3. Not Perfect (but no cats yet)
New York, NY - 2013
I dropped my book bag onto the entryway tile, quickly kicking to door shut with my foot, while frantically scrambling for my phone that was lodged somewhere in the abyss that was my purse. I was hoping it was him as I hadn't heard from him since Sunday.
"Hello?" I said quickly as soon as I had located my phone.
"Hi Andi, It's Luce," my friend since high school announce and I must have let out a little sigh inadvertently because she immediately asked if it was a bad time.
"No, no, it's fine—I just was hoping it was Alexander that's all," I told her.
"Oh, is he away again?"
"Yeah, but don't sound down on my account, it's honestly fine," I told her, picking my bag up from the floor and placing my textbooks on the table.
"And school how is school? Do you feel old as mud?" she asked me with a light giggle.
"Oh, let's not even talk about that, my lab partner is 18 and she is in her second year, I guess she graduated early or something but honestly I almost cried right there." I told her dryly, pulling an onion out of the fridge and then getting my wok ready with oil.
"It will get better, what does Alexander think?" Lucy asked.
"Well, that was a fun time had by all." I snorted, as I diced the onion and then scraped it into the fry pan with the edge of my knife causing a mad sizzle, "But eventually he said he wasn't sure why I felt I needed to go back to school but he supported my decision," I explained pulling a bag of frozen stir fry out of the freezer.
"He'll come around," she told me.
"He doesn't understand why taking the odd role isn't enough for me, I don't really blame him, I mean, all my school years I just wanted to get out and become that starlet every little actress dreams of being…" I trailed off with a laugh. "I guess the school thing was kind of a whim that just snowballed, but he went to film school—if I'm honest, I really had envisioned a little more support," I told her feeling my eyes swell up with stupid tears that I thought I was over. I wished I could blame them solely on the onions frying.
"He's more than likely just jealous you can't be on set all the time, he'll warm up to it," she told me.
"Well, it better be soon! I'll be starting semester and I'm really hoping that he starts to because it's a long way to go before I graduate and I haven't told him yet but my degree is practically junk mail without a masters," I sighed.
"He'll come around, I know he will," she assured.
"How's your mom?" I asked while cubing a brick of tofu.
"Ahh, the budding psychologist already," I could tell that she was smiling by her tone.
"Pssh, your mom is not crazy. She is lovely and free spirited, I remember her letting us eating ice-cream bars until we could hardly walk," I laughed.
"I remember you saying you were going to puke nearly the whole bike ride back to your house and that you weren't sure how you'd be able to eat the dinner your mom made—not exactly a shining example of parenting by Mrs. Nakamura," Lucy stated.
"Hey, I don't know, I never over ate on ice cream after that," I laughed. "Your mom is like, I don't know she's one of a kind," I smiled, and then my phone buzzed again. "Oh Luce, can I call you another time? I have a call waiting and it might be Alexander," I explained.
"Oh, definitely, talk soon!" she promised.
"Absolutely! Bye, and hi to Tyler," I exclaimed before ending the call.
"Hello?" I asked hopeful once more.
"Hi Sis, it's Kate—Are you sitting down?" I heard through the line.
"Shit, what's happened?" I hissed out, the wooden spoon I had been using to stir with hitting the floor as I panicked.
"Calm down, it isn't serious, well it isn't that serious—I, have uh, have you been watching the news lately?" Kate asked.
"I heard the traffic report on the radio on the way to class does that count?" I hissed out, picking up the spoon and running under the tap. "Seriously, you almost gave me a heart attack and then you ask if I've been watching the news? I've been busy; I have six classes and two labs! What gives?"
"I know, I know, I'm sorry, I was just nervous and I wasn't sure how to say this, but I should just say it, I guess, before I scare you more—the entertainment news channel just did a blurb about your husband and Aubrey Madison— is something going on that I should know about?" she asked.
"No, of course not. He is directing a film she wrote," I told her.
"Are you guys going through a hard time? They said you and Alexander have been fighting since April of last year and that you aren't attending awards shows or even keeping up the appearance of living together." She relayed.
I was slightly stunned.
"I mean a lot of couples have a rough go now and then," I told her.
"I know, mom and dad did, so did Auntie Denise and Uncle Dave, I know, but I was just worried that you'd be all 'I'm fine' when you weren't and that you wouldn't reach out for help if you needed it," she told me.
My little sister was sounding a lot like my mother, it was pretty heartbreaking.
"Look Kate, Alexander and I are fine— nowhere close to perfect but trust me he lives here. He's working on a project in Anaheim right now. I made the choice to have our main house in New York and to start school here; his needing to be away is the cost of that choice."
"Okay, I mean I know those shows run crap all the time but I don't know, I just felt worried all of the sudden and I'm sorry for alarming you, I just thought, maybe, yeah, sorry."
"Oh, my onions are burning!" I moaned removing them from the heat.
"Oh, sorry, this is my fault," she echoed.
"No, it's fine, I'm going to have cereal instead," I told her dousing the onion pan thoroughly with water and leaving the pan in the sink. I threw the veggies back in the freezer and the tofu into a container and put it in the fridge, while swapping it for the milk jug. "Besides, I've been meaning to call you and see how senior year is going."
