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The Bench

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Serena is on her way home. She has followed her daughter Elinor to school. It's easier to walk through the park, than drive there in the car. There's always so many cars in front of the school in the morning. They use the same amount of time, when they walk, because she always have to wait for a free parking lot. Elinor hates to walk and this morning she had been a real brat. She knows which buttons to push, when Serena is tired after an extra hard night shift. She sometimes dreams of being happily married, with a husband, who could follow Elinor to school, when Serena is tired. Elinors dad can't give her that. Her soon to be ex husband, Edward Campbell, had deceived her throughout their whole marriage. And even before they got married. He's that kind of man, that hunts a woman, until he has charmed her knickers off and have had sex with her. When she's madly inlove with him, he doesn't find the woman interesting anymore and begins to hunt the next. Early in their relationship, Serena got pregnant. They had both forgot to buy condoms and after a night with a lot of alcohol, they were so horny, that they didn't care and had sex like bunnies. The sex with Edward had always been satisfying. Serena is a sexual being and demands to be satisfied by her partner. Edward hadn't disappointed her in that way. The first time, that she found out, that he was having an affair, was when she was expecting Elinor. She confronted him, and he promised never to do it again. When she thinks back, she's almost sure, that it was the reason, that Edward proposed to her. To show her, that he was responsible and would keep his promise. He is a good father to Elinor, but she was only a couple of month old, when Serena found out about his next affair. Again she had confronted him. Again he had promised, that it was a one time thing and he had explained to her, that the woman was a prostitute, because a man has needs and Serena wasn't so fond of having sex with him at the moment. She trusted him again.

Serenas stops her line of thoughts, when she sees a woman sitting on the bench, not far from the exit from the park. When she stands in her kitchen, she can see the bench from the window. She thinks, that she recognize the woman. She has seen the woman somewhere. The unruly mop of blond curly hair, can only belong to the mother of Elinors friend, Charlotte. Serena slowly approach the bench and greets the other woman. She gets no response. The blonde woman is far away in her own thoughts. Serena sits down next to her and touches the arm of the woman. The blonde reacts with fear in her eyes.
“Hi.” Serena says.
“Sorry, I didn't mean to react so strong, but..” The blonde begins.
“You were engulfed in you own thoughts.” Serena continues. “Aren't you Charlotte Dunns mother?”
“Yes.” She nods.
“Well. Nice to meet you Mrs. Dunn. I'm Serena Campbell. Elinors mother.” Serena says with a wide smile.
“Hi. I'm Bernie Wolfe. I didn't take my husbands name, when we got married.” Bernie explains shy.
“I wish, I haven't done that. Now my colleagues, know me by my married name and it's going to be difficult to go back to my birth name, when our divorce is final.” Serena babbles on.
“Okay.” Bernie doesn't know what else to say.
“I haven't seen you much a school. Charlotte has told me, that you're away a lot, but she haven't explained more.” Serena begins.
“I'm a doctor in the RAMC.” Bernie explains.
“Oh. A fellow medic. I'm a doctor too. Vascular surgery.” She smiles. Bernie need to go home, but she enjoys talking to Serena.
“Do you want to drink a cup of coffee or tea with me? I live right there.” Serena points at her house.
“Yes. Thank you. If you by any chance have a paracetamol, then I'll be happy to drink a cup of coffe with you.” Bernie replies, wondering if it was inappropriate to talk, that way to a woman, she has just met.

Inside the house, Serena flicks the kettle on and wents upstairs to get paracetamol. Bernie sits down at the kitchen table. She looks around. It's a lovely kitchen. It's in light colours. Her own kitchen is filled with heavy looking wooden cupboards, with a big clumsy table in the middle, which make the kitchen very dark. She doesn't cook much. Mainly because she's not at home for long and she hates to cook and Marcus, her husband, loves it. They have come to the agreement, that Bernie does the cleaning after supper instead. In Serenas kitchen, she already begins to dream about, how it would be to cook together with her. Serena is back and gives Bernie two paracetamol and a glass of water.
“It suddenly appeared to me, when I was upstairs. Are you Berenice Wolfe?” Serena asks.
“Yes. That me.” Bernie confirms. “I hate Berenice. Please continue to call me Bernie.”
“Okay. Bernie it is. I've read some of your articles. I've even used some of your technics. You're brilliant.” She answers. Bernie blushes. She hates, when people praises her. Serena makes the coffee and hands Bernie a cup. They sit in silence for a minute or two, when Bernies phone announces a new message. It's the tenth, since she left Charlotte at school. She knows it's Marcus again, but she won't leave Serenas house yet. She feels so comfortable here.
“It's okay if you want to check your phone.” She hears Serena say.
“It's not important.” Bernie answers. Serena senses that there is something more, that Bernie doesn't want to tell. She decides to change subject.
“When are you going back? And where in the world would that be?”
“What?? Ehm. I don't know yet. I just got home a few days ago. I'll probably go back in about three months. It's usually so. And I think it will be Afghanistan again.” Bernie answers. They continue to small talk. Bernies phone rings a couple of times, before she has to answer. Serena shows Bernie into her office. Offering her some privacy.

