Outside the Apollo Theater, the skies had opened up, and it was raining cats and dogs. Inside the theater, there was a growing standing ovation. Sarah stood up, clapping along with the rest of the theatergoers. Meanwhile, up on stage, eight ballerinas took a bow.
“That was a fantastic performance,” exclaimed Sarah, who jumped up and down with excitement, feeling lucky to have just witnessed that performance of Swan Lake. Sarah’s friend Jessie enjoyed the performance herself, although she didn’t find herself quite as exhilarated by the performance as her ballet-loving friend. “Yes, it was quite something,” mused Jessie.
Sarah and Jessie started toward the exits, donning their rain jackets and preparing their umbrellas. “Man, this weather is something,” Sarah said, zipping up her raincoat.
“I don’t remember the last time we had a good bit of sunshine. I guess that’s living in Grenvale for you.” Jessie suddenly held her stomach, just now realizing how hungry she was. “Hey, what do you want to do for dinner? I was thinking we could stop by Mama Melrose’s. I’m craving a calzone from there,” Jessie said.
“Sure,” said Sarah, realizing she was quite hungry as well.
They exited the Apollo Theater and stepped into the icy rain pelting at their raincoats and sloshing under their feet. They walked down Bardon Street, which was quite packed with people despite the torrential downpour. It doesn’t help that the theater had just let out. Sarah and Jessie looked both ways, then jogged across the street and over to Terrence Lane.
There, nestled in the corner between a bookshop and a café, was a soft glowing neon sign that said open. Mama Melrose’s didn’t look packed or even that busy, but again that could be because the weather wasn’t great, and most of the seating at the restaurant was outside.
Sarah and Jessie opened the door to a soft jingle of a bell hanging from the door handle. “Hey, Haddie!” shouted Sarah.
“Hey, ladies! Welcome in. Please grab a seat anywhere you like,” Haddie shouted back.
Sarah and Jessie grabbed a corner table toward the back of the restaurant. It was a cozy little place, with only about five tables indoors and bar-like seating but a huge back patio and seating out front. Inside, there were a few tables that led to the kitchen, with a pizza oven blazing that was viewable from the tables. The scent of dough wafted through the air, tantalizing Sarah and Jessie’s taste buds. Sarah noticed she started salivating. Maybe she was hungrier than she thought.
“So, ladies, what’ll it be today?” asked Haddie, taking out a small notepad and pen.
“I think I’ll have the pepperoni calzone,” stated Jessie, who also started salivating at the thought of a warm steamy dough pocket stuffed with gooey cheese and spicy pepperoni.
“As for me, I’ll take the personal pan pizza with pepperoni, green peppers, and mushrooms. Oh, and a Diet Coke, please,” said Sarah.
“No problem, ladies, I’ll be right back with your orders,” Haddie said.
“So, I’m guessing you absolutely enjoyed the performance today, as evident by the goofy grin on your face,” teased Jessie.
“Oh, you have no idea. This was the best birthday gift anyone could have given me,” stated Sarah, almost with tears stinging her eyes.
It was Sarah’s birthday, and for the most part, it was very low-key, with only a few coworkers wishing her a happy birthday. Sarah didn’t mind, though, as she got to spend the day with the person she was closest to, doing the thing she loved most. Sarah and Jessie had been friends for over twenty years, considering themselves to be sisters since they were so close. Sarah couldn’t think of a better way to spend her birthday than with an evening at the ballet with Jessie, followed by some delicious piping hot pizza.
“Here you ladies are. One personal pan pizza with pepperoni, green peppers, and mushrooms, and a Diet Coke, and one cheesy, spicy pepperoni calzone,” said Haddie.
“Looks delicious, thanks, Haddie,” said Sarah.
“Yeah, thanks, Hads,” quipped Jessie.
Sarah grabbed a slice of her pizza, a long string of cheese still connected to the rest of it. She took a bite.
“Oof ah hah hot, so hot,” breathed Sarah, huffing and puffing, trying to cool down the piece of steaming hot pizza currently burning her mouth.
“Oh, but so delicious,” Jessie said, biting into her own steaming hot calzone.
“So,” started Jessie, with a knowing grin spreading across her face. “Have you given any more thought to starting an iMatch account?”
“Oh boy, here we go,” groaned Sarah.
Jessie had been trying to get Sarah to join iMatch for a few weeks now, constantly pestering her with questions about it. Sarah understood Jessie’s intent, trying to help and get her mind off Jake, but Sarah still didn’t feel totally ready to get back out there. Sarah and Jake had dated for eight months, and Sarah thought things were going well and progressing at a good speed. That is until Jake decided he liked her coworker better.
That’s the problem with dating people at work. Jake ended up breaking it off with Sarah, and to Sarah’s surprise, her heart hurt a lot more than she was expecting. It had only been eight months, and it wasn’t like they had discussed much of the future together, like getting engaged and married and starting a family, so why did she find herself so down about it?
“C’mon Jessie, you know I haven’t yet. I just don’t feel ready to get back out there,” said Sarah, taking another bite of her food.
Outside, the rain started to slow, now only a drizzle. Inside, Sarah and Jessie finished their food. “Thanks so much, Hads, that was delicious,” Jessie said.
“Yeah, that was so good,” Sarah said
“It definitely hit the spot,” Jessie stated.
“No problem, ladies, thanks for stopping in,” replied Haddie.
Sarah and Jessie stood and put on their rain gear and walked out the door. “So, you up for some drinks now, birthday girl?” asked Jessie, nodding over to the direction of the Rootin’ Tootin’ bar.
“Nah, I think I’m going to pass. I have to get home to feed Rosco and go to sleep as I have an early wake-up call tomorrow for work,” replied Sarah.
“Aw boo, okay then, maybe Thursday we can meet up for drinks.”
“Sure, I get off work early, so that’s perfect.” Sarah and Jessie hugged each other and started off in opposite directions. Sarah crossed the street and headed toward home on Delaney Ave.
Sarah lived in a small one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo on the upper eastside of Grenvale, close to the art scene and close to her job as a dance instructor. Her home was cozy, giving off Scandinavian hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) vibes. In the living room was a big comfortable sofa with a pair of cashmere socks on the ottoman and a big plush blanket draped over the back of the sofa.
Across from the sofa was a fireplace with a gorgeous marble mantle. To the left of the living room was the kitchen, with its soft green cabinets and butcher block countertop, with a beautiful bronze faucet and cabinet pulls. To the back of the living room were Sarah’s bedroom and bathroom, continuing the warm and cozy vibes.
“Hi Rosco!” exclaimed Sarah. “Oh, you’re probably hungry, aren’t you, you poor thing?” Rosco was Sarah’s American Staffordshire Terrier mix she rescued from the pound a year ago. He was a beautiful brindle boy with white facial markings and white ‘socks.’
“Woof woof,” Rosco barked, wagging his tail.
Sarah walked over to the pantry and opened it up, grabbing the bag of dog food out. She grabbed Rosco’s bowl and poured some food into it. “Here you go, boy. Aww, who’s a good boy?” said Sarah, Rosco wagging his tail the entire time.