Apart for too long
It’s one p.m. when a soaking wet Alex shoots up in her bed. She’s panting uncontrollably, with eyes wide open. It takes a while before she realizes where she is. Then, the old memories of her teenage bedroom appear to be real. It’s not a dream. Not anymore.
She quickly throws her feet out of the bed and runs some fingers through her voluminous hair. The tiny knots of her hair extensions interrupt the smooth gesture. Not a lot has changed around the place. Not the people that live here, not the way it smells like cinnamon wherever you go, not the boisterous sounds reverberating from room to room. A pack of men and one girl. A pack of Spanish wolves. Just one thing. One person that used to always be here.
Alex just got back last night. It was late when she arrived at the house that’s been her home for nearly two decades. It felt strange too strange to not have been here the last four years.
All of a sudden, she remembers the reason why she woke up in such a panic. There was this dream about Amy. A nightmare. Sweet, innocent Amy crying her eyes out the day she found out her girlfriend had left the country. It’s the version Alex came up with in her mind. It has the saddest tears ever to be seen and the most heartbreaking sounds of sobbing featured in it. Poor Amy’s out of her mind, desperately searching for her loved one. She doesn’t know the truth, she doesn’t know anything. Just that Alex has left and she didn’t tell her. Her blond hairs twirl through the wind on her search. And her eyes are green this time, because they normally only turn blue when she’s genuinely happy – or when the sunshine lights them up.
Alex shakes the thought and gets up. Some sweatpants and a loose T-shirt turn into the first outfit of the day. Across the room, there’s a mirror and from a distance, Alex feels pleased about her appearance. She’s looked worst, a lot even, so this morning face doesn’t look half as bad as it used to. But then Amy starts taking control of her mind again. Four years. They’ve been apart for too long but to her heart and mind that doesn’t mean a thing.
On her quest for coffee, she passes all the male residents of the house. Her uncle Aaron turns his ponytail around in an overly enthusiastic way to wish her a good morning when she sees him in the living room. He’s watching a rerun of last night’s football game.
“How are you today?” he asks with sincere interest.
Basically still not awake, Alex softly smiles.
“Good, uncle Aaron. I’m good,” she whispers, while clearing her throat all uninterested.
Then she finds George, her dad, and Eli gathered around the kitchen table. A loud yawn gives her presence away and the two of them ask her the exact same thing.
“How are you today?”
While pouring herself a cup of caffeine, Alex starts frowning. She doesn’t even look up to them.
“Good,” she repeats after having a sip.
This is starting to bore her. She sits down next to her father and kisses him softly on the cheek. That’s when David appears in the room. He waited up until late last night, so see her arrive. They hugged for a solid ten minutes before they went to sleep. This morning, his enthusiasm has tempered. Maybe he’s just as tired as she is.
“How are you today?” he asks, following the routine of the other predictable family members.
Alex can’t even bring herself to answering that question a third time in less than five minutes and starts snorting.
“So, tell me again why I’m doing this,” she demands.
Eli, or Mouse as people still call him, inspects the two old friends. Somewhere along the line, they forgot they were cousins and skipped to the best friend part of their connection. David puts his hand on top of Alex’s and smirks: “You’re going to be my date for Jules’ wedding because she used to be a dear friend of you.”
Eli snorts: “And because you don’t have dates.”
For the first time ever, he gets away with that comment. For over a year now, Mouse’s been dating this cute, introvert girl called Jessy. She’s a computer nerd too. It’s something to brag about.
But the newly returned woman of the family is not into public, small-town events. Something about being a famous supermodel makes it really awkward to stand around normal people. Don’t be mistaking: it’s Alex that feels strange when it happens. Because as always, everyone ends up staring at her. And that makes her feel uncomfortable and alienated. People either hate her or love her. And therefore, they either gossip about her or make her feel awkward by constantly repeating how amazing she is. It’s no fun being the only supermodel. That’s why attending fancy parties is easier.
