“Now remember, we want to be firm but loving,” said Oliver as they climbed the steps to a small red brick house. He was constantly taking the lead in their friendship and this instance was no different. David was grateful for he already felt at a loss for words. They both stood in front of the yellow door, hesitating as to who should knock or ring the doorbell. They gave each other peripheral stares, hoping the other would take that first step.
“Once we start, there’s no going back, you know. We have to see this thing through.” Oliver claimed, keeping his gaze on the door. David nodded again. He took a deep breath and raised his fist, preparing to knock. Instead, he looked over to Oliver and asked:
“Who in their right mind paints a door yellow?” For a moment both men contemplated the question. Then, Oliver remembered the reason for their visit. He slapped David’s shoulder, urging him with his eyes. The man knocked on the yellow door. He used two hard knocks that betrayed the uncertainty of the knocker.
They heard shuffling from inside. A soft melodic voice begged for a moment of patience. Oliver shuffled from his left foot to his right foot while David adjusted his hair, using the reflection of the window.
When the door finally opened, a beautiful lady stood at the entrance. Her skin glowed, sun kissed, a light shade of mocha. She wore her dark hair in short curls. Her eyes shinned a light shade of brown, speaking of joy and serenity.
“Serena. Sorry if we’re bothering you. We were in town and thought to come see how you were doing.” Her smile froze and some of the light dimmed as Oliver spoke. She turned on her heels, walking away, leaving the men at the door slightly confused.
“Well, don’t just stand there! Come in and close the door!” She called out from the kitchen. Sounds of pots being shuffled could be heard.
Once inside, Oliver closed the door and went straight to the kitchen. David lingered behind, looking around. He was not very comfortable with Oliver’s mission and wanted as little involvement as possible. Instead, he too the time to notice the clean welcome mat on the white tile entrance. Gazing up, he noticed a picture hanging on the wall. It was taken in a park, on a bright sunny day. Serena stood by a tree, smiling that warm smile she was known for. In the picture, her smile had more passion and lust for life. David felt that there was something wild she was holding back, waiting for the right moment to pounce. It was a far cry from the smile that greeted him today. This one was more motherly and calm with an acceptance of whatever was to come. She wore a green summer dress that blew in the wind. A tall dark man dressed in a shirt and slacks stood behind Serena, his arms wrapped around her shoulders. His face radiated joy as well. David thought the moment was beautifully captured.
“Joy frozen in time,” he mumbled, walking on to join Oliver in the kitchen.
They were already sitting at the kitchen table. Oliver had a hand on Serena’s shoulder. David walked in, going straight for the cupboard above the sink. That’s where he found a bottle of rum. He proceeded to prepare drinks for the three of them, glad to have something to keep him busy.
“We’ve missed you, Serena. Ally and the baby send their love.” Oliver started, letting his hand slip down her arm, now holding her hand. Serena watched their hands, resting on the dinner table. She sighed and removed her hand.
“I’ve been busy,” was all she replied. David brought the drinks and all three drank their first sip quickly, making each other nervous in the silence that followed. Finally, Serena turned to Oliver.
“How’s business going?” Her question was given in a nonchalant manner, betraying any attachment to the record store. She refilled everyone’s glass. Oliver smiled, drinking down his second serving of alcohol. He savored the warmth that spread from his stomach to his limbs.
“Good. I’m selling more of the classic records these days. It seems like kids are gaining an appreciation for the good stuff.” He explained.
“I miss singing with you guys,” she whispered, more to her drink than her guests. Another moment of silence entered the room. It felt like an uninvited guest that you weren’t certain how to ask it to leave. Serena looked at her guests furtively, Oliver kept opening and closing his mouth as if he had something to say but would forget and take a sip of his drink while David looked around, studying the kitchen and its simple décor.
“So…I have to ask…Why paint the door yellow?” He broke the silence with a question he deemed harmless. Looking over at Serena, he had a perplexed look to his face. Oliver kicked him while Serena cocked an eyebrow at both of them. She wasn’t certain how to handle them.
“How about something to eat? I just finished baking a strawberry pie.” She didn’t wait for an answer. In a graceful move, she was up and fussing around, getting plates, forks and a knife. She brought the pie to the table, humming a vague song as she served her guests.
“Alla says you sold the gallery and that now you work as a bank teller. That sounded kind of strange to me. I wanted to hear for myself if it was true.” Oliver finally confessed. For a moment, Serena stopped mid-cut, then resumed her actions, shaking her head and forcing a smile.
“Yes, it’s true. I sold the gallery, gave up on singing and now I’m working nine to five, Monday to Friday, in a bank.”
David, who had already started eating the pie, dropped the fork. Serena and Oliver looked at him as he fumbled to pick it up.
“Sorry…this pie…it’s just….It’s so delicious.” He mumbled his mouth full of strawberries and crust. Serena turned to Oliver and said:
“I’m happy now, that’s what’s important.”
“You turned your back on all your friends, you sold your gallery after working five years to make it successful and you quit singing, which had been your passion since you could talk. Don’t lie to me and say you’re happy!” Oliver’s reply was more violent then intended. He held her gaze, searching her eyes for an answer to such a drastic change in lifestyle.
“People change all the time. Why can’t you just accept it?” Her voice fell to a whisper before breaking away by finishing her drink. She busied herself again by making a third round for all.
“Yes, people change,” Oliver acknowledged.“It’s usually a slow evolution. A logical progression based on life’s events. Traumatic events can bring on sudden changes but nothing happened to you recently. Unless there’s something you’re not saying.”
Serena calmly sat down, unable to find an excuse to avoid Oliver. She sighed, wanting her friends to understand and if not understand, to accept and leave her to her new world.
“Nothing, Oliver. I woke up one morning, looked myself in the mirror and decided that it wasn’t me. I’m sorry to say this but that’s all there is to it. Now, eat your pie and leave.”
Oliver pushed his plate away
To read more and to find out how you can contribute to the journey, visit