YA Indie Carnival…Thanks For The Memories Elliott and Jules.

This YA Indie Carnival we were asked to write a Thanksgiving story. Truth or fiction, it didn’t matter, so I chose my Thanksgiving scene in The Understorey. Boom, baby!

Jules walked the length of the kitchen and we sat in the corner window seat together. The entire kitchen was full to the brim of her chattering family. Yes, quite an impossible size of such incredibly interesting people. Why Jules’ mother decided to live in Bramwell with Jules’ dad I’m not sure, being that she was from Philadelphia and all, maybe she preferred a quieter life. I’m sort of glad she did though, whatever the reason. Jules’ grandfather, Benjamin, was a physician. I picked his brain for quite some time and he actually said to me,

“You want to become a physician? You must be insane.” He was joking but I couldn’t help but feel a small

sting of truth in his words. Although, he did reveal that it was a profession made for him and that made me feel whole lot better since I’d felt that same way for years. Ben was one of the smartest men I’d ever met. Her aunt as I mentioned before was an attorney. Her grandmother was an author of a children’s series about a little bird named Charlie.

Her cousin Richard was a pilot of drones for the Army and his wife devoted her life to helping children with Autism. Another cousin of hers, Sylvia, currently lived in D.C. helping homeless and destitute families. Her cousin Caroline traveled the country with her tribal dance group.

The rest of her family was in finance, basically, a family of abnormally large brains. Interesting people, very

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interesting. Seeing Jules with her family, in her element, was fascinating. She was brighter, even more energetic and inspired.

Caroline’s in town?” I asked.
Caroline was her older cousin. She’s the one who got Jules into tribal belly dancing.

“Yeah,” she said, “my mom told me she was thinking of booking a gig here in Mauch Chunk so she could be with the fam for the holiday.”

Then to everyone she said, “Should we all go? Make it a huge family affair? Caroline would love that!”

Everyone agreed and all consented to leave for her show at nine that night. Jules’ mom and dad volunteered to watch everyone’s children because they felt drained from the car ride. I think it was further proof that they preferred a quieter life.

We had several hours to kill so Jules’ aunt Isabel showed me to the room I’d be sharing with the other boys of the house. It was a game room they just added a bunch of cots to. She gave me the cot between the pool table and the wall. It was slightly secluded and I appreciated the privacy it provided me. She showed me the massive bathroom where I could shower and ready myself in the morning. The house was so big that if Jules hadn’t been with me almost the entire time I would have gotten lost for sure. Isabel instructed Jules to show me the rest of the house and headed back downstairs to see to dinner.

“I’m in desperate need of a shower,” I pleaded.

“Me too,” she said. “Meet you back here in an hour? I want to wash my hair again and curl it.”

“No prob Bob.”
I grabbed my bag and closed the bathroom door

behind me. I tossed it onto the marble tile and turned the shower on. I sat at the edge of the sink while the water warmed. It was an incredible room. Cream marble from floor to ceiling cut into large subway tiles. The toilet actually had an electronic keypad next to it and I wasn’t about to mess with it for fear it’d set the whole house on fire, as that was my luck. I kicked off my heavy, large boots.

Jules always kidded me that their weight is what kept me grounded. I undressed and tossed my jeans, boxers and weathered thermal to the ground. I could tell the water was plenty warm now because the steam billowed out from the top of the massive glass doors and touched the immense mirror above the double sinks. I suddenly realized that the faucets actually came from out of the mirror. I glanced around me and there were, previously beyond my notice, Jack and Jill doors and they hadn’t been locked. That would have majorly sucked, I thought, locking both the doors before someone came screaming in, embarrassing us both.

I slid open the wide glass door to the shower and stepped in. The water was the perfect temperature. I let it wet my hair and face and stood underneath its warmth. It cascaded over my head and shoulders and down my back, I could feel it splash at my feet, and it quelled my screaming muscles. Nine hours in a car will do that to you, especially when you’ve been hit pretty hard just a few days before at a football game.

I’m a tall guy and stout enough to take a few hits but I’m a quarterback, not a lineman and sometimes being hit by a three hundred pound boy just wouldn’t sit well in my bones or muscles.

