The dipping and splashing of the Central Park fountain reminded Abigail of the ocean’s crashing waves against a sturdy shore; A steady, predictable rhythm, if the tide was good. Tiny water droplets soaked the back of her peach colored blouse and wet the miniscule hairs on the nape of her neck. It sent a small shiver throughout her body as a light breeze blew through the hot air. Her eyes were shut lightly as she took in deep, long breaths of the floral-scented summer air, her stiff muscles relaxing.
Abigail slowly opened her light brown eyes to glance about sunny Sunset Valley’s public park. Sitting at the chess tables around the cascading fountain were grandfathers teaching their granddaughters and grandsons the fundamentals of chess. Nearby, spread out on white and red checkered picnic blankets were parents with their young children, sat around a picnic basket. One family had three toddlers and two elementary schooled children gathered around them. All five of their offspring were eating ripe watermelon that dribbled down their cheeks in juicy red streaks that dirtied their white clothing. In the open field nearby, there was a group of children learning to play soccer, while another gang of of school children played tag and climbed trees, excitedly chattering about the approaching summer vacation.
Abigail placed her hands behind her on the cool rock and leaned backwards, letting the clear water droplets drizzle her sweaty face. A gold glint caught her eye as she straightened her neck back up. It seemed to come from a small patch of trees near the small lake. She craned her neck to see what it was, unwilling to rise from her comfortable position.
In the far corner of the park, hidden between the branches of the trees, in a secluded area by the shimmering water, Abigail could see a small, private wedding taking place. It was a sweet idea she mused, slightly smiling to herself, a simple wedding of the sort. The bride couldn’t have been much over 21 years old, her groom about the same age. She wore a modest, white summer dress, her shining auburn hair tied up neatly in a simple bun. Her lips were moving, probably exchanging vows with her soon-to-be husband. Both their eyes glistened. The pair’s parents stood nearby, both mothers leaning against their husbands, small tears that glinted in the sunlight ran down each of their cheeks. What appeared to be the grooms younger sister came up to her now sister-in-law and offered a small, crumpled daisy.
While it was wrinkled and a bit torn, the young bride gently tucked the withering flower behind her ear and smiled. She took the little girls hand in her own, her other hand still holding on to her husbands, and the three began to walk to the shiny black taxi that awaited them.
Abigail watched them, even standing up to do so, until she could watch no more and had to turn her head. She hadn’t realized that light tears had rolled down her cheeks at the tender moment, a moment so filled with love and happiness and hope… and she quickly wiped them away.
She sighed, a melancholy sound escaping her lips, and turned around to face the splashing fountain. Suddenly, she couldn’t bear being in the park. This was where she had once had those feelings… where she too had met her lover…
No! That’s not true!
At least she had her children’s weddings to look forward to, someday…
Abigail began to walk away, quickly, wanting to get away as far away as she could from a place where so many memories were associated.
Her wet heels were slipping off as she speed-walked, but she ignored them, unwilling to stop. One got caught in the mushy soil by the lake however, and fell off.
Grumbling to herself, she bent over to slip the shoe back on comfortably, and her medical textbook fell into the water. Cursing aloud, Abigail ignored the pounding of sneakers that ran past her, focusing more on the pain that ran down her back and through her knees as she bent to retrieve the book from the pond- her impending age getting the best of her.
Spluttering, she rose to the surface of the lake and scrambled out as quick as possible, careful to avoid the snapping turtles and fish, spewing water out of her mouth and rubbing her water-logged eyes as she went.
A gaggle of people rushed over to help her out, but she waved them off.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” she told them, wringing her drenched clothing.
The people offered her towels and blankets to dry herself off, but their kindness angered and bothered her, and she rudely waved them off.
Abigail sat in one of the chairs around a chess table to dry in the hot sun.
Picking up a black pawn, she started a game with herself, eager to look busy and nonchalant so the townspeople would stop looking at her- her angry scowl remained in place.
She beat herself, if that was possible, and lazily flicked a knight to the floor.
“Stupid world,” she muttered angrily under her breath. Why did other people get happy lives?
