I parked my car right outside the boutique I work at. By the time I stepped up on the curb, I was met by my close friend, Malia. Malia and I were the same age. We graduated from the same high school and now attend the same college. Bubbly and brunette, she is the more bouncy side of me while I am the more quiet side of her. Everyone always says we balance each other out.
“You two bit hooker! Why haven’t you answered your phone? I left like…” She started to count on her fingers. “Ten texts! What the hell?!” She was always loud and animated. I guess that was the Italian in her. Maybe it was the Greek. Either way, her loudness was adorable. I couldn’t help but to smile. She always made me smile.
“I’m sorry, I got the first text but I was driving my grams home from Sunday dinner. And when I got home the phone died and I didn’t charge it until, well, now.” I opened the boutique and flipped over the open sign. Malia began jumping behind me in excitement. She knew something was up.
“You don’t do that unless…” She pointed her finger at me and gasped like a fool. “Unless you’re avoiding someone. Oh my gosh! Who is it? Who are we avoiding?” I kept a smirk on my face as I lead her to the back room to put away our things in the lockers. Slowly wandering back to the cash register, I told her to fix the dresses and stay out of my business. Malia sucked her teeth in protest to my latter statement doing as I ordered. Business was always slow in the morning. I never understood who in their right mind would wedding dress shop first thing at seven in the morning. There really was nothing to do, so I let my partner in crime go out and get us some breakfast. There I was. Alone in the shop. Which was fine usually but there was nothing to distract me from seeing him or hearing my grams telling me to go for it. Trying to distract myself, my fingers tapped rhythmically along the counter waiting for time to slip along a bit faster. Letting out a sigh in slight aggravation, I stopped tapping my fingers. Turning around, I walked to the back and started on the orders and inventory to help distract myself. That worked out well because it seemed like in no time, my feisty friend was back with food.
“Sinny, I’m back. I got us some delicious food from home.” She whizzed past the counter and came to the room where I was. Everything smelled amazing. So much so that we decided to eat outside. The idea of bridal shop and breakfast food didn’t sit well with us.
Digging into my eggs and bacon, I felt Malia staring at me with menacing eyes. I knew she wanted answers. She knew she would get some.
“Soooo. Who are we avoiding? How’d yesterday go? What’d Father- Wait, are we avoiding Father Daniels?” Overly excited, she stuffed her face with food. She reminded me of a hamster with their cheeks puffed out. A low snort was heard from me as I stalled. I didn’t really want to answer her. I didn’t want to answer anything.
“What makes you think he has anything to do with who I’m avoiding? How would you even get to that conclusion?” She was like a detective. A Sherlock Holmes. It was great if you wanted info. But horrible if she was getting the info from you. Struggling to face her, I looked at my plate as I stabbed a fork in a piece of a scrambled egg. Eating the egg, I changed the view from my plate to the random pigeon that was next to us outside. Through the corner of my left eye, I could see her taking a big swallow as she was ready to answer my questions.
“First of all, you were supposed to call me with details of your punishment given to you from Father…” There went one finger up. Now, the second finger was going up. “Next, any time I mention what happened and Father, you twitch. And last, I know you more than anyone else. I know when you’re hiding something from me. So, spill it. Why are we avoiding him?” I really didn’t want to answer her but I had to say something. My throat swelled as I tried to swallow the last bit of breakfast left on my plate. Just as I was about to speak, we both heard the front door ding. Our first customer of the day. I thanked Jesus for perfect timing and gave a loud sigh in relief. Malia wasn’t too happy with the timing of the blessing I had received vowing to get an answer of some sort from me by the end of the week. Throwing away the paper plate I had, I walked back into the building. Though it was mid morning, I hadn’t realized how bright it was outside. My eyes readjusted to the indoor lighting as I looked into the mirror and freshened myself up before leaving the backroom to greet the bride to be and her family. Walking towards them, a genuine smile was planted on my face as my arms stretched out my hand to welcome them. Hopefully, this would be a filling, non stop day. Hopefully.
For the next seven hours, I was swamped in a parade of white clouds mixed with the occasional blush color dresses. My shift was now finished. Well, my day at work was finished. And to my delight, my interrogation by Malia was through. Making my way out of the door, I said goodbye to all the future brides and Malia who was pulling a double shift. Skipping to my car, I slowed down upon the realization that it was time for Grams to ask questions. Unlocking the door to my light blue SUV, my face grimaced knowing of the torture I was about to face. There’s no lying to her. She knows. She always knows. Pulling out of the parking spot, I made my way over to her house. The ride there seemed to take forever. My fingers gripped the steering wheel tighter than usual. I wished that Marcus was with me to carry some of the burden but he had his last night. Mondays. Why’d they have to be so rough?
