[i]Zeke removed the bottle from her lips, wiped the milk dribble away and returned her pacifier.
Her eyes began to twitch and Lily began to dream.
To be continued …[/i]
Lily woke up peacefully. She was lying on Zeke’s chest in the bed. She sat up and looked around. It was the middle of the night and there must have been a full moon out for the amount of light pouring into the room from the windows. The balcony door was slightly cracked open and a breeze flowed through the room, fluttering the curtains and rotating the blades of the ceiling fan.
She stood up and crossed over to the balcony door. Sitting on the balcony railing was Mr. Woody. She walked out onto the balcony and leaned on the railing next to him. He looked over at her and winked. She smiled brightly back at him.
“There are few smiles in the world as precious as yours, LilyGirl,” Mr. Woody said, turning to her and standing up on the railing.
“And there are few friends in the world as nice as you, Mr. Woody,” Lily said, returning the compliment.
“I see you’ve been feeling better,” he said. “Are you up for a trip?”
“Where?” she asked.
“To a very special place. A place you will never forget,” he answered.
“I would love to,” she said.
“Let me see your hands,” he said, taking her hands. “Now close your eyes and breathe in deeply.”
She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. She could feel wind through her hair and she could feel her feet lift off the ground.
“Now open your eyes,” Mr. Woody.
Lily opened her eyes and looked around with wide eyes. They were on the beach. The moon definitely was full and it gave the beach an early sunrise glow. Mr. Woody hopped up on an enormous pile of rocks that stuck up in the middle of the beach sand.
“Come up,” he said, watching her climb the rocks and take a seat next to him. “Have you been thinking about the future lately?”
“Yes,” she said.
"Today is a very important day for you and one that could change your life if …"he said, pausing.
“If what?” she asked.
“If you remember that you control your future,” he said.
“How?” she asked.
“The power to do so is all in the way you believe in yourself,” he explained. “I once saw a man find the strength to lift up a car that had fallen on his son during a tire change. He did this with his bare hands.”
“How was he able to do that?” she asked.
“Because at that moment, he chose to believe he could……and he did,” Mr. Woody said. “You have no idea what you are capable of doing. You’ve overcome worry and doubt. And today you will become fearless when you tell your fella guy about your illness.”
“Yeah,” she said, depressed at the thought. “I promised Jimbo I would tell Zeke today.”
“He will understand,” Mr. Woody said, reassuringly. “Trust in him, LilyGirl, and believe in yourself. You must believe in the healing power of his love for you.”
Lily sat silently, staring at the waves crashing in on the beach.
“Your greatest battle will not be telling him about your illness,” he said.
“Huh?” she asked, looking up at him. “What will be my greatest battle then?”
“One thing at a time,” he said. “Everything else will take its course. And it will begin right here. See you soon, LilyGirl.”
Mr. Woody touched her forehead, her eyes closed and her dream ended.
The light of morning began to touch Lily’s eyelids. She opened them, feeling a cool breeze on her face. She wasn’t in bed, but rather, on the balcony, wrapped up in a baby blanket and cradled on Zeke’s lap. She looked up at him and he winked at her before leaning in and giving her butterfly nose kisses to say good morning.
“Open,” Zeke said in a morning voice as he placed the nipple of her morning bottle to her lips.
She took the nipple into her mouth, grasped the bottled with both hands and began drinking from it.
“That’s a good girl,” he said while patting her diapered bottom and gently rocking her in his arms.
It felt so good to be in his arms, just relaxing. It took away the anxiety she was feeling about what she had to tell him today. Zeke turned her slightly in his arms, facing her towards the horizon and the ocean so she could watch the sunrise.
“Any second now you will see the first rays of sunlight,” he said, snuggling her tightly. “Wait for it. Wait for it.”
Moments later the sun peaked out from the horizon.
“And there’s the sun now saying good morning to the earth,” he said.
She turned back and re-cradled herself in his arms, resting her head on his chest so she could look up at him as she drank from her morning bottle. In her shifting, she sensed something a little different than normal. She pondered this thought for an instant and then realized that her diaper was dry.
This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, though. She often stayed dry through the night. She fidgeted for a moment and then realized that she was wearing a new diaper. After having tossed and turned in a diaper all night, it tended to sag a little and bunch up, but the diaper she was wearing was fresh and new.
“I’ve all ready changed you,” Zeke said, comprehending the meaning of the confusion in her eyes. “You didn’t even wake up. You must’ve been in a dream.”
She nodded as she finished the bottle and handed it to him. He set the bottle down and stood up, keeping her swaddled and in his arms. She wrapped her legs around his waist and placed an arm around his neck as he faced the sunrise and bounced her lightly.
