Part 1 – A Cup of Nostalgia
Brenda was dutiful in all she performed. Church, work, friend, she could always be counted on to show up smiling and performing. She was exhausted. She carried her groceries, bags, disappointments, alone. She knew her routine and awaited the applause. On queue, she pulled up to Starbucks, ordered her caramel macchiato, and sat at the table in the corner by the posted flyers.
“Martin Johnson,” she read the name aloud as if announcing him before an anticipatory crowd. She hadn’t seen him in over 10 years. Hmm, I guess New York was a bust. Here she sat on a regular Tuesday morning and Martin Johnson should appear, unveiled on a poster board flyer. It read, ‘Book signing March 4th, 2020.’
Part 2 – The Friends
“Brenda, Brenda, Brenda. It’s been 10 years already. Let it go. Let it go,” Carmen began to imitate Elsa from the Frozen movie.
“I don’t see anything wrong in going to the book signing. I would simply be celebrating a friend’s success.”
“Friends? Friends communicate. You guys had a bad fight, broke up, and haven’t spoken or seen each other in 10 years. Besides, what would you even say.”
“Girl, forget that. And forget him. Let’s go to Portia’s birthday dinner tomorrow. I know it’s a workday but that will get you into celebrating the now and not reminiscing about the past.”
“Wow, when did you become so deep?”
“I’ve been watching Iyanla. Plus, I need a ride.”
“I really wanted to attend.”
“And, I really need a ride. My car is in the shop. I took an Uber to work.”
“Fine,” Brenda relented.
“Okay, see ya tomorrow.”
Part 3 – Portia’s Perfectly Petty Party
Portia has a lot of teeth, Brenda thought. And she smiles as if she needs to show them all, even the molars. She looks great though, Brenda added to her silent discourse to prove to herself that she wasn’t a hater.
“Heeyy, Bren Bren. Heeyy Carmen. Glad y’all could make it.”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Carmen added.
“Happiest of birthdays, Portia,” Brenda chimed.
“Y’all come sit next to me.”
They sat at the head of the extended table that was draped in a shiny black and gold covering. Portia introduced each person seated but Brenda never remembered names on first intro. So, she smiled and said hello to the strangers she would soon forget. She sat enduring more small talk, food, and beverages.
Her Fitbit showed 7:23 pm. She could eat and mingle and be out by 8:00 pm and maybe make the book signing by before the 8:30 end time. Shoot, she forgot she had to drop off Carmen. It was an evening event at Brew’s Coffee and Books. Sometimes the poetry slams held there lasted past 9:00 pm. Maybe she had time.
“You got somewhere to be? Somewhere more important than my birthday party.”
“No, Portia. You are truly the most important person in the world to me at this moment.”
“Ooh, the sarcasm, the shade, on such a happy occasion.”
“Don’t mind her. She’s trying to go see Martin Johnson,” Carmen drawled.
Portia laughed with her teeth.
“Ol’ Marty Mar. How is he doing? You used to love you some Martin Johnson.”
“I don’t know. Haven’t seen or spoken to him in years. He moved to New York when he got that screenwriting internship.”
“Translation, when y’all broke up,” Carmen interjected.
“There was more to our relationship than a break-up story.”
“Well, no one wants to hear it.”
“I do. And it’s my birthday.”
“I do remember it all. The highs and the lows. But, in the midst of that tumultuous relationship existed a little sphere of perfection. Sometimes, I find myself staring into that ball and imagining a future, a perfect one that exists only of the highs.”
“It’s an illusion. Get over it,” Carmen interjected.
“Maybe you should get a ride home with Portia,” Brenda snapped back.
“Fine. I will.”
“Happy Birthday,” everyone shouted as the hostess brought out the cake.
There goes those teeth again.
Part 4 – Déjà vu.
It was the summer of 2010, a drought. Forty days and no rain. Brenda was sweating bullets underneath her dress standing next to the stage at Brews, Coffee, and Books. She had finally worked up the courage to read a piece. She had chosen Midnight Moon.
“Next to the stage, we have a newbie, Brenda Jones. Let’s show her some love.”
Finger snaps filled the room. Brenda stood in front of the microphone, hands at her sides, eyes on the floor.
“This piece is called, Midnight Moon.
Juxtaposed against the inky midnight
He greeted me with a crescent smile
I awaited his fullness
I awaited his return
I waited. Because.
I wanted something beautiful
I wanted something whole
Like the full moon.
I mapped its phases
Watched it grow
Until the fullness of
All that is light
Greeted me, hello.
She looked into the crowd and saw his smile. He stood and raised his hand as a conductor raises his baton and began to snap. A chorus of snaps followed.
She sat down and exhaled. She had finally done it. A shadow fell across her table. She looked up to see him, dark light midnight.