Flirting Part 2
Having to quarantine with her lazy dog for the last eleven days was more bearable than Bree thought it would be. She was pleased she’d stocked up on groceries the Thursday prior to Monday’s stay at home order. Bree’d bought enough dog food, Andalou products, and Kettle potato chips to last her three months. Luckily she had recently bought toilet paper. For reasons unknown to her, people decided it was essential in their emergency virus kit. More so than food.
“Soo ridiculous,” she laughed. “Right Sydney?”
From the mocha-colored doggy bed placed next to the sofa, Sydney whined tucking her head under a fluffy red pillow and wagged her tail to the beat of a bongo drum.
Bree sighed and studied the half-eaten chicken salad sandwich on her plate with little appetite. The food reminded her of having to grocery shop. Never had she enjoyed it, and now, the experience was ten times worse. She frowned and ran her index finger along the edge to scoop the extra mayonnaise she loved and brought it to her lips.
“What should we do today? A walk? Spa day? Organize my closet?”
Without blinking, her dog stared back at her like a lump.
“Oh, I get you. A movie, right?”
“I should’ve ordered pizza, then. Maybe tonight?”
A sad smile crossed her face when she recalled her last dinner date disaster. Perhaps not so much a failure but surprising and uncomfortable. They’d never kissed before and so the heated swap of tongues, certainly unexpected.
After the—kiss, and the pizza delivery person rang the doorbell, the passion of the moment was lost. Following a few minutes of utter silence, Bree and Eric chose a movie to watch and drank more wine.
Lots of it. She purchased a few bottles from a local vineyard a few weeks back and what better reason to open them than not be able to leave the house thanks to a deadly virus?
She was grateful for the alcohol. It gave her face an excuse to look flushed the whole night through. Eric was her friend and she found him smart and attractive but there was something missing for her, to love him deeper than that. Perhaps they’d been friends for much too long.
They sat side-by-side without touching. In an attempt to get closer, Eric leaned towards her whenever he took a slice out of the pizza box.
She avoided his touch but her heartbeat, it had a mind of its own and increased with his nearness. Everything inside her was out of control and her breath shortened when she recalled the warmth between his arms and his chest, his mouth, and the deep blue of his eyes, making it difficult to swallow.
At one point she believed he might kiss her again. Bree shot-up from the sofa and sprinted from his side. “Do you need parmesan? I think we do—” she’d asked pretending to need the grated cheese jar.
“Uhm, it has plenty for me. It’s extra cheese, remember?” He’d laughed and she with him breaking some of the tension.
“Oh, yeah ...” She acted cluelessly. “I think I still need it,” she said practically powerwalking to the kitchen.
Frankly, Bree didn’t know how else to react to his advances without hurting his feelings. He was a great guy and above all, her friend. Avoiding the subject wasn’t going to help with the situation but neither would be addressing it. She didn’t know how to. Bree wasn’t going to trade their friendship for a physical relationship and she loved the way they were at the moment.
“You understand what I’m thinking, Sydney, right?” she said looking down at the sleeping dog.
While they shared many common interests they argued constantly. About nothing ... About everything. He did many things that as friends she tolerated but as lovers, hmm, she knew she might not and his friendship was all she ever wanted from him to begin with.
It’d been a year and a half since she’d broken up with her long term boyfriend of nine years, Dan. For many, almost two years would be a long enough time to want to be with someone else but for her, it wasn’t.
She’d known Eric longer than she’s known, Dan. He was one of her best friends. Raising the intimacy level with him wasn’t going to happen. He wasn’t the one for her.
Resigning to the idea, after too much wine and a few more movies, Eric decided to stay the night and sleep it off on the couch.
“You know I have a perfectly good bed in the guest room, Eric.”
“Nah! You know I love this couch,” he’d said groggily and patted the brown, leather cushion.
It wasn’t his first sleepover. Many nights they’d gone to a bar or club or Eric hung out with her for too long and was too tired, inebriated, or it’d be too late to get back to the safety of his condo.
She’d allowed him to sleep it off on her sofa so many times, that they’d begun to call it, his.
“The keys? I last saw them on your sofa.”
“Sit on your sofa and chill, dude. I can’t cook when you’re standing right next to me breathing over my shoulder.”
Those thoughts brought a smile to her face and she shook her head. “That fool.”
The next morning they’d stumbled around each other awkwardly, with little desire to speak about the prior evening’s unfinished—business.
“Did you—” he’d said. “Did you enjoy the movies?”
“The comedy one was good. You?”
“Same.” He’d laughed peering gently at her. “And the pizza?”
“Delicious as always.”
“Yeah, I love that place ...”
There’d been a long pause and lingering wordless glances. His might’ve bestowed desire and hers, I’m sorry.
“Eric, about last night—”
He faced her rooting his stare in her eyes. “You know I love you, right?” he interjected hastily.
“I do too but—”
He shook his head and lifted a hand stopping her words as if he knew what she was about to say. “Don’t, Bree. I’m here. Know that. I’ll always be here.”
With an empty feeling in her stomach, Bree looked away. “I know.” She’d agreed and left to finish getting dressed.
Later, in the car, Bree circled back to the subject. “Eric, please, don’t expect me to change my mind. I don’t want you to wait when I don’t feel the same way you do. That’s not fair to either of us.”