They watched the sunrise for a few minutes until she burped and then giggled. He returned her pacifier to her lips, and carried her back into the room, setting her down on the bed.
“Normally, I would be getting you ready for our morning trip,” he said as he sat next to her on the bed and handed her the attractions brochure. “But I don’t know where we are headed. You need to decide for us. I’m going to hop in the shower.”
Zeke kissed her on the forehead and walked into the bathroom. She lay on her tummy and bent her legs up at the knees, crossing her feet as she began flipping through the pages of the brochure. There were still a bunch of activities they hadn’t done. From parasailing to snorkeling to surfing to rock climbing and the list went on, but nothing struck her fancy until she came across one particular page.
She sat up and crossed her legs Indian-style as she intently read the paragraphs in front of her. She put the brochure down, looked out the window and smiled happily behind her pacifier. She had made her decision. Zeke walked out of the bathroom moments later in a pair of shorts, drying his hair with a towel.
“It looks like you made your decision,” he said, seeing the look on her face.
She handed him the brochure and he sat on the bed next to as he began to read.
“Ready for a once in a lifetime experience? How about a Close Encounter of the Dolphin Kind? In the Close Encounter Program, each participant can anticipate an irreplaceable encounter with Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins. This program includes a fun interactive orientation containing the history of dolphins, training methods and ocean conservation,” Zeke read. “Then onto the encounter float where you will be submerged waist-deep and you will experience a heart-warming kiss, a hug and a ride with Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins. Your instructor will make this occasion an educational, fun adventure that will be unforgettable.”
Lily smiled up at him.
“Dolphins?” he asked as she nodded broadly like a little girl. “You want to meet dolphins?”
She nodded again, even more broadly.
“It sounds like a lot of fun,” he said. “Do you want a bath before we go?”
She shook her head no and threw her hands to the sky as he lifted the baby-t off her and slipped a free flowing summer dress over her head and shoulders. Zeke walked over to the dresser and picked out a t-shirt for himself. He walked into the bathroom to brush his hair.
Lily immediately jumped up, ran over to the mirror by the dresser and quickly fixed her hair up into two braided pigtails. She tied the ends with two white pieces of ribbon and was done by the time Zeke walked back out of the bathroom.
“You are adorable,” he said, taking a look at her. “Pippy Longstocking, eat your heart out.”
She gathered her bikini and a towel and threw them into her diaper bag along with the usual items, including a second outfit. She stepped into her sandals, put her pacifier in the diaper bag, threw the straps of her bag over her shoulder and they were out the door.
She was so excited that they had to get breakfast-to-go from the Continental breakfast downstairs. In the blink of an eye they were in a cab and on the way to the Center for Sea Life Conservation where her dolphin encounter would take place. During the ride there, she bounced up and down excitedly, but did her best to keep her eagerness under control.
The cab pulled up in front of the Center and Lily hopped out of the car, taking Zeke by the hand and barely giving him time to pay the driver. She ran up the front steps and through the front door. The lobby wasn’t as huge as she had expected, but it made no difference. She followed the sign with the pointed arrow that read: “Dolphin Adventure”.
They got into a line of people waiting to get in. Without delay the doors opened and everyone filed into an auditorium. Finding two seats in the front row, Lily and Zeke sat down. There were people of all ages, from toddlers to grandparents. A man walked out onto a small stage area in front of them. When everyone had settled into their seats he introduced himself.
“Hello everyone and welcome to the Nassau Center for Sea Life Conservation. My name is Derrick and I will be leading you through a once in a lifetime experience with some very friendly Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins. In a short while I will introduce you to our dolphin twins. They are brother and sister, and their names are Malick and Kalina,” the man said. “But first I’d like to take a few minutes to tell you about the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins.”
Lily sat patiently and listened as the man explained that Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins were gray in color and had a short stubby beak which earned them the name of bottlenose. They could have 86 to 100 teeth in their mouths which made it easier for them to grasp slippery prey. The adults reached 6 to 12 feet in length and weighed 400 to 800 pounds. This type of dolphin was the top of the food chain and had few predators. They were found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters, often along coastlines or in bays, harbors, or estuaries. They used sound as their main form of communication which included squeaks and whistles emitted from the blowhole and sounds emitted through body language, such as leaping from the water and slapping their tails on the water. They were believed to be highly intelligent and were just plain fun to be around.
Lily stopped listening to the man as he continued on about how these dolphins were trained and how they were protected. Her thoughts were a mixture of what it would be like to ride these dolphins and what she would have to tell Zeke at some point today. Her mind wandered off and she began to stare at the floor.
She startled back to when everyone began to stand up and moved into the hall. Participants were instructed to change in the locker rooms and spectators were led to the dolphin pool area.
