The Book Club

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It was Wednesday evening. The book club was to start soon. I was expecting eight women for the gathering. I gifted a copy of the book for each gal, placing it into an artsy, recycled gift bag.

In the late morning, several of them had called to say they couldn’t make it. I was a tad disappointed but have learned over the years that “stuff happens.” I believe what is supposed to be will be. Acceptance is one of my great “forty-something-year-old” revelations.
By late afternoon a few more women had phoned to say they couldn’t make it either. The only ones who hadn’t called by then were my newly found friends, Lucinda, Maddie, and Bea. It was a sign: it was to be just the four of us. The fact that they were the only ones coming now confirmed my suspicions about the interesting way we had met and bonded straight away.

After a long meditation I decided I would reveal my intuitive feelings about our unique connection and its association with the book we were about to begin reading. I was prepared for whatever would happen after making that revelation, knowing it would either make or break our novel new friendship. I had a feeling the night would be full of surprises and prove the Universe does indeed work in mysterious ways.
I could barely compose myself as I anticipated revealing my theory to them and seeing their reactions. I slipped into a pair of washed-out jeans and chose a black tee-shirt with “Peace on Earth” woven across the front. I ran my hands through my choppy-cut, medium length, brown hair, then put on a dash of eyeliner and mascara, making my brown eyes pop.
I set out light refreshments: red and white wine, crackers, shaved cheese, fruit, a salad topped off with toasted nuts, and chilled water from a stream near a volcano. The house was warm and inviting. I lit a few candles and chose harp music to play quietly in the background.
When the doorbell rang, my dogs barked frantically and rushed to the door, nearly taking me down in a race to greet the callers.
“Hi, howdy, hello!” sang Lucinda, Maddie and Bea.
“Hi! Welcome to our home, come in!” I replied while calming the dogs.
“Hello, babies,” Maddie said, rubbing each dog’s head. Her smooth, bronze, Filipino skin and cropped jet-black hair highlighted her million-dollar smile. She was petite like me, but looked and moved like a tomboy.
“Did you girls carpool?” I asked.
“We sure did,” Bea said, gently shooing our male dog’s snout from under her skirt which hugged her tiny waist and shapely bottom. Her hair was golden and wavy, her eyes hazel and flirty, and her voice soft-spoken with a Southern twang.
“Wonderful,” I smiled. “I’m glad you’re environmentally conscious and I’m so glad you’re all here.” I scooted the pooches to another room and showed the girls around the house.
“Is anyone else coming?” Lucinda wanted to know.
“Nope. Just us four.”

Some might mistake Lucinda for the infamous “Barbie Doll” tall, slender, make-up perfectly applied, bright big blue eyes, caring smile and tiny tight buttocks. But underneath the pretty package I sensed her authenticity.
Everyone was hungry so we helped ourselves to refreshments, then crossed to the living room. Interestingly, we sat ourselves down in a circle like a beautiful human mandala.
For the first half hour we munched and unwound, getting to know each other a bit more. Sharing casual information about our careers and hobbies, it was as if we’d been friends for years. Just as I did on the day we recently met on the beach in Malibu, I thought; we must have known each other in another lifetime!
“I’d like to make a toast,” Lucinda announced firmly. “To new friends. May we be blessed with good health and prosperity—to four, forty-something women!”
“To four, forty-something women!” we echoed.
As the words left my lips, my soul smiled. Wait till they see the book, I thought.
Maddie looked at the gift bags on the table. “Go ahead, take one. It’s for you,” I urged.
She reached into a bag and pulled out the book. “So this is the book we’re reading?”
Bea took a sip of wine as she reached into her bag. “Thank you,” she puckered, looking over the book. “Hmm, ‘The Four-Forty Train’!”
I was getting excited; soon my theory would be revealed.
“Thanks, this is very generous of you. ‘The Four-Forty Train’.” Lucinda furrowed her brow, also looking at the cover.
“Uh-huh, ‘The Four-Forty Train’,” I said, crossing my legs Indian-style.
“The title sounds familiar.” Bea shook her head. “I know I’ve seen this somewhere.”
“I’m thinking the same thing,” Maddie said, skimming through the pages.
Lucinda splashed more water into her glass. “I feel I have too.”
“Wait! I know! You just toasted us as four, forty-something women!” Maddie noted.
“Oh, my gosh! That’s an unexpected coincidence!” Lucinda nodded, looking at each of us.
My eyes were wide, watching their expressions. Be patient, I silently told myself. After all, the particular set of circumstances that brought each one of us here is a story within itself. We’re four stories that deserve to be told, because it’s all about the journey … isn’t it?