And then the story I wrote.
Let me know what you think... :)
“That’s What Friends are For”
By: Erika Hayes
They frequent this establishment every Thursday morning, the taller of the two gentleman, Stan sits arms folded clearly guarding his pain. His longtime friend and breakfast partner, Earl brings a mug to his lips and takes a long draw from his piping-hot house specialty Ethiopian Yrgacheffe. A top grade blend produces a stunningly aromatic cup of java. Hints of floral and citrus permeate this full body coffee that is exotic, and a bit earthy.
“AHHHHH, this is much better than Starbucks.” Earl reflects as he sets his cup back on the table. Earl knows Stan is hurting, and he searches for the right words to comfort his friend.
Stan touches his and hand to his head, “She’s not going to get better, is she?” His nose tingles as he combats the tears that since he was a boy, he has learned to suppress. Tears do not come easily, as a decorated veteran of two wars Stan has seen many things in his long life.
“No.” Earl’s voice is low and gentle, “She has lived a full life. I know it’s not long enough Stan, it will never be long enough when you love so genuinely. Stan she’s ready…”
Leaning forward, Stan places his elbow on his knee, “Yeah, but I’m not ready. I need her…” His long fingers extended over the side of his face as he rests his chin in the palm of his hand. “I wonder, do you think there is a heaven?” Hope brings a slight lift to his voice as he returns to an upright sitting position.
“If there is she will be there and St. Peter won’t even ask her name, they will be expecting her!” Earl dips his head slightly and lifts his cup to the air giving a invisible toast to St. Peter.
Pinching the bridge of his nose, the tears are battling to force themselves on him, as he valiantly fights them off once more. He clears his throat and shakes his head slightly.
Leaning forward Earl taps his friend’s hand then quickly pulls away, “She loves you. That is why she is fighting.”
“I know, I feel like I should tell her to just let go, but I don’t want to, I just don’t want to, she may be ready, but I am not! I always thought I would be first to go...” the words shake with grief. Rubbing his large worn hand across his forehead, he tries to shield his sad blue eyes. He shakes his head, then retreats for an ephemeral moment to the place that he fears the most, a life without her. Then taking in a deep breath, he exhales with a slight chuckle of disbelief.
Returning his attention to his friend, he runs his fingers through his thinning silver mane, “What will I do when she is gone? Who will I talk to when the house is quiet? Who will keep my bed warm at night? How will dinner ever be the same if she is not there to snatch my broccoli from my plate? She knows I hate broccoli…” His elbow returns to his knee, shoulder slope, eyes cast downward he shakes his head.
“Stan, stop it!” Earl lifts his hand and brings it down abruptly in his palm. “She doesn’t want you to be sad for her.”
“Earl, that is the thing, I am not sad for her. I am a selfish man, I am sad for myself.”
Realizing his friend was already mourning the impending loss, Earl shifts uneasily in his chair and for the first time, felt frustration in his friend’s reaction to the news that she would not live much longer. Earl clasps his hands together leans his head back and his face betrays his exasperation with a slight eye roll. “She’s not even gone; you are wasting time on this Stan.” He lifts his hands toward the door and continues, “Go relish in your time together, sit with her, stroke her hair, and just enjoy the time you left.”
Stan shakes his head places his elbows on the table leans forward hands placed together as if he were about to pray, and chokes out, “I know Earl, but I will miss her so much.”
A warm sincere smile spreads slowly across Earl’s face, his eyes travel upward as he assures his friend, “We will all miss her but she wants you to be happy. She would want you to find another dog. She wants you to make that dog happy, bring him or her in to your home, and love that pup like you love her!”
Stan’s posture relaxes, tension releasing, moving from sorrow to appreciation for his friend’s kind words, he offers a weak smile and says, “You’re right Earl, I know your right. We should get out of here.”
As they stand to leave Earl brings a plastic cup with a small amount of water to his lips takes a final sip, then tosses back his morning pills and places his hand on his friends back and says “Let’s go get Maggie and take her to the park!”
“Sounds good, thanks for being such a good friend!” Stan lifts his hand and the two men embrace as only old friends can and walk toward the glass doors marked EXIT.
“You’re welcome. That’s what friends are for.”