David sat in his chair, a drink in his hand, lights turned off, and remote in his other hand, when there was a knock on his door. He sat his drink down, “it's open” he yelled as he muted the TV with a sigh.
His cousin’s wife Ann walked in, slightly taken back by his appearance, and sat down across from him as she tried not to show it, “So….how’s it going?” he noticed her glance around the room.
He grinned, likely for the first time in days, “Really? That’s what you are going with… ‘how’s it going’ he paused, “You do realize how lame that is, right?!”
She, reached for his drink, leaned back in the chair, “yeah whatever …the point is still the same, how are you?” She took a sip of his drink, “Pepsi?”
“I’m not over here drinking myself into a stupor, I’m better than that.” She raised an eyebrow, “yeah, ok I’m not, but you caught me on a good night. I spent a full week completely toasted and it didn’t help so I’m trying the other spectrum.” Then he smirked again, “Yes, you may have some of my drink. Since you asked.”
“There he is, that’s who I’ve been looking for.” She handed him back his drink, “Look I know this isn’t easy, I guess the reason I’m here, is to ….” She paused, leaned forward, placed her hand on his knee “I’m here.”
“I know. I appreciate it, really I do.” He looked towards the TV as the show he was watching started to come back on, “Wanna watch with me?” He half hoped she’d decline and leave and the other part of him hoped she’d stay. He wasn’t sure which part he wanted to win, but it was kind of nice talking to someone, he had forgotten what his voice sounded like.
She didn’t answer, but got up and moved to sit in the chair closer to him and reached for his hand. He took it and squeezed it as they settled in to watch.
A few months ago, if she had come by, there would have been food in the kitchen, music playing from the stereo, or more likely his phone, and the TV would have been long forgotten. A few months ago, he was happy, he was engaged to the most beautiful woman in the world and had his entire life planned out ready for him to live it. A few months ago, she wouldn’t have come over alone, but would have brought his cousin, Chris, with her and they would have spent an evening in conversation, laughter, and fun games. A few months ago, everything was different.
He remembered the first time he brought Karen home to meet Chris and Ann. He wasn’t sure who was more nervous Ann or Karen. He laughed a little to himself when he remembered telling Karen afterwards that he would have won that title easily as they made their way home. They had been dating for nearly a year, but he didn’t want to introduce her until he knew he they were serious about each other. Why put her through the scrutiny if she wasn’t the one he reasoned. They walked in the house and Chris was outback grilling steaks. Ann handed Karen a glass of wine and sent David outside, “Go she’ll be fine… I don’t bite …hard!” He glanced at Karen who replied, “I have no problem biting back!” Both laughed, and he kissed her on the head as he went towards the back door. As she closed it behind him he yelled, “Best behavior Ann!”
“What’s that about?” Chris said looking up.
“I think I was kicked out of your house so your wife could interrogate my date!”
He laughed, “You really should have seen that coming!” then turning to the mini fridge on the deck, “Have a beer.” “So…..”
David laughed, “So…..” They have always had very easy conversation often holding long conversations barely saying a word to one another. They were roughly the same age with Chris being 6 months older, but David was taller. They were as close as brothers and despite the fact they had different moms looked like brothers too. “She’s a great girl, you are going to like her. If you don’t … keep it to yourself”
He flipped the steaks, “Deal.” They both knew that Ann was the camel, if Karen didn’t win her over then it was an uphill battle no matter who else liked her. They talked football while waiting on the steaks to finish. David kept glancing through the window to see the two laughing with one another.
It was a wonderful night, a little awkward at times, but everyone seemed to get along and that’s what was important to David. He didn’t need them to all be best friends out of the gate, but he needed them to all get along since they would spent a lot of time together down the road. At one point he saw Chris grinning at Karen as she told a story about her dog and he caught Amy grinning at him with a small nod of approval at what she was hearing. They would become fast friends and the four of them became very close in a short span of time. When David finally popped the question Amy was the first person Karen told, Chris having already known for weeks that it was coming.
They both watched in silence as the comedy on TV played out in front of them, he was starring at the box but not really taking it in and she kept stealing glances at him. She also noticed a pile of mail unopened, and a computer covered in a thin layer of dust. He was nesting and had cut himself off from everything even she and Chris. The cell phone, that she has been desperately trying to connect with him late laid discarded on the other side of the room, she couldn’t tell if it still had battery or not. He looked good, tired, but good. She glanced at him again and this time he caught her, “Chris said to say hi if I got to talk to you. So "HI!" He’s working tonight but … well he’s worried about you too. We’ve been trying to call but you aren’t answering.” Gesturing to the phone, “You can’t do that you know.”
“I do.” As he continued to stare at the TV. “I haven’t had much to say, and then my phone died. It was nothing personal, honest.”
She ignored that, “There’s this cool device they have now, I’ll see if I can get you one, you plug one end into the wall and the other end into your phone and like magic it keeps it charged for you so that the battery won’t die.” She smiled as the said it hoping he’d laugh.
“I’ve heard of those, there might be one around here somewhere, seemed easier to not though.” He didn’t laugh.
The show came back on and she was lost in thought. This had been going on for over a month and frankly it scared her.
No matter what has happened in their lives they’ve dealt with it together, Chris was his rock and she knew David was Chris’ rock. If they weren’t going to reach out to one another she’d be that bridge. She had the night free and decided she’d come over. Not really expecting to find this. She didn’t know what to expect, but it wasn’t this. She knew he was hurting, she knew he was pulling away she didn’t know what to do about it. She wished Chis was here, he told her to give him time. “He’ll come to us when he’s ready Amy, you have to respect that.”