Bernie haven't a chance to call Marcus back before her phone rings again. She answers it.
“Finally.” She hears Marcus sighing.”Where are you? We're going to be late. Is something happened to the kids or you?” He continues.
“No, everything is fine.” She answers.
“Why aren't you here? We're going to be there in 30 minutes.” He continues.
“Sorry. I forgot the time. I met Elinors mum and she invited me to drink a coffee with her.” She explains.
“You know we have an appointment today. I'm already in the car. I pick you up in 5 minutes.” He ends the call. Bernie puts her phone back in her pocket and goes back to Serena in the kitchen.
“Is everything okay? Serena asks with concern. Bernie wants to tell the truth, but she can't do that right now.
“Yes. Marcus is picking me up in 5 minutes. We have an appointment. I forgot.” Bernie tries to smile, but Serena can see that she's hiding something.
“Okay. If you ever need a chat or a cup of coffee, please call me. I'll like to see you again.” Serena suggests.
“I'll do that. I really need a friend, here in Holby.” Bernie says without thinking.
“Great. I'd love to be your friend.” Serena answers. She hands Bernie her phone. “Please give me your number.” Bernie enters her number into Serenas phone.
“Please send me a text. That way I have your number too.” Bernie smiles genuinely for the first time since she met Serena. They hear a car honking. Serena gives Bernie a hug without realizing, that Bernie doesn't hug her back. Bernie rushes out the door and into the passenger side of the car.
Serena doesn't need to know, that their appointment is at a couples counselor. Bernie knows what's wrong in their marriage, but she can tell anyone. That's one of the reasons, that she had accepted to try a couples counselor, when Marcus had proposed it for her. Another reason is, that she doesn't want her cubs to grow up with divorced parents. She feels her phone vibrate in her pocket. It's the text from Serena.

The next two weeks Serena doesn't meet Bernie again. She had send her a couple of texts. Bernie had answered, but only with very short answers, and often one or two days after Serena had send the text. Every morning she waited in the park across the street from the school until Charlotte had arrived. Most mornings Marcus drove her and her older brother to school. Sometimes they arrived alone. What Serena didn't know is, that Bernie had followed them to school, but she had said goodbye to her children a corner away from the school, because she didn't want to meet Serena. One morning she thought, that she saw Bernie, but it was another mum. On her way to work it finally got to her. She want more from Bernie. She wants more, than only being friends. At the moment, with the few short answers from Bernie, she wouldn't even call them friends. They hardly know eachother.

Bernie hates the couples counselor. The hates the sessions. She only does it for the kids. She prepares, what to say in sessions. She answers, what she thinks the counselor or Marcus wants her to say. She already knows, why their marriage isn't working. She had only married Marcus, because that's what was expected from her. Find a man – marry him – get some kids. She had never loved Marcus the way a woman is supposed to love a man. She sure love him, but that's more like a good friend. She really loves her cubs. She has loved them since she knew, that she was pregnant. Both times, she had kept it as her own secret for a couple of days, before she had told Marcus. She had only been in love a couple of times in her life. Everytime it was in a woman. She had dated Tess secretly the first year at university. She had ended it, before her parents would found out. She met Marcus in her second year. They soon became friends. Her roommate had told her, that Marcus was in love with her. She took the information as a chance to be normal. If she played along, she could hide her true nature. On the last two tours, she has had an affair with Alex Dawson. A female anesthesiologist. Bernie had ended the affair on the day, they were going home on leave. Having a same-sex relationship isn't acceptable in the army. Alex wants them to get a life together outside the army. Bernie thinks, that she loved Alex, but she loves her work more and she will never leave her work, because someone wants to live fulltime with her. Marcus dreams of her as a housewife. Working in the army, is the only thing, she has decided to do, without thinking of others feelings. It's her dream to work in the army. It hurts her everytime, that she has to leave her cubs, but they haven't known anything else. They know, that their mum has to leave, because she helps people to survive. Now she's falling in love again. She can't fall in love with Serena. It's all wrong. She's the mother of her daughters best friend. She really wants her marriage to be like it always has been. She wants her children to be happy. She wants her marriage to function, so her children don't have to live their life with divorced parents. It's all a mess. She can only think of the sessions at the couples counselor and Serena. She tries to forget her, but it's impossible.

