That afternoon, armed with fresh cookies and bottles of Cheerwine, the girls barricaded themselves in Lora’s room.
“Now listen, you can’t repeat what I’m gonna tell you. My mom likes to keep family stuff private.”
“I promise I won’t say a word.”
"Okay. I'm trusting you as my friend."
Lora felt her heart flutter.
Over the next hour, Celeste revealed the reason her family had left Kentucky; her dad had been having an affair with a woman at work. Since they lived in a small town, it didn’t take long before he and the mistress were spotted together. Word traveled fast and then made a beeline straight to Mrs. Brighton. She was understandably furious and, upon a reluctant confirmation from Mr. Brighton, she told him that she wanted him out of the house. For the next 48 hours, Celeste’s father begged to stay, promising that the woman meant nothing and that he would tell her it was over. After two days of crying, yelling, and arguing, Mrs. Brighton reluctantly agreed to stay with him, but she insisted that they had to move. She would not be the talk of the town or risk the embarrassment of seeing her husband’s lover at a social gathering. They had moved to Middlebrook to start over. It seemed that Mr. Brighton had indeed started over, finding another woman at his new job in record time. This time, however, he had revealed the affair himself after coming home one afternoon and packing a suitcase.
|Friends by kazel-lim|
“Looks that way,” Celeste said, wiping tears from her cheeks. “What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he’s divorcing me, too. I’m through with him. First I have to leave my entire life behind in Kentucky to move to this stupid town and then he leaves us anyway. He’s a selfish bastard.”
“I’m so sorry, Celeste. This really sucks. For both of you. I wish I knew what to do."
Lora reached out and embraced her friend. At first she just cried with her head on Lora's shoulder. Then as a sob escaped from her throat, she also wrapped her arms around Lora.
The two remained that way for a few moments and Celeste pulled away. Lora hoped she hadn't seen the small smile on her face. She wouldn't want it to be misconstrued. Celeste took a deep breath and regained her composure a bit.
“My poor mama. I’m all she has here. That’s why I wanted to come to your house today. I mean, I want to be there for her, but she’s wearing me out. She doesn't think about how pissed off and upset I am, too. She just cries all the time and doesn't want to do anything but lay in bed.”
”So you get to be the grown up?"
“Yeah, but without all the fun stuff they get to do."
Lora truly felt sorry for her friend, but deep down she was rather thankful for the opportunity to console her, to make herself needed.
“Look, Cee, I know that you didn’t want to move here and I know how much this stupid town blows. I've always been here. But at least we got to meet. And I’m always here if you need to talk or yell or eat cookies or whatever. You aren’t alone.” Celeste smiled.
"Will you help me bust out my dad's car windows?"
"I'll set the damn thing on fire for you."
Celeste giggled. She tried to stop it, as if it wasn't appropriate, but she hadn't laughed in days. Pretty soon, both girls were laughing and plotting hypothetical revenge on the shady Mr. Brighton.
Suddenly, in the midst of their silliness, Celeste took Lora's hand.
“Lora, I’m sorry I acted like I hate being here. I just miss my old friends and home so much."
Lora felt her chest tighten at the mention of old friends.
"But," Celeste continued, "I am so glad I met you. I think you're the best friend I've ever had."
(to be continued)