Authors: Nikki Williams
I am standing at the back door looking out thinking about all the fun times we had in this house. I can’t believe that it is all over. Today is it, the last day of that life. It’s time for the girls and me to move on.
“Jo, are you ok?” Annie walks up to me.
“Just thinking about everything. Just thinking about the next chapter of my life and what is in the future for the girls and I.” I feel tears forming in my eyes. “It’s so hard to imagine not being here anymore. The girls have been in this house since they were born. I know they understand somewhat, but this has to be so hard on them. I mean Jarrod has only been gone not even two years and here I am moving them out of the only house they have ever known.”
“Jo, stop,” Annie scolds me. “You are trying to move on and make things better for you and the girls. Abusing yourself like this and second guessing everything is not going to make anything better.” I look at her, knowing that she is right, but I can’t bring myself to actually believe it. “Jo, it is going to be easier for you once you are out of this house. You will be able to start something new. Who knows maybe you will find another handsome man to come into your life,” she smiles at me. I smile back. She is right. This is best. How am I going to move on if I don’t actually move on? First step, getting out of the house.
“Are you girls ready?” Michael comes up from the basement with a box in his hands.
“Yes,” I answer and grab my purse off the counter. I take one more look around. All the time we spent coming up with ideas for this place and I am leaving it. At least I know it will be taken care of because Jarrod’s parents will be moving in next month. I know that the girls and I will always have a home here, but as far as living here, it is time to move forward. Without thinking I put in the garage code and make sure the front door is locked and get into Annie and Michael’s truck. Michael pulls out and starts toward my grandma, who the girls call Noni’s house where the girls are waiting for me.
“Do you have dinner plans?” Annie disrupts my train of thought which I am very thankful for.
“Not that I know of. I am sure Noni has something cooking for the girls.”
“You should come out with us for dinner. We were thinking about going to Marshall’s in Westport. They have a great bar and restaurant atmosphere.”
“Sure, let me she what she has going on and see if I can get away for a couple hours,” I know I could definitely use a little down time. As much as I love my kids I could use a night out with my friends. I watch as Michael pulls into Noni’s driveway and there are my munchkins, sitting in the window watching for mom. It makes my heart melt. I walk through the door to the house and get attacked with hugs and kisses, so do Annie and Michael.
“Hi Mommy,” They both squeal.
“Hi baby,” first I hug and kiss Lizzy then Abby. “What are you girls doing?” I stand back up and walk toward my Noni.
“Playing cribbage.” Lizzy says very matter-of-factly.
“Oh really?” I can’t help but laugh at her.
“Noni says we are never too young to learn,” Abby squeezes in on Noni’s lap.
“Is that so?” I smile at Noni.
“I taught you when you were about Lizzy’s age. Look at you now, even I can’t beat you,” she teases.
“Well you got me there,” I kiss her cheek then sit next to her. Michael and Annie follow me into the kitchen laughing at the girls.
“Are you two ready for kids yet,” Noni smiles at them.
“Oh no, not yet. Maybe once I have my Masters.” Annie laughs. “Only six more months to go.”
“Oh honey that is awesome!” Noni says.
“Yes, and I cannot wait for it to be done.” Annie laughs.
“I bet, but you will have a great career.” She turns her attention back to me. “So did you get everything out that you needed to?”
“Yes, everything is either in the back of Michael’s truck or at the storage unit ready to start moving in tomorrow morning. I am hoping that we will be able to get everything to the duplex and all the big stuff done then all I have to worry about is unpacking all the crap that I need,” I laugh.
“That’s the time consuming part sweetie.”
“Yeah, I know, but mom has the girls all weekend so I should be able to get most of it done,” I have my goals set high I know, but I am determined.
“So what are you going to do with the rest of your night then,” she asks me. It is like she already knows that I am going to ask her to keep the girls so I can enjoy some down time.
“Well, Annie and Michael are going to dinner in Westport and I was wondering if you were ok with the girls if I could join them?”
“Oh absolutely sweetie, your mom should be here soon anyway so they can terrorize her for a while.” She laughs.
“If they are being too much for you I can stay,” I look at the girls who are both smiling at me.
“Oh no, they are fine. You know how much I love having them.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, go have a little time out with friends.”
“Ok,” I stand up. “Give me a couple minutes to change into something more “going out” appropriate.” I say to Annie.
“Hey, let me come with you. I need something else too. Dirty moving clothes aren’t the best attire to get a couple drinks in.” Annie follows me up to the spare room. She laughs when we walk in and she sees piles of clothes lying all over the room. “Good thing you are moving into the new place tomorrow. You sure have done a number on this room.”
“Hey, I know where everything is. Dress clothes here,” I point to a pile, “Work clothes here,” I point to a second pile, “and other stuff here.” I point to the biggest pile lying on the floor.
She laughs, “Some things never change do they?”
“Bite me,” I throw a t-shirt at her. “What do you want to wear?”
“Oh, I know,” she says excitedly after thinking for a minute. “Where is your blue wrap dress?”
“You are obsessed with that dress Annie. Maybe I will buy you one for your birthday this year,” I laugh as I dig through my dresses. “Here,” I hand her the dress then go on the search for the black pumps I know she is going to want to go with it. I find them under a light pink sun dress that I adore so I decide that is what I will wear. I hand her the pumps and she goes across the hall and changes in the bathroom as I slip on the dress I found. I find light brown heels to go with my dress, they are a little higher than I am used to, but I leave them on. I let my hair down from the pony that was holding it back and try to get it to cooperate a little for me, but I am a mess of blonde frizz ball. I decide to put it in a side braid and be done with it. I touch up my mascara a little and meet Annie at the door as she is coming back into my room.
“Jo, you look awesome. It has been a long time since you got all dressed up,” she smiles at me.