Lily walked into the girls’ locker room and headed straight for a stall. She shut and locked the door and immediately flushed the toilet. This covered the sound of the tapes on her diaper as she unfastened them. She undressed, took out her two-piece bikini and put it on; only taking a moment to re-situated herself and check out her reflection in the mirror. Since there was a sink and a mirror in this stall she decided to use them, but didn’t take long to do so.
She rolled up the diaper and placed it in the bag along with her sandals and dress. Out of the stall she came and she headed for the door. She was the first participant ready. Being directed down the hallway and into the dolphin pool area, she was delighted to be able to go first.
She entered the room and set her diaper bag under a bench alongside the pool. Walking down the steps into the water, she took a moment to shiver at the temperature. She cautiously walked along the platform towards the instructor at the end waiting for her. Being 5’5" tall, the water was a little higher on her than waist deep.
She walked up to the instructor who extended his hand to her.
“I’m Allen,” he said, shaking her hand. “And what’s your name?”
“Lily,” she said in a tiny voice.
Suddenly, the two dolphins jumped out of the water from either side of the platform and crossed over top of her, each splashing back into the water on the other side of the platform. Lily’s eyes grew big and wide as the dolphins did it again.
Next, the instructor had her stand on the very corner of the platform and hold her arms out in front of her making a circle with them by joining her hands. First, Malick jumped out of the water and up between her arms for a hug. Then, Kalina did the same thing.
Thirdly, she told to stand at the edge of the platform and lean over, closing her eyes and puckering her lips. She did this and each dolphin rose up out of the water touching their noses to her lips for a kiss.
The instructor clapped his hands twice and both dolphins jumped up onto the platform on either side of Lily. A small harness was attached to each of their noses. Lily was instructed to stand on their backs and hold onto the harnesses. She did this and when the instructor clapped his hands twice again, both dolphins jumped back into the water and took Lily for a ride around the entire pool.
As she rode the dolphins around, she looked over at Zeke who was taking picture after picture after picture. This is exactly what Lily needed. She smiled the whole time and enjoyed herself.
After circling the pool several times, the dolphins jumped back up onto the platform and Lily stepped off. Thanking the instructor and hugging each of the dolphins she waded her way back off the platform and out of the pool. She picked up her diaper bag and headed for the girls’ locker room.
The smile never left her face and her eyes continued to dance. This had truly been an unforgettable adventure. She walked into the girls’ locker room and back into the stall. She stripped out of her bikini and dried herself with the towel. She looked at her face in the mirror.
“What an amazing thing I just did!” she thought to herself as she wrapped her wet bikini up in the towel and placed it in the bag.
She got out the dress she was wearing and a new diaper as she reflected on the experience she just had. She opened the diaper, wrapped it around her waist, flushed the toilet and fastened the tapes. Slipping the dress over her head and stepping into her sandals, she exited the stall and the locker room. Zeke was waiting by the locker room door.
“Wasn’t that incredible?” she asked as they left the building, arm in arm.
“It sure was and it looked like you were having a really good time,” he said.
“I will never forget that,” she said.
“And I will never forget where we eat lunch,” he said as they walked up the street.
“Hmm,” she said as she placed her finger to her lip in thought before seeing a restaurant across the street. “How about over there?”
“Chinese. That sounds really good,” he said as they crossed the street. “I wonder what Bahamas Chinese food tastes like.”
They entered the restaurant, now both having a craving for a meal. It was a buffet-style set up. As they went through the buffet area and loaded up their plates, Lily noticed they had an area to eat outside in the back.
“A Bahamas Chinese food restaurant with outdoor seating,” she said, filling her plate.
“That overlooks a park,” Zeke added, looking out the back door. “Now that is impressive…unique but impressive.”
Lily headed for the back door and Zeke followed, noticing something rather peculiar about her figure. He had no reservations about being a guy and looking at her bottom, but her bottom seemed to be lop-sided. This struck Zeke as a little strange and he wasn’t sure how to bring it up until he realized what was wrong.
She found a table at the very edge of the patio area. Setting her tray and the diaper bag down, she faced the park, admiring the view. Zeke followed and set his tray down. Then he reached into the diaper bag for her pacifier and gently turned her towards him. They embraced for a moment before he placed the pacifier in her lips. She looked up at him a little confused. He lifted the front of her dress and began to discreetly unfasten her diaper. She began to fuss slightly, looking left and right to make sure no one was watching.
“Shh, shh, shh, shh,” he whispered. “You put your diaper on crooked. Daddy’s going to fix it. Be a good girl.”
