“Hey,” Beth said, as Jack squelched through the muddy snow. She scooted over, making room for him beneath the mailboxes. “How’s your head?”
Jack felt along the dark gray knit cap, patting at his ears. “Still attached,” he said with a grin.
“See if I worry about you ever again,” Beth sniffed.
“Its fine!” Ellie said, hanging from the wooden shelf the mailboxes were bolted onto. “Mama shined her flashlight in his eyes and then made him do ‘follow the people.’” She held out a pink-gloved finger and moved it back and forth in front of her nose.
“Did you sleep okay?” Beth asked.
Jack caught himself before he spoke. Something in the way she asked the question told him she already knew the answer. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. “How did you sleep?”
“I had funny dreams last night,” Ellie said. She was trying to pile up the slushy snow to make a snowman, to no avail.
“Funny how?” Beth asked, leaning forward.
Jack’s sister shrugged, causing her big pink backpack to bob. “First there were ponies, and then they turned into uny-corns and then there were pretty golden angels. They stood around Jack with their wings out like this.” She spread her arms, hands up above the level of the pink pompom atop her knit cap.
“And… what was I doing in this dream?” Jack asked.
“Just sleeping,” Ellie said. She dropped her arms. “You didn’t wake up when I yelled. I wanted to go pinch you but the pretty angels didn’t look like they wanted me to do that.”
“No,” Beth said, swallowing. “No, I don’t think they would have liked that one bit.”
“They didn’t look like they wanted to play ponies, either.” Ellie sighed, and then spun in a circle as the school bus wheezed to a stop and the doors rattled open. She jumped up to the first step, then hopped up two more.
“Mr. Grady, why don’t angels like to play ponies?”
Jack chuckled for the rest of the day when he thought about the look on the old man’s face.