9:37 p.m. | Lemon St. Bus Stop
Aislyn wasn’t aware that she’d fallen asleep until a drop of water on her face wakes her up.
She immediately notices that she’s resting on Cailean’s shoulder and rises slowly to not wake him up.
Feeling rather stiff from her nap, she steps out into the starting rain that woke her up. Her father would be here any minute now, and she was feeling slightly nervous at seeing him again. Though they spoke from time to time on the phone, they’d become slightly estranged after they’d last seen each other, which was at her college graduation. Her father had shown up to the ceremony with someone he introduced as his girlfriend and Aislyn couldn’t help but react rather… badly is the only way to put it.
As the rain’s intensity picks up and she feels the temperature drop, she sneezes. “Bless you.” A voice that isn’t Cailean’s says.
She turns to her right and sees her father standing there. He’d aged a lot in the six years that she hadn’t seen him, but she’d be able to recognize him immediately anywhere. “Hey there, stranger.” He says humorlessly.
“Hey, dad.” She says, feeling rather small. She was planning on stopping in and out of Bayville without seeing him because she didn’t know how to patch things up. She was in the wrong, she knew that, but apologizing wasn’t one of her greatest strengths. “Hello, Aislyn.” He says. He hadn’t called her ‘kiddo’ as he affectionately used to since that day.
Cailean wakes up at the sound of their voices and turns to greet her father. “Hello.” He says. “I’m Cailean, sorry for the inconvenience.” “It’s no trouble at all.” Her father says giving Cailean a smile he hadn’t given her. “Let’s get you out of this rain.”
The drive back was long, but thankfully not painfully silent as Cailean and her father chatted about things she didn’t tune into. It was only as they pulled into the driveway that she noticed this home wasn’t the one she was expecting.
10:30 p.m. | Persefoni Home
“This place… It’s–” Aislyn begins to say, but is cut off by her father.
“What? You didn’t honestly expect me to still reside in that old place, did you?”
Yes. Was what Aislyn wanted to say, but decides not to. If Cailean noticed the tension between her and her father, he was doing a good job of hiding it.
“We’re here.” Her father says rather loudly as they all walk in. “Welcome!” A voice says. A few moments later a pretty woman, whom Aislyn recognizes as her father’s girlfriend from several years ago, walks in.
“This is Nicole.” Her father says, walking behind her to introduce her. He kept his attention focused on Cailean, and the pleasantness he was speaking to him with sort of stung Aislyn. He was still angry, rightfully so, but that didn’t make it hurt her any less.
“I’m Cailean, nice to meet you.”
“Please, make yourselves feel at home.” Nicole says, turning to both of them in turn.
“Cailean, you can follow me, I have some of my older spare clothes that’ll fit you; the longer you guys stay in those wet clothes, the more likely you are to get sick.” Her father says. Cailean follows him, leaving Aislyn with Nicole.
“Right, well, I can show you to the guest room, you’ll probably want a hot shower.” Nicole says. She begins to walk away, and Aislyn follows silently.
“That’s a lot of glass.” She observes aloud as she notices the entire bathroom’s walls are transparent.
“Don’t worry, there aren’t any neighbors for miles on this side of the house; no one will see you.” Nicole says with a smile. As she speaks, Aislyn notices a diamond ring on her left ring finger, it appears she and her father weren’t dating anymore.
“Well, I’ll let you get to it, then.” Nicole says as she begins to walk away.
Aislyn steps out of her wet rags and places them into the bathtub to not pool water onto the floor. The hot shower felt so good against her cold skin. She could feel all of her makeup washing away, but her appearance wasn’t her greatest concern at the moment.
Nicole seemed like a nice enough woman, Aislyn never really gave her a chance; how kindly she was treating Aislyn now considering their last encounter was a testament to that. The only issue was, she wasn’t sure how she was going to patch things up with her dad.
Aislyn’s appearance hadn’t changed much since high school, and gazing at her make-up free reflection as she steps out of the shower much later reminds her of that.
She hears a knock in the guest room and goes to answer it. On the way to the door, she notices fresh flowers on the bedside table, Aislyn hopes that they were always there and not recently placed for her arrival, for that would only make her feel more guilty.
