CHRONICLES OF LOVES FOREWARNED
To Grace Caitlin McClure.
Sincerely & Always.
“This book is fiction and many things have been changed in fact to try to make it a picture of a true time…”
“Writers are always selling somebody out…”
1. The Beginning… At the Middle
Valerie and Scott kissed. They finally fucking kissed.
From the moment their lips touched, not only were they both allowing themselves their rom-com climax, but they also started the countdown to their imminent breakup--the soul-crushing, Earth-shattering, Shakespearean, and ever-so-romantic finale to their love story.
They knew it because I knew it.
100 days, 22 hours, 58 minutes, and 10 seconds remaining.
All great stories need a time-lock, a lurking danger, a ticking bomb with big, glowing red numbers and a mesh of wires threatening to blow up. It’s the sense of imminent danger that enhances the sense of living, making the ups and downs of the narrative all the more exciting and cathartic without risking real life. Don’t get me wrong, the countdown was a good thing.
But many times it’s better to risk it in real life as well. Let the time run on the clock, waiting until the last second to yank the wires and defuse the bomb or have it explode in your face.
That kiss was their bomb. I knew it, so they knew it too.
Valerie and Scott then pulled away, catching a breath and an eyeful of each other under the pale moonlight of late May and wrapped in the brisk chill of 2 AM. Their gaze lingered, partly amazed, partly mystified, and completely freaked the fuck out but containing themselves, simply focusing on experiencing every nanosecond of that moment--their moment. Val and Scott were headed for uncharted territory for both of them.
Fuck me, I’d be the one helping them navigate. I knew it, and soon they’d realize that too.
They kissed again, briefly, tasting each other’s spirits and silencing promises they were not ready to make. Then they turned to look at me—the voyeur, the friend, the accomplice.
“Hey, Teller, mind your own business, would you?” They knew.
100 days, 22 hours, 55 minutes, and 0 seconds remaining.
The scene was just right. Backlit halo to make the couple dreamy? Check. Soft music with an 80s vibe soundtracking their love, from a little distance? Check. A little world of their own, where everything else was blurred out of focus except for each other and their embrace? Check.
A picture-perfect setting. A Kodak moment. Roll credits: written and directed by John Hughes.
How disgustingly cute.
I wouldn’t have expected that from them, really. Cute wasn’t a thing for them. Totally out of character. For Scott alone, maybe. For Val—-not ever. She wasn’t the fairytale-princess type. Heck, she wasn’t even the HBO-Manhattan-girl type. At her worst best, she was all film noir femme fatale. If she weren’t the protagonist in the love story I was witnessing, she’d be right here at my side, drink in hand, mocking the love birds and foreshadowing the demise of their romance.
But this time she was there, in the spotlight, acting the climax of her own rom-com, kissing the toad that only she had come to see as a charming prince.
100 days, 22 hours, 50 minutes, and 22 seconds remaining.
If Val saw herself from the audience, she would be embarrassed. If she weren’t high on dopamine, love, and gin-and-tonics, she would feel like a delusional teenager. Or worse: like the lead in a Jane Austen novel.
And to imagine that this romance began entirely in Scott’s head. It wasn’t fate. It wasn’t written in the stars or conspired by Cupid’s arrow. It was all a fantasy. Scott’s fantasy. And by sheer force of will and hope and chance, it had turned into a reality. This reality. This kiss. Kisses, now plural.
Fuck. Lucky bastard.
But everlasting love is just a myth. It’s not even romantic. Romance needs an ending, like any story, one that doesn’t include forever after.
100 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes, 11 seconds remaining.
They both knew the end was coming.
As a friend, spectator, and storyteller, I had warned them about their love. From the beginning they knew. And still they kissed.
They were headed for the sweet sorrows and disaster of love.
100 days, 22 hours, 45 minutes, 30 seconds remaining.
And I was in the middle of it all.
Tic, tic, tic.
2: The Perfect Gift
She will love this. She has to love this. She loves thoughtful surprises, and I’m an expert at those. We’re a match made in heaven. Or better, made by a dating website’s algorithm, no doubt. It’s destiny.
This will be so romantic.
My gift will be the best ever, full of tokens and meaning. Others have given her things, stuff. Many have paid her tribute, like suitors in a comedy promising that all that glitters is gold. But my present will go beyond tribute. My present will be a symbol—-not to her but of her. All the bits and pieces that make up Valerie will be there. Her whole personality rendered to her in a box. She will see that and just be reminded of how special she is and will always be.
