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"I didn't mean to wake you up," hesitated Jake, seeing the untidy bed.

"You didn't," Dennis assured him with a friendly smile.

"Since you and Abby are such close friends," began Jake, "I thought... I thought, maybe, you could tell me what's bothering her. I've tried to pull it out of her, but she just won't talk to me."

Dennis saw the deeply concerned look on his face, and sighed.

"Look, Jake," answered Dennis, "Abby and I aren't that close. You're really speaking to the wrong person."

"But," reasoned the young man, "you two are always debating and talking. I thought you guys were best friends."

"Well, yes, we talk," admitted Dennis, searching the room for his shirt, "but about lures, reels-- you know, fishing stuff. She hardly ever mentions her personal life, so I don't go there. If something's up with Abby, she hasn't mentioned it to me. Jake, to be perfectly honest, I haven't noticed her acting any differently than usual."

"Thanks," said Jake, awkwardly excusing himself. "I'm sorry for bothering you."

"Hey," Dennis called after him as he was about to leave, "if there's anything I can do, let me know."

On the walk home, Jake thought over what Dennis had told him. On the one hand, he was elated that she and the handsome instructor weren't the best friends he had thought they were, but on the other hand, Jake was still at a loss for her strange behavior.

By the time Jake reached home, Abby had left for work-- at least, that's where he assumed she was.

Abby sat up and dressed herself, while the doctor looked over the chart he was holding in his hand.

"There's no doubt, Abby," replied the man.

"Are you absolutely sure?" she asked, still dazed by the prognosis.

"I see by your husband's record," said the doctor, "that he's been sexually active for most of his life. This is important for us to know, because it's possible that you could become affected by diseases that he came into contact with. I must say," he observed, continuing to flip through Jake's history, "this is one of the most comprehensive lists of STDs [sexually transmitted diseases] that I've ever seen, involving a patient who's not a prostitute. Now, the one here that stands out the most is HIV. Your husband was exposed to it numerous times, but it says here that he spent the last two years of prison time in solitary confinement. That means the incubation period for the virus to show up is well over. How long have you been married, again?"

"We were married in late June," replied Abby, "so that makes almost two months now."

"To the best of your knowledge, has he had sexual contact with anyone besides yourself, since he was released from prison?" inquired the doctor.

"If you knew Jake," replied Abby, "then you'd know how unnecessary that question is."

As the doctor finished the examination, Abby knew that nothing would ever be the same again. Afterward, the young woman climbed into her jeep and leaned back in her seat to collect her thoughts.

"What am I going to tell Jake?!" she exclaimed under her breath. Abby started up the engine and drove to the marina. As she pulled into the parking lot, it became clear to her what she must do.

"Is everything all right?" asked Mr. Winkler, seeing Abby's shaken face, when she entered the store.

Dennis came in from the docks and stopped short when he saw Abby.

"I know this is asking a lot," she said, "but I need the rest of the day off. Something's come up, and I need a little time to sort it out."

"Of course, of course," replied Mr. Winkler, more frightened by her demeanor than by the request itself. "You can have tomorrow off, as well."
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