Status: Completed

Same Time, Next Year



Billie Joe sat on porch steps, holding a glass of dark rum in his hands, swirling the rich liquid around while he rested his arms on his knees and leaned forward. There was a cool breeze coming from the lake which was a welcome comfort from the Indian summer heat that had claimed the northeast of the country. Halloween was about a week away and he knew he wouldn't be here to feel the change in weather because he would be back in California.

He didn't know how long he had been sitting there but he noticed the sun was no where near setting. He wasn't worried yet that Mary wasn't showing up. This was a special year. It was their tenth anniversary. And he had a surprise for her.

Close to a half hour later, he saw a black cavalier pull up the drive and park. From where he sat he couldn't see into the windows, but he knew it was her.

Mary stepped out of the driver's side and smiled at him from across the way, not bothering to grab any of her bags as she sauntered up to him. He stood and immediately wrapped his arm around her waist, burying his face in the crook of her neck.

"Hi," she cooed.

"Hi," Billie Joe replied, placing a kiss on her lips, before taking her hand in his and leading her up onto the porch. "Miss me?"

"Like you wouldn't believe."

Billie Joe rather enjoyed that answer. He opened the cottage door, but stopped her from entering. In her confusion over the matter, he wiggled his eyebrows and then bent his knees to lift her up off her feet like a groom about to carry his new bride over the threshold. Carrying her inside the darkened cottage, he surprisingly didn't fumble or bump into anything as he set her back down on her feet.

"It's dark."

"I know." He then flipped on the lights and shut the door, revealing his surprise.

There was a small table set up where the living room chair and coffee table usually were, along with two wooden folding chairs that were adorned with maroon cushions. There was a white linen table cloth and two candles in the center of the table, along with plates and bowls, cups and silverware. A radio sat on the window sill behind the table, perched and ready to play some music.

"What is this?" Mary asked in awe.

"Happy anniversary, babe." Billie Joe just seemed to grin from ear to ear as he watched her expression. She stepped closer to the table and touched the tablecloth gently before turning to face him.



"The groundskeeper? He took this from the restaurant?"

"No," Billie Joe shook his head with a smirk. "I asked if I could borrow some things from him. He lives here at the resort with his wife and I got here early today to fix this all up. I gave him some money for the trouble."

"Good ol' Chalmers," Mary remarked. "Think he knows about us? I mean, yeah, he's old and probably has no idea about what you do...but..."

"Nah. Even if he did, I don't think he cares one way or the other. Have you seen him and his wife. You can tell they've been together about half a century. I think he sees us, and how we come here every year, devoted to being here with each other and sees that...and I think he can appreciate people loving one another."

Mary turned away and let her fingers trail along the tablecloth. "You sure know how to make this easier, don't you?" she muttered.

"What are you talking about?"

"Billie Joe," she began, facing him one more. "I'm trapped. There's this rock and there's this hard place and I..."

"Here, sit down." He guided her to one of the table chairs and he sat down on the couch beside her, looking up since she was seated higher than he was. He took her hands in his and gave her a questioning look. "What's up?"

"I feel so lonely. Andrew's opened a second garage and all the kids are in school. But even when we're all together as a family, I feel alone. Andrew doesn't seem to have time for me. He always gets called to one of the garages for something or another, and no matter how hard I try to get involved with his world, it just doesn't work. I don't know shit about cars or how they run, except that I know how to drive one. And the kids..." she trailed off. "Chris just started high school. And he's the most moody person I know. Sean started fourth grade and Dawn is in Kindergarten. And did I mention Christopher is a fan of Green Day now? Do you know how awkward it is to hear your voice wafting from my son's room all hours of the day? Do you know how many times I almost called you over the course of this year? So many times I picked up the phone and hung up before finishing your number."

Billie Joe sat back, but still holding her hands in his. "I've done that. Almost called you. I actually let it ring once, but hung up before anyone answered."

"So that was you," Mary laughed, sadly.

He dipped his head and nodded. "You feel invisible in your own home."

"Yes," she replied. "I just wish we could run off together. Just us. I look forward to this weekend so much. I get pangs." She let her shoulders slump as she, leaned closer to him. "I mean, I still love Andrew. He's..."

"...Comfort," Billie Joe finished for her.

"Yeah. I've known him so long. And we've been together for so long. But I feel stir crazy. I'm 31 years old. I've been with him since I was 14. That's almost twenty years. And I've known you only one weekend a year for a decade, but somehow I feel like I've known you all my life. Like...I know you better than my own husband."

"Why couldn't we have met each other first, right?"


Mary slid off the chair and climbed up into Billie Joe's lap. He wrapped his arms around her tightly and securely as they pressed each other's lips together. It was simple at first, gentle, but things got heated pretty quick with them, as they always did. The kissing became hungrier and clothes began to strip away...

...just as the phone rang.

Mary jumped in surprise. Billie Joe was so lost in his arousal that he began to say something along the lines of 'let it ring.' Mary just shook her head and pulled herself away from him and sauntered over to the phone in just her jeans and bra.

"I have to get it. I left this number with Andrew in case something came up." She took a deep breath and picked up the phone. "Hello? Oh, hey, Chris honey. What? No, just ask your dad. Of course he did. No, it's fine with me, but make sure you put everything back in the garage when you're done. Or take some of it down to the basement. Yes. Yes. I love you too, honey. Tell Sean and Dawnie I said I love them and I'll see them soon."

Mary hung the phone up and smiled a little as she folded her arms across her chest, causing her bosom to billow slightly. Billie Joe stood and walked up to her, bare-chested and placed his hands on her arms.

"That was awkward," she commented. "Imagine me talking to my son, your fan, while I'm hear with you. And he's in the process of cleaning out the garage so him and his friends have rehearsal space." She caught his assuring smile. "Chris plays guitar now and just started a little band called The Nimrods."

Billie Joe laughed. "Well, I feel honored."

Mary just nodded, while picking up his shirt since it was closest and putting it on.

"You all right?" Billie Joe wondered, when her gaze, alone, fell silent.

She nodded, placing her hands on his neck and drinking him in with a kiss. And how kissable those lips were. When she parted from him, she grinned a little.

"I'm gonna go get my things from my car. I brought a few other things, too, so I'll be back in a bit."

"Need any help?"

"No, I'll manage," she insisted.

Mary placed another kiss on his lips before walking toward the front door and stepping out into the evening air. Billie Joe watched her go, taking the porch steps with a bit of a skip. When he saw her open the trunk, the phone rang again. Billie Joe stepped over to it and picked it up.

"Hello? She's not here right now." Billie Joe paused for a moment. "Is this Andrew?" Another pause. "Me? I'm a friend. Actually, I've been seeing your wife for ten years now. Uh...on her retreat. My name? Um. Father McGrady. Yes, it's a spiritual retreat. We all get together for a weekend every year; sort of like a cleansing of the mind, body and soul. And your wife has told me so much about you, Andrew."

Billie Joe pulled back the curtains and peered out at Mary who was struggling to pick up the contents of her purse that had spilled out onto the ground.

"You should know that you're an incredibly lucky man, Mr. Finnigan. But I'm afraid you're not aware of what you have right in front of you. Mary is a wonderful person. A lovely woman who loves you and your children, but she's feeling neglected lately." Billie Joe paused again, smiling as he watched Mary still. "She told me once about you being involved with your sons' scout meetings and wearing an Indian headdress, that made her smile and feel lucky to have a loving husband like you. But you need to show her a little more love. Because she loves you."

As Mary began to drag her things back toward the house, Billie Joe knew he had to wrap up the conversation.

"Don't let her go."