14| A Lovely Mess
L e v i
The weeks since Maxie and I’s talk went by quickly. We had fallen into a comfortable routine. Each morning I picked them up for school, and dropped them off afterwards. Most nights I hung out and cooked dinner for them as Maxie and I worked on our homework.
After I said goodnight to them and went home each night, Maxie and I kept up with our nightly routine of watching movies or television together on FaceTime until we both fell asleep.
I hadn’t been as happy and content as I was with them in longer than I could remember. I started to feel a part of something— something that I’ve never really had before.
Maxie and I hadn’t put a label on what exactly we were, but we were fine with just existing in our calm little bubble of happiness.
It was the week of halloween and we decided to surprise Maizie with a trip to the halloween store to pick out her costume. She had changed her mind about fifteen times. At first she wanted to be a cat, then it changed to a dinosaur, then a princess before she was eventually at a stand still and had no idea.
We walked into the store and the minute we stepped through the door, one of the mechanical displays activated and scared the living shit out of her. She ran in between Maxie’s legs and hid there, whaling out an ear piercing cry.
I knelt down in front of her, smoothing a hand over her back. “It’s okay. It’s fake. Kind of like a toy.”
She turned towards me, tears staining her cheeks as she hiccuped. I gave her a small smile as I stood up and walked over to the display, walking right in front of it to trigger it again. The skeleton jumped out and cackled, causing Maizie to hide her face again, turning only to see me touching the skeleton’s arm to show her that it wasn’t real.
“See, it’s just plastic. Come see for yourself.”
She hesitantly removed herself from her spot between Maxie’s legs and walked over to me as I extended my hand out to her. She grabbed my hand before I picked her up and walked her over to the skeleton. It went off again and she hid her face in the crook of my neck which caused a chuckle to bubble up my throat.
“It’s okay Maizie. It’s fake.” I smiled down at her as she peeled her face away from my neck and stared up at me with big blue eyes, her bottom lip wobbling as she pouted and sniffled.
I made a show out of slapping the skeleton’s hand, showing her that it couldn’t retaliate as it was only a piece of plastic and a voice box.
After another slap she started giggling, reaching forward and giving it a smack of her own which just caused her to laugh harder.
I looked up only to find an employee staring me down, less than impressed with my way of quelling Maizie’s fear.
I mouthed a sorry to him before turning Maizie away and walking over to Maxie.
“Let’s go find you a costume kiddo!” I placed her down on the ground and she grabbed for both Maxie and I’s hands as she led us further into the store— clearly on a mission.
We walked down multiple aisles of costumes and picked out a few for Maizie but she had said no to every single one of them, until we walked down an aisle that had the pokémon costumes. She stood there slack jawed in wonder as her eyes scanned over all of the options.
I had introduced Maizie to Pokemon a week ago while we waited for Maxie to finish getting ready for work. It was one of my favorite shows as a kid and I was more excited than I’d like to admit finding that they had all of the original episodes on Netflix. Ever since that day, it’s all she’s been wanting to watch— which I think Maxie was grateful for the break from Frozen.
After a moment or two Maizie walked up to a Snorlax costume, plucking it off the shelf and holding it up to Maxie. I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony, since Maizie was a bit of a sleepy girl herself.
“This is the one you want?” Maxie asked her, kneeling down to her height as her eyes scanned the costume.
Maizie nodded enthusiastically and smiled bigger than I’ve ever seen her smile before and I had to admit, watching Maizie come out of her shell has been one of my happiest memories over the past few weeks.
“Alright then, Snorlax it is.”
Maizie followed Maxie’s statement with an imitation of a snore which caused both Maxie and I to burst out laughing.
Maizie grabbed both of our hands and led us up and down the aisles some more as she demanded that we both dress up as well. If she had it her way, we’d be going out trick or treating as a group of pokemon, but thankfully Maxie nipped that in the bud real quick. We eventually settled on matching Thing One and Thing Two t-shirts.
When we finally made our way up to the checkout, we loaded everything up on the counter and as soon as the clerk was done ringing out the items, I handed her my card before Maxie could even reach for her wallet.
