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A Day Through Time  
by Martha
marthalgm@yahoo.com


Friday, April 23, 1982
3:00AM

She had lost track of time.

As she stood up, Dee grabbed the edge of the table to steady
herself. The caffeine buzz from the nonstop coffee runs had worn
off and was actually making her more wired.

She looked at her watch. Three AM. She'd been writing code and
editing data for over four hours. She needed a break.

She left the room and walked into the hallway. A breeze filtered
by from somewhere. Someone must have propped open a window down
the hall. The cool spring air was the slap in the face that she
needed. Dee paced for a few minutes up and down the narrow aisle,
breathing deeply and exhaling loudly. She'd had a few more hours
of work to go before she had to leave.

Walking back into the computer room, she noticed that the people
traffic had decreased over the last several hours. Only a handful
remained behind. All the equipment had been moved and hooked up
and tested. It was now up to the rest to get the systems up and
running. And she wouldn't even be here if it weren't for Peter.

Peter was the only one of her classmates who didn't patronize or
belittle her in front of the other students. So what if she was
only one of a handful of females in the computer science department
set to graduate next month? He knew that she could run circles
around many of them. So what if she probably come in dead last in
the looks category? Were *these* guys magazine cover material?
Dee sniffed. Hardly. They needed to take a good long look in the
mirror, for more reasons than one.

So when Peter asked her to tag along for a few days on something
that he was working on, she readily agreed. Classes were almost
over with; she had completed all the jobs for her assignments and
was just waiting for finals to begin. She had nothing better to
do.

She did not recognize any of the other people working on this
project. She'd been introduced, told some names, but the last
couple of days were coming back as a blur. The cast of characters
seemed to change in a tag-team effort - one handing off to another
as they appeared and then disappeared. Only a few remained
constant.

Dee put the final touches on her program just before 6 AM and sent
it to the mainframe. It would be several hours before she would
get any results. She could go back to the dorms, take a shower,
get some sleep, and go to one last class before coming back to
finish up her work.

As she was gathering her notes and other paperwork, Peter
approached her. "Do you need a lift back to campus?"

"Yeah, thanks," she replied. "My eyes are so crossed, I don't
think that I could find it without help."

They were approached by an older man. Dee recognized him as
someone who had spent most of the last two days supervising the
setup. "Some of us are getting something to eat. You two want to
come?"

Peter and Dee looked at each other. "Sure," they answered in
unison.

The man walked ahead with a few others while Peter and Dee gathered
the rest of their work. "Who's he?" Dee asked.

Peter chuckled slightly. "Just call him Frohike. Don't ask for a
first name. Trust me."

* * * * * * *

Saturday, April 23, 1983
10:45PM

Frohike slowly braked for the stop light ahead.

As the late evening traffic passed in front of him, he stretched in
his seat and turned off the baseball game on the radio. He wanted
to be able to think without all that background noise. To think
about her. And him.

He had just dropped her off at her house but declined the
invitation to come in. Her roommates were the giggly staring types
that seemed to thrive on making others uncomfortable. How she put
up with them was beyond him. Dee argued that they paid their
portion of the rent on time and didn't mess with her stuff. And it
wasn't like she was at home all that much to be bothered by them.

Dee spent her days at work; her evenings and weekends were usually
divided between the make-shift hangouts of Frohike and his friends.
But her parents were coming into town tomorrow. She had invited
him to brunch, to meet them, but he felt that it was more of an
obligatory gesture on her part. Not that he doubted the sincerity
of it, but he didn't really feel the need to make a good impression
so soon in this relationship.

Frohike's attention was jarred by the horn of the car behind him,
alerting him to the changing of the traffic light to green. As he
drove through the intersection and then on to the main freeway, he
gave more attention to 'the relationship'.

