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Old 10-26-2002, 10:02 PM   #5
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Default Re: Round Robin 3: Part Five

Sam looked about him, feeling very self-conscious and lost. Feeling rather than seeing he turned to his left just as a net curtain twitched. At the window a small unsmiling face appeared, as soon as she saw Sam the face lit with recognition. As she waved devotedly a toothless grin drown out the sadness in her eyes. Sam recognised her immediately as Anna, although she was a little older than the photograph portrayed in Danny?s wallet.

Through the toothlessness, Sam make out that Anna was now about seven years old, her golden curls bounced with her exhilaration and she disappeared from the window.

Moments later the door opened and the young girl ran toward him, arms outstretched and shouting. "Daddy!"

Sam bent down, opening his arms to catch the embrace. Lifting her up and swinging her around, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

"Joel?s been bad all day." Anna blurted out, frowning.

Sam remembered the photograph, the young girl and the babe in arms. ?That must be Joel.? Sam assumed, a half smile engulfing his lips.

"And why?s Joel been bad?" Sam asked kissing the child on the forehead.

"He?s been crying all day and Mrs. Tate got real mad at him and spanked him." Anna giggled. "Joel..." She giggled again. "He throwed his dinner and it went all over Mrs. Tate and her glasses, she looked real funny."

Sam laughed with Anna as she pulled a face, mimicking a demon. She then became subdued. "He wanted mommy."

Sam hugged her, recollecting Billy?s words in the truck, ?Miss her?? Sam could feel Anna?s sadness as her grip tightened.

"I want mommy back." Anna began to sob. "Daddy why won?t mommy come back?"

Sam pulled his head away, wiping her tears away with a gentle thumb. "Sometimes people you love have to go away, honey. You?re too young to understand yet. I know you miss her and Joel too, but she?ll always be with us. In here..." He placed a hand on her chest. "Mommy will always be in here."

Sam hugged the child again and carried her towards the house, the tears welling in his own eyes, tormented by the child?s grief.

Mrs. Tate, a woman in her mid-forties greeted them as they entered the door, she looked immediately to Anna. "My child, I wish you wouldn?t run off like that." She rubbed at her head, which was wrapped in a towel.

"Mrs. Tate..." Sam began.

The woman interrupted. "Since when have you gotten to be so formal?"

Sam let Anna down and she ran off into one of the rooms.

"Since you started talking to my children like that!" Sam announced, his voice harsh and demanding. He pushed his way past her and into the hallway.

"Like what?" She questioned, looking quizzically towards Sam.

"I hear you got angry with Joel today, do you want to tell me about it?" Sam headed off to what he supposed was the kitchen.

She followed Sam. "He?s been uncontrollable all day and when he started throwing his food about, I gave him a good telling off."

Sam glared at the older woman. "You didn?t spank him?"

She looked at him in surprise. "Mr. Ackerman, you know I would never raise a hand to a child."

"Anna tells me different." Sam scrutinised her. "The reason I hired you was because of your excellent references." He heard himself say, wondering where on earth that memory came from. "We had an agreement, did we not? That I would do all the disciplining since their mother..." Sam cut himself short, realising that Rosa, Danny?s wife may not be dead but in a hospice.

He wished that Al would hurry and make an appearance again, what was taking him so long?

"Daddy?s here!" Anna quirked as she trotted into the kitchen.

A toddler trotted behind, imitating his older sister. "Yay, daddy, daddy here."

Sam watched as Joel ran straight to his legs and hugged them, Joel then looked up and abruptly disconnected himself from Sam. "Where daddy?"

Sam looked ahead, remembering that small children could see him for who he really was. ?Al, where are you? Albert!? he yelled silently to himself as Mrs. Tate looked at Joel in disbelief.
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