Time in Willow Creek: 11 months, 2 weeks, 6 days
Hillary kept to herself after receiving the life changing news. She was quiet at meal times and didn’t want to see anyone. Harriett understood this and tried to keep Juliana busy so she wouldn’t have many opportunities to worry about Hillary. Night after night, she lay awake in her bed mulling over her mistakes. Why didn’t she give Jesse a shot? Why did she get involved with Don? Why did she take advantage of Jase? Why did she break his heart? She didn’t have any answers.
Her mother had done everything that was possible for a mother to do to put her at ease and make her believe everything would be fine. However, there was only one person who could truly make her feel sated and ease her anxieties. She needed those encouraging words from her best friend: the ones she had a tendency to disregard in the past. They had not spoken since he walked away from her at Juliana’s birthday party, but she believed that if she really needed him, he would be there for her no matter what shape their friendship was in. At least she hoped it was true. She needed it to be true because if there was ever a time she needed him, it was then. Surely he didn’t mean to sever all ties with her.
Days later, she found herself hailing a cab to his neighborhood. She had never been more nervous about seeing him. Watching the houses roll by, she kept swallowing and tapping her fingers rapidly against her thighs. Part of her wished the driver would speed up to arrive at her destination quicker while the rest of her wanted him to slow down. Her stomach turned queasy when she passed Don’s house. Seconds later, the cab stopped in front of Jase’s house. Hillary took a deep breath as she gazed upon the front door and exited the car. Her heart pounded faster and faster as she climbed the stairs and knocked on the door. She waited a few moments before she knocked again. Normally, she would let herself in but figured those privileges were revoked too. It was early afternoon, and usually he would be lounging in front of the TV or something. It wasn’t like him to not be home on the weekend. She knocked a third time. Finally, she heard some steps coming from the back of the house. An unfamiliar female frame trudged toward her to answer the door.
“Jase ran out for a sec. You wanna wait? He said he’d be right back.”
She’s wearing his shirt! Hillary’s whole body was shaking, and she felt light-headed. She could not believe what she was seeing. “S-sorry.” She forced herself to speak. “I have the wrong house.” She turned around quickly and walked away, shoulders curled and head bowed.
“Oh! Well… I hope you find who you’re looking for,” the woman said.
Her chest felt heavy and breathing was labored. There just happened to be a taxi coming down the street and she flagged it down. She caught her breath enough to say “Umbrage Manor,” and the driver took her away. Her mind was racing trying to process what she had just seen. A woman in Jase’s house! Could he have moved on that quickly? Were he and Hillary truly finished? More importantly, why was she so affected by it if she didn’t want to be with him anyway? That’s when she knew.
“Ma’am?” The driver was waiting on her.
It seemed only seconds ago she got into the car, but when she looked up, she was at home. “Sorry.” She took care of the driver, exited the cab, and stood on the sidewalk. “Oh my God. It’s too late!”
Her face was getting hot from the pressure building up behind her eyes. Her breaths were quick and shallow. She felt like she was drowning. “GOD! Why am I so stupid?” She grabbed her head and tried to silence the inner voice she usually so easily ignored. It told her what she always knew deep down. She loved Jase; she always did. Their night together meant a lot more than she let on. The voice she often muted would not be silenced anymore. It haunted her, and she wanted to run away. She expended so much energy trying to convince herself that she didn’t love him so she wouldn’t hurt him, but he got fatally wounded. She wanted to make it right, but it was too late.
She felt like her heart had been ripped to shreds and ran inside to escape, but there was no escaping this. The pressure behind her eyes released the tears that were at bay. She covered her mouth to suppress heavy, painful sobs. A thought to escape to her room to have her moment in private came to mind, but she exploded right there in the foyer before she could even get up the stairs. Loud wailing from her gut escaped her mouth as she collapsed to the floor; she couldn’t stand under the weight of her grief.
“NO,” she cried over and over again. Her body convulsed with every sob.
She had never been so distraught in all her life. At times she opened her mouth and no sound came out. Other times a high-pitched scream. She was sprawled out on the floor with mascara running all over her face. A hideous mess she was.
Usually Harold disregarded her emotional outbursts, but he knew pain when he heard it. He got up from his resting place and went to her. “What are you carrying on about?”
At first, the wailing paused, and she sat there with her mouth agape. She didn’t think he would care and was touched. That made her begin crying again. “Oh daddy! I messed up!”
He already knew she was pregnant; Harriett told him when they got back home from the hospital. He waited for her to continue.
“I messed up! I love him!” That was the first time she confessed it. “I always did! I just wouldn’t believe it! But…” she began sobbing again, “but…I messed it all up! He don’t want me!”
Harold didn’t know who she was talking about, but in his old school way of thinking, he said, “If he’s a good man, he’ll do the right thing.”
“The right thing” was to marry her and raise the child together, of course. When mistakes yielded tiny humans, that’s the way good men handled their business in his day. Despite everything he felt about her, he always wanted a good man to come and take her away. Having adult children living at home was a sign of poor parenting. It was a different day and age, and some things he frowned upon were socially acceptable in the present, but those old school ways were deeply rooted.
Her tears turned angry yet sorrowful. “No he won’t! It’s too late! I messed everything up!” A few rogue sobs escaped and incapacitated her for a moment. “Nobody wants me! I mess everyone’s life up! Everybody would be better off if I wasn’t even born! You were right, daddy… I’m fat and nobody wants me! I’m not even that cute!”
There was a feeling in the pit of Harold’s stomach he had never experienced before. He had no idea she felt so negatively about herself and that he was the catalyst. All this time, he blamed her for everything that was wrong in her life, but could it be true? Was he to blame? In that moment, everything about her made sense, and he could see how she ended up in that scenario. But, what could he do? The damage had been done long before that moment. Whether he was at fault or not, he saw quite clearly that he would do well to mind his words. He simply said, “That ain’t true,” and went back to his show.