Lyssa

Hannah

Diana

Men

It was one of those bright November days that are a rarity and a reprieve in a sodden West Coast town. As they walked the few blocks from their office to the cafe, they presented a picture of opposites. Diana had to restrain her galloping gait not to go racing ahead of Lyssa, who seemed incapable or uninterested in keeping up with her. Restless, confident Diana, half a head taller than Lyssa, walked as if she were going somewhere, and she didn't care how much destruction she left in her wake. She walked with her head high and tripped on curbs and trampled things in her way. Lyssa too knew where she was going, but was unconcerned how long it took her to get there. Her gaze was directed differently, her far-sighted grey eyes behind the big granny glasses fixed on more distant goals. If Diana couldn't see things on the ground, Lyssa couldn't see things up close too well. She didn't trip, but for her something as small as a curb didn't deserve her attention. She sailed over obstacles in her preoccupation.

They went to a cafeteria-style restaurant across from Portlandia, with floor to ceiling windows providing an excellent view of the giantess. Diana had the appetite of the proverbial horse, and the first half of her club sandwich was gone in a flash. That taken care of, curiosity got the better of her. "I hope you don't mind if I ask: are you really interested in Marty?"

"He's years younger than I am," Lyssa protested. She took a bite of her avocado and sprout sub.

"So what?" Diana asked.

"And I thought you were interested in him," Lyssa added, shrugging.

"That would have made you give him up? You wouldn't even have taken a stab at it?" Diana shook her head impatiently, flipping back her long forelock.

"I'm afraid not. I don't care much for competition in these things. And I wouldn't have wanted to take anyone away from you."

"But what if Marty had preferred you?"

"As long as I thought you were interested in him, I probably never would have given myself the chance to find out. Especially since I had the impression you were there first."

"Poor guy!" Diana said suddenly, setting one elbow rather violently on the wobbly, yuppie-chic chrome table and almost upsetting their drinks. Delicate things were in danger when Diana was around.

Lyssa laughed softly. "It's only theoretical!"

"But it's not fair to leave someone to the partner with `higher claims,'" Diana insisted, her voice rising.

"It sounds like you know the situation well." Lyssa inspected Diana with surprise. She liked Diana, but she seemed too big and bold and loud for emotional injuries.

"Unfortunately, I do," Diana said and told Lyssa briefly about her past romantic entanglements. She was staring at Lyssa with her intense brown eyes, more like a puppy than the huge galloping creature she usually resembled.

Focusing on Diana up close for a change was a new experience for Lyssa. "I never would have thought you could hide much of anything," she said.

"Oh, I wasn't very good at it," Diana admitted. "Steve soon found out and the tragedy was complete. Nowadays, we're supposed to be reasonable about romance and beyond tragedy officially, but the loss of love still makes us weep." Diana's sarcastic tone didn't hide that she meant every word she said.

"Did you?" Lyssa asked, growing more surprised every minute.

"To my shame, I did." Diana bent her head in mock repentance, her red bangs falling in front of her face, a convenient camouflage.

"I've had my share of stomach aches," Lyssa said, thinking in particular of the last few days, "but love has never plummeted me into despair. I must lack the intensity. And I don't think I really understand the rules of the game--I had too many other priorities. The men in my life were always insulted when they discovered they weren't at the top of my list." Lyssa hadn't made such a long speech about her love life in a decade.

"Then Marty would be perfect for you," Diana pronounced, laughing. "You could combine love and work, and the one wouldn't distract you from the other. Besides, he's probably ten years younger than any boyfriend you've had before. Maybe he would be more understanding about sharing your attention with your work than men in your generation would be."

Lyssa put her hand over her eyes and laughed. "Oh, Diana," she said, "you're one of a kind. It's not particularly diplomatic to emphasize the age of an older woman. Especially when she's your boss."

"But you seem much younger than you really are," Diana protested. "Even if you do have a lot of grey in your hair already."



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