Wednesday 11th February 2009by Tina
– 4 –
“Chase? I need to talk to you.”
The call came in the middle of the night, just as I got home from dropping Olive off at the airport. She was off to a month-long vacation in Sydney to visit her dad, and I was left to a long month with a two-hour time difference from my girlfriend. I was having difficulty sleeping so I lounged around in the house, thinking if I should wait for another seven hours or so until Olive’s plane lands in Sydney.
Just as I was settling in with a bunch of DVDs, the phone rang and a tearful voice answered my “Hello.”
“Amanda? Why, what’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry for calling you this late. Can I come over?” She sniffled, sounding very un-Amanda.
“Sure. Wait, how will you get here?” Amanda lived in the neighboring village and it wasn’t safe to go out in the middle of the night.
“I’m actually in your village already,” Amanda explained. “I totally forgot what time Olive was leaving so I hailed a cab to get to her place, but I got here too late. I can walk to your house from here, right?”
“Well you can, but let me pick you up. Wait for me there.” In two minutes I was out of the house and driving back to Olive’s house. A few more minutes later, an Amanda with a tear-stained face sat in our couch, with a glass of water in her hand. I took a seat across from her.
“What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
Amanda took in a deep and shaky breath before speaking. “It’s my mom. She’s sick.”
“Oh.” I didn’t know much about Amanda’s family because she never really talked about them. At least, not to me. “What is it? Is it serious?”
“It’s cancer, Chase,” she whispered. Her eyes brimmed with tears again and she looked down, shoulders starting to heave once again from sobbing.
I have never seen Amanda cry. Among the two girls, Olive was more emotional, more fragile. Amanda was more of a rubber ball — no matter how high or how hard you throw her or throw things at her, she always bounces back. I am probably exaggerating, but Amanda has got to be the sunniest person around, and seeing her cry just seemed unreal.
She sobbed openly for a few minutes while I sat in my chair thinking of how weird it was to see her crying like that. It wasn’t until I thought of Olive and imagine what she would do in this situation that I snapped back to my senses and moved closer to her to comfort her. Amanda buried her head in my shoulder and continued to cry while I patted her back, making shushing noises like the way I do whenever my sisters would cry.
After a few minutes of crying, Amanda’s sobs finally subsided. I left her for a while to get her another glass of water. When I returned beside her, she took a few sips from the water and then laid her head on my shoulder.
Suddenly, I felt a change in the air. I couldn’t really explain what happened, but it was like a feeling of anticipation when you feel that your favorite band was about to come out onstage, and the air gets charged and everyone starts to scream. There were no screams here, just a feeling of excitement, like things were about to change pretty soon.
Amanda sighed and I suddenly felt very aware of how close we were sitting together, and how her head felt on my shoulder. I can smell her shampoo and a bit of her cologne, and if I turn my head just a little, I can actually plant a kiss on her head. The room was silent except for the sound of the fan and our breathing, almost synchronized with each other, broken by an occasional sniffle every now and then.
“Chase?” Her voice was just above a whisper.
“Thank you,” Amanda sighed again. “Thanks for being here.”
I smiled, even if she couldn’t see it. “You’re welcome.”
“Olive’s so lucky to have you,” she added.
Olive’s green eyes flashed in my mind, and it felt like cold water splashing on my face. There was suddenly this strong desire to move away from Amanda, if only to get rid of the weird feelings earlier, but Amanda moved first, raising her head from my shoulder.
She looked at me, eyes dry, but still looking sad. She gave me a rueful smile and said, “I wish I could find someone like you, too.”
Then she excused herself to freshen up, leaving me speechless on the couch.
What had just happened?
And was that a wistful tone in her voice?