It's Easier Than It Seems

21st Century Breakdown

Tuesday 25th September 1am.

The tick-tocking of the clock, the consistent beeping of machines - it was all a bit too much for me. White walls, luminescent lighting, and the sound of distant moaning made my head throb, and my stomach ached from all the anxiety, I couldn’t see or think straight.

Yeah, this was horrible.

I had lost it. It wasn’t mine anymore.

A single, lonely tear rolled down my cheek and splashed onto my oversized shirt. Billie lay his hand on my shoulder gently, then handed me another dollar.

My chocolate bar was jammed in the vending machine. It was lost to the innards of the overpriced candy cooler, and the last shred of hope I had for the world went with it.

I pushed another crumpled dollar into the machine when a voice beckoned me.

“Miss Walker?”

I turned my head mid chocolate heist and replied with a simple. “Yes?”

“Do you have health insurance?” A voice called out, followed by two clunks coming from the vending machine, my ears perking at the glorious sound of success.

Probably not, probably expired. I thought. Something else that had slipped my mind - how on Earth would I be able to afford my medical bills?! Where was the NHS when I needed it? I had been so wrapped up in everything else, how could I forget about something so important?

“I’ll be sorting it, actually,” I heard Billie say, and for once I didn’t argue about the handout. We needed it right now.

Billie was handed a clipboard and a pen and went about filling it in, whilst I turned my focus back to the vending machine, collecting my two Crunch bars from bottom.

Before we knew it, I was given a wheelchair and despite my protest, I was whisked away to my own room on the 7th floor complete with its own ensuite.

“Guess you need to be paid big bucks to be up here,” I gloomily said, peering out the window and out at the city of Oakland.

Billie sat with a huff on a chair next to the bed I wasn’t occupying and sank heavily into his seat. When I glanced to him he was just staring into space, it felt like he wasn’t even in the room with me.

I sat gently down on the bed, facing him. “Hey,” I quietly said.

He looked slowly up to me. “Hi.”

There was an awkward silence in the air between us as neither of us knew what to say, I think we were both reeling from the huge argument that had taken place not too long ago, although the wait in the hospital lobby had made it feel like weeks already.

I wanted to be mad at him, I wanted to shout, I wanted to hurt him, I wanted to blame him, but where would that get me? Where would that get us? The whole situation was a nightmare that I just wanted to be done with, I was so tired of stress, I just wanted one damn moment to be happy without something coming along and ruining it.

If I talked about it with Billie I feared it would end up as another argument, and then we’d just be on a cycle of shouting back and forth at each other, so when would it end, and would that be our end? Between Billie’s attitude and my hormones - it felt like a possibility right now.

Luckily a doctor was there to break the tension in the room for us. “Hello, Miss. Walker,” She smiled happily, as she wheeled an ultrasound scanner next to my bed. “How are you feeling?”

“Just sick with worry,” I sighed, shifting on the bed to make it easier for her to reach me. “Other than that I feel okay, considering.”

“Are you still bleeding?” She asked; I nodded in reply - having stuffed a period pad down below that I had wrestled out of a bathroom dollar machine earlier. “Okay, let’s take a look at baby shall we?”

Billie perched in his seat as I rolled my shirt up to reveal my bump. She placed the warm gel on my stomach and then rolled the scanner over it.

I stared at the screen in anticipation, not noticing that Billie had got out of his chair to get a better view. He lay one hand on my head and one on my arm gently as he watched the monitor.

The doctor furrowed her brow as she moved the handheld probe back and forth across my stomach. I had seen my jelly bean before, but this time the scan looked different. I felt every hair on my body stand on end in fear. What had happened? Did I do something wrong?

“Is everything okay?” Billie asked, rubbing his thumb softly against my arm as if to soothe my nerves. “What’s going on?”

“Well, there is good news and bad news,” She said, pointing to the screen. “This here is the babies placenta - and it’s not in the right place, that’s why we can’t really see baby in there,” She explained. “I think what we have here, and in relation to the bleeding, is placenta previa.”

