Bridget knew this weekend was going to be the longest one of her life. It was the first one without Franky since they’d met. It was only Friday evening, and she was already counting down the minutes until she was back at work on Monday. Normally, she loved the weekends, as Franky rarely had to work, and they were free to spend it all together. Tonight however, she sat at home with a bottle of wine, and tried to forget the fact that she was alone. She went from having her home filled with two people she loved very much, to being the only person there, all in less than a twenty-four hour period. Emily would be back this weekend, but of course she would be living with her father, and not with Bridget anymore. As for Franky, after her interview that morning, she sensed that she may not be home for quite some time.
She knew it had been reckless for her to go visit the brunette in her cell that afternoon. She knew it was even more reckless to have fucked her where anyone could have heard them, or walked in. Deep down, she knew that Franky would never cheat on her, but after what Hannah had said in her session, the blonde felt like she had a point to make. She poured another glass of wine.
She needed to talk to Vera. She kept thinking about what Franky had said; that Vera had told her Bridget wasn’t available that day, when in fact she had two hours free in the afternoon. Vera had let the blonde see Franky during the intake process, but from that point on, the governor had not agreed to let them have any more time together. She’d seen the look on Vera’s face when she had mentioned that she hadn’t been able to put Franky on her schedule. She didn’t want to believe that her friend would be actively keeping them from seeing each other but it looked like that was the case.
She glanced at her phone, which was on the coffee table, and briefly thought of calling Vera, before deciding against it. There was a kind of unwritten rule they had about dealing with work issues on personal time, a rule that Bridget thought was necessary because it was important to leave the daily stresses behind them when they left the prison gates. Now, however, Bridget didn’t know where her work life stopped, and her personal life began. The two had collided in about as messy a way as possible.
Everywhere she looked in the house, she saw reminders of the brunette. In the kitchen was her set of chef’s knives, rolled up in their bag on the counter. When Franky had brought them over, the blonde had made the comment that she had a perfectly good set of knives already, which prompted the younger woman to explain the specific use of each knife in her set, and why she had chosen that particular brand. In the end, Bridget had just smiled and made space for them beside her own set.
She looked to her left and saw Franky’s sweater thrown over the back of the other half of the L-shaped couch. After Emily had left and she had told Franky the good news, that the little girl was coming back, they had laid on the couch together and watched a movie. About halfway through, the brunette had gotten too warm and took off the sweater, leaving her in just her t-shirt. Bridget hadn’t bothered to put it away yet.
She picked up the bottle to pour herself another glass of wine and realized that it was empty, so she took that as her cue to head to bed. She looked toward the entryway on her way towards the bathroom and saw Franky’s shoes. They were scattered as usual, and most of the time, she would have straightened them up out of habit, but now, she wanted them left just as Franky had left them. She continued into the bathroom where she saw Franky’s toothbrush on the sink and toiletries in the shower. She turned around and went right back out into the hallway; she didn’t want to look at anything else tonight.
She got undressed and found a clean pair of shorts to sleep in. She looked toward the chair in the corner of the room. The singlet she’d taken from Franky’s cell was laying there, still folded. She picked it up and put it on, crawling into bed. It smelled like Franky, a mixture of her and her body wash. She must have showered right before she put it on last night. Bridget closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. If she concentrated hard enough, she could almost feel Franky pressed against her back, her arms wrapped around her. The brunette always wanted to be holding one of Bridget’s hands, too. The blonde had never had a partner who did that when they held her, so she didn’t know, until Franky did it, how comforting she found it. This was the time when she missed her the most. She missed being held while she was falling asleep, and feeling the small kisses that Franky would leave on the back of her neck and shoulders that would make all her stress and tension melt away. What she missed the most though were the talks they had some nights while they were laying in each other’s arms. That was when the brunette usually told her things about her past, and when they had some of their deeper conversations. Something about being relaxed, sleepy, and close to Bridget, made Franky drop her walls and open up.
She’d give anything to be having one of those talks with her girlfriend right now, but it wasn’t possible. Her mind drifted back to the nights before Franky was staying there almost full-time. She remembered her hesitation to call her that first night, and the excuse she’d had to make about needing advice on how to make Emily’s sandwich in the morning. She thought of when she called her almost immediately after she’d gotten home from their first date. That was probably the closest to a booty call that the blonde had ever made. She smiled at the memory, but it quickly faded. She’d even settle for just a phone call now; just being able to hear Franky’s voice as she fell asleep. She glanced up at her phone sitting on the bedside table, then turned over to see that Franky’s was still laying on the table on her side of the bed. She reached over and picked it up. It was dead, of course, after almost a week. She had an idea. Maybe it was crazy, and maybe it wouldn’t work, but she had to at least try it.
The next morning Bridget awoke, feeling the effects of the bottle of wine she had drank the previous evening. She forced herself out of bed anyway; she had things to do before Emily and Tim arrived. She quickly showered, dressed and headed out the door.
