Sunday, December 15, 2013

No. 44: Life After Alison

One
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a funeral before,” Aaron said as he, Myrna, Wendy and Dennis stood in front of Alison’s casket.

“You’re 28. I find that hard to believe,” Myrna said. “Have any of your relatives died? There is no way you’ve never been to a funeral.”

“My great-great grandma died back in 1988 and I remember visiting her before she died but I do not remember going to a funeral.”

“I still find you never going to a funeral slightly unbelievable,” Myrna said.

Dennis tilted his head slightly to get a better look and Alison. “She looks so natural. Almost like she’s just asleep.”

“Are you okay?” Wendy patted his back.

“With this?” he spread his arms, motioning to the coffin “yeah. I am a little uneasy with my name being mentioned in the obituary.”

“Why?” Myrna asked.

“We were just dating--boyfriend and girlfriend. Sure we were living together but it makes it seem like we were going to be married.”

“I thought you loved Alison…” Aaron said.

“I did. I do. But I…we didn’t even know if we were going to get married or what. I’m probably just over thinking this and letting something that means nothing get to me.”

“We were all just together last weekend. Remember?” Wendy asked, looking at Myrna. “We went to see a movie and get some dinner. She was in such a good mood.”

“It’s not like she knew she was going to die,” Myrna said. “It is surreal that we all were just talking to her at some point six days ago and now we’ll never talk to her again.”

“Has anyone seen or talked to Stanley?” Dennis asked, looking around the funeral home.

“I called him when the visitation started,” Myrna said and snuck a peek at her phone. “He didn’t answer. I left a message and I’ll call him again when we start heading out to the cemetery.”

“I wonder why he’s not here,” Dennis said.

“She looks so natural,” someone said coming up behind them.

“Nathan,” Wendy backed up, “what are you doing here?”

“Alison and I dated for four years. Of course I’m going to come to her funeral.” Nathan stepped closer to the casket and looked in. “She still wears the ring I got her?” he asked, looking at a simple gold ring on her pinky.

Dennis quietly walked away from the group. “It’s just jewelry, Nate. Her still having it doesn’t really mean anything,” Myrna said and followed Dennis. “I’m sorry Nathan is here,” she said to him.

“It’s okay. He has every right to be here. They did date for four years.”

“You weren’t around for it. It was a terrible relationship,” Myrna said. “You are so much better than Nathan.”

“Why did she keep in touch with him?”

“They have a detailed history together. Also, the town’s not that big,” Myrna responded. “And I think he kept coming back and she was too nice to tell him to quit bugging her.”

“She was nice, wasn’t she?” Dennis’ eyes watered.

“She was.”




Both of them knew their relationship was getting boring. They’d been dating for over four years and engaged for two of them. Alison had taken to handling the boredom by discovering new hobbies and letting Nathan fuck her in the ass for something different in the bedroom. Nathan decided to combat the boredom by cheating on Alison with Jessica Ivy.

Jessica was a junior in high school, a good three years younger than Nathan who had just graduated from high school with Alison. At first, Nathan tried to keep his relationship with Jessica secret but after a few months stopped caring and even bought Jessica with him when hanging out with his and Alison’s mutual friends. Alison had a feeling that Nathan was cheating on her and with who but never confronted him until she walked in on them when she went to see him at his apartment.

“I know what you’ve been doing,” she began after sending Jessica out and making a partially dressed Nathan sit down on the couch. “I’ve known for awhile. The reason I haven’t said anything is because I’ve also checked out on this relationship. I haven’t gone as far as you but nothing about what we have is satisfying to me anymore.”

“So…what’s next?”

Alison slid her engagement ring off her finger and handed it back, holding the gold ring between her thumb and forefinger. “I think we should end the engagement and go our separate ways.”

Nathan took the ring from her. “So we’re breaking up?”

Alison cocked her head and raised an eyebrow. “You have to ask?”

“Can we have sex one last time?” Nathan asked, smiling in his fake innocence way that all girls, it seemed, thought was adorable.

“I think you are dating Jessica now and I don’t feel comfortable being the other woman,” Alison smiled. “Bye, Nathan,” she turned and left the apartment.




Two
“What are you doing here?” Caroline asked as she entered the coffee shop.

