Screwing With My Ability to Mope
That Friday night before I was supposed to go to over to my parents for lunch, I sat up in my room, opened my computer to my saddest playlist, and plugged in my headphones.
It was pathetic, I knew, but it was a ritual I maintained for most nights after my breakup with Jake. I would listen to the saddest songs I could find and cry about the breakup. About two weeks after Jake dumped me, I discovered the soundtrack of the movie Garden State. I wasn't really much for indie flicks, but there was a song on there called I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You.
Yeah, no kidding. How could I let something like that go?
The lyrics went something like:
If I live till I was a hundred and two.
I just don't think I'll ever get over you.
So I would basically sit in my room, curled up into a ball under my blankets, and sob. This was usually late at night, right before I fell asleep. Sometimes, I felt like the crying was cathartic. Other times, I felt like crying just made the whole thing even more painful. It was like I was reliving the whole relationship and the fact that it was all over repeatedly in my head. It also made me feel like all the song lyrics were true. That if I did live until I was one hundred and two, I would just be a pruney old cat lady still crying over Jake.
I usually kept my sobbing pretty quiet, so that Whitney, who was asleep on the bed against the other wall, was oblivious to all my crying.
Today was supposed to be another one of those crying days. Only today, something was off.
I had listened to what felt like a billion breakup songs, and yet, no tears.
Fuming, I glared up at the ceiling and wondered why I could not start sobbing yet. Every time I even felt a little bit sad, the idea that in twelve hours, I would be having lunch with my parents and a certain someone who kept popping up everywhere I went wouldn't leave my mind.
Cursing my brother, I turned over in my bed and groaned into the pillow. Was it not enough that I had to see Nick during class, all over billboards, and on TV? Andy just had to go and invite him to eat with my parents. My parents! Jake didn't even get to meet them until a good three months after we had started dating.
Ugh. I turned over to my other side and groaned into my pillow again. Stupid Nick Casbarian. His face kept popping up in my head, and it was screwing with my ability to mope.
"Arggh," I groaned.
"Alright, that's it!" Whitney sat up from her bed, startling me.
I jolted in my bed and sat up quickly. I wasn't even aware that she was in the room. For one thing, Whitney wasn't usually in bed this early on a Friday night. In fact, more often than not, she wasn't in the room at all on a Friday night.
"You're here?" I hissed, squinting at her. Whitney blinked at me, and then put her hands on her hips, swinging her hair over her shoulders as she walked over to remonstrate me, no doubt. It wasn't fair. She looked good even when she just got out of bed.
"Yes," she said, "I was here when you walked in the room without even noticing me, plugged on your headphones, and started listening to your ridiculously depressing songs."
My mouth was agape. "You know about that?"
Whitney rolled her eyes. "Of course I knew," she said. "I'm just so bad at comforting you that I'm sure I would have made it even worse if I had just walked over and told you how stupid it was that someone would even suggest the possibility of living to one hundred and two and still moping over a guy."
She had said all this very fast, but that still didn't stop me from staring at her in surprise. I was sure she had been oblivious to my sobbing all this time.
Whitney sighed, and here she actually looked quite sad as she sat on my bed, next to where I was curled up, and patted my shoulder awkwardly.
"I just thought that, after a while, you would've stopped crying," she said, looking at me sadly. "It's not that bad," I protested, hoping I didn't appear as pathetic to her as I felt sometimes about the breakup.
"It shouldn't be," my best friend replied determinedly. "He's not worth it at all."
Instinctively, I opened my mouth to protest, but Whitney cut across me before I could continue.
"Anyways, today's the first time when, instead of muffled sobs, you're making all these constipated noises."
"They're not constipated noises!" I glared at her, crossing my arms indignantly.
Whitney grinned. "So what is up, Kayla?"
I groaned, but decided that there was no use in keeping it from her. "It's that stupid Nick Casbarian!" I retorted. "He is screwing with my ability to mope!"
I could see Whitney look at me incredulously because the moonlight was shining through the blinds on our window, bathing our room with a bright glow. Her face had twisted into a curious expression. She seemed to be on the verge of saying something, paused and stopped herself, and then went on to say it anyways.
