Chapter One

As I lie on my fairly large bed, listening to the All American Rejects' third and most soulful album, I wonder a couple of things. First of all, I wonder if my staring at the rotation of the fan while the light is also on will give me a seizure. Realizing the ridiculously and completely pathetic nature of that thought, I quickly push it out of my head. Still, not wanting to risk it, I move my eyes to the pink, small child's kite that is hanging above my head. After a few moments of recalling the times I flew the kite, I realize how metaphorical the kite actually is. Or, is it ironic? I never really understood the difference between metaphors and similes and things of that nature. It doesn't matter though, because I can see the message in the fact that only I, of all my friends who also attempted such a miniscule feat, could never quite get the kite to fly. The four year old next to me had no problem getting his kite up, but I, riddled with failure couldn't bribe my cheap piece of diamond-shaped plastic to soar.

Now, I'm not sure what this poorly described message means quite yet, but I can appreciate that one is forming in the depths of my ever-challenged soul. I'm afraid it means that I am forever determined to be alone in a completely negative sense of the word. I was alone in my failure, so why not be alone in the other areas of life? Not alone in my good nature or morals, but simply alone in my bitter, relationship-intolerant state of existence. It makes me wonder if I am genetically pre-determined to be alone. It's like the gene that gave me a different eye color from absolutely everyone else in my family, also gave me solitude.

My question is, is there a gene for being the opposite of a hermaphrodite? Is there such a thing as being whatever someone is when they don't really care about relationships past friendship? Is it selfishness, or is it simply a side-affect of being too career driven? Maybe I'm just too lazy to care. Or maybe I'm just too tired of the problems that relationships cause. Maybe I don't want to touch them with a twenty-foot pole because I'm the smart one in this sex-driven world.

I must be the lucky one to not care. Right? Or maybe…I hate to say it but maybe I care so much that I have begun to deny this desire for love and happiness because I don't want to feel the immense pain of it all when it fails. If I never know what it means to not be alone, then I can never feel the hurt when I finally taste the change. Someone who has never had chocolate will never know what he or she is missing, but lactose intolerant people always know what they are doing when they have milk. Does that even make sense to anyone but me? I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. I've had a bad relationship, so if I try again aren't I just drinking milk, or can I be that person who has never had chocolate because I've never had a truly good relationship?

And do you want to know what the real curve ball is, what the sickest thing is? I'm more alone around my family and friends, than when I lay in a bed made for two, but filled with one. I can accept my state when I have my thoughts to keep me company. I can't, however, create my safety blanket when I have other people popping my bubble of satisfied loneliness. When you are the only person in the room, you can make it seem like you are the only one in existence. It then becomes okay to be alone. It doesn't even matter if your shadow wants to abandon you. When you are surrounded by life however, loneliness becomes truly unacceptable.

Don't get me wrong, though. When I roll over in bed and don't see that hunky movie star of my dreams, no matter how many times I try to summon him from my the dark twisted places I call a good dream, it definitely pangs a little. After a couple more tosses and turns separated by day dreams that create another failed attempt at making him 3-D, I usually accept my fate and get up. And today is no exception meaning that not only am I late for the settling down making babies stage of my life, but I'm also late for work, again. Luckily, I'm the boss, I'm sure I'll find some sort of proper punishment for myself.

So my job isn't entirely offensive, minus the fact that I work in a bridal shop selling dresses to brides when I've never even come close to a six-month relationship. Ready for the sick-twist? I design and make the dresses. I, the anti-bride provide the centerpieces of a timeless ritual that I will probably never take part in.

Now, it's not that I don't believe in marriage or that I'm a complete glutton for punishment. It just, hasn't worked out for me so far. I'm only in my mid-twenties so it's not entirely hopeless. It is just not looking so great. On a scale of good chance to grim, I'm still about a peg closer to good chance than to grim, so that's saying something. Not only that, but I haven't exactly had great examples of marriage to follow.

I realized last night that two out of my four siblings are already divorced, only one is happy, and that's probably because she and her husband have no children to put pressure on their relationship. My fourth sibling has a baby but no better half, yet somehow she thinks she can give me relationship advice. I tried to tell her that's like a prostitute trying to teach a class on abstinence. She took offense to that and told me to stop being a mean well…let's just say it starts with a "b" and rhymes with ditch. I told her it's not mean if it's true. She had no response. Well, at least no verbal one. She always was good with her hands.

