It happened again. Why did she let it? Why must she always love the man she couldn’t have? And for certain she couldn’t have him. So, why for an intelligent woman, did she want him so much? He was her best friend, they were inseparable, spending hours on the phone or with each other every day. She had fallen for him before she knew what hit her and it couldn’t work. So enough was enough she thought, I won’t think about him, I won’t talk with him, or see him; I will banish all thought of him from my life. Done, no problem, easy as pie.
Damn, why did she have to think about pie. He loved pie, she even loved the way she said the damn word. Oh, yea, sure this would be easy – uh huh. But she had to stop loving him, for her sake as much as his. He wasn’t available. She tried to keep it as simple as possible. But feelings aren’t simple, and love is the most “un-simple” emotion around. She knew she was in love this time too. This wasn’t like the other times when she thought it was love; this was real in a way she’d never known. So, she knew she loved him, she knew she couldn’t have him, what she didn’t know was what to do next.
Carly decided to start some new hobbies, immerse herself in her work and get out of town for a few weeks. The vacation was great, she needed that, and it seemed to help. No calls, no letters, no seeing him. Yes, she thought she would be able to leave it alone, that was until a few days after her return. She was home working on a new painting, she hadn’t painted in too long and it was a good distraction from him. The phone rang from the downstairs lobby, a delivery. Carly wasn’t expecting anything but buzzed the man in and met him at her door.
To her delight it was a beautiful bouquet of flowers, bright colors of pinks and lavenders and sweetly scented. Thanking the man she couldn’t wait to open the card attached. Her heart leapt and then sank; they were from him. The card said he had missed her. She loved him for sending her flowers. She cursed him for being so thoughtful and irresistible. Didn’t he know she loved him and couldn’t have him? Didn’t he know how hard it was to resist him? Did he want to torture her with his kindness? As if her thoughts were sent though the atmosphere, the phone rang again.
“Hi”, he said. With that simple greeting she was transported to a place in her heart and her mouth couldn’t get any words out.
“Carly? Are you okay?” His voice melted her further.
“Yea, I’m ok. Hi Derek”, it was like slow motion in her brain but not her heart, that was beating a mile a minute. “I just got the flowers, Derek, thank you so much. You shouldn’t have, but thank you, they’re beautiful.”
“Why shouldn’t I send you flowers Carly? I missed you and wanted you to know. Did you enjoy the trip? Did you have fun? Tell me all about it.” He was curious about more than the sights of her trip, he wanted to know what she did, did she meet anyone, there was something unspoken between them. Actually there was a lot unspoken she thought.
“It was nice Derek, thanks. I enjoyed myself, it was relaxing and just what I needed.” Carly was trying to figure a way to end the conversation; there were too many emotions going through her and she didn’t want to say something she’d regret.
“Well, what did you do? What was it like?” Derek tried harder to get information and the more he asked the more she shut down. She didn’t want to risk their friendship; didn’t want to say something like I missed you so much, I thought about you all the time; I am in love with you.
Carly begged off by saying she had to get to an appointment and she’d talk with him later. She didn’t have to go anywhere, but she knew she had to collect herself. Hanging up the phone she felt it all about to cave in on her, why did she have to love him? Why, damn it why? Carly went back to her painting but it was useless, her mind was only on him now. She had to get out, do anything but sit here and think of him.
Carly spent the afternoon downtown, window shopping and browsing the shops; just wandering aimlessly. She wanted to put some distance between herself and Derek; she had to. She had let her feelings for him get ahead of her but knew she had no real control over them. He was just being himself and she just loved him. Carly wandered into the bookstore and browsed the stacks for a while, she sat and read and listened to some music too.
She usually loved that activity, finding it peaceful and soothing, but today all she seemed to find were books that warned of life’s disasters if you don’t work on your hidden demons. She knew she had plenty and was trying to run from the worst one now. Even the music she listened to wasn’t helping raise her spirits. It was if there was no getting away from this love thing. Carly would avoid him as best she could. She would miss her friend, but it was the right thing to do.
Derek wasn’t available to her because he was engaged, albeit a very long engagement. She knew his relationship had troubles and they had been working on it for some time but he was still with her and Carly respected that boundary. Blah, blah, blah was all she could think of. She had created this mess herself she knew, but he was so nice, so kind, so everything. But she was avoiding him and it helped. She didn’t pick up her phone; instead let the machine do its job. She didn’t return his calls unless she knew he wasn’t available. She had managed to not speak with him for over a month and she felt better for it, she thought.
