Thursday, March 11, 2010

Eulogy to an old Friendship

I haven't posted any stories in awhile. I guess I've just been too busy drooling over big rigs ( to come up with fiction ;)  There is a lot of fiction yet to be posted ... and even more so, there is a lot of fiction yet to be written!

The one I'm posting now is kind of a simple story that I wrote a few years ago.  It wasn't my first short story, but it was certainly one I wrote at a time when my stories were simpler and my critical eye was a bit more blurry ... or untrained :).  I could probably go through it now and update it, make it better ... make it less cheesy (cause it is full of cheese...), fix grammar and other errors that I couldn't spot then but I can spot now .... but I won't.    It's kind of neat for me to go back and read my old stories, I like to keep them the way they were ... if I want to mess with it, I'd rather write something new.

So anyway ... certainly not a masterpiece, but I still hope you enjoy it .... :)


Eulogy to an old friendship

The big menacing airplane rolled out onto the runway and Kathleen’s eyes were tearing up as she looked out the tiny window. It was a sad day. The gray sky was a reflection of her inner self. Big, heavy tears were dripping from the sky and as they collided with the black asphalt, each drop shattered into another thousand tears as if this sorrow would never end.

As the plane distanced itself from the terminals, it picked up the pace. She was brutally pushed back in her seat and finally they broke contact with solid ground, only to soar with the mist and the black clouds in the hazy sky, hundreds and thousands of feet up in the air.

Next to her sat Alex. His face was pale like an undead and stood in deep contrast to his raven black hair. She grabbed his hand and squeezed it gently, knowing that there was no way she could provide comfort for his broken heart at this time.

She had just buried her best friend and he had buried his fiancé.

It was possibly the worst day in their lives.

Neither of them felt like talking much, so they sat in silence the whole way from Florida to Seattle. It was a long ride, but it seemed to be over much too soon.

“Thank you for coming with me.”

She was lost in daydreams and jumped at the sound of his voice.

“What are friends for,” she smiled. “Besides, it’ll be fun to try something new.”

“I just couldn’t stand staying there anymore, I had to get away,” he said.

“I understand,” she nodded.

“You understand everything,” he smiled, but the smile did not reach his eyes.

The “fasten seatbelt” sign lit up, and she knew they were approaching their destination. She heard a soft thump as the wheels on the plane hit the asphalt. They were taxing in towards the terminal, and all the passengers started milling around in the narrow aisles, making the huge Boeing feel entirely too small.

Kathleen looked out the window, and was facing the same view she had just left behind, a gray and rainy day.

They hailed a cab and headed for the hotel, where they would be staying until they had found somewhere to live.

She hugged Alex tightly before they went to their rooms.

“Try to get some sleep Alex, you look awful,” she said. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay with me?”

He shook his head.

“I need to be alone with her,” he said.

She was left standing in the hallway, watching him walk down the corridor towards his room. His shoulders were shaking and she knew he was crying. She felt helpless.


After three weeks staying in the hotel, Alex had finally found an apartment he liked. Kathleen was still on the hunt.

Alex teased her one morning at breakfast.

“You’re just being picky,” he stated.

“I am not!” she grinned.

“Well, I’m moving in tomorrow, do you want to stay with me until you find somewhere to live?”

Kathleen looked up at him.

“Are you sure?”

He nodded. “I’m sure. No sense in wasting your money on hotels.” Then a sly grin spread on his face. “Besides, I need someone to help me decorate and carry furniture.”

“Oh you bully,” Kathleen laughed and hit him gently with a cloth napkin.

She got serious and grabbed his hand.

“This is going to take a long time you know,” she said and looked him in the eyes.

He nodded and knew she wasn’t talking about the apartment.

“I miss her so much,” he lowered his voice and swallowed hard; she knew he was constantly on the verge of tears.

“Me too Alex,” she whispered. “Me too.”


“Watch it so you don’t drop it!”

Kathleen was standing on the top of the stairs carrying one end of a loveseat and Alex was at the bottom, lifting the other end. Luckily he lived on the first floor.

“Ok, you can move now,” he hollered. “Let’s get this sucker in.”

They had been visiting furniture stores all day. Since they had both sold everything before moving to Seattle, there were no boxes to carry and unpack, but they had to do a lot of shopping. Finally the last piece for the day was in place. Alex had a bed, a couple of couches and a TV. The rest would slowly get purchased as needed.

“Thanks for helping me out Kat,” he said and ruffled her thick blonde hair.

