The water was a transparent light blue, running gently through my toes when I stepped into the stream. I could see the fish scatter as I carefully avoided the rocks on the bottom. They were visible even three feet under as I marveled at the clarity of the water. That’s how I was feeling. Clear, transparent, and fully aware of the gift God had given us in this moment.
That was why we loved this place. I hadn’t seen my high school best friend in twenty years. We came to our old stomping grounds, because I’m a sentimental pushover, and she is a realist who humored me once again and let me pick the place where we could talk.
We’d already shared the normal girlfriend small talk, stretching the truth a bit about how “neither of us had changed and can you believe it’s been this long?” It’s always so weird that there are certain small talk rituals we need before we get to the good stuff, the sharing from our hearts that really counts.
It took me a few years after being roomies at State to forgive Janice for stealing my boyfriend. Even though Roger and I had broken up, I still thought I loved him before she started seeing him “as a friend .” There’d been tension in our relationship for the rest of our Senior year, but I’d worked on forgiving her.
Here we are, both mature Christian women and the past is the past for Pete sakes, so why am I even thinking about this now? I want to just focus on getting to know each other again as moms of teenagers and forget those days. Trying to put those obsessive thoughts aside, I tried to keep our conversation light and cheery.
As we strolled in the sparkling stream parallel to the shoreline, our pants rolled up, it was a cool relief for hot Texas weather. Our laughter was refreshing and brought us back to our earlier years.
“Janice, I have never really found another friendship like we used to have. You always could finish my sentences, and laughed at my stupid jokes. No one can read my mind like you used to.”
“Ha! You were easy, Elaine. You always wore your feelings on your sleeve. All I had to do was look at you and I knew what was going on. Remember I used to tell you to not become a poker player? You’d be homeless by now if you had to rely on being secretive and mysterious…”
We found the huge maple tree where we used to picnic and fish in the summertime when we were younger. It felt satisfying to realize that true friendships really do last when all is forgiven and we can focus on the good things and good memories we had. I felt so safe I let down my guard and blew my cover. I just had to know. I couldn’t help myself.
“Janice, why did you do it really? I mean I was devastated when I found out you had betrayed me. I know it was long ago, but I always wanted to ask you ‘why’ and get a clear answer from you. What on earth made you think is was okay to start seeing Roger?”
Janice stood up, tears in her eyes, and a look of shock and disappointment clouded her countenance.
“I cannot believe you Elaine! After all these years, and you have to bring up the past? I made a mistake and regretted it as soon as I did it. Apparently you haven’t forgiven me if you had to spoil our time together by bringing this up. We weren’t even believers back then. Can’t you just let it go?”
The hurt and confusion in her eyes bore into me like a dagger and I staggered back into the water trying to get some distance from the harm I had done.
Why had I opened my mouth? Why was that hurt still lingering in my heart? What was wrong with me?
Dragging my feet in despair, I looked down and noticed the beautiful, clear blue water had become murky and brown from my feet scraping the bottom. I could no longer see the rocks and kept stubbing my toes, almost tripping , wishing I could do something to make the water clear and calm again.
But it was too late...
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