You Are My Sunshine
Lydia looked up from the desk where she was working when she heard the doorbell ring. “Who is bothering me this morning?” she muttered, sliding her feet back into her slippers. She ran up the steps from the basement and groaned at the top. “Slow down, old lady. No need for your knees to hurt any more than they already do.”
When she got to the front door, she pulled it open and laughed at the sight of Beryl standing outside the storm door with a single red rose in her teeth and carrying a small bag from Sweet Beans.
“Come in,” Lydia said as she opened the door. “What are you doing up and about so early?”
“I’m spreading joy and sunshine. Happy Galentine’s Day!” Beryl held out the rose. “I love you.”
“Well, I love you, too. I can assume, but what is Galentine’s Day? It really just sounds like you have a cold.”
Beryl laughed. “It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? But I think it’s also fabulous. Tell me this isn’t one of your church lady days.”
“No,” Lydia said with a rumbling chuckle. “It’s not a church lady day. Why?”
“Because part of Galentine’s Day is having brunch with your best gals. I want to take you out.”
Lydia glanced toward the stairs leading to the basement. Everything else could wait. “Sure. Where are we going.”
“There aren’t many options in Bellingwood. How about the diner?”
Lydia reached over to unzip Beryl’s jacket.
“What are you doing, woman?” Beryl batted her hand away. “This isn’t about being sexy, it’s just us girls telling each other how much we love each other. Can’t you do that and keep your hands off me at the same time?”
“I just wanted to see what you were wearing. How fancy are you?”
“My lordie, chick-a-doo, you could have asked. I thought you were making a move.”
Lydia dropped her head and laughed. “Not likely, you dope. Are you all dressed up?” She gestured at herself. “Is this okay?”
“No, you aren’t okay. Put something nicer on than a sweatshirt and flappy pants. What are you even thinking? You’d never be seen in public wearing clothes like that.”
Lydia frowned. “We’re just going to the diner, right?”
“Yes, and people will see you. March your little legs up those steps and change into a nice outfit. Move it, young lady. Move it.”
“What’s in the bag?”
Beryl opened it so Lydia could peek inside and see a decorated heart cookie. “Does that satisfy your curiosity? Go, go, go.”
Lydia put on her best pouty face and stomped up the stairs to her bedroom. Since today wasn’t a church lady day, she’d been looking forward to spending time in her comfortable clothes, messing about in her own home. It would figure that Beryl had something different to say about that. And that, from the woman who was always complaining that she didn’t get enough time to work in her artist’s shed without interruptions.
She pulled a pair of blue jeans out and then opened a drawer to search for a sweater. She’d wear red tomorrow for Valentine’s Day, but today it would be … pink. That would hush the crazy woman downstairs. Lydia quickly changed, knowing that to leave Beryl alone for long could be disastrous.
When Lydia got to the bottom of the steps, she looked around for her friend. “Beryl? Where are you?”
“Find me!” Beryl called back.
Lydia walked into the kitchen and found Beryl standing on a stepstool, reaching into the cupboard over the refrigerator. “What in the world are you doing up there?”
“Isn’t this where you keep your vases? I was going to put the rose in water.”
‘No, that’s not where I keep them.” Lydia walked into the dining room and opened the hutch, pulled out tall crystal vase, and went back into the kitchen. “Now what are you doing?”
“I’m stuck. I can’t get down.”
“You have to be kidding me.”
“Not kidding you. Something’s caught up here. What am I going to do?”
Lydia walked around Beryl and looked up. “I see where you’re caught, but what is it?”
“I don’t know. Help me.”
“Can you lift your arm up and over it?”
Beryl scowled. “Do you really think I haven’t tried that? It won’t release me.”
“Please release me, let me go,” Lydia sang.
“I’m going to kick your butt when I get out of this mess. What nasty traps have you set for people up here?”
“Take off your jacket. Once you’re free from it, you can unhook the thing.”
“I’m not taking off my jacket,” Beryl said. “Who’s to say what you’ll do to me when you see my glorious form?”
“I know what you’re snagged on. It’s literally a hook. Aaron installed it to hang a banner that Trinity made for me at Christmas. You’ve got yourself all twisted up in it now. You have to take your jacket off.”
“Not until you leave the kitchen.”
Beryl repeated herself. “Not until you leave. Go. Away.” She spat out the last two words.
