Time in Willow Creek: 10 months, 2 weeks, 6 days
Juliana felt a little bit better after she confessed to Kevin what happened with Hillary. She wanted her best friend back, but she was unsure of what to do. There was nothing to apologize for, but she was still a bit nervous to confront her. It had been a little more than a week since they had spoken. They had been in the same room together at meal times, but it was always awkward and silent. Hillary thought Juliana was still mad at her, and Juliana was too afraid to say anything, so they spent a week avoiding each other until Hillary had enough.
Umbrage Manor was fairly quiet minus the constant buzz of the television, bustling of pots and pans, and Harriett’s bickering with Harold. One night, the quietness of the house wasn’t enough, and Juliana had gone outside to sit and think. She had been considering being the bigger person and confronting Hillary. As she sat, the dancing fireflies distracted her from her thoughts. She tried not to watch them, but they were so beautiful. It reminded her of warm summer nights at home when she and her friends would attempt to catch as many as they could in jars. The goal was always to see if the light from the jar could get as bright as a lantern. As Juliana was struggling to focus, the very thing she was wrestling with had come to confront her.
She heard the kitchen door open but didn’t bother to turn around and see who it was. She only sighed as she lamented the passing of her quiet moment. Her insides leapt when her visitor took a seat across from her. The sad but hopeful look on Hillary’s face told her all she needed to know, and she was glad it wasn’t going to be another heated confrontation.
Hillary struggled with her words for she was still shocked at her own behavior and had no idea how Juliana must have felt.
That’s all she could come up with at the time. She smiled awkwardly but was met with silence. Juliana did not return the gesture. She sighed heavily at Juliana’s silence and began a profuse apology. “Juliana, I’m so sorry! I really am. I don’t know why I said those things to you. I was so off that day. I don’t know what came over me! I’m just so so sorry! Do you believe me?”
A large grin took over her face, and Hillary let out a loud sigh of relief. “I’m so glad!”
However, perhaps the relief came too soon. Juliana accepted her apology, but there were still some unresolved issues. “Why you call me naive?”
Hillary was not expecting that and tried to smile and talk her way through it. “I…I don’t know. It just came out. I didn’t mean anything I said!”
“You call me little girl.”
“You’re still a teenager, Juliana! You’re like a little sister to me.”
Juliana knew how young she was and felt there was more behind that comment than just chronological facts. However, it made her feel better to know that Hillary still considered them to be close. Still, she wasn’t going to let her off that easy.
Hillary saw she wasn’t going to let this go. “Ok… I’ll be honest.” She took a deep breath and hoped her truth wouldn’t make things worse. “I really didn’t mean to snap at you like that, and I really don’t know what came over me, and I still don’t mean anything I said. But…I…sometimes…” She didn’t want to admit it, but she had to. “Sometimes…I-I’m jealous of you!”
That was the same prognosis Kevin gave, Juliana recalled.
Hillary continued. “I mean, you’re so talented, and everybody loves you. And you have this gorgeous man who cares about you and these friends you hangout with… I don’t have anything going for me! I ran my best friend away…my life sucks and yours is great! I feel like I’m gonna be stuck here forever and you’re gonna move on without me.”
Juliana was moved. She knew Hillary didn’t have many friends, but she didn’t realize her life was so hum drum compared to hers. She took a page out of Kevin’s book and tried to reassure her friend. “You are my best friend.”
Hillary began to tear up.
The tender moment was ruined with the sudden ringing from Juliana’s phone. Both girls were surprised as it was almost 9 p.m. Kevin usually didn’t call at night, but it was his name on the caller ID.
“No, it’s not too late … Tonight? … No, that sounds fun … Ok … Ok … Bye.”
“Sounds like somebody’s got a daaaate,” Hillary sang.
Juliana blushed a little. “No date. Art club is going to party at the place called ruins?”
Hillary gasped. Her eyes were as large as pancakes. “The Ancient Ruins in Windenburg?” She shrieked. “That is THE best place to party! Oh my word, there have been some epic parties there!”
Juliana assumed they would go together, but in light of the recent information she learned from Hillary, she thought it would be nice to ask her to accompany her. “You go with me?”
“Well I sure as heck ain’t gonna let you go by yourself! But, I’m glad you asked me.”
A thought came to Hillary that made her jump. “You need a dress! I know last time we went to Windenburg we didn’t dress up, but THIS time we dress up!”
“Because ANCIENT RUINS!”
Juliana didn’t get it, naturally, but Hillary’s excitement amused her.
