I woke up at five thirty; I took a shower and got dressed into my favorite pair of ripped jeans, a cute gray shirt with a flower on the front with my Sperry’s. I left my hair down but super curly. I was wearing the necklace Noah got my for my eighteen birthday, Austin doesn’t mind me wearing it. I’m wearing my diamond bracelet that my dad got me for my tenth birthday and my engagement ring. I walk into the living room with my heavy weighted backpack. I had my binder and textbooks for the classes I’m taking today and my laptop since I needed it for my English, American History and Journalism class. Colie and Sky came out and smiled at me.
Colie was wearing a cute denim skirt and a cute tank top and smiled at me. We’re taking all of the same classes so we have the same schedule. We walked out and smiled, Austin is in all of the classes but the Creative writing, Journalism and health. Bryan is in our English, Liberal Arts, and American history class. We all walk to our English class and sit together, Colie beside me and Austin on the other side of me. We had a ton of work for the two hours, and we have to write a five page report on a topic that she had on the board for our homework.
The weeks went by and it’s September 20th, I actually got the job at Publix and since it’s a Saturday I’m working 7-7. I wake up at six; I get my khaki pants on and my green Publix shirt on. I pull my hair up into a ponytail because I didn’t feel like having it down today. I wear my rainbow flip-flops, I go into the kitchen and make a one cup of coffee and enjoy my ten minutes of drinking it. I didn’t feel like eating so I went ahead and walked out of the dorm room and out of the dorm building. I see Austin, Bryan, and Blake just leave their building. They are in their jogging outfits so they were going for a morning jog before work and everything.
“Hey Lexie.” Bryan said waving when they walked off of the steps, Austin kisses my lips. “Heading to work?” Blake asked me “Yup.” I said “Is Colie and Sky up?” Blake asked me “Nope still sleeping.” I said and looked at Bryan “Make sure she is up before noon. She works the noon-closing shift tonight.” I said and Bryan nodded at me I wave good-bye to the men. “Have a good jog.” I said and they rolled their eyes at me. I got in my car and drove the twenty minutes to work and still had an extra ten minutes to kill before work began for me.
I go into Publix at six fifty-five and clock in already for seven. The manager Kevin walks in and clocks in as well. “Hey Lexie.” He said “Morning Kevin.” I said “You’re on register two today.” He said “Alright.” I said going to the drink machine and getting a Dr. Pepper, I ring it up and pay for it. My mind goes back to the race I had with Austin the summer before our senior year, and he owed me a Dr. Pepper and he came into work the next day and bought me one. It’s a slow morning until ten and then the customers started coming in more. “Welcome to Publix.” I would say when a customer came in since I was right at the door.
At noon I was taking my twenty minutes break and Colie had just clocked in. “Register three.” She said “Two.” I said and she smiled at me “I can’t wait to finish college and get an acual job Lex.” Colie said and I nodded “We have been doing this for five years now. Ever since we were fifteen, we have been working at Publix or our grocery store where we went to college last year.” Colie said and I nodded in agreement. I see a young man walk in and walk up to the front desk and they point in my direction. When the guy gets closer I notice those icy blue eyes first thing and the brown hair, he looked just like our father did at that age. I felt my heart sink, because I knew he had bad news for me since he is here visiting me.
“Hey Lexie.” Jake said hugging me, he has been working on his grip is getting stronger, he’s getting muscles. “Hey Jake.” I said returning his hug, I wasn’t feeling it though. “When do you get off?” Jake asked me “Seven.” I said “I’ll be back then.” He said “Okay.” I said nodding and watched him walk out of Publix. I go back to my register and I look at Colie who was staring at me trying to read my facial expression. I just smiled at her and went back to work, the seven hours until I got off felt like seven years to me. I go and clock out and gives Colie a reassuring smile and walk out, Jake is waiting by my car his car was next to mine. “Dinner?” Jake asked me “Good. I’m starving. I know the best place.” I said and he got in his car and followed me to Denny’s.
