To Those Who Wait Ch. 02


Hello Readers! This is Part Two of a Three-Part story. All three parts are written and will be posted in order.

Chapter 2: She Has A Type

Lisa stood at the far end of the aisle, looking up at me from the brick arch. She was carrying a small bouquet and her hand slipped off of it and she discreetly waved underneath of it, raising her eyebrows at me. I did the same. But I don’t know if she noticed. After waving, Lisa turned to her left and then sort of circled her hand in a “get a move on!” sort of motion.

Ray, Lisa’s husband, almost stumbled out from behind the brick wall and was then standing in the arch next to Lisa. He shook his head and then turned towards Lisa, hooking his arm. Lisa shook her head at him in a sort of world-weary way. But she smiled at took his arm. The two of them walked down the aisle briskly to catch up with the tones in the music. Ray finally looked up at me and he smiled and nodded. I nodded back. They made their way to two of the seats in the front of the row and then sat down.

Lisa adjusted her dress as she sat, Ray helped her, untangling it from her feet. He sat down next to her and reached for her hand. In a moment, their fingers were tangled together. Ray lifted their combined hands and kissed Lisa’s knuckle, his lips brushing their wedding ring.

All these years after their own wedding, and still so happy. I felt my eyes prickle slightly, and bit my lip to stop from crying. Not from jealousy. Not anymore. I just wanted what they had. And I knew that, in just a couple of minutes, I would. There was no doubt in my mind. My eyes moved from my oldest friends, back to the front of the garden. But I was still thinking about that doubt. Well, the lack of it. And how strangely I’d fallen into that place.

* * * * *

I honestly don’t know how long I stood there in Lisa’s game room after she left. Lisa and Ray’s game room. She had slipped out without looking back, and I was just standing there in my rumpled traveling clothes, my bag at my feet. I was exhausted. My brain was too scrambled to really process the conversation I’d just had. I could feel the embarrassment on me in a sort of physical way, draped over my shoulders, but I couldn’t touch it intellectually. I just knew I wanted to get back in my car and start driving. Start driving home and to celibacy and a life with a very fluffy white cat. And I couldn’t because Lisa had specifically said she wanted me to stay. I had already offended her once. How could I do it again? And so I was just frozen between my desire to leave and my need to stay, all bound together with a thick helping of shame.

“Holly?” A gentle, familiar voice said softly. Surprised, my head shot up and I looked at the door. And my breath caught in my throat.

It was Lisa.

But not the Lisa from earlier that night.

It was Lisa from earlier in my life. Lisa from college. Somehow.

I mean, it was just…her. The bright blonde hair, the big doe eyes, the freckles and the lips…But no crow’s feet or lines. The bony hips, small breasts, and waifish build. It was Lisa like she’d been in 1997. I almost half expected her to flit through the room and introduce herself as Ellen, before collapsing into laughter.

I was dumbfounded. Couldn’t do anything but stare.

“Aunt Holly?” she said, stepping into the room and it felt like a pulse had shot out from her mouth and rippled through my body. Aunt Holly. My mouth dropped open as I realized that this was not a hallucination.

“Autumn?” I said and I watched a wide grin break across her face exposing her shiny white teeth, furthering confirming that this was not Lisa from 1997. No rotated eye-teeth. This was Lisa’s 21-year-old daughter.

“Aunt Holly! I didn’t know you were going to be here!” she said and she almost sprinted into the room and wrapped her arms around. And again I was thrown off balance. Even her hair smelled like Lisa’s had in 1997. I tried to gain my bearings. I hugged her back and then pushed her away gently, looking her over.

“My goodness,” I said, shaking my head, “I can’t believe it. You’re a woman!” Autumn stuck her tongue out and rolled her eyes.

“Don’t say that! That’s like…what my grandma says!” Autumn teased. I knew that I blushed.

“I know, I know, that’s the thing that all old women say. But I hadn’t seen you in person since you were a gawky 15 year old,” I said, thinking back on the late-blooming girl who was all elbows and knees. She had looked more like her father then. And now, she’d blossomed into, well, a spitting image of her mother.

“You look exactly the same,” Autumn said, “You look great!” I blushed deeper because the compliment was obviously genuine.

“Thanks,” I said.

“So when did you get in? Why are you here? Mom didn’t tell me you’d be here or I would have come home earlier,” she said. I shook my head.

“I just got in a few minutes ago,” I said, although I wasn’t strictly certain that was true, “You didn’t miss anything,” I said. Other than your mother turning down my offer to eviscerate ümraniye escort your family, I did not add.

