Chapter 32

Never Grow Up

Less than a year later, Samuel and I were married.

The wedding was everything I’d dreamed of. I’m sure our parents would happily have paid for an enormous wedding if we’d asked them to. But that wasn’t our style.

Focus, Jessica!

All I wanted was a small, intimate affair with our closest friends and family while I said ‘I do’ to the love of my life. We rented the Myshuno Observatory. It almost felt like my grandma Cora was with us in spirit.

Even Charlie showed up. I knew it meant a lot to Samuel, although his brother couldn’t stay for long.

At least he was there for the ceremony, and he came over to congratulate us afterwards.

He said he had a flight to catch, his band was on tour at the moment. I suspected that he was also trying to avoid talking to Colten and Kailani.

I wondered if Charlie actually preferred his solitude, or if he secretly wanted to be a bigger part of his family than he was.


I was grateful that I got along with my own family, especially my sister Grace. I couldn’t believe that she would be starting high school after the summer, it felt like yesterday that I’d taught her how to cross the monkey bars in our backyard.

By the time Grace and I headed inside for the reception, Charlie was gone and Kailani was talking to Jessica. Jessica had volunteered to do the decorations, beautiful blush-coloured roses everywhere, my favourite.

Daria’s aesthetic is Whimsical Dominatrix.

We kept the wedding alcohol-free for my dad, and Griffin and Daria had offered to do all the food for us as a wedding gift. It was impressive, the entire menu was vegan since Griffin had also stopped eating meat after his first visit to the cadaver lab during medical training. I didn’t blame him, it sounded horrific. Samuel hadn’t seemed as bothered.

Over by the cake, Conrad was making my dad and Cecilia crack up with outrageous anecdotes. It was strange to see my parents interact with each other. It had happened before, of course, they had celebrated my birthday together a few times when I was younger, but I couldn’t remember if they had been in the same room since my mom and Conrad moved to Del Sol Valley.

Looking at the four of them now, it was impossible to tell that things had ever been bad between my parents. Still, I couldn’t imagine two people less likely to work out. They both had a certain desperation to them, and they both needed someone to temper them, not stoke the flames.

Conrad, with his extravagant approach to life, gave my mother a safe outlet, a way to release all that intensity so she didn’t blow up.

Cecilia, kind but unwavering, calmed my father down and turned his particular brand of chaos into something less destructive.

But who was I?

Was I like my dad, prone to holding on in an attempt to do the right thing until I finally self-destructed?

Yes, hello, this is Conrad’s fanbase. We would like to formally request that Conrad stops ageing immediately, please. PLEASE.

Or was I more like my mother, desperately trying to make people love me until I gave up and left them in the dust?

I needed to do better than both of them. I wanted everything to work out. I shook my head lightly, trying to chase away the dark thoughts. This was my wedding day, why was I only thinking about disaster?

I went to find Samuel. He pulled me close and kissed me.

This was what I needed. My husband.

Samuel would temper me, like Conrad and Cecilia tempered my parents.

We would be fine.

By the time we were back in our bed that night, I was both exhausted and deliriously happy.

I took Samuel’s hand, marvelling at the ring on his finger.

“I can’t believe we’re actually married.”

He sent me a mischievous smile.

“Me neither. But you better let go of my hand. I need it for something.”

I was glad that we’d had some practice over the last year, otherwise I might have chickened out of my wedding night completely.

Samuel was gentle, always making sure that I was satisfied. A small part of me wished he’d be a little less restrained, that he would lose himself in it, the same way he made me lose myself, but it was still good.

We had decided to just let things happen naturally after the wedding, and it didn’t take long until I was pregnant.

We were both overjoyed, and our roommates were excited for us. Griffin immediately started changing our weekly meal plans around the nutritional requirements of pregnant women.

I asked if he was sure he still wanted to be a surgeon and not become a nutritionist instead, but he laughed it off.