After another week of silence Serena receives a text from Bernie, just saying: “Can I come over?”
It's late at night, but Serena won't pass the chance to see Bernie again.
“Yes.” She answers. She enters the kitchen and flicks the kettle on. She's sure, that they need a tea or coffee, when Bernie arrives.
Five minutes later, she hears a knock on the front door. She opens the door. Bernie is standing in front of her, with her hands in her coat pockets.
“Sorry. I don't want to wake Elinor.” She apologizes.
“It's okay. Come in. You're freezing out there. I've already flicked the kettle on. Do you want a cup of tea or coffee?” Serena says.
“Do you have anything stronger? Bernie whispers.
“Ehm. I have wine and somewhere, I think, I have half a bottle of whisky.” Serena answers concerned.
“If you can find the whisky....” Bernie begins. Serena is lucky and finds the whisky. She gives Bernie a glas and places the bottle on the table. Bernie pours some in the glas and drinks it immediately, Serena observes her with concern. She sits down next to Bernie.
“What's wrong?” She asks, while laying one hand on Bernies arm. She can see the tears in Bernies eyes.
“I...I...I..” Bernie takes another drink and then takes a deep breath. “I can't live on a lie anymore.”
“What do you mean?” Serena begins to stroke Bernies back to comfort her. Bernie is silent for what feels like minutes.
“I don't love Marcus as a woman has to love a man.” She finally says. Serena has the feeling, that it's going to be a long night, if Bernie wants to talk with her and tell her everything.
“Come. Let's get more comfortable. Let's go into the lounge and sit on the couch instead of here in the kitchen.” She begins.
“I like it here in your kitchen. But I think you're right. The couch is more comfortable than these chairs.” She looks around in the kitchen.
“You go ahead. I'm making some tea for us. I don't think more alcohol is advisable.” Serena continues. Bernie nods and get into the lounge. She sits down in an armchair. She can't be too close to Serena, when she's going to tell her all about her marriage and her doubts. But she's the only divorced woman, that she knows in Holby. She has to hide her feelings for her.
Serena enters the lounge with two mugs in her hands. She places one in front of Bernie and sits down on the couch and looks concerned at Bernie. Perhaps it wasn't a good idea, to sit in the chair, where they can look eachother in the eyes. Serena gives her a sign to sit down next to her on the couch and that's what Bernie does. She needs a little time, before she begins to talk and Serena gives her the time. She just sits next to her and drinks her tea.
“I think, I might want a divorce, but I don't think it's fair to the children. They're supposed to grow up with both parents.” Bernie mumbles.
“Why do you say that? What's most important for you? Your children growing up like you're living now or with two divorced but happy parents?” She asks directly.
“I don't know. I've always done, what was expected from me. Joining the army is the only decision, I've made without thinking of what others would say about it.” She whispers.
“Maybe it's time for you to think about, what you want and not what you think others want from you.” Serena says matter of factly. Bernie nods silently.
“It's hard. I don't know how. I've never done that before.” She continues.
“Bullocks. You've just told me, that you joined the army, because it was what YOU wanted.” Serena interrupts. Bernie realizes that she's right.
“Why are you divorcing your husband?” Bernie suddenly asks.
“I'm sure you can't compare Edward with Marcus. I filed for divorce, because he can't keep it in his pants. He has always had someone on the side. I don't know, how many and I don't want to know. He has an alcohol problem too. I can't live with that anymore. His affairs and his addiction to alcohol.” She explains. They drink their tea in silence. Bernie rises from the couch.
“Thank you for the talk. I feel better now. I need to go home.” She walks into the hall.
“It's too late. Stay. You can sleep in the guestroom.” Serena offers with a whisper. Bernie accepts. Serena finds a t-shirt and pants for Bernie to sleep in and a new toothbrush. They say goodnight to eachother. Bernie can't sleep. Early in the morning, she sneaks out of Serenas house and walks home. She doesn't know, that Serena hasn't slept either and hears the frontdoor open and close. Serena runs down to the kitchen and looks out of the window. She watches Bernies curly hear disappear in the darkness. On the kitchen table is a small note from Bernie. “Thank you – B x” She turns the note and on the other side stands “Sorry.”

Later that day Serena receives a text from Bernie.
“I'm sorry, that I left your house the way I did, but I need some time and space alone. Thank you for being my friend. B”
Serena doesn't know how to answer, but ends up sending a short text saying:
“Don't be sorry. Take your time. I'm happy to be your friend. S x” She doesn't know if the x is too much. It's too late now. She has already send the text.