“Good! I am so glad I didn’t miss anything. I wonder why she didn’t say anything?” Autumn mused. I rubbed my mouth with my palm.

“Did she tell you about…” I started but then just sort of waved my hand in the air.

“The divorce?” she asked bluntly and I nodded, “Well, yeah. Oh, I guess you came out here to like…”

“Talk things out with your mom,” I finished, not wanting to give any hint to why I was actually there. Autumn nodded.

“Well, yeah, I get that,” she said. And Jesus, her mannerisms were just like her mother’s had been all those years ago. I was still getting vertigo. “So where is she then?”

“Gone to bed,” I explained and Autumn rolled her eyes.

“But you just got in!” Autumn said and I shrugged.

“It’s late, she’s tired.”

“Cuz she is an old woman,” Autumn said, jokingly but in a way that made it clear that it was also true.

“Careful,” I said, “She is only a couple of years older than…”

“Age is an attitude,” Autumn said, “You’re all…smart black clothing and martinis. She is all…CBS evening line up,” She said and I laughed. I had, of course, noticed the same thing. But had drawn different conclusions from it. I guess it was nice that Autumn thought I projected youthfulness.

“I will just talk to her about it in the morning,” I said. Autumn nodded. For a brief moment, we felt into silence. I could not help but look her over. It was just…uncanny. So very much like her mother. She even seemed to exude that same…energy that I remembered from back in college.

“You just look…”

“Do not say it!” Autumn said, raising her hands, “I know…I know…And I have seen the pictures from back then and I know it is true. But I just…be the only person who doesn’t say it,” Autumn said and I laughed again.

“I am sorry, I didn’t realize that everyone noted your resemblance to Danny DevVito,” I said.

“From ‘Sunny’? You bitch!” Autumn said, and she playfully slapped my arm. I laughed harder. Autumn shook her head.

“And to think,” She said, “I was feeling so bad about my mom abandoning you here in Dad’s rumpus room…”

“Rumpus room?” I asked.

“I know. They are weird,” she said in a different tone and then shifted back to faux-aggrieved, “But I was so sympathetic that I was thinking of asking you to go out with me,” she said. Now I guffawed.

“Oh yeah, you and you ‘Aunt’ Holly out for a night on the town,” I said. I pictured myself at some college club, looking old and ridiculous.

“I am serious,” Autumn said. I shook my head at her teasing, “No, come on! I would just stay here and catch up with you. But I promised some friends I would meet them at a bar downtown. Come out with me. Let’s have fun!” I was shaking my head vigorously as she spoke.

“Oh no!’ I said, as soon as she finished speaking, “It is late. I have been driving all day.” The suggestion was just too ridiculous.

“It is still early. And a beer will wake you up,” she said.

“It is a depressant,” I said.

“You’re a depressant. Don’t flake on me like my mom did you. Don’t be an old lady,” Autumn teased. It was strange. I hadn’t seen Autumn in six years. And it had been years before that since I spent any considerable time with her. Really, since she was a very young girl. And yet, it didn’t feel like this was a stranger. It didn’t feel like a girl I barely knew who had grown into a woman I definitely didn’t know. It was all so familiar. It was like…well, Lisa back in 1997. I’d stepped back in time. And I knew where all of this sort of cajoling always led with Lisa.

“I will look ridiculous,” I said.

“We aren’t going to a club. Just a bar to play darts and drink. It will be fun. Come on,” she said and she flashed me those big doe eyes. How could I resist? I sighed.

“Can you give me like…twenty minutes to get changed?”

* * * * *

Half an hour later I was walking into a bar just off of campus, about five miles from Lisa’s house. From Lisa and Ray’s house. In fact, I realized when I walked inside that I had been in the bar before. Well, it had been a different bar then. Totally redesigned. But the same building. And the same smell, the same vibe. A college bar soaked in cheap light beer. The sensation of time warp continued.

“Oh shit, last one here again,” Lisa…I mean, Autumn said as she looked inside. It was not a particularly crowded bar, but there were several groups milling around. Autumn had, evidently, found her friends sitting at a very high table surrounded by stools, just next to the dart board. She moved in their direction and I followed behind.

But, as I approached Autumn’s friends, I had an almost uncontrollable urge to turn and run away. There were four girls sitting around the table. So very young. And, without the optical illusion that tied Lisa to Autumn in my mind, I couldn’t even pretend I fit in.

