I was surprised that the clock read 12:30 pm when I left Mandy and went upstairs. I rummaged through the fridge looking for something to eat when I noticed Sherry cutting through the yard. She came to the door and waved at me. As I opened the door, a smile crept across my face until I heard Mandy’s taunts grinding in the back of my mind.
“You look a little better today. How are you feeling?”
For the first time, I really looked at her. I’d always thought of her as Cory’s kid sister but somewhere along the line; she grew up. Her long, chocolate-brown hair had just a hint of natural red highlights that made her hair shimmer in the sun. Her warm, brown eyes were compassionate and caring. Contrary to Mandy’s snide remark, Sherry’s skin was not pasty. In fact, it reminded me of the porcelain angel figurines my grandmother used to collect. I was so lost in her quiet beauty that I hadn’t heard her question. It was her soft hand brushing against my forehead that shocked me from my reverie.
“Maybe you’d better sit down; you look pale.”
Before I could get my bearings, Sherry took my hand and led me to the living room couch. She ordered me to sit and I obeyed. I heard her bustling around in the kitchen so I rose to join her. The floorboards betrayed me and Sherry dashed back into the living room, firmly reprimanding me for not listening. Surprised, and a little flattered by the attention, I sat back and waited for her to return. Within minutes she returned bearing a tray of homemade chicken soup, some juice, and a box of cold medicine. Other than Grandma, no one had ever taken care of me when I was sick. I was truly touched by her kindness.
“There’s another whole container of chicken soup in your fridge and one of vegetable beef. They freeze well too so if you can’t finish it all within a few days, go ahead and freeze it and you’ll have it for later.”
I nodded enthusiastically; my mouth was too full to speak and it was so delicious I couldn’t stop shoveling the soup into my mouth. She giggled and it reminded me of wind chimes. I’d never really noticed it before but she was usually much more reserved when Cory was around.
“Looks like you’re getting your appetite back. That’s a good sign. It means you’re on the mend. With a little rest and plenty of fluids you’ll be right as rain. Too bad it ruined your weekend. By the time you’re better, it’ll be time to go back to work. Ugh! That means having to put up with Mandy. Is it wrong to wish he’d just disappear?”
I almost blurted out the truth but self preservation got the best of me. My tongue was tied in knots and no words came out. Sherry’s face fell and her jaw trembled.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean I wanted anything bad to happen to him... I just meant it would be nice if he decided to move or get a job somewhere else.”
Her voice was thick with remorse, as if she feared I thought less of her.
“Hey,” I put the tray down and cupped her face in my hands. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with never wanting to see that hateful bastard, ever again. I know you’d never wish harm on anyone but if I had my way; he’d suffer for what he’s done to you and Cory.”
When I let go of her face, I’d expected her to chastise me for being vengeful or, at the very least, tell me to be nice. Instead, she kissed me. Not a little sisterly peck on the cheek either she kissed me, full on the lips and very passionately. I wasn’t sure whether to pull away or kiss back. My heart was racing and my head spun at a dizzying pace. Seemingly of their own accord, my arms pulled her into an embrace but, just as quickly, I pulled away.
“I’m sorry, Sherry. I shouldn’t have…I mean, I wanted to but…”
“But you’re worried Cory won’t approve, right?”
Her exasperated sigh seemed to hang in the air. Without another word she stood and ran out of the living room, through the kitchen, and out the back door. I chased after her but she was clear across the yard before I even reached the door. Cursing, I pounded my fist on the counter. When that didn’t bring me enough release, I turned and kicked the refrigerator door repeatedly. I’d made such a racket that I didn’t hear my screen door open.
“Does the Maytag man owe you money or something?”
I whipped around and Cory was standing in my kitchen, shaking his head. Before I could respond, he said, “We need to talk”.
***Be sure to return, Monday June 16th for the next installment of Mandy***