“So,” Dr. Shaw snuggled into the nook of her large, plush, white leather chair, “how was Labour Day weekend for you?”
I tilted my head from side to side as I weighed the pros and cons. “Meh, good, I guess.”
“Dr. Shaw chortled. “How convincing.” Oh, some spice to her words! She transformed her wide-mouth laugh into a polite smile. “May I ask why Daniel isn’t here?”
I turned to the left of me, where an empty space radiated from the beige cushions. “He has other commitments today that he couldn’t get out of.”
“Oh,” Dr. Shaw said softly, nodding.
“And…” I continued, knowing she knew there was something more and I couldn’t very well hide it, “…well, I’m kind of glad he’s not here, to be honest.”
Dr. Shaw pulled back her arms into her lap and intertwined her fingers. “And why is that, do you think?”
I sighed, the rush of air dropping my tense shoulders. “Probably because of what happened on Labour Day…”
“Hi!” Noelle shot her arm up in the air and waved as soon as Daniel and I stumbled out of the rooftop entrance.
“Hey,” I replied, going in for a hug; giving some love to Leo as well of course.
“Glad you guys could make it,” Leo said.
“Oh, our pleasure,” I said. Adam and Jodie following suit behind us caught Noelle and Leo’s attention.
Noelle leaned in and whispered lowly. “Those are the plus twos?”
I nodded and backed away to widen the space between Noelle and I and include Adam and Jodie to introduce them. They shook hands cordially, and I felt like I was introducing foreigners to new land. What was stranger is that Adam and Jodie were the ones that felt like foreigners. Unhinged and completely comfortable with everything, yet they seemed so out of place amongst everyone who knew everyone.
Adam and Jodie stuck by each other for most of the day. I remained close to Daniel myself and wondered, each time I glanced Adam’s way, when we were going to talk. When were Daniel and Jodie going to talk? We took two separate cabs, but the distance still felt suffocatingly close. As if Adam and Jodie being a block behind us didn’t even matter, they may as well have been sitting on our laps in the cab. Exactly the same.
I could feel Adam’s pull on me palpable. The explanation I owe him (as so he says) gravitating me to a duty to him rather than closure for me. Closure. I don’t think I’ve ever felt closure with Adam. And I truly think I never will.
“Hey,” I looked up at Daniel. We were stationary in an embrace on the corner of the roof. Us swaying to the smooth but upbeat music, Daniel’s hand around my waist. “You mind if I go talk to him?” I jutted my head in the direction of Adam.
Daniel groaned and squeezed my waist, sucking in a breath sharply through his teeth. “Mmmm, I don’t want to let you go.”
I smiled. “It’ll only just be a moment. I owe it to him remember? You told me that.”
“You’re right, I did.”
I was about to leave when just as soon as I twirled out of Daniel’s clutch, he swivelled me back around, sneaking in a kiss on my lips. I closed my eyes and giggled but didn’t feel the vibe returning as playful. So I opened my eyes as we kissed—something I never do because I think it’s a tad creepy—and noticed Daniel’s eyes focused on the distance behind me.
I pulled back and turned my head. Both Daniel and Adam had locked eyes. Suddenly I felt suckered into a dick-measuring contest or an emotional-wrestling match of jealousy or something rather and it annoyed me. Only briefly. I suppressed the feeling, knowing that if it got the best of me, I’d be disappointed with not only Daniel, but myself, too.
“I’ll be back,” I said, letting go of Daniel’s soft hand and including one last suggestion. “You should make an effort to talk to Jodie.”
Daniel pursed his lips and defiance, but I knew he’d make the effort. If only for me. Is that bad that I knew that?
“Wing-gapo,” I said, making a semi-circle with my hand, starting from my face and levelling down to my stomach.
Adam laughed. “Hey.”
“Liking the party?”
“Yeah, Leo’s great,” he pointed, with the rest of his fingers cradling the beer in his hand. “Everyone’s great. I’ve been working so hard, forgot to have fun.”
“Oh, please, you always have fun,” I said.
“Mmm,” he replied absentmindedly.
He was at half of the rooftop that had a railing on top. Leaning on it, he managed to get a good view of everyone here; so it turned and mimicked his position. We both stared out, side by side, as all guest mingled.
“How have you been?” Adam asked.
I nodded. “I’ve been good. You?”
“Can’t complain,” he smiled.
“Except when I’m not owing you an explanation, right?”
“Except when I need one, Anna,” Adam clarified, cocking his head.
“Well,” I shrugged, “I know what you want to hear. You want to hear that I’m sorry. And I am, I’m sorry I led you on for no good reason, even if there was one. But I’m not sorry for getting back together with Daniel.” Then, I bit my lip. “Look, we were never officially broken up to begin with. I thought we were there though, at the time of you and I…when we…anyway. It was foolish of me to have kissed you and I’m sorry for that.”