On the top of her list that day was picking up a burner phone. She had briefly thought of bringing Franky her own phone, but then realized that was too risky. If she were to get caught, it was better for it to be a burner phone, rather than her own. At least she would have a chance of being able to deny that it belonged to her. After she had picked that up, she stopped by the grocery store and picked up some of Em’s favourite snacks in case she was hungry when they stopped by. Also, she needed a way to distract her while she talked to Tim about everything that was going on with Franky. Normally, her and her brother talked at least twice a week, but with him being busy with the move, they had only been able to send a few texts since he left. She had told him that Franky had been arrested and it was a mistake but he didn’t know any of the details.
It was late afternoon when Tim and Emily arrived at Bridget’s house. She had offered to pick them up, but Tim said the company was sending a car for them so there was no need. He promised as soon as they were settled, they would come over to see her. Apparently, Em was already asking for a sleepover with her Auntie Bridge.
“Auntie Bridge!” The young girl ran to her aunt.
Bridget picked her up in a big hug. “Hello, darling. I’ve missed you,” she said, giving the girl a kiss on the cheek.
“I missed you too.” Bridget put her niece back down on the floor and the small blonde looked past her, scanning the main rooms of the house. “Where’s Franky?” Emily looked at her Aunt and then at her father.
Bridget caught Tim’s eye, and gave him a questioning look.
“I did tell her. Well, I told her that Franky wouldn't be here when we arrived. I didn't know ho-"
Bridget held up her hand to cut him off and shook her head. She didn't want to get into a discussion in front of Emily. Tim wasn't great at having the hard conversations sometimes, so Bridget knew he'd done the best he could. She would talk to Emily later. For now though, she needed to get her settled so she could talk with Tim.
"Love, Franky isn't here right now." Bridget crouched down in front of the girl. "Can you do me a favour?" Emily nodded. "If I make you a snack and find a movie for you to watch, can you give your Dad and me some time to talk about some grown-up stuff out on the patio?" Emily nodded and Bridget gave her a hug then set to work making a snack for her.
Bridget and Tim sat out on the patio with their mugs full of tea, while Emily ate and watched her movie inside.
"So, Bridge, what happened?" Tim was genuinely concerned. He had met Franky, and had nothing but good things to say about her to Bridget. He could see how happy she made his sister, and he had never seen Emily take to anyone who wasn't a family member, so easily or quickly. He had a hard time believing this woman could have done anything to land herself in prison, let alone something as violent as what she was charged with.
"It's such a mess, Tim." Bridget wrapped her hands around her mug and stared at the contents while she spoke. "We had that lovely afternoon with you and Em, and then she was so excited when I told her that you guys were moving here." She smiled at the memory of how Franky's face had lit up when she told her the news. "And then, we're in bed and she hears something and it was this woman, this ex of hers that had been hanging around. She calmed her down and drove her home but they're saying that she beat her until she was unconscious. Tim, I know there's no way that's true. That's not her." Bridget shook her head as the tears came to her eyes.
"Hey, hey." he reached out and rubbed her back. "you know her. You know in your heart who she is. If you don't believe she could have done this then she didn't and they'll see that soon too."
"I just miss her, so much." Bridget looked into the sky and took a deep breath.
"I'm sorry I didn't explain things better to Em." Tim played with his mug. "I've never been good with having any kind of serious talks with her. Sarah was the one who handled all that stuff, and I just got to do the fun parts with her."
"It's okay, I don't mind talking to her. I just didn't want her to be too disappointed when she got here." She knew that Emily had been through a lot lately.
"She's going to ask you if she can stay over. If you want to say no, I completely understand."
"She can stay. It'll be nice to have some company again." Bridget smiled weakly at her brother.
Tim and Bridget finished their tea and went inside to sit with Emily.
They both sat on the couch and Emily got up from the floor to sit between them.
"Auntie Bridge, can I stay tonight? I want to be here when Franky gets home." Bridget knew that Emily had no idea, in that moment, how much her words made Bridget's heart hurt.
"Yes, darling, you can stay, but Franky won't be home tonight or even tomorrow." Emily looked at Bridget, not quite understanding.
"Is she away on a trip like Dad was?"
"She had to go somewhere, but can we wait, and talk about that a bit later? We should have some supper with your Dad before he goes back to your house, yeah?" Emily nodded.
"Are you going to cook?" Emily looked expectantly at her Aunt.
"I was thinking we could just order something this time. We both know I'm not the cook around here." She nudged Emily's arm and they both giggled a bit. Bridget sighed, it was good to have at least part of her life going right.
They had finished up their meal and Tim had left saying he'd be back to pick up Emily in the morning but for Bridget to call if she needed him before that. The young girl was cuddled into her Aunt on the couch, and they were finishing the movie she had started watching earlier.
"Where did Franky go?" The girl looked up at Bridget.
