Time in Willow Creek: 6 months, 2 weeks
Author’s Note: Heads up. More sexual innuendo than you’ve seen from me ahead…just so ya know. 🙂
Weeks flew by, and Juliana’s life was often the topic of conversation during meal times in the Humphries household. Harriett always asked about what she did that day as an extension of their lessons. The more Juliana got comfortable with the language, the more she spoke. As of late, she often spoke about her newest friends from the art club. The spotlight was always on Juliana those days. Hillary was happy for her, truly. In a way, she thought it was nice to have someone else in her mother’s focus. But, at the same time, she felt like she was she fading into obscurity.
Hillary didn’t share any commonalities with Juliana’s new friends and had begun to feel the sting of being left out. It seemed every time Hillary wanted to hang with Juliana, she had art club. It was probably just coincidence that she always asked her on the same nights of the week, but it didn’t feel like coincidence. It felt like abandonment. Previously, Hillary’s role in Juliana’s life was more like a tour guide and part time guardian angel. But, Juliana was getting to be so independent. She was crafting a life for herself. In Hillary’s eyes, there was no room for her in Juliana’s new life, but it didn’t stop her from trying to make sure it wasn’t so. However, after so many attempts, she grew weary of trying.
One afternoon, after being turned down again, Hillary retreated to her room in a cloud of hot, angry steam. Juliana had turned her down for the last time, she decided. She didn’t need Juliana. Her life was just fine without her. Sure, she only had one friend, but she could get more if she really wanted to. And, sure, she didn’t have a gorgeous man in her life who cared about her and catered to her every need, but… That’s where her thoughts got stuck. How did Juliana have such a wonderful person in her life? She had been in the country for six months, and her life was already far more glamorous than Hillary’s. How? Why? What did Kevin see in her? When would someone like Kevin enter Hillary’s life? That is what she truly wanted. She didn’t want to continue dating douche bags for the rest of her life, although, she often felt they were what she deserved. They were incapable of loving her, and that’s why she went out with them. Love was something she didn’t think she deserved, but in her heart of hearts, it was she wanted more than anything. Juliana had what she wanted; she was convinced. Juliana said Kevin wasn’t her boyfriend, but how did Hillary know she wasn’t just saying that? She saw the way Juliana looked at him that day; there was desire in her eyes. And the way Juliana floated into the house when they got home and the grin she had on her face. And the fact that Juliana hadn’t told her that she had been in contact with Kevin before that day. Hmph. The art club probably isn’t even real, she thought. I bet she hasn’t stepped a foot in Windenburg since the party! She’s probably cuddled up with him at his house right now! She was convinced. Juliana was dating Kevin, and it wasn’t fair. She needed to shift the balance. Juliana was not going to be the only one having fun anymore. She grabbed her phone began scrolling through her address book for just the right person to help her.
Meanwhile, at art club, everyone was busy painting majestic masterpieces when Juliana noticed Kevin was not participating again. A few things occurred to her as she was trying to figure out why he would keep showing up without joining in. When he first mentioned the group to her the afternoon they met at the park, he said he would go with her the first few times to make sure she was comfortable and got on well with everyone. However, it had been three weeks. She was very comfortable and got on well with everyone, but he still showed up and did not paint. What was keeping him there? At first she thought he was being nice by making sure she was safe by taking her home and occasionally driving her there. But, why not drop her off and go do something else? Something about the situation was off.
“Are you ok?”
“Yeah,” he hesitated. “Yeah, I’m good.” He tried to sound more confident.
She knew something was wrong but didn’t want to press him. “Will you paint today?”
He quickly thought up a lame excuse. “No. I…I came straight from work. I don’t paint in these clothes.”
She smiled. “Next time you bring your paint clothes?”
She had painted him into a corner, and he smiled awkwardly. “I’ll try not to forget next time.”
Back at home, Hillary had been scrolling through her phonebook over and over again. There was a particular name she would stare at, think about, and scroll past; she did this quite a few times. They had met a few months ago and exchanged numbers. He wasn’t the type who called; women called him. She knew that, but was still hesitant to make the call. He was charming, and she thought he was quite attractive. But, getting involved with him wasn’t something she thought she should do. His reputation was well known. When people spoke his name, everyone knew who he was. Hillary was no saint herself, but there was something about hanging out with him that made her feel like she was doing something wrong. But, she couldn’t think about that. She had something to prove, and he was just the guy to make that statement with. She was determined to have someone who was hot and powerful just like Juliana.
