Donna falls for Priya, but things work out for everyone – Part 13

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I took forever to dial, one hesitant digit at a time. When the phone rang, I prayed that she would answer because I wouldn’t be able to leave a message and I doubted that I could muster the guts to call again. It rang three times and I grew more and more anxious with each ring. I was about to hang up when the line clicked and Frankie said, “Hello? Who is this?”

I said, “Hello, Frankie.”

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She screamed into the phone and I had to pull the phone back from my ear, “Jack. Oh my God. The screen said ‘caller unknown’ and I almost didn’t answer it.” She started crying and I let her get herself back together before I spoke again.

“I got your letter today. Jacob did forward it. I’m sorry that you didn’t get any explanation from Donna or someone and I can’t go through it for you now. I’m doing okay. Not great, but okay. I don’t want you to worry about…”

Frankie cut me off in mid-sentence and said, “Of course I’m worrying about you, you dummy. After your long recovery from losing Anna, to finally fall in love again only to lose that too? You must be in agony and I want to be there for you. Tell me where you are and I’ll come there. You need someone to talk to or you’ll be another ten years recovering. I’m not just worrying about you, I’m scared to death for you.”

I said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m through the worst of it.”

Again, Frankie said, “Tell me where you are. Please?” She was getting more frantic and started crying. Tears formed in my eyes too as I wrestled with her request, and then I relented. She said, “I’ll be there tomorrow.” I told her I’d be here. She said, “I love you Jack,” and hung up. I stood there holding the phone, dwelling on how much it sounded like I just got off the phone with Anna.

As I had promised her, I was there when she arrived in the late afternoon. The flight was relatively short but the drive from the airport in her rental was long. I was on the patio behind the house with a glass of scotch in my hands, lost in the susurrations of the waves lapping on the shore when I heard her drive into the driveway. It had to be her. I didn’t know anyone else. I promised myself that I wouldn’t compound Frankie’s concerns by being drunk and I wasn’t; but almost. Scotch had become one of my four major food groups. I didn’t eat much. It was way easier to pour a glass than make a meal. The clothes I had brought, just hung off me. I didn’t care.

I heard Frankie calling for me as she ran around the side of the house heading for the water. When she saw me sitting in my lawn chair, she said, “I thought you’d probably be out here.” I stood up and turned toward her and she stopped dead in her tracks and said, “Oh my God, Jack. What are you doing to yourself. You look terrible.” I bent down and put my scotch glass on the table by my chair. I stood up and offered her my arms and she burst into tears as she ran into them.

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