© Copyright 1997
Leah--married finally. I stood there in the door, no help at all, my mind awed by that fact. She'd certainly taken her time. I found myself staring at her: the wedding dress, as she looked in her dresser for something. And expecting me to help her change.
She was so beautiful in that dress. Too beautiful. That shouldn't bother me, but I couldn't help it: after all there had been that incident.
Just one time: one night. I don't know what sort of mood got us to try it: I know we'd been drinking. And silly: we'd been silly that night. And somehow it had happened. And the next morning, I'd found myself lying in my bed, shaking with embarrassment.
Me with a woman! Leah! My best friend for years! The horror of that morning still haunts me: what was going to happen? How could I face her?
I should have called her right away: talked to her. But that's not me: I found myself avoiding her. Slipping away when I saw her coming, coming up with an excuse to get away whenever she started a conversation. But inevitably she noticed what I was doing. And caught me once, as I was trying to slip away. I still remember her words: "Don't leave."
So serious. Leah asking me not to leave when I'd just told her I was late for, well, something or other. She tried to lighten things up again by telling me she just wanted a second to tell me something. I didn't answer: just felt panic inside. She was going to try to arrange for us to get together. Just what I'd wanted to avoid, but I couldn't run out on her after she'd said it like that. "Please listen to me," she said, still sounding serious.
"Leah..." I started. I had to tell her what was what.
"No: listen. I know you've been avoiding me--because you were afraid-- afraid that I might think we were going to... continue..."
Even though her voice had trailed off to silence, I couldn't make myself answer. She took a breath and went on. "Please don't feel that way: I don't want to lose you as a friend. It was just one time: it doesn't have to be any more than that."
I found myself studying her face. She was so serious. Did she really mean this? I wanted to be relieved, to go back to our longstanding friendship. "OK?" she said.
"A one time thing: no need to remember it."
I think I must have shown my relief. She smiled at me, evidently feeling satisfied with my response and I couldn't help but smile in return. "But just one thing, OK?" she added.
"I'll never say this again," she said. Then, she said, almost in a whisper: "If you do ever do feel like it, call me. Any time, any place. 3AM if you feel like it."
My heart was in my throat again. My God! I think my mouth was hanging open. She smiled again, but it was a little forced. Then she said: "But it was just a one-time thing: don't worry about it. OK?"
But she wanted me. Or was willing, or something. My mind screamed at me. She looked at me, expectantly. "OK," I lied.
"Don't give it another thought." We split, but I still found myself avoiding her. But not as much, and soon we were back to our old shopping trips and lunches.
And now she was married. And I wasn't--not anymore. I found myself hoping hers would last longer than seven months. She turned toward me, smiling. Waiting for my help. The dress.
I complied: memories of that one night no longer bothered me. And I was grateful: she was the one friend I'd have most hated losing. Now she was married, just a month after my divorce. We'd still be friends: we always would. It just would be a little different.