Sally sat alone in her office in the community schoolsâ€™ main office building counting the hours and minutes until three so she could go home for the weekend. This wasnâ€™t an unusual event, she didnâ€™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.
â€œHey Sally,â€ Anne said as her blond, thirty something head popped in the doorway.
â€œHi,â€ Sally replied.
â€œA group of us were going out tonight for dinner and some drinks. Would you like to join us?â€
â€œNo,â€ Sally said. â€œIâ€™ve got plans already.â€
â€œOk,â€ 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 wasnâ€™t content with any of her bar clothes. She was going to meet her friends Charlie and Lisa at Andyâ€™s Bar and Grille and wanted to wear something flattering, but nothing too trashyâ€”itâ€™s not like she was going to pick up guys, but if she didnâ€™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 driverâ€™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 Andyâ€™s ten minutes later and pulled up next to Charlieâ€™s car, which was sitting comfortably for the night, it was Sallyâ€™s turn this week to be the designated driver. She didnâ€™t see Lisaâ€™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.
â€œSal,â€ Charlie greeted her jovially when he saw her approaching. â€œHow was work today?â€
â€œUgh,â€ she groaned as she sat down. â€œBoring as hell, like always,â€ she told him. â€œI 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.â€
â€œThereâ€™s always an opening at my store for a pretty girl,â€ Charlie offered. He owned the White Knight, the only gaming and comic book store in town.
â€œIâ€™m not so sure that would be an improvement,â€ she replied. â€œIâ€™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.â€
â€œSuit yourself,â€ Charlie replied, undaunted by the mild jab at his own interests. â€œBut if you change your mind I could always use the extra cute girl; it keeps those fanboys in the store and buying things.â€
â€œI thought it was the strange addiction to card games and comics and having nowhere else in town to get them that kept them coming,â€ Sally retorted.
â€œItâ€™s not that bad,â€ Lisa told her. â€œThose guys are more afraid of you than you are of them. Women scare them; itâ€™s fun sometimes to mess with themâ€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Sally said. â€œIt just doesnâ€™t seem like a job Iâ€™d like.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think that thereâ€™s any job that youâ€™d like,â€ Lisa stated. â€œAnd the problem isnâ€™t the job.â€
â€œNo,â€ Lisa told her. â€œItâ€™s you.â€
The serious demeanor left Lisaâ€™s face and she said, â€œYouâ€™re sexually frustrated. You need a good manâ€¦or at least a good lay.â€
â€œI agree,â€ Charlie said before taking a gulp of beer.
â€œI do not,â€ Sally replied in an attempt at sarcasm, but it came out a bit defensive. â€œI donâ€™t see either of you going home to a man and youâ€™re okay,â€
â€œTouchÃ©,â€ Charlie replied, finishing his glass of beer.
Sally turned back to Lisa. â€œAnd I thought you were supposed to be a feminist?â€ she commented, this time it came out with the teasing voice she had intended.
â€œOh, I am,â€ Lisa replied. â€œBut the fact remains that you havenâ€™t been with a man in over two years. You need a little excitement in your life.â€
â€œSheâ€™s got a point,â€ Charlie said. â€œMaybe you should pick somebody up tonight,â€ he added teasingly.
â€œOh, right.â€ Sally rolled her eyes. â€œHave you taken a look around this place? Iâ€™m not drinking tonight so these guys wonâ€™t be getting any cuter.â€
â€œYou set your sights too high,â€ Lisa teased.
â€œWell, maybe next week,â€ Charlie added.
â€œHow about Charlie?â€ Lisa asked jokingly. â€œIâ€™m sure if we get him drunk enough he wonâ€™t even notice youâ€™re a chick.â€
â€œI guess I could take one for the team,â€ Charlie admitted in mock sadness.
Sally looked at Charlie and smiled. â€œI donâ€™t think we could afford that much beer,â€ 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 didnâ€™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 shouldnâ€™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.
â€œWho are you?â€ she asked.
â€œSean,â€ he muttered tiredly as he rolled back over.
â€œAs in Sean Astin?â€
â€œWhat are you doing here?â€
â€œTrying to sleep.â€
â€œOkay,â€ 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 werenâ€™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.
â€œMy god,â€ 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, â€œHello.â€
â€œHey, Charlie, itâ€™s Sally.â€
â€œThis better be good,â€ he said. â€œI was having that Johnny Depp pirate dream again.â€
â€œThereâ€™s a man in my bed,â€ she told him.