She shot a glare my way and I just lifted my shoulders in a shrug, a sly smirk tilting up the corners of my lips. It was the least I could do because if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have a reason to be as excited as I was for Halloween.
From the minute we left the store Maizie demanded that she wear her costume. Maxie didn’t bother arguing, but they compromised and agreed that she only wore it at home so it didn’t get ruined.
When Halloween finally rolled around Maizie was jumping with joy from the moment she woke up. She didn’t understand that we couldn’t go out trick or treating first thing in the morning, but once she found out that there was going to be a halloween party at school, she finally perked up.
The day was long and painstaking as the excitement for tonight was infecting me as well. I was looking forward to going trick or treating with them. It was something I didn’t get to do often as a kid, and being able to almost live vicariously through Maizie brought my inner child out.
Lunch finally came and Maxie and I met at our usual spot outside. She was already out there with Easton by the time I walked through the double doors with my tray of food. I sat down, nodding a hello to Easton who was having a fully animated conversation with Maxie about tonight and what each of his siblings were dressing up as.
I couldn’t help but grin as I listened to the two of them talking about Halloween costumes.
As the weeks passed, I actually grew quite fond of Easton. To think that a little over a month ago I was jealous of him was comical, but I could tell that he was a genuine friend to Maxie and for that I was grateful.
After a few more moments of their excited chatter, they both turned to me. Maxie had a big smile on her face which caused my grin to widen.
“Are you excited for tonight?” She asked.
I nodded my head as I popped a french fry into my mouth.
“Duh!” I rolled my eyes playfully.
“I’m excited for all of the candy that we get to sort through and “check”.” I winked.
Maxie shoved my shoulder as she laughed. “Nope, it’s all mine.”
We both laughed and argued about who was going to scavenge the most candy before Easton cleared his throat dramatically
“You two are just too damn adorable.” He admitted as he watched us dreamily.
I couldn’t help the cheeky grin that I had plastered across my face as I tried to hide it behind my tray of fries.
“So,” Easton cleared his throat. “Do you guys want to team up and take all the kids trick or treating together? I’m stuck with babysitting duty tonight.”
I shrugged my shoulders and looked over at Maxie. “I think Maizie would love that.”
Her smile widened as she nodded her head. “Where did you want to meet?”
“How about in my development, there are a bunch of houses that celebrate and they usually give out some pretty good candy. We score big every year.”
The talk of candy again perks me up even more. “As long as I get at least one full size kit kat, then I’m happy.”
Maxie playfully rolled her eyes at me before she turned back to Easton. I caught the movement of her hand scooting closer to mine, as she took hold of my pointer and ring fingers.
It’s something that I came to notice about Maxie, as we got closer her need to hold me close was constant. Whether it be just a finger touching me or her arms wrapped around me, she always had to be touching me and it was something I absolutely adored. It was an act so minute that I didn’t think anyone else would’ve noticed, but it was something that I’ve come to realize was her subconscious projecting her fears of losing me again.
Losing someone damages you, and when someone new enters your life— someone who you grow to care about more than anything, you keep a hold on them and cherish them because you never know if it’ll be the last moment you may have with them.
The rest of the day went by pretty quick, before I knew it, the bell for last period rang and my excitement only grew. One hour closer to trick or treating and some quality time with my two favorite girls.
I trotted into last period with a shit eating grin on my face just as the final bell rang.
“Nice to see you show up Mr. Watson.” Mrs. Winkler commented.
I offered her a flick of my wrist in acknowledgement as I took my normal seat next to Maxie.
When I sat down, Maxie rolled her eyes at me but I could tell she was holding back a giggle and a seriously large smile.
I felt like I was on cloud nine whenever I was around her.
I gave her a small smile before turning my attention to the front of the class.
Mrs. Winkler spent most of the period droning on about her creative writing nonsensical bullshit and I had to admit that I was slowly starting to fall asleep, only to be jolted awake by the shrill sound of the bell ringing.
