"So, where's Stanley staying?" Margret asked as she grabbed the pot off the stove and brought it to the sink to drain. Amanda finished unpacking first and walked up to the island that separated the Kitchen from the family room.
"I guess he's staying at a hotel," Amanda said, "You'll have to ask Todd."
"Stanley is on vacation. He wanted to come to Vermont this year to do some fly-bys. Something about getting some stock footage to sell."
"Ah, yes," Margret said, "It's a bit early for leaf-peeping season." She the pasta into a glass bowl. Then she grabbed the bowl along with the sauce and put it on the table. "He should hike in the woods. That's where the best pictures are at this time of year."
"Um," Todd said, "That pasta looks a little overcooked? I mean, I never saw black pasta before."
"It's black bean pasta," Margret said. She grabbed a covered plate from the island and put it next to the other foods.
"Ployes?" Amanda asked.
"Of course," Margret said, "It's difficult to find a mix that doesn't have wheat, but I found it."
Michael walked in and set his ax by the front door, as he always done. "Heating for the winter is a full-time job. I wouldn't have to chop so much if heating oil wasn't so high."
They all sat at the table. Margret was always a good cook, and there was plenty to eat.
The conversation turned to selling the house.
"You know, in the past few years since SRS changed over to CPS, they have been a bit wary of anyone who is religious," Margret said. "You were the last one we had and even though our license is valid, they hadn't sent anyone to us."
"The house seems a little bit bigger than it used to be," Michael continued, "Way too big for a retired couple. I can't swing the ax like I used to anymore."
Amanda nodded but felt a little sad. She knew it was inevitable, but it was hard for her to fathom her foster parents to do anything but what they did.
"Recently, there have been some changes," Margret said, somewhat haltingly. She paused for a moment as if to pick her words carefully. "Well, we made a lot of mistakes in the past and recently, we reconciled with our kids."
Michael finished eating and took out an e-cigarette and leaned back in his chair. Amanda realized that there were no ashtrays and pipes laying around the house anymore. He must be trying to quit, she thought.
"We also wanted to apologize to you," Margret said. "To me?"
"Yes, we were a bit hard on you. I honestly don't know why," Margret put her head in her hand and looked at Amanda thoughtfully, "Out of all of the kids, you were the easiest. You kept your room tidy and you never asked for much. Of course, we hounded you with that laptop of yours. If I knew what you were doing and how you would actually make a living with it, I may have backed off a little. Then again, I didn't know because I was blinded by fear."
"Well," Amanda said, "I was never angry with you so you were already forgiven? But what were you afraid of?"
"My own shortcomings," Margret said quietly.
It was quiet for a moment and then Michael cleared his throat. "We have decided to sell the house because it was too big," he repeated himself. "So we are purchasing a Motorhome so that we can visit our kids. Our oldest daughter has invited us over for Thanksgiving."
"Well, that sounds fun," Todd said. The conversation turned to traveling.
Amanda helped with dishes then turned in early. After taking off her shoes, she gets up, walks to the wall and stops. There was supposed to be a closet there. Amanda looked around the room and remembered that there was no closet. Just a wardrobe, which was on the other side of the room.
I must be really tired, Amanda thought. Instead of getting pajamas on, she just crawled into bed and fell asleep.