Wednesday, October 28, 2009
For whom the Belles Toll, the conclusion
For whom the Belles Toll, Part 5
A bell is no bell 'til you ring it
The loud sound of the tv woke me up rudely. I groaned inwardly and peeked at the bedside clock. It was only 7 in the morning. I could hear Teacher making noise as she moved about the room. Then she went into the bathroom and closed the door loudly. Damned morning people...no respect or consideration for those of us who don't get up with the sun. I heard the shower go on as I curled myself under the blankets and tried to go back to sleep. I was still tired. I fell asleep for a few minutes until the loud roar of the hair dryer through the opened bathroom door woke me up again. I had this suspicion that either Teacher was oblivious to the racket she was making, or she was trying to wake me up. There was also a very distinct possibility that she was just getting back at me after I told her off last night.
Then I thought to myself, Nah, she wouldn't act so childish. I didn't think that she was being vindictive. Until she opened the blinds and let the bright lights in! Okay, now she was being a bitch. I just turned the other way and buried my head under the covers and tried to ignore all the noise she was making. She even turned up the tv volume at one point. Luckily, I've been known to fall asleep in front of the tv a few times. In fact, I often turn on the tv and radio and set the sleep timer to turn them off in an hour. The noise from the tv and radio often puts me to sleep. I think it's because I grew up in such a big household, that there was always some sort of noise going on in the background--people laughing, shouting, talking, or just moving about. I found it very comforting at times when I'm having trouble sleeping. It's probably why I fall asleep faster on the sofa in front of the tv than I do when I'm just lying in bed. I was dozing off again when I heard the door slamming shut. I'm pretty sure Teacher went off somewhere, but by then, I was drifting off to sweet unconscious sleep, so I really didn't care.
The next time I woke up, the tv was still on. I looked at the clock and it was about noon. I stretched and turned on my back. I looked to my left and saw Teacher sitting there, remote in hand, giving me a puzzling look, like she was pondering a decision. I just grunted acknowledgment and sat up. I stood up, stretched, and grabbed my gear and some clothes and headed into the bathroom. That cool shower felt refreshing. Today was the big day. In a few hours, Bride would get married, and suddenly I was more awake. It was hard to believe that she was getting married, today, and I felt my chest tightening a bit with that realization. It was a big change, a life changing event that I wasn't sure if I was ready to embrace. But she seemed happy about it, and that's all that really mattered. If she was happy, then I'd be happy for her.
Soon as I got ready and put on some clothes, I came out of the bathroom. Teacher was still watching tv. When I asked her if she was hungry, she snapped at me that she all ready had breakfast. Okay, fine. She was being bitchy. I didn't care. I had other things on my mind. So I sat on the bed and put on my shoes. I told her that I was going out for lunch then. When I grabbed my keys, she suddenly asked me where should we go for lunch. I told her that there was a restaurant next to the hotel or maybe we'd go riding around and find a place to eat. We found a restaurant we both agreed on and got a table by the window. Our conversation was mostly polite, talking about the weather and the menu and what we felt like ordering. We were talking about everything else instead of dealing with the blowout from the night before. But I've all ready said my piece, and I don't regret it, even if it came out harsh. I figured we'd keep to the polite talk while we sort our feelings and digest what was said. I figured wrong.
When we started in on the chips and queso appetizers, Teacher revealed that Boytoy texted her last night. His girlfriend was pregnant. Whoa! I told her that was big. I didn't know how to proceed. This revelation was just more proof that Boytoy was even more attached to his live in girlfriend. I was pretty sure that Teacher must've been devastated at the news, and that probably explained why she was such a bitch the night before--and maybe this morning, too. But that was just my guess. I asked her how she was feeling. She told me that she was fine, and it wasn't like she and Boytoy were serious. She was just having fun.
I didn't believe her at all. She wasn't having fun. Her moody behavior told me that she still had feelings for this jerk. But I wasn't going to push her any further. Whatever happens next would be up to her. I didn't know what else to say, so I changed the subject. I told her that Deceiver was coming to the wedding. That got her attention. She was just as shocked as I had been yesterday when Bride told me the news. I just shrugged and told her that Bride's mom felt sorry for Deceiver, seeing as how Bride and Deceiver used to be friends.
Teacher laughed and said, Deceiver used to be our friend, too! I couldn't help but laugh, and told Teacher that I said the same thing yesterday to Bride! For now, our shared aversion of Deceiver helped to reduce the tension that had been growing between us since last night. Lunch was good; we laughed a little easier and shared jokes and memories. Then we went walking around town, looking into a few shops til it was time to get back to the hotel and get ready for the wedding. I put on my suit and helped Teacher zip up her dress.