“Better wipe up that drool.” Maxie sang. “It’s time to go home!”
She sounded just as excited as I had been all day. On our way out of the school building, she was practically skipping towards my car.
When we reached the parking lot, we both slid into my car. The energy between us was buzzing with excitement as the engine purred to life and we started off towards Maizie’s daycare.
Not long after we arrived at the daycare, Maxie returned with Maizie in her Snorlax costume. I couldn’t help but to chuckle at the sight of her. The costume was about a size or so too big, Maizie kept having to push the hood up out of her eyes as Maxie carried her over to the car.
I jumped out real quick and opened the back door for Maxie. She buckled Maizie up as I took the backpack off of Maxie’s shoulders and tossed it into the seat opposite of Maizie.
Once we were all situated in the car and buckled up, I looked at Maizie in my rearview mirror. “Are you excited to go trick or treating kiddo?”
She nodded enthusiastically and proceeded to tell us all about her day. They had cupcakes with purple icing— which was still evident all over her little face, they got lots of candy and played tons of games. She rambled on the entire car ride and I loved every minute of it. Seeing how happy she was and hearing all about her day and all of the friends she had filled my heart with such a warm feeling. If this was to any degree how parents felt when they listened to their kids, then it was one of the best in the world.
We got back to their apartment a few moments later and as soon as we got inside, Maizie rushed to their shared bedroom and got her candy bucket.
She was ready.
“Hold on sweetie, we just have to get dressed real quick and then we can go.”
Maizie pouted her lips at Maxie and she almost shed a tear, but Maxie followed her previous statement with good news.
“I have a surprise for you.”
Her eyes lit up at the mention.
“You do?” Maizie grinned as Maxie knelt down to her height.
“Yup. Do you remember Easton’s siblings? Elijah, Kai, and Raya?”
“Well, what would you say if I told you that we’d be going out trick or treating with them tonight?”
Maizie let out an ear piercing squeal, spewing out the word yes over and over again as she danced around the living room.
Maxie smiled at her, standing up to her normal height as she watched her. “Just be patient for a few minutes and let us get changed and then we’ll go meet them, okay?”
Maizie nodded, already sitting down in front of the television as she thumbed through netflix to find Pokémon.
I couldn’t help but to smile at their whole interaction, the more I got to be around them, the more I loved everything about them.
“I’m gonna go get changed real quick.” Maxie looked up at me as she tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear.
I nodded with a smile, pulling up my hoodie to reveal my Thing Two t-shirt.
“Did you have that on all day?” Maxie giggled. “I didn’t even notice.”
I nodded my head shyly before she reached up on her tip-toes and placed a soft kiss on my cheek.
“You’re so cute.” She smiled at me and I was so damn tempted to kiss her, but with how new our relationship was, I didn’t really know how she felt about PDA around Maizie. Usually we saved any of that for after she went to bed, and I didn’t want to cross over any boundaries, spoken about or not.
Maxie took maybe a grand total of two minutes getting changed, coming out of her bedroom in her Thing One t-shirt and her blonde waves pulled up into two pigtails, she looked adorable.
“You guys ready to go get some candy?” Maxie imitated a monster’s gravely tone as she stalked towards Maizie, picking her up and pecking kisses all over her face before gently setting her down, leaving Maizie in a fit of giggles.
“Yes, yes, let’s go!” Maizie grabbed both of our hands and pulled us towards the door.
When we got to Easton’s all four of them were sitting down at the dining room table, eating pizza.
“You guys want a slice?” Easton called out to us, mid chew as he pointed down at the two pies in front of him.
Maizie clapped and instantly ran towards the table where she pulled herself up into a chair next to Elijah.
Maxie looked a bit embarrassed, her cheeks flaming red as she bit into her bottom lip. I bumped her gently with my hip, mouthed a quick “relax” down to her and slid my hand into hers as we made our way to the table. She made a quick stop, whispering something about manners into Maizie’s ear before we sat down next to Easton.
As Maxie was cutting up Maizie’s slice of pizza, she looked around the table and pouted her lips. “Can I eat mine like them, pwease?”
