She held her umbrella high as if she was protecting herself from the falling sky. I looked up to make sure the sky was indeed not falling. She giggled as her eyes fell on me. I guess the image was quite funny. Red haired boy looking up into the sky as the rain fell down upon me. I felt like a wet Raggedy Andy doll as I stepped back under the porch. My hair was now dripping wet and stuck to the sides of my face. She stepped under the protection of the porch and shut her umbrella. I smiled and nodded. Her mouth curled up at the ends as she tried to suppress a laugh. We both stood staring out at the falling rain waiting for the other to speak. I ran my hand through my hair and shook the water off of my hand.
"What were you doing?" she asked from my side.
"When I arrived, you were staring up at the rain like a mad man."
"Was I?" I mockingly asked.
"Hush. You know what I am talking about."
"I was just looking."
"I see." She lightly spoke.
I could see the grin return to her face out of the corner of my eye. She always had away to make me feel helpless. Embarrassed rather. It seemed like every time she was around I was making a sudden fool of myself. I looked over at her as she started to hum. The most soothing sound in the world was her humming. She reminded me of Snow White that way. I always imaged little birds dressing her in the morning like Cinderella. Disney had nothing on the beauty before me.
"Should we go in?" I asked sticking my hands in my pockets and swaying.
"Unless you wanted to watch the rain."
"No, I was just waiting." She whispered as she grabbed my hand.
I understood what she meant. Waiting. I was waiting too, but on what I didn't know. I shook my head like a dog to get the rain out of it. Which once again made me look like a fool and brought a grin to her face. Lightly I patted my hair down and opened the door. As she walked in she began to hum again. With this I closed the door behind us and followed her down the hall.
"Why did you ask me over?" she blurted out as we reached the living room.
"It has been weeks since we last saw each other, that is all. I hope you didn't mind the invitation."
"Of course not. I am always happy to spend time with my best friend." She nodded.
"I made some tea earlier, would you like some?"
As I got up to exit the room she grabbed my arm. Her frail hand shook as it gripped on to my damp sweater. I looked down at her and she smiled. There was a warm look in her eyes as she let go. Fumbling with her baby blue dress she moved her mouth to speak. I watched intently as she found what looked like courage to speak.
"Two teaspoons of honey in my tea please." She said with a sigh.
"Is there anything else?" I calmly spoke.
As I turned to walk away once more she started to hum and sat on the leather couch. I finally reached the kitchen and poured 2 hot teas. Preparing them both as I had done a thousand times before. I carefully picked up each and headed back to the living room. She was now reading a magazine from the coffee table. I smiled as she bit the tips of her fingers. Nervous habits like that were hard to find.
"Thank you very much." She rejoiced as she grabbed the mug from my hand.
The silence grew thick around us, as we sipped our teas. I felt as if I was drowning in my thoughts. Slowly murdering myself with questions left unanswered. It had been two weeks ago that we both sat here on the couch as we did every Sunday. She would read her book as I tried to strum the notes to a new song. She was my muse and inspiration. The way any girl is to the man that loves her.
"Did you ever finish that song?" she asked as if she knew what I was thinking.
"No, I got stuck."
"That's a shame."
"Yeah." I agreed.
Her hair was pulled back in a tight bun and her hair was dyed a fresh shade of black. The same blue black as her tights. She was the only girl I knew who wore baby blue dresses and black tights. She was also the only girl I knew that could make my heart stop with a single word.
I blankly looked at her after she spoke. What was I to say? I guess forgiven would have worked. Instead the silence grew and she began to worry. I bit my bottom lip and sighed leaning back into the leather abyss of the couch.
"You do know I'm sorry right?" she muttered louder.
"I know." I said scratching the back of my neck, "It is just, awkward."
Awkward was exactly the feeling. We sipped our teas in unison. Sitting side by side like book ends. It was funny how that worked. We never meant to do things in unison we just did. Which made this that much harder. My mind focused on the night everything shattered. Suddenly there was no meaning to it all. Action and reaction was all that mattered.
