Time in Willow Creek: 10 months, 3 weeks
“Hey.” Juliana sat on one of Hillary’s bean chairs. “Do you want to go out?”
Hillary snorted. “What, none of your art buddies are available? You’re gonna settle for me tonight?”
Juliana was confused at her sudden change of attitude. Hillary always wanted to go out.
“Oh…is it your boyfriend? Is he too busy for you? Or, did he break your heart?”
“He is not my boyfriend,” she said, almost through gritted teeth.
“Oh whatever, Juliana! How naive are you? I see the way you two look at each other! Whatever!” She went back to whatever she was doing at the computer.
Juliana was startled. What just happened? What had she said?
Suddenly, something snapped in Hillary. Her head jerked around toward Juliana and her body followed. “You know what? You don’t even deserve him!” She waved her finger in Juliana’s face. “A little girl like you can’t handle a man like him anyway!” She stood up and towered over Juliana. “I’m not your second option! You wanna hang out with me? You can stay here and die of boredom like the rest of us! Now get out!”
Juliana had never seen Hillary so angry before—especially not with her. It scared her a little, but it hurt a lot. She ran away crying. Harriett saw her in the hallway. She tried to find out what was wrong, but when Juliana wouldn’t tell, she knew it had something to do with Hillary.
“What did you do?”
“Oh, mama!” She cried and threw herself into her mother’s bossom. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me! I haven’t been myself lately, and I’ve been thinking all kinds of crazy thoughts about her, and…I didn’t mean to yell at her! It just came out! I’m so sorry, mama!”
Harriett stroked her hair. “I’m not the one you need to apologize to, sugar pie. I’ve seen that you two haven’t been as close lately. What’s going on?”
She sat up and shrugged her shoulders. “She’s not around anymore.” Her voice was weak and whiney.
“Are you jealous of Juliana?”
Hillary sighed and bowed her head. There was no point in denying it anymore. “Yes.”
Finally, the right moment for Harriett to speak with her daughter about some things that had been concerning her for a while. “Sugar pie…what are you doing with your life? What are you hanging around here with us for?”
Hillary threw up her hands and shook her head. “I don’t know! I guess…I keep hoping I’ll meet someone and he’ll take me away from here, but…”
Harriett suppressed the urge to laugh. “Oh, my sweet child…you have so much growing up to do yet! Sounds like you want to escape not be someone’s wife. What are you going to do when you get to his house? He’s not gonna take care of you like some child for the rest of your life. You’re wasting your time, sugar pie! While you’re waiting around here for something to happen, you need to think about what you can bring to the table. Relationships are work, and both people should be a blessing to the other. What can you offer a man? What happens in the bedroom isn’t going to be enough to keep things going for the long haul.”
Hillary was listening. It’s not like it was new information, but in light of her circumstances and recent events, Harriett’s words penetrated her ears like never before. She had never seen how immature she was before. She certainly never considered how unprepared she was for life outside the safety and comfort of her parents’ home. For a brief moment, she thought about Jase and wondered if it would have worked. See? He would have gotten tired of me anyway. I’m not good for anyone! It was always going to end this way.
Harriett always did her best to stay out of Hillary’s personal life and was clueless as to what was going on. But, she knew something serious had occurred. She briefly chastised herself for not getting more involved even though she knew Hillary would be annoyed by it. Hillary tended to come to her when she was in a crisis and not a second before. If she hadn’t shared what happened by now, she never would. But, Harriett knew someone whom she would confess to. That person would love to listen to her. “Why don’t you go talk to Jase?”
Hillary’s moment of contemplation was halted by the scowl that took over her face. “What he has to say doesn’t matter anymore. We’re not friends.”
Harriett was hurt by those words. She had high hopes that one day Hillary would get her head out of the clouds and give Jase a chance. He lived with them on and off throughout his childhood; she practically raised him. She knew him very well and believed that Hillary wouldn’t find anyone who was better suited for her than him.
Saying those words heart Hillary’s heart too. They sounded so final.
“What’s wrong with me, mama? I don’t understand why I keep ruining people’s lives.”