“I should get an epidural before I go through this,” she claims.
David rotates his head a bit and senses the doubt that crawls up in her behavior. He knows exactly what’s going around in that pretty head.
“She’s not coming,” he whispers. “I promise. She has a work thing in San Francisco.”
Everybody knows exactly who he’s talking about, but Alex pretends like it doesn’t get to her too much. She’s a terrible liar sometimes. Funny, given her past actions.
Her cup is already empty. That’s when her dad suggests she should get dressed.
“Rick set you up with that meeting, remember. It’ll be good for you,” he tells her.
A therapist. She sighs. Like she hasn’t visited enough of them over the past couple of years.
“Rick can kiss my ass,” her grumpy voice utters.
Much to her father’s annoyance, she laughs over her own comment. The temperament in his soft eyes changes and that’s when she realizes how serious he is about all of this.
“Rick Spencer has done a lot for this family. For you. You should appreciate the trouble he’s going through to help you.”
It’s enough life wisdom to get Alex up on her sleepy feet. See flees the scene with a refill warming her hands. You see, even a supermodel has to listen to her father from time to time.
Eli, still turning more grey with each day that passes, sighs in a nostalgic way: “Well, it’s good to have you guys back, uncle George.”
Despite the lingering tension of not enough sleep and a hard couple of years, the happy part of this reunion jumps out.
“I was randomly looking at her and got slapped with the gay. Seriously, like, every single time. They always said she was the one crazy for me, but in all honesty, every time I even got a little bit scared to lose a second of her attention, I’d come up with ridiculous excuses to make her look back my way. One time I organized a party at my place because she had mentioned a guy asking what she was up to that night and I got terrified she might go over to his place instead of spending the evening with me. Surprisingly, my dad was extremely supportive about a hundred youngsters dancing around his living room that night. And I got the girl.”
“You were the one crazy for her, then?” a stranger’s voice asks.
Alex smirks and dives into her memories, not afraid to fall so deep: “I was so crazy for her.”
She remembers how it was the other way around when they first started dating each other. How Amy angrily scared that guy away, because Alex couldn’t help but flirting with him. That changed rather quickly. Once they were an item, Alex was scared to death that Amy might dump her for someone else. That fear had its way of exposing itself.
“I even once pushed a guy aside when he tried to kiss her. She thought it was funny. I thought it was amazing I refrained from killing him.”
The man, sitting next to her, shouldn’t be as amused. He’s the therapist Rick arranged for her to meet, and is supposed to remain neutral. But Alex loves to change things up a bit and, much to her delight, he doesn’t mind.
“Rick thought you’d have some specific emotions about coming home,” he tells her, in a way to explain the meeting. “Amy seemed to mean a lot to you. She was your girlfriend?”
Alex nods. She was.
“Best friend, girlfriend, lover, … so much more. We never really did have to define ourselves. We skipped overanalyzing the coming out part and proceeded to the natural exploring of whatever it is that we were … or are. The only thing we did have to define was the nature of our relationship. The title of our exclusiveness. For a while we were absolutely certain that our definition of besties was the standard one. I did not doubt for a second that love was involved, but I have to admit that somewhere deep inside, it felt like every best friends connection carried that somewhere within it. I was wrong. So for a little while we kept doing what we had known upon that point: we flirted with the popular boys in our school and when the lights went out, we forgot about all the daylight hours to spent the best there were to experience together. Until she asked me to stop. She asked me to stop joking around with others because of that one simple fact that she was jealous and she wanted me all to herself.”
The therapist, mister Grady, removes his glasses and rubs his eyes for a second. The money-making one liner of the profession appears: “And how did that make you feel?”
Alex forgets to laugh over the stereotype and falls back into the deliciously soft pillows of the couch. It’s weird how she always bitches about seeing a therapist, yet once she arrives her mind’s an open book to them.