“Oh like I had a choice,” she grinned but they both knew she would have helped him regardless, just like he would help her once she found her place.

“I love you Alex,” she said.

“Love you too Kat,” he smiled and gave her a big warm bear hug. “How long has it been now? 10 years?”

“Let’s see, I hit you in the forehead with that baseball in seventh grade. I hate to break it to you but we’re getting old. It has been more like 15 years,” she stated.

“Oh geez,” Alex laughed. “That hurt!”

“What, you only got 3 stitches you sissy,” she teased him.

“Not that,” he said. “The 15-years-not-10-years thing you just mentioned.”

“Oh you old grumpy man,” she chuckled.

“Hey, that means you are old too,” he grinned.

They had bantered back and forth like this for as long as they had known each other, and they loved it.

“So I’ll inhabit this couch for a few days then,” she said. “Let’s get some food then we can kick it with the TV till we get tired.”

“Sounds good to me,” Alex agreed. However, after having moved couches and TVs all day, they had barely turned on the new TV and eaten about three french-fries, before they were both curled up and sound asleep on the couch.

Seattle was starting to feel like home.

Kathleen woke up early the next morning, and Alex was still asleep. Gently she ran her fingers through his soft hair. He mumbled something in his sleep and she quietly got up from the couch so she wouldn’t wake him. She walked across the floor and sat down in the windowsill. It was still dark outside. Cold morning draft was seeping in through a crack in the window, giving her goose bumps. A car was coughing in the distance as its owner desperately tried to start it up to get to work. The echo of a loud car alarm sounded from a nearby garage, doing its best to wake up the neighborhood, while outside the window, a group of crows was debating loudly over who would get the first morning worm. The streetlights were still lit, but it was getting brighter outside by the minute, and soon a hazy fog had replaced the darkness and the day had begun.

It had been crazy, this decision to move away to a random city and start over. Neither her nor Alex had left much behind in Florida, and neither of them had ever really liked it down there. They had just accepted that it was where they were born, where they grew up and most likely it would be where they would die. However, Suzan’s death had sparked some thoughts and they had concluded that they did not want to die in Florida. They would rather live somewhere else. One night they had pulled out a map of the USA and studied all 50 states and hundreds of cities to see where they would like it the best. Although Hawaii had been tempting, they had finally decided on Seattle. Like Alex had said: “If we move to Hawaii, then where would we go on vacation?”

Kathleen sighed and got up from the windowsill. She stumbled in to the kitchen and started cooking up breakfast. The smell of eggs and bacon cooking on the grill woke Alex up, and soon they were having their own breakfast feast in his new apartment.

“This is nice,” Alex smiled. “I love this place already.”

“It’s a little better now that the “new” smell is gone and we have added food scent to walls and ceilings,” she grinned.

They finished up their breakfast, then scattered for the day to do their chores.

Two months went by and one night Kathleen came home very late. She slammed the door shut and ran inside, excited to tell Alex her good news.

“I found it, I found it, you won’t believe…” She came to a halt when she saw Alex curled up on the couch.

“Alex.” At the sound of his name, he looked up at her.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Sometimes I just miss her so much.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Kathleen said and sat down on the couch next to him. “Just cry. It’s good for you.” He put his head on her shoulder and she felt his tears soaking through her sweater, making it wet.

Deep inside, Kathleen felt slightly selfish. She kept thinking that this moment had ruined her good news. Not only had she found a place to live, but also she had found a job in a pet store nearby and had been thrilled. However, the moment had passed, and yet again they were wrapped up in tears and depression all night long.


“Kat, this is a palace!” Alex saw her place for the first time. Kathleen had found a quaint little house for rent, and would pay about as much for it as Alex was paying for his one-bedroom apartment.

“See? Does it pay off to be a little picky?” She flew up the concrete stairs and unlocked the front door. This house had a backyard, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a good-sized living room and a 1-car garage. Of course, neither of them had a car yet but it was good to have a storage place.

“You suck!” Alex said and she grinned.

“So when are you moving here?” he asked her.

“In two days. I’ve got some furniture arriving tomorrow, then my bed arrives on Thursday, so if I can bother you for two more days I’ll be out of your apartment by then.”

Alex rolled his eyes and made a gesture as if he was doing her a huge favor. “I guess so, boy, you’re such a burden too you know,” he said.

“Shut up,” she said. “Come see my place now.”

Wednesday passed, then Thursday came along, and she was getting excited to move in to her new place. It was their last night living together in his apartment, and they went shopping for steaks and red wine to really celebrate their new life.