“I’m scheduled today,” Stanley responded.

“Isn’t today your friend’s funeral?”

“Yeah. I decided not to go,” Stanley said. “Plus this place doesn’t allow bereavement leave for friends. Sure, seven grandparents die; take off as long as you want!”

“Are you okay?”

“No. I’ve been Alison’s friend since college. We went well together. I was always there for her. In college, before she met Myrna, I was the one always there for her. She’d come to my dorm in the middle of the night. She’d talk to me when her boyfriend was being a jerk. When they finally broke up I was there. I waited a respectable amount of time and then asked her out. She always said she wasn’t ready but would then go out on a date a couple nights later. When she wasn’t dating anyone and she got drunk enough, she’d come to me. No funny stuff. Just kissing and cuddling together in bed. I’d always ask her out and she’d always reject me but I stayed her friend because I liked her and her company but now that she’s gone, I wonder if it was worth it,” Stanley revealed.

“Not worth it? You had ten years of friendship with someone you loved. How could that not be worth it?”

“I wanted more, Caroline. Why didn’t she just give me a chance? I’ve never understood why girls never seem to give guys who they are friends with a chance. I’m a nice guy. I would’ve treated her well.”

“Maybe she didn’t like you in that way?” she shrugged.

“Then she should’ve told me. If I ask you out and you are not interested then say so. She kept making up excuses and maybe not stringing me along but If she would’ve just said she wasn’t interested in me…” Stanley trailed off from there.

“If she would’ve told you she wasn’t interested, would you have stopped pursuing it?”

“I don’t know,” Stanley sighed. “Maybe I wouldn’t have stuck around so long but I also wouldn’t have been following around a girl who clearly had no interest in me for nearly ten years like a stupid puppy on a leash. Maybe I could’ve just been friends with her.”

“What are you going to tell your friends when they ask you why you didn’t go to her funeral?” Caroline asked.

“They were her friends, not mine. There’s a part of me that doubts we’ll ever see each other again,” Stanley said. “I did help her make a huge change in her life though,” Stanley smiled oddly as he looked at Caroline.

“What’d you do?” she asked, smiling back.

“I got her to quit drinking as much.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. She used to drink all the time. She invited me to drink with her one morning, we nearly slept together and that helped get her act together.”

“Really? You two almost had sex which caused her to sober up?” Caroline stifled a laugh. “I don’t believe it.”

“No, really. The thought of sleeping with me cures women of becoming alcoholics,” Stanley laughed. “She never did thank me for that.”




It was about eleven in the morning five years ago and Alison had invited Stanley to her apartment to hang out. When he arrived, she had already downed several beers. “Stanley!” she yelled. “So glad you made it!” she hugged him.

“You invited me over,” he said.

“I know. I need someone to drink with and watch these cartoons with me,” Alison pointed at the television.

“Drink? It’s eleven in the morning,” Stanley faked a chuckle.

“I know. That’s why I invited you over. Otherwise, drinking this early is just sad.”

She handed Stanley a beer then walked over to the couch and flopped down on it. Stanley opened the beer and sat down on the couch. Alison placed her feet on Stanley’s lap. For the next hour, they sat in almost complete silence watching Nickelodeon. Stanley only made it through two beers but Alison had polished off five, not including the one she was drinking when he arrived.

Stanley had been massaging Alison’s feet for the last ten minutes which was something she liked and that he liked to do. “You should come up here and lay with me,” she offered and scooted closer to the edge of the couch.

Stanley pulled himself next to Alison, awkwardly placing his left arm over his head and his right arm around Alison’s waist. “It’s a little cramped,” he said.

Alison turned slightly. “I like being close to you,” she kissed him. He kissed her back and began rubbing her stomach. She stopped kissing him and grabbed his hand. “Grab some boob, Stanley!” and she placed his hand on her breast. She went back to kissing him and he gently fondled her left breast. “Oh, yes…” she moaned.

Alison scooted back into the middle of the couch so Stanley was now on top of her. They continued kissing, Alison holding Stanley close to her. Stanley stopped kissing her and pulled away. “What are we doing?”

