Chapter 4

"Morning, everyone," Eli yawned as she walked into the kitchen, stretching her arms up and standing on her tippy toes.

Zhainier was at the stove helping Noni cook breakfast while Summer and Kota were nowhere to be seen.

"Morning, Eli," Zhainier said, turning around to look at a very nappy headed Eli walk into the kitchen. Zhainier laughed at her Simpson's pajamas and turned back around to keep cooking.

"You know what I don't get?" Eli asked to the room.

"How to brush your hair?" Summer offered walking into the room with a very handsome looking Kota situated on her right hip.

"Nooo… smarty pants. I know how to do that," Eli replied, rolling her eyes.

"Doesn't look like it," Noni said looking back at Eli.

"What don't you get?" Zhainier asked, paying full attention to the food on the stove.

"You know how mute people can't talk, right?" everyone agreed, "Well, if you can't hear them talk, can you hear them cough or sneeze?"

Everyone in the room burst out laughing, even Kota, who didn't get it, laughed because everyone else was.

"I don't know, Eli, maybe you should 'Ask Jeeves,'" Noni laughingly suggested.

"I don't know, Noni. Can search engines laugh at you?" Zhainier said looking at Noni and they both burst into renewed fits of giggles.

Eli huffed and sat down, crossing her arms, "Poppi wouldn't laugh at me."

The room got silent,

"No, he wouldn't, sweetie." Noni said, looking back from the stove at Eli.

"Some days I can't get my mind off of you. Some days you're all I think about. All I know. All I want," Summer said from somewhere behind Zhainier.

"Why would you want to think about me. I'm nothing special. Just the same old me I've always been," Zhainier replied as she felt Summer's back pressing against her own. It sent chills down her spine.

It was the summer of 2004. Eli was at the hospital with Noni, who was having mysterious labor pains. So, that left the girls at home, alone. It'd been four years since Poppi and Lillian's deaths.

Summer swiftly turned around and wrapped her arms around Zhainier. "You just don't see yourself right, Peanut," she swam around Zhainier and gave her a stern look. "You'll see, one day…"

Zhainier still didn't see it. When she looked in the mirror she still saw the dirty girl that she had always seen.

"Tag! You're it!" Eli yelled and tagged Zhainier so hard she fell over.

As Zhainier fell, though, she pulled Eli down with her, "No, you're it!"

Eli rolled and grabbed Zhainier's shoulder, "No, you!"

"No, you!"

"You're it!" Eli yelled back.

"No, you!"

"Your mom!"

"Your mom!" Eli screamed so loud it brought Summer and Noni's attention to what was going on outside.

"Your face!"

"Your butt!" Eli yelled as Zhainier got up and ran away.

"Why, thank you I'm flattered that you like it, but I'm afraid I'm already taken," Zhainier called over her shoulder as she ran.

"You're not funny, Peanut!" Eli replied loudly as she got up and gave chase.

"How do they do it? How do they amuse themselves so easily?" Summer asked Noni, shaking her head while she washed the breakfast dishes. She was the last one to yell goose, again.

"You know you'd be having just as much fun running around mindlessly as they are if you were out there with them. It doesn't matter the game as long as you're playing it with your Zhainier, right?" Noni said knowingly.

"Right. Wait, what?" Summer stuttered. "Nobody said she was mine, Noni."

"They don't have to your eyes say it for you," Noni replied. "You think I don't know my own daughters, don't you? Like I don't notice how you look at her or how she says your name. I also know that Elijah hides the ding dongs under her pillow in hopes of catching the tooth fairy," Noni looked at Summer with that expression that says, 'Uh-huh, I know.'

"So," Summer started carefully, "you know everything?"

"Define 'everything,'" Noni replied.

"I love her," Summer huffed, hating having to admit it.

"I know," Noni said, chuckling and turning back around to finish wiping off the counter.

"But, she doesn't want to love me," Summer admitted solemnly.

"It's not that she doesn't want to love you. She just," Noni paused, "doesn't know how."

"She talked to you about us?" Summer asked, surprised.

"It might have been one of those, 'My friend has this friend' talks," she giggled at the memory. "It was a pretty awkward one on Peanut's part. She just doesn't understand her emotions, probably more so now. She's confused. Perhaps she also thinks that she doesn't deserve to have those feelings. You just have to give her time," Noni concluded, sighing.

"When did you have that talk?" Summer asked, pretending not to be paying any attention.

"After your first kiss, you know, when that Jaime boy kissed you, and you came home crying. She didn't much like it when he kissed you without your permission. Actually, she was furious," Noni said, shaking her head at the memory of Poppi Crenshaw calming down a raging seven-year-old. "Then, again the morning after the two of you first kissed," It was just Zhainier and Noni at that talk. Noni recalls a very confused fourteen-year-old Peanut, scratching her head and fidgeting a lot.

"Does she, you know-"

"What? Does who what when?" Eli asked as she jogged into the kitchen and sat down at the table still panting from running from Zhainier. She grinned at Zhainier as she walked into the kitchen, head hung down in shame. "Thought you could beat me. huh? Well, you can't 'cuz I'm better, faster, and stronger," she taunted, sticking her tongue out.

"Okay, so maybe you beat me once. Big whoop," Zhainier huffed and sat at the opposite end of the table.

"So, what were you talking about, little sis?" Eli turned her attention back to Summer who huffed and turned back around to finish the dishes.

"Um, Nothing!" and with that she turns around and leaves.