For select use and distribution by Susan Leidy ©1997

Michaela's Perfect Day
by Susan Leidy


Beatrice Cartwright of the Denver Suffrage League has just boarded the train when Sully steps up behind Michaela, puts his arms around her and whispers in her hair, "What do you say you and me take a buggy ride to Midnight Lake and have supper under the moon?" Michaela smiles up at him and says, "what about the children?" Sully answers, "the Man of the Year just arranged for them to stay the night with Matthew."

"Oh he did?" Michaela answers with a smile as she turns to kiss him completely.

"Do you have anything to take care of at the clinic? 'cause once we leave, that's it for the day." asks Sully. Michaela smiles at him, knowing full well what he's trying to do.

"No," she states, "I'm all yours."

"Good," replies Sully and flashes a quick smile of his which he saves just for her.

He turns to Colleen waiting at the depot and says, "Colleen, would you mind gettin' a quilt from the clinic for us? I'll go get the picnic basket from Grace, pick up somethin' from the mercantile and meet cha back at the wagon." He turns back to Michaela and says, "and you can just sit here and rest up 'til we're ready to go." Michaela walks to the bench just outside the ticket office and sits down. "Be back in a flash." Sully says to her as he and the children go off on their various errands.


"Ya know, we oughta do this more," says Sully as he leads the horse-drawn wagon down a well used path.

"I know," replies Michaela. "It will be harder to do once this little one arrives," she says as she pats her extended stomach. "Just have ta try harder," says Sully.

"Where are we headed?" Michaela asks, looking around. Sully says, "'member when we tried to do this before, last Valentines Day? I thought we might just head for that waterfall you wanted to see." Michaela smiles at him and scoots over on the seat to sit closer and wrap her arms around his bent elbow.


Sully helps the awkward Michaela down from the wagon and gently sets her on the ground. "Oh, Sully. This is a beautiful spot. Now I know why you came all the way out here." Sully walks to the back of the wagon and tells Michaela, "pick us a spot in the shade." Michaela walks in the thick grass to a site under the branches of a large oak tree. "Here, I think," she says. Sully spreads the quilt out to cover the grass and turns to help Michaela down. She says with a smile, "you have to promise to help me get back up again." Sully replies, "my pleasure."

Once Michaela is situated on the quilt, he returns to the wagon to get their picnic supplies. "So how long have you had this arranged?" asks Michaela. "Not long" he replies as he walks back from the wagon. He is carrying a large picnic basket, pillow and two books and a wrapped package. "What's that?" Michaela asks as she notices the unexpected items. "Later, after we eat." replies Sully. He settles on the quilt near her and opens the basket. It is filled with fried chicken, rolls, fresh strawberries, green beans with wild onions, one of Grace's famous apple pies and a jug of sun tea, kept cool by wet cloths wrapped around the jar. From the bottom of the basket, Sully pulls two plates, napkins and utensils. "Is this enough?" asks Sully. Michaela laughs and says, "for all three of us, I think."


The picnic basket has been repacked with the empty containers and dirty dishes and Sully and Michaela are relaxing in the shade. Michaela is leaning against the large oak, cushioned by the pillow Colleen suggested they bring along. Sully is stretched out on the quilt, his head resting in Michaela's lap. She is gently stroking his hair. "This is just what I needed," Michaela says, "thank you for arranging it. When I told you the other night I wanted to be able to get away sometimes and just be 'Michaela' instead of Dr Mike, I should have known you would do something like this." Sully smiles up at her and raises up on his elbows so that their lips can meet.