Suddenly, a shadow fell across the table, and a man, probably about her age, sat down.
“Hey, need a partner?” He asked, smiling whilst picking up the dropped piece.
Looking up, her eyes met his.
“Leighton,” he told her proffering a hand. “Leighton Sekemoto.”
“Abigail,” she returned, ignoring his outstretched arm.
He chuckled and dropped his hand. “Hey, no hard feelings. You know those kids, that bumped into you, sorry about that, they’re mine. They get a bit carried away at times, and it wasan accident. No need to be grumpy.”
“Those were your children? You ought to control them better,” she huffed, still embarrassed from the tumble in the lake. She just wanted to be left alone! Couldn’t he see she was having a bad day! And she wasn’t “grumpy”!
But Leighton only laughed gaily. “Not exactly, I coach children ages five to ten in soccer. Those were some of my students.”
When Abigail refused to answer, Leighton set up the pieces. “How about a game?”
Sighing to herself, Abigail began a round… and promptly beat him in five steps. His shocked face caused her to laugh against her will.
“Soccer coaches aren’t any good at chess, huh?” she giggled.
He pouted playfully and feigned hurt.
“Well that was uncalled for. What does little Miss Holier than Thou do as a living then, eh?”
“Well, I am only a promotion away from becoming a trauma surgeon,” Abigail boasted playfully, sticking out her tongue childishly for good measure…
Why did she feel like a teenaged girl!?
“Well excuse me!” Leighton laughed again. “Maybe you should check my son out once you get that promotion… high school seems to be causing him a lot of trauma.”
“Not that sort of trauma, silly. What grade is he in?”
“He’s currently a senior… my little boy is going off to college next year… If he chooses, of course. His name is Sam. Sam Sekemoto.”
“My! I don’t even want to think that far ahead for my children yet! Does he want to go?”
“Ehh, he’s not so sure yet.”
“What does your wife think?”
Leighton’s cheeks suddenly colored and his playful eyes gained a solemn look as he dropped his gaze to the table.
“I don’t have a wife. Sam was born when I was… young. ” He looked up to meet her eyes. “You know how high school is… My mother, the angel she was, helped me raise him.”
Abigail’s own cheeks flushed and she placed a comforting hand over his. “Hey, it’s alright. My love life isn’t so hot at the moment either.”
She smiled encouragingly, eager to lighten the tone again “Another round?”
An awkward smile graced her face, and Leighton couldn’t help but smile awkwardly back.
A guilty Abigail sat in the taxi cab, staring out the window. Had the way she acted count as… cheating? It wasn’t like she and Leighton had kissed or even flirted, but the hug he gave her when she left for home was electric! She could almost feel sparks flying off both their bodies, mingling together to form exploding fireworks
between them! And they had traded numbers…
And who could deny the girlish way she had giggled when he bravely jumped into the lake after a little boy’s lost Frisbee – and came out with a fish trapped in his pants!
Abigail put a hand to her head in distress. She wasn’t cheating! That woman had no idea what she was talking about! Who gave her the right to call them a “sweet, old couple?” First off, they were friends, nothing more! New friends too! Second, she wasn’t old! Okay, fine… maybe a little… but everyone has wrinkles!
Either way, she was going to divorce Jared… sure she hadn’t gotten around to it… just yet… but she was going to! And she and Leighton would stay just friends! They both already had grown children, for goodness sakes! Not only that, she was done with men! They were all dirty, distrustful bastards. Heck, if she wanted, she could just not contact Leighton in a snap! She had Morgana to be her friend, who needed a new one? A man at that! And her children! They were her friends! That’s all she needed!
But is that what you want?
The cab pulled to a stop across from her home, and she slowly got out.
Today was the day she had decided it was time to tell her children…
Fear and doubt suddenly swept through her body. Was this the right choice? Was she doing the right thing for her children? For herself? Did she have enough money to go through this? Did she have enough support?
A divorce is a big thing…
As Abigail neared the house, all doubt was erased from her mind as she heard yelling coming from inside.
