Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chapter 54

So this chapter is a little different than others I've written. I kind of go back and forth between points of view a couple of times. It's also mostly dialogue with some time lapses. The best way I can describe it is if you've ever seen the episode of Gilmore Girls when it's Lorelai and Rory vs. Richard and Emily right after Rory moves out of her grandparents' house. It jumps between good moments and all out war without explaining how each scene got started. (Obviously you can tell where the inspiration came from) It's not something I plan on doing again, it just felt like it fit with the roller coaster confrontation Sidney and Tanner seemed to have coming. My apologies if it's too random for any of you!

I took a long gulp of the Captain and Diet I had in my hand. It was only 2 in the afternoon, but it was a necessary drink. I glared across the living room at Sidney who was holding a Crown and Coke. We knew that there were still things that had to be said before we’d be completely fine, and we had already started. Happy Thanksgiving, Tanner. Or not.

“You mean to tell me that you didn’t think having Tamara over here that night would piss me off as much as it did?” I questioned. Sidney returned my glare.

“I knew it would piss you off. I wanted it to piss you off. I just didn’t foresee the rest of the shit that happened that night,” he replied evenly.

“Are you referring to cooking for her when you’ve never cooked for me, or for drinking my bottle of wine?”

“I sent her down to grab a bottle. What were the odds that she would grab that one? I never even looked to see what she’d brought up. I just let her open it and pour a couple of glasses. I had no idea which bottle it was until you yelled at me about it.”

“You couldn’t even be bothered to check?!”

“To be honest, I forgot it was out there with the rest. It never occurred to me that there was a chance she would have chosen that one.”

“Oh, I see. Anything that represents my winning fight over cancer isn’t meaningful.”

“You’re putting words in my mouth!”

“Then use different words!”

“Are you kidding me right now?”

“Does it look like I’m kidding?”

“It looks like you’re looking for someone else to blame this fight on, instead of placing any of it on yourself.”

“You can fuck off with that statement!”

“Prove me wrong.”

Sidney looked over at Tanner, curled up in his arms. She lifted her head to look into his eyes. He couldn’t help but smile down at her. She was back home and was his again. He’d never complain about that. She stretched her neck up so that her lips met his and he kissed her back. She tasted like Captain, but he couldn’t complain about that either. He probably tasted like Crown.

“I missed you this past month,” she told him. His smile grew.

“I missed you this past month, too.”

“I felt like my life was over without you in it.”

“I know exactly what you mean.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“Did you see how long my hair has gotten?” He couldn’t stifle the laugh.

“I did notice, actually.”

“I still have to wear a wig, but it’s coming back.”

“I don’t mind the wigs.”

“It’s still too short to be sure, but I don’t think it’s going to come back curly. I don’t want it to come back curly. I’ve never had curly hair and I wouldn’t know what to do with it.”

“I think you’d look beautiful no matter what your hair looked like.”

“See, this is why I love you.”

“Because I’m attracted to you?”

“No. Because you always know the right things to say.”

He grinned down at her before placing a kiss on her forehead. He placed little kisses from her forehead down to the tip of her nose, and then to her lips. She let out a soft moan when he kissed her, and it prompted him to kiss her harder. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he rolled back on top of her. He’d never complain about going round two with her so quickly, either.

I chugged the last of my third Captain and Diet and stormed out of the living room. Sometimes Sidney could be a jackass. No, an asshole. I filled up my glass half and half. I realized they were getting stronger as I drank more. They were supposed to be making this easier, but now I wasn’t so sure that they were.

“I wasn’t done talking to you!” Sidney exclaimed, walking into the kitchen. He slammed his glass down on the counter, before filling his up as well.

“I don’t give a shit. I needed another drink.”

“Yeah, we wouldn’t want you sober when we discuss you treating me like a piece of shit for the past year.”

“I’ve already told you! I had health concerns that put forgiving you on the backburner!”

“It’s not even just that. I did so much for you, and you never appreciated any of it!”

“I hated that you did all of it!”

“Are you kidding me right now?”

“I told you from the start that I was independent and I didn’t like having people do things for me that I could do for myself.”

“You couldn’t do them for yourself!”

“Oh, I could have done them without you just fine. I didn’t need you or anyone else treating me like an invalid, which is what you did!”

“I never treated you like that! All I tried to do was make a difficult time in your life just a little bit easier!”

“Well you made it harder!”

“For fucks sake, Tanner, you weren’t even going to have the surgery and get the chemo if it wasn’t for me!”

“Look at you, Mr. Big Head. Don’t flatter yourself.”

“Hey, you’re the one that told me you were going through with it because of me. I didn’t force you to say that.”

“You are completely insufferable!”

“Are you British now?”

Sidney started to laugh. He couldn’t help it. Anyone who looked at what the two of them looked like currently would have laughed too. Sidney wrapped his arms around Tanner’s waist and rested his chin on the top of her head as they gazed into the mirror at each other. They both smiled and Sidney placed a kiss on the top of her head, right on the scar from her surgery, before spinning her around to face him.

“You never cease to amaze me,” he told her. She smiled up at him.

