set after "The Sweet Smell of Air" ~~ previous / next

Standing Here

"I could stand here all day," Natalie announced.


"I could stand here all day and stare out this window at the city."

Dana blinked. "Why?"

"Because I could."

"Natalie --"


Dana looked at her closely. "What's up?"



"Nothing's up."

"You're sure."


"Do you know anything about Ohio?"


"And nothing's up?"

Natalie nodded and turned back to the window. "I could stand here all day."

"I heard. I'm going to go talk to Isaac." Dana left Natalie at the window and made it all of three steps before Dan intercepted her. When she kept walking, he followed.



"What's the difference between a mile and a quarter race and a mile and a half race?"

"What sport are we talking about?"

"Thoroughbred racing."

"What's the difference between a mile and a quarter race and a mile and a half race?"

Dan nodded.

"Aside from one being a race that lasts a mile and a quarter and the other being a race that lasts a mile and a half?"


Dana stopped walking. "Who cares?"

"Thoroughbred racing fans."

"If they're real fans, they ought to know this stuff."

"We're sports professionals and we don't know this stuff."

"We're not fans of Thoroughbred racing." Dana started walking again, and ran smack into Jeremy as he came flying around a corner. Dana shrieked and Jeremy yelled and Dan from behind them started to laugh. "Jeremy?" Dana said when she'd regained her balance.


"Are you winning?"

"Excuse me?"

"The race that you seem to be running. Are you winning?"

"Not even close. Have you seen Natalie?"

"At the newsroom window."


"Yes indeed." Dana ducked around him and picked up the pace a little. If she could get to Isaac's office before hearing her name agai--


Dana stopped in her tracks. "Yes, Sam?" she said faintly.

For a moment he didn't speak. "I'm standing here," she finally prompted.

"Can you come with me for a second?"







"What do you want?"

"I want your opinion on some film from Ohio. Do you know anything about Ohio?"

"No. You want my opinion?"



Sam smiled and didn't let Dana see it. "Is there a problem?"

"A problem?"

"Is there?"

Dana turned her head. "No."

"Are you going to look at the film?"


"Good." Sam walked back toward his office and Dana followed, stepping wide around Jeremy to avoid another collision. Jeremy was pacing the newsroom, stopping every couple of steps to look at Natalie. At last he approached her.


"I could stand here all day."

"You have been standing here all day."

"Jeremy --"

"Natalie, I need to talk to you."



"I know what you're going to say."

"I don't believe you do."

"You're going to say I should stop obsessing."


"I knew what you were going to say."

"I believe you did."

"I told you."


"I'm busy." Natalie turned back to the window. Jeremy shrugged at Dan and went back to his pacing.

Dan half-smiled and walked to his office, where Casey sat at the desk sat at the desk writing a new intro for the 50s.

"How's it going?"

Casey didn't look up. "Fine."



"You're writing a new intro for the 50s?"


Dan peered at the paper in front of Casey and then walked across the room and sat on the sofa. "The new intro to the 50s starts with 'Dear Dana'?"

Casey looked up. "Yes," he stated.



It's obviously going well."

"What's Natalie doing?"

"Standing there."


"'Cause she could do it all day."

Casey nodded and didn't hear. The paper missed the wastebasket Casey aimed for and landed near Dan's foot. Dan started to pick it up, and Casey dove for it, knocking over a lamp and several pencils, to snatch the paper from under Dan's nose.

"Okay," Dan said, and stood again. "But I think I could help, dude."

"I don't think you can."

"What's the problem?"

"There's no problem."

"Then why did you just clear the desk?"

Casey nodded. "I needed elbow room."

"Plus the lamp needed tackled?"

"The lamp needed tackled."

"Casey --"


"Sam drives Dana a little too crazy?"


"I think I can help."


Dan said over his shoulder as he left the room, "She's with him now."

Casey shook his head. "Thank you," he said quietly.

Dan walked back into the newsroom. "Hey, Nat," he called. "What's the difference between a Thoroughbred race and a Quarter Horse race?"

"One uses Thoroughbreds and one uses Quarter Horses."

"Thank you."

Natalie turned to look at him. "Did that honestly answer your question?"

"Not really."

"Thoroughbreds run distance," Jeremy called. "Quarters sprint."

"Thank you."

"No problem."

"Natalie," Dan said.


"Did you see the Ohio game?"


"Why not?"

"I was standing here."



"Okay," Dan said aloud, and to Jeremy he mouthed the words "Help her." Jeremy nodded. As Dan walked away, Jeremy approached Natalie once again.



"Let it go."

"I don't want to let it go."