“I’m going to miss you Kat,” he said as they were cooking the food. He was in charge of the steaks while she was preparing a nice salad.

“I’m only a few minutes away Alex,” she said.

“Yeah but I’m used to having someone here, it’ll be cold and empty.”

“I know,” she said. She put her knife down and turned around. “I’m going to miss you too,” she said and embraced him from behind. “But we’ll be alright.”

He left the steaks cooking and turned around to face her. She looked up into his deep brown eyes. His face approached hers and she closed her eyes. Seconds later she felt his lips touching hers in a soft kiss. When it was over, she opened her eyes again and looked at him.

“Wow, did you feel that?” he said.

“No, not really,” she said.

“Neither did I,” he continued and gave her a confused look.

“Like eating cardboard,” she laughed.

“Nothing, not even a tingle.” He sighed and continued with his steaks. “It just goes to prove, we’re meant to be friends for life you and I Kat,” he said.

The meal turned out great and they were chatting and having a great time.

“You’re the best, Kat,” he said.

“No you are,” she replied with laughter.

“You are!” he tossed a piece of lettuce at her.

“Don’t argue with me, you are,” she grinned and tossed it back.

“Actually… she was,” he said and that ended the banter and killed the mood.

“Alex…” Kathleen had finally had enough.

But he was already zoned out and his eyes were misty.

“Alex! Stop! Enough already,” Kathleen was getting frustrated. “She’s dead! She’s gone! We all miss her. I wish every day that she wouldn’t have gone out for a drive, but she did, and she got hit and killed. It happened! She wants us to move on Alex, you and I are still alive.”

“So you just want me to pretend that I don’t miss her and just be happy? You don’t want a crybaby along on the ride?” His words were harsh and made no sense.

“I look at you, and I want Suzan to be here. Why did she have to die and not…”

“Not me? You’re angry at me for being alive?” Kathleen was appalled at the insinuation. He didn’t say anything more.

“That’s a low blow Alex, I’ve been here for you, comforting you, going out of my way trying to make you feel better. Never once did you stop to comfort me, you act like you’re the only one in the world who is allowed to grieve! She was my friend too you know, I miss her too. We all have bad days and good days, but every time we’re having fun you seem to be feeling guilty, and then you ruin it, you poke a hole in the balloon.” She paused for a moment then she continued.

“Now we moved out here to break up and get away. That doesn’t mean we’re not thinking about her, but we’re alive and she’s dead Alex, we need to move on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll leave this hole of depression, walk over to my own place and let you wallow in self-pity. I’ve had it!”

Alex left the table, knocked a chair over in the process and stormed in to his bedroom, where he slammed the door shut. He yelled at her through the door, but she didn’t answer him.

Blinded by tears she fumbled around the apartment for her keys and some clothes, then she left. Slowly she walked along the sidewalk, sobbing and wiping her eyes. After having walked around for a while, she realized that she was lost. She found a payphone and called for a cab, which took her to her new house. Finally she was home. She was in her new house and she should feel ecstatic. Instead, Alex had yet again destroyed her moment, and it was the last time she would let it happen.


Harsh words had been spilled that night, and their relationship never turned back to the way it had been. Alex never said he was sorry, never admitted that maybe he had been a little selfish and eventually they drifted apart. Kathleen knew she had been brutally honest with him, but she wasn’t taking it back. Maybe being apart for a while was for the best. Maybe she had reminded him too much of a happy past, when Suzan had still been alive. Maybe he subconsciously had waited for their friendship to fall apart so he wouldn’t have to be reminded of Suzan every time they were together. Even worse, he had implied that he wished Kathleen could have taken Suzan’s place. It had hurt her incredibly, and she had not been able to wipe that comment from her memory.

Almost a year passed by and despite their fight and the angry words they had thrown at each other, Kathleen missed Alex deeply. Whether she was out having fun with her new friends or sitting home alone, she wished he were there. She had no clue what he was doing, who he was with, if he was with anybody at all. However, she was determined on leaving him alone. When he was ready, he would call.

But she waited and waited. He didn’t call. Not for Christmas, not for her birthday and not for Valentine’s Day. It was the loneliest year she could ever remember.

One night while walking some garbage out to the alley, she heard strange noises coming from her trashcan. She didn’t know if she dared to open the trashcan, but in order to dump her trash she was forced to open it. She saw nothing unusual at first. Then she must have jumped about ten feet in the air when one of the bags started moving around. Carefully she picked it up and replaced it with her own garbage bag.

