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Essay about Vegetarian Meatloaf-Personal Narrative

Guests at the retreat center always ate meals in common, but they had an option to take those meals outdoors. Fortunately, it was chilly enough outside that no one else opted to join them on the porch, where they would have complete privacy. The porch light shone an iridescent glow on their table and the chill night air added a sense of urgency to their conversation, a sense of importance. Dinner tonight was vegetarian meatloaf, which was a lot tastier than it sounded. Unlike most of her friends, Ariel had never quite managed to become a true vegetarian.

She pretended to be most of the time, but occasionally she allowed herself juicy steak and once even a hamburger from a burger joint, during a meeting with a potential investor in one of her charities. The investor had recommended the place, because he came from Texas and he was not one of those people to sit down in a prissy joint with French names for everything. He liked his food plentiful and hearty. Ariel had told herself the hamburger was for a good cause, but truth was she had loved it. Of course, a fertility retreat would go with “safe” options, though, and she had to admit the meatloaf was pretty good.

For the first few minutes, they were too focused on the food and the general awkwardness of it all to do more than exchange pleasantries. “You did good today,” Brian said. “Cindy said all of the women are making great progress, mentioning you especially by name. No secrets,” he was quick to add. “Just that you’re doing well. ” “Thanks. ” Ariel stared down at her meatloaf and salad, with fresh nuts for protein and a slice of chocolate cake for dessert. “I hope so. ”

She decided mostly for the sake of politeness, to throw him an easy pitch for the start of their conversation. How did you wind up in charge of a fertility retreat anyway? How does a guy wind up doing that? ” “As it just so happens that has a lot to do with our conversation for the night. ” She shifted her gaze upward to meet his eyes, which shone darkly in the porch light, deep and mysterious. “It does? ” “Yes. Your friend Donna was my half-sister. ” Ariel nearly spit out a mouthful of salad and had to take a quick swallow of water to get it all down and to keep from choking. He waited for her to finish before he continued.

Her eyes were on him now, enthralled by what he was telling her. Gears began turning in her head. Donna’s brother? Donna had yet another brother? How could she not know Donna had another brother? “Her dad had an affair with my mom shortly before Donna was born. I only found out five years ago. Apparently, my father – the man I thought was my father – was unable to have children, so my mother found someone who looked mostly like him and, well, that was Donna’s dad. ” Five years ago. That was the last time she’d heard from Donna. Ariel remembered the urgent, late-night phone call.

Ariel had been on the phone with a Senator who wanted to know if he could discreetly bring his mistress to an important event while his wife was at a spa. She fielded those kinds of questions more often than she cared to admit, all the time wondering how often her husband asked similar questions about her. That’s when Donna had called and she had to wrap up the call with the Senator by telling him it would all be very discreet and she would love to meet anyone he cared to bring. No problem, and she really had to take this other call. Donna had been crying.

Ariel could remember that much. Her old friend had been distraught, almost unhinged, nothing like the calm, brave girl Ariel remembered growing up. In the background, there was an odd, metallic groaning noise. For a second, Ariel had wondered if her friend was in a factory or being tortured by terrorists in South America or wherever she was now. “Ariel, thank God I reached you. I thought it was going to go to voicemail. ” “Donna? Are you okay? Where are you? ” “I’m in Tennessee. We need to talk. Something has happened. I don’t want to do this over the phone.

It’s about – my dad. ” “Oh God. Is he sick? ” “What? No. Nothing like that. You’re still in Boston, right? ” “Yes. What is that noise? ” “It doesn’t matter. ” “You’re on the swing-set aren’t you? By our house. ” “Yeah. Never too old I guess and it’s still soothing, you know, like you always used to say. We don’t need to travel the world to get something important done. Some of the most important adventures in life are right here. ” “I said that? ” Ariel asked. “Well, something like that. Ariel, can you come down here and talk? Or can I come up to Boston?

I don’t want to do this over the phone. ” “I’m sorry but I’m really busy at the moment. We’re planning a charity dinner for the rainforest, in the Amazon. ” Why did she feel the need to explain? Her friend had probably been to the rainforest, multiple times. “That’s great. Everything you always dreamed. ” Donna was on the edge of tears again, her voice catching as she spoke. “Yes. What’s wrong, Donna? ” Ariel asked. “You can tell me. ” “Not over the phone. I can’t – I just can’t say it over the phone. ” Ariel tried and failed to think what this could be about.

She loved Donna, she really did, but her friend had always had a flair for the dramatic. She could still remember the time Donna had woken her in the middle of the night to announce she had been chosen to model for a shoe commercial. “I’m sorry, Donna, but this is a really bad time. I mean, this is quite possibly the worst possible time for you to have called. ” “I understand. ” There was a click. Donna had hung up. That was the last Ariel would ever hear from her friend. She had kept meaning to call and then she had become distracted by her own problems.

If only she had known at the time that they only had a few short years left, and that those years would pass so quickly. Now, here she was, with Donna’s alleged half-brother, eating dinner, not a care in the world. “Five years,” Ariel repeated. “Yeah. I was barely twenty-five at the time, and angry and stupid. We talked for maybe a few months and then we lost touch. It was easier that way. ” “She wanted to tell me about you. Her family was so perfect. I know, no family is perfect, but I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Ariel shuddered, gaze shifting over to the porch swing where Brian had first approached her, thinking of her dead friend, missed opportunities.

Brian stood and grabbed a blanket from the nearby bench, draping it across her shoulders. Afterward, he did not move away, staying uncomfortably close, his body warm behind her, warm and solid and safe. “Ariel, do you believe in second chances? ” Yes, she did. She had to. She nodded, weakly. “So do I,” he said. “I have to. It’s never too late to change your mind. Seeing you after all these years, I can’t believe it’s just a coincidence. It has to mean something. ” ?

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