By Akiela Xal


Karen sat on the park bench watching the ducks swim on the lake. She smiled at their playful antics as they chased each other across the water.

It was hot, but she wasn't ready to go home yet. She'd needed to get out of the house and clear her head. Karen was hoping the sunshine and fresh air would do the trick. So far it was helping, but her thoughts kept returning to the reason she felt so adrift lately. She and her partner of over a decade had split a few months before. To make matters worse she'd just celebrated her fortieth birthday – alone. Oh, it's not that she didn't have friends, she did, in fact she'd gone to dinner with some of them on her birthday. But, as was normal for people her age, most of her friends were paired up, so Karen usually felt like a fifth wheel when she hung out with them. They always tried to include her, but there's just something about being in a room full of couples that gets old after a while when you're the only single. Today, Karen was at a point where she didn't believe she'd ever find anyone else with which to share her life.

She wasn't sure how long she'd been on the park bench that afternoon, but she noticed that she'd apparently been there long enough for a few of the ducks to reclaim their nearby territory. Catching movement out of the corner of her eye she saw a male bicyclist passing her. Grimacing she thought, There are some clothes that certain people just should not be allowed to wear.

As he kept going a pretty blonde on rollerblades came into view. She was wearing blue shorts and a white tank-top that showed off her well-muscled body. Nice , Karen thought. She turned slightly and cast a surreptitious glance at the retreating figure to see if the view was as good from that direction. Oh, yeah, she thought, wiping the mental drool from her chin. Since the trail circled around the lake not far from where she sat, she knew she'd get another chance to see that inviting backside. And as expected the rollerblader appeared a few minutes later. Karen checked out the blue-clad ass as the woman smoothly propelled herself down the trail.

Once the rollerblader was out of sight she went back to her thoughts. How had she ended up on that park bench? If you'd asked her a few years ago she'd have said that she'd be with Mona forever. Then about two years ago things had started to change. Karen had gotten a promotion at work which suddenly demanded more of her time. It didn't take long for Mona to let Karen know just how frustrated she was. They'd talked it out and Karen thought things were getting better. Apparently they hadn't because six months earlier, out of the blue, Mona announced that she was leaving. In the blink of an eye it was over. Just like that, ten long years up in smoke.

Karen had spend a lot of time in the last six months figuring out what went wrong and what she would do differently next time – if there was a next time. She wasn't perfect, she knew that, but she believed deep in her heart that she was a good partner.

She smiled as the rollerblader drew near and thought that she saw the ghost of an echoing smile from the other woman. I ought to say something to her if she comes by again, she thought. Nah, she shook her head, Why would someone who looks like that want to talk to me?

Returning her gaze to the lake she saw two small children playing at the edge of the water under the watchful eye of their mother. This sent a pang of regret through Karen. She and Mona had spoken more than once about starting a family. She sighed. Something had always gotten in the way of that happening. Early on it had been finances, then it had been their respective careers. Somehow it was never the right time. In retrospect, that was probably a good thing. Their breakup would have been tough on kids, but still…

“Cute, huh?” asked a slightly breathless voice as its owner plopped down on the bench beside Karen.

“Startled, Karen said, “Huh? Oh, the kids? Yeah.” She turned to face her companion and was surprised to see that it was the gorgeous rollerblader.

“Hi, I'm Kris,” said the blonde, holding out her hand confidently.

Taking the proffered hand she said, “Karen. Nice to meet you.”

“It's the least I could do after I caught you ogling my ass,” Kris said, lowering her sunglasses and waggling her eyebrows.

As embarrassed as she was Karen still couldn't help being lost in the deep green eyes in front of her. “Sorry,” she mumbled.

“Don't be,” Kris said, placing a hand on Karen's arm where it lay across the back of the bench. “It's nice to be appreciated once in a while. Even if it is for a part of my anatomy.” She laughed lightly at her joke.

“So, um…” before Karen could get any further she was interrupted by a bright flash of light followed immediately by thunder. “What the…?”

“Where'd that come from?” Kris asked as she glanced up to see suddenly ominous clouds converging on their location.

“Damn,” Karen muttered. Louder she said, “It looks like we'd better find some shelter before this storm hits.”

“You're right,” Kris replied, the twinkle having left her eyes.

Both women stood up and started toward the street where they would have to part company. Before they got very far fat drops of rain began falling at an increasing pace.

“Did you drive to the park?” Karen asked.

“No. I only live five blocks away so I bladed over,” Kris answered ruefully.

“Look, my car's right there,” Karen pointed as they increased their pace. “Why don't I give you a ride back to your place so you don't get drenched?” She pulled her keys out of her pocket and used the remote to unlock the car.

Smiling, Kris replied, “That would be great. And in return, I can make you dinner.”

They grinned at each other over the roof of the car.

The End


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