“Okay. I’m leaving.” Lydia headed for the dining room and said, “I’m gone. Now do your thing.” She listened to the sound of scuffling and a few curse words. Then she heard something hard hit the step stool. “What was that?”
“I kicked the stupid stool – getting me in trouble and all that. You should teach those things better manners. You can come back in now.”
“What is up with you and that jacket today? I’ve seen your entire wardrobe. Granted, most of it is pretty wild, but still.”
“Who’s driving? You or me? We have one more stop to make.”
“Maybe I should drive. We’d hate for you to get lost.”
Beryl grabbed Lydia and pulled her to the front door, stopping in front of the coat closet. “I’m driving. You won’t die. I promise.”
Lydia took her coat out, put it on, and followed Beryl to her car. “What’s this?” she asked when she opened the passenger door.
“We have another stop to make.”
“Andy?” Lydia picked up the rose and Sweet Beans bag and sat down, holding them on her lap.
Beryl got in and drove around the circle to the street. “She doesn’t have to be at the library until one o’clock. I called her and told her to be ready early today, that I had plans for her.”
“Why didn’t you call me?”
“Because I wanted to surprise at least one of you and I knew that you’d be kind to me. You’re kind to everyone.”
Lydia patted Beryl’s arm. “It’s because I love you.”
“Thank goodness,” Beryl replied.
They drove to Andy’s house and Beryl parked in the driveway, then took the bag and rose from Lydia. “You stay here. This won’t take as long as it did at your house.”
“Just stay out of her cupboards.”
True to her word, within minutes, the two women were in the car.
“Did you get her to unzip her jacket?” Lydia asked Andy.
“She won’t let me see what she’s wearing under there.”
Andy reached forward from the back seat and tried to pull Beryl’s jacket off her shoulder.
“Leave me alone, you crazy woman,” Beryl said. “You two are bound and determined to get me naked.” She headed for the highway. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” she sang. Then she poked Lydia. “See, I can sing songs too.”
“You make me happy when skies are grey.” Lydia returned.
Andy chimed in and the three of them continued. “You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
They giggled as Beryl turned north and headed for the downtown area. It was still early enough that the lunch crowd had yet to arrive at the diner, so she parked right in front.
“Come on, chickies. Let’s get our feedbag on.”
Lydia got out of the front seat and closed the door. “That is just gross. We’re not horses or cows.”
“We’re sunshine,” Andy said, jumping up onto the sidewalk and hooking her arm in Lydia’s. “She said so.”
They went inside and Lucy waved at them from the register. “Pick your table,” she said brightly. “I’ll be right there.”
Beryl pranced to a table right in the center of the room. “How’s this?”
“It’s fine,” Lydia said. “Though I’m a little worried about you.”
“You sit there.” Beryl pointed to the chair on her left. “Andy, you have to sit here.” She pointed at the chair on her right.
“What is up with you?” Andy asked.
Beryl slowly unzipped her jacket and held it closed. She loosened the cuffs at her wrists, then pulled it off in one swift move to reveal a hot pink sweatshirt. Rhinestone arrows pointed to her left and to her right. Above the left arrow, it read, “She loves me.” Under the right arrow were the words, “So does she.” When Beryl turned so they could see the back, in bright purple letters were their three names stacked on top of each other. “Lydia + Beryl + Andy = Galentine’s Day 2018.”
“What do you think?”
“You’re all sparkly,” Lucy said, coming up to the table. “That’s fantastic. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”
Lydia sat there, her mouth open. “I can’t imagine you ever will again.”
“Andy?” Beryl asked.
Andy blinked a couple of times, then pointed at Beryl’s chair. “Sit down. Everyone’s looking.”
“That’s what it’s all about. Are you ashamed to be my best Galentine?” Beryl brought her oversized bag up from the floor and took out two more pink sweatshirts. “Will you wear them?”
Lydia gulped. “Uhhh.”
With a laugh, Beryl shook one open. Embroidered over the chest was a very pretty heart with words inside that read “Galentine’s Day 2018.”
Andy hitched in a breath. “I’ll wear that. You had me a little nervous. I didn’t want to disappoint you because I would never wear that.” She pointed at Beryl’s shirt.
Beryl laughed. “I know you two very well and I adore you. Sometimes I need to get you out of your comfortable houses and mess with your minds a little. Lucy, what shall we have to celebrate Galentine’s Day?”