OK, I said. Why?
"Because El has to go with his mommy and daddy. They're coming to get him tomorrow. They're coming back from the Army."
Big Guy blinked hard. "I thought our daddy and mommy and us were his mommy and daddy."
Boots rolled his eyes. "We are. But he has an elephant mommy and daddy, too."
"That's impossible. He can't have two mommies and daddies," Big Guy insisted, overlooking the myriad step families we know. And never mind that he'd just claimed that El has three human dads and one mom.
"He does," Boots countered. "And his elephant mommy and daddy are coming to get him. I think I'll be a little bit sad."
I think I'll be a whole lot stunned. This is the same El that we'd nearly had to call the police for just a few days earlier when he disappeared somewhere between karate and the house. And now he was leaving us, just like that?
I wondered if Boots had overheard me tell someone recently that I expected El's days with us to be numbered, that Boots already had made it for long stretches of time without his beloved friend.
I wondered if it was Boots' way of acting out his own melancholy at missing his dad again, a week after R&R had ended.
And I wondered if it was just a natural-born storyteller's way of entertaining himself with a yarn.
I thought he might forget about it by the morning, but no. Just as he was about to leave for school, he remembered the promised portrait.
"Take two - one for me and one for him," Boots said. "Oh! And you have to sew his head before he leaves. Big Guy tored him. His mommy and daddy won't like that."
I snapped the photos and showed them to Boots for his approval. "Perfect!" he smiled. He tucked El under a throw on the couch, just as he does most mornings, and headed out the door.
Where this is heading next I don't know. Stay tuned.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.