Chapter 12:  Spots

“Great news” Jamie was telling Michelle. “Cheryl just told me: Peter is going to show up at the ‘trial’”.  They were taking a walk down the Pine-yards: It was giant greenway that connected Warren with Barrington along a maze of bike trails.  It reminded the girls of being in a kids candy-land setting with the tiny sized roads with the road dividers and the mushroom-shaped park benches by the side of the road.

Michelle indeed really had to smile. “He’s alive! How did Cheryl pull that off?  I’m really glad it’s happening.  But how the hell did she pull that off?”

Jamie blew a bubble with her bubblegum as she stared at the clear night sky.  “Did you hear about those weather anomalies?”

“You know what I really did hate about those douchebags back at the coffee shop the other day?” said Michelle.  “They didn’t do it to Foresman so much as they did it to me: mansplaining.”

“Mansplaining?”

“Yeah; that’s when people talk down on you because you’re a woman” Michelle explained.  “You know what’s odd?  Cheryl was telling me that that was yet another one of the things that the New Wavers were accusing Peter of being.  But honestly, I don’t ever see him hating on women during an argument just because they’re  women.  He likes to have debates.  These idiot bros at the coffee shop were just condescending, and literally saying sexist remarks while arguing” she chuckled darkly. “And you want to hear the sad part?  They were wrong: they couldn’t even acknowledge that their particular conservative views were ass-backwards.  They said they believed in values, but when I questioned them what that exactly meant in terms of what those values were, they weren’t even sure what exactly were those values they chased this whole time.”

“I wish I could have watched it” said Jamie with some relish.

The two girls came across an intersection in the forest.  It was now past midnight and there was no one here on this greenway.  It was just as similar as the other bike trails: complete with dual yellow dividing lines that made the tiny road look like it was part of a giant go-kart track that went on forever through these woods.  The stars were bright and shining overhead.  It was late September.  Michelle led the way and took a right on the intersection as Jamie followed.

“I think sometimes I start seeing what you’re seeing: that somehow, everyone that lives in this age has just given a bad lot in life in their own way” Jamie said mournfully.  Despite the beautiful scenery they were immersed in right now, they were lost in their heads.   Jamie caught herself, and took a deep breath.  The rhododendron flowers smelled fresh.  The crickets soothingly chirped in the background, and fireflies could be seen appearing at random like sparks of electricity popping out of space.

“It don’t think the world needs to be like this ” Michelle put in. “And as for us, I don’t believe a woman is completely screwed either; and that that has to be our fate.”

“How so?”

“For instance: I trained every day at that gym and learned martial arts. I know this truth, and no one can take it away from me: for all the debate, a woman can be at least just as strong as a man.  I put quite a few guys in arm bar submissions. I got a degree from RPI in biotechnology.  And a master’s in STEM education in biology and pre-med at Orange.  A woman can be just as smart as a man.  Actually, what I am trying to say more properly is that a human can be just as capable and as able bodied as any other human.”

Jamie narrowed her eyes and absorbed the encouragement:  When Michelle would talk like that, it was as if a weight would suddenly lift: and somehow, things seemed without blemish, without intimidation and even with hope.  She smiled while she  heard Michelle explain some of her thoughts on how things could be fixed in general as they followed the little greenway through the woods.

“A friend of mine once told me how unjust life is” Michelle continued. “And I totally agree with her: the world really is dangerous for a woman… at first.  Which makes the ability to be independent and powerful all the more sweeter victory when one reaches that state of self-actualization. But here’s the thing.  Nobody has to really be an ass about anything if they become successful.   Besides, if the New Wavers were correct about equality, then a rich white man will never feel the same ecstasy of that because they physically can’t.  But hell, even I realize you have to work at it.”

“You say things I can’t articulate in my head” Jamie complimented her with admiration.  Michelle stopped and turned around to look at her friend in the dark light of the sky.  She could barely see Jamie’s features: she was more a shade in front of her, but she could feel her sweetness radiating right in front of her.  It almost tempted her. “You know I don’t go the other way” Michelle gently told her friend.  “I hate to tease you like that.  So as long as you’re cool as we can just continue to talk without the tension.”  Jamie’s shadow looked away rapidly.  Michelle could tell she was embarrassed.

“Sweetheart. It’s ok.  We can talk.  I’m just being honest.”

“Yeah; I know” answered Jamie. “It’s just that I wish we could talk more sometimes… like this.  I’m not saying I always understand myself anyways.  It comes and goes.  Regardless, I completely admire your views.  Still, sometimes when I talk to you, I feel like I’m talking to a guy.  You get calculating.”  Michelle got calculating.