“Ecstatic. Hearing her say those words – it was like someone had flipped over the box of puzzle pieces and suddenly, they just happened to fall next to each other in perfect harmony to form this amazing image I had been searching for. You see, this wasn’t about realizing I was gay or anything, it was about accepting that I wanted to be in a serious relationship with her and her alone; something that, up until that point, had never surfaced in my mind. Her being jealous, that was an honor. Because it meant she loved me enough to be afraid to lose me.”
It’s like she’s sixteen again and the flow of words bursting from her memories seem so very recently fueled by her love for Amy. Mr. Grady and his outdated hairstyle get up to wander through the room. He puts both index fingers to his lips and places the thumbs under his chin.
“So the two of you became a couple? How did your parents react to that? And the school?”
Something tells Alex he’s actually curious to know. But there’s no big coming out story when it comes to them. She’ll have to disappoint him.
“Are you kidding me?” she laughs out loud. “After our little debacle of being together for real had been solved, I blew up to my dad about it during an argument. I was like: ‘Well, Amy’s my girlfriend now!’. And my dad looked up to me with his soft eyes and said: ‘Hasn’t she always been?’.”
Mister Grady sits on the side of his desk and chuckles: “That’s great. The first lesbian patient I ever had without traumatic coming out drama.”
That’s actually funny. Alex didn’t know therapists had a sense of humor.
“Everything just progressed so naturally and gently that it almost seemed like it mattered to no one that she was a girl,” she explains. “We had always been together. Kissing each other appeared one of the more appropriate things we did in public to the world around us.”
“We live in a pretty understanding world nowadays,” Mr.Grady adds.
Alex nods and sits back up, realizing that this session is about to reach the end.
“We seem to do,” she agrees while packing up her stuff. “Although one time, a guy came over to me with his ridiculous friends to entertain us with some homophobic comments and – I normally don’t resort to kneeing men, since it hurts like hell – but he sure did have it coming.”
She gets up and throws an expensive purse over her shoulder. She had refrained herself from kicking off her killer heels to put her feet up half an hour ago.
“Sounds all pretty pink-cloud perfect to me, Alex. So what happened? What changed?” Mr. Grady asks, clearly not ready to drop the subject.
The model checks her watch and notices that the session already ended ten minutes ago. His words hit a nerve she wasn’t ready to touch yet. Her eyes sink to the ground, just like her heart, and she sighs the most painful one of all.
The cousins fancy up for the event. Desperately trying not to show off, Alex chose a dress that doesn’t seem too expensive. In all fairness: it is, but nobody around here will notice. Only if they see the tag, they’ll get an estimated figure in mind. Tragically, nothing warm enough matched – half of her clothes are somewhere else across the world – so she challenges the cold bravely in her bare arms and legs. David was smarter, he’s wearing a suit. And he’s having a laugh about it.
The wedding takes place in the cute little barn the girls used to hang out when they were teenagers. Right when they walk in, Jules and her husband run over to them in a whiff of enthusiasm. The brunette still looks as smart as always, but has grown more into her beauty over the last couple of years. In theory: the nerd is out.
“Oh, my God. Alex Ochoa. I never expected to see you here,” the newlywed shrieks.
They hug in a familiar way and for a second, memories drag the model back to a certain area in her past.
“Congratulations. I am so happy for you, Jules. I was in town and of course, I wouldn’t miss this for all the money in the world.”
That’s only a half lie. Friends of Amy were friends of hers. That’s how it went back then. Jules helped her a lot with homework while Alex ran from the one modeling job to the other. She left town before she actually graduated, but her scores were high enough to earn her diploma anyway – even if it was from a distance.
David interrupts the nostalgic moment by holding his hand out to the groom.
“Congratulations, Sam. You two are a great couple.”
The guy, clearly impressed by the supermodel’s presence, smirks and greets him, after thoroughly questioning the possibility that he might be dreaming.
“This is my cousin, also an old friend of your wife,” David explains, while pointing at Alex.
