Authors: Ellie J. LaBelle
2016 Ellie J. LaBelle
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Published: Ellie J. LaBelle 2016
Editing: Brooke LeBeau
Proofreaders: Samantha Romand and Martha Aman
Cover Design: Ellie J. LaBelle
She’s so smart and independent; I don’t think she needs me quite half as much as I know I need her.
“Simon, could you please just bring the clothes up from the basement?”
he mumbles, clicking fiercely at the Xbox controller.
I insist, walking in front of the TV.
he shouts with wide eyes but I stand my ground. Rapid gunshots followed by a groan come out of the speakers and I step to the side to see his player’s body fly backward onto the ground. I smirk, satisfied with his death, I mean, player’s death. “I was so close to beating my record,
he whines. I simply shake my head and start toward the basement to fetch the laundry. There’s no use waiting for Simon to do it.
The clothes are piled high as I have been putting off cleaning until after exams. They don’t mess around in med school and I’ve been spending every free second in the library with my nose buried in text books. Simon, on the other hand, has spent every free minute with his eyes glued to
Call of Duty
, or maybe it’s
, I don’t know.
The basket is heavy as I lug it from step to step, nearly tumbling down the stairs a few times. “Can you help me fold these?
I ask with a huff. Glancing over at the couch, I notice that Simon has already started another game but added noise canceling headphones to drown out my voice.
Our New York apartment is small but full of my tender loving care. I spent hours picking out everything in it to make sure it feels like home, right down to the hand soap dispensers. After the laundry is put away, I move toward the kitchen to start preparing dinner. Contemplating the simplest option, I decide on chili, pouring all of the ingredients in a big pot before stirring it and setting the stove to simmer.
I curl up on my favorite plush chair and dive into a book while waiting for the chili to be done. I’m fairly sure Simon hasn't even noticed my existence in the living room yet. For a fiancé, he’s kind of good at ignoring me. I understand that we’ve known each other for five years but isn’t this supposed to still be the honeymoon stage?
We met in our undergraduate years at Columbia. I had just decided on studying medicine and Simon was an all-American lacrosse prodigy. As a pretty decent dancer from kindergarten through twelfth grade, I went out for the dance team and landed a full ride and a free place to live. One year all of the girls decided we were going to watch a school game from every sport, tennis to squash. That was when I saw him. His broad shoulders and toned legs were a sight to behold. The smile on his face while he played was infectious and I found myself immediately drawn to him.
That was all before he tore his ACL. Since then he has gained about fifty pounds and filled out considerably. He was so devastated and self-conscious about it but I assured him that I didn't care. He was still the same dreamer I’d fell in love with, that is, until recently.
Simon tried to take up new hobbies. He even switched his major to sports broadcasting. I tried to encourage him all along the way but he just became more and more distant as his career in professional lacrosse flew out the window. It was heartbreaking and slightly annoying to watch him give up.
The timer dings and I get up to check on the chili. I blow on the spoon before taking a bite and groan at how delicious it is. The foodgasm in my mouth is the closest I’ve come to that kind of pleasure in, say, six months. It’s kind of ridiculous to go that long without sex when you sleep next to a perfectly viable candidate.
“Did you make chili?
Simon asks, walking into the kitchen. Oh sure, I have his full attention when food is involved. “Where’s the bread?”
“I didn’t make it to the store. Cleaning took longer than I thought it would.”
He shakes his head in disappointment and it takes everything in me not to flick a spoonful of steaming hot chili in his face. In spite of not having any bread, Simon takes an enormous bowl (one reserved for chips or communal pasta salads) and fills it to the brim. We sit at the kitchen table and I watch as he woofs down half of his dinner in seconds flat.
“What do you want to do tonight?
I ask with hopeful eyes, wanting to go out and rejoice my newfound freedom.
“I was going to finish playing and then I’ll probably go to bed,
“Well, it’s my first free night now that exams are over and I want to celebrate,
“I don’t really want to,
I ask with a slight pout in my lip.
“I’m too tired.”
“You were sitting on the couch all day. How can you be tired?
I feel the anger rise up in me and have to take a few deep breaths to calm down.
“I just don’t feel like it,
he says defensively.
“Whatever, I’ll go with Francesca.”
I stand abruptly, letting the chair scrape against the floor. Dropping the bowl in the sink, I huff as I walk into the bathroom and start a hot shower. It wouldn’t bother me that Simon is still upset if he at least
to do something. When he just sits there all day playing video games and inhaling soda, I have a hard time feeling bad for him. I must have the patience of a saint because I’ve been watching him do this for nearly two years and I’ve never once called him out on it. He needs time to heal, I understand that, but I’m not going to sit around while he rains on my parade.
Francesca squeals from across the dim lit bar. If you’re ever feeling down and want someone who will make you feel like the most important person in the world, Francesca is your girl. We were on the dance team together and on the first day of our freshman year, without having ever met, we performed the dance from Napoleon Dynamite in perfect synchronization as an ice breaker in front of the entire team. We’ve been inseparable ever since.