Billie arched his brows. “So what’s the good news?”

“What we can see of the baby, and the baby's heartbeat is clear indication that the baby is doing great, it’s just the placenta is too low down which is risky for both mom and baby - but this could move before birth and could be risk-free,” She explained in-depth, but I had stopped listening at ‘risky’.

Could?!” Billie exclaimed, his voice bellowed out so much I presumed the whole hospital could hear him.

The doctor sighed. “If the placenta is too low down, she won’t be able to give birth in the conventional way, it will have to be a c-section - and we will have to monitor for bleeding, in later weeks she may have to be bed-bound,” She described, not giving me much hope.

I widened my eyes, that sounded both terrifying and boring at the same time. “I won’t be able to leave my bed?”

She put her hands up in defence. “There is a chance yes - however like I said, the placenta could move to its usual place and it will be a normal pregnancy and delivery,” She paused. “I do need to run a few more tests to verify it is placenta praevia, so I’ll need to do a transvaginal ultrasound scan if you are okay with that.”

I sighed. I guess I had no choice.

It was cold and painful, I wish I had a choice. I winced as she basically probed me - Billie just watched in fear feeling utterly helpless.

“Do you want to know the gender?” The doctor smiled at me, her hand still in between my legs with her unusually cold probe still uncomfortably inside me. This was awkward, but I got through it for the greater good.

I nodded eagerly, thinking I would have had to wait another 2 weeks to find out if it was a boy or girl so perhaps this hospital trip was worth it in the end. Billie also nodded, gripping my hand in excitement.

“Well congratulations,” She paused for dramatic effect; seconds felt like years. “She’s a healthy baby girl!”

I grinned like a Cheshire cat and looked to Billie. “A girl!” I couldn’t get the grin off of my face - I was surprised I could even talk. It would have probably been the same reaction regardless of the gender, I was just pleased I hadn’t lost the baby, despite the complications.

Billie’s smile was wider than mine, his heart filled with pure joy. I think he secretly wanted a girl, so much so I could see his eyes wettening, but he chewed back any tears.

It was such a perfect moment, but at the same time, I was so scared. What if something went wrong with my placenta and hurt the baby? What if something happened to me?

I couldn’t help but think that all the stress plaguing us could also affect us, and there was no way that I would let Sasha, a stranger to me, hurt my family.

I was kept in a few more hours for observation, whilst they also gave me more advice and appointments to keep an eye on me. By the time we left, it was already 4am, I scowled at the clock mocking me and my sleep deprivation. Our mothers waited patiently in the cafe on the bottom floor, doped up on caffeine, and when we told them the unsettling news they didn’t stop cooing around me. Although I hated the adorning attention of our mothers, it was nice for everyone not to be yelling.

We drove silently in the car back home, dropping off Ollie along the way. By the time we walked through the front door, it had felt like we had been gone for months, but now that the dust had settled, I knew I had to speak to Billie - so I pulled him aside outside in the back garden so we could be alone.

It was dawn, just about. The security light hung above the kitchen door was the only light to illuminate our faces in the dark, enough for Billie to make out my worried face.

“Is everything okay?” Billie looked concerned as I nervously stood in front of him biting my nails, he rested his hand on my shoulder but I tapped it away; he frowned in response.

I decided to address the elephant in the room. “The way you talked to me earlier, the way you confronted my mother - skipping out on her birthday, the arguments, Sasha,” I sighed heavily. “I don’t know what’s going on with you Billie, but this isn’t just affecting you or me anymore, I have our daughter to think about - I have to do what’s best for us.”

Billie turned pale, I think I actually heard him gulp. I just wanted him to get his shit together, because God I loved him, we had gone through too much to give up the ghost, but this lifestyle was too toxic for the life I carried in me, and today was a brutal reminder of how precious life is.

I thought I could lose my baby, for a second I truly believed she was gone and it was all my fault. I couldn’t think like that anymore.

“What are… are you saying?” He stammered, stepping back to take in the situation. “Are you leaving?”

