Ferguson had a hard poo. He grunted on the toilet like a baby mastodon. Unnh! Unnh! The poo wouldn't come out, and so his grunts grew more impassioned. And desperate. Uuuuunnh! No go. At last, he cried out to his mother.
But he didn't need to. He'd left the door to the bathroom open, and Amy had been following the sonic progression of the bowel movement as she changed the dirty diaper of her youngest.
"Mom!" he yelled.
She pulled up Bartlette's pants, hoisted her to a hip and headed for the kitchen.
"Uuuuuunnnh!" Ferguson gave it one more try and collapsed, burying his head in his legs. "Mom!" he yelled into the space between his knees. 'Mom, my bottom is stuck up!"
"Lower your voice," she said. 'It's bad manners to yell while you're pooping."
Ferguson looked up. Amy had already arrived in the bathroom. She handed him a tall plastic tumbler of water. "Drink this."
His eyebrows rose and his eyes filled with a mixture of confusion and wonder.
"Drink it now. Then pull up your pants and go play. Your bottom will tell you when it's ready."
Ferguson drank the water in quick sips and did what his mother said. She looked like she might get mad and he didn't want to chance it. He left, and she closed the door behind him.
She closed the lid on the toilet and sat down, putting Barlette on the not-exactly-pristine bathroom floor to play. That in itself was an indication of her mental state. In short, she felt like screaming. Losing someone you like isn't the end of the world, she knew that in her head. But in her heart, her recently brave heart, it felt like she'd been cut to the quick, and it made it far worse that she'd lost Charlie to a woman like Danielle.
Time passed. Bartlette pulled all the toilet paper off the roll. Amy watched her do it without lifting a finger, only dumping the soft, looping coils of TP in the bathtub when it became apparent that Bartlette wanted to eat her handiwork. Amy then picked up her daughter and breast-fed her till she slept. But Amy didn't leave the bathroom or the toilet seat. She just sat and sat. Until there was a knock at the door.
Amy opened it, still holding the sleeping Bartlette.
Ferguson stood there holding out a tumbler of water.
'Drink it now," he said and glanced behind him.
"There's a man."
Quentin, the bald shoe-maker, stood in the front doorway.
She asked him how long he'd been waiting.
About 15 minutes, he said.
She winced and apologized.
He told her not to worry. He said he wanted to ask Amy a question, though he realized it might not be the right time - especially if, as her son had explained she was having hard poos.
Amy looked down at the tumbler she held, blushing a little. "You know kids," she said, "if they're feeling one way then the whole world must be."
"I am therefore you are, too," he said.
They both smiled. And that's when their eyes met. It was unexpected and hard-to-believe, but for a moment, she felt both understood and understanding. For a moment, though they didn't know each other at all, they seemed to inhabit a quiet, transparent bubble of amiable compassion.
It was, of course, a shock to the system. She looked down at her baby to break the spell. As Dorothy learned in The Wizard of Oz, good things can be just as unnerving as bad.
Quentin said he'd dropped by to see if she wanted him to make casts of her feet. For a pair of Qools. He shuffled the exquisite shoes he wore, admiring them as he did.
She said she couldn't afford a pair of his shoes, though it was nice of him to ask.
At that point, Ferguson, who was trying to be a good host while encouraging regularity, ran in with another plastic tumbler of water. It was meant for Quentin, and when Ferguson tripped, Quentin got it - all over his pants leg and his incredibly expensive shoes.
Ferguson looked up in doubt and fear. But Quentin was smiling. He helped Ferguson up and a relieved Fergie took him back to the bathroom to get a towel to dry off. Amy followed.
Quentin laughed when he saw the bathtub and what Bartlette had done. "How cool," he said. "Taking a bath in toilet paper. Was that your idea or the kid's?"
"Mine," she said. "You being sarcastic?"
He wasn't. He caught her eye again. "The advantages are obvious. You don't get wet, so you don't have to dry off."
'No puddles on the floor,' she said.
"And if you need to cry,' he turned and bent down to tear off a hunk of TP, "you're more than prepared."
Back in the living room, he explained that the shoes were free for her because he had an experimental design he wanted to try out and she would be a guinea pig. The shoes might not be comfortable at all, he said. They might be a cobbling catastrophe.
He mixed the plaster of Paris and the kids watched fascinated as she stood in the cool oozy white. He lifted her feet with his steady hands so as not to disturb the impression. Then he asked the kids if they wanted to make casts of their feet, too. Just for fun. Of course, they said yes.
It was the kids' bedtime before Quentin and Amy could finish their conversation. So he waited while she tucked them in, and when she returned, he had somehow managed to set her kitchen table with a pressed white linen table cloth. A loaf of Vior's sourdough bread was sliced on a cutting board, with brie, camembert, fresh mozzarella, black olives, a bottle of red wine and two elegant wine glasses. Candle flames danced languidly on top of white tapers.
She was flabbergasted and strangely moved. But before she said a word, it all dawned on her - free shoes, nice to the kids, fancy food. Her hands landed on hips, elbows pointed out, and she tilted her head to an appropriately skeptical angle.
"The house isn't for sale," she said with a frown.
He laughed. "I'm not interested in buying a house. Pearl is."
She began to object, but he cut her off.
"Business partners. She does the books, admin, marketing and that stuff." He looked critically at his shoes which he was flexing at the ball of his foot. "I just came along for a second opinion. Or that's what I told her. Actually, Eddie told me he knew this widow who was a total babe."
She picked up the bottle and poured two glasses.
"You are so full of shit, Quentin."
"Sometimes," he said. "But only with the best intentions." He held up his glass and they drank together.
(more to come)
For those who are new here, A is for Amy & Adonis is a serial internet novella which tells the story of the romantic redemption of Amy Franklin. The aim is to provide a fun and fast read with characters you can connect to emotionally. And, as you probably noticed, it's all free.
The chapters are short. So it's easy to catch up.
READ EARLIER POSTS (just click on the one you want)--
Nota Bene -- All the chapters will be archived on Huffpost so people will be able to catch up with the story no matter how late they come to the novella.
I have decided to post two chapters a week. So, if you like what you read here, stay tuned with Huffpost email alerts or follow me on Twitter. --Steven