It was dark already, so she brought the bag inside. As she peeked into the bag, she started to cry. Gently she pulled out three tiny adorable puppies. One was all white while the other two were black and white.

“Who did such a thing to you,” she sobbed. “Look at you three.” She couldn’t believe how cruel some people were.

One of the puppies started whimpering, and soon the other two followed his lead. “You must be starving,” she said and felt terrible since she didn’t have anything for them to eat. She found some chicken broth, which she heated up and fed to them, and it seemed to satisfy their appetite. Then she found a cardboard box where they could sleep for the night.

“I’ll take you to work tomorrow. I’m sure I can find all three of you a good home,” she whispered while tucking them in. “Good night guys.”

She must have been asleep for five minutes when she heard some ruckus outside her bedroom door. She flew out into the living room, only to discover the white puppy sitting in the middle of a dirt pile, as he had torn one of her plants down from the table. His white paws were dirty as was the tip of his white snout, and his dark beautiful puppy eyes looked pleadingly at her.

“Aw shucks, I forgive you,” she muttered as she scooped up the puppy and carried him in to the bedroom with her. Gently she wiped his paws off and they curled up in her bed and fell asleep.

The next day she brought two puppies in to work, and succeeded in finding them both a good home. She had conveniently forgotten the third puppy at home.

“Sure you forgot him,” one of her colleagues teased her. “You better take some dog food home. Judging from the size of their paws, you can be glad you work for a pet store.”

“What breed do you think they are?” Kathleen asked her.

“I have no idea. Something big,” her colleague replied and Kathleen sighed. There was no way she had the heart to part with the white puppy, it seemed like the two of them were meant for each other. They had been brought together for a reason.

On her way home from work, Kathleen stopped by a bookstore to find a book on raising puppies. A cozy smell of paper and new books greeted her warmly as she walked in the door. She took a deep breath and let the scent sink in. It felt soothing and relaxing, and she fought an instant temptation to sit down with a book and a Starbucks coffee. Casually she started browsing through the shelves, pulling out an occasional book to read their back covers.

“Are you finding everything okay?”

A deep voice made her look up from the book she was examining, just to find herself drowning in a pair of dark brown eyes. Then she zoomed out to get a better look at the whole figure standing in front of her.

“It’s you!” they exclaimed, both at the same time.

“How have you…” They both started talking simultaneously again then they stopped and burst out laughing.

“How have you been,” he said with a warm smile.

“Good,” she replied. Alex looked great. He looked better than she ever remembered seeing him.

“Still no regrets on moving here?” He was curious.

“No I’m glad I stuck to my guns in the beginning and resisted temptation to move back, even when things fell apart with you and I. I’m happy here and I love the weather. I really think they exaggerate about the rain here. Do you think it rains a lot? But then again I don’t mind it when it rains…” Kathleen was going on and on about her thoughts on Seattle, before she interrupted herself and turned slightly red.

“I’m sorry,” she said with a smile. “I’m sure this is not very interesting.” She had no idea why she all of a sudden felt so awkward. This was Alex, her old friend… at least she thought they were still friends, even though they hadn’t seen each other for a long time.

“Don’t be sorry,” he smiled.

“So you’re looking for something to read, are you?”

He reached over her and grabbed a book from the shelf. His arm brushed against her shoulder, and they both paused, only for a millisecond, but it seemed like a lot longer.

He cleared his throat and continued reaching for the book.

“This is a good one,” he said and she looked up at him, only to discover that he was actually blushing.

“Listen, Alex…”

“Listen, Kathleen…”

“Go ahead,” she said.

“Well, would you maybe like to join me for dinner?” He fumbled with the book he was holding, letting his strong fingers run up and down the book cover, suddenly busy studying its colorful designs.

It was obvious that he just had swallowed a big chunk of pride.

Kathleen’s face lit up in a big smile and she replied,

“I would love to Alex.”

“Let me see if I can leave early,” he said and quickly walked away.

Moments later he returned.

“Let’s go,” he smiled and she followed him out.

“You bought a car!” She was excited when he held open the door to a dark blue Volvo that had been parked right outside the store.

“I bought a car,” he said, beaming with pride as he let his hand slide across the dark blue finish, before he walked around the car and got in.

