After Kate's wedding, she and her husband moved down to San Diego, leaving an open space in the apartment she shared with Lil. Lil and Jake were still playing the on again, off again game but finally, after much convincing and job scouting on his behalf, Lil convinced Jake to move into her apartment with her in Sacramento. He found a job working as a manager at a restaurant not too far from their apartment and decided to take night classes to finish his Bachelor's degree in hospitality.
Lil continued to work as a graphic artist for a medium-sized firm and was put on several major projects. After a few years, she was running lead on many of the company's client projects. It was after the promotion that Jake proposed to her by taking her out to the restaurant he managed and getting down on one knee in front of everyone. "Are you sure?" she had whispered before accepting and Jake replied that he had never been more sure of something in his life. They were married six months later and ended up having twin girls. To make more time for her new family, Lil quit her job at the firm and opened up her own consulting business out of their home. They bought a small house and actually encouraged their kids to draw on the walls.
Kate became a working mom almost right after getting married, but she pushed for major changes to maternity leave and childcare. At her company, she was able to obtain an extra eight weeks of paid leave for mothers and an in-house childcare facility for children of all ages, so that parents could still spend lunches with their children and any extra time they needed. Eventually, Kate decided to run for mayor of their town and won. Her husband was very happy to be a support husband and to stay out of the limelight as much as possible. With their three children by their side, Kate and her husband were able to make positive, family-focused changes for their community in her years as mayor. After she retired from politics and the last of their children were in college, Kate and her husband sold most of their possessions, bought an RV, and traveled the United States.
Donnie—well, Donnie stuck around in their hometown for a while but was constantly traveling to other places to visit friends and couch surf. One day, though, his mom called him.
"Honey, I'm getting married."
"What? Aren't you a little old for that?" he questioned.
"You're never too old to fall in love!"
"You've said you've been in love before."
"I'm pushing sixty now and I'm tired of being alone. Your dad remarried years ago. It's never too late to find what you've been looking for."
That was the day Donnie stopped couch surfing for good. He took some online classes, got a degree in video production, and started working for a small California-based production company, mostly developing shorts and internet ads. He never stopped living fast and loose, especially in relationships, but the rest of his life was finally stable. He thought about Sid every now and again but she became just a piece of nostalgia to him. They never saw each other again.
Sid was the kind of beauty that draws men in slowly. Not sultry and seductive, but not adolescently thin and cute, either. Pregnancy and childbirth had left her naturally slender frame fuller, more mature, and her face always glowed. That summer day, her long, wavy, brown hair was pulled up into a messy bun and she wore ripped jeans and a Dodgers baseball shirt. She was radiant.
Sid knelt on their bed over baby Les as she played with him, cooing at him and making silly faces. Sid fell in love with the world anew every time she looked at their chubby six-month-old baby and every time she witnessed Elliot's fatherly affections.
"The car's packed," Elliot announced, peeking into their room.
They were making a short stop in her hometown on their way to vacation in San Francisco with Elliot's family, even though it was very much out of the way. Sid wanted one last good memory of that place, that life.
Before they embarked all the way north, they made a stop in town, parking Elliot's Jeep on the gravel road. Sid got out of the Jeep and took baby Les with her, and carried three bouquets of flowers. She walked to a nearby headstone and laid one of the bouquets down. Then to another headstone and did the same. Finally, on to the last headstone and, here, she knelt down. After a few moments, she placed the flowers in front of the headstone and stood.
"Mom, Dad, I want you to meet Lester Bravery Brewster. We call him Les. I'm sure you're having a fit about his middle name, Mom, but it fits him and it fits us. He has your nose, Mom. I wish he looked like you at all, Dad, but I hope he grows up to be like you."
Sid walked silently to the car, buckled Les into his carseat, and climbed into the front passenger seat. After she buckled her seatbelt, Elliot reached over and gently squeezed her hand before driving away.
Later that day, they pulled off the highway into Sid's hometown. The Oasis Bar loomed on the corner of the first stop light in town, but it no longer intimidated Sid or Elliot. They then drove around the town aimlessly for a little while, just seeing everything again, Sid pointing out the schools she went to and her favorite hang outs and where the best food in town was served. And then they parked the car, this time in front of the house Sid grew up in.
"I never thought I'd see this place," Elliot remarked.
Sid set her jaw, her lips forming a thin line, and, turning to him, replied, "This will be the only time."
They climbed out of the car simultaneously and Sid walked to the front door while Elliot collected a sleeping Les from his car seat. The house had a fresh coat of paint but the flower beds were planted with almost the exact flowers Sid's mom had kept, which struck Sid as odd, but perhaps the new owners had similar tastes or maybe they were just lazy. Sid knocked on the front door without hesitation, even though she was unsure who she would face on the other side. Elliot stood on the porch beside her, holding the baby, and smiled. A younger couple, maybe only a few years older than Sid and Elliot, opened the door. Elliot let out a breath and relaxed but Sid showed no emotion. Sid explained the situation to the couple standing in the doorway and they graciously offered to take a family photo in front of the house for her.
Sid held Les and Elliot wrapped his arm around her waist, drawing her close. Even baby Les smiled for the camera. That photo hung on their living room wall in their Topanga Canyon home for years to come.
That was the last time any of them ever saw Sid's hometown. They drove away minutes after the picture was taken and Sid never checked the rear-view mirror.
YOU ARE READING
Miles ApartGeneral Fiction
Is first love always true love? Sid and Donnie have a rocky relationship and each have to overcome their own struggles. Can they help each other through them or would it be best for them to part? Will Donnie overcome his fear of commitment? Will Si...