“You IDIOT!” she heard Jared scream. A loud sound vibrated through the house, as if someone had been smacked. Hard.
A cry confirmed it… and that it was her daughter.
“THAT WAS MY FREAKING OVEN! MY OVEN!! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BAKE WITH A BROKEN OVEN! ARGH!” Jared shouted shrilly.
Abigail ran inside. Newfound confidence swept into her heart and she held her head high, all doubt erased.
“Stop. Right. There. You monster!” she exclaimed loudly.
Jared turned to look at her in shock. He dropped his raised fist and came closer.
“Excuse me?” He laughed in her face. “Shut up.”
Abigail only raised an eyebrow. “No.”
Jared laughed again, but there was a slight tremor in his voice this time… when was the last time she had defied him? And was that… regret in his eyes? He noticed her looking and turned his head, scrunching his lips as if trying not to cry.
“You’re an old, frail man now, Jared,” Abigail calmly told him, her heart beating rapidly, yet her voice steady. “You can’t overpower me. I’m younger and stronger than you. I also am sick and tired- I’m fed up with you and the way you treat this family… our children! They were raised in a household of fear and hate! I know you yourself had a rocky childhood, but why would you want your own children to experience something like it? You think you were the only one out of us that had something like that?”
Jared’s mouth hung open. He stuttered and tried to speak, but Abigail raised her hand to silence him. Dumbfounded, Jared obeyed.
“I want a divorce.”
At this, his eyes grew wide with fear and his wrinkled hands trembled violently.
“No,” he croaked. “No, you can’t!” His voice grew louder and louder, until it was a full out wail. Amelia shrank away and retreated to a corner of the house, looking wildly around the house for her absent brother.
“YOU CAN’T DIVORCE ME! I WON’T ALLOW IT! NO!”
Abigail only looked at him. “Yes. You chose your actions… now it’s time to pay the price. If you don’t decide to do this professionally, I can sue you for assault, child abuse, sexual assault, physical abuse, emotional abuse,” she ticked each one off on her fingers. As each finger rose, Jared’s face grew paler.
“No, please. Okay. I- I’m sorry.” He broke down in tears.
Abigail stepped back, surprised, as a wall seemed to crumble before her, leaving a skinny, weak, old man behind it. An old man filled with grief, regret, and despair.
“I’m so sorry! Oh my God I’m so sorry!” He buried his head in his hands as his body wracked with sobs. “Please forgive me! Oh my God! I- I- I’m so sorry!”
Abigail only looked at him pityingly. “You have a week to gather your things, apologize to your children, and find your own place. After that, we can settle the other things with a lawyer and attorney.”
Jared looked at her with blotchy eyes. He opened his mouth to say something, but only a sob escaped his lips.
“But, where will I go?”
Abigail did not answer, but turned away from her first love, her heart light. But as she went to comfort her daughter, distress rose within her body… what would happen to them now?
A week passed within in a blur, but the divorce took a strenuous nine months with daily trips to her lawyers office, as well as a huge sum of money. Despite the thankfulness she felt over the whole affair being over, Abigail knew she wouldn’t have made it through without the support of her friends and children. Morgana covered some of the costs as well as gave Abigail time off from work, while Leighton often looked after her children on the days she was out for hours at a time. Not only did her children befriend Leighton’s son, but Sam also helped Charles look out for Amelia the way an older brother would. The way the three teenagers interacted with each other made Abigail’s heart melt. The happiness she now saw on a daily basis emanate from her children let her know the costly and taxing divorce had been well worth it.
Happily picnicking with Morgana one afternoon on their day off, Abigail excitedly patted the legal documents in her purse, eager to tell Morgana the end results.
“Oh come out with it Abbie,” Morgana smiled through a mouthful of hotdog. “Anyone can see you can barely contain yourself!”
Abigail smiled broadly and pulled out her documents, talking a mile a minute.
“Because of Jared’s jail time and history of scandals, as well as all the different forms of abuse both I and the kids testified to, I get full custody of both Charles and Amelia!! Aaaaaaah!!!”
