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Eighteen Days

She, with her straight blond shoulder length hair, was shorter than Mary, with her mop of chestnut hair in tight ringlets playing about her shoulders, and June, with her straight auburn hair pulled back in a tight braid ending in the center of her back tied with a dark green ribbon. Halloween had snuck up on her and she had just resigned herself to skipping the whole affair this year, when Mary had called. In a hurry, the trio had sped to the costume shop and picked out matching outfits. Mary selected the red, June the dark green and She selected the black playboy bunny suit. They stepped out in front of the large mirrors and giggled at their choices. She was instantly called “Flopsy” because her bunny ears would not stand up straight, Mary’s head full of hair spilling onto her shoulders dubbed her “Mopsy,” and in keeping with the obvious theme, June was “cotton-tail.”

Laughing, the foursome hold onto each other for a moment longer before breaking apart. She was only here because of her friends, and it was to them, she owed a big thanks. She had no idea He would be at the party. His easter bunny outfit was ridiculous, but he was adorable in it. They had known each other since childhood, but she had not seen him but once or twice in the last two decades. Now, she was here with him. He had grown from a boy, she had loved, into a handsome man, she knew was the one. He played it very cool, but she could see from the sparkle in his eyes that he felt it, too. This was something very special.

The tear made a soft plop when it struck the page. Alone, it sat as the paper refused to embrace it. In its nearly circular impression, the tear sat. As the page moved slightly, the tear began to slide. First, it ran to its left, but as the movement continued, the tear, leaving a damp trail in its wake, slid to the right. Just before it left the confines of the page, a scratching sound could be heard. The scratching had a rhythm to it, but having no legs the tear could not have told if the rhythm would have been good to which to dance. The tear slipped off the edge of the page. The distance, though very short, was an eternity to the tear. Finally, it came to rest on another piece of paper. This one, however, was perfect – with arms open wide, the tear was embraced and then absorbed by the tissue. This was not the first tear to make this trip and as the slender hand pushed the pencil across the page, it encountered and was dragged through the remnants of many other tears. The owner of the slender hand sniffed, applying the tissue to a slender, albeit swollen, nose.

Fourteen days.
It has been fourteen days since she heard from him. Since they had re-met, they have been almost inseparable. They rarely saw each other during the week as they worked far apart, but as many weekends as they could work it out, they would spend at his place. Those moments, in an otherwise crazy world, kept her sane. They loved deeply, talked often, chatted online constantly, and shared every thought, wish, fear, desire and moment. They had known each other since grade school, but later and quite suddenly, their long friendship became the romance each had secretly hoped for during the crush years.
In the months since their love had grown from friendship into the blaze that burnt but did not consume, he had taken a job in another state. Now, further away than ever before, she relied on the internet and her phone to keep him close. Traveling and promotions had strained their nearly constant contact, but he was always there within a couple of hours.

Fourteen days, six hours, nine minutes.
She still counted the minutes. She thought herself a fool, but she couldn’t help but to count the minutes. How could she go another minute without his chatting, without the question and answer sessions that would last hours, without the sexual tension that would be completely released during their weekends?

Fifteen days, nineteen hours, two minutes.
Every man in the mall reminds her of him. His medium brown hair had just been colored to dark sandy, and it had looked really good on him. But by now, it could be back to brown again. Still no word – nothing.
Because their families were very close, no one knew of their secret love. She cannot stand not knowing anything any longer. She starts and restarts a message, to his mother, seven times to ask about him.
Can she tell I love him? Can she tell how much? Do I sound desperate?
What if the answer is that he is just fine? What would that mean? What then?

Sixteen days.
Enough is enough!
She simply must know if he is alright. She does not care who finds out, now. The tears fall from her cheeks and plop on the page as her pencil scratches out a letter. The pencil lead smears as it drags through the droplets. The letter states, simply, that she had not heard from him in over a week and was wondering if anyone knew what he was up to.
She finishes the letter and stares at it – willing her feelings into the letters. She desperately wishes that she dared tell how much she loves him, but she fears the possible reaction. She signs and seals the letter, then walks it to the mailbox at 1:30 in the morning.

Eighteen days.
Her phone rings. Without looking at it, she snaps it up and answers by calling out his name. The caller pauses and then begins consoling her, apologizing for not calling sooner. His mom was just sure that her sister would have passed along the news – He was at their house.

ALIVE! He’s alive! But has not called her once. What does that mean?

…crying. His mom is balling over the phone.
Stopping her with the excuse of having her repeat what she had just said, His mom starts again with a gentle, lady-like sniff.

There was an accident. No one knows all the details. He ended up at his parents’ house two weeks ago. He had bruises and scrapes, was very dirty but otherwise unharmed … except that he had no memory.
Over the past week, he has remembered his parents and his older brothers, but no one else – none of his friends, no one. There is one thing he keeps asking about, though, and none of us knows what he is talking about. He keeps asking where something called “Flopsy” is. No one has a clue.

The tear slides off the slender woman’s cheek and makes a soft plop as it lands on her hand. She sits at his bedside staring at a picture on the nightstand as she holds his hand while he sleeps. In the picture, the four people stand together and grin from under their bunny ears, their arms around each other.
Above their ears are scrawled the words – “Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-Tail & Peter”

the end.

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