“We’re making out,” Alison said. “And don’t tell me you don’t like it because I feel your boner,” Alison pulled Stanley closer to her and leaned up to whisper in his ear. “You need to kiss me more, fondle my boobs, tear my clothes off and fuck me.”

Stanley pulled back again. “You’re drunk.”

“And horny. I know you want to fuck me. You should take advantage of my offer.”

Stanley sighed, got off of Alison and stood up. “It wouldn’t be right,” he began. “You are in no condition to have sex with anyone right now. I’m going to help you upstairs to your bedroom and then I’m going to go home, okay?”

Alison looked innocently at Stanley; one of her eyebrows was raised, and nodded. “Okay,” and began sitting up. Stanley helped her stand and then took her upstairs.




Three
Myrna and Wendy became good friends because of Alison. Alison had always mentioned Myrna and Wendy to each other but neither of them had met until Alison’s 21st birthday. Myrna and Wendy became close because they had to carry Alison home that night and then they stayed up talking.

It was a week after the funeral when Myrna met Wendy for lunch. The three of them met for lunch occasionally when Alison was alive. Wendy was already sitting at a table with someone when Myrna came into the diner. The girl sitting next to Wendy was cute, about the same size and build as Wendy and had really short blond hair.

“Hi, Wendy,” Myrna sat down across from the girls. “Who’s this?”

“This is Amanda,” Wendy smiled at Amanda who took her hand under the table. “She’s my girlfriend.”

“What?” Myrna smiled and looked back and forth between Wendy and Amanda.

“We’ve been together about three months. We told Alison a couple of months ago and we were going to tell everybody last week but then Alison died and we decided to wait until everything with her death and the funeral died down.”

“I wish you would’ve told us sooner. Anyways, congratulations!” Myrna exclaimed. “How did you meet?”

“Alison and I went to a gay night at a bar—she liked being hit on by lesbians—and that’s when we met,” Wendy said.

“I’m glad you’re happy,” Myrna said, smiling at both of them. “You are happy, right?”

“I think we are,” Wendy looked at Amanda.

“I’m happy if you’re happy,” Amanda smiled back.

“I do think this being my first relationship has helped in understanding what I want from my significant other,” Wendy revealed. “Also, Alison’s parents gave me some photo albums that have a lot of pictures of us. They also have quite a bit of Nathan, Eric, Dennis and other boyfriends of hers. They thought it would be best if we kept them and divided them up between each other.”

“Maybe we can all come over some weekend and get those sorted. Talk about old times and reminisce,” Myrna suggested. “Are there any good pictures of the three of us—you, me and Alison?”

“Not that I saw,” Wendy shook her head. “There’s always at least one boyfriend in every picture it looked like.”

Myrna chuckled. “Alison sure liked men.”
“I think she liked what came attached to the men,” Wendy joked.

“Speaking of men, have you talked to Stanley since the funeral? I’ve tried calling him but he’s not answering or responding to my messages.”

“I haven’t talked to him,” Wendy answered. “He was more Alison’s friend anyway.”

Myrna nodded. “When did you come out to Alison?”

“It was when we were living together after she broke up with Jason but before she met Dennis.”




Wendy had been Alison’s best friend since elementary school when they met in third grade. As they grew, it was clear that Alison was the more personable of the two and while Wendy was able to go out and have a good time with her friends, she was normally Alison’s exact opposite. Wendy was quiet, kept to herself and never went out unless it was with Alison. The two girls acted more like sisters than friends.

The main difference between Alison and Wendy were their relationships. Alison seemed to always have a boyfriend while Wendy never did or even showed any interest in getting one. Alison usually brought this up in a joking manner and then offered to set Wendy up with someone which Wendy always declined.

Several months after Wendy moved in and a couple months after Alison and Jason broke up, Alison was moaning from her bedroom with one of her random guys, keeping a decent rhythm with the squeaking bed. Wendy rolled over and attempted to ignore the noises so she could fall asleep.

It seemed as though she was only asleep for a few minutes when Alison came into her room. “Wendy? Are you awake?”

“Yeah. What’s up?”

“Nothing. I just wanted to sleep with you,” Alison said as she got into bed with Wendy, which had been a common occurrence since sleep-overs began back in the third grade. They laid in silence for about a minute until Alison farted.

