The mugs clinked on the tray as she walked over to us, "Tea's ready" Layla announced. We smiled and thanked her. The aroma of mint and cloves refreshed us and warmed our souls. The spread of decadent brownies, assorted cookies and fancy scones welcomed us with open arms, inviting us to munch mindlessly as we drank from our warm cups of tea and chatted. It felt wonderful to finally be reunited with my best friends after all this time. It had been a rough period for all of us and we longed for the warmth of good company and a sense of normality amid these crazy times. It was going to be a great girl’s night in, we had each left our kids with our husbands and we were ready to enjoy a relaxed childfree night. We continued to pour the tasty tea out of that bottomless thermos. We talked, laughed, sipped and snacked as we caught each other up on what had been going on in our lives these past few months. I noticed that something was off about Tia, she was sitting on her hands and wiggling around like a toddler.
“What’s up with you Tia? Something’s not right.”
“Urgh finally someone noticed! I’ve been dying over here!”
“What? What is it?”
“Oh my God it’s excruciating keeping a secret! I feel like I’m going to implode if I don’t tell someone!”
We all laughed. Tia was the group’s self-designated drama queen. She always had her nose in other people’s business and shared the hottest gossip.
“Well? Are you going to leave us hanging?”
“I can’t! I promised I won’t tell!”
“It’s true! I can’t say it, but I really want to!”
“Okay, fine. We don’t want to know anyway”
We knew Tia would eventually cave, so we changed the subject and continued our conversation about our favorite show knowing it would infuriate her.
“Aren’t you guys curious at all to know what it is? It’s some juicy news”
“You said you can’t tell us so we’re respecting your wishes... duh”
“You’re right, I can’t tell you but I can’t be blamed if you were to guess it on your own”
“Ha and how do you suggest we do that?”
“Umm I don’t know” she thought about it for a few seconds, “What if I were to act it out?”
“Act it out? Like charades?”
“Yes! Yes, like charades, exactly!”
We exchanged amused looks as Tia got up and strutted towards the center of the room, flipping her hair as she walked. The game had begun, Tia beamed at us and gestured five fingers in the air. We asked if that meant five words, she nodded. She made the number two, with her fingers and confirmed she would be acting out the second word. Tia began pointing at her back.
She shook her head, and continued pointing at her back.
She bounced around in delight. Then motioned that she will be moving on to the third word. She put her upright palms together.
We giggled like school girls as Tia shook her head vigorously. We suggested that she try acting it in a different way. She showed us her two pointer fingers side by side.
She moved her pointer fingers apart then brought them back next to each other.
She nodded. She gestured that she would be acting the last word. Tia crossed two of her fingers one on top of the other.
"What does she mean?"
"Back... together... ex?"
"Someone got back together with their ex?"
"I can't say!"
We burst out laughing. "Let me guess, you're going to act it out?"
"Only if you insist" she smirked. "I'll be right back"
She hurried inside and we could hear her rummaging through Layla's closet.
"That girl is crazy!"
"I've sure missed her drama"
"Come on Tia, you've been in there forever!"
“You know you’re cleaning up whatever mess you make, right?”
When she emerged, it was clear this was going to be a grand theatrical performance; just as we suspected. Tia relished her time under the spotlight. She clicked her heels and pouted up and down the narrow space between the tv and the center table as if it was her own private catwalk. She was wearing an oversized sunhat with a pair of glamorous sunglasses and she held her purse on her forearm with arrogance. She looked absolutely ridiculous since she was still in her cozy onesie pajamas. We fell to the ground in stiches at her sight. Tia, still in character, twirled around and pulled her sunglasses halfway down her face and winked at us. I was out of breath from all the laughter and could barely string any words together. I eventually caught my breath and asked who in the world she was supposed to be.
"Seriously, you haven't guessed yet?!"
"No, who is it?"
"It's so obvious!"
"That lady, her son goes to my daughter's school"
"And how am I supposed to know her? Our kids go to different schools!"
We laughed hysterically and continued making random guesses, that Tia was swatting sarcastically. Out of nowhere, the doorbell rang silencing our laughter. We exchanged puzzled looks and wondered who it could be. Layla peered through the peephole and exclaimed.
"Oh wow! I can't believe it! How could I forget that I invited her?! I didn't think she would actually show up! "
We were anxious to find out who the mystery guest was, so we scurried back to our seats. Tia threw the hat and sunglasses off and sat beside me on the couch crossing her legs and sitting up straight. We all tried to act like the poised version of ourselves but couldn't help but peer over Layla's shoulder as she opened the door. Always a master at keeping up appearances, Tia grabbed her mug and sipped from it as she made some random small talk with me; she wanted to make it seem like we hadn’t all just been sitting there in awkward silence waiting for the guest's identity to be revealed.
"Everyone, this is Tara. Tara this is everyone"
I heard a gasp coming from beside me and turned around. A stunned Tia, spat out and spilled her now cold tea all over herself when she saw the guest. I looked up and saw a woman standing in stilettos, she carried her purse on her forearm and had a pout plastered on her face. I snorted, and the room erupted with laughter. Poor Tara thought we'd lost our minds.