"She had to go away for awhile. She didn't want to, but she had to." Bridget had no idea how she was going to explain how someone who was innocent could end up in prison.
"When will she be back?"
"I don't know. Soon, I hope." She could see that Emily was thinking.
"Did you punch her in the stomach?" The young girl asked after a moment.
"No, why would you ask that?" Bridget wasn't following her niece's reasoning.
"Because when Lilly wanted Dylan to leave her alone, she punched him in the stomach." Bridget remembered back to the talk she'd had with Emily when she told her Franky was her girlfriend, and how the girl had already figured it out on her own. Emily continued, "Did you tell her to go away?"
"I definitely didn't tell her to go away." Bridget thought it was time to just tell her what had happened. She took a deep breath. "Love, Franky had to go away because the police think she did something bad, but she didn't do it."
"Did she have to go to where you work?" Emily was quick to put the pieces together.
"Yes, she had to go where I work."
"You said you help people get out of there, so why don't you get Franky out? You can tell them she didn't do it." Emily was excited, as if she had just found the solution to all their problems.
"I can't, love. It's not that simple." Oh, if only it was, thought Bridget.
Emily got quiet again. "Don't you love her anymore?"
The question caught the blonde off guard. "Of course I do."
"You're supposed to help people you love."
"I know. I'm going to do my best, I promise." Bridget was doing her best not to let any tears fall, but when Emily hugged her, burying her face in her sweater, she couldn't help the couple that escaped her eyes. She quickly wiped them away. "What do you say we get you into bed? It's been a long day for you."
Emily hopped down off the couch and Bridget walked with her to the spare bedroom that she had called her own for the past two months up until last week. The blonde read her a story from one of the books she had brought with her and soon the girl was fast asleep.
Bridget decided that she would go to bed early as well. It had been a long, draining day in more ways than one and she would be happy to see it end. She changed out of her clothes and into her shorts and the singlet she'd taken from Franky the day before, and crawled into her bed.
She tried to sleep but she kept thinking of Franky, alone in Wentworth. She would have been so happy to see Emily today. They probably would have made supper together for everyone. She pictured the many times she had come home from work and the two of them were waiting to share one of their new kitchen creations with her.
Eventually the tears came as they had almost every night since Franky had been gone. After a few moments, she heard the knob on her bedroom door turn quietly, and small footsteps approach the bed. She opened her eyes and Emily was standing in front of her.
The young girl reached up and wiped the tears from Bridget's face. "Are you sad because you miss Franky?"
"Yeah, I am. Did you need something, love?" Bridget thought maybe the girl had woken from a nightmare again.
"No, I came because you were sad," she said, lifting the covers and crawling into the bed with her Aunt.
Bridget put her arms around the girl. "Thank you," she said, kissing her on the side of her head. "Let's go to sleep now."
"Franky, you've got a visitor." Will had appeared at the door of Franky's cell just after lunch on Sunday.
"I'm not expecting anyone. Is it Bridget?" Franky followed him towards the visitation area.
"It's not Bridget. I think they said her name was Liz."
Will opened the door and Franky saw the curly-haired blonde sitting at one of the tables waiting for her. She quickly crossed the room and embraced her as Liz stood up.
"Franky, love, what the hell happened? And why didn't you tell me you were in here? I had to hear it from the director of the centre when he asked me to cover your classes!" Liz looked at the brunette and Franky knew that she'd made a mistake by not getting in touch with her friend. Liz had always been good to her.
"Ah, Liz, I'm sorry. I should have called you or at least had Bridget tell you. It's such a fucking mess. I don't even know where to start." Franky rested her head in her hand.
"Just start from the beginning, love."
Franky told Liz everything. About how she had broken things off with Kim when she met Bridget, about Kim coming to the centre, and her apartment, following her from the coffee shop and then finally, she told her about the night Kim showed up at Bridget's house.
"I was mad, yeah, of course I was, but I never touched her after we left the house. I swear, Liz." Franky wiped away a tear that was running down her cheek.
Liz reached over and took one of the younger woman's hands in both of hers. "I know. I believe you. You've come such a long way, and I'm proud of you. Things are going to work out, love. We'll do whatever we have to to help get you out of here. The girls all send their love, too."
"Thanks Liz. I just want to go home. I want to be back to my normal life with all you guys and Bridget. Em will be back soon too. I can't let her see me in here." She wiped more tears from her face.
The officer called out that visiting hours were now over and Franky gave Liz a long hug goodbye.
"Stay strong, love," the older woman whispered in Franky's ear.
"I will, Liz. Thanks so much for coming."
Liz gave Franky a kiss on the cheek and went to the desk to turn in her visitor's pass as the brunette turned to go back to her cell. Linda was on duty in that section today, and waived her past the strip search room without a second glance, for which she was grateful.
Franky hoped Bridget would be able to talk to Vera in the morning so that she could get scheduled in for a session.