"And that's bad, because...?"
I glared at her, gritting my teeth. "It's bad because...just because!"
I couldn't think of anything good, so instead, I jumped up off my bed, grabbed a coat, and headed towards the door.
"Where are you going?" Whitney asked, sounding alarmed.
"For a walk," I muttered, wrenching the room door open.
I was more flustered than anything else. I couldn't sleep anyways, not when Nick's face kept appearing in my mind. I knew I must have looked silly, walking out of the apartment in a coat and pajama bottoms. Some of the building tenants gave me odd looks as I marched past them, but I didn't really mind. Mostly, I was just really flustered. I didn't understand why I was thinking about Nick Casbarian so much. Was it just because I was going to see him tomorrow?
It was Andy, I decided. I was determined to give him a good piece of my mind when I saw him tomorrow. Who did he think he was, messing around in my life like this? Why couldn't he just have gone back to that protective, annoying older brother that he usually was?
And to think, all I wanted tonight had been a good cry.
I had meant to take a walk around the block so that I would be less agitated and actually be able to get a good night's sleep. We lived in a part of Manhattan that was still so alive and bustling at this time of night that it was not dangerous at all. The most I ever passed were drunken college students.
"Kayla!" a couple of them waved, their words slurring as they stumbled past me. Freshmen, no doubt. I didn't even stop to chat. I was mostly focused and marching my way around the block, determined to wear off this agitation so I could finally get to bed.
As life would have it, though, my walk took way longer than I had intended.
It was more subconscious than anything else, as if my feet had a mind of their own. Somehow, I ended up in front of Nick Casbarian's building.
I cursed myself, glaring up at the building and wondering why I was here. Granted, I had even gone down to take the subway a couple of stations so I could get here, but this was just ridiculous. This was not helping me get this guy out of my head.
"Alright, Kayla," I muttered to myself, looking up at the third floor where I knew Nick was. I remembered when I was here not too long ago. In his room. On his bed. I cringed. "What is wrong with you? Do you want to talk to him or something?"
I sighed, fidgeting uncomfortably. I shifted my weight from one foot to the next and then back again, rubbing my arms up and down to try and fight the nipping cold. This was crazy. I had to go back home.
Just as I made my decision and started turning back towards the direction back to my own apartment, I saw a figure out of the corner of my eyes.
I whipped my head around, just in time to watch a leggy blonde swipe a card against the entrance pad next to the door of Nick's building and slide in.
I narrowed my eyes and moved closer to the window. I recognized the blonde. She was that girl J.C. from Nick's show, College. My jaw clenched as I remembered how she had flirted with Nick and smiled at him nonstop throughout the photoshoot. I watched as she turned a corner and disappeared out of my sight. She was wearing a skin tight black dress that certainly showed off all of her curves.
Did she live in the same building as Nick? For some reason, the thought bugged me. I shouldn't care, I knew, but I did. Then, the next thing I knew, I had slipped into the building entrance when another tenant-a lanky young man wearing a beanie hat-walked out. He doubled back to look at me, probably thinking that I didn't live in the building and regretting holding the door open for me, so I sped up my pace.
"Hey!" the guy called out, and I nearly jumped and sprinted around the corner to head down the corridor, where the elevators were.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I leaned against the wall and realized that the lanky guy had not followed me. Then, there was a Ding! and the doors in front of me opened.
A stout, middle aged woman with curlers in her hair and a basket of laundry looked up at me as the door opened.
"What floor, honey?" she said roughly, not looking at me and instead at the newspaper that she had pinched between her hand and the basket.
"Err..." I said, hesitating. Now that I was actually in Nick's building, I realized that I didn't actually know what I was planning to do. Follow J.C.? This was crazy. This was not what I was usually like. I should really probably just get back in my bed and try my best to mope.
"Are you getting in or not?" the middle aged lady huffed, shooting me an impatient glare. She had a heavy Brooklyn accent. For some reason, that had always intimidated me more than any other accent. Perhaps it was because my strict grandmother also had a Brooklyn accent. Whatever the reason, it made me shut up and step into the elevator.
