Alison wrung her hands as she stood next to the rickety park bench that Beth had taken to.
"Hey, uh, Beth?" she said softly.
Beth blinked, and her head whipped around. Her eyes startled Alison slightly; Beth was strange. Alison had never fully understood her. She had tried, of course - Derek had known Beth his whole life and he cared about her a lot, and had hoped she and Alison would get along.
But with her quirky pixie-cut hair and her dark clothes and attitude... She just wasn't Alison's kind of person.
"Yes?" said Beth, sounding slightly annoyed at being removed from her daydream.
Alison licked her lips, and perched daintily on the bench. "I... I don't want you to get the wrong idea, but I really have to talk to you about something."
Beth gave a heavy shrug. "I won't get the wrong idea. Unless you give me a reason to, that is."
Slightly rattled by the remark, and by the fact that Beth was still in the foetal position and making no effort to face her and engage in the conversation, Alison swallowed and plastered on a persuasive smile.
"Here's the thing; I... I know you and Derek are close, and you go way back. And I know you would never..."
"Never what?" Beth snapped.
Alison shrugged exaggeratedly. "Well... He is engaged now, and having a baby, and you -" She spontaneously nodded towards Beth's fancy-looking camera, "-You're gonna go study your photography and stuff."
Beth raised her eyebrows. "What are you saying, Alison?"
Yes, Alison, what are you saying? "I'm saying... I think you guys should move on. Go your seperate ways. I mean, it's gonna happen anyway, with you in college, and I mean you're eventually gonna meet a guy too, Beth, and what will he think when he sees how close you are with...?"
As though for once on the same wavelength, Alison and Beth both allowed their eyes to drift towards Derek as he dropped the football, pulled his t-shirt over his head, and jogged in a circle.
"I'm not in love with your fiance, Alison," said Beth in a deadpan voice.
Alison tilted her head to study Beth's face. "Good."
"Beth!" Derek called from about thirty yards away, having replaced his shirt. He made huge arm motions, as the girls once again cornered the ball from Adrian.
"Coming?" Beth asked Alison.
Alison subconsciously rubbed her stomach and shook her head. "Better not. I don't want to risk... anything."
She felt Beth's eyes lingered on her stomach for just a bit too long; "Right," Beth breathed, as she stood, removed the camera strap from around her neck, and handed it to Alison.
Alison pulled the lens cap off as Beth started to jog towards the others, but changed her mind after three steps, and walked instead.
Alison felt a great weight now absent from her shoulders.