by Copper Rose
The rain battered her shoulders, her head covered by yesterday’s newspaper as she slipped through the door of Giovinci Consuelo’s Bistro. Patty scanned the conveyor belt of her mind to pin down the perfect excuse for being twenty minutes late. Being late. Something she wasn’t proud of. Her mother used to tell the ladies at coffee klatch, “Patty will be late for her own funeral,” and they would laugh, knowing it was true.
Gaze flitting left then right, Patty searched for a glimpse of Amy in the sparsely populated dining area. An excuse had yet to expose itself. She started to sweat. She jumped when she felt the hostess’s hand on her forearm, jolting her back to the moment. “Table for one?”
Patty scrunched up the side of her face, shook her head, and then flicked up two fingers. She even laughed out loud at how it reminded her of the peace sign, which was what this luncheon was all about. She’d bumped into Amy outside the nursing home as Amy was coming out from visiting her father. Patty was on her way in to visit her mother. The chance meeting had caught them both off guard and in a hurry. After realizing how long it had been since they’d talked to each other, they’d pressed their cheeks together in an awkward hug. Amy had said without hesitation, “Let’s do lunch.”
It wasn’t an in-the-mail-box invitation but Patty found herself saying, “I’d love that. The Bistro?”
“Sure. This Saturday? 2:00 so we miss the 12:00 crowd?”
“See you then.” Patty didn’t have a hammer and didn’t nail it down; the invitation. Instead Patty had nodded as she ran off to convince her mother aliens had not stolen any money out of her wallet. Amy ran off to who knows where. Probably having an affair with her dentist. Or better yet, the Deliveries R Us guy. Come to think of it, he was awfully cute. Patty took out her little black book and made a quick entry.
The hostess led Patty to an empty booth, where it turned out, an excuse was not necessary. The view overlooked the street. Neon kaleidoscopes formed on the sidewalk, the pavement, the clothing store window across the way, blinking—blinking sighs of relief. It wasn’t often Patty was first at anything. She smiled, something she hadn’t done in a long time.
The server waved a hand in her direction as she held up an iced tea. Patty grinned, nodded and was soon sipping the cold drink as she flipped through the old yearbook, smoothing her finger over each senior picture.
The server came with a second glass of iced tea. A small drop, condensation on her glass, dripped onto the page. She grimaced at the wrinkles it created on the picture of Amy’s face. She swiped it away with the side of her little finger causing a tear in Amy’s forehead.
Patty tried to smooth it out but the rip became bigger, now showing red through the tear, from the band instructor’s shirt on the adjoining page. Patty’s finger pressed down too hard and Amy’s head separated from her neck.
It had been forty-five minutes, with no sign of Amy, that Patty sat in Giovani Consuelo’s Bistro sipping iced tea. Just sitting there and sitting there sipping iced tea. Patty kept glancing at her cell phone thinking she’d missed Amy’s call detailing why she was running late. Thoughts appeared on the conveyor belt, thoughts about respect and responsibility. Thoughts about entitlement. How some people got to be cheerleaders and other people didn’t…
“Can I get you another glass of iced tea?” Patty jumped when the server touched her shoulder, breaking into her reverie.
“No, thank you. I thought I was supposed to meet someone, but I must have gotten my dates mixed up.” She pulled a five dollar bill from her wallet and slapped it on the table. She slammed shut the cover of the year book, and scooped up the book hidden underneath.
The server caught a glimpse of the familiar book tucked under Patty’s arm. “How to Cast a Spell – Just In Case.”
No one heard the squeal of tires on the other side of town as two cars collided. Head on. Well sort of, head off, but no matter.
“How about we do lunch?” Jan said to Patty when they bumped into each other at the post office.
About the author
Copper Rose perforates the edges of the page while writing unusual stories from the heart of Wisconsin. She also understands there really is something about pie.
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