Besides, she will not be expecting it. Surprises make for the best tokens.
She will open the box and find the perfect mixtape tailor-made for her. I made sure to include all of her favorite artists, and at least a few of her favorite songs, at least all the ones mentioned on her Facebook profile. When she smiles while listening to the tape--I mean, MP3s, because who really listens to anything else these days. When she smiles, all those hours spent looking for the right music, the right titles, and the right never-heard-of bands, all that time will be worth it.
Mixtapes and mix CDs are really a lost art, just like handwritten letters have fallen into the oblivion fostered by laziness. Playlists don’t have the same ring or the same physical uniqueness of a mixtape, and neither do emails.
This will be so romantic.
She will find tickets to her adored ballet, all single tickets because she wouldn’t go with anyone. She loves ballet, but keeps it a secret from family, friends, and Facebook. It’s a secret we will always share. One of the many I have promised to keep and that made me fall for her after I found out.
Who else would be so passionate about something as beautiful and profound as ballet, while keeping it a secret because that would not fit her role, her image as the queen bee of fashionistas aspiring to be Strong Independent Women, since ballet is a little too effeminately cliché and much too Disney?
Who else would secretly keep a blog as Dreaming Danseuse in a web-traffic forsaken MySpace, sharing with the world her love for ballet and dancing and art and dreams of performing in Paris and Moscow, but hiding it all from her own world?
Who else would treat herself to trips to Vegas and New York, claiming to go for the nightlife and the jet-set shopping, but imbibing Broadway and the Cirque du Soleil and MOMA instead?
Only she would do those things. And extraordinarily so.
She will go to the performances and imagine herself on the stage of The Nutcracker. And I will be right there with her, elsewhere among the audience, enjoying the beauty of ballet and lamenting a bit, along with her, that she cannot be a dancer anymore thanks to her Covergirl figure, which not even the worst of cigarette-based diets and her best self-loathing efforts could force back into ballerina-shape in her teenage years.
This will be so romantic.
She will finally find that laurel-green scarf that she was wearing the first time I saw her, and that she’s convinced is lost for good. Her favorite scarf, because it’s so very her—-vibrant green like her eyes, stylish and simple, yet with a touch of unique that words can only shadow. Such an appropriate piece for her to wear in days that she either needed a little extra reassurance to accomplish something or wanted to feel more victorious over life. The scarf will always be a sign of her being at her best, at her most her. I know and can predict that because I’ve seen it plenty of times—Scott the Seer. I’ve even managed to guess when she will wear it, simply because I know her. It’s so appropriate that a scarf serves as her pennant for triumph, since it’s a piece she can only don when the weather gives you the same chills as her confidence and character.
She will be relieved to have found her scarf again. I’m glad that she didn’t really lose it on the street as she feared, but that destiny dictated that it flew away from her and came to my possession so that I could it give back to her. Coincidences are not a coincidence.
This will be so romantic.
Valerie will love all of this. It will make her happy, just on time to endure her parents’ visit next week, of which she has complained so much on Twitter. But I, with my gift, will make it all better for her.
I just need to wrap this all up and go drop it at her place.
Just as soon as I see that her car is back on her parking spot, or that the lights are on at her apartment, I will go and deliver my gift. As usual, she won’t be expecting me. Or the gift.
This will be so romantic.
Buzz. Text. Teller: Is he still watching you?
Yes. Yes he is. Dammit.
I don’t even need to look. I know he’s watching. If I peek through the blinds, he’ll know I’m here. It’s better this way: all lights off, my car parked around the block, all as good as if I weren’t home.
How did it come to this? I swear these things can only happen to me.
Buzz. Text. Teller: So, what are you going to do?
I wish I knew. For now, I just need to get out of here. This is what I get for making a stop at my place, when I should be somewhere else.
At least I wish I were somewhere else.
Beep. Email. Matt: How’s the report coming along?
It’s not coming. I’m not coming, either. Not for a while if this keeps up, at least.
What happened to me? I used to like my work. I liked the spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations and meetings and memos. I used to be free and feel free. Now it’s this—-needing an escape, from everything and everyone. All. The. Time. What the hell happened to me, seriously?
Ring! Click! Missed call: Dad.
I’ll call back, I promise. I just can’t deal with it right now. It’s good that he understands. He will still bug me, and they will still come visit soon, partially playing the concerned parents card, but I know it’s the good type of concern, the type of their not expecting to find me in total nervous breakdown doing meth, or in a swingers’ club, or worst of all, getting engaged and planning a wedding with a Mr. Right.
