She looked like a model who had just stepped out straight from the pages of a fashion magazine. Her flaming red hair tied in a bun, glistening in the afternoon sun, red lipstick painted on her luscious lips. Her beautiful blue eyes shaded by a pair of Aviator sun glasses. She wore a custom tailored beige pant suit which accentuated her tall slender figure, complete with nude pumps which made a distinct clicking noise on the pavement as she walked along, attracting attention from passers-by. 

“I thought I'd never come back here again” Julie muttered to herself as she made her way through the familiar streets looking around in wonder at all the shops and cafes she remembered so well, including her personal favourite, “Toby's” the general store where she used to work after school.

“This old town hasn't changed a bit” she said to herself as she neared her destination, ‘The Diner,’ their old haunt. She took a deep breath and pulled the door open and walked in.

As she took off her sun glasses and approached the booth at the far end, the blonde haired blue eyed woman sitting at it, clad in a pair of dark blue denim jeans and a white cotton top, rose to her black leather boots clad feet, came forward, with her arms extended and said “Julie Collins?......as I live and breath!” as they embraced warmly.

“It's so good to see you back here after all these years!” Lily, her best friend continued as she sat down opposite her, at the very booth they used to sit at, all those years ago as high school students.

“How have you been doing Lily?” Julie inquired beaming at her friend.

“I am doing ok, I guess, I am still teaching at the school. Josh was made Chief at the fire station a month ago. The kids are happy. We are doing alright!”

“How's your parents doing? Are they well?” asked Julie.

“They are fine. Mom has her hands full these days, baby sitting her two grand kids and dad has taken up gardening which keeps him occupied” Lily said beaming with pride.

“I am so glad they are doing ok” replied Julie beaming back at her.

“How's everything around town?” Julie inquired further.

“Oh, you know, the usual, you know how it is, nothing interesting ever happens around here!” Lily replied chuckling.

“Yeah right, that’s one of the reasons I couldn't wait to get out of town. I wanted to get as far away from this place as possible" said Julie rolling her eyes heavenward. 

She paused for a moment to look at Lily and continued. “Why didn't you come with me Lily? We had plans, you and I, remember? We were both planning to go to New York. Why did you back out?”

“You know very well why. I had other obligations, dad had just suffered a massive heart attack and had to go on an early retirement. Mom had to get a job just to keep things going. I just couldn't bring myself to leave them and move all the way to New York” she said, holding back tears. 

Lily continued, reaching over and touching Julie's hand, “Anyway, enough about my life. What about you Missy? What interesting things have been happening in your life now that you are a big Broadway star, living the high life in New York with your equally talented handsome actor husband?” 

Julie took her gaze away from Lily and looked out of the window as she replied with a faraway look in her eyes, “That equally talented handsome actor is no longer my husband, we divorced four months ago.”

“I am so sorry to hear that. What happened? You guys seemed so happy together! At least that's what I gathered from all the photographs you sent.” Lily asked startled by the news.

“Yeah, well, appearances can be deceiving,” Julie said with a nervous laugh as she picked up the menu card and pretended to go through it as the waitress approached to take their order. They both ordered some sandwiches and coffee. As the waitress left, Julie leaned over and whispered saying, “What happened to Martha? Where is she?”

“Sweetie, Martha passed on, two years ago. I believe I mentioned that in one of my emails to you, if you'd only bothered to read them once in a while, when you are not busy performing on stage” Lily said rolling her eyes, “besides we were talking about your life, so don't change the subject” Lily continued wagging a finger at her.

“Alright....alright!” she exclaimed defensively. It sort of happened, out of the blue. I guess we got to a point where we both realised that we were incompatible off stage. On stage we were electric, we were the “Dynamic Duo,” the magic lasted only till the end of each performance. I guess we were deluding ourselves, thinking that we could maintain that magic off stage. He moved out finally and filed for divorce” Julie said wiping away the tears that threatened to roll down her cheeks.

“I am truly sorry Jules” Lily said reaching out and touching her arm once again.

A few moments later their order arrived, once the waitress left, Lily looked at Julie with a quizzical yet suspicious look on her face.

“Why are you giving me that look?” Julie asked narrowing her eyes at her best friend. 

“What look?” Lily asked teasingly.

“Lilly Jane Adams don't pretend that you don't know what I am talking about. I know that look very well, it's your “What the heck are you up to? look.”

“Exactly! What the heck are you up to? What are you doing here after all these years? You vowed never to come back again as you couldn't wait to leave!” Lily asked matter of factly.

“Would you believe me if I told you that I missed you? That I wanted to see you again?” Julie replied 

“Yeah well, if that's the case then how come you didn't come to my wedding, or to both of my babies’ Christening? You had plenty of opportunities dearie!” Lily retorted giving Julie an accusatory glance.

“Guilty as charged!” Julie replied lifting her arms up as if being held at gun point. “I know I should have made more of an effort to be part of your life Lily, I am sorry!” she said glancing at her apologetically.

“That's alright, you had your busy and exciting life to lead in the big city. I had mine, however boring and insignificant it is” said Lily sadly.

“Hey come on now, I didn't say that your life is insignificant, did I?” asked Julie, slightly offended by the remark.

“No, you didn't, but my life must seem that way to you now, after living in New York all these years” said Lily.

“The reason I came back is, to finalize the sale of the house. I asked Chad to look into it. He finally found me a buyer” July said, her voice tinged with sadness.

“You sold the house?” asked Lily in shock.

“Yes, it's been many years since mom and dad passed on, and it has been uninhabited for quite sometime. Besides it's not like I am ever going to come back to live here again, so I decided the best thing to do, is to sell the property” Julie replied sighing.

“Chad never mentioned anything to me, why that scoundrel!” Lily retorted pounding her fist on the table.

