Written by Tey
This continues where Daphne's Decision left off, the baby having yet to be born.
Daphne kept back a smile as Charlie repeated her question back to her.
"Why not?" he said again. "Because... Because..."
She sat there, mentally keeping herself three steps ahead of him, already having a counter-argument for almost any excuse he could come up with. "Yeah?" she taunted him. "Sounds like a good reason to me so far."
For weeks, Daphne tried to encourage Charlie to go into business with Kevin Quoss, his friend from the hospital. She failed to see any harm in it, two friends moving on with life, trying new things, following through on old dreams.
"I couldn't leave Owen while I-,"
"You get to work from home," she said giving him a quick, almost invisible smile.
Charlie sighed. "Do you know how much money it would cost-?"
"Do you know what a business loan is?" she said.
"C'mon, Daph, I'm serious! We've a baby to consider and prepare for and..."
Daphne propped her chin on her hand. "Duh." She wanted to needle him a bit more, but decided that game could wait until tonight. "Try again," she said.
"I'm 28 years old, Daphne. A guy like me has..."
"Has got to take life as it presents itself! C'mon, Charlie! Do you think Kevin would have even brought it up if *he* didn't think it was possible? You two have what it takes!"
"So?" he asked.
"So?!" She pushed herself away from the table. "So, you and I are going to the bank or to your lawyer or something and see what all we need!"
"What do we need?" Bailey asked, handing a pop to Owen who was close on his heels.
"Confidence," Daphne said.
"And courage?" Owen asked. "Like the lion?"
Daphne chuckled as she picked the toddler up. "Yep, Owen. Your brother needs courage and he needs it bad!"
"Better hurry, Charlie," Owen said. He nodded his head as if it was a great emergency.
Daphne gave Charlie a mock/serious look, "Yeah, Charlie, you better hurry."
Bailey shook his head. "Anyone here heard of 'reality?'"
Daphne stuck her tongue at him careful not to let Owen see. "Easy coming from the guy who isn't making the mortgage payments for a restaurant he didn't want," she said.
"Knock it off, you two," Charlie said. He rubbed the temple of his forehead with one hand while scribbling numbers with the other.
Owen wiggled free from Daphne's hug. "Charlie?" he whispered, leaning close to him. "Is it a tumor? Like that Arnold guy had?"
"Gawd!" Bailey moaned.
Daphne turned in an attempt to not laugh out loud.
Charlie's chuckling broke the silence. "It's not a tumor, Owe. It's just a headache. Your brother and your sister-in-law are giving me a headache."
"Want me to make them take it back?"
Charlie shook his head. "No. There's only one thing I can do to make this go away." He looked up at Daphne and she knew exactly where they were headed later.
Daphne turned her head this way and that, watching two of the men in her life deal with paperwork. Owen's expression was just as serious as his brother's was. The toddler clenched a crayon in his hand, looked about him, then continued with his drawing.
Charlie nudged Daphne. "What should I put on this line?"
She thought about it for only a moment. "Same as that line," she said. She wasn't about to confess about the countless books that she read, or what she learned about business plans, loan applications and such. She even had Kevin swear silence about the numerous questions she asked about the partnership.
"When's he gonna get here?" she asked.
Charlie glanced at the clock. "Give him another five minutes or so."
She had no reason to worry. It wasn't as if any barriers existed between them and step one.
After the bank dealings were completed, the four of them went to a cafe near one of the community colleges. Out of the corner of her eye, Daphne saw Charlie grab something then stuff it inside his jacket.
"What's that?" she asked.
"What's what?" he said, a look of innocence on his face.
Owen poked him in the stomach. "You hid it in your coat, Charlie."
Kevin clicked his tongue. "Charles, we *cannot* make him a junior partner. He'd tell everyone our secrets."
Owen looked at Kevin and said matter-of-factly, "Secrets can be bad."
Daphne seconded the motion. "Either I see that paper, Charlie, or you run the risk of some people seeing..."
Charlie handed her a course catalog. "Happy?"
Kevin lifted Owen onto his shoulders. "Hey, Owen, let's go see what they have over there."
"Because I don't think either of us should hear or see what could happen next, that's why."
"Why?" Owen asked again.
Kevin bit his lower lip. "Never mind that. Let's find a new toy to play with instead."
Daphne took Charlie's hand. "What exactly do you think you're doing, Mr. Salinger?"
"Enrolling a certain someone in a certain photography class, Mrs. Salinger."
Daphne laughed. "Charlie, just because I told you..."
"What reasons do you have for not trying?" he asked.
"There's a baby to prepare for."
"Duh," he said. "Try again."
Daphne shook her head. "I don't have a camera."
"Yes you do. Claudia's. It's in the attic."
"I haven't been to school in, like, months," she said.
Charlie shook his head. "I haven't been in years. Try again."