She glanced around the room again only to realize that any remembrance of her was gone, no photographs, no books, no clothing. A shadow box that she made after their last vacation was gone from the wall. Then she noticed the boxes in the hallway. He had purged her from the house. She felt helpless to help him through this and felt as his friend it was her duty to see him to the other side of his heartbreak, somehow.
Shortly after college Amy and Chris broke up, they fought for weeks before deciding that it was just too much effort to be together. They boxed up their stuff and went their separate ways figuring they’d never see one another again. She moved in with her best friend from College until she figured out what to do next. They were having dinner one night when a knock at the door scared them both since they weren’t expecting anyone.
She was shocked to see David behind the peep hole. He knew she was looking and waved. She opened the door but didn’t invite him in as it started to rain.
“Hey…” he said as he buried his hands in his jacket pockets. “I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d come by and see how you were doing.” She didn’t say anything so he just stood there as it started raining harder, “Um… can I come in ?”
“Oh yeah of course, please come in. We were just eating dinner, it’s just spaghetti but would you like a plate?!” As she moved out of the way to let him in.
“No, I’m good I’ve already eaten, I didn’t mean to interrupt your dinner, please sit back down and eat while it’s hot.” He pulled her chair back out and gestured to her to sit down. She took her seat her friend still sitting in hers. No way in the world was she leaving this conversation if she could help it.
“So….how’s it going?” she grinned as she took a big bite.
“I’m good, work is good, life is good …… look … I’m not going to waste your time. Is it really over…. Cause … Chris is a mess. He’s angry with himself that you guys go to this point but he has no idea how to make this better cause you won’t talk to him. What can we do to fix this?”
“Hey I’m part of this relationship too, I introduced you guys after all. If you don’t make it my relationship quota goes back down to none. I have a reputation I’m trying to build here.”
She smiled and put her fork down, “look David, I appreciate…”
He cut her off, “no …. No I won’t leave here without a solution for this. The two of you belong together, he’s an idiot and no one knows that better than me. He’s a better man when you are around, he thinks more about the world, he’s more focused and driven when you are around. He needs you. He can’t breathe when you aren’t around, he’s constantly at near panic attack mode. I’m not saying that’s a positive, but it’s the truth. I hate seeing him like this and I know the solution is you two getting back together. I know you guys have problems, but if you can’t work them out what’s the hope for the rest of us? He makes you better too by the way. He relaxes you, he shows you there is more to life than work and you need him too. Will you just talk to him and see if there’s anything there to salvage?!”
She was taken back by his bluntness, she glanced at her friend who shrugged, “He’s not wrong. You guys are great together and short of something catastrophic you should at least try to work it out.”
He walked over to her friend, “I like her, why don’t we hang out with her more.”
She didn’t know what to say. She still loved Chris and David was right she needed him as much as he needed her. When she didn’t reply he got down on his knee to be on her level, “what was the fight about?” she honestly couldn’t remember. “Please Ann just have coffee with him. Tomorrow 9am?”
She agreed, and they got back together around 9:05 and were married a few months later. David, the best man, gave a fantastic speech about how he made this night happen and was solely responsible for their happiness which made the room laugh and the two of them nod in agreement. She had looked forward to watching him on this journey finding the love of his life, marriage, kids, and felt cheated that he wasn’t going to have that at least for now. There had been other girlfriends but none that made his face light up the way Karen did. None who put that sparkle in his eye just by saying her name in his presence.
The show continued, neither really caring about the show, but it gave them a chance to talk during commercials and not have to deal with awkward pauses. When the show ended she squeezed his hand again, “well I’m going to go, please charge your phone, and check in every once in a while.”
She walked over to his phone and plugged it in for him, then started out the door when he said quietly, “it’s all my fault.”
“I’m sorry what?”
“It was …. my fault.”
“Please do not be stupid, you can’t possibly think that is true.” As she made her way back over to him.
“She was due to come home two days later. I missed her. I asked her to come home early. Had I never called her on that stupid phone, she’d be sitting here with us now.” That was the first time he said out loud the words that had been bouncing around in his head for weeks. “I was bored and missed her and now I’ll never talk to her again.” She wrapped him in her arms, no words for him as he sobbed into her shoulder.
She had no idea how to react “Darlin, you can’t do that to yourself.” He lifted his head and looked her in the eyes, “how can I not?” tears streaming down his face.
Seeing that face she was reminded of the day he got the call, on the same phone she suddenly realized that she had just set to charge. He had joined them for lunch after church and was about to leave to go pick her up at the airport when his phone rang. She and Chris were arguing about something, she couldn’t remember what now, and when he answered they both sensed the room change. He turned white as a ghost, grabbed Chris’ shoulder, said he’d be right there. The two of them took off out the door without speaking, she ran to grab her shoes to join them. By the time she got to the door they were gone. Chris told her later how awful it was walking into the hospital looking for Karen only to be told she had just taken her last breath. They were told that the pilot over shot the runway and the plane crashed as it was trying to land, there were few survivors. They missed talking to her by less than 5 minutes. A few months ago, everything was different now it may never be the same.
You know ... I'm not sure why most of my stories end with someone leaving or dying but there ya go.... What did you all think?