I shrugged and shuddered; a cold breeze causing all my hairs to stand on end, and when I looked at Billie, staring into his sad eyes only made me feel worse. I could feel my throat tightening, I just wanted to cry. Today had been such a hard day, the whole week had been so damn stressful. I wanted nothing more than to lie in bed and cry like a baby and then sleep for a century, but even through all this exhaustion we still had shit to sort out.

“Maybe it’s best just until you sort this out with Sasha, especially if she just keeps turning up out of the blue, it’s just too much,” I bit my lip, trying to stifle a cry to the best of my ability. “This whole fucking situation just needs to be over with.”

“I know,” He agreed. I think when he noticed my sad demeanour he quickly assessed the situation unfolding in front of him, he could see I was on the verge of falling apart. “Look, I’ll get it sorted, I promise - please just… don’t leave,” He begged, cupping my face in his hands he placed a soft kiss on my forehead. “I love you.”

I smiled up at him, leaning into his hand. “I love you, too,” For a moment, he made me forget about everything, his hand was gentle and warm, he made me feel safe - but I knew, in reality, he was lulling me into a false sense of security. “But this isn’t about you, I’m sorry, you heard what the doctor said, I… we… need to take this easy, and I don’t think this is going to be plain sailing.”

But where could I go if I left whilst Billie sorted out his sorry state of affairs? I’d been a pretty terrible friend to Morgan, I couldn’t just ask to stay at hers when it felt like I hardly knew her anymore. Mike and Tre had their own lives, and with being Billie’s best friends it would make the situation a little awkward. I didn’t really have anyone else because I hadn’t bothered to stay in one place long enough to make friends.

I guess I could go back home. Home home.

“Maybe I could go back to England for a few weeks until she’s out of the picture,” I lamented, but instead of Billie putting up a fight he just stood back and scoffed. He scoffed.

“You want to run away again?!” Billie bellowed raising his hands in the air. “I can’t fucking believe you, no just no, this is stupid! You don’t need to go halfway across the world, have you not learnt anything?! You can’t run from your damn problems, Jen!” His voice was loud, loud enough for a few birds to stop singing and fly their nests, loud enough that my eardrums ached.

Loud enough to make me damn cry.

My hormones made me cry a lot, but this was different. This was like being scolded by my parents for doing something stupid, knowing full damn well it was my own fault and that I probably deserved to be yelled at.

Billie took in the sight of me - the mess I was, blubbering like a baby in front of him, and sighed. “I’ll go make some calls to get a lawyer or someone to give me legal advice,” He mumbled quietly and left me to sob outside by myself. When the kitchen door clunked closed the outside felt much quieter than before.

As dawn was breaking, it was now just light enough for me to see, so I walked up the garden and sat on a stone bench nestled by a tree. I watched as the world went by and the sun slowly rose. I took the time to reflect over everything that had happened leading me up to this point in life. The world was still turning, it hadn’t ended yet. I just needed to breathe, to focus, to find my way again. I had fumbled through to get me this far, I’d be damned if I let anything stop me now. I wiped the tears from my face and took a deep breath.

You’ve got this.

I thought I was doing the right thing in wanting to put some space between Billie and myself so it didn’t feel like running away to me. I had just wanted to protect my daughter at all costs, but the hospital trip and lack of sleep had scared me so much that perhaps I had explained that wrong to Billie. I think he just thought I wanted to run away from him and all his problems, so to leave with his child probably scared him more than then it scared me.

But at the same time, this was his stress that was affecting me, the whole situation with Sasha and her approach to it was horrible. It was affecting Billie’s attitude towards everyone around him - including myself, so I thought the space would help both of us in the meantime.

Part of me wanted to march upstairs, pack a suitcase, and leave until everything was settled, but the other part of me knew I needed to stay and help Billie through this, proving I don’t always run away from problems in my life, and that I could support him through anything.

