Dandelion

“I’ve never waited so long before,” Maggie laughed the words off as though their meaning was just as airy and light as the clouds that littered the deep blue, summer sky above. Jessie stared back at her with wide, apprehensive eyes that only served to stifle Maggie’s laughter. It was an arid June day, and laughing seemed to be more trouble than it was worth in the blazing summer heat.

“I’ve waited longer,” Jessie mumbled under her breath, as her stony gaze drifted back to the grassy, laced ground that lay before them. Maggie bit her lip, puffing out her cheek a bit as she turned to gaze at her far too pensive friend.

“Sure,” she sighed under her breath, the heat preventing her from making an all out argument against Jessie’s words.

The two found themselves in thick silence as they often did in the recent days that had followed the dismissal of annual classes. Maggie picked at the sunburned grass, waiting for a bird to sing or a car from the main street a few yards down to crash; anything to break the crushing silence. A few feet from them, sprouting, lovely and clad in the deep green of the earth, was a puffy white dandelion. Maggie smiled as her eyes traced the small figure on the heat-struck horizon.

“What is it?” questioned Jessie as she often did when Maggie did something inexplicable. Maggie opened her mouth and closed it again several times, like a summer baked mudfish, as she looked for the right words.

Finally she settled on perhaps the simplest and most direct answer. “A dandelion,” she said plainly, her face suddenly becoming very placid. Jessie shook her head and then shrugged, showing off her double standard for disapproval.

“Whatever,” was her reply. Maggie laughed.

“I’d wait forever, Jessie,” she responded to the unasked question, “I’d wait forever for you.”

They weren’t always friends. Maggie could remember, even now that many months had passed and even though her memory seemed to be failing as more and more people waltzed in and out of her life. The first time they had met had not been significant, but then again how many first encounters are? Maggie was always too emotional, too held up on the small details of life, to ever notice those who were logical and so it’s easy to see why Maggie didn’t see Jessie as someone important.

“I saw this happen before,” Maggie had once told Jessie over bottled water in the cafeteria, one crisp, rain-filled April Day.

“We’ve drunk bottled water before, yes,” Jessie responded nonchalantly, though as of late she had learned to put up with Maggie’s often outlandish expressions.

“No, I saw it in a dream,” clarified Maggie, her eyes twinkling wildly and her expression livid. Jessie shook her head and pushed Maggie’s own water bottle toward her.

“Drink. You’re dehydrated,” Jessie explained plainly though there hadn’t been a sign of the sun for many days.

But that was so like Maggie. She seemed to find the romantic perspective in everything, whether it was in the conventional sense of the word or not. “Romance and mystery,” she used to say, “Together, they make up this fantasy world.”

“Come down out of that fantasy,” Jessie warned, “You’re going to get hurt.”

But Maggie would just stick out her tongue at her beloved friend, in that taunting childish manner she knew so well. She would smile and laugh as she danced away to the edge of the dream cloud she seemed to always inhabit, skipping a little as she went. “I can’t get hurt!” she’d call back. “No one can hurt me!” Jessie would shake her head in modest reply.

“Don’t say never, Maggie,” she would call impatiently.

“Now you’re getting the hang of it, Jessie,” Maggie would retort gleefully, “Let’s not give up!”

Those two weren’t inseparable; that just wasn’t the way their friendship worked. Jessie was quiet and reserved and she mostly kept to herself while Maggie could arguably be the social butterfly among their petite group of friends. “It’s because you laugh too much,” Jessie had once commented as Maggie mused about their social positions.

“You laugh too, Jessie,” Maggie had pointed out in a matter-of-fact tone.

“I just don’t like people,” Jessie reminded Maggie, placing her index finger in front of her face as if to make point of an obvious fact.

“Nonsense Jessie, you’re not nearly as bad as you think you are!” Maggie had laughed in response.

“And neither are you. See the good in yourself.” Maggie’s smile disappeared. At that time she had turned to face her friend though the words had already been clearly spoken. The meaning inflicted due to eye contact was unnecessary. Their words had already traveled from heart-to-heart.

Maggie returned to staring at the small flower before them, her mind reeling back and away from the memories that had momentarily taken the reigns in the summer heat. “Thinking of something good this time?” laughed Jessie.

“Yeah, you’re a lot like me now,” Maggie said slowly.

Jessie blinked, not sure how to respond. A mischievous grin broke over her face. “Nah,” she responded lightly, “you just know me a lot better now.” It was Maggie’s turn to indulge in confusion and the wind smiled at their change in roles. Jessie sighed and brushed the topic off, lying back in the dirt of the earth. “What do you see in the clouds?” she asked, her gaze shifting around the cerulean sky.

Maggie leaned her head back and followed her friend’s gaze to the heavens above. “I see friends and animals and shapes and scenery...” Maggie trailed off. “Why?”

