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something from the archives: another sunset - part 11

liz asks michael to prom, not knowing she might already have a date...





Part 11


It’s life’s greatest irony that no matter what happens it goes on. And what is extraordinary becomes ordinary. (Making the opposite true as well.)

Michael still couldn’t believe his luck in finding the Parkers. As much as he loved Sean, they’d never managed to repair the family broken by their fucked up parents. They’d never been a family the way the Parkers had been a family. The way the Parker siblings were a family. Even without Elizabeth’s memory, she and Alex made a strong family unit. And the best part was the fact that they included Michael.

Over the two weeks following the funeral, they’d managed to settle in to a routine suggestive of normalcy. Michael and Alex had returned to their full schedules of school, work, and football practice, while Liz herself returned to school as well. They’d all managed to get back just in time for finals, and spent time together in the evening going through their assignments.

Michael was amazed by the sheer amount of things she knew, she was like a storehouse of random information. He knew it frustrated her to not remember the people or events of her life, even though she rarely complained about it.

Michael had pulled the late shift at the hospital the night before, added to the full day of classes and practice he’d had to attend, and the fact that he’d be helping out at the Crashdown for the dinner rush, his life was full. And Michael couldn’t have been happier about it.

He walked up the stairs that led up to their apartment. Because Elizabeth got home before he did, he had become accustomed to her making them a snack and then just hanging out for a while before getting to work and studying.

Elizabeth. Liz. He wasn’t sure whom he was falling in love with. Or who it was he was getting to know. All he knew was that she was amazing. She seemed to be doing so well. And yet he was still worried for her. Her decided indifference towards remembering what it was she’d forgotten, her refusal to speak about the off and on flashes of memory he was sure she was getting, her lack of interest in memory exercises Doctor Grant had recommended, just proved to Michael that she wasn’t okay.

But it was the dreams that made Michael sure he was right. Michael believed that the memories of the crash and some other emotional trauma were embedded in the nightmares that Liz woke to screaming every night. But she refused to talk about them. He wanted her to be able to address the dreams. He wanted her to feel like it was okay to talk about the life she’d had before the accident. But she wouldn’t.

And as troubling as her lack of communication about the dreams was to Michael, it was far from being his biggest problem. More terrifying to Michael were the dreams he woke from. He’d had to take a cold shower every night that week, the kisses that they had shared, the memories of their embrace, heightened and intensified by the ragged longing in Michael’s soul, consummated his very being. He’d awaken in a sweat, his arousal rock hard, the taste of her lips on his. If things continued the way they were he’d die of pneumonia in a fortnight.

He couldn’t help loving every second of time they spent together. Even if it was leading them to the path of friendship. In reality it was all he could hope to gain from any sort of connection they might have. Michael enjoyed every moment of time they spent together. Which was why, when Michael realized the apartment was dark and empty he couldn’t help the fear that rose within him. He picked up the phone, ready to dial Alex’s cell phone when he heard the key in the lock turn and Liz walked in laughing with Maria and Isabel.

"Where were you?" Michael asked abruptly, his fear veiled by the anger in his voice.

"Shopping. With Maria and Isabel. Why?" Liz was startled by Michael's sharp tone.

"You could have mentioned it."

"Michael, what is your problem?" He was acting like a crazy person as far as Liz could tell. She wanted to know what was going on.

"Nothing." Michael grumbled. He knew he had no right to demand anything of her. She needed to get to know these people. But the idea that she wouldn't need him anymore cut him deeply.

Liz half-dragged, half-pulled Michael into the kitchen, his behavior made no sense to her. Especially since she had mentioned that she was going to hang out with Maria and Isabel today at dinner last night. After all, there were only two weeks left before graduation, his and hers. More importantly however, was the fact that in one week she’d be turning eighteen, the same night as Prom night. Maria and Isabel had offered to help her with her outfits.

She was finally feeling more normal. Her lack of memory and the dreams that plagued her at night were the only real reminders of the fact that things weren’t normal. She knew Michael and Alex worried about her dreams, about her refusal to talk about them. But she could only remember fractional impressions, bits and pieces too small to make up a whole she was afraid to put together in the first place. She’d needed this outing with Maria and Isabel. And she really had a wonderful time.

"Michael, why are you so mad?"

"I’m not mad."

"I just went out with some friends. I’m finally feeling like a normal person. A person who has friends and I come home and you yell at me. You never yell at me."

Michael took in the hurt expression in her face, and remorse and relief replaced the anger he’d been feeling. He enveloped her in his embrace, holding her close to him. He whispered in her ear:

"Elizabeth…I’m sorry I’ve been a beast. It’s just that when I got here and you weren’t here I panicked and I was afraid for you."

Liz’s reaction was to hold Michael tighter. She loved being held by him. Hearing the heartbeat in his chest, the corded strength of his muscles. In his arms she felt safe. And she felt special.

"Michael?"

"Yeah…"

"Um…would you…would you be mydateforprom?"

"What?"

"Prom. It’s in a week. Would you go with me?"

"Um. Okay. Sure. Do I need a tux?"

"I think so."

"The things I do for you."

They hugged once more. Their hearts beating a little faster. Their spirits lighter, happier.

*****

Isabel and Maria could barely contain their amusement at Michael’s overreaction to Liz’s getting home late. They watched carefully as Liz dragged Michael into the kitchen, before moving to the door to overhear what they suspected would happen, not that it was difficult to hear Michael at first.

"So what do you think is going on there between the two of them?"

"I have no idea ‘Ria, but they’re obviously really into each other."

"What about Max? Alex is really pissed at him, so no one’s told her that he is her date for prom. What’s going on now?" They were both peeking into the kitchen surreptitiously wanting a front row seat to whatever was going on. This was better than a soap opera.

"I think they’re hugging. Listen, Max may be my brother, but my little brother is an ass. He’s been cheating on her. Oh my God, ‘Ria she’s asking Michael!"

"What? Wow. I guess he said yes. Let’s sit back down on the sofa. So, Max has been cheating on her? No wonder Alex was so pissed. I wonder if that’s what Liz and Max fought about the night of the accident?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well Liz left a message on my machine that night, she was going to come over later to talk, and she’d said to have the Ben and Jerry’s ready. So I knew that it was big. But she never made it."

"Oh, ‘Ria…I’m sorry."

"It’s not your fault." Maria shook off the memories of that night. "So do you think Max will show up anyway?"

"I hope he does, if only to realize that she has no interest in him."

"Iz, that’s so mean. I love it."

Isabel laughed and at that moment Michael and Liz came out of the kitchen with snacks for all. They hung out together the rest of the afternoon, laughing and getting to know each other.

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