Chapter 6: “This is it! My D-day, decision day— decisions. My daaayy.”
Leigh held up her inspiration coffee mug as if offering a toast to an imaginary listener, smirked, and trailed off as her vocal declaration lost steam.
Her robe was the choice of attire for two days running, but her ponytail was as fresh as the morning coffee, which made all the difference in her mind. If she brushed her teeth and properly ponytailed her hair, that is a day to conquer.
The old faded pink robe had seen better days— doomed to hit the garbage bin after the last box is sealed and marked. One small rip in the pocket became a large tear then grew at each catch on the doorknob or drawer pull.
Leigha’s cell phone was precariously stashed in her torn robe pocket and alerted the 8:08 am ding and buzz— her daily Bible reading reminder set over three years ago. A perfect break for Leigha to sprawl out on her properly made bed for a couple of minutes. The packing can wait.
A few fully stuffed and labeled boxes were against the wall. Two taped and stacked boxes propped as a temporary computer table nearest one of the few studio-apartment plug-ins. The research file: Almond, Cinnamon, and Coconut Trees lay atop the box labeled Office. The cover flapped intermittently from the breeze through the fluttering window blinds.
Then the unmistakable patter brought a slow smile to her face. She pulled up the blinds to find the street awash with fresh rainfall. The boarded storefronts and sidewalk graffiti looked strangely cleaner. Tall downspouts on the brick buildings were overflowing at the curbs. She closed her eyes, breathed in the fresh, moist air deeply, smiled, then let out a long hum.
Okay, Leigha said out loud, Kelly and Julia, get ready for your surprise.
Leigha had completed the tedious Insurance settlement paperwork online. She was ready to meet her two key former employees. Leigha held her phone and gave it a blank stare.
One year running, she whispered to the handheld object.
Cellphones are only a tool; she reminded herself with a set stare. Her friends knew Leigha made only necessary texts and calls. A fleeting memory of Nate crossed her mind and left a telltale wrinkle on her eyebrows.
Leigha scowled at her phone while texting Julia and whispered, We can’t meet here— this area is sketchy!
Hey Julia, how’s it going? I’m ready to meet if you can tomorrow? The Dock Cafe? Smiles
LEIGHA! How are you?? I miss you. Are you still packing? Can I help? Yes, yes! Noon- let’s do lunch?? Heart
Leigha winced, and her finger hovered over the emoji choices. Should she choose a smiley face, a crying face, a wink, or a confused face? Maybe all of them at once? Her finger hesitated, then moved on.
Almost done packing- I’m fine. Yes, lunch. Maybe Kelly too? Can U check?
Soon the following text sounded and pulled from the torn pocket:
Yes, Kelly can make it. Dock Café, noon. C U. Smiles, heart
Terrific Julia! CU, thanks. heart
Leigha took one more deep rain-shower whiff at the window, closed her blinds, and focused on packing the last box of cookbooks. She reached for the office files, took one look at the folder, and the tears began. Those tears turned into deep sobs. She grabbed the tissue box, curled up on the bed, and finally allowed the grief to wash over her. Leigha’s cry felt excellent and evil and right and wrong— each in a twisted emotional sequence.
The crying release was exhausting and freeing. After drying the tear trails, Leigha straightened her shoulders and peeked through the blinds at the refreshing rain. She turned from the window, and her eyes rested on the oldest cookbook atop her nightstand. The girl reset her ponytail with a pink holder that matched her robe then got to work. Diana Warren