He drove them out to a quaint little seafood restaurant by the lake. From the window they could look out on the water. Small boats and yachts were slowly passing by out there. Occasionally a passing speedboat would interrupt their peaceful pace, leaving the slower boats bopping up and down in its wake. As it got darker, lights came on, casting coruscating reflections on to the water surface. It was beautiful.

The food was excellent and they thoroughly enjoyed their meal, as well as each other’s company.

“So what have you been up to,” he said, between two mouthfuls of Norwegian salmon. She finished chewing her shrimp and told him all about the job at the pet store.

“Did you take half the pet store home with you yet?” he smiled and she laughed.

“You know me too well,” she teased him.

“Actually I did get a dog, but not from the store.” She told him about the bag of puppies she had found in her garbage.

“How cruel some people are!” His eyes softened as he glanced over at her and he took a deep breath.

“Kat, I’m sorry…” He started to say something when the waitress interrupted him.

“Would you two like some dessert?”

“No…” she started to reject the dessert offer, but he convinced her that she had to try a very special chocolate fudge pie.

“Only if we share it, I’m about to pop as it is,” she said and patted her waistline.

“One chocolate fudge pie and two spoons then,” he nodded and the waitress vanished to fulfill his request.

Kathleen studied Alex across the table. His thick black hair looked soft, and she felt an instant urge to run her fingers through it and ruffle it up. He was wearing a black sweater, which enhanced his handsome features. She had never before thought of him as sexy. Tonight he was. As her attention wandered to his dark brown eyes, she found him staring back at her, and instantly she knew that he had read her mind. He seemed amused by the incident, and she turned deep red and quickly looked away, all of a sudden concentrating intensely on her wine glass. Luckily the dessert was brought to their table right then and salvaged the awkward moment.

“Try this,” he said and scooped some cream, some fudge and a piece of chocolate cake on to a spoon and he fed her the treat.

“Amazing,” she said. “That’s sinfully good.”

“I told you so,” he said with a smirk and she reached for the second spoon. Eagerly they dug into the cake and in a few minutes, only the plate was left behind.

The check arrived and he insisted on paying.

“Let me at least pay for my half,” Kathleen said but he shook his head.

“No way,” he said. “This was my treat.”

“Well, I’ll pay next time then…” she hesitated for a moment, realizing that she was falling back into old habits, the habit of having him around at all times.

“That sounds good,” he said with a reassuring smile.

“I get my paycheck on Friday,” she said. “Maybe we could… well you probably have other plans,” she interrupted herself with a dismissive gesture.

“Friday is fine,” he said. “I don’t have other plans, and even if I did, what makes you think I wouldn’t cancel them to go out with my best friend.”

They smiled at each other across the table. It felt as if they had found each other again, even though some things had changed.

“Ready?” he asked as he got up from his chair.

“I can’t move,” she replied and his warm chuckle gave her goose bumps.

“You can either move or I’ll carry you out, which one will it be,” he teased her. She didn’t doubt that he would do exactly that, so to save herself from embarrassment she left the table on her own.

“Let’s take a walk on the pier,” he said and grabbed her hand.

There was a wooden dock sticking out into the water and they walked in silence for a while, listening to the tranquil sounds from the water and the mellow music seeping out from the restaurant. Their footsteps against the wooden planks were a loud contrast to the otherwise quiet night.

“I’ve missed you Kat.” His quiet voice blended in with the soft atmosphere. “You were right you know. I was impossible to be around.”

Kathleen fought her tears back.

“I’ve missed you too Alex,” she admitted. “I just… I couldn’t… You were just…”

He silenced her by gently pressing a finger against her lips.

“I needed you to do what you did,” he said. “At first I was angry at you, mad because you didn’t understand… or so I thought. It turns out it was me who didn’t understand.”

He sighed. “I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist for a few months now.”

He lowered his voice as if he was ashamed of it.

“That’s great Alex,” she smiled. “Has it helped?”

He nodded. “It helped me come to terms with myself and my grief. It was easy to leave Florida and I imagined that I could just leave everything behind and start fresh. What wasn’t easy was dealing with the fact that my grief and my emotions followed me here and didn’t let go until I dealt with them.” He paused. Then he looked at her.

“I wanted to call you Kat, I just had a lot of pride to swallow, and I still do. I’ve treated you horribly. I’m happy we ran into each other tonight. Really happy,” he said. “I never wished that you were dead, I didn’t mean it that way. You’re my friend and my soul mate. I can’t stand not being with you. Although these last months have been the loneliest months of my life, they’ve had the effect of a cold shower.”

“I love you Kat,” his voice was trembling with emotion.

