Friday wasn’t as good of a day as Thursday, but, well, it was Friday. Then again, I really wasn’t sure what I’d do with myself over the weekend without Lyndsey. There was a part of me that wanted to go home, go to sleep, and wake up on Sunday evening when she called. But a bigger part of me just wanted to go home and putter around the house. I didn’t have many weeks in the office that were quite as long and I was tired.
Jessica was waiting for me, as expected.
“Hi Jessica, how are you today?”
“All right, I guess.” She frowned. She didn’t look alright.
“Have you been waiting long? I’m sorry, the traffic was awful. You know, Friday and the weekend looks nice for a change.”
“No, I just got here, and I hear it’s supposed to rain all weekend. So, what time did she leave?” She narrowed her eyes as she asked me.
“Who, Amy? I don’t know, right after dinner. I guess around seven.”
“Really?” I nodded. “Did you do anything?”
“We talked. It’s been ages. And she helped me with dinner and with cleaning up afterwards. Nothing too exciting.”
She slowly folder her arms across her chest, leaned back and sighed. “Really. Gill,” she said, “what happened?”
“You mean like did I sleep with her or something? Of course not. Nothing at all happened.”
She shook her head. “Come on, Gill, you’re not a good liar. Fess up.”
“After we washed up after dinner, she kissed me. I’ll admit that for about two seconds I forgot the world and kissed back. As soon as I realized what I was doing, I stopped it. She left. She was crying.”
“That sound more like it,” she said. She reached over and patted my arm. “Don’t worry, you’re just a man, so don’t blame yourself for those two seconds. But that bitch…”
“What’s going on, Jessica? What went on between you yesterday? I knew you weren’t happy, but what’s up?”
“Did you know Amy had a crush on you when we were in high school? No? It was huge, almost as big as the crush I had.”
I looked closely at Jessica. I could see two things. The first is that it was Jessica talking to me, 100% Jessica. And she was being serious, not flippant or anything else.
“It went on for years. She even pretended to hate math to get that software engineer who lived next door to tutor her. But he was a bit of a geek and didn’t realize she was flirting with him as he helped her with her calculus.”
The memories of sitting next to the teen, her perfume in my nose, her hand “accidentally” touching mine as I helped her, her soft body clumsily bumping into me, came back. And then I remembered the look in her eye, the shy smiles and her overly demure poses. I had never realized. I remember thinking how obvious it was when teens flirted, like hitting each other with baseball bats because they were too dense to see it, and yet I never noticed her doing the same to me. Was I really that blind?
Jessica nodded, as if reading my mind. “She was madly in love with you. We used to have little fights over you. Even though we were best friends, our fights were often not friendly. Occasionally vicious, in fact. Didn’t you know?”
“No, I never suspected. She was the little neighbor girl. That’s just, wow. I’m in shock.”
“Believe it buddy. She was in love with you then, and sometimes childhood crushes never go away. Her husband is a jerk, she’s been through strain, and here you are, no longer too old, just overly friendly and seemingly overly single.”
“Overly friendly? Is there such a thing? I reached out to a friend in need.”
“Gill, one thing you have to realize is that you’re a gentleman, a real gentleman. There aren’t that many of you left in the world. Nate sometimes worries about you, but I never do. I know that no matter how much I tease you, I’m safe with you. Hell, do you know how many people sent Mr. and Mrs. Lansing flowers after his accident? If you don’t include blood relatives or people form their church, three, and you were one of them.”
“I just did what was right.”
“Exactly! Women sometimes want the bad boy, the Mick Jagger type, but deep down, it’s the gentleman that they fall in love with, the ones who send flowers to their mothers. And when a gentleman turns them down for exactly the right reasons, do you know what? The girl falls even deeper in love. Amy is still in love with you.”
“’Oh’ is right. Tell me, when did you last tell Lyndsey that you loved her?”
“Right before I left work.”
“And before that?”
“And before that?”
“Come on Jessica, give me a break.”
“No, I won’t until you get my point. Did you tell her immediately after you kissed Amy?”
“Of course. Wait, or do you mean about the kissing? No, I just texted the second Amy left that…, hell, Jessica, that’s really none of your business.”
“It is exactly my business. Amy told me that she hasn’t slept with her husband in years. Her dad’s accident and all that has gone on has only compounded their issues. I could tell she was here to scratch an itch. I was not about to let that bitch take you away from Lyndsey. And don’t give me lip about Lyndsey being the one that’s away. I’ll kick your butt if you don’t hold on to her tight with both hands and I’ll have Nate kick it if you hurt her by sleeping with some bimbo.”
“Amy is not a ‘bimbo’. But, OK, OK, I get it.”
“Do you?” She continued to stare at me, frowning.
Something happened as I watched her. I can only say that her expression changed, but that wasn’t it. Her face changed. It was as if the bones moved and changed shape. It was very subtle and if I wasn’t watching her closely, meeting her stare with my own, I might have missed it.
What creeped me out, though, was that I realized I had witnessed this metamorphosis many times before but had never noticed. Sometimes Jessica shifted or changed, but I didn’t see it as physical. It was always a change of emotion. It was one of the things that made her seem flighty, here one minute, someplace totally different the next.
“I have to say, Gill,” she said, “you have grown. I think bringing Lyndsey into your life was one of the best things that has happened to you. I just wish it had happened earlier and didn’t take the present situation to bring it about.”
Although she was still being as serious as I’d seen her in a very long time, I could tell I was no longer talking to Jessica, but that the woman in front of me was totally Martha. I also realized the “the present situation” wasn’t what had happened with Amy.
“You’re right, Lyndsey is the best thing to happen to me in a long time,” I said.
“I hate to admit it, but one of the reasons I love you is because you do sympathize with Amy and know she isn’t a bad person, even though I think she’ being a bitch and a bimbo.” I wasn’t sure if it were Jessica or Martha who said she loved me, but decided that it didn’t matter at this point.
“Amy is a good person. It’s been very emotional for her lately and… yeah, sorry.” I felt the heat in my face and knew I was a little red.
“Exactly, my good man. And I do mean ‘good’. You have sympathies for people who are having issues. Remember your loyalties and your sympathies. You’ll do well by them.”
“Uhm, yeah, thanks.”
Her face morphed again, but not as much of a change. Was she now both Martha and Jessica? She gave me a very lewd wink.
“Anyway, lover boy, if you ever feel like you do need some sexual relief and my sister isn’t around, keep it in the family. You know exactly where to find me. “
“Yes, I do.” I winked back. “Now about my garden…”
“Oh, just like a man. You get me all worked up and hot and then you change the subject to some old boring business thing.” She pouted briefly, then smiled. “OK, I’ll show you what I did yesterday. I think you’ll love it. I’ll show you to the bed… the flower bed up front and we’ll work our way back to the vegetables after that.”
“Sounds great. I can’t wait to see the magic you’ve worked.”
We spent about 10 minutes going over all of Jessica’s work and then she got in her truck and drove home.
As I was getting ready for dinner, I wondered about both her message and Martha’s message. In ways Lyndsey had seemed to drift away the longer she spent in Maryland. Did Jessica know something that I didn’t know or did she feel it too and was trying to make sure I didn’t let Lyndsey go? And Martha’s speech about loyalties and sympathies. I had no idea where she was going with that.
I figured time would tell.