Life After You

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Chapter 21

“Are you kidding me?” I exploded. “Why aren’t you here? The baby shower starts in thirty minutes and I don’t have anything set up!” I yelled into my phone.

Riley, Tori and I took a couple days off school to fly home for my baby shower. All of our old friends and majority of our families are back home in Nevada, so I decided I wanted my baby shower here. A lot of my schoolmates already gave me presents, because they knew I was having my baby shower at home so I didn’t feel too guilty about leaving.

I am now officially five months and three weeks pregnant. In another week, I will be at the six-month mark. My due date is inching closer and closer and every day I get a little more excited and a lot more nervous.

“Will you calm down? We are almost there. The taxi took forever and we had to make a couple stops.” Riley yelled through the other end of the phone.

We were all supposed to ride to the location of my baby shower together from the airport, but Tori and Riley insisted on taking their own cab. We are staying the night here tonight, and then leaving tomorrow afternoon. It’s Saturday and almost one o’clock.

“Well hurry up!” I shout, before angrily hanging up the phone.

I look around at the room I am in, and sigh. I wish we could have rented something bigger, but this will have to do. There are a few tables lined up against the far wall, and an assortment of chairs lingering around the room.

I fix the strap of my dress and run my fingers through my straightened hair.

Unable to sit still, I begin unfolding the tables and moving them around the room. They aren’t too heavy, and I know how much of a strain I can handle before I need to stop.

After setting up the tables around the room the way I like, I begin placing chairs around each table. I have the light blue tablecloths with me, so I begin placing one on top of each table.

Once that is done, I sit at the big chair I placed for myself at the front of the room and begin waiting.

I’m fidgeting with my fingers for another five minutes when the doors burst open.

“We’re here! No need to panic!” Riley shouts with a smile. Tori is right behind him with three bags and two ginormous gift bags.

“About time! I was about to call a swat team!” I glare, standing up from my chair.

“Wow Liv, the tables look great!” Tori smiled, putting the three bags on the table and pulling out more decorations.

“Yes, and they will look even better once they are complete.” I sigh, beginning to help.

I take out the small blue plastic bottles and place a few at each table for one of the baby shower games. I then take out the blue boxes of heart candies and place a few at each table. Tori pulls out a huge sign and unfolds it. The sign reads, “Gift’s Here” with an arrow pointing towards the table. Tori tapes it to the wall right above the table placed at the front of the room up against the far wall. My chair sits right in front of that table, so I have easy access once it’s time to open the gifts.

Riley pulls out a huge baby bottle filled with mini pacifiers for the game to guess how many are in the bottle to win a prize. He places the bottle on the small table near the entrance, so as people walk in, they can write down their guesses and place them in the small box sitting next to the bottle.

Tori places a bag filled with different prizes on the corner of the gift table, so we can get to it once the games start.

“Your dad is pulling in, he has the cupcakes.” Tori said, pointing her look towards the window.

I walked over and looked out, smiling at the sight of my dad. He struggles to pull the cupcakes out of the car, but when he finally does, I see the look of relief on his face for not dropping them.

A few moments later, he appears in the room.

“Where do you want these?” He asks.

“Um, over on the snack table.” I point to the table placed by the window, where a few snacks and sodas are set out for the guests.

My dad places the cupcakes on the table, and I smile looking down at them. They are placed together to form one big cake, and the frosting on top says, “Congratulation’s Olivia and Landon!” with big blue hearts circling our names, and a small “RIP” placed next to Landon’s name.

My eyes tear up at the gesture to include Landon in the baby shower, but I refrain from letting them fall so I don’t ruin my make-up.

“They’re perfect!” I smile. “Thanks dad.” I gave him a hug, and he tightened his grip around me, then let go to smile down at me.

“Of course sweetie. Anything for you.”

“Man, now I want a baby shower just so daddy will hug me.” Riley pouts, batting his eyelashes with a silly frown on his face.

“Son, not today.” Dad said with a sigh, but I could tell he wanted to laugh or smile.

“WHY WON’T YOU LOVE ME LIKE YOU LOVE OLIVIA?” Riley dramatically shouts, causing Tori to sigh and cover her face with her hand.

“Babe, how about we stop yelling... and how about you go over there and put up this banner?” Tori instructs, treating Riley like a toddler.

