Like I Would


He kissed me. Marc, my Marc – a very engaged Marc – had kissed me. The kiss I’d never had in high school, the one I’d dreamed about and envisioned since about the ninth grade, had happened. And I was too stunned to even react, let alone say a word. His lips were soft and gentle as they moved against mine for a moment, before I could feel him begin to stiffen up, probably from a mix of realizing what had just happened, and the fact that I was sitting there like a stone, unable to even comprehend what was happening.

Marc had been a mix of stunned and what I assumed was horrified. He had a fiancé, one he’d been with for a very long time, and here he was kissing a girl he hadn’t seen in seven years. One who had turned him down and sent their lives in completely opposite directions. One who he didn’t know had missed him incredibly the years since.

“I’m sorry… that was out of line…” he stuttered, and I nodded.

“It’s um… it’s okay. We’ll just… uh… forget about it?” I offered, and his head shot up, amber eyes wide and searching, making my cheeks heat up.


“You’re engaged Marc, and I mean, with talking about all this stuff it just kind of happened…” I slowly ran out of words, realizing Marc’s reaction wasn’t quite what a horrified, engaged man’s reaction should be. Either that or my brain was distorting how I was seeing things because of how I felt. I was trying not to let myself consider that option, because Marc wasn’t like that. He loved Angie and had for years, he would be horrified with himself for kissing someone else.

“Um… if, if that’s what you want,”

“I think maybe it’s best,” was all I could choke out. It wasn’t likely I’d forget it any time soon, but he couldn’t know that. Marc nodded, and soon afterward his ring tone broke our awkward silence. He looked at the caller ID and with a pained expression excused himself, insisting he’d be there tomorrow and to call him if I needed anything. I knew it had to be Angie, because she’d always kept tabs on him when he went anywhere without her. Some things never changed, I guess.


My afternoon kind of flew by on me before I knew it. I phoned Linda to tell her about the funeral, and soon she was on her way to the house to help me, insisting it was the least she could do. I knew that asking her in person was the right thing to do; I just hadn’t realized how hard it would be. I'd broken down on the phone and wasn't able to keep my composure for even two minutes, which had prompted Linda to insist she would be over right away.

There was a bit of a commotion when the doorbell rang, and while I was confused I answered it, seeing Linda with two little boys in tow; Eric and Tanya just visible as they were busy grabbing a bag from their vehicle.

They had kids. I’d been gone from everything so long I didn’t even know that Eric had started a family. It was like a punch to the gut – he’d been like a brother to me and I’d missed two of the biggest moments of his life. It hurt, and made tears come to my eyes once again. Eric had always been so amazing, acting big brother for me even once or twice, and to think that I'd been completely ignorant of something this amazing happening to him just reminded me how hard it had been to cut myself off from all of them, even if it was to try and do the right thing for Marc.

“Hey there sweetheart,” Linda immediately pulled me into a tight hug, which I gladly returned. The two little carbon copies of Eric were standing shyly behind her, and after a little encouragement followed her into the house.

“Hey Carly,” Eric’s voice was hesitant, but the way we flung ourselves at each other for a hug wasn’t. While Marc had been my best friend, Eric had been the older brother I went to for help, whose shoulder I’d cried on, and who had offered to beat up a few boys in high school. I’d also been a bit of a sounding board for advice on how to sweep Tanya off her feet in the early days.

“We missed you squirt,” he told me, his hands on my arms as he held me at arm’s length for a moment. I felt my cheeks heat up, and the look in Eric’s dark brown eyes told me he knew. That Marc had told him about what happened, and immediately the insecurity of wondering who else knew sunk in.

“Hi Tanya,” I didn’t really know how to act with her; I’d only known her for a relatively short while before graduating.

“Hi! Wow has it been a long time,” she pulled me into a hug like I was her sister, and I melted a little knowing she was just like the rest of the Staals. Tanya had been very sweet the couple times I could remember hanging out with her more than just in passing or the odd family event I'd went to with Marc to keep him company, or the couple times she'd been over for supper as well at the Staal house.

“I know – sorry about that,” she waved it off like nothing, before eyeing her two kids to make sure they were behaving. They were quietly standing behind their dad, eyeing the unfamiliar house warily.

“So who are these cuties?” I asked, hoping to divert the attention from the ominous, and both Eric and Tanya’s faces lit up immediately. It was hard not to be excited with them.

“These are our boys, Parker, and Levi. Boys, come say hi to Carly,” at their father’s ushering the two came over quickly, and Levi flung his arms around my leg for a hug. It had taken him just moments to forget his shyness which was adorable.

“You’re really pretty,” was Parker’s hello, which had Eric shaking his head, Tanya, Linda and I laughing. He walked over and put his arms out for me to pick him up, his little brother still behind their dad. His wheat blonde hair matched Eric's and Jordan's, his brown eyes exactly like his mother's. Levi was the same; a carbon copy of their father with a few familiar and defining features from his mom, brown eyes included again.

“Aww thanks! You’re pretty cute yourself,” I replied, which had him grinning.

“Would you be my girlfriend?” was his next question, which had Eric groaning and Tanya laughing. Linda was trying to contain herself, but was hiding a smile behind her hand as she watched the exchange.

“Someone obviously spends too much time with Uncle Jordan,” Tanya shook her head, and I simply giggled and shot Parker a smile, delighted he had such a personality.

“You’re a pretty smooth talker, hey Parker?” he nodded enthusiastically, cuddling right into me as we all sat down in the living room.

“Then I can tell Uncle Jordan I have a pretty girlfriend! And you can come stay with us and keep Mommy company when I’m at school and daddy’s away!” I couldn’t help but laugh; the little boy’s planning was pretty extensive.

“Some days I wonder if he’s my kid,” Eric said, giving me an apologetic glance.

“Come on, you wish you were this smooth in school,” I teased, and soon the stories came out, making the afternoon disappear in what seemed like minutes. Their boys were delightful, charming and funny, and ridiculously well behaved, and Parker stayed close by, continuing to call me his girlfriend.

I offered for the Staals to stay for supper, but they politely refused, insisting that the rest of the crew would probably go hungry without Linda and Tanya. I nodded, knowing that they probably all still got together for supper every night, just as they had when we were kids. But it left me unprepared for the invitation to join them.

“I uh, I mean thank you so much, but I’ve still got some stuff to sort out and…” Linda nodded immediately, and Tanya pulled me into a hug.

“It’s all right – we understand. I’ll bring some food over after… later tomorrow. We can bring the boys over and have supper, how about that?” she offered, and I nodded, beyond grateful for her.

“I’d really like that,”

“Then we’ll see you tomorrow,” she whispered back, hugging me tightly once more before they left.