The Ballad of Lisa and Lacey (Part VI)
(for Part V click here)
The telephone rang on Wednesday afternoon. It woke Lacey and before she was conscious enough to ignore it, she picked it up and said hello.
“Hi, Lace. This is Lisa.” There was a giggle, “Remember me?”
Foggy with sleep and fooled by her dreams, Lacey sank her head back into the pillow, relieved.
“Oh, Lis. Where’ve you been? I was so worried.”
There was a second of silence.
“Wisconsin?” Lisa questioned.
Lacey didn’t understand and there was more silence.
“Are you alright, Lace? Did I call at a bad time?”
“Yeah — uh. No, I’m good. No — um — I must have fallen asleep. I — uh — What time is it?”
“Lace. It’s the middle of the afternoon.”
Lace? Nobody called her Lace. Lisa called her Lace. Lisa? Lisa!
“Just so. Surprised?”
Lacey was surprised. She sat up on the sofa, closed her eyes tight, yawned and stretched her free arm out in front of her, fingers wide.
“What are you doing? Where are you?”
“I’m at home, but I’m coming to see you — tomorrow. I’ve got some people I need to meet and some papers I have to sign, so I’m going to fly in, in the morning. I’ll be busy all day but we can have dinner at my hotel. Okay? Say, seven?”
Lacey had talked to Lisa so many times in the last few months: in the shower, on the bus, at work, slowly falling asleep. She had said so many things to her, but now all she could manage was:
“Yeah, that’s good. Yeah. Seven.”
“You remember the hotel?”
“Uh huh — yeah, no problem.”
“Okay, it’ll be great. You can tell me all your good stories and we’ll drink wine and have that chocolate — uh — chocolate, whatever we had last time. I’m at work, Lace. I have to go, but I’ll see you tomorrow. Okay?”
“Okay, go back to sleep. See you tomorrow. Bye.”
“Bye, Lis.” But the phone was already dead.
Lacey didn’t remember what happened next — it was so long ago. But the ache was real — she could remember that — and the excitement and the hurt at the very bottom of her belly and how all the anger dissolved away like sugar in the rain when she saw Lisa sitting in the restaurant. She tried to appear casual. She stopped and looked deliberately where Lisa wasn’t, but Lisa was already out of her chair, the purpose of her heels sounding on the wooden floor. When Lacey turned her head back, Lisa was there and she had her hands on Lacey’s shoulders. She pulled her in like a plush toy.
“Oh, I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you.” Lisa said, running all the words together.
Lacey knew the voice and the feel, but it was the smell of Lisa’s hair and her makeup that made Lacey cry. She swallowed as Lisa stepped back and ran her hands down Lacey’s arms to hold her in place.
“You let your hair grow. I love it. Come,” Lisa said, turning and pulling Lacey along, “I’ve got the same table we had last time.”
The server was already there, holding the chair out for her. Lacey stopped and carefully touched the tears out of the corner of her eye and then sat down.
“I’ve ordered Cote du Rhone something or other. Can you remember what we drank on the river? Are you hungry? No? Right, we’ll look at the menus later. Let’s try the wine and talk for a minute,” Lisa said, sitting down, pushing the menus aside and pointing at Lacey’s glass — all in one motion. The server immediately poured wine for Lacey.
“Pick it up. Pick it up.” Lisa reached across with her wine glass. There was a loud “cling” as the two women misjudged the distance between them and the glasses collided. A couple of people turned their heads to the sound.
“I’m so excited to see you.” Lisa sipped her wine, “How are you? You sounded terrible over the phone. I thought I was going to have to come and pick up the pieces.”
“I’m fine, Lis.”
And Lacey knew she was going to Rome.