Time in Willow Creek: 12 months, 2 weeks
One weekend afternoon, Harriett decided everyone had been cooped up too long and suggested an afternoon downtown. Surprisingly, everyone–even Harold–was receptive to the idea. She called Rebecca to see if they wanted to go as well. The only one who was interested or able to go was Terry, the 17-year-old. Juliana was especially happy to return to the downtown area. There was so much life there, and it was so different from any place she had ever seen. It energized her, and she loved being there. The last time, she was able to check out the art district. That afternoon, they hit up the spice district named after the famous Spice Festival that was held there annually. There was a flea market going on that day. Once again, Juliana was amazed at how much stuff people accumulated and the lengths they went through to get rid of it.
Terry had recently gotten his license and wanted to drive himself instead of joining everyone else in their vehicle. Rebecca didn’t think it was a good idea given there wasn’t a lot of parking downtown, and the parking that was available was street parking. However, he wore her down and joined the family about 20 minutes after they arrived. He found them checking out the merchandise while Harriett was heckling the sales guy.
There was a young woman playing the guitar a few feet away. Juliana saw she had an audience and went to listen as well. Everyone else followed her. Some people dropped money in the girl’s guitar case. It reminded Juliana of home except this girl did not appear to be down on her luck. Mostly homeless or otherwise unfortunate people played on the street for money. There in Willow Creek, it was more of a spectacle and potentially a viable way to make money.
In her peripheral vision, she saw a person dressed in yellow with a smaller audience and left the young woman to see what the other person was about. Again, everyone followed her. It was almost like she was a child who everyone wanted to watch open presents at Christmas.
It was a woman who was a human statue. She was dressed in a gold outfit, hat, and boots, and she had also painted her face and hands gold. It was the weirdest thing Juliana had ever seen. Harriett could tell she was a little bit confused and offered some information. “You’re supposed to be impressed that someone can stand so still for so long. They take tips just like the musicians do.”
“Oh.” It freaked her out.
For once, everyone went their separate ways later in the afternoon. Terry hit up the food trucks while Harold and Harriett made use of the facilities. Juliana found a cushy place to sit, and Hillary found her. “Don’t let mama see you sitting in front of one of these. She might think you’re a dope addict.”
“What is it?”
“It’s only bubbles, but you can still get high from it.”
“Yeah, uhhh, oh, like how we felt at that Windenburg party?”
Meanwhile, at the public restrooms, Harold was waiting for Harriett who was taking a while. When she finally came out, she looked pale and uncomfortable. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I don’t know! I’m just so hot. I just wanted to get out the sun and splash some water on my face.”
He grunted. “Let’s go on home then.”
Back at the hookah machine, Juliana was getting some ideas. “Do you think it would be fun to live here?”
Hillary snorted. “Nope. There’s always something going on down here. All these people and noise…I couldn’t live here. I’m a country girl!” She noticed Juliana’s large smile and how happy she had been all day. “Are you thinking about moving out? To live here?”
“No. But, maybe one day?”
Juliana had bested her once again. Everyone had been scolding her about her future while Juliana seemed to have hers all wrapped up in a pretty bow. She wasn’t even 20 years old yet and had a pretty serious idea of what she wanted to do with her life. It wasn’t a competition, but for once in Hillary’s life, she decided it was time to get on the ball.