"What floor?" the lady repeated, sounding a lot more impatient than before.
"Three," I muttered, sucking in a breath and looking up. The elevator was fairly clean. This was a better maintained building than the one Whitney and I lived in. Though, Nick was on a show that was generating all kinds of buzz, so he must be able to live at least a little better than we were.
The elevator door dinged again. I peered out as the doors opened. It was the third floor. Nick's floor.
"It's not gonna bite," the woman grunted, giving me a pointed look.
I smiled nervously, but stepped out nevertheless. The doors closed behind me and the lady and her laundry were gone, leaving me staring into the corridor in front of me.
There it was, Nick's door on the left side of the hallway, in the middle. Now that I was actually here, in his building, on his floor, and looking at the door to his apartment, I had a strange desire to go and knock.
Just as I was contemplating this, however, the door to Nick's apartment opened.
I gave a little yelp and practically threw myself to around the corner where the broom closet was, out of sight of the corridor. I only hoped that I was quick enough to have avoided being seen. To my surprise, as I peered in front of the corner, I saw that it was not Nick who walked out, but J.C.
She had changed out of her black dress and into a plain shirt and sweatpants. Her hair was still gorgeous nevertheless. I glared at her. What the heck was she doing at Nick's apartment? Was there something going on between the two of them? How dare he? That two-timing, back-stabbing, cheating-
I stopped myself, suddenly remembering that I had no right to be thinking any of these things. Whenever Whitney or Michael asked me about Nick, I had always adamantly denied I wanted anything to do with him. And now that I think about it, whenever I had really showed I was interested in Nick-be it at Bar Nine on that first night, at Starbucks before we went on our pseudo-date, or at Nathan Wellington's hipster party when I had given him a way too friendly greeting-it was always because Jake was around. Jake was around and I wanted to make him jealous.
A feeling of guilt washed over me, but before I had a chance to really dwell on it, a wave of annoyance quickly pushed it aside as I watched J.C. close the door behind her and head to the other end of the corridor.
Thank goodness she was taking the stairs and not the elevator, otherwise she would've seen me hiding next to the broom closet looking like an idiot.
I waited until the sound of her humming died down as she walked down the stairs, and then I pressed the elevator button to go down. I breathed a sigh of relief as I looked up at the button signifying that the elevator was coming down towards third floor now. This was not really where I had planned to end up tonight. But this was as far as it was going to go.
The elevator was on the fifth floor when I turned around to give Nick's apartment one last look.
Really shouldn't have tempted myself.
As I turned to look, I realized that J.C. had not closed the door to Nick's apartment properly. The door was ajar, just barely so, but I could tell by the angling that it was not fully closed.
I took a step away from the elevators, glancing furtively around me. No one in sight. I didn't hear J.C.'s humming either.
By the time the elevator doors opened up on the third floor (thankfully they were empty), I was already standing in front of Nick's apartment.
Raising my hand, I paused as I looked up at the spyhole. Then, I knocked.
I didn't know what I really expected, or what I would have even said when Nick answered the door. But he didn't.
I waited for a long moment, but there was no movement on the other side of the door.
"Hello?" I said unsurely, listening for a response. Nothing.
I knocked again. Still nothing.
To this day, I will never be able to explain why exactly I did what I proceeded to do. Using my index finger, I pushed the door.
It was a light push, so the door only swung open a couple of inches. I pushed again.
Finally, I had pushed the door open wide enough that I was able to slip through. The light was open in the living room. It was neat. Neater than the apartment I shared with Whitney, Tiffany, and Carla, that was for sure. But then again, Nick was new to New York. Our apartment was filled with all the junk we had accumulated over four years of college.
I looked around, recognizing some of the things in the living room. The clock on the wall was in the shape of a birdhouse. I remembered that. The towels had pears on them. There were three boxes of Cocoa Puffs on top of the fridge.
Most of the living room, I did not really recall. I had been a bit...distracted the last time I was here. I flushed at the memory. Between kissing Nick and feeling his body pressed up against mine, I had not really had much time to give myself a mental tour of the house.
