Episode 093

Melinda’s Journal

Saturday, December 30

When I was little, my mother used to take me to New York City for our special mother-daughter day. It began with a train ride to the magnificent Grand Central Station. We would spend the morning walking through the bustling city, visiting famous landmarks. We would buy pretzels from the cart and visit the candy store.

And then we would go see the Rockettes. I always hoped that some someday I would be able to dance like them, with their straight lines and precise moves. Every show, they would line up at the front of the stag,, throw their arms around each other’s shoulders like they were best friends, and kick their legs high in the air. I always squealed in delight. It was my favorite part.

I’ve given up on my dream of joining the Rockettes and I haven’t been to New York in a couple of years. But, I am looking forward to exploring the city today.

Melinda’s Story

The lounge was a little larger than the other room I had been in. There was a refrigerator full of water bottles and a counter full of snacks. One wall was lined with windows that looked down on Times Square. I stared down, mesmerized, while Sarah’s phone rang.

“Hey! What’s up?” Sarah’s face flooded the screen.

“Did you know that the first parachute was invented in 1797?”

“You’re hanging out with Walterpedia!”

“Actually, I’m hanging out with Sammy McSmartyPants. Walter brought me into the studio while he worked.”

“That’s so cool!”

“It was at first. But, after he said that bit about the parachute ten times, I realized how boring this is going to be.”

“Are you there by yourself?”

I nodded. “Meghan escorted us here. She promised her mom to make sure we stayed safe.”

“She drove you there?”

I angled my phone to look out the window. “We’re in the city. Took the train.”

“Awesome! But I thought Walter was going away for break.”

“He was. They stopped back here for a few days and I went to Walter’s place yesterday. Spent the night and today–”

“Wait a minute. Start over. You spent the night at your boyfriend’s house and you didn’t lead with that?”

I sank into the couch, my voice quiet. “We broke up,”

“WHAT?” Sarah shouted so loudly, I was afraid she would interrupt Walter’s recording session. “That should have been the first words out of your mouth! What happened?”

I told Sarah the entire story. Although I wasn’t sobbing, I couldn’t prevent the tears from falling.

Sarah frowned as I wiped one away. “Oh! I wish I could hug you right now!”

I sniffed. “Walter’s been great with the hugs.”

As if on cue, Walter sat beside me and drew me close. “Couldn’t help but overhear. Hey, Sarah.”

 Sarah narrowed her eyes at him

 “How could you let this happen? She said you were sitting in the same room!”

I sighed. “Sarah. It’s done. Get over it.”

 “But you guys were, like, the perfect couple. This is like when Larry and I broke up, isn’t it? It’s just a temporary thing.”

“Sarah?” Walter sent her a pointed look. “I think we should drop it.”

“I’m fine.” I couldn’t quite keep the frustration out of my tone. “I broke up with him, remember? But I really don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

Thankfully, Sarah got the point and let the conversation die. She told me a little about her vacation while Walter had a snack. When the sound engineer, Steve, came to tell Walter the director was back on the line, I used that as my excuse to end the call.

The recording session lasted about two hours, during which Walter re-recorded about five minutes of the cartoon.

“So,” Walter said cheerfully as we left the studio. “We have a couple of hours before the train. What do you wanna do?”

“Aren’t we supposed to tell your sister we’re done?”

Walter made a face. “I don’t need a babysitter. I need a snack. I’m hungry. What sounds good?”

“I want a pretzel. Whenever I come to the city, I need to get a pretzel from a cart.”

“Gee. Where are we going to find a ubiquitous cart?”

“There’s one right there.” I pointed to a corner. “And another one over there. And that’s why you were being sarcastic. Ubiquitous means–”

“They’re everywhere.” Walter smiled as he approached the nearest vendor. “I’ll have a hot dog, please.”

After grabbing our snacks, Walter led me to Rockefeller Center, where we found a warm spot inside to sit and watch people ice skating while we ate our snacks. As he popped the last bite of his hot dog into his mouth,  his phone rang.

He smiled as he accepted the video chat. “Hey! Happy almost new year.”

“Hey,” I heard Zayne reply. “Whatcha up to?”

“I came to New York for the day.”

I pointed to a corner of the room where he would have more privacy. And I wouldn’t have to listen to him being so happy when I was so miserable. He nodded and walked away.

My heart ached as I sat alone. Many of the skaters were couples, holding hands and laughing. Watching them made me want to call Pat, to see his face, hear his voice.

But, I couldn’t. I had ended things. And, as much as it hurt, I still believed I had made the right decision. I wasn’t ready for such an intense relationship. This pain was proof of that, wasn’t it?

I knew Walter had no intention of contacting his sister, so I texted her an update on our location. Meghan replied almost immediately that we should stay put. About five minutes later, she called me.

“Where are you guys?”

“We went inside the building. I’m not exactly sure where. We’re near where the skaters get on the rink. I’m looking at an ATM. Does that help you?”

Meghan laughed. “Actually, it does.” She hung up and a few moments later was by my side.

