Back in reality, Alessandra was now in the hospital, still lacking her consciousness as Quincy, Penelope, and the kids were all in the waiting room, awaiting to hear about Alessandra's condition. However, Quincy couldn't go for more than one minute without pitying himself. "I swear to God, if anything ever happens to her, I would never forgive myself as long as I live," he said for what seemed to be the billionth time.
Zeke and Joanna's patience ran out a long time ago. "Dad, please give it a rest already, will you?" Joanna said. "It's not your fault. So you'll go get the ladder repaired after Christmas is over. Problem solved."
"Problem not solved," said Quincy. "I still don't agree with your mother's choice to take you two away from me like that."
"We know," said Zeke with a sigh. "But you know she probably doesn't mean it, though."
"Everything will turn out fine," Penelope said encouragingly. "We just have to hope for the best for Allie."
"Penelope, do you really think Mom meant it when she said she will gain full custody of us?" Joanna asked.
"To be honest, dear, I cannot answer that," replied Penelope. "I know your mother Allie is a very kindhearted woman at heart, but we should really leave it up to her to decide what she truly wants. Personally, I just want this family to live together in happiness and joy."
"Me too," said Zeke and Joanna in unison.
"Now look at where it's gotten us," Zeke said. "Mom is almost dead, and I'm almost at risk of being expelled from school."
"Your mother is not dead---yet," Quincy said to Zeke, holding his hand to soothe him.
A few minutes later, the four of them went over to the room where Alessandra was lying down. Quincy asked the doctor, "How is her condition, Doctor?"
The doctor replied, "Well, she doesn't really have any broken bones or ribs or anything, so that's a positive. But unfortunately, it seems like she has a severe concussion when she fell off the ladder. I'm afraid to say that she may remain in a coma for quite some time---perhaps maybe a day or two, so hopefully, she should feel completely better by Christmas. And when she does awaken, she may experience a small symptom of amnesia, in which case we will prescribe her with the right medications to take until she is completely herself again."
"Oh, poor Mom," said Zeke.
Joanna patted Zeke on the back and said reassuringly, "Everything will be okay, Zeke. We just need to stay strong for her, that's all. And hope for the best to come." They both smiled, hoping for the best. Quincy and Penelope held each other's hands, also hoping for the best, which was yet to come.
Monday, July 1, 1957 was the day that Alessandra Sampson's young life would change forever, because that was the day she and her family were leaving their hometown of Massachusetts and moving on to start a new life in Maryland. Allie had shared some good-byes with her friends and classmates, neighbors, companions, and acquaintances, and she made a promise that she would write to each and every single person she was well-acquainted with, which meant Gladys, Mary Louise, and Peggy Ann as well. She even shared an emotional moment in her bedroom before she could leave it, and never return back. She had packed her diary, her doll Little Miss Suzy, her teddy bear, her hair brush, a couple of books, due to the fact that she was such an avid reader, and many more of her belongings.
"We'd better get ready for our 10:00 flight to Fort Chester," Alexandra said to Allie while helping her put all her belongings into her suitcase very early that morning.
Many hours later after the airplane flight and all the security examinations and all that hassle, Allie was finally glad to arrive in Fort Chester. Fort Chester was mainly a suburban neighborhood, very much like Allie's own home back in Boston. She was starting to miss Boston a little, but she had just arrived here, and she needed to get used to this new environment eventually. She was fascinated by the sight of the lovely houses and the peaceful quietness of the neighborhood, which reminded her of home. The three of them stood there, examining around while waiting for the arrival of their real estate agent who had scheduled to meet them that afternoon.
"Well, Allie dear, what do you think?" said Alexandra. "Isn't this place just......just......"
"Peaceful, if that's the word you're looking for?" Paul said.
"I was going to say breathtaking, the way the houses look and such, but you're right, Paul. It is indeed peaceful here," Alexandra said.
"I love the quiet," replied Allie. "That way I can get my writing completed."
"Oh, baby," Paul said, affectionately stroking Allie's hair. "Give this place a chance. It's just like your new home now."
"I promise, Daddy," Allie said, crossing her pinky to keep the promise.
