*Read Addy’s part (Part1) here: https://writerreaderthinkerdreamer.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/ben-addy-pt-1-of-1/*
I tap a rhythm on my thighs as we wait in line for the Starbucks kiosk in the mall. Addy’s eyes survey our floor and the floor above, her mouth pursed in thought. My eyes find the giant Christmas tree that sits in the center of the mall and the line of people wound around it, all waiting their turn to see Santa who sits on his makeshift Lazy-Boy throne. Kids jump up and down with excitement, tired parents stare blankly ahead, and a few youngsters scream and cry at the thought of sitting on the jolly old man’s lap.
“Wonderful time of year, ain’t it?” Addy scoffs, her mouth twisted in a cynical line.
“Aren’t you a Grinch?” I scoff back and Addy shoots me a look.
I smirk back at her. Lately, Addy had been in this weird negative funk. Whether it was the fact that a lot was on her mind or simply the holidays, something was putting her on edge and I didn’t like it.
See, Addy and I had met our freshman year of high school and bonded over our sarcastic and often inappropriately timed humor. She was fiery and quick on her feet; simply put, she was someone who could keep up with me and that’s what drew me to her and still keeps me coming back to this day.
Addy was a little bit of sugar and a lot of spice. Addy was observant, but not tentative. I saw her rise from her seat when I saw the boy go toppling headfirst into the fountain. She wasn’t going to sit there and let him get hurt, I was just closer. She was always ready to be compassionate and despite how her and I acted around one another, Addy was truly kind.
She was good, too good but she would never say something like that about herself. If she was anything that I despised, she was too modest for her own sake. It bothered me now for instance, as she stood with her hands stuffed in the pouch of her hoodie and her hood up that she seemed so shrunken into herself. Her auburn hair was plaited and fell in braid to right above her waist. She had a button nose and a bowtie mouth in her heart-shaped face, a living Alice in Wonderland. I don’t think she knew how pretty she really was; half Emily Deschanel meets Scarlett Johansson.
She was shorter than me by a few inches and she wasn’t stick thin, which I knew always bothered her to some extent. However, I and many of my other guy friends found it refreshing and the fact she knew how to dress, well, let’s just say she got more than an “Atta girl” in that area.
But you didn’t hear that from me.
But something was off about her today, something was crawling under her skin and consequently under mine. It was something in the way her face seemed pinched, her brow furrowed and her eyes drawn close together. Those eyes, normally a mix between gray and the blue that comes before a storm were now focused, but not sparkling with amusement.
I pushed her hood back.
“What was that for?” She huffs as we move up in line.
“You look suspicious.”
I nod. “Like a criminal.”
She lets out a harsh laugh and I watch out of the corner of my eye as her eyes begin to twinkle. “Gee, thanks Mom.”
I wink at her over my shoulder as we approach the front of the line. “My pleasure.”
“Well, well, well if it isn’t Benji and his darling Adelaide. Aren’t you two a sight for sore eyes,” purrs a voice from behind the counter.
I flash Trish, the barista, a smile. Trish is probably in her mid to late twenties with a white blonde bob and bedroom lidded lilac colored eyes. Seeing as Addy and I frequent this kiosk, she had taken it upon herself to give us pet names of her choosing. She also found me completely adorable.
But who can blame her, really?
“Hi Trish, it’s always a pleasure to see you.”
“Lemme guess, Venti, double shot Cafe Americano for the gentleman and a grande caramel frappe for the lady?” She muses.
“Sounds good to me. Addy?” I ask, fishing for my wallet and giving Addy a sidelong glance.
She shrugs, “Might as well.” She begins to stuff her hand into her pocket looking for change, but I quickly hand Trish my twenty.
“Beeeeennnnn—” Addy whines, trying to place her change on the counter.
I block her, facing her with my hands on my hips. “I’m nothing if not a gentleman, Addykins.”
She shoots me a storm-cloud glare, crossing her arms over her chest. “You’re nothing if not an entitled as—”
“Well you’re in a pleasant mood, Ms. Adelaide,” Trish huffs, good-naturedly, watching our banter with a smirk on her lips.
Addy plasters a fake smile on her face, flicking her braid over her shoulder. “Aren’t I always?” She passes by me to wait at the end of the kiosk.
Trish scrunches her nose in thought as she watches Addy click her nails along the counter. “What’s eating her, Benji?”
I let my eyes wander over to watch Addy as well as she unwraps on end of her straw, sticks it in her mouth, then blows the paper off through it. “What do you mean?”
