“It’s going to take a while but I am going to get there.” Melanie was forceful. Melanie was adamant but was she convincing?
“What are you waiting on?” Cynthia was oh too familiar with saying that phrase to her friend.
Melanie dropped her head looking for the imaginary fist that had just punched her in the gut. She pulled in a long…long, long breath through her nostrils before she projected her eyes on to her old friend.
Cynthia recognized the expression projected on to her and worked to decode it, piece by piece. “So you want ‘It’ right?
There was silence on the other end of the conversation. Only bright, round eyes fixed in her direction. “Um, Melanie. Are you in there girlfriend?”
Melanie took another slow breath before exiting her stupor. “Um…” Gulp! “Yeah…um yeah. Of course I want ‘It’.” Her eyes slipped from her friend’s face to the floor tracing the diagonal design of the tiling pattern.
Soon Melanie’s eyes was tracing the design of Cynthia’s shiny leather pumps. Her friend had snuck up on her without any warning. “Guess what Mel. ‘It’ is reachable. You see it, right?”
The coffee shop door squeaked opened. Sunshine filled the room and ushered Madeleine in. She was adorned in a knee-length blue and white horizontally stripped sun dress. Her hands visibly trembled but she managed a half-smile. Devon jumped to his feet with an enormous grin. Madeleine spoke first with a bashful smile. “Hello”. Devon extended his arms straight into the air. “Hi Mads. You’re here…finally.” He stepped forward and placed his hands on Madeleine’s shoulders. She stiffened. Devon examined Madeleine’s face closely. “Are you alright?”
Madeleine worked hard to mask her anxiety. “Yeah…oh yeah. I’m good.” She pointed to the table. “Shall we?” Devon’s focus shifted again. “Yeah, yeah.” He sat, leaned forward and propped his face up with the palms of his hands. “So let’s have it. What’s going with you Mads?” Madeleine looked down at her hands resting softly on the edge of the rectangular table. Soon she was interrupted by a noise from the opposite side of the table. “Ahem. Uh-oh hear it comes. I can already tell it’s going to be deep.” Devon taunted. Madeleine tossed him a crooked half-smile. “It really is okay to really smile you know.” Devon continued. She reclined back into her chair and allowed herself to giggle. “Always the joker, huh?”
“What can I say, laughter is like good medicine. I’m trying to stay mighty fine.” Laughter erupted. Madeleine snorted then reached for the napkin holder. Devon leaned his head back and joined her in the merriment. After a long two minutes of belly laughs Devon sat up straight and reached across the table. He took Madeleine’s hands in his own. A surprised Madeleine retreated so far back that her chair audibly scratched the ply wood floor. Her chest vividly expanded and contracted and she sat wide-eyed staring at Devon. Madeleine’s fingers squeezed the edge of her chair so tightly that her hands turned red. Oh no. Heck, I am so confused.
Devon stared back. The usually jovial young man was lost for words in that moment. God, I think I just blew it. What do I do now? Devon leaned against the table and tried to speak. “Mads, um. Um, are you okay?” Madeleine kept her gaze on Devon a while longer before she spoke. “What did you want to talk about Devon?” Devon swallowed hard. “I want to know why you cut me off?” Madeleine inhaled, held her breath for three seconds then exhaled. “I haven’t cut you off. I have been busy.” Devon immediately rolled his eyes. “That line again? Really? Come on Madeleine. Be straight with me.” Madeleine looked down at the stripes on her dress. Her eyes darted from one end of her lap to the other, as though searching for the words to appear. She felt defeated. Eventually she found some words but didn’t look up at Devon. “Devon, um I don’t know. I didn’t mean to…I haven’t cut you…” She looked up at him. “Devon I feel strange.”
“Huh? Strange?” Devon hung on to every word. “Strange how?” Just then a burst of light fell on Devon’s face and a familiar voice shot across the room from the door way. “Hey. Devon. Fancy meeting you here.” The tall, athletically built Samantha reached Devon and Madeleine’s table quickly. Her face was lit with a huge grin and she slapped Devon on the arm. He looked up at her and offered an awkward smile. “Ah Sam, what are you doing here?” Samantha watched him curiously. “What do you mean? I always come here. Especially Saturdays. We always used to.” Samantha’s neck swiveled quickly. She turned her attention to Madeleine. “Hi Madeleine. It’s been forever. We miss you at group. What’s been going on?” Madeleine’s eyes displayed anxiety, even fear, while her lips curled into a smile.
Madeleine sprung to her feet. “Excuse me. I need to go to the Ladies’ Room.” Devon stood too. “Mads…” Madeleine put her hand up toward him. She kept her voice soft and steady. “Devon, it’s just the bathroom. I’ll be back.” Devon chuckled. “I hope so. You’re an escape expert.” Madeleine chuckled too and headed in the direction of the restrooms. Samantha’s eyes followed Madeleine for a fleeting moment then she dropped into her vacant chair. “Why do I get the feeling that I interrupted something here.” Devon pressed his lips together and shot Samantha an accusatory glance. He looked down at his hands resting on the table then back at Samantha. His tone was soft. “That’s because you did Sam. That’s because you did.” An astonished Samantha could barely speak. “Oh!”