Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Scorned and Jealouly by S.L. Scott

From the Inside Out
Chapter 1
March 12th
I hate Ethan Porter. I hate him with all my soul and every fiber, muscle, and nerve of my being. He broke me and my heart simulataneously, destroying everything I knew my life to be. Over the course of the next year, my friend, Brandon, had to put me back together. Piece by piece, he glued me back into a semblance of what I used to be before I knew Ethan, or so I thought. But I didn’t realize he was also bonding himself to me in the process, until one night when my friend became my lover. Brandon never should have played that role, especially since I was still too broken to be good for anyone else. So we went back to being friends, my lover returning to the role of friend again because I needed a friend more than a lover.

            Tonight, as I watch Ethan across the restaurant, I feel a rush of emotions and memories, the last conversation we had starting to pull me under.
“I hate you. I hate you for making me take this job. I hate you for making me buy that car. I hate this apartment and the furniture. I hate everything that you made me do because you wanted it that way.” Lately, you’ve replaced the word love with hate. You’ve used it generously in the last week and more than a few times tonight, five in the last minute.
He doesn’t know I’m in the same restaurant. Fortunately he hasn’t seen me. When my hand twitches, I realize I’ve pulled my phone from my purse, subconsciously to help diffuse the panic attack before it hits. I refuse to let it hit or call Brandon every time I start freaking out over Ethan.
This isn’t a restaurant I frequent and being in the same place as him after three years is completely coincidental. I’ve lost my appetite, so I push the plate of food in front of me away.
I glance over at him and her—red hair, red nails, red lips, red shoes, too tight red dress, red clutch perched on the table next to her glass of red wine. I roll my eyes, everything about her is so cliché and boring, and predictable for a man to be attracted to her.
Her eyes meet mine and I look away. In that glimpse, I saw that her eyes are light colored, maybe blue, probably blue.
Mine are Hazel—green on a good day, brown on most.
The one I want to see deep down has his back to me. He hasn’t seen me in three years and it makes me wonder if he ever did even when we were together. I don’t know and I hate to think about that time… the times when it was bad.
“I hate my life. I hate this life… with you,” you yell at me.
I. Hate. You. That’s all I gather from you. I ask, “Have you met someone else?”
“God damn it, Juliette! This is about you and me, not anyone else.”
You turn your back when you shout, which makes me question your truthfulness since I can’t see your eyes. Do I speak again or let you wrap this up on your own? I’m at a loss here. My phone rings, making both of us look over at it. You’re not happy about the intrusion, though I’m relieved by the interruption.
“I have to get that.” I walk across the living room and pick it up.
But before I can answer, you say, “Get it. I’m done here anyway.” My eyes lift from the gallery’s number flashing on the screen back to yours that are looking down. “We’re done.” You leave on that note, walking into the bedroom and leaving me to take my call.
“This is Juliette.” I walk out of the apartment to give you time. You seem to need it right now. It doesn’t occur to me until I’m outside that spring has arrived and the white snapdragons are in bloom in the park across the street.
After many reassurances of my return to work, I hang up the phone and realize that you won’t be there when I get home. Is it even home without you there? You meant what you said and I’m at a loss... again. I’m losing you. I’m losing my heart. I’m losing my other half.
I’ve forgotten now if it was ever good? If I dig deep, really deep past the pain that was inflicted and the scars that remain, it was. It was blissful and perfect. I felt loved. I felt pretty. I felt whole. We were more good than bad, but now only the bad remains.
Glancing back to the table, I see her eyes on me again. Quickly, I dig out a fifty and toss it on the table. That will easily cover my bill, even at an over-priced, too-trendy-to-be-considered-trendy-any-longer establishment on the Upper West Side.
My eyes meet hers one more time. I hope mine don’t give anything away. Things like: how I know what you look like when you fall apart underneath me, how you love for me to touch you there, but not go further, deeper, and how your eyes match the blue skies right before a storm rolls in. I know all these things because I’ve experienced them with you. I know you, the real you.
Does she?
The last look I allow myself is of you, just you, blocking her from my focus. Your hair is styled. You always had great hair and still do even despite the hateful curses I had over the years for you to go bald. The light starch to your shirt proves you haven’t changed. You insisted the perfection, but still wanted to be comfortable in your clothes. The large face of your watch gleams under the track lighting above. You were always very confident… or cocky. I’m not sure which anymore. My memories on that subject have somewhat faded, overtaken by more harmful ones.
As I walk through the intimate tables of the dining area, I look over at her one last time. It’s easier to look at her than you. You hold too much pain, more than I can endure tonight. She nods to you while smiling as if to tell you silently that I’m watching, as if to tell you, you have an admirer. I’m not an admirer. I’m an adversary—the enemy—the person you hate the most in the world if I recall your words correctly.
