It was Monday morning, and Franky had just arrived at the Centre. She was in the process of unpacking her bag when Liz showed up at her office door.
“Good morning, love. How was your weekend?” she asked, placing a copy of the local paper down on the brunette’s desk.
“Uh, it was good. Em had a school project to do, and Tim dropped by on Saturday.” Franky picked up the paper and flipped through the first few pages. “What’s this?”
“That is this morning’s copy of the newspaper. Our listing for the summer classes made it in already. Thought you might want to have a look.” Liz sat down on the couch.
Franky flipped through until she came to the community section. “Liz! Why did you do that??” The brunette turned the paper around and pointed to the picture of herself beside the class listings.
The other woman shrugged. “Listings with pictures get more attention.”
“I don’t want attention. I like quiet. Peace and quiet.” Franky dropped the paper back onto her desk.
“Ah, don’t worry, love. It’ll be fine.” Liz got up off the couch and gave her a playful smack on the arm on her way out.
Franky looked down at the paper laying on her desk. “At least she picked a good picture,” she mumbled to herself.
Vera sat the newspaper down on the lunch table as she sat down to eat with Bridget.
“Did you see this?” she asked, turning the paper so it was facing the right way for the blonde to read it.
Bridget gave a small laugh. “Oh she’s going to be so happy there’s a picture with it. Liz must have snuck that in there.” She quickly scanned down through the list of classes. She and Franky had discussed some ideas, but she wasn’t sure which ones she and Liz had ended up choosing aside from the kids one, and the parent and child one. The brunette had been pretty set on those two. “I was thinking of asking Tim if he wanted to do the parents and kids one with Em. I think it would be good for them.”
Vera nodded as she chewed. “How is he doing?”
“Good, I think. He doesn’t like to talk about it much. He came by on the weekend and talked to Franky for a minute then helped Em with a school project. He didn’t stay for long after that though.” Bridget sighed. “He still looked really tired. He said he’s in a rehab program though, and I’ve made it very clear that he can come to me for anything. Now I think the rest of it will just take time.”
“Of course. Him visiting and spending time with Em has to be a good sign though.”
“Yeah, she really enjoyed it, I think.” Bridget let her eyes scan over the article again, and a small smile came to her face.
“What’s the smile for?” Vera asked.
Bridget shook her head. “She looks good in the jacket. Reminds me of the first time I met her.”
“Love at first sight,” Vera said half jokingly, and gave a small laugh.
Bridget was silent for a moment and her friend thought maybe she had said something wrong until the blonde spoke. “Yeah, I think maybe it was.”
Vera watched her for a moment, and sensed that she was getting a bit emotional. “Are you alright?” she asked quietly.
“Yeah, yeah I’m good,” Bridget took a deep breath. “There’s just been a lot going on, a lot on my mind lately.”
“If there’s anything I can do, or if you need to talk, let me know.” Vera reached out, covering her friend’s hand with her own.
“Thanks, Vera. I really do appreciate it.” Bridget smiled warmly. “I should be getting back to my office though. I have an appointment scheduled in ten minutes.” She gave Vera’s shoulder a squeeze on the way by.
Franky’s last class of the day had been focused on putting the finishing touches on pastries and cakes. She had the students practice making flowers with icing, and decorations out of melted chocolate. That was the class that Emily had been there for, and the brunette was pretty sure that the young girl had eaten more of the demo icing and chocolate she’d been given than she had actually used trying to make her own decorations. Needless to say, by the time they had arrived back at the house, Emily was almost literally bouncing from one end of it to the other.
“Hey Em.” Franky put her arm out to catch the girl as she ran by. “No running in the house. You’ll get hurt or something will get broken. Hey, how about we go to the Lakes Reserve and have a bit of a walk?”
The Newport Lakes Reserve was almost directly behind the house. A few times while Franky was recovering from her injuries, she liked to go and walk along some of the trails. She found that once she was a couple minutes walk into the woods, it felt like she was miles outside the city. Right now she thought it would be a good place for Emily to run around a bit and burn off some energy before supper.
The young girl nodded enthusiastically. “Okay, go change out of your school clothes, and then we can go.” Franky let her go and she ran down the hall to her room to change. The brunette sighed and went to the master bedroom to change her own clothes.
When they got to the trails, Franky walked while Emily would run ahead and then back to the brunette. Franky figured the girl had to be running at least 4 times further than she was walking with all the trips she was making back and forth.
Emily ran back to her. “Let’s have a race.”
“A race to where?” Franky wasn’t sure she was up for it.
“Around to that bench on the other side of the pond.” The young girl pointed across the small body of water.
The brunette scanned the path that led there, and decided it was probably something that she could manage. “Alright. Ready?” Emily nodded. “Set….go!”
