Jules and Greta climbed on furniture and reached up to pull the streamers and balloons down. They laughed at each other while teasing about needing longer arms.
"Take that," Greta wrapped a long, pink streamer around Jules' face.
"Hey now!" Jules laughed and floundered from her perch on the back of the couch. She tried to free her eye-sight.
"Hey, Jules?" Miles called out from Duncan's bedroom.
"Do you have your grandpa's meds in there?"
"Oh, yeah. They're in the kitchen. I'll grab them real quick."
Jules climbed down and walked into the kitchen. She reached up to one of the higher cabinets for the medication container. Miles walked up and leaned against the counter, folding his arms across his chest.
"Hey. Did you get him tucked into bed okay?"
"Yeah, he should be good for the night. Can he drink water from a glass?"
"No, not without help, or a straw. Here his pills are." She dropped them into Miles' cupped hand. "I'll get his water and bring it in. He likes me to sing to him at night, anyways."
"Okay, sounds good." Miles walked back to Duncan's bedroom, and Jules followed close behind with a glass of water and a bright green straw. She sat down on the edge of the old fashioned quilt and helped Duncan swallow his pills. Miles put the wheelchair in the corner of the room and moved the shiny new walker to sit next to the bed.
"If everything's good in here I can just let myself out." Miles smiled down at Duncan and patted his shoulder.
"No," Duncan reached his hand towards Miles. "Stay and listen... to Jules... sing."
"Oh, as long as Jules doesn't mind."
"I guess I don't mind." Jules grinned, and Miles settled into a leather armchair next to the window. "What would you like for me to sing, Grandad?"
"Okay," she reached over to hold his wrinkled hand. "Here goes.
"I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you
That every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true"
As she crooned out the last note, she opened her eyes and saw that Duncan was smiling in his sleep. She lightly kissed his cheek and stood up, straightening her dress. Miles stood up and opened the door for her, and she turned off the light on her way out.
"That was beautiful, Jules."
"Thank you," she smiled. "That's always been a favorite song of mine."
"I don't know that I've ever heard it before. Thanks for letting me listen in."
"No problem. Where did Greta go?" She looked around and saw Greta sleeping soundly on the couch. Jules grinned. "I guess I put her to sleep." She draped a blanket over her friend.
"I should probably get back home to Gramps. Knowing him, he'll be waiting up for me."
"Okay. Thanks for helping me with Grandad."
"No problem. I left my phone number on your fridge. Call me at any time if you need anything. Anything at all, okay?"
"Will do. Thanks again!"
"No problem." Miles paused underneath the porch light, his hazel eyes squinting under the glare. "Hey, tomorrow is Saturday, right?"
"Yeah, it is. Why?"
"I just couldn't remember. Today felt kinda like a Saturday since I begged off of my gym duties for the day." He laughed, his face relaxing into gentle lines.
"Thanks for helping make today so special."
"You're welcome. How does it feel to be 21?"
Jules leaned against the doorway, resting her cheek against the smooth, wooden frame. "It feels nice. I'm excited to get my handgun permit."
"Ah, yeah, that'll be cool. I've had mine for a couple years now."
"A couple? How old are you?"
Miles grinned. "I'm 26. Old, I know."
"Oh boy, that's not old. Just older."
They laughed. Jules inhaled the balmy hair from the gentle north winds. It was a little breezy, but just enough to feel pleasant and smell like spring.
Miles waved and took a step down the porch stairs. "I guess I'll see you at church."
Jules stepped back inside and noticed Greta sitting up slowly. She grinned while Greta yawned and stretched. "Where is Miles?"
"He literally just left. Do you want to stay here tonight?"
"No, I have to check on the cat for my landlady tonight. But thanks."
"Cool, okay. Drive safe."
Greta threw a peace sign over her shoulder and suppressed another yawn while she walked out the door. "I'll see you later. Sunday, I guess."
"Mmhm, unless you decide to come over tomorrow."
"I'll think about it." Greta let the door swing shut behind her, and Jules was left in the quiet house.
She walked into the kitchen and pulled out a piece of leftover vanilla cake. Jules spooned on some extra frosting and sat down at the table with her plate. "It's still my birthday," she told herself with a grin. She hummed a quiet tune while she ate, swinging her legs under the table. The house was very still, and Jules appreciated the quiet noises that filled the emptiness. A fan was running in Duncan's room, the refrigerator was humming cheerfully, and the spring breeze was cheerily playing with the pale pink curtains which hung over the kitchen windows. They made a gentle swishing sound while they swayed back and forth over the exposed window screens.
Jules sighed happily in her wooden chair. It was good to be home, and she was enjoying the pleasant weather. Her friends and family had made her birthday very special.
