"There's nothing to do," Laura complained. It was a hot day in August, and Laura sat on the sofa, flipping aimlessly through the TV guide. Max was playing baseball with his cousins, and Amon was taking a nap.
"Why don't you see what Annie's up to?" Elizabeth suggested.
"Great idea." Laura walked to Annie's house, where she saw her friend sitting on the sidewalk in a swimsuit beside a plastic pool, in which Merry splashed happily. Mrs. White looked on from a nearby beach chair, where she sat with sunglasses on. She looked up as Laura approached.
"Why, hello there, Laura," she greeted the girl. "How are you?"
"I'm fine, thanks." Laura sat down beside Annie. "I wish I had a little sister, too," she told her friend. "I'm tired of being the only girl in the family."
"Maybe you'll get a baby sister for Christmas next year, like I did the year I was nine," Annie suggested.
"I hope so."
Merry grinned at Laura and handed her a rubber duck. "Aw, thanks!" said Laura.
Merry giggled as Laura sat the duck on top of the water in the pool.
"We met the Jordan twins in the grocery store this morning," Annie told her friend. "Jimmy made that disgusting noise he does with his armpit. Gross!"
Laura giggled. Having grown up with an older brother, she was accustomed to boys and their ways.
After awhile, Mrs. White collected Merry and took her inside.
"Want to go to the lake?" asked Annie.
"I don't have my swimsuit with me," said Laura.
"You can borrow my other one," Annie offered.
"Thanks," said Laura.
Laura quickly changed into the swimsuit and walked to the lake with Annie, where they saw a pair of adult leg braces lying on the bank. They heard splashing noises and a woman laughing and looked up to see Matthias and Ginny swimming toward them. The swimmers reached the bank and stepped onto dry land, then sat on the bank. Matthias put his arm around Ginny, and she rested her head on his shoulder.
"Why, hello there, girls," Ginny greeted Laura and Annie. "How's that little sister of yours, Annie?"
"She's fine," Annie replied. "Running all over the place now. Mama says you really have to keep an eye on her."
"I'm sure she does." Ginny gave a small smile and exchanged glances with Matthias.
"I'm glad you're here," Matthias told Laura and Annie. "I've just asked Ginny to marry me, and she said yes."
"Really? Wow! Congratulations!" Laura grinned at her uncle.
"I'm going to need several bridesmaids, and I would be honored to have you two," Ginny told them. "The ceremony will be right here, on the last Saturday in September, at noon."
"I'll have to ask Mama, but I'm sure it'll be all right with her," said Laura.
"Oh, I hope my Mama will let me!" said Annie.
No longer bored, the girls couldn't wait to talk to their parents about the wedding.
Ginny was silent as she put her braces back on her legs. "Penny for your thoughts," said Matthias.
Ginny sighed. "I can't get what Annie said about her little sister off my mind. Even though I'm an only child, I have lots of cousins, and I know what a handful babies can be when they start walking. Do you think I could ever keep up with an active toddler?"She frowned as she looked at her legs.
"Absolutely!" Matthias told her. "With all the swimming you've been doing lately, you've needed your braces less and less, and I expect there will come a day when you can put them up forever. Besides, I've known women who were even more disabled than you are, and they've made wonderful mothers."
"Like who?" asked Ginny.
"One of my mother's friends lost both her legs in a terrible accident. Some years later, she married and had four children. They've always been some of the cleanest and happiest kids I've ever known."
"But how does she keep them safe?"
"She has her own ways of compensating for her disability, and you will, too. You've succeeded at everything else you've tried so far, and I'm sure you'll make a terrific mother, Ginny."
Ginny smiled. "How do you say 'I love you' in German?"
"Ich liebe dich."
"Ich liebe dich, Matthias."
"I love you too, Ginny." He lifted her chin with his fingertips and kissed her lips.
The day of the wedding turned out to be a brisk, fall day. The sky was a beautiful azure, with puffy white clouds floating lazily along, and the leaves were just beginning to change colors. The family was gathered under a big shade tree beside the lake, and Reverend March was there to perform the ceremony.
Ginny wore a long white dress with a full skirt and gauze veil, and Laura, Annie, and the other two bridesmaids wore matching dresses except that the skirts were short.
As she watched Matthias and Ginny exchange vows, Laura was filled with happiness. What a beautiful day for a wedding, she thought to herself. They couldn't have asked for things to be more perfect.
Matthias and Ginny stood together proudly as they were pronounced husband and wife, and when he lifted her veil to kiss her, Laura knew it was a moment she would always remember and cherish.
Ginny threw her bouquet, and it was caught by Vivian.
"Aw," Rosemary moaned.
"I'm older, so it's only fair I get married first," Vivian told her pouting younger sister.
Laura watched Matthias and Ginny drive away, then joined the rest of her family for the walk home.
"I've never seen a lovelier wedding," Elizabeth remarked.
"Our own was quite nice," Paul pointed out.
"Oh, of course," said his wife. "I meant, besides ours."
Paul looked a little sad. "I just wish my parents could have been here."
"That's right," said Elizabeth. "They just put up that wall, didn't they?"
Paul nodded. "My parents live on the western side, so they're free to come to the US, if they want." He sighed. "I hope they can make it someday."
Laura wanted to ask what it would mean if her grandparents were on the eastern side rather than the western side but was afraid of what the answer might be.