Chapter 28:

Sophie Plays Herself, News at Eleven

The Love Triangle Between Me, The Class President, & The Spirit Possessing Me

"I can't believe I'm going along with this," I groan, hearing a knock on the door precisely at eight in the morning. On a Saturday.

Hauling myself out of bed, I hastily smooth out the covers and go over to answer the door. Sabrina is standing outside, dressed in a carefully coordinated casual outfit of a leggings under a plaid skirt, and a cable-knit sweater with a simple necklace and matching earrings. I think I spy some lip gloss, too. What stands out more than Sabrina in casual clothes, though, is the clipboard she's holding.

"Good morning, Clark," she says brightly, walking inside almost before I have a chance to move out of her way. "I have our itinerary all planned out. Sophie is going to have a perfect day!"

"Itinerary?" I watch her set a packed-full grocery bag on the kitchen table. "Sabrina, have you ever been on a date before?"

"Irrelevant," Sabrina says, which I take to mean that no, she hasn't.

Feeling under-dressed in my pajamas, I excuse myself to take a shower while Sabrina insists on making breakfast in the kitchenette. I come out to find three plates laid out on the table with three glasses of orange juice. On each plate is a slice of toasted french bread topped with a slice of swiss cheese, a slice of ham (the nice stuff, not the weird lunchmeat ham squares I have in the fridge) and a fried egg. I don't have any of these ingredients, so she must have brought them in the grocery bag.

On the far side of the table, Sophie shoots me a look that screams "how dare you ditch me to take a shower" while Sabrina keeps chattering at her. After a few seconds, she notices me.

"Much more presentable, Clark." She gestures to my table. "Let's eat before the food gets cold, and then we can be on our way."

Sitting down, I glance at the third place setting. Sophie gives it a dubious look, too. "Why three plates?"

Sabrina raises an eyebrow. "Well, it would have been extremely rude of me to use your kitchen and yet not make a serving for you, Clark."

"You think I can eat this?" To illustrate her point, Sophie passes a hand through the fork in front of her. "I tried to tell you earlier not to bother."

Giving us both a patient look, Sabrina sits down and takes up her own fork and knife. "I assumed Sophie could simply possess you in order to eat," she says, gesturing at me. "Or am I misunderstanding the mechanics of all this?"

Slapping her own forehead at the obvious solution, Sophie looks at me. "Do you mind, Clark? It does look pretty..." She coughs. "I mean, it doesn't look completely awful."

Just like letting Sophie possess me makes any aches and pains feel muted, I can't taste much with her behind the wheel, but that's fine. She hasn't gotten to eat much of anything for longer than I've been around.

"Ooh, yummy!" Sophie says, coming a little too close to choking me with a mouthful of toast. "What is this?"

Sabrina beams. "It's called croque monsieur. It's one of the first things I learned how to make." She takes a delicate sip of her orange juice. "I hope it came out alright. Clark's hotplate is a bit temperamental."

Well, we don't all have space for a full kitchen with a stove. But fair enough, I have burnt plenty of stuff on that hotplate. It's one of the reasons I use the microwave so much. After Sophie is finished with "her" breakfast, I eat the third serving so it won't go to waste. It tastes really good. There's even a smear of fancy mustard hidden in there. It doesn't look too complicated to make, either. I might have to try it myself sometime.

After breakfast, the first stop on Sabrina's itinerary is a coffee shop, where Clark, as the chaperone, pays for two drinks. Sophie's never had an iced double caramel macchiato cappu-whatsit before. It's so sweet and delicious she ends up giving Clark a brain freeze gulping it down, and gets some of the whipped cream up his nose. He's a good sport about that, at least.

The next stop is a matinee showing of the Private Eye Poltergeist movie, which Sophie hadn't even known existed. A moving picture show on the biggest screen she's ever seen, and of her favorite thing! The popcorn was just as good as she remembered it being, too.

"I'm gonna have a monster stomachache by the time this is all over, aren't I?" Clark grouses in the back of their currently-shared head.