It took her quite some time to actually make the call, but she did. It was around 10:00 when she left the house. The cab ride was only ten minutes, but it was far too long for her anxious spirit. As much as she was determined to make this night happen, her conscience began to speak. Is this what you really want? When the cab stopped, she looked at her destination and sighed as she exited the car and paid the fare. She stood on the sidewalk as the driver sped off. Her infamous date actually lived on Jase’s street. In the corner of her eye, she saw lights on in his house and briefly considered abandoning this plan and going over there instead. No. I’m doing this! She’s doing the exact same thing! That was all the convincing she needed to order her brain to make her legs move in the direction of the door. She climbed the steps, and her heartbeat quickened with each one. Her conscience was talking to her again, but she silenced it. It’s gonna be fun, she tried to convince herself.
She heard heavy footsteps coming toward her before she saw the dark silhouette of her companion for the evening. She shuddered at the first glimpse of him. Oh my God…I’m doing this. I’m really doing this. She was getting nervous. For a brief moment, she could think clearly. She knew Juliana wasn’t with Kevin—at least not in bed with him as she made herself believe. She knew this entire thing was wrought from jealousy. She also knew she still had time to turn around and leave, but he had already seen her. She couldn’t punk out.
“Hey baby,” he said. “I was surprised when you called. Didn’t think I’d hear from you.”
Heh, even he knows I shouldn’t be here. “Hey. I’m…full of surprises.” She tried to sound chipper. It didn’t really work.
It had been a while since they saw each other. He stepped outside to get a better look at her. His eyes traced the outline of every curve of her body, and his hands followed, first falling down the slope of her soft shoulders into the valley of her waist and across the peaks of her hips. Her breaths quickened in response to his touch.
“Mmmmm, your mama gave you all the right stuff in all the right places, girl. Know what I’m talking ‘bout?”
Hillary wasn’t dumb. She knew the only time men appreciated her body was within the context of sex. However, if she was completely honest with herself, even though she knew what he was about, his words were like water on her parched soul. Her world was barren, dry, and in desperate need for affection and compliments. She took them in whatever form they came while she remained in a drought pattern. It was wrong, but she was beginning to think perhaps placing herself in his very capable hands wouldn’t be a bad thing after all.
As his hands lingered on her hips, she forgot all about her feelings toward Juliana. Well, not completely. Even though she knew she would regret this night, in a twisted way, she found pleasure in knowing she was doing something Juliana wasn’t. Don’s hands moved to her waist, and he pulled her close to him. They were so close, their noses almost touched. “Lemme show you how Donnie gets down.”
She followed him inside and put her conscience on mute. She didn’t need to feel more guilty than she already did. As soon as Don crossed the threshold of his bedroom, he began to disrobe. He had a tattoo on his right bicep. She tried to read what it said. Seeing him shirtless in his underwear caused her to panic. It was happening, and it was going to happen fast. This was Don Lothario, and he didn’t play around. The regret she knew she would feel later had begun to set in already. He wasn’t the guy. This wasn’t the way. Even just for a little fun, none of it was right for her. She hesitated.
He walked over to her side of the room and cupped his hands around her shoulders. “You ain’t scared, are ya?”
She tried to smile and shook her head.
He unzipped her blouse and let it fall to the floor. “I’ll be gentle. Donnie knows how to take care of sweet ladies like you.” He went for her jeans next. “I’ll go real slow…until it’s time to go fast, heh. Know what I’m talking ‘bout?”
