Short Story: #1

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…she wondered why her friend’s tardy replies to her last several texts seemed abrupt and distant. She didn’t want to appear ‘clingy’ so she would send a “hello!” every now and again and rein in her temptation to frequently look to see if she got a reply. Sometimes hours or days would go by before there was a, “oh, I just saw your text…” or, “hey, how are you?” and she’d make herself not respond immediately, better to wait a short while and then send a cavalier, “good! how are you?” back so not to seem too available. She told herself that her friend was probably busy and that she, herself, should not dwell on the elapsed time between texts nor the evasive tone. She let the nagging -not to mention desperate- feeling of ‘something’s weird’ go and went about her days with work and her evenings caring for her mother when one early evening she went to the local restaurant where she could order ‘take out’. She had had a shitty day at the office and had sent a text to her friend hoping for a response, sooner rather than days later, because what she really wanted, no, needed, was someone to talk to, just for a short while. “What are friends for?”, she asked herself. Just before she entered the restaurant’s lobby, she checked her phone – no new texts, and went inside. Her order wasn’t quite ready the hostess informed her so she quickly went to use the ladies room. On the way back out to pick up her and her mother’s dinner, she overheard a very familiar laugh. She almost kept going but paused just outside of the dining area and looked over to see her friend with someone, another woman who she didn’t know, sitting at a table near a window with a couple of drinks and also a couple of empty glasses on the table. Before there was a chance of being seen and since she couldn’t decide spontaneously as to whether to interrupt to just say “hi”, she bent her head down and shoulders hunched returned to the lobby for her take-out. As she was getting into her car her phone vibrated. She placed the meals on the passenger seat and started the engine, cranking up the A/C, and retrieved her phone from her back pocket. Her friend had indeed texted her back: “so sorry, i have to work late tonight.”