“You have been so helpful, Gene.” Suzie handed him the channel locks. She’d always found the channel lock wrench much more helpful than a regular plumber’s wrench, but she’d given Gene the choice. That his preferences ran along the same lines as hers pleased her. “I’m pretty sure this last job will put you over the line.”
“I’ve earned enough points to buy the guitar?” He glanced over his shoulder with a grin, and fumbled the wrench, which dropped between the washing machine and the wall. “Crap! Oh. Sorry Mrs. H. Didn’t mean to swear in front of you.” He looked down the gap between washer and wall.
“You’ll have to pull it out more.”
“No. I think I can fit.”
He was a thin boy, but Suzie had her doubts. Especially as he’d filled out a bit since moving into the house with them. He’d gained a bit in height too. For a boy of 14 he was on the tall side.
He got his feet over the back of the washing machine easily enough, but got stuck at hip level.
“I told you to pull it out more first,” she muttered as she gripped the machine. She pulled a little and he dropped down, then got his shoulders caught. “You don’t know your own size do you.”
“I can get it, Mrs. H. It’s all right.” He knocked the faucet where the washing machine hooked up to the wall and sent a spray of water all over his face.
“Careful! We don’t want to have to re-do both faucets.”
“Right.” He came back up with the wrench, which she took from him. Then he hoisted himself out of the gap between machine and wall with the muscular dexterity only a teenage boy could pull off.
While he went back to work on the hoses, she stood by.
“Gene, have you thought any more about it?” She omitted a lot in the comment, and should have realized it wouldn’t be on the top of his mind the way it was on hers.
“But if you adopt me, then you won’t get any money from foster care anymore, right?” He gave the wrench a final pull, then turned on the faucet.
“I can maintain the house without the money,” she assured him, though she wasn’t so sure herself. Without Drew, everything was harder.
“It’s okay. I don’t need to be adopted. I don’t need another mother.”
“Yes, you said that before, but…” It was so frustrating. She couldn’t very well drag him into it gagged and bound. It would be hard enough to convince the judge she was a fit mother, though single and unemployed. Or rather, self employed. Except who counted the owner of a boarding house as self employed?
“Have you thought anymore about looking for your birth mother?”
“Looking for… Yeah. No, I’ll think about it. Hey, can we go buy the guitar as soon as I finish this?”
“Great. I’m done.” He handed her the channel locks and grinned.
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