We arrived at the church almost an hour ahead of time; we wanted to get good seats. The wedding designer was putting up the last of the flowers and decorations. Half an hour before the wedding, the wedding party arrived, along with a few guests. The photographer started taking wedding pictures. I still hadn't seen Bride yet, and I was anxious to see her and the rest of the wedding party. In the meantime, I started chatting up some of the other guests. Teacher was back to her sullen mood, remaining silent and giving off this cold vibe. Moody, much?
I spotted Bride's friends, the Blond and the Brunette, from the night before and I smiled and waved at them. They smiled back, seemingly relieved to recognize someone friendly in the crowd of strangers. They sat in the pew behind me and we started talking. I have to confess that while I was partly motivated to make them feel welcomed, a small part of me still held out hope that maybe things would head into a fruitful direction, in spite of last night's bust. I was talking to the girls when my partner in crime from last night, Fix, showed up. He greeted the girls, then said that one of the ushers for the wedding was feeling sick (still hung over!). He wanted to know if I could fill in, seeing as I was wearing my black suit and white shirt, I said, Sure! Fix said that Bride would be relieved. So I got up and excused myself and headed over to the church foyer with Fix to meet the wedding planner and the one other usher.
The wedding planner explained that the usher's job was to make sure that the wedding guests would be seated according to whether they were here as the groom's or the bride's guests. Bride's guests on the left, Groom's on the right. Immediate family members were seated at the very front pews reserved for them. Simple enough. So I put on my smile, greeted the guests as they came into the church, and sat them accordingly. The music started playing and the church started filling up. Soon enough, the Groom was at the front and the wedding party started marching in. When the last pair went in, I closed the door behind them and turned to see Bride standing behind me. I felt my heart flutter when I met her eyes and she smiled. She looked stunning, absolutely breathtaking in her white gown and pearls. I told her that she was gorgeous, an absolute goddess. She smiled and said thank you. Then we heard the wedding march and she nodded. Together, the other usher and I counted to three and opened the doors again, revealing Bride in her all her enchanting glory.
I watched her glide gracefully down the aisle, past the standing guests who looked at her with wonder and joy. It was like watching a dream as she moved further away, step by step. The ceremony proceeded smoothly and before I knew it, it was time to exchange vows and rings. I was surprised at how fast this moment had come. It seemed unreal to witness Bride and Groom saying their vows. I was witnessing something intimate and monumental, something sacred. And when the priest asked if anyone had any objections to this union, I wondered, Well, if anyone did object, would they really stop the wedding? Time seemed to stop for a moment, and all I saw was Bride, looking so nervous and happy and absolutely lovely.
Then it was done. They were married. With the ceremony was over, I stood back up and resumed my usher duties, opening the doors to let the wedding party exit. And when Bride passed by, I saw her joy. I felt my heart stop again as I returned her radiant smile. I wanted to freeze this moment in time. I wondered if all brides were this happy, this beautiful on their wedding day.
Teacher and I headed back to the hotel, where the wedding reception would take place. When we entered the reception hall, we dropped off our gifts then found our table. Our table was next to the wedding party table at the front. Fix was there along with the Blond and the Brunette. Fix and I exchanged that look again, and I thought, Why not? So we started our game plan again, turning on the charm for the Blond and the Brunette. Teacher kept to herself while Fix and I were laughing and bantering with Bride's friends. All was going well. Then Teacher gasped, grabbed my arm and said, Deceiver is here! Fix and I turned to look. And it was true! The Deceiver had arrived.
We quickly looked away before she made eye contact. And when we surreptitiously looked again, she was seated at the far end of the hall, right next to the kiddie table! We laughed at that. The Blond and the Brunette were curious as to why we were behaving this way. So Fix told them that we just spotted someone we knew from school. They seemed confused, so I told them that it was a person who was not very nice to us in college. That seemed to answers some of their questions, but I wasn't going to tell them anymore. I didn't want to ruin the good mood Fix and I had created; we had enough problems keeping up a fun, cheery atmosphere with Teacher looking all morose and snippy. But as much as I tried to ignore Deceiver, it was hard not to think about her now that she was here.
