The Wanderings of Amy Ch. 27

bycaligula97236©

"I want to thank you for everything you've done for me. I suppose I've been a difficult friend to you. I haven't done anything to make your life easier, I'm afraid."

"You're forgetting about all the help you gave me with my math. I couldn't have gotten as far as I did without you helping me. You were there for me more than you realize." Amy paused, searching for the right words to express her feelings towards Wendy. Finally she added, "Maybe you didn't make my life any easier, but you've made my life much fuller, and that's what matters."

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Two weeks later Wendy took another break from her father and his business tutoring to spend a day with Amy and Suzanne for their final photo shoot together. Suzanne had three cameras with her. Suzanne knew of a small isolated beach in southern Wisconsin to do a photo shoot next to Lake Michigan. Amy and Wendy undressed and ran though the shallow water together. They laughed and splashed at each other like small children. They hugged each other while standing on a rock. A short distance away there was an abandoned dock, and the two models spent a long time walking up and down the dock and sitting together, dipping their toes in the water. After nearly three hours of shooting in the warm sunlight, they went back to the isolated cove for lunch. Suzanne had brought a blanket and a picnic basket. Neither Amy nor Wendy had a desire to get dressed; they were enjoying the feel of the warm sun on their bodies too much. However, Wendy was not ready to eat. She had a surprise for Suzanne.

"Suzanne, I want you to take off your clothes."

"What?"

"I want your clothes off and I want you to put film in your cameras for me. It's your turn to pose."

Suzanne got undressed. She was not modest about her body, but she never spent time undressed outside. Her skin was white, contrasting with Amy's deep tan and Wendy's natural brown color. Suzanne loaded film in her cameras, handed them to Wendy, and stepped towards the water. She stood at the water-line, quietly contemplating the lake and the boats way off in the distance. Wendy handed two of the cameras to Amy, and started photographing Suzanne with the camera she still had in her hands. Amy realized that Wendy had a clear idea of what she wanted from the photos.

"Suzanne, kneel."

Surprised at the commanding tone in Wendy's voice, Suzanne sank to her knees on the sand. Wendy got on one knee to bring the camera even with Suzanne's face. Suddenly Amy put one of the cameras in her hand to her own face and started taking pictures of Wendy photographing Suzanne. The contrast between Wendy's dark skin and Suzanne's white skin would make the picture special, Amy thought. Wendy spoke again.

"OK, Suzanne, lie flat on your stomach. I want you to look out at the water, then back to me."

Suzanne complied, still a bit disoriented at the sudden role-reversal between herself and Wendy. Wendy captured the uncertainty in Suzanne's eyes. Suzanne then walked into the water to rinse off the sand, and Wendy photographed her as she came out. Wendy passed the camera back to Amy to reload while Suzanne dried off. Wendy then asked Suzanne to walk out to the dock. Suzanne complied as Wendy took several pictures standing on the end looking over the water.

They ate a quiet, peaceful lunch. None of them had any desire to get dressed. Suzanne stood up and took a picture of Amy and Wendy on the blanket, then Amy asked for the camera and took one of Suzanne and Wendy. It was with huge sadness that the three women folded up the blanket, for they realized this was it, the final photo shoot.

Before they got dressed and left, Suzanne asked her models to pose one last time on the beach. Their eyes were full of emotion and sadness. Amy and Wendy threw their arms around each other and Suzanne snapped the picture. Then Amy and Wendy, holding hands, separated a little and turned to face Suzanne. All of their emotion came out in their expressions. They were not crying, but the deep sadness of their impending separation was clearly visible in their faces. Suzanne snapped three more pictures and ran out of film. That was the end. Amy and Wendy had finished posing for Suzanne for the last time.

The week before Amy was due to leave for London, Wendy's family was hit with the crisis foreseen by her father's fortune teller, a crisis that took her to Taiwan and out of Amy's life for good. Wendy's oldest cousin had bought a new sports car and started racing it along the coast south of Taipei. While driving with Wendy's other cousin he miscalculated a curve and smashed straight into a truck. Wendy was now the only member of her family's younger generation still alive to take over both the Taiwan and US parts of the business. Her uncle and father discussed what to do with Wendy and their operations. Finally Wendy herself decided to go to Taiwan and take over from her uncle. After talking to him and her father, she realized that her uncle was so distraught over the loss of his sons he seemed not to be able to think straight. Wendy ended up going back to Taiwan as her mother wanted, but on her own terms. There was no arranged marriage waiting for her. She immediately took over from her uncle until he could recover from the loss of her cousins. She worked 16 hours per day, seven days per week, as she learned what she needed to do to handle the Asian portion of her family's operations. Her drawing came to an abrupt stop; she no longer had time to do anything other than work and sleep.

Wendy never finished her degree. It would be many years before she would be able to return to the US. She never saw Amy or Suzanne again.

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Amy's impending departure and the loss of Wendy as her model forced Suzanne to reconsider her own life. It no longer made any sense for her to keep an apartment near the university. She was having to commute to both her studio and her publishing house and was getting tired of dealing with Chicago traffic. The apartment had too many memories anyway and Suzanne had no desire to stay in it after Amy left. She would miss Amy tremendously and could not bear the thought of looking at her empty room.

Suzanne decided that it was time for Robert and her to get married. She wanted to do it so that Amy could be her maid-of-honor, which meant the wedding would have to take place sometime before the second week of August. Just after the final photo-shoot with Wendy and Amy, Suzanne, with her heart pounding, slipped Robert's old wedding ring out of his jewelry box to measure his ring size for a new one. She took it to a jeweler and had a new one made, a simple gold band, and a matching one for herself. That night she slipped the old wedding ring back in its box. She nerved herself for the next task in her life, proposing to Robert.