My eyes fell on the counter. there wasn't much on there, but on top of a small stack of books, was a pair of glasses.
No, not glasses. Just the frames. Just the 3D glasses frames.
In spite of myself, I smiled. The moment was only fleeting, however, as I heard voices in the hallway behind me. My eyes grew wide in panic as I realized I was standing in Nick's apartment without his permission. His neighbors would think I was a thief!
Then I remembered that his neighbors wouldn't know I was here anyways because they couldn't see me. I was just about to breathe a sigh of relief when the voices grew closer.
It was Nick.
"I don't know," he was saying. "But do you really think that story line's a good idea? I know Gary's all for creating some drama...but I feel like the best friend turned boyfriend angle has been so overdone that it'll turn out horrible."
It was a girl's voice that replied. I didn't really pay attention to what she was saying because I was in full on panic mode.
I must have made ten mini dashes between the living room couch and the dining room table while gnawing my index finger raw, trying to find a place to hide. There was no way I could get out now. No way I could exit the apartment without them seeing me.
Crap. Nick was going to think I was some creepy stalker.
Wait, I paused as I thought about it. I was a creepy stalker. I had come here and basically stalked him to his apartment and then come in when he wasn't even home.
Oh my gosh, Kayla. This was not normal behavior.
Just then, I looked to the window, where the moonlight was streaming in. The fire escape! I could still get out! There was a chance Nick wouldn't think I was a total creeper.
I practically tripped myself on my sprint to the window. I doubted Olympic athletes could accomplish what I did. I jumped over a footstool, a rolled up rug, and a stack of books in the matter milliseconds. Now that was hurdles.
The window wouldn't budge.
I looked at the door in horror. I could hear their voices right outside of the door now.
"Oh," the girl's voice came, tinted with mild surprise. "I must not have closed the door properly. It's okay, I was only gone for a minute."
My eyes widened. J.C. So Nick was back here with her now?
I glanced around frantically at the room, wondering how I could hide. Then, I saw that Nick's bedroom door was slightly ajar.
I made a mad dash for it and just barely got inside when Nick and J.C. got into the apartment.
Once I was inside, I searched for a place to hide. Nick's bedroom was surprisingly devoid of hiding spaces. The only place I could really think of was under the bed. But I hated under the bed. It was probably dusty and gross.
So instead, I opened his closet door and slipped inside.
It wasn't a large closet. But still, it was large enough that I could crouch in there fairly comfortably. Nick's dress shirts tickled the top of my head. They were hung neatly on the bar. Seriously. I should have this kid teach me how to make my life neater. Looking around, I saw a laundry basket in one corner and a cardboard box in another.
I squinted at the cardboard box. Even in the dark of the closet, I could make out the large block letters on the side of the box.
I frowned at the neatly scrawled handwriting. Beth? Who was Beth?
Just as I was moving my head closer towards the box to make sure that I was reading it right, my phone chirped.
I nearly jumped up in shock and horror. I whipped out my phone as quickly as I could and hissed into it.
"Not now! Don't call! In Nick's closet!"
There was a pause, one brief moment during which I thought I might have been stupid enough to answer a phone like that without knowing who it was and it might have actually been Nick.
That would have sucked.
Thankfully, it was Michael's voice on the other end of the line.
"What the f-" I heard him say before I hung up on him, my heart pounding against my chest. I hoped that Nick and J.C. didn't hear.
I was frozen on the spot, my hands clutching my phone close to my chest and my ear pressed against the closet door. The muffled voices outside Nick's room died down, and then, I could hear J.C.'s voice quite distinctly, sounding alarmed.
"Do you hear something?" she asked.
Nick's answer was muffled. He didn't seem as concerned. Still, that didn't assuage her fears.
"No, I think it's coming from your room. I'm going to go check."
I panicked, thinking frantically of how to get out of this one. Just as I was simultaneously thinking about making a mad dash for it and hiding myself in Nick's hamper, however, the closet door opened.
And I found myself staring right up into J.C.'s shocked face.
So much for just sitting home and moping tonight.
A/N: Thanks for the reviews and comments and keep letting me know if you have suggestions/ideas for what you think the characters should look like!