“Well, at least there’s entertainment for the guests.” My dad sighed, looking down at me with a weary look.

“Probably not the kind of entertainment they will want...” I mumbled, which causes my dad to chuckle.

The guests will start showing up any minute, and I smile at the finished room and all of the decorations. I told everyone not to go too crazy with the blue, but I suppose they are just a little excited, especially my dad and Riley.

“People are pulling in!” Tori smiles. She looks beautiful in her white spaghetti strap dress that ends mid-thigh. She is wearing red pumps with bright red lipstick. Her blonde hair is full of loose curls. I smile everytime I see Riley steal a heart-filled glance in her direction. They are so cute.

My dad and Riley both managed to clean up for the occasion. They both have freshly shaven faces. My dad is wearing dark blue jean pants with a black button-up shirt. His sleeves are rolled up his arms halfway, and his light brown hair is styled neatly, give or take a few grey’s that stick out in the light.

Riley wore black jeans with a light blue button-up shirt. I told him he didn’t have to wear blue, but he insisted.

I went with a simple floor-length dress that’s white around the top and then dark blue down the rest of the dress. I paired it with dark blue flats and wore a nude look as far as make-up goes with a simple smokey eye.

I honestly felt too tired to give a crap about how I looked.

As friends and family began entering the room, I became full of energy. I went around the room saying my hellos and telling people how life is in Florida. No one asks about Landon, and I prefer to keep it that way. I am not in the mood to feel sad today, though I know it will soon be inevitable.

“Olivia!” Landon’s mom, Barbara, squealed when entering the room.

“Hey!” I smiled wide, walking over to her fast. I engulfed her in a hug and then held her out at arm’s length so she could see my belly.

“Wow! Time sure does fly, huh?” She smirks, taking in how big my stomach has gotten.

“Sure does! This little peanut will be out in no time.” I laugh.

“Well, where is she?” Brian asks as he steps into the room, obviously not seeing me on purpose.

“Right here, B.” I grin.

“Nah, that can’t be Olivia. The girl I remember is much smaller.” He grins, teasingly.

“Shut up!” I smile, embracing him in a hug.

“You look great.” He states.

“Thank you.” I smile, happy to see the both of them. Although, seeing Landon’s parents does not do much to keep the sad thoughts away.

Barbara notices my frown and shakes her head. “Nope, none of that. This is a happy day!” She smiles, quick to change my mood.

I take in a quick breath, and compose myself.

“Have fun Liv.” I hear Landon whisper inside my head. “Enjoy yourself. Celebrate our baby boy.”

Today will be a good day.

“BOOYA SUCKAS! I WON!” Riley cheers after we announce the winner of the first game. The baby bottles on each table were filled with milk, and the first person to empty their bottle wins. The tricky part is that the nipple of the bottle only has a very small hole, so it’s really about who can suck the hardest.

No pun intended.

“You sure you wanna be proud of that, son?” Our dad asks, causing everyone to laugh loudly.

“Of course. Just ask Tori.” He smirks to his girlfriend, whose eyes go wide as she smacks him hard against the chest.

“ANYWAY, who’s ready for gifts?” Tori announces to the room, desperate to change the subject. “After gifts, we will announce who guessed the right number of pacifiers in the big baby bottle.”

Everyone smiles and nods, as I make my way to the chair at the front of the room near all of the gifts. The table is completely full, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Everyone takes their seats at their tables, and turns to face me while I open the gifts.

I open tons of clothes, and shoes. I open a lot of bottles and bibs, as well as tons of pacifiers and too many diapers to count. My dad got me a Mickey Mouse car seat for the baby, which I can’t wait to have Riley set up. It’s the type of car seat that grows with the baby. It eventually turns into a booster seat for when the baby becomes a toddler.

Brian and Barbara got me an automatic rocker to put the baby in when it’s time for his naps. It’s certainly going to come in handy when I am busy with homework or house chores and I don’t have time to rock him myself.

The rocking chair Tori and Riley bought me at the mall was delivered a while ago, and sits beautifully near the baby’s crib.

“Here Liv, I got you one more thing.” Tori announced, handing me a medium-sized gift bag.

I take it from her grasp and pull the tissue paper out with excitement.

I pull out the frame and stare in awe at the picture. Tears threaten to fall as I smile.

