Life Imitates Art

Three months drifted by. Sara and Twila both moved in with Sara's mother, unable to afford an apartment of their own. Carla was happy though she knew her daughter was increasingly unhappy. But the more she tried to find out why, the more both young women grew silent. A united front. Carla knew it had something to do with the trip to New York; her imagination often kept her up at night. Carla wished that Father O'Mallory would return from his trip to Rome. Maybe Sara would confide in him, he always seemed to know how to cheer her up.

Twila alternated between waves of exasperation and guilt. She finally broke down one night and told Sara that she had told Josh that it was over and that they wouldn't see him again. The two had for the first time cried together.

For her part, Sara threw herself into her work. She managed to finish her project and even sold it. But that didn't pay the bills for long, so she got a part time job at Japan Cameras, and used the remaining time in her photojournalist pursuits. Even though she worked herself hard, the nights still belonged to dreams both good and bad. It didn't matter which, for most nights she woke up crying.

Her friend's misery was breaking Twila's heart so she began to make phone calls. All to no avail. Ted finally changed his number and Twila felt her frustrations growing.

It was a cloudy day, there was a slight chill in the air. Sara unlocked the front door and shut off the alarm. Her mother was at the doctor's today, but Twila should be home. Sara placed her camera case on the floor and wandered into the living room. Twila sat curled up the recliner staring out the window, twirling a piece of hair. An open envelope sat on the coffee table.

Sara glanced at the address. It was from the community up in the Rockies that Twila had applied to. The small community had advertised a need for an all around mental health specialist. It was accessible only by water plane. It was a thirty thousand dollar a year starting pay job, complete with own house and water plane. It was everything Twila had ever wanted.

Twila looked up, her eyes were sad and full of pain. "I got the job," she whispered, and she started crying.

"Why are you crying? It's great that you got the job. You've been wanting something like this for ages. I'm so happy for you!" Sara squatted down next to the chair. "If you're worried about me, don't be. I can cope. I've been through rougher things than this."

She's leaving. I'm going to be alone again. But she needs this job. It's more important than baby-sitting me. Sara swallowed the lump in her throat. "Take it, Twila. You'll never be happy if you don't, and I don't want to feel like I cost you your future."

Twila threw her arms around Sara and cried. After a few minutes she gave an unsteady laugh and taking the tissue Sara offered dabbed her at her eyes. She leaned against the window, looking out again.

"Are you sure, Sara? We could call all the time, I could afford it." She threw a small smile at Sara and then went back to watching the world outside. "I will even have a plane, I would only be an hour away as the crow flies. Looks like your mom got a ride from someone, that's not a taxi cab."

"Yeah, I'm sure." Sara looked out the window. A dark sedan was parked outside. A young man in a dark suit was setting up her mother's wheelchair, his back to them. He then reached in the back and lifted her mother into her chair. Carla was laughing and holding a long white box.

Sara looked at Twila. Twila looked at Sara. Carla had stopped needing help getting into her wheel chair about 10 years ago and she was furiously insistent on doing it herself. The young man took the box from Carla and walked beside her as she wheeled up the sidewalk. The trees obscured the man's top half. Sara frowned, there was something familiar about the way he moved.

"I'll be back in a sec," Sara said. She went downstairs to the front door and turned off the alarm so her mother would be able to get into the house. Sara fought back the almost insane urge to check how she looked in the mirror, then opened the door.

Carla stopped as the front door opened. The young man had his head turned to talk to her, so he walked forward a step before stopping. He swallowed and looked up. She's wearing the jeans, he thought inanely. The same outfit she wore to Fellows. But her hair, please don't let it be she cut it. Let it be in a ponytail or braid. Oh lord, she looks awful, so tired. Is she sick?

He was wearing a dark two piece, his shirt white, the tie black. His hair was neatly trimmed and short. He had a beard. Not a curly, bushy, full one, but a short one that seemed drawn on with a black felt marker. It too was neatly trimmed. There was fear and worry in his eyes as he stared at her just as intently.

Minutes ticked by as no one moved. Sara was conscious of Twila, as she brushed by her to whisper to her mother.

