10

It was another warm and miserable night, and Penny was hoping for a cool breeze to cool her off so she wouldn't have to turn up her air conditioner. As she moaned in pain in her apartment over her jaw and paced around waiting for her painkillers to kick in, Leonard and Sarah were dining on seafood pasta with mushroom soup and baked bread at Hollanders, quite possibly the most expensive restaurant in the Pasadena area. The maitre d' at the door almost didn't want to sit them without a reservation, but after scanning his guest book a second time, Sarah's name had suddenly appeared in his book for a 7PM spot. As excited as a young schoolboy, Leonard wished he could go back in time and show his adolescent self the incredibly beautiful girlfriend he was going to get.

During the night, Sarah had an attack of conscience and decided to start telling the truth, but only about so far. She mentioned Alicia, William and her sisters to Leonard and had to start back-pedaling to clear up the Lisa Wilder mystery. Yes, Alicia and William were her siblings, but the character of Lisa Wilder was her stepsister. Hoping her mother was content with that revisionist history, she talked about growing up on her father's estate and how they lost it; not under the Great Depression, which was the truth, but under what she called "bad investments." She talked about traveling the world, how a distant relative had raised William and how she met him for the first time at Lauperville High School south of Anaheim. However, like any other partially immortal young heiress, she left out details like how she compressed her life to twenty years and how she had once masqueraded as a high school kid because TV and the movies made it look like fun. Leonard just sat there listening to her contently wrapped in her experiences in Greece, France, Turkey, Russia and China. He mentioned being bullied in school, and Sarah wished she could be there to beat the bullies up for him. Something Leonard thought would get him get up beaten up even more.

After dinner, Leonard and Sarah raced to make the theater. He had paid for the tickets on-line, but the popcorn and treats were on Sarah this time. This was an exciting date for Leonard. Much like Lisa, Sarah said she liked comic book movies after reading William's comic books growing up, and she confessed that she hadn't see the last "Spider-Man" movie with Tobey McGuire yet. Like Lisa, she also liked horses, and like Lisa, she treated Leonard warmly and fondly, treating him with affectionate respect and intimacy. In fact, she was so much like Lisa he could have sworn they were the same person, but he just convinced himself it was because they were raised by the same mother. In the theater, Sarah scrunched down in her seat so Leonard could feel taller, something Lisa had also done. She also kissed him like Lisa did and held his face with the tips of her fingers like Lisa did. It was almost as if he was with Lisa again. When the movie let out, Sarah didn't immediately turn up her cell phone to look for messages like Penny or Stephanie but emerged from the theater excited and talking about the movie with him.

"Wasn't that a great movie?" Leonard walked out tossing his empty popcorn tub into the trash.

"I thought it was awesome!" Sarah pulled Leonard for a kiss and a smile. "I wonder who will be the villain in the next movie."

"Could be anyone…" Leonard held the door for Sarah out to the street. "This franchise could run for years…." He joined Sarah on the walkway surrounded by pedestrians and the noises of traffic on the street. It was a partially clear sky over the buildings surrounding them. Sarah took his hand and squeezed it, looking up to him like a little girl with a crush and stroked her long blonde hair back over her left ear.

"You know, Penny never liked these movies." He tried to make chit-chat. "I took her to see "Batman" with Michael Keaton, and she actually fell asleep."

"Well, she probably never developed an appreciation for them." Sarah looked away as they followed the sidewalk down the street to the parking lot. "I bet you were an adorable little boy. I could just see you now…."

She really could. In her clairvoyant mind, she could see Leonard as a skinny little boy wearing large black plastic glasses held together by tape playing with a chemistry set. He would create something, get excited by it and then get crushed emotionally by a mother who wasn't impressed. She saw Leonard in high school with a dress pulled down over his head and pushed into the girl's locker room by Dylan Bradley. She saw Leonard hung upside by his brother from their bedside window, and her heart went out to him. So many tragic memories and haunting images… She wanted to wipe them away. Her hands squeezed his tightly.

"I didn't have much of a childhood." Leonard confessed. "When I was a kid, I wanted to be like Spider-Man." He grinned abashedly and proud at the same time. "I even tried making some web-shooters, but something came up."

"What was that?"

"High school." Leonard remised. He and Sarah shared another enlightened look at each other.

"You really like those comic book movies, don't you?"

"Yeah, I guess that's hard for an heiress like yourself to understand."

"No, I get it." Sarah grinned a bit awkwardly. "To tell the truth, I used to pretend I was Supergirl and Batgirl when I was little."

That was a half-lie; she still pretended to be those characters to this day to freak people out in public.

"Really?" Leonard was impressed. "I mean, Supergirl I could see, but Batgirl?"

"Alicia Silverstone played Batgirl, and she was blonde." Sarah pointed out.

"Okay, I can give you that." He shined happily for what seemed to be the first time in his life. "I can't believe I found a girl who likes comic books. You know, I don't think Penny ever got that."

"Leonard…" Sighing out loud, Sarah walked down the sidewalk, stopped with a deep breath and pulled her long hair back behind her ear. "You know that's the fourteenth or fifteenth time you've mentioned Penny tonight."

"Is it?" He worried and tried to forget her. "I'm sorry. No more Penny. You're my girlfriend, right? Oh God, is it too early to say you're my girlfriend? I'm sorry. We're just two friends…"

"Leonard…" Sarah stopped and took his hand in her own. Her blue eyes looked up to him. "That's okay…. It's just that…." She paused and struggled with the conflict in her heart and soul. "You're still in love with her, aren't you?"

"No…" Leonard started panicking. "I'm not in love with…. I mean, Penny means nothing to me." He tried to convince himself. "She broke up with me because she didn't love me, and I found someone else. Someone awesome… I mean, someone almost more awesome than Penny."

