"You never called back last week," Kurt said, taking me by surprise as he joined me in the cafeteria line.
I stared at him silently. I had spent the weekend eating brownies and wallowing in my own stupidity. Kurt had gotten annoyed with me, made me walk home alone, and then cheated on me. Why would I call him back?
"Why would you want me to call you back after you've already replaced me?"
"I heard the girl you were with…when I called you."
"Do you mean Valerie?"
I picked up a brownie. Valerie. Valerie had a thing with Nihar but seemed to get upset when Kurt liked me. I wasn't really sure what the deal with Valerie was. I was sure if Kurt said yes, Valerie would jump him in a heartbeat.
"You know I'm still trying to heal from Eric doing that to me. How could you?"
"Accuse all you want. I didn't do anything wrong."
"Why can't you just tell me the truth?"
"Why can't you just believe the truth?" Kurt questioned calmly. "I didn't cheat on you. I got annoyed with you, but I didn't cheat on you."
"What am I supposed to think?"
"I don't know, how about, I trust my boyfriend?"
I was ready to cry again. I needed a doughnut. With jelly in the middle. Maybe the large, frosted brownie and heaping pile of spaghetti on my plate could suffice. "How was I supposed to know after the message you sent me at the bar?"
Kurt rolled his eyes. "At this point, Adam is much more important to you than I am. I can't deal. I also can't deal with your insecurity. Let's take this as going our separate ways."
"You're breaking up with me?"
"Yeah. I'm breaking up with you. You're too much."
He left me standing at the end of the line with a tray of food and a heart of guilt. I believed him when he said he didn't cheat on me. The problem was I'd accused him of it too soon. I really hadn't thought it through. I'd jumped to conclusions and now I really had ruined it. I set my tray down and left the cafeteria in a stupor.
It all happened too quickly. One minute we were planning vacations together and the next he was breaking up with me. I did not understand how I could run through boys this quickly. I was really bad at boys. Definitely learned that this semester.
"Chloe, may I speak with you?" my TA for chemistry asked as our discussion was getting out.
"Yes, sure. What do you need?"
Patrick sighed, "I'm concerned about your work. Normally, I wouldn't do this, but because you used to come to my office hours twice a week for extra help and now I haven't seen you in two weeks. I thought maybe something clicked. The F on your last quiz says otherwise. What's going on?"
I cried. I couldn't help it. The tears started welling in my eyes while he was talking and when he finished, I had no chance of keeping it together.
"Let's think about this rationally. Calm down. Did something happen?"
"Everything happened. This semester I lost my best friend. I lost my step mom. My boyfriend just broke up with me and his roommate quit tutoring me," I spilled out all at once through sloppy sobs.
Patrick nodded. "That seems like you have a lot on your plate."
"Chemistry is just too hard. It didn't matter how many hours I put into it, it is still always doing to be too difficult."
"Now with that attitude, it will be too difficult. Let's stop that and figure out a solution for chemistry, then I'll set you up with someone who can help you with the other things you have going on. How does that sound?"
"I go to private tutoring every week. I do drop in tutoring several times a week. I don't know what else to do!" More tears spilled out; tears of frustration.
"Okay. Well, how about you start coming back to my office hours and we'll continue to work on it. You resume going to your tutors and we'll get you back to where you were before the last exam, when you did very well."
"Does that sound feasible?"
I nodded, wiping my tears away and trying to gather myself together. I had cried for chemistry, I had cried for Kurt, I had cried for my semester of struggles. It was all evidenced on my tear stained face. I couldn't handle it.
"Do you have class now?"
I shook my head and he nodded.
"Great, I'm going to send you to my good friend, Abby. Abby works in the advising office and knows of many more resources. I'll call her and see if she's available."
Ten minutes later I was sitting in outside Abby's office. The peer advisors sat there as well, advising students while I eavesdropped.
Abby cheerfully welcomed me in and closed the door behind us. She was spunky and energetic. Her blonde hair was sticking up out of her ponytail and her yellow sweater was drowning her.
"What can I do for you today?" she asked after introductions.
I explained my chemistry situation and Abby listened calmly and nodded. She then introduced me to the concept of the Chemistry Learning Center, an office in which extra TAs taught additional classes each week, offering more individual attention and practice problems. I was awed that in all my chemistry struggles, no one had suggested this before. I cried again. Abby wordlessly handed me a tissue and chatted for a moment without needed my response. Then the real question came.
"What else is bothering you, Chloe?"
It was the money question, the one that turned on my hardcore waterworks. Maybe she could refer me to a plumber in the area.
Abby listened as I spilled my entire life story. She then referred me to the counseling center. This set off more tears.
"I just told you everything. How can you let me tell you everything and then tell me to tell someone else? I can't tell anyone else. I've told everyone and it hurts more every time. I can't do it again. It's too draining," I sobbed.