So, I don't have a lot of motivation to want to have a relationship. My parents are still together. I will say that. I am a product of both of their second marriages though so it's not the best example. I'm glad I'm not a lawyer. I suck at the whole providing positive non-incriminating evidence.

Anyway, that's the job situation and a bit of the family stuff. I'm sure more will pop up. Crap. Okay now I'm really late. I have a fitting in a half an hour, and let's just say I need all the time I can get with this bride. Two words; stress-eater.

"Morning, Janet." Janet's my assistant. "Is Tonny here yet?" Tonny is the stress-eater.

"Not yet. I saw her mother at the bakery though and once she was finished

criticizing my hair color…as usual…she said she thought Tonny was running a little late on account of the fact that she hung up on her morning conversation earlier than usual."

This week Janet's hair is pink.

"Oh okay. Did she say how late she was running?"

"She wasn't sure. She just said to expect her a little later than nine."

"Okay great. Thanks Janet."

Okay so before we get further. When I started my shop, I moved into this ridiculously small town where everyone knows everyone. It's the most typical town ever for a relationship-challenged girl like me. Totally cliché. Totally Gilmore Girls meets Runaway Bride. It's the type of place where mothers actually not only talk to, but also see their adult children on a daily basis. Women like Tonny actually get a scheduled call from their mother each morning. I'm lucky, so to speak, to hear from my mother once a week.

As a result of the shrunken population, everyone knows everyone. Luckily for me though, I'm from the city twenty miles away, so nobody really knows all of my business. They know enough though…more than enough. I will say this though, for a business owner, word of mouth is all you need in a town like this. That plus my connections in the city keep my dress shop steadily busy. Anyway, back to Janet. Oh and I like to say "anyway" a lot, sorry in advance.

"No problem. Oh, but did you get the post-it I left on your desk yesterday?"

"What post-it?" I had at least twenty post-its on my desk. She had to be more specific.

"I put it right in the middle of your desk. It was written in black sharpie."

"Oh, oh. Yeah I got that, thanks." That doesn't mean I read it though. "What did it say?"

"Louise! You didn't read it? How do you not read a bright yellow and black post-it right under your nose? It only had three words on it anyway. It's not like I was asking you to read War and Peace!"

It's hard not to laugh when Janet gets mad because her tongue ring starts clicking around her mouth. It reminds me of a xylophone.

"I'm sorry Janet, really. I figured if it was really important you would have put a post-it on the door, too."

A hand pointed to the door after her eyes rolling let me know that she had in fact left one on the door as well.

"Oh. My bad." I shrugged and attempted a big, fake smile. If you're not getting it, I'm a little unorganized. "So, what do they say?" Another smile defeated by a head shake.

"I swear."

"I'm sorry!" I was. Kind of.

"Louise you need to be more organized."

"I know. But isn't that what I have you for?" So true.

"Yes but…" She was cracking slowly but surely.

"Fine, you can be mad at me for ten minutes and then get over it. In the meantime, what did the post-it note say?"

"Call your mother."

"What? Really?"

That couldn't be right. I had no call from my mother last night. If she really wanted something she usually harassed me until she got it. Then again she didn't have my new cell phone number…yet. That was just a matter of time. Then I would get a new number like I always do when she finally weasels my cell number from one of my siblings. Plus, my home phone could still be unplugged from the last time she called me ten times when I was in the shower. Maybe the post-it was accurate after all.

"Yes. She said something about someone visiting from high school. She wanted you to call her and give her a schedule of times you are free. She sounded over-excited but happy. It was creepy."

My mother usually just sounds flustered or annoyed when she calls me. Unless she's bragging about one of my cousins, she's rarely positively energized.

"Oh great. I hope she didn't find Mike's happy pills again." Mike is my youngest brother, another product of my parents' second marriage, and one of the divorcees. "Ugh. I guess I'll just call her now. Might as well get it over with."

"Good luck." She was clearly using the present ten minutes to be angry.

"Yeah. Yeah. Go do something productive or I'm calling Tonny and telling her to invite her mother." Mrs. Flint and Janet don't quite see eye to eye on…life.

