Lina was exhausted with loneliness. Staring out the rain-spattered window of her neighborhood Starbucks, she sighed and cuffed her hot latte at the same time.
Lina locked eyes with a spunky-looking blonde,
“Can I just say, you are SO beautiful? Sorry, I’m Stacy. I shoulda said my name first, huh?”
Lina managed to pull a smile through her face,
“Hi. Hi Stacy.”
“What’s your name beautiful?”
“Lina. And thank you, for the compliment.”
Lina wasn’t in the mood for conversation, she purposely gave off a cold exterior to keep strangers at bay, but this Stacy lady didn’t seem to get the picture. Pulling out the empty chair, Stacy lifted up Lina’s burgundy Coach purse and extended it across the table,
“Mind if I join you?”
“Actually, I’m not really good company right now.”
Unaffected by rejection, Stacy pulled her bag back and placed it under the table by Lina’s shiny leather heels.
“Oh, pish posh! I’ll tell ya if you’re good company.”
Lina squirmed her body weight to the opposite side of her chair. Stacy thumped in the seat across from her, then leaned her chest forward to palm Lina’s heart-shaped face,
“What color is that gooor-geous lipstick?”
Lina squinted her eyes, laser-like, on the thin line of fine dirt peeking through her chipped, hot pink nail polish, and jumped back,
“Please, don’t touch my face. I’m sorry, but I don’t know you.”
“So uptight you are. What’s your deal sweetie?”
Tense she answered,
“Yea, your deal. I see you sittin’ in here every single Tuesday night, lookin’ glum. So, what’s your deal?”
Lina thought to herself, is this woman stalking me, how does she know I’m here on Tuesday nights?
“Oh don’t get scared sweetie. I work part-time across the way at the little design shop. I get off at seven every night, my bus doesn’t come ’til 7:35, so I sit in here until then.”
“Oh, ok,” Lina said relieved.
“Relieved ya, I see. Boy are you a piece of work honey!”
Stacy suppressed her laugh, not sure if she could let it loose.
“So … what’s your deal sweetie?”
“I don’t really know how to answer that.”
“You’re a thinker huh? Gotta think about eee-ver-y-thing BEFORE you feel it?”
Lina paused, wondered if she should end Stacy’s meddling, and at the same time yearned for the company of conversation.
“I think we should all think before we act,” Lina proceeded, despite her hesitation.
“I didn’t say before you act, I said before you feel sweetheart.”
Stacy tacked a grunt kind of laugh to the end of her last word. Lina threw her eyes into her latte lid hole and treaded lightly, but firm,
“Well, I just prefer not to let my thoughts run wild.”
“Why on earth would you do a silly thing like that?”
“If I let my flesh control my thoughts, I’d be in a lot of trouble.”
“Honey, we all need some trouble every now and then. Trust me!”
Lina was always taught to tell herself what to feel so her feelings wouldn’t get the best of her. Stacy picked up on her thinking and interrupted, exaggeratedly with her hands,
“Eee-ver-yyy … siii-ngle … Tuuu-esday night, you look out the window, staring … pitiful like. I decided yesterday, I’m gonna talk to that Tuesday girl the next time I see her. I call you Tuesday in my head ya know? You remind me of the daughter I never had. ‘Cept I got a son, you should meet him. His name’s Pat, Patrick to you I’d suppose, I bet you like to be proper.”
Lina lifted up her left hand and wiggled her fourth finger. Stacy flapped her hand, and asked what that had to do with anything. Lina told her it meant she was off limits to other men.
“But my Pat’s a handsome kid, kind, like a shot of fire too. You need that,”
Stacy leaned in to whisper,
“I can tell.”
“You know, for someone who doesn’t know who I am, you seem to know me quite well.”
“There! You just stopped thinkin’. Now, you’re just talkin’, Nobody likes too much of that thinkin’. That there, that’s spicy!”
Lina’s phone alarm went off before she could figure out how to respond. Stacy noticed it said Times Up,
“What in the world? What are ya timin’ your time? Geez honey. Give yourself a real break!”
Lina bit her lip to keep another smile back, something about Stacy made her feel alive.
“Thank you for analyzing me, Ms. Stacy, but I have to go. It was … actually, kind of nice, meeting you.”
“Yea! Bet I been the most adventurous thing in your life lately, huh?”
Lina thought to herself ashamedly, yes, you definitely are, and replied,
“Oh, you know it’s true doll! You need more adventure. Never let yourself forget it, since you like to tell yourself what to think and all that business.”
Lina grabbed her new bag off the floor and hurried out. She couldn’t help but think about all that Stacy had said to her driving home—she questioned why she thought before feeling, wondered what “needing trouble” meant, and felt embarrassed that her cold exterior was mistaken for pitifulness. Just last Sunday the message in church challenged her to consider who was sent from where. Had God sent this Stacy across Lina’s path, or was it the devil?
A rough rest of the week had Lina pinned to her bed that weekend. She forced herself to complete unfinished reports from home, but kept falling asleep. Fuming that she couldn’t stay awake, she slammed her laptop, plopped onto her sleeping side, and threw her expensive duvet over her head. In less than five minutes she was out cold. Stacy showed up in her dream, with Patrick.
Pat was striking. Dressed like he had come straight from a Forbes magazine interview. He smiled at her strong, but sweet, and pointed at an empty chair,
“Sit with us Lina, you’re worthy of a long stare. Can I just stare at you?”
She felt her heart tap-dance, her stomach tunnel. Her brain, reminded that these feelings did exist, despite its seeming memory loss. Fiending for attention, she sat quickly. So quick, she didn’t realize until after the fact how desperate it may have come across. But Lina was desperate, for a spark, especially from a man. Pat opened his mouth to speak, but a loud, obnoxious alarm sound came out. Lina jumped up, to her phone alarm flashing, “Wake up and finish your work!” Disappointed that she’d missed Pat’s next words, she silenced her alarm and fell back asleep. When she woke up later, she realized he hadn’t come back. It got her to feeling Tuesday couldn’t come fast enough. Stacy was right, Lina needed adventure. Since her husband seemed to have forgotten, she planned to see what adventure could come from meeting Pat. Hoping it would help her stay awake, she stood up to sit at her desk, while thinking, Forget about thinking first.
A yellow sticky note on the draw handle caught her eye. Walking closer, she noticed it said “Open me!” Inside, sat two e-tickets to Brazil and a note that read,
I’m sorry. I’ve let our marriage get boring.
I see it’s doing something to you, and it’s my fault.
Tears ran away from the back of her mind, and slipped out her eyes.
© 2014 Zara Hairston. All rights reserved.
Editor-In-ChiefZara Hairston is a modern-day renaissance woman who uniquely draws people to the Cross of Christ through teaching, writing and speaking. She holds a bachelor of arts in Journalism from Temple University, and a master of arts in Christian Counseling from Jacksonville Theological Seminary—where she was also ordained. Hairston's organizations include Love-Life, Inc., YourHeartShape, Moms In Christ, BComingMe, Sister Keepers and Arrow Spring Academy. Currently, she resides in the Atlanta area with her husband Anton "Eshon Burgundy" Hairston and their three children.