Abby nodded. "I typically do academic advising. The counselors would have much more professional and practiced ideas for you."
I sighed, "I already used up my free counseling sessions. You only get 15 while you're in school. I used all of them to talk about my mom's death."
Abby's eyes widened a bit more, my mom's death being a new piece to my life puzzle.
"Chloe, you have a lot going on in your life right now. What would you like me to do to help you? I would love to help anyway I can."
"Tell Kurt I want to be with him, get my tutor back, stop my insomnia, fix my relationship with Areum."
Abby nodded, "What is Areum? Is that where you work?"
I laughed briefly, smiling and wiping some of my tears away. "She's Adam's mother. She raised me a lot of my years and she's not speaking with me at the moment because of the Adam situation that occurred."
"Is the Adam situation not resolved?"
"So what would happen if you called Araem and told her about your arrangement and then try to work things out with her?"
I smiled at Abby's butchered pronunciation and nodded, sniffing. "I was going to ask Adam to call first. I don't feel like solving any of the problems I have, just complaining about them and eating desserts until they go away."
Abby handed me a paper. "I want you to write down ten things you love about yourself. Start every one with 'I love.' We'll just see where we end up."
I sighed and gathered myself together. I don't know what Abby was talking about; she was totally ready for counseling.
I sniffed and held the completed paper out to Abby.
"Let's hear them. Read them aloud."
My eyes widened. This was not a part of the bargain.
"I love my sense of humor."
"What?" Abby said. "Be proud. These are amazing things about you. I want to hear them! I want to learn about what makes you amazing."
"I love my sense of humor," I said louder, without a sniffle. I took a deep breath and read the whole list. Abby picked on me a bit in that 'I love my family' is not about myself; it's about my environment I'm a part of. But she complimented me over and over.
"Dang, you're a great girl! What do you think of yourself?"
"I think I'm doing okay."
Abby scoffed. "Try again, let me hear. I think you're a great girl. What do you think?"
"I think I'm stronger than I realize. I think I second-guess myself too much. I think I can handle everything on my plate if I stop crying and stop eating brownies."
Abby looked near tears now. "I am so proud of you. Now, I want to hear one thing you loved loved loved about Old Chloe that you don't think exists anymore or isn't as prominent now as it once was."
"Old Chloe was…energetic."
"Perfect. What made her energetic?"
"She slept and she was excited about every day."
"How can we get you there now?"
"I don't know what to do about the insomnia but…well, I don't know what to do about either."
Abby nodded, "Great. I will help you. Here is your homework for the week, are you ready?"
"No napping. If you're napping, you're throwing off your sleeping pattern and I want you sleeping at night. I want you to get in bed and out of bed everyday at the same time. Even if you're exhausted, get up at that get up time so your body can relearn. What times are you going to choose for that?"
I hesitated. "I like to go to bed by midnight. And then wake up at eight maybe?"
"Good start. Let's try it and see how it goes. I also want you to keep a journal. Every night before bed, write down three reasons you are excited to get out of bed the next morning and start that day. Do you think you can do those things?"
I nodded, "I can try."
"And I want you to hang this somewhere where you can see it and where others can see it," she said, handing me my list of loves and keeping the carbon copy for herself. "Where are you going to hang it?"
"Maybe on the inside of my door?"
"Who will see it there?"
"I will. My roommate, Karen, anyone who comes in our room, I guess."
Abby nodded enthusiastically and wrapped things up, ushering me out of her office after scheduling an appointment to see her next week and an appointment to see a campus wellness specialist to talk about my insomnia.
"Thank you," I whispered, grateful my TA had sent me to Abby.
She smiled, and bopped a little, her spunk in full display, "No problem. Let me know if you need something before next week, too."
I nodded and headed to meet Paul for tutoring, feeling quite upbeat.
"You're in a good mood," Paul noted as I sat down. I laughed out loud. Seeing me in any of the past three hours, Paul would have seen waterworks. Now in the piece he saw, I was great.
"Thank you," I finally responded, taking my seat and preparing to catch up on the lectures I had passively attended.
The alarm went off and I knocked it onto the floor as it somehow survived the long drop and continued buzzing. I groaned and pulled the notebook from under my covers, rereading the three reasons I had written last night on why I should get up. They were appealing enough and I squirmed out of bed, shutting off the alarm and reading my list out loud to start my morning.
I was starting to feel more positive already. It was ridiculous, a placebo effect maybe but I was feeling ready to start my day. Abby was a magician. Each day my reasons to wake up had gotten more ambitious and goal oriented. Today the goal was talk to Kurt. I didn't know that it would be a positive experience but I needed something more from him. I had been taken back and too surprised. I wasn't willing to accept it.
I shuffled through my day, trying to keep my head held high until I finished classes and was able to dial his number.
