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Through the Haze

By Sidney Droz All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Adventure

Blurb

Dreams have power, more than one can imagine. When a ten year old girl boards a plane to India, she discovers that her greatest dreams are about to come true and she opens the door to her very future.

Through the Eyes of Fate


I am a 10 year old girl named Ivory. I have blonde tipped light brown hair with light green eyes and a rarely used sarcastic side. I’ve been living with an over normal life, and now I’m about to embark on a journey that will change it forever. This is my story.

Through the golden mist I catch a glimpse of my royal friend; the princess, standing on the half submerged Buddha statue. She turns, sees me and beckoned me over. I splash through the clear water to her. In her usual striking way, she embraces me, and dives into the warm water soaking me and everything around her. I laugh and followed.

“Wake up!” A voice startled me out of my dream. It was 5:00 in the morning. Oh right! Today we are taking a plane to India! Why so early? Couldn’t mom have wait till I finished the dream? “Wake up!” She calls again. “Start packing! We have to get to the airport by 8:00!” Uhh! So early? Gosh! I start dreaming on the drive to the plane.

She calls to me, and I paddle over to where she lays. Drying off, we go for a walk through the large oases. We stop, and climb to the canopy of a tall tree where the platform rests in the fork. She uncovered the trap door and pulls out the basket of goodies we hid yesterday afternoon. We lie back on pillows and leaves and talk about what we will do tomorrow. Finishing the sticky rice and bananas, we climb down, and promise to meet up the next day at the temple.

She was my only real friend, I think as I wake up hours later at the airport. I don’t even know her name, and I’ve known her for two years and shared dreams with her for three years. Boarding the plane takes an hour, which seems like forever. Once the plane takes off, I fall back into the dream world.

There she sits on the temple’s steps waiting. When she catches sight of me, she scowls and turns away.

“What’s the matter?”

“I’ve been waiting hours here for you. That’s the matter!”

“I’m sorry. I just couldn’t just sleep while the plane was taking off!”

“What are you talking about?” It takes awhile to explain to her about the trip.

“Why did you wait till now to say something?”

“I keep forgetting I guess.”

“Hope I see you there.”

“Yeah, see you.”

“Wake up,” mom says. “We’re landing in New York soon.”

When I’m dreaming again, it’s dark and desolate. She wasn’t here.

On arriving in the large city of Mumbai, India, I glance hopefully out the window, but couldn’t spot her in the crowd. My eyes darted around. Is she real? Or am I just imagining? Stepping into the warm air, my head jerks from side to side trying to spot her in the mass of people. Was she able to come? Then I spot her on her tiptoes looking through the crowd. I try to talk, but all I can manage is a choking sound. “Are you okay?” mom asks me.

“There she is!”

“There who is?”

“The princess! My friend!”

“How can you already know someone here? We’re on a real trip here you know.”

I run to her anyway, pushing through the waiting crowd. I don’t stop running until she’s in my arms in a tight hug. “I can’t believe that you’re here for real!” She’s staring at me in confusion.

“You remember me, right?” Panic fills me for a moment. Emotions start to run across her face.

“I wasn’t sure if you were real,” she whispers.

“I wasn’t either.”

So, this could have been the worst possible moment for mom to come running over. She seemed quite flustered. “What are you doing? Excuse us miss.” She pulls me away. “What are you doing?” She hissed.

“I was greeting my friend!” I shoot back.

“How could you have possibly known her?”

“We’ve been sharing dreams for three years.”

“Right, sure you have.”

“It’s true!”

“Okay!”

“I’d better get back to her before she decides to leave.” I run back to where she’s still standing.

“Well?”

“We can go,” I tell her.

I take after her as she weaves through the streets to a tall structure close by. “What is… that?” I say panting.

“That is the palace,” she answers.

Holy smoke! I think stopping at the steps. “That’s amazing!” I gasp.

“Yep. It sure is.” Handing me a sticky rice wrap, she says, “Let me show you the sunken Buddha statue.”

“That’s actually real?”

“Of course! What do you think?”

I stand there gaping, even rubbing my eyes, as I try to tell myself that this is real, and not fantasy. She gives me look that’s somewhere between a smile and a smirk.

“Let’s go swimming!” She climbs to the top of the head and jumps off.

“Wait for me!” I shout as I cannonball into the pool. I feel a firm tug on my ankle, making me submerge again. “Hey!” I sputter when I’m breathing again.

“‘Hay’ is for the horses,” she giggles.

I laugh as I follow her through the jungle to the tree platform. We spent hours up there eating rice and fruit while talking. We made a deal on meeting at the palace steps the next morning.

Early the next morning, I eat a big breakfast of rolled sticky rice, fruit and omelets. After my second helping, I hop out the door and make my way to the palace gates. The guards stop me and ask who I am and what I am doing here. “I’m here to see the princess,” I tell them. “She’s my friend.”

Well that was easy! I tell myself, and dash over to the stairs. She runs out of the large doors and down the steps to where I sit. “Did you have to wait long? Trouble with any of the guards?” She asks hurriedly.

“No to both questions and what’s your hurry?”

She tugs me along as we whiz through the palace gardens, and stop at a giant pond. The aroma lotuses filled my nose. Closed and opened blooms of Midnight purple, Sunset orange, Loveburst red, Heartbeat white and many other colors exploded in front of me. “It’s … so much more than beautiful!” I exclaim.

“Yeah, isn’t it? I thought you would like it.”

We took a small row boat over to the very center, and sat talking. After we get back to shore, she decided to show me the other side of the oases. I was even more baffled when she showed me the temples all over the grounds. I especially liked Indra’s temple. I was amazed at what she had to offer.

I could have stood there forever in front of the statue. But she interrupts my thoughts and pulls me outside.

Till the afternoon, she showed me every corner of the grounds and we sat at the steps to rest. “What does your room look like?” I ask finally.

“You know what it looks like! You’ve been in it a million times!”

“I mean for real!” The next thing I know is that I’m standing in her room. Carpets with intricate designs on them, mosquito netting in different colors over her bed. Rainbow drapes protecting the windows. Oh! The windows! They’re everywhere. In fact, they are walls of glass. I sigh before sticking my head out of the window to catch the desert breeze. We’re about ten stories up, and the view is incredible. We can see out to the dunes.

I wasn’t sure how long I stood there, but when I pull myself back inside, she starts laughing. I start coming back to reality when she asks when I’ll be leaving India. “What? Oh! Um… I think sometime next week,” I say.

“Oh, okay. So soon?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean you just got here. I expected for you to be staying a little longer. I won’t get the chance to show you everything. There are a lot of things you would like to see.”

“You could show me in dreams, right?”

“We might not have the ability to share dreams after you go. Do you think?”

“Maybe not. But that will give me the excuse to visit more often, right? You can’t keep good friends apart forever. Can you?”

She giggles. “I don’t think so.”

As hard as I might, I couldn’t make the week go by slow enough. Before I knew it, we were landing in New York. Again.

It was 11:00 pm when we reach home; I walk stiffly up the cobble stone path way to the house. I collapse on my bed and sleep. To my surprise I find myself at the palace gates. Yes! As if not to wake the guards, even though they can’t see me, I tip toe through the gates, and up to the princess’s sunlight-filled room. She must have realized I was there, because she turns, squeals, and dashes over to hug me. “It still works!” She cries out in a way that makes me feel kind of weird.

“Can I ask you something? I feel kind of strange not asking you before, when we met.”

“What is it?”

“What’s your name?” I ask dumbly. She starts laughing.

“It’s Aditi. It means ‘Mother of the Gods.’ What’s yours?”

“Ivory,” I say simply.

“That’s pretty.”

“Not as much as yours!”

“Not true!”

I giggle. “Is!” In the far distance, I hear mom calling me to wake. I groan. “Today’s the first day of school,” I explain.

“I’ll see you soon, okay?”

“Remember what happened last time? We couldn’t see each other over school.”

“Then I’ll see you later.”