â€œCongratulations,â€ he stated uninterested, â€œBut despite last nightâ€™s conversation, you getting lucky is hardly newsworthy enough to call so early.â€
â€œBut I went to bed alone last night,â€ she told him.
â€œSo you woke me up to tell me about one of your fantasies?â€
â€œIâ€™m serious,â€ she replied. â€œThere is a man in my bed that wasnâ€™t there last night.â€
â€œDid you call the police already?â€ he asked, concern finally entering his voice.
â€œNo,â€ she said as if it were the most bizarre question she had ever heard. â€œHe seems harmless enough and I donâ€™t want a scandal.â€
â€œAlthough rare, you having a man in your bed is hardly scandalous,â€ Charlie stated.
â€œBut you donâ€™t know who it is.â€
â€œWho is it?â€
â€œFrom Lord of the Rings?â€
â€œAre you sure?â€
â€œAs sure as I can be without going through his wallet.â€
â€œGo through his wallet.â€
â€œI couldnâ€™t find one,â€ she admitted. â€œI couldnâ€™t even find his clothesâ€¦God, I hope he has clothes.â€
â€œIt really has been a long time since youâ€™ve had a man, hasnâ€™t it?â€ Charlie asked under his breath.
â€œIâ€™m going to borrow Lisaâ€™s car and be right over.â€
â€œOk, thanks,â€ she said. â€œOh, and donâ€™t tell Lisa whatâ€™s going on. Weâ€™ll figure out what to do once you get here.â€
â€œOkay,â€ she said as she watched Sean, now fully dressed, walk out of her bedroom.
â€œIâ€™ll be there in a few minutes,â€ Charlie said. â€œBye.â€
â€œBye,â€ she replied automatically as she hung up.
She watched Sean for a few seconds more and then finally said, â€œGood morning.â€
â€œGood morning,â€ 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.
â€œIs he still in bed?â€ Charlie asked as he looked into her room. â€œWhere is he?â€
â€œIn the kitchen.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s he doing in the kitchen?â€
â€œMaking pancakes, I think.â€
â€œDid you talk to him?â€
â€œI tried,â€ she told him, â€œbut he doesnâ€™t seem to want to talk. I came out here because I thought he was going to cry from me asking so many questions.â€
â€œCan I see him?â€
Charlie stepped into the kitchen and then came back out. â€œSean Astin is in your kitchen,â€ he gushed like a teenaged girl. â€œI honestly thought that you were starting to go crazy, but this isâ€¦this is cool. Iâ€™m going to ask for an autograph.â€
â€œNo. Not now,â€ she told him. â€œI donâ€™t know how heâ€™ll take it.â€
â€œWhy are you so worried about his feelings?â€ Charlie asked angrily. â€œHeâ€™s squatting in your house.â€
â€œBut he looks so helpless.â€
â€œBut he broke into your house.â€
â€œHe didnâ€™t really break in,â€ she told him. â€œI checked this morning and the lock on the door was firmly in place and no windows were broken. Heâ€™s justâ€¦here.â€
â€œHow did he get in then?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ she admitted as Sean walked in with two heaping plates of pancakes and handed one to Sally and the other to Charlie.
â€œHow and when did you get in here last night?â€ Charlie demanded. â€œAnd why are you here?â€
Seanâ€™s eyes widened in panic and he looked to Sally as if she should protect him. When she didnâ€™t speak he turned and all but ran into the kitchen.
â€œWhatâ€™s with him?â€ Charlie asked.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ she said before taking a bite. She swallowed and then added, â€œI think he just gets uncomfortable when you ask him questions like that.â€
Later that afternoon, Sally was lounging on her sofa trying to read, but found it hard to concentrate. She wasnâ€™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.
â€œYou donâ€™t have to do that,â€ she finally told him. â€œYouâ€™re kind of a guest here.â€
â€œItâ€™s okay,â€ he replied quietly.
â€œHow long were you planning on staying?â€
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. â€œNever mind,â€ she sighed in frustration. â€œIâ€™m going out. You wanna come with?â€
â€œOkay. I donâ€™t know when Iâ€™ll be back, but if you need me for something Iâ€™ll have my cell phone. Iâ€™ll leave the number on the fridge.â€
Lisa answered her door a little while later.
