The Chat

Waves on beach COVER

By Paul Riches

Monday:

Sarah folds the sweater for the fifteenth time, always striving for the precisely right way, when she is happily disturbed by the beep from her computer.

Forgetting her all important task, she rushes over to her laptop and clicks away on the video chat function.  The end of the night is always like this.  A beep followed by fun.  Lots of fun.

Her desktop wallpaper, of waves gently lapping onto a beach, is replaced by two small screens, perfectly symmetrical to each other.  On the right is Sarah’s best friend, Joshua, smiling away.  He is almost always smiling, full of happy, which is good.  On the left is Sarah’s other best friend, Tracey, giggling away.  She was always giggling, full of fun, which was also good.  Every night, after chores and homework and dinner, is several stolen moments of relaxation with her besties.

“HELLO SARAH!!” shouts Tracey, looming her face up close to the screen, a move she does with incredible regularity.  Sarah could count Tracey’s filings with ease.  “Did you finish the geography homework?  It be due tomorrow!” she finishes as she plops back down into her chair.

“I am fairly certain it was the math homework due,” Joshua states factually, as he always does.

“Awwww!!  You wrecked my perfect prank!  I almost completely totally had her convinced!”  Tracey scowls playfully.  She drags her finger down her face from her left eye.

“Yes, I am that stupid, to fall for the same joke you have pulled all the time since grade five.”  Sarah laughs while shaking her head.  “You seriously need new material.  Josh, that is your new mission.”

“Aye aye Captain,” he says, executing a semi-perfect salute in the process.

“And I thought we had all agreed, the whole world over, that geography was not a real subject.  It was declared.  Why do they still teach this drivel?”  Sarah is waving her hands in the air, encapsulating the wider world at large in her vision.

“Oh, it is still a real subject, but it is taught by not real people.  I liked our grade nine geo teacher last year, she was nice.  And funny,” Joshua pipes in that last part with an even bigger smile.

“Yeah, I liked her to.  She only gave me detention twice.” Tracey had now put her feet up in the air, for some unknown reason.

“Ewww, smelly feet!”  Joshua plugs his nose with one hand and waves with the other, all to protect and dispel odours travelling over the internet.

“I seriously doubt that disgusting smells come through the camera, but knowing Tracey, it might be possible,” Sarah says then bent down to start checking her backpack for tomorrow.  “Josh, you still have my book,” she exclaims.  “And I want it baaaaaack,” Sarah completes with a whine.

“I know, I know, but I can’t finish it.  If I finish it, it’s done, and that just makes me a sad Josh.”  He does the same tear motion Tracey had earlier.

“Yeah, I feel the same way.  It’s kind of a bummer when the story ends.  Are you still at the part with the trident fight?” Sarah asks, while still pillaging through her school bag.

Both of them stop and look to the side to see Tracey’s screen.  Alternating between feet, she is sniffing each one, and then shaking her head.

“Only you.  Only you,” Josh shakes his head in imitation.

“Now back to something called reality,” Sarah declares.  “What chapter of that stupid english book do we have to read by Friday?”  She plops a bunch of loose papers onto her desk, still trying to find her prey.

“Chapter five, which is right after chapter four, just like always.” Joshua is stretching his arms out, making his hands disappear off the sides of the screen.

“I love it when numbers go in order like that!  I like that we all agreed on that!”  Tracey joins back into the conversation, having finished checking her feet satisfactorily.

“It’s easy to remember, Friday is the day before my Grandfather comes over for dinner.  And it is also the day before your mom comes to visit.  Busy weekend.”  Josh is completing the arm stretch with some shoulder rolls.

“Yeah, it is isn’t it?  Been so long.”  Sarah stops working and stares at her unmoving pile of paperwork.  This standoff lasts two seconds more, then snaps away.  “Karen has been awful as usual lately, never does my laundry right, and I betcha she has that piece of paper that I cannot find.  Arghh!!  Where is it?”  Sarah kicks the bag on the floor, causing a thump the other two could hear on their end.

“Ummm, why would your step-mom take your school work?” Josh is staring more intently at the screen, all physical exercising having suddenly ceased.