“Something’s off about her. She seems a little extra cynical today.” Trish muses, grabbing our cups and heading off to prepare them. She’s voiced my thoughts from earlier aloud and if Trish can notice, then something is definitely amiss with Ms. Adelaide.
“I think it’s something about the holiday season. It gets under her skin for some unknown reason. Or it could be the fact she almost saw a little kid drown this morning…”
Trish barks out a laugh. “What?”
“There’s this fountain upstairs in the food court and Addy was watching kids playing around it. This ginger kid got the bright idea to reach in the fountain and grab all the pennies for himself, not calculating the depth and all.”
“Was he okay?”
I roll my eyes. “Of course I swooped in and saved him, Trish. I am nothing if not man of great character.” I repeat my favorite arrogant son-of-a-gun one liner and watch those lilac eyes roll.
“Your modesty, Benji; that’s one trait I’ve always loved about you,” She murmurs before breaking out into laughter.
I shoot her a smile and watch Addy watch the little kids in line around Santa. There’s a far off look in her eyes now and I begin to walk toward her, but then she turns. Her grey eyes meet mine and I pause.
“You ok?” I mouth at her, simultaneously flashing the “ok” symbol.
For a brief second Addy seems lost, for a brief second, something flashes in her eyes and she seems almost sc—
I see a flash of her auburn hair and blink, noticing she’s shaking her head “no”, but there’s a smile on her face. “But I will be.” She mouthes back.
I open my mouth just as Trish calls out “Order up for one flawless Benjamin and his lovely date, Ms. Adelaide.”
“We’re not dating,” Addy and I both scold with an eye roll at the same time.
Trish smirks, placing both of the drinks at the end of the counter near Addy. I shuffle my feet forward, whistling a tune and watch as she murmurs something to Addy who scrunches up her nose in response. Trish chuckles as I approach and I make out “You know as well as I do, honey, that boys like that don’t stay on the market forever. And if you know what’s good for you—”
“Trish, what torrid tales are you telling my poor Addy now?” I come up behind Addy and place my hands over her ears. “Such endeavors should not be heard by these frail and innocent ears.” I tsk as Addy struggles to break free.
Trish hands me my drink, fully assessing me before doing the same for the still-captive Addy. Her eyes are full of mischief and some kind of…knowing, a knowing which I don’t know. A knowing that begins to trouble me.
Shaking her head, she raises her bedroom eyes to meet mine. When she speaks, her voice is in one tone and it is a tone she hardly ever uses with me: serious.
“She won’t keep wishing forever, you know. Don’t make her wait forever.”
“Trish…” I begin to groan just as Addy stomps down on my instep. I release my hands and shoot Addy a wide-eyed look as she casually sips her frappuccino, using the whipped cream to hide her smile.
“Owww.” I chastise only to be met with a stuck out tongue.
“I’m telling you guys—” Trish begins before she is met with a glare from the both of us. This causes her to erupt into light-hearted laughter. “Too-da-loo!” She waves four of her fingers before bouncing back to take the next patron’s order.
“She’s too much.” Addy chuckles as we make our way toward the exit.
“Isn’t she always?” I grumble, blowing on the top of my cup to cool my coffee.
“Hey now,” Addy scolds, grabbing my arm, and consequently pulling me to a stop. Her grey eyes are twinkling and because of that I feel a smile beginning to tug at the corners of my mouth. Slowly she’s coming back to me. “Only one of us can be cynical at a time and today it’s my turn.”
“Is that what you wished for, in the fountain upstairs? Some twisted balance? A yang to my yin?” I say flabberghasted.
She eye rolls before squeezing my arm. “Obviously.” A devilish smirk spreads across her heart-shaped face. She is no longer Alice, now she is more like the Chesire Cat. The little deviant. The lost dreamer.
“You are such a—”
But she puts a finger to my lips. “But aren’t you forgetting Ben, I did it all in good faith. After all, you are a hero and if I go astray, isn’t it only right that you should save me?”
It is my turn to eye roll, to puff out my chest and strut in grandeur. “Obviously.”
I hear Addy’s laughter behind me and turn. She’s standing there, sipping her frap and beaming. She’s standing there, no longer lost and lonely. She is standing there and for a second, she seems to be more to be than just Addy. She’s standing there and she seems to be some type of dream.
If I was “combustible”, Addy was already on fire.
If Addy was wishing, all pennies would be spilled from my pockets.