Josh took a step forward and handed her the long box.

Sara opened the box wordlessly. Tiger lillies. Sara eyes began to fill with tears of joy. How did he know? Mother? She looked at her mother questioningly for a moment, then looked back at Josh.

"Hello, Sara." His voice was soft, almost a whisper as his eyes continued to probe hers. Why doesn't she say something? Is she unhappy to see me? He brushed his hand against his pant leg. He licked his lips as his eyes became increasingly distressed.

With a soft cry, Sara dropped the flowers and flew down the steps and into Josh's arms, wrapping her arms around him. "I'm so sorry," she whispered into his shoulder. "I didn't mean… Please forgive me."

"Forgiven. I am sorry… I am the more experienced, I should have been paying more attention." He gave her a small smile, but after the first touch to steady them both, he kept his hands to his side. Sara pulled back slightly, a tentative smile on her face. She stroked his chin with her right hand. "You've grown a beard. And cut your hair." Why won't he hug me back?

"Should I shave?" he asked softly, and then smiled his old smile. "My mother threw a fit over my hair."

Sara's insides melted, though her heart fell slightly. He came back to apologize. He doesn't want me. She shook her head. "It suits you." She touched his face one last time then reluctantly dropped her hand. Sara heard the sound of her mother's chair move, and remembered the other two people were there. She turned to look at them, blushing slightly. She looked back over at Josh curiously. "How did you meet my mother? The flowers!"

Sara quickly turned around and gathered up the scattered blossoms. She looked them over and was glad to see that none of them were the worse for wear. Sara fussed with them a bit. "Thank you for the flowers, Josh. Oh, I'm such a twit. Come on Mom, you'll be wanting to go inside. Would you…" Sara hesitated, looking at Josh. "Would you like to come inside while I put these in water?" She hoped that he wouldn't see how unsure she was.

He shook his head, "I can't. I'm on my lunch break. Glad you liked the flowers, your mother was kind enough to tell me what you liked. It was good seeing you again."

He turned and walked away. Idiot. Good to see you again? He glanced at his watch and winced. Is she still interested? She can't be. She was just being polite. The hug? For the flowers.

"Josh, wait," Sara said almost in a panic, her heart in her eyes. I can't just let him go like this! "Can we get together for dinner? Soon? Please?" Please say yes. Please. She bit her lip. Sure, Sara, just throw yourself at a man who's not interested. Make an even greater fool of yourself.

Does she mean… Josh's heart speed up. No. She's just being friendly. "Sure," his voice was offhand and noncommittal, "I'll call you."

Twila made an exasperated sound. She had stood watching the two of them. Their uncertainty, each afraid to venture too far, their fear of getting hurt and in the process hurting each other again. That's it. She stepped forward to give Josh a piece of her mind. Carla grabbed her arm and shook her head. "We are going to talk. Sara, Twila. Now. Let the young man get back to work."

With that Carla wheeled into the house.

Sara wanted a hole to open up in the ground and swallow her. Mom's going to have a cow because I never told her about Josh. I don't want to talk about this. How am I going to explain to her what happened? How much I care about him? She followed her mother into the house and up into the kitchen.

Sara took down a vase from one of the shelves, filled it with water, and began to cut the ends of the lily stems. One by one she put the flowers into the vase with a facade of calm. He'll never call me.

"Could one of you please explain to me why a complete stranger walks up and introduces himself? Seems flabbergasted that I have know idea who he is. Then tells me that he was dating my daughter while she was in New York. And he would like to send her flowers. And then quite politely and respectfully asks 'what kind does Sara like?'" Carla's voice was even as she opened a cupboard and took out a coffee cup.

Her hand shook as she tried to pour herself some coffee and she placed the cup and pot back before she spilled. A deep, rasping breath escaped her and she placed a shaking hand to her forehead. A few seconds later she was composed enough to continue.

"You," her eyes cut towards Twila, "I can excuse. You are Sara's friend, not mine."

