#Sunday-Romance Serial: “Day After Day”

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
  • Continuing With: Meredith and Lily
  • Setting: Contemporary; unnamed/generic American town
  • Length: 1,426 words
  • Key Tropes: best friends to lovers, We Need to Talk, bisexual and pansexual MCs
  • Content Warnings: verbal/nonviolent fighting, swearing, brief panphobia issues
  • Explicit?: No

Tomorrow never came. Sure, Meredith woke up and did the things she usually did; she went to work and had a good lunch shift, making nearly twice as much in tips as a typical day, somehow. Her tables were all a smidgen nicer than usual, and more takeouts tipped than she expected, and by the time she clocked out after the initial dinner rush, she had lost track of the running total she always kept in her head.

How had she managed to do her job so well when she’d spent half the time anxious about Lily?

The staff was allowed to keep their phones on them during service, because emergencies were always a possibility, and plenty of the servers had kids. But Meredith never checked hers much, and today she’d been too busy even if she’d wanted to. Whatever Lily did or didn’t text her, it should wait until her shift was over. She even resisted on the drive home. She showered and changed and threw some leftovers in the microwave for dinner.

Only then did she look for messages.

She didn’t have any.

Tomorrow, Lily had said. Well, there was still plenty of “tomorrow” left–it was barely seven. Lily had a nine-to-five office job, but maybe she’d gotten held up, or maybe she needed to relax with a book for a while before she tackled her problems.

Or she might just be quietly freaking out at one end of a suspended conversation, like Meredith was.

A book. Reading sounded like a good distraction. She would grab a favorite from her small collection, liberate a few squares of chocolate from her stash, and take it easy for an hour. By then, Lily would call. Or text, text was fine too.

Two hours later, Meredith woke with a jolt in her chair. Not surprising, she hadn’t slept well the night before. But her neck was angry with her for not being in bed when she fell into her unintended nap.

The uneaten chocolate sat by her phone. Still no messages.

It wasn’t too late in the evening to call her best friend Lily. Was it too late to call the Lily that had kissed her? What were they now? What did Meredith want them to be?

Her thumb hovered over the call button under Lily’s name, but she decided against it. Forcing the issue so soon didn’t feel right, even though she was dying to offload some of her tension. Normally, Lily would be the one she talked to if she was unsure about seeing somebody new.

Obviously that wouldn’t work now.

Day after day followed the same pattern, until most of the week had gone by. Saturday she worked the dinner shift, and she usually tried to hang out with Lily during the day, but she made no plans as Lily’s silence continued.

Sunday, Meredith started her day by knocking out all her chores and baking a pumpkin pie. The cleaning was fueled by rage at her best friend ghosting her for a week; the baking, her attempt to medicate her rage with soothing kitchen time and plenty of sugar. It half-worked, because by afternoon, she wasn’t as angry but still had too much energy to sit around and wait for Lily to decide she existed again.

She packed up two slices of pie and drove over. When Lily answered the doorbell, her face went still with shock, then she looked away guiltily.

“Busy?” Meredith asked in her most chipper tone. “I brought pie.”

Lily stepped back to let her in.

As much time as she spent there, Meredith knew where everything was. She got plates and forks in the kitchen while Lily hovered in the doorway, watching. She held out one plated slice of pie and Lily took it without comment. Meredith’s rage reignited at Lily’s continued silence in person.

“Are we going to talk about this?” she demanded. “Because if you were drunk enough to screw up and you want to take it all back, you should say so. I don’t know if that would work, but we could try, if that’s what you want. But I don’t want my best friend ignoring me anymore, so here I am.”

Lily’s shoulders sagged, and she took her plate to the table, sitting down. “I haven’t called you because I don’t know what I want.”

That was a start. Meredith sat down too. “It seemed pretty clear you wanted me. At least, you did then.”

“I do now, too. But Mere–” She sighed and dug her fork into the pie. “I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have kissed you, I had no right to.”

“Did I, or did I not, tell you to ask me on a date right then instead of waiting? Was I not perfectly clear that I was into it, at least once I got over my surprise you’d kissed me at all?” Meredith shook her head. “Listen, I get that half our friends don’t think I’m queer enough to belong. I say I’m pan, and they see me dating yet another guy, and they look at me and think I’m a straight girl pretending. I’m not. I’m interested in women, but I can’t explain why they never seem to be interested in me. I’m not butch, I’m not femme, because of my job I can’t die my hair wacky colors or shave half of it off to prove I’m queer, I’m just me and apparently I read straight and so women aren’t falling at my feet.” She ran out of breath there and stopped to drag in a deep one. “I thought you knew me better than that. So if any of this uncertainty you’re feeling is that you had no right to kiss me, well, permission first is always better but I was one hundred percent okay with you kissing me, alright?”

“Mere–” She must have expected an interruption, because she paused there. “Okay, I’m an asshole, because yeah, some of that had crossed my mind. But it’s not just that. You’re my best friend!”

“I’m your best friend enough to know that half the romance novels you read are friends-to-lovers. So why is that a problem in real life? I’m here. I brought you pumpkin pie. You told me a week ago you were going to ask me on a date tomorrow. I’m not impressed with your punctuality, Lils. Am I going to have to ask you? Because I will, I just thought you wanted to handle that yourself.”

Lily finally took a bite of the pie. “This is really good,” she mumbled.

“I know.”

“And you’re really pissed off.”

“Yep.”

“I’m sorry I freaked out?”

Meredith sighed. “Are you, though? If you got cold feet and you don’t want to go through with this, I’d rather you say so then ghost me.”

“Did I ruin everything?”

“I don’t know yet. But you will if you won’t talk to me.”

“Okay, but–but I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what I’m doing, Mere, and that’s what I’ve been freaking out about all week! You know better than anyone outside my exes what an awful person I can be in a relationship. I’ve always felt lucky that you’re such a great friend anyway, because I know I have a lot of flaws, and I’m working on that, but it’s hard. So pardon me for not wanting to ruin the best relationship I do have by trying to turn it into something else!”

“Good! Yes! Thank you!” Meredith applauded like she was an acting coach praising a student. “Real honesty!”

Lily shoved a forkload of pie into her mouth and thumbed her nose at Mere. “You can be pretty awful, too, you know,” she said after she chewed and swallowed.

“I’m a bitch when I’m angry, fully aware.”

“Too bitchy to even eat the pie you brought.”

It was true, Meredith hadn’t touched it. She lifted the slice, skipping the fork, and took as big a bite from the pointed end as she could.

“Much better,” Lily observed. “Are we friends again?”

Meredith couldn’t talk yet–too much chewing necessary. She nodded.

“Can we get pizza for dinner and open a bottle of wine and do our usual whining about life tonight, like usual?”

After a huge, painful gulp, Meredith spoke. “I will allow one episode of a shitty reality tv show as a breather, but after that, we’re figuring this out. Over pizza and wine is fine, but I’m not letting you put me off again. I did that for a week and all it got me was heartburn.”

Lily laughed. “Skip the pizza, then? I’ve got some of Mom’s chicken noodle soup in the freezer, you love that–”

“Lily.”

“What?”

“It’s a metaphor.”

“For how crazy I made you?”

“Exactly.”

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