: These two really nifty ladies are strictly a figment of my overactive imagination, so don't get too excited.
Subtext: Yup. These here ladies are of an alternative nature. Ain't it cool?
Violence: Nah. Not unless you view catching a few fish as cruel and violent.
Language: There may be some, but nothing extremely horrible.
Note: This story does somewhat contain the Kleenex factor at times. Especially the end, so do be prepared.
If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am, or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com
For Jen. I love you, and hurry home!
Copyright 2001 Kim Pritekel
Kim (KP) Pritekel
The line hung silent on my end.
"Emmy? Are you there?" my big brother Billy asked, worry marking his deep voice.
"Yeah, Billy I'm here. Are you sure? Dead?" I could not bring myself to believe that she could possibly be gone at only thirty-four. What did he say she had died of? Breast cancer? Couldn't be. She's far too young for that. Isn't she? "I have to go, Billy. Someone is calling in on the other line." I lied.
"Okay, Emmy. I'm sorry I had to call you at work. Are you sure you're okay? I mean I know you two had been such good friends when you were kids and all."
Friends. If only they had known the truth about Beth and I. Wiping those thoughts and memories from my mind I said, "That's okay. I'm glad you told me. Thanks Billy."
"Yeah. Hey, come home now and then. I know they give you parole now and then in The Big Apple." I grinned into the phone.
"Yeah. Now and then. Bye, Billy."
I gently set the receiver into its cradle and sat back in my chair and looked around my cramped office. I was an up and coming lawyer at the law firm of James/Parks/Stone where I had worked my butt off to win the favor of the sexist partners over my male peers. Not an easy task, but one I performed with gusto..
Perhaps I would take some personal time off and go to the funeral. I was due for some time off anyway. I would catch a flight out to Denver, Colorado, and head south to Pueblo where I grew up, and had not been for some time. I could still see all the neat rows of modest sized homes, all painted similar colors. Gray barbecue smokes wafting up over the six-foot wood privacy fences. The perfect Norman Rockwell neighborhood. The town held nothing for me anymore. Not that it ever really did. But it had been awhile since I'd seen my parents and Billy. His kids were growing up so fast. He may have even had a daughter that I'd never seen.
I stood from my desk and walked over to the window that looked out over a park that was next to the building, and watched as a man was walked by his overly enthusiastic Great Dane. The last time I had seen Beth had been in that park. I rested my forehead against the cool glass. She had come up to New York to see me, and the short visit had been uncomfortable and strained at best. I remember how tired she had looked. Thin, too, which made her tall frame seem lanky and gaunt. I realized then that that day would be one of those that can haunt a person for the rest of their lives. What if. I sighed. I didn't believe in what ifs. If did nothing to worry and think of all the things that were over and done with, and could not be changed. But still....
With a sigh I turned back to the pile of files and papers on my desk. I really ought to clean it up. I smiled to myself. Never could keep my mind on one thing. Suddenly with the force of a blow to the stomach I plopped down into my chair, a malformed sob ripping from my throat. I gripped the arms of my chair with a fierceness that surprised me, and closed my eyes. I squeezed them tight as I fought the emotion that was trying to make its way to the surface. Finally I could breath again. After a couple of deep breaths I had myself under control again, and decided that maybe it was best to start that personal time today. I sent a quick email to John Stone, one of the senior partners, explaining my sudden departure, gathered my belongings and headed toward the door.
"Ms. Thomas?" my secretary, Lois asked as I locked and closed my office door, suit jacket and briefcase in hand.
"I'm leaving for the day, Lois. If anyone calls please transfer them to my voice mail. If any of the partners wish to speak with me then transfer them to my home phone. It's in the Rolodex."
"Why certainly, Ms. Thomas. Is everything all right? You look a bit out of sorts today. Are you feeling all right? Shall I call Ms. Kelly?" Lois Wutherman, my trusted secretary of two years was a kind, older woman who had been born and raised in London until she moved to the U.S. with her husband after World War II, or what she called "the big one". She looked at me with her large brown eyes hidden behind enormous bifocals, her silver hair piled on top of her head. I often wondered just how long her hair actually was, though she never, ever wore it down. Probably thinking it was in bad form for a lady. I smiled to myself at the thought.
"No, I'm fine. That's not necessary. I've just got some personal business to take care of." I said, though for just a moment I fought the urge to perch at the corner of her desk, and spill my guts to this kind woman who had mothered me through disappointments at work, fights with my lover, and a car accident two years ago. But for some reason this I could not share with her.
"Well," she said taking one of my hands in both of hers and patting it in her usual motherly way said, "Whatever it is t'will all be fine." she smiled as she could read the strain in my green eyes, and see that annoying wrinkle that appeared between them and gave away my stress level.
"Thank you, Lois. I'm sure it will." with a deep breath I walked past her desk, out of the office and past the receptionists desk to leave the firm all together. The early afternoon air of downtown New York hit my face and nostrils with an intense force, the cool autumn air sharp and biting. I found my car and pressed the button on the little alarm box on my keychain, releasing the locks with a chirp. I climbed behind the wheel, and tossed my briefcase and jacket onto the seat next to me, stared out at the busy street, my hands placed on the wheel, my mind in another place, another time. Beth. I could still see the expectant look in those blue eyes as she stared at me, standing next to the park bench.
"What, don't I even rate a hug?"
I shook my head to clear it, and turned on the engine.
I shared a modest townhouse on the outskirts of the city with my lover, Rebecca. It was spacious with big windows to allow all the sunlight of the day. The brick-faced front opened up to a small yard, the autumn yellow grass lining the driveway on either side. Come spring, flowers would be popping up in the planters that Rebecca had scattered around the yard.
My black Persian, Simon met me at the door, his thick tail waving in confusion at my being home so early.
"Hi, baby." I crooned as I picked up his considerable bulk, rubbing my cheek against the soft fur of his neck. After a few moments of greeting Simon let me know he'd had enough and fought my tight embrace. I let him down to return to one of his numerous daily naps, and headed for the kitchen. I could not get Beth out of my head. Why? Why hadn't she told me that she had been sick when she had the chance? I could feel my shock begin to succumb to anger. I walked over to the sink and leaned on its sturdy surface, my head hanging. I could feel the tears welling up in my throat, wanting to spill forth and overtake me completely. The myriad of emotions was overwhelming. I fought the urge, but suddenly my cheeks were wet with the onslaught of tears that ran down my face and landed into the stainless steel double sink. PLOP. PLOP. My pain and self-pity were interrupted by the shrill ring of the phone that lay on the counter by the Mr. Coffee. I decided to let the machine pick up.