Carla's eyes closed and her voice grew strained, "Why? Why is it that the daughter that I love more then my own life, feels that she can not speak to me about such things? I know I am overprotective. But I try not to be. What am I doing wrong that you would shut me out of your life like this?"

By the end, Carla was quietly sobbing, her fist to her mouth to stifle her sobs.

"Oh Mom, you're not doing anything wrong," Sara said sadly. "I'm so sorry I didn't tell you, but we weren't dating. Not really. We went out to the movies once." She moved over to where her mother was and knelt down. "I first met him at the show that Thea had. We met again by accident about a week and a half later. He invited Twila and I to a get-together that he and his friends were having at a restaurant, then he asked me out to the movies the next night."

"Don't blame Twila, Mom. I asked her not to say anything to you about all of this. When I first met Josh, he scared the hell out of me." Sara quickly held up her hand and reassured Carla. "No, Mom, he didn't attack me or anything like that. I saw him and I felt like the carpet had been pulled out from under me." She gave a reminiscent smile. "I still feel that way when I see him." Sara shrugged helplessly.

"I didn't say anything about him at first because I didn't expect anything to happen, and I didn't want you to worry. I wanted to show you I could take care of myself. Then, when something did happen, I was ashamed and upset to tell you. To admit to you I had failed. You see, Mom," Sara said softy, "the night we went out to the movies, everything was going so well and I was so happy, and at the worst possible time, I had a flashback of the attack."

"I got so scared all of a sudden. I pushed him away and screamed some unforgivable things at him, then threw him out of the apartment. The next day he went back home to Madrid, and this is the first I've seen or heard from him since then." Sara's eyes were bright with tears of her own. "I never had the chance to apologize, or to explain. I care about him so much, and I don't think he wants anything to do with me anymore."

"Bullshit," Twila exclaimed, finally getting her two cents in. "Apollo's balls, Sara, the man crossed an ocean and a continent to move to New London. Where you just happen to be. In a city of over a million people he managed to single out your mother to ask her what flowers you like. Of course. He can't possibly be interested in you. He wasn't on pins and needles out there wondering if you would throw the flowers back in his face or not. Wondering if it was okay to touch you. You didn't even accept his apology. But what do I know! ARRRRRRH! You two are going to drive me stark raving nuts!"

Carla ignored Twila's outburst and looked at her daughter. She dried her tears. "You are attracted to him? That's wonderful. I had hoped…" Carla's eyes darted quickly to Twila and then she blushed.

Carla cleared her throat, "I had hoped that you would be able to be attracted to a man. Umm, actually I had thought… Anyone want any coffee?"

"Not you too," Sara groaned. "God dammit! Just because I've never been attracted to a man before and I haven't slept with every bloody jock between here and Toronto doesn't mean I'm gay!" Her voice was filled with frustration. "What the hell do you want me to do? Strip naked and throw myself at him–don't answer that, Twila. I know what you'd say."

"Honey, its not that." Carla sighed in frustration. "The psychiatrist said that I had to be prepared to accept and support you in whatever way you went. And with how close you and Twila are… I mean I know that she goes to your room sometimes at night. I was ready to accept it, that's all."

Sara grabbed the vase of flowers and clutched it to her chest. "The hell with the psychiatrist. What does he know? I am going to my room to think." Sara practically stomped out of the kitchen. A few moments later, she was back in the kitchen with a fighting gleam in her eyes.

"Mom, Josh didn't happen to mention where he worked, did he?" She went to the cupboard and pulled out the telephone book and turned to the B's. There were three Blackburns listed. A Guy, a Susan and an E.

"No, he didn't. Let me think," Carla smiled, lost in thought for a few minutes. "Offhand, I would say the Museum of Fine Arts."

"What time is it?" Sara looked at her watch then does a quick mental calculation. "Good, we have time. Mom, could you do me a big favour? Could you call and try and find out what time Josh finishes work? Twila, if you're not too busy right now, we're going to Delanies. Oh, and Mom, could you see if you can get a reservation for two at Chez Parie for sevenish?" Sara tucked her shirt into her jeans.