Daria’s podcast is called “Ethics, schmethics!” and is about white-hat hacking and veganism. Obviously.

“Freya, don’t be silly. You can do more than one thing with your life! Just look at Daria. Would you tell her to choose whether she wants to only do programming or podcasting or animal rights activism?”

“You know I’d never dare tell Daria what to do, but I honestly don’t understand how she finds the time.”

“Exactly, priorities!” Griffin looked at me like he’d just won the discussion and went back to his meal planning.

I thought about it. Sports had always taken up most of my time, and the rest I spent with friends and family. I didn’t really have any other interests, unless you counted reading a book or watching a movie. Griffin had his cooking, Daria seemed to be doing all the things, and even Jessica had a fashion blog.

At least Samuel was more like me, we both tended to focus on our careers and family. He wanted to specialise in paediatrics, he really loved working with children.

He was so excited about becoming a father. He kept flipping between ‘doctor mode’, spewing random facts about child development and asking me how I was feeling, and ‘dad mode’ where he obsessed about names and insisted on talking to my belly in silly voices.

It was pretty adorable. I couldn’t wait for us to finally meet our baby. We were going to be the best parents ever, together.

Nothing like my own parents.

I wasn’t even three years old when they split up. My father then proceeded to spend almost five years drinking and whoring his way through a pretty miserable existence.

Still, most of my memories of him back then were good. Even though he was troubled, he was always so happy to see me, and he always came to my games or picked me up from practice.

I remembered our trip to Mt. Komorebi vividly. The snowboarding had been amazing, and I loved spending time with my dad.

But then I had woken up from a nightmare in the big, dark, and unfamiliar house. I had felt very alone.

I was used to living by the harbour with my mother, used to the constant noise outside.

Here, the thick snow blanketed everything and it was eerily quiet.

I couldn’t remember how to turn on the lights, so I stumbled into the dark hallway, blinded by tears, only vaguely certain of where my dad’s bedroom was.

He wasn’t there.

It wasn’t the first time in my life that I’d gone to his bedroom to find it empty, but at home, it just meant that he was downstairs watching TV, or had fallen asleep on the couch with Cooper snuggled up next to him. Here, there was no sound of a TV or any light anywhere. The house felt completely deserted.

I knew I wasn’t really alone, my grandparents were in their bedroom somewhere downstairs, but I was afraid to go down there. I didn’t even want to go back into the dark hall.

I curled up on the big, empty bed. Surely, my dad would come. He had to sleep sooner or later.

I don’t remember crying myself to sleep, but I remember waking up.

My dad had been there, moisture still in his hair, fresh from a shower. With the smell of toothpaste and only the faintest hint of alcohol left on his breath.

I always hated that particular combination of smells.

He’d promised never to leave me again, and he hadn’t. Much later, I learned that he had started therapy as soon as we got home, and as far as I knew, he hadn’t touched alcohol for over fifteen years now. But I still remembered the smell.

I put my hands protectively on my growing belly.

“I’m going to do a better job than they did, no matter what it takes”, I whispered.

I was near my due date when Griffin called a house meeting.

“Listen guys, as much as I love living here with y’all, I’ll be moving out in a few months. Daria and I are getting married, can you believe it? So we’re moving in together, probably buying a house in the suburbs where we can pretend that we’re real, functional adults.”

Jessica squealed with excitement.

Whaaat? You proposed to Daria?”

“Of course not. She proposed to me.”

I was stunned. I mean, it wasn’t like it was against the law or anything, but I didn’t know any other girls who had done that.

“Freya, stop looking like you’ve seen a ghost. Daria is a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it. Why should she wait around for me to stop slacking? It’s one of the things I love most about her. She takes charge. Everywhere.”

He winked.

Jessica punched him in the shoulder.

“Too much information, Griffster. It’s more than enough that we can hear you guys sometimes.”

“Sorry, I’d ask her to keep it down, but the gag makes it hard for me to speak, you see.”


