Turning 30, Chapter 4

Ashlynn thumbed through a Food and Wine magazine with a total lack of enthusiasm. She sat on the recliner as Tadd laid down like a starfish on the floor, softly sobbing. There was a knock on the door, so Ashlynn put the magazine down and answered it. She gave up hope that Carla would come by and save her from watching over an emotional lunatic, which made her curious as to who could be at the door. She hoped that Tadd didn’t alarm anyone enough to the point to call the police. What she didn’t expect was to see someone she knew. The woman at the door had gained weight and looked super tired, but clearly it was Lavena! Lavena instantly recognized her. “Ashlynn?”

Ashlynn exclaimed, “Oh my god, Lavena!”

They let out squeals of excitement and gave each other a hug. Lavena then asked, “What are you doing here?”

“Babysitting. Don’t worry, everything’s fine,” Ashlynn explained.

Lavena commented, “Liar! Can I come in?”

“Sure, why not.” Ashlynn let her inside.

Lavena looked horrified to see Tadd on the floor. Ashlynn whispered, “My old neighbor, Carla, asked me to watch her nephew while she ran to work real quick. That was hours ago. Apparently she would rather deal with the chaos at work than…”

“I see…” Lavena’s face indicated that she wanted to as more questions on the subject but changed her mind. “So, why are you back in Long Island?”

Ashlynn asked her, “Remember that great job I got right after graduation?”

Lavena replied, “Oh no, did it shut down? I thought it was doing well!”

Ashlynn chuckled. “I thought so too. Marketing sure made it look that way! So, how have you been?”

“Look at me,” she replied, “Can’t you tell I’ve lost my mind?”

“I still can’t believe you have kids!” Ashlynn told her. “I still think of you as my high school friend. Even though I’m almost thirty, high school still doesn’t seem that far away.”

“It does for me, I feel ancient!” Lavena said. “I haven’t slept since their father left. Don’t feel bad for me, it was my own stupidity for thinking a street racer would be a good father! Then after having a baby and realizing he wasn’t, I slept with him again. I made such dumb decisions when I was young. Now I work all night, take care of them all day, and I will get no sleep until they move out. It’ll be nice to find a man to join our family to help me balance things out!”

“I’m looking forward to getting a good night’s rest.There was too much going on at my old place at all hours of the day to get any sleep. I shared an apartment with a crap load of people to split the rent. There was zero privacy! Not that I”ll get a lot of that at my parents’ house!”

“Your parents’ house? So you don’t live here?”

“No, this is Tadd’s apartment.”

“Tadd?”

Ashlynn pointed to the floor. Tadd was still crying but seemed to be running out of steam. Ashlynn asked Lavena, “You don’t get out of your apartment much, do you?”

Lavena agreed, “Yeah. I mean, I knew he lived here at one point, but I thought he moved out with that ska-”

“Shh!” Ashlynn interrupted. “Trust me, you don’t wanna insult you-know-who.”

Lavena went on, “I said hi from time to time, but he was always with that…lovely girl. No one else existed in his world. After they moved out, we lost touch. I didn’t know he came back. I just came over to see what was making more noise than my kids usually do. And why it stopped.” She looked at her watch. “Oh shoot! Their bus will be here soon. I better leave.”

Ashlynn commented, “I can’t believe you have kids old enough to be in school!”

Lavena responded, “I know! They’re my angels! Hannah and Michael are totally worth no sleep and saggy mom boobs!”

Tadd randomly interjected, “My birthday is in a month. We were supposed to spend it together!” He started to sob harder again.

Ashlynn said to Lavena, “We can’t let him turn thirty like this! Turning thirty is ind of a big deal, and the poor guy has no one. We should try to make him feel better before the big day!”

Lavena replied, “Agreed! We could get the old gang back together. Maybe reliving the glory days will help him get out of this funk.”

As Tadd went back into tantrum mode, Ashlynn commented, “A funk? You’re calling this a funk?”

She shrugged. They hear a school bus horn beep. Lavena asked Ashlynn, “When do you finish ‘babysitting?'”

She listlessly replied, “Not a minute goes by I don’t ask myself that same question.”

“When you’re free, come by apartment thirty seven!” She ran out.

Ashlynn had gotten used to Tadd’s erratic behavior, shrugged it off, and went back to her recliner. The landline rang, and Ashlynn picked it up, “Hello?”

Carla was on the line. “Hi Ashlynn. How’s my nephew doing?”

Ashlynn looked at Tadd, who was pressing his face against the wall moaning, “I wanna die! Why can’t I die?”

Ashlynn told Carla, “He’s fine.”

“Oh good. I’m on my way home now.”

“Sure…”

“See you soon.”

Carla hung up. Ashlynn looked at Tadd and sighed. “So this is my welcome back to Success Lake!”

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