Hi! It’s me! Lily!
I’m sitting in a hotel room with Sabby, we’re going to drive back in the morning. It was a tough night. I mean, it was nice in some ways, but tough.
The good: I got to drive a lot! We took a state route down to Columbus (not the same Columbus as to where Jack lives) then took the freeway into Houston. Man, those freeways are soooooo wide! Sabby made me pull over before we entered the city and switched drivers. I was okay with that. So many people! Houston is huge!!!
We got to the hotel and checked in, and I changed into something a little nicer – then we went over to Emiko’s house.
They live in a nice area, I think. A nice suburban house, on a nice, quiet street. Kind of like mine. We want to the door and knocked, and Emiko seemed happy to see me, but a little reserved. We made small talk for a little bit. Mika and Aika came down, and I greeted them. Dinner was ready, so we sat down to eat.
The conversation was pleasant, but a little strained. Her husband still seemed like he didn’t like me much. Sabby and I exchanged glances. After dinner we sat down in the living room, and I just came right out and said it.
“You don’t like me much, do you?,” I asked.
He sighed. “It’s not you,” he said. “I didn’t even know you existed. I didn’t know Emiko had had a baby, I knew absolutely nothing about any of that. And then one morning we got a call, and everything… just changed. I was angry. I’m still not happy. I had a family, a family I loved, no surprises, and then… you showed up.”
“I didn’t have anything to do with any of that!,” I said. “All I ever did was exist!”
“I know that!,” he said, a little loudly. “It’s not your fault, but you’re still here, and I don’t know what to do with you! You’re not my daughter! You’re Emiko’s daughter!”
Emiko looked a little unhappy, but she sat quietly.
“I’m not your daughter,” I said quietly. “I have a family now. They’re all the family I could have ever wanted. I didn’t know about Emiko either. I found out when you did. But… but she’s trying. She abandoned me, but she’s trying. Don’t mess that up. Please.”
Emiko spoke up. “She’s not your daughter, Bill, and she knows that. But she’s my daughter. There wasn’t day that went by that I didn’t wonder what happened to her, how she was, whether she was happy. You’ve had plenty of time to tell me how awful I was. I know how awful I was. I wish I’d never left her. But the past is gone now. Don’t hold that against her.”
He sighed. “I still don’t like it. But all this was decided sixteen years ago. I’ll try.”
“If it helps, Sabby here likes to make cookies.”
Sabby snickered. He looked puzzled.
“I mean really likes to make cookies. She made so many cookies over Christmas that we ended up filling the back of our SUV with cookies and taking them to church, and we still had some left over, and we ended up taking them to the homeless shelter.”
Bill blink-blinked. If there’d been a cartoon sound effect, it would have been the blink-blink sound effect.
“She made buckeyes, and sugar cookies, and snickerdoodles, and fudge cookies, and brownies, and gingerbread cookies, and Christmas cookies… it was like a cookie explosion in our kitchen. Cookies everywhere! And family gets cookies. You want cookies, right?”
He smirked. “Are you trying to bribe me with cookies?”
“Is it working?,” Sabby asked, her face the picture of innocence.
He deflated. “Better than you think,” he said, with a smirk on his face. “I just have to not get in the way, and I get cookies?” There was a teasing tone in his voice, though.
“Well, we’re trying to keep Sabby from going on a cookie binge like that again, but honestly, we know it’ll happen. And when it does, we’ll include you. Deal?”
“Well… who can turn down a deal like that,” he said. “Alright. I still don’t like it. But you seem like a good kid. I’ll give you a chance.”
“How about you just decide how you feel about me based on who I am, not on what Emiko did?”
He nodded. “Were you exaggerating about the cookies?”
I giggled. “Actually, no. I was playing it down. We gave like ten plates to my best friend’s family too. And my boyfriend’s family. And that barely made a dent in the cookie stash.”
“You know, Emiko here is a great cook, but she never figured out cookies. You mind teaching her?”
“If she wants to learn.” Emiko nodded. “Then sure.”
“Thank you for the kimono,” I said, changing the subject. “Emiko, can you teach me how to wear it?”
Her eyes lit up, and we got the kimono and went upstairs. She fussed and fiddled and wrapped and adjusted and… OMG I look so Japanese! I went downstairs, and Sabby just had to take a photo! Or ten! One’s gonna go to Jack! I might even put one up on Patreon (and the gallery later) soon for y’all!!! Aika and Mika and Emiko put on their kimono too and we took a group picture! Bill politely demurred. He said “I’ll keep my promise, but I’m not related. The rest of you are. I’ll take the photo.” And he did.
Emiko seemed sooo happy when she was dressing me! It was like she got to be my mother for just a little while! I was okay with that. After all, I got to learn to wear kimono!
“Tell me about your boyfriend,” Emiko said. And I gushed and gushed. She just smirked.
We chatted for a while (Bill’s actually really smart, just a bit standoffish sometimes), and then we headed back to the hotel, where I am now. I still don’t know how to feel about Bill. He doesn’t know how to feel about me, either. But maybe it’ll work out. It’s not my fault. None of it’s my fault.