|The Phone Call
Author: je t'adore PM
“Caroline?” It was a deep, vaguely familiar voice. “Yeah...” There was a slight intake of breath on the other line, and a short reply of, “Oh. Wow.” “Umm, right, so… who is this?”Rated: Fiction T - English - Family - Words: 3,435 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Published: 06-02-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2680529
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Phone Call
The door and its knob were quite old, and took some persuasion to unlock. Caroline had yet to master the process, as she had only entered through the door a handful of times. So now, as she was loaded down with the last box, and her purse, it was only that much trickier.
"Oh, fuck," she let out as she lost her grip on the clothes-filled box. She let it drop to the floor, and let out a loud sigh.
Hands-free, she got to door open in only a minute or so, lifted the box once again, and shoved the door open with her hip. Boxes were scattered around the wood floors of the apartment, and young blond let this one fall among the rest, then shut and locked the door. She then kicked off her heels, and navigated her way through the piles of her belongings and into the kitchenette.
In the outdated refrigerator there was a half-gallon of milk, a bottle of coke, three apples, and leftover pizza. She pondered her options for a few moments, but ended up with a glass of water instead.
For a few minutes she leaned against the counter, enjoying the silence, the solitude. It had been years since she'd been anywhere this quiet, as at school there'd been roommates, and at home, siblings. Now, however, she'd have peace, quiet, and alone time all she wanted.
Until the phone rang, shattering the still, quietness.
It took her all of three rings to figure out where it was, then another two to actually get to it, underneath an old sweatshirt, across the room. She picked up the phone, and cautiously said, "Hello?" Very few people had the number, and none of them would be calling her quite this early.
"Caroline?" It was a deep, vaguely familiar voice.
There was a slight intake of breath on the other line, and a short reply of, "Oh. Wow."
"Umm, right, so… who is this?" She sat down on the bright orange couch, currently placed in the middle of the room, and folded her legs up.
A nervous laugh, then "Ahh, sorry. It's Nick," was his reply.
That's when Caroline froze up. "Nick?"
"Yeah, Cara, it's me."
She came so close to hanging up, right then and there. "Well, then," she replied, in a much colder voice than before. "It's nice to hear from you."
"Although, it might have been a little bit nicer if you hadn't waited, what? Over two years?" She made sure to use extra heavy sarcasm, just to make things clear.
"Yeah, I know. I just, couldn't, not then." He did sound guilty, but Caroline wasn't going to crack that easily.
"Look, can we just… talk? Just for a little while?"
"What is it that we're doing right now?" She raised her eyebrows, mockingly, even though she knew he couldn't see her.
"I meant really talk. Without the sarcasm."
"I can't make any promises. "
"Cara," he exaggerated, "Come on. Just try, yeah?"
"We can talk." She could just imagine his smile, the real one, with closed-lips, freckles more prominent for whatever reason. "Until," she stressed, "I decide we can't. "
"I'll just hang up."
"I believe you."
"So," she dragged out as she shifted her position on the end of the couch, "this talking thing. Why don't you start, as it was you who called me?"
"Sure, yeah. That's good, I'll start," he stalled. "Umm, so, right. How have you been?"
"I've been fine," she said, taking the easy way out by responding with the typical reply, not wanting to go into the details of her life, for a few reasons. One, it was much too time-consuming. Two, reliving the past wasn't something she cared to do, ever. And three, she refused to go there with Nick.
"That's good," he said, and seemed genuine. Caroline could guess that he was nodding along with this, for emphasis.
"Yeah," she replied, a little too late. "What about you, how have you been?"
"I'm been alright. Better that before, but not great," he answered, being somewhat vague.
"Oh." She wasn't quite sure what to say, so she went for meaningless, filler-type words.
He sighed, apparently in the same situation. "Well…," he trailed off, and she heard movement, the shuffling of papers. "This is slightly awkward."
She let out a short laugh, and said in a playfully sarcastic voice, "Yeah, just a bit.
Nick snickered to himself quietly at that.