He settles back down in her lap and picks up one of the small black books he brought along. Sully says, "I think it's time for the two of us to start decidin' on a name for the baby. Brian's been pesterin' me about it, readin' from this book of names so I brought it along." Michaela says, "I know. He's been talking to me about it, too. But I want to make sure the name we choose is very special. I've never had to pick a name for someone or something before, except for 'Lives In Hope.' How did you and Abigail pick the name for your baby?" she asks. "Hannah was the name of Loren's ma. Abigail thought it would help mend fences if we named the baby for her." Sully replies. Michaela does not reply, but instead continues to stroke Sully's hair, part comfort, part caress. After a few quiet moments, Sully opens the book and starts to rifle through the pages. "Boy names or girl names first?" he asks. "Either one," she replies. "I've been told I'm carrying a girl and a boy." Sully turns to her and asks, "what do you think it is?" "I have no idea," she admits with a smile, "we'd better have one of each picked out. Do you have any favorites? I know which names you don't like." "Which ones?" he asks, puzzled. "Ezra and Byron," she answers as she tweaks his nose. "I wish we could name the baby after Sam Lindsay, but Horace and Myra already did that." Michaela says. "Who else would you name the baby for?" Sully asks her. "I think I'd like to name it after either my mother or father. Since all there were in my family were girls, there's no one to carry on the family name," Michaela states. "What about your family? I know so little about them. What were their names?" she gently asks Sully. "My pa was named Andrew Davis Sully. My ma was called after her ma, Katherine Mary. Pa always called her his Katie girl. And my brother was named for my pa, but was called Andy. Ma named me after Lord Byron. She was always reading to me from his writin'". Michaela continued to stroke Sully's hair, knowing he was remembering so many that were gone from his life. "Well," Michaela says, looking toward the waterfall, "we have Andrew and Joseph for a boy and Katherine and Elizabeth for a girl. I like them. What about you?" Sully pushes up from Michaela's lap and sits on his knees beside her. He takes her hand, kisses it gently and slowly strokes her bulging stomach. He leans in close to kiss Michaela tenderly and says, "you're pretty special, ya know that?" Michaela smiles in response and says, "I love you too."

Just then, Sully feels a rolling motion beneath his hand as it caresses her stomach. They share a smile and Sully asks, "what does that feel like? Does it hurt?" "No, it doesn't hurt. It felt odd in the beginning, but now it feels like a gentle nudge. It tells me the baby is fine and growing stronger every day," Michaela replies. She takes his hand and places it low on her abdomen and says, "I think the head is here. Can you feel the round shape?" Sully concentrates on what he is feeling and tells her, "sometimes, I can't believe I found you, came to love you, and the kids. Now, with the baby coming, I........." Michaela waits for him to continue. "I thought my chance to have a family had passed me by. Cloud Dancing said the Spirits told him that it would happen. I imagine I was afraid to believe it." He looks up at Michaela, to see tears of love brimming in her eyes. He wipes a tear from her cheek and returns his hand to her stomach. "The Spirits never told me I'd be so happy." "Sully," Michaela says, "I think we should name the baby for both our families." "You sure?" asks Sully. "Of course. This baby will belong to all of us, including Brian, Colleen and Matthew. Naming the baby after your ma or pa and mine will remind us of that." Sully repositions himself next to her and wraps one arm around her shoulders while his other hand finds her stomach once again. Michaela places her hands over his, interlocking fingers and together they wait for their child to stretch its limbs again, preparing to join their world and bring an unknown joy to their lives.


Part II

Michaela wakes slowly and feels the weight of Sully's head in her lap, asleep in the mid-day sun. "Sully," she whispers, "wake up." Sully wakes quickly and rises to a sitting position. "Did you sleep?" he asks as he stretches his arms above his head. "Yes, I did. I feel nice and rested," she replies. "Good," he replies as he leans in for another kiss. "You look nice and rested too. Wanna take a walk?" Sully gets to his feet and helps Michaela carefully rise. They set off hand in hand to walk along the bank of the creek, very much enjoying the sunshine, the sound of the water, and more importantly, the time alone together.


They return to their picnic spot, now arm in arm, more relaxed than when they left. Sully leads Michaela back to the quilt and helps her down. He settles near her and reaches for her foot to untie and remove her shoe and stocking. He proceeds to rub her feet. Michaela smiles at him and asks, "how is it you always seem to know just where I'd like that?" "Like what?" Sully replies. "Like to have you touch me," she replies with a shy smile. "Guess I'm gettin' to know you." Sully responds as he arches her foot first to one side, then the other. His hands move up her calf to softly stroke the back of her knee. Michaela smiles down at him and watches him move to her other foot and leg. She wonders how she got so lucky to find such a considerate man. She asks, "Sully, can I ask you something?" "Sure you can," he replies. "Most of the women patients I have tell me their husbands are very, well, 'intolerant' of them while they're pregnant. How is it that you're not?" Sully looks up at her and says, "the Cheyenne taught me that Mother Earth is to be honored. They do the same for their women, 'specially when they're carryin'. That's how it oughta be." "Well," Michaela replies, "I want you to know I appreciate it." Sully smiles and tickles the bottom of her foot with a blade of grass.