Two days later Bernie is sitting on the bench again. She loves the park. It's so peaceful and quiet. Her head is spinning. Full of thoughts. She doesn't know what to do. It would be so much easier for her, if someone told her what to do, but Serena is right. It's time for her to live her life. What about the children? What about Marcus and his family, what will they say? Perhaps it's better to stay married to Marcus. It's all a mess. She's beginning to get a migraine. She feels a light touch on her shoulder. It's Serena.
“You've been sitting here for hours. You must be freezing. Come with me.” Bernie nods and follows Serena.
“I...I...It wasn't...I didn't expect you to invite me in. I just like the park. Sitting on the bench is so peaceful and helps me thinking.” Bernie stutters.
“Don't be daft. I happened to be at home. I saw you and I wanted to invite you in. Here; take a cup of tea. I'll warm some soup for us for lunch. I bet you must be hungry too.” Serena says calmly.
Bernie sits down in the kitchen and watches Serena prepare the soup. Again the thought pops into Bernies head. She dreams of cooking with Serena in her kitchen. She shakes her head to get rid of the thought.
Serena serves the soup and they begin to eat in silence. Then Serena asks.
“Have you found out what you want to do? Leaving Marcus?” Bernie looks at her with wide open eyes.
“I don't know what to do. I don't want to make the children unhappy. On the other hand. I can't continue to live like this anymore.” Bernie says with tears in her eyes.
“I think you need to speak to Marcus. I believe, that he feels, that something is wrong too.” Serena lays a hand on Bernies arm.
“I...I...I don't think I'm ready for that.” She stutters.
“No one is, darling.” Serena answers unaware of herself calling Bernie, darling. “You have to be brave and do it as soon as possible. I waited too long.”
“I need more time.” Bernie continues.
“Okay. If you need somebody to talk to, I'm here for you. I'm just a call or text away. If I'm home and you're in the park, you're always welcome to knock on my door.” Serena tries to calm Bernie down.
“I can't. It's too much to ask of you.” Bernie begins.
“No. I insist. That's what friends are for.” Serena says firmly.

It's like Bernie has a 6th sense. The next couple of weeks, she uses the bench in the park as a meditation place. A sort of sanctuary, where she can think. When she's finished thinking or when she needs some advice or simply when she's getting too cold, she knocks on Serenas door. Every time Serena answers the door. Bernie begins to wonder if she works at all. Today she's out of luck. When Serena arrives at home after a long shift, she finds Bernie sitting with her back leaning on the front door.
“Hey you. What are you doing here? It's too cold today to sit down outside. Let me unlock the door and I'll make us a cup of tea.” Serena fuss.
“Hi. I thought you were home. You've been here for the last couple of weeks. I was beginning to think, that you don't work at all.” Bernie explains, while they enters into the kitchen. Serena turns around and looks at her like, she has said something wrong. “Sorry. I didn't want to offend you.” She quickly continues.
“You didn't offend me. You didn't know, that I've been suspended. The last two weeks I had to stay away from work. I didn't tell you, because I was embarrassed. I forgot my work laptop and some confidential papers in my car and someone stole my car. Then they leaked some of the informations from the papers to the press.” Serena looks down on her feet.
“That was you? I saw it on the news. That must be hard for you.” Bernie answers. She sees the tears on Serenas cheeks. Bernie isn't normally a big fan of hugs, but today it's like her body has it's own will. She take Serena in her arms and Serena begins to sob, while holding Bernie tight. She strokes circles on Serenas back to calm her down.
“Shush, shush. I'll be better soon.” She says and kisses Serena on the hair. Just like she does, when Charlotte or Cameron needs comforting. Soon Serena stops crying and the hug is over. Serena turns the kettle on and prepares the two cups of tea in silence. She place one cup in front of Bernie.
“Sorry. I....I...Sorry. It's so embarrassing. I...I...Sorry for the sobbing. I...”Serena stutters.
“Don't be sorry.” Bernie lays a hand on Serenas forearm. “It felt like you needed that cry.” Bernie isn't a person, who touches everybody, like Serena is, but being around Serena has made her loosen up a bit. She has always been afraid, that the person, she touches, would lay too many feeling into, why she had touched them. With Serena she knows, that it's just the way Serena is. She definitely won't think, that Bernie is trying to come on to her.
“Yeah? I didn't know that either. I haven't spoken to anyone about the suspention. Elinor is at her dads at the moment. Learning to know his new fetus girlfriend. Apparently they're going to get married as soon as the divorce is final. Poor girl. I hope, she knows, how Edward is, before she is going marry him.” Serena mutters.