“Alison!” Wendy shrieked and rolled over slightly. “Did you get into bed with me just to fart?”

Alison rolled over on top of Wendy. “Not necessarily,” Alison leaned down and kissed Wendy on the lips. Wendy laid there in shock as Alison lowered herself to Wendy’s waist and began removing her panties. “You have a very hairy pussy,” Alison said to Wendy, commenting on the tangle of dark brown hair between her legs. Alison began going down on Wendy.

Her breathing became stuttered and soft moans escaped her lips. Wendy’s orgasm mounted and she reached down to hold Alison’s head. Her eyes opened and all was quiet in her bedroom. She sat up and looked around the room, breathing heavily. She sighed loudly then flopped back down on her pillow.

Wendy had known since middle school that she wasn’t what anyone thought she should be. She did not start fawning over boys like many of her classmates did, she didn’t really start fawning over anyone. Around the time Alison and her other girl friends were dating and losing their virginities, Wendy continued to avoid that lifestyle. She finally admitted to herself in college that she was gay but didn’t tell anyone because her being a lesbian didn’t affect her or anyone else’s life.

Wendy decided to tell Alison mainly because of the dream but also because of all the secrets the two of them had shared as friends. When Alison came home from work, Wendy was sitting at their kitchen table.

“Hi, Wendy, what’s going on?” Alison smiled, wondering why Wendy was sitting at the kitchen table since it had mainly become a place to keep mail and other important papers in the last few months.

“I need to tell you something,” Wendy said. “I’ve known for awhile but I’ve never told anybody since it didn’t really matter or affect anyone. Anyway,” Wendy breathed deep. “I’m gay.”

“Nooo…” Alison purred. “You went to prom with that guy who was in love with you.”

“That was in high school and he was in love with me, I was indifferent about him.”

“What was his name?” Alison scratched her head. “It started with a ‘B.’”

“I can’t remember. I just remember that his tux looked weird, he didn’t comb his hair and he had a massive zit on his cheek. Even if I wasn’t gay, he was not getting lucky that night.”

“You said you’ve known for awhile. How long?”

“Since middle school at least,” Wendy said. “How are you doing?”

Alison walked up to Wendy and she hugged her. “I am so glad you told me. You’re my best friend and I love you so much.”

Wendy hugged Alison tighter and her eyes teared up.

“How much does this turn you on right now?”

“Shut up,” Wendy said as they continued hugging.




Four
“I wish I could’ve gone to the funeral but Jess and I had an appointment with the doctor. Wow, 27. She had so many years left in front of her,” Eric said as he looked at a picture of him and Alison that Myrna had given him.

“I know,” Myrna began. “It really made me think twice about what I’m doing with my life. I’m happy that your life has gotten better. Happily married, baby on the way. You must be really excited.”

“I am very excited,” Eric answered. “I never realized how much I wanted children until she told me she was pregnant.”

“That’s great,” Myrna said, uneasy. “Oh, I’m just going to ask. Do you ever wonder how life would be different if we had stayed together?”

“I have. And I don’t think our lives would be any better. Think about it, Myrna. I had a crappy job, bouncing from relationship to relationship, we had sex on our first date. Life wouldn’t be good. There’s a chance that we’d still be together and there’s a chance that we would be happy but our lives would be completely different and I don’t think for the better. Do you still paint?”

Myrna laughed. “No, I don’t. I’ve moved onto other things.”

“That’s too bad. I always liked your paintings but I get it, it’s hard to make money being a painter. You should still do it though, even if it is just a hobby.”

Myrna blushed then continued eating. They changed the subject to Alison and reminisced while they ate. After lunch, they walked out of the restaurant together and said their good-byes and parted ways. Myrna got out her phone and started calling someone. Dennis’ voicemail picked up and Myrna hesitated at leaving a message but decided to hang up instead.




It was about one month after Alison and Eric broke up when Myrna received a phone call from Eric. “Hey, Myrna, what’s up?”

“Um, nothing much,” she replied, confused. “What’s going on? Why are you calling me?”

“I was wondering if you’d want to go out with me this weekend.” Eric asked.

