Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No. 40: The Phillips Sisters

I understood that hanging myself might not have been the best option but I couldn’t see forcing myself to slice my wrists and I can barely swallow one pill for a headache, let alone a handful so this seemed like a better option. I never thought it would end like this. I figured I would have a long life but I underestimated the power of two sisters. Two sisters that wrapped themselves so completely around my brain that the only way to get them to stop is to end it all.

I was out with my friends about eight months ago, going to a coffee bar and bookstore. We had been there for about twenty minutes when I noticed her sitting by herself in the corner. She was reading something by McCarthy but I was more interested in the way she would read and then begin writing in a notebook. Very few people wrote in notebooks anymore. They wrote on their laptops or on their tablets or, God forbid, on their phones. As my friends decided to leave, I excused myself and walked over to her.

She had her brown hair, mousy brown; I guess it would be called, pulled back into a ponytail. She wore glasses but they had thin rims instead of the usual thick, hipster-style that was so popular right now. She wore an off-white shirt and you could faintly see her blue bra underneath it. She also wore slacks instead of jeans. She stopped writing and returned to her book.

“McCarthy, huh?” I asked, not really caring but wanting to strike a conversation.

She looked up from her book, which just required moving her eyes a little up, but didn’t set it down. “Yeah,” was all she said.

“I’m not a McCarthy fan, myself,” I said.

“Why not?” she began to set the book down but she stopped halfway.

“He’s just not my cup of tea. You like him?”

“He has his good moments,” she said and smirked, her lips curling up the left side of her face. The book was lowered a little bit more. “It looks like your friends are leaving. Shouldn’t you be joining them?”

“I told them to go on without me. I wanted to come over here more,” I said.

“Ballsy,” the book went all the way to the table. “And what makes you think I would approve of your company this evening?”

I shrugged. “If you didn’t want me here, you probably would’ve said so by now.”

“Good point. I’m Vanessa. Vanessa Phillips,” she extended her hand toward and I accepted it, giving it a slight squeeze.

I introduced myself and looked into her green eyes; there was something about them that seemed cold and distant but somehow still warm and inviting. She brushed the few strands of hair that covered her forehead off to the side and then took her book in her hand. “Would you like to go out?”

The hand came off the book.

“Go out? When?”

“How about tomorrow? I could pick you up and we could go get dinner, see a movie then get dessert or coffee,” I said.

“Or we could meet somewhere, get dinner, go see a play and see how it goes from there,” she retaliated with a tinge of hostility in her voice.

“See a play? What play?”

“It doesn’t have to be a play but I do not want to see a two hour piece of garbage that’s playing at the big theatre so that limits your choices to the independent theatre or the community theatre.”

“Okay, okay. Where do you want to meet? There is a wonderful restaurant just down the street.”

“The European bistro,” Vanessa said briskly.

“The…? Why there?”

“Because you having any shot with me requires putting up with things I like. I like plays, I like bistros, I like Europe and I like seeing the look on guys’ faces when I offer them frou-frou suggestions,” Vanessa said. Her eyes were now softer and her lips were parted into a smile.

“I’ll see you there, Vanessa,” I said coolly and extended my hand.

She took it and smiled bigger. I went home with the image of her smile engrained in my thoughts.

The theater was putting on a performance of Beauty and the Beast. The play seemed to try to take on an air of the Disney movie so it was more comical than originally intended. A lot of slapstick also seemed to take place in the background.

As Vanessa and I walked out of the theater with the crowd, I commented on something that happened in the background. “Did you notice when all of the furniture was attacking the townspeople that the painting smashed itself over someone’s head?”


“Wouldn’t that kill the painting?” I asked. “I mean, the painting is a living thing and typically when something goes through a living thing, the living thing dies. But there it was at the end of the play standing and still alive.”

Vanessa looked at me with one eyebrow raised and her nose crinkled. “I think you are thinking too deeply about this local production of Beauty and the Beast.”

“Probably but that part just bugged me. Are you ready for some dessert?”

The ice cream parlor was a small hole-in-the-wall located between a bar and a Buffalo Wild Wings. Ice cream freezers lined the wall with the flavors listed on a chalkboard above them on the wall. The wood floor creaked and groaned with every step Vanessa and I took. I ordered a vanilla ice cream with Oreos and chocolate brownie pieces in it while she ordered a raspberry sherbet.

We left the store and sat on a concrete wall that surrounded a small tree. “Are you having a good evening?” I asked after watching her take a few licks of her sherbet.

“I am. It’s been a very good evening. And I’m not sure if it’s what we did or if it’s the company,” Vanessa said.

“Thank you,” I smiled. “I’m having a great time but I am positive it is because of the company.”

Vanessa blushed but tried to hide it by lifting up her ice cream cone and turning her head. “So tell me a bit more about yourself.”

“I was born and raised here. I went to college here and then took a job in Seattle but came back after about a year because I thought the city was too depressing. Also, the main reason I was sticking around thought some guy named Alex was more sexually pleasing,” I explained.