“Whoa, take it easy there, tigress! Julie said chuckling. I instructed your brother to keep things quiet till the sale is finalized.”

Just then Julie heard a familiar voice from behind.

“So the rumours are true, Julie Collins is back!”

She turned and looked at the familiar face which belonged to that familiar voice. A face she knew too well, with blue eyes, dark hair, tall and handsome with a masculine physique, donning a Sheriff's uniform.

“Todd Michaels, is that you?” Julie asked taken aback by surprise.

“The one and the only, or I used to be, back in the day, at least to you that is” he replied sternly, gazing right at her.

Julie’s cheeks turned bright red at his comment as she cast her eyes down and gazed at her half eaten sandwich.

“Hey Lily” he said nodding towards her best friend. 

“Hey Todd” said Lily nodding back at him. “Would you like to join us?” she asked pointing to the empty space next to her.

“Don't mind if I do” said he, sliding in next to Lily, his eyes still fixed on Julie.

“So, what brings the famous Broadway star back here?” he asked, his words tinged with sarcasm.

“Now, Todd please be nice!” implored Lily.

“That's alright Lily, he has every right to be angry. I deserve that!” Julie replied finally looking up and locking eyes with her former high school sweetheart.

“You're damn right, you deserve it, for the way you sneaked out of here without even a proper good bye, or a note. How could you do that to me Julie, to any of us, you acted as if none of us mattered!” Todd yelled in anger as Lily urged him to calm down, glancing around nervously.

“The reason I didn't tell you I was leaving is because I knew you would try and make me change my mind, you could be very persuasive if you really put your mind to it.” Julie replied her gaze still fixed on him.

She continued after a brief pause, yes, I wanted to get out of here, yes, I wanted to make a better life for myself. Is it so wrong to want something more than what this little town had to offer?” Julie asked.

Just then Lily's phone buzzed, she picked it up off the table and checked her messages. “Guys, I am afraid I have to cut this short. My mom's having some folks from the church over and she wants me to pick the kids up asap, I will pay for my half of the lunch on my way out” she said as she put her cell phone in her hand bag and got up to leave.

“Hey don't worry, lunch is on me” Julie said smiling up at her.

“Yeah, Lily let the big Broadway star pick up the tab for you. I am sure she can afford it!” Todd said, his anger still unabated.

“Thanks Jules, don't forget about dinner tonight at my place!” Lily said as she started for the door.

“I’ll be there!” Julie looked back and yelled.

An awkward second passed before Julie continued. “Look, Todd I am sorry I left things the way I did. I didn't mean to hurt you or anybody. I know my actions may have been a little selfish and inconsiderate.”

She sighed heavily before continuing on.

“You aren’t angry at me for leaving. You are angry at me because I turned down your proposal. Because I refused to become like my mother, just another homemaker. You are angry at me because I refused to be tied down. That's why you proposed to me didn't you.....didn't you? You knew that I was planning to leave, so you decided the only way you could keep me here is by trapping me in a marriage!” Julie concluded looking straight at him with a defiant look in her eyes.

“Todd dropped his gaze, his anger now subsided and looked down at his palms before saying, “I may have had an ulterior motive when I proposed. You were always in a “New York State of Mind” all throughout high school. I didn't want to lose you, that's why I did it.

He looked up, his eyes filled with anguish as he continued, “we were so good together Jules, we could have made a good life for each other here, if only you'd given us a chance.”

“Todd, you knew deep down that I was never going to be the kind of woman you want me to be. I am way to high spirited, ambitious, way to independent for that. That's one of the reasons you fell in love with me, you said so yourself, back then, remember?”

Todd could only nod in agreement.

“It was so long ago, we were practically kids back then. We have grown up and moved on since then, you have a family now, a beautiful wife, three kids, it's what you’ve always wanted right?. Let bygones be bygones and not dwell on the past shall we?” Julie said looking earnestly at him.

He took his gaze away from her, for a moment looking out of the window and said, “It wasn't easy, getting over you, it took me quite a while to do so, I almost boarded a plane once, in the hope of coming to New York to find you, my pride got in the way, but you're right, we have moved on, and I am happy now.”

Todd brought his gaze back to her once again and smiled nodding in agreement saying, “Agreed!” as he extended a hand which she reached out and shook in agreement, with a perfectly manicured hand, as they broke out laughing.

“Just hang on a second here, how come you know so much about what's been happening in my life? Has Lily been feeding you information about me?” Todd asked suspiciously. 

“Chad told me” Julie replied.

“Chad?” he asked.

“Yes” she replied with a grin.

“So you’ve been inquiring about me?” Todd said with a cheeky smile.

“No, I haven't, he just mentioned it in passing” Julie replied feeling a little embarrassed.

“You've been in contact with Chad all these years?” he asked puzzled.

“He has been helping me with the sale of the house.” Julie replied.

“You sold the house?” Todd asked, surprised.

“Yes, I did” she replied.

They both fell silent for a moment. 

“Golly! I am starting to feel like ‘Melanie Carmichael’ from “Sweet Home Alabama!” Julie said grinning, finally breaking the silence.

“Except this ain't Alabama, girl, this is Nebraska!” said Todd mimicking a southern accent as they broke out laughing once again.


August 13, 2020 10:04

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Deepti Kumari
02:11 Oct 12, 2020

Well written. I am looking forward to your new story. Still I have a lot to read now. I loved it.


Melissa Hassan
02:33 Oct 12, 2020

Thank you very much Deepti. I am glad you loved it!😊


Deepti Kumari
03:07 Oct 12, 2020

It's my pleasure to read your work.


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Melissa Hassan
06:07 Aug 24, 2020

Your feedback is welcome.😊


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