Chapter 23: Sunny Days Ahead

My mother had given me the car to meet Isaac at the zoo. I had been slightly depressed when I woke and he wasn’t next to me. Lily had managed to climb out of the crib like a little acrobat and was in bed with me before I could even get in to check on her.

I got her breakfast ready and plopped her down in front of the television for a surprisingly quick shower.

I prepared sandwiches and everything I thought necessary to bring with us to the zoo and before long I lifted Lily into the car and fastened her into her car seat, along with all of the supplies I had brought. I loaded her stroller into the trunk of the car with some difficulty.

We managed to make it to the zoo parking lot before Isaac.

I pulled Lily out of her car seat and gave her a cracker to keep her occupied while I pushed a hat down over her head and tried to smother her with sunscreen. It was relatively easy.

I had dressed her in a bright yellow sun dress which I assumed would be cooler for her than a jumper or shorts.

Lily was already trying to remove the hat from her head.

“No, no. Honey, you’ve got to keep it on….” I urged softly.

I looked up as Isaac’s car pulled into the space next to my car. After a second, he hoped out of the car, pocketing his keys neatly.

“Hey!” He smiled. “I’m so sorry, my meeting ran late.” He apologized as he walked around the back of my mother’s car. He met me with a kiss. “I should have called.”

“That’s okay.” I smiled. “I understand. We just got here ourselves.”

“Hey Silly Lilly!” He grinned, leaning into the car.

She shrieked excitedly seeing him. She eagerly kicked her legs and reached for him.

Isaac laughed. “What does she have all over her?”

“Sun screen.” I replied, wiping some extra cream from my hand onto his nose. “You should have some too.”

He chuckled and wiped at his nose. Instead of retaliating, he picked up the bottle from where I had placed it on the roof of the car.

“SPF 90?!” He demanded in alarm. “I didn’t even think they went past SPF 45!”

I felt myself blush slightly. “I had to order it online… from the UK.”

He started to laugh.

“I don’t want her to get sun stroke.” I sighed, lifting her from the car. “No, no, honey. Leave your hat on…” I urged.

“I made sandwiches.” I admitted. “I thought you might be hungry after your meeting.”

“I’m starving.” He smiled. I carried Lily around to the back of the car and opened the trunk. Inside was a cooler bag, a diaper bag and Lily’s folded stroller.

“Wow, we’re bringing all this stuff in with us?”

I smiled. “Not all of it.”

“Which one are the sandwiches in?” He asked.

“This one.” I hoisted Lily onto my hip, and reached for the bag. Isaac was faster and lifted the bag onto his shoulder. “Okay, come here.” He took my hands and led us to the front of his truck. He set the cooler bag on the hood and touched the surface, testing it.

“What are you doing?” I asked softly.

“Here.” He took Lily from me and placed her on the hood before taking my arm. Without much effort he lifted me onto the hood as well I laughed. “What an odd place for a picnic.”

He shrugged and sat next to us. I folded my legs and sat Indian style on the hood of his car. I lifted Lily into my lap, strictly out of fear that she might roll off the car.

I held Lily tightly.

“Help yourself to a sandwich.” I offered.

Isaac smiled and opened the bag, rummaging through the sandwiches.

“There’s ham and swiss, turkey and old fashioned peanut butter and jam.” I smiled.

He chuckled. “Wow, gourmet sandwiches.” He produced a bag of animal crackers. “These are for you huh?” He smiled, opening the bag and placing one in Lily’s fingers. She happily put it in her mouth and reached for Isaac.

“No, no. honey let him eat.” I smiled.

“You aren’t going to eat?” He asked, unwrapping a sandwich eagerly. He took a large bite. “You’re a really good cook.”

I smiled and reached a peanut butter and jam sandwich, I removed the cellophane wrapper and tore of a tiny corner. I held it out for Lily and she put her mouth around it, chewing slowly.

I smiled at her.

Isaac was already finishing off his sandwich and reaching for a second.

