Disclaimer: Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings: Sex and love between women
Feedback: Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2010 Geonn Cannon
Patricia hesitated at the stop sign, resting her hand on top of the steering wheel as she looked toward the house. There was a light drizzle and the fog captured the ambient glow of the streetlights to make the night look brighter than it really was. She exhaled and finally turned the corner, pulling into the driveway next to Jill's car. She gathered her things and went around the back of the house to enter through the back door.
She saw Jill through the dining room and the kitchen, standing with her back turned in the old mud room. Patricia abandoned her satchel and coat in the dining room and finger-brushed her hair as she crossed the room. "Hey, bunny."
Jill glanced over her shoulder. "Hey. Why are you sneaking in?"
"The garage door was having problems this morning." She put her hands on Jill's hips and kissed the back of her head. Jill reached up and touched the side of Patricia's face before they pulled apart. "I was going to take a look at it tonight, but I think I'm whipped."
Jill folded another T-shirt and added it to the stack on top of the dryer. She was wearing a light blue blouse unbuttoned over a tank top and a pair of baggy jeans. Patricia knew that the outfit meant all her good clothes were in the laundry, but she adored the look.
Jill said, "I'll have Mr. Tony take a look at it."
"I hate to bother him. Are you sure he doesn't mind?"
"He's retired," Jill said, "and bored. Every morning when I leave for work, I see him standing on his front porch scanning the neighbors' houses for odd jobs he can do."
Patricia shrugged and leaned against the kitchen counter, watching Jill work. A year ago they had installed a washer and dryer in the mud room. Now Patricia could smell the fabric softener whenever she left for work, and the scent always reminded her of how she and Jill had met. "Give me two seconds and you can borrow my umbrella." She almost hadn't said anything. She had almost just shaken her head and kept doing her own laundry.
Something in her chest twinged at the idea. "Doing laundry in the rain. Kind of familiar."
Jill chuckled. "Best load of laundry I've ever done in my life."
Patricia's heart soared, but there was still a touch of guilt at Jill's words. She bowed her head, looking down at her shoes. "How was your day?"
"I got a rude awakening. You know how old kids in my class are, right?"
Patricia furrowed her brow. "Yeah, ten or eleven. That's how old Michael was when he was in your class."
Jill nodded. "So today I was talking to them about twist endings, and the subject of The Sixth Sense came up."
"The best, right?" Jill said. "Anyway, I mentioned how everyone in the theater was so shocked when the big reveal happened, and how a lot of people saw it twice just to pick up all the clues. I was trying to keep from saying it so I wouldn't spoil them."
As Jill spoke, she continued folding. Patricia watched her, listened to the sound of her voice, and remembered why they'd ended up together. She smiled as Jill continued.
"Finally, Nate raises his hand and says, 'Miss Hood-Colby, we know the end of that movie.' All the kids knew, because they hadn't even been born when it came out. And the end of the movie has been given away by everyone under the sun; it's like the Dallas shower scene. Everyone just knows it. And then I realized, that movie came out in 1999. Half the kids in my class were born in this millennium."
Patricia's eyes widened. "Wow. Time flies."
"Yeah. Next year I'll be spending my day with thirty-one kids who weren't alive during the nineties. It makes me feel old."
Patricia smiled. "You're not old, sweetheart."
"You're just saying that because you're older than me."
Patricia laughed. She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back against the counter. She was just delaying what she really had to say. "Where's Michael?"
"In his room. That friend of his, Kenny, got a new video game and they're being hypnotized by it. I said he could stay for dinner."
"Okay." Finally she said, "I, um. Had a visitor today at work."
Jill finished folding the clothes from the dryer and started to transfer clothes from the washer. In the tangle, Patricia saw the long-sleeved green blouse of Jill's that she adored.
"Oh?" Jill said once the silence became too long. "Anyone I know?"
Jill tilted her head to the side in thought. "I don't think I know her."
The moment Patricia had been dreading had finally arrived. She licked her lips and braced herself against the counter. "You don't, not really. You know her by reputation."
"Is she famous?"
"In this house," Patricia said. She cleared her throat. "She's the woman I had the affair with. When I was married to Nick."
Jill stopped her laundry, resting one hand on the washing machine. Her back was still turned to Patricia, her hair obscuring even a hint of her expression.
"She was in town on business and she was having breakfast in some restaurant. Someone left a newspaper, and she saw my name in a story. So she just stopped by to congratulate me on becoming deputy mayor and offered to take me out for a celebratory dinner."
"Uh-huh," Jill said.
"I told her no. I mean, naturally." She chewed her bottom lip and looked down at Jill's feet. She was wearing socks, the heels slightly dirty from walking across the carpet.
Jill finally turned around, and her expression was neutral. "Why are you telling me this?"
"We're married. And the last time I had a marriage fall apart, it's because of this woman. I thought I should tell you that she came back."
Jill came out of the laundry room and put her hands on Patricia's shoulders. She smelled like lavender laundry soap.
"I'm sorry," Jill said.
Patricia frowned. "What did you do?"
"I freaked out. When you told me that your marriage ended because of an affair, I got scared. Mainly because I thought that eventually you would realize you could do better than me. I was dreading the day I found out that I was just a stepping stone for you."
"Let me finish, please," Jill said quietly. She touched Patricia's cheek. "So I freaked out when you told me you'd had an affair. But that wasn't fair. You were unhappy and unfulfilled, and you needed something you weren't getting from your husband. If you had slept with Alyssa--"
"Whatever. If you had the affair out of love, you would have stayed with her. And if you were still unfulfilled in your relationship, you wouldn't just all of a sudden start having an affair just because she came back. But here you are, standing here like you're in a confessional, because someone you used to know came by to say hello." She curled a strand of Patricia's hair around her finger. "You're not a cheater, and I am so sorry that I made you feel like one."
Patricia leaned in and kissed Jill. "I love you, bunny."
"I love you, too, Trish. I should have said those things a long time ago. I'm sorry if you felt I was still a ticking time bomb."
"No. It's just that when I saw Alicia, I got thrown back to that woman I was for a while. Sleeping around on my husband and jumping from one bed to--"
Jill winced and shook her head.
"Sorry." She kissed Jill's cheek. "I didn't like that woman, or being reminded that I was once her."
"She's dead to us," Jill said.
Patricia smiled. "Yeah."
Jill stepped back and said, "I'm almost done with the laundry. Can you check dinner? It's in the oven, should be ready in about twenty minutes."
"Sure," Patricia said. She found an oven mitt and hesitated in the middle of the kitchen. She could smell dinner cooking, Jill's famous casserole. She heard Jill cleaning out the dryer's lint trap and setting the machine. From the other side of the house, she could hear Michael and Kenny destroying something in their video game and cheering their success. Jill was wrong; she hadn't been running away when she had an affair. She'd been running toward something without recognizing what the destination would look like. Now she knew.
Jill turned off the laundry room light and came out with the finished load, folded nearly and sitting in the empty hamper. She passed behind Patricia and said, "How do things look?"
Patricia smiled at Jill. "Things look perfect."
"I meant dinner," Jill said, looking over her shoulder.
Jill smiled, winked, and took the laundry upstairs as Patricia finally checked the casserole.
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