He could not remember when it had started. <<You don't fuck where
you work, Frohike.>> He told himself that a number of times over
the years. But his friendship with Dee hadn't started out in that
way. She wasn't much in the looks department; yeah, and *you* are,
he thought as he glanced in his rearview mirror. Her work, though,
was solid. She was incredibly thorough and had enough creativity
to design a few programs on her own. But this was not the only
thing that drew him to her. She just seemed so . . . familiar.
Her interaction with the others was characteristically much the
same as his own. She didn't shy away but hung back a bit until she
was comfortable with the situation and then jumped in. She let all
the information come to her first and then acted upon it. She
wasn't showy or mouthy like some of the others; she just did her
job and moved on. She connected with him in much the same way.

At some point, he stopped thinking about her as an associate and
started looking at her as a female. She made him feel - what were
the words - safe, at ease? No, it was more than that; it was like
a duet. Like an old song on the radio that you hadn't heard in a
long time but all of a sudden you start singing the medley and the
other starts in on the harmony. You know the tune; you know the
words. It's the discovery that you both know the song and
have slipped into the complementing style, neither opposing nor
off-key. The music was always there, but all of a sudden, someone
somewhere had turned up the volume.

He'd gotten the impression through their conversations that she was
somewhat interested in him. Her normal reserve prevented her from
making the first move, and as he was at least ten years older than
she, Frohike declined to seriously pursue it.

Until Peter stepped in. One of his last acts before he vanished
into the corporate world. Friend and confidante to both Dee and
Frohke, Peter had convinced them to let the defense mechanisms down
a bit. Once they stopped trying to contain their feelings behind
the wall of glass that they had built up between them, the
friendship blossomed into its current phase.

And their first kiss. Certainly, he could have picked a better
time than he did, tonight, waiting in the car in the middle of a
rainstorm. He had parked in front of her house, and she decided to
wait until the rain let up. They started talking about the
coincidence of the song that was playing on the radio. And then
Frohike leaned over and . . .

Eyeglasses clinked, noses bumped, and lips did not meet. Frohike
knew he had now placed himself in an awkward situation and silently
began to swear under his breath. He stopped when he felt her hand
on his cheek. Through the light of the dashboard, he found her
studying his face, and he suddenly wished that the world would go
dark at that moment. Guided by her hand and without the element of
surprise, their first kiss was unhurried. Not forced, rushed, or
with the certainty of more to come - but soft, tender, and lips
barely touching, with the warmth as when one places one's hands
around a steaming cup of coffee to ward off the chill in the air.
And then the kiss ended, and the rain stopped, and Dee was halfway
up her sidewalk before he drew his next breath. Frohike barely
remembered backing the car up and heading home.

He pulled into the parking lot of his apartment complex and got out
and locked the door. He reflected on these subtle changes in his
life over the past few weeks but was still undecided about the
direction that he should take. The last time that he had allowed
someone to become such a part of his life left him devasted. Would
this one be any different? As he walked up the stairs to his
apartment, Frohike made himself promise to take advantage of her
absence, to evaluate the relationship further. Whatever
conclusions he reached, his heart must first be protected.

But that song's refrain kept running through his head.

"oh, how I wish that it would rain"

* * * * * * *

Monday, April 23, 1984
7:12AM

Frohike stepped out onto the front porch of the beach house. It
was quiet, with only the rolling surf breaking the silence. The
last 48 hours had been one nonstop weather pattern; the constant
rain and the unrelenting wind had kept them indoors the entire
time. Not that the two of them minded.

The weekend was to be a first for Frohike and Dee - their first
time away together, his first time on her home grounds, and
hopefully their *first* time.

Frohike had suspected but hadn't known for certain that Dee was
sexually inexperienced for a twenty-four year old. At first, he
thought her pulling away during some of their more arduous necking
sessions and her stoppage of his roaming hands were just part of
her shyness and a desire to slow things down. And then she told
him that knowing a thing or two about the facts of life and being
an active participant in them were two different matters to her.

