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It takes a while for Julie to trust him again. Well, for Julie to trust him. Sometimes when she watches him it's like a polaroid, slowly coming into focus -- the general outline of him is familiar, but the details are creeping in slowly, new and different. Sometimes it's like two images laid on top of each other, both blurring the other, cancelling each other out.

Michael is not Dorothy. Dorothy was polite and attentive and empathetic in ways Michael is not. Dorothy babysat for Julie and spent 8 jars of various baby foods (Julie counted), most of which must have landed elsewhere than in her daughter's tummy, yet Julie's kitchen was spotless when she came home. Michael leaves dirty clothes on the floor of his own apartment and scrambles to clean it up seconds before she walks through the door. He walks around with his plates and coffee cups and leaves them in incongruous places to mold for weeks before they're discovered.

At first he tries so hard to get on her good side, but eventually the anxiety of her slipping away seems to lessen (she stops eyeing the metaphorical door, herself). This new laxness means that he forgets to call. He shows up late for appointments. One memorable time he leaves in the middle of a romantic dinner to hang out with a purportedly heartbroken (but possibly just drunk) Jeff. But he also brings her flowers for no reason, and he does the dishes voluntarily, and he can sing Amy to sleep within a quarter hour (his voice is like a homing beacon for the baby; she will turn towards him the minute she hears it and reach out her arms. Julie knows how she feels).

Despite all these mundane difficulties (trouble getting lift-off, Michael would say) they're still a good fit -- at industry cocktail parties, over dinner and dishes, in bed. 6 months after Dorothy left her life and Michael entered it, Michael moves in with them.

*

Sometimes Julie forgets. Sometimes she sees the phone and gets a certain urge to pick it up and call her. Sometimes she thinks of a joke they shared and begins to tell Michael about it only to stop suddenly and remember. That was him. That was his joke, too. But somehow it feels different to talk to him about it, like she's telling a secret trusted to her by a close friend.

Sometimes Michael gets a certain look in his eye, when she's talking about work or getting dressed for a party. He likes to come shopping with her; he's the only lover she's ever had who has enjoyed spending hours on a plush sofa watching her try on clothes. He has good opinions, and he knows about fabrics. Once or twice he'll say something that betrays (to her at least) that he knows what it feels like to wear the item in question. One time he makes such a comment about a garter belt she's contemplating, and the rush she feels is undefinable, somewhere between embarrassment and excitement and guilt. Sometimes in the middle of talking he'll pause like he forgets what he's doing and stare into the distance for a short while, and she wants to put her arms around him, but she has no idea what to say.

He gets a lot of job offers after the Tootsie Affair. He also gets called a lot of names, on the phone, on the tv, on the radio, in letters and magazines and newspapers. Some people think he's brave or ingenious or cunning. Others think he's a freak, and call him worse. After a while the storm seems to settle. He has a very successful 5 month run as Hamlet, and the reviews are great. The tide seems to be turning for him, and Julie is happy for him.

One night he comes home with a thoughtful look on his face. He talks in mono-syllables and cuddles Amy close for most of the evening. When Amy's finally asleep he comes to sit on the couch beside her and sighs. "They offered me another role. Another Shakespeare play. Twelfth Night, with an all-male cast. They want me to read for a couple of different roles."

She rubs his shoulder. "Well, that's great, honey! Isn't that great?"

He looks small and tired. He rubs his face and sighs explosively. "It sounds great. I wanna do it. George wants me to reconsider. Says I'll get type-cast as the she-man."

"Well, so what if you do!" He gives her a dark look. "If that's the role you do well, and a role you enjoy, I don't see what the problem is."

"I like other roles. I want movie parts, Julie, I don't want to get tied down..." She hugs him close, and he puts his arms around her waist, rests his head against her breastbone. "Can I say something? It's kind of stupid." He sounds young and almost petulant, and she pets his hair and nods. He releases yet another explosive sigh and blurts: "I miss Dorothy."

For a second it feels like the bottom of her stomach has fallen out, and her heart beats faster. Then she closes her eyes against the odd sense of relief and hugs him tighter. "Me too." They're quiet for a long while, just breathing together -- maybe thinking about what to do next. Finally she says, "Maybe Dorothy could come over sometime. For tea or something."

He is quiet for so long that her heart begins to beat steadily faster again, thumping quietly with the fear she has said the wrong thing. "Yeah," he says quietly. "I think she'd like that."

*

The first night Dorothy comes over is strange. Julie feels like her world is up-side down, her palms are sweaty and she keeps dropping things. After dinner, once Amy is tucked in, Michael kisses her on the cheek and says, "Keep out of the hall and bedroom for half an hour." He sounds nervous and excited and worried all at once, and she tries to give him a reassuring smile.

25 minutes later the front door opens and closes, and then the door bell rings.

Seeing Dorothy again is strange. Knowing that Dorothy is also Michael is even stranger. She's visibly nervous, too, tottering more than usual on her heels as she crosses the threshhold. Julie can't help but laugh and hug her immediately. "Oh, Dororthy, I missed you so much!" The gentle pats on her back are familiar, too, just like the dry-warm scent of Dorothy's hair and make-up. "Come in! Let's make some tea. I've baked!"

"Oh dear, you didn't have to do that. I'm sure you've had a long day, sweetie," Dorothy says and follows her into the kitchen. "Now, you just sit down and let me make that tea." She crosses surely to the stove and fills the kettle with water. "And tell me everything you've been up to, honey; I want details." She turns from the stove and sends Julie a tender smile, one that speaks of gratefulness and belonging and a special kind of love.

*

Michael gets a role in the Twelfth Night production, to yet more accolades, and Dorothy comes by every Tuesday night to visit Julie, and sometimes during the week to go shopping (other times it's Michael who accompanies her). She treasures their moments together, when they get to gossip and laugh and confide in each other -- touching on the big, important things in life, as well as the smaller but just as important ones. Julie thinks wryly sometimes that Dorothy has probably saved her and Michael's relationship more than once.

It may not be conventional. It may not be for other people. But Julie finds it's hard enough being an adult in the 1980s without trying to deny who you are.