Fiction #6

continuation from Fiction #5

I had run for an hour, while blasting music in my ears, the alone time at that hour was amazing. I got off, ran upstairs, and hoped into the shower, put a fresh suit on, heels, put my hair up in a bun, grabbed a bagel from the fridge and I was off again.  I was in need of a good cup of coffee.

I arrived at the Starbucks William had suggested, I hated Starbucks, but he chose it, so I went with it. I arrived, and found William standing at the counter already with 2 coffees in hand. He looked dapper, wearing a full tan suit, light blue shirt, and striped tie, and of course, some hideously bright socks. I had to laugh, the socks always surprised me.

“sorry, I don’t know what you take in your coffee.”

I looked at him, and sort of laughed “how would you, I didn’t start drinking coffee until I started working at the department,.” William nodded, with an edge of anger in his eyes.
“thank you for the coffee, I take it black.”

We stood there awkwardly, my stomach began to growl. I realized, I needed more to eat. I headed back to the cash and grabbed a yoghurt and granola, it wouldn’t be that edible, but I hadn’t eaten in a few days. I went back down and sat across from William. It was just odd, what do you say to your oldest friend, who you basically kicked to the curb after your parents die, but there we were, just staring at each other, more than a decade later, wearing suits, and drinking coffee early in the morning.

I sat there, my eyes glued to my coffee cup. didn’t want to look up, at that moment, I knew I wanted to cry. Memories kept flooding in.

We had sat across from each other so many times, sharing french fries, our first beers, telling tales of our first kisses, well, at least my first real kiss. I never considered the painfully embarrassing first kiss to William at the age of 12 during a truth and dare segment as anything but a monumentally embarrassing moment in my life, which most of the time, I like to forget happened, but for some reason, fighting off the tears, it makes me burst into laughter.

William looks up smirks and says “So, are you going to share with me what is so amusing?”

Through fits of laughter “Do you remember that horrible party, where we played truth or dare? We were dared to kiss each other?” I could barely breathe, I was laughing so hard.

William’s laughter broke out, our laughing broke the silence in the Starbucks.

“good Gawd, that was just about the most embarrassing thing, I like Melissa too, and there I was, dared to kiss you, a damn 12 year old! You were all bones, and awkward. I felt horrible kissing you, I thought for sure our parents would know we had crossed some sort of line we were never supposed to cross!”

I finally stopped laughing, it felt good to laugh instead of cry. I blurted out “I didn’t want my first kiss to be with you, with everyone staring, it was awful.”

I went back to drinking my coffee, shaking my head. I dug into the yoghurt and demolished it in 2 bites. I looked up, and realized William was still staring at me.

“Do you still eat everything but the kitchen sink?”

“of course I do, as long as it is good food, and I actually remember to eat, I mean, no one has quite fed me the way Marylou did in the Philippines, or filled me like your Mum’s butter tarts, but I survive. ” smiling at the memories of his Mother’s baked confections.

And there it was, the beginning of a 2 hour conversation during 3 cups of coffee.

My blackberry began to go off, it was 8am, and I had to head into the office. I had a mountain of work, and I still had to stop for a proper breakfast. absent-mindedly, I got up, and gave William a big hug, and said “bye Wills, see ya later.” it was like no time had passed, yet there was still a strange ocean between us. I grabbed my blackberry, put it in my purse, and fished out my Iphone to text my brother back

“everything is fine, strange, but fine, no emotions, head down, call you later.”

I turned back to see William chatting up a pretty blonde woman, I shook my head and headed out the door. I arrived at the office, and put my head down to work. I rarely noticed what day of the week it was, everyday seemed to blur into another, this week would be like every other, before I knew it, it was Friday, and I hadn’t returned any personal e-mails, phone calls or even checked my Iphone.

Friday at lunch, I went out and sat on a bench, turned on my Iphone, and realized I had missed 72 texts, and 13 phone calls. I scanned through the texts, a few from William or Wills is what I always called him.

“Come this weekend, I promise no truth or dare kisses.” Slightly confused, I checked all my messages, his Mother Elsa, had left a message, she wanted me over to the country house for the weekend. A home I knew so well, and people I felt more comfortable with than my own Aunt and Uncle. I knew I couldn’t refuse, they had never given up on me, no matter how much I tried to shut them out, Elsa sent birthday presents, Christmas presents, with notes, lots of notes. I kept every single one of them in a keepsake box.

I gathered my wits, and called Elsa back, she answered on the 3rd ring, the traditional diplomatic courtesy pickup her warm accent said “Hello” and there I was, 16 years old again, telling my Auntie Elsa I would be coming to the Country with them for the weekend.

And then, I was there again, on the park bench, not sure what to think. So weirdly familiar and yet so foreign.

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