Abigail got up from her wooden bench to do a little victory dance. She had been terrified to hear that that Jared had a chance to get the children, even for the weekends! When she had learned she had full custody over them she had felt like the world had been lifted off her shoulders!
Settling herself back down, Abigail grabbed herself a hotdog off the plate.
“Obviously Jared has to pay child support, but the only time he can actually see the kids is if someone is there to watch over it all.”
“My, isn’t that lucky,” Morgana commented as her friend lunched. “Do you think he’ll choose to see them?”
Abigail chewed thoughtfully. “You know, I really have no idea. He seemed pretty regretful the last week he stayed with us. I caught him more than once tearing up when he thought no one was there. But I honestly don’t know.”
“What about the house and deeds?”
“Well, I got full rights over the house, as they’re admitting Jared into a mental hospital, so I’m pretty much in full control of everything. It’s going to be as if Jared was never my husband! All I’ll have of him as a reminder will be the kids and his child support.”
“As well as the house,” Morgana added, acknowledging the way Jared had redecorated the house.
“Actually, I’m going to be completely remodeling the house! It’s going to be great! I’m so excited! The kids, Leighton, and Sam will be helping us out! Do you and Hayley want to as well?”
“Oh we’d be delighted! You know, I can’t believe our daughters haven’t met yet!”
Abigail opened her eyes wide and choked on her hotdog. “Oh gosh, you’re right! “
Morgana laughed at Abigail’s amazement.
“Say,” Morgana mused. “I just remembered. Whatever happened to Jared’s other daughter. Tina was it?”
“Oh, Tania? I have no idea. Jared handled the child support payments that the court forced upon him at the time of his jail admittance. To be honest, I didn’t know about her until the day he tried to kill his brother.” Abigail’s excited chatter dropped a pitch as she thought back to that sad day. “Nor did the kids,” she continued. “Heck, they don’t even know about Tania because it all happened when they were still pretty young. Amelia might, but I highly doubt it.”
“Are you going to tell them?”
“I don’t think so. Tania and her mother have probably moved out of town by now anyway. I mean, why stir up things in the past?”
“I suppose you’re right, but what if they meet someday? Won’t Tania remember?”
Abigail waved her hand in the air. “Probably not. She’s only a year older than Amelia, you know.”
Morgana nodded, but looked doubtful. Getting up to toss both their paper plates and plastic utensils in the garbage, Morgana commented, “Wouldn’t Claire have told Tania about your kids though?”
Abigail nonchalantly wiped the crumbs off her blouse before getting up herself. “Ehh… I doubt she would. Claire hates getting involved in stuff.”
She slung her purse over her shoulder and linked arms with her friend.
“You know, I don’t think it was such a good idea to eat right before going shopping,” Abigail mentioned, signaling the end of the serious conversation.
Morgana laughed. “Girl, we’re getting old. Soon, our kids will be having children of their own, and I don’t want to be that extremely skinny grandma. It’ll look like we’re trying too hard.”
They both looked at each other and laughed, knowing that the comment was a referral to that eighty seven year old lady who had come into the emergency room last week for bulimia… turned out she was trying to stay thin and pretty, dressing in the skimpiest outfits she could find and paying for whatever plastic surgery she could afford. Luckily they were able to fatten her up a bit and admit her to a psychiatric hospital. Still, it had been a funny case.
Abigail and Morgana hugged before getting up and walking to the salon, each telling the other about their current patients, as well as exchanging town gossip.
Abigail felt like she was walking on a cloud. Here she was walking down the street with her friend, completely care-free, on her way to a shopping trip. She didn’t have to worry about her children, as they were at school, and she could spend the entire day with Morgana, shopping, gossiping, and catching up. Her only worry was money, but she had promised herself she wouldn’t worry about it. Today, at least.
Amelia dashed into Abigail’s arms no sooner had she opened the door and set foot inside.
“Amelia, darling what’s the matter?” Abigail dropped her bags clumsily to embrace her daughter.
Amelia tried to speak but only a strangled gasp escaped.
