The Two School Friends

Joe Lanzon

They met again after seven years. Julie and Tonette were school friends at St. Margaret School in Portsmouth – inseparable friends to be exact. They studied together, went to dances and the pictures, met boyfriends, cried and laughed together. At the end of their last school term, Tonette and her family moved to the Isle of Wight. After some months, both friends lost touch and went their separate ways.

Julie embarked on a career in accountancy. After obtaining her degree, she found employment with a local audit firm, continued her post-graduate studies, achieved promotion and was looked upon as a respected member of her profession.

Tonette, in a different way, also had a successful career. She exploited her artistic ability as a piano teacher and gave lessons in music to children and young persons. She was looking to opening up a school in town in order to fulfill the large demand from parents of children wanting to further their musical career.

Julie had met her boyfriend soon after she left school. They courted each other assiduously. Their love was passionate and without reservations. There was no two ways with Julie. If she set her mind on something, she would not rest until she achieved it. They were married soon after and set up home in Portsmouth were they both worked.

The honeymoon over, it did not take her much time to realize that she and her husband were not compatible with each other. They had different views on life and on most other subjects. They suffered each other for a couple of years and then agreed amicably to divorce and live their separate ways.

Tonette was more conservative in her nature. She enjoyed life like any young girl of her age, but was not tied down to any one boy in particular. She was in no hurry to get married. As her mother used to tell her – “See the field first Tonette, there are so many fish in the water, do not hurry, marriage is for keeps, take your time darling!”

She enjoyed travelling abroad and every year without fail visited a different country. She enthused about the art in Italy, the easy life in Spain, the discipline in Germany, the mountains of Switzerland and the boulevards of France. She loved mingling with the people, learning about their culture and their way of life. She was fascinated by the fact that people were so diverse – different language, religion, culture, way of life – just because they were born in a different part of the world. However after all her travels and her inclination to remain single, she finally met her man. It started as a chance meeting in the park, continued with occasional dates for lunch or dinner, and finally developed into a love relationship with marriage in mind. They had set their date on the last Saturday in June.  She was convinced that he was, kind, gentle, unselfish and reliable.

Seven years had passed since both Julie and Tonette had last seen each other. They met again by chance, through facebook on the internet. “That must be the Julie Johnson I know,” thought Tonette when she saw her page. She was, and they were both happy to have made contact again after so many years. They had decided to meet at Hugo’s Café situated in the main street of the Isle where Julie happened to have a scheduled meeting with an accountancy firm there. They hugged and kissed when they met. Their exclamations of “Oohs” and “Aahs” showed their joy at seeing each other after so many years. Then they sat down and, while sipping their coffee, described their life and adventures during their separation. They talked about their careers, their families and their friends. There was so much to catch up on. Then they recalled their childhood and school exploits. “Do you remember when Miss Adams caught us smoking during the break?” “Do you recall when she asked us why our essays were always on the same lines? ‘Do your brains think the same!’ she had said.” Do you remember when the maths teacher caught you drooling over that Elvis Presley photo?” “Have you met any of our teachers since?

Tonette told Julie that she had made some bad judgments in her life, but she hoped that she had now learned from them. At this point Julie felt the need to console her friend. “You are not alone there Tonette. We all have our faults, we all make mistakes. I know that I’ve made a good few of them myself in my time and they would not be the last I’m sure. But I don’t think that we’re bad. It just means that we are weak. And that’s something we all have to pay for, one way or another.”
I wish I was a Catholic like you Julie,” said Tonette. “I envy you. You can get up to all sorts of mischief and then just go to church, confess and get your slate wiped clean there and then!” “Oh no. It’s not as simple as that really,” replied Julie.

Then they came back to the present. They spoke about their loves and their heartaches – Julie about her marriage and divorce, and Tonette about her travels and impending marriage. They talked, as girls do, about the men in their lives. Julie described her ex-husband, how her marriage had failed just two years after tying the knot. She did not know whose fault it really was, maybe they both were to blame or maybe they realized that they were not meant for each other. Whatever the cause, Julie reasoned, she had obtained her divorce now and therefore was again ‘a free bird’.

Tonette described her fiancé, who she will be marrying in a few weeks time. She will be settling down only because she believed to have finally found the man of her dreams. She extolled his virtues, described his handsome features and enthused about his gentle character. They sipped their coffee and ordered another cup. There was so much to catch up on. Tonette continued speaking about the man who will be her husband in a few weeks time. It seemed to Julie that nothing but marriage would satisfy her friend’s passion. “Mark and I”, Tonette said, “feel strongly about each other. We are so much in love; we must have been made for each other.”

Your Mark,” interrupted Julie. “Tell me more about him”. And Tonette lost no time in continuing her description of the man of her dreams. “He’s tall, dark, brown eyes, an architect by profession, lives in Chichester, 33 years in December, name of Collins.”
Julie could not believe it! Her old school friend was to be married to her ex-husband! She smiled directly at her and said. “We did everything together Tonette. Shared everything for so many years but I could never have thought that we would also share the same man!