"So, how did you get this number anyways?" She was quite inquisitive about that, as she didn't think any of her friends were in contact with him, because she didn't know anything about it.
"…Umm. I'm not sure I should tell you that."
"And why the hell not?" she asked lightly.
"Because I'm afraid you might kill hi… the person. If I told you who it was."
"Oh, please. I will not." At one time Caroline had been fairly short-tempered, and was known to resort to violence rather quickly, yes. But that was a long time ago; it'd been years, really. At least, that's what she would say. And she was tempted to tell Nick that too, but he was talking before she got the chance.
"Yeah, actually. You probably will," he said, in a mocking voice.
"I will not and you know it," she insisted. "So just tell me."
"I don't know…"
"Nick. Come on."
"Do you promise not to freak out?"
"Yes!" She said, impatiently. "I just want to know, curiosity and all that."
"Okay, okay," he told her. "I called Evan a few days ago, and he gave me your number."
"Evan?! Seriously?" She was definitely shocked. Evan was a friend from high school, and he'd never really been a big fan of Nick. His brown eyes seemed to darken to black whenever anyone even said his name. He was pretty sensitive and never really got over Nick's not-so-playful teasing of him. Then, when Nick left, his dislike for the taller, young man only deepened.
"…Really?! Because as far as I know… or knew I guess, Evan hates you, more than he did before!"
"Really," he said, laughing at me.
"And he didn't hang up on you?" Caroline asked, doubtful.
Again, he laughed. "No, he didn't. We've talked a bit, lately.
"You. And Evan. Have talked?" She spoke slowly and deliberately, as though that would somehow change the answer she would receive.
"Caroline. We have. We've talked," he repeated. "He called me up a few months ago, although I'm not entirely sure how he got my number."
She still couldn't believe it. "Well… what did he say?"
"He bitched at me mostly," Nick told her nonchalantly. "About you."
"Yeah, that makes more sense, right?"
"Uh, yeah," she said, as though it were obvious.
"I thought so." You could hear the smile in his voice, again. "Once he wore himself out, he hung up. And then a few days later, he calls back again. And I don't know, after that we just started talking, every couple weeks I guess."
"Wow. I never really thought that you two would be civil with each other one day."
"I know, me neither," he agreed. "But, he's not so bad, once you get to know him."
She snorted. "Which I told you all the time for years. He was only like that around you because you found it necessary to torment him all the time," she chided.
"He made it too easy, how could I possibly resist?"
"I'm sure you could've at least made an attempt."
"But where's the fun in that?" he asked rhetorically, and quite cheekily.
Caroline rolled her eyes at that, predictably. She couldn't help but crack a small smile, though, as this was the fun-loving, joker that she'd known before. As much as she expected him to change drastically over two years, that didn't seem to be the case.
"And I know you just rolled your eyes at me, missy," he joked.
"Pfft. I most certainly did not," she lied.
"Uh huh, sure."
She insisted, "I didn't. You're delusional."
"Of course I am," Nick agreed, in what she guessed was a straight face.
And he laughed.
"… I was living in Boston at the time, and found an apartment, which wasn't completely horrible, there were no rats at least, but there was no way I could afford rent by myself. The logical solution, of course, was a roommate, yeah? So I went on this website, some stupid gimmick-y type of thing, and made an ad for someone. It's about a week, and I get a reply, so I'm like, alright, I'll just go with this guy.
"I email him, with the one he listed, and just said, hey, want to meet up on this date, to go see the place, and sign the lease. He said it was fine, so we did it. He seemed totally normal, dressed like any other guy, no strange piercings or tattoos, pets, nothing. So we move in within the next couple weeks, there's two bedrooms, but one bathroom. Sharing wasn't a big problem, we're both guys, you know, whatever.
"It was when we were living together about, two months, I'd say. I had work, at this shitty Starbucks a few blocks away, and I got home around nine. It was a long day, so I just took a shower, and went to bed. I was out, and you know that I don't wake up for anything.
