Fiction Friday: The Bandbox Hat

We’re back! After an extended hiatus for holidays, vacations, and lifestyle changes, SarahJane and I picked up her story. Part of the delay was this whole writing on the seat of my pants. I just didn’t know what should happen next. But I took a long walk this morning and got some ideas. We’ll be wrapping up SarahJane’s story in the next month or so. It’s been a fun ride and I’ve gotten some ideas for some other projects too.

Thanks for reading!

The Bandbox Hat

Previously: SarahJane was given the heave-ho from the Date My Son! reality dating show. She spent a couple of days depressed. Her niece April called and asked to come visit SarahJane in Glendale.

Chapter Forty-Seven

With a last glance around my apartment, I hiked my bag up on my shoulder and picked out my car keys. I was meeting Jake and April at the bottom of their side of the grapevine and bringing April home for a few days.

Although my time on Date My Son! seemed to last months, in reality I’d only been gone a few weeks and there was plenty of summer left to relax and visit with my favorite niece.

My fingers grew tired gripping the steering wheel as I drove through the pass over the Tehachapi mountains. The wind whipped my little car from side to side and it took all I had to keep it in my lane. I was exhausted by the time I climbed out at the Starbucks at the bottom of the hill.

“Auntie SJ!”

I turned toward April’s voice and caught her as she launched herself at me. “April! Here you are.”

“We’ve been waiting forever for you to get here. Jesse said you’d be late.”

Jesse? Dread settled in my stomach and snaked around my chest.

“Hey.”

I turned toward the voice and managed to answer as casually. “Hey. What’s up?”

Jake pushed through the Starbucks doors and strode to us in the parking lot. He gave a shoulder hug. “We wondered how late you’d be. Ten minutes isn’t bad.”

“What’s going on?” The wind was whipping through the area and I had to hold my hair out of my eyes.

April hopped up and down like a spring time bunny. “Jesse just got here. He’s on his way—”

Jake covered her mouth with a gentle hand. “Let Jesse talk for himself.”

I moved my gaze from April to Jesse. “I’ve been visiting Rosedale and am headed back to Pasadena. Made a pit stop here and ran into Jake and April. End of story.”

The grip of dread around my heart loosened, shaking its fingers loose like a ballplayer flexing his hand. “Oh. How’s your mom?” That seemed like a nice polite thing to say.

“She’s good …”

The silence stretched until I widened my eyes at my brother in a silent plea for him to let April talk. Anything would be better than this awkwardness.

He chuckled and patted April’s back. “Let’s get your stuff out of the car and loaded into Auntie SJ’s.”

She scampered away followed by her treacherous father.

“Listen—”

“Well, it’s been—”

Jesse and I spoke at the same time and stalled in unison. Then stared at each other again.

“No, you go—”

“You were saying?”

Snap. We did it again.

Jesse grinned at me and I caught a glimpse of the old Jesse, my first love, and my heart did that silly leaping thing.

“I was going to say, can I call you?” he asked. “I’d like to catch up and maybe explain some things.”

I considered for a moment then slowly nodded. “I’d like that.”

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