“Daniel,” I said. “We need to talk.”
He ushered me into his apartment and took my overnight bag into his room. “What’s up?”
He seemed happy and not expectant. I always hated that; when it feels like I’m the only person experiencing things. Or maybe it means I dwell on things too much.
I was the easy one to be convinced of going to therapy. Daniel on the other hand didn’t like to flesh all of his personal life out to a total stranger who, even though was fortunately impartial, didn’t feel trustworthy. I know Daniel. He’d probably think I was joking. Or crazy.
I sat on his sofa and he followed. “I was thinking that we should go to therapy.”
Daniel tilted his head and furrowed his brows. “Say again?”
I shrugged and began stumbling over my words. “You know, it could be good for us, what with you not opening up and me being so…me—” I didn’t exactly want to tell him how indecisive I was about this relationship until we were actually talking about it “—I figured we need it.”
“We don’t need it, Anna,” he shook his head like I was being silly.
“I think we do. We should. Please, let’s do it?”
“No, I don’t want to. Sorry.”
“Because we’re not a broken couple, Anna,” he stood. “Besides, a shrink is going to be compromised by the fact that they’re getting money. What’s to say they won’t keep us there longer than need be just because we’re paying them $500 a pop? The notion is ridiculous. Just stop.”
I stood as well. “No, I want to do this.”
“End of conversation, Anna,” he said, walking into his bedroom and switching on the light.
He was fiddling with some stuff, out of range, that I just started floating around by myself in the apartment. I started opening the fridge, certain cabinets, running my hands over the faucet and found myself opening up the cabinet holding the bin and its contents. In it were a few bottles of vodka, whisky I think, something else I couldn’t see because it was warped underneath the top transparent bottles. Daniel walked out as I noticed the bottles, slowing his steps to a stop and placing his hands on his hips as he took me in.
“How much have you had to drink since I’ve been gone?”
Daniel shrugged. “I had some people over.” I looked up, at this, in the silence, he sighed and dropped his hands. “So I was drinking a lot. Who gives?”
“I don’t know why I’m doing this,” I muttered to myself, shaking my head.
Daniel moved forwards in an instant and gradual realisation at my serious foreshadowing tone. “Hey, Anna, look I’ll empty out all the bottles I’ve got, okay? Don’t think anything rash.”
“I don’t think it’s enough right now,” I whispered, tears welling up in my eyes. “I just think—”
“No, no, no, don’t think, don’t say anything. We can’t do this again.”
“We have to break up before we thrust ourselves into the place where we begin to hate and blame each other for everything. Because we can’t come back from that.”
“Break up?” he chuckled humourlessly as he watched me taking off the diamond bracelet in disbelief. “Anna,” he began sternly, “I don’t know if I have the energy to come after you after this one.”
I held out my hand, the bracelet dangling from my fingertips. “I think it’d be best if you didn’t.”
“What is this about? I don’t get what just happened? I mean, so what I’m drinking. I can get over it. And seeing a shrink, you’ll get over that. Whatever we need to work out we can work it out together.”
I shook my head. “It’s just not the same anymore. Please take the bracelet.”
He eyed the bracelet and then looked at me. “But I love you. I want to spend my life with you.”
I felt so fucking cruel. Silently I placed the bracelet on the kitchen island. “I’m not sure our love is enough.”
He nodded slowly. “So that’s it?”
I shrugged. “We can be friendly with each other, if we ever see each other again, coincidentally or not, but nothing more than that.”
He nodded once again. “Okay. Whatever you want.”
“Is there anything you want from me?”
He lifted his head and through glossy eyes he replied, “My heart back.”
I still hadn’t answered any of Adam’s texts or calls and decided to just throw myself into piles of work as a distraction. The hardest thing about Adam and Daniel was that the one would always remind me of the other. There was always this constant cloud hanging over me, more so with Adam than Daniel. And I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to move on quickly enough from Daniel being around Adam.
And why should I go back to Adam? What is there left for us?