A little later, they've moved into the lounge. Each having a glas of wine. Shiraz to be clear. It's the only wine Serena has in her house. Bernie like white wine better, but drinking wine with Serena is so much more and she doesn't care what wine it is they're drinking. It's only important, that she's drinking wine with Serena.
“So, have you found out, what to do?” Serena suddenly asks Bernie.
“No, yes, I don't know. It's so hard. Someone is ending up getting hurt, no matter what I do.“ Bernie sighs.
“Have you tried to talk to Marcus? Perhaps at the couples counselor?” Bernie shakes her head.
“I don't know how to breach the subject.” Bernie mumbles. She begins nervously to fidget with her fingers.
“I'm no expert, Bernie, but you need to talk to Marcus. If you need a place to stay. I mean if you can't stand to stay at home.” She takes a deep breath. “What I try to say is, that you can stay here, after you've talked to Marcus. The guestroom is yours if you want.” She smiles at Bernie.
“I...I..It's too much to ask of you. What about Elinor? I..I.. know you're right about talking to Marcus though.” She looks down on her hands. Serena lays a hand over her hands and she stops fidgeting.
“You're not asking me. I offer you a place to stay.” Bernie nods slowly.
“Okay. Thank you.”
The rest of the evening, they stay on the couch, watching TV. They order chinese for supper. They talk of anything else, but Marcus and Bernies upcoming talk with him. At midnight Bernie goes home. It's a funny feeling, but Bernie doesn't feel, that their house is her home. Serenas home makes her feel more at home and comfortable, than anywhere else, she has been. She would love to live with Serena, but she can't. Their friendship is too important for Bernie. Being head over heels in love with Serena mustn't detroy their friendship. Bernie has to suppress her feeling, until she can go back to the army. Living with Serena is not an option. She has already found a small furnished appartment the other day, but she couldn't get herself to tell Serena, when she had offered her to stay in the guestroom. She had looked at her with so much joy and anticipation. Bernie shakes her head and she's soon unlocking the front door. She tries to be as silent as possible. She enters the guestroom, where she had slept the last couples of weeks. Using the explanation, that she can't sleep in the bedroom with her husband, because Marcus is snoring. They both know it's not the reason. She thinks that the couples counselor knows that too.

The next day Marcus has a rare day off. The children are in school. Bernie and Marcus are sitting in the dark wodden kitchen, that Bernie has begun to hate after she has seen, how lovely and light a kitchen can be.
“We need to talk.” The say simultaneously.
“You first.” They both say. Bernie puts a finger against her own lips to show Marcus, that she wants to begin. He stays still.
“I need to talk first.” She begins. “I think we both know, what I want to say, but I need to explain why. And I need you to try to understand me. Marcus nods. He's afraid, that Bernie will stop talking to him, if he begins to talk.
“I can't live like this anymore. I want a divorce.” She looks at Marcus. He nods as to show her to continues.
“I've never loved you like a woman has to love her husband. I think you know, what I mean. I do love you. As a friend and as the father of my children, but I've never been in love with you because..” She continues.
“Because you're a lesbian.” He finishes her sentence. He take her hand in his.
“Bernie, I've known for a while. I met Tess shortly after Charlies birth. She was very surpriced, when she heard, that we were married. I don't think, that she wanted to out you, but the words slipped out of her mouth, before she could stop them. I waited for you to acknowledge your true feelings, but it never happened and I thought you've chosen to be with me.” He says soft.
“It's true. I chose to marry you. Believing, that I could be normal. I love our children so much and I'm happy that they have you as their father, but I can't continue playing happy family...” Marcus interrupts her again.
“We can be a happy family, if you let us, but we can only do it one way.” He says and Bernie looks at him questionably.
“We need to get a divorce. I hoped, that you would've realized that in the counselling sessions. I know, that you didn't open up, because the Bernie who was there with me at the sessions, wasn't my friend Bernie. Your answers was too prepared and perfect. After our session last week I knew, that you would never tell me, that you're a lesbian. I don't know who have given you the courage to ask for a divorce, but I think, that I like her. Is it Alex? The woman who visited us the last time you were on leave?” Bernie looks at him with fear.
“No.” She whispers.
“You two are a couple. Right?” He asks calmly.
“Not anymore. I ended it, just before we went home, this time. I couldn't do it to you or the children anymore. I thought I loved her, but it was nothing more than an affair. I realized that, after she had visited me here.” Bernie feels, that she has become her old friend back. The friend she could tell everything. Except from the fact, that she have never had the courage to tell him her innermost desire, but now she can. She knows that Marcus has accepted, that she's a lesbian. She feels so relieved, that she begins to giggle.
“That's what I like to see. Your beatiful smile. I haven't seen that for a while.” Marcus grins.
“Aren't you mad at me at all? Are you having an affair?” Bernie asks with surprise.
“No. No to both questions.” Marcus is now laughing out loud. Bernie is getting more and more confused.
“I don't understand. Why are you laughing?” Bernie is beginning to get angry.
“I want to see you happy, because I want to be happy too.” He answers.
“I still don't understand. You want to be happy, but with who? You told me, that you don't have an affair.” She comments.
“I understand, why you're confused. I've fallen in love, but I haven't done anything about it. I wanted to know, if you were still together with Alex first.” He explains.
“Wauw. What a surprise. Who is she?” Bernie feels like, when they were gossiping at university. Marcus hesitates. “It isn't a woman. It's a man.” He whispers. “I'm as surprised as you. It's a first for me, but I've started to get used to the thought.” He blushes.
“I'm getting thirsty. Do you want a beer too.” Bernie offers.
“Yes, thank you. Get the beers and let us sit in the lounge. This kitchen is so depressing.” Marcus exclaims. Bernie laughs with a goose honk. She picks up two beer from the fridge, still honking. They sit down on the couch in the lounge.
“I thought you liked the kitchen.” Marcus says.
“No. It's awful. I've always hated it. I thought you liked it.” Bernie answers.
“Okay. Let's try to be serious. How do we tell the children and what do we do about the living arrangements?” He asks.
“I've already found an apartment, but it's a sleazy one. I don't know if it's necessary. I can continue living in the guestroom until the divorce is final or until I find a better apartment. To let the cubs be comfortable with the thought, that their parents is going to be divorced. Perhaps, I can stay here until my next tour. Next week I'll get my new orders. I think, I'll be leaving again in 2 or 3 months time.” Bernie take a long sip of her beer.
“I think, it's good idea, that you stay here, but we need to find a new place for you. I believe, that you'll agree with me, that it's best for me to stay in the house with the kids.” Bernie nods.
“Let us call a lawyer and make an appointment. I don't think it will be a big problem to get a divorce, when we both want to get out of this marriage.” Bernie continues.
“I agree. I'll make the call now.” He rises from the couch and picks up his phone. “A friend of mine from university is a lawyer today. Is it okay with you, that we're going to use him?” He asks.
“I don't care. I believe, that you won't try to cheat me and that we both will get a fair agreement.” She says relieved.
“Yes, of course.” He goes into the kitchen to make the call.

