I remember the exact moment I knew I was going to be best friends forever with my two girls—May and Haley. It was when Momma moved us to Windsor for her new job. I remember being so excited.
“I promise you’re going to love it Jessie girl!” Mama reassured me as we packed our boxes and said goodbye to our family home.
I remember driving away and looking back as sadness locked around my heart knowing I was saying goodbye to happy times, times with my father. Mama said it was a fresh start and after awhile it wouldn’t hurt so much. I wanted to see her smile again and if this was what it would take, then I was all for moving.
We had been in the new apartment for just two days, still living among the unpacked boxes, when I started my new school. I couldn’t wait to meet my new friends. Grade three in a new town—everything was going to be great.
After my mother signed me in, I walked giddily to my new classroom with the school principal. As we got to the door, my nerves began to take over, along with the butterflies inside my belly. This was it. I hoped my new friends were as excited to meet me as I was to meet them.
I’d like to say I made friends that first day of school, but I would be lying. Everybody laughed the moment I walked in. My tutu was apparently too funny for the rest of the class. I spent my first lunchtime hiding in a stall in the girl’s bathroom.
I tried to take off the tutu, I really did. I just couldn’t. I felt my dad with me when I wore it and I needed him more than ever. That night at home I pretended to have the best day of my life as Mama and I ate dinner. Her face beamed at the news of my wonderful school experience.
The next day as I entered the school gates I decided, friends or not, I was going to keep my chin up; tutu or not, I was going to enjoy my school experience. Walking into class, I was not surprised when I heard the snickers of some of my new classmates. But as I made my way to my seat, I heard the sweetest sound to my ears, “Hey! Idiot, leave her alone!” I followed the sound of the voice and landed on the face of an angel. Never mind the frown on her face or her growling like a rabid dog as she stared a boy down, her blond curly hair, blue eyes, and small frame set her bite apart from anyone else.
“Calm down Haley, I think he got the point girl,” an even sweeter voice soothed her frenzied friend. I zoned in on the girl next to her. Mocha skin, kind, hazel eyes, and crazy-tight curls. She was beautiful and I hoped to one day grow up and look just the same; what a shame I was a flaming redhead. But even in third grade I could dream.
Turning to look at me, she saw how my mouth was open expressing my shock, awe, and surprise. I couldn’t remember the exact emotion anymore, but all of those fit. “Come sit with us,” she called, coaxing me over with her hand and soft voice, pointing to a seat on the other side of the table.
I didn’t hesitate. With my backpack still slung over my shoulder, I made my way to the seat she was pointing at and quickly sat down. Both girls turned in their seats and stared at me. Still with a scowl on her face, the one know as Haley pointed her thumb sideways and said, “This is May.”
“I’m Jess,” I smiled back, picking at my fingernail and trying to contain my happiness. They spoke to me! They like me. Do they want to be my friends?
“Don’t you worry about those guys. They won’t bother you any more,” Haley assured me, crossing her arms and nodding her chin.
“I don’t really blame them to be honest. I mean, I am wearing a tutu,” I blushed with embarrassment.
“Well tomorrow we will wear ours, too,” May grinned at me as Haley continued to nod.
And that was it. That was the exact moment I knew I was going to be best friends forever with those two awesome girls. They kept their promise and wore tutus everyday for the next two years. It would have been longer, except my dad’s final gift to me finally wore out and could no longer do its job. That’s not to say many years later tutus and I didn’t have our reunion.
Twenty Years Later
The girls were arriving any minute now. Everything was out and ready on the coffee table: wine, cheese, dip, and May’s favorite, double chocolate chip cookies. With our latest read in my hands, I flicked through the pages looking for key elements I may have forgotten to jot down as I lowered myself into a beanbag chair.
The doorbell rang, but I didn’t even bother to get up since the girls usually don’t wait long enough for me to get there.
Every Friday night, for as long as I can remember, my two best friends and I have held a book club night, which I fantastically named “Sparkles Book Club” after my alter ego. What began as a lonely girls book club back in high school reading young adult fantasy fiction, has now grown and emerged into an adult book club reading young adult fantasy fiction. I’d like to say we would have outgrown the genre, but it’s just too damn good. Give me fairies and I’ll give you doe eyes.
Placing my book down on the coffee table, I glance up to see my girls pushing passed one another to get the best seat in the house. My sofa is covered in cushions, a habit, or should I say an addiction, of mine. As you throw yourself into them it’s like falling onto a soft fluffy cloud. Only once you’re in, there’s no way you’re coming out without working up a sweat, wriggling your way to the edge, and rolling off. So the first one there generally stays put while the others do the dirty work like trips to the kitchen for more food and wine.
This time May’s the winner, pushing Haley into the side of the living room door and diving for her position. I can’t help but laugh as she giggles with happiness at her victory.
“Far out May! My arm’s gonna bruise,” Haley groans, clutching at her shoulder.
“Girls you’re pathetic, it’s just a damn sofa for goodness sake,” I snort. Secretly, I loved the weekly battle, as it became one of the highlights.
Tonight we all sit around in our comfy sweats, also mandatory; no pink wigs or tutus for us. May, who by day is an accountant usually donning some boring, fitted pant suit and severely tight bun, is wearing her gray track pants, loose-fit polo shirt, and pony-tail, looking as relaxed as ever, though hidden within the mountain of cushions. Her bronze skin is still beautiful and shiny and even in gym clothes she is stunning with long legs, curvy hips, and cleavage unaffected by gravity yet.
With a sigh, she rubs her forehead and announces with a small wave, “Come on ladies! Let’s get this book discussion started, Game of Thrones starts in ten minutes.”