“Where’s Walter?”

I pointed to the corner where Walter was still talking to Zayne. “Talking to his girlfriend.”

Meghan pouted. “When I asked him if he had a girlfriend, he flat out told me no.”

“Technically, they’re not together. But they both want to be.”

“Like you and Pat?” Meghan put an arm around me.

“I thought I was making the right decision, but—”

“But why does it hurt so much?”

I nodded, and Meghan squeezed my shoulder. “He came to talk to me last night. He’s just as heartbroken as you. But if it makes you feel any better, I think you did the right thing. I know you guys were happy together, but I know my brother. And I don’t think he was ready for such an intense relationship.” Meghan jumped to her feet. “But no more of that. I wanna show you around.”

She snuck up behind her brother. “Walter. Say goodbye to your girlfriend. We’re going to the theater.”

Walter’s face turned red. “She’s not—I never said—”

I laughed as I followed Meghan out of the building. Now that I was putting a little weight on my ankle, I found I could walk pretty quickly and had no problem keeping up with Meghan, who walked briskly as many New Yorkers did.

Walter caught up with us near the exit. “Why’d you say that? How’d you even know who I was talking to?”

When Walter glared at me, I did my best to shrug with crutches under my arms.

Meghan led us to an alley in the Broadway district, where she went in a door labeled Brock. Having danced nearly my entire life, I immediately recognized we were backstage in some theater.

There were set pieces and props scattered about. I saw many musical instruments as well. Stage hands dressed in all black were having some sort of pow-wow in one corner. Everyone else, it seemed, was sitting in the theater while a man stood talking to them from the stage.

“Meggy, darling,” cooed a voice behind them. “I didn’t think you were coming till tomorrow.”

I turned to see a woman slightly taller than me, her silver hair knotted behind her head. She wore a tailor’s measuring tape around her neck and an apron with scissors sticking out of a front pocket. Walter immediately gave the woman a hug.

“Hey, Granny. This is my friend Melinda.”

“Hello, dearie,” Granny hugged me as well, even though we had never met.

“Hi, Mrs. McGregor.”

Meghan waved a sweeping hand. “So, this is Pop-Pop’s newest play. I’ve been working with Granny.”

“Really?” Walter was clearly surprised. “I didn’t know you liked that sort of stuff.”

“Turns out I do.” Meghan shrugged, but she was beaming with excitement.

I looked around. “Um, what sort of stuff?”

Granny laughed. “I design the costumes for my husband’s productions.”

I looked at Walter. “So, your grandfather is a major Broadway producer, your grandmother is a costume designer, your father and uncles are rock stars, your mother and you guys are all in show business. Your uncle is your show-business lawyer. Do you have any family members not in the entertainment industry?”

Granny smiled. “I have a grandson who is an orthodontist. I’m very proud of him.”

Walter smirked. “We don’t talk about him very much.”

Granny was old enough to have retired before I was even born, so it didn’t surprise me to see she had many assistants who did the majority of the work. Meghan had been serving as Granny’s personal assistant, mostly fetching supplies and taking notes. Today, however, Walter and I watched as actors arrived for costume adjustments. Pop-Pop came to greet us and invited us to watch the dress rehearsal, but Walter explained we had a train to catch.

Before we left, I saw Meghan huddled in a corner with one of the stage hands. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I was pretty sure it had nothing to do with the musical.

Apparently Walter had seen the exchange as well, because as soon as we were out of the theater, he asked in a sing-song voice, “So? Who was that?”

Meghan blushed. “Kyle. He’s my diet buddy.”

“Your what?”

Meghan sighed. “So, there’s this support group at the hospital for kids with diabetes. When I got sick this fall, my doctor suggested I go, even though I told him I was too old. Kyle was a volunteer, which thankfully everyone assumed I was too. Anyway, Kyle and I check in with each other to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves. I was telling him about my new cookie recipe.”

“And it’s a coincidence he’s working here?” Walter’s tone was so protective, he reminded me of Pat.

Meghan rolled her eyes. “No. I got him the job. He’s in acting school, like half the people in the city.”

I smiled. “He’s cute.”

“And he’s got a girlfriend, so we’re just friends. Okay?” She gave her brother a pointed look, which he ignored.

Walter said nothing as Meghan escorted us to the subway. She stayed with us while we bought soups at a restaurant in the Grand Central Station food court. After she escorted us to our train, Walter and I both hugged her goodbye and she disappeared, presumably to her apartment.

“So, did you have fun?” Walter asked as we ate our soup.

I nodded. “Thanks for letting me tag along. Helped take my mind off . . . things for a while.”

He gave me a quick shoulder hug. “It’ll get better. So, what’re we gonna do at your place?”

I smiled. “Well, tonight we could probably just watch tv, but tomorrow we get to babysit.”

Pat’s Story

Pat’s story will return in Episode 94.

Attention Hammerheads

Melinda is always trying to build her vocabulary. What were some words in this episode that were new to you? She will add them to her vocabulary journal.