Her face fell a little when she thought of Martin. She hadn't seen him since the incident in Kerry Park, which was a relief in some ways, but the whole situation just made her sad. She had lost two friends because of his immaturity, and she missed them both.
Jules fell asleep with her head on her arms at the kitchen table. Her last conscious thought was a heartfelt prayer for Martin's growth and Margaret's health.
She woke up with a start. She thought she had heard a crash, but that must have been her imagination. Then she heard her name being called. It was coming from Duncan's room.
She dashed through his door and flicked the switch. The light exposed Duncan sprawled out on the floor in front of his bed, his walker tipped over on top of him.
"Grandad! What are you doing?" Jules pulled the walker off of him and moved it across the room. He laboriously explained that he was trying to go to the bathroom. Jules sighed. "Grandad, I can't lift you up off the floor by myself. I need you to stay still while I go call someone, okay?"
Duncan nodded. He was frowning, and there was a tear streaming down his wrinkled cheeks. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay, Grandad." Jules smiled and rubbed his shoulder before running back into the kitchen. She groaned quietly, and paced around the island while trying to decide who to call. "Dad is thirty minutes away. Greta is twenty... and Miles is five. That's that." She picked her phone up off of the counter and dialed the number Miles had written on the pink sticky note.
"Hi, it's Jules. I'm so sorry to wake you up like this, but Grandad tried to get up by himself and fell down. I don't think he's hurt, but I can't lift him by myself. You're the closest, so I decided to call you."
"Yes, of course. I'll be there in five minutes."
"Thank you so much. See you."
Jules hung up and set her phone back down on the counter. She ran her fingers through her hair and sighed again. She needed to do something to make sure this wouldn't be happening all the time. She picked up her phone and carried it into Duncan's room. After she sat down on the floor next to him, she opened her browser. She was in the middle of reading about an alarm system when she heard Miles knocking. "I'll be right back, okay? Just sit tight."
She ran to the front door. "Hey," she let him in. His hair was ruffled, and he had obviously thrown clothes on over his pajamas. "Thanks so much for coming."
They hurried into Duncan's room.
"Hey there. Looks like you could use a hand!" Miles smiled kindly, setting Duncan at ease.
Together, Miles and Jules lifted him up. Once they got him on his feet, Miles helped him into the bathroom. Jules waited out in the hallway. Miles walked out several minutes later and put a hand on Jules' shoulder. "He's in bed again, dozing off."
"Thank you so much. I couldn't have gotten him up without you."
"It's my pleasure."
"I'm looking at an alarm system I can get installed so that this won't happen anymore. It's a bell he can ring when he wants to get up. I'll hear it from my room, and then I can come down here and help him get up."
Miles smiled down at her, noticing the pink marks across her face from where she had rested on her arms. "That sounds like a good idea."
"Yeah. I'd hate to keep calling you in the middle of the night like this all the time."
"Well, just know that I don't mind coming over to help."
"No problem. Goodnight."
"Goodnight." Jules stood in the doorway and watched Miles drive away. She shut and locked the door behind her, and then turned off all the lights and walked upstairs. Once she was in her pajamas, she crawled into bed, but lay there wide awake. Her eyes flicked over to her nightstand, and she turned on the lamp. She grabbed her leather journal and a fine-point sharpie pen and began to jot down the happenings of her day. She wrapped it up with an account of her midnight call for Miles' help, and then closed her journal with a sigh. She turned the lamp off and sunk back down onto her pillows. Her thoughts drifted to her birth mom, and she wondered what she was like. She remembered that Kevin mentioned Arabella living somewhere in Arizona, and wondered how far of a drive it would be to go visit her.
Jules sighed again. It was 2am and she knew she needed sleep, but she was still so wide awake. She turned on the light and cautiously tiptoed down the hall to her little studio. After turning on the lights and opening the windows she sat down in front of her easel, putting up a blank canvas. Jules tipped her head to one side and stared at the canvas for a few minutes. Then she took out her brushes and paints and began to recreate the gazebo in Kerry Park. She added in the string of lights and Miles' black umbrella. She blended the colors of the rain so well that she could almost hear the thunder again.
Jules closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair. The night replayed in her minds eye, and she smiled peacefully when she remembered how it had ended. She painted the figure of a man leaning protectively over a scared, huddled woman, but left both of the faces blurry. Not a single detail was left out. Although the figures in the center of the gazebo were hardly more than silhouettes, she knew she had perfectly captured the chivalry and protection that she had experienced that night.
She continued to paint until her eyes started to droop and her vision became foggy. Then she turned off all of the lights and tiptoed back to her bedroom.
I worked harder at my descriptions in this chapter. Let me know if anything is unclear and I'll edit. :)