Grace walks in the streets of Brooklyn; an area she doesn’t come often to visit. She never really had to come into Brooklyn unless it was to see Emerson, but he lived closer to the city than the part of Brooklyn she’s currently in. She’s looking down at her phone to see where her destination is located at. She stops in front of a brownstone and looks up at it. The address matches to the one on her phone. She walks up the steps and rings the doorbell. Shortly after, an older woman answers the door.
Grace: Aunt Jennifer?
Jennifer smiles at Grace.
Jennifer: The resemblance is insane. Come on in, sweetheart.
Grace enters Jennifer’s house as Jennifer closes the door behind them.
A file of manila folders are placed on top of the dining room table. Grace stares at the pile, now more nervous than she was before. Jennifer sits down across from Grace and starts organizing the folders.
Jennifer: I’m so glad that someone within the family wants to take over the business! I can’t see myself just giving it away to some stranger. This is just as much as my baby then my actual babies!
Grace: *laughs* I can only imagine.
Jennifer starts looking for documents in the folders as Grace looks on.
Grace: So, Aunt Jennifer–
Jennifer: Please, call me Pepper or Pep. “Jennifer” is way too formal for family.
Grace smiles. She’s still baffled that she’s considered family after being gone for almost most of her life from her mom’s side of the family.
Grace: –Pep, what got you in the business in the first place? Why didn’t you pursue, like, a professional career?
Jennifer: It wasn’t in the plan. I reunited with your uncle, Uncle Milo, after a year or two, and life just had different plans for us.
Grace: So, you changed your career for the sake of your children?
Jennifer: *nods* I did. It wasn’t just me anymore. It was my husband, and my children. I wanted to still do what I wanted to do but do it in a way where I could still come home to my family at the end of the day.
Grace ponders in the thought.
Grace: I don’t know if my mom told you, but I also have a kid. A daughter.
Jennifer: Of course I know that, Mollie never shuts up about that baby.
That makes Grace smiles, but not for long.
Grace: My previous career made me lose my family, in a sense. I don’t live with my daughter because of it, and… I don’t know, something tells me running this business for you will allow me to see her more. Be at peace some more.
Jennifer pours some iced tea in Grace’s glass for her.
Jennifer: You know what you value more in life now, and that’s completely okay that it happened later than what it expected you to.
Jennifer’s face suddenly changes.
Jennifer: You have the drive of your mother.
Grace: So I’ve been told. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing…
Jennifer: A little bit of both. She was passionate at her craft and extremely talented, and she was driven to be the best of the best in it. She also really loved your father, from what I remember. The decision was not easy for her, but we will never fully know her reasoning for the decision she made.
Grace: Did she talk about me when she left?
Jennifer: She didn’t talk to any of us for almost a decade. I think she wore that shame on her shoulders all that time, lived her life in isolation before she left competitive dancing.
Grace widens her eyes; she definitely didn’t know that information about her mom.
Jennifer: I’m glad you guys are in each other’s lives now.
Grace smiles and takes a sip of her iced tea. She places it down and clears her throat.
Grace: She’s definitely… different than I expected.
Jennifer: What do you mean?
Grace: She makes me regret the decision of quitting the firm to pursue this business every second she gets when we’re in the studio.
Jennifer laughs and shakes her head.
Jennifer: She’s just extremely harsh to people in this field. She knows you’ll be amazing and she just wants the best for you.
Grace: It doesn’t feel that way…
Jennifer’s attention is fully on grace and the direction this conversation is going in.
Jennifer: Is everything okay with you two?
Grace: *brushes it off* Yeah, it’s nothing to be worried about.
Jennifer takes a drink from her cup and stares down Grace.
Jennifer: Mmm, you lie just like your mother too.
Grace sighs at the comment.
Grace: Can you please stop saying that?
Jennifer: But it’s true though. Man, your mom couldn’t lie to us if her life depended on it–
Grace: *upset* I am not my mom! I am better than her! I didn’t leave my daughter behind for my career! My daughter is still in my life; she knows me, she still sees me, she calls me mama, I still do everything that I need to do and still be there for Willow! So I’m not my mother; please stop saying that.
Jennifer is at a loss for words. She carefully chooses her next words.
Grace looks up at Jennifer.
Jennifer: You’re allowed to feel how you feel, but don’t let your emotions push you away from your mother. She means well, and she’s definitely got the same person she was when she was your age.
Grace doesn’t say anything; she just sits there in thought.
Grace: I know.
Jennifer: And I get it. My father wasn’t in my life for the majority of my childhood. He came back when I was a teenager and then left a couple of years after that. I don’t have the greatest relationship with him because he chose not to have a relationship with me. Your mom does. She’s trying to make up for lost time.
Grace gives up. She knows that Jennifer is right about the situation. Jennifer leans forward a bit to directly talk to Grace.
Jennifer: You would want your daughter to see you trying to be in her life. Mollie does to.
Grace sits there silently before she sees her phone vibrate. She smiles at the phone before placing it down. Jennifer notices it.
Jennifer: Who has you smiling all stupid?
Grace laughs, and Jennifer follows. The tension that was once there is now gone.
Grace: Just… a really good person.
Later that night…
Grace comes home and drops her bag near the front door. She quickly runs to the bathroom to use it and when she finishes, she goes to the sink to wash her hands. When she turns off the water, she hears voices coming in from the other room. She slowly walks to the door of the bathroom to listen to the voices in the other room. She smiles when she realizes it’s Jamie.
Grace walks out of the bathroom and slowly walks towards Willow’s room. The door to her room is cracked open, in which Grace looks in through there. Jamie sits on the floor faceing the crib as Willow lays down with her favorite seal plushie.
Jamie: *sings* And don’t don’t don’t, don’t doubt you; I believe in you. Just go, go, go, carry on…
Willow’s eyes begin to shut, and Jamie’s singing softens to nothing when he realizes she’s asleep. He quietly gets up from the floor to exit the room. Grace panics and tries to get away from the door as quietly and quick as possible. It doesn’t work. She stubs her toe on the corner of the wall, causing noise. Grace limps to the sofa to check on her banged toe.
Jamie comes out of the room and looks at Grace. His eyebrows cock up and wonders why she is limping.
Jamie: Jagiya? Are you okay?
Grace: *plays it off* Yeah! We’re perfect over here!
Jamie: *nods head* Ahh… and your toes? Are they okay?
Grace doesn’t say anything. she looks down at her toes, embarrassed. Jamie comes over and lifts her off from the sofa. Grace is shocked.
Jamie: What? i’m just doing my job.
Grace: The job of literally giving me heart attacks?
Jamie: No, I put one baby to sleep, now it’s time to put the other one down too.
Grace blushes and holds onto Jamie. He carries her into the bedroom and places her on the bed. He goes on top of her and kisses her gently on the lips. She looks up at him and faintly smiles. Her eyes are a bit teary.
Grace blinks and a tear runs down her face.
Grace: It… was a rough day… thank you for helping me with Willow.
Jamie kisses Grace’s forehead and then looks back down at her.
Jamie: Anything for you and little bean.
Jamie adjusts himself to lay next to Grace. He puts his arms around her as she lays her head on his chest. Jamie strokes the hair on top of Grace’s head until they both fall asleep, still in the clothes they wore for the day.