“Okay. Bye.”

“Bye.”

Then, I’m at a long day at school. Not going to tell you about that, because it’ll take to long. But, I have to go through a nine hour school day that holds nine classes, which are as boring as ever. It goes like this: Algebra, English, Science, and History, the arts of England, PE, Graphic Studies, Egyptian Mythology and Greek Mythology. I enjoy the mythology classes best.

Now, back to the good part of my story. I’m not saying school isn’t fun; it’s just, let’s get back to the Main Topic of the story.

. . . Back through the haze; a year later. . .

. . . Four years later . . .

“Happy birthday!” I yell as I throw rice and butterfly gold and berry silver lotus petals over her head. Ever since I found out that that they were her favorite colored lotuses, I brought them to her in armfuls. “Thank you for the party,” Aditi says happily.

“No problem,” I responded. “You have done more for me in the past years. This is the least I could do. You really didn’t have to give me a party yesterday.”

“I wanted to. Plus you didn’t tell me that your favorite lotus color was blue topaz,” she said.

“Well it is. Happy birthday Aditi.”


…Two years later…

After our seventeenth birthdays, we came up with an idea to travel to the U.S. This took a lot of convincing to our parents about traveling to the U.S. Aditi really wanted to leave the country, and see this “other land”. They finally worked out a plan. The plan was we were to rent a place close to the high school, so we could attend during the year. We were so happy. Also I was to act as a guide, because I knew that school by heart. Mom use to work there.

A week before the school year started, we were on a plane to Aberdeen, South Dakota. It took shorter than I remembered because I spent a while explaining why we had to stop in New York.

Stepping into the cool fall air, I giggle as Aditi begins to shiver.

“What’s so funny? It’s just surprisingly cold here, and windy!”

“Um… just push through the it,” giggle. “Is it that cold?” Before Aditi could respond, two old middle school friends came rushing over. “Ivory!” they squealed. “You decided to come back? For good? We missed you!” The two girls, Heather and Sylvie nicknamed ‘Wiz and Fuzz’ didn’t seem to notice Aditi. “Actually I came with my friend Aditi from India for the year.”

“Oh! Hi! I’m Sylvie. You can call me Fuzz if you want. You can call Heather over here Wiz.”

“What did you say your name was? A-D-I-TI?” asked Heather having a hard time sounding out Aditi’s name.

“It’s Ad-di-ti actually,” Aditi chattered. I had just remembered that she needed a jacket. So I pulled hers out of the suitcase. “Thanks,” she says and puts it on.

“Where are you guys staying?” Heather asks.

“We’re renting a place near the high school.”

“Can we ggggo now?” Aditi asked teeth chattering.

“Sure.” I say. “Do you guys think you could give us a ride?”

“No problem! Right this way.”

“Thanks.”

As we pulled up to the tall apartment building, Aditi said, “I’m getting a bit nervous. I’m not usually used to places like this.”

“You’ll be fine. I’m with you remembering?”

“I know. But I’ve never been here. You’ve been to India remember?”

“Yeah, but that was in a dream.” We climb out of the car. “Thanks guys. See you at school.”

“We can pick you up,” Sylvie says.

“Okay, sure.”

“See ya later.”

“See ya.”

I take Aditi up to our fifth floor room. It has a great view of the school, the river, and the town. She immediately lies down on her bed to take a nap. I don’t blame her for being tired, but I’m still wide awake when she wakes at noon, five hours later. “Aren’t you tired?” She asks.

“Nope. I guess you’re not use to flying short distances.”

She just shrugged.

In the late afternoon, I begin to show Aditi around the school. I didn’t think it was a good idea to show her the grounds during school time. Plus she didn’t get it so it was no use explaining.

Pretty soon, school started, and I wake Aditi at seven. She groans and continues to sleep. “Come on, Aditi! We have to get to school,” I say to the big lump of fabric.

“Knock it off, Ivory! I’m trying to sleep. You are a lot more pleasant in dreams!” She says grumpily.

“Thanks, but we have to get to school. It starts here earlier than in India.”

“What do you mean ‘we’,” She asks.

“You remember? We go to school together now,” I respond, grouchily.

It takes a while for this to sink in, so I go to the restroom to freshen up a bit. When I come back, she has gotten dressed in a T-shirt, skinny jeans, and sneakers. Only she needed to freshen up now. I giggle at her messed up hair.

All too soon, Fuzz and Wiz are at the sidewalk, and we are out the door to meet them.

We enter the school’s main office, to sign in to our classes. The lady at the front desk, a grumpy old woman with tangled red hair, hands us our schedules, and we walk down the hall to find our classes. To my disappointment, Aditi and I share only one class together, so it will be hard for her, not knowing anyone in the class. “Don’t worry,” Heather says to me. “We share the same first period. Graphic Studies. I’ll help her.”

“Yuck, but okay, thanks Wiz.”

“Sure.”

“What do----” Before Aditi could ask me, the bell rang, and we were directed to our rooms for class.

“Welcome students, to my Egyptian Mythology class. Welcome back, to those I had last year.”

I won’t spend much time listening to what Ms. Green said, but we got a similar greeting through all my classes.

At break, I meet up with Fuzz, Wiz, Aditi, and another friend, Arlo who is new also. Fuzz and Wiz want to show Arlo the school, so that leaves me with Aditi. “Did you have fun in your first class?” I ask slowly.

“No offence,” she says “But it wasn’t that good. The teacher was nice and all, but I didn’t get a word she was saying about the layout of Japan.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll help you. My second period was Graphic Studies. I always get a good grade in it anyway, plus I can help you with the homework. It makes sense. It will to you to.”

“Okay. I had Greek Mythology for my second class.”

We go ahead and take a look at each other’s schedules. Her’s is actually interesting. “You’re lucky,” I say “I wish I had your classes.” When break was over, we hurry over to our next class: History. We decided that we would meet up at the far side of the school afterwards.

. . . One week before school ends for summer break . . .

“Okay, Aditi, one week till school ends and we will take a plane back to New York, then on to Mumbai.” I mention as we eat breakfast.

“Ah. But it’s like we just arrived you know. What about Heather and Sylvie? What will they do?”

“What do you mean? They’ll be fine. They were just fine before we showed up.”

“I know, but I don’t want to go without saying goodbye.”

“We won’t. I’ll make sure to we can say bye later. Okay?”

“Okay, Ivory.”

“Okay, you ready to go?”

. . . Last day of school . . .

After school is out, Fuzz and Wiz invite us to a small café in town for a farewell drink. I’m about to decline, but then I think how nice it will be to have a nice cool drink with friends. “Okay,” I tell them “but not long. We have to be at the port by two.”

We sit at a table overlooking the lake, and sip our cold drinks. “It’s almost one thirty,” I say “We have to get going Aditi. We have a plane to catch.”

“Sure. It was nice meeting you guys. See you soon I hope.”

As we land in Mumbai hours later, we gather up our bags and stepped out into the warm air. I start laughing when I see Aditi’s grumpy face. “What is it now? Still too cold?” I laugh.

“No, it’s to warm.”

“Well, you could take your jacket off.” I say laughing and start making my way to the palace grounds. The guards opened the gates even before we were in sight. Thanking them for waiting, we enter the palace so Aditi can drop off her gear, and we walk over to my little villa that was just built by the lake. A nice scent and view.

It turns out that while we were gone, our parents had been planning to send us on another trip for our birthdays. This time, it was to Paris. If any of you, for some reason don’t know where Paris is, it is the capital of France.

After the school year ended, we were off to Paris. I was more excited than Aditi. I was so happy I squealed as soon as I got of the plane. The first thing we did was drop by the hotel, then we wandered around, looking into shops, and found our way to the Eiffel Tower. It really wasn’t that hard to find, because it was practically across the street from our room.

Usually we were up quite late, but not today. We didn’t want to miss a thing. We only had till break was over, so we needed an early start. The next two weeks would be for was shopping, and the two weeks after that be for exploring the city.