"God, what did I do? Don't even joke about stuff like that."

It worked though. She started setting up the fitting area for Tonny's appointment while I forced myself to call my mother. It was like talking yourself off the cliff rather than back on it.

The phone hadn't even rung twice before my mother's shrill voice was on the other end.

"Hello! Louise! Why didn't you call me! Did Janet not give you my message? That girl I swear…" She kept mumbling some nonsense under her breath.

"Mom! Mom!"

"What? Why didn't you call?" She snapped.

"Hello to you, too. Is Mike in town?"

"Why didn't you…what? No, why do you ask?"

Whoosh. Over her head completely, my mother was never quite down with the drug jokes.

"No reason. What's up? Janet gave me the message so stop muttering about her and tell me what's going on. I have a client coming in soon so please get on with it."

"Why do you call them clients? You sound like a prostitute. Can't you say customer or something?"

It's like talking to a ferret. Put something shinier, or in this case something easier to pick at in front of her and watch her go.

"Mom! That's what they're called."

"It sounds like you're selling more than dresses that's all…"

"Fine I'm a prostitute. Sorry, I forgot to tell you. I confess. I'm a ho. Now tell me why you were calling about so I can call my pimp."

"Kathryn Louise! If your grandmother…I just…you shouldn't have skipped Sunday school…"

"I'M HANGING UP IN TWO SECONDS! TWO…ONE AND A HALF…"

"No wait! I'm calling because Liam just got out of the Air Force and is moving to League Creek! That's where you live!"

Really? Wow. I'm so glad someone finally told me what this town that I've been living in for five years was called. I've just been so confused.

"Okay so why does this concern me? And Liam who? How do I even know this person?"

"Liam O'Hara! You know him! He went to school with Kelsey!"

Kelsey is my second oldest sibling, the one who is happily married.

"Mom. Kelsey is five years older than me. I have no idea who Liam O'Hara is. Not only that, but why don't you tell Kelsey this? He'd probably feel more comfortable around her if she even knows him."

My mother likes to think that her children are friends with every member of each one of their graduating classes. Kelsey probably doesn't even know Liam. I will have to call her and get her to translate the crazy for me.

"They went to a dance together! Of course she knows him! How could she not?"

"What dance, Mother, like Homecoming, or like Prom?"

"I think it was the sock-hop."

"Okay our school didn't have sock-hops. I'm hanging up now."

"No! Wait just, write his number down! It's 555"

"MOM! NO! I'm not going to call him! I have to go, my costumer is here. Or my 'John' if you prefer." She wasn't really, but Tonny would be here any minute and I did not want her listening in to my conversation because it would all over town within five minutes of our fitting being finished.

"I gave birth to you, you write the number down Kathryn Louise!"

Damn the birth card. It's trumps every time.

"Ugh! Fine! Give me the damn number!"

"Watch your mouth!"

"Fine! Sorry…what is the number please dearest Mother of mine?" Heavy sighing all the way.

"It's 555-7024. Now be a good girl and ask him to coffee or something. He won't know anyone."

"Oh my gosh, Mother!"

"You could hit it off! You're not getting any younger you know…"

"GOODBYE MOTHER!"

I finally hung up by throwing the phone across the room. I was lucky because it just missed Janet's face.

"Oh! Sorry Janet! My mother…"

"So good call huh?"

"What gave it away?" I learned how to laugh sarcastically solely from conversations with my mother about my future. "Was it the projectile phone or the yelling?"

"Actually it was the unfamiliar boy's name."

"Ah. Yes. That is a good indicator of a typical conversation with my mother."

"She trying to set you up again?"

"Kind of. Kind of not. It's more like some guy Kelsey went to school with is moving here. She wants me to show him around or something."

"Your sister Kelsey?"

"Yes. I know…I know…she's like five years older than me. It's ridiculous. I don't remember this guy at all."

I love Janet because she knows all of my family history so I usually don't have to explain extensively my conversations with my mother. She just kind of gets it for the most part.

"Are you going to call him?"

The betrayal!

"What the hell are you talking about! No I'm not going to call him? What has gotten into you!"

"I mean it couldn't hurt though, right?"