The groom’s eyes sparkle, only in an admiring way, when he smiles at her and grabs Jules hand at the same time.
“I didn’t know you knew the great Alex Ochoa,” Sam utters in disbelief.
How great is it that there’s a supermodel at his wedding? They need a selfie.
“Knowing someone isn’t the same as knowing someone,” Alex explains.
Afterward, she’s confused about her own expression. David just stands there and smirks, as is Jules. They both are aware of how weird their old friend can get.
“I don’t get the question,” Sam admits.
In a way to save the day, she decides to act a lot more smarter than she is: “It’s not a question, it’s a quote.”
“Oh,” Sam coughs all relieved, “by someone famous?”
That’s when Alex vicious smirk appears. She lives for moments like these. David is already rolling his eyes.
“Well, yes,” she explains all gloating. “Me.”
Jules starts laughing out loud and pats her on the shoulder. Alex can’t help but noticing how gorgeous she looks. She’s genuinely content that Jules found her true love.
“You look amazing, Jules. What a beautiful dress you’re wearing. Really, it – um … I’m really happy for you.”
Suddenly, Alex realizes how much she missed her home. Four years away have gone by so fast, yet each day took a miracle to get through. The glowing bride excitedly shrieks once again and asks them to follow them inside, so they can meet up with some old friends Alex hasn’t seen in ages. Kate, for example.
“She’s pregnant now,” Jules explains.
Alex looks over to David, who nods all excited and hand-gestures a big belly.
“It’s a boy,” he whispers.
“I really didn’t want to go to this stupid thing. They’re all, like, doctors and lawyers.”
Alex points out the mere half of their old classmates. Something about this feels like a high school reunion. And Alex is the dumb model without a college degree. An entertaining laughter escapes David’s mouth and in a way to draw her attention, he grabs her by the shoulders.
“Alex, you are a supermodel. You strut around on the catwalk at the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show. You’re besties with Taylor Swift. How does that not top all the others?”
But that means nothing, standing here. Alex shrugs and holds her palms up to the sky.
“I inherited the cute face and the amazing body of my mother. I have a killer look and a photogenic smile. I didn’t go to school for that, someone just randomly came up to me and handed me a contract. Literally. Rick practically threw it at me. I have accomplished nothing on an academic level.”
A tempered David snorts the comment away.
“Nobody expects you to become the next George Ochoa. This thing you do, you do it amazingly. You have achieved a lot of things, just not on an academic level.”
The music starts slowing down and all their old friends start slow dancing in the middle of the floor.
“Like what? I made it to the cover of a few magazines. Everybody tosses them in the trash once they’ve read them,” she tells him, rationalizing her level of fame.
He takes her hand and though she protests for a hot second, they end up slow dancing in the middle of the crowd. It’s so beautiful in this place. So cosy and country-ish. Every single man in the room has at least glanced twice at her presence. Some are on the verge of losing an eyeball by popping out of their heads. Then again, there are the girlfriends and wives, who stare at her either in a grudging or admiring way. David swirls her around in his arms and that makes her laugh immediately. After that, he holds her close to his chest and provides her an answer.
“Not everyone tosses them in the trash. In fact, thanks to you, I can never shower in the gym again since the guys put up sixteen – I counted them – posters of you half naked. I am scared to find myself, naked, in a shower, accidentally looking up to you, naked.”
He’s clearly overcome by the word naked. She slaps him against the chest, which makes him moan in pain.
“Shut up, I never did nudes. Just eenie-meenie-miney bikinis occasionally,” she clarifies.
He objects: “Like that’s any better. Gym showering pleasure is gone.”
His strong arms dip her body and a chuckling expression of joy reverberates.
“I take it back,” she concludes, once returned on both feet. “Obviously, I’ve worked toward this goal all my life.”
They twirl around the room rapidly and almost bump into a nearby couple struggling to get the footwork right. Nobody has the dancing game like these cousins.