I push the door open and the cool night air hits me. Spring is on the verge of springing but hasn’t sprung. I wrap my arms around myself and head south.
Hearing your voice causes my insides to freeze, but my feet keep moving. I don’t respond. Juliette. Do I even know that Juliette anymore?
“Juliette? Is that you?”
I hear your footsteps.  They quicken but I refuse to respond to careless niceties you probably feel obligated to dole out.
Why do you try?
Why do you care?
What do you want?
“Hey!” You shout from a distance, planting yourself in a spot on the sidewalk, not chasing. I’m walking in four-inch Prada. You could catch me if you wanted. You don’t want to though. That much is obvious.
Rounding another corner, I find safety in the shadows of the building. Walking. Walking. Walking. No Ethan and no more Juliette. Just walking until I reach my comfort zone.
My hand is shaking although I’m standing in front of my building.
One ring.
Two rings.
“Hey, Jules, it’s kind of late for a social call.”
My heart calms and I smile. “You love hearing from me and you know it.”
He laughs. “Yes, I do. Anytime, day or night for you.”
“Can I come over?”
I hear shuffling. He’s looking at the time. I know he is. It’s only ten-fifteen.
“Of course. Is everything alright?”
“Buzz me in.”
“You’re already here?”
“Where’s your key?”
“Buzz me in.”
The lock releases and the door is opened without further question. He knows when not to push. He’s great like that.
I climb the two flights, running out of breath after the rushed walk home. When I walk in, I set my purse on the table by the window. I like the view from his apartment because it’s the opposite of mine. It gives me a new perspective. He leans against the kitchen archway. It’s a comforting design feature in the otherwise modern apartment. “The spare room has fresh sheets or you can always crash in my room,” he says like he’s joking, but I know he’s not.
The offer makes me smile, but just slightly. No longer lovers. “We’re better as friends,” I gently remind.
He crosses his arms over his chest, and says, “No harm in trying.”
Always harm. There’s always harm. It’s never easy. It’s never gotten easier.
He’s watching me with his intense dark eyes. His eyes are blue, but so different from yours. His are the deepest oceans and yours the sky above.
The weight of his gaze lays heavy on me, scanning my back as I look out over the street, spotting a pocket view of the park. I turn. “I’m tired.”
“You know where everything is.”
“I do.”
I breeze past him as if I own the place. In a way I do. It’s a second home to me. I have some of my things, my belongings stashed around, in the bathroom, in the bedroom—the guest bedroom. My vitamins reside in the kitchen. Just things, inconsequential things.
I stop in the doorway to the guest room before I disappear for the night. “Thank you.”
“You’re always welcome here, but next time, use your key.”
That makes me smile, a real one, genuine in its roots. “Goodnight, Brandon.”
“Sweet dreams, Jules.”
My dreams aren’t sweet. I’m restless, even here at his place. I used to find solace, but your intrusion into my life tonight has caused an imbalance in my world. Memories of the night you left me flood my dreams…
Reality strikes hard at the exhibit. I lose my mind and my new client when I breakdown in the back room behind what I thought were closed doors and cry. My tears ruined his masterpiece—a piece the artist just painted live in front of the potential customers. I had just sold the painting and pulled it from the collection at the request of a buyer.
Reflexively, I rub the canvas with my hand in an attempt to wipe the tears away but the paint smears under my touch.
I’m called unprofessional and careless, and in his fit of rage, the artist refuses to work with me again. My tears costing him a five thousand dollar reward for his talents and time. The loss of the love of my life cost me more. He didn’t seem to care about that. Artists can be testy that way. He broke the frame and trashed the painting when the buyer pulled out of the deal, not wanting my common problems splattered on his masterpiece.
When I return home late that night, the car is not parked out front or anywhere on our street and the apartment is bare. But you hated that car and you hated the furniture. You hated your life and mine, you hated yourself and me. You said so and yet, you still took it away. You took it all with you except for me.
Nothing remains in the place we called home except a twenty-five dollar coffee maker and my clothes dumped on the floor because you decided to take the dresser.
I kick off my shoes and go to make myself a cup of coffee. You took the beans that I had freshly ground this morning. I now have a coffeepot with no coffee to go in it. I drop to the floor in the kitchen and fall apart, completely apart, my heart shattering into a million pieces. The gallery breakdown was just the predecessor of what was to come and this apparently is what was to come. This was the remains of my life, the end as I knew it. In the course of a ten hour absence, my life was packed and moved to another location, an unknown location.
Was this planned?
For how long?
Movers on the same day?
A storage unit or another apartment waiting for you?
It seems too organized, premeditated.
I held the black coffee maker in my arms and cradled myself around it, needing to hold onto something tangible and this was all that was left. This was all I had to show for a life that was built on love but died in misunderstandings and lies.

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