Status: Completed

Same Time, Next Year



Here it was. Year thirteen. An unlucky number by all accounts. And Mary had proof of that. God, did she ever.

She sat on the couch in the cottage, dressed simply in a long, floral skirt and a cream-colored peasant blouse. Her auburn hair was long again. For so many years, she'd kept it at about shoulder length, but she was letting go, in a way. Of a lot of things. She kept part of her hair tied back in a braid; almost hippy-ish. She had simple, gold hoop earrings in her ear and her wedding ring on her left ring finger that she was mindlessly, playing with. She looked at the clock.


She began to figure that Billie Joe wasn't showing up. Looking at the door with a melancholy stare, she contemplated leaving and just going home. She felt like there was this deep heavy rock weighing down on her chest. She just didn't seem to have the motivation to do anything. She really wanted and hoped Billie would show, but when 7 PM rolled around, she found tears rolling down as well.

The only reason she could think of that he hadn't shown up was that Adrienne found out or he was dead. But, no. She'd have heard about something like that. Unless it was recent. Maybe his plan crashed. Or maybe the taxi he was taking from the airport was in an accident. Maybe he was in a hospital somewhere.

Hunching forward, May placed a hand to her forehead and let her tears fall, and became so absorbed in her thoughts that she didn't hear the footsteps outside or the door open.


She looked up and immediately began wiping her tears when she found Billie Joe standing there with his bag in his left hand, looking so concerned. She let a sigh of relief emit from her lips and a rueful smile take up residence as well as she stood up and threw her arms around his neck. She buried her face against his chest as he dropped his bag, kicked the door shut with the heel of his foot and wrapped his arms around her chest.

"Hey, babe," he whispered into her ear, then placed a kiss on the top of her head. "What's the matter?"

She mumbled something against his chest and he was content in just standing there for the time being letting her get the obvious comfort she was looking for. She dragged her fingers down his arms and stepped back a little and gave a small smile.

"I needed that."

"I can tell," Billie Joe smirked. He let his eyes scan the cottage and noticed she had no bags. "Are your things out in your car?"

Mary didn't answer right away. She just let the corners of her lips raise a little more as she brought a hand to his cheek, tilting her head as she did so. "I can't stay."

"What?" Billie Joe narrowed his eyes, wondering 'what the fuck?' "But I just got here, and..."

"I know...but..." Tears began to well in her eyes but she continued to smile for his sake.

"Babe..." he was more than just concerned now. Her was bordering worried. When she turned her head away and brushed some of her hair behind her ears he followed her to where she sat down on the couch. He watched her put her hands to her face and then push all her hair back that had fallen in her face. "Mary--"

"Andrew died six months ago."

Billie Joe was stunned. She was widowed? But she had three children. She had been doing it alone for six months? She should've called him. "Mary, you should've called me. Something like this--"

"I needed to deal with it...without you. I-I didn't know what I was gonna do and I didn't know how you worked in all this..."

He sat back, taking this all in. "How...I mean..."

"How did it happen?"


"There was an accident. It sounds cliche, was raining real hard as it usually does in April, and there were these teens that Chris goes to school with. They were drunk and driving...Andrew was coming home late from his girlfriend's--"

"His girlfriend's?"

"Oh yeah, did I forget to mention we separated the month before?" She shook her head. "He was moving out, and he was coming back to the house to get his things when the other car hit his. They said he didn't feel anything, that it was instant..."

"I'm sorry," Billie Joe replied lamely.

"You say that like you're responsible," Mary remarked. She licked her lips and sat up straight. "His girlfriend wasn't the only reason we were splitting up. It turns out he knew about us. A friend of his, Simon, found out and told him. The introvert he was, he kept it to himself."

Billie Joe nodded, patting her hand affectionately. But she pulled it back, which startled the punk rocker.

"I can't be alone, Billie...and Simon's asked me to marry him. Which means I can't see you anymore. He knows about you and if we're gonna get married, it's to him exclusively." She swallowed back a gulp and dipped her head. "Unless we got married?"

Billie Joe furrowed his brow. "Mary, I--I'm married to Adrienne."

"I know, but...I love you and you love me. We love each other. Sometimes I wish I'd never helped encourage you to work out your problems with her. But it only makes me feel guilty."

"I admit, I sometimes wished the same thing with you and Andrew."

"You did?"


"Then why do you stay?"

Billie Joe shrugged. "I guess 'cause there's respect and love...and a sense of continuity..."



Mary looked away. "Well, I have to go..." she caught his pleading eyes, that wanted her to stay. "I have to. I have a family that needs me now." She sighed and smiled a little. "Chris started his senior year of high school, y'know. He's gonna be in college next year...if I get my way," she added with a smirk. "Sean started middle school. Seventh grade. And Dawnie...she's in the third grade now. They're growing up fast. And in ten years time, they'll all be out of the house, which is why I need that comfort now. I don't wanna be alone, dealing with empty nest syndrome without someone by my side. I..."

Billie Joe bit his lip and nodded sadly. "I wish I could...I mean...I love you too..."

"I really have to go." Mary stood up and walked slowly to the door. She turned around gave him a sad smile. "I'll miss you."

Opening the door, Mary stepped out the door and out of his life forever. Billie Joe got up off the couch and placed his hand to his mouth. He couldn't believe she was leaving; that he'd never see her again. He stepped down the two steps into the bedroom area and into the bathroom where he looked at his reflection in the mirror. He turned the faucet on and splashed water on his face, shocked to find himself crying. How was it that someone he'd been having an affair with, once a year for thirteen years, could pain him so much when they walked out of his life? Was it possible to be truly in love with two women at the same time? Was it possible that, even though Adrienne was the love of his life...his beautiful and wonderful wife, that Mary was his soul mate? Was it possible?

The water continued to run down the drain as he stifled back his tears as best as he could when he heard the click of the door. He turned off the faucet and stepped out into the bedroom, looking up at the living room and front door, finding Mary standing there with a bag in her hand.

She smiled and dropped her bag. "I wasn't really going," she said. "God help me, I couldn't ever leave."

Billie Joe laughed in teary happiness. "But...I thought...what about Simon?" he asked, wondering about the guy she said he was gonna marry.

"Simon is eighty years old and lives across the street. I only said that to make you jealous to see if you'd really run away with me." She tilted her head and looked at him serenely. "Were you crying?"

He readily admitted it with a laugh. "So?" Skipping up the steps he grabbed Mary up in his arms and took her in a tight embrace, kissing her as if the world was about to end. "Christ, my life is a mess," he muttered in between kisses. "But the notes always come out sounding right," he added, making the correlation to his musical career.

They pulled apart, each grinning happily.

"All I know is that in thirteen years, I've never been out of love with you," Mary spoke, as Billie Joe moved around to behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist and leaned his head down on her shoulder; kissing her cheek.

"Same here," he agreed. They walked, together like that, out the front door and out onto the cottage porch, looking out at the moonlight reflecting off the lake water not far off. "You know I was thinking..."


"Maybe we should make this a twice a year thing..." Billie Joe suggested, kissing her neck.

Mary smiled. "I could live with that."