The alarming clunk followed by her dash lighting up when Deanne had started her car in the Wal-Mart parking lot couldn't mean anything good.
She couldn't ignore the burnt rubber smell, the loss of power steering, and the sudden loss of battery power.
Deanne grumbled and kicked the car as she went around the front and lifted the hood. Her suspicions were correct. The fan belt was off and long slices of rubber now graced the perimeter of the engine compartment like nasty bits of confetti. There would be no replacing it tonight with the only auto parts store in town closed. She closed her eyes and sighed. There was nothing for it. Jeff was going to have to come and get her.
Jeff didn't complain when she called, she knew he wouldn't, but she still felt awful about dragging him and the kids out this late in the evening to come after her. She hung up her cell phone, looked at the bags of groceries in the car, felt her head pound and remembered that she hadn't wanted to come to the store anyway (but had felt like she had to--one more straw in the big pile that she had placed on her own back)and she started to cry.
She lifted her head from her steering wheel when she heard the tap on her window. She gasped when she saw the woman standing there--it was Susan Sanders--her best friend from high school whom she had not seen in at least five years! Susan gasped too when Deanne lifted her head as Deanne opened the door of the car.
They began talking at once.
"What are you doing here? I haven't seen you in ages!"
"I just moved back, with my husband, Rob."
Susan introduced Rob and Deanne and they shook hands. Susan and Deanne hugged each other, both of them smiling as Deanne wiped tears from her eyes and shook her curly blond hair out of her face. She jerked her thumb towards her aging red Pontiac.
"My jalopy decided to throw a fan belt. I could replace it myself if I had a new one, but the auto parts store is closed."
Susan grinned--even in high school Deanne could fix just about anything that went wrong with the black Jeep Wrangler that had been her baby. Deanne thought it was amazing how Susan still looked like the girl she had been in high school--her red hair, freckles, and mischievous smile were unchanged.
"I'm glad you think it's funny, Spaz."
"What's funny is that Rob is the new owner of Shockley Auto Parts. That's why we moved back. Would you like a new fan belt, Dorkbunny? Or would you rather hang out in the parking lot all night?"
Deanne's jaw dropped. This was too good to be true. When she recovered from the shock, she linked arms with Susan and said, "I knew all those years ago that there was a good reason to be your friend. Who knew that it would be a badly needed fan belt?"
Deanne quickly called and intercepted Jeff before he got too far from home as she explained the situation. He laughed and said he wouldn't be waiting up for her.
Several hours and two pots of tea later, Deanne looked across her friend's living room and asked,
"Why is it that we lost touch? I mean, why do we, as adults, let things like that happen? You and I used to talk like this all the time, and now that we're here, we've started talking again like no time has lapsed, but why did we stop? I can remember a time when climbing a tree to read a book was one of the dearest loves of my heart, and I don't do that anymore either. It just never occurs to me. I don't get it."
Susan's eyes watered as she looked at her girlhood friend. She paused before answering.
"I think we get confused when it comes to priorities. We make these lists of things to do, and we leave out the most important things. Seriously, when was the last time you put, 'Hug my husband', or 'pray', or 'call friends' on a to-do list?"
"Never. Maybe someone was trying to tell me something tonight. I think I will start making a different kind of to-do list from now on."
Susan grinned over her mug at Deanne.
"Me too, Dorkbunny. Me too."
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