"Then he still has" like a thousand dollars to pay off""
"Then make sure he understands that it"s going to be a while before his book starts making him any money."
Jennifer was quiet for a moment.
"What"" I asked.
"I don"t understand how you can be such a hard ass one moment and so" sentimental the next."
"Sentimentality has nothing to do with it," I said. "I just don"t want Free Bird Publishing to lose a profitable novel because the writer doesn"t have the money to pay for the middleman."
Jennifer seemed dubious, but she accepted my explanation. "Fine, the other thing I wanted to discuss was""
I heard a crash from the kitchen, and a second later a high-pitched scream, and I nearly dropped my cell phone. "Fuck," I cursed, as I looked around, realizing that Jenna was no longer on the mat behind me with her toys.
"Fuck," I said. "Again, it"s Jenna. I"ll call you back."
I wasn"t even sure I hung up properly. I dropped the phone and rushed into the kitchen where the sound had come from. Jenna was on the floor, holding her ankle, and her face was twisted up in pain. One of the kitchen chairs lay on its side surrounded by broken glass and cookies.
I took one look at the scene and surmised what had happened. First, I looked towards my daughter, who looked pale and scared.
"Jenna," I said calmly. "Don"t move, okay""
She nodded, but I could tell she was biting her lip. I was barefoot, but at the moment I didn"t care. I tried to avoid the glass as I walked into the kitchen and picked Jenna up. She was so light and fragile in my arms, and I prayed that she wasn"t too badly hurt.
I got her out of the kitchen and set her on the dining room table that faced floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the Manhattan skyline.
"Look at the buildings," I told Jenna, as I inspected her body.
It didn"t look like any of the glass had managed to touch her. "Does anything hurt"" I asked.
"Just my leg," Jenna replied.
Her dark eyes were wide with fear, and I realized that she was more scared of getting yelled at than anything else.
"Your ankle hurts""
"You fell on it""
"Tell me how it happened""
"I was reaching for the cookies," Jenna said, hanging her head in shame. "And I fell" the chair moved, and I fell."
I nodded as I rubbed her ankle slowly. There was no mark or bruise so I put my hands under her arms and pulled her up to a standing position on the dining table.
"Can you put a little weight on it for me, please"" I asked.
Jenna did so lightly. "It doesn"t hurt so bad."
"You just twisted it," I told her. "Don"t worry" you"ll live."
I gave her a smile, and she returned it with relief, glad that I wasn"t mad. "I"m going to bandage it for a few hours," I told her. "You should be back to normal tomorrow."
"Does that mean I have to go to daycare"" Jenna asked.
"I don"t see why not."
I saw her face fall, but I was too preoccupied to continue a conversation with her. I wanted to clean up in the kitchen immediately before dinner. Broken glass was a hazard, especially around young kids.
"Now I want you to stay here and play with your toys, okay"" I said. "Daddy has to clean up the mess in the kitchen."
"Can I help""
"No, sweetheart," I replied, touched that she would even make the offer. "It"s too dangerous for you. Just sit tight, and don"t do anything you"re not supposed to."
Jenna gave me a guilty smile and nodded. I put on some slippers and went back into the kitchen to clean up the mess. I started by throwing away all the cookies and then picking up the larger shards of broken glass. Once that was done, I swept the entire kitchen once, and then I went over it again just to be safe. Once I was satisfied that the floor was clear and free from glass, I went back into the living room and sat down on the floor beside Jenna.
She was four, but there were moments when she seemed so much older to me. She had large, pensive eyes and lips that were shaped like a bow and arrow. Her coloring was just like mine; she had the same dark hair and dark eyes that I did. But there were times when I saw tiny fragments of her mother in her. I could never truly be sure. Alison had died before I"d gotten a chance to get to know her.
"Jenna"" I said.
"There"s a reason I"ve asked you to ask me when you want a cookie," I started.
Jenna looked at the two stuffed bears in her hands and her brow furrowed. "I was hungry," she said.
"Then why didn"t you tell me""