15. Walkin' After Midnight

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The night winds whisper to me I'm lonesome as I can be - Patsy Cline

9:27 p.m. Thursday, October 7, 2021

When the phone rings, Michele doesn't even have to look to know that it's Liz calling about the newest gossip. Answering before the second round of Liz's ringtone, Michele speaks immediately, "The grapevine is slow. I was sure you would have called much sooner."

"How are you okay with him being out on a date with....HER?" Liz screeches, and Michele is confident her ears will bleed from the high pitched sound.

"Um, he can go to the movies with anyone he wants," Michele answers primly.

"I'm not talking about the movie, you dork. He took her out to dinner. At Luigi's. With wine." Each phrase is punctuated with emphasis.

Dinner? Ouch. That hurt, but she had told him to meet other people. "Do you have a point?" Michele attempts to sound bored, but her heart is pounding. When she finds her thumbnail stuck in her mouth as she chews the cuticle, Michele stuffs her hand behind her back.

"Why are you so determined to chase him away?"

Exasperated, Michele blows the loose strands of hair that hadn't made it into her messy bun. "What don't you understand? He's. Not. Staying. In. Town."

"Neither. Are. You." Her best friend matches the same tone of voice, and Michele cringes.

"I didn't get the job," she whispers. "No one wants to hire me. They were the only ones who even threw me a bone with an interview."

Silence meets her reveal. She's been back from the interview for three days without sharing the news with anyone other than Harry.

"Michele! No. That can't be! Why didn't you tell me? When did they let you know?"

"Ummmm....at the interview," her voice is tiny as she doesn't want to have this discussion now.

"Oh, love. I'm so sorry. We'll just have to make a new plan for next steps."

"No," Michele is insistent. "No new plan."

"Haha. You sound like Paige when she's tired and whiny. There has to be a new plan, Chele. You can't just give up after one interview."

"Liiiiiiiiiiizzzzzzzz." She draws out the name into at least three syllables. "I don't want to talk about any of this right now. Not the interview. Not Harry. Let's discuss something that really matters. What are your next steps for a baby?"

Her friend gasps loudly then grows quiet. "I guess we will go into the city to a fertility specialist. We've been trying for nearly a year and a half, and Dr. Rubenstein said that we shouldn't have any issues based on my checkups. I don't know how to handle the crushing disappointment each month, and poor Spencer is stuck dealing with my moodiness."

"Hey," Michele reminds her, "Spencer loves you."

"Yeah," Liz sniffles, "And he's been great about this. We will go to the fertility specialist and see if that route is better than adoption. Both are expensive. At this point, adoption is more of a sure thing."

"I'm here for you whatever you decide. How can I help?"

"Aw, Chele. You're the best. Just knowing you're rooting for us is more than enough. Besides, you'll need to be prepared to be a godmother as soon as God sees fit to gift us with a child." She pauses, and just as Michele is about to reply, Liz continues, "Come to think of it, though. There is one thing you can do for me."

"Really? Anything, Liz. Name it!"

"You can shag Harry Styles."

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