The day after my boss, Elston Caan, made his surprising and comforting sick call visit to my apartment, I went back to work. I knew I’d better! Elston had assured me that he’d been only joking when he said that he’d fire me if I didn’t cheer up and get on with my life, but I was still worried. He has been known to suddenly get fed up with folks and go on a firing spree. I like my job, my coworkers, and being able to keep myself stocked in toilet paper. I also like Elston, a lot, which is beside the point; and, he seems to really like me, too, which isn’t.
“Buck up, Kid,” he told me on his way out the door. “I’ve got big plans for you.”
Talk about an offer you can’t refuse. He didn’t provide any specifics about these plans, but when a guy like Elston says something is big, it’s enormous.
I was still feeling pretty down from my break-up with Autumn, but I put on my best game face and plowed through the work day as pleasantly and efficiently as possible. But, as soon as I got home, I would step out of my clothes, and climb directly into bed. Then, remote control in hand, I would doze in and out of old episodes of "Star Trek" and "Battlestar Galactica" until it was time to get up, get dressed, and get back to the office.
I was lying in bed at 7 pm on Thursday when I got a call from Faith, who was still staying with her cousin and his wife in Wisconsin. They had a spare room in their house, and they told her she could stay as long as she wanted. Plus, they were also expecting a baby, which was due a couple of months before hers.
"It will be too perfect, Sissy. Jared's wife, Vivian and I can share baby supplies, and we can all tag-team in and out with childcare responsibilities."
"Wow, that’s great!" I agreed, mustering a semblance of joy from the depths of my funk.
“What’s wrong, Sissy? Do you have a cold?”
“Yeah,” I sniffed. “I’m kinda stuffed up.”
She seemed to buy that, and went on. "Listen, I want to apologize for making a move on you. I was totally out of line, but I couldn’t help it. Just seeing you again after all those years. You might not believe it, but I'd thought about us a lot, about what I let get away. I guess I was jealous when I saw what a special relationship you and Autumn have.”
I sniffed again, audibly, and cleared my throat.
“Sissy, are you sure you’re OK?” I didn’t answer. “What’s really wrong?”
I sighed and admitted that Autumn had dumped me.
“Oh, I am so, so sorry. I hope it didn’t have anything to do with me.”
“We’d been having problems for a while… since day one, actually. Your visit just brought some things to the surface that had already been brewing.”
“Oh, Baby. I am so sorry. You sound like you’re really hurting. Why don’t I come down for the weekend and cheer you up?”
“I’m not sure that would be such a great idea….”
“Nonsense. I just saw an ad for that Megabus thing, and they have some really cheap bus fares between Madison and Chicago.”
“Well, OK, but I’m not going to be such great company.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be good enough company for the both of us.”
I knew it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea, but what can I say. It seems that I’d left all my good sense in a pile of tissue and discarded clothes on my bedroom floor. I said, “Sure, come on down.”
“Great! I still have your address. I’ll take a late bus and try to arrive sometime after you’re done with work”
“Cool, but Faith, I want to ask you something, and I need you to promise you will tell me the absolute truth.”
“OK,” she agreed.
“Did you read my journal when I was out?”
Faith laughed. “Of course I did, Darling! Does it matter?”
I thought about it for a moment. “No, I guess not.”
“Good. OK, I’ll see you tomorrow night.”