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Finalist in the Santa Fe Writer's Project Literary Awards, Eric Hoffer First Horizon Awards, Reader's Favorite Awards and Indie Excellence Awards

Peter Is Mysteriously Transformed

I found Ed dressed in black sweat pants and a mustard yellow sweat shirt, an atrocious color that made his face look horridly sallow. I really wished they wouldn’t put it on him. I was tempted to steal it some day and throw it away. He was dozing in his wheelchair as had become usual by that time.

“Hi, Kitty. Here we are,” I said, certain my voice was loud enough to awaken him.

He lifted his head and saw us.

“Oh, the little one,” he said, emphasizing ‘little,’ and perking right up. “Pe-tair. Little Pe-tair. Come here,” he said, reaching out his arms. “Let me see you.”

He didn’t even look at me.

Little Pe-tair, come here,” he repeated.

Peter ran to Ed.

“Hi, Kitty,” he said, finally turning his attention to me. “Can I hold him?”

“Sure.”

I put ‘little Pe-tair’ on Ed’s lap as I had done so many times before, expecting him to jump down in no time as he always did. Ed started stroking him slowly, his hand starting on Peter’s head and moving down his back all the way to his tail. Then back to his head again and slowly down his back. I sat down in the rocking chair, sure Peter would squirm, jump down and come to me.

But he didn’t.

Peter just stretched out, closed those big brown eyes, and rested his chin on Ed’s arm.

Mary came in, wearing a lovely sunflower blue pullover and navy slacks. She emptied the waste basket.

“Hi, Peter,” she said in the tone of voice people often use when talking to a child.

Almost all the staff knew Peter by name.

“Looks like you’ve got a good buddy there, Edward,” Mary laughed. “I bet he’d like to move in here with you.”

Ed laughed, too. His laugh sounded artificial. That was how I knew he hadn’t understood what she’d said and only laughed because she had.

“I have to go on to the next room now, Edward.”

“When are you coming back?” he asked.

“Soon,” she promised.

“Wonderful!”

After Mary left, Peter put his chin back on Ed’s arm, and Ed resumed stroking him.

“Does he like it when I ‘pad’ him?” Ed asked, looking at me expectantly.

“Yes, he likes to be petted.”

“Oh, I’m so happy he’s happy when I’m ‘padding’ him.”

I watched them while I rocked, wondering what had made Peter stay on Ed’s lap. He’d never done that before. It worried me.

What does Peter know that I don’t?