Long Way Home (Chapter Eight, page 2 of 9)

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"Peace to the world," declared Owen as Wise Man Three. "One day baby Jesus will be dead...but not while he's a baby."

The actors exchanged confused glances. This was clearly not in the script. Alexis watched as Betsy and Joe hid their eyes in embarrassment.

"Glory to God in the Highest," yelled Wise Man One in a brave effort to save the scene.

Mary raised the generic baby doll playing Jesus for the Wise Men to adore. The sight of the doll brought unexpected tears to Alexis's eyes. Quickly, she turned toward the wall so no one would notice. She pretended to move a stray hair from her face while wiping away an escaped tear. Her mother gave her a curious glance but turned her attention back to the stage.

When the play finished, the grown-ups jumped to their feet and clapped heartily. The children formed a line on stage and all bowed, mostly at the same time. Alexis noticed that the innkeeper seemed to have wet his pants. Owen bowed repeatedly until one of the teachers directed him off the stage.

Afterward, they all went to Betsy's house for lunch where the usual divide occurred. The men and boys wandered into the family room and the women ended up in the kitchen. Alexis had always hated that about her family; it was very hunter and gatherer. It was, in fact, the main reason she never wanted to learn to cook. She hated feeling like she'd been assigned to a room based on her gender and not because she showed an interest in being there.

Betsy took out rolls and cold cuts while Tilly set out the condiments. Alexis looked around for a job to do. She and Betsy hadn't addressed their mall fight and Alexis thought it best to keep quiet and make herself useful.

"Do you want me to get the plates?"

"Sure," Betsy said, without a trace of hostility. "Paper plates are in the pantry.

There are red and green ones for Christmas."

Outside of Betsy's house, Alexis couldn't remember the last time she'd used a paper plate. Not since she left the island. It was such an odd thing to notice.

Tilly opened two beer bottles. "I'll bring these to the men," she said.

"Have you tried Tropic Turtle?" Alexis asked Betsy.

Betsy's eyes widened. "Have you?"

"The other night at Gatsby's. It was excellent."

"Gatsby's, huh? What brought you there?"

"I ran into an old friend and he invited me to watch him play his music there."

Betsy stopped in her tracks, a Kaiser roll in each hand. "Which old friend would that be?"

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