"Hello you have reached Emily and Rebecca. We cannot come to the phone right now, so leave a message at the beep and we will get back to you as soon as possible." Beep.
"Yes, this message is for Emily. Hi this is William Parks, and your secretary told me-" I pushed away from the sink, and wiped at my eyes as I walked toward the cordless.
"Hi, Bill." I said snatching up the receiver. "Yes, I did. We have had a death in the family, and I had some personal time coming,-"
"Of course, of course. By all means take care of you. The criminals of New York will wait." Parks said with one of his famously fake laughs. "You take all the time you need. These things can be so difficult." he lowered his voice for a more dramatic affect. I fought the urge to tell him to stick his pity up his ass. Bill Parks cared about no one and nothing but Bill Parks. He was one of my bosses, so I thanked him for his kind words and assured him that John Dithers would take on my Holstead case in my absence. I was grateful to hang up with the pretentious, pompous man. He was my least favorite of all three senior partners. The kind of lawyer that jokes are made about.
I tuned off the ringer and walked over to the fridge. The remains of our left over linguini stared me in the face as did the two-day-old pizza, still in its blue and white Domino's box. Disgusted with the thought of food I walked over to the living room, and plopped myself down on the couch, my hands lying limply next to me. I stared out the French doors out into the small backyard. I felt so empty, as if all my insides had been taken out, and I was left with nothing. I sighed deeply, then an idea occurred to me. I walked to the hall closet, and on tiptoe reached up and grabbed the three white photo albums that had been the source of much comfort in my life, as well as painful reminders. I felt a need to delve into the past, a past when Beth Sayers was still alive. A time when she was my best friend, my lover, my confidante, and just my neighbor. I felt a need to rediscover this woman who had stolen my heart, and had never given it back.
With sweating palms I carefully flipped open the cover, almost as if I were entering a sacred realm. The first half of my photo album was filled with baby pictures of Billy, and then four years later of me. Me at age three heading to my first day of ballet lessons, which from what I am told I hated, but my mother thought I looked so darn cute in my white tights and pink tutu. There is a picture of Billy and me dressed up for Halloween. The caption said he was nine and I was five. I don't remember ever wanting to dress as a princess, but I guess at some time I must have felt the urge. There I was holding my trick or treat bag with Billy dressed as a sheriff holding my hand, impatient smiles plastered on our cherubic faces. Ah! Now that one is more like me. I was sitting in the middle of a large sandbox with some little red headed girl that I don't remember at all, a large green bucket of sand forever poised over that mane of red hair. I had to smile despite my dead heart beating limply in my chest.
Skipping a few years I finally came across the time when Beth came into my life. It did not seem like there was ever a time when she wasn't. Now I would never hear her wild laugh again; never see those twinkling blue eyes looking with so much love into my own green eyes.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before opening them again to stare down at us. In the beginning it had been me who had pursued her for a friendship. During the summer of my tenth year many of the families in the neighborhood had decided to move, taking most of my friends with them. The Sayers' family moved into the house next door with their nine, soon to be ten year old daughter, Elizabeth, who refused to answer to anything other than Beth. She was a shy girl, and later told me that I had intimidated her, though why I never understood. Finally as the summer slowly crawled by with nothing to do and no one to do it with, she agreed to walk over that sacred boundary between their small, green postage stamp lawn, and our small, green postage stamp lawn and we played four square. From that day on the two of us had been glued hip to hip.
I turned the page to reveal us standing in front of my childhood home, the garage open to show the old Dodge my father refused to give up, and still had, except it isn't gold anymore, it's an interesting shade of avocado green. My father never did have any color sense. In the picture I was wearing an old football jersey that Billy had outgrown and handed down to a tom boy sister. My dark blonde hair half-hazardly pulled back into a ponytail. My knees had two painful looking scrapes on them that were just beginning to scab over. I was linked arm in arm with Beth who was wearing that Mickey Mouse shirt that I swear she would have worn day in and day out if her mother would have let her. We had great big goofy smiles on our darkly tanned faces. So young. So carefree. I read the caption that my mother had so neatly written below the Polaroid- Emmy and Beth 4th of July, 1977. That was our second summer together. That was also the year we kissed for the first time.
I looked up from the photo album suddenly aware that I was hungry. Putting the album aside, I went to the kitchen and made myself a PBJ- peanut butter and jelly, the food of choice. I had not had one of these things since college! Looking at all these old pictures was bringing the child out in me. I smiled and shook my head.
With sandwich and can of Dr. Pepper in hand I grabbed the photo albums off the coffee table, and plopped us all down on the floor. I got to my knees and unzipped my gray, pinstriped skirt, and pushed it down over my hips, then sat to remove it and toss it aside, followed by my nylons. Sitting in my canvisol and underwear I looked at some of the other pictures on that page:
Emmy and Beth at the zoo; Emmy and Beth in the pool; Emmy and Beth and Billy playing basketball. Then I saw it. The night of the school play and Beth's first starring role. It was a silly little play called "Who Calls the Wild Wylde?" about a family by the name of Wylde who lived in the backwoods town of Looneyville. Beth played the son, Joseph Wylde. That year she discovered her zest and love of acting. In one scene her character had to give Miss Thelma Rooster a peck on the cheek, and she decided she wanted to practice. On me.
Beth was spending the night at my house the weekend before the show. We were up in my bedroom running my extensive collection of matchbox cars all over the many roads and highways, and stopping at all the good places to eat, and visiting all of our many friends along the way. Suddenly she stopped, tiny white VW Bug in hand.
"Let's practice!" she said, her eyes wide with this new idea she had.
"Practice what?" I asked as I rammed my truck into the post of my bed causing a great avalanche of rock and other such debris to fall from that massive mountain that was in the middle of our town.
"Practice my scene with me and Thelma Rooster." I could feel my stomach tighten with a strange sort of excitement. I just looked at her as if to say, are you serious?, though I knew she was, and I prayed deep down that she wouldn't change her mind. So I said,
"You know, the one where I have to," she looked back over her shoulder to make sure my parents or Billy was not listening through my closed door. "Where I have to kiss her."
"Why? You know how to kiss. You do have a father after all."
"Yeah, but that's different. He's a boy, this is a girl."
"But you're playing a boy, so it's the same thing."
"No it's not! And I don't kiss him like he's my girlfriend." She said matter of factly.
"I hope not!" I giggled, liking this game of playing hard to get.
"Come on, Em!" she said eyeing me with those intense blue eyes that even at the tender age of eleven threw my senses out of whack, and would make me agree to anything.
