What I'm doing...
The story so far...
Leora was absent-mindedly writing on her tablet when the words suddenly registered. She finally actually looked at her customer and her eyes widened in amazement.
"Misha!" she cried as the other woman jumped up out of her seat and wrapped her arms around her.
"Leo! My God, you look like crap," her friend responded hugging her and then pulling her down into the chair next to hers. Leora unconsciously ran her hand over her hair and tugged at collar of her shirt as she sat down.
"Thanks, Misha, for reminding me," she said at last, looking deep into the eyes of her college friend. She wasn't quire sure what she found there, but was overcome by the emotion of seeing someone from what seemed like someone else's life and a long long time ago. In the midst of her thoughts, Leora suddenly remembered she was at work and not back in the halls of NYU. She stood up and looked around for the manager. No one else seemed to be around.
"Leo, can we talk?" Misha asked.
Leora looked down at her friend and smiled; again, instantly taken back to days of gossip and gelati while walking arm in arm through Washington Square. But, what could her friend possibly want to talk about now when their lives had gone in such vastly different directions?
"Sure, but how about I come to your hotel room after my shift?" she answered. Thinking that at any moment the manager was going to appear, and soon the dinner crowd would be coming.
Misha seemed pensive for a moment. "How about we meet at the P Pub? I'll save your favorite seat for you."
Leora mentally counted the loose change in the bottom of her purse plus adding what she usually took home in tips at the end of the night, and calculated what a trip to Bleecker Street with her friend was going to cost her. How many more days until payday? Even as she slowly nodded, she silently said a prayer for lots of customers leaving generous tips that evening.
The waitress had just left their order on the table when Misha suddenly said, "I think he's having an affair, and I need your help."
Leora took a swallow of her Taiwanese beer relishing in the fact that her friend had insisted on paying for it (and, which truthfully she couldn't refuse to accept) and also relishing in the cool slightly-bitter smoothness which she hadn't indulged in for what seemed eons. She enjoyed the taste and spreading warmth inside of her for a few seconds longer before asking, "What? Who's having an affair?"
Misha answered almost exasperatedly, "Why my husband... Sam. Who else?"
Leora suddenly felt the divide between herself and her friend increase almost ten-fold. Had it really been that long? Had they really grown so far apart? "I didn't know you had gotten married."
Misha raised her glass and drank down nearly half of her gin and tonic in two swallows. "I'm sorry, Leo, I meant to invite you but things got so crazy, and you were living the "life boheme." I don't even know if I could have gotten in touch with you at the time."
Leora took several swallows of her own drink before answering, "So, I guess now is the time to catch me up. Tell me why you've come here out of the blue, asking me to help you."
"I'm sorry, you're right," Misha looked down and played with her napkin, tearing it into small pieces. "I have been bad about keeping in touch, and I should have made more of an effort." She took a sip of her drink and a deep breath and continued speaking without meeting Leora's gaze. "I met Samuel soon after I started working at the consulate. He was a student at NYU Law at the time, and when he graduated we got married. Nothing big, just a small ceremony at the courthouse with a reception at a local restaurant."
She stopped and glanced at Leora. "I know what you're thinking. Of course my parents would have insisted on a huge wedding for 300 at Tavern, but Samuel isn't from here, and he doesn't have a large family, so we kept it simple. Only a friend or two from his side were able to come at all."
Leora looked sadly at her almost empty beer and tried not to think about the feeling of emptiness in her stomach. When had she eaten last? Would it be impolite to order food half-hoping that Misha would pick up the tab? She was only half-listening to Misha and re-calculating what was left from her tips that evening when she caught, "... and now with the baby coming."
to be continued...
(I'm writing in a stream of consciousness, and realized that almost an hour had passed. Will have to continue this tomorrow. Any thoughts on what should happen next? Enjoying it so far? Anyone, anyone... hello, hello... is this thing on...??)