"Do you have time to talk now?"
"Look at you, learning how to use a phone now."
I hesitated. Maybe this was too ambitious.
"It was a slow learning curve."
"Is there a reason for this phone call?"
"I…well…there…you." Being lost for words was not something I was used to.
"I don't have all day."
"You broke up with me so abruptly. I want more. I need more explanation," I shot out quickly.
Kurt sighed in annoyance. "You have too many priorities over me. Figure your things out and then maybe we'll talk."
"Figure what things out?"
"Maybe you have more to figure out than you realize."
I stood, open mouthed, listening to the dial tone. Well, that went well. Could this count as our first fight? We didn't even fight. He just chose to ignore me. How was I supposed to deal with this? Fights were supposed to spark a stronger relationship. Maybe we were on the way to a stronger relationship?
Yeah right, like I'm on the way to a stronger relationship with Adam. I scoffed and put the phone in my backpack, walking into work and trying to keep a strong face.
"Hey girl," Hadley said as I entered.
Hadley looked up, scrutinizing me closely before looking back down to her nails.
"What's up?" I questioned, trying to be casual.
She didn't look up, focusing on getting a precise coating with her blue nail polish. "Why don't you tell me? How's Brina and your dad?"
"They're doing well. Brina hates her job but she's grateful she has a job."
"It's going slow and steady. We have seen each other in groups and alone now and made it out alive."
Hadley nodded, looking dissatisfied. She was cutting me off before I could finish talking about each topic. "How's that hunk of yours?" She questioned.
"Ah-ha! Finally. Okay, let's hear what happened with this hunk."
"He broke up with me."
"He said I have other priorities before him and I need to figure things out. He's jealous of Nihar tutoring me and he's jealous of my friendship with Adam. He thinks it's more than friendship."
"And that's ridiculous, right?"
"Definitely not. It's barely friendship! It's acquaintances at the moment. We're building up."
"Wait, what? Do you mean it is ridiculous?"
"Do you want to get back together with the hunk?"
I nodded. "Yeah. I love being with Kurt. I trusted him."
"Go get him."
"I called him today and he said he didn't have anything new to tell me, just that I needed to figure out my life."
"Figure out what?"
"I think it means rearrange my life and make him my number one priority."
Hadley looked up at me with sass as she blew on her nails. "Girl, he best watch it."
"It might be worth it."
Hadley huffed under her breath and was suddenly intensely focused on scrutinizing her fingernails.
"Do you have something to say, Hadley?"
"Nope. Nope. Just, you know, he's a hottie. Big time, but there are many hotties out there."
I nodded, unsure what that meant I should do.
"I've been with some shitty men and let me tell you, good looks aren't always enough."
Chemistry? Chemistry was getting 74 times easier with the help of the Chemistry Learning Center. I was unsure why no one had told me about its glorious offerings sooner but I was grateful I discovered it anyway. I was still working hard and seeing Paul regularly but it was much less stressful. Check. Sorted that off the list.
Nihar? I had stopped spending time with Nihar since he stopped tutoring me. Check.
Adam? Adam was always going to be a priority. Even when he wasn't in my life I thought of him and how to get him in my life or keep him out. I don't know what Kurt was expecting but Adam was here to stay. Check?
What else was there? I couldn't think of much else. Next up was Kurt. Time to turn in my list and see how it went.
I called Kurt and asked if we could meet. Ten minutes later my heart was pounding as I waited outside. I couldn't handle it. I hadn't expected to meet with him so soon and I wasn't prepared for it. I was sweating, hopefully not through my jacket but I was anxious even in the cold November air.
"Hey," I smiled, feeling more relaxed already. I wanted to fall into Kurt's arms and kiss him. I wanted to be back at that point more than anything.
"You wanted to talk."
"I have my life in order. I want to talk about us."
Kurt sighed, "I don't know that you're ready for that."
"I did everything you asked. I don't understand."
"Maybe we just need some time apart."
"This isn't about me getting my life back together, is it?" I questioned, realization dawning on me that Kurt didn't want to be with me. "Why would you agree to meet with me if we can't fix this?"
He sighed, "I can't wait around for you."
"I thi—" I stopped short, finally understanding. "You broke up with me because I didn't sleep with you?" I whispered, the hurt and fear evident in my voice.
He put a hand to his head. "I don't do relationships. I can't handle this."
"You were doing well. Everything was going great!"
He shrugged. "I don't commit. You need a commitment guy."
I stared at him. What was this? Why was this happening?
Kurt reached out, as he often did when he was about to pull me in and kiss me. He stopped short, dropping his arm. "Goodbye Chloe."
I stood, rooted to my spot. I had altered my life for a boy, a boy that wasn't willing to alter his for me.
AN: Wow I'm slow. Sorry about that kiddos.
You're peaches for still reading.
Colie Rae :)