If there was one thing about Maizie, it’s that she pulled off a seriously good puppy dog face that anyone would fall for, and she was giving that exact face to Maxie.
Maxie looked conflicted for a minute as she weighed her decision before pushing the half cut up slice back to Maizie.
“Just be careful, little bites.”
I could tell Maxie was a nervous wreck over something as simple as Maizie eating a slice of pizza, but I had to admit that it was quite endearing to watch. The amount of love that Maxie had for Maizie outweighed any love in the world, it was the love that a mother had for their daughter.
After we finished eating, we wrangled up all the kids and placed a glow stick necklace around each of their necks and made sure each of them had their candy bags or buckets before heading out the door and onto the street that was already littered with kids.
“I told you guys, our neighborhood is perfect for trick or treating.” Easton smiled at the both of us as we hung slightly behind the brood of kids we had in tow.
“You were definitely right. These are the kinds of houses that no doubt give out full size candy bars.” I grinned deviously and Maxie shoved my arm with a laugh.
We approached the first house and the kids looked back at us.
“Go ahead guys.” Maxie called out to them. “We’ll be right here.”
Raya took charge, taking both Maizie and Elijah’s hands as the four of them walked up to the first door and said their sweet little “trick-or-treat”s before running back to us with huge smiles on their faces, showing us what they got.
Maizie walked right over to me, digging in her bucket and fishing out her first piece of candy, holding it up to me.
“Here you go.” She smiled and my heart melted when I saw the king size kit kat in her hand.
I looked over at Maxie and she had a proud smile on her face as I knelt down in front of Maizie. “This is yours sweetheart.”
“But it’s your favowite.” Her little brow furrowed and I nearly melted on the spot.
“You’re right, it is my favorite and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you offering it, but that Kit Kat is all yours, you earned it.” I booped her on the nose, earning a little giggle from her as she hesitantly slid it back into her bucket.
“I’ll get you anover one.” She beamed at me and I just nodded. The thoughtfulness of her was almost too much for me to bear.
Maizie ran up to the other kids, leaving me in awe as I looked up to Maxie.
“Did you tell her to do that?”
She shook her head. “I may have mentioned that Kit Kats were your favorite, but that was all her.” Her smile widened as I straightened up to my normal height, slinging an arm around her shoulders.
“You really are raising such an amazing little girl.” I kissed the side of her head gently, hugging her into me.
She looked up at me, seemingly lost for words as her mouth hung slightly open.
“She really is amazing.” She replied after another moment, her attention being drawn over to Maizie giggling with Easton’s siblings.
“You guys are disgustingly cute.” Easton sang as he came up behind us, catching up to the kids.
My grin only widened as this night was now going down as a new favorite.
We were out trick-or-treating for a few hours and were finally nearing our last block of houses. The kids were no doubt getting tired, their excitement from before dwindling down drastically as they hauled their heavy bags and buckets to the next house.
“I’m tiwed” Maizie looked up at Maxie, letting out a big ’ol yawn.
“Okay sweetheart, go up to this last house and then we’ll head home, okay?”
Maizie nodded and Elijah ran up to her, grabbing her hand in his as he started leading her up the stairs to the next house.
I must’ve looked away for not even a second, but when I heard the ear piercing scream, my head whipped around desperately looking for Maizie. I hadn’t known her for too long, but I knew her cries and this was one I had never heard before.
I jumped into action in less than a second, sprinting over to where Maizie was sprawled out on the concrete, Elijah trying to help her up. Maxie instantly followed behind me as I scooped Maizie off of the ground. She was hysterically crying as I pulled her back in my arms just slightly to assess the situation and when I noticed the blood covering her face I tried my best not to panic.
“Oh my god.” Maxie shrieked next to me as soon as she saw Maizie’s blood covered face.
“It’s okay… Shh…” I tried to calm both of them at once.
Easton rushed over to us. “C’mon let’s get her back to the house. We’re a block away.”
I nodded my head and took a deep breath as I damn near sprinted back to Easton’s house with Maizie in my arms.
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