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In A Handbasket

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Stuck inside another Sunday dinner and all I can do is stare at her from across the table. Stare at her like I'm wearing the biggest pair of sunglasses ever created, leaving my line of visual interest hidden. The catch here, however, is I'm not wearing any glasses; my line of vision is certainly not hidden; and the object of my desire knows it. Oh how she knows, but pretends she doesn't. Or maybe I'm the one pretending.

She's wearing one of those short skirts; the ones I know mom disapproves of and the ones I completely approve of. The ones I approve of far more than I should, and not just because we're both girls.

I do this a lot. Staring. I do it too much. I want her. It took a long time to realize it. And it took even longer to accept it. But two years after first meeting her, I think I've managed to do both.

It's a complicated relationship we have, Ashley and me. Both nearing twenty seven, with plenty in common, she's become one of my closest friends here in my small hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio. Population: One. While I could figure out the exact population number, I really don't care (and I'm sure all of you don't either) because all that matters to me (and I'm sure all of you, too) is she's a part of that population.

And really, who needs to know more than that?

Yeah, yeah. I know, I should probably include my family, my friends, hell even myself in that number. But I swear, some days, most days, all I care about is her. Some days, most days, all that lives and breathes in this town, is her.

It's bad. Really bad. But somehow, no one knows. No one suspects. No one but my best friend Madison, and even she hasn't mentioned anything. Some nights, like tonight, I'm nervous my father might have an idea. Some nights, like tonight, I catch him catching me watching her.

"So work's going well, honey?"

His voice draws me from my peas, a shabby subistitue for Ashley's adorable nose, but as I said, I knew he was watching.

"Yeah..." a sidelong glance at that gorgeous brunette (I seriously can't help myself), whose interest has diverted from my mother to my father and over to me "...pretty much."

She holds my attention in the delicate palm of her hand, taking her time in giving me that wicked knee weakening smirk of hers before returning to Paula's drabble about the "Club"s new pool. Leaving me in my own pool of arousal and guilt. It's moments like these where I know I'm not the one pretending. Where I'm sure she feels everything between us. Sees everything between us. I know she feels what I feel. Sees what I see. I know she sees everything inside of me.

Shit. I'm staring again.

And fuck. Dad's watching.

"So, uh, things at the Youth Center?" I stutter, eyes crawling back to his, knowing they're an exact mirror of my own "...things are, uh, going well?"

He takes a moment, smiling at me in such a strange way. Oh God, he knows. He so fucking knows. I'm a short few minutes from going to hell...and something tells me it won't be in a handbasket.

Breathe, Spence, breathe. Paranoia was never your friend.

"Same as always, which I guess is a good and bad thing."

He's normal again, eating his dinner through a smile; he's always been proud of his culinary skills, and rightfully so. I mean why else would my two brothers and I, off living our own lives, still gather back here at our childhood home every Sunday for one of his kick ass dinners?

It's the cooking I tell you.

I swear it's to see my family.

I keep telling myself that, but my disguise is wearing thin, you all see through it, and someday soon I fear they will too. Someday soon they'll all know my dirty secret. They will, and so will she.

A foot beckons me from my frightful thoughts. Her foot poking mine.

And I'm staring again. But so is she. So it's ok.

Conversation swirls around us; Clay and Chelsea's baby girls terrorizing first day of preschool; Glen's next away game; Mom's obsession with the "Clubs" new pool...seriously who is she sleeping with over there?

But I don't care enough to spend much more time dwelling on that (actually, I don't care to ever put more thought into that).

Ashley and I are having our own words, with our own eyes, with our own smiles, with our own food on our plate that we try to look down on...but can't. We can't leave each other. She's giving me her open mouthed smile. The one that makes me feel like all of alright. I mean, friends can look at each other right? Best friends can have moments like these, that they don't want to end, can't they?

It's perfectly normal to want to sweep the table clean and throw said best friend over it, doing the most amazingly dirty things possible to her?

No? That's not exactly normal?


And once again, I don't care, because she's pulling the silly "cross-eyed" face she loves so much (as do I). A normal occurrence at Sunday dinners, and always almost makes me spit out my water. Gets me every time. It's so innocent, so goofy, so childish...just like her sometimes. And I love it. Just like I love her.


I really said that, didn't I? Love. The L word. I'm so in trouble, you don't even know the half of it.

A big, imperfect hand slides into Ashleys tanned and perfect one, pulling her from me.

"Ready, baby?"


"Oh..." She tries to look at me once more, I know it, but my fork holds my reserved-for-her-eyes attention "...yeah, I'm ready."

She sounds quiet and defeated.

But I'm fuming with jealousy. So much so, I won't look at her as she says her goodbyes to the room. I'll make up an excuse later. I'll figure out how to explain my sudden bitterness over "nothing." But right now, in this moment, it hurts too much to see her with him.

Him being my brother Glen.

That's the worst part, for so many obvious reasons, but the reason it eats at me isn't for those obvious reasons. It eats at me, cause I can't do anything about it. It aches for me to see her with him. It kills me a little more every time they share a routine, unthinking, kiss.

And I have no right to feel this way. I'm actually the opposite of right. I'm so wrong. All of this is so wrong. But the thing is, while it may be wrong, it doesn't feel that way.

No, everything with Ashley, only feels right. When I'm with Ashley, I finally feel right.

But that doesn't matter, because she's not mine, she never will be, and it's practically my fault.

I met Ashley when I set her up with my brother.

I wanted her by the time he proposed.

And I fell completely in love with her at their wedding.

Yeah, I'm so going to hell.