I planted my face into the palms of my hands, almost succumbing to sleep. I felt a warm soft material envelop me and looked up to see Billie wrapping a fleece blanket around me. He smiled gently as he tucked it around me, and I really tried to smile back but only let out a lip quibble as tears rolled down my cheek again.

“God, this pregnancy has made you emotional,” He joked as he took a seat next to me. He rubbed my back as we sat for a few minutes in silence. It was nice, I didn’t want to fight anymore, so to just sit quietly next to him felt peaceful.

“I’m sorry,” I apologised quietly. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Hm?” Billie murmured, turning to look at me. “Mean what?”

I craned my neck to look at him without shifting in my seat. “I don’t want to run away, I don’t want to leave you, I just thought a week or so whilst you saw out all the legal things would be best, in case Sasha shows up again even angrier and does something to us, I’m just terrified of something happening to this baby… today has really scared me,” I rambled, I always rambled when I was sleep-deprived.

“I won’t let anything happen to you, we are a team, we are a family, I promise you I will sort everything out without you being affected, and I will protect you,” Billie gushed, taking my hand. “I love you, and I love our baby, I will do anything for you two,” He wiped the tears which were pouring out my face at this point, but with happiness rather than sadness.

I had never had anyone other than my mother to protect me, to love me, to look out for me. I think I had ran away from so much in life because of that. I had felt alone for a long time, but Billie had managed to make me feel whole in one sentence.

That was worth staying for.


Sunday 25th November 1pm

Billie had been true to his word, he hadn’t let anything happen to myself or our unborn child. He had been dealing with lawyers to demand a paternity test on Sasha’s baby to determine if he was the father or if he could sue for slander, and funnily enough, she had gone rather quiet - she hadn’t casually walked into our house again.

It had been two months since I was rushed to the hospital due to bleeding and the placenta still hadn’t moved. Being six and a half months pregnant and housebound was boring, but in all my spare time I had managed to find a studio to start using as soon as I was able to start working again. Today was the day I got the keys, and with a bit of persuasion, was allowed out of the house to open it up and tidy the place up a bit.

It was a small little shop nestled between a knitting shop and a hardware store. Rent was cheap because the area had little footfall, but I wasn’t expecting many walk-ins, to begin with, I was hoping to build up a portfolio by advertising online, and well, perhaps piggybacking off of Billie’s network of contacts, just in the beginning.

During the past two months I had reached back out to Morgan, who despite the fact I left her alone, and stuck her with my cat - Miles, who my landlord in New York refused to let me have, she welcomed me back into her life. It was her joining me in tidying up the studio, as Billie had a meeting he couldn’t get out of - but wouldn’t say what for.

I turned the key in the lock which appeared to be quite stiff, which was already slightly worrying. I gave the door a nudge and a heavy push before the door finally swung open almost causing me to fall on the floor.

“Careful,” Morgan giggled, stepping in behind me carrying a few bags I had brought with me. “Wow,” She admired with a slight hint of sarcasm. “It’s, uh… well, it’s musty,” She turned her nose up and mimicked a sniffing action.

“Well it’s been empty for a while, it seemed okay when I viewed it,” I flicked the light switch on and looked around - the light flickered for a few moments like a creepy horror movie before remaining on.

“When? Ten years ago?” Morgan bemused, I rolled my eyes in response. “Sorry, it’s going to be great! I’ll get the cleaning stuff out and get a bit of elbow work in.”

We set about hoovering, dusting down and making sure the whole place didn’t smell like an old person’s home, the whole day was a chore and after just two hours we were sat on the floor cross-legged eating lunch.

I heard the door chime as it swung open on its hinge, causing me to jump a mile and lay my hand on my heart. “Jesus,” I sighed; it was just Billie. “What are you doing here?”

He had the biggest grin on his face as he ran over to me in the middle of the room, knelt down and wrapped his arms around me. “Hey,” Billie soothed, squeezing into me from the side.

“Hi,” I giggled into his arm. “What’s going on?”

