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Sweater Weather

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Ask anyone and they’ll tell you Julia Trojan was good at everything. Ask Wayne Wright and he’ll tell you she was good at everything except one thing: knitting. Julia Trojan could not knit for her life. She could sing better than Judy Garland or Doris Day. But she could not knit no matter how hard she tried. For Julia, everything else just came naturally. She didn’t have to try. But the day she decided to learn to knit so she could surprise her mother, was the day she realized that there was one thing she couldn’t do: knit.

        At first, Wayne thought she showed potential. Her stitches were on point and she had the technique down pat. But once they moved onto actually creating things, Julia couldn’t seem to get it. No matter how many times they went through it together, Julia’s scarves would end up looking like octopi and her sweaters would end up with no arms. It frustrated the hell out of Julia. Wayne on the other hand, couldn’t help but laugh at her failure.

        “That’s it,” screeched Julia, throwing her hands into the air in frustration.

“This is the 10th sweater I’ve made with no arms. Why am I so bad at this?”

Wayne just rolled his eyes and smiled. The woman he once thought could do anything was defeated by something as simple as knitting.

        “The world famous Julia Trojan has been defeated by knitting. Who would’ve thought?” He couldn’t help but laugh at her creation. The sweater looked like anything but a sweater. It looked more like one of those aliens from a Flash Gordon comic. The more he thought about it, the harder he laughed. How could someone as talented at Julia fail as badly as she did? He truly didn’t know.

        Hearing laughter, Julia shook the thoughts from her head and watched Wayne in awe. He was laughing. Full on no noise, baby seal clapping, laughing. Thinking back, Julia didn’t think she had ever heard Wayne laugh before. Not at one of Johnny’s jokes or Davy’s insults. Not even at his own kids. In a way, his laughter filled her with pride. She, Julia Trojan, had made Wayne “Lt. Serious” Wright, laugh. Her horrendous failure made him happy. She chuckled before releasing an accidental snort which in turn made Wayne laugh even harder.

 


 

        

When it came to Julia’s relationship with her boys, she couldn’t help but see them as her brothers. After everything they’d been through together, blood meant nothing. She saw Johnny and Jimmy as her little brothers whom she would protect with her life. Davy was the older and (seemingly) wiser one that she could drink her worries away with. Nick was the brother who’d teach her anything she wanted to know, and all she had to do was ask. But when it came to Wayne, their relationship was so much more. He was that older brother who would come to her aid after a bad breakup, with ice cream and chick flicks, then turn around and beat the shit out of the guy who broke her heart. He was the brother who wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of her happiness.

Without realizing it, Wayne had become the one person she could trust no matter what. Next to Donny, Wayne became the most important man in her life. Which is why when Donny asked who she wanted to tell next, she didn’t hesitate to say Wayne.

Donny didn’t question her, just asked if she wanted to do it alone or if she wanted him there. He knew their relationship was special, something, not even he could compete with. He may be her husband, but Wayne had become her best friend.

“No. This is something I need to do myself,” she replied with a gentle smile. She laid a hand on his shoulder before continuing, “Why don’t you peel Jimmy from his books, then grab Nick, Johnny, and Davy, get some drinks and watch the Indians play?”

“You sure?”

“I’m sure. Besides, it’s knitting night anyways. We’ll be fine.”

“Yeah okay. But I’m coming straight home as soon as the game’s over”

“Donny, seriously! Stop worrying. I’ll be fine. We’re just going to knit. Nothing is going to happen. Take your time. Besides, Wayne will probably leave at 8 and I’ll be in bed by 9. Have some fun and enjoy the game. Relax.” Julia wrapped her arms around Donny’s neck, gave him a kiss then proceeded to walk away.

“Oh-kay! Oh-kay! Sorry for being so…” Donny trailed off in frustration, his hands moving wildly.

“Donny!”

“I’m going! Have fun with Wayne! I love you!” He grabbed his coat and opened the door, stepping to the side when he saw Wayne.

“Jules! Wayne’s here” he howled.

“See ya, Wayne!”

“Bye Donny!”

Hearing Wayne’s voice, Julia walked into the entryway.

“Wayne! You’re here early!”

“Yeah, well...um… Anna picked up the kids early and I didn't have anything else to do so I figured I’d come early so we’d have more time to attempt to make something that maybe wasn’t a monster?”

Wayne  shrugged [a]  before hanging up his jacket and following Julia into the family room.

        A smile appeared on Julia’s face as she answered, “About that… I was kinda thinking we could try something other than a sweater or scarf. Suffice it to say, I don’t think I’ll ever make one of those without it looking like something Grady drew.”

        “Sure! What were ya thinking? A hat? or maybe some mittens?” He chuckled at the idea of knitting one of Grady’s drawings into existence. Maybe for his birthday?