She couldn't believe he was serious about this. She could have brought up any number of arguments, but it seemed that he, too, was prepared. "I'm not creative enough. And what kind of job would it get me, anyway?"
"There are *plenty* of opportunities out there for you, Daph. You could take photos for a magazine or a newspaper or anything. We could travel. You've always wanted..."
"What if I fail?" It wasn't a question she had ordinarily asked herself. Aiming for something specific with risks wasn't a habit of hers. At least that was the case until she said 'I do' to Charlie.
"Daphne," he said wrapping his arms around her slightly growing waist, "you're carrying a life *we* created. I fail to see how we failed there. And it's like you said, 'you gotta take life as it presents itself.' So, what do you say? Up for a challenge?"
Daphne smiled. Ideas for photo essays, darkroom spaces and supplies flashed through her mind. He was right, the possibilities were there. "Where do I sign, professor?" she asked.
Daphne stretched, massaging a sore muscle in her lower back. Another glance at the calendar told her that she was only two-thirds of the way there. It didn't seem like time should have passed so quickly. Then again, her classes, both personal and parental, kept her busier than she thought. She sat down on the bench, debating whether or not to lay down and take a nap. Charlie wasn't kidding when he told her that she wouldn't want any other bit of furniture in her darkroom. Whether it was because he made it just for her, or he had an idea of how quickly she'd tire, she wasn't sure.
Naptime would have to wait, she told herself as she opened the door.
"Can I read you a story I made up?"
Daphne smiled. Of all the things in her day, spending time with Owen was her favorite. "Sure. Let me clean up my mess first, all right?"
"Can I help?"
She bit her lower lip then remembered she hadn't taken out as many chemicals as last time. "All right, Owen, but remember..."
"Be careful," he said. "I will."
In the living room, the two of them sat on the couch, a bowl of fruit between them as Owen reread his story.
"The end," he said, closing the book with a flourish.
"That's my favorite," she said, giving him a hug.
"You said that to the last one," he said, giving her a skeptical look.
She pretended to pinch his nose. "Well, you told me the same thing about my pictures, too."
"Nuh-uh. Charlie did," Owen said. "I like the one with Thurber."
Outside, a car door slammed. "They're home!" Owen said, running to the door.
Daphne shook her head.
Even if she tried now to correct him of his habit of running, it wouldn't work. She'd have joined him, too, if it weren't for her current condition.
"Hey," Julia said, swinging her brother around once then putting him down.
"How'd it go?" Daphne asked. "Your essay was due today, right?"
Julia pretended not to hear. "Claudia's got ice cream and popcicles, Owe. Wanna go help her?"
He nodded before vanishing outside.
Daphne almost yelled after him to put on a coat then remembered her original target. "The essay, Jule."
"Can I borrow some of your pictures to go with it?" Julia asked. "Charlie's already made me an easel, and Claudia's recorded some music and..."
Daphne laughed, "This was supposed to be a *solo* effort here. How did...?"
"Oh, and Bailey proofed it for me and....Oh, I forgot to tell you, I rewrote the whole thing."
Daphne gave her a puzzled look. "You revised it, you mean."
Julia shook her head. "Nope. Rewrote it, from line one to line last."
Daphne felt a headache coming on. It seemed as if *everyone* had some sort of personal challenge to undertake. Who was she supposed to fault for that, she wondered.
She heard Charlie walk in. "You wouldn't guess what your sister did," she started.
"Actually, I would. Bailey has a space set aside for it already at the restaurant." He looked at Julia. "Did you get the photos you needed?"
"On my way now," she said, vanishing into the other room. A few moments later, she was on her way out the door, calling back, "Thanks, Daphne!"
Daphne turned away. "Did I tell you about the advantages of being an only child?"
Charlie laughed. "Did I tell you about the advantages of owning a restaurant? Let's go out."
The five of them entered Salingers' and took their customary table. Griffin, Julia and Bailey were already there.
"Before we order, there's something I need you guys to see," Bailey said. He took them into a banquet room off to the side. Along the edge of the room, various pieces of art were on display. Bailey stepped back to the light switch. In the middle of the room was an essay, accompanied by music and photos.
"Figured you should name this exhibit," Julia said.
"Yeah," Bailey said, "considering this is the grand opening of the 'Salingers' Gallery,' open to the public during business hours."
Claudia slipped an arm into Daphne's. "You're kinda responsible for this, anyway, with your photos and all."
"No, no, no. Julia's the one who wrote something that was *supposed* to go to the school paper." Daphne stepped forward to take a closer look. The essay on the half-podium brought tears to her eyes as Claudia's violin playing fit the mood so perfectly.
"It kinda sounds like a dream, huh, Daphne?" Owen said pressing his ear against the tape player.
"It does." She glanced back at her family, then took in the entirety of the exhibit. "It does."
"So, what do we call it?" Charlie asked before kissing her on the cheek.
"'Dare to Dream,'" she said softly. "'Dare to Dream.'"