Myrna sat up straight on the couch. “I don’t know. I mean, you just broke up with Alison and I don’t know if the wounds are still fresh or…”

“Alison broke up with me so she probably doesn’t care and if I’m calling you and asking you out then clearly I am ready to try to move on. Besides, it’s not really a date; it’s just two friends going out for dinner.”

Myrna smiled. “That’s sounds good. I’ll see you Saturday.”

Saturday came and Myrna and Eric had dinner together and then went back to his place where they started drinking and talking. “So why do you still work at Walmart?”

Myrna laughed which came out as more of a snort. “I don’t know. It’s just a job. It pays the bills.”

“You should be doing something else. Something that is relevant to your degree,” Eric said.

“I know but what can I honestly do with an art degree? I mean, I read that the Louvre is hiring people to create more masterpieces but I feel I should start small like with the Art Institute or the Guggenheim.”

“You could try applying to small museums around here as a part-time tour guide or something. Call the art center and see if you can set up a showing of your paintings.”

“Why do you care what I do with my paintings?” Myrna asked.

“I like you, Myrna. I’ve liked you since I met you and why would I not want someone to follow their dreams?”

Myrna blushed and turned bright red. “Thanks, Eric. Alison doesn’t like my paintings.”

“And what museum does Alison work at?” Eric asked.

Myrna chuckled. She looked at the clock on the VCR and started to stand up. “It’s getting late. You should take me home,” Eric shot up and grabbed Myrna started to stumble.

“Neither of us is in any condition to leave this apartment,” he held onto Myrna and his left hand accidentally brushed against Myrna’s breast. “Sorry.”

“That’s okay,” Myrna said and they kissed. They continued making out for more than a couple of minutes. Myrna pushed away and turned toward the door. “I should really go.”

“No. Stay. Why do you want to leave so quickly?” Eric asked her, taking her hand.

“I feel like I’m betraying Alison. You guys just broke up and…”

“She broke up with me. Right now we’re just friends. There is no reason that you should be thinking that you are betraying her.”

They went to bed together, fully clothed with a decent amount of space between them in bed. When they woke up at seven, they had migrated to the middle of the bed and Eric had his arm around Myrna and their bodies were pressed together.

Eric held her tighter and spoke softly in her ear “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” she started to stretch.

Eric realized that he had an erection that was pressed into her lower back and he quickly readjusted himself. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay. It happens,” she said as she rolled over to face him.

“See? I told you nothing would happen last night,” he smiled at her.

“That doesn’t mean nothing won’t happen now,” Myrna bit her lip before leaning in and kissing Eric. They pressed their bodies together and Myrna rolled and pulled Eric on top of her and removed his shirt.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Eric asked as she took her shirt off.

“Definitely,” she said and kissed him again.

When they were finished, Eric drove Myrna home and they made plans for that evening. Myrna took a shower and as she was getting dressed, her phone rang.

“Hey, Alison,” she answered after looking at the screen.

“What the hell are you doing?” Alison shouted.

“Right now?” Myrna was confused. “I just got out of the shower…”

“Why did you fuck Eric?”

“What?”

“I know you slept with Eric. Why did you do that?”

“First of all, why do you care and how is it any of your business and second, how did you found out?”

“I talked to Eric a little bit ago and he said he spent the night with you. He didn’t specifically say he had sex with you but I know you pretty well so I just figured you and him did it.”

“And what if we didn’t have sex? What if you are just jumping to conclusions and nothing really did happen between me and Eric?”

“Is that what happened?”

Myrna thought about lying and was silent for a few seconds. “Again, why do you care? You and Eric broke up,” Myrna said.

“That doesn’t mean you get to jump into bed with him. You can’t date him, Myrna.”

“You can’t tell me what to do,” Myrna started to get angry. “I like Eric, Alison, and if I want to continue seeing him then that’s my right. You don’t have to like it but considering it’s Eric and mine relationship, your opinion doesn’t really matter!”

“It’s me or him, Myrna. Let me know what you decide,” Alison hung up.

Myrna threw her phone on the bed but it started ringing again. “Eric?” she answered.

“Hey, Myrna. Did Alison call you?”

“Yes. Why did you tell her that we were together?”