With his patience, she learned to trust. That he never forced the
issue or tried to guilt her into giving in were the deciding
factors in her reasoning. Maybe no one was more stunned than she
when she asked, some weeks ago, to spend the night. Still patient,
ever remindful of the complications of this level of involvement,
Frohike proceeded cautiously and Dee accompanied him, doing
everything but THAT, with neither left wanting for more but always
knowing that the prize was within reach should either decide to
grab that brass ring.

Several abortive attempts were made at consummation. Whether due
to nervousness or inexperience, they were both left questioning
their own inadequacies. Dee had suggested getting away for a few
days; away from all the familiarties of their current life and
recent disappointments.

It worked like a charm.

The drive down had been one long afternoon of foreplay. That
neither wrecked the car was a testament to either good driving
skills or the light traffic. Unpacking the car upon their arrival
only fueled their frenzy; with the imposing outside weather and
expected indoor activity, neither were willing to consider coming
back out later.

Bags dropped on the floor. Footsteps on the staircase, first
hurried, then pausing, waiting for the other to catch up.
The impatience with clothing, the dizziness of a kiss, and the
slight tingling that crawls down your spine as it is being
caressed. Minutes seem like seconds, and the late afternoon light
disappears behind the storm clouds that accumulate with a ferocity
only equaled by the occupants of the house. The accomplishment of
the deed at hand, initially marked by a pause as they both took a
moment to figure out if everything was where it was supposed to be.
The aftermath, the stillness of lying in another's arms and
hearing only their breathing and their heart pounding, oblivious to
the storm raging outside.

Frohike spoke first. "OK, so what do we do for the *rest* of the
weekend?"

Dee giggled lightly in his ear. "Well, I don't know about you, but
I'm starved."

The rest of the weekend was spent indoors. Most of their time was
spent sleeping or just cuddling together, watching old movies on
the TV when the weather allowed. Frohike looked back out over the
ocean and stared at the sunrise in the clearing on the horizon. He
didn't want to do it, but he knew that he would have to go back
upstairs and wake her up and start getting ready to go back home.

He wanted to stay here forever.

* * * * * * *

Tuesday, April 23, 1985
2:29PM

Dee unpacked the last box of books and placed them on the bottom
shelf of the bookcase.

They had been in this apartment for over a month, and she could not
believe that she was still unpacking. How could two people
accumulate so much stuff in just a few years?

If Frohike had it his way, they'd still be living in separate
residences. He'd found it convenient just to stay at her place for
a time and retreat to his apartment when he had work to do. Dee
began to resent the assumption that he could just come and go when
he pleased. If he would have just *asked* to stay with her . . .

She decided to set some limits. She told him that he would have to
give her some notice as to how long he was staying at her place.
He would have to find some place other than her dining room table
for his papers. And if he wanted to continue to enjoy her company
on an unlimited basis, he would have to consider the option of
finding a place big enough for the two of them.

Frohike's reaction? He packed up his papers and left. No word
except 'good-bye' as he walked out the door.

Dee's reaction? Good riddance, and fuck you.

Several days went by, and neither contacted the other. Dee knew
that she could have handled it differently, with more tact. But
she wasn't going to let him get away with it. There were some
basic things that she wanted out of this relationship, and one of
them was not to be taken advantage of. Another was just a simple
acknowledgment that they were a couple. She'd given up a few
things by staying with him. She was working full-time and still
contributed time and energy to his projects. Damn it, she just
wanted Frohike to realize this.

More days went by without a word from him. <<He must not have
cared. He must not have ever cared about me.>> Dee began to
accept that she may never hear from him again and started to adjust
her life accordingly. She began to box up the miscellaneous items
that he had left around her place. A knock at the door interrupted
her scavenger hunt.

Frohike stood at her door looking through tired eyes, as if he
hadn't been sleeping well. His reappearance, just when she began
to think him through with her, confused her. She wasn't really
listening to what he was saying. Just hearing some bits and
pieces:

"I'm sorry"

"been thinking about what you said"

"talk about this some more"

"do you forgive"

Every rationalization became unimportant. Each day spent worrying
about him suddenly disappeared. He had come back, not with this
tail between his legs or on bended knee, but to say that he was
sorry and wanting to discuss things further. She wrapped her arms
around his waist and buried her head in his shoulder. She knew at
this moment that she loved him. Telling him would take more time.
In the middle of her living room, she stood clinging to him, and he
held her for as long as she needed him.