His words made her feel very “little” inside. She lowered her chin slightly and obediently stood still until he refastened her diaper into place. Lowering the front of her dress back down, he patted her on her now correctly-diapered bottom and removed the pacifier from her lips, returning it to the diaper bag. They took a seat.
Lily paused from starting into her meal. The baby feeling was something that could overtake her senses and consume her mind suddenly, but it wasn’t something that she could dismiss as quickly. She needed a moment as she still found herself dealing with butterflies in her tummy. She enjoyed feeling this way and didn’t want it to end, but eventually regained her composure because she was now very hungry.
“You okay, Love?” Zeke asked, seeing her flushed appearance.
“I’m fine,” she said honestly as she picked up a fork and began eating. “I just feel very little right now.”
“I hope that’s not a bad thing,” Zeke said.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” she replied.
Zeke had no idea how his words and actions overtook her senses in a heartbeat. She really didn’t want him to know the power he had, either. If he did, he might be hesitant about it in the future for fear that he might upset her. In reality, she enjoyed being effected to her core and part of that enjoyment was that he had no idea of his effect on her.
“So have you decided what we will be doing next … Beyond your afternoon nap, of course?” he asked with a smile and a wink.
“I thought we might visit a place I saw in my dreams with Mr. Woody,” she said, delicately wiping her lips with a napkin.
“Are you sure this place really exists?” he asked, leaning back to stretch and take a break from eating.
“I didn’t think it existed either until I saw it in that brochure,” she said.
“What is it?” he asked, leaning back forward.
“Okay,” she said, sitting forward and getting excited. “It’s a waterfall. It’s in the middle of nowhere it seems and you have to walk up a trail to get to it, but it’s the most beautiful little area and you can jump off the top of the cliff into the water below where the waterfall splashes into and you can swim around and OH! This is the best part! There are secret caves along the edges of the rocks and behind the waterfall and you can go inside because the sun shines into them perfectly in the evening and they aren’t spooky or scary or anything like that because if they were like that I wouldn’t go in them…”
“Breathe,” Zeke said with a laugh.
Lily picked up her drink and gulped some of it down before setting the drink down on the table and continuing.
“When you stand on the top of the cliff you can look down into the water and see all the way to the bottom. That’s how you know it’s safe to jump into it. There are trees at the top of the cliff and you can lean up against them and take in the rays of the sun…” she said, continuing to ramble and they stood up to leave.
“What’s the name of this place?” he asked.
“Um … I forget,” she said, laughing. “But it’s in the brochure.”
They walked out of the restaurant to the street. Zeke began waving for a cab, but then stopped.
“Do you wanna walk this meal off?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she said. “I feel bloated right now.”
So they strolled along the sidewalk and made their way back to the hotel.
“I don’t know about dinner yet,” she said. “Food is not on my mind at all right now.”
“Yeah,” Zeke agreed. “We’ll have to see what food we want later.”
They both looked at each other at the same time with a smile and simultaneously said: “Seafood!”
“Sounds good to me,” Zeke said. “But in a couple of hours.”
“You got that right,” she said.
The walk back took about a half hour and they both felt a little better for having done it when they reached the hotel. The lobby wasn’t very busy for mid day, and there was no line for the elevator. On the way up, Lily let out a big yawn.
“Someone’s getting tired,” Zeke said playfully.
Lily shook her head as she continued yawning.
“It’s funny how I’m so accustomed to taking naps in the afternoon that I almost have to at this point,” she said as they exited the elevator and made their way down the hallway.
Zeke unlocked their room and Lily walked straight out to the balcony. She took the wet bikini out of her diaper bag and placed it on the balcony chair, but then moved it to another chair, knowing Zeke would probably be sitting in this one soon. She set her diaper bag down in the room and returned to the balcony, leaning on the railing and taking in the sun, the beach activity and the beautiful of the day.
Zeke walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her belly, giving her a gentle squeeze. Then he untied her “Pippy Longstocking” pigtails. She smiled, knowing what he was doing to her. He lifted up the back of her dress and placed his hand on her diapered bottom. She had wet herself and closed her eyes as his touch had begun to give her goose bumps.
She lowered her chin and shrunk up her shoulders as he lifted her dress up and off her. Picking her up into his arms, he carried her back into the room. She could hear her bath water running in the bathroom and placed her head on his shoulder as he began unfastening her diaper. He slowly carried her towards the bathroom, rocking her gently. As they passed the bed, she could see everything she would need to be dressed for bed all ready laying out.
They entered through the bathroom door. Lily smiled at the bubbles she saw forming in the bathtub. Zeke removed her diaper and sat her down on the toilet as he checked the bath water.
“Zeke,” she said while sitting on the toilet and modestly touching her knees together. “Tell me one of your stories.”
