Is this your first time reading? You’ll find links at the end for Parts 1 & 2.
Adelaide pinched herself to make sure she was awake and not dreaming. For the first time in her life, she was at the Memorial Day picnic in the park. Rusty was the reason, pure and simple.
He had knocked on the front door of Adelaide’s house. When her mother answered, he asked, “Mrs. Thornton, may Adelaide please go with us to the Memorial Day picnic?”
Adelaide held her breath, waiting for her mother’s usual, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to say no.”
Then Paul whispered in Adelaide’s ear, “She’s going to say yes this time. She likes Rusty, and Mrs. Sommers is her new best friend.”
And Paul was right as usual. Mother had said yes.
There were stares and whispers in abundance as Adelaide walked through the park with Rusty. Even more when she entered the three-legged race with Rusty, especially when they won first prize.
She distinctly heard whispers of “Crazy Addy…”
During the father and son baseball game, Adelaide sat on a patchwork quilt along with Mrs. Sommers and Rusty’s four-year-old sister, Monica.
Adelaide could not take her eyes off the game. Rusty’s team was winning, of course. It was exactly two-twenty-five in the afternoon and the game was winding down when Monica asked Adelaide to push her on the swing.
Adelaide looked at Mrs. Sommers.
Mrs. Sommers nodded. “Monica gets bored watching baseball.”
Though Adelaide would much rather have stayed and watched the game, she knew what it was like to be bored, so she took Monica’s hand and led her to an empty swing.
“Push me higher,” Monica said.
Adelaide laughed and pushed. At least from this vantage point, she could keep an eye on the game. Mason stood on the batter’s mound. There was the pitch, and Mason swung. Hard. Crack!
“Push me more,” Monica squealed.
Adelaide pushed and then an odd thing happened. Someone pushed Adelaide. She fell flat on the ground and in the very same moment, something whizzed over her head.
The crowd hushed.
Monica began to whimper.
Adelaide lay staring at the sky.
“Breathe, Addy,” Paul whispered. “Breathe!”
Adelaide pulled in a big gulp of air as Rusty’s face appeared above her.
“Adelaide, are you all right?”
Mr. Sommers knelt beside her. “Did the ball hit you?”
Adelaide shook her head. “I don’t think so. Someone pushed me down.”
Mrs. Sommers ran up and lifted Monica from the swing and hugged her. “I’m so glad you’re both okay.”
Mr. Sommers looked around. “Well, that was fortunate for you, Adelaide.” He helped her stand. “There’s no one else here though, except for you and Monica, and another little one on the far swing. Wonder who pushed you?”
Adelaide smiled. She knew who it was. “Thank you, Paul,” she whispered.
Rusty leaned close. “What’d you say?”
Adelaide shrugged. “I was just saying thank you—to whoever it was that pushed me out of the way.”
Mr. Sommers kissed Monica on the cheek. “You two must have a guardian angel.”
Rusty smiled at Adelaide. “I believe they do.”
Adelaide smiled at Rusty. In that moment, she knew he understood. Paul wasn’t just a figment of her childish imagination.
Mr. Sommers laid his arm on Adelaide’s shoulders and nodded at Rusty. “Come on, let’s go finish the game.”
Together, they walked back to the ballfield. Adelaide’s heart swelled in her chest as all the people cheered to see them unhurt.
And then something amazing happened. Mason ran up to her and said, “I’m real sorry, Addy. That was my foul ball that almost hit you.”
This was truly a day of wonders for Adelaide. She stood as tall as possible for one so petite, and looked up into Mason’s red, shame-filled face. “It’s okay, Mason. I know you didn’t do it on purpose.” She turned and looked back at the swing set. “Boy, you sure can hit, though.”