Friday, January 11, 2008

Mossy's Backpackers #19

“… in a one horse open sleigh!”

“Okay, I need a break,” Greg announced as the music faded out. “I’m going to lose my voice.”

“That’s a bad thing?” Cindy asked as she hit the pause button on the stereo.

Before Greg could manage a snappy response the phone rang yet again. Max sighed and went to answer it, grumbling every step of the way.

“Hello and merry Christmas!” he said into the phone for the tenth time that day. He glanced over to see Cate stifling a laugh; he really needed to get better at cards. “Jay, it’s your mom.”

Jay smiled sheepishly as he came over to take the phone, then took it as far into the corner as the cord would allow before beginning to speak. Max laughed and left him to it.

“Want me to get the next one?” Cate offered.

“It’s okay, I think that is just about everyone anyway,” he replied as he threw himself down onto the couch beside her.

“God did me mum give me an earful this morning,” Greg said with a wince.

“Aw, she just misses her baby!” Cate told him.

“Ha! Hardly,” he replied. “She reamed me out for keeping Cindy away from home during the holidays – like this is all my idea!”

“That’s just her way of saying she wants you home too,” Cindy reminded him.

“Well that’s a whole lot more subtle than my mom was,” Tim said. “My Christmas present from her was a plane ticket home!”

“Seriously?” Cindy and Cate exclaimed together.

“Haha, I’m surprised my mom didn’t resort to that,” Max said. “So when do you have to go back?”

“Well the ticket says February 1st but I’m going to see how much it costs to extend it until March.”

The girls did not seem to think much of this idea but the boys were in agreement that it was a brilliant maneuver.

“What did you get from home?” Max asked Cate to avoid any arguments that might develop.

“Oh, a few clothes and things,” she answered with a look that indicated she knew exactly what he was doing. “But the main thing was an extra memory card for my camera.”

“Wow,” Greg said. “Don’t they know that’ll only encourage you to keep traveling?”

“Nah, they know I’ll be back within a couple months at most,” she replied.

“Why’s that?” Cindy asked a little too casually for Max’s liking. It seemed like she already knew the reason, but maybe he was just being paranoid.

“Oh, it’ll just be time by then,” Cate replied without looking up from her drink. Max wasn’t liking this at all. He looked over at Cindy as she deliberately checked the time on the clock on the wall.

“Well Gregory, my darling,” she said, standing up slowly. “I do believe it’s time to give you the rest of your present.”

“You mean I get more than that new day pack?” Greg asked, looking totally confused.

“Mmmhm,” Cindy answered as she left the room swaying her hips suggestively. “You also get what’s inside the bag.”

“Oh,” he said, understanding dawning on his face. “Um, you guys will have to excuse me.”

“Too much information!” Max yelled as Greg left the room at top speed.

“I could use a present like that,” Diego muttered to himself.

“Well I can’t offer you that,” Jay said as he returned to the group, “but I did get you a little something.”

“Aw, thanks man!” Diego said as he accepted the wrapped box.

“That reminds me,” Max told Cate, “I’ve got something for you too.”

“Oh, you didn’t have to do that!”

“Come on, I left it in the office.”

Max lead the way, trying to keep his gait normal; this of course only made his feet feel like two piles of bricks. Once in the office he pulled a tin from the bottom drawer of the desk and passed it to Cate.

“Oh my… did you bake me cookies?! Are these chocolate chip?

“Mint chocolate chip, actually. Try one.”

Cate laughed and grabbed the top cookie, which revealed the hand written note tucked underneath. Max started to sweat as she took it out and unfolded it carefully.

“I am deeply sorry, from the bottom of my heart, for being such a complete waste of space,” she began to read out loud with a smile, then stopped and read silently for a while.

When the silence had dragged on past his comfort zone, Max cleared his throat nervously. But Cate put up a hand to keep him silent and did not look up.

“I obviously like you a lot,” she finally continued with a slight hitch in her voice. “I count myself lucky to have met such a fun, smart, fascinating and captivating girl. Please let me make up for my previous blundering and being such a colossal fool by allowing me to take you out for dinner.”

Where was I when you wrote this?


Ah, it was a three in the morning job then.

“You’re lucky you’re such a cute waste of space,” Cate said, still looking down at the note.

“So… is that a yes then?” he asked cautiously.

She finally looked up at him and he could see the tears in the corners of her eyes. She blinked them away once, then again. He held her gaze with great difficulty; every muscle in his body screamed for him to look away.

At last she smiled a sweet, perfect smile, nodded slowly, and then walked away.

You can breathe again now.

Max let out the breath he had been holding for the last two years, then headed to the kitchen to pour the stiffest drink he could stomach.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great to have you back, loving it all