Ten minutes later, Marcus comes back.
“Simon has a free appointment at 11. I said we'll be there. Is that okay with you?” He asks.
“Yes. Simon? I don't remember a friend of yours called Simon.” She looks suspiciously at him.
“Oh. I met him in the gym. It was in my final year. It was after you began your training.” He explains.
“Sorry. Now I remember him. He's the tall, sporty, blonde, gay one, right?” Marcus nods and Bernie senses something more.
“Is he the one, that you've fallen in love with?” She continues to observe him.
“No, no, no. He's happily married to Matt. His name is Kevin. I met him at Simons birthday party half a year ago. We've met regularily in the pub. Watching sports.” He blushes again. Bernie finds it a little bit cute.
“Is he gay too?” She can't stop asking.
“Yeah.” He looks down on the floor.
“But..” Bernie says.
“I don't know if he has feelings for me. I think, he thinks, that I'm straight. And I've been until now. Living straight.” He stops.
“But...” Bernie says again.
“Being with a man, has never been a taboo for me. It has always excided me a bit to try to be with a man. I just haven't had the courage to try.” He almost whispers.
“So, have you talked with someone other than me about it?” She continues.
“Yes. I mentioned it to Simon once. Years ago. We were drunk. He laughed at me. We haven't talk about it since. Except from the day after, when he asked me if I meant, what I said about being with a man. I confirmed, what I had said, the day before. I also told him, that I wasn't ready yet. That I only had played with the thought.” He looks up. “Can we talk about this later? We have to go now, if we...”
“Yes, of course. Let's go and get that divorce.” Bernie interrupts him and she grabs her bag and car keys. “I think it's better, that I drive. You need to calm down, before we're meeting your friend, Simon.”

The meeting with Simon is over quick. They're home again. Sitting in the lounge talking.
“I feel like, I have my best friend back from uni. I mean before you began to come on to me.” Bernie sighs happy.
“Yeah. I've missed it too. Us, talking so free about our feelings.” Marcus says and takes one of her hands in his. “I'm sorry, that I didn't let you go, after I talked with Tess. I'm sorry, I didn't tell you back then, that I realized, that you're a lesbian. I..”
“It's not your fault. And we had the children too. That reminds me; how are we going to tell them about the divorce?” Bernie asks.
“I think. that they're old enough to understand. We just have to explain it carefully. They don't need to know, that you're lesbian and that I like both men and women. I think, it's best to tell them straight away. I'll pick them up from school and then we tell them, when we're back here.” He suggests.
“I think that too. They'll soon find out anyway – that something is different between us.” She answers.