“AND, your boyfriend asked you to come.”
Juliana rolled her eyes and smiled. “Not my boyfriend!”
“You want him to be your boyfriend? You’re wearing a dang dress! OOH! I know just the one! I have some of my clothes from when I was smaller in high school. I just know you’ll look cute in it. Hmmmm…I need to do something with your hair…a little makeup too! Come on, Juliana! We gotta go!”
The two friends ran upstairs to Hillary’s room to prepare for the proposed epic party. Hillary dug the dress out from a trunk in the back of her closet. Juliana loved it. She parted her hair, swept it all to one side, and curled it loosely in layers. The makeup she applied accented her features and didn’t cover her face like it did most of the time when she wore it herself; Juliana was stunning. They didn’t wear the same size shoes, but luckily the last time they went shopping, Juliana got a pair of sandals she absolutely loved. She had nothing to wear with them at the time, but she had to have them. They went perfectly with her new dress. Hillary, however, was struggling to put an outfit together for herself; she discovered she had gained a few pounds over the past couple of months. After going through half the dresses in her closet, she reluctantly gave up and put on a blazer, nice shorts, and heels. It wasn’t the look she was going for, but it was nice enough. When they were both ready, Hillary sent Juliana to get in the cab first while she said goodnight to Harriett. She knew if Harriett saw Juliana, she would gush, want to take pictures, and make them late.
“Mama! We’re going out!”
Harriett was cleaning up the kitchen so she could prepare for bed. “Where are y’all going?”
“At this time of night?” She came from the kitchen to the foyer where Hillary was yelling from. “Where’s Juliana?”
“She’s already in the car. We’re gonna be late, mama.”
Harriett felt a little bit bamboozled. She wasn’t aware they had made up and was surprised to hear about them going out together. She also thought their behavior was a bit suspicious, but there wasn’t much she could do. “Ok. You have money?”
“Yep! Gotta go. Don’t wait up!” She dashed out the door and hopped in the cab.
Hillary wanted to talk to Juliana about how she felt about Kevin, but she feared that if she opened her mouth she would cry. Being in the taxi Windenburg bound with Juliana reminded her of the promise she made to Jase. She was supposed to invite him the next time she went, but they were not on speaking terms. It pained her to think of how she crushed his soul, and she hated herself for taking advantage of him that way.
Eighty minutes later, the taxi stopped at the entrance of the Ancient Ruins. Juliana had seen the gate before and always wanted to see what was behind it. The doors were huge and heavy but were held open so the party goers wouldn’t have to struggle with them. The two young ladies walked the cobbled stone path to the entrance with their hearts pounding in their chests from excitement. The loud music added to their excitement as their heels click-clacked as fast as they could without running. The path to the ruins was long and surrounded by a park. The anxiety made it feel like a mile long, but finally, they reached the ruins. Juliana spun around to see as much of the place as she could from where she stood. She thought it was breath taking. It was hard to tell what the structure used to be, but whatever it was must have been gigantic and majestic.
The art club (minus Colleen—it was a school night—and Camden) seemed to show up at the same time like they rode together. Juliana was glad to see she hadn’t missed anything. She started to look for Kevin, but Hillary whisked her away to the dance floor. “Never let a guy see you waiting for him. It’ll kill the mystery and ruin the fun of the hunt. Let him find you.”
Juliana didn’t know what “the hunt” was, but she figured Hillary knew what she was talking about and went with it.
She kept feeling someone’s eyes burning a hole in the back of her head. At first she thought it was Kevin, but he would have called her name. She tried to strain her eyes to see who it was, but that person was not within her peripheral vision. When they got to the dance floor, everyone began dancing except Juliana. The site was too beautiful not to take a moment and appreciate it. It was perfect. Every flower. Every stone. Every light. She loved it all.
Kevin was dancing near Hillary because he figured Juliana would be nearby. But when he finally looked around to find her, he saw that she was right in front of him the entire time. He couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. She looked totally different but yet the same.
It wasn’t hard for Juliana to forget about finding him. There was so much to see and take in; she wasn’t even thinking about him. She tried to dance a little, but she was afraid she would miss something.
Her new look took him completely by surprise, and he couldn’t stop smiling…and gazing at her. He stole glances from her all night.
Eventually, Kevin snapped out of his Juliana induced daze. He couldn’t stand there gawking at her all night and decided to get her attention. “Juliana! Hi!” He was waving at her.
She was startled a little, but it was a welcomed surprise. “Hello Kevin!”
