Amy looked around the room, and for the tenth time wished the floor would open and swallow her whole. Being an introvert, she hated parties because she always felt awkward, and never knew what to say. After the basic niceties of “hello…and, how are you…, she drew a blank, and usually stood looking at the individual like soon-to-be roadkill caught in the light.
“Ugh…why had she come?” She wondered.
But Amy knew why she had come. She had promised Rose, and she didn’t want to let her down. Rose, her best friend, and fellow colleague from the university, had worked hard the set up this party. In fact, for the last two months that’s all she had talked about on their morning runs.
While jogging in place at one stop light, Amy learned there would be tiny finger sandwiches filled with chicken salad and pimento cheese, and the platter of these would rest upon a daffodil table-cloth that had once belonged to her grandmother.
Then the light turned green and they would run quietly until stopped at the next light, at which time Rose picked up the conversation where she had left it at the last stoplight. “…and of course there’ll be crystal vases of freshly cut daffodils on every table…” Another green light and off they’d go. Amy couldn’t help but smile at her friend’s chatter.
Amy looked around the large room, and saw the mental image she had imagined for the last two months. She knew it well and felt she could navigate the room blind, without a seeing-eye-dog.
The thought of the dog caused her to smile. She liked dogs. In fact, she liked them better than people. They were loyal and you could always…always be yourself around them. They never told you, you stink…even if it had been three days gone since the last shower. Amy giggled. On the other hand, most people were happy say, “…you stink”…but she supposed that could be a good thing. Amy giggled, again.
In her 32 years, Amy had also found people to be far less accepting. At least not the ones in her life, save for Rose, of course. Rose was different, she had listened to Amy’s story without judgement, and for that Amy had been grateful. Other than her family, she had shared her “secret” with no one but Rose. Rose was the first person to cry with her, and the first person to love her unconditionally…no strings attached. Her family…not so much.
“Amy!” “Look at you!” “Oh my God, you’re beautiful!”
Amy looked up from her reverie, and saw her best friend coming towards her with a gigantic smile, and arms wide open. In that moment Amy was glad she had come.
Amy returned the smile, and barely got out “Rose” before she was engulfed within Rose’s warm embrace. Rose always gave the best hugs. She held you tight like she’d not seen you in years, you could actually feel her heart quicken, so there was no doubt of her happiness to see you. Amy felt blessed to have Rose in her life…a life that had once been drab and lonely.
The two loosened their embrace, but still clung to one another. Rose surveyed Amy, and Amy surveyed Rose.
Rose’s orange hair, usually in a pony-tail, hung loose around her pale shoulders. The freckles splashed across her nose were practically invisible, but Amy knew they were there. It was only yesterday the two had run four miles under a bright sun, and the baseball cap on Rose’s head had helped to protect her delicate skin, but the freckles on her nose had been angry, and protested against the sun’s hot rays. Rose always hid them with makeup while teaching at the university, but by the end of the day, the coat of foundation she had bathed them in faded, so that they were visible for all to see.
Amy loved Rose’s freckles because they so aptly fit her green eyes, and bubbly personality.
Rose pulled Amy close again, and kissed her cheek.
“I’m so glad you came,” she whispered.
Amy lied, and said, “Me too.”
“C’mon I’ve got someone I want you to meet.”
Rose took her hand and led her deeper into the crowded room. Amy inwardly sighed. She knew the real torture was about to begin.
Almost everyone called out to Rose as they passed.
“Great party Rose!”
“Hey Rose, you got to see this…”
“Rose, who catered? The food is…”
“What’s the DJ’s name…DAMN he’s cute!”
Rose smiled at each, and held up a number one with the pointer finger of her right hand. Everyone knew it meant, “in a minute,” and so they drank more wine and waited patiently for their turn.
Rose and Amy stopped abruptly, just short of the bar. A rowdy raucous between a big burly man, and a slender blonde was playing out in front of them.
