Time in Willow Creek: 2 years, 8 months, 2 weeks, 4 days
Everything had been prepared for months. The tickets were purchased and outfits planned. Even Hillary had gotten on board. She wouldn’t wear the t-shirt he got for her, but she did get an outfit much more casual than usual. In the days leading up to Geek Con, Hillary found herself excited. Jase’s exuberance was soo contagious. The morning of, Jase arrived in full costume with Abigail’s outfit in hand; it was adorable just like he said it would be. She made pancakes, and they ate breakfast as a family while happy images of their future danced around her head. After breakfast, he bathed and dressed the baby while Hillary put her face on. When departure time arrived, they headed toward the front door. She got nervous, but it was the good kind that crept up when she did something new. Was this her life now? Doing geeky things Jase enjoyed just to make him happy? Would she enjoy it? What did Harold think of them? Of her. A clap of thunder rocked the house, and they paused in their tracks. The weather. That was the only thing they were not prepared for.
“No no noooo,” Jase cried and ran outside.
Poor guy. He had been dreaming of Llama Man and his sidekick Llama Baby for months. Looking around the neighborhood in disbelief, the rain washed all that excitement away.
“We could still go,” she said sweetly.
Her heart was in the right place, but she hoped he would reject the generous offer. The excitement she had was borrowed, and now her happy-go-lucky guy was bummed. She wanted him happy again.
All the air in his lungs seeped out. “No. I don’t want her out in the rain.”
That was the answer she wanted, but giving up so easily wasn’t what a supportive girlfriend would do. “We could run to the store and get her a raincoat and boots.” The vision of her baby girl in a cute raincoat with matching boots and hat playing in the rain was almost enough to convince her they should still go. Almost.
“I take it you don’t go for the inside stuff.”
“The best part is the parade! That’s why I bought this stupid costume. I wanted to walk with her on my shoulders so everyone could see how cute she is.”
He broke her heart. “I’m sorry, Jase.” She snaked her arms around his waist and placed her head on his shoulder. Could he even feel her with all that padding?
“Let’s just go. There’s no point in me wearing this now.”
She hated how despondent he sounded but was glad for the wardrobe change. There was no way she would go anywhere besides the festival with him wearing it. Jase’s house wasn’t exactly her idea of a fun afternoon, but at least they would be together. It was the middle of the week, and they wouldn’t have another chance for quality time until the weekend.
He plopped on the couch with a long face and his usual comfy attire. If he would have sat a little closer, surely she could have made him feel better.
Abigail had been to the house before but not enough times to be familiar with it. She toddled around the common area, eyeing everything curiously. Within a week, he’d be moving and many of the extra computers and other hazards had been packed away already, so they didn’t need to watch her like hawks. Her outfit was soo cute! It was simple but still soo cute
Inevitably, the TV switched on. She didn’t mind watching, of course, but they could do so many other fun things. Ninety percent of them began with her occupying Abigail with toys and scooting closer to Jase. A whole ice cream sundae wouldn’t be appropriate, but she would settle for a single scoop. Heck, even the cherry on top would do.
“How’s Juliana liking her new place?”
She shook off the dirty thoughts and welcomed the distraction. “I guess she loves it.”
“You haven’t talked to her?”
“She called the day after because I asked her to, but she didn’t say much. I don’t think she’s the kind of person who gushes, you know?”
“Yeah. I guess I can see that. No news is good news, huh?”
Hillary worried about their friendship. Things had gotten better, but they were still not as close as they had been. But, they were different now. The two women had their own lives to tend to and different needs. In a way, she knew everything would be fine because this was just the way life went for grown-ups; that’s what they were now. The responsibility to maintain their friendship now rested on both of them. Juliana would do her part in her own way, and Hillary promised herself to do hers.
Jase turned the TV off, and she was grateful to have his
Heh, more than he could imagine, but it was still complicated. “Yes…“
“Aww! Don’t look like that! I want to. I really really want to. But…I don’t feel too good about leaving daddy right now. Juliana is gone. He’ll be all alone!”
He nodded and understood, but she still felt bad. Being undecided about this was not a rejection, but somehow she still felt like she broke his heart again and needed to fix it.
The day she would leave home had always been marked on the calendar of life. M
“Let’s feel him out. Talk to him on Sunday and see if he’ll be receptive.”
Jase looked nervous, but he agreed to her plan. Inside, she wished him luck.