Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 19


“You’d be an idiot not to make it happen. I’m sure your aunt will be cool with you taking Friday and Saturday off. You’re only scheduled Saturday night at The Stardust, right? As much as you fill in for people, it’s time for them to return the favor,” Leslie repeats for the second time down the phone line.

“I can find someone to cover for me, Leslie. That’s not the only problem. He’s a big deal in one of the biggest cities in the world for his accomplishments. For crying out loud, that’s crazy. He’s a very successful Ted from How I Met Your Mother. I have nothing to bring or add to his life. Lordy, I’m still shocked about his success. I’m going to the library today to google him.”

“I already did, nothing you don’t already know. Go in blind, sweetie, without all the research. Can you afford to get WiFi yet and a real cell phone?”

“Yes, I can. I’m going to do that today. I know it’s long past time.”

“Are you doing okay money-wise, sweetie?”

“I promise I’m good. I’m in the positive; I’m just cheap.” I laugh. “I’m going to buy a phone plan with WiFi and cable, a bundle deal.”

“Thank God, it’s about time.”

“I know, I know. My track phone is on its last leg.”

“So let’s go back to the Jack doesn’t own a TV thing?”

“Well, there are two out at the house, one in the basement and one in his Mom’s sitting room. But he doesn’t have one at his apartment. It’s weird.”

“Does he not understand your love for TV?”

I giggle, “I teased him about it, and he told me I was as bad as Ben and Sophie.”

“It doesn’t sound like you needed a TV.” She laughs.

“Stop it. Don’t start with me, Barbra Jean.” She giggles every time I call her that.

“Okay. Go, sweetie, have fun, and enjoy something that’s just for you. You deserve a break from working.”

“It’s not about me taking off work, Leslie. I’m out of my depth with him. I thought he was a grumpy, kid genius, hot nerd, not a famous architect known for his work. We both read Vanity Fair and People magazine when we get the chance; those people are a different breed than us.”

“Stop Annie. People are people,” she scolds me.

“Leslie, honestly, I’m not putting myself down, but what could I possibly add to any conversation with worldly people. People who have money, travel, shop, and create a big freaking building on famous world streets. What could I add to that kind of life? That might as well be life on Mars. It’s so far out of my little realm of thinking.”

“Settle down, my goodness, can your voice pitch any higher?”

I blow out a breath, “Leslie, I’m serious.”

“You’ll be fine because you’re you. You’re a beautiful, nice, intelligent woman; nothing else matters.”

“I am all of those things. But I have zero life experiences outside of hospitals and a mountain of bills and medical debt.”

“Hush it and listen. I’m going to admit something to you, Annie. You know I hated turning forty. The only good thing about being a woman in her forties is that we no longer care what other people think. Life is hard, sweetie, and you know that better than anyone, nobody escapes shit happening to them. We know life is not about silly, chit chat conversations at some party, be it that party is in Folsom, Tennessee, or in New York. Are you anxious about the social circle of Jack Phillips? Because from what I think, you could only help him with that. Or are afraid of Jack Phillips himself?”

“It’s not all about New York; it’s mostly about him. I could fall madly in love with him. I’m already forcing myself not to. He’s going to get bored with me, Leslie. I’m setting myself up for heartbreak.”

“Maybe, so what? You’ll get over it.”

“I know I’ll survive, but I need to tread carefully and with my eyes open.”

“Sweetie, you need to suck up every single bit of life God gives you, we both know that all too well. Go grab ahold of some new life experiences and adventures with Jack and missy. I want every detail.”

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