The woman’s frame was small, but very athletic. Both were sitting on the bar stools, and both were holding a filled shot glass in the air. The bartender slapped the bar and said, “go!” The woman downed hers first, and started on the next one, of the four set before her. She finished the second as the burly man was turning his first shot glass upside-down, and reaching for his second. The woman wasted no time in downing number three, and paused for only a second to burp. After the burp, she threw down the contents of the last shot glass, and slammed it down hard upon the bar. By the time the woman yelled, “DONE!,” the man was just reaching for his fourth glass. He cursed and set the filled glass back on the bar, spilling some of its contents. Disgusted, he walked away. The woman smiled. She reached for his last shot glass and wasted no time tossing its contents down her throat. Again, she burped and then said, “Who’s next?”
Amy stood, stunned. She couldn’t take her eyes off of the woman at the bar.
Her athletic build was clothed in a white Oxford shirt, faded jeans, and black boots. Tanned arms escaping the rolled-up sleeves were lean, each muscle well-defined. Her short blonde hair was spiked on top, not in a “Mad-Max” kind of way, but just enough to command attention. Amy noticed the woman smiled and laughed easily, and her blue eyes sparkled, not the least bit dulled by all the booze she had downed.
“Who in the hell is that?” Amy whispered.
“That’s who I want you to meet,” said Rose.
As if she overheard, the woman at the bar turned to catch Amy staring.
The woman smiled at Amy, and Amy felt as if she would fall to the floor. They held each other’s eyes for what seemed forever, before she stood, and walked towards Amy and Rose.
“Rosie!” The woman gave Rose a quick kiss on the lips.
“How the hell are you?” The woman hugged Rose and added, “It’s been too damn long!”
“And whose fault is that?” asked Rose.
“The road’s fault of course.” the woman said without hesitation. “Mid May to mid August the damn thing has a habit of taking me all over the states! But…I guess I could have called…sorry…” she tilted her head and asked, “still friends?”
Rose pursed her lips as if she were trying to decide.
“C’mon Rosie…Pleeeeeeeeeeeese,” the woman begged with a million-dollar smile spread across her face.
Rose burst out laughing.
“Sky…how the hell can I stay mad at you?”
Amy thought it impossible, but the woman’s smile grew more radiant.
Rose noticed as well and said sternly, “…wipe that damn smile off your face!”
They both laughed and gave each other another hug.
Amy stood watching, feeling a bit like a third wheel. As if Rose had read Amy’s mind, she turned to Amy, put an arm around her, and pulled her close.
“Sky, I’d like you to meet a dear friend of mine.”
Sky looked at Amy and winked. “I thought I’d already met all of your dearest friends…?”
“Seeeeeeee what can happen in only a few months…” Rose chided.
Sky looked chagrined for only a moment, then stepped closer to Amy and gently took her hands.
“Forgive me, I’m Skylar Shannon, and I’m very pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Amy stared into the blue eyes looking at her. No words came to her mind, so she just stood… staring.
After a brief moment of awkwardness, Rose came to Amy’s rescue,
“This is Amy! Amy Merrigan! We only met a few of months ago, but I feel as if I’ve known her all my life. She’s an artist extraordinaire, a damn good running partner, and a very VERY special woman!”
Amy flushed, and heard her heartbeat echoing within her chest. She wondered if they could hear it as well.
Still holding Amy’s hands, Sky smiled into the brown eyes staring back at her.
After long awkward pause, Amy finally found her voice and said,
“Uh…I’m Amelia Merrigan, and I teach at the university with Rose.”
He watched the two women laughing in the luminescent light. He couldn’t watch them without gritting his teeth. For a moment he feared someone would hear his teeth grinding, but a quick look around assured him he was alone in his dark corner of the room.
“Amy…you know better…” he muttered through clinched teeth.
“You were raised better than this,” he added, and then cursed under his breath.
He heard the women laughing, and saw the blonde reach over to take Amy’s hands in hers. Hot anger flowed through his body like lava, and for a moment the thought of spontaneous combustion entered his psyche. At that, he almost laughed, but a quick hand clamped over his mouth and snuffed it out.
“…probably not a bad way to go,” he pondered, “…talk about going out in a blaze of glory…” Again, the hand covered his mouth… but, oh…how he laughed inside…heartily and robust he laughed and laughed. The hilarity was so deafening he thought his head would explode.
All the while he sat quietly in his dark corner, gritting his teeth, and plotting his evil plan.
To read more about Amy and Sky visit my other blog Creepy Reflections