“Because she hates my life,” Sarah states flatly while staring now at the bag sitting on the floor.

“If anyone’s parents hates their kids life, I think I have that market cornered.”  Josh is fixated on the screen, trying to will Sarah to look at him.

“My sister stole my potatoes once, but they were mashed, so that was okay,” Tracey interrupts with her usual zeal.

“Yeah, your right,” Sarah pulls her head away from the bag and takes in her friends on the screen.  “But your parent make great mashed potatoes Tracey, so how do you know it wasn’t me?”  Sarah laughs while implicating herself.

“Because you are nice and sweet and wholesome, but my family are food thieves,” Tracey states with unmovable authority.

“That I could see,” Josh adds with a thoughtful nod.

“Food talk again will make me hungry,” Sarah finally plunges her hand down into the bag and pulls out a sheet of paper.  “Found it!  Now what chapter do we have to read by Friday again?”

Joshua silently bops his head against his screen while Tracey giggles, “Mashed potatoes!!”

And so it went.

Raspberry jam Tuesday

Tuesday:

Sarah fusses with her skirt on the hanger for more minutes then she would ever admit to when the telltale beep snaps her focus.

Dropping her clothing onto the bed without any grace or ceremony, she scurries over to the laptop, replacing the gentle waves with her amazing friends.

“Hello fellow juvenile delinquents!” Tracey shouts with alarming volume right before shoving two fingers into a jar full of something reddish and jammish looking.

“Greetings mortals!”  Joshua only half tries to match Tracey’s volume, but unseen forces outside the room seem to temper his enthusiasm in this regard.  “And I can smell that from here, raspberry jam again?”  He tries to change the topic quickly to everyone’s favourite: food.

“Yes it is raspberry!  You have suuuuch a good nose!”  Tracey scoops out a huge gob of jam and flicks it with uncanny accuracy into her wide open moth.

“I hate you, you have jam and I do not”  Sarah pulls on her best hang dog face, trying to elicit sympathy from the world, or at minimum, her friends.

“I can bring you the leftovers tomorrow,” offers Tracey as her hand went onto another mission inside the jar.

“That I would pay to see!  Oh oh!  Bring it in a paper bag!  Lets see how mushy it gets!”  This concept excites Joshua, with plans now visibly being set in motion inside his head.

“Anywaaaay,” Sarah interjects, finishing an eye roll with the last syllable.  “Enough talk about food.  Enough talk about food in bags,” she orders with mock authority.  “What chapter do we have to read for Friday again?”  Sarah asks with a slightly confused look.

“Five!” exclaim Tracey and Joshua in unison.  Tracey waves five jam free fingers at the screen.

“I hate school.  And I hate that book.  I am not getting any of it.”  Sarah sighs with a big shoulder slump.

“Well, in chapter five, Piggy gets the letter A slapped onto his shirt while he is raising rabbits.  Actually, I got nothing, that English book sucks crud.”  Joshua shakes his head with amazement.  “Our English books always suuuuck.”

“Hey, you stole my lines!  Thief!  Thief!”  Tracey points at the screen with her now jam covered fingers.  Gravity did not seem to affect the food in the slightest.  “Oh look!  This jam is clingy.  Is that a good thing?”

“Ignoring the food talk,” Sarah replies.  “But you are right, that is unnaturally clingy jam,” she admits.  “The books may suck, but you two always seem to ace them.  And all of our subjects, you both get straight A’s, while I mainline B’s at best.  Karen always looks pissed when my report card comes in.”  Sarah vents while keeping her shoulders slouched, even more it seems now.

“Nope nope nope!”  Joshua pumps in right away.  “ Remember gym for, like forever?  I barely scrape by with C’s.  Gym is evil, plain evil from beyond.”  He waves his right hand off to this side, indicating some nasty place just out of reach.

“I get straight A’s because I give all my teachers jam.”  Tracey states very plainly, like she was giving away a secret that was not really a secret.  Her fingers are once again covered with even more jam, a big clump still defying physics.  “This one is almost the size of my head.”  She eyes it mercilessly.

