Thursday, May 15, 2008

Entry #6 - Keywords - Maui

Maui
By Jessica Nelson

"Grandmother's at it again." Sarah popped a carrot in her mouth. The crunch rolled through the restaurant. A few heads turned our way.

"What's Elaine done now?" Knowing Sarah's propensity for drama, it couldn't be too bad.

Sarah rolled her eyes. "She's going on vacation to Maui. Wants to meet a man."

I swigged my drink, trying to think of a suitable response while the Coke bit at my throat on its way down. Were Elaine's plans a big deal to me? No. But Sarah needed to be cajoled. No sense in her getting unemployed trying to rescue dear grandma from the sharks.

"Well," I said, tapping my fingers against the restaurant's plastic tabletop. "It could be worse."

"Sorry, Nikki." Sarah's blue eyes flashed like my diamond necklace does when I twist it under the church lights during service. "But finding a boyfriend? Ugh. She's seventy."

I shrugged. "Hey, at least she's not going to Cancun. That would give her a heart attack."

Sarah glared at me.

I looked away. Sarah wanted her grandma on a leash. But it wasn't right. We'd been friends since kindergarten and she'd always been the same. A little on the controlling side. She didn't believe in God and thought she was in charge.

But this was pushing it. Elaine had almost died last year from a stroke. She'd worked hard to get her independence back and I couldn't let Sarah take it away. Not that Elaine would listen to Sarah. But my headstrong friend wouldn't think twice of leaving her job in the dust to follow her grandma across the world.

Sarah took care of Elaine. I took care of Sarah.

"We could hire someone to watch Elaine." I smiled. The air conditioning vent behind me blew icy waves across my neck. It wasn't as cold as Sarah's eyes.

"Look, grandmother almost died. Died." Her voice rose with the d-word. "I'm quitting my job. She's not going anywhere without me."

Sighing, I reached out and took her hand. "Sarah, your grandma needs a break. You need to let her do this."

She yanked her hand away. "Sorry. I already gave my notice. In two days I'll lazing away in the sun, floating with dolphins." Annoyance made her voice higher than normal.

I sat back in my booth, crossed my arms, and bit my lip. "Who's gonna watch Jamie?"

A startled look crossed her face. I should've known she'd forget about babysitting.

I felt like crying so I bit my lip harder.

"I'm sure there's someone else." She tilted her head, gave me one of her sunny, I-love-you-so-much kind of smiles.

"Pickings are slim at midnight." I tried to keep my voice light. Didn't want her on the defensive.
As irresponsible as she could be, I've always known she loved Jamie. When I'd had Jamie we became roommates so that I could stay home with him during the day and she'd be there at night.

Now, a year later, it looked like my luck might've run out. I cleared my throat. "But if you really need to follow Elaine, go ahead." The words almost got stuck at my lips, but I forced them out. It wasn't her fault I'd had a baby young. Not her fault I'd departed from my values for a handsome face and smooth moves.

I shifted because my neck was freezing from the air conditioning vent. Sarah picked at her salad.

I picked at mine.

She'd go. We'd been friends long enough for me to know that she wouldn't stay. I blinked. My eyes were burning but I was afraid to cry. Tears might change her mind and that was the last thing I wanted.

And I didn't want my sister asking questions. She'd offered to watch Jamie so Sarah and I could go out. She'd feel guilty if she knew I'd need a babysitter at night. Would offer to watch Jamie despite her twelve hour shifts at the hospital.

No way. I blinked again. Seeing Brad Pitts's latest movie held no appeal now.

"So maybe I shouldn't go?" Sarah's voice was hesitant.

I bit some lettuce so I wouldn't have to answer. My foot tapped against the floor. I suppose I could hire a nanny at night, but the thought of trusting my child to a stranger scared me. There was always a day job. But then I'd lose my precious time with Jamie.

I finally looked at Sarah, hoping my eyes didn't look teary. She wet her lips.

"I guess Grandmother needs to do her thing." Sarah offered a slow smile.

My heart kicked into overdrive. But I took a deep breath. Sarah was spontaneous. I shouldn't get my hopes up.

Sarah's long, rose-pink fingernail tapped her chin. "You're right. She'll be fine."

"Are you sure?" I asked it slowly, hesitantly.

"Of course." Sarah's hands waved in the air. "Besides, I can't just leave you hanging like that. Grandmother has friends going, too. So she'll be fine."

"Okay." It didn't hurt so much to smile now.

Sarah winked at me. "Scared you, didn't I?"

"A little." Actually, my pulse still pounded in my ears and my fingers still trembled.

She wiped at her mouth, then pushed her blonde hair away from her face. "You know, we have a good thing going."

I nodded. "I don't know what I'd do without you." She'd really been a lifesaver for me and Jamie. "I hope you know how much I appreciate you," I added, my voice warm with relief.

"That's good." She grinned. It was the wide, beautiful smile she gave unsuspecting guys. Usually it amused me to see them do double-takes. But now it made me suspicious.

I felt my eyebrows lift. "Glad you know it."

"No," her grin grew wider, if possible. "I'm glad you realize how much I do for you, because I need to call in a favor."

My eyes narrowed. Had all of this been an act? "What?"

She leaned forward, eyes sparkling like little gems. "I'm pregnant."

Submitted by
Jessica Nelson

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