Sully has moved on the quilt to sit on his calves behind Michaela and rub her back and shoulders. Michaela has her eyes closed and is quite relaxed. Sully leans back and tells her, "keep your eyes closed. I got somethin' for ya." He reaches behind him to get the forgotten package from under the edge of the quilt. Michaela hears the rustling of paper and a sound she cannot quite place. "You can open 'em now," he says. Michaela opens her eyes to see Sully sitting in front of her, holding out a small velvet box. She takes the box and reaches to stroke his face. She opens the box to find a small collar pin nestled on a piece of velvet. The pin is made of gold and in the shape of a very elaborate 'S' with a number of curves and swirls. "Oh Sully, it's beautiful. But you didn't need to get me anything. Thank you so much." "You like it?" Sully replies. "I wanted you to have somethin' special to pass on to our baby when its grown. Somethin' from me." He reaches to take the pin from her hands and pin it to the front of her dress, right at the juncture of her collar at her throat. "Each time I wear it, I'll think of this day," Michaela says. Sully's hands travel from the front of her dress to gently cup her face. "Good," he says just before he kisses her deeply.

The kiss ends slowly, but he keeps his hands on her face. "Our family's got more last names than most." Michaela places her hands on his face in return and says, "that it does. But we're all Sullys. Especially this baby. I love you, Mr Sully." "I love you, too Mrs Sully," Sully replies. Sully leans in to rest his forehead against Michaela's. Their smiles tell the story of a couple very much in love, very happy with each other, and very thankful to have as many blessings as they have.


Sully reaches into the picnic basket to pull out the bowl of strawberries he saved from their lunch earlier. "You hungry?" he asks Michaela. "Um-hum," Michaela replies as she eyes the strawberries. Sully laughs at her, for she is obviously hungry. Michaela joins him in his laugh, knowing his laugh is genuine, not condescending. "This is gonna have to last you 'til we get home. Think you can hold out or should I start fishin'?" Sully asks. "Shame on you. You know it's not me, it's the baby," Michaela replies. Sully asks her teasingly, "so, the baby likes strawberries? Guess I'd better plant some more in the garden."

He reaches up to feed Michaela a strawberry. She bites into it slowly, watching his eyes all the while. Sully takes the remaining berry and brushes her lips with the juicy pulp. Some juice has collected in the corner of her mouth and threatens to run down her chin. She reaches up to brush it away, and Sully stops her hand and quietly says, "this is for me." He places his lips at the corner of her mouth to collect the excess juice with his tongue. Michaela responds to his touch by arching her neck, tipping her head back and pulling her lips away unintentionally from Sully. He moves his focus from her lips to her soft white throat. He nuzzles her contentedly, and asks, "still hungry?" Michaela replies with the same, "um-hum," but her voice is noticeably deeper and huskier than before. Sully lifts his head to once again feed her the remaining berry. Michaela takes it, chews it slowly, all the while looking at Sully. She reaches for a new berry and places it just in front of Sully's lips. He takes the berry in his teeth, leaving some exposed. He raises his eyebrows invitingly at Michaela for her to join him. She flashes a quick smile and bites into the strawberry. Sully quickly guzzles down his portion so he can join Michaela with her half. Their tongues meet and enjoy first the berry and juice, then each other. They pull apart slowly, breathing heavily. Michaela says, "I wonder if my mother thinks we do this?" Sully replies incredulously, "you were thinking of your mother?" Michaela laughs and replies, "no, it's just that when Mother and I spoke of what she called 'wifely duties' she said it was something that I would just have to endure. I never thought it would be something I'd enjoy." Sully replies, "so you enjoyed that?" Again, Michaela replies with her "um-hum" and reaches into the bowl for yet another juicy, inviting strawberry.


Michaela is again sitting with her back against the tree, cushioned by a pillow. Sully's head is again in her lap and this time he's holding open the other book he brought along. This book is noticeably shabbier than the other. It's cover is frayed at the corners. What used to be gold lettering for the title is now just flakes of gold peppered throughout the front cover and spine. "What book is that? I don't think it's one I've seen before. Did you get it from the library?" asks Michaela. Sully replies, "no, this is mine. It's the book my ma used to read to me from, called the 'Collection of American Poetry'. It's the only thing of her's I got." "Oh, Sully. We'll need to find a very special place to keep it at the house. May I look at it?" Sully carefully hands her the book so as not to break loose any more of the binding than is already damaged. Michaela opens the front cover to reveal an inscription inside. She looks at Sully and asks, "may I read it?" Sully nods. Michaela reads aloud the words written in a clear hand.