The water heated me through and I realized I’d probably been in there for quite some time. I washed quickly, shampooed, and rinsed. I opened the door and the steam had made the room almost invisible. I stepped on the marble expecting it to be freezing but it was quite the opposite. The floor was heated. What kind of place is this? I asked myself. I had forgotten to set a towel on the railing of the shower and the bath mat was too far away. I had to walk across the floor to the mat and then try to reach for a towel without dripping all over her nice floor or worse, slipping and hitting my head on something.

Egad! I can just imagine some random relative having to come in here and find me sprawled over the tile. I jumped and hit my target but my legs were sore from all the extra running around at Friday’s game and I winced in pain. What I wouldn’t have given to be married to Jules. I’d have her massage all the kinks out. I could just as well have her do it now over my jeans but that would have been an invitation for disaster, stupid teenage hormones. I couldn’t wait for those to subside.

Though, there was one sensation I hoped would never diminish. Every time I would see her, even after only a five minute absence, my heart would beat an unhealthy rhythm and I loved it. Oh, and of course our electricity, but I knew that wasn’t going anywhere.

I reached for the towel and dried myself off, then the floor where I’d dripped and then threw the towel in the laundry chute. Are laundry chutes something people actually use? I wondered if I had just sent my used towel into some random open alcove in the kitchen in front of everyone. I paused and waited for the impending uproarious laughter but there came none. Huh. They must actually use the laundry chute here. Why do I keep questioning myself? And imagining the worst? Why am I being such an idiot? Am I nervous? I rarely got nervous, so the feeling was strange to me. I chucked it up to meeting so many of her relatives in one sitting. I wanted so badly for them to love me the way my family loved Jules.

It was easy to love Jules. She was delightful, kind, perfectly social and funny as hell, not to mention drop dead gorgeous. I sighed at the very thought of her. I dressed. I pulled on a pair of torn jeans I had brought on a whim and an old grey jersey knit shirt with long sleeves. I pushed the sleeves so they met midway up my forearm. I wore a black vest over the knit and threw my boots back on. I stood at the mirror and shrugged my shoulders. I looked like a hobo but I never much cared for what I looked like so it was of no concern to me. Jules seemed to like me and that was all I cared about. I tossed on my wool cap and tucked my hair behind my ears.

My hair was starting to get a little too long. I usually kept it at my chin but it had grown an inch or two below it now and I looked like a mess. The very sight of myself made me laugh almost uncontrollably.

Just then, I heard a knock at the door. I tossed all of my stuff into my bag and answered it. There was still a little steam left in the room and it emptied itself around a desperately striking Jules, as if she were in one of my dreams. When the steam dissipated, I caught my lost breath and choked.

“Jules, you’re killing me.”
She spun around so I could get a better look.

“Uh, I’m gonna’ die trying to fend off the Mauch Chunkites.”

“Thanks, but don’t. I’d rather you live. I like you alive, it suits you.”

“Feeling’s mutual,” I joked.

She grabbed my hand and that familiar jolt coursed through my body soothing every aching muscle I had previously complained about.

“Wait,” I said, “I’ve gotta’ put my bag on my cot.”
I tossed my bag onto the cot and she grabbed my hand once more.

“Okay, for the rest of the tour. I’ll start down the hall, in their home theater.”

“Seriously?” My mouth fell open widely.
“Yeah,” she laughed.
“Any chance we could live here while attending Penn? Just askin’.”

“Not a chance,” she winked. “We need to experience dorm life. Apparently, ‘it’s awesome’. Although I doubt that seriously, seeming as my source is an unreliable one.”

She motioned toward the open room below us and I realized she meant her older teasing cousins.

She led me into the theater and paraded me around the seats and up to the screen. It reminded me of a miniature version of the theater in Charleston.

“Wow,” I said, practically speechless.

“Tomorrow we’re all going to watch The Princess Bride after lunch. Isabel’s breaking out the popcorn machine.” She pointed at the little red machine in the far corner next to a brightly painted faux box office.

