Mandy woke up early the next day with a clear and focused mind of what had to be done before leaving. She had mentally made a list before falling asleep and it seemed to have stuck. First a good strong coffee with a healthy bowl of porridge to keep her going. Lots to do.
She put the coffee on to brew and started cooking the porridge in the microwave. Rolled oats, rice milk, banana, protein powder, cinnamon and a dollop of coconut yogurt to top it off when done. Best way to start the day especially on a cool spring morning. The porridge was steaming and the coffee sent beautiful smells through her unit. Mandy loved this time of the day. So new and fresh, full of promises. She sat down and started writing her text to Emma while waiting on the porridge to cool a little. Mandy being a writer rarely struggled for words, but for some reason this morning they didn’t come easy. Emma was no longer a close friend, but they did share a past in Lake Haven.
Mandy thought back to the first time she and Emma met. Mandy had been in town with her mum for a summer break and Emma had only recently moved to Lake Haven to attend beauty school. She was renting a room in the house across the road from their place. She was so pretty and soon she was the talk of the town. Well, the talk of the boys in town doing their best to get her attention, she recollected.
Mandy was only 17 and still at school, and Emma was the grown-up of 18 living in a rented room on her own while attending college. Emma had been raised by her aunt in a small town north of San Francisco after her parents had died in a car accident when she was only young. Her aunt being her father’s step-sister had never really wanted to raise Emma but had felt obliged. So when Emma suggested beauty school in Lake Haven her aunt enthusiastically supported the idea and helped her find a place to stay.
Emma had an air of vulnerability and hardness at the same time that either made you want to look after her or tell her to go jump. For Mandy, it was mostly the latter, mainly because of the female hormones. A lot of the time they actually had a lot of fun in their group of friends, and Emma could have them all in stitches with her stories from the small town she grew up in. Mandy often wondered how true they were but certainly entertaining. The boys found the softness and vulnerability appealing and it overshadowed the hardness. She was never short of a suitor, but soon settled all of her attention on Karl Sonenheim, son of the wealthy real estate developer in Lake Haven, or the Lake as the locals called it for short.
Mandy returned her focus to her text to Emma. She wanted to make it sound personal, but she felt guilty for not having been in touch for so long. The message ended up being very formal. Maybe that was better. Would a call be better? More personal?
Mandy decided to think about it while eating breakfast.
Her thoughts strayed to Sam. Wondering if he was still so damn good looking. His dark wavy hair and steel grey eyes. The strong jaw and soft lips, oh those kissable lips that tasted so good. Mandy had stopped eating, the spoon resting on her lips. She almost wished she could have gone back to that night and the next morning and done things differently. But she was young then and had just taken up a scholarship for her masters at a major university in Amsterdam, and she was so full of dreams. No time for anybody to change her course. Not even someone like Sam. He didn’t try to make her stay either, so why should she. Or should she have stayed? She was now almost 32 and had never had a relationship longer than 2 years. She was running out of time to do the whole settle down and have kids, but she was very successful and satisfied in her chosen career and that made all the difference. Right up until now when Sam had come back into her life. Even if he had been the bearer of bad news, it somehow had awakened her desire and longing, and she was now not sure of what she wanted anymore. She wondered if the passion between them would still be there after all these years. Was he even still single? Stop daydreaming girl. Mandy pulled herself together, drank the last of her coffee and decided to call Emma.
“Hi Emma, this is Mandy Reid”
“Oh, hello Mandy?” the voice on the other side of the line sounded old and frail.
“Sam rang me last night and told me the sad news. I am so sorry to hear about Karl. Are you ok Emma? Is there anything I can do for you right now? I am coming to the Lake tonight. Meeting up with Sam. If you need anything please just let me know”
Mandy sensed a gasp after mentioning Sam’s name.
“You are meeting Sam? I didn’t know you two were still in touch. No, I am ok Mandy, but thank you for calling. I will let you know about the funeral arrangement. Have a safe drive back to the Lake. Thank you again. See you soon.”
The phone went dead before Mandy could say another word. She felt a shiver as if she had just witnessed something terrible and cold-hearted. But she didn’t really understand why. Yes, Emma had been short and impersonal, but that was quite normal under the circumstances. Wasn’t it? This was Mandy first encounter with death of someone in her age group, in fact first in a long time of any age group. She really wasn’t sure how to react or what to expect from people in grief. So she put it behind her and went about getting on with the rest of her chores.