They had been sitting across from each other all evening, both pretending the other wasn't there. It was funny how life could change so drastically; how people who used to know each other, love each other, could turn into total strangers. Then again, maybe they'd always been strangers. No matter how many years they had spent together, they were never going to be the romantic couple she had always dreamed they would become. No matter how hard he pretended otherwise, she was never going to be the one he wanted. They made it work for a long time, but that time was over. She was glad he had fallen asleep. At least now she didn't have to pretend like she didn't notice him ignoring her. She didn't have to pretend like she cared.
"Grandma?" the bright-eyed girl raised her head up from her grandmother's lap and yawned. "How long does it take to have a baby? I'm tired." She lay her head back down as her grandmother stroked her long, dark hair.
Zelda smiled, "Gracie, It takes a while. I know you're tired sweetie." She glanced at Dobie, asleep in the chair across the room. A paper heart, part of the hospital's Valentine's Day décor had fallen off the wall on landed conspicuously on the shoulder of his plaid shirt. Zelda nodded towards him, "Why don't you ask Grandpa to take you and your sister home? He's tired too."
The ten year old walked over and pulled the lacy pink heart from her grandfather's shoulder, startling him awake. He jumped at first, and then smiled, "Hey princess, how are you holding up? Are you a big sister yet?"
The girl shook her head, taking a moment to stick the pink heart back on the wall, "Grandma says you can take us home," she looked at her older sister curled up on the brown sofa in the hospital waiting room. "Please…I'm tired."
Dobie glanced at Zelda, sitting across from him, "Why can't you take them home? I want to be here when my first grandson comes into the world."
"Well so do I," Zelda sighed. Why did he always have to make everything about what he wanted. He had always been like that. "Besides, I'm the only one up here who can stay awake. You've been sawing logs for over an hour, and the kids are tired. Just take them home and I'll call when the baby gets here."
The heart fell once again from where Gracie had stuck it, this time landing in Dobie's lap. He picked it up and tossed it into the trashcan beside him. "Fine," Dobie stood slowly and stretched. His back and knees hurt from sitting for so long, instantly reminding him that he wasn't as young as he used to be. He smiled at his granddaughter, "Come on princess," he took her hand and walked over to where his older granddaughter lay snoring. He gently shook her awake, "Come on honey…we're going home to wait for the baby news."
Sixteen year old Greta looked at her grandfather and shook her head. "No…I want to stay."
"Grandma's gonna call when your new brother is born," Dobie said with a yawn. "Come on. We'll come back in the morning."
"No," Greta looked at him, her eyes piercing. She always looked so serious, always seemed wise beyond her years. Whenever he looked at her, all he could see was Zelda. Greta definitely took after her grandmother in more ways than one. "I'm staying. Take Gracie home. I'll stay and keep Grandma company."
Dobie turned to his ex-wife, "I guess she's staying with you," he said. Then he walked towards the door. Turning he sighed, "Call…as soon as the baby gets here."
"I said I would," Zelda promised again, a hint of frustration in her voice. She hugged Gracie and kissed her on the cheek, "Be good for Grandpa and get some sleep."
"I will Grandma," the little girl smiled. She walked back to her grandfather and giggled as another paper heart, this one cut from red foil fell to the ground at his feet. Dobie rolled his eyes, "Valentine's Day," he said with disgust, but then looking at his granddaughter he had to smile. He picked up the heart and stuck it gently to her green Justin Beiber T-shirt. "I know I'm not as cute as this music fella you've got a crush on, but maybe I can be your valentine this year anyway," he winked at her.
"Sure Grandpa," she giggled again, wrinkling her curled up nose. Then she took her grandfather's hand and walked out the door. Zelda watched them go, and gave a sad sigh. Then she looked at her older granddaughter who was now sitting on the sofa looking at a magazine.
"What are you reading about?" she asked, trying to pass the time.
"How to tell if the one you love, really loves you back" the girl said looking up from her magazine. "It's pure drivel. Stupid Valentine's Day." She sighed, "I hope Mom's okay." There was obvious concern in her voice.
"Oh honey, I'm sure she's fine. It takes a long time to have a baby." Zelda assured her. Although looking at the clock she had to admit she was getting a bit anxious herself.
"I guess," Greta looked at the clock too and knew they had been waiting for over four hours. "Hey, remember when Gracie was born and me, you, and Grandpa spent the night here?" she asked with a chuckle. "I was so excited that I couldn't sleep and Grandpa kept buying me soda and candy from the snack machine. Then he was carrying me around the room on his shoulders and you kept telling him to put me down, but he wouldn't and I puked all over him."
Zelda laughed, remembering that day all too well, "Of course I remember. Your grandfather never had the good sense to listen to me."
Greta's smile faded, "Grandma, how come you and Grandpa got married anyway. You've never gotten along."
"That's not true," Zelda replied quickly. "We've always had our little problems, but we used to…well, we used to be okay."
"Okay isn't true love, Grandma," the girl said with a sad smile. "No one wants to be just okay with the person they're married to. Heck, Gracie probably has more love for Justin Beiber than you and Grandpa have for each other."
"That's not true," Zelda argued. "I love your grandfather. We're just not in love."
"Then you probably shouldn't have gotten married," Greta said matter-of-factly, paying little-mind to how her words had made her grandmother's heart ache.
Zelda nodded, "You're right." She whispered to herself, "I guess that's why we're not married anymore."