He leant back to look at me, his face lit up with happiness. I hadn’t seen him this elated in a long time, so whatever it was, it was good news. “It’s not mine,” He whispered in my ear. “It’s not fucking mine! She lied,” Billie tittered, his hand now stroking my back.

I looked to him, eyes wide open. This was the news we had been waiting for. Two whole months of silence, which granted I preferred over the drama, but the silence still made me feel anxious - mainly because it was a long anxious wait for one simple answer. It would have been a real kick in the teeth to wait so long only to hear a ‘yes it’s Billie’s, now you are screwed’.

It was a massive sigh of relief, now I only had the one stress to concentrate on… my pregnancy. But it meant Billie and I could focus on our relationship without looking over our backs because of crazy exes.

“Sasha?!” I exclaimed. “You have the results?” I felt like crying, I was so Goddamn happy, and on the day I got the keys to my studio as well. It was perfect, and there was no more looming sense of dread.

Billie stood up and nodded. “This causes for a celebration! Morgan - are you free tonight?” He asked, pointing to her.

“Hey, if it gets me out of dusting this old place, then sure!” She exclaimed, standing up and wiping down her jeans of the dust from the floor, I shot her a judging look, old place? Pah!. “What time?”

Billie shrugged, he didn’t have a plan at all. “Seven?”


It all felt a bit rushed and out of control, but before I knew it, there were thirty - or perhaps more guests congregating around our house. Friends, family, a lot of people I didn’t recognise. Billie had gone a bit OTT on the celebrations.

“You know she’s supposed to be resting,” I heard Ollie snidely say to Billie as I was loading the buffet with more snacks.

Billie shrugged, taking a swig from his beer can. “You know she’s stubborn.”

I looked to Billie and smiled, he was right. Although for once all I wanted to do was lie in bed and sleep, it had been such a long day and I was worried about the toll it was taking on my body. “I’m done now anyway, think I’ll find a nice place to sit and stagnate for the night,” I sighed, laying down some cheese puffs on the table and grabbing a handful to stuff into my mouth.

Billie put his beer can down and walked over to me, laying his hand around my waist he led me outside into the quiet - right by the stone bench next to the tree. “Are you okay?” He whispered, tucking a loose strand of my hair behind my ear. “Sorry, this is too much, isn’t it? I just wanted us to celebrate,” He sighed, looking into the house at the bustling party.

“I know, and we deserve it!” I grinned, wrapping my arms around his neck. “But I also deserve some rest, for like, maybe eternity?” I smirked up at him, earning a smile back. “Feel free to party on my behalf as long as you want, though.”

Billie planted a firm kiss on my forehead and smiled. “God, I fucking love you,” He soothed, rubbing my back softly. “You’re gorgeous.”

I blushed, I still couldn’t take compliments. “And you’re handsome.”

He stared at me and bit his lip, almost nervously. For a moment our eyes just locked, before it felt almost awkward as neither of us said anything. Billie fumbled around for a while before he hopped down onto one knee and my heart jumped out of my mouth.




My knees almost buckled, as if made of a jelly-like substance.

“Jen,” He looked up at me from below, opening a small black box to reveal a silver ring with a dainty circular diamond in the middle, I threw my hands to my mouth in shock and let out a loud gasp. “I know we’ve been through some shit, but we’ve stayed together through it all, and I think we’ve come out stronger,” I could just about hear his heartwarming speech above the thumping in my ears. “Now we have the next phase of our life, as a family, as parents to a baby girl that I already love so much, so, will you marry me?” His hand was shaking as he held up the ring box.

My eyes as wide as planets, I nodded and murmured a yes, before yelling it out the second time around in case he didn’t hear. I wonder how much had he recited that speech?

Billie jumped up in excitement and let out a loud, “yes!” He was still shaking as he popped the ring on my finger, but what didn’t help is I was shaking just as much. It fit perfectly - had he planned all this? For how long? It was beautiful and unexpected either way. My heart was racing 160 beats per minute like I had just had an intense workout at the gym.

“Oh my God Billie, my heart feels like it’s going to explode, what the hell?!” I shakily, yet excitedly squealed. “Did you plan this?” I asked.

