Chapter Thirty-One


It was the summer of 1974. Incredibly, a year had flown by since Joshua Adam Parker had been born. He had taken his first tottering steps and he understood the words for nose and mouth and head.

"He's a genius," Jennifer flatly informed Mrs. Mackey.

Jennifer planned Joshua's first birthday party as though it were being given at the White House. On Saturday she shopped for gifts. She bought Joshua clothes and books and toys, and a tricycle he would not be able to use for another year or two. She bought favors for the neighbors' children she had invited to the party, and she spent the afternoon putting up streamers and balloons. She baked the birthday cake herself and left it on the kitchen table. Somehow, Joshua got hold of the cake and grabbed handfuls of it and crammed it into his mouth, ruining it before the other guests arrived.

Jennifer had invited a dozen children from the neighborhood, and their mothers. The only adult male guest was Ken Bailey. He brought Joshua a tricycle, a duplicate of the one Jennifer had bought.

Jennifer laughed and said, "That's ridiculous, Ken. Joshua's not old enough for that."

The party only lasted two hours, but it was splendid. The children ate too much and were sick on the rug, and fought over the toys and cried when their balloons burst, but all in all, Jennifer decided, it was a triumph. Joshua had been a perfect host, handling himself, with the exception of a few minor incidents, with dignity and aplomb.

That night, after all the guests had left and Joshua had been put to bed, Jennifer sat at his bedside watching her sleeping son, marveling at this wonderful creature that had come from her body and the loins of Adam Warner. Adam would have been so proud to have seen how Joshua had behaved. Somehow, the joy was diminished because it was hers alone.

Jennifer thought of all the birthdays to come. Joshua would be two years old, then five, then ten and twenty. And he would be a man and he would leave her. He would make his own life for himself.

Stop it! Jennifer scolded herself. You're feeling sorry for yourself. She lay in bed that night, wide awake, reliving every detail of the party, remembering it all.

One day, perhaps, she could tell Adam about it.

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