Brad and I had known each other for years. Before college, before we learned that beer and Wheat Chex was a nutritious snack. We played soccer together, destroyed numerous wiffle balls together and had more than a few ill-fated road trips. We hung out with each other's girlfriends as they came and went, and mostly refrained from razing each other too much when things went downhill. Because with us, they always went downhill.

When he started hanging out with Rachel I really didn't think much about it. She was lithe and sharp with short dark hair and doe eyes that caught the light in dark restaurants. Soft voice and a laugh that would catch your attention across the room. Wind chimes. I could see what he was looking at, but not what she saw. We're the kind of guys who look like we have spent one too many afternoon in a comic book store. But Brad was smart and funny, so I chalked it up to that.

When I showed up at his place one evening she was walking around in his Washington Capitals jersey, barefoot. I tried not to pay attention to the fact that it was probably all she had on, since her knees peeked out from underneath and the cloth jutted out in directions I had never seen when Brad had worn it.

Hey, whatcha doin.. half closed eyes, dancing around the room, small circles, ballroom style.

"Nothing, just looking for Brad.. when is he back?"

oh, not for a while, want to watch me practice? I have an audition tonight.

"Wow, I didn't know you danced...that's impressive." I am watching her do spins now, and I am sure about the solo clothing idea now. I turn my head and look out the window to prevent too much staring.

There's a lot you don't know, I think

She stops dancing. Picks up a towel and walks over towards me. Like you don't know I read Asimov and you don't know I have a bottle of your favorite aftershave at my apartment and you don't know that I kept a copy of that drawing you did of the oak tree the day we went to the park.

She tilts her head to one side to see if I am getting all this.

I am.

"What else do you want me to know?"

I lean against a couch, as much to keep balance as anything. She leans next to me, like we're on a rail, waiting on a subway train.

I want you to come to the audition, how's that? Is that a start? She gives me a sideways look, a little awkward, which kills me. Maybe it can be our little secret, what do you say?

So began misery.

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