“It looks beautiful,” I sigh, as Aditi tries on her third dress.

“Which one? The rose red, sun gold, or sea green?”

“Hmm, I think the sea green one.” It was a pretty silk ankle-high spaghetti strap gown. Dark sea green high-heeled slippers came with it, along with a string of cream colored pearls, and a forest green shawl. “You think I should buy it?” she asks.

“Of course! Are you crazy? It perfect for you.” With her carrying her shopping bag, we strolled to the neighboring store so I could pick out my new outfit. One of our French friends had invited us to a party that evening. At the shop, I was picking through the hangers, when Aditi showed me a strapless red dress and a red see-through wrap. I wrinkled my nose, and shook my head.

Half an hour later, I finally settled on a deep blue wool dress that had wrap around sleeves with black spaghetti straps. It was very pretty. It came with a rib-high light blue jacket, and black boots that tied just below my kneecaps. At the next store, Aditi and I tried to decide what kind of makeup, and accessories we needed.

Pretty soon, I chose light pink blush powder, dark blue eye liner, and brick red lip gloss. “Why don’t you just get lipstick?” Aditi asked.

“It makes me feel old,” I tell her. “What did you get?” She has picked a rich green eye liner, powder pink blush, and watery colored green gloss.

Back at our hotel room, we got ready. As I was lacing up my boots, I heard Aditi say, “Do I look okay?”

“Just a--” I was about to finish tying my shoes when I look up. I was speechless. Aditi had turned herself into an unearthly angel. I whistled. “You look… Amazing!”

“Not really.”

“Yes! In my opinion, you’re a dude magnet.”

She blushes. “You need to put on your make-up now.” I nod, and went to the bathroom. It took a while to apply on the make-up, but I finally finished. As I zipped up my jacket, she grabbed her shawl and pulled me out the door. The party was taking place in a café planted near the base of the tower. As we entered, our friend Flori came over. “Hi guys! Glad you could make it!”

I was so glad I was there when Flori introduced Aditi to one of her boy

Friends. Even on the sidelines, I could tell how many dances they’ve had. Flori skipped over to me. “Why aren’t you dancing?”

“Not in the mood, I guess.” She tries to pull me into the dance, and I playfully push her away. “Oh come on!” she giggled.

“No thanks.” she finally left.

The next morning, I shifted and groaned, and sat up. “Is today another shopping day?” Aditi said from the table.

“Yup. It’s a major shopping day.”

We selected a shop at about noon, and we walked in. “What are you going to get?” I asked.

“I’m not sure. What do you think?”

“Let us try something new. How about I pick out what I think would look good on you, and you do the same for me.”

“Okay, that’s a good idea.”

I was looking through the stands of different colored eyeliner, when I came across a shiny silver see-through metallic liner. Bingo. I thought. Selecting it from the stand, I looked around to see Aditi picking through the stand of glosses and lip sticks. I grinned as I strolled over to the rack of clothes. Picking a strapless knee-high grey dress off the rack, I walked over to the rack of shoes. I carefully chose a pair of glittery silver flats, and pale silver gloss.

Back outside on a bench, we took a look at our selections. She loved what I got for her and I took a peek at her chooses. She had picked a pale red gloss that glittered, along with pale red liner and cream shadow. The makeup didn’t stop there. She had picked a laundry list of liner, shadow, and glosses for us to share. I pulled out a knee length red strapless dress that started to melt into dark red silk lace at the waist, which hung in a pulled up style. Red flats came with it.

We stopped at an outdoor restaurant for lunch. Aditi ordered Steak frites, which looked like steak and French fries. I ordered Raclette, which turned out to be melted cheese with potatoes, ham, and dried beef.

Back in shopping mode, we began to pick out new causal everyday outfits. I could easily tell that Aditi was jealous of the choices I made. I had picked out a variety of colored skirts, short and long sleeved shirts in different styles. Also I had picked out an assortment of jackets, jeans, and a couple pairs of shoes.

Aditi had chosen different colored shawls, jackets, dresses, shoes, shirts and jeans. She huffed with annoyance when I exited the store. “It looks like you’ve been bitten by the green eyed monster by the name of ‘Jealousy’.” I giggled.

That afternoon, we poked through an accessories store, and find a couple pairs of earrings and necklaces. Aditi selected a pretty necklace made of seashells and smooth sea glass that came with matching earrings. I chose a matching pair of diamond earrings and necklace entwined with light pink pearls.

If you readers are thinking that we went shopping because we were snobs, you’re wrong. We did because later we planned on donating all our old clothes to the charity fund. Plus we still need clothing for ourselves.

The months dragged by, and we saw every inch of the city. We climbed the Eiffel Tower, walked inside the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral and the Pantheon. We took a tour of museums and theaters. When it was finally time to go home, we boarded the plane, and before we knew it, we were home, unpacking, when my mom came in. “Stop unpacking, and start packing!” She says.

“Why? I thought we had to---”

“We came up with the greatest idea!”

“What is that?” I ask.

“Remember how you guys said you want to travel a lot? Well, we’ve decided to send you two to a great mess of places! You’re going to take a two year tour of Europe. So stop unpacking and start packing!”

“Where are we going first?”

“You guys are headed for Britain. We’ll call, and tell where you’re going next.”

Aditi and I were so glad. We were back on a plane in two weeks.

~*~

Waking up in a strange bed after a long flight was as you can imagine was uncomfortable. Getting dressed in a dark blue T-shirt, dark green jeans, and dark sneakers, I got a breakfast ready. I started eating when Aditi woke. She joined me as I ate a meal of eggs, bacon, sausages, and pancakes.

“So, shopping season starts again.” She said.

“Yep.”

This time, we toured the country first, and then went shopping. We visited a couple of old grammar school friends, went out to lunch, and explored stores. We spent days at the beach, and attended parties. I didn’t find many things I liked at the stores, but Aditi selected a laundry list of outfits and shoes. I spent most of my time at school supplies stores. After all, I was planning on going to college as soon as we got back from our European tour. I was hoping our parents weren’t planning another trip or something like going to Africa or someplace.

. . . Couple months later in Germany. . .

. . . Then Sweden. . .

I particularly liked Sweden. It was fresh, different, and opens up on the shores. I loved the outfits there. Frilly skirts, long sleeves, and tights. They came in different colors and patterns. Plus the food there was incredible. I loved the Räkor or Swedish shrimp. There also were Kanelbullar or cinnamon buns, and Raggmunk, a fried potato cake mounded with crispy fried bacon and a scattering of lingonberries.

But it was the scenery that struck me. The beautiful mountains and rivers and the sea.

After we left Sweden, we were headed to Italy, I decided that I need to get back to India so I could work out this going to college thing. It had always been my dream. So I told Aditi my plan and of course she didn’t want me to go. She wanted to finish the trip, but not alone. She didn’t want to go back to India yet.

“Couldn’t you just go on your own?” I ask.

“Uhh! You know it won’t be any fun!” She wined.

She finally agreed to give it a try, and if she really couldn’t stand being alone, she was to call, and say so. It felt a little weird taking a plane back to Mumbai on my own. But it felt good to be back, and pursuing my lifelong dream.

I decided on going to a little community collage in my home state of South Dakota. Heather and Sylvie would be meeting me there at the airport in Aberdeen. Had I mentioned that they go everywhere together?

Waking up as the plane was landing; I got my gear together, and joined Heather on the cement. “Where’s Sylvie?” I ask.

“She’s waiting in the car. Come on.”

Since we were all going to the same school once again, I naturally took them up on the offer of staying with them at their place. We took a tour of the campus, and decided it was just fine and kind of cozy. The name of the college was printed in big block letters on the side of the main building in a dark gold:

Presentation College of Aberdeen South Dakota

“Isn’t it lovely?” asked Heather.

“It sure is. I can’t wait!”