“She’s looking for her stupid sock!” Charles exasperatedly flung his arms in the air, entering the room. “She’s screeching and screaming ‘cause she’s missing her favorite sock! And not only that, she misplaced her stinking homework, so now she’s having a panic attack over that!”
“Charles, keep your voice down,” Abigail admonished, rocking her daughter. “Did you help her look for it?”
Charles rolled his eyes, annoyed. “Gosh, don’t you get how aggravating it is? I’m trying to do my own dumb homework!”
Abigail flashed her eyes at him. Doesn’t he understand it’s his job as a brother to look out for his sister? Since when has he gotten so moody?
“Ugh! Sam is down in the basement checking behind the laundry machine to see if it fell behind it,” Charles continued.
“And are you looking for her homework?”
“Geez mom, it’s not my problem! Why doesn’t she look for her own work instead of screeching and screaming?”
Charles shot Amelia an angry glare and she burst into fresh tears.
“Charles, apologize to your sister.”
“Then you’re grounded, young man.”
Turning on his heel without a word, Charles stomped as loud as he could to the nearest room, which happened to be the bathroom, and slammed the door with all his force. The sound of the garbage can being knocked over as he kicked it angrily made Abigail feel bad, but not enough to tell him it was alright to treat his sister that way.
What has gotten into him?
Sam emerged from the basement doorway with a dusty, pink polka-dotted sock in hand. “Is this it?”
“Ohh! Thank you so much Sam!” Amelia cried, flinging herself away from her mother and into his arms for a giant hug. She rapidly wiped the dust off and put it on, and instant look of calm crossing her face.
“Do you know about my homework?”
Sam scratched his head. “Err I think it’s on the kitchen counter.”
“Thanks!!” Amelia scampered off to the kitchen, but turned around to face her mother halfway there.
“Hey momma did you and Auntie Morgana have a good time? I see you got a new outfit!”
“Err, yeah,” she said.
Amelia shot her a thumbs up and spun on her heel.
Abigail only turned to Sam, who didn’t seem fazed at all.
“Thanks for helping me with that kiddo.”
“Not a problem Ms. Pisces!”
“My kids don’t call your father Mr. Sekemoto, they call him Leighton! Please, call me Abigail.”
“Sure thing! Though Abigail calls him dad,” Sam chuckled.
“Oh dear! I’ll talk to her about it. Sorry about it. You know how Amelia is though,” Abigail told him, her cheeks flushing.
“No, it’s alright, he likes it.”
“Does he really?”
Sam looked at her out of the corner of his eye. “Yeah, says she’s the daughter he never had.”
Abigail’s heart leapt, but she beat it down and merely said, “Aww that’s cute. You do act like her brother you know.”
Sam blushed. “What can I say? She can be quiet endearing at times.”
Abigail beamed at her friend’s son. Why couldn’t her son be more like him?
She immediately regretted thinking that. How dare she think like that of her family! Charles is only a fifteen-year-old boy! Of course he wouldn’t know how to handle his… distressed sister. And now was the time he was going to break apart from his family and become his own person!
Abigail suddenly had the urge to cry. Her babies were growing up so fast! It was only yesterday that she had brought home a squalling baby boy in a blue blanket- and now here he was getting mood swings. A teenager!
Abigail secretly wiped away a tear, smiled at Sam, and excused herself, gathering her bags off the floor and taking them to her dresser to fold. She was passing by the door when the doorbell rang.
“It’s my dad,” Sam called to her. “I’ll see you soon!”
Quickly dumping her clothes on the bed, Abigail rushed to the door giddily to say hello to Leighton before he left.
“Leighton, how have you been,” she asked him, a smile growing on her face.
Leighton returned the grin. “I’m great now that I’ve seen your beautiful face,” he laughed jokingly.
For a second, Abigail wished it wasn’t a joke, but instantly felt foolish. Leighton was her friend. Why complicate matters and ruin this friendship?
Why not just make it something more?
She blushed, which caused Leighton to laugh louder.
Sam rolled his eyes. “C’mon dad, flirt with her later.”
“I might just do that,” he retorted. “Talk to you later, sweetheart.” He pecked her on the cheek, took Sam by the arm, and was out the door.
