I hated everything about Alabama. The air was wet and my shirt seemed to soak into my skin and become a bandage I was going to need to peel off. My hair was sticking to my neck and I could feel a moustache of moisture on my upper lip.
I had been dumped before. My last semi-serious boyfriend had left a message on my answering machine informing me that he had been dating someone he worked with and he decided she was the one. The one, my ass. If she starts out as one of many, then all the best to her to keep the bastard.
I do tend to hold a grudge.
I wasn’t on Min’s doorstep because of a grudge. Not entirely. But to suddenly find that the woman I thought of as my dearest friend was no longer accepting my phone calls or emails…
I didn’t know what I was doing. From the moment I had discovered that Min had blocked me from her life a part of me had gone insane. My life had become someone else’s and I followed a crazy plan to reclaim what I thought I wanted.
The truth that I finally admitted was that I wanted what I never had. I wanted a life not measured by pennies saved or brief moments of pleasure in a lonely, small apartment. No more shit stained walls or strangers complaining that someone parked in their parking space.
I wanted life. I wanted to taste the world and walk somewhere that nobody I knew had ever before walked.
And I wanted Min. I had grown so dependent on our friendship, so needful of her acceptance that in my life break-down her absence was causing a worsening of everything I was going through.
So in all this craziness, I went to Alabama and stood on the porch of a sweet pale yellow cottage and waited for someone to answer my knock.
The woman who answered the door wasn’t Min. The bags under her eyes were the most color on her pale face. She was too thin, too colorless, too beaten to be the woman who had made me laugh as much as she had, who had made me feel as much as she had.
“Can I help you?” Her voice was brown sugar and wary, her eyes moved over me and scanned the street. I saw the wince of apprehension at my rental car in her driveway.
“Min? Are you…?
She blinked rapidly. She knew my voice as well as I knew hers. And the look on her face was completely unexpected. “Kate? Oh God Kate, get in here now before someone sees you.” She grabbed my arm and pulled me into her house, the door shutting quickly behind me.
I didn’t know if she was going to cry, embrace me or smack me upside the head. I didn’t expect her to say, “Give me 5 minutes. I can be packed in 5 minutes.”
“Packed?” I croaked. I had been planning on having a scream, a cry and an embrace. I never expected to discover Min was crazier than I was.
I thought we might have a bit of a scream, a war of words, finally some sniffles and a hug. I didn’t expect to get caught up in the wake of a wraith who didn’t even notice as I followed her into her bedroom and watched as she began pulling clothes out of the closet without apparent thought.
“Are we having a nervous breakdown?”
“You got my letters didn’t you?”
She stilled for a moment. When she finally looked at me it was a realization. Finally she comprehended that I was there. “Patton blocked your number from our phone. No calls in or out. He locked me out of the computer, made it all password protected. I wrote you and explained. I told you that I needed to figure out how to get out…”
I sunk down on the bed. Of course it was Patton. How many times had Min hinted about Patton’s rules, Patton liking things done his way. I was a thorn in his side: the unknown factor he couldn’t bend to his will or control communication with. But he did find a way to control it after all.
“I’m a goddamned idiot.” Min sunk onto the bed next to me and scrubbed her hand across her eyes. “I put the letters in our mail box, right there on the street. He probably drove by at his lunch time and just took them right on out. I should have mailed them from the post office. I’m such an idiot!”
She wasn’t as tall as I thought she would be and she looked a little more worn than I expected. The fantasy Min with vibrant red hair and blazing eyes wasn’t this exhausted woman with the slumped shoulders and shapeless blue sweater. Her hand when I took it was cold.
“You can’t think of everything,” I said, my thumb rubbing across her knuckles. “Anyway, your amazing mind powers brought me here so I guess it worked.”
“My amazing mind powers?” She lost five years immediately when she smiled. Maybe my fantasy Min was still alive.
“Well you called for a Super Hero and here I am!”
“Super Kate.” She shook her head. “Well what the hell are you doing here if you didn’t get my letters and come to rescue me?”
Her bedroom was all in beige. The bedspread we sat on was a rainbow of non-color. The walls were eggshell; the pictures on the wall were stern. Everything looked placed exactly where it was supposed to be. I wanted to get up and move the hairbrushes around, just disrupt some of that order.
“I came to rescue myself.” I squeezed her hand and couldn’t help the shit eating grin I knew I sported. “Want to go to Greece with me?
We had, according to Min, only about an hour and a half. It was amazing how much we could do together. Two suitcases were pulled out of an overhead attic. Min went through her bathroom, grabbed an important photo album, and rescued a stash of letters from a shoebox.
“Good idea,” I said when I saw her with a box of tampons; I don’t know if they sell those on Dyvos.”
“They don’t sell this, that’s for sure.” She opened the box and pulled out a handful of money.
“I knew I was buying the wrong brand.”
“I’ve been hiding money for years. Patton had no idea some of the systems I worked out.”
I had nothing to say. This woman was my best friend and a stranger all rolled up into one. And I was running away on my first ever adventure with her. The thought that I could be flirting with disaster was refusing to be silenced. But it could be ignored. And so I ignored it.