This was all she wanted. This was all she ever wanted.

* * * * * * *

end of part one

(notes are contained in part one)

Wednesday, April 23, 1986
3:37PM

The passenger in 10A was not coping well. As the plane took off
from BWI on its voyage to Hartsfield International, Dee clung to
her companion's arm and buried her head into the back of his
shoulder.

"Watch the nails," Frohike warned.

Dee relaxed her grip somewhat but continued to shake until the
plane leveled off. "I hate flying. Couldn't we drive back on
Sunday?"

"I don't think so."

"I'll drive."

"No."

They were on their way to Atlanta to her sister's wedding. Frohike
had met most of the members of her family, but it was always in
small doses on his home turf. Now he was being thrust into a
full-fledged family affair lasting for several days and wondering
if he was going to have to evade those knowing stares from
relatives questioning his feelings for Dee.

"You could have taken the whole week and driven by yourself."

Dee was puzzled. "You didn't want to come?"

"I didn't say that."

"But you're not thrilled about being around my family."

"It's not that." Frohike loosened the seatbelt a bit. "Your
mother doesn't like me."

"Yes, she does."

"I think that she'd rather see you married off like your younger
sister."

"My mother doesn't want to see any of us settling down unless we
know it's what we want. She doesn't want us marrying just because
we think that we *should* be married."

He glanced out over her shoulder, out the window. "And then
there's your father."

"What about him? He hasn't said anything to you, has he?"

"No. But I do know that he doesn't approve of our living
arrangements."

"I'm twenty-six years old and haven't lived with them for five
years. He'll have to deal with that." Dee dug around for a
magazine to take her mind off of the flying. "He just thinks that
everyone should be married and having kids by now. That's how he
was raised."

"And he raised you."

"Why are we going through this again?" She wrapped her arms around
his left one. "Don't you know people in Atlanta? All I ask is
that you're there for the wedding so that I have someone to talk to
at the reception. I'm not even sure that I can deal with the
relatives."

"If I just didn't have to wear a suit . . ."

"Hey, if I have to wear some totally appalling bridesmaid's dress,
you can wear a suit. Besides, I like that suit on you. And off
you."

"Don't let your mother hear you say that."

"Stop it with my parents already."

"I can't help it. I always get the impression that I've done
something wrong. That because I haven't asked you to marry me, it
must mean that I don't care about you. That I'm just using you . .
you know . . ."

"Let me make this clear. You're not using me. It doesn't matter
what my family thinks - they don't live my life. And stop with the
marriage thing. I've never told you that I was expecting it, and I
certainly don't want you to consider it now just because you're
feeling guilty. Besides, I'm not so sure that I want to be married
. . . to anyone just yet. I guess everyone grows up with the
expectations of being married. I didn't. I was different, and I
knew it. I never even expected to . . . well. . . be involved with
anyone. The boys I knew left me alone. I always thought that I
would be alone."

Frohike kissed her ear and whispered, "You're not."

Dee just hugged his arm tighter. "I know."

Dee thought that this was the closest that she would ever come to
saying 'I love you'. But she still could not get out those words.
It would have been the final surrender, an admission of weakness on
her part. For the other to have known, it would have given him too
much power in the relationship. And she wasn't about to let down
her guard. She would much rather live with the loneliness than to
allow someone to throw that sentence back in her face. To taunt
her. To lord it over her. Like the boys on the schoolyard. But
this was a grown man sitting beside her. No matter. Some men
never grow up.