He’d sighed. “Don’t push me away, Bree. If we can only be friends, then, that’s fine. I don’t want to lose all of you if we can’t be—involved.” He reached for her hand and kissed it. “I love you no matter what but I had to say something. If I’m friend-zoned I don’t want it to be ’cause I never said anything about the way I feel.” He chuckled nervously, bringing a hand to the back of his neck.
She nodded busying herself adjusting the driver’s side mirror. “I don’t want that either. We’ll always be friends.”
Shortly after, they arrived at the restaurant for breakfast and what ended up being their last meal in an establishment or together, for what started to look like a long, dragged out lockdown of two more weeks. Perhaps even two more after that.
“I don’t even know what day it is, Sydney. Tuesday? Wednesday? Ugh!” Frustrated she sighed taking the last bite of her sandwich.
She stood and stretched her arms as wide as they could go. “C’mon, I’m gonna make myself a facemask.”
After mixing oatmeal, an egg white, and coconut oil she plastered the concoction on her face and plopped in front of the TV flipping through the menu.
“Look at that, Syd. It’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It was one of her favorite movies growing up along with ET, Hocus Pocus, and The Goonies.
She stared at the screen with a different kind of interest. One that made her wonder about the universe, existence, and that damn light behind her house ... “Weird, huh?” She looked back and forth between the dog and the TV.
“Remind you of anything?”
The pup slept having no interest in her conversation.
Sydney opened an eye and wagged her tail.
“You’re no fun.”
For a while, Bree watched the movie entranced. She’d seen the UFO—it is unidentified—almost every night since pizza night with Eric. Bree looked forward to seeing it regardless if it was merely a planet. But, she liked to imagine it was something other than that. Perhaps the beings in it were learning some valuable lesson about Earth and humans ...
Bree was reminded of the Betty and Barney Hill case she’d read about years ago. The couple from New Hampshire claimed to, not only have seen a large, bright pancake-like craft in the sky but were also abducted by the extraterrestrials inside the spacecraft from September 19 to 20, 1961. It was a pretty big deal back then because it was the first widely publicized report of alien abduction in the United States.
Bree recalled a sperm sample was taken from Barney and the humanoid beings scraped his skin and inspected his ears and mouth. Also, a thin tube was inserted into his anus ...
Bree shivered. “Full of peaceful aliens,” she added. “Not the kind that’d want to harvest my eggs and insert stuff in my ass.” She rolled her eyes puffing a breath. “Stupid.”
It was probably the quarantine getting to her, making her go stir crazy. She watched for another twenty minutes, got up, and washed her face.
“Vente,” she said and slapped her thigh gently a few times calling Sydney to come and walk out to the greenbelt with her.
Although she never saw the light during the day, she liked to imagine it was right above her looking back. Hovering in mid-air camouflaged and silent.
Hooding her eyes with both hands she looked into the bright blue, cloudless sky. There was nothing but a few birds overhead and a small, noisy plane passing through.
Sighing, she motioned at her dog in their typical human-pet communicating interaction by tapping her fingers on her thigh.
“Let’s go! We’ll come back out tonight to greet them. C’mon, Girl.”
The day slipped by uneventfully and by the time she took her beautiful mutt out again, it was dark. She’d done laundry, a hair treatment, some computer work, and a one-hour, online, Afro-Caribbean dance class.
When she stepped into the darkness and stood at the usual place, she saw it. Slightly bigger, somewhat oval, like an egg, and brighter than usual.
“Is it closer?" She narrowed her eyes. "That has to be a star ...” she said aloud. Bree figured if she said it enough times, perhaps she would believe it.
“Hi, strangers!” She waved, laughing off how silly she felt.
“Fancy seeing you here—”
She figured she'd been locked up too long, that was definitely it.
“So, I’ve asked before, and—you've never responded but I want to make sure I’m not going crazy because you kinda look suspicious up there, you know?”
The mildly cool breeze played with her locks and she pushed the long strands behind her ears.
“All I’m saying is that—” she shrugged. “I’d be nice if you said hi, you know? By blinking? Could you twinkle at me?”
A few seconds passed and nothing happened. She asked again.
"Please?" Bree clasped her hands together as if in prayer.
That time, she received a sign. The light faded and brightened several times.She froze, closed her eyes, and giggled shaking her head. “Are you serious right now?!” She could not believe it. “Are my eyes playing tricks on me?" She took in a deep breath. "Do it again!”
The light opaqued and twinkled almost immediately.
“Hah!” Bree brought her hand to her mouth then her forehead. For a while, she gawked. “Again! Can you twinkle again?”
It did. She gripped both hands together in front of her chest. The pounding of her heart pulsing at her throat.
“What the hell is happening?! Again?” She pressed her luck.
The light did nothing. For a while longer she stared and waited. Perhaps it’d been her imagination. Out of nervousness, she wrung her hands.
“It must be.”
Reminded that she’d forgot her camera, again, she quickly ran inside forgetting her dog. When she came out with it the light had completely vanished.
“Damn it!” she said searching through the lens.
It was gone.
“Ugh!” Her frustration deepened.
She changed the camera setting to night vision but evidently, there was nothing that stuck out as different. A few ghostly clouds and stars. Good night,” she whispered. “See you tomorrow?”