They just need to escape their empty nest for a few.
And I need to escape this golden cage called apartment.
Buzz! Text. Jonny: See you this Thursday for dinner, drinks, and some fun, right?
Probably. I’m not sure I’ll be up for all of that by Thursday. But it’s good to keep the option open. Jonny’s nice and good-looking enough. There’s just something about guys in suits who work in high-rises that I can’t help but tease and tug…
Beep! Email. Matt: Report needs to be done by tomorrow. Really badly. It’s due to the bosses in 2 days.
Yes, I know the report is jobs-on-the-line critical. Yes, it will be done. Yes, I will be the one finishing it overnight. No, I won’t get the credit or the bonus. Yes, it’s all part of the game of consulting.
Or so I better tell myself in order to give a shit anymore.
Buzz! Text. Teller: Are you up for a drink or not then?
Yes. Definitely am. I need a drink. As soon as I figure out what to do here. Dammit.
Buzz! Text. Barista: As promised, wanna hang out on Friday?
Yes. I’d like that. You deserve at least one shot just for having the balls to ask me out while frothing my ten-dollar macchiato. I love to be asked out like that, by surprise and by guys clearly from a different league, if not a different sport altogether. That takes more than a little bravado. I love to be asked out like that because it makes me feel democratic when I say yes. There’s just something about guys with ambition as small as their pay grade that I can’t help but hook up and uplift…
Buzz! Text. Dad: Ready for our visit?
Buzz! Text. Teller: Need picking up?
No. I’ll drive. I can handle this.
I really need that drink.
Screw this. Time to break out, sneak to my car, and go drink and talk with Teller. Everything will be better after that break.
Beep! Email. Buzz! Text. Buzz! Text.
I’m ignoring it all. Pressing pause on my playlist. Can’t give a shit right now.
And here it is. A box. A gift, left by my door.
How did I come to this, seriously?
“Well, that’s at least a new one for you.”
Too true. Teller would know.
“You have a secret admirer. You’re an 80s movie.”
“At least the gifts are a nice touch.”
“You’re not helping.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Did it look as if I were trying?”
Sarcasm. Teller’s native language. Only he had that right.
I unlocked the car and we jumped in. I knew where to take us next after enjoying some jazz—the Old Haunt Bar. Our old haunt.
“Remember that cowboy you dated?”
“I wish I didn’t.”
“You and I both.”
Going ninety down the highway. I felt in control like that. Teller never complained. He knew. He trusted.
“Is this admirer weirder than your Brazilian?”
“I’d say so. The Brazilian I saw face to face.”
“But the Brazilian had that thing about sheep and dog collars…”
That stole a smirk from me. Damn Teller.
“What about the guy with the pink Porsche?”
“I didn’t date that guy.”
“Right, but you did end up having breakfast with him.”
“What about your own conquests, mister? You like them weird, too.”
“Don’t say conquests. I’m a writer. I need characters. What’s your excuse?”
Too true. And kind of sad. For both of us.
“Have you ever thought about at least not going for the crazy ones?”
“All the others like assholes.”
Too true. Damn Teller.
“Good. You are one, anyway.”
“You know that. Only you.”
“Maybe it’s time to unleash yourself.”
Unrepentant asshole Teller, let loose into the world—I’d pay to see that show.
“That would be a disaster. A Stephen King novel.”
“You can’t be worse than the guys I haven’t told you about.”
I had to smirk at him with that line. Teller couldn’t counter.
“Nice boots.” He wasn’t deflecting. He was about to strike. Nuclear.
“I know. I noticed. It’s easier to keep track of your boots than your boys.”
There it was. Teller’s rapier truth. Damn Teller.
“My boots and boys. Your muses and misadventures. Our vices.”
He rolled his eyes and crosses his arms. I smirked.
Going sixty down the three-lane street, hunting for parking. I found a spot. Another car aimed for it as well. A movie star lookalike drove the competitor.
I had an opening. I didn’t park. I blocked the spot and the street with my car instead. He was trapped.
Teller just looked on. I’m sure he narrated in his head.
I got out of my Corvette and approached the fairer-skinned faux-Gosling in his SUV.
“Wow, you’re so gorgeous, I don’t even mind you can’t drive.” His smugness was overrun with amazement.
“Save it. I’ll let you take the spot. If you give me your name and number.”
I smirked. He could barely reply.
Ten minutes and ten digits later, I was parking in another spot down the street. Teller watched in silence. Mostly.
“So, did that make you feel more in control, Queen Val? Feel better?”