"School is fine, Mason on the other hand is being a total ass lately—maybe that's why I was all worried about your love life—maybe I'm just projecting my problems onto you," she told me with a sigh.
"Careful, you'll end up as a psych major if you keep up that kind of talk," I teased talking a bite of my mini wheats.
"I'm crazy stressed but I've picked out my prom dress," she told me.
"Ooh! Well, you'll have to text me the picture," I smiled and with that we settled in and talk for almost two hours about this and that and mostly steered clear of things love life related.
It placed a spark of doubt—Kate's questions and the fact that I hadn't talked to my husband since he landed safely in LA raised my concerns.
I probably shouldn't have done it. I googled our names together and the list was pure torture, seemed like we were already over according to every media source going. I still knew that it wasn't right, that the media didn't know us—didn't know the first thing about us. But then I searched her name with his. I really shouldn't have done it; I knew it before I clicked the search tab. She was stunning, I had heard that she was pretty but the girl was flawless, and here I thought writers were bookish. They went to lunch at my favorite restaurant in LA and had been seen together all over the city. Headlines corresponded with the pictures of the two of them, "real romance or rebound girl" really put me over the edge. I wasn't sure what pissed me off more, the fact that this was my husband they were speculating about or the fact that he looked really happy in the photographs.
The night wasn't a pretty picture, sobbing then trying to read a textbook and then pretending to read a textbook and then more sobbing when I realized I couldn't ignore the hurt any longer. Finally I gave up and went to bed.
My phone buzzed, rousing me. I hardly had the foggiest where I was and not surprisingly I hadn't a clue where the phone was.
"Just shut up," I moaned into my pillow. It was two in the morning, I realized looking bleary eyed at our digital clock, maybe it was important.
"What is it? What's wrong?" I asked, quickly into the receiver.
"I woke you up didn't I? Sorry, I forgot about the time change,"
I let out a huff of frustration.
"My agent just told me that this project is drawing in a shitstorm of crazy press so just be aware alright?"
"Yeah, I'll try to believe only half of what I see, and nothing that I hear," I stated.
"I'm sorry?" he asked without hesitation.
"Edger Allen Poe," I told him sourly, "I'm going back to sleep now, good night."
"Is there a problem that I'm not aware of?"
"I don't know, is there a problem that I'm not aware of?" I retorted.
"No, not that I'm aware of,"
"Well, good then. I guess we will talk in another three—four days, but maybe at a decent hour 'kay hun?" I asked sounding obnoxiously chipper and sickly sweet. My tone sickened me, so I could only imagine how Alexander was taking it.
"What's happening here?" he asked.
"I'm not having this conversation over the phone," I told him emphatically.
"What conversation?" he demanded sounding incredibly frustrated.
"Whatever conversation we need to be having," I stated.
"Are you drunk?"
"No," I scoffed, "I'm not drunk, wow…just wow. I've got to go, before I say something I'll probably regret," I told him before hanging up the phone.
I laid back into the pillows, buried my face in our down comforter and then cried some more.
I knew I needed to pull myself together and be an adult, even if my conversation with my husband had been anything but mature.
I was choking down my cereal in a rush to get to a study session in good time when Alexander walked in through the front door.
Then I was practically choking in shock.
"What are you doing here?" I sputtered.
"We need to talk," he told me.
"I need to get to a group study session, I can't do this now," I stated, as much as I knew he was right, I knew inside that I more than likely couldn't handle what he had to say.
"I took a red eye in and spent two hours in a cab. I've never been more serious in my life. We need to talk—don't shrug this off,"
"I—I" this was going to be harder than I thought. "Am I just the last to know?"
"I'm sorry?" he asked looking as confused as he sounded over the phone last night.
"Are we really over and I'm the only one clueless?"
"If that's the case that consider me equally out of the loop," he told me his eyes looked anxious as if he was trying desperately to read me and understand whatever 'this' was.
"So, we aren't some experiment that's flopped?" I asked.
"Please tell me what is going on," he urged, looking about as sad as I had ever seen him.
"I thought we just hit a rough patch, that things would be better soon. I don't know maybe I'm naïve. I knew you weren't all that enthusiastic about the school thing but I didn't think it would make a difference long-term. I didn't think you were so upset that I was unwittingly trading school for you." I scoffed.
"What are you talking about? I'm not upset about school, sure I wish it didn't monopolize your time but I know it makes you happy and so I'm happy for that. You certainly haven't lost me; I'm right here and I love you more than life itself."
"What about Aubrey Madison?" I asked feeling fresh tears spring from my eyes and I asked the question in a very shaky tone.
"Aubrey Madison? I'm directing her screenplay," he stated looking at me as if I had seven eyes and three heads.
"You took her to Madeo Restaurant!" I told him, "and that's my favorite," I squeaked as if it made sense of everything.
"No, I went to Madeo because I was invited there and we ate lunch with her manager Lucas,"
"He wasn't in the pictures," I protested.
"What would you like me to say? Apparently my word on the subject means absolutely nothing," he countered.
"And there were pictures of you with her all around LA," I informed him.
