I took out my cell and called Daniel. I figured I didn’t want this relationship sounding like a business transaction with email, so I decided simply on a call. Plus it was quicker that way and there wouldn’t be all this back and forth going on.
Throughout the ringing and waiting I began psyching myself out, thinking that he was going to ignore my calls again, but this time for worse reasons. Thankfully, he eventually picked up.
“Hey,” he said.
If anyone says ‘hello?’ these days, then your name isn’t coming up on their screen and they don’t have your number.
“Hi,” I replied, “I think we need to talk about this break thing.”
“Sure, what did you want to talk about?”
I sighed. “Do you really want to do this? I mean really? We can scrap the whole thing and actually spend more time together than further apart. I was even thinking that just a moment ago; that maybe our problem is that we’re not spending enough time together. I mean, first semester is nearly over. In June I’m all free, how about I come and live with you over the break?”
“I don’t think so, Anna.”
“Why are you so adamant for this break?”
“I just think it’s the best thing to do at this stage, that’s all.”
I sighed with frustration but tried to coat the exasperation with a calm tone. “Fine. If that’s what you want then, fine. But I think we should talk about our boundaries.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean what we can and can’t do,” I said. “Just so nothing bites us later on.”
“Okay, that seems logical.”
“Right,” I began, “so I think the first thing we need to agree on is, well, umm…how exclusive do you want us to be during this break?”
Daniel became silent, so quiet I could almost hear a pin drop.
“I had assumed that we were going to see other people, only if the occasion arose that is.”
No, a pin didn’t drop. This time it was my heart. “Oh,” I squeaked. I cleared my throat and tried to act as casual as possible. All the while I was screaming inside. “Do you have anyone in mind already?”
“Come on, Anna,” Daniel said, “it’s not like that at all, I promise. I’m not seeking out anyone else but you—”
“Wait a minute,” I quickly interrupted before the thought escaped me, “how do you think this would make our relationship better if we started seeing someone else?”
“Look, I don’t mean for us to find different partners. I’m just saying if the occasion arose. Say, for example, you wanted Derek out of your system; then I won’t be able to have a say in that.”
“Ugh! That’s just sick Daniel. Is this why you wanted the break? You want me to go fuck Derek and get him out of my system?”
“For fuck’s sake, Anna, of course not. You’re asking if we’re still exclusive and I’m telling you that if the occasion arose, we’re allowed to date other people. That’s all. I don’t want you to fuck anyone. Why do you have to be so dramatic?”
Oh I’m the dramatic one? I scoffed. “Whatever. Anything else? How long is the break going for?”
Daniel sighed, I could hear the frustration bubbling in him too. “For as long as we both need.”
I rolled my eyes, and was glad that he couldn’t see. “Well I don’t need it anymore. There. Are we done?”
“Don’t be so childish, Anna.”
“Well how about you give me an actual end to this break so I know this break isn’t…so I know it won’t…”
“What?” Daniel asked after I stumbled into silence.
I didn’t want to say it because I didn’t want to plant the seed in his mind. But at the same time I wanted him to know my fears about this whole situation. I wanted him to know how I felt, how it was worrying me to a maxed degree. So I opted for the latter.
“So I know this break won’t turn into a break-up.”
I bit my lip, awaiting Daniel’s response.
“It won’t,” Daniel finally said. “I promise.”
Daniel seems to promise a lot. “Remember how you promised that you wouldn’t hurt me? Well this is hurting, Daniel.”
Daniel breathed out. “I’m sorry. I know. This is just a bump in the road though, and we’ll push through.”
You created the bump, I thought.
“Just focus on you,” he continued, “and I’ll focus on me, and then we’ll meet each other in the middle. Okay?”
I nodded slowly, feeling the warmth of my cell up against my ear. “Okay.”
“Goodnight then,” Daniel ended.
“Goodnight,” I replied. Soon after I followed with, “I love you,” but it was too late. He had already hung up.
I was left voicing my love into the dial tone.
The only thing that was distracting me from Daniel was D-day: the day that I was going to let Eddie know that I was withdrawing from the internship. I had spoken to HR and the person responsible for the program, but I decided to tell Eddie myself out of respect. When I shuffled into his office he started barking orders at me in a flash, so I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief that I was no longer working for this dog anymore.
“I have to speak to you about something,” I said.
“Will it take long?” Eddie asked, not bothering to turn his gaze from the screen.
I hope not, I thought, smiling to myself.
I shook my head. “It shouldn’t.”
“Alright,” he finally gave me his full attention, “what’s going on.”