"Oh, don't be a stick in the mud," Sophie replies, realizing too late that she's missed a chance to push the idea that Sabrina isn't being careful of Clark's health.

After the movie lets out, they walk down the street to grab a quick lunch before their next activity. Sophie pops out of Clark so he can have a break from being puppeted about.

"That was the bees' absolute knees!" Sophie sighs happily, doing a little pirouette in the air. "We should go to the theater again!"

Sabrina nods fervently. "It's been a while since I've gone, too. That was much more enjoyable than going by myself."

Clark sighs. "Just don't make me eat a whole bucket of popcorn next time, please." He rubs his stomach. "Tell me we're having a light lunch."

"That's entirely up to Sophie," Sabrina says, grinning up at her. She has an admittedly nice smile. "Sophie, you'll have to let me know how the food at Terri's Cafe has changed since you knew it."

"Terri's is still around?" Sophie feels a pang of nostalgia. "I wonder if they still have that yummy vegetable soup, or the baked pork chops. Ooh! Or that apple pie that Myrna used to bake…" Myrna wouldn't be baking the pies these days, of course, but her granddaughter or great-grandson or someone might be.

"Sophie," Clark says, in that tone he gets when he's trying to be patient but is going to let Sophie have her way. "I have forty dollars left and we still have the whole afternoon to go. Please, pace yourself."

Sabrina waves him off. "I have money if you run out. Let her have fun!"

"If I'm here to be the chaperone," Clark says, hands on hips. "Then I'm gonna chaperone. Don't encourage her."

Something about the way Clark and Sabrina are speaking to each other, bantering without any sign of trying to impress each other, that puts Sophie in a strange mood. On the one hand, Clark isn't mooning over Sabrina at all, which is good. And Sabrina's being as dismissive of him as she always is, which is galling but also, in the long run, a good thing. But if love really is dead between them after all, then is this whole day even necessary?

Sophie could call a halt right here, say their goodbyes to Sabrina, and go back home.

… But she's having fun.

Sabrina's next stop is the city zoo. It's been modernized since Sophie's day. Instead of sad cages with concrete floors and iron bars, all the animals have open yards with grass and trees, and a moat and fence to keep the people out. Sophie passes the afternoon getting as close to the animals as she can without frightening them, Clark standing wherever is best to let her move freely. She gets to look a giraffe right in the eye, stand in the middle of the flamingo flock, and pass through the glass of the aquarium to float around with the tropical fish.

Clark puts his foot down and says no to an afternoon snack. Sabrina buys her plush frog from the gift shop. It's a wonderful time.

Sabrina says they have plans downtown for the evening, but in the time between the zoo closing and then, they stop off at the park. When Sophie was alive, there'd been fanciful boats here shaped like swans that people could rent out to putter around on the lake. To her delight, the swan boats are still here, though they're plastic now, rather than painted wood.

Clark coughs up the money for a boat. Sophie takes the first turn paddling with Clark's feet on the pedals. She's a bit overexcited at first, since her parents had never agreed to let her go out on the swan boats as a child. After a few minutes of paddling them around in circles (Sabrina was far from strong enough to keep up), Clark took over, letting Sophie ride around on top of the swan's head. Out in the center of the lake, they relax on the water, watching the sun sink lower over the trees. The air is getting cooler, but since Sabrina and Clark are both in sweaters and Sophie can't feel the cold, it's of no concern.

Clark takes a phone call from his mother, leaving Sophie with no one to talk with for a while except Sabrina.

"Are you having a nice time, Sophie?" Sabrina looks up at her hopefully.

Sophie deeply wants to find something to complain about, but can't think of anything that wouldn't be a painfully obvious fib. "Yes," she sighs, frowning.

Sabrina's grin widens. "So am I," she says. "I don't get the opportunity to do these things very often, and you're wonderful company. Thank you for proposing spending the day together."

"Yeah, yeah." Sophie waves her off, face coloring up silver. "Don't lay it on so thick, woman."