Susie had had a problem for a few months before she realized what it was. She was in elementary school, still young and naïve, when she realized that she loved two people, a boy and a girl. Their names were Jeremy and Nina, and they were her best friends.

She tried explaining it to her mother, who went white and said that she was too young to be in love. She tried explaining it to her father, who said that he was busy and that she should talk to someone else while he was watching television. She tried talking to her older brother, who told her, "Don't be stupid. You can't love two people like that at the same time! Go with the guy—the girl thing is probably a faze."

Susie was confused and hurt at the answers, and so resolved not to do anything at all but watch. She watched for years, and in that time learned that people of the same gender loving each other was considered wrong, that being with more than one person was considered illegal and evil in many circles, and that you shouldn't ask someone out unless you could be faithful to them, because the person you were unfaithful to would always find out and then there'd be a huge fallout.

When the three friends were sophomores in high school Jeremy asked Nina out, and Nina accepted.

When she told her family her father and brother had forgotten about the "love incident," but her mother said, "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry."

Susie smiled and said, "It's fine," even though she thought a stab in the heart would most likely hurt less. Her mother probably thought that she was helping when she said, "It won't last long—young romance like this never does," but that just hurt worse.

She'd read somewhere that people cut themselves to release their inner pain, and so tried it a few times. It hurt, and it didn't really help except to make her feel ashamed and like she was betraying her family, so she stopped.

When she found out at that Jeremy and Nina were going to the same college as each other she went there, too, even though she could no longer major in what she wanted. Both her friends stated their surprise at her sudden change of heart, but Susie simply laughed and kept quite about why she'd really come with them.

It would be embarrassing to say that she was jealous of both of them for loving each other and that she couldn't stand being away from them for long, not to mention extremely selfish.

They got a three-bedroom dorm, and Susie was surprised that Jeremy and Nina seemed to pay as much attention to her as to each other. In fact, sometimes she had a sneaking suspicion that they invited her on their dates, but she was too embarrassed to actually ask, and it was a stupid question, anyways. After all, who would want a third wheel on their date?

Although she did, eventually, decide that, maybe, Jeremy and Nina were sending her signals, and so she told them how she felt about them.

On one of their "dates," when they were aglow after watching a movie and eating ice-cream, Susie turned to her friends and said, "You know, I love you guys."

Her heart fell to her feet and stayed there for the rest of the night and well into the following months when Jeremy and Nina shared a mildly confused, scared look and turned to her to say that they loved her, too.

After that she got a girlfriend, to see what it was like and hoping that this love she felt for her friends (entirely inappropriate feelings) would go away.

It lasted a week.

Then she got a boyfriend, to see if she was merely trying to forget her friends with the wrong gender.

It lasted two days.

She found out at a drunken party that a hermaphrodite also went to their college and asked her out.

That lasted three months, but she was only mildly happy, and always sad, and Alex could tell. They separated on better terms than Susie had hoped for, considering her last two breakups, which seemed like complete dramas in comparison.

Right after college Jeremy told Susie of his plan to ask Nina to marry him and came to Susie for advice, wondering if he was doing the right thing. Susie smiled the same smile that she always used, which looked oddly blank and made those who loved her worry if she was alright. "If you love each other, you should propose," she told him. He stared at her and pursed his lips, thinking hard about something. Eventually he leaned over and touched her cheek lightly with his right hand.

Susie widened her eyes and jerked back, wondering what he was doing.

Jeremy froze and retreated, giving her this blank, fish-eyed look before saying, "You give good advice." He got up and left her sitting there, wondering what she'd done wrong.

On the day of the wedding Susie laughed off Nina's attempts to convince herself out of the marriage and told her, "You'll be fine," even as her heart was ground into the dust that made up the barren wasteland that was her soul.

Nina paused and looked at her. "Do you . . . really think that Jeremy and I are doing the right thing?"

Susie noticed Nina's desperate look and hastily assured her, "Of course."

Nina's eyes went dead, even as she strode the two steps it took to reach Susie and leaned down to peck her friend on the same cheek Jeremy had touched so many months ago. Susie froze, but didn't back off this time as Nina stepped back and told her, "You've been a good friend to me . . . and Jeremy. . . ." Then Nina stepped out of the room into the hall as she heard her cue coming soon in the music.

Years later, Susie wasn't surprised when Jeremy and Nina named her the godmother of their children—all four of them.

The car crash, however, came completely out of nowhere.

After having the kids at her house for three days she sent them to their grandparent's place, asked for the rest of the week off from work, and spent her next days crying. She didn't leave the house, or sleep, or bathe.

Now she's forty-seven, the two oldest children are in college, the second youngest is a high school-dropout working as a temp for a big company, and the youngest is a freshman in high school.

And Susie, surrounded by her family, is alone.