“Well, yes and no,” He paused, scratching his head. “I wanted to do it, but was so nervous - today kinda just felt right, I got the ring today,” Billie shrugged, pointing to the glistening ring on my finger. “Do you like it?”

“Like it? Billie, I love it, it’s perfect,” I smiled, looking down to admire it. I never really wore jewellery so I didn’t like anything too fancy, the jewel was small enough for me to love. I looked to the house, brightly lit up and bustling with familiar faces. “Should we go inside and tell everyone or should we wait? Oh God, I need to tell my mom!” I frantically looked for my phone in my back pocket and dialled for my mother - forgetting it would be around 3am in the morning in England, but I was too excited and eager to tell her.

Billie left me to break the exciting news and walked back into the warmth of our kitchen. “Hey,” He greeted, patting Mike on the back. “Can I have a word with you and Tré?”

Billie had ushered his friends into a guest room upstairs so he could have some peace, they both awkwardly stood there, unsure of what to say and why they had been dragged up to the bedroom. “So, I have something for you both,” Billie smiled, handing them a piece of paper. “A peace offering.”

Mike raised a brow and looked down at the paper. “What is this?”

“It’s me coming back to Green Day full time, and, uh, well, what I’d like to name the next album,” He pointed to the title on the page, which was also scrawled with a list of song titles.

“21st Century Breakdown?” Mike looked up from the piece of paper and at Billie. “Fitting,” He smiled at his old friend.

Billie rolled his eyes and laughed. “Yeah, I know… there is something else as well.”

“Did you get another woman pregnant?” Tré bemused, getting a slap on the arm from Mike, he squealed out in pain and rubbed his arm. “Joking!”

Billie narrowed his brow and shook his head. “Not funny, and no, I didn’t.”

“Well, what is it then?” Mike said, perching on the edge of the bed whilst neatly folding the piece of paper Billie had given him into his back pocket.

“Jenni and I are engaged, I just proposed and she said yes!” Billie’s grin stretched from one side of his face to the other, a proud and victorious look.

Both Mike and Tré’s mouths were agape before both of them jumped up in celebration, roaring with excitement they hugged their friend tight.

“Looks like you are turning your life back around, huh?” Mike smiled, patting Billie on the back. “Congratulations, I’m really happy for you,” He sincerely said.

Billie heartwarmingly smiled back at him. “Thanks, dude, I appreciate it.”

“So who's going to be the best man around this time then?” Tré chimed in again with another bad joke, earning a simultaneous groan from the other two men in the room.

Billie and Mike looked to each other - Mike had been the best man at Billie’s wedding when he had gotten married to Adrienne, and neither of them had the chance when he had married Violet briefly.

Tré looked between them, another awkward silence loomed. “What? A guy can’t ask?”

Billie and Mike burst out in laughter at the poor guy in front of them. “Dude, I don’t know yet, I’ll let you all know soon,” Billie grinned, patted Tré on the shoulder and then left the room.

Tré shot a glance at Mike and narrowed his brow. “Well, let the best man win, like, literally.”
♠ ♠ ♠
As with any chapter, I plan it out, create a draft, and expand from there. Problem is, I kept on expanding! I didn't feel like I could split this in two so I am really sorry it is so long, I know for me that would be quite daunting to read, especially if you have busy lives!

I am also sorry it took so long to write, between being quite long, me constantly editing this, and my health it took waaaaay longer than expected! I had radioiodine therapy in November and I honestly thought that meant I could write all this in a week and already be writing/finishing the next chapter now, but I was pretty much a zombie during my time off work, and then back at work just one week later (it was glorious working from home... not).

Anyway, I won't beat around the bush - I am selling my house and moving somewhere in the next 2 - 4 weeks, so I will be an anxious and stressed mess, with that in mind you may not see an update on this story until around March when I will hopefully (fingers crossed) be moved and settled into my new house!!

So, hope you enjoy, thank you as always for reading my story, it means the world to me!