Sally sat alone in her office in the community schools’ main office building counting the hours and minutes until three so she could go home for the weekend. This wasn’t an unusual event, she didn’t share the tiny room with anybody and nobody ever seemed to stop by. She quietly sat in front of her computer making up schedules for the various after school activities.

“Hey Sally,” Anne said as her blond, thirty something head popped in the doorway.

“Hi,” Sally replied.

“A group of us were going out tonight for dinner and some drinks. Would you like to join us?”

“No,” Sally said. “I’ve got plans already.”

“Ok,” Anne said before disappearing.

 

Sally rifled through her closet looking for something to wear. She had been home from work for almost four hours now and had spent most of that time relaxing and now she wasn’t content with any of her bar clothes. She was going to meet her friends Charlie and Lisa at Andy’s Bar and Grille and wanted to wear something flattering, but nothing too trashy—it’s not like she was going to pick up guys, but if she didn’t look good, Charlie would have a field day. She was ready to give up when she finally found a brown long-sleeved skin-tight shirt. She paired it with black jeans and was ready to go.

She took some money and her driver’s license out of her purse and grabbed her keys and left her apartment locking the door behind her.

She turned into the parking lot at Andy’s ten minutes later and pulled up next to Charlie’s car, which was sitting comfortably for the night, it was Sally’s turn this week to be the designated driver. She didn’t see Lisa’s car and assumed that they must have shared a car as they live so close to each other. Once in the bar she found that she was right, because Charlie and Lisa were sitting at a table waving at her. She waved back and walked over to the bar, ordered a soda and walked over to their table.

“Sal,” Charlie greeted her jovially when he saw her approaching. “How was work today?”

“Ugh,” she groaned as she sat down. “Boring as hell, like always,” she told him. “I hate working for the school sometimes. I swear half of them were there when I went to high school and I think they still hate me.”

“There’s always an opening at my store for a pretty girl,” Charlie offered. He owned the White Knight, the only gaming and comic book store in town.

“I’m not so sure that would be an improvement,” she replied. “I’m fresh out of fanboy repellant. I mean, I can only talk about Batman and Magic: The Gathering for so long before I get bored.”

“Suit yourself,” Charlie replied, undaunted by the mild jab at his own interests. “But if you change your mind I could always use the extra cute girl; it keeps those fanboys in the store and buying things.”

“I thought it was the strange addiction to card games and comics and having nowhere else in town to get them that kept them coming,” Sally retorted.

“It’s not that bad,” Lisa told her. “Those guys are more afraid of you than you are of them. Women scare them; it’s fun sometimes to mess with them”

“I don’t know,” Sally said. “It just doesn’t seem like a job I’d like.”

“I don’t think that there’s any job that you’d like,” Lisa stated. “And the problem isn’t the job.”

“It’s not?”

“No,” Lisa told her. “It’s you.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you?”

“How so?”

The serious demeanor left Lisa’s face and she said, “You’re sexually frustrated. You need a good man…or at least a good lay.”

“I agree,” Charlie said before taking a gulp of beer.

“I do not,” Sally replied in an attempt at sarcasm, but it came out a bit defensive. “I don’t see either of you going home to a man and you’re okay,”

“Touché,” Charlie replied, finishing his glass of beer.

Sally turned back to Lisa. “And I thought you were supposed to be a feminist?” she commented, this time it came out with the teasing voice she had intended.

“Oh, I am,” Lisa replied. “But the fact remains that you haven’t been with a man in over two years. You need a little excitement in your life.”

“She’s got a point,” Charlie said. “Maybe you should pick somebody up tonight,” he added teasingly.

“Oh, right.” Sally rolled her eyes. “Have you taken a look around this place? I’m not drinking tonight so these guys won’t be getting any cuter.”

“You set your sights too high,” Lisa teased.

“Well, maybe next week,” Charlie added.

“How about Charlie?” Lisa asked jokingly. “I’m sure if we get him drunk enough he won’t even notice you’re a chick.”

“I guess I could take one for the team,” Charlie admitted in mock sadness.

Sally looked at Charlie and smiled. “I don’t think we could afford that much beer,” she finally said.