“Nice,” Vanessa slowly nodded her head. “Any brothers or sisters?”

“Nope. Only child. You?”

“I have a younger sister. Natalie. We really don’t even look alike so people sometimes don’t even think we are sisters. Some people assume we’re stepsisters or cousins. It’s very weird.”

“Parents still together then?”

“Yep. They had their 35th anniversary last year. It was sweet,” Vanessa said. She took a big bite of her ice cream. “What about your parents?”

“I never knew my father and my mom ran off with her lesbian lover about four years ago. I haven’t heard from her since.”

We each took more bites from our ice cream. “So when are we doing this again?” Vanessa asked.

“So are you ready to meet my parents?” Vanessa yelled from the shower as I stood in front of the mirror with a towel around me brushing my teeth.

“I’ve met parents before,” I said with the toothbrush in my mouth. I took it out and spat. “And your parents seem nice. I’ve met some parents who’ve treated boyfriends like second-class citizens. Not worthy to be the sidewalk their daughter walks on.”

“They are nice,” she shut off the water and slid open the curtain. “Inside they’ll think you’re not worthy to be my sidewalk but outside they will be lovely parents.”

I turned to look at her and smiled. I watched some of the water roll off of her. She had goose bumps on her small breasts and the light brown of her pubic hair glistened with water drops. My penis became slightly erect as I watched her reach for a towel. We had been together for a month and it had been just about the perfect month I could remember. I knew, even after a month, that I was falling in love with her. She kissed me on the cheek and went to get dressed in the bedroom.

Vanessa’s childhood home was not what I expected. It was similar to your standard cookie-cutter house but at least in this neighborhood all of the houses looked different and were different colors. Vanessa’s father was a short man, balding and with a mustache. Her mother was also short and seemed to be older in appearance and demeanor than her husband. Vanessa’s sister, Natalie, was not as pretty as Vanessa. She had freckles all over her face and big, brown eyes as opposed to Vanessa’s small, green ones. Natalie was also an inch or two taller with darker, curlier hair and thicker arms, legs, hips and bigger breasts. With the exception of the nose, you really couldn’t tell that Vanessa and Natalie were sisters.

“I’m glad we finally get to meet you,” Natalie said, cornering me when Vanessa went to talk with her parents in the kitchen.

“She’s been talking about you for the last month and how great you are,” Natalie looked me up and down. “I don’t see it.”

“You’ve known me, what? Ten minutes?”

“What are your intentions with my sister?” Natalie stepped closer to me, threateningly.

“Your sister and I are just dating,” I stepped back and raised my hands. “I know we really like each other but right now it’s too early to really know what the end game here is.”

“Calm down,” Natalie smiled and placed her hand on my arm. “I’m just messing with you.”

I nervously chuckled along with her and watched her walk away into the kitchen to join the rest of her family.

Vanessa bent over to pick up her bowling ball and I tapped Natalie’s arm with my knuckles. “I love her ass,” I said.

“You’ve told me that,” Natalie smiled.

“You have a nice ass, too,” I said. “It’s slightly bigger than Vanessa’s but on you it looks good.”

“I think you’re the bigger ass,” Natalie laughed and stood up. “Hey, sis, your boyfriend is looking at my ass.”

“As long as mine is the only one he’s fucking then he can look all he wants,” Vanessa climbed into my lap and kissed me.

Four of the best months of my life had flown by and each day I was falling more and more in love with Vanessa. Natalie had also become one of my best friends. She was one of the kindest, funniest and smartest people I had ever met with the exception of Vanessa. Natalie seemed to spend a lot of time with us and also seemed to sleep over with us whether it was at my place or Vanessa’s. She was also more of a partier than I thought when I first met her.

One morning, Natalie had crashed at my place. Vanessa and I were getting ready for work and Vanessa had gone out to the kitchen to get a couple of granola bars and came back into the bedroom. “Natalie’s having sex on your couch,” she said.

“Mm,” I said, nodding, “I’ll have to talk to her about that. I don’t care if she spends the night but I would prefer it if she didn’t do that.”

“I’ll let you handle it,” Vanessa kissed me and headed out for work.

I left the bedroom and slowly walked down the hall. I had the intention of interrupting them and saying that at least the guy had to leave but I stopped when Natalie and the guy having sex came into view. She had her arms holding him close and was moaning softly into the air with each thrust of his hips. I undid my pants and began fondling my penis and then began masturbating. I soaked in Natalie’s moans and imagined myself on top of her. Natalie’s moans stopped as the guy came. I quickly dove back into the bedroom and closed the door to finish what I had started.

I heard Natalie walk by the bedroom into the bathroom and close the door. I ejaculated onto the floor then sat down on the bed still stroking my penis and watching more cum ooze out onto my hand. I sat on my bed for about a minute until I caught my breath. “How am I going to clean this up?” I asked myself.

“I’ve got some bad news,” Vanessa said as she walked in the front door and sat down her bag. “I’m being sent out of town for two weeks to help with the opening of our new branch.”

