Mollie pulls down her dress when she sits on the living room couch. She watches Willow walk into her direction with a toy in hand. The biggest smile is now on her face and she starts to play with Willow.
The women in Max’s family, his aunt and grandmother, come into the living room area with Max trailing behind her. In the slightest moment, Willow walks towards Max, who then picks her up and sits down with the rest of the ladies.
Katie: It’s so great you can make it here today, Grace.
Grace: The pleasure is all mine, Katie.
Katie smiles and looks over to Eleanor, Max’s grandmother.
Eleanor: Max has told us that you still work at the firm.
Grace: *hesitant* Uhm, yeah…
Eleanor: Is that why you stayed in the city?
Grace looks at Max, who also looks just as uncomfortable as she does. Willow makes a squeal and the attention is now on Willow. Grace is grateful she can avoid the awkward conversation.
Katie: Willow has grown so much in such little time.
Max: I know. It seems like the more pictures I send of her to you guys, the more she changes.
Max sets Willow down, and then walks over to Grace once more. Grace smiles.
Eleanor: She’s starting to look so much like you, dear.
Grace looks up at Eleanor and smiles at the comment. She looks back down at Willow, who sits right in between Grace’s legs and plays with her toys.
Katie: *to Max* Emily was very happy to see those pictures of Willow when you visited. She wanted me to print a photo out for her so she can keep it in her room.
Max: Yeah, that would be nice. Once Willow is a bit older, it would be nice to fly out there again and introduce her to Mum.
Grace listens in on the conversation. She knows Max well enough to know that he doesn’t like to speak about his mother; he never really did when they were together. She knows that talking about his mother is a sore spot, and Grace never wanted to push him to talking more about her, but this doesn’t seem like the case. She’s actually pretty happy for him that he’s able to talk more about her, for the sake of their daughter.
Eleanor: She would love that. *to Grace* How’s your family been doing?
Grace: Everyone’s doing well–
Eleanor: Do they still live in the city as well?
Grace: *annoyed* They do live in the city…
Max: Nan, let’s go into the kitchen and start preparing some food for dinner.
Eleanor: Of course, dear.
They both get up and walk towards the kitchen. Grace is left in the living room with Katie, who sits there and doesn’t say much. Grace tries to at least be cordial and start up a conversation.
Grace: How are you and your mother liking New York so far?
Katie: We like it. We tend to sometimes go into the city to do more of the tourist things, but on most days, we stay in the area.
Grace nods her head. Her phone vibrates but doesn’t answer it right away. She instantly gets distracted when Katie picks up the conversation again.
Katie: How are you and Max doing?
Grace: *pauses* We’re doing good!
Katie: Eleanor doesn’t know that you and him are not living together. He told me already.
Grace doesn’t know what to say, so Katie does the talking instead.
Katie: Max mentioned that you guys co-parent and that you still live in the city… Of course not out of spite, just to just let us know what’s going on between you two.
Grace takes in the new information and watches Willow play with her toys.
Grace: We decided that things were better off this way, especially for Willow.
Katie: It’s a shame that you and Willow didn’t come to England when Max was visiting. His mum was really excited to meet the young one.
Grace tries to hide the guilt she feels, and quickly composes herself.
Grace: Like Max said, perhaps when she’s older, she will visit.
Katie ends the conversation there. Grace shifts in her seat; her phone continues to vibrate in her bag on her side, she doesn’t answer. Katie starts up the conversation again.
Katie: I don’t mean to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do…
Grace: *annoyed* Then please don’t. Max and I know what we’re doing and this is the best for all of us.
Katie: I’m just trying to help.
Grace: We didn’t ask you to.
Katie: You guys are still planning to get married, right?
Grace is now confused and visibly annoyed and her phone is still vibrating in her bag. Before she ultimately decided to get up to leave, Max and Eleanor come into the living room with snacks in hand. They offer the women sitting in the living room.
Max: So, what’d we miss?
None of the women say anything in response. Max senses that something went wrong while he was away.
Max: Grace? Katie?
Katie: *to Eleanor* Did he tell you yet?
Eleanor: Tell me what?
Katie: The wedding is called off.
Eleanor: *confused* What?
Katie: They aren’t even together. That’s why they don’t live together.
Max: Auntie, that’s enough.
Katie: You should’ve told us the truth, Max. And the fact that I had to find out through Grace?!
Grace widens her eyes as Max looks straight at her.
Grace: I wasn’t aware that you told them everything, Max.
Max looks at Grace, not knowing what to say or do in this situation. Grace gets up from her seat, and gathers her bag.
Grace: I din’t know what is going on here, but to set the record straight, Max and I are not together. We aren’t getting married, and we live in different places because we aren’t together anymore. We co-parent Willow, we are still very much in each other’s lives, but there will not be a wedding or us “getting back together”.
Silence is in the room until Grace’s phone again vibrates in her bag.
Grace: If you can excuse me, I need to answer this call.
Grace walks out of the living room into the foyer and looks in her bag. She doesn’t understand who keeps calling her. In the middle of her search, Max comes into the foyer.
Grace turns around, she looks annoyed at Max.
Grace: Seriously, Max? You couldn’t be honest with your family about what’s going on?
Max: I told them we weren’t living together when they first came; I didn’t realize they would translate that as in us taking a break and that the wedding was still on!
Grace: We don’t live together! Wouldn’t the next sensible thing to ask was “oh, what’s going on with you and Grace?” I’m tired having to be the bad guy in situations because you refuse to man up and tell it how it is.
Max: *annoyed* Well I apologize for not wanting to have this conversation in front of our daughter who’s beginning to wonder where the hell you are half of the time.
That catches Grace off-guard.
Max: She asks about you, Grace. She’s growing up and she’s starting to wonder why you aren’t around. How the hell am I suppose to explain to Willow in front of my family that you’re not coming home tonight; that this isn’t your home?
Grace takes everything in and once again, he phone begins to ring. She grows frustrated and begins to dig in her bag for her phone. She successfully finds it and answers.
Grace: Why the hell are you calling me for? Who is this?
Grace hears coughing in the back. She takes the phone away from her ear to finally see who’s the person she picked up. It reads “Jamie.” She puts the phone back to her ear.
Jamie: *barely audiable* … dowa… dowa… hel–
The line disconnects. She looks at her phone; no bars are available. Grace tosses her phone in her bag in a frenzy.
Grace: I gotta go.
Max: *annoyed* Of course. Choosing something else other than your daughter, classic Grace Ashmore.
Grace: I don’t know when or if we will ever be on good terms for the sake of Willow, but just know that you’re unwillingness to communicate with the people around you because you’re afraid they’re gonna think of you differently, is only going to hurt Willow in the end. And until Willow is old enough to understand that we love her despite what and where her parents are, we have to stand up for her, so no one does the job that we need to do.
Grace leaves the house in a hurry. Max just stands there with his hands on his hips.