“How is the company?
I ask with a wide smile.
“I’m freaking Vanessa’s understudy for
. Can you believe it? She only got the part because she is sleeping with the director.”
“You know, I can think of a few ways Vanessa mysteriously breaks her legs,
I suggest with a mischievous grin as I sip my martini.
Francesca eyes my curiously.
“For example, a sandbag might fall out of nowhere and land right on her mid-pirouette.”
Phantom of the Oper
style, I like it,
Our laughter relaxes me substantially. As irritated as I’ve been with school and work, the summer is here and I get a few months to rest. My job at the university ends when the semester is over so as soon as final exams finish I’m left with nothing to do. I tap my foot at the thought of having to watch Simon play games and lounge around for three months.
“Will you stop thinking about that dickwad fianc
Francesca says, rolling her eyes.
“Stop calling him that,
I say, swatting her on the shoulder.
“I call it like I see it,
she shrugs. “You’ve been so low the past few months and I know he isn't helping.”
“I’m fine, I just don’t have anything to do over summer vacation. I still have, like, a billion more years of med school, and I just want to have fun while I still can.”
“You know I’d spend every last minute with you if I could,
she says with sad eyes.
“Stop with the pouting, I know you are realizing your dreams of becoming a movie star,
“If only slutty McSlut pants would get out of my way,
she huffs. “You know what you need?
“Please, tell me what I need,
I say, amused.
“You need to get away from here, and from dickwad,
“Will you stop with the–”
she scolds, looking at me with the utmost seriousness. “You need to get the hell outta dodge,
“You did not just say that.”
“I did. Because I knew it would make you smile and because it’s true. Get out of New York.”
“I haven’t visited my dad in a while.”
“There you go!
Out of curiosity, I look up plane ticket prices to Phoenix on my phone. For shits and giggles I type in tomorrow’s date and find a one-way ticket for sixty-five dollars. My eyes get wide and I turn my phone to show Francesca.
she says. I can’t argue with that. It doesn't really matter what the return flight costs. I can’t pass up a plane ticket that cheap. Filled with sudden spontaneity, I type in my credit card number to purchase the ticket.
“There, happy? I fly out tomorrow at ten.”
she squeals, bouncing in her chair with glee.
The music in the room shifts to something softer. I look down at my watch to find the bar is about to close and can only assume the music is meant to kill everyone’s buzz, but it isn't working for Francesca. She sways to the rhythm with the dopiest grin on her face.
she moans. I recognize the song from the radio. It’s been on the “Billboard Top 100
for months and the radio people play it constantly. The sound of guitar strings fill the air and I find myself swaying to the soft melody. The chorus kicks in and I notice everyone in the room singing along.
When tomorrow falls, you’ll catch me.
“Yeah, they’re good,
“Lewis Law and The Takeaways are the hottest band in the country. They’re more than good.”
If you only knew the worst, the best, the in-between.
“It’s a little soft for my taste but nice for background noise.”
“Have you seen the lead singer, Lewis Law? He’s the sexiest man alive,
“You mean Reagan?
I ask with a raised eyebrow, loving when I know a pop culture fact she doesn’t.
she asks, pausing from the Google images search of him shirtless on her phone.
“His name is Reagan, Reagan Lewis,
“No, it’s not,
she scoffs as she navigates to Wikipedia and fact checks me. “Oh no shit, his name is Reagan. Are you a super fan or something? I thought we told each other everything.”
“No, we just went to high school together.”
went to high school together? I’ve known you for six years and you just
thought to tell me that you went to school with a rock star?
“Every rock star had to go to high school somewhere, or as least drop out of one,
I shrug. “It’s really not that big of a deal. It was so long ago, I forgot I knew him.”
“Were you guys, like, friends?
I can see the glimmer of hope in her eyes.
“No, we weren't friends, but he used to hang out with my brother when they were really little.”
“So a now-celebrity used to play cops and robbers in your backyard and you don’t think that’s a big deal?”
“Oh my gosh Josie, seriously? I would have called him years ago to be like, ‘Hey sexy face, remember me from high school? Ever need a good lay or a blow job, just hit me up.
I giggle with a mock gagging sound.
“There is nothing you could do with that man that would be gross.
She flips her phone around to show me a picture of Reagan. He is sitting on a stool, looking down at a Gibson, with a pick hanging casually out of his mouth. He looks the same as he did years ago, just a little older. His jaw is more defined than it was and he put on some muscle. I can see the beginnings of some chest hair peak over his shirt and I have to admit, he is seriously good looking, always was.
“See? Even you aren’t immune to that face,
she says, flipping to another picture.
“He has perfect teeth, bone structure, and body, so what?”
Francesca shakes her head and continues scrolling through the images. “Ohmygod, here he is with a kitten,
“I don’t want to see it,
I say, shaking my head.
“You know you want to see Lewis, I mean Reagan, petting a pussy.”
“You are disgusting,
I laugh with an exaggerated eye roll.
“A girl can dream,
she says with a wink.