All The Things We Could Do
Chapter 21: When things fall apart
Going back to school was both a relief and a curse; it was wonderful to get away from my mother and her passive-aggressive demeanor, but part of me was afraid to see Statler again. He had been angry when we parted, after all. On top of that was my supposedly-renewed friendship with Darcy, and the fact that Chris and I still were on the outs.
All in all, the end of the school year just couldn't come fast enough.
Now that it was officially April, most people had heard back from their colleges. I waited expectantly for Statler to tell me his news, but none was forthcoming; instead, dinner was spent in silence at the table we had claimed as ours. He was holding my hand, thumb rubbing circles on it, but he was busily reading his government textbook and apparently not in the mood to talk to me. I studied my food without much enthusiasm for reading, wondering if he was going to say anything to me at all, beyond his introductory "Hey," when he'd sat down.
"So, how was the rest of your break? We barely talked since that day by the pool."
"I was busy," he replied, without answering my question.
"Well, the rest of my break was good," I babbled. "My mom took me shopping so many times that I must have bought out the mall. And bankrupted my family."
Part of me wanted to hit him. Were we really playing this game? "Tell me a story from your break," I said encouragingly, hoping to spur him into conversation.
He shrugged. "I didn't really do anything," he confessed.
I bit my lip, and finally blurted, "You just said you were busy."
"I just wasn't doing anything important," he clarified, looking up at me for the first time. "Why are you pushing this, Olivia? It's not a big deal. We didn't talk for a few days."
"Well, you're my boyfriend," I pointed out frankly. "I wanted to talk to you."
"And I really would have liked to kiss you that day by the pool," he replied shortly. "But we don't always get what we want, do we?"
I sat back in my chair, jerking my hand out of his. "Why are we fighting again?"
"You tell me." His gaze was annoyed. "What do you want from me, Olivia?"
"A little conversation!"
"Jesus, keep your voice down," he snapped. "We're in the middle of the dining hall."
I took a deep breath. "What I want," I emphasized, "is for you to talk to me, and to treat me like your girlfriend. I want you to care about me and my feelings. To show me all that."
"You won't let me! I keep trying, and you just—"
"You show me that all you think about is sex," I retorted flatly. "And I'm not ready for that."
"I don't wantsex, Olivia." He sighed. "I mean, I do. Of course I do. But I'm not forcing it. What I do want is to be able to hang out with my girlfriend and kiss her and touch her like she is my girlfriend."
"I let you do that!"
"When we're alone. When nobody will see us."
"What, you want to put on an exhibition?"
"For fuck's sake, no. But I don't want you going around like you don't want people to know we're together."
"I don't do that!"
"Then why didn't I get to meet your mother, that day? We could have done that? You could have said, 'Mom, this is my boyfriend.' Instead, you went shopping for stuff you don't need!"
"I need stuff," I huffed, but it was a half-hearted attempt at best.
"You do not," he replied coolly, "need stuff. And an introduction would have taken a few minutes. You've met my mother."
"But my mother already hated you!"
"I do not want to fight about this. I don't want to talk about this." He grabbed his tray and stood unexpectedly. "In fact, I'd rather we not talk at all. Come find me when you're done being bipolar."
"Bipolar?" I sputtered, but he was already walking away. And I was left alone at the table, feeling like an idiot, because my boyfriend had just walked out on me and everybody had seen it. I bent over the table, tying to hide my face. Not only had I had a very public fight, I was left sitting like a loser, all by myself. I usually liked my own company, but now it was just embarrassing.
"Olivia?" came a gentle, quiet voice. I glanced up tiredly; it was Chris, and for a change, he did not look irritated or incredulous or hurt or angry or any of those things that I had seen so often on his face. For once, he looked just sympathetic, which was almost bizarre, because I had never really needed Chris's sympathy like this, and I had also never deserved it less. "Why don't you come sit with us?'
And I wanted to. He was making the effort, and I wanted to reciprocate. But I couldn't.
I stood up, holding my tray, ignoring the unexpected flare of hopefulness in his face—maybe he had missed me, too? "I need to find my boyfriend," I said, resigned, and turned to leave.
Predictably, I found Statler on the track, smoking a cigarette. I sat beside him, not even flinching when he instinctively scooted away. "I don't want to be around you."
"Too bad. We have to talk."
"Oh, great. My favorite pastime."
I took a deep breath and said, quietly, "We aren't working, are we?"
"We're pretty different people."
"I guess we always knew it might not last."
He looked up sharply, irritation sparking in his face. "We're not married,Olivia. We're in high school. Nobody expected us to stay together, least of all me." Oh. Ouch.
Author's Note: And that's it. That's all I have. I cannot tell you how many TIMES I tried to write this chapter and it just failed. And I got pissed off with all the inconsistencies and the crap and BLEH. So I'm very very sorry and I expect some of you will want to kill me, but fortunately none of you know where I live so I probably have some time to pacify you first. I'm rewriting the story. And I don't mean in the "go back and fix little spelling errors" I meanrewriting it. Content different. Very different. I just had all these ideas for how the story could be so much BETTER and it started writing itself.
So this is going on HIATUS, for a little while, as I try to figure out if I like the newer version better. I'm sorry. I'll post the newer version if people decide they want that (believe me, I have half a chapter done and already it's WAY better). Maybe some day I'll finish this and it can be like a "before and after" kind of thing. Maybe I'll just get my muse back.
Sorry, though. I know you'll all hate hearing this, but I can't figure out where to go anymore. This story didn't even go where it was supposed to, but now I fortunately have a real idea of where I want it to go… unfortunately, the way it is now, it couldn't get there if I gave it a map and a GPS system. But please don't leave me—come back and read the new and improved version which I will put up soon. Tentative title is: The Things I've Done,but give it time, something better might come along. Either way, the title will probably sound similar enough that you'll know.
PS Thanks to whoever nominated for the SKoW awards. It motivated me to want to write again, even if it's not to write this particular story. I don't think I deserve the nomination, but I really, really appreciate it. Thank you!