“I just said I spent the evening with you and she immediately took that to mean that we spent the night together and had sex,” Eric said. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault. Alison loves jumping to conclusions about stuff like this,” Myrna said.

Eric chuckled. “Yeah. But the reason I called is to cancel our date for tonight.”

“What? Why? If it’s because of Alison…”

“I don’t want you to lose your best friend. Dating me will just cause problems not only between you and Alison but you and all of your friends. I really enjoyed our time together and maybe someday we can try this again,” Eric said, his voice breaking. “Thank you for an amazing night, Myrna.” Eric hung up and Myrna once again threw her phone onto her and she began crying.




Five
For the last four years, Aaron owned and operated a restaurant called Ingredient. It served typically popular cuisine but it also had a bar attached to it. For the last four years, Alison had been telling Aaron that he was going to make it but nearly a month after her death, Aaron was locking the doors.

Aaron was behind the bar pouring himself numerous shots of whiskey. He had invited his friends and loyal customers to a final gathering to say good-bye but only he was there.

“You’re going to what?” Alison asked him shortly after he announced his intent to open a restaurant.

“I’m opening a restaurant. I got approved for the loan today,” Aaron had never looked happier. Wendy, Myrna and Nathan congratulated him but Alison kept her composure.

“Do you even know how to run a restaurant?” she asked.

“I’ve seen how it’s done and I have a degree in business. I specifically went to school to learn how to run a business.”

“And you’re going to be the head chef as well even though you’ve only been an assistant chef since getting out of college?” she asked.

“What are you getting at Alison? Do you think I shouldn’t do this?”

“No. I think you should do what makes you happy but maybe you could go into a partnership with someone who has experience as both an owner and as head chef,” Alison explained. “I just don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“That’s part of owning a business—any business, Alison. If it succeeds, great, but if it doesn’t then at least I tried and can try again in the future.”

“Then you go for it, Aaron,” Alison said.

Aaron poured himself another shot. “Bitch,” he muttered.

The outside door of the bar opened and Dennis walked in. “Aaron? Is no one else here?”

“Nope. I’m the only one. Besides you, now.”

“Has anybody been by? Myrna? Wendy?”

“Nope. I even invited Nathan and I don’t particularly care for Nathan,” Aaron said and poured him and Dennis a drink. “I know it’s wrong to speak ill of the dead and I know you were dating her but Alison’s a bitch!”

Hearing that did not shock Dennis and he quickly downed the shot Aaron gave him. “How come?”

“She didn’t want me to open this place but wanted me to do whatever made me happy and then I had to hear every time Ingredient was doing bad ‘Oh, it’ll get better. You’re just in a slump’ blah, blah, blah. I didn’t listen to her the first time so why did I listen to her the next forty-seven?”

“Say what you will about Alison but she was jealous that you opened this place. She always played it safe. She was on the pill but still made me wear a condom. She had jobs that someone would have to try to get fired from. She went to school to become a nurse. She would say she was being practical or smart but she was playing it safe. I don’t think she took a chance on anything in her life,” Dennis said. “I was going to break up with her.”

“Noooooo…” Aaron breathed, drunkenly.

“I loved her but I couldn’t see myself spending the rest of my life with her.”

“Is that why you were so uneasy when your name was printed in her obituary?”

“I think that would make anyone uneasy,” Dennis laughed. “But I felt guilty because I had been thinking about breaking up with her and then her dying but when I really think about it, I wanted to break up with her because she was kind of a mean person. And I really came to realize that during Stanley’s birthday party last year.”

“I remember that,” Aaron said and poured them both more to drink.




"Thanks for coming with me to pick out a shirt," Myrna said as she and Dennis walked into the store. "I need someone to tell me what looks hot and what is not."

"No problem. We need to spend more time together anyway," Dennis said.

"I like spending time with you. I like you much better than Alison's previous boyfriends," Myrna said. She began rifling through some shirts on a rack, looking at them, pulling them out and holding them up. "Definitely trying these two on," she said, laying a light blue shirt and a black shirt on her arm. "What did you get Stanley?"

"I just got him a gift card," Dennis shrugged. "I don't really know him very well except for a few things. And he likes to read so I got him a gift card to a bookstore."