“And is that a bad thing?” she countered.  “And why label it as a ‘guy’?  All I’m saying is that emotions run amuck lead to chaos sometimes.  That’s exactly why the Boatyard suffers the way it…”

“There we go with the Boatyard again” muttered Jamie.  “Lately, it permeates every sinew of my being. For shit’s sake: can I ever escape it?”  Michelle did not appear offended, but sympathetic. “I’m not so sure I want to go to the Peter meeting” she confessed to Jamie.  “I’m a little weary of all this drama.” “Can’t we ever escape these things?” Jamie asked  helplessly.  “I just want one day of peace in my head; no fears whatsoever.” Frustration was starting to form in her face.  Michelle hugged her friend with sympathy and looked up at the clear moon above.  It must have been close to midnight.  That was strange:  to the right side of her peripheral vision, it was as she could see some sort of a red spot in the dark sky near the moon, like the kind she could see when closing her eyes after staring at a lightbulb for too long – except this one was slightly red in hue.  As she continued to hug her friend, she checked the hairs on her arm again: static.   Michelle shook the cobwebs from her mind and as she looked up again, the mirage was dampered even more by the light pollution of the moon.  It must have been an optical illusion.

“What is it?” asked Jamie.

“Nothing” said Michelle. “It must be getting late.  My brain is playing tricks on me.”  Jamie slowly released herself from the hug and looked at her friend with tenderness.

“Why do you think like this?” she asked Michelle.

“What do you mean?” “I mean, you always seem to have this sixth sense about many things.  Am I crazy?”  Michelle searched for an answer and just shook her head and smiled; flattered but dismissive at the comment.

“No I’m serious” Jamie insisted. “Ever since I’ve known you, you can call out profoundly on the bullshit, even if no one else can sense it and you turn out to be right. How did you get that?  Am I wrong?”

“I don’t really know” Michelle said flatly. “My family is weird like that.  At least the ones who believe in deeper spiritual things.  Not just the fundamentalist bible thumper side who don’t even know why they believe what they believe.  Lately I must confess, I keep thinking something: I feel like this instability is in the air.”

“Yeah, I know” Jamie admitted. “You keep mentioning it everyday about the Boatyard.”

“No; something else”  Michelle explained with a very somber look on her face that made Jamie uneasy. “I mean, yeah, I know we’re all aware:  recognizing the  system sucks. But this is something deeper: air all around me: something is about to burst. I just feel it somehow. I can’t explain why.”

Jamie tensed up with concern for her friend. “I thought you always said to me it’s not practical to go solely on feelings.”  She tried to change the subject.  “You and Peter I mean, you’re always thinking practical.  That’s why we need to convince him to move back in the…”

“The words ‘twisted dogma’ are coming to my mind right now” said Michelle. “Twisted dogma in the sense that almost everyone that walks this earth are believing a twisted refracted version of truth.”

“Truth?” “Some bigger universal truth” Michelle clarified. “And since all this confusion breeds chaos, it’s like I feel something in the physical air around me…”

“Stop it” Jamie said to her friend. “You’re wigging me out when you talk like this.”  Michelle said nothing, but,  reaching for Jamie’s hand, led the way down the little greenway path.  They both knew the trail well: if they took two lefts on some side trails by certain landmarks along the way, it looped back into that intersection they had started at.   The stars certainly were beautiful, but Michelle’s pace made Jamie uneasy.  She seemed poised: braced almost, as if she sensed something uneasy about the woods around them, but when asked further about it, she did not share her sentiments about it with Jamie.   Still, once they reached the intersection again, it was so obvious that Michelle thought she could see or feel that there was something there.

“What is it” Jamie insisted.

“Do you feel it?” replied Michelle. “It feels like there’s a bunch of people around us.  Jamie averted her eyes and changed the subject. “I don’t feel anything” she said defiantly.  Michelle knew that she must have been lying, but she decided not to press the idea any more.  Jamie’s hand held onto Michelle’s just a little bit tighter.  Knowing they needed a change in subject, Jamie commented on the smell of the flowers around them.  “I like feel this feeling in the air.  I feel safe around you” she said to Michelle.

“Thank you” Michelle replied back courteously. “You’re  one of the good ones.“ She knew what she was feeling, but she didn’t want to lead Jamie on.  Besides, she was troubled in thought.

“Come on; it’s getting late.  Even later, obviously” she added with a chuckle. “Let’s head back.”

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