Marcus has picked up the children and the four of them are now sitting around the dinning table in the kitchen. Bernie has baked a cake and made a cup of tea for each one. The children can feel, that their parents have something to tell them.
“Are you getting divorced?” Charlotte breaks the silence with her question.
“How do you know?” Bernie and Marcus asks simultaniously.
“This is the way Elinors parents told her too.” She explains.
“Yes, And the way Harrys parents did it and Roberts.” Cameron continues.
“And Kathys and Ellas.” Charlotte keep on saying names.
“The other kids calls it the divorce talk.” Cameron explains.
“Okay. You're right. We're getting a divorce. I'll still be living in the house until I'm going back on tour or I find a place, where you can be too. You two will still have your primary adress here with dad.” Bernie says.
“Don't you love eachother anymore?” Charlotte asks.
“It's ba it more complicated than that, but we don't hate eachother. We're still good friends and we both love you two more than anything in the world.” Marcus explains.
“But why?” Cameron whispers. “Why can't you stay together, when you don't hate eachother? You can continue to sleep in the guestroom mum. Nobody will know. You're going away again soon anyway.” He's beginning to have teary eyes. Charlotte just looks at the scenario.
“Shush, shush darling. It's going to be alright.” Bernie lets him cuddle into her chest. He's 11 years old and normally not a boy who needs cuddles, but today he needs the comfort. Charlotte takes his hand.
“Mum and dad needs to find somebody, that makes them happy. I understand. They love eachother as friends. They need to find love.” His sister tells him. He nods.
“I know, but..” Now a tear runs down his cheek. “I don't want to end up like Robert.”
“What happened to Robert?” Marcus asks.
“His parents are fighting about where he's going to live. They want him to choose, where to live. He knows, that he's going to dissappoint one of them. He has tried to explain to them, that he wants to live with them in turns. Two weeks at each place. They won't let him, because his dad has a new job in Ireland and it'll be to much travelling for Robert.” Now Cameron is crying hard.
“It'll never be like that. I'll stay in Holby. Except, when I'm on tour, but you can't visit me there anyway.” Bernie promise him.
“Promise.” He sniffles.
“Promise.” Bernie repeats. He seems to calm down now. Bernie feels how he's getting heavier on her lap. Marcus stands up and takes Cameron by the hand.
“Come on Cam. I think you need to get a little nap. Let us go into the lounge. You can lay on the couch.” Cameron rises and follows his dad.
“Thank you.” Bernie whispers.
“Mum. Do you or dad have an affair? I mean, like Elinors dad.” Charlotte asks.
“No.I can't explain it better, than we already have. Me and dad. It's complicated. You don't have to worry more about it. You'll understand, when you get older.” She tries to let her daughter understand, that she don't want to talk more about it. It seems to work, because Charlotte leaves the room to go upstairs to do her homework, just as a normal day. Bernie is surprised that Cameron is taking the divorce so hard and Charlotte has just accepted it all.
She takes her phone and sends a text to Serena.
“It's done. We've talked. We're getting a divorce. We've just told the children. It's been a weird day. B x”
She get an answer within a minute.
“What happened? Is Marcus angry? What about the children? S xx”
“ I can't talk right now. It's very surreal. He wants a divorce too. I need to be there for the cubs now. When are you at home tomorrow? I'll come to your house and tell you everything, if it's okay with you – B x”
“You're welcome. I'll be home around suppertime. Bring food and I'll let you in ;-) S x” Bernie smiles at the answer and sends a thumbs up to Serena and puts her phone away.

Bernie is sitting on the couch with both legs curled up under her. The children are sleeping. Marcus enters the lounge with two beers in the hand. He gives one to her.
“We didn't finished our talk from this morning.” He begins and smirks at Bernie.
“What do you mean?” She answers.
“You know all about my lovelife or the lack of it. What about you? Do you have anyone you fancy or do you still love Alex?” He sees how Bernie blushes and he looks at her with a raised eyebrow.
“I...I...don't know. Alex is history. I'm not sure, that I really loved her.” She stutters.
“But there is someone new? Who is she? Do I know her? How long have you known her?” He asks with curiosity.
“No. Yes. Maybe. I don't know. I met her the day, that we had our first counselor session. It can't be a thing. She's straight. She's divorced too. She helped me realize, that I can't live a lie anymore.” She answers.
“Your in love with Serena Campbell? Elinors mum?” Bernie nods slowly. She had forgotten, that he had picked her up at Serenas, that particular day.
“How do you know? That she's straight – I mean.” He continues.
“I..I..She was married to a man. I presume that she's straight.” She says.
“So are you. For a little while – still. Married to a man. What can possibly go wrong?” He's beginning to tease her verbally.
“Stop it. I don't want to lose her as a friend. That why it can't go any further. I just need to surpress my feeling. Hopeing they'll go away.” She sighs.
“Bernie. Stop. Please listen to yourself. It's living a lie all over again.” He takes her hand and caresses her knuckles with his thumb.
“I don't know what to do. I can't loose her as a friend. She's too important for me. How do I find out, if she likes women too?” She now holds Marcus hand in a tight grib.
“You could try to ask her.” He answers calmly and gives her a hug. Bernie begins to sniffle. He knows she's crying. He also knows, that he has to stay silent. He just rocks from side to side and strokes circles on her back to calm her. After a while Bernie stops crying.
“I don't think, that I'm courageous enough to ask her.” She mumbles into his chest.
“Come on. Let's go to bed. It has been a long day.” He whispers into her hair.
“Yeah. And weird.” Bernie answers and they go to bed. Marcus in the bedroom and Bernie in the guestroom. Just like the last couple of weeks. The only difference is, that they give eachother a hug and a kiss on the cheek as a goodnight.