"That's more than I got him," Myrna said as she grabbed a couple other shirts off the rack and headed to a dressing room. She began removing the shirt she had on and continued talking. "I got him a nice card that includes an IOU. I don't even know why we are throwing him a birthday party. We've never had one for him before." She pulled a red shirt over her that had slightly puffy sleeves and waist.

"I think it's because it's his thirtieth and this is all Alison. We're only doing it because of Alison," Dennis said and watched Myrna walk out of the dressing room. He eyed the shirt but mainly focused on the cleavage the shirt revealed.

"You like it?" she asked.

"It does something for me," he replied.

She looked down at her chest and smiled. "I like it too," and she went back into the dressing room. "Have you ever spent any time with Stanley without Alison?"

"I don't think so," Dennis said. "Stanley is more Alison's friend. Everyone else is just kind of there. I like Stanley but if it wasn't for Alison I don't think I'd choose him as a friend."

Myrna came back out of the dressing room in a simple green shirt. "What about this one?"

Dennis looked the shirt up and down. "Is there something about green shirts that make boobs bigger?"

"So I take it you like it?" she chuckled.

"Yes but I'm serious. It's a scientific fact that green shirts make girls hotter," Dennis said.

"Okay," Myrna laughed as she rolled her eyes. She went back into the dressing room.

"I honestly don't plan on staying very long. Can you take Alison home when the party is over?"

"Probably. If not I can probably get Aaron to," Myrna came out of the dressing room in the black shirt. "This one?"

"It's nice. Hey, after this, do you have any lunch plans?"

"Lunch?" Myrna said from the dressing room. "It's almost three."

"It doesn't have to be a big lunch. Just go somewhere and have something small. I missed lunch so I am hungry."

"Sure we can grab something," Myrna came out of the dressing room in the blue shirt. "What do you want? What sounds good?"

Dennis stared at Myrna in the blue shirt. He didn't hear what she had asked. The shirt was tight on her and highlighted her flat stomach and big breasts. The shirt also went well with her blue eyes and reddish hair.

"Dennis! What sounds good?" Myrna asked again.

"What?" he snapped out of it. "Oh! Well, I'm thinking something Mexican."

"I'll take that as a ringing endorsement for this shirt," Myrna smiled, looked down at her chest and placed her hands over her breasts.

"Yeah. It was good."

"Good? You forgot how to listen and talk when you saw me walk out," she laughed. "I think I know what shirt I'm wearing tonight. If you can handle it."

Myrna bought her shirts and she and Dennis left the store. "Is fast food all right or do you want to go to a restaurant?"

"Fast food is fine."

Dennis and Myrna sat in the fast food restaurant and ate their food and talked more about the party. "And I find it weird that Alison is holding the party and her favorite bar. Not Stanley's, hers."

"Well, that's just like Alison. The party is for someone else but she has to be front and center during it."

"I know," Dennis laughed. "I love her but sometimes she makes it hard to."

"You love her?"

Dennis seemed taken aback. "Yeah. I thought I mentioned that."

"Not from you. Alison's mentioned that you've both said 'I love you' but I didn't know you really did. It's only been a year."

"That's ample time to fall in love," Dennis said. "I actually fell in love a while ago but didn't want to say anything until I knew she felt at least a little bit of the same thing."

"I have the feeling this party is going to be a disaster," Myrna said.

"Aren't all birthdays?" Dennis asked jokingly.

"Yeah but this will be a disaster party that no one will admit was a disaster and when someone brings it up things will get awkward," she explained.

"We'll just have to make sure it's not a disaster," Dennis said.

After their meal, Dennis dropped Myrna off at her apartment. "I'll see you tonight at the bar around eight," she said, getting out of the car. She leaned back into the car. "Thanks for looking at clothes with me."

"You're very welcome. Thanks for eating with me."

"You're welcome as well," Myrna chuckled. She then leaned closer and kissed Dennis on the lips. Dennis knew he should've pulled away but he touched her cheek and kissed her back. When they parted, Myrna spoke "I knew this party would be a disaster..."




The party had been going on for a couple of hours and Alison was already pretty drunk. Dennis and Myrna stayed away from each but kept making passing glances.

