"I hate him," I said savagely, pulling my teal comforter close to my chest. My phone lay open beside me; I had given up on holding it nearly an hour ago.
"Not half as much as I do, believe me," my best friend Callie grumbled back. "I'll kill him, if you want," she offered for the umpteenth time. "I've watched enough CSI, I could get away with it."
"I think I'd rather do it myself," I muttered, clutching the blanket closer. My tears had subsided many minutes ago and all that filled me now was all-consuming rage. All the anger in the world couldn't stop the feeling in my chest, however. Naïvely, I felt that if I held the blanket close, it would stop my heart from breaking. Past experience whispered to me, trying to tell me it was futile, but I couldn't listen. I wouldn't listen. In the span of a mere ten minutes, he turned me into the broken-hearted teenager I thought I had moved beyond. I was an adult, a college-educated, level-headed adult, who knew what a mistake it was to get involved with him. But he had snuck past my defenses and weaseled his way into my heart and in a span of a couple months, had made me fall so hard for him that getting up from this now seemed damn near impossible.
"You warned me," I said quietly, "I should've listened to you."
"Maybe," Callie said, "But we both know I never would have." She paused for a moment. "Honestly Charlie, he even had me believing that there was no way you guys wouldn't work out. You didn't do anything wrong by letting him in—he's the major fuck up here, not you."
"Well, I can guarantee that he's not feeling anywhere near as shitty as I am," I grumbled bitterly.
"Probably not," Callie agreed, blunt as always. "But it's still his loss. And you are a gigantic loss."
"It's rather apparent that he doesn't seem to think so," I replied, chipping at my purple nail polish for something to do with my hands. I could feel it coming; the reality of my heartache was slowly creeping through me. The dull pain in my stomach made me feel queasy and I could feel the lump reforming in my throat. I pushed it back down, grabbing a pillow and clutching it to my chest along with the comforter. I was not going spend another second crying over him.
"Cal?" I said so quietly I was surprised that she heard me. That was the thing with Callie though—she always heard me.
"Char?" she replied questioningly.
"What do I do now?" I hated how weak I sounded, but Callie would never judge me. She was the one person I could handle being weak around.
"You buzz me in so I can come up," she said as the buzzer sounded in my apartment.
"Cal!" I scolded.
"Shut up and let me in. It's freezing out here," she hung up before I could say another word. I flipped my phone shut and hurried to buzz her in. She was up the three flights of stairs and to my door within seconds, coffee ice cream and the Die Hard trilogy in hand.
"Oh Cal," I could feel the lump forming again in my throat, this time for a completely different reason. Only Callie would know to bring those things. There was nothing better when I was sad than watching things blow up while drowning my sorrows in caffeinated ice cream.
Callie closed the door behind her, shrugging off her gray peacoat. Her dark brown curls spilt over her shoulders and looked amazing against her red sweater. She was very dressed up and I remembered that she had been having a family dinner with her parents. "Don't look at me like that," Callie teased, already digging two spoons out of my dishwasher. "You've done enough crying tonight, don't you think?"
"You left your parents for me!" I accused, swallowing the lump in my throat.
"They wouldn't have let me stay if I tried," Callie pointed out, heading for my bedroom. "I told them that you needed a friend and they shooed me away so fast I actually had to stop and wonder if they wanted me there at all," she joked. "They love you, Charlie. Mom actually wants you to call her soon and let her know how you are. I'm pretty sure she'll help hide the body if you need it."
I smiled weakly as she popped the first movie into my DVD player before joining me on my bed. "I know you feel like shit right now," Callie told me after shoving an unnaturally large chunk of ice cream in her mouth. "But it honestly will get better." She noticed my raised eyebrows and chuckled. "I know, it sucks hardcore. That's why I brought Die Hard. Is there anything better in the world than Alan Rickman?"
I really smiled at that. "No," I said. "I don't think there is."
I awoke the next morning to the smell of burning bacon. My eyes shot open and for a split second, I actually thought he was the one making a disaster of a breakfast in my kitchen. Reality set in quickly and the sudden weight in my stomach made my breath hitch. I didn't have time to set up my carefully worked defenses and this pain was as fresh and raw as it was when he first told me it was over.
I had curled into the fetal position without noticing it. It took longer than I would have liked to force the ever present lump in my throat back down. Thankful that Callie was in the kitchen and unable to witness any of this, I took a few steadying breaths. It took a couple minutes for me to work the courage out of bed, mostly because I had no control over my emotions, but partially because I didn't want to see the damage Callie had undoubtedly caused attempting to make breakfast.