She wanted to run, but there was no turning back. She hated that she had ignored all the exits that were presented to her throughout the night and was trapped between the sheets with a man who couldn’t care less about her. So, she swallowed her guilt and attempted to have an enjoyable evening. She almost hoped it would be terrible to give herself a better reason to make it just a one-time thing. But, Don didn’t reach household name status for no reason. He was very good at what he did. He was so attentive and gentle like he said he would be; she almost thought he cared. He kissed her in all her favorite places. She even found that she had new favorite places. “Oh, you like that,” he would say when she giggled or sighed happily. Electric pulses shot up and down her spine as his hands roamed her body. Then, when the time was right, he sealed their evening with the pièce de résistance. As he promised, he went slow, making sure to give her a head start to the finish line. He watched her as she got closer to claiming the victory. She had her eyes on the prize, and she wanted it badly. That was when he knew it was time to go fast. He picked up his pace to catch up with her. When he did, they crossed the finish line together. It was perfect. Don was a master. He had all the right ingredients and timed everything perfectly like the five star chef he was. It was awesomely clear to Hillary how he got the reputation he had, and there was no way this would be a one-time thing; she knew that before she even left her house. It was why she kept scrolling past his name. But in that moment, she didn’t care. She was high and didn’t want to come down as she lay there panting with him. When their breaths were caught, the reality of their predicament came crashing down as she remembered it wasn’t real. Don was real. The sex was very real. The spark that existed between them was not. That’s when she felt it. Emptiness. It lodged itself between her and Don who was pretty pleased with himself, as always. “Heh, I told you I’d take care of you.” He rolled over and went to sleep. Tears filled her eyes as the emptiness invited its companions, disappointment, guilt, and shame, to join the after party. Why am I here? What was this for? Why do I still feel lonely?
Don’s loud snores vibrated in her eardrums as she tried to fall asleep. They were like nagging reminders of the mistake she made. Two mistakes, actually. Getting carried away with jealousy had gotten her nowhere. Juliana was safe at home in her warm bed while she was broken in Don’s bed. She remained there until she fell asleep for she did not see the point of going back to her own house at that hour. If her mother caught her sneaking in, she would never hear the end of it. At some point during the night, however, she did finally drift off to sleep. When the sun arose, she felt slightly better. Don woke up just as she was making her side of the bed, but he did not look happy about finding her there. “You’re still here?” He groaned and rubbed his eyes.
The smile she had quickly faded. She wasn’t sure if she did something wrong. “I can’t go home in the middle of the night. My mama would kill me.”
“That ain’t how this usually works.” He put on the clothes he discarded on the floor the previous night.
She stood there trying to decipher what her next move was supposed to be.
“I mean, you could have at least made yourself useful. Made me some breakfast or something.” There was a distinct amount of disdain in his voice as he left her standing there and headed toward the kitchen.
“I’ll fix you something,” she said. “Just give me a minute.” She went to the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror before she proceeded to the kitchen. She wanted to see if she still recognized herself. Her reflection looked familiar, but she found no pleasure in it. When she came out of the bathroom, she was surprised to see Don enjoying a bowl of Fruity O’s. She laughed at the thought of Jase and Don having something in common. “I said I was gonna fix you something.”
“Too late! You shoulda thought about that while you were vacationing in my bed. Whatchu think is? A hotel?”
“Ok! I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” She went into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of eggs and butter from the refrigerator.
“You wanna play with the big dog? You better learn the game… Hey…what are you doing in there?”
“I’m just making some eggs.”
Suddenly, she heard his chair scrape against the wooden floor and his heavy steps rushing toward her. She could feel his hot body towering behind her. “What did I say? This ain’t no hotel, woman! You think I have money to be feeding y’all? Get away from that stove and eat some cereal if you hungry!”
She froze. She couldn’t put the eggs back in their shells. Did he expect her to let them sit on the counter? What was he going to do with them? He wasn’t a real chef. Don turned his head to take another mouthful of cereal when she discarded the contents of the bowl. The sound of the eggs hitting the bottom of the trash bag sounded like jello hitting the floor to her. But, to him, it sounded like money flying away. He thrusted his cereal bowl into the sink, his face as red as his shirt. She could see the rage in his eyes and knew he was going to hit her. He didn’t, but what came out of his mouth was equally as painful.
Hillary ran into the bathroom and cried in the shower as she asked herself for the seemingly 100th time what she was doing there. She dressed and took a few deep breaths as she prepared to go out and face him again. To her surprise, he was standing outside the bathroom door waiting for her with a smile on his face. He stretched out his arms and invited her into a warm embrace. “I’m sorry, baby. I don’t want you to think I’m a monster. You’re different from the others. You just got me by surprise, that’s all. We had a good time, right? I’d like to see you again.”