I sat in the mid afternoon traffic contemplating the answer when all of a sudden he popped into my head. That confident smirk. That firm grip of his hand on my jaw. I was nearly relishing in the memory. I caught myself smiling in the rear view mirror. Immediately, I stopped. I had no reason to enjoy this. Wiping my mouth with a napkin, I flashed back to when his thumb caressed my lip. Shaking my head, I crumpled the napkin and threw it on the floor.
“No. Don’t think about him, Sinny.” Through all of this, I somehow went to autopilot because before I knew it, there was Grams standing at the door waiting for me to enter. I’m not even sure how long I had been in park in her drive way but there I was. I unbuckled my seat belt snapping myself out of my fog and opened the door. Stepping out of the car, I feel as though I floated to Gram’s door. Seeing the state I was in, she smiled and laughed.
“You that worried about seeing your own grandmother? I ain’t gonna bite you, Come on, have a seat.” She patted a space next to her. “Sit right here. I’ll get you some tea.” Just as I opened her screen door to enter her home, she went directly toward the kitchen to retrieve her tea set. It was the most fancy thing she owned. The oldest as well. She used any reason to keep the set out of hiding. Sitting in the designated spot she patted out for me, I didn’t have to wait long for her return. So proud of herself, she set the tea on the table in front of us. Happily, she sat next to me handing me a cup of tea just the way I liked it. The way we liked it. A drop of honey, a bit of milk and a tiny squeeze of lemon. We were the only two that drank our teas that way. I shared a lot of commonalities with Grams. Which made the visit harder than I wanted it to be. The person I was ultimately afraid to face was me. And she is me in the future.
“Lusinda, you know that anything you say in this house is betwixt you and me, so what’s going on with the guy who likes you?” It always tickled me when she tried to use words like that. Betwixt. Next, I imagined her with a piece of wheat hanging from the side of her mouth. Silent for a moment, I looked at her. Ella Marie. Only sixty years old and ruling the world like she was still in her twenties. She always exercised which left her in shape. She always did her make up. I never understood why because she’s natural beauty. She never dressed frumpy. Many people found it hard to believe that this woman is my grandmother. I adored her. I had the grandmother people wished they had.
“Lusinda, you gonna answer me?” She brought my focus back to the subject I had been trying to dodge all day.
“It’s Father Daniels.” I didn’t even mean to say it. It spilled from my lips before I could stop it. Blood rushed from my face as I started to shake. Fumbling to find more words to explain, I failed in the attempt to do so. Grams set down her tea and took my cup away from my hands. The look from her face went from shock to concern as she saw that I was serious. Placing her hands on top of mine, she tried to calm the shaking that erupted through them.
“Child, you’re shaking like an earthquake. Calm your nerves.” She lifted a hand to stroke my head gently. She always knew how to settle nerves. She was usually the voice of reason. “Now, what about Father Daniels? Did he do something to you?” Leaning my head into her hand, I shook my head no. I continued to lower my head to rest it in her lap. She continued to stroke my head as I started to explain what Father wanted.
“He…Said he was attracted to me. And I think I’m attracted to him. Grams, how do I know it’s not lust? How can this work? He’s a man of the cloth. He… We can’t. How could we?”
“Sweetheart, one thing you have to remember, a man of the cloth is just that. A man in cloth. He isn’t God. No one will ever be God. And the question about lust… Every relationship starts out with lust. People always want something they don’t have. What makes it love, is fighting to get and keep what you’ve lusted after.” I lay there in her lap absorbing what she told me. More confused than ever, my lips remained together unsure of what to ask or say. Instinctively, Grams knew how to answer what I couldn’t ask.
“Sometimes carrying a curse isn’t a bad thing. It’s not necessarily a burden for you, but a reminder for the past generation. They’ll always be cursed with the reminder of how they should’ve done things. Much like how you’re doing it, Lusinda. You’re seeking advice before making a choice. Your mother and I, we asked no questions. We closed our eyes and… you see what happened. Ended up learning about who we were after our divorces. Some never learn who they are. They end up marrying or dating the same type of person because there’s a void within them they’re refusing to acknowledge. That subject isn’t for you to focus on.” She laughed lightly as she began to pat my back. “I still say throw caution to the wind. Just watch which way the wind blows…” I laughed with her. Sitting myself up, my arms wrapped around her. My grandmother was the best and I knew it.