“I love you too Alex,” she smiled. “Welcome back.”

His face approached hers, and she closed her eyes, waiting for the upcoming kiss to be over with, so they could laugh about eating cardboard again and move on with their lives together.

She felt his soft lips embrace hers, and it was as if a lightning bolt shot through her body, only to explode and transform into a thousand tingling butterflies.

When he ended the kiss, they looked at each other, all of a sudden at a loss for words.

Kathleen smiled and finally she got to run her fingers through his dark hair. It was just as soft as she remembered.

“Did you feel that?” Alex said.

“I felt that,” she spoke softly.

“No cardboards?” He sounded as surprised as she was.

“No cardboards,” she replied.

He hugged her tight, before they started walking back to his car in silence, reflecting on what had just happened.

“Friday then?” he said. They were parked outside her house, and she didn’t feel like leaving him yet.

“Yes,” she nodded. “If you want to.”

“I do,” he smiled.

She turned her head and looked at him. She saw a mixture of happiness, hesitance and shyness, and he looked incredibly sexy. She had never looked at him this way before. Her eyes wandered down to his lips. She wanted to kiss him again.

“I’ll pick you up here,” he said quickly and she nodded and fumbled for the door handle.

“Alex, I had a really good time,” she said. “I look forward to Friday.”

“Me too,” he said with a big smile.

She watched the taillights of his car become smaller and smaller until they vanished into the cool Seattle night.

The puppy was waiting for her when she got in. She didn’t care that her living room looked like a tornado had swept through it, she was happier now than she had ever been in her life. Everything finally felt so right.

“Alex is back,” she said with a happy voice and the puppy didn’t quite understand what she was so excited about. Regardless, it drowned Kathleen in little wet kisses, implying that it was excited as well over whatever it was that they were excited about.

Even though it was a busy week for Kathleen, it was possibly the slowest week in her life. She kept herself occupied with the puppy and went to the gym with her friends as usual, but her mind was constantly with Alex and their upcoming dinner. Even though they were old friends, things had changed. They were exploring new avenues within their friendship. She was extremely nervous, because if they went the wrong way and disaster struck; their friendship could shatter beyond repair.

Finally it was Friday. Her boss let her out early, and with a fresh paycheck in hand and a hot date ahead, she went shopping for something new to wear. As she was trying on dresses, she examined herself in the mirror. She was faced by the reflection of an average looking girl, who tonight was radiating. A hint of natural blush was coloring her fair skin and her blue eyes were sparkling with excitement. She ran her fingers through her thick blonde mane, which had grown well past shoulder length by now.

After having tried on a number of dresses, she picked out a smart navy blue outfit, which enhanced all her right curves and concealed all the wrong ones. Kathleen had to laugh at herself. Since when did she care about these things with Alex, who had seen her at her worst with zits, greasy hair and dressed in worn out ugly sweatpants?

It was just Alex!

She came home and got dressed just in time. A car horn honked outside her door just as she buckled her last shoe.

“Hey you,” he smiled as she opened the car door. She noticed that he too had spent extra time on his looks this evening, and she could even detect a hint of cologne as she gave him a warm hug.

“It’s finally Friday,” she blurted out, and turned red as soon as she realized how eager she sounded.

He laughed at her, before admitting that he had been waiting as well.

“Where are we going then?” he said. “It’s your treat right?”

Kathleen nodded. “I’m afraid you’ll need to help me pick a restaurant, because I don’t know a lot of places yet. I know we’ve lived here for awhile, but believe it or not, I haven’t been on a lot of hot dates and most of my meals have been cooked and consumed in my own kitchen.”

“What kind of food do you feel like?” he asked her.

“How about pasta? Are there any good pasta places around here? And don’t go cheap on us, let’s go somewhere nice,” she grinned. “I’ve got a paycheck and I’m willing to spend it!”

“You got it,” he said and they drove off.

He picked out a wonderful Italian restaurant. The atmosphere was very nice and she could tell that great effort had gone into making this place as genuine Italian as possible. They could see the ovens and the grills in the open kitchen, where the chefs were yelling and screaming at each other like hot-tempered Italians. A singer was serenading the guests, touring the tables and taking song requests. Some people were embarrassed by all the attention she brought to their table, while others stared at her in awe and gave her an extra dollar or two for her efforts.

“This is great,” Kathleen commented as she finished her last ravioli and thoroughly wiped her mouth with a napkin, making sure she didn’t have pasta sauce dripping from her mouth.

