Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Vacation, part 3"

Hey everybody. This week's story is the third party in my fractured fairytale love story. I encourage you to read the  first part (new window) and the second part (new window), but it's probably not necessary to understand what's going on. Is there a "part 4" in the works for this heartstring-pulling tale? Only time will tell. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!

Title: "Vacation, Part 3"
Aaron Matthew Smith- February 2011

“Roger?” Allison called, walking into the house. The air conditioning must have been turned up, because it was shockingly cold after sitting outside on the deck all evening. She kicked off her flip-flops at the door and walked to the fridge, which Roger had left standing open.
“Damn it,” she said. She took a beer out of the refrigerator, twisted the cap off and closed the door with her butt. The beer only made her colder- she took a hooded sweatshirt off of the couch. It was gray and said “Roll Tide!” across the chest. It was one of Roger’s.
He’d always done this, ever since they were kids. Whenever he was hurt or embarrassed, he would hide somewhere until he was convinced that everyone had forgotten about whatever it was he was hiding from. She remembered one time in the second grade when Roger had peed himself on the school bus on the way home. He was so embarrassed that he hid on the back of the bus until all the other kids were gone.
You should have just told him you loved him back, said a smart-ass voice in Allison’s head. It would have made everything so much easier.
“Of course I love him,” Allison mumbled to nobody as she walked through the house. For goodness sake, here they were, by themselves, in the beach house that Roger and his bride-to-be were supposed to be staying in on their honeymoon. He found out about her sales-rep-on-the-side a week ago. He was still so vulnerable.
But you wanted him to leave her, the voice argued. You hated her!
“I didn’t hate her,” Allison mumbled. “I just…”
“Just what?” Roger’s voice said, and Allison screamed and dropped her beer. She scooped the bottle up as foam began to dribble onto the carpet.
Roger was sitting in the laundry room on top of the washing machine. He had his glasses in his hands. He didn’t look up when Allison walked into the room.
“I just… I just didn’t want her to marry my best friend.”
That made Roger look up. Allison hoisted herself up onto the drier and scooted to the edge, next to Roger. She leaned on him, and he put his arm around her shoulder.
“She’d make a fine wife for someone. Just… nobody I care about.”
Roger cracked a smile. “You could have said something.”
“And do what, Rog? See your heart break?”
Roger considered that for a moment. “I might’ve hated you for a while.”
“I like this better,” Allison said, looking Roger in the face. “This way, we both get to hate her, and nobody hates me. Oh man, that sounds so selfish.” She sat her beer down. “I’m just… I’m just sorry.”
“For what?”
“For keeping my big mouth shut,” Allison said. “I knew that she was trouble, and I could see that you guys weren’t good together, but I just… I knew you’d be heartbroken if you guys split up, and I couldn’t do that to you.”
They were quiet for a moment. Allison wasn’t good at quiet- she’d always felt like if someone was hurting, she had to say something until she said the right thing.
“What did you see in her, anyway?”
“We had fun together,” Roger answered at length. “When it was just me and her, we had fun together. We met at a poetry slam. She liked strong coffee and old bookstores.”
“And that’s why you asked her to marry you?” Allison’s voice was skeptical.
“No, not really. I just…” Roger wouldn’t meet her eyes, and that bothered Allison. “I didn’t think I could do any better.”
“Are you kidding me!?” Allison jumped off of the appliance and stood to face her friend. Barefoot, she had to look up at him sitting on the washing machine. “Rog, you’re great, okay? You rock. You’re… the king of England. You’re Elvis. You’re the Grand Poobah of cool. You’ll find someone great.”
Roger looked into her eyes. With his glasses in his hands, she could see his brown eyes clearly. She remembered briefly when they were in the sixth grade, when Roger had to get his first pair of glasses. She’d convinced him that he didn’t look like a white Steve Urkel when he was too mortified to wear them to school.
She knew the truth, but she didn’t want to be the person to say it. So she did what she’d never done before. She fought the urge to talk and waited.
Finally, Roger said, “I should’ve told you how I felt about you a long time ago. But I was scared.”
“That’s stupid,” Allison said, looking away from his eyes.
“What? Why’s it stupid?”
“Because I’ve seen you scared. You were scared in Jurassic Park. You were scared to ask Jenny Farfield to homecoming. You were never scared of me.”
“Sure I was.”
“Oh yeah? When?”
“When I asked you to prom.”
“I was your third choice!” Allison slapped him on the shoulder.
“No, you were my first.” Roger blushed. “But I was scared, like I said.”
“That’s stupid,” Allison repeated, a smile creeping across her face.
“I mean, we know too much about each other. Way too much.”
“Oh come on, how can you know too much about someone?” Allison hopped back up on the drier and snuggled close to her friend. “Seems to me your problem with Jamie was that you didn’t know enough about her. She turned out to be a totally different person. I’ll bet you don’t even know who she lost her virginity to.”
“Uh, well, it’s none of my…”
“What about me?”
“Stephen Marks, senior year,” Roger said without hesitation. “He said he’d take you to homecoming. But after the dance, he told everyone about it.”
“That jerk,” Allison said, she something twinkled in her eye.
“I always hated that guy,” Roger said.
“Well, no. Only after that.”
“Yours was that girl, your freshman year at Bama. What’s-her-name… she had a really funny name.” Allison screwed her eyes shut so she could think. “Hatty! Harriet! That’s it!” Roger blushed and averted his eyes.  
They were quiet another moment.
“You know I only hooked up with those girls at college because I missed being with you,” Roger said.
“Yeah, I know.”
“And you know I kept looking for a girl I could have fun with because that’s what we had.”
“It’s about you, Al. It’s always been about you.” Roger spoke quietly as Allison leaned on him. “All my life, I’ve compared every girl I’ve ever met to you, and I’m probably doomed to do that til I die a bachelor.”
“I’m your measuring stick?”
“Yes,” Roger whispered, and exhaled as if he’d been holding his breath for his whole life.
After a moment, Allison said, “I guess you’re mine, too.”
“So how do you feel?”
“Didn’t you just say that was stupid?”
“Stupid but true,” Allison clarified. “I… well, I sort of expected something like this might happen this week.”
“And you came anyway?”
“Anyway? It’s why I came!”
Roger laughed.
“But I meant what I said. You’re still hurt. Hell, we’ve already spent a lifetime together, Roger. I don’t want to mess it all up by doing this part wrong.”
Roger squeezed her gently, and she snuggled closer on his shoulder. “Okay,” he said.
They were quiet for a long time after that, but for the first time, Allison didn’t feel the need to talk.