â€œI heard you had a guy over last night,â€ She greeted Sally. â€œIâ€™m glad you took my advice.â€
â€œI didnâ€™t take your advice,â€ Sally stated as she walked past Lisa into the apartment. â€œHe just showed up in the middle of the night.â€
â€œBooty call?â€ Lisa asked with a hint of intrigue. â€œYou didnâ€™t strike me as the type, but itâ€™s good to see youâ€™re getting some action. So, how was he?â€
â€œI wouldnâ€™t know,â€ Sally replied. â€œHeâ€™s spent the whole day avoiding my questions.â€
â€œThatâ€™s not what I meant. How was he in bed?â€
â€œThatâ€™s the worst booty call Iâ€™ve ever heard of. And thatâ€™s the problem with you.â€
â€œYouâ€™re right of course,â€ Sally joked. â€œI should sleep with strange men that mysteriously appear in my bed.â€
â€œGood rule of thumb; itâ€™s the only way to keep them coming back.â€ They both laughed a little and then Lisa continued. â€œAnd what do you mean â€˜strange,â€™ Charlie tells me you knew who he was.â€
â€œYeah, but by name alone. Iâ€™ve never actually met him before.â€
â€œWho was it?â€
â€œThat name sounds familiar. Did we graduate with him?â€
â€œOh, wait, isnâ€™t there an actor or something with that name?â€
â€œYeah, and he was in my bed this morning when I woke up.â€
â€œYou woke up with the kid from Goonies?â€
â€œWell, he is an adult now,â€ Sally defended herself. â€œAnd nothing happened anyway.â€
â€œToo bad. I bet heâ€™s cute, too,â€ Lisa replied with a wink. â€œHe still at your place?â€
â€œThen what are you doing here?â€
â€œGetting away from him. Iâ€™m still a little weirded out by the whole thingâ€¦and heâ€™s kind of like a scared little puppy.â€
â€œIs he housebroken?â€
â€œOh, I hope soâ€¦of course he is, you moron.â€
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 â€˜hisâ€™ side of the bed.
â€œNo, you donâ€™t,â€ she scolded him as she grabbed his arm. â€œGet up.â€
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.
â€œYou sleep in here,â€ 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 wouldnâ€™t do any good as heâ€™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, â€œYou donâ€™t have to cook all the time.â€
â€œI donâ€™t mind,â€ he replied between cracking two eggs on the side of the frying pan.
â€œWhere are you hiding all these clothes?â€
He threw away the egg shells, but didnâ€™t reply.
â€œIâ€™m going to do some grocery shopping today,â€ she told him. â€œWould you like to come with?â€
â€œIs there anything youâ€™d like me to get?â€
â€œOkay. Thanks for breakfast, by the way. Itâ€™s really good.â€
â€œSo, umâ€¦â€ Sally began, trying to figure out how to start a conversation. â€œHow do you like it here? Are you finding everything alright?â€
â€œYes,â€ he replied.
Sally looked down at her plate as she chased a sausage around the plate with her fork. This conversation idea wasnâ€™t working and all of these long silences were uncomfortable. Not knowing what to do, Sally didnâ€™t say another word hoping that Sean would, but of course, he didnâ€™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.
â€œCan you put this in the cupboard over the stove?â€ she asked as she handed him a small bag of thyme.
â€œSure.â€ He took the bag and put it away. â€œCould you put these in the fridge?â€ he asked as he handed her the eggs.
â€œNo problem,â€ she said with a smile as she took the eggs.
By eight oâ€™clock Sally was in her night shirt and terrycloth robe looking through some papers for work the next morning.
She picked up the remote. â€œIs there anything you wanna watch?â€ she asked as she hit the power button.
â€œYou can have an opinion,â€ she told him. â€œI wonâ€™t kick you out for it.â€
â€œI donâ€™t care what we watch.â€
â€œFine,â€ 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. â€œYou sleep in there, remember?â€ 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 couldnâ€™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 didnâ€™t help. Finally on the fourth knock she threw her book at the door.
â€œWhat is it?â€ she yelled out, too tired and angry for any form of decorum.
â€œIâ€™m tired,â€ Sean replied from the other side of the door.
â€œThen go to bed.â€
â€œLet me in.â€
â€œSleep in the other room.â€
â€œThere are extra blankets in the hall closet.â€
â€œI donâ€™t want to sleep in there.â€
â€œToo bad.â€ She rolled over and tried to get back to sleep. As she was just starting to doze off, he knocked again.
â€œStop that,â€ she yelled.
â€œLet me in.â€
â€œNo. Now stop knocking, I have to get up for work in the morning.â€
Just as she started drifting off again, the knocking began again.
