Jill had only a few minutes to gaze around and take in the dynamic array of colors in the umbrellas overhead before Lane walked in.
Lane. What a gorgeous, well-to-do, gregarious friend. She'd known Lane for over ten years and each year brought them closer and closer together. They thought nothing could dampen their closeness and both of them knew with great confidence their friendship could survive anything.
Lane sat down and looked at Jill with her widening smile and added a wink of the eye and said, "You better cancel your afternoon commitments now because we're in for a long haul today." Long haul was their code word way of saying there was something to share with the other that was going to go way beyond a mere lunch hour. A long haul was serious business and could only be used in dire emergencies.
Jill laughed heartily and said, "You've got to be kidding! Could you have given me a little more notice? Sheesh, girl! Ok, let me call my assistant."
Lane settled into her seat and threw her expensive handbag over the back of the chair while Jill carefully laid out rescheduling items over the phone. Lane glanced in every direction and tried to take in the myriad of guests around her while even surveying the passersby. She calculated the risk of being in such an open venue but, with much chagrin, decided there would never be a good place or a good time. Today is the day and it's been on her mind all week. It had taken up to today to find the words.
Jill closed her cell phone, dismissed the creeping feelings of guilt for last minute cancellations with clients, and turned to face her friend. Long hauls always required immediate need and urgent attention. "Lane, what's going on? What's up with the long haul?
Lane's expression quickly grew pensive, her eyes met straight on with Jill's, and she softly whispered, "Jill, it's cancer. And it's aggressive. And, um, the doctors are in agreement that curable treatment is not an option. They collectively have measured my future at just a few months."
Silence. There was only silence. Jill lost her breath as though she had been hit by a ferocious wind. All of the conversations around her melted into a dim, roaring white noise. She looked up and felt her emotions swirling like the intricate patterns of the gradient blues in the umbrella overhead.
It was going to be a long haul.
~ Denise ~
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