The music was so loud they could barely hear each other and had to yell.
“This place is incredible, right?”
“It’s so beautiful!”
“Yeah! I love this place!”
Hillary saw that Kevin had found Juliana and was glad she prevented her from looking for him. She hoped it would be a fruitful night for the pair and decided to leave her on her own for the night. However, someone else in their company had the opposite idea. The person who was staring Juliana down was Selina from the art club. She had been eyeing her ever since they arrived, and when Kevin found her, she took special interest. At one point, Selina almost knocked her down when she pretended to bump into her on accident. Juliana wasn’t dumb. She saw how Selina had been looking at her and didn’t believe it was an accident at all.
But, what could Juliana say? She didn’t even know what she had done to deserve to be treated that way. However, she was having the night of her life, and nothing and no one was going to ruin her evening. She smiled and continued dancing…and Kevin kept gazing.
“You’re not that cute, you know,” Selina said.
Finally, Juliana understood what was going on. She had dealt with her fair share of mean girls throughout her life to recognize Selina’s behavior. When she was younger, she would cry and run to her mother. But she was a woman now, and her mother was an ocean away. Juliana resisted the urge to retaliate and ignored her. Instead, she turned her attention toward Kevin which was exactly what Selina didn’t want. But, when she turned to him, she noticed Hillary who did not look well at all. “Hillary! Are you ok?”
Her skin was pale, and she was dizzy. “Uhhh…no. But, I’ll be fine! I think I just need to sit down. Don’t mind me! I’ll just be over there when you’re ready to go.”
“We can go,” Juliana said.
“No! You stay and have a good time. I just need to sit.” She exited the dance arena and found a bench to sit. Honestly, she would have rather been at home in bed, but she had to make it for another hour or so. She felt she owed it to Juliana. She didn’t want to ruin her time with Kevin and felt like it was an important night for them. At the same time, she was a bit concerned about this sudden wave of malaise. She rarely ever got sick, and when she did, it was usually just a cold. Apart from a few parties involving purple haze, she had never been dizzy before and hoped that everything was going to be ok.
After another song or two, Juliana wanted to go check on Hillary when she saw she hadn’t returned to the party yet. When she began to leave, Kevin caught her.
“Hey!” He felt embarrassed for acting so goofy around her. He didn’t even know why he was. “Juliana… You look really beautiful tonight.”
She was glad he noticed. “Thank you.”
“Would you like to dance with me?”
She desperately wanted to say yes, but she was concerned about Hillary and kept glancing over in her direction.
“Please? Just one song.”
She smiled and obliged him. But then, her whole demeanor changed when the DJ started the next song. “I know this!”
Back home, she and her girlfriends would dance to that song on the radio in her room. It was the only song they could sing in Simlish. She grabbed his hand and dragged him back to the dance floor. He laughed as his body was pulled without his permission. She began to dance and sing along with the song. In that moment, she looked so carefree and happy. It was a side to her he had never seen before. He rather enjoyed it. She seemed so regular—not that Juliana was ever fake or irregular in any way. It was just that whenever he saw her, she was always trying. Either she was trying to get her Simlish right, or trying to paint a masterpiece, or trying to figure out how to do something. She was always so serious. But, she wasn’t trying to do anything then. She was just her playful, youthful self, and he appreciated it. It was something he wished he got to see more often.
When the song was over, everyone applauded the DJ.
“Thank you for the dance,” Kevin said.
She smiled and nodded. This was her first real dance with a man and was unsure of how to respond.
“I’ll see you tomorrow?”
She grinned even wider and nodded again.
“Great!” He knew she wanted to leave, and Hillary needed to get home, but he couldn’t help but feel sad about the end of their night. “Ok… Well, have a good night then.”
“Goodnight,” she said and ran off to see about Hillary.
Kevin was left there with his conflicting thoughts. He couldn’t stop smiling, and he didn’t know why. He had Juliana on the brain, and he was confused.
When Juliana reached Hillary, she was afraid. There were people around her, and one woman was giving her something to drink. Juliana didn’t know what was going on and felt guilty about not checking on her sooner. She wished she wouldn’t have taken that last dance with Kevin. She even wished they would have gone home an hour ago when Hillary first felt bad.
“I’m ok, Juliana. Don’t look like that. Did you have a good time with your boyfriend?”
That’s when she knew Hillary didn’t feel as bad as she looked. “We can go now?”
“Yeah…let’s go. Thank y’all for looking out for me,” she said to her entourage. “Soooo…tell me all about Kevin!”