Maeve and Azumi have been living together in a beautiful uptown loft for almost four years. They’ve been close friends ever since they met each other at a party in their early university years. Both now almost entering their 30s, some drastic changes would soon be put into motion. Other commitments in their lives were now overlapping with their friendship. Azumi is a laid-back girl with a rich background of Japanese culture. She is an artist with a prominent art gallery that houses pieces that depict her family lineage and have also even made it into Time Magazine once. Maeve is a hot-shot lawyer who graduated top of her class, something that her Ghanaian parents were so proud of that they started calling her ‘your honour’. Her strong character and brute force works so well in her work-life but, her humorous lighter side shines out whenever it wants.
Azumi, an extremely outward thinking individual, unknowingly started this short and awkward debacle. Her intention was to know what’s next for them after so much success in their careers. She burnt hot and cold almost sparking three to four conversations in one go and somehow linking them all up in the end. Maeve found this irresistible. Despite Azumi’s talkative nature, she never worked well with emotions and poured it all into her artwork instead. However, on this specific day, her emotions had got to her hard and she wondered what she would do next with herself. Her mind was somewhat uncharacteristically blank.
Maeve, an intelligent free-thinker, was never shy to show her emotions especially with Azumi even though she knew her friend found it hard to handle. The hustle and bustle of being a lawyer came with great rewards. However, her down time and social life were extremely affected. Maeve stopped going on dates two years back after hitting multiple brick walls in the love department. She put it on hold and focused on more career success while being content with living with her best friend and first ‘love’. Maeve and Azumi were inseparable but, somehow, they both knew that the call of family would soon come. How they thwarted this out now would determine where they stood together in future.
It was important for them to go through this because their bond was like no other. Even their families thought they were more than just best-friends at some point.
This bond would be tested when Azumi flirts at the possibility of moving on from their friendship. This would pose a danger to Maeve who seemingly thinks the world of Azumi. Maeve had gotten so comfortable being with her she continuously brushed aside the idea of finding a partner and starting a family. She wasn’t ready for the conversation. Like most serious issues they talked about, the laid-back intellectual in Azumi would always come out on top because of the sense she brought forward. To further compound things, Maeve found it hard to make bonds in her cooperate life. Her ties with Azumi are the only strings she has to sanity outside the life of being a lawyer.
The conversation is set in their home where the couch area plays a significant role. The silence around it on this day is louder than usual. As they sat on the ‘views of couch’ (named that way because of the serene views captured from their rustic chesterfield couch) Maeve had her legs on top of Azumi’s lap who was busy admiring the summer sunset. You could lose time just sitting and gazing at the magnificent ambiance. The couch sat in the far corner of the loft. It looked out towards a vibrant city of lights clustered around the bottom of an ancient rocky mountain. Scattered patches of silver-white snow mixed with a thicket of green shrubs could be seen at the highest peak. And on the other side, an ocean glistened different shades of blue as the seasons went by. Maeve was busy completing some work on a criminal case and desperately looking to get some tickets for a music show to surprise Azumi.
A deep in thought Azumi trying to find the ‘right’ words:
“You knowwwwww, the mountain looks like a biiiiiig lump of chocolate ice-cream again, with tiiiiiiny golden sprinkles at the bottom, I wonder what’s showing on the telly tonight”, she says, while forcing a grin trying to hide the fact that she isn’t really talking about the view.
Her vowel inflections are up and down with syllables held out longer than usual highlighting her intent on trying to reveal a deeper meaning. Her braces are almost always in the way making it sound like a squeaky voice speaking through a cotton-stuffed pipe.
Maeve would soon respond but, she would disregard the part about the television. She was good at multitasking but, her heart was set on giving Azumi the best present ever. She doesn’t recognize Azumi’s delicate signals and indulges her about the ice-cream.
Tipping her head over the laptop, a surprised Maeve asks, “chocolate? How about all that vanilla and bits of mint at the top? We both know it’s your favourite Zumi”.
Azumi, now looking towards the ceiling attempts to elaborate further:
“What happensss, when the vanilla finishes”? She hesitantly continues, “I mean what happens to allllll the chocolate lovers when the vanilla decides to ERUPT into strawberry”?
Maeve still clicking away on her laptop responds, “ewww choc and berries? Nah babe”.
It clearly doesn’t click to Maeve what Azumi is trying to say…
Azumi sub-consciously decides to try a different approach and becomes to sound a little more serious in her tone. She lights a blunt she rolled earlier and hands it over to Maeve. While she exhales the smoke she continues:
“Remember when Jordan went to baseball”?
“Yup! And I’m pretty sure he stillllll (imitates Azumi’s way of talking as a way to tease her) loves chocolate ice-cream with a bit of mint but, he also went back to basketball”, says Maeve.
Maeve almost chokes after her first puff as she usually does. After years of being such close friends with Azumi, they occasionally indulged themselves with conversations under the influence of marijuana. They were casual about it and never really classified themselves as ‘pot-heads’ but, they were still pro-420. This was one of their special ways of bonding and the laughing was always the fun part before they stuffed their faces with food.
Azumi pushes further to make Maeve understand. She sticks to the MJ analogy hoping that her words don’t pierce too deep:
“But, Maeve, MJ only left when things got bland in his career. He was winning too much. I applaud him for coming back. I don’t think I’d have come back thatttttt easily”, says Azumi who now reaches to receive the blunt back.
