Chapter 21: The glow

in which one friendship cools down as another heats up.

"Hi Marianne!"

"Hiya Tusla! So, how was your day off?"


"So, you got a lot of studying ... Oh my bras and panties! What has happened to you? Your clothes... they are all..."

"Yes, I know."

"They are all new! And not even ugly!"

"Thank you, I guess. That's high praise, coming from you!"

"You look all grown up! What could make you... uh-oh."


"You're in love. Finally."

"Well, I wouldn't put it that strongly. But I guess there is a boy I like, now."

"Like?" Marianne actually laughed out loud, a sound that made Anne-Linn look out the windows to see if anyone was within earshot. "Tusla, when you like somebody, it makes you smile. It does not place a 100 watt light bulb inside you and throw the switch!"

"Don't say things like that!" She felt her face heat. Was it that obvious?

"You don't believe me? Go into the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror and say 'I have somebody I like'. And one more thing: Don't say his name out loud before I have put some shades on, unless I can get that polar bear of yours as a seeing-eye dog!"

"OK, OK! Cheese already! I get your point. I'll be pricing the macaroni, now."

"You will be telling me what happened, that's what you will do. Here is my guess: You had a 'special' dream, woke up all wet, and called him to come over to your place and eat?"

Anne-Linn stared at her in shock. "That's incredible! How...?"

"What? I was just kidding! You sicko!"

"Well, actually I went over to his place instead. He was a bit skeptical at first, but I think he liked it."

"I bet he did! For some weird reason men always want virgins, even though it should be obvious to anyone with half a brain cell that an experienced woman is much better."

"And for some reason people pay more for new cars than used ones, too. But that's beside the point. I brought him a chocolate cake."

"And then you had sex?"

"No, and then we had chocolate cake."

"And then you had sex?"

Anne-Linn straightened and put her hands on her hips. "Marianne Hansen, do I look like the kind of girl who would have sex with a boy the second time we were alone together?"

This was where Marianne should have grinned and said 'just kidding!'. But as they locked eyes, Anne-Linn sensed a disturbance in the force. To her horror, her friend did not back off. Her eyes resembled blue ice as she replied: "Who knows? Even a week ago, you didn't look like the kind of girl who would wear a carrot skirt and a blouse that tries to give at least a little emergency aid to your underdeveloped areas."

"For the record, I resent your use of the word 'underdeveloped'. Not all women are meant to be top-heavy, you know?"

"I don't resent you being bottom-heavy, so let's all be friends here. Even if the Creator did a somewhat hasty job when making you, you still have some selling points. And judging from your new clothes, you have begun to discover them."

"Well, I..."

"So why would it be such a miracle if you finally discovered the joy of sex? Even cats and dogs know that! Speaking of which, since he has already sniffed your butt, humping would be a logical next step..."

"We are not dogs! Stop talking like that before I lose my lunch! And besides, he would never do that. He is not that kind of man."

Marianne shrugged. "I am sure you know so much better than me what kind of man he is. Keep waiting till the dam breaks, but don't blame me if you are swept away. And don't blame me if he looks somewhere else, if you wait forever."

"Marianne, we have been friends since I came to this town as a small girl. But in this one thing we are as different as day and night. I did not condemn or mock you when you tried to get into the trousers of every boy in town. So I ask you to respect us when we choose to wait until the wedding night." Anne-Linn demonstratively started to price the macaroni, fervently hoping that a customer would come soon and break the tension that had sprung up in the silent room.

It took a couple minutes before Anne-Linn realized that she had talked about a wedding. And she hadn't even asked Jon whether he liked her! They were probably friends of a sort now, since they had eaten together. But it was not like he had proposed to her or anything. He had simply tolerated her. And here she was talking to her friends about the upcoming wedding... What if Marianne asked him about it next time he stopped by? That would be a disaster! True, she had not actually said it was Jon's and her wedding. But she had certainly implied it. And she had certainly thought it. She hid deep in the pasta section, where only the lasagna could see the color of her face.