Kari easies herself back on the couch, careful of the cup of hot tea she is holding. Tucking her feet under her, she allows herself to relax. She blows on the hot liquid and looks over at Anne and lets a smile play over her lips. It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since she had revealed the truth about herself to her best friend. She could never have imagined them here, like this.
Anne looks over and sees her watching her, “What is it?”
“Nothing, just enjoying the view.” Her smile widens as she watches the blush spreading across Anne’s face. She is so easy to tease. Taking a sip of her tea, she relents. “Actually I was just thinking of how lucky I am to be here; with you.”
Anne’s smile always makes her catch her breath. It lights up her whole face, accentuating a beauty that radiates from within.
“Remember the first day we met?”Kira asked.
She nodded, “It was pouring down rain. I don’t think I was off the shuttle ten feet before I was soaked, even with my rain coat.”
Kira could picture the scene, “You looked like a drowned rat.”
She made a face, “Thanks!”
Kira laughed, “Well you were a cute drowned rat.”
“You offered to help me to the ship.”
She remembered. “I was still living as Eric then.”
It was a lousy day. The rain had been coming down in buckets since dawn and he had to make the trek down the pier to report for morning duty. There was no calling in in the military, the only excuse to miss work was being dead.
Water splashed across his boots soaking the legs of his dungarees, it pounded the bill of his cap and ran down his neck, right under the collar of his rain coat and down his back.
With his head down, he almost ran over the person ahead who was struggling with a sea bag.
He looked up to see a it was a girl who wasn’t much bigger than the bag she was pulling. He started to pass her, the thought better of it and turned to her;
“Would you like some help with that?”
She looked up in surprise and his breath caught. As wet and bedraggled as she was, she was the cutest girl he had ever seen. A round face dominated by large, dark brown eyes. Dark hair tried to escape from beneath her hat.
“I would appreciate it, thanks.”
He reached down and grabbed the bag by the steps and slung it onto his shoulder, “Not a problem.”
“I’m Eric, by the way.”
“First day?” she nodded. “Nervous?”
He smiled, “So was I, but this is a good ship, a lot of good people. You’ll do fine.”
She smiled back, “Thanks.” They reached the gangplank,
“Be careful in those shoes, it might be slippery with all the rain.” they walked up in silence.
Reaching the top, he set her bag down out of the way.
“Thank you again.”
“My pleasure. Good luck.”
He slipped off into the press of bodies.
He saw her again a week later, working in the galley. She was talking and laughing with a small group of coworkers.
Anne is sitting across the table from him. He’s her best friend and she wants to slap him.
“Eric, If you like her then just ask her out. The worse that can happen is she says no. It’ll be her loss, not yours.”
He makes a face, clearly not happy with the idea, then shakes his head.
“I didn’t say I like her.”
She give a snort. “No, you just follow her everywhere with your eyes and all but drool whenever your in the same room, but you just want to be friends right?”
He gives her a sheepish grin, “Well, she is kind cute when I think about it.”
They’ve been friends for a year now and they can have conversations like this, he knows she’s not interested in him as anything other than a friend. He’s the only person who knows her little secret and he doesn’t care. She loved him just for that, if nothing else.
She takes a moment and considered that. He was a wonderful person, someone she felt comfortable with, who she felt she could tell anything and know he wouldn’t judge her. He could make her laugh even when she was really depressed and when she felt like she couldn’t do anything right, he was there with quite support.
She smiled to herself, damn, if he had just been a girl she really would be in love.
They sat together in his car. It was freezing outside the fogged up windows, but inside it was almost too warm, even with the heat set to low. The engine was a low vibration she felt through the seat and echoed in his chest. He was holding her close and she was crying. She hated herself at that moment; she hated that girl and the world and everything in it. Everything but him. He said nothing, simply held her.
How could anyone do that, be that strong? He was strong not for himself but for her.
He took her to the beach after she had talked about her family trips to her uncles’ beach house in Florida. The great memories she had of all the fun she had had playing in the sand.
He confessed that he couldn’t swim, which was funny since he was had joined the navy, so they had spent hours splashing in the surf. Now she had those memory to keep with her too.
They brought up the last of her things, two more boxes to add to the stack already in the living room. They were both sweaty, dirty and grinning like fools. She looked at him and his grime streaked face and she was glad that he was there to share her moment of triumph.