“And you never cease to amaze me,” she returned.

They were done now. There wasn’t going to be any more fighting. He couldn’t explain how he knew that. He just knew. He had nothing left to bring up and he was sure she didn’t either. Even the air felt lighter, cleaner.

Things were normal for the first time in a year. Nothing was hanging over their heads anymore. There were no lies, no untold secrets. Tanner was healthy and gaining back her strength every day. In just a few weeks she’d be a college graduate and beginning to live her dream of working with animals. It was an incredible feeling.

“We’re good now, right?” she asked as she wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his chest.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’re better than good,” he replied.

She tipped her head up to him and stood on her tip toes to kiss him. She didn’t pull away, and he didn’t want to let her go. They had way too much time to make up for. Not just the three weeks they were apart this month, but for the past year when their relationship had to take a backseat. He was going to enjoy making up for all of that.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chapter 53

I sat with my arms crossed over my chest in a huff in Grace’s car. I’d been rudely woken up as the blankets had been torn off of me and I was pulled out of bed, landing with a thud to the floor. I’d looked up in surprise at the faces of my three now ex-friends. They’d harassed me until I’d showered and gotten dressed. Then I was literally dragged out the door and pushed into the car.

“Would you just stop?” Kelly asked from the front passenger seat. She received a glare from me in response.

“You’ll like where we’re taking you, I promise,” Lisa threw in from next to me. She received a glare as well.

“It’s time you got out of the apartment and did something besides go to class,” Grace added. That received an overdramatic sigh along with the glare.

“It’s been over three weeks, Tanner,” Hailey said through the speakerphone.

“I don’t care how fucking long it’s been since my boyfriend and I broke up. I just want to be left alone,” I hissed.

The four of them continued to talk at me for the rest of the trip, but I tuned them out. If this was some sort of intervention, they could forget about getting through to me. I wasn’t ready to pull myself out of my wallowing misery no matter what they said. I vaguely heard them making my Thanksgiving plans for me. Like I was going to do anything they suggested.

This was my Thanksgiving break from school and I was looking forward to being able to sleep in and stay in bed all day hating the world this week. Instead I was being dragged who the hell knew where and having my Thanksgiving planned out for me. If this was their way of trying to cheer me up, they were failing miserably.

“We’re here,” Kelly announced.

I didn’t care where the hell “here” was, but I looked out the window anyway. Okay, maybe this trip would help after all. If there was one place or one thing that could cheer me up even a fraction, it would be the zoo. I got out of the car with much less reluctance than I’d had getting in. Hailey called out a goodbye before Grace hung up the phone. I’d said goodbye in response, surprising myself with my less than scalding tone.

We walked through the gates and I didn’t hesitate at all. I knew where I wanted to go. My friends could do what they wanted, but I had a destination. As I walked to the polar bear exhibit I decided that I was just going to sit in one spot all day and watch them. If there was a cure for this kind of pain, the polar bears would be my only hope.

“I guess she knows where she wants to go,” I heard Lisa whisper.

I was vaguely aware of the three of them only footsteps behind me, but I didn’t respond. I felt my mood lift, just slightly as the exhibit came into view. Hell, I almost smiled. Then I froze in my tracks and that almost smile disappeared.

“What’s wrong with her?” Grace asked.

I didn’t hear if one of the other two responded. I was too distracted by the figure leaning over the rail, already watching the polar bears. My heart plunged and the tears welled up in my eyes immediately. I shook my head and closed my eyes, hoping that I was just seeing things. When I opened them back up, he was still there, only now he was standing straight up and looking right at me.

It had been exactly 24 days since Sidney and I had seen each other or spoken. They’d been the worst 24 days of my life. Each day I felt that tomorrow it’d be a little bit better, and 23 times I’d been let down when I’d woken up and still felt like I was dying. Now he was here, standing where I wanted to be standing and ruining the first moment where I hadn’t felt like the end of the world was around the corner.

“Is that-" Kelly didn’t finish the question and she didn’t require a response.

Sidney and I stood there staring at each other for what felt like an eternity. Neither of us moved or called out to the other. We just stood there surveying the other one. I felt someone’s hand on my arm and I heard a voice say something to me, but I was too caught up in my staring to know who it had been or what they had said. Then Sidney started to move towards me.

I took a quick, short breath of shock when I saw that he was moving and not just standing there. When he wasn’t moving, he seemed less like the ex that had broken my heart and more like a person I was simply having a strange reaction to. He took another few steps towards me and suddenly my brain signaled flight. I took a few steps back, nearly stumbled, and then turned.

“We have to go. Now,” I ordered. My friends didn’t respond, just followed me. I was walking as fast as I could, but Sidney must have started running, because before I knew it, he was in front of me.

“Can we talk?” he asked.

“Vocal chord wise, yes. With each other, no.” I took a step around him and continued to head for the exit.

“Wait!” he called out.

“Sidney, please. Don’t,” Lisa begged him.

“No. Enough is enough. I deserve to know what the hell happened.” I heard his response and I stopped walking. Now my brain was signaling fight. I spun around and walked right up to Sidney, stopping mere inches from him, with what I’m sure was a snarl on my face.