"But at three, maybe four in the morning, I'm not so tired, so I'm slowly waking up like usual. But I feel something brushing the back of my hair, down my back. I'm not ticklish or anything, so I just laid still like, What the fuck? Then there's someone kissing the back of my neck, and it's like, I know I wasn't drinking last night, there definitely wasn't someone else in my bed.
"Then I just hear in my ear, this hoarse whisper, of some guy, 'oh yeah, baby, you're so perfect, you don't even have to move', or some shit like that."
Caroline can't help interrupt at that, "Oh my God! You must've decked him, right? There's no way you didn't punch him, or at least something. I mean, it's you."
"Shh, calm down. I'm getting there," he chastised.
"Alright, alright. Go on."
"At that point, I just pulled away, and I know I must've shouted out something, but I don't remember what. And I turn around and it's my roommate…"
"Obviously," she interrupts sarcastically.
If he could, he'd be giving her an annoyed look. "So it's my roommate, and I'm like, 'Dude, what the fuck are you doing?' And he's all, 'What? What are you talking about?' Like he could actually just play dumb and get out of it."
"And then you punched him."
Nick sighed, but said, "Well, yeah," in agreement.
"Well you have some pretty shitty roommate choosing skills," she said cheekily.
"Pfft. Whatever. But that's not even the worst part!"
"Well then, what is the worst part? And by the way, you do realize you sound like a five year old, right?"
"Duh. And the worst part was after I kicked him out. I went in his room, to box it up. I didn't want him coming back in, you know? Anyways, there was this shoebox under the bed, and it was filled with all these Polaroid pictures, which at first I didn't really bother to look at, but then I was like, 'Hey that's me'. And he had hundreds of these pictures, some of me, some of other people, they all had names on the back, and it was just of people sleeping. But there was never one with the same date."
She couldn't help but bust out laughing.
"Gee, thanks. I love your amusement at my crazy, stalker roommate," he bit out, messing around.
"It's just, I change my mind."
"About what?" he asked.
"You don't have kind of shitty roommate choosing skills, you have incredibly horrible, couldn't be much worse roommate choosing skills," she amended, teasingly.
This reminded Caroline so much of way back when. The times when Nick was around, before he'd gone, and he'd always have these ridiculous stories to tell about everything and everyone. The over-the-phone thing dulled the full effect, as he was much more comical in person where you could see his crazy hand gestures and facial expressions. But even over the phone he was rather amusing. So much so that she'd lost track of how long they'd been talking now.
She decided to ask. "Hey, Nick?"
"What time is it?"
"Do you not own a clock?" he asked, evading her question.
"It's not like I know where one is, you idiot. Everything's still packed."
"So go find one." He was being especially difficult.
"How about you just tell me, yeah?"
"How about no?"
He chuckled at that. "Don't get yourself worked up now."
"I'm not. If you tell me what time it is. Right now."
Nick clicked his tongue. "Maybe you should try a little patience."
"No, I don't think so."
"And maybe a please…," he said, ignoring her.
"Alright. Nick, if you could please tell me what the fuck time it is, I would really appreciate it," she said, with extra stress on the please.
"I suppose that that'll do…"
"…" She remained silent.
"Alright, alright. It is nine-thirty. Ish," He told her. "A.M., but I'd hope you know at least that much."
Caroline rolled her eyes, and said, "Don't lie to me; it is not nine-thirty. No way."
He feigned hurt. "Yes it is. Would I lie to you?"
"Yes. You would. And no, it's not," she pointed out.
"Okay, well maybe. But it really is nine-thirty! I swear."
She said very plainly, "It's not possible that we've been talking for over two hours."
"Well, we ha-ave," he told her in a sing-song voice.
"Really. I promise you," he said, completely serious.
"Wow. I feel like I wasted the morning now," she said reluctantly.
He mad an offended noise, and said, "You were talking to me, it couldn't possibly have been a waste of a morning if you spent it talking with me."
"Yeah, right. Sorry," she said, without meaning. "I really need to start unpacking, though."
"I could… you know, help, maybe?" He phrased it like question, asking permission.
