Jasper was sleeping on his stomach while I bobbed my head in and out of the en suite bathroom. I was brushing my teeth in my purple bra, underwear and a purple silk kimono super early in the morning and getting ready to go to the town meeting. Apparently, there was a crisis about the next town event—the main event planner succumbed to an inevitable cold—and they were rallying in search for the new delegator first thing in the morning before everyone went to work.
Jasper shifted in his sleep and I ran back to the bathroom mirror, pretending to brush vigorously until he came. But he never did. I spat out the foam and rinsed my mouth with lukewarm water before closing the light and leaning against the door frame. That’s when Jasper turned his head and opened his eyes.
“Hey beautiful,” he said, grinning.
I smiled. “Good morning.”
“Morning. Why are you up so early?” He scratched the morning sleep crust out of the corners of his eyes and sat up, his groin covered by only a sliver of my blanket.
“Got to get ready for the day.”
“Oh, come on,” he said, holding out his hand. Instinctively, I took it and he pulled me into his lap. “Stay in with me.” He pecked a small kiss on my lips. “We can watch all the Korean shows you love, promise.” He teased.
I rolled my eyes while growing red-faced. “That was just the one time.” I wouldn’t even dare tell him how many foreign shows and movies I’ve watched since.
“Do you have such a busy a day that you can’t spend it with me?” he asked, sliding his hand down my stomach and then onto my bra, picking at the violet lace. He bit his bottom lip. “What do you say?”
“You’re such a tease.”
“I’m making an effort to be involved in your interests,” he shrugged. “Is that so bad?”
It sort of is when you have a girlfriend. A pregnant girlfriend. A girlfriend you despise, but a girlfriend no less. Julie probably spent the whole night wondering where Jasper was and if he’d ever come home. I wonder if she called his cell or made inquiries around the town. I’d be surprised if she hadn’t already declared him a missing person and plastered his face over every milk carton.
I honestly didn’t care about Julie, but something else had been eating away at me. Not so harshly that it left a mark on my skin but little nibbles, and I think it has to do with the fact that Jasper was so far out of reach, that despite him being literally inside of me, he was still out of reach. It’s like, sure, we have fun, we spend time together, but at the end of the day, he’ll always go back to square one. And I’ll be home alone writing about it for the online magazine like some poor man’s Carrie Bradshaw. By the way, sidenote: who else hates all the women from Sex and the City but Samantha? Raise your hand.
“We have a town meeting, remember?” I whisked myself off his lap. “There’s a crisis upon us.”
“Something tells me the town will live through it,” Jasper said, hopping out of bed. “But for you, I’ll go.”
I wanted to say that it shouldn’t be for me, but I bit my tongue. Why add that? It’s so unnecessary.
Jasper showered and in the meantime I did my makeup and wrote some notes on my laptop. At most, I had about three Word documents open at all times. One for the online magazine, one for my story (the one Daniel tells me to continue writing), and another for a freelance fashion writing gig I’ve taken upon myself to do on the side. Most times it would be one for the online magazine and two for the story. I still have so much left to write.
“Your water pressure sucks,” Jasper said as he skipped down the stairs with a towel in tow.
I tapped on a few keys to end a sentence on my story and then closed the monitor. “Yeah, I’ve been meaning to get it fixed. It’s been like that only a couple days now.”
“I can fix it for you.”
I nodded. “Yeah, okay. I mean, I can just call someone, I wouldn’t want to bother you.”
“It’s no bother. Besides, it’ll save you a lot of money.”
I nodded again. “Well, we can’t now because the meeting is about to start, so, let’s go.”
The closer we got to the town hall the more people began to filter in with coffee cups in hand. Murmurs swam around the building and the sunlight barely peeked through the hazy, fogged windows. Jasper and I sat next to each other—I on the aisle, and he to the left of me—and we waited as more people poured in and the mayor was rustling papers on the podium, his eyes sharp and intent and his brows pulled in between creating a worrisome crinkle above his nose.
“I can’t believe this is an emergency,” Jasper whispered. “So stupid.”
“But you love it, I bet.”
He turned to me and smiled. Then, he took my hand and motioned circles with his index fingertip on my palm. “Yeah, I do.”
I slowly peeled my hand away and shifted my legs, one over the other. Has he no shame? We’re literally in front of the whole town, if one person sees, it’s every man for himself.
The mayor was in the middle of speaking about needing a new event planner and what the tasks were for anyone who could volunteer when Julie burst in through the doors, letting in a cold draft of snowy air.
“Sorry, I’m late, you know how things are,” she said, patting her stomach. Is she going to be blaming everything on her pregnancy?
The mayor continued as if he wasn’t interrupted. Julie spotted Jasper and I and forced herself through, asking everyone in the row to move down one.
“Where were you?” Julie asked Jasper. “I tried calling you all night.”
That’s it? That’s all you could say?
“So, where were you?” Julie pressed.
“Out with the guys.”
“Hmm,” Julie mused. “Funny, they didn’t mention anything about you.”
“It wasn’t for long. Barely worth mentioning.”
“Ahem!” The mayor coughed, eyeing Julie and Jasper.
“Sorry,” Julie said. “Please, continue.”
“As I was saying,” the mayor said, “we need a volunteer to head this thing and we need it now. This needs to be completed within two days and there’s still so much work to be done. So, any takers?”
The room filled with a deafening silence unlike before.
“Oh!” Julie raised her hand.
The mayor furrowed his brows. “Julie? Are you…?” He seemed genuinely dumbfounded. As if a pregnant woman couldn’t possibly handle a job of this magnitude. Not to mention, Julie was barely showing, but even if she was—if anyone woman was—they still have the capacity to work. It’s not like we need to suddenly be thrown into an incubator for nine months until things are sorted.
“No, no, oh god no. I know someone who might be able to coordinate this event.”
Julie gestured my way, a smirk on her face. “Anna, of course.”
My eyes widened. “What?”
“What?” Jasper asked.
“Yeah, she works from home,” Julie said.
“And?” I asked.
Julie rolled her eyes as if the answer was the most obvious. “I mean, you work from home.”
“So, I still have work,” I said. I looked at the mayor. “I still—I’m way too busy to—”
“You’re the only one we can get on such short notice,” Julie said.
I shook my head. “I don’t even know the first thing about how to plan an event.”
“Listen, my dear,” the mayor began. “I can help you. I’ll provide you with the necessary tools for you to complete this project. But we have no one right now and you’re the only person in town who seems to have a malleable schedule.
“Besides bed ridden octogenarians,” Julie snickered. Jasper shot her dirty look and Julie closed her eyes and shook her head, as if to say that his father was excluded from the list.
“Please, I’m begging you,” the mayor said.
“Yeah, be a team player,” Julie added. “Help us all out.”
“Shut up,” Jasper hissed. It did nothing, Julie kept on cackling.
“Alright, fine,” I mumbled.
“Yes!” The mayor shrieked at a decibel I didn’t know was possible for him to reach, ending the meeting there and then, probably so there wasn’t an opportunity for me to go back on my word.
“You don’t have to—” Jasper started, as people stood up and skedaddled.
“So, when can you come fix my shower?” I smiled.
“What?” Jasper asked.
“Excuse me?” Julie said.