But Abigail just stood there with an expression on her face as she watched Leighton walk down to his car, all the while chatting and laughing amiably with his son.
She didn’t move until the car had driven off and turned the curve at the bottom of the street. Only then did she shut the door and begin folding her new clothing.
Making sure both children were doing their schoolwork, Abigail began to go through her daily chores. Luckily the kids had lunch at school, but she still needed to cook dinner for them.
Taking out a pot, box of spaghetti, and a hunk of cheese, Abigail began to busy herself with preparing the meal. Ever since Jared had left, she had had to take on the cooking- a task he had always done as he claimed it helped him improve for his job. She never realized how difficult it was! Even cooking a simple pot of macaroni and cheese was hard! She had to make sure the pasta wasn’t undercooked, nor was it burnt. And God forbid she move away from the stove to grab a book or find something to do while waiting for the water to boil, because if Amelia were to come out of her room and see the stove on and unattended… Abigail didn’t even want to remember what had happened last time.
Dividing the dinner into three portions, Abigail left the steaming bowls on the table to cool. The laundry machine was beeping downstairs.
Bringing the freshly laundered clothes and sheets up the stairs, Abigail took a moment to wipe her brow and push a flyaway strand behind her ear.
She didn’t like to admit it, but it was hard being a single mother. Sure, her life was better without and abusive husband, but it was harder.
Abigail went to the Charles’ crevice of the large, open room and stood with her hands on her hips. “Charles, dinner.”
When he didn’t respond, Abigail frowned. “Charles, it’s dinner time,” she repeated.
He looked up from his book long enough to say, “I don’t want to eat,” before immediately lowering his head.
“You eat any less and you’ll become a skeleton! Come on, son!”
“Nope, wouldn’t want to do anything that upsets her highness Amelia,” Charles retorted sarcastically.
“Charles! Don’t talk that way about your sister! Both you and I know she is not in her right mind! The least you can do is humor her a bit and help her out when she has a fit!”
“Mom, I’m not her parent. That’s your job. Now can you please leave me alone?”
Clucking her tongue, Abigail looked away and turned around. If he was going through one of his hormonal phases, so be it- but he didn’t have to take it out on everyone around him!
Abigail knocked on the bathroom door where she had heard Amelia taking a shower. Not hearing any response, she opened the door and entered- only to see her daughter leaning over her marble notebook in tears, homework and pencil shavings scattered across the damp bathroom floor.
Ignoring the fact that her daughter was working on her schoolwork in a wet and humid bathroom, Abigail crouched down. “Oh honey, what’s wrong?”
“N- no. It’s just, I can’t take it anymore, Momma!” she sobbed. “I hate my school! It’s too hard, and I can’t even concentrate in class because everyone makes fun of me and I have to worry about getting to my next class without being shoved and because of that I do bad in school and Charles is older than me and in higher classes and is getting A’s!” she said it all in one long breath before dropping her head back down, new tears falling on her blank homework assignment.
“Aww sweetheart,” Abigail frowned and her heart ached. “I know you don’t want me to talk to the principal or teacher about it, but I hate seeing you like this! I know you tell me Charles tries to protect you, but he isn’t in any of your classes, hon. Do you think their’s anything I can do to help? All I want is for you to be happy. You know that.”
Amelia sniffled and thought for a moment before asking timidly, “Maybe I could go to a private school? Or a boarding school?”
Her daughter’s request caught Abigail off guard for a moment and she didn’t say anything. She thought they had already had this discussion. Did Amelia really want to go that badly? She chewed her lip pensively. To afford a private school she would have to take money from her house remodeling funds… and who knows how much the tuition would cost! But then again, did she want her daughter to be bullied throughout her high school life? Children killed themselves over bullying!
“Yes, sorry dear. I’m not saying no this time, but I’m not saying yes either. I’m going to discuss this with Morgana and Leighton, and then I’ll get back to you, alright?”
“Sure momma,” Amelia chirped, but her hope fell before she even said it.
“Dinner is ready by the way…”
“I think we should get multiples of the uniform, don’t you think?” Amelia asked her mother.