The best thing to do now was to focus on me. And it was strange, Daniel and I breaking up either hasn’t hit me yet, or it has been played out so exhaustingly repeatedly that the hundredth time round I was numb to it all. I knew the pain all too well and when it came down to it, I’d just sit quietly and think. Without the TV on, without music playing on in the background; I’d just sit and think. It all sounds very boring I know, but I didn’t feel like going out and partying, and I didn’t have the energy to be balling my eyes out. For the time being, I was stuck in purgatory.
That was until Noelle and Leo invited me out to the Hamptons. I of course said ‘yes’. I needed to go out. I needed more distractions, anything to hold me solid and well. I couldn’t break down, not for anyone. There was a way I needed to keep my chin up as high as possible, and that way was distraction. Paul even invited me out to Pride Week which, may be shocking to everyone, but I’ve actually never gone to one before. I wish I went with Jodie, and all my girls back home. Home, I mean, my former home. New York is my home now. Ugh, will I ever get used to this?
During the wait for the weekend at the Hamptons with Noelle and Leo, and Pride Week next week with Paul and whoever else if there was anyone else, I attended Bryant Park for a screening of Ghostbusters. Daniel and I were going to go together because it was one of our favourite movies and I’ve always wanted to go to one of those outdoor screenings, but the split came when it had to I guess. But I didn’t let it stop me and, since it was such short notice, I attended alone.
I had my cranberry coloured blanket and my little basket of treats. I picked a spot pretty far out with a view of two-plus people seated on the slight slant before me, and watched as some cuddled and others had families they could talk to, friends they could chat with, too. A plethora of memories were being made right before my eyes and BANG! there was Daniel and friends.
My heart thudded in my chest and my breath caught in my throat. He was out with the same girl and another friend from the club I last saw him in. She was rubbing his back, he smiled gratefully, the friend got to drinking pretty quickly. And fuck, if he turned my way…
I picked my sorry ass up from off the ground and scurried away. The movie began to start, and I noticed Daniel was scanning the area. The was no place to hide until I tripped and fell into the bushes, the shaking leaves only emitting a little fanned noise. Not too loud for people to hear over Ghostbusters, and not too loud for Daniel to take notice. If you need me, I’ll be right here.
“A little early for a stake out isn’t it?” some guy approached, staring at me. My face peek-a-booing from the bushes.
I laughed breathily. “Oh no, I’m just…I was just…”
“Oh I get it, not enough good spots on the grass?” he grinned, showing an array of beautiful white, straight teeth. “It’s totally fine,” he bit into a hot dog I only just noticed, “might be too crowded too.”
I remained silent and looked down at myself. I was embarrassed of course, but I figured it was worse out there than in here. I mean, Daniel was right there!
“I’m Christian, and don’t be fooled by the name and my profession, I get a lot of shit ever since 50 Shades came out.”
I laughed. “What do you do?”
“I’m a police officer,” he smiled, winking.
That sounded promising. “I’m Anna.”
He leaned forward and whispered, “You’re still in the bushes.”
“Right, right, right,” I nodded, sneaking a peek of Daniel, staring obliviously at the large screen.
Christian followed my line of sight and then turned back to me. “You know, this hot dog isn’t going to fill me up. Want to go get some food?” he held out his hand.
I flickered my eyes between the hand, Daniel and the bush. Then, I took his soft hand with oddly rough fingertips. “Sure. I’m kind of hungry myself.”
We began walking. “You didn’t bring a blanket or anything?” he asked.
“Oh, yeah, I’ll get it later.”
He rolled his eyes and smiled. “I’ll get it for you.”
Before I could respectfully decline, he was already jogging away. “Thanks,” I said when he came back in a flash, carrying my things.
“Not a problem. Oh, please, let me carry it.”
I nodded. “Okay.”
For a long while we weren’t speaking, even after we got food and began walking down the dark streets of New York City. He was charming, a brown haired, black-eyed, pale guy who seemed like the kind of person who’d burn in the sunlight incredibly swiftly. Soaking up vitamin D is not a pale’s strong suit. He was skinny, lanky even, and he stared at the ground as we walked, counting continuously with his fingers, tapping his thumb on the inside of each one. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
“So you’re a cop?” I checked, after a time.
Christian nodded. “Yup.”
“And you’re name is Christian?”
He chuckled. “Yes.”
I smiled at the inconvenient coincidence of it all. “How does that work out?”
“Painfully,” he joked.