“I’m seriously reconsidering the physician route. Maybe I’d do well as a lawyer.” I teased.

“I don’t think so Elliott. This would be a little too much for us. I imagine us in a needy country somewhere, living in squalor conditions but we’ll be the happiest and most in love people in the world.” She paused, and inched closer to me, fiddling with the hem of my knit with her fingers. “You’d have two jobs there, you know. Are you okay with that?” She teased.

“Two jobs?” I asked.

“Yeah, fixing the beautiful children by day and making love to your wife by night.” She eyed me at the last bit.
I smacked my palm to my forehead and shook my head.

“I’m not going to become a physician Jules.”
“Why?” She asked, confused.
“Because I’m never going to make it out of here alive if

you keep talking like that.”
“No, you can’t. I like you alive, remember?” She paused,

“I’m sorry, but you look like an irresistible hobo. I can’t help myself.”

“That’s what I thought! Not the irresistible part, of course, but the hobo part.”

She dismissed me with her hand, “You’re so handsome Elliott and you don’t even have to try! That’s kind of annoying actually.”

“Oh whatever Jules!” I turned and looked at the door. “Guess what?”

“What?”
“I’ve gotta’ get out of here.”
“Why?”
“It should be obvious. Me with you alone equals bad things.”

“Oh,” she blushed.

We headed out the door and she completed the rest of the tour. Her aunt’s home was hands down one of the most creatively beautiful homes I’d ever seen. After the tour, we trudged down the stairs and met everyone in the massive kitchen. We still had a couple of hours to kill before we left for Caroline’s gig so all the older kids decided to watch a movie.

“Back to the scene of the crime,” I nudged quietly. We both laughed and sat together at the back of the five rows of seats and everyone else piled in around us, knee deep in their own conversations.

“What are we watching?” I asked Jules.

“Not sure. My Uncle Rocky’s picking the film. He’s got pretty great taste in films.”

The lights dimmed and I heard the familiar ticking of the film before it shot onto to the oversized screen in front of us. Jules and I rested our feet on the seats in front of us but neither of us made it past the opening credits. We fell asleep with my arm around Jules and her head on my shoulder. I dozed off breathing in the scent of her shampoo.

When the movie was over, apparently the other kids just let us get some sleep and Jules’ mom didn’t wake us until everyone was ready to leave.

“Julia, honey,” I barely heard. Jules rustled beneath my arms.

“Yeah?” She asked, unaware where she was. “Oh, what time is it?”

“Quarter ‘til dear.”

“Okay.”

Jules shook me awake and I sat up. We both stretched in our seats and stood up.

“I’m going to freshen up,” Jules said, “before we have to leave.”

I met Jules in the foyer five minutes later and we all piled into various cars.

We all marched into Antone’s with amazed eyes. The venue was dark and smelled of incense. One of their songs played softly to rev the crowd up.

“That’s all Caroline,” Jules said.
“This is really exciting,” I said.
The band came out first and began to play a low beat and

then Caroline joined the stage. The audience erupted into shouts and applause. I guess she was the reason people came. Then, I saw why she was the real reason people came. Her dancing was phenomenal and I saw so much of Jules in her it was shocking. They looked alike, danced alike and even made similar facial expressions.

“It’s obvious that you’re family,” I said. “Seriously? What a compliment! Thanks babe!”

The music was a mixture of Egyptian and Middle Eastern and was full of experimental beats, viola, and percussion. It was hypnotic, the music and the dancing. The best part of the evening was when Caroline pulled Jules up onto the stage and made her dance something they both knew together. I wish I had remembered to bring a camera, Jules looked so amazing up there. She was a natural. At the end of their song I lifted Jules by the waist off the stage and guided a breathless Jules back to her family.

“I’m sorry your parents missed that,” I said.

“How did I look? Stupid?” She laughed. “Absolutely not! You looked so good up there! You

looked like you belonged there! I’m so impressed Jules!” I screamed over the music.

“Thanks darlin’!” She spoke into my ear and kissed my cheek.