"You've always told me I'd have to make the first move, Twila. Well, here goes nothing. I'm going to get him after work and we're going to talk. And I'm not going to take no for an answer. Well, yes I will, but not if it's no, we're not going to talk." Sara walked briskly towards the front door. "Coming, Twila? I figure if I'm going to be throwing myself at him with clothes on, I might as well look as good as I can in such short notice." Hurry up, Twila, before I lose my nerve. I can't do this outrageous thing without your help. "I'm going to go whole hog on this, girl. Including makeup."

"Yessss," Twila exclaimed, "have I got some ideas. It's too bad his favorite color is white. But maybe…"

Josh slung his jacket over his shoulder and waved to the security guard. What am I going to do? I want her more, not less. But how do I let her know that without spooking her? His hand went to his wallet and he checked his watch. I can call… No, she's probably eating. No, you will call her. Josh looked around for a pay phone, fishing Sara's number out of his wallet.

Sara stood partially hidden around the corner. Well, it's now or never. She smoothed the fabric of her smoky blue dress. Sara felt practically naked, the hem of the skirt barely two and a half inches below her crotch. And how did I let her talk me into this lingerie? She took a deep breath, prayed she hadn't smudged her makeup or spoiled the fancy hairdo, and stepped out onto the sidewalk.


Josh turned at the sound of her voice. The dress she was wearing was a beautiful silk sleeveless number with a neckline of the style that instead of shoulders, the straps of the dress come from the side and up to a neckband–the only fastener on the dress. The back of the dress plunged relatively low–halfway down her back. The neckband was set with a pearl-white cameo. She was also wearing the stay-up stockings (the ones that don't need garters) in black (silk too) as well as low (one inch heels) dress shoes the same color of the dress. Her hair was up in a french roll and her makeup was very subtle, enhancing her natural coloring. Sara was a bit disappointed at the fact she wasn't going to be able to afford the dress originally, but the sales woman remembered they had one in the same size but it had a flaw in the skirt. Twila had said buy it and cut off the flaw. Thus the reason for the short short skirt.

Slowly his jaw dropped. His pants bulged and he was suddenly at her side.

"God, Sara. You shouldn't be out here like that."

Easy, boy, we don't want a repeat of the last time. He wrapped his jacket around her. "What were you thinking?"

He looked around and spotted her car. Keeping his jacket around her he hustled her to inside the car. He let out a loud sigh and let his head fall on the seat rest, his eyes closed. He still clenched the piece of paper in his hand. Sara could see numbers.

"Get a grip, Josh. It's just a dress. The woman over there is wearing less than I am," Sara said, indicating the woman in rollerblades.

"Sara! The woman over there is a hooker."

"No, she's not. The hookers hang out at least five blocks from here."

Boy, did he react strongly, covering me up with his jacket. I hope that's a good sign. Sara shrugged out of the jacket and put it in the back seat.

"What's that in your hand?" Sara looked more closely at what she could see of the slip of paper. Is that a phone number? That looks similar to mine. I wonder, was he going to call? Wait a sec, is he? Sara's heart began to race. Well, at least I know he's still physically attracted to me. Please, don't let me freak out again.

"I was going to call you."

"You were?" A brilliant smile crossed her face. "I'm glad I was able to save you the quarter." Now that was stupid thing to say.

"I hope you don't mind, but I made reservations for us at Chez Parie for 6:45. There's a cafe around the corner from there where we can have a coffee before dinner. There's also some free concerts going on at Oceanview tonight, and some of the performers are Native."

I can't believe I still feel this way. I want to be with him even more than I did in New York. God, I hope I don't screw things up again.

Josh was looking at her strangely. "Is this some sort of weird home court advantage?"

"Kind of," Sara replied. "I had a long time to think about what happened that night. I don't want… I want to have another chance. For the two of us."

Okay, she's definitely interested. Thank God. Now time to get back to the way things were before we fucked up.

"Sara I don't want you wearing that dress again. At least not for a while. I am not saying you don't look good. In fact, you are very…" He cleared his throat and shifted, reaching into the back seat he grabbed his jacket and threw it across his lap.