 

After last call Sally drove Lisa and Charlie home, promising to take Charlie back to get his car sometime Saturday after his hangover went away.

She drove home and turned on a nearby lamp after she opened her apartment door. She locked the door, threw her keys on an end table and went to the bathroom to get ready for bed.

A few minutes later, in her Winnie the Pooh nightshirt, she turned off the lights that she had turned on and then went to her bedroom, crawled into bed and turned off the bedside lamp as she lay down.

 

Sally woke up the next morning warm and comfortable and glad that it was Saturday and that she could sleep in or at least stay in bed for as long as she wanted. She opened her eyes and glanced over at the alarm clock on her nightstand. It was 10:17 and she smiled, pulled the covers up and rolled over.

She jumped out of bed and stumbled across the room and into an old tattered arm chair and just stared at the sleeping form on the other side of her full-sized bed.

She thought back to the events of the night, but came up blank. Except Charlie, she didn’t even dance with anybody, let alone take someone home with her. She distinctly remembered locking the door when she got home and she knew that she went to bed alone, so whoever he was, he shouldn’t be there, but there he was.

He rolled over in his sleep and she saw his face for the first time. Her eyes widened in disbelief; she slowly walked closer, crawling the last bit on the bed until she was only a foot or so away from him. She reached out and touched his shoulder.

His eyes opened reluctantly.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“Sean,” he muttered tiredly as he rolled back over.

“As in Sean Astin?”

“uh-huh.”

“The actor?”

“Uh-huh.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Trying to sleep.”

“Okay,” Sally replied before crawling off the bed and calmly walking out of the room. She closed the door behind her and broke into a run to the living room. She stopped in front of the coffee table and picked up the Lord of the Rings special movie magazine that she had been using as a coaster since Charlie left it there the week before. It had several coffee mug rings on it and had wrinkled up from when she spilled Pepsi on it a few days ago, but she flipped through the now crisp pages, or at least through the ones that weren’t stuck together, until she found a picture of Sean Astin. She ran back to her room and put the picture to his face to compare.

“My god,” she whispered as she dropped the magazine.

She ran back to the living room and grabbed the phone and started dialing. Five rings and the distinctive thud of the other phone hitting the floor and subsequent swearing later, Charlie tiredly mumbled, “Hello.”

“Hey, Charlie, it’s Sally.”

“This better be good,” he said. “I was having that Johnny Depp pirate dream again.”

“There’s a man in my bed,” she told him.

“Congratulations,” he stated uninterested, “But despite last night’s conversation, you getting lucky is hardly newsworthy enough to call so early.”

“But I went to bed alone last night,” she told him.

“So you woke me up to tell me about one of your fantasies?”

“I’m serious,” she replied. “There is a man in my bed that wasn’t there last night.”

“Did you call the police already?” he asked, concern finally entering his voice.

“No,” she said as if it were the most bizarre question she had ever heard. “He seems harmless enough and I don’t want a scandal.”

“Although rare, you having a man in your bed is hardly scandalous,” Charlie stated.

“But you don’t know who it is.”

“Who is it?”

“Sean Astin.”

“The actor?”

“Yeah.”

“From Lord of the Rings?”

“Yup.”

“Are you sure?”

“As sure as I can be without going through his wallet.”

“Go through his wallet.”

“I couldn’t find one,” she admitted. “I couldn’t even find his clothes…God, I hope he has clothes.”

“It really has been a long time since you’ve had a man, hasn’t it?” Charlie asked under his breath.

“What?”

“I’m going to borrow Lisa’s car and be right over.”

“Ok, thanks,” she said. “Oh, and don’t tell Lisa what’s going on. We’ll figure out what to do once you get here.”

“Fine.”

“Okay,” she said as she watched Sean, now fully dressed, walk out of her bedroom.

“I’ll be there in a few minutes,” Charlie said. “Bye.”

“Bye,” she replied automatically as she hung up.

She watched Sean for a few seconds more and then finally said, “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” he replied before disappearing into the kitchen.

 

Barely ten minutes later Charlie was knocking on the door. Sally let him in and then went back to the couch to sit down. She looked a bit dazed.

