Time in Willow Creek: 4 months, 3 weeks
Late one afternoon, Juliana found herself at the park. She didn’t intend to go there, but she ended up there anyway. Harriett took the day off from the library, and Hillary said she she didn’t feel like going anywhere. Juliana’s agenda for the day did not include laying about the house, so she went out on her own again. She walked through the neighborhood and around downtown. She realized she needed a rest when she was near the park, so she detoured on the boardwalk and sat. She enjoyed the way the water seemed to freshen the air especially when there was a breeze.
Sitting there in that very spot reminded her of the first time she ever saw Harriett and Harold. She didn’t know them then, of course, but they were colorful enough to take notice. It was also the first time she ever saw Rebecca, but she had no idea they were related. Thoughts of her family back home came across her mind as she wondered if her letter was received. She knew there was a high chance it wasn’t, but she hoped it was. Even if her mother was not able to write back, all she wanted was for her to know her sacrifices were not in vain.
It was closing in on dinner time, and Juliana was quite a ways from home. She got up, stretched her legs and back. As she was trotting toward the road, she noticed a familiar frame standing near the playground.
It was Kevin. She enjoyed running into him wherever she went. She never expected him, but his face was always a welcomed surprise. “Hello, Kevin,” she said from behind.
It was he who was startled this time. He spun around with a pleasant smile on his face. “Juliana! Funny seeing you here!
“It sure is a nice day to be out, right?”
“Oh yes, beautiful day,” she said.
“I just got here…do you want to walk with me?”
The day was growing late. In just a couple of hours, the sun would be losing strength and saying goodnight to the world. She was supposed to be on her way home. No one would mind if she were a little late is what she thought. “Ok,” is what she said.
They turned around and strolled toward the back of the park.
“I like to walk by the water. It’s…calming,” he said.
She wondered why he needed to be calm, but instead she said, “I like the water too.”
“Oh great. I’m in good company then.”
They traipsed toward the water in silence, listening to the cicadas warm up for their evening show. There was a railing along the border of the river. They could have kept walking along the path beside the river, but Kevin stopped and was overtaken by some foreign anguish. He looked sad, and his mind was clearly far from where they were standing.
“What is wrong?”
He wasn’t aware she was saying anything.
“What is wrong?”
He shook his head quickly as if to rid himself of whatever clouded his mind. “I, uhhh…it’s nothing. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” He quickly changed the subject. “So, what does Juliana like to do?” He forced a smile onto his face.
“Of course! That’s why you’re always at the museum. That makes perfect sense.
“You know… Long time ago I used to be part of an art club. I doubt the same people are still there, but I know the group still gets together. You should meet them. Would you like that?”
She didn’t understand all the words, but she pieced together enough of them to get the gist of it. She smiled and said, “Yes. That is good.”
“Excellent. Here…let me get your number, and when I find out when and where they’re meeting, I’ll give you a call.”
He whipped out his phone and created a new contact with the information she dispensed to him—Harriett made certain she memorized her number before she let her leave the house again.
“Take mine too,” he suggested.
Juliana took her new phone out her pocket and woke the screen. From there, she was lost. She felt him watching her and was getting more frustrated and embarrassed. “Sorry,” she said. “I…I don’t know how…”
It had just occurred to him she probably never had a cell phone before. He couldn’t have known that, but he felt like he should have and was sorry for putting her on the spot. “It’s ok. It’s ok. Don’t apologize. May I?” He put his hand out asking for permission to operate her phone. She gladly gave it to him, and he commenced to tap in his details for her. “There you go!”
“Thank you.” She took the phone back and put it in her pocket. She wanted to stay and talk to him longer, but she was already late. “I have to go.” There was disappointment in her voice.
“Oh sure. I don’t want to keep you. I’ll be talking to you soon, ok?”
“Ok. Bye bye.”
“Take care, Juliana.”