"Look, did you find Mike's happy pills, too, or am I on a sick reality show?"

"No, I just mean…I don't know. Of all your siblings Kelsey seems the most all right. So, I just figured any friend of hers is probably fairly stable."

"Janet. You have neon pink hair and a bar through your tongue among other places. I'm not sure I trust your opinion of stable."

"Just because I have pink hair doesn't mean I'm unstable! That's such stereotyping."

"No honey, it's not. If you're hair was constantly pink, it would be, but you change your hair color every week. That's called indecisive which is a child of instability."

"Whatever. You should call him. Unless he's a stalker or a robber, what is there to loose?"

I didn't know what was up with this chick. She must have hit her head moving boxes or something.

"I don't know, maybe my dignity!"

"Oh please, you lost that the day you agreed to date Claymore Preston the bulging, balding, and future mommy ashes carrying accountant."

Okay. That may be true. It was just a dark period in my life. I snapped out of it quickly.

"I can't believe you're bringing that up. Desperation doesn't become anyone, okay? What about you? You dated a librarian! Talk about loosing your dignity!"

"Look. It's not my fault the whole kinky librarian thing is an urban myth. I was misled that's all."

"Whatever. You dated a Mormon librarian. We're even."

"Fine. You should still check this Liam guy out. He could be nice."

"Yeah and you could be fired if you don't get out of my eyesight in five seconds."

"Yeah…okay. A threat towards me is a threat towards the organization of your business. Regardless…I will leave you to your pondering."

"Yes do. To fire or not to fire?"

Okay so my threats have no affect on her. At least she knows when to leave me alone. I'm glad she's not family because than I would never truly appreciate her talents to annoy me.

Unfortunately, and fortunately I had no time to think about my mother's call because within twenty seconds of Janet's exit Tonny came bustling in, throwing apologies for her tardiness in every direction.

"I'm so sorry I'm late! I completely forgot Frank was coming by today. Jake made the appointment for me and it just totally slipped my mind!"

Frank is the town's one and only cable repair guy. As a result I had no need to ask who he was or why he was coming over so early in the morning. Jake is Tonny's fiancé and the father of her two kids. Knowing things like this simplifies conversations like you wouldn't believe.

"No worries, I just got off the phone with my mother so it worked out. Did you want to narrow down your veil choices today or just the fitting? I finished that lacy veil last night if you wanted to see what it looked like in real life."

Tonny hadn't been able to decide what veil she wanted last week when she had gone to make her final decision. She had however seen one of my sketches that she found interesting, so I made sure to bring it to life by this fitting. I hope she likes it, but I wouldn't be surprised if she still couldn't decide. Because Tonny already has two kids with Jake she is being especially anal because she knows that this wedding will most certainly be her one and only. This is mainly because people don't get divorced in League Creek. They just don't. They marry either young, or with children, or not at all.

The idea of someday actually finding the right person and then marrying them has become that much more stressful because of the fear of becoming the only divorced person in town. Normal places wouldn't make you worry about getting married on the chance that you could end up getting divorced. However this place is different. League Creek is kind of like the boy in the corner who eats paste. It's a little bit special, but you love it anyway.

"Oh I love that! It's even better than the picture, Louise, really! I don't know how you do it! If you didn't already have a shop, well I'd tell you to get one!"

"Haha, well thanks, Tonny. I'm glad you like it." What can I say? She's just a simple small-town sweetie. "Do you think you want to go with this one? We could even see how it looks with your dress today."

"Well, maybe…I'm still not sure." Told you. "I just, I don't know. It's beautiful really…and you went to all the trouble…I just…I can't decide! They're all so beautiful!"

"Don't worry about it Tonny, I was going to make it anyway, you just helped put some fire under my butt. Look, how about this; you narrow it down to two veils today, and if you still can't decide by next week, then you can borrow both and pick on your wedding day. How does that sound?"

"Oh Louise! Are you sure? That would be wonderful, but what if something happens to the second one! I can't afford to buy both of them if it got spilt on or something."

"Don't worry, I'm coming to your wedding. I can just grab the second one once you've decided and that way I can look after it.

"Are you sure?"

I could tell she just wanted to jump for joy at the thought of being able to procrastinate all the way up to that point, but her better judgment was preventing her celebration.