        “Well.... I was thinking more on the lines of a blanket, or some little socks? Something small enough for a newborn?”

        Wayne stopped in his tracks. “Jay...? Are you?” He gestured to her stomach. A smile threatening to creep onto his face.

        Julia begrudgingly tore her eyes from the hole in the apron she had been picking at.

“Yeah, Sunshine. We found out this morning.”

In an instant, Wayne leaped up from the couch, pulled Julia into his arms and spun her around. A smile stretching from check to check.

        “Seriously?!” he roared.

        “Seriously, Blondie!!” Julia couldn’t help but laugh at Wayne’s reaction. She had never seen him smile so big.

        “Jay!! This is amazing!! You are going to be a fantastic mom and Donny’s going to be a great dad! This baby is going to be the most loved child on the planet!”

        “You really think so?”

        “Jay! Are you kidding me? There is no doubt in my mind that  The  Julia Trojan is going to be the world’s greatest mom!” he said before pulling her into a hug.

        Shaking her head, Julia dropped the subject before nestling herself further into his embrace.


 

The next six months were a blur to everyone but Wayne. For him, it seemed as if time stood still. He spent most of his days rotating between playing gigs with the band, spending time with Emily and Grady, and rushing to complete his newest project: knitting Julia and Donny all the clothes, toys, and blankets they could ever need in time for Baby Nova’s, as Davy affectionately began to call it, arrival.

        No matter how hard she tried, knitting was not something Julia was ever going to be good as and no kid needed to see her attempt at creating a bear, or as Donny began to call it “Octosak”, a reference that neither Wayne or Julia understood.

        So after 4 months of continuing to allow Julia to knit crappy things, Wayne stopped knitting nights under the guise of needing to spend more time with Grady and Emily. He used the extra time to knit everything Julia could ever want. At first, Julia wasn’t happy, but Donny just pulled out some homemade babka and everything was forgotten.

         Wayne was sitting at home one evening, when suddenly the phone began to ring. He  sprinted across the hall, picking up the phone right before the last ring.

        “Wayne?”

        “Donny! Hey!”

        “Wayne, Jules and I are headed to the hospital. She’s gone into labor!”

Wayne could hear Donny begin to hyperventilate on the other end. The line went silent ,  before Julia’s voice echoed in the background.

        “DONNY! GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS, SOLDIER! GET ME TO THE HOSPITAL! Hey , Sunshine! Donny’s just being a wimp. Get the boys and meet us at the hospital. Thanks! Bye!”

Before he could answer, Julia had hung up the phone. He quickly called the rest of the band before he loaded all of his gifts into a bag and headed out the door.


 

        “Jimmy, how can you study at a time like this?”

        Jimmy looked up from his books and gave Donny the stink eye before responding, “You do know how long this could take, right? I mean, we could be here for hours. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the baby wasn’t born until tomorrow morning!”

        Donny gaped at him, completely speechless.

        “Before you ask, my mother was a midwife who had no filter. I learned things no man should ever know.”

Jimmy shivered as memories flashed through his mind.

“Mr. Novitski ? ” said the nurse eyes glancing around the waiting room looking for Donny.

Donny stood up a little wobbly before raising his hand.

Yeah, that’s me.”

        “Congratulations! Your wife has just delivered a healthy baby girl. If you’ll just  follow me, your wife would like to see you now”, the nurse said before turning her heel and walking down the hall.

        Donny waved at the guys  who were all celebrating behind him  before following the nurse.

___________

Less than an hour later, Donny was back in the waiting room.

“Hey, Wayne!”

Wayne stood up ,  unconsciously standing at attention. Donny looked at him before gesturing for Wayne to follow him. He followed closely behind ,and s oon they arrived at the door to Julia’s room.

Pushing the door open, Donny whispered, “Jules wants to see you first. Go on. I’ll give you two some alone time.”

Wayne tiptoed into the room, being careful not to wake  the  potentially sleeping baby. Still standing in the doorway, he took in the sight before him. Julia, his Jay,  was reclined in the bed, hair sticking to her smiling face, baby held tight in her arms. She looked as if she was fresh from battle and in a sense she was. Just not the kind of battle he was accustomed too. Without realizing it, Wayne let out a sigh of contentment ,  drawing Julia from her trance.

She looked up at him. Her smile growing  wider . He couldn’t help but smile back.

 “Wayne!”        

“Hey Jaybird,” speaking softly, he moved closer to the bed his eyes moving from her face to the baby in her arms.

“Come here… Come meet your goddaughter.”

Tears welled in Wayne’s eyes.  Goddaughter?  he thought,  they want me to be her godfather?  

        “I’m honored, Jay.”

        “Well, there was never any other choice.”

Wayne moved so he was standing next to the bed.