A couple of weeks later, school started off. Selecting Foreign Languages as my major and Art History for my minor, I began my year with flying colors. Silky blue robes were for the graduating senior classes. Studying was hard enough if I didn’t have so many other things to tend to. At first Heather kept losing her papers, then I needed to go shopping for more badly needed school supplies and food, and then when I thought I was able to study again the phone rang. “Hello?” I asked wryly.

“Hi!” answered a way to cheery voice.

“Oh. It’s you Aditi. What is it?”

“I just wanted to say that I’m in Poland, and it’s amazing here. Maybe you could take a vacation, and come over?”

“No, I can’t. I’m not able to. Too much work here to do.”

“Ahhhh. Come on Ivory! Please??” she asked pleadingly.

“No Aditi. I can’t, I tell you. Can’t you take a hint?”

“Yeah, I can. Bye.”

Half way through the second semester, I didn’t think I could go on with school. It was not only hard, and frustrating, it was busy. But I had slowly aced the first semester. Straight B’s was all I could manage. There were at least fifty pages of different languages a week, and thirty pages of the different types of arts a week. I wasn’t able to have a moment’s peace to myself. Studying, helping out in town, searching for a job. I might even have to look in another country, to find the job to meet my liking.

~*~

“Ivory! You said only for college! Not for a career!”

“I need to do-”

“That’s what you said about college!”

That was that. I hung up on her. She attempted to call back until I just unplugged my phone, and turned off my cell. I was still thinking about what she had said as I was eating dinner, when I was hit with an idea. Abandoning my fork in shrimp and egg noodle stir fry, I called Heather and told her to get over here as soon as possible.

Since Heather was a fast studier, it didn’t take her that long to understand. She actually knew of some friends in Europe that needed someone like me. “Thanks Wiz. If I could get their numbers, I could get there as soon as possible.”

“You’re real worked up about this, aren’t you?”

“Oh yes. I can’t wait. I absolutely need a job. I have to grow up eventually right?”

“Actually you have a point. But aren’t you in a bit of a hurry?”

“I gotta start soon, if I want to go independent.”

“Aren’t you already independent?”

“Whatever.”

A couple weeks later, I had already found a job, working as a translator for one of Heather’s friends in Turkey. Bingo. Turkey was the next destination for Aditi. Good thing I got a look at the country list before we left. The next week I was on a plane to Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. Dr. Ahmet Demir met me at the airport. He was younger than I thought. He was at least in his early twenties.

Lucky for me I had a decent salary; thousand fifty a year. Apparently, he needed a lot of translating to do, from Turkish to Portuguese, and he didn’t speak more than a couple languages. Luckily I knew a bunch of South American languages, so I started my new job immediately.

Contacting Heather who was in Spain, I asked her if Aditi had reached Turkey yet.

“Oh yeah. She landed an hour ago. She’s headed for the hotel now. Do you want me to send you the address now?”

“Yes, please. Thanks Heath.” Half an hour later I was waiting in Aditi’s hotel room with the key dangling in my fingers. Her face registers shock for a moment before she scowls and snatches the key from my hand. “What’s wrong? Just because I-”

“Stop! Just nothing, ok? I guess you don’t know how many times I tried to get a hold of you, huhh?”

“Gosh. I wonder how many times. Hmmmmm. I wonder.” I say sarcastically.

“Now look who’s talking! You know you don’t need to mock me further Ivory!” She spat.

“I don’t think I’m mocking you. You really can’t take a hint can you? No, don’t answer that. ’Cause I think of all those things you pestered me with, I don’t think we can go on. Bye, and call me when you come to your senses.” I said slamming the door behind me.

She didn’t call me that entire week, so I guessed she hadn’t come to her senses. But I did receive a phone call from Heather, saying that Aditi called earlier saying she had gotten home, and she had added a few rude remarks from her too. I decided to have lunch to cool down.

When I was in line to order at a local foods place, I caught sight of an old friend I’d known since Pre-K. “Hey Aidric! What’s up?” I said when I got my order and strolled over to where he was sitting.

Aidric had always been a stocky person since the fifth grade. He had dark green eyes and dark hair, and he was the type of person who always wore bagish like jeans with a bagish like t-shirt.

“Ivory! Long time no see!” We embraced, and sat. Over the next few hours we strolled through town, and caught up on news from past years.

“So, you met her at her hotel room, then you had this huge fight, and now you’re not talking to each other?”

“Yep, that pretty much sums it up.” To me, it was surprising how easy it was to talk to him. “It just seems like we can’t get along anymore. Whenever we try to talk, something happens, and it doesn’t work out. Have any advice?”

“Hmm. Maybe we could get together tomorrow afternoon. Call her up and ask her to lunch. Maybe we can work it out.

“Okay, thanks Aidric. See ya.”

“See ya Ivory!”

After we parted, I headed to my apartment thinking hard about what he had said. Maybe he was right. Maybe it was time to give it a try. I kind of missed her friendship. Setting down my bag, I hesitated, wondering if I should go through with the plan. Chiding myself for being weak, I picked up the phone, and punch in the number. As she answered the phone, I slapped a smile on my face, and asked if she would like to have lunch with me tomorrow.

“Ha! That’s what you think!” She snapped.

“Well. Here I am trying to repair a friendship, and here you are biting my head off. Why don’t you call me back when you’re more chilled?” Then I slammed down the phone. I finally decided that we needed to settle this face to face.

I parked in front of her building, and rode the elevator up to the fourth floor. I knocked on her door, and when there was no answer, I opened it myself and stepped in. What I found inside stopped my breathing. Everything was turned over, broken, or just trashed. I heard a yell from the kitchen. I found Aditi on the floor next to a broken vase. Pieces of pottery had cut into her palms and blood dripped in fat drops to the tile. I dropped to the floor next to her. “What did you do?” I asked.

“I-I don’t…” She said dully staring at her hands. Helping her to the bathroom, I carefully washed her hands, wrapping them tightly with bandages. “Do you need to go to the doctor?” I asked.

She shook her head. I stayed with her all night just in case. Even today she still has small scars in her hands from the incident. Whenever I look at them it reminds me of that day and what we agreed on.

~*~

“So I guess everything worked out just fine. I hope you guys are back to safe terms?”

“Yes, I suppose.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Nothing Aditi. I’m just saying.”

“We’ll see you later Aidric. Thanks so much for your help.”

“So. What’s going on between you two?”

“Nothing’s going on Aditi. We’ve been friends for as long as I can remember that’s all.”

“You sure? It seems to be more than that if you ask me.”

“Well, I’m not asking you.”

“Well! In my opinion it seems that he likes you. A lot. You know. He cares.”

“If he did, Aditi, he would say something, right?”

She shrugged. “Want to go shopping or something? You might want to get a few things.”

“Like what? What are you talking about?”

“Well, it’s obvious that he really likes you, and might try to ask you out.”

“What? That’s crazy.”

“Come on. I can help.”

She dragged me into town, (and when I say dragged, I literally mean she dragged me) to the closest store.

“What kind of dress do you want?”

“I-I- I mean what?” I stuttered. She laughed, and told me to trust her. “I do trust you, but-”

“Good. Go back to the apartment. I’ll choose for you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, now shoo!”

I wait for over an hour. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust her, I did, but I wasn’t sure what she would come up with, or what she was talking about.

Finally Aditi returned with a garment bag, and told me to try it on in the bathroom.

I shut the door, and pulled the dress out to inspect it. The dress was beautiful. It was a knee-length mermaid green dress that pulled to one side, and it had a sweetheart neckline. It made me look curvier. Digging through the bag, I pulled out deep green heeled sandals that had straps that wrapped up to my knees. Aditi knocked I told her she could enter, and she appraised me.

Then she said something that surprised me. “Aidric called, and said he’d pick you up in two hours. Don’t worry. I took the liberty to agree for you. You should get your makeup on. It’s in the bag.”

Exasperated, I carefully applied pale green liner and shadow, and then picked up the apple green gloss. Leaving my hair in a loose ponytail, I grabbed my long strapped black purse and sat. Aditi sat with a cup of coca, nodding happily at her choice. When Aidric knocked on the door, Aditi whispered, “Good luck.” Then I opened the door and stepped into the hall.