“So you haven’t eaten in years just to tease me?” David mocks her amusingly.
“Don’t be ridiculous. I have killer genes, I don’t need to diet.”
Alex shrugs arrogantly and pictures her cousin entering the showers and getting scared to death once he notices her sexy photos wallpapered around the place. Then an epiphany surprises her and she stops dancing immediately. David looks at her, all confused.
“Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if I showed up at your gym out of nowhere and walked straight into that men’s locker room?”
But he’s totally not into that. In fact, he would pay her a lot of money not to do it.
“Don’t. I am begging you. I know your idiot mind thinks this is an amazing idea, but trust the one that did go to college: it’s not.”
See, again: proof of intelligence tossed into her face. She resumes the slow dancing and growls.
“Yeah. The college card, it is? Played out nice for you, luckily. Poor me.”
She’s nearly pouting, but only to provoke his personality. When she notices how proud that little fact does make him feel, she can’t help but slipping some low blows into the conversation.
“Thank God that you, blogger boy, still live at your dad’s house with your brother and uncle, while I, sad, uneducated Alex, travel the world from penthouse to penthouse with my supermodel besties.”
The mockery sparks a competitive smile inside the man. He painfully gets the point.
“Couldn’t let me have one single strike, could you?” he asks, slightly lifting his left arm to spin his partner underneath it.
She shakes her head after they face each other again. Not a possibility in life.
“So did you read my last piece on the Mexican trip I took?”
Alex nods, while having a bite from the delicious piece of cake in front of her. They have paused the dancing to feed themselves. Well, to feed Alex, actually.
“Fuck, I’m starved,” she states.
To her right, three young women are seated. They’re probably related to the groom – she can’t recognize them from school. They stare at her, at the way she devours the sweets like it’s the first thing she’s had in ages.
“What?” she snarls at them. “I eat. I eat a lot.”
David shushes her before he starts laughing over her behavior. A curious look of him expresses the desire to hear a further opinion concerning his piece.
“It was great. It was about food and it had great tips, if you ask me. There can’t be anything wrong with that, right?” she shrugs.
In all honesty, she knows nothing about making food or talking passionately about recipes. When it tastes good, it tastes good. That’s her method of judging meals.
“What? It wasn’t interesting? Or funny?” David ask with an offended voice.
She doesn’t move a muscle when she shakes her head from left to right. That just baffles him. He throws his hands up in the air and blinks before uttering a repulsive “Are you kidding me?”
But again, she has to repeat her negative gesture: “I am telling you this with a straight face. That’s how we, gay people, call it, because you, straight people, have no sense of humor. At all.”
Puffing and growling over her comment, he repositions himself on the very uncomfortable chair. Alex just laugh very pleased about herself. He’s such a cry baby. Such an easy tease.
Her eyes start roaming the place. People are still dancing, but the music has a faster beat again. Something about the classics makes her want to have a good time tonight. Maybe this was a good idea after all, coming over, visiting the beautiful bride who’s having the time of her life with her newly husband on the dance floor. Sadly, this night enforces the stereotype that no husband is capable of dancing properly. Sam’s throwing his moves around, almost accidentally hitting a few friends of him from time to time, and Alex guesses that’s not how he got the girl.
She faces David again, to gain his attention while pointing it out, but she stumbles on his startled face. God, he can’t still be mad over her silly Mexican blog comment. His eyes are focussed on the entrance. They look numb, worried even. Something’s wrong.
“What?” Alex giggles uncomfortably, looking over her shoulder.
And then the world stops turning and thunder and lightening strike her simultaneously. This can’t be happening.
In front of her, somewhere in the distance, Amy has appeared. She’s holding hands with Christopher. The guy’s crazy attractive, but that doesn’t interest Alex a bit. The way her fingers are entwined in his do, though. Her jaw drops, while her heart skips a few beats in a row. She has never felt this faint, and there have been awful times in the past. The blonde hasn’t noticed her yet and Alex doesn’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. She remembers to breath and experiences a painful heartache.
