Time in Willow Creek: 11 months, 3 weeks, 3 days
“JULIANA,” Harriett yelled upstairs. “KEVIN’S HERE!”
It was the first time he ever came over unannounced, and Juliana wondered why he had come. Through the door, she saw his cheerful face grinning as she ran down the stairs. When she stepped outside, she noticed there was a huge box at his feet. “What is this?”
“Well, I remember a few times you said you wanted to practice typing without having to go to the library when Hillary is locked in her room, so I thought it would be nice for you to have your own computer.” He had a hopeful look on his face. There was a chance she wouldn’t accept it, but he really hoped she would.
She gasped. “You got me a computer?”
“That’s ok, right? I hope it’s ok. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s just a–
“Thank you!” She was beaming.
He looked relieved. “You’re welcome. Let’s get it up to your room so I can set it up for you.”
He hoisted the box, and she held the door open for him. Up the stairs they went. Juliana was so excited. She was more excited about the computer than she was for the fancy easel and art supply stuff he gave her as a late birthday present. He sat the box on the floor with a gentle thud. Before he sliced the tape, he straightened up and took a look around Juliana’s room.
“Wow! You really do paint all the time, huh?”
He spun slowly and gazed upon all of her works. “Juliana…you’re fantastic. I think you’ve been holding out on us at art club!”
She blushed. “Thank you.”
“Wow. You could make some serious money with these one day,” he said as he pulled out a pocket knife and sliced the tape.
It was one of those all-in-one computers that everyone was talking about. He slid his hands behind the foam to lift the machine out. Juliana saw he was struggling a bit and held the box down for him.
“Thanks,” he said. He set the computer on the desk and freed it from the foam. Leaning back on his hip and drooling a bit, he said, “That is one sexy machine.”
Kevin took the mouse and keyboard from the box and placed them in front of it. He began to tell her about their Bluetooth connection and rambled on about RAM, 4K, gigabyte this and gigahertz that. She had no idea what he was talking about, but he was fun to watch.
“Heh, sorry. I think I was a geek in my former life. Here… Let me just show you how to turn it on, and we’ll get the mouse and keyboard paired, ok?”
He bent down next to her and showed her where the power button was. She inhaled his sweet, musky scent as she pressed it. He continued geeking out over the startup chime. Then he started going on about the price of the computer and how even though it’s the “sexiest” computer out there with awesome specs, there were computers out there that weren’t as superior that cost more. He was very proud of the bargain he got her.
After the Bluetooth pairing and a brief tour around the desktop–it had the newest OS, and Juliana hadn’t seen it yet–they sat on the bed and talked. Juliana could smell dinner being prepared below and knew they didn’t have much time, but she wanted to give the proper time to her friend.
“I don’t think I ever asked you what your future plans are, Juliana.”
She shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Awww, come on. There has to be something you’re looking forward to. Even if it’s silly or totally unattainable… Tell me.”
She thought about it. If there was anyone she would trust with her lifelong dream, it was him. “I would like to have an art gallery with all my paintings there. People from everywhere come to see me.” She shrugged. “I used to want to be famous when I was young.” She chuckled nervously.
“Juliana! That’s great! You could totally do that!”
She appreciated the encouragement, but it still seemed like a pipe dream. “I don’t know how. It’s too much.”
“Nooo, not at all. Remember what I told you about investments? This is the same thing! You just need to get a few people who wouldn’t mind funding your idea, and there’s a few legal things too, but you could do it. It’s a very simple thing to do.”
“Knock knock,” Harriett said as she entered. “Juliana, we still have dinner at 6:00 when you have company.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs–ehh–Harriett. It’s my fault. I would have come earlier, but I had to run home first, and I didn’t want to come by too late especially without calling first. I won’t make her late for dinner again.”
“Oh, it’s not your fault, Kevin,” she said looking directly at Juliana. “Next time, just ask him to stay that way you won’t have to rush your visit or be late for dinner.”
Kevin felt like he missed something and bounced his attention between her and Juliana.
“Kevin, why don’t you join us for dinner?”
“Oh, ummm… Sure! That would be nice. Thank you, Harriett”
The three got up and trotted downstairs and landed in the dinning room. Harold and Harriett sat on one side, and Kevin and Juliana sat on the other. Hillary sat at the head of the table when she finally emerged from her bedroom. She was quite surprised to see a guest joining them–everyone was.
“So Kevin,” Harriett said, “where are you from?”
“Oh! So you’ve always lived there?”
“Oh no. I’ve lived in a few places. I grew up in Oasis Springs, went to college in Windenburg and lived there for a short while. I lived downtown for a long time, but after a while, I wanted to come back home. Not to the same neighborhood, of course.”
“Mmmm hmmm. You know, we lived in Oasis Springs too!”
“Get out of town! Really?”
“Uh huh! Our first house was in Parched Prospect.”
“No kidding! I grew up right down the road in Bedrock Strait.”
Bedrock Strait, huh? Harold thought. Maybe he ain’t a yuppie after all.
“And where do you live now?” Harriett asked.
“Ooooh! Rags to riches!”
Kevin shrugged bashfully. “I worked hard to get where I am. And, I appreciate the perspective a humble beginning has given me.”
Juliana had no idea where or what those neighborhoods were. She was simply glad he was there enjoying an evening with her and her family. They talked more about their days in Oasis Springs as everyone finished up dinner. Hillary enjoyed the entertainment for the night, but of course it came at a price that Juliana would pay.
She whispered into her ear, “Still not your boyfriend?”