For whom the Belles Toll, Part 6
Ring out the old, ring in the new... Ring out the false, ring in the true
We weren't always enemies. There was a time when Deceiver was a friend. I remember the first time that I met her. It was the first day of class. She seemed so meek and lonely, especially when the professor had us break into groups to do an exercise. No one had asked her to join their group. I felt bad for her, so I asked her to join our group. She was quiet then, not really saying anything during our class exercise. I thought that maybe she was shy. I was wrong. She wasn't shy. She was merely trying to figure us out. When I met Fix and Bride, they told me that Deceiver was someone they knew of from the old neighborhood. Bride was always friendly to her, as was Teacher. Fix was just polite.
As time went on, Deceiver started hanging around us when we went to the beach or out to lunch. She'd look for us when we were hanging out under a tree or around a table. A few times, she came to parties with us. She was speaking up more, and she often called us to go to the beach or hang out. And when we didn't want to go, she'd whined and complained til we gave in. I didn't mind it too much at first. Then she started making disparaging remarks about people who dressed different or looked different. I'm not sure why she felt the need to put other people down. I suspected her attitude had much to do with her home life. I met her parents once, and once was enough. Her dad was such a jerk, saying demeaning things about people he considered beneath him. Her mother drank heavily and just agreed with her father.
Deceiver started pursuing a guy who was an engineering major. I called him Tesla. Tesla seemed like a nice guy, and he was really smart. He was also one of Fix's fraternity brothers, so I'd often run into him at parties that Fix and I attended. For some reason, Deceiver was under the impression that she and Tesla were in a relationship. She hounded him, and joined all the clubs that he was in, just so she'd spend time with him. It was obvious to everyone that Tesla was just being nice to her, treating her the same way he treated other people. Deceiver was having a relationship with her imagination.
Then Tesla came out. He was gay. And while that wasn't anything too shocking to the rest of us, Deceiver took it particularly hard. She started badmouthing him, talking about how she was misled by him. We ignored her at first, but that just made her complain even more. We weren't sympathetic to her. For one thing, they never had a relationship! And we still hung out with Tesla; his orientation made no difference to us. He was still the same guy. But Deceiver couldn't let it go. It was like she was craving attention, and when we didn't give it to her, she sought it out from a student Christian group. She even tricked me once by telling me that she was going to a prayer group to pray for one of our classmates who died in a car accident. I agreed to go with her, thinking that I was doing something nice to honor someone's memory.
Boy, was I wrong! Instead of praying for the deceased, the junior pastor started lecturing us about the righteous path. The next thing I knew, Deceiver started telling this sob story about how she had been misled and betrayed by a man who used her and then told her that he was gay. I couldn't believe that crap! And when the others in the prayer group started to speak ill of Tesla, I was dumbfounded! Then they turned to me, expecting me to join them in condemning Tesla for being a sinner. That's when I lost it! I snapped at them that maybe they ought to pray for themselves first before condemning others as sinners. I quoted them a Bible verse about casting the first stone if they themselves were without sin.
The stupefied look on their faces with their mouths wide open was my reward for the evening. But I was still pissed off and before I got up to leave, the junior pastor started quoting Bible verses on homosexuality being a sin. His smug and self righteous attitude made me mad! This idiot was trying to lord his Biblical knowledge over me. Big mistake! I come from preacher people. Going back to my great grandparents, there have always been pastors, preachers, and missionaries of various Christian denominations in my family. My mother read the whole Bible with each and every one of us when we became teenagers. It was a rite of passage. And when I started questioning different religions in high school, I started researching and attending various religions, learning all I could about them. So when this smug jackass started quoting catchphrases from the Old Testament, I had to smack his ass down with great vengeance!
So I started quoting him the Old Testament. I countered that it also says that eating pork and eating shellfish was a sin! So if he's ever eaten bacon or shrimp, he has sinned. Blood transfusion are also a sin. That part of the Bible also says that it's okay to own slaves and women were the property of their fathers until they married, and then they became property of their husbands. The junior pastor seemed stunned that I wasn't some idiot off the streets when it came to the Bible. Then I told him to read the New Testament and learn what Jesus said about loving thy neighbor. Then I quoted that Jesus warned of false prophets who preach in his name, act on his behalf, claiming to do his work. When the time comes and they stand before Jesus for acknowledgment, Jesus will tell them to get away from him, because he does not know them!
When the junior pastor flipped to the table of contents trying to find the right book to check on my last quote, I couldn't help but make fun of him. I told him, Oh, my gawd! You can't find a simple book in the New Testament? Even my 9 year old niece knows all the Bible books by heart! What kind of pastor doesn't know the Bible books by memory? I admit, it was petty and low handed, but it served its purpose! The look of embarrassment and shame on the red faced junior pastor and the dumb expressions on the prayer group's faces was so worth it. These mofos wanted to smear someone and they failed miserably. It felt good to kick dirt in their faces while they were down.
