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J Hart F

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Moments After

"I don't care what people say. There are only three stages of loss!" Beth said. "First is preparing for it. The second is dealing with it. The third is moving on..."

Chris let out an exasperated sound through his nose. "It's not that simple, Beth."

"Heh, I never said they were simple stages." She looked at her coffee, eyes reminiscent, shoulders tensing with each breath. Snapping back to herself, Beth declared, "I know what it's like to lose."

"How are you feeling?" Chris gently asked. The mood of the engagement had changed so suddenly.

"Oh, you know. I'm fine. Only sane people aren't fine. They get to know what they feel, compartmentalize emotions, challenge their beliefs and understandings... I'm just fine." Beth stopped just as the door opened to the coffee shop, permitting two girls to exit with their beverages of choice.

As the first girl held the door open for the second, she glanced over at Chris and Beth. Her face was slightly inquisitive, but her intentions were merely to see who was sitting outside in the heat of the day. Beth let them pass before she spoke up again. "I wish I wasn't fine, but I have too much to do."

"It's alright to not be fine with me, you know." Chris sat forward. "You can let it all out, right here, right now."

Beth looked away. "Thanks Chris, but I have to get back to work soon. Don't want to look a mess when I get there, you know."  Something inside her heart broke a little, a barrier she had carefully constructed to hold back a fountain of sorrow, a wall hiding her grief from even herself... Her eyes began to tear up.

Chris noticed and moved his hand atop hers next to the near empty coffee cup. There was silence for a moment while Beth fought back the tears. Finally, Chris broke it with a change of subject. "So, what are your plans for the rest of the summer?"

She wiped away a few of the droplets. "Well, distractions for one. Everything that isn't important or anything, you know. Work, I suppose, is the only obligation. I'm planning on going to the festival this weekend. After that, planned on keeping myself busy with volunteering and stuff."

"And social engagements, I hope! I don't want to see you disappear, you know?"

"Of course! I'm not giving up my friends because I'm depressed. Who do you think I am?" She took a sip out of her cup and finally looked back at Chris. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"Getting me out today. Out of the office. Out of my house... out of my current life. It's nice." Beth's smile was radiant and truly appreciative.

Chris sat back in the chair and looked into the parking lot where a large group of men were exiting an SUV. "It's my pleasure. I can't let my best friend turn into a hermit. Even though I probably would..." He quirked his mouth to one side as his eyebrows furrowed. "Yeah... Definitely would be a hermit myself. All I need is a computer with an internet connection and I would feel completely connected to the world."

"You've been a hermit before."

"Yep. And you brought me out of that."

Beth looked at the six men now walking slowly toward the coffee shop. "Have you heard from him recently?"

"Uh-huh. He called me last week." The tone in his voice was definitive and held no opportunity to continue the conversation. Beth let it be. "How's Darren?"

Beth looked away. "A little more distant than I want him to be right now."

Chris regarded Beth as she spoke. "Want or need?"

"Oh you know... More than I need him to be. He took it harder than I did, it seems."

"That's silly... but understandable, I suppose. Maybe I should sit with him and try to snap him out of it?"

"You most certainly will not! I know what you want from Darren!" She laughed jovially. "God, you haven't changed since high school. Still after my man! Doesn't matter which one it is..."

"Can you blame me? You pick all the right ones." Finishing off his coffee, Chris stood and walked over to the trash can as the group of men reached the door. One of them looked directly at Chris and seemed to hesitate. "Hi," Chris said delicately.

"Hey," the guy responded.

Chris immediately turned around, walked back to Beth with a smile and sat to finish their conversation.

"Well well well... Giving up a perfectly good moment for me? I'm flattered."

"Oh get off it. We've only got five minutes before I gotta take you back to work."

She sipped her drink and smiled. "Thanks. I love you."

"I love you too, darling."

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