Katie Edgecomb’s Friday started much like any other weekday. She ate a quick breakfast of eggs and sweet potato, grabbed her coffee to go, and walked to the preschool at the edge of her neighborhood. It was April 30th, and the weather was unseasonably warm for a Seattle spring. Katie didn’t complain about the near constant cloud cover and consistent drizzle of Seattle winters, but she was still overjoyed about the premature return of the sun and the opportunity to leave her coat at home.
She moved around Busy Bees Preschool, preparing the building for the day’s activities involving many dozens of sticky fingers, more toddler wipes than seemed appropriate, and the beautiful sound of uncontrolled laughter that children have before they learn to keep themselves small. Katie loved this space. She loved the brightly colored ABCs painted on the wall and the wall of chalkboard paint where little hands drew nonsensical worlds from the imaginations that owned them. She loved the rug that had a built-in street on which miniature cars raced and went to work. But most of all, she loved the children who occupied this space five days a week.
Katie spent the day helping four year olds write their names, refereeing disagreements, and unleashing chaotic creativity upon Busy Bee’s art room. Fridays were painting days at Busy Bee and one of Katie’s favorites because of its penchant for pandemonium. Many teachers would have ended Paint Fridays when faced with the prospect of so many little hands covered in paint, just dying to share their creation. Katie luxuriated in it. She loved the layers of color that ended up on her own hands as little ones grabbed her and guided her across the room to another finished masterpiece.
Each student’s apron started the year as a perfectly plain beige frock. By the end of the year, it was a chaotic myriad of colors, a story of the year’s Fridays spelled out in paint. Katie started each year with her own fresh apron, keeping the soiled ones from years past as a sort of yearbook signed by each little soul she had the joy of teaching.
Of course, the problem with Paint Fridays was that the paint didn’t always stay on the aprons. The school warned parents at the beginning of every year, and eventually they learned to send their children to school in older clothes, or the clothes that already carried the stains of Paint Friday.
Katie usually wore older paint-worthy clothes on Fridays as well, but this Friday, it was Katie’s birthday. After work, she was expected at a party where a Paint Friday outfit would be deemed unacceptable. Katie could tell that the sunny weather was having a positive impact on her students’ feelings by the amount of yellow, green, and pink paint that drying on her blouse and jeans. Students had covered large pieces of paper with scenes of flowers growing, boats on the water, and suns shining over tall buildings.
During the afternoon break, she sent a quick text to her husband Jason. Gonna need you to bring me a new outfit. Paint Friday strikes again. Her phone buzzed almost immediately, and Jason’s reply brought a smile to her face. Already had an extra outfit hanging in the car’s backseat. See you soon.
Jason was the most thoughtful person Katie had ever met. They’d been in the same environmental science class their sophomore year of college, and he’d chased her down the corridor when she’d left her pencil behind on accident. Katie thought he’d gone through an awful lot of trouble just to return a pencil she could replace at the Dollar Tree, so she asked him if he’d like to get coffee with her. The pencil had been an excuse for Jason to approach Katie, so he’d accepted readily. That pencil encounter quickly grew into a whirlwind romance. Katie felt safe, cared for, and heard when she was with him.
He’d proposed by placing a ring on a pencil and presenting it to her as though she’d dropped it. It was corny and ridiculous but also perfect. They married shortly after graduation and started their adult lives together. Jason was in marketing in a tech firm downtown, and Katie made use of her early childhood education degree in Busy Bees Preschool. Katie wasn’t sure how she’d started living the dream, but she was eternally grateful that she was.
The end of the day came quickly—snacks, nap time, free play, and then the alphabetical lineup for a structured pickup. Jason pulled up to Busy Bees just as Katie was handing over the last paint stained, chatty four year old (Yunker, Ainsley) to a bemused parent. Katie waved as the vehicle pulled away and let out a contented sigh as Jason planted a kiss on her cheek and placed his hand over her stomach.
“I can’t wait till our own Busy Bee walks home with you, covered in paint every Friday.” Jason’s happiness was palpable and contagious. Not that Katie needed much of a boost in the happiness department for their future child.
“I can’t wait to see Liz’s face tonight when I give her this birthday present.” Katie half laughed, the excitement shining out of her face. Jason handed her the extra outfit and gestured toward the door of Busy Bee. They had little time to make it to the venue, and Seattle’s traffic was a cruel mistress when on a time crunch.
Katie daydreamed about Liz’s reaction to her news. Liz and Katie were fraternal twins and enjoyed a seemingly supernatural connection they had deemed “twin sense.” Though they had a deep understanding of each other, they couldn’t have been more opposite in personality and appearance.
As children, Elizabeth and Katelyn Hanover had gotten into as much precocious trouble as any children could. Liz had always been the mastermind behind whatever ludicrous plot the twins were scheming and dreaming up, but Katie never let Liz take the fall for anything they did. Katie may not have been as mischievous as Liz, but she followed her sister willingly, and often happily, into dangerous territory. She came to Liz’s rescue every time they’d been caught in the act (or after the act). If Liz’s antics lead to injury, Katie would care for her before their mother ever needed to place a kiss on a scrape.
As adults, Liz’s fearlessness morphed into ambition, and Katie’s loyalty morphed into nurturing. Liz was a couple months away from finishing her law degree and already had corporate firms in the city courting her. Katie had discovered a love for teaching small children as a teenager, babysitting the neighbor’s kids. She’d stuck with that love and found the perfect career for her.
The only thing missing from Katie’s life was a baby. This was also Liz’s opinion. Liz had never wanted children; she just wasn’t much of a nurturing type. She did, however, aim to be the coolest aunt on the face of the planet and had consistently cheered Katie on as she and Jason tried for a baby.
Katie knew it would overjoy Liz that a little Edgecomb would soon debut in the world. Truly, she couldn’t think of a much better birthday present for her and Liz than the news of an addition to the family.