I ignored Deceiver for a while after that. Eventually, I revealed to the others what had happened after much prodding and cajoling (and threats!) from them. Fix was particularly pissed that Deceiver was spreading lies about Tesla. We stopped hanging out with Deceiver that semester. And it wasn't until she tearfully apologized the following semester about her actions did we tolerate her presence. I heard that her Christian group had disbanded. I suspected that without any friends, she came crawling back to us. But if the others were willing to accept her back, then I supposed I could, too. All was forgiven. And things were fine for rest of the year. The next year, however, was a totally different story.
Our classes were getting harder and more intense. To get ready for midterms, we started a study group for the classes that we had in common. During our study sessions, Deceiver kept interrupting our progress, wanting to take numerous breaks, go for an ice cream or a snack run. We ignored her and went back to studying. Then as the midterms were a week away, she became even more disruptive. She wanted us to stop studying and go to the movies. When we ignored her, she suddenly grabbed our notes and tossed them in the air! Then she stomped around the living room and said that we were so boring and we should go to the beach. The rest of us exchanged looks that said, What The F*ck? That bitch has gone crazy! The next few days, we avoided Deceiver and ignored her calls while we studied together. She was just too distracting and destructive. When our midterms were over, our hard work paid off. We aced our tests. Deceiver flunked! She'd have to ace the finals just to get a barely passing grade. She was sulking and bitchy that we had done well, but we ignored her. Hell, we had a party to celebrate that midterms were over!
During the rest of the semester, Deceiver apologized for her disruptive actions and we decided that the stress probably made her act crazy. We started to let her hang out with us again, and things were going smoothly, until it was time for finals. One of our class finals had two parts. The first part was a term paper; the second part was a cumulative test on the material. The term paper was a group project due the week before the test. Bride and I teamed up together. A few weeks before finals, we started meeting with the professor and her teaching assistant regarding our project. We were looking for input and emailed them our working paper for critiques. Two weeks before finals, the professor wanted rough drafts to see how the groups were progressing. Suddenly, Bride and I were approached by Deceiver, desperate to join our group. She was having problems with her other partners; she said they weren't doing any of the work and were ignoring her.
Bride and I weren't sure, as we had all ready started working on our final draft. The rough draft we were submitting was the similar to the one we had discussed in our recent meeting with the professor. We kind of felt bad for her, because if she didn't ace the final, she'd flunk the entire course. The professor gave us the okay to work together. And so we started finalizing our paper. We saved our work on a disc, but our data and revisions were copied on my laptop as well. Two days before the paper was due, Deceiver told us that she wanted to type up the paper, seeing as how Bride and I had done most of the research. So we let her take the disc. The plan was that the next day, we'd go over the paper and make any final changes before submitting it.
When the next day came, however, Deceiver was no where to be found. She missed our meeting and didn't return our calls. When we went by her apt, she didn't answer. Bride and I were getting agitated. She had our disc, and we had this sinking feeling that she hadn't typed up anything like she had agreed. Luckily for us, we still had a copy saved on my laptop, and we spent all night working on our final copy. And when we were done typing it, we took off Deceiver's name and emailed our professor and her teaching assistant, informing them of what had happened. The next morning when the paper was due, Deceiver called Bride's phone. She had this sob story about how she had lost the disc and had spent the entire day looking for it. When Bride asked her why didn't she just tell us so we'd start working on the paper ourselves, Deceiver's excuse was that she didn't want us to get mad at her for losing the disc. Bullshit! We knew that she was lying. And when she asked us what we were going to do, Bride told her that we'd work something out with the professor.
We didn't even ask Deceiver to join us for our study group the week before finals. After our written exam, the professor asked Bride and I to meet her at her office. There, we had a revealing discussion. Apparently, Bride had told the professor that she had done most of the work on the paper, and we had pushed her out of the group! We couldn't believe that she had lied so blatantly! Unfortunately for Deceiver, the professor was familiar with our work and knew that Deceiver was lying. Not only did Deceiver flunk the course, but the professor reported her for misconduct. Deceiver was placed on academic probation and had to repeat the course and earn higher grades or get kicked out of college.