“Well,” I began, “what’s going on is that I’m not going to be doing this internship anymore.”
Eddie took a moment to either process or understand. Either way he looked like he was a little confused. “What?”
I smiled again, I was kind of enjoying myself. I think it had been because, coming into this internship and working under Eddie, I had surrendered all my control and given it to him. Now it felt like was getting that control back; deciding my own fate, and moving along.
“I withdrew from the internship about an hour ago. I just wanted to let you know that I’m not working here for you anymore.”
Eddie finally smiled. It morphed slowly, but I could tell he was sensing the way I was feeling. In certain people, you can just tell what they’re thinking of you with how they react to what you say or do. And Eddie definitely thought I was being just a little wicked; he could tell I was enjoying this whole conversation.
“So where are you going now?” Eddie asked, relaxing back into his expensive leather chair, seemingly unchanged by the news.
“I’m going to be working for another company.”
I smiled. No harm in telling him, right? “David and Goliath.”
Eddie grinned. “They’re good competition. Of course, we’re better.”
I shrugged. “That’s debateable,” I mumbled.
“What I mean is,” I said, quickly trying to save myself, “is that the next advertising awards ceremony will tell.”
Eddie narrowed his eyes, making a study of me, but he still retained the grin. “Too bad you’re leaving. You’re competitiveness is a good trait here.”
I stood. “Well I’m sure the girls will be striving for your attention in the most competitive nature,” I said sarcastically, holding out my hand. “It was great working with you, Eddie.”
Eddie stood and took my hand. “For me,” he corrected.
My smile collapsed and I rolled my eyes. Douche until the end.
The girls and I were going to celebrate my leaving the internship with a night out on the weekend. Even though my acceptance at David and Goliath wasn’t exactly set it stone, I figured it was time anyway. I don’t think I could have stayed a minute longer there, with the pretentious Eddie and his dream team of spankables.
I called Nicholas up and decided to celebrate with the new club opening. I was delighted when he answered and told me the details and we were set and ready to show up and have our own VIP booth. Getting on the list was free, but the booth did cost a bit so I rallied up some money, with the girls chipping in their share. It wasn’t a surprise though, after all this talk about money and the intentions of spending a lot of it on the night out, that I was practically begging for more than my usual Friday night shift at work. I needed as much cash to burn as I could get!
When Friday came around, I was exhausted but still ready to rumble. The busier I was, the more distracted I was, and the more I wasn’t thinking about my situation with Daniel, the better. The club was, of course, in a constant state of frenzy and everything was running smoothly. Smoother than ice!
“Nice bracelet,” Nikki yelled over the music. I looked down at the shimmering diamonds. “I can’t believe I didn’t even notice it before.”
I smiled. It was only a matter of time before someone or something happened for me to think about Daniel again. I had completely forgot about the bracelet. Not in a bad way but in the way where one forgets when something no longer feels attached to them but, a part of them. Like, this bracelet wasn’t just a bracelet, it was me, too.
I could barely speak. I didn’t want to. The words got caught in my throat as I was about to say that it was a gift from Daniel.
“Can you cover me for a bit,” I finally said, “I’m just going to go to the bathroom?”
Nikki nodded. “Sure, go ahead. I got this.”
I ran out of there, faster than if my butt was on fire. I just needed some peace to myself for a bit. Just to get away from the music and the crowd, and the rush of things. The more I thought about it though, the more I realised I was trying to get away from the emotions that were starting to pop up again. And these emotions weighed on me like you would not believe! So as I sat in the back room I closed my eyes and breathed in and out slowly. Meditation is not my forte, but it’ll at least hold me off until the weekend.
“You alright there?” I heard a man say.
The voice was like a command to open my eyes. Derek was there. Of course he was. I’m starting to think Nikki doesn’t even have a car for it to be at the mechanic for so long. Or that it was so broken down and old that it was trudging along by a thin thread and it was back at the mechanic.
Derek put his hands up. “I come in peace.”
“Derek,” I sighed, “I’ve already told you I don’t think we should be seeing each other anymore.”
“I know. I just thought you needed something right now. Even if it was someone to talk to you, or just listen, I won’t judge.”
“No thanks,” I said. I think I learned my lesson from that a long time ago.
“I have a confession to make,” he said. Uh-oh, here we go. “I actually kind of know what’s going on between you and Daniel. Nikki told me.”
I shook my head. God, I’m never telling that girl a peep again!
“So?” I said, trying hard to manage my irritation.
Derek moved forward and sat in the chair opposite me. “So a break, huh? I’m hearing that you can see other people?”
I narrowed my eyes. “No.”
