by Andrea Lena Dimaggio
Lonely spirits seem to whisper in the wind
It's a silent song that's never meant to be
Since the dawn of time the mystery never ends
We can find forever
If we let love rise again
Renaissance Hotel, Richardson, Texas….
The large banquet room had hardly begun to fill up. Two figures almost huddled alone in a corner; one calm and one very anxious. The calm one looked up at a banner hanging on a wall across the room.
S.A.G.U. Alumni Dinner
“Relax, Ter…” Mattie put her hand on Terry’s shoulder and rubbed softly.
“You’re the one I love….you know that, right?”
“After all these years, you don’t know what to say to him, right?” Terry nodded.
“For so many things….” Terry turned away and looked around the large banquet room. Few of the people in the room knew Mattie at all; and up to that point no one had recognized Terry either.
“You don’t know how he’ll react. It’s been so long, and he may have changed as well.” She smiled and mused…
“Well, maybe not as much as you.” Terry nodded and swallowed hard.
“It’s been almost thirty years, Ter, and he was your best friend.” Another nod accompanied by a heavy sigh.
“I bet friendship trumps any confusion or fear. He’s one of the best guys I know…” Mattie paused, wishing her last few words undone. Terry stared at her and weakly smiled.
“Whatever we had is long gone, Ter…. You’re the one I chose.” She smiled and kissed Terry’s hand, evoking a very dark red blush.
“It’s a mystery why…You could have…” Terry gasped.
“We have two wonderful kids, Ter…. Never forget that. I don’t have those feelings any more. When we saw Ginnie for the first time, I knew that we had made the right choice. When Mark came along it only confirmed that we did what was best for us. I love them as much as I would have if they’d been my own.” She blinked back tears; it was so hard to affirm what they had when guilt dropped by the house on a weekly basis. She held Terry’s hand and kissed it once again.
“No matter what….you’re the one I chose…because you’re the one I’ve always loved…No matter what, okay?” Terry nodded; an almost reluctant acknowledgement of how things were. And truth be told, things were exactly as they always had been meant to be.
“Mattie?” The tall man spoke even as he strode to the table. Terry turned away and blushed once again. Pete was as tall and as handsome as ever even at nearly sixty.
“Hi, Pete,” Mattie said enthusiastically. Terry remained silent.
“The years have been very kind to you, Mattie.” He remained standing.
“Come…sit down.” Mattie patted the chair on her other side. Pete continued to stand.
“One second…oh there she is.” Pete smiled as a petite woman walked to his side.
“Mattie…this is my wife Suchin. Honey…this is the girl…oh jeez…this is the woman I told you about.” He looked back at Mattie to find her rising. Mattie offered her hand to Suchin.
“Oh, yes. Pete’s told me so much about you and his friends from school. I’m so glad to finally meet you.” She shook Mattie’s hand before the two walked around the table and sat down. Terry remained silent. Mattie looked sideways and smiled; a calm expression that helped Terry know it would be alright.
“I’m sorry. Pete…Suchin? Did I say that right?”
“Yes,” Suchin nodded and a broad smile crossed her face.
“Pete? Suchin…” Mattie paused before reaching over and grabbing Terry’s hand once again.
“This is my wife Terry.” Mattie bit her tongue and her eyes teared up anxiously.” Suchin waved and smiled while Pete stared.
“Terry? Is that you?”
“Wow….” His face was almost deadpan for a few moments until he grinned and turned to his wife.
“You remember how I told you about my best friend? Well….” He glanced back at Terry and half-smiled. Suchin’s eyes widened a bit and she smiled and nodded at Terry.
“It’s nice to know I’m not alone here.” Suchin said and looked down.
“It’s okay, honey.” Pete rubbed her shoulder and drew her close in a sideways hug, kissing her forehead. Tears spilled freely as the woman’s face turned red.
“I…” She couldn’t finish, but the smile on her face belied the tears in her eyes.
“Su and I met in Fort Worth when I was on a business trip…. About ten or so years after graduation. She was living there and working for city management. Her Mom was from Thailand; Dad’s from Dallas, of all places.”
“Suchin is a lovely name,” Mattie said.
“It means beautiful thought.” Pete beamed proudly.
Mattie looked at the woman; Eurasian features and a very attractive smile. She nodded at Pete and then at Suchin before looking over at Terry.
“I’m so glad to see you two together. After Mattie and I broke up I wondered if you’d find each other. Looks like my prayers came true…just not in the way I’d quite imagined.”
“This is your friend Terry? The one you told me about….” Even with the commonality between her and Terry, Suchin’s words were halting in near-shame.”
“I…It’s nice to meet you….”Terry stammered; in a few words her voice almost identical in apology to Suchin’s save for the Tennessee accent. She swallowed and continued.
“When Pete and I knew each other we were….” She put her head down.
“We still are best friends, old buddy,” Pete said with a soft laugh.
“Hmmm. Boy meets girl…things don’t work out….girl meets boy….boy changes….girl and girl get married. Yep…not quite how I thought it would work out, but then I couldn’t have dreamed for a better ending. For all of us, you know?” Pete looked back and forth between Terry and Mattie and smiled broadly before drawing Suchin into a hug once again.
“It's a mystery to me why things work out the way they do, but see….I told you everything would be okay,” He kissed his wife on the cheek and sighed in relief. Terry put her head down but a second later she felt a hand brush her cheek. She turned and found Suchin standing next to her.
“I was so afraid I wouldn’t fit it…. I… We often find ourselves on the outside looking in. But we’re….” She paused as the emotion of the moment overwhelmed her. Terry looked past the tears into Suchin’s eyes and her own shame and fears fell away.
“It’s hard when you don’t feel like you fit in, you know?” Mattie said.
“I don’t suppose anyone here might understand us?” She continued.
“Why don’t we all go over to Café Brazil for dinner instead? My treat.” Pete said. Mattie nodded and looked over at Terry. She was holding Suchin’s hand.
“I think that’s a good idea.” Terry smiled back at Mattie and Pete before looking up at Suchin once again. The woman nodded and wiped the tears from her face with her hand.
“I…I think I need to….”
“Okay…why don’t you three go freshen up and I’ll pull the car around. I’ll meet you out front, okay?” Pete said. Terry and Mattie stood up and they all walked out to the hallway. Pete nodded and smiled. He stepped close to Terry and pulled her in for a hug.
“A very wise woman once told me that we are what we are by the grace of God. All of us.” He directed his glance around at each of the women.
“All of us.” He kissed his best friend ever on the cheek and walked down the hallway and out the door.
Won't you reach for another
Chance at heaven
We can still find the way if we try
It's only believin' in the mystery
How it used to be
Baby bring back all the passion to my life
Oh cause I can remember the tender days
All the love we made
I need to feel that warm sensation - oh baby
Words and music by
Leon Carr & Earl Schuman
as performed by
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