"Okay. But first wait." I threw my forgotten car on the floor and ran to the door. I opened it ever so slightly and looked at as much of the hallway as I could then shut the door and leaned my huge, trusty brown teddy, Ruffles against it to guard us. Next I went over to my window and shut my blue pastel curtains and then walked to my original spot and sat cross-legged in front of Beth.
"Gee. You'd think we were hiding in Fort Knox." she said.
"Never mind. Okay. You have the first line." she said, looking at me expectantly.
I don't know what the line is."
"Oh yeah. Okay, you look away from me and try to be all lady like and flustered because you're in my presence." I stifled another giggle. "Then you say, 'Well good morning, Joseph Wylde. How are you on this bright and sunny day?'"
"Well good morning, Joseph Wylde. How are you on this bright and sunny day?" I asked batting my eyelashes at her. Real serious like Beth grabbed my hand and brought it to her full lips, and just barely brushed my knuckles. A bolt of excitement raced up and down my spine. I didn't remember Joseph doing that to Thelma in rehearsal, but I didn't say anything. I would let Beth do whatever she wanted to. After all, she was the acting expert, not me.
"Thelma Rooster you are looking lovely as always. Why are you out here all alone?"
"Oohh! I remember this line!" I exclaimed. "Mother's gone inside the store, Joseph."
Beth smiled at me and nodded, then said, "Good. Then you say, 'But you can walk me home if you like. I'm sure she'd be understanding of my taking my leave with such a kind gentleman like yourself.'" I began to repeat the line when she stopped me and pulled me to my feet. "Let's really act it out." she grabbed my hand and put it through her bent arm and held my hand with her other one. "Your bedroom door will be the door to your house, okay?" I nodded than proceeded to say my line quite nicely I thought. We walked along our path until finally she stopped short of the door to my "house".
"It has been an honor to walk with you Thelma, that is, may I call you Thelma?" not knowing what to say, and Beth seemed to be a bit too much in character to remember to tell me so I just nodded. She smiled at me and released my hand from her arm. Her breath came in shallow puffs of air as her body came closer to mine. I was nervous, scared and excited all at the same time. She rested her hands on my shoulders then moved her head closer to mine. I was surprised when our lips met. I had been expecting her to kiss me on the cheek. My blood began to pound through my veins with enough electricity to short out all my thoughts. I had seen a woman close her eyes once in a movie when she was kissed by the man. Thinking this must be the correct procedure, I closed mine and sighed.
When the kiss ended Beth pulled away and looked me in the eye. A look of wonderment filled her face. I was almost breathless, and certainly speechless. I had never kissed anyone before except my parents, and my Aunt Kitty who insisted on giving me a big wet one every time I saw her, which was often. I had never liked any of those kisses. This was different, and I think we both knew it. She rolled a tendril of my summer-lightened hair around one of her fingers that still rested on my shoulders and smiled.
"Can we rehearse again?" she said quietly. I could only nod. She took one of her hands and brushed some fallen hair off my forehead and brought her face to mine again. This time I wrapped my thin arms around her neck and leaned into her. My rock. Beth would always be the strong one.
The play met with critical acclaim among the fifth grade class. Mrs. Arbuckle thought Beth's performance "Much too dramatic for such a cheerful story." What did she know? Beth was not cast again until middle school.
I turned the page. I saw more school pictures of us, and snapshots taken at home. Did my mother have nothing better to do than run after us with a camera? As a kid if never occurred to me that she took a ton of pictures. Now, it took an act of God to get me in front of that lens.
As the years went by Beth became more and more detached from her peers, especially the girls. The only way she would have anything to do with them, or talk to them was if they would challenge her or me, or make fun of either of us, or if some other girl had been the target of the masses. Then she became a champion of anyone who became the "underdog" If an injustice was being done, she would not hesitate to fight anyone, which she did often. Beth could most often be found with the boys. She was incredible when it came to basketball, or running, or any other game involving physical activity.. I smiled as I remembered Beth's slam-dunks.
"Come on, Em. Don't be such a wimp. Take the ball, run up the court, and jump. Slam it in there." I stared at Beth like she had just landed from another planet.
"Beth, have you forgotten that you're the one who is a hundred feet tall? I'm short, remember?"
"So." she said as she ran by me, whacking the ball out of my hand, and dribbling it down the cement until she pushed up on her left leg, and slammed the ball into the net with a satisfying whoosh. "It's not about height, Em. It's about ability." she landed with a smug smile on her face, her eyes daring me. I raised my brows. She knew I could never refuse a dare.
"Fine. I'll show you height. And I'll show you ability." I grabbed the ball that continued to bounce down the court, and ran.
"I'm so sorry, Em. I really thought you could do it." my best friend said as she sat next to me on our front porch, my mother holding the towel to my nose. I glared at her with my black eye.
Beth had a difficult home life. Her parents married when her mother became pregnant at the tender age of sixteen. Beth's father, Jim always made known his doubts that Beth was even his. But I believed he loved her. He raised her as his, and Beth loved him dearly. Her parents remained married until she turned thirteen, then deciding that he could no longer tolerate Beth's mother's tirades and drinking, her father left the family to return to his home state of Tennessee. Beth did not see him for years at a time.
To stay away from her house and the steadily increasing abuse of her mother, Beth would come over to mine, and I think in her mind she saw my mother and father as her own. Billy loved her. In his eyes it was almost like having the younger brother he had always wanted. Beth and I would lay out on my back lawn and stare up into the night sky trying to count all the stars we could see. She would often cry silently, the tears just flowing down her cheeks, rolling down the sides of her face to collect in her ears. She would shiver, and blame it on the cool night air.
I had to give my mother credit. She tried to be everything that Nora Sayers wasn't. She coddled her, taught her things, and showed her that Beth counted, and was loved. By all of us. Beth clung to that sense of security, wrapping it around herself like a blanket.
I came across a picture of the three of us on a fishing trip just before the Sayers' separated. Billy had just turned seventeen, so my parents decided to give him a chance to prove himself responsible by taking his thirteen year old sister and her twelve year old best friend fishing.
"I am not going to bait anything for you two, so you better get over that squeamish girl stuff, and learn to do it yourself." he scolded as we backed out of the driveway of my house. I looked at Beth who sat with me in the back seat of our huge Suburban with a look of doubt spawned by fear on my face. She smiled at me. I felt my fears melt away.
"I don't need no one tying on my worms if that's what you mean. Heck no. I bet I could do it better than you anyway!" she said proudly.
"Girls." Billy mumbled to himself, though through the rear-view mirror I could see the small smile play across his maturing face.