“Is he still in bed?” Charlie asked as he looked into her room. “Where is he?”

“In the kitchen.”

“What’s he doing in the kitchen?”

“Making pancakes, I think.”

“Did you talk to him?”

“I tried,” she told him, “but he doesn’t seem to want to talk. I came out here because I thought he was going to cry from me asking so many questions.”

“Can I see him?”

“Sure.”

Charlie stepped into the kitchen and then came back out. “Sean Astin is in your kitchen,” he gushed like a teenaged girl. “I honestly thought that you were starting to go crazy, but this is…this is cool. I’m going to ask for an autograph.”

“No. Not now,” she told him. “I don’t know how he’ll take it.”

“Why are you so worried about his feelings?” Charlie asked angrily. “He’s squatting in your house.”

“But he looks so helpless.”

“But he broke into your house.”

“He didn’t really break in,” she told him. “I checked this morning and the lock on the door was firmly in place and no windows were broken. He’s just…here.”

“How did he get in then?”

“I don’t know,” she admitted as Sean walked in with two heaping plates of pancakes and handed one to Sally and the other to Charlie.

“How and when did you get in here last night?” Charlie demanded. “And why are you here?”

Sean’s eyes widened in panic and he looked to Sally as if she should protect him. When she didn’t speak he turned and all but ran into the kitchen.

“What’s with him?” Charlie asked.

“I don’t know,” she said before taking a bite. She swallowed and then added, “I think he just gets uncomfortable when you ask him questions like that.”

“Poor guy.”

***

Later that afternoon, Sally was lounging on her sofa trying to read, but found it hard to concentrate. She wasn’t entirely sure, but she thought Sean might have been dusting; as it was, he was walking around the apartment with an old kitchen towel.

“You don’t have to do that,” she finally told him. “You’re kind of a guest here.”

“It’s okay,” he replied quietly.

“How long were you planning on staying?”

He suddenly looked as if he were going to cry, but still he said nothing.

Sally threw the book on the coffee table and stood up. “Never mind,” she sighed in frustration. “I’m going out. You wanna come with?”

“No.”

“Okay. I don’t know when I’ll be back, but if you need me for something I’ll have my cell phone. I’ll leave the number on the fridge.”

 

Lisa answered her door a little while later.

“I heard you had a guy over last night,” She greeted Sally. “I’m glad you took my advice.”

“I didn’t take your advice,” Sally stated as she walked past Lisa into the apartment. “He just showed up in the middle of the night.”

“Booty call?” Lisa asked with a hint of intrigue. “You didn’t strike me as the type, but it’s good to see you’re getting some action. So, how was he?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Sally replied. “He’s spent the whole day avoiding my questions.”

“That’s not what I meant. How was he in bed?”

“Nothing happened.”

“That’s the worst booty call I’ve ever heard of. And that’s the problem with you.”

“You’re right of course,” Sally joked. “I should sleep with strange men that mysteriously appear in my bed.”

“Good rule of thumb; it’s the only way to keep them coming back.” They both laughed a little and then Lisa continued. “And what do you mean ‘strange,’ Charlie tells me you knew who he was.”

“Yeah, but by name alone. I’ve never actually met him before.”

“Who was it?”

“Sean Astin.”

“That name sounds familiar. Did we graduate with him?”

“No.”

“Oh, wait, isn’t there an actor or something with that name?”

“Yeah, and he was in my bed this morning when I woke up.”

“You woke up with the kid from Goonies?”

“Well, he is an adult now,” Sally defended herself. “And nothing happened anyway.”

“Too bad. I bet he’s cute, too,” Lisa replied with a wink. “He still at your place?”

“Yeah.”

“Then what are you doing here?”

“Getting away from him. I’m still a little weirded out by the whole thing…and he’s kind of like a scared little puppy.”

“Is he housebroken?”

“Oh, I hope so…of course he is, you moron.”

 

Sally stepped out of the bathroom in her nightshirt later that night and walked into her bedroom. She looked over to see Sean already making himself comfortable on ‘his’ side of the bed.

“No, you don’t,” she scolded him as she grabbed his arm. “Get up.”