"Nick, I don't know if that such a good idea."
"Of course, right, yeah," he responded, too quickly. "Fine, whatever. That's cool."
"It's not that I don't want to see you," she said, truthfully.
"Then….," he trailed off, thinking. "What is it?"
"This was fun, talking again. But, if we want to see each other again, start things back up or whatever, we can't just avoid it."
"I know," he said, a little difficultly.
"We don't have to talk about it today or anything," she soothed.
On the other line, he sighed, shifted around, and sighed again. "No, we do. I wanted to start fixing things today."
"No, I didn't. I got you to talk to me, but you're still mad, about me leaving."
"I'm really not."
"Yes, you are. There's no way you're not."
It was true; she was, although it wasn't as deep as it had been. "I'm not, not like before at least. It's hard to stay mad at you."
She took a deep breath, and then said, "Yeah?"
"Look, when Sean died, you saw how it was. You saw my mom and step-dad, how they tried to act like it was some tragic accident. People from school, our friends, they all said, 'How horrible, he was so young.' They pretended he had nothing to do with it, like he was innocent."
"They didn't want to put it like it really was! Is that not understandable?"
"It was just easier! Easier to say, 'Oh, how sad' then to go, yeah he was high, he was on God only knows what, and he drove. He was driving under the influence. He. Fucked. Up.
"And everyone refused to acknowledge that. They played it out like he wasn't addicted as hell, like he didn't just drop out of college in his senior year. And it was complete bullshit!"
Caroline wasn't sure what to say, but Nick continued on anyway.
"So yeah, I had to get away from it, from all of them. And yeah, I should have told you."
"Yeah, you should've," she agreed quietly.
"But I knew I couldn't do it, that you'd talk me out of it I told you."
She remained silent at that; she would've, or at least tried.
"I thought about it, for a few days, gathered up enough money, and left. It wasn't all that hard, everyone thought I was just distant because my brother died, it was understandable.
"And I wasn't just looking to escape it all either," he explained, getting quiet afterward.
Thinking for a moment, Caroline came up with nothing, and said, "What?"
"I went to tell my dad. In person," he said, almost too softly for her to hear.
That explained a lot. Nick's dad had left when he was fairly young, about ten years old, and he was a top which wasn't often brought up in his household. His mom refused to admit he ever existed, and Sean had hated him, for reasons unknown to Nick. In the years after he left, Nick talked to him a few times, over the phone, but that was it. Last she had known, they hadn't spoken in a few years.
"I was expecting him to be living alone, in some shithole apartment, or at the best a tiny, rundown house. I thought he'd be some kind of recluse, you know?
"But it was the complete opposite. He had this house in the suburbs, with the white-picket fence. I knocked on the door, and his trophy wife invited me inside for coffee. The two kids were out in the yard, a boy and a girl. My dad got home at six o'clock; the wife had dinner all ready. We went and talked in his study, once he finally figured out who I was. I told him about Sean, and he seemed shocked.
"Turned out he was only shocked that Sean had lived so long in the first place. It was like he expected he would've been dead long ago."
"Oh my God, Nick," she said, sounding both overwhelmed and regretful.
He ignored her, and went on. "So I decided I couldn't go home, that I needed to stay away, and figure things out." He paused, thinking, then went on. "And I did. My dad's a dick, my mom and step-dad are off in their own world, and my brother essentially killed himself. I had to accept that.
"And on the other hand, I had friends back home. I had money, enough to live fairly decent. And I had you," he said, solemnly.
Caroline was quite for a few moments, then said, "Hey Nick?"
"How about you come over here, help me unpack?"
He let out a short laugh, and said, "Sure. I'll be right there."
She hung up the phone, and leaned back on the brightly colored couch. It had been over two years since she's seen Nick; his freckles, brown hair, green eyes. And in a matter of minutes, she wouldn't have to wait any longer.
Caroline smiled, and settle back, waiting.
I haven't edited this. At all. SORRY FOR MISTAKES.
And my shitty dialogue, of course.