“How has school been so far this semester?” Jake asked me “Good. My eight classes are good.” I said and he smiled at me “Still making straight A’s?” He asked “Yup. Lowest grade would be a 93.” I said “good I’m proud of you. Connor is doing good with being a junior, Colleen is taking the adjustment for high school good. She loves all of the cute older guys.” Jake said and I smiled “Just wait until she starts dating.” I said and he smiled “Jason is enjoying the seventh grade; Amber is liking the fifth grade.” He said and I smiled he doesn’t mention Josh, Alicia, or Katie. “Jake cut to the chase. What’s the news?” I asked and he looked down “Eighteen month long tour. Six months in Germany for training and twelve months in Iraq. I leave on the 24th.” Jake said and I felt like my heart was going to explode. “Promise me something Jake?” I asked “Sure thing sissy.” He said even though we’re not eight and ten, we’re acting like it right now. “You will come home safe.” I said we both know it’s not a promise he can really make “I will do my best sissy.” He said and I blinked back the tears.
The next morning I called into work and explained my situation and since Kevin has family overseas he understands so I’m taking the day off. Austin, Jake, and I are spending the morning together playing video games in the boys’ dorm room. “This is the life.” Jake said sighing and I smiled in agreement “Having your big sister beat you in video games?” I asked “Not fair.” Jake said “I’m not cheating. Austin isn’t letting me win. He’s too competitive.” I said and Austin held his head in shame because he knew it was true and I was winning big time.
Jake and I spent the afternoon together talking about our siblings, dad, and even mom. “She misses you.” Jake said “I bet.” I said “She really does Lexie. She just doesn’t want you to screw up your life.” Jake said “I’m finishing college early, I’m engaged not married. No kids, a job, I just wanted my one summer off from working. I have saved up all of my money since I was two. Not counting the money daddy left me for my college tuition and everything. I have been working since I have been the legal age, I have been baby-sitting since I was eleven.” I said “I know Lex.” He said “But right now all you need to worry about is getting home safe.” I said and he smiled at me. “Thanks sissy. For believing in me.” He said “I’m proud of you as well. I know daddy is.” I said and he smiled at me.
He left at midnight on the 22nd since I had school the next day. I didn’t go to sleep; I sat on my bed staring at my pictures on my wall. I have new pictures now, of Jake and I. Jake, Colie, and I. Jake promised me when he was able to he would call, write, and email me but he wasn’t sure when all of that would happen and I told him I would understand and I do. I pulled my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around my legs. I rested my chin on my knees and stared at the picture of me as a toddler in daddy’s arms holding Jake it was when he was just born.
I didn’t fall asleep until four thirty and my alarm clock went off at five since I still had some homework I needed to do. I took a quick shower, got dressed in jeans and a UF shirt. Left my hair down and wet, I quickly did my homework the best I could and finished when the girls came out ready for their classes which means we had to leave soon. “Rough night?” Colie asked me and I nodded “He will be okay.” Colie said and I nodded “he’s supposed to text me when he gets to mom’s and then call me tomorrow night before he leaves.” I said “I know Lexie. Let’s get to class.” She said and I nodded at her.
Classes were over at five since it was a Monday and I had an hour before work. I had enough time to go to the dorm room and change into my work clothes and rush back out because I needed to get dinner since I haven’t had breakfast or lunch. Normally I eat one meal a day now, so I’ve gone from a two to a zero in pants sizes now. I go to Subway get a six inch sub, a bag of chips, and a soda. I’m eating my dinner as quick as I could and rush to Publix where I clock in. I work 6-11 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tuesday and Thursdays I work 2-11. Saturday is 7-7, Sunday is 12-9. I work 54 hours a week making $918 every two week so $1836 monthly.
It’s the end of the semester which means finals. I go to class Monday for my final study guide, Wednesday is no classes unless you want to get an extra review in and Friday is the final. Tuesday is the final study guide, and review and Thursday is the final for those classes. I leave classes at five like always and go to work. I get off at 11 and go home to join Sky, Colie, Austin, Blake, Bryan, a girl named Kelly, a guy named Brent for a study guide session for the classes we have together.