“You never study, never ever, maybe cram abit the night before.  I study all the time and get nothing.  Life sucks.”  Sarah could not force her shoulders any lower, but it was noticeable she is trying.

“Pity party, table of one,” Josh says in his most boring voice possible.  “ You spend more time getting all,” he waves both hands around in front of him, “worked up about putting all your clothes away in some kind or perfect order.  You have clothing OCD or something.”

“Very true.  My clothes live on the floor where they belong and are truly happy.”  Tracey gracefully sways her arm behind her, as if to show off the piles only barely visible at the bottom of the screen.  Her fingers are thankfully jam free.

“Clothes maintenance is my Achilles’ heel.”  Sarah admits with her shoulders elevating halfway back to normal.  “It’s just that my mom used to be so much better at laundry and clothing and, well, everything.”  Her shoulders kept perking back up, almost to complete normalcy.

“I know Sarah, I know.  We all miss your mom.  What is the ETA for Saturday with her anyway?”  Joshua switches to his concerned voice.

“Don’t know, she still hasn’t texted me back,” Sarah says with her shoulders now stuck immobile.

“So now we know where you inherited that trait from.”  Joshua laughs, abit more loudly than his usual.

“And here I thought you just stole your mom’s hair.”  Tracey puts her fingers onto her head.  And she realizes, with a wide gaping mouth, that it was the jam covered one.  “Eeeewwww!  Jam hair!”

Laughter erupts from Sarah and Joshua, with Tracey following seconds later.  “Jam hair, jam hair, you’ve got jam hair,” Sarah starts singing, her shoulders now perfect.

And so it went.

Pile of clothes Wednesday

Wednesday:

The pile of shirts are not co-operating with Sarah no matter how many times she attempts to realign them properly when the beep interrupts their mutual frustrations.

Disregarding the pile, which is the bane of her last half hour, she hops into her chair and makes the waves transform into people.

“Chapter five!” Joshua spookily says with his face up close to the screen.

“You know, the chapter about jam.”  Tracey is making a face of grotesque proportions, also up close to the screen.

“You two should never be allowed to text without adult supervision.” Sarah just stares at her laptop with a barely contained smirk.  “How did you know I was going to ask that?”

“Known you, like, forever.  The question of what homework is due when should be your motto, your mantra, your guiding philosophy, your…” Joshua was rattling off his list on his fingers, but now at a more respectable distance from the screen.

“Enough enough enough,” Sarah smirks out again, finishing off with a slight headshake.

“Are we disturbing your quality time with your shirts?  They look so very lonely in that fallen pile on the bed.”  Tracey had also pulled back a nice distance from the screen, but not as far as Josh.  One finger, mercifully jam free this night, is pointing just over Sarah’s shoulder.

“They fell over again, didn’t they?”  Sarah does not even turn around to face whatever tragedy had befallen her handiwork, she just met this news with a smile coming out of her smirk.  “Maybe I should just, I don’t know, go everywhere topless!  Just flash the world! What do you all think?”  Sarah waves her arms around like mad, almost looking like she is about to take off and fly.

“No thanks, you are not my type,” Joshua waves his arm dismissively at the suggestion.

“Go for it!  We can form the flasher club at school!”  Tracey jumps out of her chair and smushes her face again as close as possible to the screen.

“Of course you would save that, you have already flashed like half the school last year.  Even I have seen them.”  Joshua is sitting back from the screen and laughing.

“Au contraire, Josh, she did not flash, or as Tracey calls it ‘quidditch’ half the school.”  Sarah shudders at the mere mention of that alias.  “She, and I will not dignify it again with that undignified absurd nickname, only did that to the football team and for some reason known only to her demented logic, the cheerleaders as well.”  Sarah states her facts with lawyerly precision.

“Yeah, the cheerleaders looked shocked, or were they surprised?  It was one or the other, I don’t remember.”  Tracey parts from the screen again and nestles herself back into her chair for the time being.

“Ummm, I am pretty sure that is the same thing,” Joshua says, tilting his head at a confused angle.

