365 Challenge: Day 48/365

Denise loved spending time with her cousin, Melina. It was especially important to her these days, when quality time with family and friends was so precious and little. They were both in their twenities, each with their own lives they had created for themselves. Melina went to school, earned her law degree, and now worked in a downtown office in the next town over, as the apprentice to a big-shot lawyer. Having played out her stint in apartment living, Melina grew tired and decided to move back to the cattle ranch she and Denise had grown up on — Which was where they were now, sitting on the patio of Melina’s small cottage home, looking out at the valley below as the sun set behind them. Denise thought her cousin was crazy for driving that much of a distance two and from work. But Melina had assured her that she wouldn’t have to work that far away for long.
Denise, on the other hand, took a different path in life. Job seeking in Tucson had been hell, and when she did finally land a job, it ended up being a process of jumping from job to job. It wasn’t until Denise was almost twenty-one years of age that she would land a job and stick with it. That was around the time she met her husband, Kris. A year later, she jumped ship with some friends, taking a leap of faith towards an even better career opportunity, and now because of that she worked on a computer all day, processing auto insurance claims and never having to speak to a single soul over the phone. Which suited her quite well.
For about six months after they graduated, the cousins had lost touch with each other. It was the longest they would ever go without even speaking. So during this adventure of trying to find themselves in this big world, they always made time for each other here and there. But life seemed especially busy these days, with no sign of letting up. See, it was almost a year ago that Denise gave birth to a son. Little Liam was with her in-laws, spending time with his nana and papa while she visited home and got a break from “real-life.” But the tiny human was her world, her rock. She would do anything for him. Anything.
And so would Kris. The love of her life. Father to her only child. A man on a business trip for his family. A provider. She hadn’t had much of a romantic life before Kris. In fact, she hadn’t really had one at all. Nevertheless, once Kris came around, none of that mattered anymore, and her life started to come together and make sense. Unlike Melina. It wasn’t that she went through a lot of boyfriends, just that she couldn’t find the right man for the life of her. That was the topic of discussion now, sitting at a table on Melina’s patio. Melina held a cigarette in one hand and a tall, cold glass in the other. She puffed on the cancer stick. “I’ve been thinking more lately about having kids.”
Denise looked across the table at her. She, too, had a glass, which sat in front of her. It was the same thing Melina was having — a fruity cocktail that consisted of tequila. Don’t do it before you’re married, she wanted to tell her younger cousin by only half a year. But she didn’t. She always knew better than to play mother to a stubborn ol’ Adams girl. It would only lead to empty frustration. Melina was going to do what Melina was going to do. Not that she was wreckless about it. Most of the time, Denise was okay with that. Yet… Sometimes, it made her a bit nervous. She made herself seem only mildly curious when she asked, “Like, seriously?”
Melina nodded, heaving a sigh of white smoke. Crushing out her cigarette, she added, “With the right man, of course.” Then with a bit of a sad smile, she said, “I want what you have, you know?”
“Give it time.”
Melina leaned back in her chair, crossed her legs, and took a big drink from her glass. Denise took a drink as well and settled in.
“He needs to hurry up, dammit!” Said Melina, referring to the right man in her future. “Biological clock’s a  tickin’!” She made a gesture to her wrist, as if she had an actual watch.
Denise chuckled. “Yeah, right!”
Melina cackled. There was the vital, everpresent, animated Mel that Denise and family knew and loved. Yet every so often, for a few precious seconds, such as what just was, Mel would show a more vulnerable side — more like a flash of it, just enough that one knew it was there, yet  quick enough that they would question it’s existence it was gone. Truthfully, both women could be quite mysterious, even to each other. Each were the same in that they each had deep-seeded insecurities about themselves and fears about their futures, with a hardened surface to try and hide them. Melina almost always made an effort to be happy, playful, and fun. Denise was the more serious one. Both were tough as nails.
As the night wore on and they continued to drink and talk and laugh, the valley grew gradually darker. They visited until long after the sun had completely disappeared and in the distance was nothing but a smattering of city lights illuminating a black horizon.
Denise knew that wherever life took them from here, they would be okay. She just hoped they stayed close. She wanted Liam to know Mel, wanted her a part of all the big life events that were still to come. And she wanted to be a part of that for Melina, too. Their children will be close. Yes, with most of the family up here torn apart, it would be great to see a little piece of it surviving the test of time. Never broken, though at times it had been bent. Theirs was by no means a perfect relationship, but what was? People have to go through things in life in order to have a close, strong bond. Otherwise, anything can break it. Denise and Melina had that bond. It was more than friendship, it was blood. In this case, it was proven to run thicker.

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