Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Love Continuing

MaryAnn was chilled to the bone. Her thin dress should have been adequate for the warm August evening, but sitting on the front stoop she found her flesh submerged under goose bumps. She kept rubbing her arms causing her body to collapse into itself in an effort to chase the coldness that had settled in her away. It was to no avail.

She lifted her body slowly from the stoop. Once standing, she didn't know where to go. She could walk a couple of houses down and see if Becky was home or she could just turn around and go into her own home. Becky's was a safer bet and MaryAnn began to blindly walk in that direction, letting muscle memory from the frequent trips guide her while she continued to shiver and shake.

She would have walked right by the house if Becky hadn't been sitting in the living room window enjoying the symphony of crickets, frogs, and night birds. "MaryAnn! MaryAnn!" she called through the open windows. MaryAnn turned to face her only to be greeted with a waving hand and an impossibly large smile. She returned the gesture meekly, stumbling over her own feet as she turned toward the walkway. "Come straight into the kitchen. I made up a pitcher of gin and tonics just before supper!" With that, Becky disappeared from her window.

MaryAnn walked up to the door of the house, reaching for the door handle and hesitating too long to open it. Becky pulled the door open from the inside and then jumped back a foot, surprised to see MaryAnn standing to close. She laughed. "I thought maybe you got lost. Come on." MaryAnn followed her to the kitchen and sat at the kitchen table, glancing at the bright colored walls and messy counter.

"Do you have a cardigan I can borrow?" They were the first words she had spoken since 3 that afternoon. They felt funny in her mouth. Wrong somehow and she suddenly wanted a tall glass of the tonic to rinse the words away.

Becky didn't seem to notice. "Yeah, I just folded one in the laundry room. I'll go grab it for you." She disappeared around the corner of the kitchen. MaryAnn stood up and pulled one of the tall tumblers from the top shelf above the sink. She poured herself a full glass and drank half of it down standing at the counter before Becky returned.

"Here you go. Kind of thirsty? What. Empty nest making you feel wild and free?" Becky knew something was wrong, but wasn't sure asking out right was a good idea. She knew how stressed MaryAnn had been about sending Jo off to school last week. She'd actually fretted about it for the last year.

MaryAnn felt the words sink into her abdomen painfully, as if a rabid dog had just attacked her. Tears began running down her cheeks rapidly. She covered her mouth and began sobbing. Her body convulsed and her knees buckled under her. Becky was unprepared for this strong of a physical reaction and could do nothing to stop it. She slid onto the floor next to her best friend, wrapping the cardigan around MaryAnn's shoulders and rubbing her back gently.

Slowly MaryAnn choked out: "Steve left me this afternoon. He came home and packed a suitcase. Told me he's been unhappy for a long while and he thought he had made it clear he was only staying together for the sake of the kids. I never suspected he meant it. I always thought he was kidding." She continued to cry until every ounce of moisture she had in her body was spilled down her dress and across the floor in the form of tears.

Becky said nothing. When MaryAnn's dry heaves turned into gasps for air, she stood her friend up and walked her carefully to the spare bedroom. She tucked her gently under the covers, kissed her forehead, turned off the lights, and closed the door quietly behind her. Tomorrow, they would deal with this more directly. She knew that MaryAnn would need her understanding and support. Heck, she knew MaryAnn needed to know she was still loved by someone.

If Becky knew anything about the high doses of pain that came with love, she also knew there was no deeper love than that between best friends.

1 comment:

  1. This is beautifully sad and very sweet all at once.