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A Shared Moment
California
theamyrlin
"Alyson is gone," Scott said after standing in Kate's door for a good moment, eyes widened with unshed tears. Kate knew that there was something wrong from the second she opened the door. Scott looked like a guy who had been told he had three months to live -- his countenance a combination of sorrow and disbelief. Kate let her stocky, mouse haired friend in while she asked her parents permission to leave.

Five minutes later, the two of them sat across from each other at a nearby coffeehouse: the air dense with the sound of cappuccino machines, idle chatter, and the bitter smell of coffee. The walls were orange and red, the windows blackened by night. Kate waited for Scott to talk, hiding her anxiety and her hands beneath the table. Scott sat with his elbows on the table, cradling his head in his hands, looking down at the table. Scott's tears fell on the glassy surface.

After the first tear had nearly evaporated, words escaped from Scott. "I didn't know who else to come to." Kate heard him holding his breath, choking back sobs. She did not pat his arm consolingly or offer him a hug, for Scott did not like to be touched at all, not even by close friends.

"Scott, tell me what happened," Kate pled, her tone tinged with curiosity. He wiped his tears with the long sleeves of his blue plaid shirt, and looked at Kate directly. His eyes were red and swollen, the colored irises more penetratingly blue than ever. "Please," she implored, "she's my best friend."

"Her aunt and uncle sent her back to Pennsylvania." Scott said in a robot-like monotone. When Kate's eyes narrowed questioningly, he answered before she could speak, "She went crazy."

She sat there, blank look on her face, mouth hanging open, unable to form words.

Scott intertwined his fingers and placed his hands on the table. He stared at them while explaining. "It started last night. Alyson walked to the police station a couple of blocks from her house claiming that her cousin Matthew was trying to kill her. She was supposed to be babysitting."

Kate knew that Matthew was a scrawny five-year-old, unable to inflict real harm on a grown person, even with a weapon. Scott adjusted his position on the chair, shrugging his shoulders and laying his hands flat on the table.

"Her aunt and uncle were willing to work things out. They thought that it was relatively minor." Scott paused, holding his breath -- trying hard not to cry. "Something must have, like, pushed her over the edge. It was probably the chemicals or something." He looked her right in the eye and Kate finally came back to lucidity.

She did not avoid the obvious. "What happened?"

Scott took a deep breath, "Her aunt and uncle found her around two o'clock this morning, causing disturbances in the neighborhood. Alyson claimed that she was 'blessing and anointing sinners' houses' -- like, ridding them of evil in preparation for the apocalypse." He told her how Alyson was shouting Bible verses and squirting Italian salad dressing on her neighbors' houses. "They had to sedate her to get her on the plane. They say that she is at a mental hospital near her mother's house."

The grief of losing his girlfriend still remained in his eyes. However, there was a noticeable difference in the way Scott held his shoulders. The weight was lessened, and even though the world had shattered, Scott now knew that it was possible to go on. They sat for many minutes in silent communication, oblivious of the noisy coffee shop or the nearby Gothic kids fooling around; Scott with his arms spread across the table, and Kate with her fingers clamped to the edge of the table in front of her, both heads bowed. The lack of eye contact belied the situation; they were connected by shared grief, and wondering -- as most people do everyday -- "What next?"