After the concert, everyone stuck around and waited for Caroline but she sent word that she was helping the guys do their thing and she would meet us at Isabel’s the next morning. We all left in such an uplifted mood and everyone wouldn’t stop gushing about Jules’ involvement. I guess a couple of them didn’t even know she was into Tribal. All in all, I’d say it was a fantastic evening.

I was really looking forward to bed and at the first opportunity, I fell into my cot and dreamed, for the first time, the dream that would forever fill my nights.

The dream of the ruthless ideal. The dream haunted me even after Jules left me.

Basically, it was everything I had imagined being a newlywed with Jules would be. We were on our honeymoon, only the location would change, and it always began in the morning. We were always eating at a table inside of our room overlooking mountains, the ocean, snow, desert, you name it. I’d be drinking coffee or tea and she was always reading. We were both together and only slightly distracted from one another. We stayed quiet, neither one speaking a word, but speaking volumes in the way we looked at and touched each other. Every glance, every flirtatious smile, each sigh of breath meant something profound. We kept our feet in constant contact and even in the dream I could feel the deeply steamed flux of electricity. Each time, It made me wake with an unquenchable thirst for Jules. That first morning, I woke hyperventilating.

The first few days, I thought it was because I was becoming claustrophobic from being wedged in between the wall and the billiard’s table but I would find out eventually that it was a physical reaction to the dream. It was euphoric. Every morning I woke slightly earlier than usual so I could revel in it as long as possible before the feeling wore off.

I need to see Jules. It was six in the morning but I hopped up from my cot anyway, showered, didn’t bother shaving, brushed my teeth, dressed and waited downstairs by myself for Jules to come down. Surprisingly, she was not five minutes behind me. The kitchen had massive rolling doors that opened to the outside patio and I opened them to breathe in the cool air. I sat at a breakfast table chair, staring from underneath the open door when I saw her descend the industrial staircase. I bounded to greet her with the largest smile, totally not expecting her to have met me so early. I held her at her waist and brought her delicate face to mine. I kissed her severely. I sat her back down and kept my hand at her waist because I felt she had lost her footing from the kiss.

“I hoped you would have been down here,” she whispered.

“You did?” I asked quietly.
She brought her lips to my ear, “I had a dream about

us.”
I stared at her in disbelief.

“So did I.”
“What was yours about?” She asked. “Our honeymoon,” I said.
“Mine too.”

Why I was surprised by this, I don’t know. I had gotten used to things being unusual between us, I just hadn’t expected this was all.

“Amazing,” I said.
She told me all about her dream. It was almost identical to mine but with a slight twist. She said she kept trying to talk to me but I wouldn’t answer her and all she was able to do was touch me and smile at me.

“Amazing,” I repeated.
I held on to her for a very long time. I cupped her

face in my hands and stared into her eyes. Every now and then I would softly kiss her chin, cheek, forehead, or lips. I was passionately in love with Jules and I could see in her eyes and feel through her touch that she was too.

“I’m so in love with you Jules,” I said.
“And I with you, my love,” she answered.
“I don’t think I can wait to belong to you any longer.

Please marry me after graduation Jules?” Desperate.

“We can’t my love. We’ll need to wait just a little bit longer. What is four years in the scheme of things?”

“But why?”

“Because I promised your mother you’d become the man you wanted to be and I wouldn’t hinder that for anything in the world. I like to keep my promises.”

“Oh, mom can just mind her own business!” I said roughly.

“Elliott,” she sang, “we can do this. We can wait and we will be all the more in love because of it. Waiting is one of those things that test your character dear and I have a feeling that eventually we’ll be two of the most satiated characters that ever walked God’s earth.

“One of the greatest thing about character is its peculiar after effect. It naturally molds you into the person that you are meant to be. Many who suffer the pains of instant gratification suffer their characters because of it and never get to discover all that they could be. It’s tragic. Elliott, you and I were meant to wait. I feel it in my bones. Waiting is one of the variables of our fated formula.” She placed both her hands on my forearms and reached to lean closely

into my ear. “And its results? Will be astounding,” she promised and sweetly kissed my cheek.
I looked on her gratefully.

“I’m afraid I’ve botched any chance of a romantic proposal,” I admitted.