Franky decided to pace herself. In all honesty, she wasn’t trying to win, but she did at least want to be able to finish and not collapse in a gasping mess somewhere along the way. When she worked out she didn’t usually focus on cardio, but more on strength, and she was definitely feeling it now. Emily was ahead of her and they were coming around the final corner of the path. The brunette decided to try to catch up and at least make the girl think she was in danger of losing. Franky picked up her pace, and a few meters from the finish line, realized her mistake.
She hadn’t been breathing too hard for most of the way, but she certainly was when she tried to catch Emily. Her ribs may have seemed fully healed if she was only doing everyday things, but after a few deep breaths, she felt a sharp pain in her side. She slowed down, walking the last few steps, and sitting down in the grassy area beside the pond.
“Franky.” Emily sat down beside her. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, bub. I think I just pulled a muscle. I just need a minute to catch my breath.” She laid back on the cool grass, and Emily laid down beside her. They spent a few minutes picking out shapes in the clouds, until the pain in Franky’s side had gone away. She checked her watch. It was almost time for supper. “We should go home now. Gidge will be there soon.” The brunette said, getting up off the ground.
“Why do you call her ‘Gidge’? That’s not her name.” Emily asked as they made their way around the rest of the pond, finishing the loop of the trail they were on.
“It’s a nickname. It rhymes with Bridget. You know, like ‘Gidget’, ‘Bridget’, ‘Gidge’, ‘Bridge’, like that.”
She thought for a minute, “Do I have a nickname?”
“Kind of. People call you ‘Em’ instead of ‘Emily’.”
Emily was quiet for a couple of minutes. “So what do people call you instead of ‘Franky’? She never remembered anyone calling the brunette by anything else.
“Nothing. ‘Franky’ is already the short version of my name.” She was hoping the girl wouldn’t ask what her full name was, because she wasn’t fond of it.
“What is it short for?”
Franky sighed, “Francesca.”
“That’s pretty.” Emily said with a smile.
“I don’t like it. Let’s stick to ‘Franky’, okay?”
“Can I give you a nickname?”
“Like what?” Franky narrowed her eyes at the young girl, and Emily giggled.
“That’s just a shorter version of the already short version.” The brunette gave a small laugh.
“Hank?” Emily looked up at her.
“ ‘Hank’? Seriously? Where did you come up with that?” They had come to the last intersection before the house, and Franky stopped to check for traffic before they continued.
“It rhymes with ‘Frank’.” The young girl laughed.
Franky couldn’t help but laugh as well. “No. Get going.” She playfully shoved Emily’s shoulder, and the girl ran the final few meters to the house.
Bridget heard the door open and Emily, then Franky come in.
“Hey, guys! Where were you?” Bridget greeted them, giving Emily a hug and Franky a quick kiss.
“We went to the park!” Emily still seemed to have some energy left, but Franky figured she’d crash soon after the sugar overload wore off.
“The Lakes Reserve.” Franky nodded in the direction of the reserve. “What are you thinking for supper, babe?”
Bridget opened the fridge and looked over the contents. “There’s some leftovers from the other night. Does that sound okay?”
“Works for me.” Franky took off her shoes and carried them back out to the hallway.
Emily took off towards her room, and Bridget gave Franky a questioning look when she came back into the kitchen. “Where’s all that energy coming from?”
“Uh, she may have had a lot of sugar at the class today. I tried to tire her out at the reserve, but I think that worked on me, not her.” The brunette gave a small laugh. “She’s gonna crash hard though when it wears off.”
Bridget smiled and looked around the corner, down the hall. “Em?” The girl stuck her head out the door of her room. “Why don’t you shower and put your pjs on before we eat?” Emily disappeared into her room again, and a few minutes later the blonde heard the water running in the bathroom.
“How was your day, babe?” Franky asked, taking the stack of plates out of the cabinet, and placing them on the table.
“It was alright. I saw your picture in the paper.” She walked over to Franky, and put her arms around the brunette’s neck.
“That picture was all Liz’s idea.”
“It’s a good picture.” Bridget gave her a kiss.
“You like it? Maybe it’ll boost enrolment.” Franky laughed.
“Yeah I like it. Every time I see you in your jacket, I think of the first time we met.” The blonde gave her another kiss on the side of her neck.
“Be warned, Gidge. Em isn’t the only one who needs a shower.”
Bridget laughed. “It’s fine, baby.”
They stood there for a few moments, sharing small kisses and talking about their days, until they heard the water turn off in the shower.
“I should shower.” Franky gave the brunette a final kiss. “If she’s really tired, you guys can eat, and I’ll have mine when I get out.”
“I’m sure we can wait a few minutes. It’s not even warmed up yet.”
“Okay, I won’t be long.”
Franky was right, Emily was asleep not long after they’d eaten supper. One minute she was sitting on the couch with them watching TV, and the next she was laying down asleep, so Bridget carried her to bed.
The brunette was laying in bed, answering an email from Liz, while she waited for Bridget to finish in the bathroom and come to bed. She was just finishing up when the blonde came in and laid down beside her. Franky reached over and put her phone on the bedside table as Bridget snuggled into her side. She wrapped an arm around the older woman.
