TWO OLD FRIENDS
By Donna Johns
Two old friends sit in the sun, serenaded by bumblebees, chatting about their plans for the summer. He thinks she should travel more. She thinks he needs a puppy. They don’t look too far ahead. They resolutely refuse to look at the rear view mirror.
They met in seventh grade, assigned by virtue of their IQ sores to the top academic group.
Within days, they were friends, oddballs clinging together in a sea of conformity. For Halloween, they recruited two others and went Trick or Treating as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. She draped their sheets over cold weather gear. He did the makeup.
They sat on the stage during high school graduation. He was the salutatorian, and she was the class poet. They hugged goodbye and moved on to different parts of the country. He didn’t come home for vacations, and they eventually stopped keeping in touch.
A few weeks before she moved to Washington to start her first professional job, she dropped by Brandeis to visit a friend on campus. She heard a familiar voice call her name. There he was, moving swiftly toward her, his full-length blue cape billowing in the wind. They chatted for a few minutes in the cold. He was starting grad school and promised to come to Washington to visit. He never did.
He became a professional opera singer, much in demand for his counter tenor skills. She became a librarian, a wife, and a mother. She was much in demand, crisscrossing the country inspiring teens to read.
His voice began to strain, and he moved on to train managers for a financial company, traveling the world and living out of suitcases. Her marriage failed, and she came back to her childhood home to start over.
They found each other at a high school reunion. They left the festivities early and spent the rest of the night catching up over coffee and cookies. He was preparing to leave his lucrative job to become a minister. He was in love. She was working two jobs and raising children. They promised not to lose touch. This time, they kept the promise.
She went to his ordination. He provided comfort at her father’s funeral. He was diagnosed as HIV positive. She battled breast cancer. They both survived blood clots. They send funny notes to each other. They meet three or four times a year, for coffee and conversation.
Two old friends sit in the sun. The skyline of the city they love twinkles with light. He baked a lemon coffee cake, and she brought fresh berries. A perfect combination–like their friendship.
Donna is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater, and BOLLI member. She has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.