“Yeah, I know. Surprisingly I feel good being dressed up.” I smile at her. I haven’t wanted to go out much and do something for so long. Maybe today really is a new start for the girls and me. We both walk down the steps and I swear Michael’s jaw almost hits the floor.
“Wow, Annie, I love when you steal that dress from Jo.” He smiles at me. “You look beautiful also Jo. It’s about time you let your true beauty show for a night.”
“Thanks Michael,” I smile at him. I walk over toward the kitchen table where Noni and the girls are still sitting. “So what do you think?” I twirl in front of them.
“Mommy, you look gorgeous!!” Lizzy’s big blue eyes look up at me in awe.
“Awe thank you baby,” I bend down and give her a kiss.
“You look great sweetie,” Noni says to me. “Enjoy yourself and don’t worry about us. Stay out as late as you want to, don’t rush home. The girls and I will be fine.”
“Thank you Noni,” I kiss her cheek. “Alright girls, you be good for Noni and Grandma when she gets here.”
“We will mommy,” Abby gives me a hug. “Love you.”
“I love you too,” I stand back up and follow Annie and Michael out to the truck. I stare aimlessly out the window on the way to the restaurant. I love watching the traffic and I am also watching Michael and Annie in the front seat. He hasn’t let her hand go since we left Noni’s house. They have been married a little over two years. I remember the day they met. Jarrod and I made Annie go along to a boat show downtown and she wanted nothing to do with it. She hates boats and hates going to boat shows even more. I was about six months pregnant with Abby at the time and she felt bad telling me no when she didn’t have an excuse and there I was as big as a house going to walk around all day just to make Jarrod happy. She tailed along and didn’t spend a whole lot of time actually looking at the boats but more time checking out all the guys. I remember her running into Michael as he came around the corner of one of the boats that was sponsored by Jarrod’s dad’s company that we took a tour of. He almost knocked her right down on her butt. Jarrod grabbed her before she hit. Michael’s face turned a shade of red that I didn’t know was even possible. I couldn’t help but giggle and she gave me a dirty look. Michael apologized and kept going to where ever it was he was in such a hurry to get to.
“He works for my dad. New intern I think,” Jarrod told us as we walked to the next boat.
“He was cute,” I smiled at Annie.
“Jo, please don’t go there,” Annie rolled her eyes at me. That Monday I was visiting Jarrod’s dad, Roger, at work and saw Michael sitting at his desk outside Roger’s office.
“So who is that young man?” I asked Roger.
“That is Michael. Just started here about two weeks ago. Doing a great job. He is the new accountant in training. Louis is leaving at the end of the month and he hand-picked Michael to take his position. Why do you ask?” He looked across his desk at me.
“Oh, he and Annie had a close call at the boat show on Saturday. Let’s just say if it wasn’t for Jarrod she would have ended up ass on the ground,” I laugh.
“Oh yes, I did hear that he almost knocked a young lady over. He is a very nice guy, and single too,” he smiled his sly smile. As I was leaving the office I stopped and introduced myself to him. I may have accidentally given him a piece of paper with Annie’s name and number on it.
“Are you still with us back there?” Annie laughs.
I smile, “yes, I am.”
“You were in deep thought,” Michael laughs.
I laugh, “I was just thinking about the boat show where you two ran into each other. And how Annie was so pissed at me when I gave her number out to some stranger.”
“Ok, I will admit I was a little mad at you, but I got over it.”
“Yeah and it only took me asking you out like six times before you finally said yes.” Michael teases her.
“That doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is that I said yes.” She smiles and kisses his cheek.
We get to the restaurant and Michael walks around and opens Annie’s door, then he opens mine. “Thank you,” I smile at him.
“Not a problem,” he helps me out of the truck. Maybe the heels weren’t the best idea after all. I follow them into the bar and we wait to be seated. We follow the hostess to a booth where she gives us our menus.
“Can I get you something to drink while you look over the menu?” She asks.
“I will take a Miller Light,” Michael says.
“I’ll take a glass of Riesling please,” Annie asks.
“I will take a bottle of Bud Light,” I decide on something simple. It has been a while since I have actually had a drink. If I look back it was probably for my brother’s birthday in January and I think I may have only had one or two beers at the time.
“All of their food here is amazing,” Annie says as I look over the menu.
“Man they are packed tonight. I wonder if someone rented out the upstairs. I haven’t seen them this busy since that one time we were in here when one of the NASCAR guys had a big party here.”
“Hey guys,” our waitress came back with our drinks in hand.
“Hey Julie,” Michael says to her.
“Hi Mike, hey Annie,” she smiles at both of them. I am guessing they come here quite often.
“Julie, this is my bestie Jo, Jo this is Julie.” Annie introduces us.
“Hi,” I put my hand out to her. She shakes it enthusiastically. “So what can I get for you all tonight?”
Michael starts, “I will take the eight ounce New York strip special.”
“I would like the Thursday night taco salad special,” Annie smiles at her.
“And for you?” She looks at me.
“I think I will take the chicken Caesar wrap with fries.” I hand her my menu.
“Alright, I will get that in for you. I'm just giving you a heads up it may be a little longer of a wait. As you can tell we are extremely busy tonight.”
“Who rented you guys out tonight?” Annie asked her looking around.
“A big group of the football team. Apparently with the season starting this week they are on their one night furlough.” She laughs, “And let me tell you, some of them have no limits.”
“Big tippers?” Michael asks.
“Some of them, but most of them are rookies so they don’t have the big pay day yet,” she laughs and heads toward the kitchen with our order. I watch some of the guys. Most of them are upstairs but there are a few lingering around at the bar and on the dance floor. I don’t think I have ever seen any of the team up close like this. Man some of them are really good looking.