I don’t know how Tori did this, but it’s a picture of Landon and me side by side, looking down and smiling. There is an ultrasound picture of the baby near the bottom of the frame, which Landon and I’s eyes are trained on.

The picture is beautiful, and enclosed in a grey frame that says the words, “Family” along the bottom written in pretty cursive.

I look up at Tori in pure amazement as I ask her with my eyes how she did this.

“Remember before we all moved to Florida, it was the high school prom? You and Landon made a fuss because no one else wanted to take extra pictures before going to the dance. Well, I remember that you and him joked about different poses and Riley made a joke about you and Landon staring down at your future child. I remember, the floor was empty but Landon insisted on taking this picture. You didn’t know it at the time, but I took copies of this one and saved it for the day when you both actually had a baby together. I’m going to make another one with an actual picture of the baby, when he’s born... but I figured this would suffice for now.” Tori smiled.

“Tori... you’re seriously the best!” I got up and wrapped her into a hug, a tear falling from my eye.

I picked up the frame and turned it around so everyone could see.

A bunch of “oo’s” and “awe’s” were heard from around the room, and I saw Barbara begin to tear up.

“Well, I just figured you’d want some family photos.” She smiled.

“It’s perfect.” I beamed. “Apparently little man here thinks so too. He’s kicking up a storm.” I laugh.

Everyone laughs, and then I return to my seat.

“I have something!” Riley announces, stepping towards me.

“So, one night when Landon and I had a few drinks...” A few sighs were heard around the room, and my dad sent a short glare towards my brother that caused me to giggle.

“I asked him if he wanted children. He told me he did, and when asked if he wanted a boy or girl, he said he wanted a boy.” Riley confessed. This was all news to me.

“Of course, me being the amazing person that I am,” Riley smirks. “I asked Landon what he would say to his future son before meeting him and he didn’t know it at the time, but I recorded it on my phone.”

My eyes went wide as I took in what Riley was saying.

“Riley... do you?” I began.

“Yes. I have that recorded, and I put it on this CD.” He pulled a CD from his back pocket and held it up in the air.

“My gift to you, baby sis, is to let you hear this. To let you hear his voice and to have this to give to the little guy when he’s old enough to understand it.” Riley smiled proudly.

Between Tori’s gift, and Riley’s... I wasn’t sure how I would end up looking by the end of this shower. I could already feel my mascara running.

Tori went to the back of the room, and brought back with her a small portable radio. I immediately inserted the disc and hit play, anxious to hear his voice.

“Hey peanut!” Landon’s voice boomed throughout the room and everyone remained completely silent as they smiled at the sound of it. Barbara began crying uncontrollably as Brian wrapped an arm around her for comfort. My hands began to shake as I continued listening.

“I know I haven’t met you yet, but I can’t wait to. I can already see the man you will become. I just want to tell you to never be afraid. Always know what you want and go after it, even if it seems impossible. Take everything that life gives you, and never look back. You are too smart, and too determined to let this life pass you by. Take risks, and take chances. Open your mind to endless possibilities, and make sure every decision you make is purely genuine.” I could hear Riley giggling in the audio, and I smiled over at him. I shook my head since he was probably drunk during this recording.

I placed my trembling hand over the speaker on the radio, just wishing it were Landon I was touching instead.

“I love you son, more than you will ever know. You are the best thing to happen to your mother and me.” I sobbed at Landon’s mention of me.

“Your mother is strong, and beautiful. She is my best friend. She knows what is good for you, just like I do. So please listen to us, and take our advice. Nobody is perfect, and I know you’ll make some mistakes along the way, but just know that we are always here for you. No matter what.”

The tears broke free, and the water dropping down my face wouldn’t stop.

“Oh, and Olivia? You make the most amazing mom ever! I’m hanging out with Riley right now, he’s eating far too much cheese, but I’ll be home to you soon! I love you both. So much.”

The recording ended and I felt myself needing more. I needed more of his voice. I needed more of him.

“Landon.” I whispered.

I looked up at everyone, and I saw a lot of sad smiles, and a lot of teary eyes.

I looked over to Riley, and immediately stood up to embrace him in a tight hug.

“You’re the best big brother ever, you know that?” I smiled.

“Of course I do.” He smiles back, hugging me just as tight.

“This gift... all of these gifts are amazing everyone. I can’t thank you all enough!” I wiped a tear from my cheek and smiled at everyone in the room.

Today was a good day.

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