A Four-Edged Square – Part 4
I went and sat beside Allie once Sam and Jess had left. Sitting there she looked broken, cradling her knees, and holding a cushion in her arms. “You alright?” I asked her.
“No, not really…” she said
“They’ll come ‘round, they’ll have to.”
“I thought they seemed okay, and then Jess, she…”
“It is a lot to take in,” I said. “Honestly, I don’t know where Jess and Sam are. I’ve always had a funny feeling that things might turn out this way, if not us, them. Though I was too scared to ever let anything happen, to ever be natural with it all.”
“Maybe you did the right thing, after all.”
“No, I don’t think so. Hiding and false smiles aren’t what we’re here for. We’ve always been truthful, trusting of each other, this is no different.”
“I don’t want to lose them,” she said, finally looking towards me.
“I know. That’s the last thing anybody wants.”
Allie placed the cushion aside and rested her head on my shoulder. I took her hand in my own, it was cold, sweaty, shaking ever so slightly. We had to make this work for Allie’s sake, if not for anything else.
“Did I do a bad thing?” She asked.
I looked down at her, at her innocent frown. “No, not at all.” I said. “We’ll be alright, whatever happens. And you’ll be alright too. I’ll make sure of that.”
“I don’t need pity, Jake.”
“Allie, the last thing it is, is pity. Maybe you underestimate the amount I actually care about you, the way in which nothing else even comes close.”
She was silent.
We sat there like that for a while longer. Lingering whilst the sun swept silently across the cold winters morning. Everything was conflicted. I existed within a world of perpetual, ambiguous confliction. On one side of the coin I wanted Allie more than anything, and on the other I wanted the four of us to be what we were once again. I couldn’t see if there was any middle ground. Any islands to live upon, floating between those two vast oceans. And even if there were, how would we live there, how might be survive in such an alien environment?
I didn’t know. I didn’t know.
And so, I came around to thinking that not knowing might be the best thing. That taking each day as it came, with its ups, and its downs, might be the best – the only – thing I could do.
Just after midday, Jess and Sam returned. Allie, and I were still sat on the sofa, her head still on my shoulder, our hands still entwined. “Hey, guys,” I said, as they closed the door behind them. They smiled and came to sit on the sofa beside us.
“Allie, I’m sorry, that was way out of hand,” Jess said. “Twenty years and we’re arguing over this, shit.”
“It’s alright,” Allie whispered.
“Let’s be rational, okay,” Jess said. “You two, this is what you want… you love each other?”
“What is this, a court hearing – of course we do. But I also love you, and Sam,” Allie snapped. She sat up, and crossed her legs. Something twitched on her face. “Jess, I’m not having a four-way. Can we please just get that off the table.”
Jess rolled her eyes, before going into the kitchen to make more coffee. Sam laughed. And I sat there, a grin on my face, similar to the one on Allie’s. “So… I take it we’re all good?” Allie asked.
“Yes, Allie, we’re all good,” Jess shouted, over the kettle boiling.
“Sam?” Allie said.
“Of course, we are,”
She turned to me. “Jake?”
I nodded. She knew it though, it needn’t be asked.
Jess laughed. “God, Allie, sometimes you’re an insufferable sod. But we’d want you no other way.”
“Oh, that’s greatly reassuring, isn’t it?” Allie smirked.
“It could be worse,” Jess said.
“In what way, could it be worse?”
“Um, I don’t know, you could be dead or something. We’re all alive aren’t we. Even after all the shenanigans you’ve got up to,” she pointed towards Allie, and I.
“Oh, fuck me, we’re past that now.”
“I know,” Jess said.
Allie stood, and held out her arms wide, wiping away a little wetness in the corner of her eye. “So… we go from here, wherever that is. Day by day we work things out, like we’ve always done, only on a bigger scale. Everything we have planned is all still a go-ahead. This, everything, it’s a minor pothole in the road. Sure, we might have to drive over it every morning, but I’m sure we can all deal with it just fine.”
“We are doing it, aren’t we, the lab?” Sam asked after a few seconds.
Everyone turned to him, “YES!” We shouted in a frustrated screech.
“Right, that’s good, because I was kind of lagging behind there.”
“When aren’t you?” Allie said.
He shrugged. “Yeah, I suppose you’re right.”
Later, after Jess had made us lunch and a new round of coffee, we went home. Sam, Allie, and I getting into our separate cars, back to our separate, yet completely intertwined, inseparable lives. If I were to be honest, it seemed like the end of something, an age. And yet, it felt like the beginning of something even larger, a new period of development. A new challenge ahead. One we looked towards with open arms, but one we didn’t necessarily like.
But wasn’t that life, I thought, driving away.
The previous night popped into my head – the image of Allie smiling, the feeling of her body against mine, the newfound way in which my heart beat. I giggled to myself in the car. Hell, life, it is a complicated beast, I thought.
In the following weeks, we got together more often than usual. Allie quit her job at the university. Jess… well, stopped doing something mysterious, something beyond our knowledge to work full-time beside Allie. Sam and I continued to work throughout the day, and then worked towards the lab on an evening and weekends. I set up and managed the accounts, anything money related. Sam dealt with PR and anything customer related – not that we had much for him to do in the early months. Though, his contacts and his work for the publication was a boost for us in those early days.
There was of course, Allie. Oh, Allie… That night on the sofa was somewhat swept under the carpet. I knew, even at the time, that it was a spontaneous thing, conjured up from the depths of her mind – God didn’t even know what went on down there. Anyway, despite this, it wasn’t something we could forget about. Not even Allie’s brain had the power to do that.
Did it go anywhere further? Kind of…
Allie and I began seeing each other aside from Jess and Sam. We went for coffee, ate meals together in mediocre restaurants, visited each other’s homes, staying on a few occasions too. It felt good, of course it did. And when we left each other, we kissed. Always tentatively, always cautious of some unknown evil force that might spring up at any moment to stab us in the backs.
In the moment, we had no clue where it might lead, what future our actions might construct for us. I told myself to remember this, to do as Allie did and live one moment to the next without looking too far into the future. For, in truth, all it is nervous, ambiguous, speculation. And of left unchecked, it would come to rule my life. I didn’t want that. What I knew I wanted, was Allie, and Sam, and Jess, and the lab, and the life we had always dreamt of.
Everything else was up to coincidence, fate, and a whole slew of bad decisions. Somewhere, though, I hoped a few good ones lurked here and there. I came around to think that whatever Allie and I had, was exactly that.
Thank you for reading.