Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 2


“Where are you?” Ben’s voice comes through my Prius’s speakers.

“On my way out to the house,” I answer. He knows I’m on my way out to talk to Mom, she’s home from Florida this week.

“Great, can you swing by and pick Sophie up from school and take her out to Mom's?”

“What is she still doing at school going at five o’clock at night?” I turn the car around and head south, towards her school.

“She’s had a baking class after school, and she stayed for a new yoga class.”

“Jesus, you should have sent her to public school. Yeah, I’ll pick her up. She can have dinner tonight with Mom and me. That is, if I make it long enough to stay myself.”

“Please don’t argue with Mom over the house in front of Sophie. She stopped thinking it was funny last year.” He chuckles.

I grunt, “Fine.”

“How close are you to the school? I’m going to text Soph and tell her you’re on your way.”

“Ten minutes, I can’t believe you bought your nine-year-old daughter a cell phone.”

I can almost see him shrug as he cheerfully replies, “If I didn’t, Mom would. At least now I have some control over how much she uses it.”

“Tell her I’m almost there. Are you going to make it out to the house for dinner, or do you want me to drop Sophie off at your place on my way home?”

“Yeah, I’ll be there around seven. Tell Soph she better have her homework done, The Voice is on tonight.”

“Jesus Christ, you’re ruining her with cell phones, laptops, and trash TV,” I tell him like I do all the time.

He laughs, “Don’t pick on my little girl, asshole. You’re her favorite uncle.”

“Funny, I’m her only uncle.”


“Okay, everyone, great first class. Please, follow Ms. Kathy and line up by the front door in the lobby.”

I pick up my yoga mat, go over, and start rolling up all the other mats — a lesson for me after my first yoga class. Next time, I’ll have my students take care of the mats they use before lining up and filing out to their parents. I see Sarah Jane and her new friend Sophie standing by the entrance. I yell, “Girls, come over here, and give me a hand, please.”

“Ms. August, it felt so good to stretch out my body. I think I’m going to love yoga,” Sophie giggles and helps me roll up a mat.

Sarah Jane giggles too, “She’s had me doing yoga since before I could walk. She swears it why I’m head taller than everyone else in the third grade.”

I give a shock expression to the both of them, “Hey, it could be why she’s taller. I don’t think it all has to do with the fact her daddy is six-three, and her mama is five-ten. I think I played some part in making her tall too.” I smile with my hands on my hips.

Sarah Jane smiles a soft smile. “I think it has a lot to do with the stretching too.” My sweet Sarah Jane, I thank God every day that she’s in my life. Her mama, Leslie, is my family, no matter how odd it is that she’s my ex-husband’s ex-wife number two. Leslie and SJ were also Jenny’s stepmom and half-sister. I love them like Reba loves Barbara Jean.

I grab the last mat to roll it up. “Thanks, Sophie and SJ.”

“Sophie!” Someone yells across the gym. I turn and see it’s the man who questioned my hair last week at The Stardust, the grumpy one.

“Hi, Uncle Jack, let me grab my backpack. And I want you to meet my best friend.” The girls run off towards the bleachers to grab their stuff.

I walk over to introduce myself. We’re new here, but for the last month, Sophie and SJ have become BFFs. I don’t think that’s changing any time soon. I need to introduce myself to her family. Leslie’s so busy, and I know with teaching this class every other week and being SJ part-time chauffeur, I’ll be seeing a lot of her family.

“Hi, I’m Annie August.” I hold out my hand. He looks at my hand and sighs like it’s an inconvenience to meet me. He quickly shakes my hand but doesn’t look at me or give me his name. He’s too busy focusing on the girls by the bleachers even to be bothered with me.

“Okay then, I see that your friend wasn’t exaggerating when he said you lacked social graces.” His eyes snap to mine. His are dark, dark brown like dark melted chocolate. He seemed irritated at the restaurant, and he certainly is irritated now.

“What? What are you talking about?” I don’t think he remembers me. He must act grumpy a lot if he doesn’t remember scowling and questioning me about my hair. Also, to have his friend announce he lacks in niceties. I’d think you’d remember that if it wasn’t something that happens all the time.

“Uncle Jack, this is Sarah Jane. You know the girl I’ve been talking about at family dinners. She’s going to spend the night tomorrow night. Dad said last weekend she could, oh, and this is her aunt. We just finished our new yoga class. She teaches it and may help with our baking classes now on Thursday.” She holds up a high tech cell phone and grins. “I just got Dad’s text you were picking me up.” She’s so cute and very animated. I think she and Sarah Jane could pass as sisters. Both are tall for their ages; both have long blond hair and light-color eyes.

SJ clears her throat. “Hi, sir, it’s nice to meet you,” she says, remembering her manners.

He nods, “Where are you from, Sarah Jane?”

“Gulfsom, Tennessee, sir.” Sarah Jane smiles her ‘I’m adorable and an angel’ smile.

“I see. Nice to meet you too.” He shakes her hand and gives her a quick smile.

“Oh, and Uncle Jack, guess where Ms. August works. She works at The Stardust a couple of nights a week. I told her that’s Dad’s favorite place to eat out, isn’t it?”

He looks at the hair piled up on my head then at my eyes. His mouth twitches. “Ah.”

“Ah,” I mimic, then I smirk. “It’s nice to meet you.”

He doesn’t say anything only stares at me. He’s not going to smile or say anything again, okay then. I want to giggle for some reason.

I hear SJ whisper, “Your uncle’s weird.” Sophie titters.

He looks at the girls with a raised brow. “You ready?” he asks Sophie.

Sophie nods her head yes. “Don’t forget to bring your stuff to spend the night tomorrow night to school with you, okay?” Sophie tells SJ. I know both girls are excited about their first sleepover.

“I won’t, see you tomorrow, SG,” Sarah Jane, SJ, says, and they giggle. I join them. I look at Jack, and he’s looking at me again.

He’s back to being serious and stern, almost frowning. His seems to be permanent scowl makes me giggle harder. “Okay, I’ll see you on Tuesday, Sophie, oh I mean SG. Sarah Jane, aka SJ, let me turn the lights out, and I’ll meet you at the front door.”

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