“That’s not true,” she said. “What could be more romantic than a man so desperate to marry you he would ask a thousand times? No, there is nothing more romantic.” “You’re a clever girl Jules.”

“No, not clever, truthful.” “Then, both.”

I kissed her again, this time more melodiously. “Eventually,” I taunted.

“Eventually.”
We let go of one another at the sound of Jules’ father coming down the staircase.

“What in the heck are you two doing up?” He asked. His eyes became large, “You two aren’t just getting in are you?”

“No Mr. Jacobs. We rode with everyone else last night. Jules and I were just the earliest risers this morning,” I said.
I glanced at Jules and she smiled back.

“Oh,” he said shuffling in his slippers and bathrobe to an empty coffee pot. “Didn’t either of you make coffee?” We both shook our heads.

“That’s unAmerican,” he joked. “It’s too chilly for the door to be open. Close that for me, will ya’ Elliott?”

I rolled the door down and locked the chain. The kitchen began to heat up with warm bodies and Joan E’s cooking. She made these miniature quiches with the most delectable insides known to man. I never would have considered myself a ‘quiche’ kind of guy but I ate my share and three other’s worth of the darn things. Jules, on a whim, made a yogurt parfait with low fat yogurt, fresh fruit, and honey baked granola. That was probably her antidote to all the cholesterol I had just ingested.

“Here babe,” she said handing me a bowl.
“Jules, are you worried about me?” I cracked.
“A little,” she said. “I was just witness to the feast you treated yourself to. If I wasn’t already aware of your intimidating self control I’d think you’d had none.”

Everyone got really quiet, reading too much into what she had just said. I felt the color drain from my own face and travel over to Jules’ red hot cheeks. Suddenly, everyone burst into laughter. All, except Jules’ father, but I could live with that. I mean, technically I was being accused of being a prude. That was okay with me. Jules, on the other hand, had just labeled herself the opposite.

I jumped in trying to save her, “Well, I can take it. I do work out a lot with the team. I burn a lot of calories running up and down the field.”

“And not to mention it relieves frustration,” someone said under their breath. I’m guessing one of the sarcastic cousins.

Another burst of laughter, but this time it was my cheeks that got their color back and then some. Jules’ dad intervened and surprisingly came to our defenses.

“Okay, okay. Everyone calm down,” he said. “They’re two very good kids and we don’t want to weaken their beliefs by letting them think what they’re doing is too old fashioned.”

Jules’ aunt Isabel chimed in to back up Jules’ dad, “That’s right, Julia and Elliott. You’re light years above people twice your age and I’m waiting for the amazing thing that will inescapably come of you both.”

Everyone started to agree and assured us they meant no harm when Caroline came to our rescue and diverted the attention from us.

“Whew!” I aimed at Jules.

She smiled, shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyes. “Never been so happy to see Caroline,” she

murmured.
I reached over the counter top and grabbed her

hand. My little instant anxiety relief flickered through my arms and I got a double dose in my fluttering heart as it coasted to an easy rhythm. I let go of her hand and we both sighed in relief.

“Let’s take a walk together,” I offered.
“What an excellent idea. I need to get out of here.” We mentioned what we were doing to Jules’ mom

and headed out the door. We walked around her aunt’s neighborhood at first and found a main street that lead us onto a charming street chock full of creative little businesses. We stopped into a little novelty store where we bought a little flip book of a woman from the twenties wearing a bathing suit that went to her knees. When you flipped the book, she did a little dance, it was hilarious. Jules and I laughed for five minutes.

Then we stopped at a little organic coffee house and had a small cup of coffee and chatted for at least an hour, though it felt like five minutes.

Afterwards, we stopped at a local art gallery and Jules gushed over all of the art with the curator. Invariably, Jules was asked to send a painting, constant as ever. We left the gallery and began walking back toward Jules’ aunt’s home.

We passed a window full of wedding dresses and I jokingly nudged Jules’ ribs. She rolled her eyes at me, put her fist up to her mouth and pretended to blow an imaginary dart at me. Not one to be shown up, I grabbed my neck and dramatically wavered until I fell onto a nearby park bench. We caught an older couple laughing at us and Jules bowed.