He did as instructed and followed as she dragged him out of her room and across the hall to the computer/guest room. She pointed to the twin bed against the far wall.

“You sleep in here,” she stated. She confidently walked back to her own room, closed the door and went to bed.

***

She woke up the next morning to discover that she once again was not alone in bed; Sean had snuck in after she fad fallen asleep. The panic from the previous morning was gone and replaced with anger.

She watched him laying peacefully next to her and considered waking him up to yell at him. She realized that it probably wouldn’t do any good as he’d just start crying again, so she just got up and went to take a shower.

By the time she was out of the bathroom, he was already dressed for the day and in the kitchen making eggs and sausage.

Sally sat down at the table as he put a plate in front of her. She buttered her toast as she said, “You don’t have to cook all the time.”

“I don’t mind,” he replied between cracking two eggs on the side of the frying pan.

“Where are you hiding all these clothes?”

He threw away the egg shells, but didn’t reply.

“I’m going to do some grocery shopping today,” she told him. “Would you like to come with?”

“No.”

“Is there anything you’d like me to get?”

“No.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Thanks for breakfast, by the way. It’s really good.”

“You’re welcome.”

“So, um…” Sally began, trying to figure out how to start a conversation. “How do you like it here? Are you finding everything alright?”

“Yes,” he replied.

Sally looked down at her plate as she chased a sausage around the plate with her fork. This conversation idea wasn’t working and all of these long silences were uncomfortable. Not knowing what to do, Sally didn’t say another word hoping that Sean would, but of course, he didn’t.

After breakfast Sally asked him again if he wanted to go, but he declined so she went shopping alone. She found, for the first time ever, that she was glad to do her grocery shopping.

 

She came home an hour later with a paper bag in each arm. As she fumbled with the door it opened and Sean took the bags and went into the kitchen. He started putting things away as she went to get the last bag from her car.

She brought the bag into the kitchen and set it down next to the other two and started unloading it.

“Can you put this in the cupboard over the stove?” she asked as she handed him a small bag of thyme.

“Sure.” He took the bag and put it away. “Could you put these in the fridge?” he asked as he handed her the eggs.

“No problem,” she said with a smile as she took the eggs.

 

By eight o’clock Sally was in her night shirt and terrycloth robe looking through some papers for work the next morning.

She picked up the remote. “Is there anything you wanna watch?” she asked as she hit the power button.

“No.”

“You can have an opinion,” she told him. “I won’t kick you out for it.”

“I don’t care what we watch.”

“Fine,” she replied as she turned on one of the thousands of suspiciously similar cop dramas and started on her work.

***

Sally started towards her bedroom around ten, but stopped when she realized that she was being followed. “You sleep in there, remember?” she told him, all but pushing him into the guest room.

She left him there and went to her own room, closing and locking the door behind her so he couldn’t sneak in again.

She set her alarm, got comfortable and opened a book.

 

Sally woke up with a start at the sound of knocking at her door. She looked over at the alarm clock to see that it was 12:17. She closed her eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but he knocked again. She put a pillow over her head, but that didn’t help. Finally on the fourth knock she threw her book at the door.

“What is it?” she yelled out, too tired and angry for any form of decorum.

“I’m tired,” Sean replied from the other side of the door.

“Then go to bed.”

“Let me in.”

“Sleep in the other room.”

“It’s cold.”

“There are extra blankets in the hall closet.”

“I don’t want to sleep in there.”

“Too bad.” She rolled over and tried to get back to sleep. As she was just starting to doze off, he knocked again.

“Stop that,” she yelled.

“Let me in.”

“No. Now stop knocking, I have to get up for work in the morning.”

Just as she started drifting off again, the knocking began again.

“Ugh,” she muttered as she threw the covers back and padded over to the door. She unlocked it and went back to the bed as Sean opened the door and followed her to the bed.

“I’m too tired of this game,” she sighed. “You’re lucky I have to work in the morning.”

 

The alarm started buzzing promptly at 6:30, waking up Sally. She turned the alarm off and looked over at Sean; he seemed to have slept through the ringing.

