Four girls, best of friends, roommates, confidantes, competitors. Years ago, in a different world, some dormitory organizers randomly selected these four to share the same living space. Four girls, four years together; inseparable, if not always by choice.
Molly was a first generation American. She came to college to live her parents’ hope of a better life. A dreamer by nature, she diligently stuck to her studies and earned her marks at the expense of her spirit. Her once gregarious nature turned serious. She spoke as valedictorian and posed for pictures with her parents and their diploma. They introduced her to a fine young man. The engagement was immediate. As the wedding neared, Molly took flight. The guilt of her path subsided when she met Jennifer. Her parents turned their backs, old allies remained open armed. She has long since forgotten how to stop smiling.
Stephanie came from money and lived for drama. Having little idea who she was, she absorbed the personalities of those around her. She equated sex with acceptance. A back door surgeon erased the results of a night of carelessness. The scar still remains. She married a professor who took her under his wing. People cautioned against him. Yet it was he who mopped her brow as the poison attacked the cancer. It was he who gave her his kidney. His age caught up with them. Her college companions were there to lean on, making amends for their misjudgments.
Tish spent most of college looking over her shoulder. The violent hand of her father forced her in her to adulthood at the age of eleven. His accidental death when she was nineteen freed her to pursue her own life. She threw herself into courses that gave her the sense of empowerment. She graduated ready to take on the world. She married and had children. When the bruises started appearing, few believed she was that klutzy. Offers of assistance for her and her children hung in the air unused. Contact with her old girlfriends started trickling away.
Cynthia was voted most likely to annoy. She and Stephanie were cut from the same privileged cloth. But Cynthia made no apologizes about who she was. ‘Vapid’, ‘flighty’, ‘princess’ were associated with her name by people who knew her not. She was full of surprises. She surprised when she earned magna cum laude. She surprised when she chose a food pantry over Thanksgiving with the Dean. She surprised when she stood between Tish and a belligerent boyfriend, unflinching when he raised his hand. She did not surprise when she failed in marriage but thrived in divorce. By her third, many thought that she married just to divorce.
The four ladies scattered to various corners of the country. Life got in the way. Calls became inconvenient, visits unnecessary. Until the day that Tish saw Molly by sheer luck in a coffee house on a break from a conference. Shock turned to joy. Meetings were canceled, obligations postponed. It had been too long. The gap must be bridged.
Four airplanes fly en route to a small college town. Four women, once girls, twitch in the seats. Anxiety of grey hairs and extra pounds subsides with anticipation. Each desires to rekindle the fire lit when they were one. Hope mingles with trepidation as to whether it is still there.