By the time Malinda was done with her sentence, Bitsy had stopped buttering her toast mid-stroke, and stood frozen at her kitchen counter, the phone cradled to her ear by her uplifted shoulder, head tilted to one side. There was a stretch of silence on the line - a pause long enough to prompt Malinda to check the connection. "Hello? Bits?" she prompted, "You still there?"
Bitsy shook herself and put down the knife. "Yeah...yeah, I'm still here, Mal, I'm sorry. I just...well...that's kind of a lot to take in all at once...I'm in a bit of shock over here! Are you okay?" Stupid question, of course she wasn't okay. How could anyone be 'okay' after a night like that? Say something to make her feel safe you idiot! She chided herself for being caught off-guard, for forgetting to tell her friend what she needed to hear most, right away. "I'm here for you, Mal. I love you, I cherish you, and I can be there in 10 minutes. I'll leave right now..."
"No...no, I'm okay. Well, I'm mostly okay...I'm okay enough for you to not run out of the house in your jammies and drive over here like a bat out of hell to help me deal, anyway. In a bit, when I've had a shower and a minute to chill, okay? I need to try and figure out my next move...put my head together a little, and breathe."
"If you're sure..." Bitsy prompted, listening to her best friend drawing a deep, shaky breath, and letting it out slowly, doing her best to regain her composure after such an emotional testimony. "You'll call me when you get out of the shower and let me know when you're ready to have me join you in a cup of tea?"
Malinda gave a weak chuckle, and replied, "Sorry, we won't both fit." They'd been saying this to each other for years - since high school - and no matter how shitty her life had become overnight, her heart swelled with love that her dear friend had found a way to work it into this improbable and morose conversation, and employ it deftly enough to pull a giggle out of her, even under the current unhappy circumstances. "I love you, Bits. Your the best."
"I know," Bitsy smiled back, "that's why you called me. Now get in the shower so I can run down to the bodega in my jammies like a bat out of hell, and buy us the biggest box of chocolates they have. And ice cream. And pizza! And probably a few other things, too. Call me soon, okay? Okay. Love you, bye." Bitsy stood there, staring off into space, buttered toast in her hand, mulling over everything she had just heard, and began to formulate a plan with which to proceed.