“In five more minutes our baby girl would be turning eighteen,” Jeff said, and frowned at his wife, “goodness, she’d be an adult.”
“Why won’t it stay straight?” Sarah snagged the safety pin from the paper with her race number on it and fished another one out of Jeff’s rucksack. “Why do we even need numbers?”
“To keep everything in order. There are thousands of people to organise.” Jeff cast a concerned glance over his wife. “Are you sure you’re okay? You don’t have to do this, you know. If you don’t feel up…”
Sarah shot him a warning look.
“Well, I mean…” He searched for the right words but his wife’s stare was always his downfall. “Here, have a banana.”
“I don’t want a banana. I want this piece of paper to stick to my chest.”
“Don’t you think you should attach it to your stomach?”
She jabbed the safety pin at her blue running top and winced.
Jeff sighed, dropped the banana and the course information he’d remembered to bring, and took the pin from his wife’s hand.
“I can do it,” she muttered.
“No, you can’t. Let me.” After he had fixed her race number, she looked up with fragile eyes, the same bright blue as her top. Jeff kissed her forehead. “It’s alright.”
“No. It’s not. Why wasn’t it me, Jay?” She covered her mouth like she was trying to stop a belting cry from escaping her. “She was seventeen, she was so young.”
Jeff said nothing. Her. Their daughter. Why did it have to be either of them?
“She’d be proud of you today,” he finally said. “She knew how much you hated exercise. Jogging in particular.”
“I’ll run as fast as I can like she always did,” she said. “Like the gingerbread man. She always loved that story.”
“You might even be swimming if this rain doesn’t hold off.”
They shared a smile.
“Now, we’ve just got to attach this monster of a thing to you, and you’ll be on your way,” Jeff said, staring at the inflatable boob costume passing them by.
Sarah kissed Jeff on the lips. “Our baby girl would be eighteen now.”