For a moment there’s a pause. Maeve had finally booked the tickets to Azumi’s favourite band but, her last response finally went through to her. Something was wrong and what a time to pick each other’s minds when they were both high on pot. She knew she would start talking too much and overthinking things. Did Azumi spark the blunt to deliberately get her to talk, she thought?
Maeve wondered for a split-second; smoking pot whilst admiring the view had become a ritual for them.
A cautious Maeve responds, “You sound like you want to leave the city…”
Azumi quickly steps in seeing that Maeve may jump to other conclusions.
An almost relieved Azumi interjects, “Oh dear no Maeve! I just want more out of my life now”.
Maeve finally knew that her friend craved a deeper commitment and perhaps a family. The thought of Azumi leaving the loft had been playing on her mind for a while now. She wondered if Azumi wanted children; something that her own mother had been pushing her to do for the last few years. Or maybe Azumi had found ‘someone’ else. Maeve dreaded this day; the marijuana was now settling in, she started to get paranoid. She stood up and started strutting groggily around the couch. Pacing around was her thing though and it made her think more clearly.
Maeve was beautiful and extremely tall. She had basketball-like height which she inherited from her father. She also inherited his rather large feet which she hated so much; Azumi on the other hand loved her plump size 9s. However, Maeve was seen as her mother’s twin having such unique similarities down to the blemishes. Her smile is as radiant as ever and could light up any room. She usually spotted long bangs to cover her big forehead. The thing that she loved the most about herself was her smooth dark skin, even Azumi was jealous of it. She is an ‘African goddess with the strut and the smarts to back it up’; a few words that Azumi had painted on the wall. And for years, Maeve always ran away from the model-like body so she went to the gym as much as she could to work on her thick hourglass curves.
Maeve moved to the coffee table to light some incense while muttering a few words in-between her teeth. She looked up to notice Azumi still on the couch but, now hugging her knees and staring back with a wry smile on her face.
Azumi takes another deep pull before motioning it towards Maeve, “we’re not finished with our session Maeve and stop robot-walking all over the place, your head willlll explode”, she said.
“I don, don, don’t…want anymore”, a visibly panicked Maeve responded. She stuttered whenever she got emotional; a signal that tears would soon follow.
Maeve mustered up some courage to take the last two pulls deeply and exhaled the thick smoke slowly. She put it out and threw the bud away now staring blindly through the large dormer windows. The sun was now slowly disappearing behind the ocean. The orange-bluish rays that bounced off her face felt warm and the first tear finally escapes.
She has her back to Azumi who doesn’t work well with emotions and tends to shut down at the sight of tears. Azumi calls to her friend:
“Maeve, come ooooon! Come sit with me before the sun runs away”. Azumi stands up when Maeve doesn’t respond.
Dressed in a onesie, she slides over to Maeve. Azumi was smaller than Maeve, she wasn’t too far off in height though but, Maeve was almost close to two metres. In public, they almost looked closer in height but, that’s because Azumi wore boots with everything. With a short, blonde curly-pixie hairstyle, the artist in her came out because of the few strands of rainbow locks on the left side of her head. She would knot the two locks together and let them grow up to her shoulder. It looked weird at first but, that was exactly what she was gunning for. It was unfortunate that she wore braces at her age. She grew up with teeth complications and the braces made her voice sound muffled. Her pale and round little face always changed colour at any moment because of her sensitive skin. Maeve called her dark blue eyes ‘adorable and petal shaped’. It was something that she’d try to hide by wearing huge colourful and tinted reading glasses. She would take them off indoors and Maeve would sometimes tease her about them.
Azumi, now standing behind Maeve realizes that she was crying. Maeve was in trance until Azumi’s reflection appeared; she quickly wipes her face hoping that Azumi doesn’t notice. Maeve had obviously overreacted but, she wasn’t going to stop her inquisition.
Maeve in a soft and more composed tone, “I bought you a birthday present Zumi, next weekend we’re going to go see your favourite band” (this was a band that Maeve’s little brother played the drums for).
Before Azumi could react to anything else, her pale cheeks instantly turn red with excitement. And before she could jump around with joy, a now less composed Maeve continues:
“It will be our last hoorah before you leave me…us…to settle down with your life partner”, says Maeve while slowly turning to meet Azumi’s gaze.
The gaze hit deep or maybe it was the weed digging through their emotions. For a brief moment they both thought of life without each other; Azumi with an artsy hubby and Maeve with doctor bae. Their decade-long friendship was gone for just a few seconds. Even Azumi had dreaded marriage and the thought of not being with the one person that let her be herself. They clearly had a thing for each other and with that epiphany, their friendship shown through every future possibility.
The laugh was hard and like an explosion. It was so hard that Azumi started to cry. It was something that Maeve rarely saw. They stood there still a foot apart, exhaling heavily while trying to let out as much laughing gas as they could. There was no need for words at this point. Intellectually and mentally, they both knew that nothing could separate them. Or did they?
The two friends embrace:
“Dibs on the last bit of chocolate ice-cream”, says Maeve in a happier and more relaxed tone.
A rather proud and cocky looking Azumi responds, “I already boooought another tub earlier”!
Maeve laughs and rushes to the kitchen while shouting back, “I better be the one to walk you down the aisle one day”!
Azumi nonchalantly responds, “welllll, that’s if your brother proposes”.
In the kitchen, plates can suddenly be heard crashing to the ground.
Photo Credit: Artur Aldyrkhanov