“Well…” he started. “I’m not finished with part five of the fairy tale yet.”
“No, I mean one of your BabyGirl stories you would make up off the top of your head that would rhyme,” she explained. “Like the day we had that picnic at Long’s Park in Lancaster.”
“Oh, okay. Just a minute,” Zeke said, pausing to think a rhyming story up.
He took a moment to check the bath water again,
“There once was a girl who loved ‘little’ so much, She thought: ‘Maybe as a BabyGirl I would feel as such’,” he started off with as Lily smiled and waited patiently for more. “She dreamed of a world where a girl would feel little, Where silly songs were never wrong and fiddles played a riddle.”
Zeke turned the water off in the tub, sat on the edge and continued.
“Where everywhere were teddy bears, and blankies and bottle and binkies. 'But as a BabyGirl in a diaper…Uh-Oh…what if I get stinky,” he said as he stood up and prepared to put Lily in the tub.
Lily had used her time on the toilet wisely, avoiding a future poopy diaper change. Zeke took a moment to wipe her toosh before lifting her up and lowering her into the tub.
“So she closed her eyes and wrinkled her nose and while scratching her thinker, she wiggled her toes,” he said as she he lowered her body into the bubbles which tickled her and then into the warm water which made her feel wonderful. “She thought” ‘Giggling and bouncing is fun, it’s very true. But a BabyGirl without a sitter will simply never do. Or Best of all’ she thought as her mind began to whirl. ‘I don’t wanna be a baby, but rather Daddy’s BabyGirl’!"
“Then she opened her eyes and opened them wide. Then her eyes she quickly blinked,” he said as he took gentle strokes down her body with a wash cloth. “And all around her was every little wish of every little thought she had thinked.”
Lily smiled and left out a giggle of her own at how he chose to rhyme the words.
“So she sat up and drew up her knees to her chin as she gazed through the bars of the crib she was in,” he said as he began washing her hair.
Getting hand-bathed by someone was such a wonderful feeling. Having her hair washed and rinsed in the process was like a massage for the scalp and only added to the heart-warming experience.
“All around her were blankies and soft teddy bears. Her lips held a binkie. Pigtails held her hair. Everything was soft and everything was squishy, from her BabyGirl nightie to the diaper on her tooshy,” he continued with as he lifted her out of the tub, wrapped a towel around her and sat on the edge, keeping her on his lap as he dried her off. “So she scooped up her teddy and rose to her knees and peered out the crib at what else she could see.”
Lily leaned forward and kissed Zeke on the forehead. She was thoroughly enjoying this rhyming story, but more so, she loved the heart and mind that had created it.
“A ‘little’ world did surround her like she encountered in her dreams,” he said while carrying her out to the bed to dress her for her nap. “She looked around at the nursery she found, being dazzled by the window’s sunbeams.”
He placed Lily on her back on the bed. She drew her knees together and bent her legs up as she curled into a ball as he returned her pacifier between her lips. She took it in her mouth and was completely consumed with his rhyming story, knowing very well that he was talking about her. That wonderful baby feeling was coursing through her body. All she could do, and all she wanted to do was lay there and enjoy her moment of this treatment, as if it would be gone tomorrow.
“From a rocking chair to a toy chest over there to a dresser no lesser than pink,” he said as he lifted her legs and bottom up, creating the scent of powder in the air before lowering her down onto a new diaper and fastening it into place around her waist. “To a changing table and though barely able, she thought: ‘I’m gonna love this place I think’. Her binkie fell from her mouth as she giggled and bounced but fall to the floor it did not. Attached to her nightie with a string was her binkie and she thought ‘What a smart Daddy I’ve got’.”
Zeke slipped her nightie over her sky-reaching hands and over her head.
“Every sight that she saw made her clap, then she crawled to each end of her crib, to and fro,” he rhymed as he brushing out her wet hair with long, soothing strokes. “She would lie on her back. She was getting the knack of this BabyGirl thing, head to toe. Invited by fate, no longer would she wait for a fantasy so real in each dream. The time was now here for her Daddy to appear and a new diaper she needed, it would seem.”
He lifted her up and into his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist as he wrapped her baby blanket around her.
“The door slowly opened as she rose up again with a smile that had formed on her face,” he said while scooping up her teddy bear and carrying her out onto the balcony, picking up the naptime bottle he had made and placed on the table next to the couch. “And her Daddy walked in with a bottle and a grin and a soft voice that fit in this place. She stretched out her arms and he lifted her high. Then she hugged him and hugged him so dear. His hand felt her bottom and her face felt his chest and her first diaper change was now here.”
Zeke took a seat on a balcony chair and cradled her body on his lap.