Just then, a tall man with golden brown hair, wearing glasses and a gray suit came up to them. His name-tag had his name Butch on it. "Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman, my name is Butch Pearson, and I am your real estate agent," he said.
"How do you do, sir?" Paul said, shaking hands with Butch. Alexandra also shook hands with Butch.
"And how do you do, young lady?" Butch said to Allie. Allie tended to act a little shy and reserved toward new strangers, the same way she'd been before she'd even met Gladys and the other two girls. She smiled a small smile as she shook hands with Butch.
"We're sorry, Butch, she tends to be a tad shy sometimes," Alexandra said with a chuckle.
"Ah, that's all right," Butch said. "I can tell that you've all come from such a long way, so I don't blame my customers for feeling a little nervous about traveling into a new state and buying a new home." He chuckled, as if he were making a light joke, and Paul and Alexandra laughed with him. Allie simply giggled to herself.
"Anyway, I assure you Sampsons that you will love this neighborhood," Butch said. "This is the suburbs, the part of Fort Chester where anyone who is anybody lives, and everybody knows everybody else." He began showing them around the neighborhood, back and forth, and then eventually came to one house that spoke to Allie. The house had a front porch, and the backyard of the house had a swimming pool, and there was nothing Allie loved much better than swimming. Her old home in Boston did not have a swimming pool in the backyard, and when she was not playing in the water at the beach, she was mostly in her room, writing in her diary. But now that she was here in Fort Chester, she knew she would have something else to do, rather than staying stuck inside her bedroom all day long. Allie had a pleasant feeling that she would just love it here.
Butch showed them the inside of the house. The living room was neatly furnished, and the television was indeed in black-and-white. There were three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and basically, the house was pretty big enough to fit all their needs and wants. Allie was awed by the beauty of the rooms, bathrooms, and even the basement. Of course it was nothing like her home in Boston, but she knew she would adapt to this new house. Butch then said, "And last but not least.....the backyard." He took the three of them outside, and they were awed to see the swimming pool. "And as you can see, you have a swimming pool right here, so that your little girl can come splashing waves at her own leisure."
"Look, Paul, a swimming pool," Alexandra gasped. "Can you believe it?"
"Well, I know that my eyes aren't playing tricks on me, that's for sure," Paul said, putting his glasses back on to make sure he was really awake.
"Allie, what do you think?" asked Alexandra.
Allie glanced into the water where she saw a small reflection of herself, the shimmer of the water underneath the beaming sunlight, and said with a smile, "It's beautiful. I like it."
"I'm glad I was able to make you happy," Butch said to her, and Allie started laughing a little, suddenly feeling much better. Then Butch cleared his throat and said, "Well, I suppose that wraps up my tour. Do you have any questions?" He turned to Paul and Alexandra.
"No, thank you, Mr. Pearson," Alexandra replied. "I think you have covered pretty much everything for us three."
"All right then," said Butch. He turned to Allie, and said in a slightly humorous way as he bowed down to her like a gentleman. "And how about you, Milady? Any inquiries you have for this friendly, kindhearted gentleman who wishes to make the rest of your life comfortable?"
"Can I read my book outside on the front porch at any time?" Allie asked with a smile.
"Of course, my dear! You can read books inside the comfort of your new house, or outside. You can read by the pool underneath the sun, or at the porch. Whatever your little heart desires, my dear---what's your name again?"
"Alessandra," Paul replied for Allie.
"My dear Alessandra," said Butch, patting Allie on the head. Allie giggled, feeling very happy.
"Well, thank you very much for your time, Butch," Alexandra said as she and Paul shook hands with Butch. Allie shook hands with Butch as well.
"You're very welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Sampson," Butch said. He gave them his card, filled with contact info. "My number is on this card, so you can all call me at anytime you feel you have any questions for me. Otherwise, I wish for you three to get settled into your beautiful new home, and enjoy the rest of the summer. Have a good afternoon." He waved to them as he started leaving.
"Have a good afternoon, Butch," Alexandra said as they all waved good-bye to him. "Well, you heard the man. Let's get settled in!"