“Is not,” Tracey responds to this challenge while swinging back and forth in her chair.

“Is too,” Joshua says menacingly, keeping his head at the same angle, but this time with a more threatening tone.

“Is not!”  Tracey responds again, but with a louder inflection.  Her chair swinging continued unabated.

“Is too!” Joshua growls at the screen, head tilted still and this time baring teeth.

“Oh grow up you two!  I am settling this for the ages, forever and forever.  It IS the same thing.  And Josh you look goofy when you try to be tough.”  Sarah put on her best air of authority, with a smidgeon of grownup mixed in as well.

“Did mommy just ground us for being rambunctious rapscallions?”  Tracey asks in a pretend hurt voice, all while still swinging in the chair.  “Was little Tracey wacey bad?”  She morphs her face into her patented puppy dog look.

“Ten house points for the big words.”  Josh replies immediately.  “And if we grounded you every time you did anything bad, we would never see you again.  Ever.  And that would suck.  I would miss cheating off you on tests.”  He picks up his smartphone and is glancing at it.

“I knew it!  I knew you two had, a, a,” words had momentarily escaped Sarah’s reach and causes a silent pause.  “A cheating cabal!”  She finishes triumphantly with a smile of immense satisfaction.  “I see your dad picked up your new smartphone, why you no text me the big news?”  Sarah tries her best hurt tone now.

“Just got it from him before I logged on.  Still can’t believe I lost my old one.  That sucked massively.”  Joshua is still examining the new one with intense curiosity.

“Know what else sucks massively?”  Tracey interjects with a more mischievous sound, accompanied by the motion of chair swinging.

“Tracey!”  Sarah’s mouth is wide open with shock.

“Actually, I am slightly interested in what our esteemed friend will say next here.”  Joshua leans forward onto his desk and put his hand onto the side of his face, waiting blissfully for Tracey’s pearls of wisdom.

And so it went.

Socks Thursday

Thursday:

The bed is divided into three sections, each housing a distinct category of socks, and each not playing well with Sarah for quite some time now, which makes the happiness of the beep all the more welcome.

Leaving her troubles behind on the bedspread, she clicks away the blue waves and is greeted by two screens full of friends.

“Before you twits say a word, I know chapter four is due tomorrow,” Sarah states with a flutter of her hand.

“You would be incredibly accurate, if only you had said five instead,” Joshua waves five fingers by the screen, while making a whoosh sound.

“Four and five are the same in my universe,” Tracey says this truth firmly from her chair.  The chair, though, is zipping pass the screen at high velocity.

“What a stunning announcement that is,” Sarah is looking around the floor for something.  “Can’t find my nail polish.  Can’t remember what chapter to read.  Can’t figure out my socks.  Yes, this is most certainly not my day,” she laments and rummages at the same time.

“It is in your bottom drawer on the left,” Joshua says absently, with the new smartphone holding his attention for the second day in a row.

“What is?” asks Sarah, looking at the screen.

“Your toenail enamel!”  Tracey pipes in from the chair, whipping pass the screen on another trip.

“How do you know that?”  Sarah is still staring at the screen in disbelief.

“Because I know everything!”  Joshua jumps up, smartphone clutched in one hand, and proceeds to flex his arms in some kind of display of strength.  “And because you have kept your make-up in the same drawer for years and years.  Your clothes get grand change overs, your cosmetics, not so much.”  He sits back down and begins fiddling with the controls of his phone again, right back to where he was before.

“He knows everything!”  Tracey and the chair make another quick journey pass the screen.

“I ever know all about local history!  The first younger muskrat needed mega help with his homework. Again.  I swear he had no idea about the plaque at his school.  Kids don’t read anymore.”  Joshua causes something to beep on his phone, but no concern shows on his face.

“Your brother is really a muskrat!”  Tracey rolls with vigour, yet again with the chair, by the screen.

“No more sugar for you,” Sarah replies.  “What colour should I choose?  Okay this blue one.”  She pulls the bottle from the drawer and reclaims her spot before the laptop.  “What plaque was this?”

