"Oh my goodness, you should have seen them having fun!" Annie was laughing so much this story was taking a while. Carlotta couldn't believe the joy on Annie's face as she told the events of the storm. "The whole ditch was just filling up with water. You know, that ditch between the building the parking area?" Carlotta nodded. Of course. The only ditch on the property.
"It had rained so hard, and something was blocking the drain, so the kids just ran out in the rain and used it as a slip-n-slide!" Annie was howling with laughter at her children's antics. Why wasn't Carlotta laughing?
"Well, you know, they kind of belly-flopped into the mud and slid as far as they could. Gwennie called it 'belly-whomping' but it looked like a good ol' slip-n-slide to me. Remember those from when we were kids?" Surely she hadn't forgotten the slip-n-slide they shared as neighbors in their youth.
Carlotta remembered, but seemed to forget the fun. "Well, I mean, but that was spread out on a smooth lawn, on a warm summer day. You were okay with them doing this?"
Annie disregarded Carlotta's concern. "Pshh... Yeah, why not?" She grinned and touched her old friend's arm. "Don't you remember how much fun we had? We'd laugh all day!" Carlotta hadn't laughed at all during this catching up coffee. Annie took a guess at her old friend's new priorities. "Clothes can be washed, you know? Bodies - can be washed, and at least I could see them from the window."
Trying to move into common ground Annie rolled her eyes and gave a sarcastic half-smile. "Better sliding through the mud where I can see, than doing God knows what online, am I right?" Carlotta didn't share Annie's chuckle. She seemed to have no sense of humor anymore.
Carlotta took a sip of her coffee. "Yes, but this was no smooth lawn. There could have been rocks, sticks, animals..."
"Eh, you got me. A drowned opossum floated up and -" seeing the horror on Carlotta's face, Annie backed into a teasing grin. "Just kidding, just kidding! Although, Greyson scraped his knee on a big rock in the ditch," Uh-oh, that superior look again. "Hey, it was still raining so the cut was basically clean by the time he got inside. He is such a good brother, he dug out the rock and set it to the side so Gwennie wouldn't hit it too." She didn't clarify that she had - of course - cleaned the cut and applied antiseptic and a bandage. The look on Carlotta's face at the thought of rain cleaning a wound was just too good.
Carlotta smiled a tight smile. "Well, they had fun and luckily no major injuries, then."
"Yeah, it was fun." There was a pause so Annie asked, "And you? You're in town for -"
"My grandfather died. The funeral was three days ago and I'm here at my parents' house trying to ... support them."
"Oh, Carlotta! I'm so sorry! I had no idea! Why didn't you say so?" She remembered Carlotta's Gramps vaguely from childhood.
Carlotta's face permitted a tiny smirk as she raised her cup to her lips. "He didn't die. It's a joke."
The room was very quiet. A passing waiter might have stepped on Annie's jaw. Annie was wondering what had happened in Carlotta's life since high school, that she now thought THAT was a joke. Carlotta stared back at Annie, prompting Annie to realize she had been staring. She forced a smile. "Ha-ha," she said.
Friends drifted apart; it was true. Annie decided that in this case she didn't care to drift back together.
Have you ever reunited with a friend, only to wish you hadn't?
Thanks for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! All month I'll be writing flash fiction, with the theme "Audience Participation".
Now it's your turn, lovely reader. Do you have a writing prompt to suggest? Don't worry about choosing a letter of the alphabet, just leave me a word, a thought, a place, a concept... anything! I'll add it to the list.
My "Grayson and Gwennie" story came from the suggestion that I try some humor. A suggestion provided by Iain Kelly of IainKellyWriting, in a comment left on my F post, here. Seeing how this still turned dark at the end, I'm wondering if humor is in my skill set but I'll keep trying!