It's almost 9am, when Bernie wakes up. She never sleeps that long. It wasn't that long anyway. She was awake most of the night. Thinking of what she's going to tell Serena. How to approach the subject. How to ask her, if she likes women too, without making it look like an attempt to come on to her. She looks at the clock. At first she's surprised, but then she remembers, that the last time she had looked at the clock was at 5am. She had only slept 4 hours. In the army it would be enough for her, but after the last 24 hours, she's still tired. She gets out of bed. She finds a note from Marcus in the kitchen. He has followed the children to school and are now at work.
“Don't think too much about it. I know you have been pondering all night. I hope you got some sleep in the end. Just ask her.” Bernie curls the note and tosses it in the bin. She looks at the clock again. She has 10 hours to find out, what to do. She feels, that she's running out of time. On the other hand, she can't wait to see Serena again. She could do, was she always does. Run back to the army and hide her feelings. Be a coward. OR she could try be brave. She lists the pros and cons in her head.

In the afternoon she picks up the children from school. Helps them with their homework and prepares a lasagne for supper. She's happy to have something to do. That way she stops her pondering a little. At 6.30pm she changes her clothes and gets on her way to Serena. She walks to the fish & chips shop and buys supper for them, then she walks to Serenas house. It's all dark. After a few minutes, she realizes, that there's a light on in the kitchen and the front door is ajar. She enters the house very cautious. There could be intruders in the house. As soon as she reaches the kitchen all her cautiousnees disappear. Serena is sitting at the table, still in her lovely red coat, with a letter in her hand. She's looking into the air.
Bernie decides to knock on the doorframe. Trying not to frighten Serena.
“Hey you.” Bernie says slow. Serena doesn't react. She enters the kitchen and lays a hand on Serenas shoulder. She turns around and looks at Bernie.
“Hi.” She whispers.
“Somethings wrong?” Bernie asks concerned.
“It's final. It's over.” Bernie is really beginning to get worried now. The food stands in the hall. All forgotten.
“Serena! What's over? You're making me nervous now.” She kneals down infront of her, so she can look her in the eyes.
“The divorce. It's final. I didn't expect to take it this way, but it got me, when I opened the letter. I don't know if I'm in chock or if I'm relieved” She whispers. Bernie takes the letter out of her hand and lays it on the table. She helps Serena out of the coat and hangs it up in the hall. She sees the food on table and brings it with her back in the kitchen.
“I brought food.” She tries to be chipper, but Serena stays silent. She places the food on the counter and goes back to Serena. She hug her tight. Kisses her on the hair.
“It's going to be alright.” Bernie whispers. Serena lifts her head and looks her directly in the eyes. Then it happens. She leans forward and kisses Serena on the lips. After a few seconds she feels how Serena kisses her back. It's over as quick as the kiss began. Bernie doesn't know, what to do. She begins to stand up, but Serena holds her by the wrist and pulls her in for another kiss. Bernie ends up sitting on Serenas lap. When the kiss ends, they sit with their foreheads touching.
“Why haven't you told me, that you like women too?” Bernie whispers.
“You never asked. But yes, I play both ways.” Serena whispers back. “I thought you might know, that's why I've been flirting with you so much.”
“Sorry, I'm not good at reading the signs. My roommate told me, when Marcus had been flirting with me for months.” Bernie says and pecks Serena on the lips. ”How did you now, that I'm a lesbian?” Bernie realizes, that it's the first time, that she says it out loud.
“I guessed it. There's something about the way you look at me. And that thing you said about living a lie.” Serena explains.
“Come on. Let's warm up the food.” Bernie smiles and stands up. This time Serena lets her do it.

That's the beginning of the story about, how Bernie ends up moving in at Serenas house. Now she sleeps in the same bed as the love of her life. The bench in the park stays as a special place for them.