"Shane!" Annalisa Martinez called to her beloved partner, Shane Reynolds. "Phone for you!"
"Who is it?" Shane's voice floated in from the living room. Shane was a psychologist, it seemed like everyone wanted a piece of her. She was damn good at her job. And top it off she enjoyed what she did and that meant everything to Annalisa.
"It's Tim. Your boss?"
Shane trudged in from the living room with, Marley, their dog by her side. "What does he want?"
Annalisa rolled her eyes, pretending to be mildly annoyed. "What am I, your secretary? You talk to him."
Shane stuck her tongue out at Annalisa, who promptly poked her in the nose. Shane stifled a giggle as she patted Marley on the head telling him to sit on his butt.
"Tim?...Fine, and you?" Shane listened for a moment, then let out a long sigh. It couldn't be good news. "Tim, Annalisa and I are leaving for vacation and....Maine! I told you weeks ago!...Well, we're supposed to leave on Thursday, right after Annalisa turns her grades in....She teaches a writing class, Tim, don't change the subject... Three weeks. Why?...Yes, that's true, but..." Another sigh. "All right. All right, Fine Tim. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Shane?" Annalisa asked suspiciously as Shane hung up the phone. "Why did you say you'd see him tomorrow?"
Shane rolled her eyes. "They're tacking an extra week on the groups."
"Can they do that?"
"Apparently they can. Oh, Ann, I'm so sorry. I know you were really looking forward to leaving right after your grades were done. We'll leave on Sunday, right after the matinee, I promise." Annalisa had flopped down into one of the kitchen chairs and was looking pathetically up at Shane. Shane sat on the floor at her feet and placed her chin gingerly on Annalisa's knee like a sheepdog. "Please don't be mad, Ann. We'll still get two and a half weeks at the cabin."
"I guess." Annnalisa "What about your folks?"
"Oh, no!" Shane stood up so fast she almost hit Marley in the chin. The dog leapt from the ground where he was now laying and ran away into the hallway. "I forgot! Oh, and they were going to bring Nana this year!"
"Nana? And how were we going to explain to Nana that you and I have a cabin together? Most roommates don't, you know."
"Annalisa, quit it. A lot of friends take vacations together."
"I know. I was joking."
"It doesn't still bother you, does it? That my folks decided not to tell her?"
"No. Not at all." Annalisa's voice was sincere.
"I'll call them tonight. You're not mad, are you?"
Annalisa shook her head. "Just disappointed. I was really looking forward to seeing Ms. Brannon and Ms. Heather again."
Shane smiled at the mention of Annalisa's old teachers' names. "Me too. It's only four extra days, though."
Annalisa pouted. "I guess so."
"Come on," Shane said, taking her hand and lifting her up onto her feet. "You'll be late for your class."
Annalisa grudgingly picked up her bag, in which she had stored her thirty- two students' research papers. She had spent the weekend grading them, and was to hand them back to her Basics of Writing class that morning. She was not looking forward to hearing complaints from the students that hadn't done well.
Shane walked her to the door and kissed her goodbye on the front step.
Annalisa could feel Shane's hand slip on her back and grip her. She regretted it badly but she pulled away because she knew where it would be going and if she didn't stop it before it happened she wouldn't be able to leave for her class.
"Are you driving or taking the bus?" Shane asked.
"I'll drive. I already missed one bus and the next one won't come in time. Besides, I'll get plenty of exercise next week at the cabin."
Annalisa and Shane lived off of San Francisco Ave, in Oakland, California. Often Annalisa would take the Red Line to work at MILLS, but it required either a very long walk to wait for the 69 bus to take you to the Harvard stop, a bus that only came once every half hour. If you missed one, you had to resign yourself to either walking or being late.
Shane watched Annalisa get into the car that was parked outside their house. They lived on the first level of a white three-decker on a relatively quiet street. Most nights you couldn't even hear the traffic zooming up and down busy street.
As Shane watched Annalisa drive away, she decided she'd make something special for dinner to make up for the extra show she had to do. She would go to the poultry shop, the one that Annalisa called the "dead chicken store" because of its sign that said "Live Poultry, Fresh Killed." She'd buy a chicken to stuff and she'd even make Annalisa's favorite, butternut squash. That would occupy Shane's day. That and the two patients she had to meet. But her they wouldn't come until noon, so she ushered Marley back in the house, grabbed her bag and the other car keys and set off for the store.
She bought her chicken and then detoured to the Star Market to buy squash, stuffing mix, and a bottle of wine. As she walked down the street, she remembered the first time she had come to Oakland to visit Annalisa, when she was doing her undergrad work at MILLS. Annalisa had taken her down San Francisco Ave, remarking that there was every kind of store on that one road. They'd laughed at the oddity of the tombstone store's display of headstones, right there out for show like new cars. Shane had taken a picture of the New Deal Fish Market and the warehouse-style furniture store next to it, telling Liza that she was going to try to convince her friends that she had gone back in time to the 50's.
