What if I Fly? I was missing Will and Julia, so I decided to treat myself with a glimpse into their future. It's a short, short story, but I hope you enjoy... (If you haven't read the novel...STOP HERE!!!)
The sunlight filters through the curtains, awakening Julia to another beautiful Tuscan morning. She’s so warm and cozy in their cocoon and squeezes her eyes shut to block out the light. Burrowing beneath the covers, she pulls the comforter up to her ears trying to muffle the sounds of her house coming to life. She would love a few more minutes of semi-consciousness before she begins her day, but the children are in the kitchen, concocting something special for breakfast and the clattering of pans, dishes and silverware forces her to skip the pleasant transition from dreamtime to reality. Opening her eyes, she feels her husband snuggling up behind her, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her close. She sighs into him, holding his hand to her chest and lightly kisses each calloused finger.
“Happy Anniversary, Jules,” Will whispers in her ear, and nuzzles her neck, holding her close.
“Sleepy,” she murmurs.
“We have maybe ten minutes,” he says. “I can smell them cooking something.”
His hands wander the length of her body until he finds the hem of her nightgown, then lifts it over her head and quickly sheds his t-shirt and boxers.
“Has it really been ten years?” she asks, rolling onto her back.
Her eyes meet his and her heart skips a beat, the heat spreading throughout her body. She runs her fingers through his thick blond hair, now woven with strands of silver, then along the side of his face. His skin is weathered from working outdoors, the fine lines etched around his sea blue eyes doing nothing to detract from his appearance. At forty-two, her husband is still the most beautiful man she has ever seen.
Will rests his muscular torso against hers, brushing the long, dark brown curls away from her face, then nods with a grin.
“More like twenty, but these have been the best ten,” he replies, his mouth finding hers.
“Mom? Dad?” they are interrupted a moment later by their daughter Mae knocking on their bedroom door. “Breakfast is ready!”
“Okay, sweetheart, just a minute,” Will calls out, and Julia wraps her legs around him, pulling him closer. They don’t have much time and she wants to finish what they started.
“Mommy!” their youngest son Joe bangs on the door. “Daddy! We made pancakes!”
Will freezes and Julia giggles. Her husband was very optimistic this morning, believing the children would grant them the opportunity to make love in peace.
“Hey!” Liam calls from the kitchen. “I told you guys to knock once. Come back here.”
“Ah, we’ve trained him well,” she whispers, shifting her hips beneath him.
Ten minutes later, Will and Julia enter the kitchen in their pajamas and robes, to find their three children waiting patiently, a mason jar filled with flowers from their garden in the center of the rustic wooden table, and three handmade cards propped up around the bouquet. Liam kisses her on the cheek and pulls out a chair, then hugs his father and pours them each a glass of orange juice.
“Look, Mommy, I made the fruit,” Joe beams, pushing the bowl of berries across the table.
“You didn’t make it, Joe,” Mae admonishes with an eye roll. “You washed them and put the fruit in the bowl.”
“I did too make it! Daddy, didn’t we make the fruit?” her five-year-old son insists, his eyes seeking validation. “I helped in the garden and I put water on them and I picked them too!”
Will laughs and rubs Joe’s head, her son’s wavy brown hair sticking out in every direction. Their little boy is such a combination of the two of them. Each of their children has her olive complexion, but Mae is the only one with Julia’s big chocolate brown eyes, while the boys both inherited Will’s beautiful blue eyes.
“That’s true, you did,” Will nods and kisses the top of Joe’s head.
“Only God can make fruit,” Mae insists.
Julia sighs. Her daughter recently made her First Communion and is taking her religious studies quite seriously and literally.
“Maisy,” Liam begins. “God may be the creator of all things, but if we didn’t plant the bush and care for it, the fruit wouldn’t be here. So, thank you God for the seeds, and thank you Joe for growing the fruit.”
Mae’s brow furrows as she digests her brother’s reasoning. Julia can see the wheels inside her eight-year-old daughter’s head spinning as she processes this information. With a smile, Mae nods and picks up a strawberry, inspecting it as if it were something completely new to her. She loves her daughter’s inquisitive spirit, the fire for knowledge and understanding burning inside of her. She’s an extremely bright child and the apple of her father’s eye.
“So there!” Joe shouts and sticks his tongue at his sister.
“Enough,” Liam interjects.
Her eldest son places a stack of pancakes on the table along with a jug of maple syrup, then takes a seat beside Joe and clamps his hand over his little brother’s mouth. A day doesn’t go by without Mae and Joe bickering and Liam is a spectacular mediator between the two. What will they do without Liam when he goes off to college in a couple of years? Parents aren’t supposed to have favorites, but Julia and Liam have a very special bond and she’s dreading the day he leaves home.
Will meets her eyes across the table, the corners of his mouth turning up. His eyes are bright and he’s positively glowing with pride. She recognizes the look, knows exactly what her husband is thinking. We did this, Jules, we created this amazing family. She closes her eyes and blows him a kiss, her heart swelling in her chest. Yes, we did.
“Buon giorno!” their neighbor Angela calls out as she opens the kitchen door.
Angela just celebrated her eighty-third birthday and is part of the family, a grandmother to them all. She is a spry little woman and still walks to town everyday to shop at the market, over five miles round trip. As often as they offer her rides, she declines, insisting these walks are her fountain of youth. She may be onto something! Angela’s hardly aged since they moved in over eight years ago.
Will kisses Angela’s cheek and holds out a chair for her.
“Hello, piccoli angeli!” she cries. Little angels. “Today is a special day, no?”
“È il nostro decimo anniversario,” Will replies, then looks around the table for feedback.
“Spoken like a true Italiano!” Angela smiles, pinching Will’s cheek.
Everyone laughs and Will nods his head and smiles, his cheeks turning pink. Her husband has struggled for years to learn Italian. Everyone else at the table is fluent, and he refuses to give up trying! He understands what is being said, but butchers the pronunciation when he attempts to speak the language. She gives him credit for persevering all these years.
“Ten years,” Angela sighs and holds up her glass of juice. “Grazie Dio! To another fifty!”
“To another fifty,” they all chime in and clink glasses.