"Hey Holly, I have something to tell you."
I paused in mid-step, unconsciously reaching out with my right hand and grabbing the railing on the stairs. Turning, I looked out the window at the fall leaves covering the ground, phone cradled against my ear. I was surprised that Will had happened to call while I was back in town to see The Tempest, but I considered it a happy coincidence.
"Oh? What's up?" I asked, trying to sound casual. He seemed far too excited for it to be bad news, but I'm naturally paranoid.
"Kim's pregnant! We're expecting a baby next summer! We haven't told hardly anyone yet, so I don't necessarily want to you tell everybody, but I had to talk to you and let you know that..."
I grinned and continued to stand in that stairwell for thirty minutes as Will's joy flooded out of the cell phone.
"What did you think of it?" Will asked as I threw his script down on the desk in front of him.
"I've beta'ed better fanfic," I noted dryly, looking at the bent top page of Car Wars. It really wasn't that bad of writing, but for the past several months it seemed like everyone had done nothing but stroke his ego about his writing, his acting, his singing... really, just about anything he'd done. And, for his age, he was good at those things. But somebody needed to keep him from getting too big a head.
Good thing I was around.
"I understand it's supposed to be a parody, but the characters..."
With practiced ease I slipped around and between tables, taking pictures of all our friends currently at Fazoli's.
"Make sure to get all the cousins!" Kim teased.
"That's what I'm doing," I replied with a grin.
Alumni and current students were all crammed together at the long table, around twenty of us eating and catching up with one another. We had completed a reading for Hero Squad earlier that afternoon and were celebrating with laughter and cheap pasta.
Finally I made my way back over to where Will, Kim, and Sherri were. Will grinned and poked Sherri in the side.
"You know, when I told you to get as many people together as you could, this was the last thing I expected. Thank you."
We hurried along the sidewalk, trying to get back to the theater in good time. "...and then there's option c: chicken nuggets," Will said.
Big T and I had gone several steps before we realized that Will had completely stopped walking. Big T and I exchanged puzzled looks before turning back towards him. Will had taken off his orange hat and looked as bemused as we felt.
"You know... I think that may be the most random thing I've ever said."
A horrible trombone noise filled the apartment, and I awoke with a start. I shot upright on the couch in an instant, looking around a bit in panic.
Sherri and Will started laughing at me and told me to go back to sleep. "It's just the music they play when Godzilla..."
"Wait!" I said, my tired eyes fixing on the television screen. "Is Godzilla using a breath attack and flying?"
They just kept laughing at me.
Grumbling about stupid Japanese monsters, I rolled over and went back to sleep.
"Sorry I don't call as much any more. It feels weird to call a married woman at night."
Will was on his way to Kroger and had needed someone to talk to. It made me happy as we rarely got the chance to talk much on the phone any more.
"I understand. I'm always paranoid I'm going to wake your family up if I call at night, and I hate to interrupt you during the day," I replied.
We kept chatting, catching the other person up on everything new going on in life. After a bit, Will explained, "I was really nervous to send that manuscript to you, you know. All I could think of was you walking into that classroom, slamming my script on the desk and telling me how it was utter crap."
I blinked a few times. That wasn't how I remembered it. Then again, it had happened over ten years ago.
"Well, we both know I wasn't the nicest person in high school..."
I was collecting the last of my things on my desk, making sure I had everything I needed for the upcoming weekend. It was going to be my last state tournament for Forensics. In less than a month I would finally graduate from high school, and in the fall I would be starting college.
Now is no time to get sentimental.
It was a little weird not having Will going with us. We would of course be stopping at the Japanese steak house again (how Mr. and Mrs. H were going to manage nearly thirty high school kids on a weekend trip...). In the past it had always served as a birthday celebration for him.
"Hey Holly, miss me?"
My ears registered who it was before my eyes fully pinpointed where Will was standing. As soon as they had a lock, however, I took off running and nearly tackled him in a hug. "What are you doing here?"
Will laughed, barely managing to keep his balance. "Mr. H was needing another chaperon for the trip, and asked if I'd like to go with...." He laughed again, and I let go of him. "I can't believe I finally succeeded in surprising you."
* * * * *
Happy birthday, Will!