September 21, 1839

My dearest Little Lord Byron,

We've had many precious moments sharing these words, you and I. May you find them as inspiring as I do and may you share them with your own child someday.

You are loved. Happiest of Birthdays.


"Oh Sully! What a treasure. I'm so glad you still have this. You'll have to make sure to read these to the baby, even to Brian and Colleen. And your birthday!!! I wondered when I'd finally know when your birthday is. Do you mind?" "Not any more." Sully replies softly. "I used to wish it away, 'cause it made me remember too many things. Now that I got a family to share it with me, I got new things to remember it by." Michaela leans forward as far as she can to look down into Sully's eyes. "And you shall," she says just as softly. Sully takes the book from her hands and once again raises up on his elbows so their lips can meet. He recognizes a faint taste of strawberry still upon her lips.

As he settles back down in her lap and her hands move to resume stroking his hair, he picks up the book and turns to a dog-eared page. He says, "my ma's the one who taught me 'bout poetry. I wanted to read this one to ya for a long time. It was one of my ma's favorites and when I think on it now, I think of you." Sully begins to read slowly, intimately, and lovingly, these words written by his namesake, Lord Byron:

"She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty like the night, Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that's best of dark and bright, Meets in her aspect and her eyes; Thus mellow'd to that tender light Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade more, one ray less, Had half impair'd the nameless grace; Which waves in every raven's trees O'er softly lightens o'er her face--- where thought silently sweet express how pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek and o'er that brow, so soft, so calm, yet eloquent, The smile that wins, the tints that glow, but tell of days in goodness spend a mind at peace with all below, a heart whose love in innocent."

When finished, he carefully closes the book, sets it down on the quilt and looks up at Michaela. For the second time today, her eyes are brimming with tears. But these tears are different. They tell of a love of beautiful words and the special meaning they have now taken on, having been shared between two souls who love one another. "I don't know what to say, Sully." Michaela replies as tears run down her face. "Did I embarrass you?" he asks. "Oh, no. It's just, I never thought of myself like that, as beautiful." Sully rises to a sitting position next to Michaela, takes her hand in his and says, "I've told you I think you're beautiful before." "Not that kind of beautiful," replies Michaela. "Yes, Michaela, that kind of beautiful," Sully replies tenderly, yet firmly. He leans in for yet another kiss, one that is meant to tell her with feeling just how much he wants her to believe him.


Michaela and Sully are lying in bed together. Sully is cuddled up to Michaela's back in spoon fashion. His arm is lying under her shoulders and is out straight. His other arm is caressing her bare arm and shoulder, moving between them and her extended abdomen. "Sully?" she whispers. "Hmmm" Sully replies. She turns to lie on her back, Sully's hand now resting on her stomach. She takes his hand in both of hers. "I want to thank you for today. Not just for what you did and for the picnic but for sharing so many things with me. I know those aren't memories that come easily for you and I........." Sully quiets her with a gentle kiss. "They ain't so hard now. Now that I got you to share 'em with, it makes my old life more easy to remember, 'specially my ma. I think she'd like you." "I wish I could have known her," Michaela says as she strokes Sully's strong fingers in her delicate hands. Sully replies, "you know, you remind me of her. She had to be so strong to survive my pa's death, then my brother's. When it was just me and her, she never let on she was troubled. You don't either." Michaela replies, "I just don't want to burden you. With the problems with the Cheyenne and O'Connor and all, I don't want you to be......" Sully interrupts her with, "be what--a good husband? That's what bein' married means to me, Michaela. Sharin' troubles as well as joys. It's somethin' that I want ya ta do." Michaela says, "that must be why you're so good at sensing when I am troubled." "Must be," Sully replies. "It's been a long day and you and the baby need some rest. Go to sleep now, darlin'." "Goodnight, sweetheart. Thank you for my perfect day." Michaela says softly and smiles up at Sully. "Sleep well," he replies as he leans in for the last kiss of the day.

The End