“Does no one remember the plaque?  The one by the office saying how so-and-so Stone helped to get the school built back in like 1960 something or other?”  Josh is clicking away while lecturing.

“Oh yeah, that plaque,” Sarah musters up with false conviction.  “I really should do my toenails more often.  They look so yucky otherwise.  I have skinny toes.”  Her foot is mounted onto her desk, right next to her computer.  Very delicately she starts applying the polish.

“Skinny toes!”  Tracey plunges pass the screen another time, with her chair providing transportation.

“Why does no one remember that plaque but me?  Why am I cursed with being the collective memory of all humanity?  Why can’t I rename this file?”  Joshua rants and pounds buttons in unison.

“If you can’t make it work, you could always stomp on it for abit.  My dad did that once.  He was quite happy afterwards.  Smiling even.”  Sarah is almost half done with one toe.  A look of concentration firm on her face.

“Sugaaaaaaaaaaaarrr!”  Tracey proclaims from the chair, as it does another fast trip by the screen.

“Stomping is an option.  I think I like my old phone better.  It had less annoying beeps.”  Joshua is holding one finger defiantly down on one lone button for an extended period of time.  “I will tame you.”

“Oh fudgesickle!”  Sarah starts shaking her bottle up close to her ear, quite heavily, and listening.  “I think I just ran out.”

“And you never noticed how little you had left before you started?”  Joshua’s finger kept its vigilance on that one offending button.

“Nooooo…”  Sarah whines.  The bottle beside her ear is now still.  Her look shows the result has not changed.  “Only one toe is kind of done.  Now I am going to be lopsided tomorrow.  That sucks.”  Sarah crunches up her face in disgust.

“You will be lopsided like Mr  Erhomek was that day.  I must remember to take pictures of you.  Show the muskrats.”  Joshua’s finger still stands guard on the button.

“He had herpes!”  Tracey shouts as she and the chair made the millionth trip pass the screen.

“No, he had a hernia!”  Joshua shouts and letting his finger leave the long suffering button.  It beeps in retaliation.

“Same dif!”  Tracey shouts back.  The chair and her ploughs by.

“Why oh why did your parents buy you that infernal chair?”  Sarah is shaking her head now instead of the bottle.

And so it went.

Scrunchies Friday

Friday:

The sweater from Monday is reliving the past, with Sarah alternating all sorts of different folding methods on it, with no success evident or satisfactory, when the familiar beep relieves the déjà vu.

Sarah thrusts the undisciplined sweater onto the bed with disgust.  She slaps the buttons on her laptop to make the beach go away and her friends appear.

“You look slightly pissed, and really annoyed,” Joshua carries a concerned tone.  He had just finished opening a soda pop as he talked.

“Everything okay sweetie?”  Tracey asks while handing a younger girl a scrunchie.  “Okay, you gotta go now, I gotta talk to my friends.” Tracey whispers to the other girl.

“Hi bye Sarah!  Hi bye Joshua!”  The younger one waves, with the scrunchie in her hand, at the screen.

“Hi bye Madison,” Josh smiles.

“Hi bye Madison,” Sarah forces a smile.

Madison gives a stare to Sarah, trying to figure out the tension.  Quickly realizing no answer was forthcoming, she runs and hops out of the room, shutting the door behind her.

“My mom just texted an hour ago.  She can’t make it tomorrow.  Some…” Sarah waves an anxious hand in the air, “…business she has to attend to.  Or something.  I don’t know.  And Karen was totally useless as usual.  She kept talking and talking and talking to me about it, but I do not want to talk to her about this.  So not her.”  Sarah lets everything out in one long spiel, full of shoulder sulks and hand wringing.

“That… sucks.”  Joshua states slowly.

“Sweetie, wanna hang tomorrow?  It will be epic,” Tracey asks while plopping all the leftover scrunchies somewhere off screen.

“No, it is okay.  I still have homework to do.  And clothes to re-organize.  And new nail polish Karen got me to put away,” Sarah looks around her room, trying to find tasks and chores to occupy herself with.  She starts biting her lip.

