I Miss You
They spent a few happy years at St. Alexis. The threesome was affectionately known as the Three Amigos to their teachers. They were always together, goofing off and giggling. Teachers adored them for always doing their work and testing well. Friends loved them for their fun parties and kind hearts. They were called the amigos because they all spoke fluent Spanish, courtesy of Brennan and Ana. They intermingled words in with their English to form a sort of Spanglish. Their friends picked up a few words but if they wanted to discuss something privately they just had to talk faster.
All too soon the older two were in high school. Sophia was a year behind them in school. Slowly they started to drift apart. Sophia was dancing twenty two hours a week. She went to school, went to dance, did homework, and went to bed. Likewise Michael had finally found his sport. He was on the swim team at the high school, Washington Springs. Kennedy continued to do gymnastics but had scaled back her hours. She had other goals in mind.
Kennedy began to distance herself from Michael. At first it was just because they were into different things. But then she realized that without him she could be one of the popular kids. It hadn't mattered to her before when they were in their little bubble. But now the idea of having many friends, especially influential, popular ones was appealing. She did it slowly so that by sophomore year she saw him only in the halls. Kennedy said hello when she passed him, but most students did. It was acknowledgment in the form of sympathy.
Sophia wouldn't look at her, talk to her, even glance her direction when she entered high school. Sophia ended up popular as well. She was cute, bubbly, and kind, it was a no brainer. Sophia, however, had clung to Michael, bringing him up with her. This earned her respect from other students and even teachers. Though they were part of the same hierarchy both girls worked very hard to make sure their circles didn't intersect.
The parents recognized the gap between their kids. It hurt them to think how far apart the kids had grown after practically being raised as siblings. Bren and Booth still came over for dinner every Sunday but Kennedy tended to skip. They still saw every dance recital, cheered at each swim meet, and loved the children as their own.
Jack and Angela tried to apply this to Kennedy as well. But Ange was so mad at her sometimes. She knew Kennedy was just a little girl and had every right to her own friends, her own space. But Angela forgot this when she looked at Michael. She was a mom first and it broke her heart to see him so upset. Michael had other friends, he was by no means an outcast, but he was losing his best friend. The person you can be unguarded with, and know she would love you anyway.
Angela walked downstairs to hear laughter. She watched as they quickly hid whatever they were doing. She looked at Sophia questioningly and started to open her mouth.
"People shouldn't ask questions so close to their birthdays," Sophia told her quickly.
Michael nodded in agreement and stifled a laugh.
A car horn sounded two quick beeps.
"There's my ride. Bye Michael, bye Blaze," Sophia said kneeling down to give their new dog a cuddle.
"Bye Mom," Sophia said kissing her on the cheek and running out the door.
"Any plans tonight?" Angela asked him, trying to sound cavalier.
"Nope," Michael answered softly, "I want to try out a couple songs on the new guitar from Grandpa and try to teach Blaze a new trick".
"Okay," Angela said, "Maybe later we can do a movie".
Michael tried not to laugh at her phrasing, long after Michael had gotten used to words like "look" or "watch" his mom continued to avoid them. Realizing she was waiting for an answer he quickly nodded.
After practicing a new song and playing a few alongside the radio Michael taught Blaze how to play dead when he said bang. Staccato Mamba had died two years ago and a year later they got Blaze. He was a good helper and now could start to learn fun tricks. He had golden, reddish long hair.
After dinner Sophia breezed back in. She applauded Blaze's new trick and settled in to watch the movie.
The following morning was Angela's birthday. She woke up covered in kisses by one very eager puppy. Jack shooed him off the bed and kissed her good morning. Michael and Sophia handed her a tray full of food and clambered in beside her.
"Happy birthday Mommy," Sophia cooed kissing her cheek.
Michael squeezed her hand, "Happy birthday Mom".
Sophia stole a strawberry and popped it into her mouth.
"Enjoy!" she said tugging Michael out of the room with her.
Jack and Angela did enjoy their private breakfast. The kids ate, cleaned up the kitchen, and blasted music.
"They've given us permission," Jack said leaning over to kiss her neck.
A few hours later they walked into the kitchen. Sophia was standing on the counter. Upon seeing them she turned and waved.
"Get down," Angela said with a laugh, playfully swatting her legs.
Soph jumped down and gave her a hug.
"I was getting your present," Sophia defended.
