Willow & Aiden After Forty

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Chapter 1

Willow

“Bye, Mom.”

“Bye!” I wave goodbye to Oliver, Max, and Caroline, two of my sons, and my new daughter-in-law. I make sure my smile stays on my face. I think I did a pretty good job today of playing up my excitement. Playing up how happy I am to be blessed to live in this row house in the middle of this vibrant city. I made sure I went on and on today about how ecstatic I am to be here in my new home.

Their car makes a turn off my street. I spin around and take a long, hard, thoughtful look up and down my new neighborhood. Fountain Street is a straight tree-lined street with brick row houses that border the road, all with the same front stoops and porches. The front doors are all beautiful and unique. Your front door is how you express yourself and identify your home. The doors that are originally from the early nineteen hundreds are painted bright colors. The ones that have been replaced over the years range from intricate Victorian style to extremely sleek and modern.

I cross to my stoop. My door is original and painted bright teal-green. I walk inside; I have bigger things in my life right now than to worry about what I want my front door to say about me. Jesus Christ, I have no idea who I truly am right now. I close the heavy door, and I feel them coming. Tears roll down my cheeks. I can’t stop them.

I lean my butt back on the door, “Please, God, come on, Willow,” I say out loud. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I let the loneliness swamp and wrap itself around me until it almost strangles me. “Keep pretending, Willow, keep pretending. Fake it till you make it, fake it till you make it.” I open my eyes and look around my new home. “Fake it till you make it.”

I shake and force myself to move and play the game in my head. It’s the one where I pretend that one of my babies is watching me, and I need to set an example of how to be healthy. I wipe my tears off my face. “Look around, Willow, see the potential, see excitement, opportunity, and possibilities. Feel blessed you can afford to have a home, especially one as nice as this one. You’re blessed.” But no matter how many times I tell myself to be grateful for all that I have, all I end up doing is telling that to myself. I certainly don’t feel any of those things right now.

I plug my phone into the charger by my bed. I’ve checked in with all five of my sons to ensure them I’m happy to be living here finally, and that everything was good with me. I even endured an hour-long lecture from Violet over the speakerphone as I hung up my measly wardrobe and put things away in my bedroom.

I smell the scent of the lavender oil I put into the bathtub wafting into the bedroom. I pad into the bathroom and turn off the brass tap. I can’t wait to soak in this tub. I’ve always wanted a clawfoot tub, I have no idea why, but I have. I pick up my toothbrush from the new holder on the double vanity. Double vanity, I scoff, as if I will ever need a double vanity again.

I brush and spit and take a good look at myself in the mirror. “God, I look forty-three.” I remove my clothes and stare at myself with a critical eye. I always felt good about my body, well, except for my breasts. I nursed all five of the boys for their first year of life, and my size B breasts became a size A. Four years ago, Jake suggested I have a procedure my gynecologist had told us about at an appointment. The process removes fat from a section of your body, in my case, my ass, and places it into other areas, for me, my breasts.

“Asshole,” I say out loud. I cup my full B breasts. “You didn’t want me to do this for me as you claimed, you wanted it for you. Well, guess what, Jake the snake, fuck you. I’m glad I did this, it is for me!” I rub my hands over my face. I’m not giving my ex, Jake, any more of my headspace.

I sink into the tub and rest my head back. “Okay, Willow, take a deep breath.” I blow out a few breaths and try to clear my mind. I need to relax about sleeping in a new bed, in a new house, in a new city. One that is two hours away from the only home I’ve ever known, and that I’m all alone. “Don’t cry, Willow, call up the anger. Better yet, put it out of your mind, you can’t control or change it.” I dunk my head under the warm water, wishing it would wash away all of my thoughts tonight.

However, there is no such luck for me. I sit up, and the tears start to fall again.

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