“Come on,” I said dragging her back toward the main street, “you win.”

When we finally got back to the house, it was time for lunch. Her aunt made this really indulgent salad with homemade dressing and I stuck to that to please Jules after this morning’s disaster.

Everyone piled into the theater room afterwards and there were so many of her family members there weren’t enough seats so the older kids sprawled out on to the floor in front of the screen with pillows and blankets. Jules and I picked the darkest area in the far right corner.

Before the film started Jules jumped up to use the restroom and when she came back she said she couldn’t see where I was.

“We’re invisible over here,” she said.
“Let’s talk then,” I said.
“Good thinkin’. Honestly, I’ve been meaning to

bring this up to you but didn’t know when a good time would be.”

“What’s on your mind?”

“I’ve a sinking feeling we haven’t seen the last of Taylor or Jesse. I know you said that we should wait and see if anything comes about but I’m just not comfortable waiting for something bad to happen. I’d rather take the offensive.” I sighed.

“Jules, Jules, Jules. After all the heat that’s been put on those two we’re not going to hear a peep from them. I’m certain of it.”

“I don’t know Elliott. Anyone who would go so far as to break into another’s home is seriously deranged and I don’t think a little thing like a pep talk from the Principal or the local sheriff is going to derail them.”
She shuddered as if she was cold. I brought the flannel blanket up to her waist for her.

“I’m not cold,” she said, “I’m scared.”

“Oh Jules, now, you see this is why I should have just knocked Jesse out at school the next day. That would have taught him.”

“No!” She said too loudly then brought her voice back down to a whisper, “that would have made it worse. That kind of stuff just adds fuel to their already blazing fire.”

“Well, what do you want to do about it?” I asked. “Well, we could approach them,” she suggested. “No, that would be inconceivable!” I joked.
“You keep using that word. I don’t think it means

what you think it means,” she said along with the film. I paused and tried not to smile.

“You’re so cute,” I said.

“So are you,” she said and went in for a kiss. I pulled back.

“Uh, uh, uhh, your dad’s right there Jules!”

“Oh yeah. I forget sometimes. You’re so distracting. You don’t realize what I go through,” she admitted.

“I don’t realize?” I almost shouted.

“Okay, okay. Shhh. Back to the subject,” she breathed.

“We can approach them but it would have to be at lunch on an A day and we don’t have an A day until the Thursday we come back because we’re off Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday is a B day.”

“If an A day is before a B day and Wednesday is a B day and since we’re off Monday and Tuesday we’d have to wait until Thursday?!” She asked mockingly.

“Shut up!” I laughed. “You’re the one who wanted to talk about this.”

We both laughed loudly but it was at a part of the film that was conveniently funny for all and we recovered nicely.

“Nice,” I said and we silently high-fived.

“Alright, Elliott, so we’ll approach them Thursday, but what should we say?” She asked.

“Well, I think we should just tell them that they don’t scare us and they don’t have a chance in hell in breaking us up, so give it up.”

“Add a ‘get your own life’ in there too!”
“Shut up!” I chuckled.
“And a ‘you better check yourself, before you wreck yourself’,” she jested.

“How about we close with a ‘your mama’s so fat’?”

“Yes, classic. Classic.”
“Are we done?” I asked.
“Yes, we’re in too playful a mood to do this.” “Alright, let’s watch the film and annoy everyone by reciting every line,” I said. “You’re Wesley and I’ll be Princess Buttercup.”

“Such an awesome name,” she said.

“It’s so funny that they had a somewhat normal name coupled with such a cutesy one.”

“What are you talking about?” She said. “He’s The Dread Pirate Roberts!”

“Ohhhh, that’s right. They’re doomed. They’re kids are going to be named something stupid like Princesses Alstroemeria and Delphinium.”

“What is wrong with you?” She laughed. “How do you even know the names of those flowers? That’s it. I forbid your reading to reach such subjects that allow me to immediately ask for your man card. Your reading shall be limited to the sciences, mysteries, really anything manly, and that is all.”