Tuesday the study guide and final review went by easy. Wednesday I decided to spend all day studying my reviews and all my notes. Around 2 I get a phone call “hello?” I asked “Hey sissy.” A male voice said it sounded so far away yet so familiar. “Jake!” I said and I heard him chuckle “How are you?” He asked me “Stressed with finals. You?” I asked “good. It’s going really good over here Lexie-boo. I’ve made a lot of friends. Getting a lot of training in before we head out.” He said and I could feel myself twirling a strand of hair like I normally do when I’m majorly stressed. “Is it scary?” I asked “Different, but yeah kind of. It sure makes you miss home a lot more. And the people in it.” He said “I bet it does.” I said “I haven’t called mom yet. I wanted to make sure you’re okay.” He said “I’m fine.” I said “Still engaged?” He asked me “Yes Jake I am.” I said and he laughed we talked for a few more minutes and then he had to go. “I love you Jake.” I said “I love you too sissy.” He said and we hung up.
That night when I got off of work my phone started ringing I answered it without looking at the caller ID because who calls at eleven? “Hello?” I asked “Lexie?” Colleen asked me “Yeah. What’s up? What’s wrong?” I asked “I’m extremely stressed out over the finals. I don’t think I’m going to pass my tests. I’m worried about Jake. I’m worried about you.” Colleen said “Sissy take a break. Go to the meadows. It’s late, I know but do it. Relax or if you want go tomorrow.” I said “There’s something else sissy.” Colleen said and I know she doesn’t call me sissy unless it’s serious or she’s really troubled. “What is it?” I asked “Come home for your break. I can’t tell you over the phone.” Colleen said “I will be there.” I said although I didn’t plan on going home for my break like I didn’t for Christmas. I stayed and worked during it and that was a busy weekend itself. “I love you sissy.” I said “I love you too sissy.” Colleen said and we hung up.
Thursday was a very stressful day for me; I took all of my finals for those classes and then went to work on the edge. I couldn’t sleep really due to the phone call; daddy came to me in a dream telling me things will be okay, not to be stressed out. Friday was stressful as well for those finals; work over the weekend was stressful. I haven’t really spent any time with Austin this week unless it was school related and I don’t count that. We have classes Monday and Tuesday and then we’re off until January 7th Wednesday will be December 7th.
I passed all my classes with a 98 as my final grade in all of them. “Hey Kevin.” I said going into work at 5:30. “Hey Lexie.” He said “I didn’t plan on it but I’m needed at home so can I have December 20th off through the 27th?” I asked “Yes Lexie.” He said and I smiled at him “Thank you.” I said “no problem. I kind of figured it was coming since Colie came in and asked for the same thing.” He said and I smiled at him.
My work schedule from the 7th-20th on the weekdays is 12-5, and the same as it always has been for the weekends. I have been spending my mornings and evenings with Austin, Colie, Sky, Bryan, and Blake. Bryan and Colie are still going strong, Sky and Blake are together, and Austin and I are still engaged. Bryan and Colie are spending Christmas in two places her family and his family, she finally gets to meet his family. Austin is spending it at home with his parents since we’re not spending it here together as a couple.
I arrive on the 21st at 8 in the morning and I go the meadow and just lay down and ended up falling asleep. My dream consisted of daddy again “Lexie, it’s almost Christmas.” He said sitting next to me we were at the meadow wearing Christmas colors. “I know daddy. Another Christmas without you.” I said “I know Lexie-boo. You have Austin and your friends.” He said “I know daddy.” I said and he smiled at me. “I’m so proud of you Lexie. You’re saving up your money, using $200 monthly the rest is being saved, you have a job, you’re a fulltime student doing double the classes to graduate early, engaged to a great man, not pregnant. Every father’s dreams.” He said and I smiled at him. Amber is now eleven, Jason is thirteen, Colleen is fifteen, Connor is almost seventeen, Jake is nineteen now. Katie is five, Alicia, is seven, Josh is nine years old now.