She didn't say anything to me immediately, knowing I needed caffeine in me to hold any kind of conversation. She gestured at the coffee pot, but I eyed it warily. Callie was a lot of things, but a good cook was not one of them.
"It's coffee," she said exasperatedly, "Not even I can fuck that up." I turned my wary gaze upon her. "Really," she insisted, "It's fine."
My desire for caffeine outweighed any misgivings I had about Callie's abilities in the kitchen. I poured myself a cup and was surprised to find it tasted exactly as it should.
"When did I fall asleep?" I asked her.
"A few minutes before poor Alan fell out the window," she sighed dramatically. "You made me watch it all alone."
I smiled and shook my head before remembering what had woken me up. "How many of my pans did you ruin trying to make the bacon?" I teased
"Just the one then?" I interrupted her, glancing at the burnt steel frying pan in the sink.
"Points for effort?" she asked.
"A million," I assured her, grabbing a banana from the counter. I was feeling surprisingly numb considering how terrible I'd felt just moments before.
"I've gotta head into work today," Callie admitted softly. "You'll be okay?"
"Peachy," I lied, knowing she'd see right through it.
She shook her head. "Mom would love to hear from you. And you could always call River if you wanted to hang with someone—he's around town somewhere."
I rolled my eyes, "I'm sure your brother has a million better things to do than hang out with his sister's heartbroken best friend." She raised her eyebrows at me, about to object. "I know he'd be here if I asked, but I don't want to involve him. I'll be fine. Just leave the movies and I'll watch more things blow up. Really."
She eyed me in much the same way that I eyed the coffee, but I knew she couldn't stay. Callie had just got a promotion at her job at an advertising firm. She was working at least sixty hours a week, but she loved what she did. There was no way I was going to hold her back from that. She gave me a hug after gathering her things and left, apologizing about the pan.
My apartment felt strangely big without her in it. I wrapped my arms around myself, standing in the middle of my kitchen. I wasn't sure what to do. I could feel the weight settling again in my stomach so I headed for the living room. I turned the TV on, unsurprised to find only Saturday morning cartoons. I knew they were unlikely to hold my attention, but I needed something to fill the silence.
It didn't matter though. All the noise in the world wouldn't be able to silence my thoughts. My brain was running at full speed and as much as I tried to stop it and focus on something else, it wouldn't work.
At no point in my life had I been naïve enough to think that there was one person out there for everyone. The whole idea seemed unfair and so entirely out of my control that I couldn't stand it. I didn't believe that things happened for a reason; I believed that we controlled every aspect of our lives. I had known Adam for a long time. For years, I thought of him as nothing more of an acquaintance, a friend's boyfriend, a friend's friend. Through the years, we had an occasional strong bond that would break whenever he found someone new, or I did. I had admitted to Callie years ago that I felt as if we just used each other until something better came along.
He was engaged when we started talking again. It was failing, falling apart fast, and the wedding was only a couple weeks away. He grabbed a hold of whatever bond we had and held tighter than he ever had before. He called off the engagement and told me that he had had feelings for me for years.
Over the years, there were seemingly random times when I found myself undeniably drawn to him. I couldn't explain it and certainly didn't understand it, but I always enjoyed being around him. He brought out a side of me that I didn't know I had, a side that believed that maybe things did happen for a reason, that there were some people in our lives that were meant to be there. Things with Adam never felt perfect, but they felt right, and sometimes that actually feels better.
The happiness I felt with him was so far beyond anything I had ever felt with anyone else. He made me feel things I had pushed away when I was with others, scared of letting anyone get that close. But it made sense to allow him to because he loved me, and I loved him, and there was no reason for either of us to hold back.
Except he had been. Over the months that I thought our relationship was growing, he had been harboring feelings for his ex-fiancee. He missed her, he told me. He missed her and he couldn't lead me on when he was feeling like he might have made a mistake. He was sorry and he never meant to hurt me, but he couldn't continue to be with me if he still had feelings for her.
I had been ridiculously calm for the entire conversation. It wasn't until after he hung up that I let the tears fall. He had taken everything from me, but he was not going to get my pride. It didn't matter though—that miniscule part of me couldn't change how I was feeling now.
