There are so many birthdays around this house, it's not even funny. I was going to mature, and I was nervous...very nervous. I decided there would be a change in me, that I wouldn't be so...conspicuous now that I was going to gain a few wrinkles here and there.
...Oh crap. Wrinkles.
Oh dear. That can't be right.
Ahh...much better. Hal kissed me gently, showing me that he didn't care about my new-found wrinkliness. I loved him so much, and I was glad that hadn't changed as I aged. I looked at my kids, clapping and cheering, and was truly happy for this moment.
But, of course, sickness had to ruin everything. I was pretty sure I knew what was happening...I mean, I had expressed my desire for a fifth child to Hal on the night of my aging, but I was worried that I might be too old. Of course, a quick hospital check-up was the right way to go.
After my appointment I figured it would take a while for the doctors to call me back, so I did general useful stuff, such as pay the bills...
...and take out the trash. There were a few old newspapers lying around and they weren't exactly pleasant so something had to be done about them.
I then did a quick spot of gardening. Weeding the plants, picking the tomatoes, watering them...it was all very relaxing, and then I was finished and at a loose end. I had no idea whatsoever what to do. Something was nagging at the back of my mind, and I was impatient for the hospital to call me back. I had read recently about five new girls moving into town so I decided I would go for a quick visit to welcome them to Riverview.
I quickly called a babysitter to look after the twins, and set off on my journey. The trip was peaceful and unexciting, but the scenery was something to be admired as I cruised along. I'm sure the girls got a fright as I pulled up in a police cruiser, but they relaxed as I stepped out. I'll bet they thought they were about to be arrested or something!
They lived in a lovely modern house that was finished about two weeks ago. They certainly seemed nice and I got to know each one.
Claire O'Malley was Irish, and definitely the nice one of the bunch. She dressed casually, in simple jeans and a plain white T-Shirt.
Amelia-Rose Butler was chatting to an electrician when I arrived. When I met her, she seemed a little...uneasy, like she had taken something she wasn't meant to, but I thought nothing of it. She was very nice and had a good heart.
Ashleigh Rose Heart was definitely a flirt, you could see it in her eyes. She seemed to be a little bit insane, like me, so we got on well.
However, Ashleigh has tough competition in Jenny Samson. She expressed her hatred for settling down with someone but seemed to get a little bit awkward when I said I was married.
Lola Roux is a natural musician, who aspires to be a rock star someday. She played a few tunes on her guitar and I was amazed by how absorbed she became in it. I was pretty sure she would make it big.
When I got home I could hardly believe my eyes. Lilith was crying her little heart out, Denver needed his nappy changed and the babysitter was just standing there complaining about the wailing. And he had the nerve to ask for a tip! I think the death-ray glare I sent him made him scoot off before I kicked his ass. Unbelievable!
Jack and Pandora had brought friends home from school. When I arrived, Jack was merrily chatting about conspiracies to Susie Broke, while Pandora was involved in an enthusiastic game of tag with Marci Carnes. I was so glad they were both making friends, and they both seemed like nice people.
I had gone inside to bake some brownies when my cell phone rang.
"Hello?" I said.
"Hello, is this Mrs. Houston?"
"Yes," I replied. "Who is this, please?"
"This is Dr. Greeves from the hospital. We ran some tests and we're pleased to announce that you're pregnant!"
I couldn't believe it! I was so happy, I could jump for joy! I was so excited and I squealed a little bit and punched the air. I couldn't wait to tell Hal!
Just then, the phone rang again.
"Hello?" I said.
"Hello, are you AJ Houston, the wife of Hal Houston, formerly Breckenridge?"
"Well, ma'am, we are deeply unhappy to tell you that your husband has been shot."
With those few words, my world shattered. I just couldn't believe my ears. The man calling from the police station had told me that he had been taking down a criminal when said criminal pulled out a gun and shot him through the head, fatally wounding him. I broke down, and the man was extremely sympathetic. I called Jack and Pandora inside, telling them that it was time for their friends to go because we had important things to discuss.
"Jack, Pandora...I'm about to tell you something huge, and I need you to be strong."
"What is it, mom?" Jack asked.
"Well, your father...your father...your father is...well, he's...he's dead." My voice cracked on that last word. Pandora and Jack looked at me, willing me to say "April Fool's!". But I didn't. I watched their faces crumple, their hearts smashing into a million pieces.
"He was shot," I said. "He...he died bravely. I want you to remember that. I loved him more than you could ever know, and I...we'll...we will miss him."
I got up and hugged them tenderly.
"I have to go lie down," I said, and walked into our room in a daze. But when I say our...it's not really ours any more. I turned back and saw Pandora rub her hand across her cheek, and Jack's muscular frame seemed to disappear as he sighed heavily. I allowed a single tear to run down my face, then I closed the door, inhaling that musky man smell Hal had.
And so, I slept.