One Saturday morning she had plans to meet a friend in the city. They planned on doing some shopping, have lunch and maybe a movie; just enjoy a kind of “ladies” day. On her way into Boston Carly’s cell phone rang, her friend couldn’t meet her. One of the kids was sick and her husband was out of town and she was so sorry. Carly was sorry too, she had looked forward to the outing; she needed it. It would be good to be out and about again since she had been almost hibernating for the last month or more, avoiding Derek. “Well”, she said to herself, “I’m going anyway!”
Carly decided she would stroll around Quincy Market Place and Fanuiel Hall; there was always something doing there. Lots of stores and vendor carts to browse and there was street music, clowns, and jugglers too. It was a beautiful spring day and there were lots of people milling about – tourist season was in full swing. She poked around the shops and chatted with visitors, giving directions when asked and so forth. It was turning into a very pleasant day for her. She was able to keep occupied and felt really good about life. Then she saw him. Derek. Right there in front of her and he wasn’t alone. There was no way of avoiding him. With every muscle in her body tight she smiled and walked to greet him.
“Hi how are you? I never expected to see you here today. How are you?” He repeated himself she noticed and figured he was nervous too. Maybe it was those unspoken thoughts between them she thought.
“Hi Derek, I’m fine thanks. Yea I know, strange meeting you here too. I had plans with a friend but she had to cancel at the last minute but I came in town anyway. How are you? Its’ been a while.” Carly tried to remain calm but inside she was cringing and just wanted to go but she couldn’t be rude. But all those feelings just came flooding back like a dam let loose.
“Hi, I am Linda,” The pretty woman said and Carly was almost stunned.
“Oh hello Linda, I’m Carly, it is nice to meet you.” Again trying to be nonchalant but feeling as though she was failing miserably. Before Derek could speak Linda was responding.
“Oh you’re Carly, well it is great to meet you. Derek has been talking about you non-stop for the last week. I’m Derek’s sister, my husband and I came to visit and cheer up my big brother.” Linda was quick with the information and Carly wasn’t sure he heard right.
“Oh, Linda, yes Derek has mentioned you as well. It is so nice to meet you too.” Carly suddenly felt more at ease but not quite as relaxed as she’d wanted.
“Well, I guess you two don’t need me here.” Derek laughed as he gave his sister a little push.
“Oh Derek” she said, “You know me. Carly I always talk a lot and he gives me a hard time about it. But really I’m just friendly.” Linda was directing herself to Carly now.
“I am too and Derek does the same with me too Linda. As though it would help keep me quiet.” The two were laughing together and then Linda’s husband joined the group.
“Carly this is Paul, my husband.” Linda offered the introduction as Derek watched on in silence as this scene played out and not taking an eye off of Carly.
“Pleased to meet you Paul.” Carly offered her hand for a handshake.
“You’re Carly? I feel like I know you already.” Paul was almost conspiratorial with his words.
“Huh? Oh, well I’ve heard of you as well Paul.” Carly tried to cover her confusion.
“Carly, Derek has told us all about you. I feel like we are sisters already. He has been going on and …” Derek cut his sister off quickly.
“Ok everyone, enough. Yes, I’ve mentioned Carly to you. But for god sakes can we talk about something else.” Derek’s blush didn’t escape Carly’s eye.
“Gee, Derek did we hit a nerve?” Linda was now egging her brother on. And she just kept talking. “You see Carly we came for a visit to cheer poor Derek up. He broke up with his girlfriend and we thought he needed some company. But you know he really isn’t too upset about it. Do you know why that would be?” Now Linda was giving Carly the business.
“No, no I have no idea, I didn’t know that. I haven’t seen or talked with Derek in over a month.” Carly was talking so fast it was obvious she was nervous. And the blush on her face didn’t help matters either, which she was sure everyone noticed.
The four chatted on very amicably and it was almost comfortable for Carly except for the butterflies in her stomach. She felt as though those weeks of avoiding him had done no good, she just felt so much for him. Linda was talking but Carly really wasn’t able to hear much her mind was trying to figure a way to leave the trio. When Linda called her name she didn’t hear her until Linda touched her arm.
“Carly? You with us?” Linda said to her with a smile.