The fallout didn't stop there. We had another party to celebrate that finals were over. The next few days, we'd find out our grades. Then we got emails from the Dean of Student Affairs wanting to speak to us. I was the first one to meet her. I couldn't imagine why the Dean wanted to talk to me. When I did meet her, I was shocked! She said that someone had reported that during the party we recently had at my apt, there was a lot underage drinking and drug use. I was blindsided by that! I mean, sure we had drinks at the party, but no one was driving anywhere and most spent the night at my place. But I wasn't going to tell the Dean that! And besides, there were no drugs at the party!
I called upon all of my acting skills and righteous indignation to defend myself. I told the Dean that I was insulted that someone was making these false accusations. I demanded to know the name of my accuser and I wanted to press charges for slander! I worked up a furious anger and started talking about a lawsuit! That got the Dean's attention and she told me that she was just investigating a report. She tried to calm me down. She assured me that no action was going to be taken against me at this point, and that she'd contact me the next day once she ended her inquiry.
I called my friends and told them what went down and what to expect. Everyone was stunned but we decided to stick to the story I started. Everyone was nervous. But quite unexpectedly, everyone else's meeting with the Dean was canceled. The next day, I met the Dean and she said that the complaint had been dismissed. And when I asked her who made the complaint, she revealed that it was Deceiver! I couldn't believe it! That backstabbing, lying bitch!!! When I told the Dean that Deceiver wasn't even at the party, the Dean said that's what her investigation found out. And that in talking to the professors, she learned that Deceiver had a history of lying and misconduct. Forget academic probation. This latest stunt got her kicked out for a whole academic year, and there was no guarantee the university would take her back after that.
When I told the others what had happened, they were shocked at first, then they were really angry. That bitch tried to burn us! And then she had the nerve to send us an apologetic email, asking us for forgiveness! She claimed that she felt like we were leaving her behind as she was failing class, but she didn't want us to move on with out her. That's why she did the things she did. That bitch was just crazy. The girls wanted to kick her ass, but she was all ready gone by the time she sent her pathetic email. Besides, it felt good to know that the university had kicked her out! Karma's a bitch!
Years later, after we had graduated and moved on with life, I heard through the grapevine that Deceiver had moved out of state to marry some divorced guy with three kids. I couldn't imagine her as a mother, and I laughed at how she'd have to compete with children to get the attention she craved. Then two months ago, I got an email out of the blue from her! It was a long apology letter, where she admitted she had wronged us, and she had been a terrible person. She was divorced now and moving back to the state. She also said that she was going into the hospital for surgery, and she wanted to settle her affairs in case the surgery was unsuccessful. Truthfully, I didn't give a damn about her email or her life. I couldn't believe that she even wrote me! So I blocked her email and tried to forget about her. And I haven't thought about her until now.
But whatever unpleasant thoughts I had were pushed aside when the wedding party made their entrance to loud applause and cheers. Seeing Bride's alluring smile made me think only of celebrating her happiness. And it was a fantastic reception. The food was great, the music was fun. We ate, we danced, and we laughed and groaned at some of the speeches. Once again, Worstman gave a horrible speech comparing Bride and Groom's union to a sentence in prison, but at least he wasn't revealing any more secrets about Groom. Fix and I were doing very well with the Blond and the Brunette. We danced with them when we weren't sitting at the table, laughing together. We all did some line dancing, some two stepping, and the wedding standards: The chicken dance, the electric slide, and the cha cha. Then it was just a bunch of mix of different songs to get our groove on. I convinced Teacher to dance one time, then she sat back down and started drinking, keeping herself separate from the rest of us. But by then, I was having too good of a time with Fix and the ladies.
Maybe it was the good spirits I was feeling (or the ones that I had been drinking) that left me in a very generous mood. On the way back from the bathroom, I ran into Deceiver. She said hello and I just looked at her, nodded and kept walking. By the time I made it back to the table, I thought to myself, Well, maybe it's time I just let my anger at her go. And I started feeling sorry for her, especially since her last email said that she had to undergo a serious operation. Maybe she did deserve some kind of acknowledgment as a human being. I almost convinced myself to talk to her when it was time to dance with the Bride. I pinned money on Bride's dress before we started dancing. I told her that she looked absolutely stunning, just beautiful. She laughed and told me that she could tell that I was having a good time. I agreed.