Frohike heard her words loud and clear. She was not ready to get
married. He had prepared himself for the inevitable comments from
her family and had even given serious consideration to the subject.
He knew that he was this close to asking her that question. But
she was saying that she didn't want to get married. Yet, she had
said. So there was still some hope for the future. Maybe she'll
get caught up in the weekend. Maybe she'll see it for herself
without her parents' prodding.

That the man accompanying her would wait forever for 'yes'.

* * * * * * *

Thursday, April 23, 1987
11:02AM


"Mel, can you come get me?"

"Sure. Where are you?"

"At Dr. Wells' office."

Dr. Wells' office? Who's Dr. . .

"I'm on my way."

Frohike made his apologies to his associates and headed out
the door. Dee would not have called him in the middle of the
day if it had not been important. And he did not even need to
ask what the emergency was about; the disappointment in her
voice told him everything that he needed to know.

He found her forty-five minutes later in the waiting room.
"Shouldn't you be lying down or resting or something?"

Dee looked up at him without speaking. Earlier, she had been
crying, but now she was just too tired to care. "Take me
home," she whispered hoarsely.

Frohike walked her out to the car. He was surprised that she
did not need to be carried or even physically supported. But
then she was only in the early stages, and the doctor would
have never let her go home if she was not all right.

Dee had miscarried earlier that morning. She had woken up
feeling nauseous, which was usual for her, but when the
cramping started, she panicked and caught a cab to her doctor's
office. She waited for over an hour afterwards before calling
him. And now, all she wanted was to get home and crawl into
bed.

Frohike had gotten her into bed and pulled the covers up under
her chin. He turned to leave the room and make her some tea,
but she stopped him with "Don't go".

He had stretched out on his side of the bed beside her. They
both lay there, on their pillows, just staring at the other.
There was so much that both wanted to say that couldn't be
voiced with words. Each eye movement, each attempt to speak by
either one, was interpreted as an apology, a regret, a
resignation. For this miscarriage had put to rest all their
previous conversations that week.

Dee had suspected and then confirmed her pregnancy the previous
week. It was not planned, and it certainly was not something
that the two were trying for. They had never discussed the
possibility of children in their lives before but now they were
faced with making that decision one way or the other. Both
admitted teetering on the fence about continuing the pregnancy.
The changes in their lives would have been drastic. Had they not
been in this relationship for as long as they had, the decision
would have already been made to terminate the pregnancy. Was it
their time for this to happen? Could they possibly bring a child
into this world and raise it together? For the relationship to
survive and for the baby's future, both had to reach the same
decision and not just choose the same direction because it was
what the other would have wanted.

In Frohike's mind, the events of the day had finally put to rest
all those nagging questions. He still had his doubts, his fears,
about having a baby. The world was a terrifying place, and he
grudgingly admired those who continued to work to make the world
better for their children. But having one of his own was a
different matter. A parent's hope, a family's pride, a father's
worry. For now, he would never know.

But he would have liked to have given it a try.

* * * * * * *

Saturday, April 23, 1988
5:20PM

Dee was standing at the sink, washing the dishes from the previous
day, when she heard the locks on the front door unlatch and someone
enter the apartment. It wasn't until she heard the familiar
footsteps and saw Frohike rounding the corner that she stopped
searching for something to be used as a weapon.

He had stopped by the kitchen table to drop off some papers and was
walking towards the spare room with the rest of his equipment.

"Did you just get back into town?"

"No, I've been over at the offices, working on some stuff for a
couple of days."

A couple of days? He'd been back and hadn't called and hadn't been
home. She followed him into the hallway.

"What were you doing?"

"I need a shower first. Then we'll talk."

Dee followed him into the bedroom. <<Fuck the shower. Talk to me
now. And why do I sound so much like my mother?>>

Too late. He'd already closed the bathroom door and had the water
running. Dee sat down on the corner of the bed and just stared at
that closed door. <<How did we get here? When did we suddenly
become strangers?>>

It seemed that they had been drifting apart for some time. She had
gone back to school last fall, putting them both on odd schedules.
And while she reveled in the new challenges, Frohike began to
resent her new-found interests. Even going so far as to insinuate
that she enjoyed the company of her classmates more than being
with him and made it a point to note that most of them were men.
Dee almost threw something at him when he said that. <<How could
he possibly think that I'd . . .>> That's when she knew that their
mutual trust had been shattered. The one thing that she had always
counted on.