“Humm? What, oh yes, I’m sorry I was distracted. What did you say again?” She was trying to recover quickly.
“I was asking if you’d like to have lunch with us? We’re going over to The No Name for some seafood; I’ve been craving lobster all week. What do you say?” Linda wasn’t really asking it seemed she was just assuming it was a plan.
“Oh, well thanks, but I was going to see a movie. You all have a nice time and it was good to meet you both. Derek it was nice …..” Linda cut her off this time.
“No, you can see a movie anytime. You’re coming with us!” Linda took her arm and was leading her off down towards the front of Fanuiel Hall.
“No, really I don’t want to impose Linda. You should enjoy your time with…”
“Carly, you’re coming! Frankly I need some female company I am quite sick of these two, its been some week let me tell you. So there, you are coming. Lets go.” Carly liked Linda, she was friendly and fun and Carly knew she wouldn’t take a no, so she agreed and the two new friends walked together leaving Paul and Derek to bring up the rear.
Lunch was delicious as usual at The No Name and the four enjoyed themselves with laughs and stories. When Linda whispered something to Paul the two then got up and announced that they were going to spend some time alone just walking through the city. Derek and Carly were stunned and tried to dissuade them but the couple was gone in a flash. There they were Derek and Carly alone together. They left the restaurant and Carly was feeling all nervous once again.
“Well, Derek it was nice to see you. Thanks for lunch and a fun time. I think I will head for home now.” Carly felt she better leave quickly even though she wanted to linger.
“Oh, ok if you want to Carly. Let me make sure you get to your car at least. Did you park over by Quincy Market? Lets grab a cab.” Derek was being his usual thoughtful self and it made it all that much harder for Carly to leave.
“I don’t mind the walk Derek, its fine. I’ll be fine, but thanks.” Carly was about to turn to walk away when Derek took her arm.
“No, I will walk with you.” Derek was a gentleman but neither was moving a step.
“Carly, I wanted to tell you about the breakup. I just haven’t been able to talk with you and I guess I felt you didn’t want to be friends so I didn’t tell you.” Derek was looking into her eyes to see her reaction.
“Derek you don’t have to tell me anything, it’s your life. And of course we’re friends. I’ve just been busy I guess.” She was lying but she was protecting herself too she thought.
“Carly I wanted you to know. I want to be your friend. Actually I want to be more than a friend to you, Carly. I umm, I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. Damn it though Carly, I am attracted to you. I like you very much.” Derek’s voice was strong now.
“Derek, I like you very much too. You are the best friend I’ve ever had. I just don’t want to ruin that. So, I just stayed away for a while until I knew what my feelings were.” She was getting more comfortable now too.
“Just what feelings are you talking about? Why would you avoid me? What do you feel right now?” Derek was becoming insistent with Carly now.
“Derek, I don’t know. You’re my friend. I like you.” She was in pretty deep now and was trying to figure a way back out. But the more she talked the worse it got. “I wasn’t avoiding you, I was, I was busy.” She stumbled on her words.
“Busy? Doing what? Have you met someone and don’t want me to know or something?” Derek was feeling shutout and let her know. “Friends share those things Carly. So what is it, did you met a man or were you avoiding me or were you busy?” There was a contentious tone in his voice that brought her ire up too.
“I told you I wasn’t avoiding you Derek! I’ve been busy I guess. And no I haven’t met anyone, where would I ever met someone I don’t go anywhere I’ve barely been out in over a month.” The words were out of her mouth so quickly and she knew she just gave herself away. He would know she’d not been busy and that it was something else.
Carly put her head down and turned quietly to leave again. This time Derek didn’t just take her arm easily. He grabbed her and turned her to him, looking deeply into her eyes. She was about to cry he could tell. His hand touched her cheek as if to brush away a tear that hadn’t fallen yet. He watched her looking at him now. Her eyes bored through him and he knew then. His mouth moved closer to hers and he kissed her lightly. Then looked at her again seeing her eyes become clear and kissed her again, longer and deeper this time. He wanted her to know what he was feeling; Carly kissed him back so he would know what she was feeling too.
“Carly, I love you.” Derek said it so softly but with conviction so there would be no doubt.
“Derek, I love you too.” Her voice was strong now too.
The two embraced and walked along the waterfront arm in arm, each with a smile on their face and in their heart too. Friends do make the best lovers.