~*~

As I hopped off Aidric’s dark gray Ducati motorcycle, He guided me into the restaurant and to a table. He pulled out a chair for me, and then sat. He peered at me over his menu and remarked, “You look amazing. Is it new? I mean it looks good on you.”

“Oh. Thank you. You’re not half bad yourself.” Aidric ordered Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos for an appetizer, asked what I had my eye on. “Umm. Huhh maybe that shrimp soup. What about you?”

“The tomato soup with rice.”

“Sounds good.” When the waitress came to take our orders, he let me order first. As we waited for the food, I quietly sipped my water. Um. This is awkward. I’m such an idiot! I guess it’s up to me to get the ball rolling. “Umm, so, what- how did you get the motorcycle?”

“Oh it was a present from my brother.”

“Cool. Is there anything you haven’t shared? Any stories?”

“I don’t think so,” He said slowly. When the food arrived, I ate quickly, and Aidric drove me home. We said goodnight, and I entered the apartment.

~*~

Someone was shaking my shoulder. “Ivory! Ivory!” I groaned and cracked open my eyes. “What? Can’t you see I’m sleeping?”

“How did your date go?”

“It was probably the most awkward date in the history of dates! Now shoo. Let me sleep.”

She groaned, and said, “What’s with you?”

“I just want to sleep, okay?” I told her. “Why don’t you get breakfast ready? Please?”

“Fine.”

Sitting down to a breakfast of pancakes and bacon, I told Aditi about my date. She frowned as I concluded. “Not exactly the date I pictured.”

“I told you! Yet you weren’t paying attention.”

“I never said I wasn’t paying attention. I was expecting more then that.”

“Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you.”

“Maybe I can help you two along.”

“No way Aditi. You’ve done enough. If you had a first date, you wouldn’t want me to help you two along. Then you would know how awkward it is.”

“Ohh!”

Over the next few weeks, I felt stressed out over work, Aditi and her date buggingness. I decided I needed to take vacation on my own. Not knowing where to go, I walked through town; I browsed the shops, and made a call to Heather. I asked if she could schedule a flight for me to India. She said the ticket would be there tomorrow afternoon. I thanked her, and hung up. I was picking through a rack of summer dresses, when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“Aidric, what are you doing here?”

“I was just looking for you. Aditi said you were in town. I was wondering if you want to go for a drink or something.”

“I should have known Aditi was up to something.” I mumbled.

“What?”

“Oh, nothing. Sure, I’d like a drink.”

We strolled through the city sipping iced tea, and talked. “So, you’ve planned to go back to India.” He sounded disappointed.

“I need to get out of here before something bad happens. I just need to work things out.” And that was that. I packed my things, said good bye, and cut the plane ticket from its envelope.

It was 4:35pm when I heard the last call for Mumbai. As I boarded the plane, I stowed my suitcase, and sat staring out the window.

I stepped into the warm evening air in Mumbai. I picked up my suitcase, and made my way to the palace grounds, and over to the cozy villa by the lotus pond. After I tucked my stuff away, I changed into my swimsuit. It was an aqua wrap around style, and it hung to my knees from my waist in the back. The back was bare from mid-back to the shoulders, and the strap went around the neck. Then it traveled down to my waist again in an hourglass style.

I know this sounds kind of over the top for a swimsuit, but it felt right, you know?

I walked through the jungle to the Buddha swimming hole, and sat there on the head watching the sunset. Then I dove in, and floated on my back staring at the stars.

It was 11:00 pm when I finally settled into my bed.

The next morning I dressed in my swimsuit again and hiked back to the jungle pool and dove in. Drifting lazily on my back, I heard cough at the pool’s edge. It was Aditi. When on earth did she get here? And when will she stop following me?

“Hi Aditi. What are you doing here?”

“I came looking for you, and I figured this was where you’d be. Turns out I was right.”

“I had already told you I’d be in India. Why did you follow me?”

“I needed to know. I needed to know why you and Aidric aren’t together.”

“I can’t accept it.” I said and swam under. I heard the splash as Aditi entered the water. Her swimsuit was a peach color with a halter top and bottom with a flowing see-through skirt and matching see-through cover up that ended at the bottom of her ribs. She swam to me, and said, “What do you mean, Ivory?”

“I don’t believe it will be successful if I’m not ready too.”

“Maybe you two need to talk it out. Maybe you need to move forward this time.”

“Perhaps. But not just yet. I need to cool off for the moment.”

“I’m with you on that one.”

We dove under and I lingered over the bottom. Through the clear water, something caught my eye. As the sun rays cut through the water, I could just make out a tunnel. I swam through the water to it. Looking through was pointless. I surfaced, and called to Aditi. We pulled ourselves out of the water.

“I think I found an underwater tunnel,” I said “I don’t know where it goes.”

“Oh cool. Maybe we should check it out. Come on, let’s get the wet suits. You don’t know what might happen.”

I agreed, and soon we returned in black wet suits and entered the water. We swam to the tunnel, and surfaced. “Should we go in?”

“Yes.” I nodded, and sucked in a deep breath. If we didn’t find and opening soon, we come back here for air tanks. I entered first, and kicked hard. Aditi turned on the water light, and we swam through the opening. After a couple seconds, I could make out light up ahead.

“What is this place?”

“I don’t know. Look! There’s a rock over there to sit on.”

“Cool. This place is awesome.”

We decided to continue, and soon we came to a fork. Aditi motion to the right. We soon came to another opening. As we rested, I said, “This is amazing.”

“Yeah isn’t it? I wonder how long this has been here.”

“I don’t know. Do you think we should go back? It’s got to be early afternoon.”

“Let’s go on a little longer.”

Not long afterward, ten minutes or so, the tunnel opened into a cave and to the ocean.

“Oh! This is truly amazing. I could sit and watch the waves forever!”

“I believe you would Ivory.”

“Let’s go back,” I say.

As we swam back through the tunnels, I wondered briefly what Aidric was doing. Then I told myself to get over it.

I lay awake that night unable to sleep. I couldn’t stop think about how I left things with Aidric.

The next morning I packed my suitcase, grabbed a quick breakfast, and quietly left the house. I hadn’t bothered to wake Aditi, knowing she’d understand.

I stepped into the late afternoon light at the airport in Ankara, Turkey. I took a cab to my apartment, and got settled in. Called Aidric up, and told him I was back. I asked if he’d liked to go for a bite to eat. He told me the name of the restaurant, and told me he’d pick me up in two hours. I told him I would get a cab and meet him there. As I hung up, I pondered on what to wear. I dug through my closet, and fished out matching lavender top and jeans. The top wrapped around my shoulders, and had a dark purple tank top under it. Weaving my hair up in a braid, I pulled on tall black heeled boots, and applied purple liner and shadow. I snagged my bag, and signaled a cab.

As I stepped on to the sidewalk, I saw the Ducati in the parking lot, and hurried into the restaurant.

I sat across from Aidric, smiled, and picked up the menu.

After dinner Aidric took me dancing at an open-air dance floor. A slow song came on, and Aidric moved us to the melody of Caledonia. Lyrics spun in my head, and softly hummed along to the song. We danced for hours. I watched the moon rise as we danced. The stars blinked on and off, shining in the dark.

Aidric dropped me off that night, and asked if we could get a hot drink together the next morning. I agreed, and said I’d see him at the coffeehouse the next day.

Early the next morning, I stirred, and smelled the scent of waffles and blueberry syrup. Aditi. She just seems to follow me wherever I go. Oh well. I might as well eat breakfast.

“Morning Aditi,” I yawned sleepily” When did you get in?”

“Hi Ivory. The plane landed three hours ago.”

“Well, it’s nice to see you.”

“Would you like to grab a drink later?”

“Oh, I can’t. I was already going with Aidric. Maybe some other day. Ok?”

“Sure,” She said with a small smile on her face.