"She wasn't sold on some of the original locations in Anaheim, we were scouting to see if there was anything closer to what she had envisioned," he explain. "Call Max, ask him. It was his idea that we check out Greystone Mansion, I thought it was trite and overdone but we are still waiting to hear if she liked it, but she likes the Santa Monica Pier, so I won't be shocked if she goes for Greystone as well and luckily for me, both will be a complete hassle to shoot" he told me with an eye roll.
"So, you don't like her?" I asked feeling almost tipsy with the odd sensation the question brought.
"I like her. As a person, she's fine, but seriously Andi, do you actually believe I would cheat on you?" he asked and the emotion in his tone brought me back to reality.
"I didn't want to believe it, I just felt this flicker of doubt and it grew. I guess I just thought that maybe our lives were becoming too different. I couldn't help but think that you and her would have more in common, that you'd be more compatible, and she's beautiful and the media love her work. I imagined you brainstorming together and writing something fantastic and sharing one brain, and you and I, well, we don't share one mind, maybe we did once but…" I breathed out feeling really tired all of the sudden. "We've been off. Admit it, we've been off for a while," I offered with a glum shrug. "And then I was trying to talk to you and get to the bottom of things last night and you ask me if I'm drunk? What the hell was that about?" I hissed getting a second wind suddenly.
"Can you blame me? I was so confused by it all—nothing you were saying was making sense to me—I had zero context and your behaviour seemed entirely out of the blue."
"So, this is my fault?" I asked sound more dull and sullen than ticked off.
"Andi are we seriously going to sit here and argue about whose fault this is?"
I sighed, threading my fingers through my roughly tangled hair simply to have some task to occupy them.
"I love you," he groaned out. "I thought you knew that," he stated, his eyes looking miserable.
"But you didn't call me," I explained.
"You told me you were writing exams and lab finals this week, I didn't want to disturb your studying." he shot back.
"You thought radio silence for three; no four days would be less disturbing?" I demanded.
"I didn't call, I was trying to be helpful, if you wanted to talk the phone works both ways," he defended.
"I thought you were just busy," I told him, "I thought you couldn't spare the time and part of me just wanted to know how long it would take before you actually missed me enough to bother," I sobbed out.
"Andi, I miss you every second I'm not with you," he bit out looking quite honestly more upset than loving in that moment.
"I'm sorry," I offered hardly able to meet his eyes.
"For?" he asked sounding very quiet, almost as if he thought he was poking a tiger.
"I'm sorry for doubting you," I told him, but things didn't feel entirely fixed with the words. "I guess I'm just struggling to understand what is keeping us together,"
I have never seem him look livid, he looked positively enraged at my words.
"Have you given up on us?" he demanded.
"No, I just wan—" he cut me off.
"I wrote Angélique for you and you still haven't watched it all the way through because you don't like subtitles" he hissed. "but I haven't given up on you, don't you dare give up on us."
"I thought you wrote that about your mother?" I replied "and I didn't finish it because you let it slip that Angélique dies in the end and I didn't want to see that, and if you really wanted me to understand it, you could have written it in English!"
"I wrote it for you when I was in France after I realized that I loved you, and in French because, I don't know it seemed romantic at the time, but don't you dare turn it into so messed up, sick, Freudian thing by making it about my mother," he all but yelled at me.
I took a calming breath. "I only thought it was for your mother because you told me her name was Russian for Angelina and I know she also died, and in my defense you never told me it was specifically written for me, so how the heck was I supposed to know?" I stated.
There was a few minutes or what felt like minutes of silence.
"Any other pressing grievances?" I questioned. "Because heaven forbid I don't see something you wrote, as if millions of other people don't count unless I see it," I scoffed
"That's right. They don't count. No one else counts, don't you understand that?" he demanded.
And just like that I knew how deranged I'd been to doubt him. He looked so angry, so passionate, so insistent that I believe and understand him. In that moment, I knew it was real. That he really did love me more than life itself.
"I'm sorry, can we just—I'm so tired" I told him, not bothering to explain that I had cried almost all night.
"I love you so much—it scares me sometime how much I love you—I never thought I would be able to truly care this much—to feel this much for another person. If that doesn't come across, if you ever doubt it…I'll try to communicate it better, you shouldn't have to read subtitles to know how I feel," he told me running his hands down my arms in soft sweeping motions.
"I'm sorry for doubting you, I mean, I guess deep down I'm just really scared that someday you'll wake up and realized you could do so much better than a washed up actress/first year psychology student," I admitted pressing into him for a hug admitting that last bit into his collarbone.
"I'll never stop loving you," he told me, "I'll become one of those really morbidly sad people that isolates from the world and simply dwells on what was and should have been, if you ever leave me," he stated earnestly.
"Would you own cats?" I asked with a little giggle, rubbing my fingers into his hair.
"Probably, but only for the torture of it, as I am allergic to them and I feel they equally despise me…I'd clean the litter box and think of how brutal my existence had become, and I'd miss you with every dying breath," he said kissing my neck.
"I love you, if I have my way you'll never be reduced to owning cats," I promised as he shifted his weight to I was press between him and the kitchen counter.
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