Written Fireside — Changes Part 3
“This moment, this moment,” Marie coached herself as she squeezed and mixed paints on her palette. She challenged herself to see the Zach sitting right in front of her, and stop recalling the Zach ‘of the glorious summer,’ as she’d come to call it in her head. The doctor at her mother’s bedside after the accident had recommended the hospital’s free Meditation and Mindfulness classes. Reluctantly, she had gone, but only as an alternative to anti-anxiety medication. “Marie,” Dr. Callender had advised, “You’re a young woman, but if you don’t learn to breathe, you’re on the road to a heart attack, or stroke, or worse.”
For the next two hours, Marie allowed herself the pleasure of drinking in the beauty of Zach’s muscled shoulders, the tension of the waves in his hair, the long lines of his smooth torso. She painted what she saw, not what she dreamed. A man, not a fantasy.
“Wonderful, wonderful,” the instructor sighed. “I can see you’re not a beginner.”
“No,” Marie replied, “I have a Bachelor’s in fine art,” she said with confidence. Mother had fought her tooth and nail about her major. In the end, they compromised. Marie slogged through a minor in business, just to keep the peace. She swirled more gold into Zach’s hair. It looked like melted fire.
“So you’re an artist?”
“No, I’m a graphic designer at a direct marketing firm. Well, I was, until today.”
“Good,” the woman’s eyes twinkled. “If you’ve free time, we hope to see you here often.”
Marie laughed a mirthless laugh. “I’m pretty sure any free time I have is going to be spent explaining to my mother why I walked out of a perfectly good job in this economy, then revamping my office resume and standing on line at the unemployment office. This may have been my last hurrah.”
“We aren’t going anywhere. We’re here when you’re ready for us.”
When class was over, Marie broke down her workspace, and headed to her car. Zach stood surrounded by the women from the class. Typical. He’d always gotten that kind of attention wherever they’d gone together. “It doesn’t matter who’s looking at me, Marie. I don’t see them, because I’m only looking at you,” he’d told her. Until he wasn’t anymore. She didn’t glance backward as she blew out he door.
Tossing her purse into the passenger’s seat, Marie turned her key in the ignition. Nothing. She banged her head on the steering wheel. Now that she was unemployed, the last thing she needed was a bill from the garage. She jumped out and propped open the hood of her car. What she was looking for, she didn’t know. Why had she stopped here? She needed to pick up Mother’s medication. Marie could feel her heart starting to pound. And the groceries. There wasn’t any milk in the house. How would she get to the unemployment office? She felt lightheaded.
“Looks like you could use a jump start,” Zach’s voice said softly in her ear. Gently, he put his hands on her shoulders and steered her back to the driver’s seat. “Let me help you. Please.”