“On the changing table she was laid. Her beating heart didn’t fade as she stared at the ceiling above,” he said, placing the nipple of her bottle to her lips which she tenderly took into her mouth and began drinking from. “With her legs in the air, she could feel how he cared and his gentle hands were filled with love. From the table to the rocking chair seemed a quick trip as he sat and she lied across his lap. Gazing up at his eyes her felt the bottle. She drank as her body he wrapped. In the softest of blankets. With the strongest of arms, every BabyGirl’s love he evoked. He rocked her so gently and patted intently and that’s when her Daddy first spoke.”
Lily continued drinking from her bottle as she rested her head on his chest and gazed up at him with adoration.
“Every joy that I’ve felt everyday made me melt when I thought of a BabyGirl like you,” he said, continuing the rhyming story, but speaking in a tone that made it clear he was talking about her. “With eyes that are beaming or far away and dreaming, this one thing I know to be true: Love, pure and simple, in every laugh and each dimple is so strong and eternally right. That nothing can prevent an endeavor that’s based on the dream of the rest of your life.”
Zeke paused as his emotions choked him up. He took a moment to gather his composure before returning to the rhyme.
“His words were so sweet. His touch was so tending. His eyes were unyielding. His love, never-ending,” he said as their eyes locked onto each other as if they were staring into the other’s soul. “She knew that her heart and emotions were feeling the same as his were. She embraced him, still reeling. In the thought that this ‘little’ world she dreamt in her mind was now her reality – unfurled and sublime.”
He remained quiet for a moment as he had suddenly mustered up the courage to ask her the question that had been burning in his heart this entire trip. The time was right and the mood was right, and he opened his mouth to ask her the question…when her eyes, heavy-laden with a need for sleep slowly closed. She had fallen asleep a split second before he was about to ask her. The question would have to wait a little longer.
A few minutes later, he stood up, and carried her back into the room. He gently placed her on the bed. She shifted, ever-so-slightly, into a comfortable position for sleep.
“And as she drifted back slowly and softly to sleep,” he whispered as he knelt beside the bed and traced her resting eyebrows with his fingertips. “She nestled against him. This dream she wanted to keep.”
For the first time, the ache within Zeke’s heart became overwhelming. His love for Lily had no boundaries, no limitations. There were no longer any other thoughts in his mind other than the question he now desperately needed her to answer. His world was growing smaller and all that it included was her. Tears streamed down his face as he watched her peacefully sleeping. He decided that he would ask her the question right after he told her part five of the fairy tale later that night. Even if he had to keep her awake for a few minutes to do so, he would. The ache was so powerful within him that it now controlled him. Regardless of his fear of her answer, he had to ask…tonight.
He sat down on the couch and took out his green notebook, determined in this sitting to write part five of the fairy tale. When he finished it, he closed the notebook, rested it on his chest and closed his eyes as well. The day had become a little tiring and he decided to sleep as well.
Hours later, Lily awoke as Zeke lifted her into his arms. Still groggy, she did her best to wrap herself around him as she always did when he carried her. He sat down on the couch and she rested on his chest for a few minutes as she woke up. Zeke wanted so very badly to ask her right at that moment, but he stopped himself.
“Did you sleep well?” he said, brushing the hair out of her eyes.
She nodded, finally starting to wake up. She sat up and picked a crusty out of the corner of one of Zeke’s eyes.
“Yeah, I took a little nap, too,” he said, taking the pacifier from between her lips and handing her a sippy cup of apple juice. “But I did take a look at the brochure. How does The Bahama Mama Seafood Shack sound for dinner?”
“It sounds interesting,” she said. “You’re not going to embarrass me like you did at the Red Lobster back home, are you?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Zeke said, trying to repress laughter and a guilty grin.
“You most certainly do know what I’m talking about,” she said, sitting up on her knees. “We went in there at 6 pm and we didn’t leave until midnight. You ate 15 pounds of crab legs.”
“It was all you could eat,” Zeke said, playfully defending himself.
“East Town Mall behind the Red Lobster had been closed for an hour,” she said, laughing. “The only cars left in the entire parking lot were ours and the Red Lobster employees.”
“Okay. Okay,” he said, calming her down. “I will stop eating crab legs when you finish your meal. Fair enough?”
“Okay,” she said. “But you’d better stick to your word.”
“I also found the waterfall you were talking about,” he said, retrieving the brochure from the coffee table in front of them and handing it to her. “You’ve really got a knack for this dream thing. That waterfall can be found at Dreamer’s Point.”
“Really?” she asked, leafing through the magazine.