Abigail looked at the price tags and nodded, tossing the shirts to Amelia who deftly caught it, a proud smile crossing her face.
“Thanks so so so so much momma!”
Abigail looked at her little girl and smiled. It was about the thousandth time Amelia had thanked her.
“No problem sweetheart.”
But her face fell when her daughter turned around- they were expensive shirts!
Sighing to herself, Abigail pulled out her book and flipped to the page she had put the pamphlet in. Scanning the uniform requirements, Abigail made sure everything they needed was in order.
“You ready to bring it all to the checkout?”
“Yes!” Amelia bounded over to the desk and placed the clothes on the counter, smiling ear to ear as the woman scanned the tags, folded the clothes, and placed them in a plastic bag for her.
“Already planning for the next school year?”
“No, I’m going to an all year private school. We don’t get a summer vacation, instead more free days throughout the year. It’s so we don’t forget everything over the summer,” Amelia told her proudly, restating what she had read in the pamphlet. The little brochure was almost in shreds thanks to the way Amelia had excitedly re read it over and over, cover to cover.
“Is that so?” the woman smiled at her.
“Yep! Thanks! Buh-bye now!”
Abigail took Amelia by the arm, and the two walked out.
“Oh Momma, can I put them on when I get home and show them to Dad when he comes over for dinner tonight?”
“When Uncle Leighton comes over. You don’t call Auntie Morgana mom, do you? And of course you may, but take it off before you eat. I don’t want a repeat of last week when you dirtied your favorite shirt with grease.”
“Sorry momma, and sure!”
Amelia walked along, swinging her bag contently, when she stopped dead in her tracks.
“What about that Maggie lady? Weren’t we supposed to meet with her today?”
Abigail slapped a hand to her mouth. She had forgotten all about the therapy session she had set up with that new therapist, Maggie Griffith. She was new, so inexpensive for the time being, but the doctors at the hospital raved about her. Abigail had finally come to terms with her daughter’s obsessive compulsive disorder, and has decided to set up a family therapy session to help Amelia. She had only told Morgana, but she supposed the information had traveled down the grapevine… she just didn’t know how her daughter would take it.
“Oh, you’re right! Maybe, she can join us for dinner too.” Abigail smiled at her daughter. “That way you can get to know her before our session.”
She gave Amelia a side-long glance and told her carefully, “Mrs. Griffith is going to help you control the way you feel about checking things all the time.”
Amelia got a wild look in her eye and she stopped dead in her tracks.
Dropping the bag at her side, Amelia clasped her hands to her head.
“No! She can’t do that! I have to check stuff! She can’t! Momma, don’t let her into the house!”
“Amelia, stop that!”
Amelia started to hyperventilate, and Abigail wished she hadn’t said anything. She had forgotten she had to be extra careful about what she said around Amelia.
“Amelia, dear. Please calm down. Relax, sweetheart and take short breaths.” She caressed her daughter’s hair soothingly to calm her, ignoring the looks a passerby gave them.
After a long minute, Amelia’s breathing came to normal and her flushed cheeks regained their pale shade. Abigail picked up the bag and took her daughter gently by the hand, ushering her into a taxi by the curb.
“15 Summer Hill Court, please.”
When they arrived, Abigail saw an unfamiliar car parked outside her home. Mrs. Griffith must have arrived early! At least Charles was home to let her in.
Upon entering, Abigail saw Mrs. Griffith on her phone, and Charles making her a coffee. When the therapist noticed them, she ended her call and walked over.
“I’m so sorry for the delay, Mrs. Griffith,” Abigail told her, proffering a hand.
Mrs. Griffith shook both their hands, noticing the way Amelia flinched away and started at her fearfully. “Not a problem. Your lovely son asked me in and offered to prepare me a cup of coffee. Such a darling boy. And please, call me Maggie.”
Abigail looked at Charles with pride, he stared back broodingly, but she saw a trace of a smile play on his lips when he turned to pour the coffee. Teenagers.