“Hey, there.” Nicole says when Aislyn opens the door. “Only my night gowns are washed at the moment, I hope that’s ok.” She adds, holding a slip in her hands. “That’s fine, thank you.” Aislyn says.
“What else?… Oh, um, if you get cold, there are extra blankets in the closet, but we crank up the heater at night so you should be fine. Also, there are some spare toothbrushes in the bathroom drawers, and…” As she talks on and on, in a slight rush, Aislyn notices that Nicole is no longer wearing her ring; this only adds to her immense guilt.
“Anything I can get you?” Nicole asks after she finishes speaking. “No, nothing at the moment, thanks.” Aislyn says. Though Nicole was being polite, it was clear she was not entirely comfortable around her, and understandably so… Aislyn hadn’t given the best first impression or made her feel welcome when they had met.
“I’ll let you get settled, then. Goodnight.” Nicole says as she exits.
After changing, Aislyn decides to take her mind off of Nicole and her father, and messages Gus.
Gus doesn’t reply when Aislyn sends her last text and she wonders if she’s given him the wrong impression. She asks if she can call, but Gus replies that he needs to get back to the guests and that he’ll contact her later. Unsure of what else to say, she decides to message Amber to cover for her at work tomorrow.
Aislyn didn’t want to give unnecessary details to Amber, especially since they weren’t close, so she rolls with the assumption Amber makes that she’s sick.
Feeling oddly stuffy in the room, Aislyn saunters off to the empty living room to do more thinking. “Hey.” Cailean says on her right; Aislyn had forgotten about him.
“Have you talked to Gus?” He asks. “Yeah.” Aislyn says, slightly surprised that that’s the first thing he has to say. He really was a saint for putting up with everything going on without asking questions. “What about work?” He adds.
“I took care of it, thanks.” Aislyn says, a bit of annoyance seeping out. She knows Cailean means no harm, but she was already feeling incredibly guilty and his kindness just made her feel worse about her actions and the kind of person she was.
She stalks off to the living room, and Cailean follows. “There sure is a lot of white here.” He says. “Yeah.” Aislyn says, thankful that he was continuing to refrain from asking any awkward questions. The house was magnificent, and she had so many questions of her own.
Shortly after they sit down, her father walks in. “You guys hungry?” He asks.
“I’m fine, thanks. Aislyn?” Cailean says. “I’m ok as well, we ate shortly before I called you.”
“Should that change during the night, feel free to help yourselves to anything in the kitchen. Cailean, we can go pick up your car whenever you want in the morning. Nicole’s too exhausted to come back down so she told me to tell you goodnight.” Avoiding me, is more like it. Aislyn thinks.
“I’ll be heading to sleep as well, then. Goodnight.” Her dad adds before walking away.
That’s it. Aislyn thinks. The awkwardness was suffocating; she rises and Cailean copies. “Cailean, would you excuse me for a bit?” She asks.
Aislyn hurries to grab her dad before he makes it too far. “Can we talk?” She asks.
“There’s nothing to talk about.” He says. “Dad.” She pleads. He sighs, “Alright.”
She follows him outside where the rain is still pouring, but the sheet they sit beneath turns the drops into mist.
“This place is beautiful.” She says as she takes in the scenery. “That’s why we bought it.” Her father says. “You’re mad.” Aislyn states, not asking.
“Can you blame me?” He asks. “No, I can’t. And I know saying sorry would be the understatement of the century, dad, but I really am.” She says.
“When I finished school I was looking forward to moving back in, finding a job, and taking care of you for a change. Because I closed myself off from people, all I had was you. I’d forgotten that you were in the same boat, and looking back it was stupid of me to think that you wouldn’t want to find someone while I was away, but I still felt sad. I figured if you found someone else to love, then I’d really be all alone.”
“Aislyn, you’re my daughter. Did you honestly believe me finding someone else would come in between that relationship that we have? Why didn’t you just explain all of this after I introduced Nicole to you? Instead you just moved out and refused to step back into town.”