“Not to be a colossal downer, but isn’t this like the fifteenth time she has cancelled?  And for vague reason?  I kinda saw this coming.  It’s her pattern.”  Joshua takes a sip from his soda, hoping to look casual with his statements.

“You’re saying she doesn’t love me?”  Sarah almost whispers, with her lip biting continuing on.  “Something is wrong with me?”

“No, she loves you!  She loves you!”  Joshua puts his pop down and looms close to the screen.  “But it is not you, it is her.  She has” Joshua grapples for the words, “Issues.  That is the only way I can describe it.  Issues.  Trust me, I would know.”  He finishes and pulls back from the screen.  He takes a massive swig from his pop in order to shore up his courage.

“Ditto.”  Tracey pipes in.  “Agree.  Agree.  Agree.”

“Issues.  She has issues.  I heard dad say that once.  Was mad at him for saying that.  For a long time.  A very very long time.”  Sarah whispers like she is confessing.  Her lip biting finally stops.

“I remember that day.  Not a pretty sight.  And I have seen quite a few ‘not a pretty sights’ in my day.”  Joshua puts air quotes over part of what he says.  Another gulp of soda follows.

“Wanna see a not pretty sight?  Madison’s hair before my scrunchie intervention.  Should have taken pictures,” Tracey breaks in again.

“And besides, it’s good your mom’s not coming, gives you more time to reorganize your clothing.  That sweater from Monday is just begging for another folding.”  Joshua points at the screen to a place just over Sarah’s shoulder.  With this maneuver, he takes an even bigger gulp, but partly misses his mouth and spills some onto his keyboard.  “Aww frig!”

“Loser!”  Sarah shouts, instantly pulling out of her funk.

“Aw man!”  Joshua kept wiping up his keyboard.  “There is so much of it!  All over the place!”  More frantic moping occurred.  “Let me try something…”  He picks up the keyboard into the air and holds it sideways, tilts his head at an angle underneath it, and lets the soda dribble off into his gaping mouth.

“Ewww!!!”  Sarah looks away and starts fake gagging noises.  “It’s like the tomato paste incident all over again.  The horror.  The horror.”

“I remember that!  That was fun!  Except for the parts with the toes.”  Tracey sports a wistful expression.

“Does not taste good.  Kinda like rust or gout or something.”  Josh puts the keyboard back down and is smacking his lips.

“Is that an euphemism?”  Tracey shouts with a huge grin.

“Not everything is an euphemism!”  Joshua exclaims, still smacking his lips and still wiping up his mess.

“You’re disgusting!”  Sarah points at the screen featuring Joshua.  “And you’re disgusting!”  Sarah points at the screen featuring Tracey.

“Yay!  I’m disgusting!”  Tracey shouts, jumping out of her chair and putting her face as close to the screen as possible.

And so it went.

Nail polish Saturday

SATURDAY…

Sarah has taken all of her cosmetics, what seems like hundred of items, and spreads them like army formations across her bed for the better part of an hour, when the unexpected beep breaks her concentration.

She looks at the laptop with suspicion, since no chats happen on the weekends.  It is Tracey’s unilateral family time, and her smartphone off day, also by parental decree.  Sarah inches towards the laptop, and with a curious finger clicks the button that makes the water change to people.

A weeping Joshua greets her.

“Wha” she starts.

The other screen blinks open, revealing Tracey.

“Got yer text Josh, what’s up?”  Tracey stops cold.  “What the fudge happened?  Who should I deck?”  Her anger is palpable.

“Tonight was,” Joshua stops and holds himself, tears still coming.  “Tonight was when my grandfather came over for dinner.”  That part alone causes another wave of anguish.

“It’s okay Josh.  It’s okay.”  Sarah reaches out and touches the screen containing her friend.

“What.  Happened.”  Tracey has anger and protectiveness emanating off of her.

“We sat down, and he, he asked if I had a girlfriend yet…”  Joshua is talking easier now, thanks to the order from Tracey.  “And my dad looked at his dad, and, and told him.”  Joshua closes his eyes tight at the memory.

“AND?”  Tracey demands.