“Please, let’s have a seat and begin,” Maggie continued. “Charles told me you were expecting friends over for dinner soon, and I wouldn’t want to delay your meal.”
“Oh, it’s no problem at all! You’re welcome to join us. They’ll be arriving any minute, so I don’t know if it would be best to begin now. I’m terribly sorry for inconveniencing you this way. It seems I lost track of the dates.”
Maggie only laughed kindly and waved it off. “Oh not a problem. I don’t do much Friday nights. I’d be delighted to stay and get to know your family even better!”
The doorbell rang at that moment, and Abigail went to open it.
Leighton walked in and smiled before catching sight of Maggie.
“I didn’t know we were having a model over to entertain us, Abigail, what have we here?”
He went over to shake Maggie’s hand, while Abigail saw Sam groan. “Daaaaad! Why do you act so weird?”
Maggie only giggled at Leighton’s silliness, while Abigail looked away.
They gathered around the table while Abigail served the meatloaf she had prepared before leaving to get Amelia her school uniforms.
Leighton cracked jokes the entire night, as he always did, but this time they weren’t directed at her. Abigail merely picked at her food and pushed her peas around angrily, a green-eyed monster rearing its ugly head. She didn’t even understand the way she felt! Leighton was just being Leighton! He was a fun guy, always lightening the mood and being the good guy he was.
Abigail tried to keep herself busy in the kitchen and keep the food rotating. She breathed a sigh of relief when they had finished the dessert and it was time for them to leave. Usually she hated it when her friend left, but today she couldn’t be rid of him faster.
Sam had already left for the car and Amelia, Charles, and Maggie had begun to sit down on the couch to begin the session. Abigail looked at them happily. Amelia had really warmed up to Maggie! Maybe they could befriend her after the therapy session. Abigail started to close the door, but Leighton stopped her.
“Hey,” he said gently. “I missed you today at dinner. You were up and down constantly bringing food, and when you were sitting down, you weren’t even eating or saying anything. What gives? You’re usually so fun and talkative.”
Abigail looked at him coolly. “None of your business,” she snapped. “Why don’t you go ask Maggie what gives with her? She didn’t seem to be eating much, either. Oh, wait, she was laughing at your flirtatious jokes the whole time she forgot to eat.” Abigail rolled her eyes to match her sarcastic tone before resuming her normal voice. “Next time, don’t flirt with my therapist. Thanks.”
She tried to shut the door but Leighton blocked the doorway with his foot.
“Aw is that what’s been bothering you?” He looked at her affectionately, and Abigail’s heart started to flutter, her palms to sweat, and her stomach to flip flop.
What’s happening to me! He completely insulted me today!
To be honest, she didn’t understand these feelings properly… she didn’t understand what they were- and it confused her.
“You know, you’re cute when you’re jealous,” he smiled at her.
I’m NOT jealous!
But when Leighton leaned in, all her feelings flew out the open door, and as he placed a tender kiss on her lips, Abigail didn’t care at all what she felt- she loved this feeling!
She leaned in towards him, holding the doorknob for support as her knees turned to jelly below her.
Leighton gently pulled away and looked her deeply in the eyes; she looked back and got lost in his own shining, golden brown ones.
“Good night Ms. Pisces,” he told her with a smile, and gently shut the door.
Abigail only stood there in shock and put a hand to her lips. Where Leighton’s lips had just been.
“Momma?” Amelia called.
“Coming,” Abigail said over her shoulder. She floated in a daze over to the couches and sat herself down.
Leighton had kissed her!
The whole session seemed to fly by. Abigail wasn’t required to talk much- it was mostly Amelia, Charles and Maggie. She had been there only to listen in and give small details or facts… not that she had been very helpful. She had barely heard a word said!
Before Maggie had left, she reminded Abigail that next meeting she would have to pay more attention because it would be an important session. Abigail promised her she would… but at the moment, she was floating on a cloud.
Even her nightly routine of seeing the kids off to bed was done in such a state of elatedness that she kissed Charles on the forehead and whispered ‘Goodnight Amelia!’
And as she snuggled down in her empty bed, Abigail could only think of one day sharing it again.