“Fine. I’m getting dressed.”

I dug into my dresser and came up with the following: a deep rhubarb scarf and long-sleeve shirt, cream jacket with warm fuzzy boots, with jeans. I tucked my wallet into my pocket, and pulled my large hood over my head.

“I’ll see you later.”

“Bye.”

I breathed a sigh of relief as I stepped out into the chilly morning air.

I decided to walk to the coffeehouse. As I arrived, I could make out Aidric; who was holding two tall cups. Handing one to me, he asked,” Have you seen that one new store ’across town yet?”

“How could I possibly see the store if it’s way across town?”

He laughed and said, “I might as well show you.”

We started walking downtown, sipping our drinks as we walked.

“Oh whoa!” I said as we can to a stop in front of a new jewelry store.

“Would you like to take a look inside?”

“Do I? Of course! Let’s go on in!”

I’m not sure how long we were in there, but it was a while. We looked at rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, toe rings, jeweled headbands, etc.

It was quite late when Aidric dropped me off after taking me to dinner.

“Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in! Hi Ivory, how was your date?”

“If you must know, Ms. Nosey, it was just fine. We’ll see when you get a boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend huh? Since when did you two get together?”

“Won’t you be quiet?”

She shrugged, and got into her bed.

“Good night, Ms. Lovebird,” she laughed.

“Very funny. Good night.”

. . . About six months later in Athens, Greece. . .

“Wake up Ivory! It’s time to get down to business!”

“Don’t you mean shopping, Aditi?”

“Naturally,” she said, “now up, up, up, up!”

I’m guessing you readers think we go shopping all the time. It’s not like that. Remember this is over long periods of time. Plus, I exaggerate how much we get. (FYI)

I was thumbing through racks of evening dresses, when Aditi strolled over with a garment bag over her arm.

“Ooh la la! What’s the special occasion?”

“Aidric’s taking me to a play downtown tonight, to a nice restaurant, then dancing at 11:00.”

“I wonder why I have a feeling something big is going to happen.”

“You don’t think-“

“Yes, I do think that is what it is.”

I raised an eyebrow, and began picking through the rack. I finally gave up, and asked Aditi to pick for me. There were too many good choices.

When she finally came out of the store like fifteen minutes later, I asked,” Which one?”

“Boy, it was hard, but here,” she handed me the bag.

I pulled out a bluish- silver floor-length dress. The dress’ strap went around the neck, and the hem was cut to a point at the bottom. The dress was tightened at the waist, and a blue flower was sewn at the band. Sparkly sequins covered the skirt, and shimmered when it caught the light. Silver heels with a strap around the ankles came with it.

“Ohh! It’s beautiful Aditi!”

“Thank you.”

“Have you ever considered working in a dress store or something?”

“Maybe someday.”

“Will you help me get ready? Aidric’s picking me up at eight.”

“Sure, of course I’ll help.”

She helped me into the dress, and zipped it up. She dusted gold shadow over my lids and outlined my eyes with deep blue liner. She applied blueberry gloss to my lips, and brushed out my hair, and used the hair curler to twist my waist-length hair into thick curls. She pulled back curls on each side of my head together and held them with a morning glory clip.

“There! All done! I think you’re ready.”

“Well, I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“I’m feeling way too nervous.”

“That’s completely normal.”

“Fine.”

At eight o’clock, I grabbed my purse and Aidric helped me onto his motorcycle.

The wind brushed against my face as we speed downtown.

It wasn’t ten minutes later when Aidric pulled to a stop outside the large intricately carved theater.

Aidric took me to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. It was truly amazing.

For dinner we went to a restaurant called Sholarhio Tavern which had a nice view of the Acropolis. We enjoyed a delicious meal of scallop stew with bite-sized pieces of fudge topped with marshmallow bits and peppermint for dessert.

After dinner we skipped the dancing, and instead, road for a couple hours out of the city to a tip of Greece. We watched the sunset for an hour before I noticed Aidric was nervously shifting his feet. “Penny for your thoughts?” I asked.

“Oh, nothing much,” he replied.

“It’s gotta be something.”

“Well, actually it’s something very special and important to me.” He said.

My thoughts raced, and bells went off in my head. I remembered what Aditi said to me earlier that afternoon. “Yes, I do think that is what it is.”

I took a deep breath, and asked,” What is it?”

“Please understand that I’ve given this a lot of thought, and have been waiting a long time for the right moment.” He hesitated, then dropped to one knee, “Ivory, will you be mine?”

I could have fallen over I was standing so stiffly. Instead, I dropped to my knees, hugged him close and whispered, “Yes.”

Sighing, he hugged me back, and held out a ring box, and I opened it to find the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen. A diamond shaped sapphire was set in a diamond four-pointed star. Four prongs held it to a silver band that had been bent into a twisted style at the top. He slipped it onto my left fourth finger, and he stood, helping me up. We embraced again, and helping me on the motorcycle, we speed back to town, and Aidric dropped me off. He said he had some work to do back in Turkey for about a week, and asked if I’d like to come with him. I told him that I’d stay here for a while, and would meet him there soon. I had a couple things to sort out. He said good night and said he’d wait for my arrival.

I climb into bed that night exhausted. The next morning, I woke to a hand shaking my shoulder. It was Aditi of course.

In answer to her question, I held out my hand, and showed her the ring. She went ballistic. “You’ll let me pick your wedding dress right?” she asked excitedly.

“You can help, but first I have to tell my mom, remember?”

“Oh yeah, but hurry, we should get an early start.”

“He purposed only yesterday.”

“So? That gives us more time to make a choice!”

So I dialed my mom’s cell, knowing she was at work, and told her the good news. She wept at the news, and congratulated me, wishing me luck; she hung up, promising she’d be there for me.

Meanwhile at the wedding dress shop…

“So Ivory, what styles do you have in mind?”

“I’m not sure, let’s look.”

I modeled several dresses, and Aditi gave me her opinion. I finally found one the stuck. It was pearly white with a lace strap over the right shoulder. It hugged my curves to the hips, and then flowed in folds to the floor. The dress was decorated with pearl beads in a spiral around it, in the forms of blossoms. Silky lace hemmed the bottom.

“This is the one, Aditi.”

“I agree it’s perfect. I’m your bridesmaid right?”

“I don’t know yet. Don’t forget about Sylvie or Heather”

“Right. You want me to make some invitations?”

“Let’s wait. I have to check with Aidric. Why don’t we find some accessories?”

“That’s very important. Let’s go!”

We browsed the neighboring department for a long time, and came up with lots of options.

For the necklace we decided on a long string of pearls, with every other one a lotus shaped diamond. Matching earrings came with them. A white headband with a full bloomed cherry blossom clip. A snowy white net was hung to it, which would cover my face to my nose.

“Do you know yet how you’re going to do your hair?” Aditi asked.

“Oh, not yet. Maybe just a ponytail. Are we missing anything?”

“Ugh, the make up.”

“Ugh, we have like a million different colors.”

“Fine.”

“Ok, let’s go.”

I called Aidric later to ask about the invitations, and he said we’d go over everything when we met up in three days. Agreeing, I hung up, and sat on my bed, thinking.

I must have fallen asleep at thought, because when I woke, it was evening, and Aditi was sitting across from me, with an amused look on her face. I groaned.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

She shrugged, and got up to start dinner.

“Aditi, I got it tonight,” I said getting up.” Let me.”

“Okay, I’ll be right back; I have a small errand to run.”

We enjoyed a meal of spaghetti and meatballs that night. It was pretty good, but I couldn’t wait till the morning when I’d be on the plane to Ankara, Turkey.

Soon I was packing to go, but there was something that puzzled me. Aditi wasn’t coming. She wouldn’t say anything about it, so I just assumed she didn’t want to. I guessed she would come later.

As I boarded the plane, I eagerly looked forward to landing and seeing Aidric. When I slept at last, I dreamed of Aditi. I was standing in a dark gray mist. I looked around nervously trying to make sense of my surroundings.