"I'm positive. I can even help you narrow it down if you want. We will keep this one and then you can pick from the flowered one and the one with pearls today. I will put whichever one of those you pick and this new one with your dress and we'll call it a deal."

"Oh thank you, thank you!"

"No problem. I'll have Janet make a note on your bill. Janet?"

She was still hiding from me in the fitting area.

"Yes?" I could hear her moving closer. "What's up?"

"Could you mark down that Tonny will be taking this lace veil along with one of these." I held out the veils to Janet.

"Sure, which one of those. The pearl one, or the flower one?"

"I don't know. Which one Tonny?"

Tonny was already biting her lip and furrowing her brow at the hint of having to make yet another wedding decision. Remind me why I'm upset I'm not in a relationship? It just leads to a wedding and therefore stress. Let's remember this if someone is ever in front of me, bent on one knee, trying to entice me with a big sparkly diamond. And yes I realize the irony of owning a bridal shop and an attitude that's anti-wedding. What can I say? I'm still the little girl who likes to dress up her dolls for their wedding days.

"Oh…I don't know. What do you think?"

Yes! Finally! She didn't ask my opinion last time when she was torn between the two. Honestly if I hadn't given her yet another option, I don't think she would have asked my opinion because it would have forced her to decide down to one.

"I think the flower would be nice. It's similar enough to the lace one that you can narrow down the style you want. The pearl one is a little too modern for your dress any way. I say flowers. What do you think Janet?"

"Oh yes, definitely flowers. Definitely."

Janet was well aware of Tonny's indecisiveness, and regardless of the fact that she hates veils, especially ones with flowers, was not about to disagree with me.

"So the flowers?" Tonny's face was looking a little more decisive. "Okay…flowers...flowers. Yes, I see it. Definitely the flowers!"

"Great! Write that down Janet. I'll go put it with your shoes."

I could tell she was about to change her mind to the pearl one just because she could, so I stole them both away and closed the discussion. After that we moved into the fitting area and began making the necessary adjustments. Like I said, Tonny is a stress eater. We had to let the last bit of fabric there was out. Oh, Tonny.

She was just leaving when my friend Scott walked in.

"Hey, Louise! Janet."

"Hello. Scott." And back to the fitting room for Janet.

Janet and Scott did not get along because Scott's father was the minister and Janet was anti organized religion. It didn't matter that Scott hadn't gone to church since he was sixteen. Janet said he had a bad vibe. Scott didn't like Janet because he said she was a poser. Janet's family had a lot of money, so she kind of was. For the most part though, I ignored both of them when it came to their little ongoing battle. Anyone could see it was just sexual tension. I mean really, it usually is with things like this.

Scott owns the barbershop two doors down. He was the first person I spoke to when I moved to town. I know he likes me likes me, like in the middle school kind of way, but I know that it's just because it's slim pickings in League Creek and I'm still considered the fabulous city girl to most. He's nice and all, but he doesn't make my knees week or send shivers down my spine, you know? Not only that, but I'd rather be alone than settle for someone I don't love completely and utterly. At least, I think I'd rather be alone. Wouldn't I? Shouldn't I? Ugh. It is too early in the day for this kind of stuff.

"Hey, Scott, what's up? Shouldn't you be cutting someone's mullet or something?" Scott might have been from here, but he knows enough about the outside world to know that no place other place than a bar should be business in the front, party in the back.

"Ha, probably. Today is a purely walk-in day, so it doesn't really matter, though. None of my regulars are coming in, and Joe is holding down the shop."

Joe is Scott's less cute, probably less intelligent, but no less kind cousin who also takes part in the family business.

"Oh okay. Well hey, why don't you "walk-in" on over to the bakery and buy me a muffin and a smoothie since I skipped breakfast today. Sound good?"

"That was not even clever. And why don't you just walk down there yourself? It's not like you're overflowing with business here. Plus, the Queen of the Undead is here. She can hold down the fort."

"I heard that. I am not amused," came Janet's monotone voice.

I really need to put up some sort of wall between the fitting area and the front counter.

"I meant you to, Janet," came back Scott.

"Fine. Now please take all of your sexual tension down to the bakery and leave me be. Oh and get me a raspberry muffin. Oh and a scone. And a chai tea. And a" I cut her off.