She dangled a pink bag with white tissue paper in front of her. Ange jokingly made attempted to snatch it.
"Not until they get here," Sophia insisted holding it above her head.
Angela laughed, Sophia got her height from Jack. Instead of grabbing it Angela nodded in agreement.
They spent most of the afternoon in the yard. Michael played her favorite songs on the guitar and Sophia sang along. Blaze barked in all the right places and played fetch with anyone who would throw it. Jack and Ange sat in the lush grass snuggled together under a blanket, perfectly content.
Later in the day Brennan, Booth, Kennedy, and Cam were supposed to arrive for dinner. Cam arrived perfectly on time. A few minutes later Brennan and Booth pulled in and got out of the car. Ange put her hand up to shade her eyes and squinted at them. The sunlight backlit the two perfectly.
"Where's Kennedy?" Angela called to them.
Michael and Sophia looked at them eagerly.
Booth sighed, "She couldn't make it".
Michael shrugged and turned to Sophia. "You didn't honestly expect her to show up, did you?" he said before stomping off towards the backyard with Blaze.
But Sophia had expected her to come, Kennedy had promised her she'd be here. Regardless of all the times she had failed to show up to minor events, Soph had expected her to come.
Sophia ran up to Angela and wrapped her arms around her waist. Ange hugged her back tight. Sophia felt like she was going to cry, she hated how one person held so much influence over her emotions. Soph forced a smile up at her Mom, it was her birthday after all. Sophia took a shaky breath and decided just to be done with Kennedy. The, I'm here be happy, I'm ditching get over it act, was getting old fast.
Sophia walked into the backyard and sat at the table beside Michael. Blaze had his harness off so Sophia whistled. He raced toward her and plowed into her legs. Sophia stroked his head and glanced at Michael. His head was down, his face cross. Sophia reached out to touch his arm and he jerked away. Soph was tired of her brother's mood swings too, so dependent on whether or not Kennedy showed.
She leaned towards him and whispered, "Suck it up. I don't care if your smile is forced or faked, but you won't ruin this day for Mom".
Angela breezed into the backyard and pulled over a chair between the two siblings. "You guys okay?" she asked her eyes raking over her babies.
"We're good," Sophia answered nudging Michael who nodded complacently.
Ange sighed and let her head drop into her hands. Sophia looked at the two of them and wanted to throw her hands up completely at a loss of what to do. Then she spotted her Dad and waved him over frantically. Jack knelt next to Angela's chair and whispered something to her that made her sit up.
"Presents," Jack announced.
Sophia quickly scrambled out of her seat to retrieve the pink bag.
Cam offered to go first, holding out an envelope. Ange slid her finger along the flap.
She pulled out the gift certificate and smiled, "A spa day, thanks".
Booth went next telling her this was from him and Parker.
"How's he doing?" Angela asked, staring at the poorly wrapped gift.
"Good, he's busy as a vet but happy".
Angela laughs at the basket peeking out of the red paper. Finally she tugs it off revealing a basket full of retro candy. Charleston Chews, Bottlecaps, Razzles, Candy Buttons, Caramello bars, Clark bars, Flying Saucers, Pixie Stix, Good and Plentys, Rootbeer barrels, Sugar Daddies, Bulleyes, Rollos, Mike and Ikes, Dum Dum Suckers, Bubblegum Cigarettes, and more filled the basket and spilled over.
"Forty kinds in all," Booth said with a grin.
"Thank you, thank you," Angela said delighted. She popped a root beer barrel into her mouth.
"Tell Parker thanks too," she said.
Brennan held out a flawlessly wrapped gift. Ange tore it open and shrieked, wrapping her arms around Bren tightly. She quickly slid out of her flip flops and opened the two boxes. A gray, flannel Louboutin Bianca pump was soon on her right foot and a black patent leather Louboutin Lady Peep on her left. Ange stood up and tripped on the uneven heels. She fell back into her seat, threw her head back, and laughed. Brennan got up and hugged her happily.
Michael squeezed her hand and Sophia frowned. She had slipped in her duties as sister. "Gray flannel pumps and black peep toes from Louboutin from Brennan. Spa day from Cam. Candy from Parker and Booth. Tons of kinds, I'll tell you later," she whispers quickly.
Sophia then handed over the pink bag. Angela carefully unwrapped the tissue and opened the white box.
"A silver Pandora bracelet," Ange said with a small smile.