“He freaked out.  He wanted to know why my parents allowed me to be gay.”  Joshua starts crying again.  “He actually said allowed.”

“Tell me where he lives.  I’m going to slash his tires.”  Tracey says with an unnerving determination.

“Tracey stop it.  Josh, I am so sorry, are you okay?”  Sarah has finally found her voice amidst all the chaos.

“My dad flipped out.  A huge, And I mean huge, freaking argument happened.  Grandfather was screaming about morals and ethics and stuff.  Even blames my mom for coddling me too much.  Says he is going to get a lawyer and take my little brother and sister away.  My parents are unfit to even breathe according to him.”  Joshua lets everything out in one long outburst of emotion and fear.  His sobbing finally subsides and his eyes crept open.

“I am so going to slash his tires.  Then I will get mean.”  Tracey has anger boiling out of her pores.

“Is he still there?”  Sarah asks, ignoring Tracey’s outbursts.

“No, my dad kicked him out a few minutes ago.  Literally kicked him out.”  Joshua laughs at the memory.  “Then my dad turned to me, and for the first time in forever, hugged me.  He hugged me.  Says that he was proud of me as a son.  And that my grandfather is no longer welcomed in our house.”  He cries again as he recounts those moments.

“I always knew you dad was a good man,”  Tracey says with a softening tone.

“At least he did the right thing,” Sarah says with lingering concern.

“My dad has not hugged me since last year.  Since the day I…”  Joshua stops for a second, “…came out to them.”  He finishes with no tears coming, and with happiness now forming in his voice.

“It has been a tense year with him sometimes,” Sarah admits.

“It has, it has,” Joshua repeats.  “He seems to have finally become a dad again.  Hugged me and hugged me.  Then he had to calm down the muskrats.  They were really scared.”  He seems much more calmer now, serene almost, verging on hope.

“Oh Josh, that is so good, he is your dad again,” Sarah cries, now with joy.

“I am so happy for you.  And if you need anything nasty done, give me a text,” Tracey tries to look tough, but tears are welling up for her as well.

“Your two are… the best,” Joshua smiles and wipes down his cheeks.

Both Sarah and Tracey lift their hands to the screen and make their fingers form hearts.

Joshua replies by copying the hearts back to them.

The moment holds, with heart hands linking them over the distance, three friends together for each other.  Forever.

A knock at Joshua’s door makes the scene end.  Josh left his screen, and goes to open it.  His dad came inside and hugs him again.

“Can we talk some more Josh?”  His dad asks.

“Yeah, sure, one second dad.”  Joshua walks back to his screen.  “I have to go now.  Bye Sarah.  Bye Tracey.  Thanks for everything.”

“Bye ladies.”  Josh’s dad waves from the background of the screen.

“Bye.”  Tracey and Sarah say simultaneously.

Joshua’s screen vanishes from Sarah’s desktop.  Replaced with gentle waves.

“I have to go now too,” says Tracey quickly.  “I am not supposed to be online on the weekend.  Madison will tell on me.  The scoundrel.  Bye Sarah.”  Tracey waves politely.

“Bye Tracey.”  Sarah replies, with deep thoughts brewing to the surface.

With that Tracey’s screen also disappeared.  Replaced with a serene beach.

Staring at her desktop, Sarah witnesses the waves lapping up onto the beach, her ghost like reflection barely visible on the screen.  Watching herself watch the calm waters gently meeting the pristine sand.  A scene of serenity which never quite registered with her before.  No turmoil or trouble exists in this peacefulness playing out before her.  All because these two natural forces, for now and forevermore, have always lived together in harmony.  A feeling long absent from Sarah’s life.  Until now.  The mirror Sarah on screen suddenly fills with determination.  Harmony is coming for her, just like it has for Joshua.

And so it should be.

Sarah got up from her desk and left her room.  She travels down the hall and knocks gently on her dad and step-mom’s bedroom door.  They call to her, she enters.

“Mom, can we talk about Joshua.”

The Chat is Copyright 2012 to Paul Riches

You can also read, comment, and vote on The Chat on Wattpad.  Just click here.

First published on Friday, December 7th, 2012

 

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