“Shhhh!” Everyone said in unison.

That sent us into a frenzy and we had to flee the theater in fear we’d be flogged. We ran and sat at the top of the stairs trying to catch our breath from our stupid banter. I grabbed Jules’ hand but that didn’t help. The current was only soothing if we were anxious, scared, or sad. If we were already happy it just magnified the feeling.

We started laughing so loudly we decided to hide out in the kitchen. We realized that memaw Joan E was in there cooking up a storm so we found a retreat inside Isabel’s and Rocky’s garage.

“Wow!” I shouted. “Look at all these cars!” “Nice huh?”
“Uh, yup.”

More laughing.
“That wasn’t even funny,” I could barely speak.
“I know. You’re so much fun and for no reason at

all.” She became serious, “That’s one of the things I love about you.”
She leaned in for a kiss and this time I gave it to her.

“I think we’re going to love Philadelphia,” I said.

“Dude, I think so too. It is such a fun city. The music Elliott! The music! That’s the best part! Imagine all the live music! Mwua ha ha ha ha!” She dribbled her fingers together.

“Mwua ha ha ha ha!” I joined in with her.
That’s when Jules’ dad entered the garage to check on us and caught us acting like fools. We burst out into laughter again.

“You kids,” he tossed up his hands.
I was confident that Jules’ dad officially liked me. He

never quite warmed up to me on account of the night I accidentally spent with Jules, but I think this week convinced him of my intentions toward Jules and that made me very happy.

The next day was Thanksgiving and while the dinner was being prepared all the young cousins spent the day in the game room, after we put up all the cots of course. Jules and I had begun a game of darts before her mom came up looking for her.

“Come on Julia, all the women want to talk to you. You’re a well enough cook to make a difference in the work this year,” she said.

“But ma’? What about Elliott?” She asked, deep concern in her eyes.

“He’ll be alright sugar,” she said, smiling at me.

“Go on Jules,” I said. “I want to catch up on some reading anyway.”

“Okay,” she said and began to follow her mom down the stair case.

She peered up through the bars and I puckered my bottom lip.

“Don’t do that,” she mouthed.
I shooed her away and smiled. I grabbed my book

from my bag and went downstairs to the sitting area. The entire downstairs was one large industrial looking space with concrete floors but rugs everywhere. I chose a chair near the kitchen but not too near so as I didn’t appear to be eavesdropping, but much to their disappointment I’m sure, I could hear everything they were saying as clear as a bell. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear the beginning and by the sounds of what I had stepped into, so to speak, it would have been so pleasurable to hear.

“And you plan on marrying him Julia?” A random aunt asked.

“Yes ma’am,” Jules said with confidence.
The entire kitchen was quiet until Jules interrupted the silence, “I have never been so sure of anything in my entire life. I am unwavering on the subject.”

“Well, she certainly is confident,” said memaw Joan E. “I see it in you, child. I see what you so passionately proclaim. I also see it in him too. Of that, I’m sure.”
Good old memaw Joan E, I liked her.

“It’s awfully young to feel so certain,” an aunt said. “People change as they grow older and mature Julia.”

“Let me ask the entire room a question,” said Jules. “My entire life, have I ever been hasty? Don’t I bide my time? Aren’t I careful when I make big decisions?”
No one answered. That was a good sign.

“Yes, dear, but there is a first time for everything,” Jules’ mom said.

Suddenly, I felt as if I was intruding. It was so ungentlemanly of me to be listening to this. I felt the urge to stand up and leave but my body might as well have been made of lead.

“You’re right, mama,” Jules said. What? Jules, what are saying? “But,” she continued. Whew. “But you forget, we’re not looking to get married right out of high school. We both have big college plans and we don’t want my getting pregnant to hinder them. We’ve decided to wait until we graduate university.”

You’ve decided to wait until we graduate university.

“Who knows,” said the same doubting aunt to the room, “as long as they plan on waiting, she could change her mind or he could.”

“I have no doubts, but I won’t try to change anyone’s minds. I have made my choice and I am confident that he has as well. Time, in this case, is on our side. It will show you our devotion.”