"Jeremy, I don't want to let it go. I don't want to get over it and I don't want to stop obsessing."

Jeremy nodded. "What do you want to do?"

"I want to stand here."

"You want to stand here forever?"

"Can I?"

"No, I don't believe you can."

"Then I want to do the show."

"Natalie --"

"Jeremy, all I want to do is never go home."


"Do you know what small towns are like?"


"Small towns are like everyone knows you. And when you do something stupid, everyone remembers."

"Natalie, it was a silly family reunion. Who cares what distant cousins think of you?"

"I don't."

"Then what's wrong?"

"I want them to see New York."

"They haven't seen New York?"


"Then why --"

"I want them to see me in New York."

"You want to show them you're better than they are?"

Naalie shrugged. "Yes."

"Natalie --"

"Jeremy, all through high school they were better than I was."

"I doubt that they were."

"They thought that they were."

"What does that matter?"

Natalie turned back to the window. "I really love New York."

Jeremy leaned closer and lay a hand on Natalie's shoulder. "And you can be in New York for as long as you want, for your entire life if you choose. And you can be a New Yorker and you can stand right here and stare at the city for as long as you want or at least until the show starts. But you're always going to be from that small town. So you know it might be best if you forgive them."

Natalie nodded. "I will."


"When I'm finished standing here."

Jeremy nodded. "Good enough."

"Where's Dana?"

Casey was walking past and overheard the answer. "Still?" he asked.


Not sure what he was doing, Casey walked toward Sam's office. Outside it he lost his nerve and all but ran back down the hall. In the office he left behind, Sam was staring at Dana and Dana was staring at Sam and neither one of them knew anything about Ohio.

"Sam." Dana's voice was almost teary, and still almost hostile as she approached her once and future foe and friend.


"Who knew?"

"Who knew what?"

"Who knew that you could be attractive?"

Sam shrugged. "I did."

"Sam, what should we do?"

Sam didn't answer and for a long moment they were silent.

"I'm standing here," she reminded him at last.

"Dana, I'm leaving in a week."

"I know." Now her tears were apparent.

"You'll have your show back."


"Casey can stop being jealous."

"Casey's not jealous."

"Casey's having rabid fits of jealousy, Dana."

"Is he?"

"He is."

"Sam, it wasn't my intention to .. because I was .. because of what ..." Dana stopped talking.

"Because you still weren't out with Casey and you were lonely."

"I'm sorry."

"Casey is having rabid fits of jealousy."

"Thank you, Sam."

"Any time, Dana."

They stared at each other for a moment more before Sam said softly, "So. Do you know anything about Ohio?"

Dana shook her head. "Not a thing."

"Neither do I."

Dana nodded and touched Sam's face and left the room.

When Dana slammed into Casey on the corner, he suddenly realized that whatever he was about to say was going to sound stupid.

"What is it with people rushing the corners today?" Dana asked him.

"We're all just so anxious to see you, Dana."

"Casey --"

"Been talking to Sam?"


"About guns?"

"About Ohio."

"He wasn't teaching you to shoot?"

"In an office?"

"I wasn't implying that he was going to shoot in an office. I was implying that he was going to demonstrate how to shoot in an office."

"He was going to demonstrate how to shoot in an office?"

Casey shook his head. "He was going to be in an office, demonstrating how to shoot. Does that work better for you?"

"If he was demonstrating how to shoot, wouldn't he have to, you know, shoot?"

Casey shook his head again. "No."

"What do you want?"

Casey drew about eight different blanks as he tried to imagine what to say.



"I'm standing here."


"You came dashing around that corner as though something important was happening. What's happening?"

"I'm terrible at writing letters."


"So I couldn't write one to you."

"Why would you write one to me? I'm right here."

"Forever?" The word left his mouth before his mind had time to okay it. Dana blinked.

"What do you mean?"

Casey hesitated. "I don't know," he told her at last.

"Casey --"

"You look like you've been crying, Dana."

"I haven't."

"You look like you have."

"Casey --"


Dana stared at Casey and Casey stared at Dana. He'd blown it, he thought. He'd sounded jealous and stupid and not like what she wanted. And then he thought his heart had stopped because she suddenly took his hand.

"Forever," she assured him.


She tilted her head. "Close to forever."




"Write the letter, okay?"


"Thank you." Dana stepped around him and walked away. A couple of steps later, she turned. "Casey?"


"Do you know anything about Ohio?"

Casey grinned. "I'm on it." She nodded her thanks and brushed at her eyes as he stood there and watched her walk away.

25 January 2000

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set after "The Sweet Smell of Air" ~~ previous / next