Friday, April 13
Scout looked from the woman getting a pedicure to Mack and knew right away who she was. “Is this Ms. Jones?”
Mack’s smile must have given it away because Scout smiled too then, and looked back to Ms. Jones.
“I can’t tell you how much my little girl missed you when you left. You meant the world to her!”
Mack blushed. While, it was true, she felt a little embarrassed having her new friends hear that.
Scout, Grace, Ally, and Myra came into the salon dressed like they were planning to go outside. Each girls’ mom went to their daughter to ask what they would be getting done, or in Hannah’s case, Myra checked out her newly painted nails. Mack could hear her telling Hannah how good they looked.
Scout sat in a chair on the other side of Ms. Jones. “Mack told us this morning that she ran into you – we were so hoping we’d see you again. Not that there is anywhere for us to escape to, or hide.”
Ms. Jones waited a beat before responding. “I know, what are the chances we’d end up stranded in the same place. I’ve missed Mack too, she was one of my favorite students.” She turned to Mack and beamed.
“We’re heading out for a walk. The snow has stopped temporarily, or so Hank tells us. If you want us to wait, you could join us,” offered Sari’s mom Grace.
Mack felt a pang of jealousy. She didn’t want her mom and her friends to take Ms. Jones away. She wanted to keep her here, in this warm salon, with the music and Sharice. It felt like one of those perfect moments when everything felt good. And Mack wanted to hold onto it.
“I wish,” Ms. Jones said, laughing a little. “I’m having some knee issues and the doctor told me no exercise for two weeks unless it’s swimming or the elliptical. I miss being outside!”
“You’re going outside to exercise? On a Girls Weekend?” Brie’s faced was scrunched up. Sari and Hannah were nodding. It did seem like a weird thing to do on a vacation.
Brie’s mom Ally sighed, dramatically. “These two,” she jerked her thumb at Scout and Grace, “are making us go. We’re going under protest.”
“If we don’t come back it’s because Ally and I died out there,” Hannah’s mom Myra added.
And they were off again.
At first it felt a little like the moms were ditching the girls. But as the weekend wore on, and Mack, Sari, Brie, and Hannah were getting to know each other better, the freedom felt amazing. They had this entire lodge, almost to themselves, and it was kind of a little city. They could do whatever they wanted. Mack was humming along to a Janet Jackson song when Sari said something quiet. They all looked up, none of them hearing her.
Sari looked up from her magazine and repeated “you guys are different than my friends at school.”
“What do you mean?” asked Hannah, closing her magazine.
“There is just always drama. And someone is always telling someone else something about me, or another one of our friends. There’s always someone being kicked out of our lunch table. It’s like a constant battle.”
“Sweet Pea, it sounds like your friends might be pretty insecure.” Sharice said, taking a second away from Ms. Jones to look back at her.
“That’s what my mom says. And I try to tell them I’m not going to talk about people but then they turn on me.”
Ms. Jones piped up then. “Has it always been like this with your group of friends?”
Sari shook her head. “I used to go to an all girls school, this year when we moved to the middle school, it changed to having boys and girls. I was friends with some of the same girls since kindergarten but now there are more in our group.”
“Sharice is right. Sounds like the girls in your group are trying to feel better about themselves by making other people feel bad.”
Sari was having so much fun with this group of girls. They were each really different from each other, but they were nice and funny. And none of them put each other down or were snarky.
Hannah, Sari now knew, wasn’t afraid of saying exactly what she felt. “Can’t you hang out with anyone else? Like, better people?”
They all laughed. Even Sari smiled.
“Or maybe,” Brie added, “you should just switch schools and come to one of our schools!”
They all cheered for this option.
“You don’t want to waste time and energy on friends who won’t support you or treat you well. Believe me, I know. It would be very hard to switch friend groups, but once you do it, I think you will feel a lot better.”
“Yes!” Sharice hollered. “What Ms. Jones said. The hard part will be hard, but it will be temporary. True friends can last a full life time and will be your biggest supporters. Just look at your mommas!”
She turned back to Ms. Jones. “You, my dear, are done!”
It was 4pm by the time the girls were done.
As they were filing out of the salon Hannah asked Sharice what they should do next.
“What about a movie night with popcorn, candy, a big screen, in your jammies with tons of blankets? Sounds like heaven to me!”
The girls looked at each other, excitedly. “Yes!” Sari said, all feelings of sadness about her friends at home gone.
“Then you need to find Hank. He will set you up. Thanks ladies, have a good weekend!” Sharice hugged each one of them and walked back into the salon to start cleaning up.
“Let’s go see Hank! Maybe we can get pizza for dinner too?” Mack started walking in the direction of Hank’s office, the girls following.
“You guys have fun, I’m heading back to my room to get some work done before I get dinner.” Ms. Jones said.
“Nooooo,” Mack said turning toward her. “Don’t you want to come with us for movie night?”
“Well of course I’d love to, but I’ve got work to catch up on. Maybe I’ll stop down later. It was so fun hanging out with you guys today. Thanks for letting me stay!”
Mack hugged her again, and surprisingly, the other girls did too. Ms. Jones wasn’t Sharice. Not as warm and bubbly, but she was kind, and had great advice as the girls talked about some of the things they struggled with at school and with friends. Like a cool aunt or something. Mack thought Ms. Jones eyes got watery when the other three girls hugged her.
“Okay, well, hopefully we’ll see you later,” Mack said.
Ms. Jones smiled and they all walked together to the lobby where Ms. Jones kept going, and the girls turned to Hank’s office. Mack was sad, but not like she was this morning when Ms. Jones left the first time. Partly because she’d gotten to have more time with her, but partly because this day had brought her, Sari, Hannah, and Brie closer. She was excited to spend the rest of the weekend with them. She thought that maybe they could become real friends.
They knocked on Hank’s office door and could hear him yell “come in” from deeper in the room.
They walked into what felt like an old fashioned apartment. There were old leather chairs and a couch, a fireplace, a large wood desk with a big leather chair behind it, and the walls were lined with pictures of the lodge and guests through the years.
“What can I do for you ladies?”
“Sharice told us we should do a movie night?” Brie ventured.
“Ah! Yes! Down in the entertainment room. I can get you set-up within a few minutes! Will you want dinner down there too?”
Sari giggled. She suddenly got a picture in her mind that Hank was their butler. “Yes please, Hank,” she said. “And can we also get treats and sodas?”
Hank actually bowed a little, making the other girls laugh too.
“I’ll meet you down there in half an hour, will that suit?” Hank had figured out his role.
“Yes,” Sari continued. “That will be just fine.”
The girls walked to their room, excited and laughing, not noticing the one room with its door just a little ajar as they passed it. Ms. Jones peeking out.