All About Amy
“How long has it been, ten years, more or less?”
“Probably more”, Cedric had always been the sarcastic one.
Amelia noticed. Her lips curled just a little. Cedric noticed.
“Have you come here before, I mean…”
“I know what you mean Cedric; I’ve always known what you mean.”
The silence that ensued was mysterious, not quiet, no exchanges, just the chilly winter wind of Lister street as Amelia clouded herself with the scarf.
“I have a couple of hours before I return home, do you want to get some dinner?”
Amelia seemed as if she didn’t care, Cedric knew the reality behind the scarf. She waited for a couple of seconds before she said a quiet yes.
She let Cedric lead even though she had been the one who had discovered the place where they were headed to. Amelia had left the city years back, Serena’s death had been too hard on her, or so Cedric maintained the story. She was married again, Cedric didn’t know the guy; he didn’t want to, there was no need.
Together in high school, everyone wished they would fall in love. Cedric was the guy they all fawned over. The only other person who received more attention at school was Amelia, herself. Only that the both of them hated each other then. College and blissful youth took over, as they made out on the university terrace, for the first time. Amelia let out a sigh as they walked together, separately.
“Anyone at home, I mean…”
Cedric shrugged, and walked carelessly, Amy could take care of herself; she always could.
“The usual…Amy ordered before taking her seat, Cedric looked at her, she was still that beautiful and she still knew what he would have wanted that night better than himself probably. Even the waiter remembered her. He stole a look at Cedric which was not retuned and walked off.
Marriage was amazing, quiet and wondrous, just the way the both of them wanted it. Serena was amazing too, mischievous and beautiful, seemed she had gotten the best of the both of them, a potentially dangerous mix, and then…
“So you still come here a lot?”
“No, not often, once in a couple of months may be, sometimes on a date”
Amy let out a small laugh. Ced asked if it was funny. Amy shook her head.
Leukaemia, the word was enough. It was impossible to say whom it crushed more. Ced wasn’t the same ever again, he was there nights and late nights, looking up research, the experimental studies. Amy was at the church every day. They were never together. They couldn’t speak at nights. They never made love for three years.
“Seeing someone Ced?”
“No one that would cause you any concern. Just the usual college babes”
“You know some parents wouldn’t like that”, Amy realised she had touched the wrong note before she finished.
“I think they would make an exception for a guy like me, you know I still make the most money east of The Avenue.”
Amy pressed her eyelids against her cheeks; he’d never allowed her to cry even through those years. It seemed he’d taken on the entire share for himself. It killed her to see the pain in his eyes.
“And it’s not like I screw them on the first date.”
“Ya, before the second one begins, then?”
Ced chuckled aside as he asked for a refill.
“Still one with the drinks, Ced,” Amy didn’t quite know why she said that, but then the pretty ones never do.
“Gotta have something to do, Amy, something…”
Serena passed away in the fall of 1996, they tried, but it was never the same, it seemed she had taken the best of them and disappeared. Ced took to drinking heavy and working late, Amy didn’t try to change him, she didn’t even wait for him to change. She filed the divorce, two years later, which Cedric signed the very next morning. He helped her pack, she had forgotten her scarf.
“Richard’s having a party for Beth’s birthday, this Sunday, I think you should come. She just turned eighteen.” Amy wasn’t sure what she was saying, not what she should be saying either.
“Shouldn’t be trying to make the old guy jealous, Amy”, he waited for that smile.
“So I’ll be expecting you then?” Ced nodded. Amy obliged.
He walked her to her car, back at the alley, held the door out open as she took her place.
“Be there, Ced, please.” Cedric hated when he was not given any options.
They were one of those couples who had everything. They looked amazing together, whisked off all the glamour at every party, Cedric was amazing at his work, whatever he did, made more money than anyone in high school, college, neighbours and was always at home before six. Amy was never more than fifteen minutes late. Serena was six when she was diagnosed. She was the strongest one it seemed. It made everyone weep when they caught her counselling both of them. Ced couldn’t speak when Serena was talking.
When Amy moved, they all wanted Ced to try something, everything. Ced did nothing. It seemed he was a different guy; only that they knew he wasn’t. He worked like he had never before, made partner in two years after they split. The closest that anyone ever got to the fantasy, was his friend, Daniel. Four years back, he had gotten Ced in to a tux, with a bunch of flowers, roses and all and driven him to Amy’s new place. What he’d seen in through the window had changed Daniel.
Cedric walked back to his place, poured himself a scotch, then another and waited for the alcohol to take over. He fell asleep on the couch.
Amy was whirling a kid, barely a teenager, in her arms. It was difficult to say who Ced was staring at. Beth or Amy. Daniel had known she was married, he didn’t know she was happy. Daniel drove him back from her doorstep, never said a word, neither did Cedric. Amy had been married for two years then. It seemed she had found what she had lived for, just not with the guy she had wanted to.
Cedric woke up late on Sunday. Amy would have been mad, he laughed to himself and poured himself some scotch. He had no intention of leaving the house. Amy would be glad. The phone rang and Ced picked it up. Amy was crying. He slammed the phone and was there at the house in an hour.
All through the twelve years, since they had moved on, Ced wished Amy never called, Amy lived up, but he still knew the voice.
She was at the door, curled up into one of those shawls, talking to a bunch of guys, policemen, paramedics, everyone. Ced couldn’t see Beth anywhere. He had never met her. He went inside without a word, closed the door from the inside and helped Amy to the sofa near the fireplace, and asked quietly, “Does Beth know?”
From the sobs all Ced could make out was a tainted, she saw…as he rushed up the stairs and knocked quietly. Beth was all eighteen, yet no more than a six year old at the time. Curled up into a corner, she looked up at the stranger that had entered.
Ced didn’t know what to say, finally he asked something like “Are you okay,”, then added that she should come down. He let mother and daughter alone as he stepped outside and completed all the formalities. Richard had stepped out of his car, when a freak accident had claimed his life. The birthday cake lay splattered across the lawn.
Eight months later, Amelia proposed to Cedric, for the second time. Cedric didn’t answer but asked, “Does Beth know?”. Eight months was a long time to know a person and Beth had known to like him a lot; not like a father maybe but definitely as a friend.
“She was the one who put me up to this.” Cedric smiled. Daniel was his best man, again.