THIS IS A WORK OF ORIGINAL FICTION
Dash’s ears perked up at the sound of Gail’s car entering the driveway and he trotted to the garage entrance to the house, tail wagging, before the door finished rising outside. Dash was always unequivocally happy to see Gail come home, but he had no human expectation, anxiety markers, or concept of time. Kendall, this time, was worried upon Gail’s unpredicted arrival.
When Gail pushed the door open, still slightly scarlet-faced, puffy-eyed, and damp, Kendall became even more wary. “Something wrong? Did you forget something important? Did something happen?” she shot questions at Gail rapid fire.
“Yeah,” Gail succinctly answered. Kendall looked at her, wide-eyed and expectant, ready to share what she believed to be obvious grief. Gail took a few deep breaths and said, “Are you…happy?”
Kendall’s expression changed from vaguely sad to utterly confused. “Yeah? Of course I’m happy. Why ask that? Do I not seem happy? You think my personality’s changing? Or phony? Or…wait, are you not happy? Is that…?”
“It’s just…I’m really happy. Like…really, really happy. Euphoria plus contentment happy. The proverbial ‘top of the world’ happy. The pinnacle of happiness. Like…fairy tale, ‘and they lived happily ever after’ happy.”
“Okaaaaaay? You coulda fooled me. You look like you’ve either been running and you’re totally exhausted and overheated or like you’ve been crying. Like…a lot of HARD crying. That’s not what I thought ‘fairy tale happy’ looked like, I guess. And I mean…I’m glad you’re super happy, but then why did you come home when you’re supposed to be on your trip? I know it’s the first trip you’ve taken since I moved in and…omigod, do you not trust me here?! You’re not gonna kick me out are you?”
“NO!” Gail rolled her eyes up to the ceiling in palpable frustration. She wasn’t frustrated with Kendall, she was frustrated with herself, unable to articulate what she wanted Kendall to understand. She wished Kendall would just understand without her having to say anything. She wasn’t ashamed of how she felt, but it seemed like there weren’t words. She couldn’t remember any other time in her life she felt so at a loss for them. She glanced back to Kendall’s face, full of soul-crushing disillusionment, and suddenly, the right words came to her. “But…this is what ‘fairy tale happy’ looks like when you realize you don’t wanna leave the person you love.” Gail had spent the entire drive wondering exactly how she’d bring her feelings out in the open, and she supposed in the moment, this was how. She was just as taken aback by how the conversation was going as Kendall was, though neither of them (Gail was grateful) seemed dismayed. The conversation didn’t even seem awkward.
“A person you love.” Kendall tried clarification, but it was triggered by hopeful disbelief rather than the disappointed or some other negative variety. The muscles in Gail’s shoulders, neck, and face all relaxed, and she smiled, relieved at the anticipatory tone of Kendall’s voice. She wanted confirmation, not for Gail to relent.
“No, the person you love. Like I said.”
“But you’re not…I mean…I didn’t know you were…how did you know I was…?”
“I didn’t. I…I…I didn’t know.”
“Damn, Gail. And you drove home to tell me this anyway?!”
“Was kinda mandatory that I come home and tell ya. I mean…I had to come home. I guess I don’t need to leave for a while by myself to appreciate home anymore. I can’t leave you…here. Without me. No…that’s not right. It’s really…I can’t…I don’t wanna go anywhere without you. ‘Cause you’re home.”
“I love you, too. You’re the person I love, too. But I thought…I mean you’ve never…and I never even told you about… I don’t know why I didn’t tell you. I guess I thought maybe you wouldn’t want me to live here or be my friend anymore if you knew…and definitely not…you know about you…”
“I didn’t even know about me. Not really. Until I pulled over in the Panera lot off the exit thirty miles north. Because, I mean…I don’t have any history with…and we never talk about…our…romantic pasts or anything because we’re too busy talking about our right now life together, so… I dunno. It’s not about a label for me. It’s about a connection. With you…I’m connected to you, Kendall. You’re my person.”
“Yeah. I’m your person.” Kendall smiled, then looked down to her feet, slightly biting her bottom lip.
“What’s wrong? This was going like…way better than I even dreamed until now.”
“’Sjust…I mean, I’ve never gotten an ‘I love you,’ without months of dating, and…you just said you’ve never…and…I wanna…but I don’t want to scare you away…”
“You wanna what?”
“Y’know…touch you. I mean…not…we don’t have to…but…”
Gail stepped toward Kendall, open-armed, but shy, and they wrapped their arms around each other. It felt different than the casual hugs they’d shared before in friendship. It felt like relief…like rest after a long journey…like coming home. They stroked one another’s hair, standing cheek to cheek and eventually, the gentle embrace became a kiss. Then another. Then another. They gazed into each other’s eyes, finally certain and satisfied they were where and with whom they belonged.
If you enjoyed reading this short work, please check out my other fiction, including hopefully one (or more) of the 13 novels I’ve self-published which are available here.