Looking around my apartment there were so many things that reminded me of him. Immediately after our conversation the previous night I had torn through the apartment, discarding old letters and pictures and the sunflowers he had bought me just two days prior, but so many of my memories with him were here that I couldn't avoid thinking about him. We shared our first kiss on the couch. We cooked manicotti together in my kitchen for our one-month anniversary. He bought me the piece of abstract art I had framed above my television. Every room held amazing and now painful memories and I felt myself stuck in them, unable to escape.
I missed him. I missed him and that was definitely the worst part. It was beyond difficult, but I could handle everything else—the pain, the anger, the confusion. All of that was understandable. Missing him wasn't. It infuriated me to think that regardless of everything he did that I would give anything to be in his arms, to pretend that none of this had happened.
I showered quickly, ignoring the deliciously painful memories held there. I needed to get the hell out of the apartment for the day or I was pretty sure my mind was going to explode.
I told myself that it would get better. A weeks, tops, and things would start feeling normal again. But that heavy feeling in my stomach never went away and I found myself feeling just as miserable a week later as I was the night it happened. Maybe even more miserable considering that I had disappointed myself. I really thought I would be back on my feet by now and I wasn't even close. Shame washed over me and I realized why I never let anyone get this close before—it was not worth the risk.
Callie had been a better friend than I deserved. She was working upwards of seventy hours a week, but any remaining time she had left was spent with me. She had essentially moved in with me and took such good care of me that I was left unable to accurately express how grateful I was for it.
I was having a particularly rough day when my phone rang suddenly. I wasn't much for phone conversation and the only person who typically called me was sitting next to me, so I couldn't stop the foreboding sense from overtaking me. I glanced at the caller ID and nearly lost it. "What the fuck does he want?" I asked, glaring down at my phone.
Callie shook her head, sighing softly. "There's no good way to play this," she admitted. "You can answer it and he could think that you're just sitting around moping—" I looked at her pointedly, knowing that was exactly what I was doing. "He doesn't have to know that," she told me. "He actually has no right to know that. You can ignore it and he could think that you're not ready to talk to him because you're still pining over him."
"Which is also true," I sighed. "I think not talking will be less painful."
She slid my phone across the carpeted floor. It stopped near the fridge in the kitchen. "Okay then. He can leave a message if whatever he has to say is so important."
I smiled gratefully at her and returned my attention the television. TV and movies had become my own personal vacation. I frequently lost myself in the story just to escape my own thoughts for a bit.
Of course, about a minute later, my phone beeped just once, but the sound was so ominous that I considering tossing it out the third story window. Why did Adam think I cared what he had to say? Regardless, I found it extremely difficult getting back into the movie knowing he had left a voicemail.
Without speaking, Callie left the comfort of the couch to pick up my phone and listened to the voicemail herself. Without having to say a word, she did exactly what I would have asked of her. I watched her expression change from boredom to disgust as he rambled in her ear. When the message was over, she deleted it and turned to me. "Are you sure you want to hear it?"
"I'll probably go more insane not knowing," I sighed.
She shook her head and rolled her eyes, but I knew she was doing it at him. "Asshole Adam says hello and how are you? And also, do you have any advice on how he should go about getting his ex back?" She met my eyes and I could tell she had no idea how I was going to react.
I was sure she didn't expect laughter, but I found myself unable to hold it in. Callie's eyebrows had reached a record high as she watched me laugh like a maniac on the couch. I wasn't sure exactly why I found it funny, but the situation was just so damn ridiculous that I didn't know how else to react. "That sounds like something he would've asked me before we started dating," I admitted, wiping away the tears of laughter that had escaped. "Do you think he just forgot that he dumped me last week?"
I watched as Callie fought a smile, but she was soon snickering too. "He is beyond stupid, you know. We could probably use this to your advantage."
I shook my head. "No. As tempting as it sounds, I have a feeling he will be much more hurt if I don't offer any advice at all." I glanced at the TV, but found myself restless. "Let's get outta here for a bit, Cal."
Callie's eyebrows raised again. "You sure?" she asked skeptically. I knew she was thinking of our dinner outing earlier in the week. I had been miserable and withdrawn throughout, my eyes being drawn towards all the couples who seemed so happy. I was torn between wanting to warn them that even the best things never seem to work out and unwarranted anger at them for having someone when I was more alone than I'd ever been in my life. Callie's question was fair, but I felt for the first time that maybe I had misjudged my entire relationship with Adam. The thought of misjudgment felt considerably better than the thought of losing someone I thought I was "meant" to be with.
"I'm sure," I assured her, already slipping on a pair of stiletto boots. "I'm in the mood for a change."