened their cards, each getting a little misty eyed at the sentiment from their sons. They opened their packages revealing homemade ties.

"Woo-wee! Look at this, guys," Buck declared holding up the cardboard tie. It was painted blue and was decorated with raw macaroni, glitter, and buttons. JD beamed with pride, carefully pointing out each detail to his 'dad'.

"It's great, Vin," said Chris, holding up his own tie. His was painted red and sported crayon drawings of horses. Chris looped the yarn over his head, donning his tie. He hugged Vin to his side, posing as Josiah snapped a photo of the two of them.

Vin chewed on his lip for a moment, then leaned over to Chris, whispering in his ear.

"I love you - Dad."

Chris smiled as his eyes filled with tears at the simple declaration. "And I love you," he answered, snuggling Vin a little tighter.

Vin looked at his dad, again chewing on his lip as he considered the tears in Chris' eyes. Having just taken the risk of calling Chris, "Dad," his insecurities were running high. Slowly he pulled away, ending the hug.

Chris released Vin when he sensed the boy was finished hugging for now. He quietly observed his tie and re-read the card, relishing the progress Vin had made in his ability to connect and to express his feelings, but most of all reveling in the single word, "Dad."

As he looked at the card, his mind drifted to another time when another boy had presented a card handmade with love. Chris swallowed and forced the tears to stay in place. That was another time. Now he had a boy who needed his love and attention as much as Adam ever had.

He turned to the spot where Vin had been standing, but the boy was no longer there. He glanced around the yard and spotted Vin sitting quietly on the picnic bench next to Josiah. Chris smiled as Josiah put his arm around Vin and Vin leaned into the embrace. He had come a long way.

"Chris, do you like your tie?" asked JD.

"It's great," said Chris.

"We maked it at the Rec Center with Uncle 'Siah," said JD. Chris ruffled his hair as JD smiled proudly.

Vin watched the interaction, fighting his uncertainty. "I'm gonna go write my paper," he announced suddenly as he trotted towards the house, unaware of the curious gazes of Ezra and Josiah following him.

After a few minutes, Ezra followed Vin inside, telling Chris that he was going to look over Vin's essay for the week. Approaching the den, he knocked on the doorpost of the open doorway, seeking Vin's permission to intrude.

Vin wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and sniffed.

"Come in," he replied.

Ezra smiled and walked over to the computer desk where Vin was sitting.

"How's your paper coming?"

"I'm done," said Vin with an overwhelming sadness.

"May I?" asked Ezra. At Vin's nod, he picked up the paper and read the essay, his heart constricting at the last sentence.

I jist wish I didn't say that word today. It made Chris very sad.


Vin looked up at Ezra.

"What word did you say?" Ezra inquired with extreme gentleness. He already had a good idea, and was fairly certain Vin had misread Chris' response.

Tears began to run freely down Vin's cheeks. "I called him 'Dad'."

Ezra swallowed back his own tears, knowing how joyous it felt to be called "Uncle". Chris must have been so thrilled to hear that word from Vin.

"Why do you think that made him sad?"

"He was gonna cry," said Vin.

"Mr. Tanner, I cannot accept this paper," said Ezra.

"What? I worked real hard on it," protested Vin. "I even think I spelled it all right."

"Your penmanship is improving, as is the spelling, Vin," said Ezra. "But you are wrong."

Vin frowned. "How?"

"This last sentence is wrong," said Ezra. "I know for a fact that you did not make Chris sad, and you need to go out there and talk to him."

Ezra smiled to himself seeing the hope in Vin's eyes.

"You think?" he asked.

Ezra nodded. "Go talk to him. We'll add a postscript to this paper later. Go on, now," Ezra encouraged.

Ezra smiled as Vin trotted out of the room, in a hurry to have his hope affirmed. He followed Vin as far as the porch and watched him from a distance.

Vin seemed to lose his courage as he approached Chris, but somehow Chris recognized Vin's need for assurance. As Chris talked with Nathan, he reached out a hand to Vin. The seven year old stepped closer as the invitation was given and Chris pulled him into a hug at his side.

When the conversation finished, Chris turned his full attention to Vin, leaning down and telling the boy something. Then he offered his hand to Vin, who eagerly took hold, and the two walked up the small hill behind the house.

Ezra smiled as they sat down on the large boulder near the top of the hill, knowing that Chris would let Vin know that he was mistaken in thinking he was saddened by the word, "Dad."

"And Uncle Ezra was right. Chris was really happy that I called him Dad."

"And then we had ice cream!"

"Gentlemen, you are doing very well with this project."

"Thanks, Uncle Ezra. We likes to talk on the computer talky thingy, don't we Vin? Cuz it's lots and lots of fun to watch the squiggly lines when we make boo-boos or the…


… when Vin sighs or I blow on the talky thing."

"I see."

"Uncle Ezra?"

"Yes, Vin?"

"Thanks for showing me what a PS is. And for making me talk to Chris. I'm glad he's not sad."

"Me too, Vin."

P.S. Uncle Ezra says it's okay to write a postscript when you forgets something. 

Chris wasn't sad. He was real happy I called him 'Dad'.  He gave me a big hug and squished me like he was never gonna let go.

I'm happy too.


Next: Plan B...


In The Good Ol' Summertime (Index)