by D.L. Walls
"You cannot possibly be serious? You expect for us to just walk out of the room?" exclaims a finely dressed gentlemen, roughly the age of 60 to 65 years old.
Glaring at his watch, Langston escorts a trio of individuals out of the room stating, "I'm very serious, but it will only be for a few minutes and we're all yours."
Upon forcing the exodus of the three gentlemen, Langston a young man with the penchants to take charge of any situation which likely goes back to his early years as a member of the Army, closes the door behind them and stares lovingly at the young lady seated at the table in front of him, "Darien, finally!"
By the blissful way that she looks at him there is no doubt that she shares the same sentiments as Langston. As he sits down at the opposite side of the table from her, but far from opposing, Darien reaches out her hands to him across the cherry wood conference table.
"Yes, 'Here we are, the two of us together, taking this crazy chance to be all alone'" the lyrics of Atlantic Starr's song harmoniously and beautifully vocalized by a woman that exceeds her beautiful voice by her own beauty.
As he reaches across the table for her hands the now silenced room is only disturbed by the sound of Langton's cufflinks as they scratch the surface of the table. While still holding hands and with a longing stare and a deep sigh, Langston asks, "So, how are you?
"I'm doing great," Darien quietly responds as she tries to stifle her nervousness and enthusiasm in seeing Langston, "how are you doing today?"
"I'm doing great and you, well...you look great. Still focusing on Pilates, eating well, and drinking lots of water I see."
Proud of her routine she adds, "And meditating, getting adequate rest and you probably don't want to hear all of that." She nervously smiles and displays a glimpse of her perfectly white teeth. She places her iPad into her bag and looks to Langston with anticipation of what he is about to say.
"Hey, why don't we get out of here?"
"Langston, what about the people coming back to the room?"
Grabbing his jacket and displaying his take charge tendencies he practically pulls Darien out of her chair. "Girl, let's go. We're not going that far, we'll be back before everyone gets back."
Excited about the invitation, Darien quickly grabs her purse and grabs his hand and they proceed to the exit. The duo runs down the hallway like two high school students trying to sneak out of detention without being detected by the principal. After they have safely gotten out of the offices, to the elevators, and down the 8 landings to the lobby of the building the two emerge victoriously. Both laugh at their mission successfully accomplished.
"Oh my God, I forgot how crazy you are. You're going to owe me a new pair of 9 West heels by the end of the day."
"How about I just start with a cup of coffee?"
The pair walk outside of the building hand and hand. Taking notice of the cool temperature, Langston removes his jacket and places it on the shoulders of a grateful Darien. Leading her to the best coffee stand on Wacker Drive he reaches into his pocket to remove a stack of cash held together with a money clip engraved with the letters L.M.S. After seeing the money in the clip, Darien cannot help but commenting.
"So, no wonder you were willing to pay for the coffee, you could actually pay to replace these heels; I'm just saying. Looks like the consulting business is working well for you."
Smiling at Darien for her comment he says, "It is. Cream and 3 sugars?" After Darien nods affirmatively, he continues, "I remember when I was trying to start my business 5 years ago and I was discouraged. I was talking down about myself and questioning if I had what it takes to start a business. I had a conversations with someone special who told me she was offend by the way I was talking about myself because I was someone who was very talented, capable, and special that she believed in tremendously. It motivated me to succeed and I never doubted myself after that. And for that alone, I will always love her."
Despite the undetectable blush beneath the smooth mahogany skin, its presence could not totally be quelled as she looked up to the figure before her, touching his face with the gentlest of touch and simply saying, "your welcome." Wiping away a subtle tear, Darien takes the coffee in hand and begins to put her arms into the sleeves of the 42 Long jacket she is wearing. Langston places his coffee momentarily on the semi rusted bench as he rolls up the sleeves on the jacket to accommodate her more petite frame.
"Thank you, the last thing I want to do is mess up your nice jacket. That was the least I could do when you encouraged me to apply to MacCormac at the last minute. I never thought losing a sibling could hurt that much, but you knew I had a goal of going to law school and being an attorney and you didn't stop supporting me all the way through the University of Chicago and off to John Marshall Law. My parents always thought you were awesome because you kept me focused when so much in life was pulling me the other way."
Clasping her hand in his, Langston brings her hand up to his mouth and kisses her hand on the back side and says, "You're welcome."
As they make their way back to their destination they reminisce about their first encounter when Langston first arrived at DuSable High School an awkward young man in the 10th grade who relocated there after his father retired from the Army. For much of his first semester at DuSable, he went pretty much unnoticed to Darien who was a senior, very popular, and had a slight .4% grade point average lead over the number 2 student in the class to be valedictorian. As they got closer to their destination, the pace of their walk began to decrease and Darien began to talk about their time in high school.
"I don't even remember you arriving at DuSable. I first remember you that day. When I got the phone call from my sister Sydnie on Friday morning telling me she was coming home that night from U of I to see me be crowned homecoming queen I was so excited."
Placing the now empty coffee cup in the closest trash receptacle, Darien folds her arms with a slight shiver as she continues her story. "When my mom came up to the school to tell me that Sydnie had been in an accident and my father was headed that way to identify...I just ran and hid. You found me later that afternoon in the back alley of your grandfather's store and even though we had never spoken you saw me in tears and asked what was wrong and I told you for the next 8 hours. You have always been one of the few people who always understood me and knew where I was coming from. Our hearts always seemed to beat in unison; you became my best friend."
The duo walks back into the lobby of the building. Darien removes the jacket that now smells like it was left at the fragrance counter of any high end retailer. They take a seat on the bricks that surround a small fountain that is roughly 50 yards from the elevator. Langston stares at his timepiece and thinks back on their careers and life. "You know we gave all. I pushed you and you pushed me, I guess we're successful right? I own my own consulting business while you're now a partner in your law firm; we've come a long way."
After straightening Langston's bow tie, Darien looks him right in the eyes, "We have come a very long way. I think many people would see us as successful. We sacrificed a lot to get where we are today; many hours, family gatherings and quality time. Was it worth it?"
Langston looks back at her and obviously ignores her question and simply says, "Are you ready to go back up?"
After making their way back to the 8th floor and to the room where they ran from earlier as if they were students back at DuSable High School, they enter the room opposite the haste they left it. The gentlemen that had so unceremoniously been pushed out the room have returned and they appear to sit in a state of repugnance. Undaunted by their feelings or their expressions, Langston and Darien once again sat on opposite sides of the table.
The finely dressed gentlemen who is now sitting at the head of the table sarcastically asked, "Are we NOW ready to proceed?"
The gentleman seated next to Langston turns to him and Langston gives him an affirmative nod at which time the gentleman says, "Yes Mr. Packard, my client is ready."
The gentleman seated next to Darien looks at Mr. Packard as well and advises him that his client is ready also. Pulling out a legal pad, Mr. Packard begins, "Good morning, or I guess now, good afternoon. My name is Herman Packard and I am the mediator that will be conducting the divorce mediation for Mr. Langston Sterling and Mrs. Darien Sterling."
As the attorneys begin to discuss the afternoon's proceedings and the matters at hand and items at stake, Darien once again reaches for Langston's hand and as chatter begin to envelop the room, the only thing Darien and Langston hear are their two hearts beating in unison.