“Nikki was wrong, then?”
“No,” I repeated. Derek paused. I rolled my eyes and sighed. “It’s hard to explain. We’re not going to start tallying one night stands or anything. We’re just…if the occasion arose…” I trailed off in the attempt to not repeat Daniel’s words.
Derek nodded. “I get it. Do you think you would do anything if that occasion arose?”
I looked at Derek, and for the first time I noticed that he was offering himself to me the entire time. The entire conversation had been a lead up to this moment.
I quickly stood. “I have to go back, Nikki’s holding down the fort and I should go help her.”
Derek shot his hand out and grabbed my arm, stopping me in my tracks. He stood as well, soon letting go. “She’s got someone out there, I think, with her. We’ve got some time to spare.”
“Anna,” Derek began, “this is our chance, no, wait, it’s my chance, for us to try something out.”
I scrunched my face. “What?”
“The occasion arose,” he declared. “I’m asking you to try me out.”
“Try you out?”
“I sound like a Honda Civic, I know. Bad choice of words,” he laughed nervously.
“Derek, I’m in love with Daniel. Nothing you or anyone can change that. I’m with him.”
“But he’s practically telling you to see other people, Anna. I bet he was the one that suggested to see other people. Am I right?”
“So what if you’re right?”
“It’s obvious,” he shrugged, “he wants you to see someone else.”
“I don’t want to see someone else.”
Derek laughed again, this time out of disbelief. “Why are you so hard to convince that I could be good for you?”
“Derek,” I said, beginning to feel a little frustrated, “don’t make me tell you to go fuck yourself again. Please. I don’t exactly enjoy it.”
“You’re so stubborn.”
“Why, just because things aren’t going you’re way?”
Derek shook his head. “I don’t know what else to do. I mean, we can just go on a date. Just a date. I know you feel something for me, otherwise, you would have left by now. You would have left ages ago but you didn’t.”
I rolled my eyes. “That’s because you pulled my back, Derek. Not because I’m attracted to you.”
Derek huffed a laugh. “And there it is.”
“You just admitted that you’re attracted to me.”
I shook my head. “Whatever, Derek. Believe what you want.”
“I believe this,” he said, placing both hands on either side of my face. I was a little prepared for this moment than I should have been. I was half-sensing it but also hoping that it wouldn’t happen. So when it did I quickly pushed him off before he could land his place, and ran out of there. I debated on whether to slap him or not, but I pushed him so far back that I would have had to move closer to him to land a hit. The point of it all was to get away from Derek, not closer.
I dissolved into the beating crowd with my heart now thumping to the beat of the music instead of Derek’s presence.
“Did you take a shit or something?” Nikki asked.
She caught me so off guard with the question that I even wondered if she was mistaken in talking to me.
“What?” I finally asked.
Nikki start giggling. “You said you were going to the bathroom.”
Ah, yes. I did. “I took a mini-break. I hope you don’t mind.”
Nikki shrugged. “Sure. Are you okay?”
I plastered a smile on my face in the hopes that if this ever got back to Derek, it’d seem as though I was unfazed by his words and actions. “I’m great!”
On Saturday night the girls and I went out for that new club opening. It was a rustic place down some old alley way. I thought it’d be some hip club like the one I worked at, but it was more about live music and drinks. Funnily enough, the girls and I dressed up in shimmering dresses; definitely a little overdressed in a place where ripped jeans and a t-shirt was the ‘it’ look.
“So glad you guys could make it,” Nicholas said once we caught eye of each other.
I introduced him one by one to Chloe, Janet and Jodie. Each girl made the effort to acknowledge and greet him back. Just then, a girl that looked younger than her actual age of twenty-four hopped into the conversation with a couple of her friends. She wore artistic tattoos, had platinum blonde hair in a Miley Cyrus cut, and a nose ring. A stud.
“This is my sister,” Nicholas said, wrapping an arm over her shoulder.
“Kate,” the sister said, in a voice that added to the young look.
Nicholas introduced everyone he had just met. I was impressed he remembered all of our names, at this point I would have forgotten my own name just because I felt like a kid in Madison Square Garden, just watching all the lights.
“I have a confession to make,” Nicholas said to me as his sister and her girlfriends chatted with mine.
“Go on,” I said.
“I’m in the band. Wanted you guys to come check us out and maybe we can hang later on, after we finish.”
I considered the proposal for a minute. “Only if you’re good, then it might be possible.”