“Sounds more like a good opportunity but it will suck spending two weeks apart,” I said as I stood in the kitchen making dinner.

“I don’t want to leave you for two weeks,” Vanessa came up behind me and hugged me.

“We’d have to spend time apart sooner or later,” I said. “Plus, like I said, sounds like a great opportunity.”

“But I’m going to miss you so much,” Vanessa said softly and began rubbing my crotch. She felt the strain of my semi-erect penis against my jeans and worked to undo my pants, taking my penis in her hand. She stroked it until it became fully erect.

I turned around quickly, picking Vanessa up and sitting her on the counter. We worked together to get her pants and underwear off and she used a couple of kitchen drawers to prop her feet up. The corner of the counter scraped along the underside of my cock as we had sex.

When we finished, I cleaned up with a paper towel and pulled my pants up. Vanessa picked up her pants and went bottomless to the bathroom while I went back to making dinner.

"I'll see you in two weeks," Vanessa hugged me and we kissed before she got out of the car to go into the airport. "I'll call you when I get in."

"Okay. Have a safe flight," I said to her.

"Don't tell me what to do," she smiled.

I watched her walk into the terminal and I was then shuffled away by someone in a uniform for parking in an unloading spot. "I was unloading someone!" I shouted but knew he couldn't hear me. I drove back home and then wondered what I was going to do for the next two weeks. I took off my jeans and sat down on the couch in just my shirt and boxers and turned on the TV. I scrolled through the guide but most of what was on were reality shows. I got up and went over to put in a DVD of a TV series then went to the kitchen to microwave some burritos and get a bag of chips. For the rest of the afternoon I sat alone in my apartment.

At about six, someone knocked on my door. I got up and looked out of the peep hole and saw Natalie standing in the hallway. I opened the door and she noticed I wasn't wearing pants. "Put some pants on and come to dinner with me."

"What?" I asked and opened the door wider to let Natalie in.

"Put on some pants and come to dinner with me. I want you to try my favorite Mexican restaurant. Besides, you are not just going to sit alone in the darkness of your apartment for the next two weeks," she said picking up my jeans off the floor and handing them to me.

"Did Vanessa tell you to do this?" I asked as I slipped on my jeans.

"No but admit it, you were just going to sit alone in your apartment for the next two weeks, right?"

"I was planning on going to work," I said quietly.

Natalie's favorite Mexican restaurant was more of the fast food variety but I had to agree that the food was pretty good. The tomatoes tasted fresh and the shredded cheese was very potent. I ordered a couple of tacos and a burrito platter which consisted of a large burrito, a side of refried beans, four tortilla chips and a salad that consisted of lettuce and diced tomatoes.

"So what else have you got planned tonight?" I asked her.

"Nothing much. We're going to stop at a liquor store and pick up some liquor then we're just going to go back to your place and get to know each other better," she smiled and took a bite of her taco.

"We've known each other for almost four months. I thought we knew each other fairly well."

"Did you know I tried to commit suicide when I was seventeen?" Natalie smiled and raised her left hand which had a faint scar running diagonally from where the hand connected to the wrist. The scar was about an inch or so long but I wasn't very good at judging measurements.

"Why did you do that?" I asked trying not to act surprised or shocked.

"Nuh-uh. Not until we're on the precipice of a drunken stupor in your apartment," she kept smiling. I smiled back at her and thought that I had started blushing.

"So what sounds good?" Natalie asked me as we walked around the liquor store.

"I typically only drink whiskey or bourbon so I'm just going to get this," I held up a bottle of my favorite brand of whiskey. "Feel free to get what you want."

Natalie then grabbed a couple bottles of rum. "Okay, I'm good. Let's go."

When we got back to my apartment she went into the living room and turned on the stereo and turned the volume to a level where we could hear it but it wasn't overpowering the conversation. I sat the alcohol on the kitchen counter and took it out of the bag. "Do you want me to make you something?" I asked.

She came over and took one of the bottles of rum and opened it. "No, I'm good."

I took a glass out of the cabinet and made me a whiskey with Pepsi but also filled a smaller with just whiskey. I sat down on the couch next to Natalie who was sitting against the arm with her legs pulled up to her chest. "So what are we doing?"

"We're going to talk," Natalie was smiling again.

Natalie's smile was amazing and I thought about it a lot during the time we were together. She always showed her teeth and her smile, somehow it always looked perfect and her teeth were always a bright white. It made her look so innocent and perfect, especially when her dark hair was framing her face. I took a sip of my whiskey and Pepsi and sat the glasses on the coffee table and adjusted myself so I was sitting at an angle facing Natalie before scooting the coffee table closer.

"How many girls have you loved?" Natalie asked me before taking another big swig of her rum.

"Do you mean love as in love or how many have I made love to?" I asked, making sure the question wasn't a trap.

"Why don't you just answer both?" God, that smile.