“I’ve been here a couple of times before but it’s too pricey to be my favorite place. Food wise though, it’s a favorite,” Alex said.

“Have you been on dates?” Kathleen asked him. He nodded.

“I went on a few but they didn’t work out.”

“I haven’t really dated anybody,” Kathleen said. “I’ve been busy settling in.”

“Well, don’t forget, I was busy ignoring certain emotional issues for awhile, and that’s when I went on these dates, to prove to myself that I was doing okay. It all blew up in my face, didn’t it?” He smiled and shook his head.

“And I was so close to losing you, my best friend. Never let me do anything stupid like that again,” he said and she laughed.

“Well, you weren’t listening to me so I’m not sure how I could have prevented you from being an idiot.”

He grabbed her hand across the table.

“Do you want to ride the ferry?”

“What?” She wasn’t sure she had heard him right.

“The ferry,” he said. “It’s still early, we can go for a ferry ride back and forth across the Puget Sound.”

“I haven’t been on the ferries yet,” she said.

“Let’s go then,” he smiled.

“Ok, let’s do it,” she said, and all of a sudden she was excited to ride the ferry. On the way there he made a stop at a liquor store, where he bought a bottle of red wine, which he put on the inner pocket of his jacket.

It was 10 pm when they walked onboard the passenger ferry to Bainbridge Island.

“Let’s go outside,” he said and took her hand. They found a nice private corner that wasn’t too windy. He took his jacket off and placed it on deck, then gestured that they’d sit down.

Hesitantly she pulled her skirt together and sunk down onto the hard, cold floor. The sea breeze brushed across her face, leaving it drizzling wet and a bit sticky from the ocean spray. She untied the braid she had been working on so hard earlier that night, just so the wind could weave her blonde strays of hair back together again. With a deep sigh of satisfaction, she closed her eyes and turned her face in the direction of the wind, enjoying the soothing massage it was offering her.


She heard Alex calling her name. Slowly she opened her eyes, and found a Dixie cup half full with red wine in front of her.

“Ah, so this was the purpose of the wine,” she smiled.

“Cheers,” she said and let the cup touch his before she lifting the cup to her lips, tasting the sweet liquid.

“So are we friends again?” he asked her. He had put his arms around her. She leaned back against his warm body and made herself comfortable there.

“You now it’s funny how someone’s death makes you analyze yourself and your own life,” she said. “I feel bad now for letting you go. I should have been more pushy, I should have helped you.”

“I would have ran in the opposite direction,” he mumbled. He had his face buried in her blonde hair. She felt his warm breath on the top of her head when he talked.

“In fact I did run in the opposite direction,” he continued.

She nodded.

“So what about you. Are you okay? Did you deal with all this?”

She was surprised to hear him ask about her feelings.

“I miss her. I always will,” she said. “But I came to terms with her death a long time ago. It’s all integrated and a part of me now, and I realize that the sorrow will never completely go away. It makes us a part of who we are and we carry on with a little more wisdom.”

“So are we friends?” Alex asked her again.

“I think we’ve gone beyond friendship,” Kathleen admitted. “So do I.” His voice was soft. She turned her head towards him and met his lips halfway. She felt his grip tighten around her and she sat her wine down and put her arms around his neck, pulling him closer. His soft tongue was caressing her lips, and she willingly parted them to let him in. He tasted of sweet red wine as he gently caressed her tongue and they were lost in a tongue twirling passionate kiss that seemed to last forever.

They spent the rest of the night drinking wine, talking, kissing and cuddling in their private corner onboard the ferry. They missed getting off it the first time and ended up riding it twice across the sound. After the second time, the ferry stopped running for the night, and they emptied their Dixie cups and headed back to her place.

“Do you want to come inside?” she asked him as he dropped her off in front of her house.

“You won’t mind?” he asked her.

“No, I won’t mind. Don’t get the wrong idea …”

“I know,” he smiled. “I’m just not ready to leave yet.”

The puppy greeted them as they walked in the door, and Alex immediately fell in love with it.

“I can’t have animals in my apartment,” he pouted.

“Well maybe you will…” Kathleen interrupted herself and he laughed, as he very well knew what was running through her mind.

“Maybe I will,” he said and pulled her down on to the couch. He lied flat out on his back and she stretched out on top of him, staring deeply into his dark eyes.

“Never in those fifteen years did I realize how good-looking you are,” she smiled.

“Gee thanks,” he grinned.

