October 3, 2017,
18:27 local time,
Global Citizens Headquarters,
“Hi Danel,” said renowned freelance investigative reporter Connie Hedburg, knocking on the door of the office of her long-time friend, lawyer and activist Danel Hanno.
“Hi,” said Hanno, taken off guard but not moving an inch from behind his computer. “Hi, uh, Connie…wow, you’re quick.”
“Traffic wasn’t that bad tonight,” said Hedburg. “The streetcar didn’t have to wait too long in between stops.”
“Oh,” said Hanno, “that’s…that’s good.”
Hanno then smiled awkwardly. Usually the sight of Hedburg, with her glistening blonde locks and her warm smile brought out Hanno’s own winning smile, a rare moment of levity from the “all-business” lawman that gave the neurotic Hedburg a soothing calmness. A calmness Hedburg found more necessary since she saw her friend less as she moved to Iceland, her Scandinavian blood preferring the crisp cool Arctic air to the sweltering Assyrian heat that Hanno preferred.
However, that smile wasn’t on display tonight, with Hanno displaying an air of apprehension and uneasiness to him that Hedburg found uncharacteristic. When she saw that Hanno was still immersed in his computer monitor, Hedburg knew something was up.
“Did I catch you at a bad time?” she asked, trying to read Hanno’s body language to gather clues of her own.
“No, no,” said Hanno, again awkwardly smiling. “OK, well…maybe a little…I mean, I’m still typing up my reports…”
“Doubt you were going to finish them tonight,” said Hedburg with an uneasy smile.
“I was actually trying to aim for that,” said Hanno. “Even though I know I’ll get more tomorrow.”
Funny, Hedburg thought, Danel couldn’t always wait to get away from his reports. What’s different now?
“Well,” said Hedburg with a smile and a sigh. “I guess I’ll leave you be…just wanted to say ‘hello’.”
“No-no-no, no-no-no-no! Wait!” said Hanno, hastily jumping from his desk. “You said you wanted to get dinner…we’re going to get dinner. You’re right…I mean, it’s late, and you flew all this way for me, making time for me…I shouldn’t be here in the office…these briefs…I’ll just finish them tomorrow…yeah, tomorrow.”
Hedburg then closed the door, leaving her and Hanno alone in the office. The sound of the clang of the door’s locks made a pit in Hanno’s stomach, as Hanno instantly read Hedburg’s seriousness.
“OK, Danny,” said Hedburg. “Something’s up…usually I come here, we smile…we hug…you log out of your computer and away we go, happily going to the movies or dinner or something. Usually you can’t wait to get away from your desk and away from your reports…why Danny? Why is tonight different? Is there something I need to know?”
Hanno then sat back down on the front of his desk, clasping his hands together in front of him.
“Connie,” said Hanno, whose sigh made Hedburg anxious.
“Yes, yes,” said Hedburg, “what is it? Tell me anything. Well, except how stinky your poop was this morning…don’t need to know that.”
“Actually,” said Hanno, “my poop was smelly this morning…but that’s not what’s up.” He then resumed his sullen demeanour.
Hanno then let out a deep sigh as Hedburg hung on to his every word.
“Connie,” he said, lowering his head momentarily. “Connie…I…I want you to understand something. No…I need you to understand something.”
“Understand what?” said Hedburg.
“First,” said Hanno, “I only want you to be happy…I don’t want you to think that I want to interfere with your happiness…you made choices…and I want you to be happy for those choices.”
“I’m glad to know that,” said Hedburg, still nonplussed.
“I just saw your PicMe post and,” said Hanno, his voice trailing off as Hedburg interjected.
“Oh!” said Hedburg, visibly and audibly angry. “The post with Robert and I…my boyfriend. I’m sorry…but you don’t have a right to be angry that I have a boyfriend.”
“I’m not upset that you have a boyfriend,” said Hanno. “Like I said…that choice is yours and yours alone. I only care if he mistreats you…because I just want you to be happy.”
“So why are you upset then?” said Hedburg, her hands on her hips. “Clarify that for me. Tell me why I shouldn’t think that you’re just mad that someone else gets to stick his dick inside me and you don’t. Tell me why I should think there’s actually more to this friendship and that I wasn’t just someone you thought you could f***. Tell me…tell me now!”
Hanno began to tear as he realized the gravity of the situation. His mind was a mess and getting the right words out was going to be that much tougher.
“Connie,” said Hanno, fighting back his tears, “unrequited love is a thing…you and I…we both know that. Yeah…I did think I had a chance with you and I’m sad that I’m not going to realize that…and that’s just not a feeling that you can brush aside…it’s real…and because I care about you, and because I care about you as a friend, I’m telling you this. The last thing I want for you is to be sad…to be upset. I wish I could have told you this in a better environment under better circumstances…but, as I value your friendship, I feel that it’s pertinent for you to understand what I feel.”
“That’s why you danced around it,” said Hedburg, “until I got it out of you by closing your office door. Don’t try to change the script Danel.”
“However way we got it out,” said Hanno firmly, “I had to get it out. Our friendship would be worthless if I bottled up my feelings…and yes, I was worried about how you would react. That you would think that my admission simply means that I only saw you as someone I wanted to have sex with. I may have seen that, but I see so much more in you…so much that I value…that I treasure…that I love.”
Hanno then broke down in tears, his head collapsing into hands to hide his tears though his sobbing was still very audible.
“Connie,” he said, his voice cracking, “you mean the world to me…you’re like a sister to me…you’re as best a friend as anyone could ever ask for…please, from the bottom of my heart believe me. I want you to be happy…I only want you to be happy…and if that’s with Robert and not me…then so be it.
“Yeah, I’m disappointed that’s not how it worked out…that you chose someone else over me…but, deep down inside, I have to put aside my disappointment and be happy for you…because this isn’t about me. I can’t make this about me, because it isn’t. It never can be. It might take me a while before I realize that…but, by gosh, I care about you and I care about this friendship so I’m going to do everything I can to get over it. Because, ultimately, I care about you. All I want is your understanding and your patience, with the knowledge I will do nothing to get in the way of your happiness. One day, I’d like to meet him and tell him how happy I am that you’re happy. You’re just going to have to give me some time to get there.”
Hedburg took in a deep breath, pondering Hanno’s words.
He sure felt entitled to me, she thought, and I’m not sure I can so readily let that go…but then again, why would he lie to me? He’s been one of the greatest friends I’ve ever had…I’m sure if the situation were different I would feel the same way he does…and why would I not believe him when he says he won’t get in my way? Danel is as honest as they come…I’ve always known he meant what he says. Why should this be any different?
Hedburg walked up towards Hanno, still sobbing over his desk, and wrapped her arms around him, causing him to reciprocate. The two then got up and stood there, locked in their embrace with both of them crying over each other’s shoulders. The sad tears Hanno felt soon turned into happy ones, which moved Hedburg to those same tears of relief.
“I love you Danel,” she said.
“I love you too, Connie,” said Hanno.
“You’re the best friend anyone could ask for,” said Hedburg, the two still sobbing. “I totally understand how you feel, and I appreciate and thank you for respecting me and understanding how I feel. You truly are a gem.”
“Thank you,” said Hanno, “thank you so much.”
After several minutes locked in their embrace, one filled with tears of joy and relief, the two eventually decided to have dinner anyway. While they were out, Hedburg received a text message she’d have to follow up with in the morning- it was a story too juicy to ignore.