I stared at the word document in front of me. I needed to work on my article about the Mayor’s dog running away and being found all the way in Magnolia Promenade, but my eyes would hardly focus on the screen. I knew I had to start at the bottom, but I wanted to write real stories, not fluff pieces nobody read unless they forgot to take their phone into the bathroom.
I checked the time and got up, shutting the computer down. I’d volunteered to make dinner tonight (AKA twisted Mom’s arm until she’d agreed to let me cook), and I needed to get it going. I left my room and smiled at Caleb in his play pen, happily chewing on one of his stuffed animals. It was hard to believe he was turning three in less than two months. It felt like he should still be my little baby upstairs in his bassinet.
In the kitchen, I peered into the refrigerator and took out everything I’d need for dinner. I’d just been to the grocery store yesterday and bought everything I’d need. Now that I was working, I insisted on chipping in around the house. I’d tried to pay Mom for babysitting Caleb, but she refused point blank.
“Nora, don’t be ridiculous. I love watching Caleb while you’re at work! I don’t need your money, sweetheart; Carter and I are comfortable – let us help you while you get on your own feet.”
I sighed and shook my head as I started preparing dinner. The most Mom would let me do as far as money went was buy some of the groceries, but it didn’t feel like enough. She’d done so much for me, picking up all the slack with Caleb, buying his baby clothes and toys – everything he needed. After I was living on my own and maybe I was making some more money, then I’d convince her to let me pay her back some. Hopefully, the day I would move out with Caleb wouldn’t be too far in the future.
The next day, Loralee called and asked if I was working. By some miracle, I actually had the day off – that almost never happened – so she came over.
I smiled and hugged her as she came into the living room. “I’m so glad you came over. It’s been forever since we hung out.” It was funny – Loralee was my best friend now, but, not that long ago, we hadn’t seen much of each other. Getting pregnant with Caleb had changed so much about my life.
“I know, right?” Loralee tossed some of her long hair out of her eyes and dropped down on the loveseat. “It’s so hard to get out of Oasis Springs these days.”
“I bet. It’s not like I ever leave Willow Creek, so you’re still doing better than me though.” It wasn’t like I had a reason to ever go anywhere except the once-in-a-blue-moon trip to Loralee’s or Aunt Shirley’s.
Loralee reached over and grabbed my arm, grinning broadly. “Guess what, Nor.”
I laughed at her sudden exuberance. “What?”
“I’m getting married!”
My jaw dropped in surprise, and I immediately looked at her left ring finger and took in the modest but very sparkly ring on it. “Oh, my Watcher, you’re engaged!” The two of us squealed with girlish delight and hugged each other tightly.
Loralee pulled back, giggling with excitement. “Can you believe it? It was so romantic, Nora. I wish you could’ve seen it. Tommy got all these flowers and turned the back yard into the most romantic spot I’ve ever seen. And he took a cooking class! He cooked for me and everything.”
I smiled softly. “Sounds like you got a real winner there.” I couldn’t help but feel a small pang of jealousy. A long time ago, I’d had foolish dreams about marrying Kurt one day.
“He really is,” Loralee sighed dreamily. “Oh, Nora, I hope this happens for you soon. I know there’s a guy out there who would be the perfect man for you.”
I just shook my head. “I’ve got all the companionship I need with Caleb.” I arched a brow her way. “Speaking of kids.”
Loralee blinked at me and then burst into laughter. “Oh, Watcher no! I’m not pregnant.” She smiled and shook her head. “Definitely no. We haven’t even talked about it beyond ‘one day they’d be nice.’”
“So I’ll just keep having to loan you Caleb for a while longer.”
“Exactly. Speaking of, where is that munchkin?”
The two of us went upstairs to find that Caleb was up from his nap. I stood back and watched Loralee play with my son, and I couldn’t stop thinking – look at her, she’s got her life figured out. She was getting married to the man she loved, someone who had been true and faithful to her since they were in high school. They weren’t rushing into things because they were having a kid. They were independent and happy. And I…didn’t see that in my future.
I smiled as Caleb squealed with delight. He was my future. My little boy was everything I needed. If being with Kurt had taught me anything, it was that it was okay if not everybody had that great romance you read about. Maybe I wasn’t the Mel of the story; my own handsome Lucas wasn’t going to walk into my life and make everything great. I’d just be happy being a mom.
Nora is once again referencing the wonderful and amazing Dust to Dust by the equally wonderful CitizenErased14. After some discussion with Citizen about how realistic we try to keep our stories, we decided they really ought to just be the same universe! So, in the story, Dust to Dust is retroactively written by Alexander Rosebrook from Ashes to Ashes, the legacy “sequel” to Dust to Dust. If you haven’t read these stories, you really need to.
And, now that our stories are in the same universe, look out! You just might see a Rosebrook featured in one of my chapters.