Coasting Down Memory Lane;
The walls were a dull grey; everything in the office was the exact same colour. There was one light in the entire room and there wasn’t a doubt in Riley’s mind that the light hadn’t been changed in quite a while. She shifted in her chair noting that even the furniture wasn’t inviting.
“How do you work in this? It’s so depressing,” Riley said as she crossed her legs for the third time.
“Are you here for an interview or to critique my designing style?” The woman who sat across the Riley was known for her dull tastes. She had about an inch on Riley’s five-seven and wasn’t afraid to use her size for power. Her hair was a light blonde pulled back so tightly in a bun that it gave Riley a headache just looking at it.
“Sorry,” Riley muttered. “Now, Mrs. Norman, what are your thoughts on this upcoming project?”
“Well, I’ve always believed in the well being of our elders. They are always the ones who are targeted first you know. So, after witnessing some elder abuse, I decided to take a stand. My partner, Rodney, and I discussed this topic one time over brunch,” Mrs. Norman smiled politely. “We agreed that the elderly are capable of defending themselves – I mean have you seen them at their bingo?”
Forty-five minutes later, Riley walked out of the building rubbing her temples. She was going to need a tanker-load of Tylenol when she got back home. She tried a smile when she spotted Brett leaning casually against his car but it only came out as a wince.
“How’d it go?” He had an amused look on his face.
“I’ve got the mother of all headaches right now.”
“Oh come on. It couldn’t have been that bad,” he said with a small laugh.
“It could have and it was,” Riley said as she climbed into the passenger seat of his car. “First, I had to stare at her face for an hour. I know that sounds mean, but the woman wears her hair so tightly tied back her eyes were practically popping out of her head. Then she made these jokes,” she said, her voice going up an octave, “it was about as funny as watching a cat die.
“The room,” her voice was pleading now. “It just screams boring. Everything is this dull grey, it’s like prison. No, it’s worse than prison.”
“Maybe some lunch will brighten your spirits,” Brett said in a hopeful voice as he pulled into his parking space at his condo.
“Brett, you don’t have to do this for me. I can take care of myself.”
No, he thought. He had to do this. He had to make sure that she stayed healthy. It had been two weeks since she had left Sidney in Nova Scotia and he’d left her alone for the first week and that was a mistake.
He’d gone over to see her one day and she looked horrible. It was obvious that she hadn’t eaten and had cried out all of the water her body had saved. From then on Brett was sure to keep an eye on her. “It’s no problem, really. Besides, Jamie made it so it will be well worth it.”
Jamie was Brett’s main squeeze. Riley had never seen Brett happier than when he was with Jamie. With Jamie around the food was amazing, the house was clean, and everything was in order.
“I love Jamie,” Riley said as they stepped into the elevator.
“So do I,” Brett said as he pushed the button for his floor.
“Are you going to pop the question?”
“I’ve been thinking about it.” He led her off the elevator and to his door. “Now let’s get some food into us.”
The waves crashed against the rocks as the boats whizzed by. People were smiling as the soaked up the sun. It was the summer he was supposed to be happy. He was supposed to be relaxed. But he wasn’t. No he hadn’t been happy since she had walked out of his life… again.
Just thinking about it angered him. Anger was better than sadness, Sidney thought as he tossed another rock into the blue water. Everyday he’d come out in his backyard and sit on the dock, just as Riley had done. He’d think things over, contemplate whether or not he should go back to Pittsburgh and find her.
But he knew that was wrong. Sidney knew deep down that he and Riley belonged together and that they would eventually come back together. He needed her. She was the love of his life. But he would let her do what she thought she needed to do. He’d let her find herself if she really needed to. Sidney wasn’t about to make a move that could mess everything up.
“Sid, it’s time to go.”
“I’ll be right there, Dad. Just give me a minute.”
Sidney and his family were going out to dinner, as they had for the past two weeks. They had made sure to stay away from the topic of his relationship. As a matter of fact, Try Crosby hadn’t spoken a word about Riley since she left.
Sidney stood and made his way back into his summer house. Somehow it felt empty to him now. Silly. He’d bought the house before they were together and it had felt fine to him. Come to think of it, Riley had only spent a few weeks in that house and now that she was gone if felt hollow.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Trina Crosby asked. Sidney knew that she missed Riley. She had always treated her like another daughter.
“Mom, do you really need to ask?”
“I don’t suppose I do, no.” She scrunched her face up in her ‘thinking expression’ and said, “I think you should invite some friends over. What about Jack? He always used to visit you. Call him up.”
He pondered over that for about a minute before responding. “That’s actually a good idea. I’ll do that when we get home from dinner.”
For the first time in two weeks Trina saw her son smile.