“Agreed,” moans Haley, as if she has a bad taste in her mouth. Haley may be the shortest of us all, looking all sweet and innocent, but she is anything but that. Give her one wrong look and she will attack like a bulldog disguised as a Chihuahua. Back in school, she was that friend you wanted around. Not one person was willing to mess with our little spitfire. With ringlet shoulder-length flaxen hair, pretty pink cheeks, and a cute rosebud mouth, she looked like a little cherub sent to bring love. The fact she was a cupcake extraordinaire enhanced her beauty in my eyes, until that moment she opened her mouth and you expected to hear an angelic voice, but instead got a gruff or growl. The woman occasionally scared the crap outta me, even if she was my best friend.
I peered around at my friends, mouth open and a crease emerging between my brows as annoyance bubbled its way into my chest and out of my throat.
“First of all, thanks for showing up! Second of all, welcome to my home! And third of all, I’m good, thanks, how was your day?” I grumbled, as I narrowed my eyes on each, burning them with my glare.
Pillows go flying onto the floor, as May pops her head up, wrestling with them to try to semi-sit up. Her mop of naturally curly raven-colored hair stood out in all directions, her wide almond-shaped eyes looking at me apologetically.
“Sorry Jess, we should have acknowledged you sweetie. Sometimes we just forget our manners because well… there’s no excuse it’s just we’re so use to doing this, you know just letting ourselves in.” With her pouty puppy-dog look, I softened and smiled at her.
“You know when you give me that look I can’t stay mad,” I grinned at her.
“Sweet,” she squealed as her head disappeared again under the mounds of cushions, the only thing visible being her feet poking out from the other end of the couch.
I don’t say anything or expect apologies from Haley who is sitting on the single lounge chair already chomping on chips and channel surfing. This is how it’s been for months now, I sadly think to myself. Although they come over like clockwork every Friday night, I know our book club has come to an end.
Heck, when I look back on the last ten years I think it’s always been me that’s the most enthusiastic of us all. I live and breathe those magical worlds we read about. That brief escape from reality, bills, work—I crave the escape. I love my work; I built my career around these books so I could play dress up every day and become my alter ego, Sparkles.
As I glance down at my closed book on the table, I smile and know it’s time to say goodbye to the Sparkles Book Club of three and accept it’s just a group of one. I don’t feel sad about it. Now, I get to keep all my imaginary escapes to myself.
Losers; don’t know what they’re missing.
“I’m serious Brax. The girls aren’t interested in book club anymore. Last night they came over and once again prepared for Game of Thrones. I’m not upset though. Okay, so maybe I was a little upset, but I’m over it now,” I ramble on as I stand over the coffee machine making my next door neighbor, who also happens to just let himself in all the time, his boring coffee.
“Jess, regardless of what is happening at your house, heck you could be hosting Scrabble nights for all they care, those girls will show up. Truthfully, I don’t think it’s ever been about the books. It’s about spending time together, a ritual you obviously all love,” Brax answers, as his eyes watch the cup I’m bringing towards him. He has known me long enough to know I’m clumsy and, on occasion, the cup has landed in his crotch. However this time, I am smarter about it and place it on the counter, allowing him to grab it himself.
I watch Brax as he takes his first sip and internally sigh as his lips tip up into a satisfied smile. Damn the man and all his fine features! As if his six-foot-three, perfect face with a little bit of stubble, sapphire blue eyes begging to hypnotize me, and dark blond hair that curls just above the tips of his ears doesn’t curl my toes, he also owns his own construction company, which keeps him all kinds of tight in all the right places.
I often wonder what on earth keeps him coming over here. The coffee, for sure, or maybe because I’m non-threatening—a five-foot-four inch chubby princess of pure crazy. I am a girl who knows she doesn’t have a chance with Mr. I-know-I’m-handsome. At the end of the day, I don’t care how I have him, as long as I have him one way or the other. Yes, I was secretly head-over-heels in love with him, but it was a pointless crush.
Being neighbors for the past five years, I’ve seen women come and go through his door. I think the longest to stay was Ingrid, but that was a whole six months—a gold medal record for this man.
Unfortunately, he has witnessed a big fat zero number of men coming and going from this house; not that I minded so much. I believe in soulmates and the moment I meet mine, I’ll just know. It’ll be like a meteor hit earth and blown my heart into huge smithereens of love that burns me to the core.
I felt that once. But it was like birthing pains, or what I’ve heard about them. A false labor before the big finale.
I glance up at the clock on the wall. It was time to go. Straightening my pink wig and purple tutu, I reach over the counter to retrieve my bag and knock his coffee cup. Brax tries desperately to grab it as the liquid makes its fast release over the table and into his….
I screech as I quickly take hold of my bag and run for the door, shouting behind me, “Sorry!” I feel awful, but I know he will clean up the mess and run home to change before starting his workday. It’s not the first, nor will it be the last, time this happened.
Escaping the door, I run down the house steps and wrestle with my keys, trying to get my Honda Civic’s door open before a grumpy Brax has a chance to chase after me scolding; not the way I just scolded his, well you know, but on occasion he has thrown me over his shoulder and taken me back to his place, just to watch him change. Pure torture and if it couldn’t get any worse, he throws me his coffee-stained clothes to wash.
Suddenly, I see the front door fling open, a wicked grin on Brax’s face as I squeal. The car door is open and I dive in and scramble to lock the door behind me. Success! Putting the keys into the ignition of my Pepto-colored baby, I give a little wave out my driver’s window as Brax crosses his arms with a half smile, nodding his head mouthing ‘well-played.’
I smile back and put the car in reverse as I head to my first appointment of the day.