“How nice,’” she said to herself. “If only we could all be so lucky.”

 

When she came out of the bathroom about forty five minutes later, showered and dressed, she headed over to the kitchen. She was only mildly surprised to find Sean making Belgian waffles.

“Funny, I don’t remember having a waffle iron,” she said to herself as she poured herself a cup of coffee.

“I found it in the back of that cupboard behind all the pots and pans.” He pointed to a cupboard under the counter next to the stove.

“I probably buried it back there so I wouldn’t have to use it.”

“You don’t like waffles?” He sounded worried.

“No, I do. I just don’t like to make them.”

“Oh.” He handed her a plate with two large waffles. She poured syrup on them and started eating while he made more.

She ate in silence even after he finished cooking and joined her at the table.

Finally she broke the silence before she had to leave.

“Will you be okay here all day by yourself?”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Okay,” she said. “There are some books in the guest room. The DVDs are over there.” She pointed to the wooden shelves by the TV. “Feel free to use the computer. There’s an extra key in the bowl by the door so lock up if you go somewhere.”

“Okay.”

 

“Good morning, Sally,” Janine greeted her as she unlocked her office door.

“Hi,” Sally replied. “How was your weekend?”

“Fine. Uneventful and hectic, but fine. But that’s what it’s like when you’ve got kids.”

 

Sally worked in solitude for well over an hour before somebody stopped by.

“Hey,” Anne greeted her. “How’s your coffee situation?”

“I could use a refill,” Sally admitted as she peered into her cup.

“Come on then,” Anne said. “Let’s go take a coffee break.”

“No, thanks. I’ll get some in a bit, but I want to finish this letter.”

“Suit yourself.” With that Anne walked off.

Sally looked back at her computer screen and started typing.

 

Sally opened the door and walked into her apartment. She kicked off her shoes and sprawled out on the couch. “Ugh…I hate that job,” she muttered to no one in particular.

“How was your day?” Sean asked as he came in from the hall from the bedrooms.

She looked over at him. “I’d almost forgotten you were here,” she told him. “My day was fine, thanks. How was yours?”

“What did you do today?” he asked, ignoring her question.

“The usual: bookwork, making phone calls, planning school events and writing letters.”

“How are your coworkers?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she replied. “They’re all so cold and distant. I don’t really know anybody that well there.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Well, I’ve only been working there for a few months. It’s bound to get better eventually.”

 

By Wednesday, Sally had grown accustomed to Sean’s constant presence and so she invited Charlie and Lisa over for dinner. When she told Sean that they were coming, he looked scared and she thought he was going to protest or cry, but instead he began work on a pot roast.

She was a little shocked when she came home to find that he had an angel food cake cooling upside down on the kitchen table.

She changed from her work clothes and waited until Charlie and Lisa showed up at a little after four.

“Is he still here?” Lisa greeted Sally, peering over her shoulder in an attempt to get a peek. “I want to meet him.”

“What’s it been like with him around?” Charlie added.

“Kind of weird, actually. I caught him polishing the silverware yesterday.”

“You’re kidding,” Lisa replied as she plopped down on the loveseat. “That’s nuts. What the hell is he doing your housework for? Especially the stuff that you yourself would never do.”

“I know. Like I said, it’s weird. I tell him that he doesn’t have to do that stuff, but he just does.”

“Does he do anything besides polish silverware?” Lisa asked.

“He’s been cooking breakfast and dinner everyday and keeping the apartment tidy.”

“It’s like you have your own butler or something,” Charlie teased. As if on cue, Sean walked out with a tray of hors d’oeuvres.

“Thanks,” Charlie said while Lisa squealed like a school girl. “So, can you tell me why you’re here yet?”

“I have to go check on the roast,” Sean said quietly and quickly returned to the kitchen.

“At least he’s not crying anymore,” Sally said with a half-hearted smile.

“You have a celebrity in your kitchen,” Lisa stated giddily. “Sean Astin is making my dinner.”

“Have you tried questioning him?” Charlie asked, ignoring Lisa.

“I try every day, but it really seems to bother him.”

“Maybe you should be more persistent.”

“I can’t believe this is really happening.”