“You asshole. You promised me she wouldn’t be here.”
David finally shuts his open mouth and stutters some inaudible words before shrugging.
Amy’s supposed to be in San Fransisco. She told him. It’s the sole reason Alex wanted to tag along in the first place. Just as Alex assumed this would be the worst part of the night, the worst thing in her life to happen, the gorgeous blonde from the past turns her head around. And it takes her exactly three and a half overdrive-heartbeats before her sight remains frozen. Frozen at Alex.
It takes them two really awkward minutes before one of them takes action. Amy, Alex, David, they all seem to remain glued to the spot. Until Alex makes a brave move and storms into a nearby room, the place where people have tossed their coats and belongings.
Now she’s just standing there, hoping it was obvious enough and that girl from the past will follow her in here. Her heart’s pounding – this is the most stressful moment of her entire life.
It feels wrong. Seeing each other again in this place feels wrong. Alex has been dreaming of it, planning it, going over it day after day. Every time, she told herself she’d call her. Every time she didn’t. Until a couple of days ago. She finally found the courage, in between a couple of Chardonnays, and picked up the phone. But Amy didn’t answer the call and ever since then, she’s been wondering whether it was intentional or not. She does know one thing: the imaginary event of them reuniting after such a long time apart didn’t go this way.
Amy did see her leaving the room. Ninety percent of the men around were staring at her while she escaped into the wardrobe space. Her heart is pounding so very irregularly it scares her. Because she hasn’t seen Alex in ages. Maybe this is why she called. Maybe it’s because she wanted to tell her she was attending this wedding as well. Jules comes running to her and nearly dives into her embrace.
“Oh, my God! Amy, you told me you weren’t going to be here,” she shrieks overly excited.
The blonde gets a grip on herself and fakes a carefree smile.
“I know, I was supposed to go to San Francisco but they cancelled the entire project so … Hi!”
Jules kisses Christopher on the cheek. He’s wearing a nice, black tuxedo. What a handsome boyfriend she has.
“You look amazing,” Amy compliments the bride after giving her a tight hug. “I can’t believe you got married!”
Of course, she’s met the groom a long time ago. Unlike Alex, Amy remained close friends with Jules and Kate after everything went wrong, four years ago. It wasn’t long before graduation. She was about to turn eighteen.
Her eyes wander to the place Alex disappeared to. Memories can picture her precisely, nervously strolling up and down, wondering if Amy would come running after her. Not so long ago, she would.
“Alex is here,” Jules suddenly admits.
Christopher’s confused eyes point to his girlfriend’s edgy behavior. She nods, of course she has seen her already. If she hadn’t, she would be the only one around here. Strangely, she’s the only one feeling this brokenhearted about it.
“Who’s Alex?” Christopher wonders.
The look in Jules eyes says it all: the guy has no clue what so ever who the big, notorious Alex is.
“Alex Ochoa,” the bride explains, searching the room for her familiar face.
Of course, she’s nowhere to be found. Alex is waiting behind closed doors.
“The supermodel?” Christopher scoffs. “Why would she be here? And how do you know her?”
A slightly nervous blonde laughs completely weirded out to fake innocence. Then it hits her. Alex Ochoa is a lot of things, but to her, she’s something special: “She’s my ex-girlfriend.”
The expression on her boyfriend’s face is priceless, unlike anything she’s ever seen. He’s both shocked and insecure. Jules promises to talk later and makes her way over to stop a drunk Sam, clearly starting a feud with one of his older brothers.
Amy sighs. She never wanted to lie about it to Christopher. It’s just that she didn’t want to tell him either. Something about keeping the mystery hidden for the new people in her life just seemed so appealing – and easy. But now they’re here and she said the thing that shakes up his entire life. Why did she do that? She could’ve easily polished the specific truth.