“And it works out nicely that it’s only about a mile from the seafood place so we’ll be able to walk this meal off, too,” he said, retrieving her bikini off the balcony and a pair of his swimming trunks from the dresser to add to the diaper bag. “Okay, so I’ve got our swimsuits, towels, and a second outfit packed in this bag…along with the usual other items. What would you like to wear to dinner?”
“The same dress I was wearing earlier,” she said, raising her arms as he lifted her nightie off her.
“Really?” he asked, a little shocked. “You’re female. Aren’t you supposed to change into a new outfit every six hours?”
“It’s actually supposed to happen every four hours,” she explained with a laugh. “I guess I’ll just have to suffer through the same old dress as earlier today.”
“As you wish,” Zeke said with a grin, slipping the dress over her shoulders and head.
Lily stood up and walked into the bathroom to take a few minutes to fix her hair.
“How far is the waterfall from here?” she called out to him.
“About 3 miles up the beach,” he answered.
“Can we walk home from it for a moonlight stroll?” she asked.
“I think that sounds great,” he said, gathering his keys, wallet and the diaper bag as she walked out of the bathroom, stepped into her shoes and headed for the door.
The cab ride to the seafood restaurant was filled with idle chatter between the two. Zeke was not in his usual comfort zone and he concentrated on not making it obvious that he was nervous.
At the restaurant, they had about a 20 minute wait. Zeke smiled widely when he saw the reason why it was so crowded.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said, reading the specials menu of the night as they were taken to their booth. “How do you get so lucky as to come here on the All-You-Can-Eat Crab Leg Night?”
“Crab Legs and I have a connection of souls,” Zeke said, laying on a thick explanation as they sat down.
“Oh, do tell,” Lily said, rolling her eyes as his silliness.
“Whenever I am within ten miles of an all you can eat establishment, I get chills in my spine and a hunger in my stomach that can only be cured by eating body weight in crab legs,” he said before the waiter appeared and took their order.
Lily ordered shrimp and fish as Zeke started off for the buffet line. He returned, in short order, with six pounds of crab legs on his plate.
“Oh, my Good Heavens,” she said looking at his plate while cutting off a piece of the appetizer bread. “DO you realize how many crabs have to die to support your habit?”
“Quite a few,” he replied, cracking open the first leg and digging in.
“Do you know that they sometimes have to suspend the all you can eat nights because of a shortage in crabs?” she asked. “Maybe they should just suspend you from eating them.”
“You know the whole suspending of all you can eat nights has always baffled me,” he said. “There’s no shortage of crabs. There are tons of crabs out there. There’s a shortage of crabs being caught. That’s what the problem is.”
Lily let out a laugh and a snort right at the moment that her meal was brought to her.
“Thank you,” she said, covering her face from embarrassment.
True to his word, Zeke stopped eating crab legs when she finished her meal and Lily anxious tapped her foot as Zeke paid the bill at the register. Then she grabbed him by the hand and out the door they went. Dreamer’s Point and the mysterious waterfall from her dreams was only a mile away.
They walked through the seafood restaurant parking lot and began following trails that led up to the cliffs she spoke about. Along the way, Zeke kept stopping himself from asking her the burning question.
They reached the cliffs and Zeke look down over them while Lily began dressing in her bikini without taking the dress off.
“That is a serious jump of courage,” he said looking down at the water below. And you’re certain it’s deep enough?"
“Yes….Daddy?” she said, as Zeke looked back at her. “Diaper.”
“Oh, yes, of course,” he said as she lifted her dress and he unfastened her diaper.
She slid her bikini bottoms up her legs as Zeke very quickly dropped his shorts and stepped into his swimming trunks. Lily took her dress off and they packed everything in the diaper bag. Zeke climbed a tree and hid the bag on one of the branches.
Lily stepped up to the edge of the cliff and jumped off with no fear at all. She hit the water feet first and went under for a moment, bobbing right back up. Swimming out of the way, she called up to Zeke.
“Come on. The water’s really nice,” she said as she awaited his jump.
Zeke cannon-balled off the cliff, making an enormous splash only outdone by the waterfall splashing down on the other side of the cove.
They swam a few minutes and Lily did her best to dunk him, but couldn’t do it. She swam over to the waterfall and emerged behind it in the water. Zeke shortly followed and emerged right next to her. The moment his head came up out of the water, Lily grabbed the back of his head and planted her lips on his. It was a passionate kiss that soon led to a full embrace of bodies. The rays of the soon-to-be setting sun were shimmering through the waterfall and raining down on the two of them in a glow.
“I love you, Zeke,” she said as they broke the kiss.
“I love you, Lily,” he said, still holding her near him.
They both looked up behind the waterfall to see a cave entrance.
“That’s it!” Lily exclaimed. “That’s the waterfall from my dreams! Come on!”