Bridget was quiet for a minute. “I think this is my favourite time of the day.”
“Mine too, babe. It’s when we usually talk.”
The blonde lifted herself, and moved up the bed a bit so that she was more face to face with Franky. “Speaking of that, Tim kind of brought up something weird when he was over the other day.”
“What was that?” Franky looked at the blonde, concerned.
“Nothing bad. It just kind of caught me off guard. Um.” Bridget wasn’t sure how to begin, so she just decided to start at the first like Tim had. “Okay, so when he and Sarah wanted to have Em, they found out that Sarah had a condition that was going to make it hard for her to conceive naturally. They thought they were going to have to do in-vitro, and they had started that process then found out that she was pregnant with Em. Tim had already had his sperm frozen as the first part of the procedure.” She paused and took a deep breath. She wasn’t sure how Franky was going to react to the next part. “He said that it’s still there, at the clinic, frozen. He’s offered it to me if my partner and I ever want to have kids someday, and she’s going to carry the baby.” Franky was quiet, and the blonde couldn’t read her expression. “Are you okay, baby? I know it’s a lot, I just didn’t feel right not talking to you about it.”
“Yeah, I am. I mean, I think I just had a million thoughts all come into my mind at once, but I’m okay.” Franky let out a sigh.
“I know we’re nowhere near the point of thinking about anything like this, but I didn’t feel like it was a decision I should make on my own since I’m with someone it could potentially affect.” Bridget pushed some hair back from the brunette’s face.
“You’d want to have kids with me?” Franky looked over at her.
“I mean, not tomorrow.” she gave a small laugh and the brunette smiled. “But maybe in the future, yeah.”
“I never thought about having kids. I’ve never been in a relationship that was even close to something that serious. I don’t even know if you could call them relationships. They were more like three or four night stands.” Franky was quiet for another minute. “I don’t know if I’d be a good mother. I never had one to teach me those things.”
“Baby, you’re so good with Em. It was one of the things that attracted me to you.” The brunette raised her eyebrows. “No, really, it was. It showed what kind of person you were.” Bridget gave her a small kiss.
“I was just cooking with her while we waited for you.”
“You didn’t see the shy, quiet Em, did you?” Bridget leaned on her elbow.
“A little, yeah, when she first came in. That’s why I put her with Liz for the class. I figured that was pretty normal for some kids.” Franky shrugged.
“It is, but what you didn’t know is that I figured she wouldn’t even make it through the first class, and she’d be so upset that you’d be calling me to come pick her up. So I was surprised when you agreed to keep her for the extra time. When I walked in and saw you joking with her, and laughing, I knew you were someone special. It took her years worth of visits before she’d even talk to Vera.”
“She’s a good kid though. What if we end up with one like me?” The brunette picked at a piece of lint on her shirt.
“One like you?” Bridget asked, tilting her head.
“Yeah, a bad one.”
“You weren’t a bad kid, Franky. You had an abusive mother, and when you left home to get away from her, you did what you had to do.” She reached out and placed her hand on the brunette’s cheek and gave her a soft kiss. “Okay?”
Franky nodded. “Like I said, it’s just something I haven’t thought about before, and these are all the things that came into my head when you said that.”
“You know, I’ve never really thought about having kids either. It never seemed like the right time, or the right place, to bring it up, or that I was with the right person. It’s definitely not something to decide now, or overnight, or even in a few weeks or months. There’s no pressure, alright? I just didn’t want to keep it from you. Hell, I’m not even sure if it’s something I’d want. Looking after Em is one thing. She’s a bit older and somewhat independent. It’s a whole different situation with a baby.” Bridget let herself fall back down on the bed and let out a long breath.
“You’d be a good mum, Gidge.”
“Yeah that’s what people keep telling me.” She gave a small laugh. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Franky wipe a tear from her face. She turned to face the brunette again. “Baby, you alright?”
“If either of us decide we don’t want to do this for any reason, I’m okay with that. You can say no right now if you want, either because you don’t want to do it at all or you don’t want Tim involved, and it’ll be okay.” Bridget rubbed her hand back and forth across the brunette’s stomach to try to soothe her a bit.
“I’m not saying no.” Franky turned her head to look Bridget in the eye. “I’m not saying ‘yes’ either right now, but I’m not saying ‘no’. I think that’s part of what’s overwhelming to me, the fact that my brain didn’t immediately scream ‘no’ when you brought it up. I wouldn’t really care who the father was, so it wouldn’t bother me if it was Tim. It would be our kid either way. The idea of having a kid with you doesn’t freak me out, and that’s kind of scary in a way to me, if that makes sense.”
“Yeah it does, baby. It’s a bit scary to me too.”
Franky took Bridget’s hand, that was on her stomach, and brought it to her lips, giving it a small kiss before lacing their fingers together. They must have drifted off not long after that because the next thing they knew, they were woken up by someone pounding on the door.
“Ms. Westfall, this is the police, please open the door! We need to speak with you!”