Jessie sat up and smiled at her friend. “I see condensation,” she grinned, “That’s how we’re different.” Maggie shook her head.

“You’re a lot warmer than you let on,” she stated in a determined voice. Jessie arched her eyebrows.

“How so?”

Maggie flashed a quick smile in Jessie’s direction before whipping her head back around to gaze at the puffy, star shaped flower before them. “Going to answer?” Jessie sang with faux impatience. Ignoring Jessie, Maggie reached over and picked the flower by the stem, cradling it against the wind as she brought it back towards them. “Aw,” Jessie sighed, “You killed him.” Maggie shook her head and held the flower between them, her radiant gaze fixated on the plant before them.

“Make a wish,” she breathed.

Jessie was going to protest though after seeing the look on Maggie’s face she knew there was no point. “Oh all right,” she conceded, almost rolling her eyes in the process.

Both gentle breaths reached the seeds at the same time, sending them into a blizzard of cotton. Maggie laughed as they scattered to the winds, destined to bore more wish-makers in the dazzling June heat.

“I wished to wait,” Maggie commented as the last seed floated to earth, some few yards away from them. Jessie scowled.

“What a thing to waste a wish on,” she muttered condescendingly.

“Is this more of your advice on love that I won’t follow?” Maggie teased playfully. Jessie let out a sigh and Maggie laughed. “Kidding, kidding...”

“I just think, while wishes are illogical to make anyway, they provide a nice comfort and hope, so you should wish for things that are a little less attainable,” Jessie explained logically. Maggie nodded, seeing the reason in Jessie’s words.

“So what did you wish for?” Maggie countered, curiously, her wide eyes glinting meticulously in the midday sun.

“Happiness,” was Jessie’s simple answer.

Another heavy silence as the gentle wind stirred the grass around them. Further down the field, a car whizzed past on the highway and somewhere in the deep grass, a group of cicadas struck up their summer song. Maggie breathed deeply, inhaling the scents and sounds of summer, wanting never to forget this precious moment with her deep friend, and all the time, searching for the right words.

“Well, that’s a stupid thing to wish for too,” Maggie finally said plainly.

“And why is that?” replied Jessie, genuinely curious.

As usual, her question was met by a silvery light laughter followed by ambiguous claims. “We’ve been friends for so long Jessie—”

“—Not that long—”

“—you’ve always been there to help me out—”

“—Only because you asked—”

““—I’m always so grateful for a friend like you.” Maggie beamed at Jessie as if that short statement had explained everything.

“And your point is?” Jessie laughed though there was no cynicism in her voice.

“My point is, without you, I wouldn’t be happy. I couldn’t be happy,” smiled Maggie. “My point is... I’d wait forever.” Maggie got to her feet, almost too suddenly. She turned to Jessie and held out her hand to help her up. “So come back and visit a lot,” she instructed in a tearless farewell, “Cause I only have so much money. I can’t catch the Greyhound bus all the time.” Jessie smiled, clasping Maggie’s hand and allowing herself to be helped to her feet.

“You said you waited longer?” she questioned lightly.

Maggie threw her arms around her dear friend, echoes of her last true heartbreak now painted on her face. “I lied,” she said softly. Jessie laughed. “How backwards,” Maggie commented, stepping backwards, letting her arms fall to her sides, “I’m usually the one to laugh at inopportune times.”

“Well, it’s silly for you to cry,” Jessie commented, with a smile on her face.

“First, my wish is silly now my ‘good-bye’ too?” exclaimed Maggie with a hint of exaggerated perplexities.

“Yes,” was Jessie’s simple answer. “Don’t cry. You have many friends here who will be with you to make you laugh every day. And there’s your boyfriend too,” Jessie reminded her, “So don’t worry so much.”

“But it won’t be the same without you!” exclaimed Maggie, “Who will I run to when I’ve done something incredibly stupid? Who’s going to give me that crazy-straight, logical advice when I need it? Who’s going to tell me that I’ve completely messed up my life and get me back on track? I wouldn’t even have a boyfriend if it wasn’t for you! You’ve always been there for me Jessie, how can I not cry at your departure?” The whole rant was poorly conveyed as Maggie’s speeches usually were, though the deep heart-felt meaning rang true. “You’re my best friend, Jessie,” Maggie whispered, her voice cracked from the tears she was now attempting to choke back.

“Well, I’m glad you think that!” chuckled Jessie. The light chortles faded into the summer wind as the two friends stood in that deep browning grass, perhaps never wishing to move from those rooted spots. “So let’s meet again,” Jessie finally said.

“Promise?” Maggie asked looking up, letting their eyes meet for perhaps a final time.

“Yeah,” Jessie replied.

“You going to wait?”

“Forever, if I have to.”





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