Another Thursday, another thrill. Not sure how thrilling this one will be, but here we go. Make sure to check out the others on the blog.
Theresa looked out over the river, picturing Steve in his hip waders with his pole, swinging it lazily. It was late and the bugs were out, but he wouldn't mind.
"Reese?" Tyler asked, touching her shoulder. Steve's friend would probably be fishing with him. He wasn't wearing his gear today, though, and they both ignored the biting flies.
"Yeah?" she asked, not looking back. She didn't have room in her heart for Tyler right now.
"I just want you to know that I'm here if you need me. Anything at all." He squeezed her shoulder and kissed her temple.
Theresa didn't blink. She simply stared down the river, remembering the time Steve had taken her out in a canoe. She'd been useless at it, but he'd been so patient.
With one last squeeze, Tyler backed up. It seemed a signal to her. It was time to get on with this.
"Goodbye, Steve," she said in a whisper, opening the urn and upending it. His ashes fell into the river. A trout's nose broke the surface, interested in the new addition.
Tyler chuckled. "There you go. He hasn't changed at all. Still catching fish."
She tried to laugh, but it quickly devolved into a sob. "He...he won't..."
"Shh, honey. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you." Tyler wrapped her in a hug, his arms familiar. He and Steve were alike in build, but Tyler was much taller. Theresa's head fell on his chest instead of his collarbone. It was similar enough. She cried in his shirt and tie, clutching the cotton. She'd cried so much already. Wasn't it enough? Would it ever be enough?
"Reese, shh. Oh, man, please? I'm going to start-" He broke off, choking. Theresa looked up to see tears in his eyes. Had she seen him cry? She was too pre-occupied to notice at the funeral. "Oh, Reese," he moaned, tightening his hold on her and crushing her against him. She wheezed slightly, air pushed from her lungs. "I didn't want it this way."
What? That didn't make sense. The words startled her, shaking her from her grief.
"Reese, Steve knew how I felt, and he didn't care. He never let it get to him. I did my best to pretend, but he was better at it than me."
"Pretend what?" She hadn't thought either Steve or Tyler were gay, but maybe...
"Uh, nothing." He opened a little space between them, pulled one arm back to his hair. "I just...miss him."
"Tyler, were you and Steve..."
He looked at her quizzically for a moment and she tried to think of a way to say it.
"What?! No." He laughed, harder than he had at the fish. "Oh, no. Not even a little." He kept laughing. Eventually, Theresa got caught in it and laughed too. A real laugh. Not the hysterical kind that had taken her the last month and more.
"I didn't think so," she said, shaking her head. Of course, Steve could have been bi, but she didn't see it.
"Theresa?" Tyler wrapped the arm on her back down to her hip and pulled her closer again. "I know it's too soon, so I don't want you to freak out or even really think about it, but I want to make this clear. I'm not interested in guys. I'm not interested in girls."
She waited for him to finish, but he didn't. She pursed her lips, trying to decipher the riddle. Tyler had never been so tentative in all the time she'd known him. He was usually the kind to just blurt out exactly what he was thinking.
His brown eyes didn't move from hers. Bending his neck, his nose approached hers. "I'm interested in you." His lips only brushed hers before he released her and stepped back.
She stood in shock for a moment. He'd kissed her? He was interested in her? How dare he!
"Who do you think you are?" she asked in a shriek. "Steve is only a month gone! Do you really think you can replace him? Do you think you can be what he was to me? Do you have any idea how stupid that is? How dare you!" She started with poking him and upgraded to beating his chest with her fists. "How could you?" she asked, voice going hoarse. She continued to flail until she lost her balance and scraped her knee on the rocks.
"Shh," he said again, trying to calm her. It wasn't likely. "I'm sorry, Reese. Can you get home or do you need me-?"
"Go away!" she shouted, curling in on herself and crying again. Steve. Steve's lips. Steve's kisses. She'd done her best to lock those away, but Tyler had just unearthed the whole load.
He obeyed her, and she stumbled her way back to her car in the near dark. His truck was still there and Tyler watched her from behind the wheel. He didn't look at her and waited until she had pulled away to leave.
At home, Theresa continued going through old files on Steve's computer. Most of it would be deleted, but she didn't want to trash anything that might be important, or that she might want to keep to remember him. Some of his letters were perfect, a moment of Steve, and she saved those.
She found an old letter in the draft folder.
Fuck you, you cocksucking, asshole, douchebag of a friend. You think you can have my girl just because we aren't serious yet? You think you're going to make a play for Theresa? I'll have your nuts dragged behind my Chevy. I'll piss in your mouth. I'll kick the
That was the end of the draft. The address was there though, Tyler's, and it was dated five years ago, right after she had started seeing Steve. She tried to remember any of Tyler's girlfriends, but she hadn't met them. Curious, she sorted through the sent mail for Tyler's name. She found several, most only a line or two. One was longer. It was from the year before.
Dude, I know you have thing for Theresa, but seriously, get back on the horse already. I'm not going to tell you that she's not worth your time, or that she isn't amazing, or that you can do better, because you can't! What you can do is find someone that is close enough. Those skanks you've been seeing are just insulting. I mean, you want more than to get laid, right? You want to find yourself someone? Do it. I'll talk to Theresa about some of her friends. I bet she has one you'll adore.
Oh, and thanks for keeping your hands to yourself. It's obvious by the way you look at her that it's a struggle, but I'm glad I can trust you. One day, you'll find your Theresa, and you'll know heaven on earth.
Suddenly his words by the river made sense. Theresa covered her face. She didn't know what to do. Tyler had been a part of her life as long as Steve. She'd never even considered a relationship with him, but could she just push him out of her life? If they stayed friends, was there any chance she could keep it that way?
"Oh, Steve. Why did you have to leave me?"