“Just tell me one thing, Anna,” Adam started after a moment of silence. “Do you think you know each other well? I mean, really know each other?”
“Then what makes you think anything’s going to change?”
“I—I—” I squeaked, unable to fathom the question and provide a coherent response. Then, I blurted, “We’re going to therapy. That’s for one.”
“Yeah, well,” he took a swig of his beer and spat out a wide-mouthed breath, “if you can’t tell each other then there’s an even bigger problem.” Then, he mumbled before taking another sip, “God he could be so precious sometimes.”
“You know he’s the one that encouraged me to speak to you,” I quickly said. “You think he’s hindering me but he’s not. It’s me. I’m the one that’s keeping myself away from you. Not him.”
We fell silent. The party still breezed around us and through us as if we the trees and leaves, barely respondent, if any.
I sighed. “Look,” heat prickled the back of my neck, “we should just enjoy ourselves and—”
“I think we should become friends again,” Adam interjected.
I turned my ear towards him. “Come again?”
Across the rooftop, as my eyes sifted through people and swaying bodies, I saw Daniel and Jodie having a somewhat awkward conversation. No one knew them both like I did, and I fairly saw Daniel digging his hands into his pockets, he hunching over slightly as he held his breath. He’d say something to Jodie, to which Jodie, with her arms crossed over her chest, would reply in one word, one sentence, or short sentences. Then, Daniel would nod slowly, and peel his eyes off of Jodie. Jodie would turn to the right and stare off into the distance, and Daniel would search for me. When he finds me, his eyes land on me in pleading, his gauge of resilience depleting as Adam and I spoke. Rinse and repeat.
The effort was being made, on both parties, and I truly wonder what was happening. And I can’t wait to hear from both sides. If life has taught me anything, it’s that there is hardly one side to every story.
BACK TO DR. SHAW’S OFFICE
“So what do you think?” I asked. “Should I be friends with him?”
Dr. Shaw shook her head. “I can’t make that decision for you.”
“But we haven’t had enough sessions for me to correctly answer this question mindfully, so I don’t know what to do.”
Dr. Shaw uncrossed her legs and leaned in. “There comes a time where you must think of someone else’s happiness just as much as your own. Would re-befriending Adam make you happy?”
A brightness rose to my face as I thought in retrospect. Back to California and the good ole’ days. “Yes.”
“Good. Now, would your re-befriending Adam make Daniel happy?”
I narrowed my eyes onto Dr. Shaw. I know she’s just trying to help, and I’m being kind of annoyed without reason, but man, I was annoyed.
“But I don’t want to just strike Adam off the list,” I said. “I want to really consider this.”
“Then consider it with Daniel. You’re a team. You’re a couple. I encourage you to talk to him. Open up a dialogue about whether or not it’s okay for Adam to come back into your life.”
“And if he says it’s not okay?”
The buzzer rung and Dr. Shaw looked at her watch. “Time’s up.”
“Hmph. Oh! Wait! One more thing?” I abruptly pleaded.
She must have seen the desperation on my face because I was dying. “Yes?” she asked as we both stood.
I turned around and rummaged into my purse, pulling out my phone and opening up a text message between me and Chris:
‘Hey,’ Christ started off, ‘I’m officially separated.’
‘Oh, no, what happened?’
‘She had an abortion…without my permission. I think that’s perfect grounds for the termination of our relationship, don’t you think?’
I couldn’t agree with him, so I simply replied, ‘I’m so sorry.’ With a sad faced emoji.
‘Want to come over? Hang out for Labour Day in my time of need?’ With a prayer emoji; two hands pressed up against each other.
It all seemed a bit strange at first, I had an icky feeling about the whole situation, but this guy’s a cop, so I convinced myself he was fine. Still, I was at Noelle’s having my own Labour Day fun.
‘Sorry, can’t,’ I replied. ‘Raincheck?’
‘I’ll take you up on that,’ he answered with a smiling emoji.
I sent a smiling one back and for a long time, up until the night, I hadn’t heard from him.
Dr. Shaw pulled back and stared at me quizzically. “What’s the matter?”
“Did you scroll all the way down to the bottom?”
Dr. Shaw returned her finger to the screen and swiped upwards. There, on the page, was a dick-pic from Chris.
Dr. Shaw peeled her eyes off the screen and threw them at me. “Sit down,” she pointed at the sofa behind me, “I’ll make some time for this little pickle.” She wriggled her nose in disgust and flared her nostrils. “Excuse the pun.”