The slammed door echoed throughout the dark apartment. Exasperated, the young man dropped into his desk chair and rested his face in his hands. What had he done to make her so angry? Oh, yes, that was it: he bought the wrong brand of soymilk. That prompted her shrill shriek of, "Zak, what the hell is this?" and the ensuing fight that lasted for – Zak looked up the check the clock – four hours. The red numbers on the clock flipped over to read 12:00 AM. Zak rested his head back in his hands. Should he go apologize to Heather? He listened to see if there was any hint she had calmed down and would listen to his apology. No, she was badmouthing him on her cell phone to one of her friends.
"It was just goddamn soy milk!" Zak exclaimed at the ceiling and planted his face back in his palms.
Bzzzt. Bzzzt. Bzzzt.
Zak peered out from between his fingers to the screen of his phone. An old image flashed up on the screen, a grinning girl with auburn hair and bright green eyes, and an old name told him who was calling.
"Amelia," he whispered softly and reached for the phone. His thumb hovered hesitantly over the answer button. Did he answer? He hadn't spoken to her since last September…
He pressed the button and slowly raised the phone to his ear.
"H-hey," Amelia choked on the other end.
Zak sat in silence and listened to the hitched, choking breathing on the other end of line.
"Honey, are you crying?" he asked, his eyes widening at the slip of the pet name.
She didn't even notice. "N-no, I'm not."
"Yes, you are," Zak rebuked. "I can hear you. What happened? Are you okay? Are you hurt? Did someone hurt you?"
Amelia laughed raspingly, "You're such a worrywart, Zak. You haven't changed a bit."
"Of course I haven't. And neither have you – you're still not answering my questions."
"I don't want to talk about it," Amelia tried to answer smoothly, but her residual tears foiled the attempt. "I fought with Jeremy."
Zak felt his heart sink, and then his brain scold it and force it back into place. "Oh. Your boyfriend?"
"Oh. I see."
They both paused for several long moments. "You sound like you always do after a fight, too, Zackary."
"You would know."
Amelia laughed, her old laugh, the high, free one that wasn't hindered by tears. Zak felt a smile flick across his lips. It left just as quickly as it came when Heather stuck her head out of the bedroom door and screeched,
"Keep your conversations the fuck down, I'm trying to get some fucking sleep!" She slammed the door again, and Zak could hear the end of her rant, "Fuckin' boyfriends and their fuckin' conversations…."
He felt like screaming back, but instead he lowered his voice.
"Well, I did kind of have an argument…"
"What? Speak up, Zak."
"Sorry…Heather – my girlfriend – is trying to sleep in the next room. I have to whisper, I can't be too loud. She's already yelled at me one enough for one night."
"Oh." Zak recognized the sound of her heart sinking.
The silence resumed again, with each participants listening to the other's steady breathing through the phone.
"It's really good to hear your voice."
"It's good to hear yours, too."
"Hey, do you remember that time we went to the mall?" Amelia perked up and asked.
"We spent a lot of time at the mall. You like to shop more than any girl I've ever known."
"Shut up!" Amelia laughed. "No, but that time we went to the mall and you almost got arrested because I made you try clothes on in the girl's dressing room to save time."
Zak laughed loudly. "Oh, yeah! That was the last time we went shopping together."
"That was the last month we did anything together," Amelia corrected calmly. "Zak…why did we stop?"
"I…I don't remember. We just…stopped."
"We just fell apart."
"I mean, it wasn't anything big…"
"I think we both told some white lies…"
"And they made a pile and then a mountain…"
"And then we collapsed under the weight…and now we're here," Amelia finished. "I've got a dumbass boyfriend who barely lets me leave his apartment without an altercation and I'm pretty sure is cheating on me with the prostitutes that live next door to him. And you've…."
"Got a girlfriend who yells at me and tries to claw my face because I buy her the wrong soymilk."
"…Your fight was over soymilk?"
"Yes, it was. Don't laugh, we were having a moment!"
"Sorry…" Amelia suppressed her giggles. "I would never have yelled at you over soymilk."
"I know. You were much more justified in your yelling…usually."
"I'll let that one slide."
Zak smiled again. He glanced at the clock. 1:00 AM. He'd smiled more in this hour than in the seven months he'd been with Heather.
"Hey, do you remember that time…" Amelia began to launch into a story. But then she suddenly stopped. "Oh…hi…honey…."
"Who are you talking to?" A male voice snapped on the other end.
"A friend," Zak heard Amelia reply sharply. "Just a friend." There was a shuffling noise through the phone.
"A male friend!" The man on the other end roared. "Who's Zak, Amelia? Who the fuck is Zak?"
"I told you already, he's my fr-" Amelia was cut off as the line went dead. Zak held the disconnected phone up to his ear as the dial tone sounded until the operator began to explain to him how to retry his call. He stared ahead and pressed the "end call" button. What if that guy was hurting Amelia? She could stand up for herself…but...Zak pushed the thought from his mind. There was nothing he could do.
He slid open a desk drawer and reached to the very back. He pulled out an old strip of pictures from a photo booth. Him and Amelia. But there was nothing he could do to get her back, or those happy times, or to help her right now….
But that was the kind of thinking that brought about the end of his relationship with Amelia. He spent too long not doing anything to save it that it just fell apart. And he was wrong, and stupid, and foolish, and a whole long list of words that would never be enough to describe how idiotic his actions back then had been.
Zak stood up straight and the chair toppled out from under him and thudded onto the hardwood floor. He dashed to the bedroom door, threw it open, and began shoving his clothes into his suitcase.
"What the hell are you doing, Zak?" Heather sat up in bed and demanded.
"We're done here," Zak replied calmly.
"I said, we're done here." Zak shoved his last pair of jeans into his suitcase. "I've realized something big, and I'm acting on it this time – and you're not a part of what I'm about to do. We're done. I hope the next guy you meet buys you the right soymilk."
"You prick!" Heather screeched at him as he walked out the apartment door. "You'll regret this!"
"Actually, I don't think I will," Zak replied. "This may be the best thing I've done in a long time."
He ran down the hallway to the stairs and down all 20 flights. He burst out the doors on the lobby floor, his suitcase slamming against his side, half zipped with clothes threatening to fall out. He flew out the glass doors onto the Manhattan sidewalk in front of his apartment building. And then he stopped short.
Because there was a girl with auburn hair and sparkling green eyes, standing in front of him with a similar bag full of belongings.
A/N: I've had this idea floating around in my head my a while. It was inspired by the Hinder songs "Lips of an Angel" and "Better Than Me." I don't know if it turned out as well as I had hoped….it sounded so epic in my head but I don't think the epicness quite made it into print. If you have any suggestions on how to improve it, please let me know – I would like to improve on this piece and would love to hear what you have to say. As always, please shoot me a review or PM to let me know what you thought! Any title suggestions would be welcome to...I'm crappy at thinking up titles and the title was the first thing that popped into my head. Anyway, thank you for reading!