"Bye Janet. Let's go. If I let her she'll order the whole store."

At that we both awkwardly laughed, neither one of us really wanting to pay attention to Janet's sexual tension comment, considering we've already had the, "let's just be friends" discussion. I knew Scott understood, but I also knew he was still struggling to get over me. And I also know that sounds totally conceited and terrible, but, well, it's the truth. Avoiding any further awkwardness, I led the way out my store, but not before reminding Janet of our next fitting.

"Janet! Don't forget Marcia Keats is coming in for her first fitting today. Can you set that up?" A pause as we listened to see if she heard me.

"I know. Got it."

"But are you going to set the"

"Got. It."

"Okay. Thanks!"

"Yup."

"Goodbye Janet."

"Bye, Louise."

Now Scott's turn.

"Bye Janet."

"Yeah, yeah. Leave. Now."

"Always a pleasure."

"Bite me."

And we were off. The trip was short considering the bakery was diagonally across from my shop. Two hops, skips, and a jump and we were there.

"Hello, Annie. How are you this morning?"

Annie owns the bakery with her husband Howard. They are in their sixties but you'd never know it the way they keep busy. Howard runs marathons and Annie swims miles and miles everyday. I can barely dedicate half an hour to my treadmill three times a week.

"Oh, hello doll! I'm good, thanks, how's the shop going? I saw Tonny coming out. Did you finally manage a veil choice out of her?"

See. Everyone knows everything.

"Sort of. We got it narrowed down to two. I think that's going to be it until the moment before she walks down the aisle."

"Oh, well that's impressive. I never thought she could get down to five. Oh, hello Scott. I didn't even see you there." Poor Scott. "Why are you hiding behind Louise?"

"Hello, Annie. I wasn't hiding, just being patient while you caught up. Howard has a marathon today, right?"

"Oh, no dear, this Saturday. He is running some bakery errands. I'll tell him you asked for him."

"Thank you, please do."

"So what can I get you two? I gather you didn't come here just to gossip all day."

Yay…fooood.

"Definitely not! I would like a blueberry muffin and a strawberry smoothie please." It's totally fattening and I don't even care. After a phone call with my mother I usually jump into the arms of the closest carb. "Oh and Janet would like a raspberry muffin, a scone, and a chai tea. Please."

Uh oh. Disapproving look at twelve o' clock. Here it comes.

"You know dear. I know you aren't worried about your figure now, but someday all of this bad food is going to catch up with you. It's not like you have a man to love you regardless of your shape."

There it is. The stinger. If my body wasn't so immune to such unintentionally venomous remarks, that probably would have hurt.

"Yes well, maybe I'll take an interest in sheep. I here they're both loving and friendly."

"Louise, if that is supposed to be your idea of a sick joke, it's not becoming dear." Annie replied, trying not to seem horrified by my dark sense of humor.

"You're right Annie, I'm sorry. I just, you know, it all gets old. This invisible rule saying that I must find a man. It's too much pressure."

Annie didn't say anything, all she did was raise her eyebrow disapprovingly. Apparently "pressure smessure" was her motto.

"Ha, Louise. Such a kidder." The tone in Scott's voice may have hidden his hurt at the reminder that he wasn't a contender on my love game show from Annie but it did not from me. "I'm also getting something, Annie. I would like a large regular coffee with cream and a cherry Danish please."

Annie was still looking at me, her eyes were a little bigger than usual. Her mouth was open like she was going to say something. I wasn't looking at her, but still staring at my own calm, steadfast reflection in the mirror. I was strong and independent, why did I need a man?

"Yes, yes, oh and I guess make Janet's scone blueberry. She didn't tell me what kind she wanted."

Annie didn't respond verbally, she just shook her head and gathered up the various breakfast sweets. The whir of drink machines began in another minute, the three of us still stuck in an awkward silence.

Finally the drinks were finished, we paid, and left. Scott in his "crush funk" decided not to join Janet and me for breakfast, and instead made up some lame excuse to bounce.

"Hey, I gotta go make sure Joe isn't pulling a Sweeny Todd or anything. I'll talk to you later?" It was definitely a question more than an expression.

