Silence settled between the two women as a little girl bounced around the playground, excited to have them together for the afternoon. The sun baked their skin, shade absent for the moment as the treetops were still bare from the harsh winter, leaves slowly growing as if to bandage time’s wounds. Every now and again, a stiff breeze blew through and the women would shiver. It felt like forever just to get used to now.
But now was happening, and it was never, ever going to stop.
“ Did you get the calendar drawn up?” Casually, Jeongyeon turned, facing the other woman who sighed and mirrored her. Nayeon could tell that the younger woman hadn’t been sleeping well, the purple circles under her eyes an indicator of more restless nights; she was sure she appeared the same, and it felt embarrassing thinking of the reason why. It was neither person’s fault, but it sure felt that way.
“I did. Every two weeks, and since we’re keeping her in the same school, she has a little more wiggle room about weekends.” Nayeon fished into her purse, pulling out a folded paper with rushed handwriting scribbled over a basic calendar page. “Holidays are negotiable, but after--- well, after we sort of get used to this arrangement, we can talk about how we want to do them.”
“I don’t think sharing the holidays would be a problem,” Jeongyeon said, watching their daughter climb recklessly on the playground equipment, “We’re not really on bad terms. It would be confusing for Chaengie to have to be without either of us on Christmas or during Chuseok or New Years. She’s used to the both of us, so we should get together.”
“Together-together. It’s not like she doesn’t already have some idea. We don’t live together, and it’s not me in your bed.” Jeongyeon winced as Nayeon’s face dropped. “I didn’t mean it like that, I’m sorry.”
Nayeon tightened her lips and paused. “I understand what you meant, though. I get it.”
“Why are you sorry?” Nayeon looked at the playground, checking to see that their daughter was in one piece as she fell off the monkey bars, laughing with a new friend who helped her up. “It’s not like we could have avoided this.” She turned back and offered a small smile. “At least we didn’t cheat on each other.”
“Like we saw with Jihyo. She was a wreck when the divorce was finalized,” the younger woman rested her chin in her hands, offering a smile back, “I’m just glad she’s got us.”
“Us.” Jeongyeon slipped from her hands and pressed her forehead against the picnic table. “God, how did we end up here? We were doing so well. We did so well.” She sighed and turned her head, her ear scraping against the worn wood surface. Chaeyoung waved from the mulch and the two women half- heartedly waved back.
“Sometimes people just don’t work out, Jeongie.” Nayeon reaches out and rested her hands on top of her ex-wife’s arm, squeezing a bit. “And sometimes people who do work out, work out better as friends.”. She let her touch linger until Jeongyeon raised her head, putting her free hand on top of the one on her arm. “And that’s what we’ve always been, first and foremost. Friends.”
“Friends with a daughter.”
“Yeah, but she is beautiful.” They turned again to watch Chaeyoung playing tag and another gust of wind blew, sending Nayeon’s schedule flying. Instinctively, Jeongyeon popped up and grabbed for it, snatching it before it could leave their vicinity. The older woman waited until she sat back down before letting out a small chuckle.”I guess more than ever it’s important we stay in each other’s corner.”
“I’ll always be your support system, Nabongs.” Jeongyeon handed her the schedule, Nayeon thanking her before shoving it back into her purse.”I’ll just be second to Momo.”
“And I’ll be second to Sana.” They shook hands and smiled, a lifetime of memories between them, laid out on the picnic table like a feast left untouched. Chaeyoung ran up to their area, panting excitedly, her face red from the biting breeze and rough play time.
“Mama! Mommy! I made a friend today!” She climbed into Jeongyeon’s lap, nuzzling her sweaty face into her mother’s shirt before stretching across the table to grab for Nayeon’s face. Naturally, Nayeon leaned in and from Jeongyeon’s lap, Chaeyoung smothered her mama with wet, playful kisses. “I made a friend and she’s gonna be joining my class soon! Her name is Mina and she likes penguins and she moved here from Japan when her momma and papa got new jobs!”
The older woman smiled at the younger one, who mirrored her expression. “That’s good! Hey, Chaengie, baby, you know you’re our number one, right?”
Chaeyoung grinned wildly, bouncing in Jeongyeon’s lap. “I do!”
“Do you know we love you more than all of the stars in the sky?” Jeongyeon squeezed her daughter, making her giggle.
“Do you know that mommy and mama will love you until the sun runs out?” Nayeon reached out to hold her daughter’s hand who grabbed tightly, her grin still plastered on her face.
Jeongyeon hesitated, looking at Nayeon for a moment. “Do you want to come stay with Mommy and Mommy’s friend tonight?”
“I do! Wait.” Chaeyoung paused, looking between her mothers. “Mama and Mama’s friend aren’t coming?”
“Well, Mama is going to be at her house. Do you want to come to Mommy’s house?” Jeongyeon gulped and Nayeon waited anxiously for their daughter to respond. A millennia passed before the little girl shrugged, nodded, then smiled again. “I do. But will I still see Mama?”
“Baby, you’re going to see us always. You’re our number one, remember?”
Chaeyoung lit up and laughed. “You two are my number ones, too.”
The women smiled at each other, letting the silence rest comfortably between them as the little girl pulled at both of their hands to lead them back to the cars. Even with things left unsaid, they knew that everything would be fine, for their sake and most importantly, for their daughter’s sake. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.