The morning after.

Lily didn't wake up until noon the next day, and even then she was apprehensive about leaving the safety and comfort of the covers. If it got out about what she'd done the night before, it would ruin her reputation. Not only the making out in the kitchen with one of her best female friends and promptly vomiting in the toilet bowl--that at least would go along perfectly with her reputation for spontaneous craziness. It was also her drunken crying fit that made her feel like the regurgitated tortellini, more pink than red, that she'd unwillingly arranged against the backdrop of white enamel in the wee hours of the morning. What had come over her to make her so overly and openly maudlin? She thought she'd successfully confined her depressive urges to solitary moments on the porch swing (preferably when it was raining), and now here they were, breaking out publicly after a bit too much wine. Wouldn't she ever be able to bear the blows of fate the way Diana or Myrine did?

But what about Myrine? How did she feel about the whole episode? What if she attached more importance to it than Lily did? She didn't want to get up, didn't want to go downstairs, didn't want to go to the kitchen. Her eyes idly followed the pattern of stains on the ceiling from the pink champagne she had shared with Adam on her birthday two years before. Lily felt slightly sick, and it wasn't only the wine. She had gotten rid of most of that the night before.

Remaining in bed and tracing champagne stains was obviously only heightening her apprehension. Finally her manic-depressive disposition came to her aid: after the depression came the manic. "Okay, Lily, up and at 'em!" she encouraged herself with a quote from her father, one of the old school, and sprang off the futon as if it were on fire. The momentum of the sudden movement sent her head spinning. "Oh, Chianti," she said, putting a hand to her head and digging out a bottle of aspirin from her dresser drawer.

When Lily entered the kitchen, Myrine was sitting at the window watching the drizzle, her feet on a chair and a pot of tea at her elbow. She took her feet off the seat, pushing the chair towards Lily, and turned a glowing gaze on her friend, the green flecks in the hazel brighter than usual. Noticing the glow, Lily suffered a brief moment of panic. Everything was so much more complicated than people imagined. The tricks life played on you could really floor you at times.

"No hard feelings?" Lily asked nervously, taking the chair Myrine proffered and pouring herself a cup of tea. She popped the aspirin she had been clenching into her mouth and washed them down with a swig of Sleepy-Time.

"Don't worry, Lily," Myrine said, shaking her head and grinning fondly. "I'm not falling in love with you, however lovable you may be."

Lily heaved a relieved sigh.

Myrine let out a short sound through her nose. "Your relief is not very complimentary, you know."

"I didn't mean it like that."

Myrine waved away her protests. "It doesn't matter. I feel good about what did or didn't happen last night. It opens up whole worlds of possibilities." Myrine had hardly slept all night thinking about those worlds of possibilities.

"God, am I glad," Lily said, resting her hand on Myrine's shoulder. "It was certainly interesting, but I don't think my preferences lie in that direction."

"Psychologists say we're all bisexual."

"Maybe it's my education."

"What a wonderful all-purpose excuse. If something's the matter with us, we can always blame our education." They looked at each other and smiled, and Myrine lowered her head to kiss the hand on her shoulder lightly. In response, the hand turned over and found her cheek.

"You're funny when you're tender," Lily said, obviously puzzled.

"And you're overtaxed when you're tender."

Trying to get into the mood of the moment, Lily ran her thumb across the freckles on her friend's cheekbone. "Maybe you're right. Maybe I've been overtaxed for a while now. But now I feel like I've hit bottom, and the only possible direction is up."

"Me too," Myrine said, and Lily looked at her in surprise. Myrine never seemed down. That showed you how much you knew your best friends. "Sometimes you've got to throw a few things overboard to keep the boat afloat," Myrine continued. "Or just to keep from getting stuck in the muck."