Hell, I wasn’t even dressed correctly. They pendik escort were all comfortably attired in high-waisted jeans and baggy shirts. I was wearing skin-tight black jeans, a nice red blouse, and low heels. At least Autumn had sort of split the difference, wearing a long skirt with a shirt that matched her friends. Still, I felt like the chaperone. I knew my cheeks were flashing red as I approached the table. I simply did not belong here.

I wondered how I was going to get through the night. But, I would soon learn that there was more than just appearance that tied Autumn to her mother.

“Hey, sorry I am late,” she said, “It wasn’t my fault. My…” and I knew she was about to say ‘aunt,’ but she paused for a moment, realized that would be a bad idea, and finished, “Holly took forever.”

“You’re Holly eh?” one of the girls said, her eyes moving over me slowly, “You certainly have a type.”

“Oh fuck off,” Autumn said good-naturedly, sitting down on one of the stools. I sat next to her. I wondered what ‘type’ meant. But there wasn’t time to dwell on it.

“So Holly, what’s your major?” One of the girls asked with a smirk.

“They don’t make freshmen pick a major,” Autumn said easily.

“A freshman?” the girl asked.

I got held back,” I riffed and the girls around the table grinned.

“She kept failing her spelling test,” Autumn added.

“F, C, K, U, Autumn,” I said and the girls laughed. And no one ever asked anymore questions. Easy as that, I was just… a part of their group for the night. The fact that these girls were half my age and I was in a college bar didn’t really factor into the equation. It just like being back in college. Autumn belonged here and through sheer force of personality, she made me belong too.

And just like her mother she pulled me, willingly, through the rest of the evening. I hadn’t had a Miller Lite in probably 15 years, and I bought three pitchers (I decided that if they were nice enough to pretend I wasn’t an old lady, I would be nice enough to pay a couple of bucks for bad beer) and quickly became well-lubricated. We started with darts. Lisa was great at darts, and Autumn was better. We played team Cricket and a couple of “01” games. Autumn insisted that I be on her team every time, and, for that reason, we won every game. Eventually, we moved over to the billiards table where I became the reigning champion: Autumn and her friends were terrible and I was merely mediocre.

I got to know all of the girls that made up Autumn’s little group of friends. They were a little different from the kinds of people that Lisa and I had hung out with. We might have called the “alternative” back in the 90s, though I think that means you’re a Nazi now. But they were cute and sweet and they were soon joking and teasing with me just like I was part of the group. I am sure the free beer didn’t hurt. We left at last call and, Autumn hugged her friends at the door. They all scattered to the four winds and we took a cab or something back off campus.

Eventually, found myself again in Lisa and Ray’s “Rumpus room” sitting on the pull-out couch that would be my bed for some…indeterminate amount of time. The angst I’d felt earlier in the night came creeping back (as the effects of the beer began to fade). This was, after the all, the room where I’d been humiliated. But even as that thought came to mind, Autumn came back into the room, carrying two bottles of gatorade.

“I know you probably didn’t drink enough to get a hangover…but why risk it,” she said, handing me one bottle and then sitting down heavily onto the pull-out bed next to me. She cracked her gatorade and took a deep drink. I followed suit. When was the last time I’d had this neon junk? It tasty salty and sweet. Better than I remembered.

“I am honored that you broke out the blue ones for me,” I said, gazing at the liquid.

“Don’t tell my mother. This is the good gatorade, the church gatorade,” she said and I laughed.

“‘Take this ‘Ragin’ Blue Raspberry’ for it is my blood’” I said solemnly and now Autumn laughed a bit.

“Don’t joke, this is a Catholic house. That gatorade is now literally Jesus’ blood. So drink that shit up,” Autumn warned and I took another sip. All of this felt so familiar and so…comfortable. It was just like sitting in my dorm room back in college, with Lisa, bullshitting and trying to one-up my friend to make her laugh. I leaned back against he couch and sigh deeply. A moment I had thought was lost forever, recaptured for just the briefest of moments.

“Okay, so let me level with you,” Autumn said, a little more seriously, “I have an exam in Logic on Monday and I am in no way prepared for it. But you graduated from this place. Would you be willing to say you are Autumn Foster and sit in on the exam?” she asked. I laughed.

“I can hear the professor, ‘oh, Autumn, you look so much more…Pre-menopausal than you did last week, please take your seat.’” I laughed.

“Professor has never seen me. You could totally pull off that, bostancı escort ‘did a thing for ten years and decided to go back to college’ thing,” Autumn said sounding serious.