“You want to know what the hell happened? You lied to me, you didn’t trust me, you got petty and tried to get revenge on me, and you drank the one bottle of wine that was off limits, telling me that you didn’t give a shit about what I’d gone through with the cancer in the process. Got it?” I spat at him.

“No, that’s not good enough. That’s your side of the story. Maybe you could hear mine before you decide to throw us away,” he argued.

He wasn’t backing down like I thought he would and it only made me angrier. He should be apologizing, groveling at my feet. Instead he was challenging me. I narrowed my eyes at him and prepared for battle. If he wanted to have it out, we were going to have it out. I didn’t care where the hell we were or who was going to hear it.

“I don’t give a fuck about your side of the story. You couldn’t possibly say anything that would change how I feel. You ripped my heart out. As far as you and I are concerned, I’m done.” He didn’t say anything for a moment, and feeling victorious, I turned my back on him and began to walk away again.

“We’re not even close to done,” he called after me. I felt every muscle in my body tense up.

“Dammit, Sidney, stop!” Grace yelled.

“No! I’ve been coming here every day I’ve had time and standing outside of the polar bear exhibit just waiting for Tanner to show up because I knew she eventually would. Now I’m going to say what I have to say whether she likes it or not.” I turned back to him and launched my attack.

“You are arrogant, selfish, and a liar. Anything you say is either going to be about you or be a lie. It’s not worth it to stay here and listen because it’s going to be meaningless.” I turned my back on him once again and began to walk away, my friends right on my heels.

“And you are unappreciative, stubborn, and unforgiving!” he yelled.

My eyes widened in surprise as I stopped walking once again. He did not just say those things to me. I heard the girls gasp in shock at his statement as well. I wasn’t about to let him even try to blame what had happened to us on me. He continued to talk as I turned back to him.

“I fucked up a year ago, a fucking year ago, and I’m still paying for it! I sat by you and did everything I could to be there for you through your coma, your rehab, and the cancer. I hoped that maybe that would prove to you how much I love you and show you that I was sorry. You’re unappreciative of everything I’ve done for you and how much I’ve worried about you, too stubborn to listen to my side of things, and too unforgiving to see that I’ve been spending the better part of the last year trying to be perfect for you!”

His words stopped me in my tracks. I took them in and replayed them in my head over and over again. I could feel tears starting to spill down my cheeks as my anger faded. The pain and misery of the past 24 days was back, multiplied by a million. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“Let’s just go,” Kelly whispered to me. I shook my head.

“No. Not yet.”

“Tanner,” Lisa pleaded. I pulled my arm out of Kelly’s grasp and looked back at Sidney.

“No. He’s right. On almost all of it, he’s right. I am unappreciative and stubborn.”

Sidney looked surprised at my admission. I could tell he’d been prepared for more fighting, but not for this. He wasn’t alone. I wasn’t prepared for the anger to be gone either. It was much easier to be angry than it was to be put in your place.

“You’re wrong about one thing though. I’m not unforgiving. I told you that I needed time to figure things out after I found out you lied to me, but I never got any. I was in an accident that put me into a coma. When I woke up I was just grateful to be alive and to have you there. Then it was rehab and trying to walk again. Then it was cancer. When all of that was finally over and normal life was back, I guess I realized that I hadn’t really thought about it and figured it out. It had just been put on the backburner because of health reasons. I’m sorry, Sid, it wasn’t fair to you, but I wasn’t unforgiving on purpose.”

The tears came harder now, and were streaming down my face. I was so emotionally exhausted from the past year as it was, and now adding in how awful I’d been to the person I loved most in life was killing me. It looked to me like all the fight had gone out of Sidney as well and he didn’t seem to know what to do. To be fair, neither did I.

“I’ve been so scared this past year. I thought I lost you in the accident and then with the cancer. I think every time I even so much as heard you sniffle I thought it was happening all over again. I was overprotective. Maybe I should have backed off a bit and given you the time.”

I felt like we were at a standstill. Everything was out there in the open. There was nothing left that was hidden. Now we just had to take what was there and find a way to sort it out. I just didn’t know what that meant. I wiped away some tears, only to have them replaced by more. I was sick of crying. No matter what happened, I needed to figure it out, so the crying could stop.

“So what now?” I asked him. He looked at me for a while, not responding. I waited to hear what he wanted.

“Now you come home,” he finally said.

For the first time in 24 days, I felt myself smile. It was small, but it was there. The crying didn’t quite stop, but this time I didn’t hate the tears that were coming. Sidney closed the distance between us and wrapped his arms around me. I clung to him and buried my head in his shoulder until I finally did stop crying. I lifted my head to look up at him and he pressed his forehead to mine.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered.

“I’m sorry, too,” he returned.

He kissed me and I felt things just melting away. I knew as I kissed him back that I’d completely forgiven him about lying to me a year ago. I also knew that while we may still have some things to talk about and work out, we were going to be okay. I was finally going to see what it was like to have a boyfriend I loved who loved me back, in a life that wasn’t full of chaos. I looked forward that more than I could describe.