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"Take the rest of the day off, and get some sleep," sighed Adam. "I won't be getting any more work done right now. Charlie knows what's going on with me-- that's why she has us sitting out here, staring at the lawn!"

Dave couldn't help chuckling at his analysis of the situation.

"I suppose I should've told you sooner," apologized Adam, "but I sometimes struggle with insomnia."

"I was fixin' to say I hadn't noticed," smiled Dave, "but that wouldn't be the truth."

"When I'm this tired," sighed Adam, looking out over the garden with wistful eyes, "I sometimes wish I had never gone public. There would have been so much less pressure to be Wallace Shipley. And now I can't step inside a public place, without the risk of being recognized and asked for an autograph! That wouldn't be so bad, but it usually doesn't stop there. When someone is making a big deal over me, it often attracts the attention of others; then they realize who I am, and want an autograph as well."

"What's this about autographs?" smiled Charlie, returning with a tray of food for the tired men. "Adam, has Dave been pestering you for an autograph, again?"

At this, both men laughed. As Charlie set a plate of sandwiches on the small table, Dave noticed how Charlie's mere presence had a calming effect on Adam. Adam's voice relaxed, and his eyes lit from within whenever she looked in his direction.

When Charlie turned to leave, Adam caught her by the hand, and pulled her onto his lap. "Stay with us for a few minutes," he requested.

Tenderly, Charlie ran her hand over the day old stubble on Adam's chin. "Grandma and Mrs. Freemont are baking today, and I offered to help."

"I thought you were going to study for your GED," he replied in surprise.

Charlie shrugged. "I don't see the point, anymore. It's not as if I'll ever have a chance to use it."

"You have a long life ahead of you, Charlie. You're giving up."

"I'm not," she insisted. "I just don't see any reason to plan too far ahead. By the time I'm in my thirties or forties, I'll be staring at a muted television like Daddy."

Until now, Dave had been smiling at their quiet conversation. As he felt the full impact of what Charlie had just said, his face suddenly went grave.

"It doesn't have to be that way," argued Adam, once again feeling the effects of having missed so much sleep.

Charlie fought to get off his lap, but Adam held her fast. "I wish you'd accept it, Adam. You can't save me."

Seeing she still wanted free, Adam let go and Charlie stood up. Wearily, he rubbed his tired face with his hand before letting it drop onto his knee. "I won't talk about it anymore today," he promised, looking at her with pleading in his eyes. "Just stay with me a little longer before you go rushing off to the kitchen."

"I wish you'd get some sleep," sighed Charlie, climbing back onto his lap. "I hate seeing you like this."

Not answering, Adam kissed her shoulder and picked up his glass of iced tea. It was then that he noticed the startled look on Dave's face. Following her husband's gaze, Charlie smiled. "I think we just frightened Dave," she laughed softly.
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