They both climbed out of the water and shuffled across a rocky ledge to make it inside the cave. Sure enough, the rays of the sun were illuminating the cave. It was a huge cave, but still impressive.
Straight ahead they saw a wooden structure. Lily walked up to it with a puzzled look.
“I’ve seen this before,” she said, still puzzled. “What is it?”
“It looks like a wishing well,” he said, looking down inside it. “Do you have a wish?”
“Yeah, but do you have a coin?” she asked.
“I always keep two quarters zipped inside my swimsuit,” he said handing her a quarter. “Just in case I ever need to make an emergency phone call.”
Lily continued to stare down inside the wishing well.
“Last night, Jimbo told me I would discover the key today and in my dreams, Mr. Woody told me I would control my future if I believed in myself,” she said.
“Maybe you oughta make the most important wish of your life and believe in your heart it will come true,” Zeke said, placing his hand on her back.
She closed her eyes, made the wish and threw the coin in the well.
“Here’s to dreaming,” she said.
“Here’s to believing in dreams,” he replied as they exited the cave and followed a winding set of makeshift stairs back to the top of the cliff.
“Thank you for coming here with me,” she said as he climbed the tree and fetched their bag.
“Thank you for loving me,” he replied as they walked down another trail to the sands of the beach.
The sun had begun to set. It shined out across the ocean waters in a very beautiful sight.
“What does a sunset symbolize to you?” Lily asked, looking out over the ocean at its final reflection of light for the day.
“It signifies the end,” Zeke replied. “And if you’ve done everything right, you’ll be able to recollect on the journey you’ve just made with fond remembrance.”
“That’s a rather poetic way of putting it,” she commented. “But it’s still a really sad thought.”
“Not when you remember the sun will rise again tomorrow morning and a new day will begin,” Zeke said. “Faith is what sees you through the dark times in between.”
“Faith, huh?” she asked.
“Faith,” Zeke replied.
“Well, should I have faith that you have written part five of the fairy tale and are going to tell it to me now?” she playfully asked.
“Yes, you should,” Zeke answered, smiling. “Let’s see … Part Five. Princess Lily and Malcolm had fallen asleep in the forest in each other’s arms. That’s where we left off.”
“Right,” Lily said.
“Okay,” Zeke began. “Malcolm was startled awake by the morning light and the sound of horses. Princess Lily awoke, too and they sat up, completely surrounded by the King’s soldiers. They were taken back to the castle where Princess Lily was locked in the castle tower and Malcolm was made to stand trial before the king himself.”
“Woah,” Lily said. “What just happened?”
“The plot got thicker and now Malcolm and Princess Lily were going to have to overcome a problem in order to be together,” Zeke explained. “But there was an even bigger problem that arose.”
“What?” Lily asked.
“Malcolm was found guilty of having kidnapped the Princess and was sentenced to be hung in the gallows in the middle of town,” he replied. “All Princess Lily could do was sit in her tower prison and cry. She would not be let out of the tower until her wedding day.”
“What did she do?” Lily asked.
“Because every animal in the kingdom loved her, they helped her,” Zeke answered. “A messenger bird named ‘Sweetie’ flew a note into the window of the tower from Malcolm. It said: ‘Fear not, for we will wind up together. Rest well, Princess, for tomorrow will change your life forever. You must believe in miracles’.”
“What was going to happen tomorrow?” Lily asked.
“Well, the king decided to move up the wedding of Princess Lily and Prince Mortimer to tomorrow,” Zeke said. “And Malcolm’s execution in the town square was to be part of the celebration of the marriage.”
“Did he die? Did Lily have to marry Mortimer?” she asked.
“To be continued…” Zeke answered with a smile.
He finished the story, and they continued along the beach, headed to the hotel. The abdominal pain that had doubled her over had returned. She straightened her posture, trying to deal with it. It was this pain that drove her to tell him at that moment that there was something she needed to tell him. He said he needed to ask her something to.
They passed by an enormous pile of rocks that stuck up in the middle of the beach sand, and stopped walking for a moment.
Ladies first," Zeke said. “What did you want to tell me?”
Lily faced him and took both of his hands in hers.
“Zeke,” she started, with a heavily pounding heart. “I’ve been dealing with a lot of fear about having to tell you this.”
A lump formed in her throat as her eyes began welling up with tears.
“It’s okay,” Zeke said, supportively. “You can tell me anything.”
The abdominal pain had worsened. A slight sweat had broken out over her body and she was getting a little light-headed.
“I can see this is really tough for you,” Zeke said. “But trust that I will understand whatever it is that you tell me.”
She was getting dizzy and took one step forward, bumping into his chest. She stepped back and began to speak when she collapsed on the beach.
To be continued …