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Soon, the needles slowed, and Vera was lost in her memories. "When I turned sixteen, I married your grandpa. Did you know that? Arnold was so handsome! How he hated that brown suit, but his mamma made him wear it-- said no son of hers would wear jeans to his own wedding! It was such a happy occasion!" Vera smiled wistfully. Her eyes wandered to Charlie, who had plopped onto the couch and was listening to her grandma, her chin resting on the back of her hand.

"Charlie," Vera resumed, "I wouldn't for the world let your father hear me ask this, but do you think you've met the man you'll someday marry? Is he someone I know?"

"Grandma, honestly!" exclaimed Charlie in surprise.

"Not even a hint?" coaxed Vera. "When you find the right man, you know it."

"You can't be serious!" replied Charlie.

"I only ask, because I'm not always going to be here," said Vera, returning to her knitting.

"What do you mean?" asked Charlie, puzzled by the last remark. "Are you going somewhere?"

"I won't force you to have a party you don't want," resumed Vera. "Even though it would be the first one since you came to live here. Heaven knows I've missed enough of your milestones with you and Chucky off in Montana. Now that you're here, I want to enjoy it! Is that so terrible?"

"I love you, Grandma," said Charlie bending over Vera and giving her a loving hug. "We'll have a party, and do anything you want."

"That's not the point," replied Vera, as the teenager returned to the sofa, "and don't patronize me. It's not about what I want, but what you want. If you could have anything, what would you want for your birthday?"

"A new coat," replied Charlie, not knowing what to make of her grandma's odd behavior. "I could use a new coat."

"If you need a coat, you'll get a coat-- but not for your birthday-- not for this birthday," replied Vera. "I don't want a practical wish. I want a wish that comes from your heart. Please, make one, even if you think it sounds silly."

The sincerity of Vera's request made Charlie think.

"An autographed picture of Wallace Shipley," replied Charlie, a little embarrassed by the wish.

"Is that all?" asked Vera. "I'm serious now. Any wish at all."

"Well, I don't expect you to find a spontaneous cure for Alzheimer's," replied Charlie, "and Uncle Jerome is going to 'find' me my own car when I get my driver's license, so yes, that's my wish."

"You're not just trying to put me off, are you?" asked Vera, suspiciously.

"I've listened to Wallace Shipley's music, almost everyday, since I was eight years old," replied Charlie, "and I've never seen a picture of him. But Grandma, this wish isn't really fair. There is no known photo of Wallace Shipley. He's never even been interviewed except once in 1987, and even then he didn't say much. Why don't you get me a new coat, instead?"

The fact that Charlie thought her wish was impossible, satisfied Vera. If it the wish had been easy, Vera would've known that it wasn't real.

To Charlie's surprise, Jerome was not willing to give her the time she felt she needed to learn the basics of driving. Instead, Jerome gave her a current Driver Handbook from the DMV, and secretly hoped that someone else would teach her enough to take over the driving to and from Galilee Christian School in Joshua Tree.

Chuck, who felt this was one skill he could pass down to his daughter, readily stepped in. His older brother was not happy at the prospect of damaging his car again, but he grudgingly handed it over to Chuck, with an order to stay away from crowded streets.

There was not a great deal of wide paved surfaces in Twin Yucca, so Chuck took Charlie to a flat dirt field, where the only things she could run over were small clumps of weeds.

"Shouldn't we switch sides?" asked Charlie, eager to get behind the wheel.
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