"Charms too," Sophia said, "Keep looking".
With permission to keep looking without appearing greedy Angela pulled all the white tissue paper out of the bag. She looked down at several small, sheer gold bags. Ange opened the first drawstring bag and pulled out silver bead that looked like an envelope with the address, To My Love.
The second bag held a tiny pair of ballet shoes.
Soph giggled, "To remind you of me".
Angela kissed her cheek "I'll always remember you".
The third bag held a football. "For Uncle Booth," Sophia explained.
The fourth bag a dangling cocktail. "Our girls nights," Brennan smiled.
A suitcase with the label for Paris came out of the next bag. "For your love of travel," Sophia continued to explain.
An intricately designed silver bead was pulled out next. Prompted by Sophia, Michael spoke, "I couldn't find one that was me. Then...it felt pretty".
"Thank you Michael," Angela said softly, pulling him into a hug.
Angela pulled out the final golden bag. It was a silver heart shaped lock with a key. She looked up and caught Jack's eyes. He smiled and she leaned in for a kiss.
Pulling back Angela reached for the bracelet. She panicked for a minute digging through the tissue paper. When she glanced up Sophia dangled the bracelet in her face with each bead twisted on.
Ange grabs it and then hands it back seconds later extending her arm. Sophia carefully snaps it on her wrist.
After dinner Kennedy rushed in and said "Happy Birthday", hugged and kissed her and left then another friend appeared to drive her to a party.
Then they sang happy birthday and ate cake. Chocolate with chocolate frosting and fresh cut strawberries on top, of course, Angela's favorite. They fooled around and what started with frosting on the tip of her nose ended up covering their faces.
When Brennan, Booth, and Cam left, Ange went into her bathroom. She looked at her face and laughed. Milk chocolate frosting was smeared on her cheeks and across her forehead with a blob on her nose. Sophia came in and stood beside her. Ange turned to her daughter and laughed again. She took a damp towel and wiped off Sophia's face. With another towel she cleaned her own.
They entered her bedroom and Angela took in Sophia. She wore itty bitty black shorts and a red tank top. Angela looked at her and saw herself. Rich brown hair and deep chocolate eyes looked back at her and smiled. Angela hugged her sweet baby girl and kissed her forehead.
"Good night Soph, I love you Boo," Ange said.
"Good night Mom. Happy Birthday. I love you to the moon and back," Sophia answered squeezing her back.
Angela went into Michael's room next and stood in the doorway.
"Mom?" Michael whispered.
"Yeah," Ange answered stepping towards the bed. Angela hugged him and looked at his blue eyes.
"I missed Kennedy today," Angela said softly, giving him the chance to vent his feelings.
"It's not like I control her," Michael shot back. Angela stiffened her spine straightening.
Michael sighed, "Happy Birthday Mom," he said, making sure his tone said this conversation was over.
"Thanks, Sweetie," Angela answered.
"Good night Mom, I love you," Michael said calmly.
"Good Night Michael, I love you too," Angela cooed, leaving his room.
Re-entering the master bedroom Angela changed into pajamas and collapsed on the bed. Her hair was pulled up into a messy ponytail, over half of which had fallen around her shoulders and down her back. Her t-shirt had three holes in it. Two at the neck and a third down by her waist marred the softest shirt she owned. The area over her shoulder blade was stained by bleach. It should have been thrown out years ago, but her Dad had given it to her as an eighteenth birthday present. It was too short then and even shorter now, ending just below her belly button. Ange also wore grey cashmere shorts Sophia had gotten tired of. The seam of one cuff had come undone and needed to be sewn. Her face was freshly scrubbed and free of make-up. She was forty.
Jack entered moments later from the master bath smelling like soap and toothpaste. He joined her on the king bed and pulled her towards him. Angela settled her head on his chest.
"Tired?" he said softly. Angela nodded, her head moving against his shirt.
"Thank you," Angela said softly, that was all she needed to say. Jack ran his hand through her long hair.
"Good night beautiful," he whispers and she stifles a laugh considering her appearance.
"Happy Birthday Angie, I love you," he finishes, pressing a kiss to her lips.
Angela struggles to hold back tears, knowing he means every word.
"I love you too," she murmurs, her hands coming up to frame his face.
"I love you so much," she whispers fiercely.
They kiss and he can taste salty tears and overwhelming love.
Sorry for the wait this summer's been extra busy!