Copyright, Frances Metzman, Reunion, 2018
It had taken Toni two hours to put herself together for the reunion with Caroline and Lana, two women who had meant so much to her in the past. Until a week ago she hadn’t seen or heard from either one of them for sixteen years. At first, they had occasionally phoned then e-mailed, and after all communication stopped, they lost track of what everyone was up to.
Studying herself in the mirror, Toni hoped she gave the appearance of success, confidence and a woman who had arrived. In the last year an urge to meet up with the old friends had become progressively stronger until Toni got their new e-mail addresses through old friends and made the arrangements. They all decided to wait until they met to play catch-up. She wanted to show her mentors how far she had come from being an administrative assistant, a euphemism for secretary, at Scarducci, Adden and Drugers. The law firm had hired her straight out of high school. Caroline and Lana were newly graduated young lawyers at the same firm who, unlike Toni, had grown up privileged.
Although Caroline and Lana had treated her well, Toni felt that she didn’t measure up to them because she couldn’t afford to go to college. She always felt on the rim of their friendship. Despite having been invited to both their homes on a couple of occasions, in her perception, she never entered the inner circle of their lives. Looking back, she knew that feeling opaque in their presence was because of her own insecurities. Yet, undeniably, knowing them had been a life-changing experience. She could now present herself as a person of substance.
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REDEMPTION, COPYRIGHT, 2012, FRANCES METZMAN
Joanne Simpson sat on the edge of the pew in her beloved church. Never before had she experienced the least bit of distress inside the house of worship that influenced most of the people living in her tiny town – spiritually as well as socially. A nervous buzzing, like a hive of bees trapped inside a wall echoed off the wooden walls. Some parishioners whispered to each other and a few stared intently straight ahead.
Until today, entering the church had always given her the sensation of just having been baptized in cool, sparkling water, a feeling that had started when she was only eleven and never went away. That’s why Joanne insisted that her eleven-year old daughter, Tina, attend services with her. She wanted her to have the same experience, but according to Tina it hadn’t happened as yet. Joanne had faith.
Every Sunday the minister’s simple and direct sermon brimmed with love and caring. They always touched Joanne deeply, a reminder that her fellow parishioners were like family. Her religion provided sustenance for the struggles of a single parent facing everyday life. She barely kept her head above water.
The minister, Reverend Henry Lukuns, cleared his throat. “I beg each and every one of you to welcome our new member, James Anderson, when he comes to church next Sunday. We are all about forgiveness and love. Jesus welcomed sinners and good people alike, bringing those on the wrong path into his fold. We must do the same. James Anderson has paid the price to society by serving a long jail term, and is declared reformed by the system.” The minister bowed his head. Then he looked up.
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