“Hey, I’m driving, OK? Let’s go get that drink.”
"Ultimately, the limit doesn't exist."
Once again, I've saved the day. I always have to, no matter if it’s math or life and death. Sure, this time it's Val rather than my damsel-in-distress of the week, but it still counts for slaying her numbers dragon of the week.
"How did I not see that?"
"You've just been too hard at it. Like a typo you can't see."
I'm glad it's Val this time. Any time, really. Talking equations, aphorisms, and quotations feels like a river with her—deep, natural, meant-to-be.
You cannot step into the same river twice...
Half a decade of shared misadventures and hard-hitting truths feels like a couple of lifetimes. What will history books say about us? Probably all the lies we don't say to each other.
"How's the job, Teller?"
"I can't complain."
And I wish I could, but I have no good reason for it. I'm getting paid to do the only thing I love—write. Yes, writing website content, advice articles, and the occasional listicle, but writing nonetheless. It's almost journalism these days. I guess online outlets make me feel like the Toronto Star reporting made Hem feel, like a literary whore. Well--escort, since the pay has improved.
Life must be lived as play...
"You know, you sound like you want to complain."
"Maybe. But not today."
Of course Val knows what I'm truly thinking. Why even bother saying it, then. It's easier for her to drive than to do it myself. That has always been the case, literally and metaphorically.
"And how's your book?"
"It's a work in progress."
"You can say it: you're the work in progress."
That smirk, her eyes hidden devilishly behind Versace darkness—that's classic Val taunting me into action. My book, my Great American Novel, of which I've dreamt a thousand volumes and have written minus-three pages that I dramatically burnt in a trash bin fire to feel myself all the more the frustrated author. My book, a worse work in progress than my own life.
I only know that I know nothing...
"So if you're not writing, how are the matters of the heart?"
"Messing with my head."
Oh the blessing of having someone always willing to tell you to your face what's wrong with you, point-blank. If I'm not writing, Val can diagnose why faster than anyone, including myself sometimes.
"Don't you dare tell me that you miss Mallory."
"Hell, you know I don't."
I miss watching the sunset far in the horizon while on a whimsical road trip. I miss the strolls through the park to take pictures and the days spent in museums admiring masterpieces. I miss the late nights fending off demons and the early mornings waking up to the hopeful smell of fresh coffee. But I certainly don't miss Mallory.
Wisdom is not to secure pleasure but to avoid pain...
"You would've found someone by now if you let yourself be you a little more."
"But you know I'm an asshole."
She has tried to unleash that Pandora's Box for so long that I can't tell anymore if she might be right or just desperately curious. Probably both knowing Val.
"Either way, I'm fucked."
"Actually, you're not. That's the issue."
Her smirk. Again. She wasn't wrong, but she wasn't completely right, or so I'll claim until one of us dies or joins Scientology.
"Can we go back to your numbers issues, please?"
"Sure, but ignoring your issues won't drive them away."
"How about a drink then?"
For the day, I just wanted to solve the equations that I knew the answer for already. The mysteries of my life could wait for some more writing.
Character is destiny...
6: The Letter
The contents of this letter are long overdue, full of things I’ve meant to tell you, but for which I’ve lacked the occasion and, to be completely honest, the courage to disclose.
This mental urge of mine has fermented like a good pinot noir, those that you love to drink so much. I think that missing my chances to talk to you recently has been for the best, for now I get to reach you in my truest language—music and singing. All the important things in my life I’ve found hard to discuss in conversation, afraid of saying the wrong thing, or worse, of leaving unsaid what’s truly important.
In music, however, I find all the freedom to express myself, to define my thoughts, and to communicate at my most honest and sincere. And so I sing to you in the attached mixtape, apologizing in advance for the quality of my musical bleeding.
You may consider this just a reiteration of what you already know about me, or you might even think of this as some sort of vacuous flattery, but since I sing this rather than say it, I can assure you that this is me at my most veracious: I couldn’t be more grateful for and appreciative of this relationship of ours that has already influenced me, for the better, more than I could ask for or expect.
Not only am I grateful because of the obvious improvements inspired by you, such as songs, good movie recommendations, and brilliant ideas for lyrics, tunes, and future albums, but also because the way and timing in which this unique relationship of ours has manifested, to put it simply, has restored my faith and reinforced an old ideal of mine.
