Happy Friday, people! Welcome to the 60th segment of my fictional story, When Life Hands You Lymes. Please enjoy! (Oh, and when you’re done, would you pretty please take about ninety seconds to fill out a survey that will help me make Noveltea better? Thank you! And a big thank you to everyone who has already filled it out!)
I’m not sure how long I droned on, my brain taking command of itself and spilling out words and hurts that I’d never uttered to another human before. It wasn’t that I had planned it or even wanted to do it, but suddenly I was. I wanted Julia to know. I wanted her to understand that I wasn’t trying to be annoying. That I hadn’t suddenly turned into a snob. I wanted her to understand that I was sorry for the way I’d been acting. I wanted her to understand me. I wanted her to be able to feel my pain and be able to catch a glimpse into my heart and realize that deep down inside I was changing in ways that I couldn’t really describe and that it was scaring me.
When I finished I felt like a balloon that all the air had been let out of. I had said my piece and now I was exhausted. Exhausted and wondering what in the world she was going to do with the information that I had just vomited all over her like a beached whale. If they even vomit.
“So yeah, thanks for coming and hanging out. It was fun.” I sat down from my pacing and stared at the ceiling for a few moments, not daring to make eye contact with Julia. I had just made a serious fool of myself and it wasn’t one of the crowning moments in my life.
“Thank you for sharing with me, Madalyn.” Julia’s voice sounded confused, not judging. “I can’t imagine going through all that you’ve been through. You hide it so well.”
I chanced a look at Julia and found her sitting there, eyes wide, looking at me with a new appreciation. “Oh.” Hiding it well. Well, that was the point, I didn’t want to broadcast to the world that I had been sick, but from the way Julia stumbled over her words, I suddenly realized that perhaps I could have hurt her by hiding it too well. She was one of my best friends after all, and if Julia had been going through what I was going through, I would have been disappointed in her if she had kept it from me. I opened my mouth to say something, maybe make an apology, but Julia beat me to the punch line.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been a better friend, Maddie. I was so caught up with my own little world that I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on with you and in your life. I can’t believe now that I was so selfish and narrow minded, I’m sorry for that.”
The back of my neck pricked a little bit as I heard her words. Could they be for real? I Closed my eyes and tried to imagine what it would be like to have a friend who was willing to listen to me and understand. Who wanted to hear what was going on and didn’t care if we couldn’t do all sorts of fun activities together. I imagined Julia coming over every couple of weeks and being not only fine, but actually happy to just sit around and talk about life. Someone who wouldn’t think of me as a whiny teenager if I poured out my problems to her.
“I want to try and be the friend that you need. I value your friendship.” Julia set her coffee mug down and came over and joined me on my bed. “Shall I start by giving you a shoulder massage? I can only imagine how tight you must get sometimes when you have so much pain you’re dealing with.”
“Th-thanks.” I had the urge to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming, but then decided if I was dreaming, I’d much rather the dream continue than be transported back to reality, so I just took a calming breath and throughly enjoyed the massage Julia delivered to me with her powerful hands.
When I woke up, it was to Mom gleefully holding out my black dress and Julia shaking me awake.
“What’s going on?” I searched my memory, trying to figure out what big event was happening that night, but all I could think of was the time Julia and I had spent together that afternoon.
“You’ve got the Ashburg Symphony tonight.”
“Ohhh.” I rubbed my face vigorously with my hands. This was the biggest performances of the quarter and I’d been working like crazy to make sure I had my part down pat. And I did. There was still the nervous fluttering in my stomach though that I get every time I prepare to go on stage.
“Come on, you could do this in your sleep.” Mom grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the bed. “It’s time you go get a shower and get dressed so you can grab a bite to eat and hit the road.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I was still trying to calm down my stomach.
“Don’t get nervous now.” Mom gave me a stern look. “You’re as prepared as they come. You’re going to rock it and we all know it. The audience won’t know what hit them.”
I laughed at Mom. Obviously they weren’t going to be too amazed by my performance because I didn’t have any solo’s and try as I might, I couldn’t make my position in the symphony feel too important.
After I got dressed and styled my hair in a wrap-around braid I headed down to the dining room where the rest of my family was gathered along with Julia.
“You’re going with us?” I gave Julia a side hug and she squeezed my shoulder.
“Um, yeah. This is kinda a big event you know. I’ve been planning on joining you for a while, don’t you remember?”
“No.” I sat down at the table and served myself a couple of pieces of fruit. “I’m glad you’re coming along.”