After a long three hour drive we finally reached Carter Lake and found a good place to stay for the night. The area was completely surrounded by huge, beautiful trees. Beth and I got out of the car and made a slow circle of the area. The day was warm, but the shade of so many trees made it absolutely incredible with endless shade. The maze of trees and vegetation went on and on, and any number of adventures could be played out.
"You thinking what I'm thinking?" Beth asked mischievously. I gave her a smile and said,
"See you later, Billy!" I grabbed her hand, and we ran toward the thicket of dense fantasy.
"Hey! You guys gotta help me!" my brother yelled.
"We're just girls! We can't do it anyway!" Beth yelled as we disappeared into the forest, our giggles the only clue we were there.
After a bit we stopped running for fear of running head long into a tree trunk. We walked hand in hand looking at the incredible beauty of God's planet. The hillside was sloped slightly, the ground soft from recent rains. We stepped over fallen trees, and ducked under low branches. I looked up in wonder at the huge trees, so stoic in their existence. Chipmunks called warnings to each other, mosquitoes and butterflies fluttered about our heads.
"I think we should live here forever. Never go back to school, never get jobs when we get older. Just stay here and live off the land like Tarzan." I said wistfully.
"Me Tarzan, you Jane." Beth said pounding her developing breasts with her fist. I giggled.
"No way. Me Tarzan, and you Jane."
"Uhunh. I want to wear the loin cloth." We walked on in silence. "No I think we should be more like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer." She said after a few moments.
"I want to be Huck Finn!" I exclaimed thinking of the possibilities.
"No way! You're too brainy to be Huck. You would make a much better Tom Sawyer."
She let go of my hand and began to dance in a clearing we came upon. The late afternoon sun hid half of the small valley in shadow, the large hill covered with wild grass on the opposite side rose like a golden giant behind the trees, a small stream dissecting the wild grass and flowers. She lifted her arms to the sky and tilted her head back.
"I want to be free!" she yelled to the silence of the mountains, her loud cry echoing in the expanse.. Only a far off bird answered. I stood back and watched her as she danced and jumped around. Beth was only twelve, soon to turn thirteen in October, but I could tell she would be a great beauty some day. She had hair that was dark, almost black that shone so brightly in the sunlight, that reached to just below her shoulders. That. in contrast with her amazing blue eyes, and beautiful skin. I was already getting pimples, but she had none. She was already tall for her age, and I guessed would one day be much taller than my mother was, with long legs and an athletic build.. Her incredibly active life kept her young body hard. She was beautiful.
Suddenly Beth stopped yelling and dancing, and turned her back to me, her hands in the pockets of her shorts. Her shoulders slumped in defeat.
"Beth?" I asked, my brows drawn in confusion. "Why'd you stop?" she said nothing, but I could feel an immense sadness radiate off of her in waves. "Beth?" I asked quietly again as I walked to her. "What is it?" I put my hand on her shoulder. She would not look at me. "Tell me." Without a word she turned to me and grabbed me in a hug of desperation. Her hands linked behind my back, her head bent down to lay on my shoulder as she sobbed. Alarmed, but knowing she would tell me when she was ready I wrapped her body in my hopefully comforting embrace, and stroked her hair as I whispered encouraging words into her ear just as my mother always did when I was upset. We stood like that for maybe two or three minutes when with a final sob she said,
"My father is leaving my mother."
"Oh, Beth." I said stroking her back. "I'm so sorry. How do you know?"
She tightened her embrace a little, and said, "I heard them fighting the other night, so I got up and walked to their door. It was closed, but I could hear them yelling, and my mom crying. She was telling him not to, but my dad said he had to. He couldn't do it anymore."
"I don't know. I guess put up with her. She's been coming home real late again. Usually drunk. In some ways I don't blame him. I don't know." she sniffled, and was quiet. We stood there holding each other, each with her own thoughts and fears running through our heads.
"Are you going to go with him?" I asked, almost not able to breathe as I waited for the answer.
"No. He won't let me." I slowly released the pent up breath of relief, but then felt guilty. Beth had always been much closer to her father than her mother. With a sigh Beth pulled away from me, her hands resting on my hips. I wiped her tears off her cheeks with my thumb. She stared down at me, her eyes red, her face swollen with the upset. As I looked on one single tear slid lazily down her cheek.
"Don't cry." I whispered. I leaned forward and reached up to kiss her forehead. She looked so miserable. Then I kissed her lips softly, just the barest touch of mine. I pulled back and looked at her, trying to gauge her expression. Her eyes were dark, burning into mine. She moved in for another kiss, but I backed away.
"Billy will be looking for us." I said, and dropped my hands from her body. Beth and I had only kissed the one time last year when she did her play. She had looked at me several times since then the way she was now. Before I never really understood what that look meant, but now she used it again. It was a look of wanting, like when you saw the greatest bike in a store window, and want it so badly it hurts. Had she wanted to kiss me at another time? Was that wanting for that?
We began to walk back through the trees as these thoughts whirled around my immature mind. Had I ever wanted to kiss her before? Yes. There had been a couple of times, but I felt too funny about it, so never brought it up. Now looking back I know that Beth would have gone along with it, and perhaps would have even started a situation or two of her own. She found her security, and stability in me. But we were girls, I reasoned. We should be kissing boys, or at least talking about it. All my other friends did. Weren't boys the ones that were supposed to get my heart racing like this? Make me feel dizzy and dumb, and yet alive all at the same time? My hormones probably just hadn't kicked in yet. It made me too nervous to make it right.
We emerged out of the trees to the clearing where Billy had started setting up camp for us. His big blue tent was already up, our much smaller red one was in the creating process. Hearing us approach he looked over his shoulder at us.
"There you two nuts are. Don't ever do that again, Emmy or I'll nail you to a tree, right before mom nails me to one right next to it!"
"Sorry, Billy." I said quietly. Both Beth and I were in much more somber moods now then when we had run off. Hearing the difference in my voice he looked at us again. His brows drew together in concern and curiosity, but he asked nothing. Billy never did.
"Well since you two think you're such land rovers, go and get some sticks to start a fire, and for marshmallows tonight. But you two get your butts back here in fifteen minutes!" he yelled to our backs as we headed back into the trees.
That night Beth and I lay in our tent in our separate sleeping bags. I lay on my back staring up at the red canvas that was our protection from the rain outside. The heavy drops pelted down tapping on our tent like it was knocking on the door; let me in. I could hear the portable radio that Billy was listening to in his tent; it sounded like Led Zeppelin, but I had never liked his music.
"Yeah?" I turned my head to look at Beth. She was curled up on her side facing me. In the darkness I could just barely make out her form, and could not see her face, nor the expression in her eyes.
