Livy finished up the dishes, wiped her hands and walked into the front room. Ray sat on the sofa, listening intently as the radio reported out the war news. The clear evening allowed for a strong signal, but the news was not good. More American casualties. While victory seemed certain in Europe, the battle in the Pacific raged on. She sat down on the sofa and swung her feet up onto the cushion. Her feet gently touched Ray's leg. He reached over and gave the tops of her feet a pat. His hand felt warm. She marveled at how strong and sturdy his hands looked. She felt very safe sitting next to Ray. She thought about how different her life would be if she had not come to this farm - this life - this man. Denver seemed a million miles away and she had begun to like it that way. Ray glanced over at her. His face looked drawn and tired. She swung her feet to her opposite side and leaned against him.
"Won't this war ever end?" she sighed.
"Something's got to give. We can't continue losing boys like this."
Livy registered a break in Ray's voice. She was certain the news tonight had reminded him of his brother, Daniel and the horrible losses at Pearl Harbor.
"Glenn Huntley, Guy's boy, is in the Philippines. Guy says they're gearing up for another offensive - maybe headed for Japan." Ray shared.
"How old is Glenn?"
Ray's mood was somber and Livy leaned in closer, resting her head on his shoulder, giving it a small kiss as she did. The news soon ended and the radio station resumed musical selections. Livy was grateful for the sounds of the orchestra and hoped that Ray would be able to relax and let go of the dark thoughts. The war was exhausting. Even President Roosevelt had succumbed. She recalled that spring morning when the news of his death had been broadcast. For hours news of his stoke was relayed by reporters from Warm Springs, GA. She sat huddled next to the radio as his condition became graver. Ray had come in for lunch when the news finally came that FDR was dead. The only president she had ever really known was gone. What would become of the country?
There was barely a family in the area that had not been tragically touched by this horrible war. She thought of Abby's husband, his tour of duty extended, and sent up a silent prayer for his safety.
Livy awoke to find Ray gently shaking her. The music had lulled her to sleep. She wiped her mouth and stood up. Ray had already closed up the rest of the downstairs and now just a light at the stairwell burned. They made their way up the stairs, stopping to peek in at little Danny sleeping in his room. His face looked so serene. She smiled at what a handful he would be tomorrow morning. She could stand there forever and gaze at his beautiful face.
Livy felt weary and changed into her nightgown. She tossed her dress and slip over the chair back, vowing to hang them up tomorrow. Livy slid into the bed. Ray already lay on his back, his eyes closed and his breathing shallow. She lightly touched his hair, gently smoothing it to the side. She was grateful to see him so peaceful and hoped that these few hours of rest would renew him. His love for his brother ran so deep. She often wondered how scarred Daniel's death had actually left Ray. They both were certainly damaged by the events of war time, yet together, life was as wonderful as she had ever known. Livy gently kissed Ray's forehead and wiggled down under the covers. Within minutes she was fast asleep.
When she awoke, Ray was already gone. Danny was sounding off, letting her know with all certainty that the day had begun. She changed him which seemed to stop most of the squawking. She hitched him up on her hip and headed downstairs for his breakfast. He understood the routine and was quiet while she assembled the necessities. Danny was a hearty eater and she had started him early on solids. Selfishly she longed for rest and the addition of foods satisfied him more than just milk. A happy baby made for a happy mama. Livy smiled proudly at how she was coping with motherhood, taking great satisfaction in raising their child. Danny was a complete fascination to her and she delighted in watching him learn.
The more days she spent with Danny, the more she realized how much she loved watching him evolve. Maybe teaching was her calling after all? Although she loved school and the challenge of higher learning, she had to admit that something as simple as a child saying the dog's name thrilled her just as much. She smiled at her thoughts of adventure in far away places. Maybe someday.
She could feel herself changing. It all felt good, but how different her thinking had become. She smiled remembering how Ray's mention of "you and the children" had panicked her not so long ago. Although they were not always careful, she and Ray did their best to avoid having another baby too soon. She blushed at how embarrassing that discussion had been. She was grateful for the darkness of the bedroom that night as they considered how to best control the outcome of their lovemaking. She smiled at her own shyness. How can you be so intimate with a man and yet not be able to talk about such things in the light? They had been lucky so far, yet each month Livy found herself experiencing an array of emotions. More often she had been thinking about the possibility of another baby.