Someone appeared out of the fog. Aditi? As I ran toward her, it seemed she drew further away. “Aditi!” I heard my voice, but I hadn’t said anything.

I woke with a jolt, and heard over the intercom that we’d be landing in five minutes. I sighed.

I stepped onto the tarmac at the airport in Ankara, a saw Aidric waiting in his car for me. As soon as he spotted me, he leaped out of the car and helped load my suitcase into the trunk. He drove the house he was renting, and said he had to finish a few errands to run before we hit the road. We’d made plans to go on a little road trip to India. Sri Lanka to be exact. It was a large island that had broken off of India. This was where we’d bought a beautiful villa southeast of Dondra.

It took us a good week and a half to get there, but it was worth it. The drive was beautiful, and I enjoyed watching the landscape go by.

As we arrived, I hopped out of the car, and ran into the house. “Oh Aidric! It’s more beautiful than I thought!”

“Yes it is,” he responded, and handed me my suitcase. ”What do you have in here anyway?”

“What?” I asked, startled. “Oh, just a few items I picked up.” Then I hurried into the house before he could ask further questions.

I had finished placing my clothes in the drawers and my dress in the closet when Aidric came in and sat on the bed. I was thoroughly aware of him watching me as I arranged my jewelry box on the center of my dresser, and finished putting things away. I turned, and found him scrutinizing me. I smiled and sat down beside him on the bed. “Are you okay?” I ask, “You seem quite tense.

“Oh, yeah, just stress. It’s just I’ve been worried about you. Every time you’re out of my sight, it just…”

I smile. “It’s okay. You don’t have to worry about me. I can take care of myself, and with Aditi following me everywhere, I‘ll be even more fine.”

He laughed softly. Just then there was a knock on the door. “You see?” I said letting Aditi in, “She follows me everywhere.”

Aidric shrugged, and said he was going to go to town to do some shopping for dinner.

After he’d gone, I fixed some coca, and we sat down on the couch facing the view of the pool. “So, how was your flight in?” Aditi asked.

“It was great. It sure was a close call though, when Aidric asked what was in my suitcase.”

She laughed. “How about a swim?” We changed into our suits, and dove into the pool. As I sunk to the bottom, I watched as the sun set over the trees.

~*~

That night, I slept deeply, and no dreams came to me.

I woke as the sun was rising. To my surprise I realized that this was the first morning in a long time that Aditi hadn’t woken me. I smiled, and burrowed back into the blankets. When I finally dragged myself out of bed, it was exactly noon. I dressed in the first thing I found, not really caring. Heading downstairs, I discovered a note from Aditi taped to the cocoa mix. I laughed hard when I read it. ‘Ivory, I’m taking Aidric clothes shopping in town and staying late for dinner. Hope you don’t mind, but he really needs a better wardrobe. Especially if he’s gonna marry my best friend.’ -Aditi

Still chuckling, I made some toast, and cocoa, and went to sit in the garden by the pool.

It was about 10:00 when they pulled up. I was sitting at the outdoor living room reading a book by the light of the blazing fire. They walked over grinning, and sat near me. “You two look happy about something. Care to share?”

“Well, we have good news and bad news.” Aditi said “The bad news is I couldn’t find many outfits your fiancée liked.”

I laughed. “You could’ve asked me. I do know how to make him look good.”

Aidric frowned and said, “Anyway, the good news is we’ve hit on the perfect location, time, and date of our wedding!”

“Oh good! So, what if I don’t like it?”

“Oh, you will Ivory. Trust me, you will.”

~*~

“You’re right, I do like the location.” I said looking at the plans the next morning. “So, when is it? It’s gotta be good.”

“Would you like to do the honors?” Aidric said. “You did make the decision.”

“Ok.” Aditi agreed. “It’s on… November 17th!”

“Why November 17th?” I asked puzzled.

“It’s the date for the Indian holiday Diwali this year. It’s known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ for all the fireworks, small clay lamps, and candles that are lit during the celebrations. The lights are said to represent the victory of good over evil, and brightness over the dark. The candlelight makes the holiday warm, and full of happiness.”

“Whoa. That’s amazing, good job guys. But that means there’s a rush. November 17th is only five weeks away, you know.” I said looking at the calendar.

“Of course. I’ve already appointed myself your wedding organizer and manager. You’re gonna have to get all the help you can get.”

“Okay, wedding manager, what are our tasks?” I asked smiling.

“Ivory, you’re in charge of invitations, color, and setting. Aidric, you’re responsible for the food, drinks, appetizers, and music. I’m in charge of getting things going on time, and well, managing. Everyone satisfied with their roles?”

“Ma’am yes ma’am!” I say.

“Okay, good. Let’s get to work people! Move, move, move!”

~*~

Over the next three weeks, Aditi says is for getting everything here. The next week was for setting up the main idea, and the last week was for the wrapping up and final prepping for the wedding.

Yep, my wedding was in my own backyard.

The night before the wedding I was so dang nervous. All of the guests would be over that night, and we were just waiting for them to arrive. My mom, Sylvie, Heath, Aidric’s friends Rye, Kay, his dad, Flori (if you don’t remember, she was the grammar school friend we met in Paris), Autumn, Jakki, Bisk, and Tassy who were Aidric’s and my friends from middle school. It was pretty small gathering, but it was cozy. Tonight, the men convinced us they would take care of dinner for the ladies, and we laughed. Soon enough, several plates were set in front us on the long table that had been set up on the lawn. Platters of rice, noodles, fried pork, and steaming veggies smelled delicious. “Whoa, good job fellas!” I said delighted as I scooped a little of each onto my plate. We dug in, and were pleasantly stuffed; all the plates had been wiped clean.

We talked and laughed till around 9:30pm, when Aditi said, “Ivory I think you need to rest. You don’t want to have baggy eyes tomorrow do you?”

I raise an eyebrow. “Fine. You’re the boss. Goodnight everyone,” I say and climb the stairs to bed, listening to their laughter as they went to turn in too.

~*~

I didn’t need waking up; I was sitting up bed staring at the door, waiting for Aditi to come in. Not a few minutes later, at 8:35, Aditi came in. I just looked at her before getting out of bed groaning. I dress in all black; jet black jeans, a black tank top with a shirt that wrapped around my shoulders. I tugged on tall black boots, and a black trench coat. When I came out of the bathroom, Aditi looked me up and down, and frowned. Before she could judge my outfit, I said, “Don’t judge.” Then I headed downstairs to see what everyone was up to. No one else was up yet, so I fixed myself some cereal, and sat to eat. Aditi came down the stairs, and sat down in front of me.

When I finished eating, I sat on the couch and read till I heard people getting up. Lucky them, they don’t have to wake up when Aditi tells them to. One by one, they came down stairs and helped themselves to the breakfast dishes Aditi had come up with. After everyone had finished, Aditi stood and said, “Okay everyone, the ceremony starts in the evening at exactly 7:00, but try and be back by five so everyone can have plenty of time to get ready. Feel free to go into town, or do whatever till then. Aidric, Ivory you two will be staying here to help with final and important preparations. With that, we got down to business.

~*~

Six hours later at 3:30 o’clock, everything was in place, and I watched from up in my room as Aditi ordered Aidric to go to his room, and get ready. I smiled. Aditi had ordered me to my room an hour ago, saying the groom shouldn’t see the bride before the ceremony, and I had more preparing to do. When she came in, she asked horrified, “Why aren’t you getting dress?” The look on her face was priceless. I laughed, and answered, “Aditi, we three and a half hours. Relax.”

“Okay, fine. Let’s get started.”

As soon as Aditi had set out all the makeup, lotions, and so on, mom, Sylvie, and Heath came in. “Hey, are you here to help?” Aditi asked.

“You bet,” they said together.

“Okay, let’s begin.”

I slipped into the silky under dress, and sat on the cushioned stool in front of the make-up table and mirror.

“What’s first Aditi?” Mom asked.

“The make-up, then the hair, and finally the dress. After that, well anything that needs fixing.”