“And the handcuffs make it impossible to remove the gag!”

We all laughed, but I couldn’t quite let the mental picture of Griffin and Daria go.

We had all been unfortunate enough to walk in on them by accident. It was definitely something you only did once before you learned to always knock, even if the door was ajar.

Samuel and I were quite the opposite. He was so careful with me, like I was something fragile, or an easily spooked animal. And not just because I was heavily pregnant, it had been like that since the first time.

tfw he’s about to give you the neatest weinering you’ve ever received

And he wasn’t just controlled in bed. Sometimes, if he was frustrated about something, he felt like a tightly wound spring that could go off at any time, but he never did. Samuel was always measured, composed, and polite.

I wanted to make him lose that control, just a little. The sex wasn’t bad, not that I had much to compare with, but we had definitely never been at risk of disturbing the neighbours the way Griffin and Daria did.

That night, I was awakened by a dull ache in my back, much stronger than the small twinges of pain I’d been feeling for a few days now. I woke Samuel up.

“I think it’s time.”

“Is she asleep?”

“Yeah, seems like it.”

Samuel came over and put his arms around me. For a moment, we just looked at her.

Hailey. Our daughter. We’d made her and now she was here. Even though it had been almost a month, the thought still blew my mind. And scared me.

When I learned to drive, someone told me what to do and what not to do, and gave me a license afterwards to prove that I knew what I was doing. There were no licenses for babies. They just let you take them home from the hospital by yourself, expecting you to figure it out.

It was terrifying. And amazing.

“Samuel, I want another one.”

He let out a quiet laugh.

“Another baby? Freya, we just had Hailey. Not only would your body benefit from at least a full year to recover, we also need to figure out what we’re doing when Griffin moves out.”

“I know. But I want more, I want at least two or three. And I don’t want them to be ten years apart like me and my sister. I want them to be friends.”

“I get that, but still. And don’t you want some time back at work before we have more kids?”

I looked at Hailey. She was so tiny, so fragile. She depended on us for everything. Back to work meant endless training, weekends and evenings spent on matches. And Samuel would work long hours when he became a resident doctor. We’d be leaving Hailey with strangers for most of the day.

“No. Samuel, I don’t want to go back. Could we… could I maybe stay at home for a while? I don’t want to get a nanny or send her to daycare. I want to be there for her. And you’re going to be so busy when you start your residency, she’d never see either of us.”

“Freya, are you sure? If you skip out on your contract, you risk never getting signed again. What if you can’t go back? And how long would you stay home? Have you thought this through?”

“Samuel, this is really important to me. I don’t care about the contract. I want to stay home until we’re done having kids, maybe until the youngest gets ready for kindergarten. And if that takes ten years, then I’ll figure out what to do then. I just – I don’t want to abandon our baby.”

“Daycare is hardly abandonment. I know you have some issues, but I promise she’d be perfectly fine. But listen, this is your decision, your career, and I’m not going to argue. If you feel this strongly about it, we’ll make it work.”

“I do. Thank you.”

He put his arms around me again, pressing his cheek against mine.

“I guess I better look for residency somewhere affordable, then.”

2 thoughts on “Chapter 32

  1. Because it needed to be said: the wedding screenshots are G O R G E O U S

    Also, this bittersweet recurring theme in your legacy, which I love:

    “I’m going to do a better job than they did, no matter what it takes”

    Characters may fail, their mistakes may span generations, and things may not turn out as expected, but there’s always this beautiful undercurrent of hope and perseverance ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much ❤️ I was obsessed with the light, I took so many screenshots I didn’t even need just because it was pretty 😂

      I definitely write a lot about generational trauma and how we deal with the cards we’re dealt. Sometimes it’s hopeful, sometimes it’s more, well, famous last words… 😈

      Everyone does the best they can, and sometimes it’s good enough, sometimes it isn’t. And sometimes they really could have tried harder.

      Liked by 1 person

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