>> Friday, April 10, 2009
Alberta seemed hesitant when Kate put the guitar in her hands and the strap over her shoulders. "What're we doing?"
Kate smiled at her. "I'm gonna teach you how to play." Alberta had been back a week, but things were different between the two of them. Alberta was hesitant as if she feared saying too much or much of anything at all. Kate had dragged her to the music room with the hopes of sorting things out under the comfort of the some-what sound proofed walls.
The guitar whined under Alberta's inexperienced fingers as Kate manipulated her hands to explain the idea of chords.
Gabe, as usual, was tied up finishing his work. (Kate was starting to think that Ms. Kerr actually gave him extra work to keep him in his seat longer.) It was the perfect time to be alone with Alberta and hopefully set whatever was broken between them straight.
Kate stood close enough to Alberta to smell the soft scent of roses which lingered in her brown curls. It was faint, but it reminded Kate of the sweet smell of the rose water Kate's mother had once used in a recipe of baklava. The entire kitchen had smelled of honey and other sweet things with the odd scent of roses mixed into the stove warmed air.
Alberta looked up from the guitar strings, an embarrassed smile on her face. "I don't think I'm going to be as good at this as you are."
Alberta's face was so close, Kate could see the pink beneath the soft skin of her cheeks. It was closer than they had been in weeks. Almost subconsciously, Alberta had been pulling away and staying away for the entire week she had been back. But now she was near with her warm scent and soft cheeks and even a sweet smile. Kate reached over and gently caressed Alberta's soft pink cheek. The heat that suddenly rose from Alberta's cheeks burned the backs of Kate's fingertips and she drew her hand away.
Kate felt herself blushing at her own folly. "Sorry! I just... I mean..."
With one of her small hands on her cheek, Alberta looked at Kate in such surprise, Kate wanted to kick herself. "But, but Gabe..."
Kate turned away as Alberta put the guitar down. Now she felt really foolish. The first thought on Alberta's mind after a gentle touch from Kate was Gabe.
Alberta's voice was soft and meek. "You two are going out, aren't you?"
"WHAT?" Kate turned on Alberta. "Where'd you get that idea? Did Glenda tell you that?"
Alberta's cheeks would have glowed in the dark. After another hesitation, she nodded silently.
Kate could not control the roll of laughter. The idea was absurd! Kate's heart had broken that first day back when Alberta had refused to sit or even stand near her. And it had broken each day since Alberta had returned as a sad shell of her former self with a huge invisible wedge stuck between the two girls. But now, after finally finding the missing piece, all she could do was laugh.
"Oh, Berta." Kate took Alberta's hands even as Alberta blushed bashfully. "He's been hanging around 'cause he's worried about you-- not to hang out with me. I'm probably the last person he'd hang out with if he had a choice."
Kate's own heart hit her in the chest as if it were shouting for her to shut her trap. Don't tell her, it yelled. But Kate loved her too much. "And he still is, you silly girl. Listen, school's almost over and the dunce is still working on his school work. There's going to be a get together at the beach over the weekend. Can you come? We'll sort things out with him then."
Alberta still looked hesitant. "I don't know. Maybe." Suddenly, Alberta looked at Kate with her large eyes and lifted eyebrows as if a thought just occurred to her. "But Kate..."
Kate waved her hand. "We'd better go get our stuff. It's almost time to go home."