"I've loved three girls in my life. Possibly four girls but it was high school love and as I got older I'm not sure if I loved the girl or the idea of being in love. After that there was a girl in college--Becky. Becky and I even talked about being together after college but towards the end of our senior year we kind of drifted apart when it was determined that our lives weren't ones to mesh," I revealed. I hadn't talked about my high school girlfriend or Becky in years and they were so hidden that they hadn't crossed my mind in a long time. "After Becky was Krista, a lady from my so-called slumming days but she was great and I even considered proposing to her but I realized--we both did--that the relationship would never work out."

"You were going to propose to one of your girlfriends?" Natalie was stunned to hear that. "Have you told Vanessa?"

"No, and I would prefer not to so keep this between us."

"Fine," Natalie rolled her eyes and took a drink. "Who's the fourth girl?"

"Your sister," I said.

"Aww," Natalie tilted her head. "And how many girls have you fucked?"

"Do I have to answer? That question is so inappropriate," I reluctantly opted to answer and took a big swig of the pure whiskey.



"I've slept with 25 guys. Now tell me how many girls you've slept with."

"25? Isn't that number a bit high?" I questioned but I honestly didn't know what would be considered a high number.

"Answer the question."

"Seven," I admitted. "I've slept with seven girls."

"Only seven? Isn't that number a little low?" Natalie smirked.

"Why'd you try to kill yourself?" I quickly asked, then began sipping on my whiskey and Pepsi again, this time keeping it in my hand.

"A boyfriend broke up with me," Natalie said. "I was 17 and madly in love with this boy. I gave him my love, my virginity, my hopes and my dreams and in return he gave me the same things. I wanted to marry him. I wanted him to get me pregnant so we could be together forever. He learned that and ran away from me. I was devastated and decided to end it."

I stared quietly at her as she took a breath and took another drink of rum.

"My parents found me and called 9-1-1. I came out of it okay but I learned something very valuable," she said.


"Never fall in love," another drink. "I've been with and dated many guys but kept my distance emotionally. If you don't invest emotionally in a relationship then you can't get hurt."

"But what about happiness? Don't you want to fall in love again?"

"Most definitely. And when I find a guy who deserves my body, my soul and my love then I will let him in but until then," Natalie trailed off but did a fluttering motion with her hand.

"Well, I hope you find that special someone," I raised my glass to her and she blushed as she took a drink.

We talked into the night, getting to know each other more than I think we thought there was to learn. Vanessa called around eleven, saying she got in around eight and met the person she was going to working with. I talked with her about missing her and what Natalie and I had been doing this evening without going into explicit detail. Natalie stole the phone from me and talked. After about twenty minutes, we were finished and hung up.

I got up from the couch and stretched, nearly falling over due to the blood draining from my brain and all the whiskey I drank and started down the hallway. "Where are you going?" Vanessa asked, punctuating her sentence with a quiet burp.

"I'm gonna change into a loose-fitting shirt and pajama pants," I slurred and went into my bedroom to change. Natalie followed me and watched me change. "What are you doing?" I asked her.

"I thought I'd join you," she stepped closer to me. "I think we should head to bed."

"I was thinking that, too," I said.

"Can I sleep in here with you?"

I looked at her for a bit then shrugged. "Sure. Why not?"

She smiled, made a squealing sound and hopped. She then dove into my bed and covered herself up. "Nice sheets."

"I like to be comfortable when I sleep," I said as I got into bed with her. I turned off the light and rolled over to face her. "I'm gonna tell you something that may gross you out."

"Okay," she giggled.

"One morning after you had spent the night and you were having sex with some guy on my couch..."

"I am so sorry for that," she interrupted.

"It's fine," I shook my head. "Anyway, while you and he were, you know, I was watching from the hallway and masturbating."

"What?" Natalie backed away slightly.

"But I wasn't thinking about you and that guy. I was thinking about you and me," I revealed.

"Really?" her voice because softer and more tender. "I think about you and me as well."

"We probably shouldn't be in bed together then," I said.

"Probably not," she agreed but our lips joined and we pressed our bodies together. I got on top of Natalie and we continued kissing, our bodies still together, held in place by our arms wrapped around each other. "I can feel your cock," Natalie breathed and we took each other's shirts off.

I woke up the next morning remembering exactly what happened--or at least what started to happen. I was now on the other side of the bed, near the wall, so I rolled over and saw Natalie lying next to me, still asleep. I could tell that she still had her bra on so I lifted the covers and saw that both of us were still wearing pants.

"We didn't do anything," Natalie suddenly said, sitting up.

"I didn't think we did."

"We both pretty much passed out after we started making out. Probably a good thing we did because us sleeping together would be wrong," Natalie laughed nervously.

"Yeah, I love your sister and I don't want to do anything to hurt her but..."


I started to say something to Natalie but as I looked at her and thought about Vanessa, I changed my mind. "Nothing. We should probably get up and get dressed," I crawled out of bed and began putting my loose-fit shirt back on.

"You," Natalie said.

"What?" I looked at her.

"I could possibly love you," she said, using her soft and tender voice from last night.

I stared at her. I didn't know what to say or do. "Do you need a ride home or anything?" I asked.

She shook her head, "No."