"Oh, yeah sure. Its Wednesday right?" Wednesdays in the summer the town had a barbeque to catch up on the latest gossip.

"Yeah." He was waiting for me to make the next move.

"So barbeque? Town square? Seven o' clock?" Queen to E 4.

"Oh yeah definitely." Rook to…okay I can't play chess that well.

"Did I sign up to bring something?" I asked, knowing my track record with things like that. I usually ended up signing up for things at town meetings just so I would not be harassed about how I never volunteer for anything.

"No, you almost did just to get Edna to stop talking to you, but I stopped you before you agreed to bring homemade brownies. We all know you can't cook." Luckily a joke at my expense broke the tension and a smile onto Scott's face.

"Oh, good call. I hate when I sign up for things by poorly timed avoidance behavior."

"Yeah well people are still trying to forget the chicken fashion show you 'signed up' for last year." Scott shivered with the memory. I merely grimaced and shook my head.

"Yeah, extra good call."

"No worries, I'll see you later?" Scott asked again, completely out of his crush funk.

"Sounds good. Tell Joe I said hey." I smiled, but no teeth, that would be too much post crush funk.

Oh yeah, and "crush funk" is what Janet and I have named how Scott acts when someone reminds him of the lack of hope there is involving him and me having a non-platonic relationship.

Now that Scott was gone, I started thinking more about Annie's reactions. It made me mad that so many strong women felt the need not only to have a man in their lives, but that they couldn't get past another woman not having one. The more I thought about it the more pissed off I got.

"What the hell is wrong with you? Did you bring my scone?"

"Yes I brought your scone. And nothing is wrong with me." I didn't feel like hearing Janet's overly feminist bra-burning speech so early in the morning.

I put her bag of food next to the magazine she was reading on the counter.

"Aw blueberry? Were they out of chocolate? And something is definitely wrong. So just tell me what so I can eat."

"You didn't tell me what kind of scone you wanted okay. This is just my pensive face."

"Okay so what are you pensiving about?"

"Pensiving is not a verb. I'm not thinking about anything in particular."

"I know it's not a verb, I was just making sure you were still here." She said, dropping a piece of scone in her mouth before taking a swig of her tea.

"Okay, look, it's not a big deal or anything."

"Sure it's not, continue."

She seemed doubtful it was anything other than the usual small-town issues. And, she was sort of right. I decided to start the conversation slightly off-topic.

"I might have made some sick sheep joke relating to my relationship dry-spell."

"So?"

"Well I also might have commented about people having to get married being some sort of invisible rule and Annie seemed to be more disgusted by the fact that I am opposed to said invisible rule than my inappropriate sheep joke."

"Okay…?" She wasn't really seeing the problem "Oh…" She said, seemingly getting it, yet not really. " So you're afraid that Annie's going to tell everyone you're a lesbian.".

"WHAT? A lesbian? No! Okay, maybe. But I'm not really worried about anything just irritated." Whether she had complained or not, Janet seemed to be liking that blueberry scone. "I thought you didn't like blueberry scones?"

"Whatever, you put it in front of me I'm going to eat it. I'm not trying to waste food here. Don't change the subject. What are you 'not' worried about?"

"I'm just irritated that all this town can do is focus on people getting married or not getting married. What happened to all the years of advancement for women and society? It's a little ridiculous."

"Well yeah I mean have you noticed that all the typically male jobs in this town are held by males? I tried to get a job at the mechanic's and they wouldn't hire me!"

I had to roll my eyes at that.

"Janet. You don't know how to fix cars."

"Still. If I had had junk between my legs they would have taken the time to teach me. I'm just saying."

"Janet. Go burn your bra somewhere. That's not what I'm talking about. You know what, whatever. This is my life and I just have to live it the way I see fit. I have a good job and good friends, well friend. That is enough for me and it will have to be enough for everyone else."

Janet didn't say anything for a little bit, just took that time to literally chew her scone as she mentally chewed over my comments, nodding her head in agreement simultaneously. It was a couple minutes and two scones down before either of us spoke again. Janet went first.

"So you do realize Annie would prefer you being a lesbian than not married and straight right?"

"Oh yeah, definitely."

I nodded, knowing in my own geeky way that "resistance was futile."