A sneak peek into my current work in progress. Hope you enjoy . . .
LEAVE YESTERDAY BEHIND
“Come on, Mandy . . . don’t be so hard on me. I don’t need that right now,” Becky Carson pleaded tiredly. She squeezed her eyes shut and ran her free hand through the long blond hair spilling across the shoulder of her faded blue tee-shirt. She felt the immediate, all too familiar, bittersweet sting of tears behind her closed lids. “I know you have my best interest at heart, Man, and really . . . I do love you for it, but I don’t need your preaching right now. I need your strength, your support.”
“Okay, Becky. I guess you know best.” Mandy groaned in resignation, once again feeling the sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach. She shook her head.
This wasn’t the first time Mandy had tried to get Becky to see the light. She had long since lost track of the number of times they had shared this very same conversation. It was beyond her how Becky could be so damned naive! Why couldn’t she get through to her? Why couldn’t she make Becky see that she was only throwing her life away on that worthless boyfriend of hers, Bradley Ames?
“I apologize, Becky,” she said. “I just don’t like seeing Brad hurting you the way he is.”
Becky felt herself cringe as she listened to the bitter sarcasm in Mandy’s voice coming through the line. She gripped the receiver tighter to her ear. “Look, Mandy . . .” she snapped. “I can’t sit her all day and listen to you argue about my life with Brad. I know you think he’s a jerk, and I can’t help the way you feel. But I love him, and we’re happy together, and besides. . .” She paused a moment and sucked in a fresh breath of air. She hated it that she had to defend herself to the one person in all the world who should know her better than any other living soul. They had known each other for far too long. It just wasn’t fair. So what if she and Brad were having a few had times right now? Didn’t most young couples go through a similar adjustment period? She and Brad would work everything out, things would get back to normal. She was sure of it.
“And besides what?”
The sound of Mandy’s nagging interrupted the hopeful thoughts filling Becky’s head. “Mandy, please”, she heard herself pleading again. “I’ve got to get off the phone and get ready for work or I’ll be late.”
Becky knew that was a lie—and she knew, too, Mandy probably knew it was as well. She had stopped working on Sunday nights over a month ago. But for right now, for at least this one more minute, she just didn’t feel like arguing anymore. Her head ached as it always did when she was trapped into having this same conversation with Mandy. A deep pulsing throb that started from behind her eyes. She knew it was only tension, but she knew, too, how to make it stop. She had to get off the phone. She had to put an end to all this stupid arguing.
“Can’t we just drop it for now?” Becky groaned. “We’ll talk more tomorrow, okay?”
“Yeah, sure. I’ll drop it if you want me to. But please . . . don’t forget,” Mandy paused a moment, hating to go on, yet knowing she had to try one more time. She switched the phone to her other ear and pulled a hopeful grin to her lips. “Just remember though,” she added carefully, her voice barely loud enough to be heard on the other end, “You can always move back into the dorm with me if you need to.”
Becky smiled in quiet resignation. There was no hope for Mandy, she would never change. She would always be a ‘mother-hen’ to anyone she ever loved—or for that matter, to anyone she ever cared about. And that was that! She could be exasperating at times, especially times like right now—never knowing when to drop it. Yet, strange as Mandy’s ways were, Becky mused, she couldn’t help but love her nonetheless.
Her next words came with a gentle smile of her own, “I know I can, Mandy, but really, I’m fine right where I’m at. Now,” Becky sat up straighter and slid her legs off the sofa where she had, had them folded beneath her. She reached for the base of the phone. “I’ve got to get a move on it before I’m late. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Sure. No problem. I understand.” Mandy answered, sounding as if she really did understand—as if she really did see that Becky and Brad had their own lives to live. And truly, it was one of the things she wanted most in all the world. She wanted to understand . . . but something deep inside her heart—intuition maybe—simply wouldn’t let her! She had seen Brad hurt her best friend too many times already. “Just remember, though,” she answered with a timid smile, “if you need me, you’ve got a friend.”
“Thanks, Man. I will.” Becky breathed a sigh of relief and tossed her head, sending her straying hair back across her shoulder. She didn’t mean to sound gruff and sarcastic—she really cared about Mandy’s feelings—but for now, she just felt too tired. She said “good-bye,” and then abruptly—even before Mandy had the chance to open her mouth one last time—Becky slid the receiver back into its cradle and lifted the phone from her lap. She reached up with her free hand, absently rubbing the numbness from her left ear, as she set the phone back in its place on the coffee table before her.
* * *
Becky tried, without much success, to quell the nagging echo of Mandy’s words that kept darting back and forth through her mind as she made her way into the small kitchen of her and Brad’s apartment. She glanced at the table with a heavy heart, and for the second time in just this one day, she felt her eyes filling with fresh tears.
She had been busy all afternoon preparing one of Brad’s favorite dishes. Homemade lasagna. And now, Becky slumped tiredly into the chair closest to her side, and stared through the dampness of her tears at the delicious looking dinner that lay before her on the neatly laid table. The slanting rays of the late afternoon sun spilled across the table from the window above the sink. Sparkling glints of light danced across the wall behind her head in a glorious kaleidoscope of colors as it bounced off the cut-glass candle holders and highly polished stainless silverware, she had worked so hard on shining to perfection. Everything looked so perfect. Everything looked so delicious. But, Becky thought with a heavy heart–reaching out and stroking the folded napkin on the nearest plate—looks could be ever so deceiving.
Everything might have been delicious two hours ago, but now . . . it looked doubtful. The fresh garden salad seemed to be wilting, leaf by leaf, and minute by minute, before her very eyes. And the lasagna and French bread had no doubt grown too cold to come anywhere even close to ever being called edible again.
At long last, Becky pulled herself to her feet, and with hands that felt almost as heavy as the heart she felt beating within her breast, she started clearing the table. She knew it would be a waste of time to wait on Brad any longer. He should have been home over two hours ago already. Who did he think he was fooling? She knew what time he got off work.
And then, a short twenty minutes later, as she wiped the last plate dry and stacked it with the others on the lowest shelf of the cabinet, she knew something else. This wasn’t the first time Brad had done this to her . . . and no doubt it probably wouldn’t be the last.
Becky reached for the switch by the door and flipped the overhead light off as she stepped from the room. And as she did, and as the dark shadows from the kitchen seemed to follow her out into the hall, the sudden ache in her heart reminded her of the one thing she wanted most in all the world not to ever have to be reminded of again . . . It didn’t look like Brad would be coming home tonight either!