"Do you think you'll ever get married?"
"Yeah. You know, with a husband and kids."
"I don't know. I've thought about it, but I'd rather go to college. I've decided what I want to be."
"What?" she asked with interest.
"A lawyer." I turned on my side so I could talk to her easier. "I saw this really neat story on t.v. last week where this woman became a lawyer, and she won this case where this little boy was kidnapped by his father."
"Why would his father kidnap him?"
"I don't know. Anyway, the woman, I think her name was Terry, and she helped the police get the boy back for the mother, then she tried the case in court and won. She got to go on Donahue."
"That is really neat. I want to do movies. I don't ever want to get married. Do you think we'll be friends when we're old?"
"Of course we will!" I exclaimed, almost offended by the question. "We'll be friends forever."
I loosened the plastic covering over the pictures, and took that one out, and studied it. We had met an older couple at the lake who had volunteered to take our picture for us, so all three of us could be in it. We stood by the lake, Billy in the fishing vest our father had given him for his last birthday, and the fish he had just caught proudly held high by the line. Beth and I were standing next to him, our arm around each other, smiles pasted on our faces. Now I look into the eyes of Beth and see how unhappy, and sad she was. I wondered why I did not see how much her parent's splitting up had affected her. Perhaps the innocents of the young does not allow you to see these things. Beth should never have seen much of the things she was handed as a kid.
The caption on the bottom of the picture read: Billy, Emmy and Beth catch dinner. Spring, 1979. Below that I had written in my childish scrawl, Emmy and Beth, Friends For Life.
I looked up from my past to see Simon staring at me. He had been asleep next to me, and I had not even noticed. I picked him up, a rag doll in my hands and held him close to me, his eyes closed, purring in contentment. I looked out the windows of the French doors that led to the backyard again. Night was swiftly approaching as the sun took yet another curtain call for the entrance of the moon.
"How's my boy?" I asked into his thick fur. "What do you think, Simon? Should I let her go? Huh?" I stroked his ears as I got lost in thought once more.
When we got back from the lake my mother ran out of the house to meet the car.
"Wow. Your mom must have really missed you guys." Beth laughed. I did not share the joke. I could see it on my mother's face; something was wrong. Billy saw it, too.
"I wonder what's up." He said as he put the Suburban into gear, and cut the engine. My mother ran over to the back window where Beth and I sat.
"Beth, honey you need to get home just as soon as possible. Your mom called me this afternoon and told me they had something very important to talk to you about."
"They're getting a divorce aren't they?" Beth asked quietly, looking at her hands that played with the hem of her T-shirt. My mother looked at me, her pretty face lined with worry. She looked back to Beth, and put her hand on Beth's shoulder.
"Why don't you go on home, hon. If you can come back for dinner later you know you're more than welcome. I know Emmy won't mind." She smiled in an attempt to lighten the mood. Beth smiled politely, then slowly got out of the car.
"Want some help with your gear, Beth?" Billy asked.
"No, Billy. I've got it. Em, will you walk me home?" I looked to my mother to see what I should do. She nodded.
"You can walk her to the door, then you need to come back here and take your camping things in. Okay?"
"Okay." I climbed out of the car after Beth, and helped her to lift her big duffel bag out of the back. With a thud the heavy bag hit the driveway, where she left it to drag on the ground by the long strap.
"Thank you for everything." she said over her shoulder to my mother and Billy who watched from the car.
We walked side by side, our steps perfectly matched. I looked over at her profile. She walked with her head up, her eyes straightforward. I wished I could have known what was going through her mind at that moment. We both knew the inevitable end to that journey, yet neither wished to acknowledge it. I looked forward again, and we reached her front porch. She dropped the bag and turned to me.
"Wish me luck." she said with a quick hug, then headed into the house. I stood there for a moment thinking of what this could mean. I stared at the front of the small house, the light blue paint peeling. Light blue chips were mixed in the dark green of the bushes that lined the front wall. I'd never noticed how badly it needed painting before. Two or three coats, maybe? Maybe that's what the Sayers' needed; another coat. I turned when I heard footsteps coming toward me. It was Billy.
"Come on, kiddo. Help me lug in all those fish you caught." he mussed my hair and gave me a light punch in the shoulder. Slowly I turned from Beth's door, and headed home. Billy put his arm around my shoulders as we walked.
"Will they have to leave, Billy?" I asked, looking up into the face of what would be a very handsome man someday; his eyes dark like our father's, his hair the same lights color of our mother and me.
"I don't know, Emmy. I just don't know. What is that Aunt Kitty always says; keep hope alive, and doubt at bay? you never know. Maybe everything will be fine. Grown up can do some pretty stupid things sometimes."
We reached the house in silence. Billy grabbed the camping gear and disappeared into the confines of his room. I watched as he closed his door with the sign that read, "TEENAGER, INTELLIGENCE! THEY SAY THE A-BOME WAS DANGEROUS." Another that read, "Beware, boy bites."
With a sigh, I went to the kitchen where my mother was beginning to make dinner. I plopped myself down in one of the kitchen chairs with a sigh and watched her work.
"want to help?" she asked turning to me, the dish towel over her shoulder.
"No. I'm never getting married, so why should I learn to cook?"
"You're not, huh?"
"Nope. I've decided." I said with finality.
"You do have to eat still." she smiled.
"I'll eat out."
"Well then, I hope you're rich. So why aren't you ever getting married?"
I shrugged. "I don't know."
I looked at the pile of dinnerware on the table waiting to be placed. A stack of yellow linen napkins were folded neatly topped by five wooden napkin rings that were n shapes of elongated cats carved to touch the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail. I picked one of them up and swung it around my finger.
"Why five?" I asked, showing my mother the napkin ring.
"Your Aunt Kitty is coming over for dinner." I nodded acknowledgment.
"Why did you marry dad?"
Because I loved him." my mother said as she turned back to the stove to stir the mashed potatoes.
"Can I do that?" I asked, eyeing the an of potatoes.
"Sure you can. But you may not want to ruin your non-domestic reputation." my mother gave me a sly smile over her shoulder.
"Can you keep a secret?" I giggled.
"You got it, kiddo."
I leaped up from my chair and took the big wooden spoon from her hand.
"But why did you get married?"
"Well, when a man loves a woman-"
"Oh, mom I know all that stuff. But why get married? Can't people just live together, or live close by each other? Aunt Kitty isn't married to Ron."
"You could, I suppose, like Kitty, but that is just what we do. I hope that she will marry Ron some day. Lord knows he's proposed enough times. Being married is the better way to go. For many reasons. When you meet that certain someone youll understand. you'll want to be close to them all the time, and you want to do things with them and go places with them."
