Happy Endings are Hard to Come By
The facts were these: At 11:58pm, precisely two minutes before Saturday night became Sunday morning, Lonely Tourist Charlotte Charles knocked on the door to Olive Snook's apartment. Olive Snook normally would have been fast asleep in her bed at this hour, her being an early riser with no immediate social prospects. But tonight, contrary to her habit, she was wide awake and crying into a bowl of ice cream and pie, having spent the past 4 hours, 29 minutes and 15 seconds watching terrifyingly sappy romance movies where other people got the happy endings she herself had thus far been denied.
Opening the door to find the girl named Chuck on her welcome mat, the very same girl who had come between her and the happy ending she had hoped to find with The Pie Maker, Olive Snook felt a complex rush of anger and sadness mixed with just the slightest bit of admiration that Chuck's mascara hadn't run at all despite the fact that she'd obviously been crying.
"Where do you buy your mascara?" she asked.
"I don't wear any," Chuck said.
"Those are naturally occurring eyelashes?" Deep resentment flared in Olive Snook's heart for a moment before subsiding.
"Can I stay at your place tonight?" Chuck asked.
Although Olive Snook was still feeling a complex rush of anger, sadness and subsiding resentment, she also felt a sharp tug of recognition for Chuck had the look of the brokenhearted and lovelorn about her, and this was a look with which Olive Snook was particularly well acquainted. So she opened the door wide and let the girl named Chuck step inside her home.
"Trouble in paradise?" Olive asked. She was not proud of the smugness she was unable to keep entirely out of her voice.
"I'd really rather not talk about it."
"Of course you wouldn't." Olive looked around the room, noting her half melted ice cream and pie, which Digby had found beside the couch and was now eagerly finishing despite the fact that he was lactose intolerant. "Would you like to watch some terrifyingly sappy romance movies?" she asked.
"Would you like ice cream and pie?"
Two hours, 45 minutes and 32 seconds later Olive Snook woke up on the couch with her chin snuggled in against the girl named Chuck's shoulder, and Chuck's arm circled close around her waist. Chuck wasn't watching the terrifyingly sappy movie playing on the TV or Digby's legs jerking over in the corner where he was undergoing stomach pains that were entirely his own fault as he knew perfectly well that he wasn't to have ice cream. Instead Chuck was staring at Olive's hand on her knee, where it had curled as its owner slumbered, warm against her skin. Chuck stared at that small hand with a complex rush of emotions on her face, not least of which were anger, sadness and... desire?
Yes, it was in fact desire. For it had been exactly 4 months, 3 days, 14 minutes and 55 seconds since The Pie Maker's touch had revived her from death. And it had been exactly 2 years, 3 months, 48 minutes and 7 seconds since anyone had put their hand on her bare knee.
Olive Snook did not know exactly how long it had been since the girl named Chuck's knee had been intimate with anyone else's hand. She did, however, know that The Pie Maker and Chuck were physically incapable of touching. And she recognized the look on Chuck's face. It was the same look Olive had seen on Digby's face the first time The Pie Maker had asked her to dog-sit. It was a look that said, "Please, please touch me. I need someone who is warm and alive and real to touch me." Of course Digby's look had been a bit more waggy and hairy and drooly than Chuck's look was now, but the fundamental feeling was the same.
It was a look that was filled up to the brim with loving The Pie Maker, and it was a look that was empty to its bitter core with needing things The Pie Maker couldn't give.
Olive Snook, though she could not exactly understand the depths of emptiness that were in the looks of the once dead girl and the once dead dog who loved The Pie Maker, did understand loving The Pie Maker herself.
She herself was so filled up with loving him that she couldn't help loving the things he loved, even when they were things that she hated a little bit for being what he chose instead of her and for having long, perfect naturally occurring eyelashes.
She herself was so well acquainted with needing things The Pie Maker couldn't give that she had instantly cuddled Digby to within an inch of his life when she saw that look in his eye. So when the girl named Chuck reached out to lace her fingers through the fingers of Olive's hand on her knee, instead of saying "What are you doing?" Olive slid their joined hands farther up Chuck's leg until they rested high on her bare thigh.
And when Chuck snuck the fingers of her waist-circling hand under the waistband of Olive's pajama bottoms to the soft skin beneath, instead of saying "What about Ned?" she slid over to straddle Chuck's lap.
Olive Snook sent her small hands up underneath Chuck's shirt, her palms flat against Chuck's back so she could touch as much as possible because she could tell that the girl who'd taken her happy ending hadn't exactly gotten a happy ending either. She moved her tiny hands slowly, touching skin to skin, up to Chuck's shoulders and down to her waist and across her flat stomach and up to the soft swell of her breasts. Her hands were tiny and warm and real and touching everywhere.
She looked up when Chuck's hands hesitated over her shoulders and the look on her face said, "Don't be afraid. You can touch me." And Chuck's hands settled firm and solid against the skin just inside the collar of her pajama top. Her fingertips slid up Olive's neck, up the curve of her jaw, and her thumb stroked the hollow above her upper lip. Olive rubbed her cheek against the hard plane of Chuck's collarbone. She hugged Chuck close, as close and as tight as she could without squeezing the breath right out of her, not wanting Chuck barking or snapping her teeth anywhere near Olive's ear the way Digby had done when she'd made that mistake the first time.
Chuck's fingers curled underneath her chin, pressing her head upward, angling her lips for a kiss. A gentle, lazy kiss that lasted for ages as lips to lips with no plastic wrap between them built slow burning fires all through Olive's insides. Not the kind of raging fires that burn down your house. No, these were pleasant, cheerful fires more likely to involve hot chocolate on a cold night than third degree burns or hideously painful and disfiguring death. And when Chuck looked at Olive, with her arms all wrapped around warm skin and flannel pajamas and her body all wrapped up in thin arms and tiny hands, the look she gave Olive said, "Thank you."
"You're welcome," said Olive, and she said it out loud with her mouth instead of her eyes. Because Olive Snook might not have known what it was like to be dead and then alive again, but she knew very well what it was like to be lonely.