“She’s your ex-girlfriend?” he demands to know with the most intense voice he’s ever used.
It doesn’t really feel that way. Unlike some other love interests from her recent past, Alex can’t be put in that category.
“She’s not an ex-anything,” she suddenly realizes too much to gather. “She’s still something.”
It’s easy to assume that her words don’t come across as most soothing. Christopher laughs away the nagging confusion and gently pulls her closer by grabbing her by the arm: “That’s … not very comforting, babe.”
But it suddenly hits Amy: Alex is in the other room, waiting for her. That girl who dumped her and left her all alone with four years to think about it suddenly showed up tonight. How can she not be there with her, yelling at her, staring at her, spilling her mind. The inner fight not to feel anything thinking about her ex is happening. But at the same time, she is indeed feeling everything.
“Wait here. I need to talk to her,” she orders her boyfriend, completely ignoring his last words.
She faces him with the fierceness in her eyes that’s been missing for long: “Please. I haven’t seen her in years.”
He might take it as begging, but she’s already made up her mind. That’s why he shrugs and decides to overcome his high level of insecurity.
“Okay,” he whispers, only to bend over in an attempt to kiss her softly on the lips.
But her legs have started moving way before she got his permission, so he misses the target and barely graces her cheeks.
“Why the hell are you here, Alex?” is the loud welcome the dark goddess receives.
The voice makes her startle and at the same time, it shakes her to the bone. When she turns around, after been waiting for minutes now, she’s the closest she’s been to Amy in years. The girl has aged, but it only made her look more beautiful. Her hair is a bit shorter now, and Alex likes it. God, she likes everything about her. The sparkling earrings and the gracious necklace. That elegant, strapless gown covering her pale skin. Its blue matches her eyes.
But the look she’s getting isn’t really admirable. It’s caustic, loathing even. Her eyes are a weird shade of green.
“I got this one coming, didn’t I?” Alex loudly asks herself.
But the longer Amy’s looking at her – the gorgeous ghost from her past – the angrier she gets: “You shouldn’t be here, Alex. You should be far, far away from this place. From me.”
It’s almost like making a wish. Because Amy’s been waiting for this moment for years. At first, she couldn’t wait to see her ex-girlfriend again – to dive into her arms and kiss and cry until the next morning. But after a while, that feeling disappeared. Anger and confusion became the better part of her. It’s rising again, staring into her eyes. Not even that black, little dress can change her mind.
Alex opens her mouth, but it takes a couple of seconds before words follow.
“I wanted to tell you that I’m back, but you didn’t pick up your phone and …”
“And you didn’t exactly try again, did you?” Amy interrupts the lame excuse.
This is going to be a hard one, that’s clear. The Latina circles around the enraged girl from the past, granting her the opportunity to fully check her out. She’s still drop dead gorgeous. Though she spends nearly every free minute with the top models of the world, to her there’ll never be one as breathtaking as Amy.
“I was afraid to talk to you. And I didn’t know you’d be here, because if you did, I wouldn’t have – I wouldn’t be here,” she explains with a stuttering, shaking voice.
Looking straight into Amy’s eyes is way too frightening. It might kill her. Or make her heart explode, which would technically kill her as well.
“I owe you both an apology and an explanation for why I left. I want to explain it to you, but not here,” Alex silently tells her.
An enraged and emotional Amy steps up and shakes her head.
“Why not? What is such a mind-blowing secret that the supermodel Alex Ochoa can’t say in this little room.”
The excess of arrogance is disturbing to witness, especially given the fact that Amy used to be the sweetest person in the world.
“It’s complicated,” Alex stresses.
But her ex-girlfriend just won’t have it. She walks over to the spot where Alex has been standing for the last two minutes and clearly challenges the hell out of her.
“Last chance,” she threatens with her heart beating to the pace of her built-up grudge.
Alex wants nothing more than to tell her truth. The detailed and awful truth that made her run away like a coward. But if only Amy would calm down and listen to her for a second.