"You didn't have to come with me," I said to Natalie as we stood in the airport waiting for Vanessa.

"She's my sister and I want to welcome her home. If anything I have more of a stake in her than you do," Natalie said. Natalie noticed Vanessa heading toward us. "I think that's her over there," she pointed in a direction away from where Vanessa was walking and I turned my head to look. Natalie bounded over and hugged Vanessa.

"I missed you, too, Natty," Vanessa hugged back.

I slowly walked up to them. "That was dirty pool, Phillips," I said and nudged Natalie.

"Sorry but she was mine first."

I hugged Vanessa and kissed her. "How was your trip?"

She sighed heavily but happily. "I thought it was going to be a pain in the ass but it was actually pretty good. The manager there, who I was training, was a good guy and learned quickly so he was able to take over a lot earlier than we thought," Vanessa said.

"That's good. Would they not let you come home early?" I asked her as we began walking out of the airport building.

"Probably but I didn't want to. I liked being there. I enjoyed working with the people that were hired and I really enjoyed working with Jim," Vanessa said.


"Oh. He's the guy I was training. He was so interesting and we got along really well."

"Was he cute?" Natalie asked.

"He was. And he's single."

"So you're telling me I need to move?" Natalie laughed.

"So did you spend a lot of time with this Jim guy?" I asked, trying not to sound upset or angry but somehow I knew I wasn't doing it.

"I had to spend over eight hours a day with him. We went to lunch together several times and even a few dinners. We even saw a movie one weekend."

"Oh. That's...good," I sighed.

"Are you jealous?" Natalie asked.

"I'm not jealous. Why would I be jealous? She left him and came home to me. I'm dating her. Not him."

"I came home. I didn't leave him," Vanessa said. "There was nothing to leave."

"Are we going to grab something to eat?" Natalie asked. "Because I could definitely eat."

Vanessa quietly came back into my bedroom and got back undressed. "So why did you let Natalie move in with you?" she asked me as she started getting into bed with me.

"She was tired of living with her parents and it's just temporary until she finds her own place," I responded.

"I was gone two weeks and you get a roommate. A female roommate, no less," Vanessa huffed.

"She's your sister. Why do you have a problem with this?"

"I just don't trust her around you," Vanessa turned to look at me.

"What? She's nice. We're friends. Nothing is going to happen. It's not that different than what happened with you and Jim."

"Jim and I never lived together. Jim and I would go to our separate living arrangements after work. Jim and I were coworkers and nothing more."

"Coworkers. Which is why he's been texting you all night?"

"He's asking questions about the job," Vanessa sat up.

"I thought you said he was a quick learner."

Vanessa sighed heavily, rolled over, pointing her back to me.

I woke up the next morning and saw Vanessa packing up some clothes into a bag. "What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm going back to my place. I think we need to be apart for a while."

"Apart? We've been separated for two weeks."

"Maybe we need a couple more days."

"Maybe you need to stay away from Jim."

"He's halfway across the country and to be honest; if you can't trust him then you can't trust me."

"I trust you! I can trust you and still not trust him. It's you that doesn’t trust me around Natalie," I sat up in bed and kept the covers pulled around me. I wanted to stand up but I didn't want to argue with Vanessa with my privates dangling between us.

"That is completely different because you are living with her now. You can hear her through the walls. She probably heard us make love last night. You can hear her make love..."

I flinched at that, remembering when I did hear her make love. I was kind of glad the blankets were around me. "I was being nice, Vanessa," I sighed and lowered my voice. "Look, I'm sorry. I just really missed you while you were gone and then you come home and all you can talk about is this Jim guy. I just feel like you didn't even think of me while you were gone."

"I didn't think of you? I thought about you every day. I called you every evening didn't I? I even did other things that required me to think of you," she smiled and come over to the bed and sat down. "I missed you more than you will ever know."

I leaned in and kissed her. She kissed me back and I pulled her on top of me. "Do you want to wake Natalie up?" I asked.

"Sure," she said and I began pulling her shirt off.

For the next two months, everything was back to normal and, I should say, better. Vanessa moved in with me and Natalie moved into Vanessa's old apartment. It became an ideal solution and placed me one step closer to proposing to Vanessa. The one problem I saw with our new arrangement was how often Jim and her texted each other. The chime on her phone would ring and she would eagerly answer it. About half the time she would giggle at what she read. A giggle I had never heard before. Vanessa didn’t giggle. And she would always type a response.

I came one afternoon to see her sitting on the couch in front of her laptop. She had been laughing at something and stopped when I entered the living room. "Oh, you're home. Look what I got set up," Vanessa smiled and pointed at her laptop. I peered over the couch to look at the screen. She had set up a video chat program that used the camera on her laptop and was talking with some guy. "Say 'hi' to Jim."

I snorted. "I'm not going to do that," I said and walked away into the bedroom. I began undressing to get into more comfortable clothes and was in my underwear when Vanessa came in. "How was your day?" she asked, slinking in.

"It was fine. How was yours?" I asked politely but honestly not caring.

