Summary: Francine is proud of her first home and wants to share the experience with her old classmates. When only a few show up, she decides to make the most of it and ends up having a great evening anyway. Can also be found on deviantArt and ff.net.
Francine had been saving up for a house for years, fifteen to be exact. Ever since she graduated, started college, and started her working life, she’d been piling up money away for her first house. Her piles of money were usually made of pennies, and sometimes there was nothing to put away thanks to a broken radiator or a refrigerator that wasn’t running, but she worked hard.
When she had enough, Francine found a nice house not too far from her childhood home. Elwood City had changed quite a bit, but she knew from online sources, as well as her ten-year reunion, that many of her classmates either lived in the area or worked there. She placed some messages online about her new home, not to brag but to ask about a housewarming party that could double as a reunion.
Soon the date was settled, but Francine found herself faced with numerous cancellation messages in her inbox. By the time the big day came around, she had enough food for fifteen people, but other than her sister and her fiance, there were only two of her classmates coming. Francine hated this, that all her hard work was only going to get her two people from her past, but she decided not to be resentful. She’d make this a fun night by any means.
Around five-thirty, Catherine arrived with the cake, her housewarming gift, and her fiance. He was drinking a beer and laughing too loud at his own jokes, but after a few minutes he parked himself in front of Francine’s television and put it on an old basketball game.
Catherine scoffed, “He’s watched that same game three times now. Maybe I’ll finally figure out what all the fuss is about if I keep watching the same one over and over,” she said sarcastically.
“Men,” Francine smirked, shaking her head as she pulled out a deli tray. “They let me downsize this, but it’s still a bit much for the five of us.”
Catherine shrugged, “You can always divide up the leftovers, or go get yourself some bread and have sandwiches the next few weeks. Might as well use all of this. I call whatever leftover meatballs you have though. They look divine!”
Francine nodded and eyed her timer. Said meatballs were roasting in low heat behind her. She checked them and found they were the color she wanted, so she pulled them out. As she set the pan onto her cooling rack, the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it,” Catherine said, going to the door. She opened it and smiled, “Well hello! I didn’t know you were actually coming, Muffy!”
“Well I wouldn’t miss seeing Francine’s new house for the world. That’s all she talked about at the ten-year, how she wanted the perfect house. I’m here to make sure she made the right choice,” Muffy said, putting her coat in a chair by the door. “I love this paint color. Hey Francine, what color is this?”
“The last owner had a thing for sea foam green. It grew on me,” Francine said with a smile, studying Molly behind her sister, “Hey Molly, I didn’t know you would be coming in with her.”
“We actually work together,” Muffy smiled, stepping into the kitchen and gawking at the cabinets before getting back to their conversation, “Daddy needed a good executive accountant, and it turns out Molly was the best candidate. Jane Read was also hired.”
“And where is Arthur?” Molly asked. “Is everyone just coming later or something?”
“Nope, you’re the only two coming,” Francine sighed. “Arthur is actually busy with his new baby, so I’m not too upset about that. Binky just never responded though, and Buster gave this himhawing answer to the point that I wrote him off. Oh well, more food for us. Would either of you like a meatball?”
“Aww come on!” Catherine’s fiance screamed from the living room.
Catherine scoffed, “Forgive him. My fiance is a bit of a sports nut. Same game for weeks, always the same reactions.”
“I could see about getting him seats at one of the local games if you want,” Molly offered. “I also know an amazing sports bar downtown. I went there all the time in college and it was so much fun. Plus he’d meet new friends and you won’t have to hear that, not unless he convinces you to go with him. If he does, there’s this section they put the non-sports people in. Just wander over there once the game starts getting good, then you’ll be able to enjoy your night and he’ll think you were there the whole time.”
“Sounds to me like you did that a lot,” Francine grinned.
Molly nodded, “I had no choice. Remember at the reunion how I said I was divorced? Well all of that wasn’t enough to tell me my guy wasn’t right for me. He was a fellow accounting major, but he was about as unreliable as a broken clock. We married because I felt we had to. Our parents were both pushing us hard, so we tied the knot and tried that whole marriage thing. A year later, he’s being investigated for fraud and extortion. Turns out he really is that bad with numbers, but that was all I needed to get him out of my life. No one blamed me either. I’m still friends with his mom on Facebook and I do a quilting circle with her once a month,” Molly smirked.
Catherine laughed, “I need to take some pages from your book. Nights like this make me reconsider, but I might try the whole sports bar thing. Besides, if he meets someone there, I won’t have to deal with this anymore. Look, he’s texting me about another beer.”
“I don’t have any,” Francine smiled. “Looks like you’ll have to take him out or something.”
“We’ll just go. I’ll stop by tomorrow for my serving of leftovers.”
Catherine managed to get her fiance out the door, leaving Francine with her classmates. They piled their plates high with meatballs, deli slices, and some vegetables from another party tray, then they took over Francine’s new dining room table. It extended to fit ten people, but tonight it was in its original four-seater form.
“I never thought I’d be working here in Elwood City,” Muffy admitted after a few minutes, “and I never thought Molly would be our most valuable team player. The last I heard about her before I noticed her in the interview rounds, she was dropping out of high school. Now look at her.”
“Your dad said he liked that about me. He asked about it on the panel, and after a couple of them argued about how relevant that was, they let the question stand. I only dropped out to finish sooner since GED’s are the same thing. They appreciated my tenacity, my boldness to try something new. They were looking forward to me putting those skills to use in the office, and so was I. I’d been working at this hole-in-the-wall poor excuse for an accounting office for too long. The place Jane Read was working at never had any openings, plus she said her hours were terrible.”
“There weren’t openings because their owner was cheap. All of them jumped ship to work for our finance department, and we accepted them with open arms,” Muffy grinned.
“Plus it’s a good place to work. I never thought I’d be saying that, but Ed did a good job with his company. If you’re in something they could use, you should join the ranks,” Molly advised.
Francine shook her head, “I picked a different field entirely. I’m a teacher over at Grebe Middle right now. I’m going back for my Master’s next year, then I want to move into college teaching, possibly something else, but that’s my calling. The money isn’t great, but I have something I do on the side.”
“Catherine’s restaurant?” Muffy guessed.
“Every weekend,” Francine nodded. “You should get any big shots you know to come in and ask for my tables. I have a mortgage now.”
Molly laughed, “Better than renting. I’ve got to look into this when my lease is up.”
They talked for several more hours over food, and eventually dessert. The three parted ways after ten o’clock, then Francine set about cleaning everything up. Soon the house was spotless and she was asleep on the couch. She woke up with a smile the next morning. She was in her first house and she still had some friends from the old days that she could count on. Life was pretty good.
Theme 210: First Home [from my updated Infinite Arthur Theme List. You can find the updated version on my deviantArt account]
[one-shot 4/100 for 2017]
A/N: Note about the themes: This is about the point in the list where I accidentally messed up. I’ll fix this error in any updates, but if you notice, the Traffic Woes category restarts the numbering at 211 instead of 215, meaning there are 2 themes with those numbers in that area. Again I’ll fix this later, but it really threw me off when I pasted the numbers into an Excel spreadsheet for easy check-offs and discovered my numbers didn’t match. Whoops:)
Oh and I hope y’all enjoyed this story and all that jazz:P