â€œUgh,â€ 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.
â€œIâ€™m too tired of this game,â€ she sighed. â€œYouâ€™re lucky I have to work in the morning.â€
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.
â€œHow nice,â€™â€ she said to herself. â€œIf only we could all be so lucky.â€
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.
â€œFunny, I donâ€™t remember having a waffle iron,â€ she said to herself as she poured herself a cup of coffee.
â€œI found it in the back of that cupboard behind all the pots and pans.â€ He pointed to a cupboard under the counter next to the stove.
â€œI probably buried it back there so I wouldnâ€™t have to use it.â€
â€œYou donâ€™t like waffles?â€ He sounded worried.
â€œNo, I do. I just donâ€™t like to make them.â€
â€œOh.â€ 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.
â€œWill you be okay here all day by yourself?â€
â€œIâ€™ll be fine.â€
â€œOkay,â€ she said. â€œThere are some books in the guest room. The DVDs are over there.â€ She pointed to the wooden shelves by the TV. â€œFeel free to use the computer. Thereâ€™s an extra key in the bowl by the door so lock up if you go somewhere.â€
â€œGood morning, Sally,â€ Janine greeted her as she unlocked her office door.
â€œHi,â€ Sally replied. â€œHow was your weekend?â€
â€œFine. Uneventful and hectic, but fine. But thatâ€™s what itâ€™s like when youâ€™ve got kids.â€
Sally worked in solitude for well over an hour before somebody stopped by.
â€œHey,â€ Anne greeted her. â€œHowâ€™s your coffee situation?â€
â€œI could use a refill,â€ Sally admitted as she peered into her cup.
â€œCome on then,â€ Anne said. â€œLetâ€™s go take a coffee break.â€
â€œNo, thanks. Iâ€™ll get some in a bit, but I want to finish this letter.â€
â€œSuit yourself.â€ 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. â€œUghâ€¦I hate that job,â€ she muttered to no one in particular.
â€œHow was your day?â€ Sean asked as he came in from the hall from the bedrooms.
She looked over at him. â€œIâ€™d almost forgotten you were here,â€ she told him. â€œMy day was fine, thanks. How was yours?â€
â€œWhat did you do today?â€ he asked, ignoring her question.
â€œThe usual: bookwork, making phone calls, planning school events and writing letters.â€
â€œHow are your coworkers?â€
â€œOh, I donâ€™t know,â€ she replied. â€œTheyâ€™re all so cold and distant. I donâ€™t really know anybody that well there.â€
â€œThatâ€™s too bad.â€
â€œWell, Iâ€™ve only been working there for a few months. Itâ€™s bound to get better eventually.â€
By Wednesday, Sally had grown accustomed to Seanâ€™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.
â€œIs he still here?â€ Lisa greeted Sally, peering over her shoulder in an attempt to get a peek. â€œI want to meet him.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s it been like with him around?â€ Charlie added.
â€œKind of weird, actually. I caught him polishing the silverware yesterday.â€
â€œYouâ€™re kidding,â€ Lisa replied as she plopped down on the loveseat. â€œThatâ€™s nuts. What the hell is he doing your housework for? Especially the stuff that you yourself would never do.â€
â€œI know. Like I said, itâ€™s weird. I tell him that he doesnâ€™t have to do that stuff, but he just does.â€
â€œDoes he do anything besides polish silverware?â€ Lisa asked.
â€œHeâ€™s been cooking breakfast and dinner everyday and keeping the apartment tidy.â€
â€œItâ€™s like you have your own butler or something,â€ Charlie teased. As if on cue, Sean walked out with a tray of hors dâ€™oeuvres.
â€œThanks,â€ Charlie said while Lisa squealed like a school girl. â€œSo, can you tell me why youâ€™re here yet?â€
â€œI have to go check on the roast,â€ Sean said quietly and quickly returned to the kitchen.
â€œAt least heâ€™s not crying anymore,â€ Sally said with a half-hearted smile.
â€œYou have a celebrity in your kitchen,â€ Lisa stated giddily. â€œSean Astin is making my dinner.â€
â€œHave you tried questioning him?â€ Charlie asked, ignoring Lisa.
â€œI try every day, but it really seems to bother him.â€
â€œMaybe you should be more persistent.â€
â€œI canâ€™t believe this is really happening.â€
â€œI try, but Iâ€™m afraid of hurting his feelings.â€
â€œThis is so cool.â€
â€œWhy? Itâ€™s not like you to be so perceptive of others.â€
â€œEee.â€ Lisa squealed again. â€œI should call Kevinâ€¦and Alexis and mom anâ€”â€
â€œWell, itâ€™s just that you can be a little oblivious sometimes,â€ Charlie said as he took Lisaâ€™s cell phone from her.