When we get in the car I sit back and close my eyes, relaxing my mind and trying to get into the mood for my performance. There’s something special about being able to perform in front of people when 95 percent of my time is spent in my music room by myself, working on technique and practicing.
“Are you nervous?” Darrick leans over and whispers in my ear.
I shake my head, not wanting to talk. Talking breaks the concentration I have to work so hard on when I’m trying to clear my brain. As I play the various pieces over in my head, I’m soothed by the way the sounds flow together. I once asked Katie what she thought about when she was listening to good music and she didn’t have a satisfying answer, but then once I stopped and thought about it, I realized I wouldn’t be able to answer the question either. I just know the world, my thoughts, my feelings and memories all become more clear when music is flowing out of me. It’s not as if I’m concentrating on deep theological questions, but somehow I always feel either inspired or challenged when I’m done with a performance.
“We’re here, Madalyn.” Darrick squeezes my shoulder. “You’re going to do great.”
“Thanks, bro.” I suck in a deep breath as I unbuckle, the climb out of the vehicle, straighten my dress and try to knock out a few of the wrinkles from the ride over.
“Here’s Whimsy.” Mom hands me my violin case and I give them a quick thumbs up before heading toward the back entrance.
The next several hours are delightful. My performance leaves little wanting, my heart is singing and best of all, I’m pain free.
After we’re done performing I head out to see where my family is. My parents are talking to some friends of theirs, so we end up staying for a long time after almost everyone else has left.
“That was beautiful.” Katie comes and sits down next to me in the front row of seats. “You’ve got crazy talent, girl.”
“Thank you.” I’ve had a huge grin stretched across my face for so long my cheeks are beginning to ache. “Not that you were able to hear me.” Which is a good thing. The only way Whimsy and I would have stuck out is if we had messed up which is a very undesirable occurrence.
Katie looks like she might be ready to say something else, but then her phone rings and she takes a few steps before answering it and then moving away. I hear enough of the conversation before she’s out of earshot to know it has something to do with Emerson Airlines. I get a little niggling feeling of sadness when I think of how little I’ve been able to do with our family business during the summer due to my illness, but I push the thought away, determined to stay on the side with the happy thoughts tonight.
“You lost in thought?” Julia takes the seat Katie vacated a few minutes before.
“Tonight’s just an all-around amazing night, isn’t it?” I give a contented sigh as I lean back on the seat.
“I would have to agree. I had forgotten how inspiring classical music is.” Julia shakes her had, as if she can’t comprehend what she just heard. “Thanks for letting me come along.”
“My pleasure.” I don’t exactly remember letting her come, but I’m glad she came nonetheless. “Want to spend the night?”
“And, that was going to be my next question.” Julia laughs. “I can’t believe how I just invite myself to hang out with you.”
I don’t voice my thoughts, but my mind instantly goes to all the times that I’ve not had the energy to hang out with her and how few times we’ve gotten together recently. I resolutely push those thoughts aside.
“You know, it amazes me sometimes how your family is so good about letting me come and hang out with y’all.” Julia gestures back toward my parents. “They are really awesome, you know.”
“Agreed.” It’s true, my parents are supportive, loving, caring, and they really take time to be part of each of their children’s lives. I don’t know how I would survive without their support.
“Being around your family almost makes me wish that our family had our own business. I think it helps draw you close together.”
She does have a point there. “We have to learn to work together or else life can get pretty tough.”
“No kidding. Like, it doesn’t really work to come home and complain about your boss, does it? That would get awkward in a hurry.” Julia shakes her head. “Plus, y’all talk about business all the time. I can’t remember a single time that I’ve been at your house and haven’t had the topic of work come up. Does that bother you?”
I don’t even have to think of the answer to this question. “No. I enjoy getting to be a part of a family business. We all work together, celebrate together, brainstorm and problem-shoot together and grow together.” And it’s true.
“Are there any downsides of having a family business though?”
I tilt my head, studying my friend. Even though we’ve hung out together for years we haven’t talked work much, so I wonder at the sudden interest. “Of course. Aren’t there downsides to any job? But the upsides far outweigh any negative effects.”
“Ok, cause I was pretty sure life couldn’t be all rainbows and glitter for y’all. Some times though, looking at you from a distance, it seems like you guys have everything together and are living the dream life. Including but not limited to vacations in exotic places like Italy and the Bahamas.”
The thought of our lives looking perfect give me a pause. Sure, I have my health problems that have pretty much wrecked most of my short-term plans, but other then that, our family does have an amazing life filled with spectacular opportunities.
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Hey! Don’t forget to fill out the survey!