Which they did. Allie found her new bedroom and immediately began filling up the space with all her belongings and making it feel just like her old bedroom back at home. It was a new home away from home, just the way she loved it. She hoped to make a couple of new friends in Fort Chester. Making that dream a reality, she took out her diary and began telling her story: "Monday, July 1, 1957, the first day I moved to Maryland......."
On the Fourth of July, Fort Chester was holding its annual picnic at the park. The park was filled with many residents all over the state gathered together to spend the holiday with each other, looking forward to watching the fireworks at night. The park was organized with tables with foods, fruits, drinks, and desserts, and there was music playing out loud, ice cream stands, and fun games and activities to play. The weather wasn't too bad, actually---it was only 75 degrees, typical summer temperature for Maryland. Allie was having a very fun time eating the food, dancing to the music, while quickly interacting with the other kids her age and even somewhat older than her. In fact, she was so happy, so were her mother and father.
"That Allie, she's got such a cheerful spirit when it comes to fun," Paul said to Alexandra with a chuckle. "I wonder whom she gets it from?"
Alexandra chuckled as well. "Well, it's a good thing we've taught her to adapt to her new surroundings. I have a feeling that she's going to be just fine right here."
"Here in Fort Chester, you mean?"
Alexandra nodded. "For the rest of her life. I know she'll make many new friends here and find herself a special young man someday. We just need to continue saying our prayers, Paul."
Paul held his wife's hand and said reassuringly, "Our little girl is going to be just fine. Any young man would be fortunate enough to have her, and treat her with the utmost respect that she deserves as a lady."
Allie was playing jump-rope with a couple of other girls, and while she was jumping, her foot got caught on the rope, thus causing her to fall down. The other girls became concerned as Allie's knees started shedding a little blood, along with some bruises and scars. "Oh, great," she groaned, tears running down her eyes.
"Quick, someone go ask for a bandage," one girl said to another.
And then that's when it happened---the start of a beautiful new friendship. Quincy MacKenzie, her future husband whom she lived next door to, was fortunate enough to carry a bandage kit with him, as suggested by his overly-if-not-subtle protective mother. He saw Allie sitting on the grass, trying to scrape the blood off her knees with her bare fingers, then said to his mother, "I think that girl needs some help. May I?"
"Of course, Quincy," his mother said as she gave him the bandage kit. He walked up to Allie, and Allie looked up at him. For a moment, there was a moment of silence. Allie thought that he seemed very friendly; not many boys back in Boston would have the decency to come up to her and ask her if she was all right when she fell down and scraped her knee.
"Hey, are you all right?" he asked her.
She nodded, without saying a word.
He examined her knees for a moment, the other girls watching him. "Yikes, not looking so great, huh?" he said. "Well, help is right here."
"Are you gonna put a bandage on it?" Allie asked him.
"Definitely. And some ointment too, to make it heal faster so you can continue running around again." He smiled, and she giggled. She was starting to like him now. He put some ointment on her knees, then got some bandages and put them on her knees. He also tied her shoelaces for her, which she didn't even notice were untied in the first place.
She was speechlessly amazed, at first. Then she said, "Why.......thank you. That's the nicest thing you've ever done for me."
He shrugged. "Ah, I try."
"My name is Allie," she said, shaking his hand. "Well, actually, it's Alessandra Sampson, but you can call me Allie if you want to."
"Nice to meet you, Allie," he said, also shaking her hand. "My name is Quincy MacKenzie. I believe you're the one who lives next door to me."
"Really? I just moved here three days ago. I'm from Boston."
"Wow, that's very swell," said Quincy. "So, you're like the new girl in town, aren't you?"
"Yeah, I am," Allie said with a smile. "I love it here now. I still miss Boston, but I think this place is my new home for now."
"You'd better believe it," Quincy said. "Here in Fort Chester, we're all very friendly with each other. Everybody knows everybody, and you're basically part of the family now."
"Thank you for putting the bandages on my knees, and for tying my shoelaces," Allie said.
"You're welcome," he said. "I try my best to be a good friend."
"You do seem like a good friend." Allie grinned, and they both chuckled. It was the start of a beautiful new friendship, and many years later, it would become something much more. Alessandra, in her unconscious state, smiled at that precious memory of meeting Quincy for the first time during that summer.