This is a follow up to the short story “The Beginning”.
I may have more come out with these characters.
If you like Ari, Bug, Josh and Darcy, let me know!
Emily Prior tossed her keys onto the table, and hung her coat up in the closet. She sighed. It had been a long day of being rejected. She had been in 3 different interviews and not one of them had been successful. And this was her third week trying to find a job since her husband had left her and her daughter. She groaned. What would she say to Bug? She had promised her she would have a job by now.
Stretching, Emily walked into her kitchen, and stopped straight in her tracks.
Bug, and four other children Emily didn’t know, one who was in a wheelchair, were standing there, each holding up large handfuls of beautiful flowers, all different colors. All five children had huge smiles on their faces.
“Hi mommy. We got you pretty flowers, so you can be happy. Ari got them from her garden.” Emily bent down and gave Bug a kiss on the head.
“They’re beautiful, sweetie! Thank you so much.” Turning to the little girl Bug had pointed out as Ari, she said, “And was it okay with your mom for you to take the flowers?”
“Oh yes,” Ari had a very sweet voice. “I have my very own garden that I planted, and I can give the flowers to whoever I want.”
“Alright…Beatrice, aren’t you going to introduce your friends?”
“Beatrice? I thought your name was Bug.” A boy with tousled blonde hair spoke up with a grin.
“Bug is her nickname.” Ari explained gently.
“This is Josh,” Bug pointed to the blonde boy, “This is Darcy, and his little sister Charity.” She nodded to the curly headed boy, and his very-similar-looking sister in the wheelchair. “And you already know Ari. That’s a nickname for her too, her real name is Arielle.”
“Those are all very nice names. Thank you so much for the flowers! But I have to get dinner started now, okay?”
“Hey mommy? Did you get a job today?” Bug looked up with wide green eyes.
“No sweetheart. I didn’t.” It broke Emily’s heart to see the way the thin girl slumped, disappointed once again, like she had been so often lately. But then she shrugged, as though to say it wasn’t a big deal, and said,
“Mom, can we have a picnic with my friends? We can have sandwiches.”
“I can bring over fresh veggies from my garden! We can make a nummy salad.” Ari’s eyes sparkled.
“I can bring lemonade. I make really good lemonade and sell it sometimes, but we can drink it for free.” Josh looked up, waiting for the answer.
Emily looked at all their eager faces, and smiled. “I think that a picnic is a wonderful idea. But you must check with your parents to make sure it’s okay.”
“YAY!” Josh was the first one out the door, bolting down the street, Ari running after shouting, “Hey, wait for me!” And Bug stayed behind a little to help Darcy get Charity out and down the sidewalk.
No more than a half hour later, Emily heard Brii calling her form the front porch. “Look, Mom! They brought a party!” Emily walked to the front door, and then gasped, and covered her mouth. A procession was making its way down the sidewalk to the house they had been able to rent from Emily’s parents. In front, was Arielle and a very pretty woman who looked quite a bit like her, they were holding a bowl of salad and some ranch dressing. Just behind them came the rest of what appeared to be their family, an older boy and girl, a slightly younger girl, and her father holding her hand. Next was the boy Josh, and his dad, carrying a pitcher of lemonade and a package of plastic cups. Next in the parade was a very curly haired family, Darcy pushing Charity at the front. A number of balloons had been attached to her wheelchair, and the parents were each holding a dish of something, using oven mitts to keep their hands safe from the hot pans.
Bug ran out onto the lawn and tossed her picnicking blanket on the grass before hurrying over to say hi. She called back over her shoulder, “Mom, get the camp-fire chairs!” Emily nodded mutely, and walked over to get them out of the garage. The parents came up in groups, introducing them and their family’s, welcoming her to the neighborhood. She was so shocked, she only heard part of what they were saying.
“And I’m Sara Eve, this is Logan…”
“If you ever need anything, let us know!”
“Hadley is over there with Chloe.”
I hope you like salad, made it ourselves,”
“So nice to meet you.”
Emily nodded along, smiling, thanking them, asking them why they had bothered to come. Turned out, all the little kids had run home, telling their family’s they were invited to a picnic at their new friends home. Soon, the friendly neighbors had decided to all go over together. Josh’s dad grinned, saying,
“Josh said that a new family had moved in, and I figured, why not? I’m Liam, we live right over by the big weeping willow.” Jacob winked and walked away to help pour lemonade. Emily nodded, and followed him. Soon, their new next door neighbors, an elderly couple named Joan and Freddie, had walked over to say hi, bringing a homemade fruit cake, which Emily made a mental note to dispose of as soon as possible, as it looked as though it could be used as a weapon it was so heavy and hard.
The entire group stayed until Chloe and Charity started falling asleep where they sat, and then they slowly wandered home, smiling, with many hugs and welcoming reminders to call them if they needed help. But as Ari’s mom and dad, Sara Eve and Chad, were walking past, Chad stopped and asked, “Where are you working?”
Emily blushed slightly. “Actually, I’ve been having some difficulty trying to find a job.” She laughed nervously.
“Oh well, maybe I can help you out there! I own a restaurant, called Fabuloso Foods – which is normal, I know – but anyways, I’m hiring. Would you like to come in for an interview? You could be a waitress.”
“Oh yes please! That would be amazing! Thank you so much!”
“No problem! See you…Tuesday, at 3?”
“Yes! Definitely!” Emily smiled, finally, she could keep her promise to Bug, she would have a job! And as amazing as that was, the one moment she remembered most about that night, was Liam, Josh’s (single) dad, giving her a half hug, and saying,
“See you around. Welcome to the neighborhood!” As he walked down her driveway. And for some reason, Emily could not get him out of her head, no matter how hard she tried.
As for Bug, she had had the best evening of her life, playing with her new friends, eating good food, feeling accepted. It was all made ten times better because she had been deprived of these things for much too long already. Both Beatrice and Emily Prior fell asleep that night, feeling happier than they had in weeks.