“Me not wanting to come back here, didn’t really have to do with you guys…” Aislyn says. “I regretted my outburst right after I made it, but I was too prideful to admit it. Let’s not forget I got that stubbornness from you.” At this, her dad gives a genuine smile, one that she’d missed.
“I know… and we’re both too stubborn to admit faults when we make them. I’m also in the wrong; I should’ve picked a better time to introduce you two and not done it on your big day. I wanted to keep my resolve and have you come around, but after a month of not speaking I caved and called because I couldn’t stand not hearing your voice. I love you, kiddo, and I wanted you to love me enough to accept Nicole for me. Dating her really helped turn my life around.”
“I do love you dad, more than I can express in words, but I confess I didn’t really show it at the time… You and Nicole aren’t dating anymore, are you?” Aislyn says, noticing for the first time the ring on her father’s hand.
“Oh, this? We didn’t have a spectacle if that’s what you’re thinking. As we’ve both been married before, we just wanted it on paper, that’s all… I wanted to tell you, but considering how badly you took to just meeting her… Nicole really is wonderful, she– ”
“Dad, it’s ok.” Aislyn says. Her father had joked that she’d run out of tears that summer after high school as Aislyn never cried, but she was close to spilling tears now. “You don’t need to convince me of anything.”
“But I do!” Her father says. “When you eventually have someone you love, you’ll want to make sure the most important people in your life see them the same way.” As he says this, her dad extends his arms and Aislyn leans in, just realizing how much she had missed him.
“Just so you know, I actually am dating someone.” She says. Aislyn thought about it for a moment and she couldn’t bring herself to say love, just because she didn’t feel that way about Gus yet. She cared about him, but she supposed it was still too early in their relationship to use such heavy words. “That’s wonderful, is he good to you? Do I need to have a firm talking with him about anything?”
Aislyn laughs, “Yes dad, he is. And that won’t be necessary.”
“If you say so, kiddo… but don’t forget, I’m always here if you need me.”
There was a lot to catch up on, but after a few hours, her father decides they should save the rest of their talk for later. When they step back inside, Aislyn realizes that for a second time, she’s forgotten all about Cailean. “We’ve been out for some time.” Her dad says. “I could carry him to the guest room.”
“Yes we have, and while that would make you look macho, it’d probably make Cailean feel emasculated. You can go to bed, I’ll wake him up.” Aislyn says as she heads to the couch. “Alrighty, then.” Her dad says with a laugh.
“Yeah?” She says turning back to him.
“Regardless of the reasons how it happened, it’s really nice to see you back here. Goodnight, kiddo.”
“It feels nice to be back. Goodnight, dad.”
“Cailean?” Aislyn says as she walks over to where he was sleeping on the couch. “Cailean, wake up.” She adds as she reaches for his arm and gives him a gentle shake.
“You must be exhausted.” Aislyn says. Despite feeling elated from patching things up with her dad, Aislyn was feeling a new kind of guilt, this time regarding Cailean. The entire day he has been nothing but accommodating. He didn’t ask any questions, or demand any answers, though he deserved them. Even earlier, when he should’ve asked what exactly was going on, he instead inquired about her and she repaid his kindness by channeling her annoyance with herself onto him.
Cailean stirs on the couch, mumbles something and reaches out with the hand that was tucked beneath his face. His fingers come into contact with Aislyn’s and instead of pulling away, she grips his hand tighter.
Thinking about it, Aislyn realizes she doesn’t know much about Cailean… Aside from the fact that he’s one of Gus’s closest friends with similar interests as her, she never bothered to ask about him.
While he not only remembered but also cared if she would be missing work, she never even asked if he had any obligations that would be affected by this unexpected stay. “I promise, Cailean. I’ll make everything up to you tomorrow.” Aislyn says aloud, still holding his hand in her own. She was unsure how exactly she was going to do that, but she figured she’d start by paying more attention to and getting to know him better.
She takes a good look at Cailean and notices that with his hair down he looks much younger. Overcome with the desire to say thank you, Aislyn leans in…
Thanks for reading! Well, Aislyn and Cailean’s little Bayville adventure (which wasn’t supposed to happen at this point of the story initially, but ended up this way) shall end next chapter, and we will finally get to see Gus and his story after that! Feel free to let me know what you thought~