He didn't have to say that he loved her. She did not have that
need to be constantly told. But what she craved was trust and
respect. And now all of a sudden, she was sharing her life with a
man who doubted her. Oh, he had apologized quickly enough after
that little accusation, but it was still there in her mind. Dee
refrained from discussing her study group with him, and soon their
conversations dwindled into 'who was going to be where that day'
and 'why I won't be home till late'. She felt like she was living
alone again.

Dee heard the water turn off, and soon the bathroom door opened.
Frohike stood in the doorway, with one towel wrapped around his
waist and drying his face with another. He spotted her sitting
on the bed and stopped when, even without his glasses, he noted the
dejected look on her face. They both stared at the other for
a moment. Then Dee slowly got up off the bed and, without a word,
left the room.

They both knew that it was the beginning of the end.

* * * * * * *

Sunday, April 23, 1989
9:16AM

Sundays were the worst.

Frohike corrected himself - make that Sunday mornings.

By now, they were usually awake. They would be in bed reading the
paper, drinking coffee. If he felt really ambitious, Frohike would
run out for some doughnuts or muffins. The weekend jazz program on
one of the local radio stations would be in the background. Maybe
later, there would be a really good classic movie on TV. And they
would curl up together, taking an early afternoon nap, or just let
the day slip by while they talked about what was going on in the
world around them.

Frohike forced his eyes to open. Except for himself, the bed was
empty. No papers, no coffee. He'd forgotten to set the radio.
And Dee was gone; the only thing that he was curled up with was a
pillow.

Dee was gone. Not just for the day. She had packed and left a
week ago. And he was still in a daze. Frohike knew that he could
not stay in the bed; he got up to make some coffee.

It should not have been a surprise. He knew that she had not been
happy for some time. They had talked about it, argued about it, off
and on for several months. But he thought that as long as they
were still talking, everything would be OK. And then she told him
that she was leaving.

He watched her pack from the hallway, knowing that he dare not
interfere. Once Dee had made up her mind about something, trying
to change it was futile. <<If she's determined to go, perhaps she
should. I can't help it that I'm in some situations now that take
up a lot of my time. If she can't see that this is just as
important to me as she is, then maybe it's better that this ends
now.>>

He had helped carry some of the boxes to her car. <<Never let it
be said that I would make this difficult for her. She'll see.
She'll call or come back. There are not enough good reasons for
her to stay away. It will work itself out.>>

Frohike poured his cup of coffee and went to sit down on the couch
with the paper. Spring was taking its time appearing this year, so
he reached out for the afghan that was bunched up in the far end of
the couch. It took him several minutes to realize that it was one
that Dee had forgotten to take with her. This one was her favorite
- a dark gray and black combination that she used to wrap around
herself while reading. He lay the paper to one side and ran his
hand over the patterned material and remembered how she used to
huddle with it on those winter evenings. And how they sometimes
would share the afghan. Suddenly, the uneasiness that he had felt
earlier had turned into emptiness. Dee was gone. And he knew
with certainty that she wasn't coming back.

<<You bastard. You should have stopped her. You should have
begged for her to stay.>>

Frohike grabbed the afghan and buried his face in it, drowning out
the escaping sobs and gathering the tears that would not stop.

* * *

Dee stood on the porch of the beach house and looked out to sea.
She had come to love this place and the quiet times that were spent
here. She did not know exactly why she had come straight here
after leaving Baltimore, but deep down she knew that he would start
looking for her. And this would be the first place that he would
come to. He'd come back before, hadn't he? So why hadn't he shown
up yet? She'd give him another day. Until tomorrow.

But tomorrow never comes.

end