“Be careful going up this hill. It’s slick from the rain.” Fall has already begun, and the yard is covered in leaves from the maple tree. As soon as I get the words out of my mouth, her foot slips, and I reach out to catch her. “Careful,” I say as I gently take her by the hand and slide my arm around her waist.
“Thanks. I guess I’m just super excited about seeing the baby.” She smiles up at me, and she’s so close I can see the flecks of gold in her eyes.
“Uh, yeah.” I clear my throat, trying not to get distracted. “She’s just up here.”
When we get to the barn, I don’t let go of her hand. Maybe I should, but I tell myself it’s to make sure she doesn’t fall again. I open the barn door, and we walk to the other end where I’ve got the mom and baby in a quiet stable away from the cool fall air.
“This is Ginger,” I say, pointing to the mare. “And this is her little girl.” Ginger comes right up to the gate, and I reach into the bag hanging next to it and grab an apple. I hand it over to Gracie, who smiles up at me. “Go on, she’s really gentle.”
Gracie smiles like it’s Christmas morning and I’ve given her a present. I watch as she holds out the apple for Ginger to eat, and the little foal comes over to inspect. I put my arm on the stall door and then rest my chin on my hand, just watching Gracie smile at my horse and talk sweet to her.
“What’s the baby named?” Gracie asks as she reaches out and pets her too. “She is so cute I can’t stand it.”
“I haven’t named her yet,” I say as I watch Gracie give Ginger a kiss on the nose. “Why don’t you do it?”
“Me?” She looks up with wide eyes. “I couldn’t, she’s yours.” She bites her lip and it’s so damn cute.
“Go on,” I say, and when she smiles I know she likes the idea.
“How about Cookie? You know, like ginger cookies? Wait, that’s dumb.”
“It’s perfect,” I interrupt, and she tries to hide a smile. “Cookie it is.”
We’re in the barn for a long time, and I spend it listening to Gracie talk to the horses like they’re old friends. I’m not sure what I thought today would look like, but it’s turning out to be the best day ever.
I’m humming one of my favorite songs as I spin around to open the oven and pull the pie out. I’ve been humming them all morning, and I can’t seem to stop. No sooner do I pull the oven mitts off than my dad grabs my hand and spins me around in a double twirl.
“When did you get home?” I ask.
He goes fishing every Sunday morning and doesn’t get home until late afternoon. I’d actually woken up a bit early so he wouldn't catch me baking in the kitchen.
“Nothing was biting today.” He dips me. “Are you trying to make pie on the sly?”
“Maybe,” I laugh as he puts me back up on my feet.
I grab the small cooler I packed him off the floor to clean it out. I always pack him something for breakfast and lunch when he fishes with Evy. She owns the land he fishes on. He says her pond has the best fish, but I’m not buying it. I think he and Evy might have something going on, but he never tells me. Or maybe it’s that I kind of hope they do. I’ve never known my dad to date. I’d actually never seen him and my mother together, but since she’s never around, that’s not really shocking.
“That’s mean.” He stares at the pie longingly.
“Not for you, but I can make you something if you want.” He opens his mouth to respond, but I cut him off. “Sit down and I’ll warm up some of my peanut butter cookies.”
“Thank you, pumpkin.”
I’ve gotten crafty with my baking skills when it comes to his diabetes. It wasn’t until I was fourteen that I really got an understanding of what diabetes is because I almost lost him. I’ll never forget that morning I’d gone to wake him up and he wouldn’t stir. He’d fallen into a diabetic coma, and it scared the life out of me.
Now I try to keep sweets out of the house. Which is why I was baking the pie while he was gone. I should have known better. Dad can sniff out sweets like no other.
I pop a few of the cookies into the still warm oven before I pour him a glass of almond milk.
“Are you going to tell me why you’re humming a love song and baking a pie for someone that isn’t me?” I roll my eyes. He acts as though I make him pies all the time or something.