"It's present time," Alison sat three bags on the table in front of Stanley. "Open mine last," Alison pulled one of the bags away and pushed the other two closer.

Stanley opened one of the bags and pulled out a couple of movies. "Awesome. I love these movies. I don't know why I don't already own them."

"Well you do now," Wendy said. "And now you need to invite us over so we can all watch them."

"Those movies are good. They are so stupid but it's like the producers knew that so they told the actors to treat it that way," Dennis said.

"I didn't know you liked those movies," Alison said. "You usually hate movies like this."

"I like stupid movies. What I don't like are stupid movies that think they are doing something new when it's really just the same crap," Dennis said.

Stanley began opening the second bag. "This is from Dennis and me," Myrna began. "I dropped his gift in my bag so it didn't get lost."

"Thanks," Dennis said.

"No problem," she smiled.

Stanley pulled out a couple of gift cards, one from a bookstore and the other for a grocery store. "Books and food? I love books and food!" he exclaimed. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Dennis and Myrna answered in unison.

"Open mine now," Alison bounced.

Stanley opened the bag and pulled out a wrapped gift. He tore open the wrapping and saw that it was a toy. An action figure. "What the...?" The figure was from a Japanese cartoon he'd never heard of and was a child-like figure wearing a kimono robe and an odd orange hat. One of the accessories that came with it was a pacifier.

"I saw that and immediately thought of you," Alison said.

"Oh, gee. Thanks," Stanley said sarcastically. "So you saw this baby-like character with a pacifier and thought of me?"

Myrna had walked around the table to Dennis. She leaned down to his ear "Told you it would be a disaster."




Six
Myrna walked up to Dennis’ front door and knocked. After several days of wanting to call him and talk to him, she finally worked up the nerve to call and ask him to lunch. It was a little after ten in the morning but Myrna was ready to see Dennis and talk to him. Dennis lived in a small rental house he and Alison had lived in for the last four months of their relationship. The landlord was an old guy who was, as Dennis described him, a nosy cheapskate. When Dennis didn’t answer she knocked louder and when he didn’t answer that she began repeatedly ringing the doorbell which finally got him to answer.

“Myrna! What the hell are you doing here?” he asked, drowsily with one eye open.

“We’re having lunch together,” she replied.

Dennis stared at Myrna then glanced at a clock near the door on the wall. “Yeah. At lunch.”

“I’m here early. I wanted to talk. Are you hungover?”

“A little. It was the last night Aaron’s restaurant was open so Aaron and I hung out for several hours.”

“I completely forgot about that,” Myrna gasped.

“So did everyone else it seemed.”

“No one showed up?”

Dennis faintly shook his head. “Come on in,” he opened the door wider and stepped aside. “What did you want to talk about?”

“Alison,” Myrna said, seating herself on the arm of his couch. “It’s been almost a month since she died and the funeral and I’ve been noticing some changes in our group dynamic.”

“Like the fact there hasn’t really been a dynamic since the funeral?” Dennis asked.

“Yes, so you’ve noticed that too?”

“Yes but it was bound to happen. Alison was the glue that held our fragile little group together. Without her it was bound to fall apart. Why would her friends continue to hang out with me? I was just dating her. If we had broken up I would’ve been out of the picture anyway.”

“I like hanging out with you. I would’ve tried to stay your friend,” Myrna said.

“Would you?” Dennis was skeptical. “I’ve heard about Eric.”

Myrna blushed and lowered her head. “With Eric it was different.”

“No. It wasn’t,” Dennis walked over to Myrna and grabbed her chin, he pulled her head up and they looked at each other. “You have a habit of falling for all of Alison’s boyfriends. I know you slept with Nathan. You slept with Eric and that one guy whose name none of us remembers…”

“His name was Joel.”

“No, it wasn’t,” Dennis smiled at her. “The problem with doing that is that Alison wouldn’t let you. She’d make you choose between her friendship and the guy you liked and you always chose her friendship. This time, you don’t have to.”

Myrna looked into Dennis’ eyes. “What are you talking about?”

Dennis leaned down and kissed Myrna. Her eyes closed and she slowly and softly put her hand on his shoulder. He continued to hold her chin and pulled her onto her feet and then embraced her and they continued kissing.

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