“I try, but I’m afraid of hurting his feelings.”

“This is so cool.”

“Why? It’s not like you to be so perceptive of others.”

“Excuse me?”

“Eee.” Lisa squealed again. “I should call Kevin…and Alexis and mom an—”

“Well, it’s just that you can be a little oblivious sometimes,” Charlie said as he took Lisa’s cell phone from her.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s just that you don’t always pay that close of attention to the people around you.”

“I do to.”

“Can I have my phone back now?”

“You can push people away sometimes.” Charlie handed Lisa her phone accompanied with a warning glare.

“He’s right, you know,” Lisa piped in, finally regaining control of her speech.

“What? Not you too.”

“What about high school?” Lisa asked.

“What about it?”

“You never made any friends.”

“They were all jerks. And I had you two.”

“We made other friends.”

“Okay, how about at the office?” Charlie added. “You’ve been there six months and don’t even seem to be on talking terms with anybody.”

“Nobody talks to me.”

“Nobody?”

“Never?”

“Well, not never, but…”

“But what?”

“But…I don’t want to have this conversation.”

“Okay. Fine. We’re sorry,” Charlie said.

“Did you wanna go out this Friday?” Lisa suggested.

“I could use a drink after the week I’ve been having.”

“Cool. We’ll meet you at Andy’s Friday at eight.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Charlie said. “Now let’s go see how dinner’s coming along.”

 

It was nearing two when Anne knocked on Sally’s office door Thursday afternoon.

“Come in,” Sally said as she turned away from her computer.

“Hi, Sally,” Anne greeted her. “A group of us were going out to dinner again tomorrow for Janine’s birthday. Would you like to join us. We’ll be meeting at five at Gleason’s.”

“I’m going out with some friends Friday,” Sally said. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Anne replied. “Maybe next time.”

As Anne started to leave Sally stopped her. “Wait,” she said. She paused in thought momentarily and then continued. “I’m actually not going out until eight. I could show up for dinner at five.”

Anne smiled. “That’s great. I’ll put you on the list. I’ll be bringing a card around the office tomorrow for everybody to sign. Okay?”

 

“I’m home,” Sally called out as she tossed her keys on the end table.

“Hello,” Sean greeted her. “How was work?”

“Not so bad,” she said. “I was invited out to dinner tomorrow for one of the girls’ birthday.”

“Are you going?”

“I think so. I can just go meet Charlie and Lisa after dinner at Andy’s. And I guess it’s about time I made a bit of an effort to get to know the girls.”

“True.”

“Did you want to come with?”

“No.”

“Are you sure? You haven’t left this apartment since you showed up last Saturday. You must be going stir crazy.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“So can you tell me why you’re here yet?” As his face started to fall, she said, “Never mind. I don’t really care anymore anyway.”

 

“Sorry I’m late,” Sally greeted Charlie and Lisa as she slid into the booth next to Lisa. “I went out to dinner with some girls from work and lost track of the time.”

“Don’t worry,” Charlie said. “I started without you.” He flipped over the empty beer mug on a tray on the table and filled it from the pitcher and handed it to her. “You get the next pitcher and we’ll be even.”

“I can live with that.”

“How’s your houseguest doing?” Lisa asked.

“Fine, I guess.”

“You could have brought him with.”

“I invited him, but he didn’t want to come.”

“His loss.”

 

Sally staggered into her apartment shortly after 2am. She locked the door behind her, took off her coat and shoes and fell into bed. “Good night,” she said to the lump next to her.

“Good night,” he mumbled back.

“Sorry if I woke you.”

 

Sally woke up Saturday shortly after noon with only a mild hangover. She looked over to the other side of the bed and sat up with a start, her stomach churning at the sudden movement. For the first time in seven days she woke up alone and it shocked her slightly.

She looked over at the alarm clock and seeing the time realized that he had probably gotten up already. She stepped out of bed and walked to the kitchen only to find it empty. A quick search of the apartment found it empty, the door locked and the spare key unmoved.

Sally finally fell into a chair and started crying as she realized that he had gone. “I can’t believe Sean’s gone. I’m going to miss him,” she told herself between tears.

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