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Ballroom

It was nearly one year ago today. I can count the days I’ve left this empty lifeless house on one hand. I’ve tried to move on. I’ve accepted every invitation from friends to eat out. Three is the total. They happened the first week. They were all from three different friends. I was miserable that’s why I guess I’ve never been asked back.

I go to church, our church, but I sit alone. She had lots of friends. I thought they were our friends, but I guess I’m not good friend material. She was. She was my best friend. Now, she’s gone. She taught me a lot but I guess I didn’t learn how to be a friend.

So much in this house reminds me of her. Her clothes are still on her side of the closet. I plan to take them to a charity but I cannot seem to part with them. I used to think I am strong. I’m weak and needy. Maybe I could ask someone to help me with these clothes. I think her best friend, Meira offered to help. That was months ago. Meira was always nice to me. She and Meira were so close.

I reach for the phone to call Meira. What would people at church think if I ask Meira to help me with things? I hesitate. Maybe I’ll wait and give it more time.

With my hand hovering over the phone, it rings. It startles me. I sit for a moment suspended in time while the phone rings several times. I pick up the receiver and slowly draw it to my ear as if I am afraid it will hurt me.

“Justin?”

It’s Meira. How eerie this feels. I was just thinking about her and…

“Justin, are you there?”

“Y-yes, I’m here.”

“This is Meira. How are you?”

“I’m fine.”

I lie because I’ve learned the hard way that’s what people want to hear. If you tell them real feelings, they don’t know what to do and they start looking for an escape.

“I just heard a song Blake loved. I didn’t think after this long it could effect me so hard, but I bawled like a baby.”

I didn’t know what to say at first. But then, I realize that’s how everybody responds to me. Meira is reaching out to me.

“I-I know just what you mean. Life just isn’t the same without Blake. I still miss her like crazy. I know I should move on. I think that’s what Blake would want.”

“I believe I have moved on, but there are times….”

I haven’t moved on. I am almost angry at Meira for being able to say that she has. She was Blake’s best friend.

“Everyone says, ‘It’s been a year. Blake would want you to live.’ Please don’t tell me that, Meira.”

There is a long, ugly silence. So long that I listen carefully to see if Meira might have hung up.

“I am outside in your driveway. I wanted to come over to try to be near Blake or at least things that Blake held dear.”

I go to the front of the house and peek out through the shades of the front window. I remember accompanying Blake when we bought these shades. Meira was there, too. Meira thought they’d look perfect and so did Blake. It was Meira who asked my opinion first. Blake encouraged a response from me other than “whatever you think, dear.”

I don’t know if I can talk with Meira. I like Meira, but being close to her brings back so many memories of Blake.

“Justin, may I come in. You can tell me to go away. I’ll understand. But I hope you don’t.”

Meira treated me so well. She was so quick to accept me. She seemed as thrilled about our engagement as Blake and I were.

“Absolutely, Meira. Please come on in.”

I watch her almost leap out of the car and skip to the door. Her joy is almost enough to dissolve some of the ache. It is enough to erase all my hesitation to invite her in.

“Thank you so much, Justin. I’ve been wanting to do this since… since we lost Blake.”

She throws both arms around my neck. She wears the same perfume as Blake. I don’t want her to let me go just yet, so I give her a warm, friendly hug. Then, I remember this isn’t Blake. It’s Meira.

“It is nice to see you, Meira,” I step back out of our embrace.

“I’ve wanted to come by several times this past year,” Meira whirls around and heads to the couch.

Meira and Blake were friends in high school. They were so different physically and personality-wise. Meira is tall and statuesque. Blake was medium height and full figured. Blake was funny and adventurous. Meira is quiet and resolute. They probably worked well together because they balanced each other out.

I met Meira, of course, through Blake. Meira and Blake went to the same church. After high school, Meira went away to college and Blake stayed and attended her hometown university. I met Blake at the university.

I met Meira, of course, through Blake. At the Christmas break our junior year, I stayed in town instead of going back to my hometown. Meira returned home for the break.

I mention this because after I offered Meira coffee and serve it, we rehash the memory. Meira liked me right off she claims. She said she thought I would be good for Blake and she admits she was right.

The conversation wanes at this point. For several minutes, we sip coffee. I refill our cups. She recalls a hilarious incident from their high school days. We laugh ourselves to tears.

 After several minutes of clumsy silence, Meira reminds me of the song she heard which caused her to cry and ask me to finally come visit.

“Actually, it isn’t a song at all,” Meira confesses. “It’s this video.”

Meira moves from the chair I offered to her when she first arrived to the couch where I sit. She slides next to me and shares a video of Blake she saves on her smart phone.

 “Do you remember that night?” Meira asks when the video completes.

The tears in my eyes provide my answer. I was so mad at Blake for acting so silly in front of everyone. I was embarrassed. I should have been proud.

Meira recalls how I argued with Blake about it. She reminds me that Blake places a twenty dollar bill in this jar that the Ballroom had displayed when you first checked in. The jar was for donations for a child of one of the staff of the Ballroom who had a serious heart disease. But that was not what our argument was about.

Meira reminds me that later Blake went back to check on the jar to see how full it was. There was a good crowd at the Ballroom that night and Blake was hopeful that the jar would be overflowing. It wasn’t.

Blake became very upset about it. She returned to our table and showed us that other than her twenty there were a few ones and some coins.

Blake was livid. Many of the customers there that night were obviously well-to-do dressed in fine clothing and adorned with expensive jewelry. It was then that she decided to do something about it.

I thought she was overreacting. She didn’t know the child, the staffer, or most of the patrons. She was still determined.

Blake took the jar and walked up to the leader of the live band and pitched her idea. All I could do from that point was shake my head.

“The band leader announced that if this crowd could fill this jar with large bills and reach four hundred dollars or more, she’d dance for us,” Meira reminds.

“Minutes later, the jar was filled and five hundred and twenty dollars was stuffed into that plastic pickle jar,” I declare.

“That was one year ago today,” Meira shares, “according to my Facebook memories post.”

“Two days later, a texting driver ended that precious life,” I spew the words out between my gritted teeth.

Meira tries to calm me by touching me gently.

“Forget the driver and think of Blake,” Meira rubs my shoulder. “You’re only hurting yourself, not the driver.”

I know she’s right. I know Blake would forgive the driver. I know Blake would want that for me.

“As much as possible, live peaceably with everyone,” I can almost hear Blake quote it.

“I’ll try,” I promise, “for you, Blake.”

 

Categories: Change of heart Forgiveness

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Douglas Knight

I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at douglasknight85@gmail.com.

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