“Whoo! I like your spunk Julia!” Said memaw Joan E.
All the women settled from the subject onto the next and I could feel the tension release from Jules’ body. I continued reading and eventually dozed off, my book in my lap.

I awoke to the voice of an angel. Jules had gathered my book, saved my place and sat next to me on the loveseat.

She spoke softly into my groggy ear, “‘The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume One’? Now, that my dear, is manly reading.”
I kept my hazy eyes closed but I could assemble a half smile for her wit’s sake.

“Dinner’s ready,” she blew in my ear. I was awake.

After grace, everyone sat, enjoyed the food and one another’s company. It was a lively evening that lasted well into the early morning hours. I became so familiar with each family member that they harassed me as one of their own and I loved it.

After dinner, everyone lounged in the living room as we all decided if we should play a game or not. Isabel suggested charades and we all agreed.

“Uh, I’m terrible at charades,” I said leaning into Jules.

“No, you’re not. I hate false modesty,” she said. “Just admit when you’re good at something. No one will think any less of you unless you’re an ass about it. Repeat after me.”

“Repeat after me,” I said.

“No, stop.”

“No, stop.”

She waited for me to stop and I did. “I, Elliott Gray,” she said.
“I, Elliott Gray,” I said.
“Am super fantastic.”

“I’m not saying that,” I said.

“Come on! Am super fantastic.” I sighed.

“Am super fantastic,” I gave in. “At kissing Jules.”
“At kissing Jules.”

“At bugging Jules.”
“At buggin’ Jules,” I chuckled.
“At touching Jules,” she joked.
“I’m not saying that,” I said
“Okay…..at matters of the heart,” she conceded.
“At matters of the heart.”
“At matters of the mind.”
“At matters of the mind,” I said.
“At matters of right and wrong,”
“I’m not super fantastic at that but I guess I’ll say it anyway. At matters of right and wrong.”

“And last but not least,” she said.
“And last but not least,” I repeated. “At…eavesdropping on old women cooking Thanksgiving dinner in their kitchen.”

“You knew I was doing that?” I asked coyly.
“Of course, doofus. I almost thought about making it as miserable for you as possible but I would have freaked out my family if I had done that. Consider yourself lucky, I was going to say something like, he’s just a speed bump until I get to Philadelphia and find my real husband’. You know, things like that.”

I almost died laughing.
“You’re too competent to be with such a goof, Jules.” “Please, I’m intimidated on a daily basis by your intelligence. I think we make it work so well because that’s what God wants of us. So, I chuck it all up to Him. I’m pretty darn happy so I guess we’re doing something right.”

“Me too,” I said.

“Okay! This half of the room is on one team, this half, on the other,” said Isabel. “Julia, heads or tails?”

“Heads.”
She flipped the coin.

“Tails.”
“Aw, shucks,” Jules said.
“It’s okay, Jules,” I said.
It’s okay, Jules,” everyone mocked and burst into laughter.

A few made gagging noises.
“Okay, okay! Head in the game ‘heads’!” Jules shouted.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!

p.s. It’s against the law to skip out on Pumpkin Pie on Thanksgiving. You don’t want to break the law, do you?

Come see what’s new at the Carnival this week!

The rest of my Indie cast are all awaiting your beautiful eyes. So go…
The Amazing Dani Snell
The Incredible Patti Larsen
The Talented Courtney Cole
The Witty Wren Emerson
The Accomplished Nicole Williams
The Clever Laura Elliott
The Skillful Amy Jones
The Staggering P.J. Hoover
The Brilliant Alicia McCalla
The Resplendent Heather Cashman
The Lustrous Abbi Glines
The Polished Cheri Schmidt
The Inventive Cidney Swanson
The Radiant Rachel Coles
The Gifted T.R. Graves
The Phenomenal Cyndi Tefft
The Lovely Lexus Luke
The Sassy Suzy Turner
The Exceptional Gwenn Wright
The Stupendous Kimberly Kinrade
The Quick J.L. Bryan
The Saucy Darby Karchut
The Magnificent M. Leighton

The Impressive Madeline Smoot

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