“It’s tough though daddy. Struggling school, work, friends, and family all at once.” I said “But you’re making straight A’s. One of his best workers, a good friend and family member to the people who need you the most.” He said and I smiled at him “I’m planning on seeing Jason and Amber for Christmas.” I said “I figured that. But you need to see your mom and them as well. You need to make things right with your mom. You never know how long you will have her for.” He said and I smiled “I know. I had to write Jake a letter to tell him happy birthday. He worries me daddy.” I said “But he’s making us proud. He’s a good soldier. He’s good at what he does Lexie.” He said “I know daddy, I know.” I said and he kissed my forehead “Time to go my love.” He said “I love you daddy.” I said “I love you too.” He said and I woke up to see Colleen standing over me “Sorry sissy didn’t mean to wake you.” She said and I smiled “it’s okay. Just a dream with daddy in it.” I said and she smiled at me “he occurs in my dreams sometimes too.” She said and I smiled at my little sister, I love her so much.
“How often do you come here?” I asked her when she sat down next to me and I wrapped my arms around her hugging her. “Three times a week. More if I’m really stressed.” She said and I hugged her. “What do you need to tell me?” I asked “It’s something only Abby and one other person knows.” Colleen said “Okay sissy. You can trust me.” I said “I know.” She said and I could tell she was fighting back tears. “You know how in my emails I would write about this guy name Chase? How he’s a junior, he was flirting with me, how I had a crush on him?” She asked me and I nodded, she would write about that late August-September. “Well he asked me out for home coming, we started dating afterwards, right?” Colleen said “Yes sissy.” I said not sure how to piece this story together. “Well in early November like the 2nd, I was over at his house we were doing homework together. It was just him and I, and he kissed me. You know how kissing leads to making out, making out leads to more.” Colleen said “Yeah.” I said still confused “Well we went all the way. And I’m pregnant.” Colleen said and the pieces finally fell together. “Oh Colleen.” I said “I’m scared. Chase has mixed feelings; one minute he wants me to keep the baby then the next abortion it. But he says he will support me no matter what I decide.” Colleen said “I’m pro-life. I say keep it sissy. The baby has a reason to be alive, the baby deserves a chance. Adoption is an option sissy. But keep in mind you might need this baby as much as the baby needs you.” I said and she nodded wiping away her tears “how far along are you?” I asked not feeling like doing the math in my head. “Seven weeks exactly.” Colleen said and I nodded she would be showing soon, morning sickness will be occurring soon. “You need to tell mom and Aaron.” I said “I’m scared to sissy. Will you come?” She asked me “Sure.” I said and she hugged me.
I drive Colleen to the house and I see mom out on the porch, Alicia and Katie are playing in the yard and so is Josh. I get out and Katie and Alicia run up to me and hug me. I haven’t seen them since the summer. They go on and on about school all the way to the porch where my mom is still sitting but closely watching me trying to figure things out. “Well hello there stranger.” My mom said “Hi.” I said “You should have called.” She said “I’m sorry. Is this a bad time?” I asked “No sweetie. It’s perfect.” She said “Sit down Lexie. Tell me how you have been.” She said “Pretty good mom. I have my moments where I’m stressed with work and school but I’m doing well in both.” I said “I’m glad to hear that. Where are you working at?” She asked me “The local Publix. I make a decent amount, most is being saved” I said “That’s good Lexie. Do you want to stay for dinner?” She asked me “Can I take you, and Colleen out?” I asked “Sure thing.” She said and I smiled “Thanks mom. I will be over at five to pick you two up.” I said “where are you staying at?” She asked me “Austin’s, in their guest room.” I said and she smiled at me.
I go back to Austin’s and Mrs. Blevins smiled at me “We’re all so excited to have you in the family soon.” She said and I smiled at her “Thank you so am I.” I said and she smiled at me, Adam and Colby were playing video games. “Plans for tonight?” She asked me “Taking my mom and sister out for dinner, if that’s okay?” I asked “Sure thing Lexie.” She said smiling at me “Is Austin back yet?” I asked “Yes he is and he’s in his room.” She said and I smiled at her “thank you.” I said and I walk up the steps to Austin’s room. He’s on his bed with his laptop; he motions for me to come to him so I do.