All that you inspire in me, whether through little coincidences online or our casual in-person encounters, has reaffirmed my belief in the existence and the possibility of a relationship that feels true like this, in spite of distance, and its worthiness of being pursued. In other words, our relationship has rekindled and refueled my ideal that art is not only a way of life but one that can and should be shared as such—-a belief that had been shaken by the transitions of life and challenged by almost all my experiences related to people.
Yet, in the right sequence and in the right moments, that belief of mine, one of my guiding lights, was reinvigorated and reaffirmed bit by bit as I got the privilege to know you more and more and as we got closer through time and (cyber)space. It was meaningful for me to find you years ago as a fellow artistic soul and your alluring, anonymous blog, thanks to chance and Facebook. It’s been meaningful to read your blog posts, so brutally honest and sincere that I think they not only have allowed me to discover you better but also have made me yearn to be more honest in my music, my lyrics, and my creative lying. It was meaningful to learn that you write because you like others to pay attention to you, and that you once had silver screen aspirations to be reignited. It made my night that you both caught and built up upon Beatles reference that time that I wrote on your wall almost at dawn. It’s been meaningful knowing that in you I have an accomplice who also enjoys the experience of movies, theater, dance, and museums ad nauseum, fascinated by art and yearning to be a part of that world. It’s been meaningful to discover that we share a sort of guilty admiration for smoking thanks to movies and a snobbish preference for wine. It’s been meaningful to find out that we both follow, for better or for worse, a life philosophy with the tenet that there’s nothing worse than being ordinary. It has been the most meaningful, as well as my pleasure and privilege, not only to witness and be a part of your reaction to ballet, but also to witness and experience my own reaction to your reaction - frankly, an inspirational chain reaction that crystalized and unfolded for me the significance of this relationship of ours.
I know that I especially appreciate this relationship because, in spite of the weird way it has developed (you know, the whole not meeting in person for about two years), it has felt natural in an unexpected way.
Well, at least for me it has felt natural.
I guess that when one has dreamt a specific situation or scenario more than a thousand four hundred and four times, it ought to feel “natural” once one gets to live it; yet, I can tell you that a little tingly feeling remains in the back of my mind, a slight, untrusting fear that it may not be real or that it might be the Devil’s doing, waiting to turn it all into a damning trick. Beware of what one wishes for, right?
But I digress. This inspirational and creative dynamic has felt the most natural for me. I’ve had my romances, my infatuations, my crushes, my fascinations, my fuck-ups, my muses, and my sudden inspirations, but none of those past cases had the positive influence that this relationship of ours has exerted on me so on-target and so significantly. I have to qualify the influence as positive because almost all the cases as negative reinforcements, yet influencing me into becoming who I am today.
At this point, I should ask the one question that has been rattling in my mind for days and nights now: what do you consider this thing of ours to be? As much as I hate labeling, I ask for the sake of clear understanding and honest communication, because I'm more than aware that I’m an idiot when it comes to "seeing" signals of that sort related to me. I can hear the music playing for other people, their romantic soundtrack, but when it comes to my own circumstance, it seems that it's impossible for me to catch any signs correctly. I guess there just are some things that are so mine, so ingrained and so closely attached to me, that I just cannot hear or see them even if I get closer.
I ask knowing that there’s an observer’s bias risk to the question, that asking itself can affect the results of the experiment, perhaps even fucking everything up — for which I would hate myself. I would hate myself more, though, if I caved to cowardice and didn’t ask, for there’s nothing that I loathe more than uncertainty derived from personal inaction.
Nevertheless, I also ask without any demands or expectations for an immediate or absolute or decisive answer, so please don’t feel obligated to come up with one if you don’t already have it. I know well that you are right now going through a transitional period on many fronts, from romantic rehab to professional rerouting, and in such a circumstance the last thing I would want to represent is more burdens and extra concerns for you. On the contrary, I write to you only with the intention of reaffirming and reinforcing for you that sense of new beginnings, pause-and-replay in the most reciprocal fashion that I can (and that you allow me) to the way that you, intentionally and unintentionally, inspired me to maintain and believe in my own course at moments of doubt and hesitation.
Ultimately, I'm writing all of this to you not so that I’m read and I can “get if off my chest,” but because I want you to read and confirm what an awesome and amazing person you are. Regardless of the emotional punches you've taken in the past months and the cruel jokes destiny has played on you in recent weeks, please consider this a message from the universe, handed down through one of its most loyal envoys: all those lows you’ve experienced were not meant as karmic payback, but as preparation (a cleansing, really) for the new height you'll reach — and of which I can only hope and do my best to play a positive role in, both in the present and the future.
