"And one two three ..."
"What are you doing, Shakespeare?"
"Transcendental meditation, I meditate twice a day."
"But what's the one two three for? It doesn't sound like a mantra."
"That's not my mantra, I do isometrics too, Simpson."
"Um I wasn't aware you were so health conscious."
"A midget can't be too careful."
"I see," his eyebrows raised," and where is Andre? I don't suppose anyone plans on doing anything as rare as cooking in the kitchen today?"
"Hey, I'm the one who makes the wisecracks around here, Simpson." Shakespeare said as he heard Andre and a small stranger approaching.
"Good morning, Andre," Simpson said before he looked down and saw a small girl with blonde braids in a flowered dress standing next to Andre , "and who's this little visitor?"
"Good morning, everyone! This is Yvette! She's my niece! She is here today to visit with her Uncle Andre. That is me! Isn't she cute? I love the way she talks! She sounds like a little munchkin! Say hello, Yvette."
"Hello I am Yvette!"
"Yvette, this is Mr. Simpson!" Andre smiled so broadly his hat leaned over his eyes.
"Hello, little Yvette, and welcome to our kitchen." Simpson said with a smile and a slight look of caution in his eyes.
"Hi, kid it's good to see someone here smaller than me." Shakespeare cracked, standing next to Yvette.
"Yvette this is Shakespeare, remember I told you about him? He's so funny. Isn't it funny?" Andre said smiling apprehensively.
"Hello Mr. Simpson! Hello Mr. Shakespeare! Shakespeare you are so cute! Would you like to be in my show? You too, Mr. Simpson!" Yvette said as she pulled on her braids and smiled, flashing her dimples.
"It's the eyeless look that gets them every time," Shakespeare snickered.
"See? I told you she was adorable. She's is always putting on her shows with puppets and toys. Sometimes she invites me to be in her shows. I play the chef! And I have to admit I am good! No really! Aren't I Yvette?"
"At least you're playing a chef somewhere!' Shakespeare snapped.
"You leetle toad!"
"Why are you calling Shakespeare a toad, Uncle Andre?" Yvette asked, tilting her head and pursing her lips.
"Oh, Yvette, it's just a little game me and Shakespeare play! Isn't that right, Shakespeare?"
"Yeah, kind of like tag but I'm always it."
"Now, Shakespeare, you are the one with all the wise cracks. Speaking of wise cracks, where is Simpson?"
"Guess he has stage fright." Shakespeare snapped walking towards the back of the kitchen.
"Well, Yvette would you like to help Uncle Andre cook? I am going to bake a cake! It will be fun and messy! What do you say, Yvette? I have been baking cakes since I was little whisper like you. I must have baked millions and millions of cakes." Andre said wistfully, waving his spoon in the air.
"I like to eat cakes with my hands and think of my destiny," Yvette said with a curious grin.
"What was that, Yvette?" Andre said looking slightly perplexed.
"Oh nothing, Uncle Andre! Let's bake a cake!"
"Okay, Yvette, we'll bake a cake! First we'll need a bowl. Oooh there is one right on the counter. Isn't that convenient, Yvette?"
"Life is full of conveniences and traps," Yvette said, tossing her hair.
"What, Yvette?" Andre said, tugging his ear with an even more perplexed look in his eyes.
"Oh nothing, Uncle Andre!"
"Okay, Yvette now we will need some flour and some cocoa. You like cocoa don't you? I love cocoa. It is hard to believe so many yummy things come from such ugly little beans! I guess it is like the story of the Ugly Duckling. Do you know that story, Yvette? Like the poor little duckling, when the cocoa beans are made into a chocolate cake they become beautiful swans! Do you remember Cousin Fiffe? She used to keep swans ..."
As Andre and Yvette baked away, Henry and Diego were walking through the hall towards the kitchen. Diego was making her way down the hall in her customary dreamy fashion when Henry stopped her right before they hit the door and whispered, "Are you sure we should tell them, Diego?" "We can tell them or we can not tell them," Diego sighed, peering by the door, "the child ..."
"That is the question isn't it?" Henry said, looking at Diego.
"We will see what happens," Diego said still peering in the kitchen.
"This should be happy." Henry smiled.
"What?" Diego breathed. And then they began to enter the kitchen. When Henry spotted Yvette he nudged Diego gingerly and called to Andre, "Andre, who is your new little helper?"
"Ha! Oh, Henry it's so good to see you! This is my niece, Yvette!" Say hello to Henry, Yvette!"
"Hello, Henry!" Yvette said wiping batter off her mouth.
Suddenly Diego began to speak.
"I am pregnant. Henry is the father. We are getting married." She stood without flinching in front of the stove. Andre's jaw dropped along with his spoon and his hat. Henry tuned to Diego with a confused expression on his face while his wing darted out, as if suspended in time and space. The sounds of dishes crashing in the back of the kitchen were heard before Shakespeare stood near Diego and Henry.
