Copyright© 2006 by DB.
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Author's Note: Here you'll encounter the nuts and bolts of making a committed relationship work, and the mistakes along the way. Lessons we usually learn by failing at them the first few times we attempt them. The problem is that most people never expose this side of themselves, making it hard to learn from their experiences. So take this chance to become a voyeur into other people's problems. It just might help you to learn more about your own.
A special thanks to Ian his excellent and much appreciated proofreading. All remaining mistakes are mine.
"Hi guys, come on in. Glad you could make it," Christy greeted, handing glasses of wine to Allison and Frank.
"Good to see you too," Allison replied, taking a sip of the Cabernet as she followed her hostess into the house.
A smell of incense was in the air. Some soft Celtic harp music played in the background. As they walked into the cozy living room of the small house the newcomers noticed that four appropriately colored candles were set at the four diagonal corners of the perimeter surrounding the rug, couch, coffee table, and straight-backed chair in the middle of the room.
"I'm purifying our space for truth," Christy said, tossing a pinch of sea salt, before lighting the candles with a long-handled gas lighter.
Allison nodded, while Frank said nothing. Anything to promote straight-talking was fine with him.
He put his glass down on the coffee table, before settling down into the corner of the couch. A moment later Allison joined him, leaning up against his chest as he wrapped his arms protectively around her, over her breasts. She smiled at this.
Christy took the straight chair opposite them, setting her half-empty glass on the low coffee table as well.
The small talk didn't continue for long before Allison got to the meat of the matter. "You sounded so unhappy over the phone."
"If you didn't, then why are we here?" Frank asked gently enough.
"I did," Christy admitted, struggling a bit now to keep everything light and upbeat, and not succeeding entirely. "It's about Dan."
"Let me guess," Allison said to her longtime, albeit infrequent of late, friend. "After all these years that you've known each other, you woke up one morning recently and realized he was gone." It wasn't a question.
After the tears subsided, and Christy had made the rounds refilling the mostly still full wine glasses, she nervously sat down again, hands folded in her lap.
"I hate to have you see me like this," Christy confessed.
"If it wasn't serious you wouldn't have called," Allison said, getting up to go over and hug her friend for a moment in support, before returning to her husband of two years now.
Frank remained content to let the two fifty-something women hash this one out. This was a woman's issue, and he was mostly along to support Allison with his male insights, when asked.
Although he was mid-fifties himself, he still had trouble envisioning either of these women as being over thirty-five, since with very little effort either could still easily pass for that. It was almost as though the twenty plus years each of them had wasted wasn't going to be charged against them. But that would be a lie. Days gone by can never be recovered again afterwards.
Frank was also here because he and Allison rarely did anything apart from each other. There'd already been too many years of it to want to add even another day to that total. Besides, what was the point of being married otherwise, if you weren't sharing your lives?
He conceded the likelihood that he wouldn't have a single thing to contribute today, but that wouldn't make it wasted time. He and Allison were together, and every such minute was precious to both of them now.
Frank clasped Allison's breasts a little tighter, knowing he was welcome there now. That hadn't always seemed the case.
Allison wiggled a little in acknowledging response, even though most of her attention remained with her friend.
"That's it exactly!" Christy exclaimed. "I just knew one morning."
"You've always had that special connection with Dan," Allison commented.
"Like the one you and Frank have."
"Your's was always much stronger."
"If you say so. Your's at least works for the two of you."
"Let me guess again and say that Dan didn't call you and announce it was over. In fact, he probably hadn't said anything at all to you for several months."
"How do you know so much?" Christy replied astonished, even though she'd called Allison for exactly this reason.
"And you've gone through a lot of stuff already. Like, how could he leave me? How dare he leave me. Why didn't I want him when I could have had him? So many questions, with no one to answer them."
"You're a mind reader!" Christy exclaimed.
"Not exactly. Let me tell you our story, and you can decide how much of it applies to you and Dan."
"We were like you guys, except that we met and dated a while after college instead of during it. We both felt an immediate connection, but we didn't hop into bed because of it. We were together for about nine months, broke up for four, got back together for three dates, and essentially broke up as romantic partners for good after that."
"Ahem," Frank said quietly.
"I broke up with him," Allison quickly clarified. "Every time. Frank always wanted us to be more, and I think he was truly confused by my actions when I'd talk about how special he was, at the same time that I was holding him away. Like with you, every psychic I ever saw said we were linked, and I've never questioned that. Over the years that followed he hung around, hoping I'd change my mind, while I moved on to ever newer relationships. We'd see each other on occasion, exchange letters and cards, but it was really Frank who ensured that we stayed in touch. Pretty much like clockwork, if we hadn't talked in a while I'd hear from him. Sharing some piece of news he knew would interest me, and reminding me that he was still alive out there. And I made sure he never got too close. How am I doing so far?"
"Right on target. But why did you hold him away? Everyone could see that you guys were great for each other. Far better than any of your other boyfriends I've known of."
"Easier to ask that question of someone else, than of yourself, isn't it?" Allison riposted deftly. She'd already been in Christy's position, and knew it too well.
Christy took that comeback like the physical jolt Allison had intended for it to be. Christy actually stopped to think about her reasons for what she'd done in the past, possibly for the first time. Allison and Frank each sipped their wine to give her time, while Christy's glass was already half empty again.
"It took me a long time to understand my reasons," Allison finally said, picking up the discussion again, before stopping and correcting herself. "Sorry, old habits. It took me a long time to admit my reasons for avoiding intimacy with Frank. I'd known them all along, but didn't like the answer. So I pretended I had all kinds of other reasons instead. That he wasn't sexually appealing. That he didn't turn me on. That he wasn't compatible with my intended career. That other, more exciting, people intrigued me. The truth was, I spent a whole lot of time with a lot of really lame men, none of who would ever be able to hold a candle to Frank when it came to knowing and caring about the real me."
"But what was your reason?" Christy wanted to know. "The real one?"
"I'll get to that in due time," Allison promised.
"Anyway, one morning I woke up and just knew Frank was gone. I don't know how to explain it otherwise, but I don't have to. Not to you. That's why we're talking now."
"Right. Go on."
"I was panicked. I felt he must have died somehow. I shot off a deliberately casual e-mail, and agonized over the hours until he finally replied."
"You could have just called him?" Christy offered helpfully.
"And how often have you called Dan recently — or ever?"
"Ouch. Point made."
"My point is, even after I got his brief reply — and I hadn't let on why I'd actually written him — I couldn't get over the feeling. Frank was still gone, even though he'd just e-mailed back to me."
"That's it exactly! Dan is still gone, even though he's alive and fine, at least as of the last couple of days."
"Well, girlfriend, I think what's happening to you is exactly what happened with us."
"Well don't keep me in suspense."
.... There is more of this story ...
True Story /