My mom put a pan of rolls in the oven.
"Can I marry Beth?" I asked, turning to look at her. Nearly dropping the plate she held, she looked at me. I knew it was a ridiculous question, but wanted to see what her response would be.
"Why would you want to do that?" she asked slowly.
"Well, we do things together, and I want her around. Isn't that what you said?"
"Yes, but honey, girls don't marry girls. You find a nice young man."
I turned back to the stove and watched with interest as the lump of mashed potatoes slid off the spoon and fell back into the pan with a plop.
"You know, maybe you and Beth should make some more friends besides just you two. You would have a lot more fun with a whole group of girls. Don't you think?"
I rested the spoon handle on the side of the pan and mumbled about having to put away my camping gear as I walked out of the kitchen and out the front door.
Beth did not come back over that night. I was disappointed; I wanted to know what was happening, but my mother told me Beth would tell me when she wanted to. Later that night as I had sat upon the front step, Jim Sayers packed up his car, and with a small wave to me drove away, his tail lights in the darkness the last thing I would ever see of him.
I put the photo album aside and stood, stretching my screaming back. I looked around the living room. The thick rugs covering the hardwood floors were a light gray, the furniture soft black leather with red accenting pillows. The walls were lined with framed black and whites of all the places Rebecca and I had been together, or separately, and all the places we wanted to visit some day together. The room was soft and warm despite the sharp colors. The mantle on the fireplace in the corner held a beautiful piece a young artist we knew had sculpted for us as a house warming gift. It was made of black onyx, and was the figure of a woman reaching for the sky, perhaps reaching for her salvation.
My life was so different now than I had once imagined it would be. For once Beth was not at my side as she had always professed she would. I sat on the couch. The thought occurred to me that though she had not been in my life for over a decade, I still relied on her strength from a distance, the memory of her sustained me in my craving. Now the connection was forever gone. I rubbed my burning eyes.
I looked down to see Simon leaning against my leg, his tail entwined between my calves.
"You hungry, little man?" I asked. He answered with a loud meow. "Okay, okay. I need to make something for your other mom, too or she will not be happy with me."
I walked through the dining room and looked at the table that would seat twelve when fully extended that Rebecca and I had recently bought. It's rich, cherrywood finish shone from the last bit of light coming in through the two double windows that lined the wall just above the matching cherrywood buffet table. I ran my fingers lightly over the silk flower arrangement at its center.
I entered the kitchen when I heard the garage door open. I began to take vegetables out of the refrigerator to start cutting up for the salad. The inner door opened, and Rebecca waked in, and I looked at her for a moment. Her long red hair, wind blown and tousled from a long day of teaching high school science, her dark blue-green eyes looked alive and radiant. A feeling of urgency suddenly filled me. I walked over to her and held her to me, almost knocking her off balance.
"Hi, babe! I'm glad to see you, too, but you already swept me off my feet once, you know." she said with a surprised laugh, her arms holding me tightly. I laid my head on her shoulder and wept silently. The sight of this woman whom I shared my life with now and forever brought me to my knees. The loving smile was just the permission I needed to really let it all out so I could finally begin to let go. "Hey, hey, " she said, gently starting to pull away.
"No. Can I just cry for a minute?" I asked, my hold on her like a vise.
"Of course you can, Emily. Of course." she pulled me back into her arms, and was silent.
"Don't cry, Beth. Come on. you have to be strong." I said gently.
"I hate them." Beth said with a final sob, her voice bitter.
"No you don't. They're your parents. You're not allowed to hate them." I said as I ran my fingers through her hair. We were in my bedroom. I was laying on the bed with Beth next to me, her head on my stomach, her favorite position. We were quiet for a long time. I glanced down at her to see if she had fallen asleep. She was awake, her gaze far from my house.
"What are you thinking about?" I asked as I braided a couple strands of her dark hair together. She didnt answer for a minute.
"Do you think I'm weird, Em?:" she asked, her focus remaining on the wall, almost as if she was afraid of my answer.
I laughed. "Of course I do. That is why you're my best friend!"
"Gee, thanks." she said dryly. She grabbed the hem of my blue and purple striped T-shirt and wiped the drying tears from her eyes.
"Thanks, Beth. Wasn't one of my favorites anyway."
"Be grateful. At least I didn't blow my nose." I grinned down at her, swept her hair behind her ears. She pushed the thin material away from my stomach and examined the white skin beneath. I could feel her warm breath as she traced small circles above my belly button with her finger tips.
"Find anything interesting?" I asked, curiosity keeping me in check.
"Just like a baby's butt." she smiled, patting the skin of my stomach. She lifted her head and stared down at her hand as she flattened the palm against one side of my rib cage. "Isnt it incredible how there are so many strange little curves and bumps on a woman's body?" she traced the center line of my stomach up to where the fabric of my shirt began just below my burgeoning breasts.
"I guess I've never given it much thought." I said, feeling unsure about Beth's explorations, and feeling naked in my uncertainty.
"Hm." she said absently, then sat up and pulled my shirt back into place. "Let's go down to the Soda Jerk and get some ice cream." I stared at her as she jumped off the bed and began to pull her hair back into a pony tail, the black hairband clamped between her teeth, her weight shifting from one foot to the other. My eyes narrowed as I watched her. This was her habit when she was nervous. I slowly stood, my legs shaking.
"Sounds good." I said, silently letting out the breath that I had been holding.
The late September chill of New York was pushed away by the fire that Rebecca had built for our after dinner coffee. This had become a tradition we hadn't realized we'd started until a couple of years ago when one night we didn't do it, and we both realized how much we missed it. I lay on the couch with my legs resting on Rebecca's lap, and stared at the strange shadow that danced on the walls from the trance-like light the fore threw.
"So, Beth's parents split when she was thirteen?" she asked, her hands caressing my calves and ankles.
"Yup. Thirteen. Actually, that was when they divorced. They had decided to separate the year before." I let out a sigh and took a sip of my mocha fudge coffee and looked up at the ceiling. "We were on summer break, soon to be going into seventh or eighth grade. I don't remember which one now. I think eighth."
"How old were you?"
"I was just a couple months shy of turning fourteen."
"Why didn't you tell me any of this before, Emily?" Rebecca asked as she sipped her coffee. I looked at her for a moment as I thought of an answer. Why hadn't I?
I told you she was in that play we saw. I pointed her out to you."
"You did, but only in passing. You never really told me who she was except for someone you used to know. I remember exactly what you said, in fact. We were sitting there in the dark theater, and when she came on stage you said, you see that girl playing Pippa? I used to know her."