Cooking was still a challenge, but she was slowly improving. She enjoyed the large scale of the canning process. It reminded her of a science project and she embraced putting up stocks with gusto. She just couldn't seem to muster much interest for the daily ritual. Livy could plan the meals, do the shopping and do much of the upfront preparation; however this is when her interest usually waned. Ray had turned out to be very handy in the kitchen. They had fallen into a predictable routine. Both waited anxiously for Danny to squall. This was Livy's cue to get him squared away with his dinner. Ray would take the opportunity to jump in and help with their dinner, assembling the finished product. Although never verbalized, they both knew this was the best solution to getting something edible on the table. Her days were certainly more hectic since the baby's arrival, but their life together just seemed to get easier each day. The silences that had seemed awkward in the beginning now were reassuring. No words needed to be spoken. A smile, a wink across the dinner table spoke volumes about how they felt about each other.
Livy wiped Danny's hands and mouth, and then put him on the floor to explore. Danny made a bee line for the dog, reaching for Franklin's tail. Franklin jumped to his feet and let out a whimper. Livy smiled down at her old pal and opened the screen door. Franklin quickly scooted out.
"You're not off the hook. I'll see you after nap time" she hollered out after him.
Livy went about gathering up the morning clutter. Ray's dishes were already in the sink. She was filling the basin to wash them when the phone rang. She shut the faucet off and headed toward the hall.
"Are you listening to the news"? Abby blurted.
"News? No, Danny and I just finished breakfast." Livy shared
"Turn on the radio. Something's up and it's going to be big."
"What is it? What's going on?" Livy quizzed.
"The President is going to make an announcement today. Keep your ears open. I'm headed downtown. I have to go". She clicked off.
"Abby?" Livy looked at the receiver and hung up the phone. She walked over and switched on the radio. The day’s weather and crop report was being recapped on the local station. Livy rolled her eyes and turned the volume down low.
Household chores occupied her and Danny throughout the morning. Due to the August heat she kept him in just a diaper. She appreciated summer time and how it minimized the loads of laundry. She scooped up Danny and swung him to her hip. She walked out on the porch to see if she could tell where Ray was working today. Dejected, she saw that the BeetBox was gone.
Livy looked at Danny. "Well, looks like it's just us today, kiddo. Let's fix a sandwich and picnic out back on the blanket". Danny squealed and kicked his feet with enthusiasm.
They were enjoying a little sunshine when Livy heard the truck pull up. She hollered out to Ray and he came around the side of the house. He smiled at the sight of his family basking in the sun light; he reached down and picked up Danny, holding him high in the air over his head. Livy beamed at her boys. She offered the remaining half of her tuna sandwich to Ray. He took it and ate heartily, tossing the last bite of crust in the air. Franklin jumped and snatched it up in mid-air. Livy eyed Ray and he shrugged his shoulders, having violated his own rule about feeding the dog. Livy just grinned. Ray was sweet to the core.
"Abby called this morning. She said there might to be some sort of announcement today."
Ray shifted Danny to his left side and turned to look at Livy. "I heard that too. I was in Wilson this morning. Some folks there from New Mexico. Talk is that the end of the war may be close".
"Oh Ray. Wouldn't that be wonderful if that were true?"
"Uh huh." Ray's gaze seemed to drift as if he were deep in thought. "Getting our guys home would mean everything to us and this farm." He squatted down and placed Danny back on the blanket. He looked into her eyes now. "Livy just wait until you see this place then. This farm can be a real producer. I've got to get going. I just stopped by to let you know about the news."
Livy reached over and kissed him. She placed both her hands on his face and held him there close as she slowly pulled back. She looked deep into his eyes and smiled. She started to speak, but really didn't know what she wanted to say. How could she possibly express how much he had come to mean to her? She planted a small peck his lips and he rose to head back to the truck.
"I'll see you tonight" he said as he swatted the dirt from the back of his pants.
**********************To Be Continued******************************
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