“That sounds pretty straight forward.” Sylvie spoke.

“Trust me, Fuzz, it’s more detailed.” I said, and I was later proved correct. After my face had been scrubbed raw, Aditi asked, “Heath, could you bring me that gray eyeliner? The one that says ‘Dark Gray Crackle’ on it?”

She calmly applied the eyeliner on thickly, and drew it into a point at the sides of my eyes. Next, the mascara, in the same point. She instructed me to keep my eyes closed, and shadow was dusted over my lids. Blush was then applied lightly onto my cheeks in a shaded fashion. The brush tickled as it moved. Aditi then let Sylvie do the lipstick. I parted my lips slightly as it was added to my face, and then finally came the lip gloss. Then Aditi told me to open my eyes and tell her if it was ok.

The person in the mirror was unidentifiable. She had green eyes that had been brought out by the gray liner and peach shadow. She had glowing salmon cheeks, and full strawberry and raspberry lips. As I search my face, I realized that my eyes had become several shades different. From the familiar plain pale green, they were now sparkling jade. My light brown hair was now a dark gold, with caramel highlights. I was shocked to realize how little attention I had been paying to my appearance.

I was so absorbed in studying myself, that I didn’t hear Aditi’s question. “Oh, what?” I asked, snapping back to her.

“So, is your appearance satisfactory, Ivory?”

I couldn’t form the words, so I just nodded once.

She smiled, “Ok, how would you like your hair done? In a tall ponytail like you said before?”

“No, I’ll let you guys decide. What do you think?” I asked turn to face them.

They went back and forth on the look, and finally settled on the one. It literally an hour an half to get the style perfect. When I turned to the mirror, I saw that my long smooth hair had been elegantly side French braided to the base of my head, then fishtailed to the end. Aditi then twisted it tightly into a thick bun at the left side of my neck.

Looking at the clock, Aditi jumped up from her chair startled. It read 5:30pm. “It’s definitely time to get dressed. The rest of you get dressed. I can finish up here. Go, go, and go!”

When they’ve left, she lifted the dress from the closet, admired it briefly, and helped me into it. It fit perfectly, and when it was zipped up, I let the heavy skirt fall to the floor in waves. Aditi adjusted my long pearl and diamond necklace, and affixed the facenet to the my hair, and pinned the white morning glory blossom to the top of the bun. Finally she placed the headband into my hair to cover the bobby pins holding the net. I put in my earrings, slipped into my white slippers adorned with pearls, and stood in front of the full length mirror. At the time, I couldn’t find the right words to describe myself, and I still can’t. When she was finished adding things here and there, the clock read six. Aditi told me to sit tight for the next hour, while she changed, and checked up on the others.

Exactly five minutes before seven, Aditi came to escort me downstairs. She was in a beautiful floor-length dress of shimmering lavender. It was pretty simple, with two straps, and a V-shaped neckline. Purple studs and clear purple make-up. She led me down to the hall that led out the back. Over the exit hung long strands of snowy beads. I saw Sylvie who was my bridesmaid dressed in a silver dress identical to Aditi’s, and Heather’s dress was a faded dark indigo. All their shoes were identical to mine, except they matched the dress. A large bouquet of assorted flowers rested on the hall table. I remember Aditi out in the garden this morning before breakfast picking them. Aditi handed Sylvie a single long stemmed salmon calla lily and Heather brought me a large bouquet of peach tulips, white hibiscus blooms, and deep purple morning glories, whose stems were threaded throughout the bouquet.

“It’s the most beautiful bouquet I have ever seen. Thank you everyone for being here for me.”

We all embraced each other quickly.

“I’m so nervous.”

“We’re with you, Ivory.” Heather said, and then nudged me forward. “You can do this. Savor the moment, and it will last longer.” She and Aditi took their places, and Sylvie took her behind them. I caught a glimpse of the aisle between the beads, and saw petals had been strewn on the grass. As the music started, the beads were pulled aside, and I look down as I counted the steps that were taken before I had to start walking. For goodness sake I couldn’t remember. But at the last second, I did. 26 from the front, I heard Aditi saying over and over. That pretty much meant I had to start walking when Aditi and Heather sat down. Right now, Sylvie had just taken her place at the altar’s base, and Kay; who was Aidric’s best man stood across from her. Now I could see everyone, five sitting on one side, and five on the other. I stood in the shadows of the hall, waiting for my turn. The music began, and everyone rose to their feet. That was my cue. I started walking. Right together, left together, like Aditi reminded me. I stared at the ground ahead of me, not want to look ahead at the faces staring at me. I caught sight of Aditi to my left, and she tapped under her chin, non-verbally telling me to lift my head. I reluctantly lifted my chin just a little, so I now could see the feet at the base of the alter. As I arrive at the altar, I lifted my head up to meet his gaze, and I gasped. He was the most handsome person I’d ever seen. Aidric wore a cream tuxedo jacket over a long sleeved black muscle shirt. I could tell he’d been working out. Probably Aditi’s doing. Long black pants reached all the way to the tops of his shined shoes. His eyes widened slightly, and I heard his intake of breath as I came to stand in front of him. I smiled nervously up at him, and he smiled back warmly. He takes my hands in his as the minister says a few words and we begin our vows. I begin with a poem instead of what Aditi had written for me to recite;

I Will Always

“I will always love you through thick and thin

I will always love you my friend

Even though we have some differences

But I’m here and I will always be listening

We are like the sun, because we will always shine

Whatever happens to me, you will always be mine

Even if we are miles away

In my heart you’ll stay

I am here for you and nobody else

My heart is in yours hands

Nobody can’t take care of it like you can

I have been waiting for you for so long

Love for each other will always be strong

You are the one for me, there’s no doubt in that

When you say “I Love You” I saw the heavens crack”

As I said those words, I heard ahhs, and crying burst out, but I continued.

“The tears that I cried for you will always be happy

Now you’re in my life, now I will never have bad dreams

I will do anything for you, just let me know

Just for you I will let my love show

I need you in my life as like you need me in yours

I see nobody, just me and you in this world.

Aidric, I’ve been waiting so long for you, not ever realizing that you were always with me, and I will forever be yours.” As I finished, Aidric looked at the minister and he nodded, indicating that he could now take his turn. He began:

Let Me Trust You

“Everyday I get more afraid

Of giving my heart away

Scared of what love will bring

Too nervous to hear the words you’ll say

I find myself lost in you

Not sure if I want to be

I see the looks that you give

And wonder what you see in me

I don’t want my heart broken

But I am so in love

So I’m gonna trust you

Please don’t let me down

For I am giving you a chance

To turn my life around

Don’t take it for granted

’Cause it might not last long

I have weak thoughts

And my heart isn’t too strong

I’m putting my life in your hands

Now it’s all up to you

I look forward to the places we go

And the things we’ll be put through

But remember that I’m vulnerable

And I can’t stand to be hurt

I want to be at the top of your list

But I don’t have to be first

Believe me when I tell you

That I love you with all my heart

That I’m here for you forever and always

Just like I was at the start.”

I felt tears threatening to spill over, but I blinked them away. I had never known he wanted me that badly. I stared into his eyes, searching them for any hint of rejection, but all I saw was waves of passion in his green eyes. The minister asked for the rings, and without taking my eyes off him, I slipped it onto his finger, and he did the same. I repeated after the minister, “With this ring I thee wed; with my body I thee honor; and all my worldly goods with thee I share.”

Aidric then did too. The minister then continued, “Aidric Kyler do you take this woman to be your wife, for richer or for poorer, through sickness, and health, till death do you part?”

“I do.”

“Do you Ivory Harper take this man to be your husband, for richer or for poorer, through sickness, and health, till death do you part?”

“Not till death, but forever.”

He searched my face, and I gazed back at him.

“I now pronounce you husband, and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

Aidric dips me over in a passionate kiss. Everyone cheers, and we walk down the aisle to the car, the reception, and the rest of our lives.

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