Friday, March 1, 2019

Well Lit

Well Lit
By: Kelli J Gavin

Sarah and Maddie had been walking for quite some time. Sarah was about 20 feet ahead when she turned and noticed Maddie wasn’t keeping up with her anymore.

“Maddie! Let’s get a move on! I want to get home for dinner and soon the sun will start to set.”  Sarah originally was pleased when her best friend agreed to tag along for an outdoor adventure. Maddie had in recent months become a bit distant and aloof.  She no longer enjoyed going to the movies together. She didn’t care when new music was released. She barely engaged in conversation with Sarah anymore and she all together ignored all of their mutual friends.  Sarah at first tried as hard as she could to figure out what may have caused these sudden changes in Maddie. But try as she might, Sarah was at a loss. Maddie was quiet, sullen and just chose to do her own thing.

“Girl, I am trying.  I can’t keep up with you. Your stupid long legs make you take steps like a giraffe.  I thought this was supposed to be a leisurely walk. Not a race to see who could get there first.” Maddie didn’t even make eye contact with Sarah as she continued her complaints. “What is so special about these stupid wildflowers you are searching for?”

“They only bloom for about two weeks every summer. I should have started checking on them about 2 weeks ago, but my summer job has taken over most of my daylight hours. They are so beautiful. I love placing them in vases throughout the house.  I would hate to miss them this year.” Sarah explained.

“How long do they last once you have picked them?”  Maddie asked wiping a bead of sweat from her forehead.

“Usually about a 5 or 6 days and then they wilt a bit and the edges turn brown.”  Sarah’s expression changed as the memory of last year’s wilting flowers came to mind.

“Seems like a waste of time if they are just going to die right away.”  Maddie, as always, was continuing on her negative streak.

“Do you hear yourself?  I am sick of this Maddie.  For the last few months, you have been a mess.  You argue with anyone who disagrees with you. You turn down almost all invitations. You complain and complain and complain until I kinda want to punch you.  The last time I asked you what was wrong and what was going on, you glared and me and told me to stop asking. You glared at me. I am your best friend. What is the problem?”  Sarah sputtered as she finally spoke about her grievances directed at Maddie.

Silence.  Actual silence.  Sarah stopped in her tracks and waited for Maddie to stop next to her.  Maddie looked up into Sarah’s eyes. Tears began forming and Maddie gulped for air.

“Sarah.  My dad is sick.  Like really sick.  He has cancer, and surgery and chemo aren’t an option.  The doctor has given him another couple of months. That’s it. Done. Just like that.”  Maddie cried.

Sarah couldn’t believe what Maddie was explaining to her.  All those times Sarah tried to stop over and Maddie wouldn’t let her in the front door.  All those times Sarah said that her parents wanted to have Maddie’s parents over for dinner and Maddie said they were busy.  All this crazy mean talk and complaining that seemed to be boiling over all the time. Maddie’s dad was dying. Sarah’s eyes filled with tears. She reached for Maddie to embrace her not knowing if Maddie would even let her.  Maddie’s shoulders fell. And she began to sob. Her entire body collapsed into Sarah’s loving arms.

“Oh Maddie. I am so sorry. And I am sorry that you didn’t tell me. I could have been praying for you. Supporting you. Loving you during this time.  All I wanted to do was punch you because you were being so hateful and mean and standoffish.” Sarah wiped her own tears as she massaged Maddie’s heaving shoulders.

“It was almost as if I couldn’t.  If I told you, if I said it out loud, that would make it real. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell you about it. It hurts so much.”  Maddie sat down on a fallen log to catch her breath and wipe her tears.

“I understand and I am sorry.  My sweet friend, I love you. Thank you for telling me.  I want to help you in any way that I can. You tell me how, and I will do it.”

“Take me to see these flowers.  Today is a fine day for beauty.”  Maddie smiled as well as she could to enable Sarah to know that she meant it.

“Flowers here we come.”  Sarah pulled on Maddie’s hand and brought her to her feet. She hugged Maddie tightly and pulled a tissue from her pocket. Sarah helped Maddie fix her eyes and then tucked Maddie’s willing arm into hers.

The girls increased their speed. No longer shuffling behind, Maddie kept in step with Sarah.  Maddie and Sarah. Just like it had always been. Friends since the first day of kindergarten. Friends until the end. The path narrowed a bit and the sun shone through the tall tree tops. The breeze increased which helped the girls cool down a bit from their brisk walk in the woods.

“There! There they are!” Sarah announced as she bolted forward into the opening in the woods.  Pink and purple, yellow and blue and red. So many colors of wild flowers! An absolutely beautiful sight.  Pure and simple. Natural beauty in God’s creation.

Maddie smiled at Sarah.  A smile of thanks. She laid down in the middle of the opening. Surrounded by wildflowers, the gentle breeze and sound of birds speaking to each other.  “Sarah. Thank you for bringing me to see your special flowers. This time with you has been so wonderful. Thank you for helping me smile today.”

Sarah was kneeling and gently cutting flowers and placing them in a pile.  “I will cut a few extra for you. You will want a vase also I think.” Sarah smiled at her treasured friend.

The path home was well lit by the sun that would be setting soon. The girls walked arm in arm back to their neighborhood. When they exited the woods and turned to admire the sunset,  both of girls did nothing other than hug each other. Not a word was exchanged. Sarah handed Maddie an armful of flowers to bring home to her father.

That evening, Maddie and her father sat on the couch admiring the vase of flowers on the mantle above the fireplace.  “Dad, Sarah cut those for me today. Aren’t they beautiful?”

Maddie’s dad smiled at her, “Beautiful, just like my baby girl.”

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Brass Knuckles

         I love telling stories. I also love retelling stories that aren't mine. Stories that have been shared with me. Stories overhear...