Nicholas grinned and kept a glisten in his earnest eyes. There was nothing wrong with hanging with the band afterwards, right? Especially since I’m with my girls. Although I couldn’t help but sense a feeling of keen excitement from Nicholas. When he shot a look to his bandmates up on stage and completed a slight nod, it almost solidified my suspicions that I did lead him on. So I tried doing the noblest thing in this situation in a roundabout way. What can I say, some people just can’t handle it straight between the eyes.
“It’s too bad my boyfriend isn’t here,” I said. “I think he would have liked to see live rock music.”
Nicholas turned to me, still managing that grin on his face. He stared at me for a couple of seconds and then shook his head. “That’s a shame.”
“What is?” although I had an inkling on what he was talking about. Ah, the bliss of double meanings.
“That he’s going to miss the awesomeness that is me and my band.”
I smiled, grateful that Nicholas didn’t throw a tantrum at the mention of my boyfriend. As Nicholas and his bandmates prepared for the opening, I kept thinking about Daniel. For some reason I couldn’t shake the feeling that Daniel and I weren’t together. It wasn’t like we were just on a break. It was something more than that; a deeper cut that seemed to vibrate the walls with each slice and leave a burn mark. The burn mark was a simmer though, and hard to spot; in other words, it was creeping up on me.
I shook my head in an effort to get the impending doom of our relationship out of my mind and joined the other girls.
“…oh that’s great!” Kate said, clapping. “You’re gay.”
Her friends started clapping with her and they seemed so into it. It almost felt like if they were sitting down at this very moment, they would have given a standing ovation just because of Jodie’s little out-ing.
“What’s going on?” I leaned into Janet.
“Somehow we got into a conversation about gay people. Jodie said that she was, and then all of a sudden these fools started clapping and cheering her on as if she just beat cancer.”
I covered my mouth with my hand as I snickered. When Kate and her friends left, Jodie turned around and rolled her eyes. “I don’t think I’ve ever been clapped and admired for being gay before. It feels so weird.”
“They’re celebrating,” Chloe said.
“Celebrating what?” Jodie asked. “I didn’t just land on the moon or anything, it’s being gay. No celebration required for liking kitties and titties.”
“Maybe they’re Amish,” Janet suggested.
“I hope to God that’s it,” Jodie said, “it would explain everything.”
“Not everything,” I said. “The girl has tattoos and a piercing. Amish don’t look like that.”
Jodie rolled her eyes. “Hey girls, I’m gay!” she said in faux-excitement.
The girls and I clapped and cheered her on, mocking the weirdness of it all.
“Hey girls,” Chloe said, “I’m straight!”
We all clapped again, this time we laughed harder and held our bellies.
“Hey girls,” Janet began, “I’m in love with Stanley!”
Holy shit! Tears of laughter were running down our cheeks, we couldn’t exactly process what Janet said, but we knew enough to know it was serious. Over the band’s music, we continued clapping and woo-ing.
“Hey girls,” Chloe started again, “Scotty wants to see me.”
“What the fu—” my shock was cut short with our bursts of laughter again. It felt like everyone was admitting that certain things were either getting shot to shit, or in happy, happy days.
“Hey girls,” I added, “Daniel and I are on a break, and Derek wants to go out with me.”
Tears. Overflowing. Stomachs. Hurting. We couldn’t handle it anymore, it was like a mixture of good and bad; happy and sad news, and we all confessed at once. People started staring at us like we were crazy, but we didn’t care. I think so much had weighed down upon us that we just exploded this very second. What better way to do it than over loud music in public, so we didn’t have to resort to having a super-serious conversation about everything.
That was one of the reasons why I was putting off telling them about Daniel and I. I didn’t want to hear anymore saddening shit. Laughing about our misfortune was basically the brink of our sanity, trying to hold on tightly before it was ripped to shreds.
Jodie had disappeared and come back with four glasses of wine; we all shuffled into our booth. As we all took one each we began steadying ourselves and taken in each other’s presence.
Jodie lifted up her glass. “May the chaotic misfortune bring humble beginnings. To us.”
We all followed suit. “To us.”
***Hi everyone! I’m really hesitant about posting long posts, and this is one super-long post, so this poll is just to give me an idea of whether I should go along with it, or cut back the length for future posts. Just to be clear though, it doesn’t mean that if the majority want longer posts they’re going to get it each time, it’s just for my own understanding of whether or not some readers find the long posts a drainer. Also, it’s such a big compliment and a pleasure that you want me to post even three times a week, unfortunately I can’t do that right now because assignments are rolling in like an avalanche! However, some time in June (I think), I may be able to work something out just while there’s time off from my studies. I’ll try and keep you updated on that though. Love you all! Soul xo***