"It was fine as well. What do you want for dinner?"

I shrugged. "I don't care." As I grabbed a pair of pajama pants, Vanessa placed her hand on the bulge of my underwear. I gasped quietly and she lowered herself to her knees and slowly pulled down my underwear and directed me to sit down on the bed and lean back. She took my penis into her mouth which was something I had felt in months. And then she kept going bringing me to climax, something she hadn't done since the early days of us dating.

"You can pay me back tonight," she said as she lifted her head and she left the bedroom.

After dinner we sat in the living room and read. However, most of the night was interrupted by the chime of her phone, her giggling and random mutterings. In the hour we had been reading I only managed to get through a page because of the little that came from her. Finally I had enough. "Could you silence your ringtone or, better yet, quit talking to Jim?" I asked angrily.

"I'm not going to quit talking to Jim. Besides, you should be thanking him. He's the one who told me I should suck your dick this evening," she revealed.

I slammed my book shut and stood up. "I don't need help getting laid from Jim. I'm going to bed." I went into the bedroom and slammed the door, got undressed and got into bed. I could still slightly hear her phone chime and her giggles and I lay there. I dozed off and on for the next couple of hours and woke up when Vanessa came in to bed. I slept facing the wall and she faced the other side with her back to me. She fell asleep quickly but I was awake for at least another hour.

"What's going on between Vanessa and Jim?" I asked Natalie as we had lunch together.

She sighed. "I knew this wasn't going to be just a friendly lunch date," she took a bite of her burger. "I don't know to be honest with you. From what you told me it sounds like there is something going on between them but since they are half a country away their relationship is completely platonic."

"It's not platonic. If anything, it's at least an emotional relationship," I said. "She tells him about everything and he tells her about everything. Honestly, it's quite sickening when you witness it firsthand."

"I don't know what to tell you."

"Has Vanessa ever cheated on a boyfriend?" I asked not really sure I wanted to know the answer.

"I'm sure she has," Natalie said. "But I don't know for sure. I know she's been cheated on though so it makes me think she wouldn't cheat on someone she loves."

"So should I just wait this out? Maybe their friendship will fizzle out since they can't actually see each other?"

"Again, I don't know. Just go with your heart and your head and hopefully it will work out."

A couple weeks went by with me never mentioning Jim although Vanessa continued to talk and text with him. We were in our bedroom; she was lying down and reading while I was sitting on the end of the bed, also reading. It was quiet in the room. Every few minutes or so her phone would vibrate and she would answer. I closed the book I was reading, closed my eyes and sighed. "I don't think this is working out."

"What?" Vanessa was stunned. At first it seemed like she didn't even know I was talking to her.

"You spend too much time talking with Jim and I just think you'd rather be with him than me."

"We're friends! And if I wanted to be with Jim don't you think I would be there with him? I love you. I want to be with you." She got out of bed and walked over to me.

"I'm sorry, Vanessa. I think we need to go our separate ways. At least for right now."

She lingered for a couple of seconds then stormed off out of my apartment. The silence in the apartment nearly drove me insane as I tried to continue to read. I went to bed sometime around midnight. Out of habit, I slept close to the wall. About twenty minutes after I went to bed, my phone chimed. I rolled over and grabbed it.

It was a text from Vanessa. "I still love you. Can we talk tomorrow?"

I smiled at the message and texted back: "Can we meet at our usual place at 10? I love you too."

A few seconds later "Yes. See you there."

Vanessa was about ten minutes late for meeting me but to be honest, I arrived about twenty minutes early. She sat down across from me and set her purse down on the floor next to her chair. "Would you like something to eat?" I asked.

"No, I'm good, thanks," she answered. "What the hell was with you the other night?"

"Look, I know what I did might have been a mistake but put yourself in my shoes," I said. "What if I was close friends with another girl and spent all my time talking and texting with her? How would you feel about that? Wouldn't you be even a little jealous or upset that someone else is getting that close to me emotionally?"

"It's already happening. You are close with Natalie. You eat out together, you lived together and you do many things together and I'm not jealous or worried about your relationship with her," Vanessa said.

"You know Natalie. I don't know Jim."

Vanessa exhaled sharply. "I don't know what to do then."

"I don't want to break up with you."

"But you did."

"I didn't want to but what else was I supposed to do? I felt that there was a problem and every time I bought it up you pushed it aside and said that there wasn't a problem or that the problem was all in my head," I said. "You weren't listening to me but you listened to everything Jim said. It seemed like you were more emotionally involved with Jim than me."

"That is ridiculous," Vanessa reached over and took my hands. "I love you so much and I care so much about you. I want--wanted--to spend the rest of my life with you. I don't have very many friends and it was nice having someone to talk to even if they were halfway across the country."

I squeezed her hands and smiled at her. "You still don't get it," I let go of her hands and stood up. "I hope that we can still be friends and maybe even get back together sometime because I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you too but right now this isn't working out." She nodded and started to cry. I leaned down and kissed her softly on the cheek, squeezed her shoulder with my hand then left.