“You don’t understand,” she snaps, finally losing her patience as well.
God, if this goes on for another minute, she’s about to throw something breakable across the room. But it looks like Amy wasn’t kidding, she’s heading straight for the door. A second later, Alex is left alone, and that really upsets her. Nobody walks out on Alex Ochoa.
A perfect idea would be to let it rest, sleep on it and try again in the morning. But Alex is far from perfect, so she chases the cute blonde before considering the more plausible options.
“Amy!” she hisses, while trying to keep her voice down.
But the ship starts to sink the moment her body enters the room at high speed. Of course, for a split second she forgot: every single one around here knows the superstar that she is. And about sixty percent of them knows about their romantic past. Christopher excluded, as it seems.
The boyfriend is already on his feet by the time Amy reaches him. The nervous man spent the last few minutes chatting with David, anxiously trying to hide his insecurities.
“Are you okay?” he asks.
She nods, but it lacks persuasion. In the corner of his eye, a worked up and desperate Alex appears.
“Well, I don’t want you to talk to her anymore,” Christopher informs Amy while she notice the persistent appearance as well, “because, clearly, there’s something going on and I don’t like the fact that she’s your ex and a girl, so …”
“Shut up and sit down,” the blonde commands once the little, heartbreaking sparkle in Alex’s eyes makes her change her mind in between heartbeats.
He does as he’s told and starts to wonder just how much he has a say in all of this. David remains quiet, telling himself how he does not miss the girlfriend drama from the past. But the snark flowing from Amy tonight lights up a secret smile on Alex’s face. It shouldn’t have, because it pisses her opponent off.
“Please, I don’t want this to turn into a … vicious conversation,” she apologizes, hoping it’ll give her another chance.
“Fine, then just leave,” Amy snaps. “You’re good at that, aren’t you?”
It’s a natural, overpowering reflex to throw the mistakes in her face. Alex decides to sit this one out, even though she doesn’t like it. The seriousness of the pain she has cost isn’t new to her. Apart from leaving Amy heartbroken, her own heart shattered as well.
“No, I just need a minute. To explain things,” she pleads, with watering eyes. “Please, Amy.”
But the blonde doesn’t want to hear it. David sighs and looks over to Christopher, who just sits there like a complete, clueless idiot. Part of him is mad, while another part of him is just overwhelmed to have the one Alex Ochoa standing in front of him.
“Why bother, Alex? You are the girl that gets everything, remember?” Amy rejects by using the words that used to describe the talented, unknown girl from this little town. “You fought really hard to achieve that, left everything – excuse me, everyone behind. Just to get everything.”
“Please, hear me out. Lower you voice, this isn’t … I don’t … I don’t want to tell you like this.”
That’s when a crushed Alex can’t withhold her tears anymore. She walks up to her ex-girlfriend and cups her hands. The sensation of her touch freaks the blonde out. Finally, the dream now feels real. There’s no more denying. A few steps take her away from the cause of her most painful memories and she turns around to walk away. It’s just all too much too confusing. The best thing to do is leave, before this whole wedding party crashes and burns. Jules would never forgive her. She would never forgive herself. Everyone’s staring already.
But Alex is afraid to watch her leave, maybe forever this time. She realizes that this is her one and only shot. Because after this, Amy will never grant her another chance.
”I had cancer!” she loudly admits, freezing Amy right to the spot.
Her eyes fire anxiety. Anxiety because, apart from her family, she has never told anyone on this planet. Anxiety because being sick has destroyed everything in her life and made Amy hate her with a passion that is indescribable.
Amy, on the other hand, can’t move a muscle. She has her back turned to Alex, yet she can picture the expression on her ex-lover’s face. Did she just hear those words? That one possibility she never even considered. The only possibility she never considered. Her heart has stopped beating ever since the word cancer reached her ears. This must be how paralyzation feels like. How a heart attack strikes a body. How a seizure defeats a human being.