Lily babbled incoherently and reached for another cracker, which Isaac surrendered with a chuckle.

She crawled from my lap and moved across the hood. She promptly climbed into his lap. He smiled. “I’m guessing you want to get going, hmm? Want to see some animals?”

She grinned and squealed excitedly.

He laughed. “Well, was that a yes?” He asked me.

I smiled. “I think so.”

He hopped down from the car, moving Lily onto his hip. He held out a hand to me and helped me down as well.

I carried the cooler bag and placed it in the trunk.

“Do you really think we’ll need the stroller?” He asked, lifting out the diaper bag and hoisting it over his free shoulder. “I don’t mind carrying her.”

“You don’t have to do that.“ I smiled. “The stroller will help.”

“Its not like she weighs a ton or anything.” He laughed. “Come on.”

“At least let me carry the diaper bag.” I offered. “Pink isn’t your color.”

He laughed. “Alright, that’s an easy trade.”

Lily pulled at Isaac’s shirt, and pointed frantically at the zoo entrance.
“Alright, Silly Lily.” He smiled. He grasped my hand in his free hand and I barely had time to close the trunk before we were off toward the front entrance.

I was still searching for the wallet I had stuffed into one of the many pockets of the diaper bag, when Isaac produced a handful of money and paid the entrance fee.

“Isaac!” I scolded. “I could have… I mean, I’m sure it was my turn to-“

He half turned and shot a crooked smile in my direction. “Well, you can make it up to me then.” He grinned.

My eyes widened and I glanced around to be sure no one had heard that. I smiled and moved beside him to give him a playful lecture. “I think that might be considered prostitution to some.” I hooked my arm through his free hand and moved closer to him so no one would overhear.

He laughed loudly. “That’s not what I meant…. Though you can if you like…” He teased as we followed the path back outside and toward the first set of animals. “I meant…” He sighed. “This morning, I let it slip that I had proposed. I mean, my parents knew I was going to do it, they just didn’t know when…” He paused and cleared his throat. “They want to throw an engagement party. You know how my parents love to entertain.”

I must have looked absolutely mortified, because I received the same crooked smile.

“Just a small thing, family and friends, I already made them swear. Just a small back yard thing, you know? I made them swear not to go overboard.” He glanced at me again, probably sensing that I had stopped breathing entirely.

“I can tell them it isn’t a good idea, if you want…” He began. He sounded slightly dejected at the thought.

“No! No!” I touched his arm. “Don’t do that, it will hurt their feelings…”

“Never mind them, Andy. What do you want?” He sighed.

I smiled. “Well, it might be nice to get dressed up…”

This comment brought a large grin across his lips.

Lily suddenly interrupted our conversation by squealing excitedly and frantically pointing at several monkeys in a cage.

“Can you see okay, sweetie?” Isaac asked her. She was too preoccupied with the strange new animals in the cage to respond accordingly.

Instead, Isaac lifted her easily over his head and balanced her in his shoulders. “Better?”

Lily was happy, still pointing out the animals, but I started to panic immediately.

“Isaac, get her down from there! She’ll fall!”

He smiled. “She won’t, I’ve got her.”

“Be careful.” I warned.

“I used to do this with my siblings all the time when they were younger than her.” He shrugged holding onto her with both hands. “I’ve got her, she’s fine.” He assured.

“Isaac, please be careful!” I begged nervously.

He smiled. “It’s fine… I do this with Ezra all the time, he loves it.”

This was kind of a low blow, but I ignored it, and swallowed the urge to keep fighting with him.

“Don’t you trust me?” He asked, gently turning my chin to face his with one hand.

I dreaded the thought that this was one less hand on my child.

“If it means that much, I’ll lift her down.” He proceeded to lift her from her shoulders, but she started to shout “No!” almost immediately. This strengthened the grin on Isaac’s lips. “See? She loves it!”

I sighed. “Don’t drop her.”

“I won’t. I promise.” He bent and softly kissed my lips.