This was the fourth time in a year that Vanessa and I went to the Natural History Museum. It was our favorite place and we loved being together while we were there. We spent almost an hour sitting in the room with the panoramic overlook and talked.

"Natalie has a boyfriend," Vanessa began when there was a lull in our conversation. "She hasn't actually came out and told me but she keeps talking about this guy and spends a lot of time at his place."

"I'm glad she's found somebody. She told me about her high school boyfriend and I wondered if she would ever open herself up to someone else," I said. "Tell her congratulations for me."

"I will. Whoever this guy is must be pretty special for her to be exclusive with him. I may have to start grilling her to make sure he doesn't hurt her like the last one did."

"I think Natalie has decent taste in men so I'm sure she's fine," I said and stood up. I helped Vanessa up and we locked eyes and kept holding hands. We separated and headed downstairs to leave the museum. We walked down the outside steps and started to part ways.

"Hey..." Vanessa turned and hollered at me.

I turned around and looked at her. "Yeah?"

She paused and fidgeted where she stood. "Nothing," she shook her head, turned and continued walking away.

I watched her for a few seconds before walking away myself. When I got home I threw my keys on the kitchen counter and collapsed on the couch.

"How was the museum?"

"It was fun. It's always fun," I said and looked at Natalie. She came over to me and sat down on my lap. "Your sister told me that you have a boyfriend."

She wrapped her arms around me and kissed me. "Yeah, I guess you could call him that."

"We should probably tell her. It's been a month since she and I broke up and we've been dating just over a week. It's gotta come out sooner or later," I pointed out.

"Mmm," Natalie groaned. "I'd rather it be later."

"Next week. Okay?"

"Yes," Natalie said and kissed me again. "Now you should come with me to the bedroom," she stood up and pulled me off the couch and led me into the bedroom.

Afterward, we lay in bed together, cuddling under the blankets. "I have a question I probably shouldn't ask," I said.

"Mmm?" she moaned.

"Does Vanessa still talk to Jim?"

"We're lying here naked in your bed together after making love only a week into our relationship and you want to know if your ex still talks to the guy you broke up with her because?" Natalie leaned up and looked at me.

"To be fair I did preface the question with 'I probably shouldn't ask,'" I smiled.

Natalie leaned back down. "They haven't spoke in quite a while," she sighed. "I think whatever they had between each other has kind of fizzled."

"That's too bad. I figured we'd break up then she'd go visit him and..." I stopped talking. "What are we doing for dinner?"

Natalie chuckled. "I should probably hang with Vanessa tonight. If I spend too much time over here she may follow me or ask me a bunch of questions I don't want to answer right now. Or ever, really," Natalie got out of bed. I watched her start getting dressed and felt lucky to know her and be able to be as close to her as I was.

"Thank you," I said, rolling over, still looking at her.

She turned to look at me. "What?"

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For being here with me," I said. "I really enjoy all the time we've spent together."

"I have too," she smiled "but you don't need to thank me."

"Will you be here tomorrow night?"

"Maybe. I may have to do one more day with Vanessa but we'll see," Natalie bent over in her bra and underwear and kissed me. "Get your clothes on and walk me out to my car."

“So am I ever going to meet this man who has significantly changed my little sister?” Vanessa asked Natalie as they ate dinner.

“I don’t know,” Natalie said. “We wanted to do it a while ago but we’re not sure if we’re ready. I also don’t want to ruin the dynamic that…we have,” Natalie said.

“You could at least tell me his name,” Vanessa laughed. “You tell me the names of one-night stands you brought home but not the name of the guy you’ve been seeing for the last couple of months?”

“I don’t want to mess this up, Vanessa. When I am with him I feel amazing and he makes me feel so special and he’s smart and funny and when we make love he just feels as if he’s made for me. Everything about him is just…I’m falling in love with him, Vanessa.”

“Well, as long as I meet him before the wedding, I guess,” Vanessa pointed a fork at Natalie.

After dinner, Natalie washed the dishes while Vanessa sat down on the couch. Her phone suddenly chimed with a text message. She read it and then answered it. After a couple of minutes it chimed again. “Hey, Natalie?”


“Would you hate me if I went out?”

“Of course not. Go. Have fun,” Natalie said.

“I’m just going out for ice cream. Do you want to come with?”

“No. You go have fun.”

“Okay. I don’t know when I’ll be home so don’t wait up.”

“I never do,” Natalie grinned.

“Oh, God, that was a good one,” Vanessa gasped as she collapsed on top of me. She rested her head on my shoulder and used her finger to play with my chest hair. I had invited her out just to get some ice cream of something and possibly even tell her about me and Natalie but we ended up talking about our relationship and I realized that my love for Vanessa was stronger than whatever I felt for Natalie. While I loved Natalie, what I felt for Vanessa was different. I wanted to be with her. I wanted to spend my life with her. I held her close to me, stroking her back running a hand through her hair.

“I missed you so much,” I said, squeezing her tighter.

She lifted her head and looked at me. “I missed you, too,” and she kissed me. “So are we back together or what?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Do you want to be back together?”

