"Well, I can't have 60 guests without food!" Lilly shouted into her phone to the poor catering company's receptionist.
"60?!" Ashlynn's shout went unnoticed. This had gotten out of hand. While she had certainly appreciated her father's newfound support, Ashlynn figured that giving Lilly such a large budget wasn't the most helpful. She'd given Lilly full reign of the shower when she'd thought it'd be a small group of their ten closest friends and family members, but she did suppose it was her own fault for underestimating how much Lilly would be going all out.
When Lilly finally hung up, seemingly satisfied with how things were progressing, Ashlynn fixed her with the toughest look she could.
"I know it's a few more than we had originally considered, but a lot of people asked to come. A lot of them haven't ever been to a baby shower, and it also means more presents. Not that we couldn't have just bought all of the things with the money your dad gave me, but come on, Ash. Who knows when any of us will get to do this again? Can't we just have one more great party before Thor is born?"
"You know, I haven't actually named him yet, right?"
"Yes, I do know, and that's why I came up with something so we don't keep calling him 'the baby.' I made a list of names I've pre-approved if you're interested," Lilly said with a wink. Ashlynn was just charmed enough that she let the party size go and focused instead on finding the nearest chair to sit in.
Two hours later, she found herself still sitting in that same chair, watching as people moved around her, grabbing food, organizing gifts, writing their guesses for chocolates in a jar, and chatting amongst themselves. Lilly never seemed to stop moving herself. She refilled drinks and led games and cleaned after guests. When Ashlynn saw her pause for just a moment, she saw a droop in Lilly's shoulders before she pulled her back straight and rushed to add napkins to the table.
Ashlynn felt a sudden sense of loneliness. There were (over) 60 people in her house, all because she was pregnant, but in just another hour or so, it would be empty. She was caught in conversation with a girl she hadn't spoken to since middle school, and everything felt so false in that moment that it took everything she had to focus on the words being spoken to her.
Her back ached, her stomach itched, her head throbbed, and she had a tickle in the back of her throat. No one in the room really knew what she was going through. Lilly had miscarried so early, and Jamie hadn't shown up. Everyone else here to support her and celebrate, but there were so many to whom she wouldn't speak until maybe graduation when everyone united together again, pretending to be the chummiest of friends. By then, Ashlynn would have a two year old, and her life was going to be unrecognizable.
Nothing dramatic happened. Ashlynn fixed her smile back on her face and lived out the rest of the shower, surrounded by her closest 60 girl friends, and she participated in silly games and had a third sliver of blue cake. When the last guest had trickled out and Lilly was tying off the last of the garbage bags, Ashlynn hugged her from behind as best as she could with her belly getting in the way.
"Thank you," Ashlynn murmured, and Lilly patted her arms before turning for a soft side-hug.
"I'm happy you enjoyed it."
"Thank you for just being here, too. I can see you still have a hard time sometimes, but I am so grateful that you're here."
Lilly glanced at her, and Ashlynn saw a sheen in her eyes for the briefest second before she gave Ashlynn's back a final pat and turned quickly to bring the trash to the garage.