I smiled. "Well, yeah but," Rebecca patted my leg to shut me up.
"Yeah but, nothing. I'm not mad at you, sweetie. I just want to know, that's all. I want to know about someone who has meant this much to you. I want you to share this with me."
"Okay." I sat up and kissed her lightly on the lips and caressed the side of her face with my fingertips, then laid back down. To be honest, I don't know why I didn't tell you. I guess because it was so long ago, and it really doesn't matter anymore."
"Emily, if it didn't matter then Beth's passing would not be affecting you as much as it is." she looked at me in the way that she always did when she knew I was full of it. I smiled to myself. Kind of reminded me of how my mother used to look at me.
"We used to do everything together." I said quietly. I looked at Rebecca and smiled, then found myself looking past her, through her to all the adventures we shared together.
After Beth's parents divorced we became even closer than we had been, if that was possible. Any other friends either of us had at school became secondary, some disappearing altogether from the world we created for the two of us. Every weekend she spent the night at my house, or on the rare occasion when her mother would allow it, we stayed at her house. Beth was heavily into the theater and acting by that time. She would come up with short one-act plays or scenarios for us to act out.
In the beginning she had to use some pretty heavy powers of persuasion to get me to participate, but then I got into them as much as she did. I could remember one of them where she was a shy, James Dean type character, and I was a beautiful girl he had seen on the street, and just had to have. Halfway through I stopped her, her bold written script in my hand.
"Beth, why do you always have to play a guy?" I plopped myself down on my bed, untying the scarf from around my neck that was a "prop", and I had stolen from my mother's closet. Beth grabbed the end of it and tried to pull it out of my hands.
"No!" I slapped her hand. "Mine."
"Why, do you want to be the guy?" she said with one of her crooked smiles.
"No!" I exclaimed. "But why do you have to be?"
"Well, someone has to be. You see, Em, to be a good actor you have to be able to embody other types that just aren't like you in life." she ran her hands down either side of her head to re-slick the water slicked hair. More "props".
I chuckled. "What text book did you read that out of? So why don't you ever play a girl, then?" I said slyly. She looked at me through her long bangs.
"Very funny. I already play one of those in life. I don't want to type-cast myself already. The acting world does that enough." she threw herself down on the bed and stretched out beside me on her stomach. She rested her chin on her hands and stared at my headboard. I laid back and stared up at the ceiling. I noticed the small spot in the corner where the roof had leaked three years ago. We both were quiet, the only sound coming from the tick of my alarm clock on the tall dresser across from the bed. Soon after I thought the ticking of the clock matched my heartbeat. My heart jumped as the bed squeaked as Beth changed positions to get closer to me. I looked over at her to find her laying on her side, her head resting on her hand, looking down at me. She didn't say anything, just looked. I began to feel like a lab rat. A strange heat was making its way up from my feet to my head. I found it hard to breath, my mid-section tingling.
"What?" I asked, slight irritation marking my voice for being made to feel uncomfortable. Or was it vulnerable?
"Nothing. I'm just looking at you. Am I not allowed to look at you?" Beth asked, sounding hurt.
"Yeah, but why would you want to? I look the same today as I did yesterday and the day before that!" I sat up and stood from the bed. Beth followed my movements, surprise filling her eyes. "You are so weird sometimes. Jeez." I walked over to my dresser and began to rearrange my small collection of unicorns. Why was I getting so upset?
I looked at my reflection in the dresser mirror. My shoulders were tight, almost like I was ready to ounce. Surprised I relaxed them, the tension flowing out. I looked at my face, my mouth shut tight, brows drawn in stubborn anger. I looked at Beth through the mirror. She still laid on the bed, having rolled back on her stomach. She was facing the opposite direction, her legs bent at the knee, crossed at the ankles, and slowly swinging up and down in a hypnotic rhythm. I could get lost in that rhythm. She was resting on her elbows looking at something in her hands. Through the thin material of her shirt I could see the sharp edges of her shoulder blades. It reminded me of the sleek back of a tiger as it sneaked up on its prey.
"What are you playing with?" I asked, my voice quiet from guilt. Beth cleared her throat, but did not look at me.
"Later in the script I'm supposed to give this to you." she half turned and showed me what she held. It was a small gold plastic band. "Remember I propose?"
"Yeah." I said quietly and sat next to her. I took the ring and looked at it, turning it over n my hand. I smiled at her. "Its so sudden, Beth. I thought we'd at least live together first." she laughed. I slid the ring on the ring finger of my left hand. It was a bit lose, but it would work.
"Well, honey, if I ain't even allowed ta look at ya, how do you ever s'pect us ta git married?" she said in one of her southern hillbilly accents.
"Beth, I'm sorry! I don't know why I got so mad." Beth had moved onto her side, and I snuggled up next to her, tucking my head in her neck. She wrapped her arms around me, and held me. I could hear her heartbeat racing in her chest, her breathing getting faster. Off in the distance I thought I heard the doorbell.
"I wonder who that is? Probably Aunt Kitty. She is supposed to come over today."
"Don't know. Maybe. Your mom and her are pretty close, aren't they?" Beth breathed. She ran her hand down my back, rubbing any remaining tension out, turning me into jelly. I could only nod. Her hand slid to the hem of my shirt, and her hand slipped underneath. The warmth of her skin felt so good I didn't stop her. I didn't want her to stop. She ran her hand up my spine, then back to my waist, then a bit further over to my side, then around my ribs.
After her hand passed over an area, I could still feel its heat. A burning feeling started in my lower stomach and spread. I could feel my chest tighten. A voice inside my head was confused, and wasn't sure what Beth was doing, but surely it could not be anything other than a massage to comfort me, could it?
I closed my eyes as her hand reached the underwire of my bra that covered the mounds of my newly formed breasts. Her fingers stilled, hand stopped in its tracks, almost as if she was not sure what she was doing, and was surprised to find herself there.
With my head tucked down I could not see her face. I wished I could have been able to read her eyes. Beth was like an open book to me. Suddenly my skin felt cold as she removed her hand out form under my shirt. I didn't say anything, and stayed how I was. We laid there for a moment when there was a knock at my bedroom door. We both froze.
"Emmy? Are you two in there, honey?" my mom said from the other side.
"Yeah." I said, still in Beth's arms.
The doorknob rattled. "Open the door, honey." I rolled away from Beth and stood, my legs unsteady as I walked over and unlocked and opened my door just wide enough to look at her.