"That's just the problem, Sara. I'm way too excited. Dinner may be all right, but I'll have to pass on the concerts."

"Okay. Dinner it is." Sara was trying very hard to keep the satisfied cat-like grin off her face. He does still want me. And bad. I don't know what I've done to deserve this, but thank you, whoever's out there. "Maybe we can go next week? I promise I'll wear a purda." Sara smiled playfully. This beauty will go into the closet, you've served your purpose, and I'll bring you out again soon.

Sara put the car into gear. "So, tell me about what you do at the Museum."

Weeks flew by, the only sad day being Twila's move. They promised to call each other at least once a week and Josh had surprised both of them by crushing Twila in a bear hug and telling her to be careful out there.

They were unable to spend alot of time together because he was working two jobs to pay for his room. But they were good times. Dinner a few times, walks in Midland Park, roller skating once, and twice the amusement center. A large, gangly giraffe now shared Sir Lancelot's place. They held hands, kissed and necked any chance they got. Josh would bring her flowers when she least expected it. The one disaster was when he had come up behind her and nuzzled her neck when she didn't expect it. She thanked Jenna for the lessons in control, for the blow landed on his thigh and not where she had originally aimed it. And even though he limped for a few days, he forgave her.

The sixth week of bliss, Sara sat in her private bathroom. She was wearing an oversized shirt and was preparing to shave her legs. Her mother was having a barbecue. Father O'Mallory had finally returned and Carla had invited both him and Josh. Neither one would be here for hours yet and Sara wanted to try wearing shorts. She smiled to herself, wondering what Josh's reaction would be. A soft noise alerted her to another presence. She looked up, razor poised.

Josh leaned against her doorframe. His hair had begun to grow back and he had shaved his beard off. He wore long shorts and the half shirt he had worn on their first picnic so long ago. He took a step towards her and then squatted in front of her. His hand reached out and took the razor from her hand.

"Do you remember me telling you that I had dreams about your legs?" His voice was barely above a whisper and he stared into her eyes intently.

Sara nodded to him wordlessly. She fought the urge to cover herself. Oh God, no one was supposed to know I'm wearing this underwear. Her panties were a wisp of white satin. I wanted to get used to wearing this type of thing before Josh saw me in them.

"Will you let me do this for you?"

Sara's heart began to speed up as her gaze passed between the razor in his hands and his face. Sara stood up and walked over to the bathroom door. There she stood for a moment, her back to Josh. Calm down, Sara. It's not like he's just offered to shave your crotch. Sara bit her lip at the desire that washed through her at the thought of his touch.

Josh forced himself to take slow even breaths as he watched her. He wished he could watch her face as she struggled through this decision. Will she? Dare I do this? He could feel himself harden.

Sara took a deep breath, closed the door and turned the lock silently. "The shaving cream is on the counter by the sink."

His face lit up like a kid at Christmas. "Sara, unlock the door. Go out and lock your bedroom door. Then lie down on the bed."

The bed? Sara thought, puzzled. But the shaving cream and water is going to get all over the place. How am I going to explain that to Mom if she sees the sheets? Still, he must know what he's doing. A slight frown crossed her face. Has he done this before with someone else?

Not liking the pang of jealousy she felt, Sara cleared the clothes off her double bed. She hid the shorts she was planning on wearing, not wanting Josh to try and veto them before she put them on. They were almost as short as the dress she wore the day Josh returned, and just about as tight. Sara then hung the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the outside knob and locked the door. She hesitated for a moment, trying to decide if she should put on a pair of shorts to cover her underwear. No. I bought them for him to see eventually. Besides, it's just like wearing a bathing suit. Sara thought, trying to convince herself.

She heard movement from the bathroom and quickly hurried over to the bed and lay down on her side, facing the bathroom door. She pulled down the raised hem of her shirt just before Josh entered her bedroom.

He began gathering what he would need. The shaving cream, a towel, a quick hunt turned up a small basin, which he filled with warm water. He then walked out and placed the things at the bottom of the bed. Only then did he see if she had done as he asked.