And with that poured onto the page, and echoing my songs in the mixtape: thanks for reading, thanks for crossing my path, and thanks for all the inspiration thus far.
7: Teller-Tale Mail
How could he write this? Worse, how could he send it?
This letter, his letter to Val, is so full of sentiment and hope that I can barely imagine her reaction. Scott’s letter doesn’t belong in Val’s mailbox—it belongs to the pages of a Bronte novel or the archive in some Yale library.
The contents of this letter are long overdue,
full of things I’ve meant to tell you,
but for which I’ve lacked the occasion and,
to be completely honest,
the courage to disclose…
If this is how he really sees the world, so full of color and music and sugar and beauty, I envy him. And if he’s in love with Val as he claims, I pity him, even if that love is a decimal fraction of what the letter proves. What happens when a disgustingly loving force smashes against a fiercely unattachable object? Disaster.
I wish I could be innocent enough not only to write like Scott but also to send something this honest to someone—but I know better. I’ve written letters like this one, but I’ve never sent them. Yet my letters were not as expressive and hopeless as Scott’s. Not even my stories have accomplished that.
…my own reaction to your reaction - frankly,
an inspirational chain reaction that crystalized and unfolded for me
the significance of this relationship of ours…
And to think that Val inspired all of it and more: gifts, songs, dreams. Val, appropriated in a fantasy and deconstructed in poetic prose and token presents. Val, the unstoppable femme fatale turned into Venus and put on a pedestal to be worshipped by Scott, high priest of her own temple. I would laugh at the irony if it didn’t make so much sense and I weren’t certain that Val would murder even me for wording it that way.
What a bastard.
I do wonder how someone like Scott would affect Val, for she has never been swept off her feet by any suitor. Maybe she should give him a chance. At least I would have fun if she did. Besides, she has given chances and had her fun with worse and less worthy types. Her bad choices always have the safety of failure. Scott’s type has the threat of attachment, of success, of finding the happiness that his worldview promises.
What will Val say? What should I say, when she asks? Because she definitely will request my advice. How could Scott’s letter be so promising and so damning, like a Greek prophecy?
And with that poured onto the page,
and echoing my songs in the mixtape:
thanks for reading, thanks for crossing my path,
and thanks for all the inspiration thus far…
I want to meet this Scott, if only to see if he’s real or some sort of the wrong type of crazy, and to confirm that we inhabit the same world that differs so much for both of us. Of course, I have to meet this Scott if only because we have Val in common and that’s the beginning and the end of it.
8: Complex Savior
“You don’t have to save her, you know?”
Val’s sharp words made my pride bleed. Yet, I still need to heed Mallory’s cry for help via text message. I had failed to tie myself to a mast, or to Val’s corvette car seat, so the siren song had power over me.
“If I don’t save her, who will?”
Val’s glare met my pleading eyes.
“Her boyfriend can save her.”
“From whom do you think she needs saving?”
Knowing Mallory, there could be other answers to that question, but all with the same effect and outcome.
I needed to save her despite detachment, my own Lady Brett.
“I can go or we can go, but you know I’d rather have witnesses. Last time…”
“Let’s go. I’ll drive.” Val knew that story because she had survived it with me twice too many times.
“At least this way we don’t have to think or talk about your letter.”
That grin. I didn’t have to regret reading then.
Four ran-through red lights later, we arrived to Mallory’s high-rise. I charged toward her apartment, ready to battle giants and windmills for the tragic Dulcinea. I found the door open. Inside, Mallory had night in her eyes and scarlet marks on her skin. She cowered in a corner and contemplated her life choices and her leap of fate to freedom out the ten-story window.
“Where is he?”
“Just until the game ends.”
Mallory started to weep. She never let the world make her cry, but she could roll with the punches no more. I approached her and escorted her out wrapped in an embrace of archaic covenants and spoiled memories.
I had to save her, even if that meant walking through hell for the shadow of Eurydice.
Val drove us to the hospital amid a silence in which even my thoughts were faint echoes.
Waiting. Checking. Questioning. Not quite lying—Mallory’s body and voice didn’t tell the same story. That’s why I needed Val, and she had come because she knew it.
I had saved her, once again, for no better reason than Mallory having once been mt Daisy, my green light across the river.
Val hated the whole scenario, and said nothing. She didn’t need to utter a word, for I could loudly read her thoughts as we returned Mallory to her place, the same old curse, the same old tragedy to unfold.
I had saved her but I wasn’t her savior—Hamlet doesn’t drag Ophelia out of the river, neither in the play nor in life.