"Why did you lock your door?" I just stared at her expectantly. "You girls were so quiet I didn't even know if you were still here or not.." she smiled. I just looked at her, impatient, yet grateful for the interruption. "That Newman girl came by. She wanted to know if you wanted to go out and do something. I didn't know if you were here or not, so I told her you girls would go and get her when you got back."
"Mom! We don't want to play with Darla Newman!" I exclaimed. We didn't want to play with anyone.
"Now, Emily I know that you two have an incredibly busy schedule, but Darla Newman is new here, and she has no friends. There is no reason why you and Beth can't go out and play for awhile."
"It's not for the rest of your life, Emily. Just a couple of hours."
I looked back at Beth who sat Indian style on the bed looking at me, and shaking her head. I turned back to my mother.
"We don't want to. Let her go find somebody else."
My mother sighed and shrugged her shoulders. "Okay." she said and walked back down the hall. I closed the door and leaned against it, my arms crossed over my chest.
"Jeez. I am almost fifteen, nearly an adult, and she still treats me like Im a kid! I don't even like Darla Newman!"
"Come on, Em. Darla is not that bad.." Beth stretched out her long legs, and stood from the bed. "Besides, you didnt have a problem with her the other day."
"Yeah, but you weren't home. I had to go with her."
Beth drew her brows and studied me. "What is wrong with you lately, Em? You are so short tempered. Everything and everyone is making you mad."
"I don't know!" I yelled. I walked over to the bed and plopped myself down face first. "I hate my mother. " I whined into the wrinkled bedspread.
"No you don't either. What did you tell me? They are your parents. You're not allowed to hate them." Beth said from somewhere near me "Come on. Let's go down to the creek."
What the neighborhood kids had dubbed as The Toilet Bowl, was the small creek that was about half a mile away from our houses. The creek ran along a distant bike trail, and ran into a large pond that was walled in by a ring of huge rocks, and was the neighborhood swimming hole. The 'Bowl' was surrounded by trees, and dense wild foliage providing shade, and much privacy for the older kids who would go skinny dipping.
Beth and I sat on the lip of a large rock ledge that sidled up to the water, our feet in the pond's coolness. We sat side by side, me looking into the murky depths, Beth looking at me.
"What's going on with you, Em? You are acting reeeeeally strange." she chuckled to herself. "I thought I was supposed to be the one who had an attitude. You're the good kid, remember? At least that's what my mom always says."
"Why?" I asked, not looking at my friend, my eyes riveted on the water as the sun beat down on it, making it glow.
"I don't know." Beth shrugged. "That's just what she says."
"Well, that's stupid. you don't have an attitude. you're perfect." I could feel my friend's eyes boring into me. I felt a wave of heat rush over me for the hundredth time that day. I began to feel uncomfortable. "Let's swim." I jumped up and tugged my shirt over my head, leaving my small bra on, and unbuttoned my white cut-offs. In my underwear and bra, I dove into the shallow depths of the pond.
"Emily!" I heard Beth call out as my head broke through the surface. I ground the water out of my eyes and turned to look at her as she stood on the rock ledge, my shorts in her hand.
"Look. You're, you're bleeding!" she exclaimed showing me the red stain in the crotch of the denim.
"what?" I swam over to her looking at the material with disbelieving eyes. Sure enough. A spot of blood the size of a silver dollar awaited me. I pulled myself out of the water and looked down at my underwear where I found a similar stain made pink as the water had rinsed it off some.
"Oh my god!" I cried,. I swallowed as I felt hot tears sting behind my eyelids. I felt emotions flowing through me at an alarming rate, and I had no idea why. I wanted to cry, laugh, and yell all at the same time. Beth put her arm around my shoulders.
"Are you okay, Em? Do you need to sit down? Your mom said that it can make you feel weak, or even cramp up. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine!" I raged, suddenly feeling more than a little embarrassed. I pushed her away from me, and tugged my shirt back on. I took the shorts from her hand, and began to rinse them in the water of the pond, praying to God that I could get the majority of the stain out so I could walk home. The red stayed where it was. "My mom's gonna kill me." I sobbed as I rubbed with my fingertips.
"No she's not. She'll understand, Em." I stood on shaky legs, and struggled to pull the wet denim over my legs and butt. "Well this explains a lot." Beth smiled one of her crooked grins, her blue eyes twinkling.
"What is that supposed to mean? 'This explains a lot'?" I fired back, angry that Beth would dare make jokes at a crisis like this.
"Your mom said that a woman will experience mood swings, and girl, you have definitely had them."
"I have not! I have been perfectly fine. Besides. What does my mother know, anyway?" I began to walk away from her, my wet feet making my sneakers soggy leading to every step squishing. That made Beth laugh even harder, and added to my misery. Though I was being childish and terribly difficult, deep down I was so thankful that Beth was at my side at what I knew, even at the downside of fourteen, was a pivotal moment n my life as a woman.
"So did your mom get mad?" Rebecca grinned.
"No, of course not. In fact, to add to my humiliation, she grabbed me in the front yard with neighbors all around us in their yards, and hugged me and made a huge fuss about her baby becoming a woman. I was mortified!" Rebecca threw her head back and laughed, her hand rubbing up and down my calf. "But then what self-serving teen wouldn't be?"
"So Beth hadn't started her yet, obviously?" she asked, still chuckling.
"No. That came a few months later. She was lucky; she started in the middle of the night, though it was my mother who helped her through it."
"Oh, Beth's mom was just far too into herself. She couldn't find the time, I imagine. Between the drinking and the men." I said dryly, remembering how often Beth's mom would leave her daughter to figure out her own problems. We were both silent for a moment, both lost in our separate thoughts. "Oh," I said, grabbing the hand that rested on my knee, our fingers intertwining. "How did the doctor go today?" Rebecca leaned her head back against the couch, her tired eyes looking at me.
"He said that if it doesn't take this time, we'll try one more time. If that doesn't take, then he suggested you and I start thinking of another plan of action. Maybe we could think about stopping-"
"No. We'll try again." I said sternly. One of us had to stay strong.
"Oh, baby. What if this doesn't work?" she whispered, that little line appearing between her eyes that always did when she was worried or upset. I reached my hand out, and rubbed it away with my thumb.
"It will work, sweetie. It has to." We stared into each other's eyes for a moment, neither wanting to break the connection. I needed to feel her tonight, to know that she was really here, and everything would be okay. With a sigh Rebecca smiled.
"Well, babe," she said, finally giving my thigh a squeeze. "We should get to bed. It's getting late." she leaned over, and kissed me softly, but I grabbed on to her and deepened the kiss, holding her to me with both hands framing her face, leaving us both breathless. "Wow." she breathed. "It is definitely time for bed."
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