I told her that I was feeling sorry for Deceiver, especially since she had that serious operation. Bride raised an eyebrow and told me that Deceiver didn't have a serious operation. She got a boob job! I was like, Say what? Bride laughed and told me that Bride went in for a boob job two months ago! I couldn't believe it. Once again, I've fallen for that bitch's lies! Bride told me to just let it go and never ever talk to Deceiver again. I grunted my agreement, and finished dancing with Bride and she kissed me on the cheek when our dance ended. I tried to ignore my irritation for falling once again for Deceiver's lies. I thought she was dying, but it turns out, she just wanted to get bigger boobs! Gawd, I was an idiot! Maybe I have drunk too much.
I was watching Deceiver talk on her phone when I had an epiphany: As mad as I was at Deceiver for lying, I was even more mad at myself for not doing anything about it! I was wasting time being angry at her; I ought to get even. I saw two kids at the buffet table, so I went up to them. They were both 9 years old. I gave them each ten dollars, told them what to do when they went back to their table, next to Deceiver. I walked back to my table to watch what would happen, and I wasn't sure if it was going to work. The boys said some things to Deceiver. Then I saw the look of horror on Deceiver's face before she looked down at her dress. The boys went back to eating their food and ignored her as she put on her jacket. It wasn't cold in the hall, but she had her jacket all buttoned up. Even then she kept looking down, drawing her shoulders in. Within half an hour, she got up and left in a hurry. I started laughing then. When Fix asked me what was so funny, I told him it was nothing, but he knew that I had done something that I wasn't quite ready to share yet.
My plan had worked better than I expected. When I approached those boys earlier, I told them what to do. I wanted them to stare at Deceiver. And when she made eye contact, tell her that she looked pretty. Then tell her the top of her dress looked crooked. Tell her that one side seemed lower and bigger than the other. I wanted Deceiver to think that her boob job looked lopsided. Seeing her freak out and leave meant that my plan had succeeded. I almost felt bad for her. Almost. Payback's a bitch.
I was exhilarated and I had a sweet buzz from the alcohol. I was having fun with the Brunette. Fix and I had worked our way around the table so that we were sitting next to the girls instead of across from them. We were doing some flirting when Teacher interrupted us, saying that she had a headache. She gave me a dirty look and said that she wanted to go back to the room. Okay, now I knew that this bitch was trying to c*ckblock me! I was like, Oh hell no! You ain't ruining this like you did last night!
I told the Brunette that I wanted to make sure that Teacher reached the room safely, and I'd be back in a few minutes. I gave her hand a light squeeze before I got up and left with Teacher. Teacher just looked cross the whole time we were in the elevator. Soon as we got in the room, she stalked over to the bed and sat down. I asked her if she needed anything, but she refused, saying that she just wanted to lie down. So I told her to lie down. As I was getting ready to leave, she demanded some ice. So I grabbed the bucket and went to get some ice from the end of the hall. By the time I came back, she had passed out with her shoes still on.
I left the ice in the room, locked the door, and headed back down to to rejoin Fix and the girls. We stayed and enjoyed the reception til was just after midnight, when Bride and Groom were ready to leave. We said good night to Bride and Groom. They were spending the night in the hotel. In the morning when we'd all check out, I'd give them a ride to the airport where they'd catch their flight and embark on their honeymoon. Then we dispersed ourselves. Fix took the Blond to show her the room he was staying in. The Brunette wanted to show me the view from her room on the higher floors. And it was a very nice view from a very nice room.
The next morning I found Teacher still sleeping in her dress. Her shoes had come off at some point. I grabbed some clothes and took a shower. When I was done, I stepped out of the bathroom to find Teacher somewhat awake but groggy. I handed her a glass of water to drink. When she was done with her shower, we packed up most of our stuff, then went for breakfast. She was quiet and contemplative and we didn't say much at first. Then she surprised me by apologizing for her behavior. She was sorry that she had been such a bitch this whole weekend. I told her that she wasn't a bitch the whole weekend...just most of the weekend. That got a dry laugh out of her. She thanked me for being a friend and for putting up with her crap. She said that she slept well last night, knowing that I was watching over her. Well, she didn't need to know everything, so I just nodded.
We said good bye to Fix and the others before dropping off Bride and Groom at the airport. On the drive home, Teacher was quiet. I think she had some things on her mind. So did I. Eventually Teacher fell asleep. It started to rain after a while, and I started thinking about another rainy day so long ago, in a barn alone with a beautiful woman, being closer than we've ever been in our lives. And I thought about Bride and how happy she looked when we danced at her wedding and when we hugged at the airport. I thought about things that happened and what could've been; I thought about what was, and what is, and what if. And I couldn't help but sigh, thinking that her hair still smelled the same, that sweet scent of green apples that I remember so fondly.