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Istill can't believe you're knitting an afghan, Sari said to Kathleen, reaching across the table to touch the yarn. It's so unlike you to be knitting something warm.

And brown, Lucy added.

Since it was already late afternoon, they had decided to flout custom altogether and take their knitting out to a bar. They had scored a small table, which held their drinks and some of their knitting paraphernalia, and their knitting bags were on the floor at their feet, the skeins of wool coiling up along their legs to the needles they held. The guys who were crowded in front of the TV watching football and drinking beer had given them some strange looks when they first got settled, but they didn't care.

Isn't it nice? Kathleen said, lifting the needles up high so they could see the afghan in all its glory.

Who's it for? Lucy asked.

Me, of course. I don't knit for anyone else. You know that.

But it's so unsexy, Lucy said. Unless You're planning on lying under it naked and surprising someone, aren't you?

I doubt it, Kathleen said. There's no one worth being naked for these days.

Speak for yourself.

I am. Kathleen put down her needles and took a sip of her drink. Believe me, Im well aware that of the three of us, Im the only one going home to an empty bed tonight. It's like the world has turned upside down-everyone's having sex but me.

Im sorry, Kathleen, Sari said. It's not fair.

Yeah, it is. She wrapped a strand of yarn around her index finger. It's totally fair. This whole thing with Sam It's my fault and I know it. I said some really stupid things about wanting to marry Kevin for his money. She tugged the yarn off her finger and slumped down in her seat. You guys are supposed to be my friends. Why didn't you stop me from going around saying stupid shit like that?

We stopped you from getting married to someone you didn't love, Sari said. Don't we get credit for that?

Keeping you from ever doing anything stupid would be a full-time job, Lucy said. And you're old enough to know that you can't go around telling people you're going after guys for their money and not expect it to bite you in the ass sooner or later.

But people shouldn't have to pay forever for stupid things they said and did in the past, Sari said. Look at Jason-he did far worse things than Kathleen-at least, I think he did-and here I am kind of madly in love with him. People deserve second chances.

You gave Jason a second chancebecause you were madly in love with him, Lucy said. The madly in love part came first.

So what are you saying? Kathleen said. That Sam just didn't like me enough to give me a second chance?

That's not what I meant.

Yes, it is. You're saying that if Sam had been madly in love with me, he would have forgiven me.

I don't know the guy, Lucy said. I don't know how his mind works.

I do, Kathleen said. He's not the kind of guy who gives people second chances. I actually think he was sort of in love with me, in his own way. I can tell when a guy's not interested-and that's not the problem. He just doesn't trust me.

It's his loss, Sari said. You'll find someone better. You could snap your fingers and have any guy in this room right now.

Kathleen looked around. Yeah, she said. I probably could. There was a pause and then she wearily gathered the needles back up in her hands and resumed her knitting while Lucy and Sari exchanged worried looks above her bent head.

| Knitting Under the Influence | c