“Is anyone looking?” Melissa whispered, a collection of oddities in her arms.
I raised a brow at my best friend since fifth grade. Her brown eyes were bright with excitement and she had a familiar mischievous smile on her tanned face. What was she up to now? I peered around the mannequin and glanced down the aisles. Shoppers were everywhere, but no one was paying attention to us. “No, I don’t think so,” I whispered back. “Why? What are you doing?”
“Keep on the lookout! I just need to make some slight modifications,” I heard some grunting then humming.
“You better not get us in trouble—again!” I whispered loudly.
“Almost there! Hmm . . . Ah, it’s perfect!” She stepped back to examine the results of her labor.
The mannequin, which was previously sporting a tiny bikini that only women who wore a size 2 would dare to wear, was now wrapped in a large beach towel--toga style. Red-framed sunglasses and a wide brimmed straw hat completed the ensemble.
I tried to control my laughter, but some slipped out. “Oh yes, much better. My thighs are happier now that the competition is modestly covered.”
“Mine too!” Melissa broke out a huge grin. “Now I’ll feel better eating that ice cream!”
We giggled like elementary school girls all the way to the ice cream stand. We plopped down on a bench with our ice cream cones and started licking away. I bit into a ribbon of hot fudge and rolled my eyes in ecstasy. “How many calories do you think we’re eating?”
“Who cares?” Melissa responded as she bit into her mint chocolate chip ice cream. She was a slim size six. I was a bit taller, but still struggled to maintain a size eight.
“I can’t wait to get married!”
“What?” Her sudden change of subject jerked me back from deliberation of how to fit into size six jeans. “What about junior prom?”
“Let’s plan our weddings now, just in case. I want you to be my maid of honor, of course. And you’ll wear a navy blue dress because it will look great with your blond hair.”
“Just promise me you won’t wear a pink dress.”
We made faces at each other as we remembered the bridal magazine at the hair salon.
“Yuck!” We declared in unison.
“So who’s the groom?”
“Brent Cauderwall,” she sighed dreamily, drawing his name out.
“I thought so. You haven’t talked about him in months.” I stated as I took the last bite of my cone.
“I know, but I’ll see him next month at church camp. He’s a senior.”
“And a varsity football player, and he wants to be a missionary, and he’s got blue eyes and sandy blond hair, he lives 30.9 miles from your house, was born on November 17, and what a glorious day it was . . .”
Melissa tossed a balled-up napkin at me and it bounced off my nose.
“Hey!” I squawk.
“I guess I’ve talked about him a lot, huh?”
I grinned because I loved to tease her. “Maybe just a little.”
“You have to admit, though, he is cute.”
“Yes, very cute.”
“I think about him all the time.”
I fluttered my lashes and sighed with exaggeration, “Me too.”
I laughed and dodged another wadded up napkin. This time she hit an old man sitting behind us on the top of his shiny head.
We shrieked with laughter and ran for the glass doors. “Sorry!” we yelled in unison as we made our escape, our laughter floating on the air.
Melissa was killed in a car accident the next day. I often think of that last day and all of our fun times together. Even now, ten years later, I remember her smile and the sound of her laugh and the memory catches in my throat. We shared our deepest secrets, our dreams, and even our fears.
I hear my baby whimper and peak over the edge of her crib. My heart grabs in my chest at the sight of her rosy cheeks and her tiny fists rubbing the sleep from her eyes. I hope that someday, she will be blessed to have as wonderful a childhood friend as I did.
“Come see your mommy, sweet Melissa.”
“Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14, NKJV)
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