“Only ten years? You are so sweet,” I said and she shrugged, “But you need to study. I sure as hell didn’t take ‘Logic’ in college. You’d be better off going, even if you really have never been to class,” I said.

“Oh, I thought you graduated in some sort of philosophy thing,” Autumn said, sort of waving her hand around her head as if to say that philosophy was crazy.

“An Art History degree,” I said and Autumn raised her eyebrows as if to say that that was equally worthless, “Hey are you now seriously asking me about my major? Is that something people still use as a pick up line?” I asked. Autumn laughed and then sort of yawned and stretched her arm out, wrapping it around my shoulder.

“Did you drive through Memphis on your way here? Because Holly, you’re the only ten I see,” Autumn said and sort of shimmied her shoulders. I threw my head back and laughed. And then, something that one of Autumns friends had said sort of percolated up through my mind.

“Well, I am your type, right?” I said. I expected Autumn to laugh, but instead, her cheeks instantly turned a dark crimson color and I felt her hand move slowly off of my shoulder. She smiled awkwardly and her eyes darted away, not looking at me.

“Uh, yeah…” Autumn said, her voice a little shaky. I realized I had said something wrong, but I didn’t know what.

“Hey Autumn, I am sorry…I wasn’t trying to…”

“No, no, Holly, you didn’t do anything,” Autumn said, lifting her hands up defensively.

“I mean, come on, I pretty clearly did, and I honestly didn’t mean to, I was just…” Autumn sort of threw her hands out to the sides, closed her eyes, and shook her head.

“Okay, listen,” She said, seriously, looking back at me and making eye contact again for the first time. She sighed a little bit, “It is going to be weird now if I don’t explained myself and…”

“No, its fine, you don’t owe me anything,” I said.

“No, look, I will just throw this out there, and then we can just leave it alone,” Autumn said, “You sort of…you know…are…my type. Like a slim, pretty, older woman with deep eyes and dark hair…that is sort of right in my wheelhouse. So my friends probably thought at first that maybe we were going out, until I explained everything to them when you went to the bathroom.” She let out a short huff of breath when she finished.

I was more than a bit taken aback. I don’t know what had been expecting, or if I had even been really expecting. Whatever I was thinking, that was the last thing I would have ever imagined Autumn saying. She was…attracted to women like me. She had a ‘type’ and I was it. I knew I was sitting there just gaping at this poor girl, making her more self-conscious every second. I had to say something.

“You’re a lesbian?” I asked, and I immediately realized that was probably not the right thing to say. But at least I’d moved the focus off of me. Still, I could feel Autumn’s eyes on me. I wondered what she had thought about me. Wondered if she had ever had a fantasy with…no, I was her ‘aunt’ (not really). I may be her type, but she probably didn’t think about me like that.

“Well, I don’t know,” Autumn said,shrugging, “I mean…I am not like…super focused on labels. Which isn’t to say that I have sex with men because I really don’t. Never regularly, and not since freshman year. But I don’t like…identify as anything in particular.” She struggled to explain to me, an older person who might not ‘get’ it (an older, slim, pretty woman with deep eyes and dark hair, I told myself). I nodded.

“Do your parents know?” I asked, again wincing as I said the wrong thing a second time.

“Do I tell my parents about the people I have sex with?” Autumn said, laughing a bit, “Not really. I mean, they only ever have sex with each other. And if I come home, bragging about all my sexual conquests in excruciating detail, like I want to do, then I know I will just make them feel super jealous. So I try to keep that information to myself.” I laughed and Autumn smiled at me. We felt the awkward tension sort of drain out of the room.

“Hey look, I am not trying to lock you into any sort of identity or anything. I just…Well, I learned something new about you today and I was just curious,” I said.

“It’s not a big deal. I mean, eventually, I am probably going to have to bring someone home to my parents and that person will almost definitely be a woman, so I guess I will have to come up with something to say to them,” Autumn explained.

“You don’t think they’d have a problem…” I started incredulously. Autumn laughed and shook her head.

“Oh God no!” she said, “My mom will be like…too supportive about it, which is why I wouldn’t talk to her about any of this. She’d be like ‘I want you to know how much we love you, but I don’t want you to think that by saying it, that means that there would ever be any reason to think I didn’t love you and on and on and on’ And my dad absolutely hates every male from the age of 10 to like 38. I think he would be relieved he won’t have to ever be friendly with some sort of bro who is pawing at his daughter.”

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