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You wake up to the sound of a camera shutter clicking. You try to stretch your arms and find one of them is pinned down and numb. You finally open your eyes to see Kate with her camera, taking pictures of you. You look at your numb arm to see that Kate's five year old nephew is laying on you fast asleep.
"What are you doing?" You ask her groggily.
"You two are so cute! I know you aren't real big on children, but you're really good with them."
"That's because I went to school to be a teacher at one point. I
was going to be an elementary school teacher until things changed." You whisper. The boy, James, stirs in your arms. "Please don't wake up, small energy vampire." You whisper to him. He doesn't wake up and Kate smiles.
"What changed your mind?" She asks curiously.
"Well, they always say that you should have a backup plan. Teaching was mine. Writing was always the main plan. My writing career took off so I quit the teaching program. I had a huge book deal ready for me, I was on my way to being one of the greats. All I had to do was leave for California." You smile fondly.
"What kept you from it?"
"Three days before I was scheduled to leave, I met Leslie at the studio and she introduced me to the love my life. Something told me I wasn’t supposed to leave yet. I backed out of the book thing and stayed here.” Kate gives you a surprised and sad look.
“You gave up your dream to be with me?” She whispers. You tilt your head in confusion at her.
“Kathryn McKinnon Berthold, look me in the eye and tell me what I gave up.” You say sternly, and a little louder than you should have. James stirs again but doesn't wake up.
“Your dreams. You wanted to be a writer-“
“I am a writer, that's my job. I work at a big magazine company.” You interrupt.
“But you wanted to write books-“
“I wanted to be published and make a living from writing. I make more than enough to support us and have some put in the bank for emergencies.”
“You wanted to be famous!” She says. That part strikes you. You felt like she had slapped you, but you didn't know why. You stand up and place James in the chair without waking him up. You walk over to her and place both hands on her shoulders.
“Everyone wants to be famous when they're a kid. I found something better than being famous.” You take your hands away and turn away from Kate. “Kate, dreams alter and change just like we do. Yeah, I wanted to be known for my books, not articles in a magazine. Yeah, I passed up that once in a lifetime deal. But you know what? I don't regret it. I have never regretted it for a second. Do you know why? Because the one thing I never accounted for in my plans for when I got as old as I am was love. I forgot that my plans meant I'd be alone until I met you. The night after I met you, I looked at the papers from my book deal and realized that if I went, I'd miss out on something better than a book deal and fame and more money than I could spend.” You say sadly. “Kate, I don't know the best way to explain it to you. But, I know I'm happier here, with you, than I would have ever been in California.” You walk into the kitchen before Kate replies. You grasp the sides of the kitchen sink and lean over it, looking at your reflection in the stainless steel. You felt sick, but at the same time you felt fine. You look at your skin to notice just how sunburned you are from taking James to the petting zoo earlier. “It's probably from the heat.” You tell yourself as you walk to the freezer and pop an ice cube in your mouth and look at a magazine on the counter. You jump as you feel arms wrap around your waist and a head rest on your shoulder.
“I want to you follow your dreams like I did mine.” Kate whispers.
“I did follow my dreams.” You turn around and face her.
“This is what you want?”
“I couldn't ask for anything more, except maybe better guitar skills and for Nino to stop eating my toast.” Kate smiles.
“Auntie Kate?” James whines. You groan, disappointed that the boy is awake and will want to be chased around again.
“In here, James.” Kate calls to him. She smiles to you. You pull her closer.
“I followed my dreams and they lead me to you.” You think to yourself as she leans in to kiss you. You smile as you look into her blue eyes. You can smell her flowery perfume. You close your eyes and she does the same.
“Auntie Kate, I'm hungry.” James bursts to the kitchen, causing you both to jump and pull away from each other.
“It'll be time for supper in an hour. Why don't you two go play while I cook?” Kate suggests with a devilish smile to you.
“Yeah! Let's play cops and robbers!” James smiles to you, he looks like Kate.
“Does it involve running?” You ask.
“Yes! Come and catch me!” James yells as he runs off. Kate laughs.
“Totally not fair.” You say to her. She laughs as you chase after the boy.