Henry turned to Diego and whispered, "Um I guess we can tell them?"
"I just told them, Henry don't be silly."
"Henry, my God! Diego, oh my god! This is unbelievable! Is this true? I am so shocked I don't know what to say. What should I say? Shakespeare, do you know what I should say?"
"Now you ask for my advice?"
"Well when did you find out? Diego? Henry! I thought you were not speaking to one another. What has happened? It seems you two have been doing more than speaking! Oh, I am so funny!" Andre said proudly crossing his arms.
"So what's it going to be boy? Girl? Centipede?" Shakespeare giggled.
"Oh, Shakespeare, I cannot believe you said that! Um ... so do you know, Henry?"
"It will be a child, Andre," Henry said with unbridled sincerity.
"Yes we plan on having a child. Do you have any ice cream?" Diego said walking towards the freezer.
"But, Henry what was all the fighting about? I still don't understand! Like cats and dogs you two were going at it. All that screaming! Oh my ears. I can still feel it. Like Kennedy and Khrushchev!"
"Maybe we need to update our analogies just a wee bit." Shakespeare jibed
"Oh you are right, Shakespeare, I am a prisoner of the past, how about like Simon and Paula?"
"I'm so sorry, Andre, it was a ruse to keep our secret love hidden from my overprotective mother."
"Oh, Henry what did I tell you? Love isn't something to be hidden in shame! Love should be in the sunshine, not in the dark like an old shoe! Like Abraham Crowley once said 'but of all pains, the greatest pain, it is to love, but love in vain'. This is not what you want, Henry! This is no good! No good will come of it like poor Romeo and Juliet ..."
"My mother said she'd can the lot of us if Diego didn't stay away from me," Henry sighed, looking at Diego.
"Oh well, now that's a different story. Sometimes it's good to listen to your mother, Henry!" Andre said crossing his eyes.
"Get a load of the voice of the people." Shakespeare snapped.
"Look who is talking, mister but it is she who butters our bread. But I am sorry, Henry. I hate to admit it, but Shakespeare is right! You must stand up to her, Henry. But now I'm wondering what she's going to do when she finds out you and Diego are having a child. Oh, I can't imagine what we'll face then! Oh, it is too much to think about!"
Speaking of which, where is Yvette?" Shakespeare said tugging on Andre's leg.
"Oh, Santa Maria, where did she go! Now what torment shall I have to endure next? Oh this is unbearable. One thing after another like a yo- yo. I am a yo-yo. Yvette ... Yvette ... where are you Yvette ..."
The sun beamed bright beams that afternoon in the loft. She was walking through the dining room looking for her lunch tray when she heard something small rustle in the hay. Her furry head popped back and forth and her black eyes darted in unison. She zeroed in on her, buzzing her voice into her head. "Who are you?"
"I am Yvette!" Yvette stood on a pile of hay stretching her hands and looking in high in the air at Clarissa.
"What is an Yvette?"
"You are huge! Humongous! "
"I know. What are you?"
"I am Andre's niece!" She said waving her hands in the air.
"Oh, the chef who doesn't stop talking?" Clarissa said, darting her eyes up and down.
"Yes he is my uncle!" She jumped on the hay.
"I can eat him if you'd like," she said raising her tentacle.
"Oh no don't eat Uncle Andre!"
"What are you doing here, little human?"
"I was in the kitchen helping Uncle Andre bake a cake! Then there was a commotion so I started exploring. I like to explore! I went out into the hall and saw your door. So I decided to peek-peek around, besides no one understands my more serious nature. My deep thoughts go unappreciated! "Yvette said with a small sigh.
"You know something? You're a lot like your uncle."
"Do you believe in destiny?" Yvette said pointing her hand in the air sternly.
"Little human, not only do I believe in destiny I am proof that there is destiny. Who is that?"
"Who is what? Is that a secret riddle?"
"No girl I hear something ... It is Henry approaching," She buzzed.
"Mother, Mother! Henry called as he entered the loft .He saw shadows and hopped quickly over to the dining room, "Yvette, Yvette."
"Henry we are over here!" Yvette cried throwing hay around.
"Hello, Mother," Henry said looking high in the air, "What are you doing with Yvette?"
"I am doing nothing, Henry." Her black eyes darted, "I found her here."
"Yvette, you better go back to your Uncle Andre before he has a cow." Henry said a bit out of breath, smiling at the small girl.
"A cow! Okay Henry. First let me say good bye to ..."
"My mother Clarissa."
"She is your mother, Henry? How awesome!"
"Yeah, totally" Henry sighed.
"Goodbye Clarissa, I hope I can visit and chat with you again!" Yvette said with a twinkle in her eye.
"You may visit anytime little human." Her tentacle waved in the air.
Yvette waved back and ran out of the loft, her hair bouncing behind her.
"So, Henry is there anything you want to tell me?" her black eyes dangled upward. Her furry head tilted.