Shane's reminiscing got her all the way back home, and she was even surprised at how short a time it had taken. She let herself in and immediately got to work. She put on a cd by Rascal Flatts and sung along to the parts she knew as she stirred the stuffing, than mashed the squash. She had just placed the bird in the oven when her patients showed up.
The meeting with the two girls, 19-year-old Carly and 18-year-old Justina, took her all the way up to when Annalisa was expected home from work. She walked the two girls out and waved them goodbye, and since the weather was so nice, she decided to sit out and wait for Annalisa.
It only took ten minutes until Annalisa's black and red mini cooper turned the corner. Annalisa saw Shane on the porch and smiled. She got out of the car with her bag, much lighter without the weight of thirty-two term papers. She climbed the stairs to where Shane was sitting on the porch and kissed her gently but with a little bit for force.
"Miss me?" she asked.
"You were gone?" Shane teased. Annalisa pretended to swat her. Shane playfully yelped and ran in the house, slamming the door. Annalisa being a small girl stood on her tiptoes and grinned at Shane through the narrow windows in the door.
"Oh, you are so dead!" Annalisa cried. She tried to push open the door but Shane was leaning against it, laughing wildly. Though they were now twenty-seven years old, and more than often they played like they were still teenagers.
"I cannot let you pass, sir," Shane said, "until I am sure that you are who you say."
Annalisa grinned. This was an old game from their youth, one that they both knew very well how to play. "My lady, I am Sir Martinez Kent. I am here to seek your fair hand. Please open the door in the name of the King of England."
Shane opened the door as Annalisa curtseyed dramatically. "Good sir."
"My lady." Shane bowed, and then in one sweeping gesture scooped Annalisa up in her arms. She carried her into the living room and tossed her on the sofa, then fell on the floor beside her. Both were laughing wildly.
"Ooh, what smells so good?" Annalisa asked.
Shane sat up and smiled. "Chicken. And you've certainly earned it, good sir knight."
Annalisa stood up, straightening her clothes. "If you think this means I'm going to forgive, it's a good start."
Shane laughed. "It's also not ready yet. Shall we go for a walk before dinner?"
Annalisa shook her head. "Can't. I have to finish making up my final."
Shane sighed pathetically. "Can't you just give them all A's and be done with it?"
"I wish," Annalisa said. "But I think the administration would get suspicious."
"Not if you have them all say that you're the best teacher ever and they couldn't help but learn everything you taught them."
"You're right, that wouldn't make them suspicious at all." Annalisa said with teasing sarcasm.
"Fine," Shane pouted. "I'll go call Mom and Dad and tell them we'll have to postpone."
"Tell Nana hi for me," Annalisa said as she headed into her study. "She still has no clue, does she?"
"Nana's a true innocent," Shane said fondly. "I'm quite content to keep her that way."
"So am I," Annalisa said. "Truly."
Annalisa and Shane had decided long ago not to tell Annie's Nana about their relationship. Nana remained convinced that the two were best friends, and everyone was happy. For a while, Shane had wondered if she was betraying her identity and the gay community, but her family had convinced her that sparing an old woman's feelings wasn't betraying anybody. Annalisa had remained believing that they should be out to everyone for a bit longer, but her love for Nana had led her to agree with Shane's decision.
Shane called her family in Clovis and explained about the extra weekend tacked onto the run of a group of suicidal teens, in which she had to lead the group. Everyone understood, and Shane said that she would take care of changing their train tickets. So she called Amtrak, and after being on hold for a good twenty minutes, she had everything taken care of. By then the chicken was done, so she set the table and put two candles on, and poured the wine. As she did so, she promised that she would make sure they had several evenings like this when they went on vacation to their cottage near Wells Beach, Maine. She smiled at the thought of the vacation, and at the prospect of seeing Ms. Brannon and Ms. Heather. Shane and Annalisa had remained good friends with Annalisa's teachers, at whose house they had inadvertently been "outed." The situation had formed a bond between the two couples, and they remained good friends. The older women had a house near Ogunquit, and Annalisa and Shane visited every summer.
"Lis! Dinner's ready!"
Annalisa entered the kitchen in sweats and her favorite MILLS T-shirt. She saw the spread on the table and her hand involuntarily flew to her heart.
"Oh, Shane . . . it's an absolute feast! You are so wonderful." Shane walked up to Annalisa, took her in her arms and kissed her. As Annalisa said, "Thank you."
"Fit for my queen," Shane said, trying not to blushing. She pulled out a chair and Annalisa sat in it. "Sit down, you're Majesty."
As Shane served the chicken, stuffing, butternut squash and Italian bread, she felt a rising sense of contentment. She was so lucky to have Annalisa in her life. She could remember easily what had made her fall in love with Annalisa in the first place. She could hardly wait for their vacation.