â€œWhat do you mean?â€
â€œItâ€™s just that you donâ€™t always pay that close of attention to the people around you.â€
â€œI do to.â€
â€œCan I have my phone back now?â€
â€œYou can push people away sometimes.â€ Charlie handed Lisa her phone accompanied with a warning glare.
â€œHeâ€™s right, you know,â€ Lisa piped in, finally regaining control of her speech.
â€œWhat? Not you too.â€
â€œWhat about high school?â€ Lisa asked.
â€œWhat about it?â€
â€œYou never made any friends.â€
â€œThey were all jerks. And I had you two.â€
â€œWe made other friends.â€
â€œOkay, how about at the office?â€ Charlie added. â€œYouâ€™ve been there six months and donâ€™t even seem to be on talking terms with anybody.â€
â€œNobody talks to me.â€
â€œWell, not never, butâ€¦â€
â€œButâ€¦I donâ€™t want to have this conversation.â€
â€œOkay. Fine. Weâ€™re sorry,â€ Charlie said.
â€œDid you wanna go out this Friday?â€ Lisa suggested.
â€œI could use a drink after the week Iâ€™ve been having.â€
â€œCool. Weâ€™ll meet you at Andyâ€™s Friday at eight.â€
â€œSounds like a plan,â€ Charlie said. â€œNow letâ€™s go see how dinnerâ€™s coming along.â€
It was nearing two when Anne knocked on Sallyâ€™s office door Thursday afternoon.
â€œCome in,â€ Sally said as she turned away from her computer.
â€œHi, Sally,â€ Anne greeted her. â€œA group of us were going out to dinner again tomorrow for Janineâ€™s birthday. Would you like to join us. Weâ€™ll be meeting at five at Gleasonâ€™s.â€
â€œIâ€™m going out with some friends Friday,â€ Sally said. â€œIâ€™m sorry.â€
â€œItâ€™s okay,â€ Anne replied. â€œMaybe next time.â€
As Anne started to leave Sally stopped her. â€œWait,â€ she said. She paused in thought momentarily and then continued. â€œIâ€™m actually not going out until eight. I could show up for dinner at five.â€
Anne smiled. â€œThatâ€™s great. Iâ€™ll put you on the list. Iâ€™ll be bringing a card around the office tomorrow for everybody to sign. Okay?â€
â€œIâ€™m home,â€ Sally called out as she tossed her keys on the end table.
â€œHello,â€ Sean greeted her. â€œHow was work?â€
â€œNot so bad,â€ she said. â€œI was invited out to dinner tomorrow for one of the girlsâ€™ birthday.â€
â€œAre you going?â€
â€œI think so. I can just go meet Charlie and Lisa after dinner at Andyâ€™s. And I guess itâ€™s about time I made a bit of an effort to get to know the girls.â€
â€œDid you want to come with?â€
â€œAre you sure? You havenâ€™t left this apartment since you showed up last Saturday. You must be going stir crazy.â€
â€œIâ€™ll be fine.â€
â€œSo can you tell me why youâ€™re here yet?â€ As his face started to fall, she said, â€œNever mind. I donâ€™t really care anymore anyway.â€
â€œSorry Iâ€™m late,â€ Sally greeted Charlie and Lisa as she slid into the booth next to Lisa. â€œI went out to dinner with some girls from work and lost track of the time.â€
â€œDonâ€™t worry,â€ Charlie said. â€œI started without you.â€ He flipped over the empty beer mug on a tray on the table and filled it from the pitcher and handed it to her. â€œYou get the next pitcher and weâ€™ll be even.â€
â€œI can live with that.â€
â€œHowâ€™s your houseguest doing?â€ Lisa asked.
â€œFine, I guess.â€
â€œYou could have brought him with.â€
â€œI invited him, but he didnâ€™t want to come.â€
Sally staggered into her apartment shortly after 2am. She locked the door behind her, took off her coat and shoes and fell into bed. â€œGood night,â€ she said to the lump next to her.
â€œGood night,â€ he mumbled back.
â€œSorry if I woke you.â€
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. â€œI canâ€™t believe Seanâ€™s gone. Iâ€™m going to miss him,â€ she told herself between tears.