He said "almost." That was when Sarah realized the hard truth she was trying to avoid in her heart and her soul.

"Leonard," She lifted her eyes up to his. "If you could be with anyone right now, who would it be? And please tell me the truth."

"I want you." Leonard heart started pounding. "I swear. You remind me so much of Lisa. Please tell me you're not already breaking up with me."

"I'm not…" Sarah leaned her body up against Leonard and pulled him close in the lights of Ruby's Diner on the sidewalk. "But I can't tear someone away from the true love of his life. I just can't live with that guilt." A tear dropped from her eye.

"Sarah, what are you saying?" Leonard felt his heart breaking. Her lips closed over his, and her hands reached behind him, pulling him closer into her bosom. She exhaled into his ear as his hands encompassed her waist.

"When you find out who you really want, I'll be back." She whispered passionately.

"How will you know?"

"I'll know…." She kissed him again deeply with her hands on his face. Leonard just gave in to her and closed his eyes, breathing in the sweet aromatic scent of her perfume, but when he reached to hold her, there was nothing there. His hands were reaching to open air. Opening his eyes, he found himself alone. Perplexed, confused and bewildered, he looked around himself back up the street to the theater and then down to his car in the parking lot. After glancing across the street looking for Sarah, he suddenly for some reason lifted his head and scanned the dark and starry night. Why did he look there for her? Had she even been real?

Twelve blocks away and four flights up on Los Robles Avenue, Penny Parker had finally drifted asleep. Her mouth was hanging open, her head was draped over the edge of her mattress and her sheet was only covering her left leg. Dressed in shorts and a gym shirt, she heard a sound like an elevator coming down in her apartment and suddenly jarred awake. Her eyes opened and flickered a few times tired. She had finally gotten to sleep and someone on the floor had woken her up making her irritable. Rubbing her hair out of her face, she flipped over in her bed and tried to get asleep again, but her hand came down on something in her bed. What was it? Another spoon? One of her bras? Another pen from the Cheesecake Factory?

It was the grillwork from her mouth.

"Oh-no…" She sat up freaking out. "Oh-no. Oh-no-no-no-no-no…" But then she paused. Yes, it had fallen out of her mouth, but her jaw wasn't hurting her. In fact, it wasn't bothering her at all! Moving her jaw around and slapping her face to try and induce the pain, she kept contorting her lower face and testing the perimeters of her sudden healing. This was incredible!

"These are some damn good pain killers." She uttered to herself.

"Don't tell your dentist." A voice said. "Trust me. You don't want that kind of attention."

Penny looked up to her bathroom door. Sarah was leaning into the door jam of her bathroom and looking at her.

"How the hell did you get in here?"

"Oh, trust me…" Sarah shifted her weight to her other leg. "There are very few places with locks I can't get inside." She looked up to Penny starting to get up off her bed, but she surprised her by pushing her back and sitting on her and pinning Penny's arms under her knees. It had happened again. This small-framed five-foot-four blonde powerhouse had knocked the breath out of her and overtaken her. Squirming and grunting, Penny tried to work her way loose, but whatever strength, stamina and fighting experience Sarah had was way beyond hers.

"Penny, my brother can't get out of this." Sarah looked down on her. "I doubt you're going to break free." She sighed and tossed her hair back. "Look, Leonard is still in love with you."

"No, he's not!"

"Yes, he is!" Sarah felt Penny squirming under her legs. "Look, I'm crazy about Leonard. I would do anything to keep him, but I can't in good conscience date him knowing he's still in love with you, and you're still in love with him."

"Why would you say that?"

"Because it's true, isn't it?" Sarah asked her. "Penny…" She shook her head in disbelief that she was doing this. "I know you've had your heart broken several times…"

"How could you possibly know that? Did Leonard tell you?"

"I know, okay?" Sarah glanced back at her. "Leonard is crazy about you. Anyone trying to come between you two would have to be crazy! You two are meant to be together, and even if you don't know it yet, he does."

"Okay…" Penny had to take a deep breath to talk. "You're right. I do love Leonard. Breaking up with him was the biggest mistake I ever made, but what can I do? He's dating you now."

"I'm taking myself out of the picture." Sarah swung her right leg off the bed and stepped off of Penny to the floor. "I suggest if you're going to get Leonard back that you start from scratch."

Penny looked at her plastic lamp on her nightstand and quietly reached down to unplug it before picking it up in her hands. Stepping off her bed, she lifted it to crack over the back of Sarah's head.

"Don't even try it." Sarah knew what was happening.

"Okay…" Penny's eyes widened in surprise as she lowered her lamp. "What the hell are you?"

"You'd never be able to handle it." Sarah looked up with her eyes glowing in the moonlight through the window. "Penny, you're going to have to get Leonard to fall in love with you… again." She placed her hand on Penny's shoulder as a friend giving her advice. "It's going to be hard. He's going to date other girls, but you're going to have to give him time. He'll take you back, and maybe this time, you can tell him you love him too."

Penny suddenly sat up in bed. One minute she was standing by her bed, and now, she was back in it again. Had that entire thing with Sarah been a dream? Looking around, she felt the grillwork for her teeth and jaw poking her in her side and reached to her face to test her mouth again. As she turned her head, she saw her nightstand lamp sitting on the floor in front of her door to the living room, right where Sarah had been standing in her dream. As she pulled her legs up to her chest, she smelled the sweet aroma of Sarah's perfume in her bedroom.

It wasn't a dream.

Twilight Zone voice-over: "Romeo and Juliet, Act Five, Scene Three, Go hence to have more talk of these sad things; some shall be pardoned, and some punished. For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo. End scene… Two lovers, torn by fate and consequence, by emotion and logic, and by gods and mortals… in The Twilight Zone."

END