“I don’t know,” she rolled off of me but kept her hand on my chest. “I’m not a huge fan of how you treated me toward the end. But I understand what you were going through. I’m sorry that I didn’t know before.”

“I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have gotten as upset as I did. He was there while you and I were here. I should’ve just enjoyed that time we had.”

“Yeah. You should’ve,” she smiled.

“Before we make it official, there’s something I have to do first,” I said.


“There’s this girl I’ve been kind of seeing and I just need to cut her loose.”

“Have you been getting some on the side?” Vanessa cooed.

I chuckled. “We’ve just been seeing each other and she is fonder of me than I am for her,” I lied.

Vanessa slowly got out of bed. “It’s almost eleven. I should get home.”

“Actually,” I sat up “is it possible that you could spend the night? I miss lying next to you.”

She smiled at me. “I guess I can. I did tell Natalie not to wait up.”

I admit that I was not ready to break up with Natalie. I didn’t break up with her but I continued seeing Vanessa. After a couple weeks, I knew Natalie had grown suspicious but I acted as if everything was still the same.

“Who keeps texting and calling you?” she finally asked me one night before bed while we were reading.

“Just a friend,” I said.

“You don’t have any friends,” she said.

“It’s a new friend from work. We get along pretty well—have the same sense of humor and such. I don’t really know if we’re friends outside of work but it’s nice to have someone to talk to,” I explained.

“How come we don’t make love anymore?”

I froze after she asked me and stared at her. It had been awhile. I looked at her and the way she was looking at me. “It hasn’t been that long. A couple weeks? We’ve just hit a lull. It happens in every relationship.”

“We should do it now,” she rolled over and pressed her hand over my crotch. She kissed me and began stroking my penis. I tried to get in the mood but it wasn’t working. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m just not in the mood. I’m sorry Natalie,” I said.

Natalie got up off of the bed. “I think I’m going to go home,” she said.

“I thought you were going to spend the night,” I got up off the bed and grabbed her shoulders.

“What’s wrong with you? We haven’t made love in almost three weeks, you are constantly talking and texting someone else and you never invite me over to spend the night anymore,” Natalie started to cry as she hit the bullet points. “Are you cheating on me?”

Now was the time to tell her. I looked at her beautiful brown eyes, tears spilling out down her cheeks. “Of course not,” I said. I tried to hug her but she backed away from me.

“No. I need to leave,” she cried and grabbed her stuff, walking out of the bedroom and out of my apartment. The next day, I received a phone call from Vanessa.

The day after the funeral, Vanessa broke up with me for the final time. As a parting gesture she showed me the note Natalie wrote. It detailed our relationship, her suspicions about me and how happy and in love she was. “Damn,” I sighed as I finished reading the note.

“Is that all you have to say? My sister killed herself because of what you did. Because of what we did!” Vanessa yelled.

“What do you want me to say?” I yelled back. “I’m sorry I didn’t stop loving you? I’m sorry I didn’t break up with her? Neither is an appropriate apology, Vanessa!”

“You knew the story of the scars on her arms. You knew what could happen if you hurt her like that so why did you do it?” Vanessa yelled as she started to cry.

“I liked Natalie. She was a good girl. I didn’t plan on treating her this way and I thought she could handle it if we did break up not still treating everything like we’re in high school.”

“But you didn’t break up with her. That’s the problem. You kept her in the dark and lied to her. And worst of all, you used me to do it.”

“I didn’t use you. I loved both of you and didn’t want to hurt either of you.”

“Then why did you?”

I didn’t have an answer for that. I thought about it for a minute but couldn’t come up with an answer. My friendship with Natalie evolved into a relationship. What had once been a relationship with Vanessa turned into a friendship. Had I known what I wanted even two days ago all of this could’ve been avoided but now that I knew, it didn't matter.

Vanessa sighed, “Good-bye,” and she stormed out of my apartment, slamming the door.

I hesitated. I could hear her stomping away from my door, down the hall. Within seconds she was down the stairs and out the door and into her car. “Good-bye,” I said even though she couldn’t hear me.

I didn’t go to Vanessa’s funeral because I don’t think she would’ve wanted me there. Unlike Natalie, Vanessa didn’t leave a note but most assumed it was despair over losing her sister and a part of it was that. Vanessa was an indirect cause of her sister’s suicide—even if she didn’t know it. And that brings us up to date.

I still love Vanessa and Natalie Phillips in two different ways. In the months following their deaths, I thought about them constantly, missing their voices, wishing they could still send me text messages or come over and lay with me in bed. They were a combination of everything I loved in relationships and people in general. It’s been killing me the way I treated them. They didn’t deserve that but I hope they understand that it was because I loved them why I treated them the way I did. I am sorry for what I did and I hope, together in the afterlife, that they can forgive me.

I finished writing the note and walked over to my bedroom door where the noose I had made was waiting. I stood on the chair I had sat down, pulled the rope over my neck, closed my eyes and kicked the chair out from under me.