        “Nah-ah. Sit right here.” Julia patted the spot on the best next to her thigh. Reluctantly, Wayne sat down on the bed.

        “Now hold out your hands.”

        “I’m not so sure about this.”

        “Wayne, there’s no one I trust more to hold her than you. Not even Donny.”

        “Oh-kay.”

His arms moved with a grace he’d thought had left him during the war. As he cradled his goddaughter in his arms, He stared in awe of the innocent child that looking back at him with the same blue eyes as his Jaybird. Every anxious thought in his mind vanished, replaced with the overwhelming need to protect this child with every fiber of his being. For the first time since before the war, he didn’t feel like he was constantly being scrutinized. The child before him wanted nothing more than the love her family could give.

        As Wayne was entranced by her daughter, Julia took the time to watch him. She watched as his shoulders began to relax. Watched as his eyes focused solely on the child in front of him and not on searching for any potential threats. Earlier, she had witnessed a similar thing happen with Donny. It was as if the guilt, pain, memories of the war had vanished the moment they held that little girl in their arms. Boy, she’s going to be spoiled so rotten.

        “Jay… Jay.. Jaybird. You still with us?”

Wayne’s voice shook her from her thoughts.

“Uh… Yeah… Sorry. What was that?”

“If you’re tired, I can leave.”

“No! No! I’m fine. I was just thinking.”

“Okay. So you still haven’t told me this beautiful little lady’s name.”

        Julia smiled down at her little girl fast sleep in Wayne’s arms.

        “Charlotte Flora Novitski.  Donny  wanted  Michaela , but I wanted her to have a name that was her own. As much as I will always love and miss Michael, she deserves a name that doesn’t bring me to tears 24/7.”

        “I can understand that. Can I asked why you picked Charlotte and Flora?”

        “Flora for Donny’s mother. As jealous as my mother will be, she’s still with us. And until Donny wants more kids, I’m perfectly comfortable naming the dog after her. As for Charlotte, I honestly don’t know. I’ve just always loved the name.”

        “Then I think it’s the perfect name for such a perfect little girl. I call dibs on Charlie and Charlie-bear for her nickname,” he laughed.

        “Well, you’ll have to fight Donny for  it [b] .”

Wayne chuckled. “He’s a lowly soldier. I’m a freakin’ Marine. I think I can take him.”

        Shaking her head, Julia rolled her eyes.

        “Hey, Julia? I… uh… I got something for you.” Wayne handed the now sleeping Charlotte back to her mother, before heading over towards the door to pick up the bag he had placed on the floor. He set the bag down next to her on the bed.

“Give me my goddaughter so you can open your presents,” he said as he

took the sleeping baby from her arms.

        She opened the bag with a little hesitation, curious as to what it was. The previous week the band (with help from her mother) had thrown her a baby shower. Every baby item she could ever imagine was gifted so she was at a loss for what this gift could be.

        As she pulled each item from the bag, she gasped: A pair of tiny lilac footies, a baby blue hat, little yellow mittens, a sky blue blanket, and a tiny stuffed bear.

        “Wayne! Did you… Did you knit all of these?” Tears flowed, as Julia became overwhelmed with emotion. No one, not her mother or Donny or Michael, had ever done something like this for her.

        He smiled sheepishly before replying, “Yeah. I’ve sorta been working on them for a while now. As much as I love ya, Jay, you can’t knit. I know you’ve been trying to make something for the baby. But you’re crap at it. So I decided to spare Charlie, from the horrors of your knitting and knit everything for you.”

        “If I wasn’t crying so hard and you weren’t holding my daughter, I’d hit you for that comment.” She chuckled and wiped her tears before continuing.

 “Thank you, Wayne. Seriously, I can’t thank you enough. This is… it’s amazing and incredible. And…I… I don’t know what to say”.

“Wow! I believe I’ve done the impossible. I’ve rendered  The  Julia Trojan speechless.”

Julia just rolled her eyes at Wayne’s comment. She had grown used his occasional sarcasm. It was a side of him he reserved only for her and it made her feel special. Their whole relationship was special. He was the big brother she never knew she needed. Julia knew that if she ever needed anything, big or small, all she had to do was ask and he would come running with no hesitation.

        “Seriously Jay, I am not letting you knit a single thing for this adorable cutie. I refuse to let her be subjected to looking like something out of one of Donny’s  Flash Gordon  comics. Doesn’t matter how much I love you, I refuse to let that happen.”

        Wayne stared down at the tiny baby in his arms.  You are going to be loved so much.  He thought.   He said a silent prayer for the child in his arms. Promising to whoever was listening above that this child, the child of two of his best friends, would never know the horrors of war. That she would never know the weight that he and the others carried on their shoulders each and every day. He swore to it.