The Woman with the Red Hair.
There was something about her that day. I swore the color behind her eyes changed. I loved her so much. It was hard for me to handle what was happening, but I had to for her. It all started on a Thursday night. I came home one day early. I shouldn't have, but I did. She was there sitting at the kitchen table. Her sunglasses were splayed beside her feet, along with her purse and jacket. She never looked at me.
"What's going on?" I said.
"Sit down," she said sternly, staring daggers at the wall ahead.
I pulled out the wooden chair keeping my eyes down. Did she even know it was me? We hadn't made eye contact, nor has she made a single movement.
"Why are you here?" She said.
"Look," I rushed out, "I..."
She held up her hand, "it's okay," she said. I watched as she rubbed her hands over her eyes, pushing into the lids smearing what mascara was left. I didn't know what to say. I had never seen her like this, and the house I was beginning to notice was utterly silent.
"Where's..." I said before she held up her hand again. I tightened my lips and stared at her. She looked sweaty and anxious. Her black top was disheveled around the neck, and my God, she was missing an earring. She threw her head back with her eyes closed, took another deep breath, and then proceeded to tell me about Mackenzie, Mackenzie Roth.
She had gotten bored in the afternoons and decided to go into the city. She wasn't sure what she'd do when she got there, but she thought she could figure something out. The train was only about a ten-minute walk from the house, simple. She packed a light bag and walked to the train that headed right into the center of Manhattan.
She was so confident when she boarded the train, but the closer it got to the city, the deeper she could feel her stomach sink. What would she do when she got there? She wasn't savvy at anything. Why did she need to go exploring now, at this age? She had planned to get off the train when it arrived and hop right onto another train home. No exploring today. This was a big enough step. The train came to a stop. The crowd was so strong exiting the train that she was on the streets of New York City by the time she realized what had happened. It was loud. People pushed by her frustratingly as she stood aimlessly in the center of the sidewalk. How did she end up out here? She followed the crowd so blindly. Nerves raddle through her spin, and she started to panic. She took a deep breath and spotted a simple coffee shop only steps away. It wasn't too busy. It was 1100 AM. Right in the middle of breakfast and lunch. She straightened her bag and jacket and pushed through the door of the café.
After ordering a medium cappuccino, she took a seat at the window, looking out to the street because she was too anxious to pick from the menu. She couldn't believe it. Here she was, sitting by herself in a coffee shop in New York City. Her heart fluttered. She was so lost at that moment that she hadn't noticed her name being called. The shop was surprisingly relatively peaceful. It was only her, a man, and the baristas. The baristas whispered to one another behind the counter, looking at their phones and giggling now and again. The man had a headset on and was staring into the soul of his laptop. So she was startled when she saw Mackenzie standing beside her.
"Are you Sandy?" Mackenzie said, smiling.
Alarmed that she knew her name, she stuttered, "um, yes..."
Mackenzie smiled again. "Your coffee," she set the coffee down in front of her.
She was confused. Where did this girl come from? Had she been in the bathroom?
"You were the only one I thought could be Sandy," Mackenzie said, nudging towards the man with the laptop and smiling.
"Oh, my, yes," she said, bumping her forehead, "I'm not a city girl."
Mackenzie smiled at her for the fourth time and said, "want some company?"
She didn't respond right away. She wasn't sure if she wanted company. This was a solo exploration, but this girl seemed nice enough. Maybe this would be good for her?
"Okay," she said, "sure." She reached for the bench beside her, motioning for Mackenzie to sit.