Georgia and the twins met with Luke every day at 4pm in the children’s park. Normally Georgia would sit on the side lines and let Luke spend as much quality time on his own with the girls. But with his bad leg, Georgia had to wade in to help out every so often. Georgia could see it in Luke’s eyes that he hated it when she stepped in. He would try to insist that he was fine and could handle everything, but when Georgia saw one of her daughters almost being dropped it was too much to bear and she could not help but lend a hand.
“I said I was fine,” Luke snapped pulling Izzy away as Georgia tried to step in to catch her.
Luke had not dropped her but he almost had and that was bad enough for Georgia.
“I know you are Luke but you’re not superman and I’m here to help.”
“I don’t need your help,” he snapped kissing the twins goodbye and storming off even though he was meant to have them for another hour!
“I don’t know what’s eating him,” Georgia moaned to Amy one day while they were out shopping. “He used to be so confident and carefree. Now he just bites my head off whenever I try to even talk to him.”
“What’s he like with the girls,” Amy asked.
“With the girls he is amazing. They completely dote on him and him on them. It’s just me he seems to have a problem with.”
“Have you thought of things from his point of view Georgia? He comes back from war, half a man than what he was with his bad leg, to find he has children he has never met. He’s trying to make up for lost time and all the while the girl who he once fell in love is trying to baby him.”
“I’m not babying him,” Georgia snapped. “I’m just trying to help. I can see his leg causes him lots of pain and it’s hard for him to even walk.”
“Have you tried talking to him about it?”
“I would if he would let me. But it’s like he has closed himself off from everybody, I don’t even know if the old Luke is still in there.”
“I’m sure he is somewhere, he just needs someone to bring him back out.”
Georgia wasn’t so sure if that person was her anymore. Luke seemed to be pushing her further and further away rather than letting her in. Could anything break down his barriers?
In the meantime, Georgia had got a job. Finally! It was not exactly the sort of job she imagined when she first started looking but it was the only one who had even asked her for an interview. The clothing boutique was owned by a French lady called Madame Dubois who had set the shop up and run it since she immigrated to Bridgeport fifty years ago. She was a colourful character, with a French accent as thick as the day she stepped off the boat and a flamboyant personality to match.
“Ze first thing you must understand about Dubois’s is that we are a family,” Madame Dubois stated on Georgia’s first day of work. “We are all working towards the same thing – money for me.” She burst into a loud cackled like she had cracked the funniest joke in history and then proceeded to cough her lungs out due to the copious amounts of cigarettes she smoked daily.
Georgia could not help but wonder if she was going to fall down dead in front of her. “Are you ok Madame Dubois?”
“I am fine,” Madame Dubois coughed pushing Georgia’s hands away. “No need to fuss. When you get to my age all sorts of things start to go wrong my dear. Now over here are where the towels go…” Georgia followed her around like a lost puppy basking in being in a salon environment finally. It was not exactly her style but she could adapt. Plus she had to start somewhere.
At first she was put in charge of cleaning, tiding away and showing clients to either the styling or hairdressing posts. “Watch and learn,” Madame Dubois would purr coiffing and tousling her clients hair. They were all a real mixture of old rich women to young trailer trash girls wanting their roots bleached and their hair permed. Georgia watched on closely. She knew how to style a person that was the easy part. But she had never been very good at the hair part so even though the clientele was not her cup of tea, she was still pleased to learn.
Soon enough she was allowed to style the odd client here and then. “You are much better zan my last assistant,” Madame Dubois announced one day. “The stupid girl before you just zat around doing zer nails all day long. Useless thing. You watch and you learn. Now you can work properly.”
Madame Dubois waltzed off leaving a young girl waiting nervously by. “Err I think she means me,” the girl said looking up at Georgia.
“Oh err, ok.” She pulled herself up high helping the girl onto the styling stand and looking her over just the way Madame Dubois normally did. “So what can I do for you today?”
“It my senior prom tonight so I am looking for a dress and an up-do for my hair please.”
“OK,” Georgia sat scrutinising her from top to toe.
“Are you sure you can do this,” the girl asked. “It’s just a very important night for me and well I could not help but overhear that you are just an assistant. What I’m trying to say is that I need to look perfect. You understand right?”
Georgia glared at the girl trying not to be offended. She never went to her own senior prom so she could not fully empathise with the girl but she could appreciate how important it was for her. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I have plenty of experience with this sort of thing.” She knew she was faking it, she was just as nervous as the teenager standing before her. But she could not let her know that.
“I love it,” the young girl shrieked two hours later when Georgia was finished with her. “I look like a princess.”
“That’s what you wanted wasn’t it,” Georgia replied pretty chuffed with herself.
“Thank you so much Georgia. I will be sure to recommend you to all my friends.” The girl hugged Georgia and then went skipping out the store ready for the most important night of her life.
This is what it’s all about, Georgia thought watching her go. Even though she had always wanted to design her own pieces, styling people still gave her a sense of worth and she realised that working at Dubois’s might not have been the short end of the stick after all.
Georgia now worked from nine in the morning until three pm, four days a week. While she worked Esme and Alfie, who were now retired, watched over the girls. It was hard all round but as long as everyone got stuck in it seemed to work.
And we cannot forget about Luke. At four o’clock most days, Georgia met with him and the girls in the park. They would all play together but Georgia had long given up on trying to get through to him. He had become like a closed book, cutting himself off from everyone except the girls. Only they could make him smile.