She captured his lips in an intimate kiss and his arms tightened around her, pressing her as close towards his masculine body as she could get. They were passionately occupied with each other when they heard the puppy whimpering; obviously feeling neglected and left out. Kathleen hesitantly let go of Alex’ lips and found the puppy sitting next to a suspicious looking puddle on her wooden floor.

Alex started laughing.

“Maybe I won’t,” he said, but she gave him another convincing kiss before she got up to clean up the mess.

“Ok maybe I will,” he grinned and licked his lips before he sat back up on the couch.

“Hey Kathleen…” He sounded hesitant to continue on whatever he wanted to say.

“Yes Alex?” Kathleen replied while cleaning up the puppy’s mess.

“It’s time to take Suzan for a last ride,” he said. “Can you come with me tomorrow?”

Kathleen smiled at him and nodded. Of course she would.

“Thank you,” he smiled.

“I guess I better go home,” he continued and started moving towards the front door. “I’ll pick you up…”

“Alex, don’t leave. I just… I don’t want you to go,” she said.

He hesitated for a minute.

“I guess I could sleep on the couch with the puppy,” he said.

“I’ll share my bed with you,” Kathleen smiled. “It’s an eastern king, it’s big enough for two people to sleep in without getting… sexy,” she finished with a grin.

“Will you just hold me?” he asked her.

“Only if you hold me too,” she replied and took his hand.

They woke up late the next day and drove out to his apartment to retrieve Suzan’s urn, before continuing out to the ferries.

“She would have loved the ferries,” Alex said. “I think this is right.”

Kathleen just smiled and grabbed his arm.

“I know,” she said. “I think so too.”

They walked onboard and as soon as the ferry started moving, they climbed out on deck. Since it was full daylight, it was harder to find a spot where they could be alone, but shortly after departure, most of the passengers moved back inside. Alex fished the urn out from his jacket. His hands were shaking violently and she was afraid he would drop it, but he seemed to have it under control.

“Let it go Alex,” Kathleen said. “Let her rest.”

“I will,” he mumbled.

“Do you want me to leave you alone for a bit?” Kathleen asked him.

“Don’t leave me,” he said. “Maybe just walk over there,” he continued and pointed to the other end of the ferry deck.

“I just need a moment.”

“I understand,” she said. He looked at her, then bent down and kissed her.

“Thank you,” he whispered and hugged her tight, before he let her go and she moved away. From where she was standing, she could see the contours of his lonely figure as he lifted an arm and tossed the urn overboard. It was impossible to see his face, but she could tell by his posture that he was crying.

The cozy ferry continued plowing its way through the waves. The wind caused Kathleen’s eyes to tear up as she looked out on the semi-rough water. It was a new day. The gray sky was no longer a reflection of her inner self; it was merely a reminder of the cycles of nature, life and death. Big, heavy tears were dripping from the sky and as they collided with the hard boat deck, each drop shattered into another thousand tears, as constant reminders of those challenges that life would continue to provide, challenges that they would stand up to and conquer.

The boat kept moving away from the Seattle shoreline. A huge wind gust swept in, and nearly caused her to fall backwards, but she proudly kept her balance. She turned her face up towards the sky, and far above her she could see the mist and the black clouds in the hazy sky, hundreds and thousands of feet up in the air.

Alex walked up next to her. His face was nice and tanned and blended perfectly in with his raven black hair. She grabbed his hand and squeezed it gently, and this time she knew that it provided both comfort and a nice promise for the future, and their broken hearts were finally healing.

She had just said farewell to her best friend and he had said farewell to his fiancé.

It was possibly the best day in their lives.

Neither of them felt like talking much, but cuddled up to each other and sat in silence on the ride back from Bainbridge Island to Seattle. It was a short ride, but it seemed to last forever.

“Thank you for coming with me.”

She had been lost in his eyes and smiled at the sound of his voice.

“What are friends for,” she said.

“Friends,” he grinned. “It’ll be fun to try something new.”

“I can’t stand staying there anymore, I have to get closer,” he said.

“I understand,” she nodded.

“You understand everything,” he smiled, a smile that finally reached his eyes.

The ferry slowed down. She heard a soft thump as the boat hit the docks and she knew that they had reached their destination.

1 comment:

Ororina said...

Yup, a bit cheesy, but like the story ;) And no, don't uncheese this story, then it's better to write a new one. We can correct and rewrite our stories over and over again, and never become really satisfied. It's the writer's fate. So, it's better to leave the stories stay as they are, and go on and let the other stories you have inside of you, come out.