I was playing down at the coffee shop on the corner. She came in and sat at her normal table, with her normal smile, and I played my normal songs. It was a normal night right? Wrong. She had a man with her. A man I had never met, a man in his mid twenties who looked like he was in his late 40's. You know the kind. Black suit and tie. Looked like he just got out of a board meeting at his office job down on Main Street. Not the typical guy you would see my punk princess Dakota sitting having coffee with.
As I left the stage and walked up to her table her smile turned to a frown. I knew the day would come, the day when Dakota would be dating again. The day when the fact that we were just friends would be beat into my head. I just didn't know that day was going to be the day after I told her I loved her. Suddenly I felt unprepared. 'Should I sing her favorite Pogues song? I should have worn the blue sweater she got me Christmas.'
"Danny." Her voice cracked as she said my name, "This is Chris. Chris this is my best friend and roommate Danny."
"Nice to meet ya. I was just taking a break. I am about to go back on."
"You are very folkie." The man in the suit said, "Reminds me of my younger brother. He is always playing the local bars and coffee houses back home."
His voice droned on. One story after another, about Seattle and his younger brother Charlie. What he didn't notice was the tension. The tension that was building between Dakota and I, with each word that he spoke.
"I really should head back up there and finish my set." I said as my eyes tore through Dakota's wall.
"Of course." She softly spoke, "See you at home tonight."
Sitting back down in front of the crowded coffee shop I felt like my body was on fire. The anger that surged through me was now radiating my skin. I looked over to her table and faintly smiled. As the idiot sitting with her screamed "Free bird!" I am sure in clever clever land that was funny. Of course no one else in the room was from clever clever land. So he was the only one laughing.
As I finished my set I looked back at her table. They were gone. That night as I sat in the living room waiting on my best friend to come in and rip my heart out in person, I realized she was never coming home. Not that night.
"I didn't sleep with him." She spoke interrupting my memory of that night.
"Who cares if you did?"
"Danny, don't be like this."
"What am I suppose to do Dakota?" I raised my voice as I arose from the couch, "I tell you how I feel. I tell you I love you. That I want us to be together, and what do I get? I get to meet your new boyfriend Mr. Suit."
"I know it was wrong of me."
"Wrong of you? Jeez Dakota. You didn't even come home. I haven't seen you in 2 weeks. Where have you been?"
"Molly's house." She answered looking at the ground, "I just couldn't face you. Not after I did that."
I paced the floor in front of the coffee table until finally my face was as red as my hair. I had promised myself I wouldn't be mad. We were never together. She was free to see whomever she wanted.
"Why didn't you just tell me you didn't like me like that?" I calmly asked.
"It isn't that."
"I thought I could do this, but I can't." my voice softly belted out, "Get what you need and leave. Please."
"Remember when we were little," she pulled me down on the couch next to her as she spoke, "You would climb the tree in the back yard of grand mamma's house. I would stand at the bottom and you would reach down for me to come up and I would just shake my head."
"You were afraid of heights."
"I wanted so badly to be up in the tree with you. I wanted to be able to see the view and jump out of it like I was flying. I couldn't. I was scared." Her blue eyes sucked me in as she whispered the rest, "I want to be up in the tree Danny. It is just easier to stay here on the ground and play in the sandbox."
She kissed my hand and stood up straightening her dress. As she walked to her room to gather her things I felt my anger disappear. I leaned back into the couch and sighed. Trying hard to find my voice I closed my eyes and swallowed.
"Don't leave." I whispered. "Tonight I am playing at the coffee house. Why don't you come with me? Like old times?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Get ready and we will leave in about2 hours."
"Thanks." She whispered as she turned and walked out of the room.
I ran my hand through my damp hair and smiled, as I watched her walk down the hallway. How on earth was I going to get Dakota up in the tree?