Every so often Georgia would feel him looking at her but the moment she turned her head, he would look away. She told herself it was all in her imagination but secretly she hoped it wasn’t. Even though he was closed to her, just being around Luke made her feel happy.
“Have you invited Luke to the girl’s party this afternoon,” Esme asked Georgia one day. She had been baking cakes for the twin’s birthday all day and even though Georgia had told her they were perfect, she had just thrown away the third one complaining it was not sweet enough. Georgia had been told by people that her mother was once in prison. Looking at her she could not imagine how ‘Esme the homemaker’ could have been a jailbird. But apparently it was true. In a way Georgia was pleased she had not been around to see it.
“Yeah he said he would try to come,” Georgia replied.
“Try,” Esme questioned. “It’s his daughter’s birthday. I’m sure he could do better than try.”
“Don’t start mum. He’ll be here ok!” But Georgia was not so sure. Nothing Luke did was predictable these days.
At 3pm the guests started to arrive. Howie and Kiki came with Kiki’s pregnant belly protruding through her jeans.
“Wow you look like you’re ready to burst,” Georgia giggled cupping Kiki’s tummy.
“Tell me about it,” Kiki replied. “I’m so ready for this baby to be out all ready.”
“Though I’m not sure I am,” Howie replied looking pale. Apparently he was terrified at the prospect at being a father. He had never been one to like having many people around.
As the day wore on, Georgia kept staring at the side entrance waiting for Luke to arrive. “Let’s blow the candles out,” Esme said at one point.
“No,” Georgia snapped. “Luke’s not here yet.”
An hour later, Esme tried again. “Now,” she asked?
“Nooooo,” Georgia retorted keeping one eye on the door.
By six o’clock the guests were getting restless and the girls were ready to go to sleep. “Come on Georgia,” Esme grumbled. Georgia finally admitted defeat. “Ok ok,” she said. She was so disappointment that Luke hadn’t shown that she was close to tears. But she was determined not to let him spoil her daughters’ special day.
“Amy can you go get Izzy,” Georgia called over. “Its time to blow out the candles.”
“Sure thing,” Amy called back, scooping Izzy up and heading over to the birthday table.
Everyone was gathered around and were just about to start singing when they were interrupted by a large yelp. “Wait! Wait for me I’m here.”
Luke suddenly called hobbling round the corner on his stick and Georgia rushed over to him.
“I didn’t think you would come,” she gulped.
“I know I’m sorry. I had to walk over and it took so long with my dam leg.”
“You should have said I would have come to get you.”
“No it’s ok,” Luke snapped. “I’m here now.”
They all re-joined the party and India was finally able to blow out her candles. Then as soon as she was done, it was Izzy’s turn.
By the time they aged, they were both so exhausted that Georgia had to put them straight to bed.
Luke kissed them each goodnight and promised he would see them the next day.
“Don’t go will you,” Georgia said stopping Luke before he turned towards the door. “Hang out for a bit. At least until I’ve put the girls to bed.”
“Ok,” Luke replied reluctantly.
By the time Georgia came back down the stairs, Esme was just finishing the washing up from the party. “Aww thanks for doing that mum.”
“Don’t thank me, Luke did most of it.”
“Where is he?”
Georgia moved to the back door and watched as Luke lay on the ground looking up at the stars. I wonder what he sees, she thought to herself pulling on the door handle and going out to join him.
“Hey,” she said flopping down next to him.
“Hey,” he replied looking back at her startled by her sudden closeness.
“So what you looking at?”
“Oh I don’t know. The sky, the stars, the universe. How huge it is. How small we are.”
Georgia leant back and rested her head backwards. “Look at that one,” she gasped pointing out a star twinkling back at her. “It’s so big.”
“That because it’s not a star it’s a planet,” Luke replied. “I think its Saturn.” He leant back on his hands too and Georgia felt his arm cross over hers to steady himself. She felt the heat of his skin radiating next to hers and it made her shudder.
“How do you know all this stuff,” she asked.
“I was in the army remember. I was working my way up to becoming an astronaut until… well until the accident happened.”
Georgia wanted to ask about the accident but she knew it was time to change the subject. “Do you remember the last time we were out here at night time,” she asked.
“Yeah,” Luke replied. “You were trying to seduce me in the hot tub.”
“Me,” Georgia gasped. “I think it was you doing the seducing. Groping me like that.”
“I was just tickling you,” Luke chuckled. “And you were asking for it.”
“How easy things were back then,” Georgia sighed.
“Tell me about it.” Luke suddenly tore his eyes from the sky and looked at Georgia. “Georgia will you tell me something.”
“Anything,” she replied. He was so close to her now she could feel his breath on her face. “If I had not gone to the army do you think things would have worked out differently?”
“I don’t know,” Georgia replied. “But I do know I would never have let you go if I knew then what I do now.”
Luke moved his hand over hers and the electric light bolts shot through her. Georgia could not hold back anymore. She let her body fall against his and pressed her lips down onto his.
At first he responded. He opened his mouth letting her taste him but as quick as it started he pushed her off him. “No,” he commanded pulling himself off the ground.
“What,” Georgia cried jumping up too. “Why can’t I kiss you?”
“God Georgia you don’t get it do you!”
“Get what? What don’t I get?”
“Me,” Luke screamed. “You don’t get me. I can’t give you what you want. I can’t be the man you want. I’m broken.”
“No you’re not! You are the man I want,” she screamed back.
“You don’t have a clue do you,” he spat and with that he turned and limped off.
Georgia watched him leave, too stunned to move.