Two nights later, on a hot summer's evening, Suzanne and Robert walked along the shore close to his office. Suzanne was wearing a short skirt due to the heat. The change made her look strange to Robert, who was used to seeing his girlfriend in her loose ankle-length skirts. It was too hot, however, for Suzanne's usual attire. With this heat even Suzanne was forced to dress for the weather.

She was trying to figure out how to begin. Finally she said. "Robert, I have something to tell you. A couple of days ago I borrowed your old wedding ring to get your ring measurements for a new one. I put it back without you knowing. But I have a set of wedding rings in my pocket."

Robert paused. Wedding rings. In Suzanne's pocket. He looked at Suzanne. That was the strangest proposal he had ever heard, but he could tell that Suzanne was very nervous. He took her hands and looked into her eyes. He had wanted to propose to her for a while. She beat him to it.

"Suzanne, I would be very happy to put my ring on...and to see yours on your finger as well."

Suzanne looked at Robert happily but with a lot of anxiety. Her hands shook as she dug into her skirt pocket to get the rings out. She put Robert's ring on him, then he took hers and put it on her finger. They threw their arms around each other, on a busy sidewalk in plain view of one of the busiest city streets in the US.

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They were married only four days before Amy had to leave for London. Neither Robert nor Suzanne had the sort of personality to tolerate a large elaborate wedding, even though they had the money for it. In the end only the people closest to Robert and Suzanne were invited, a total of about 40. The staff from Robert's office were there, as were Suzanne's closest friends from the art department and a couple of physical therapists. Her editor was present. Suzanne's stepmother also was there. Paul took the pictures. The only important person from Suzanne's life missing from her wedding was Wendy; she already had left for Taiwan. Suzanne gladly gave up her maiden name. She did not even want it as part of her name at all after she married. She wanted nothing to associate her with her father. For the rest of her life she would be Suzanne Johnson.

Amy was Suzanne's maid of honor. They married in the same church that Amy's parents were married in, many years ago when Robert, still in law school, had been best man for Amy's father. The ceremony was simple, to the point, and full of emotion. Robert's law partner, the one who had defended Amy in court over two years ago, caught the bouquet.

The wedding party was small enough that the entire group could fit in Robert's apartment for the reception. The only thing Robert did spend money on was top quality food and drinks for his guests. The mix of law firm employees and art students was a strange one, but made for an interesting evening. Amy saw one thing that evening that shocked her. A hippyish male art professor of Suzanne spent the entire evening talking to Robert's law partner, the sharp-witted female attorney. They seemed to be attracted to each other, something confirmed to Amy when they slipped out together without saying goodbye to anyone other than Robert. Amy shook her head. I guess opposites do attract, she thought to herself.

The wedding did earn a footnote in the Chicago celebrity pages. Suzanne was just famous enough that the art press was interested in the fact that she had married, to the point that she provided reporters with a couple of Paul's pictures of the wedding for publication. The art critics speculated about Suzanne's future, now that she was the wife of a lawyer. Suzanne's editor assured the press that her work continued and discussed a couple of her recently finished projects.

Robert would continue to have his law practice and be successful in his own field, but as his wife's career took off, over time he had to get used to being known as, and being referred to as, "Suzanne's husband".

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The day after the wedding the movers came to take Suzanne's furniture to Robert's apartment and Amy's things back into storage with her father's furniture. Their apartment was emptied in a few hours. Amy went back to Robert's apartment with Suzanne to oversee the delivery of her furniture. Robert had given Suzanne to go-ahead to re-arrange the apartment as she saw fit, asking only that she not touch his books or anything in the room he used as an office. Suzanne moved her furniture in and banished some of Robert's pieces to the storage facility where Amy had her things and her father's furniture. Amy agreed that the apartment looked considerably nicer with Suzanne's furniture. She had good taste in both furniture and decorating. Robert had no taste at all, good or bad, so he simply deferred to what Suzanne wanted.

Suzanne did not touch Tricia's things, but Robert had packed up her clothes and most of her memorabilia before the wedding, leaving only a couple of pictures in his office. He finally was over her. Tricia's infamous strap and cuffs went into one of the boxes with her other belongings. There was no way that strap would ever be used on Suzanne's bottom while she was married to Robert.

Paul and Amy then went back to her empty apartment to clean up and collect the few things overlooked by the movers. Amy walked through the rooms one last time, closed the door to each one, and sadly walked out the front door. She was scared about not being able to live with Suzanne upon coming back from London.

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Paul and Amy stayed the next two nights with Robert and Suzanne. Amy and Paul slept in the guest bedroom, the same room Amy had slept when she first stayed with Robert nearly three years ago. Amy was glad that in this room at least, Suzanne had not objected to the furniture and had left everything in place. The memories were still there, the memories of the month she spent in this room pulling herself out of the abyss she had fallen into with Courtney. As they lay in her bed Amy tried to explain to Paul her time at Robert's apartment and what it meant to just live in peace for a few weeks after the turmoil she had just endured.

The day before her departure Amy asked Paul to take her back to her father's grave. Paul left her alone for a while as Amy contemplated what had happened between herself and her father. She could not undo what she had done. She could not bring him back. She could not cancel out the pain that she had caused him during the final months of his life. She could, however, live her life to the fullest, and be what every parent should want for their child, a happy, successful person. Amy finally was ready to forgive herself for her father's death. If she could make a success out of herself, he would live on through her.

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