AA-meetings – Chapter 20: Atelophobia

Atelophobia 

2019


It is the fear of not being good enough. A fear that creeps up on Alex every single time she looks into Amy’s eyes. Right now, she definitely doesn’t qualify as good enough. Right now, she’s sick. Probably even dying. The last few days have been hard. There’s been unrestrained crying and denial. Unexplainable hoping and wishing. Dr. De Weerdt is flying in tomorrow. Alex begged him, in the middle of the night to pack up his stuff and fly to America. He did. 

But the potential dying part doesn’t scare her nearly as much as leaving Amy behind. Everything was going so well. Too well. They are married, happy, in love. And now it could be ending. She’s feeling it in her bones. The ones that are fragile and weak. Her entire body is exhausted, like it simply can’t endure any more treatment. But she has to.

The Latina is sitting on the same couch she has sat on a couple of months ago: Mr. Grady. Still handsome as hell – but in a fatherly way. He notices she has glasses too and compliments her on them. She softly smiles.

“Last time I saw you here, Alex, you pushed over my most expensive vase and stormed right out. Never expected to see you again, I must admit,” he kicks off the conversation.

The intrigued patient demonstrates a naughty smirk.

“What can I say? I’m full of surprises,” she tells him.

There’s a silence that lasts several uncomfortable minutes. He clears his voice and squints his eyes before allowing her to speak up.

“Sorry about that. I wasn’t exactly in a happy place back then,” she admits while apologizing in her own weird way.

The man isn’t blind. He can tell how skinny she looks. And he’s well aware of her medical condition. At least, the situation she was in last  time.

“And now? Are you happy to be here?”

Her tongue rubs the sides of her teeth and she’s not sure what to tell him.

“I’m not unhappy to be here.”

The old, grey man softly smiles and nods: “See … that’s progress.”

“You’re easily pleased, aren’t you?” Alex curiously asks.

She repositions herself on the couch and nervously taps the screen of her phone. He recognizes her annoying behavior and decides to ignore it.

“Why are you here?”

His soft voice makes her think.

“Good question,” she whispers, not sure if it’s a question or not.

Her hand grabs the glass of water in front of her, on the low table, and she has a big draught before wiping her face clean.

“Alex?” Mr. Grady gains her attention.

“I needed a talk, I guess,” she admits.

“About what?”

His soft eyes make her feel comfortable in this room again. Last time, she completely freaked out. It was a combination of fear and frustration. She’s over that now. For now.

“I have cancer,” she tells him, like he doesn’t know it yet. “I survived it once, a couple of years ago, but now it’s back. And I’ve tried, but it’s winning. So I guess I’m dying. I am here because I’m dying and I’m freaking out and because I want to keep that from every single person around me, freaking out as well, I came here.”

He clenches his jaws. This definitely isn’t the news he was expecting. How does one respond to this? Even as a therapist.

“That’s … heavy,” he calmly utters.

Alex smiles over his comment. That’s one way to put it.

“Well, I like to make things interesting as well,” she assures him.

“Are you afraid?” he wonders, pretty straight-forward.

She is, but for all sorts of reasons. She remember just how weird it is – the possibility of clouding your own mind with hope and random expectations. Chemotherapy sucks, but no matter what, the mind’s programmed to reach out for the best options. She hates going through all of it. And it’s not like it’s the first time. See, this sort of treatment is terrible. Because the first two days are fine. And those two days, you are prepared for. You expect to get sick right away and once you realize it isn’t happening, something small inside of you starts wishing and hoping it’ll be different from what others tell you. Maybe your body works in another way. Maybe it endures the chemicals and antibiotics betters. Those two days are the key to your attitude. Every time again, you’re like: ‘Okay, it’s not that bad’. ‘Maybe I won’t get that sick’. ‘I’m doing great’. But then day three sets in. And then it begins. And it’s horrible. And once it starts, it feels like it’ll never end.


A recently added bucket list item was making it until 2020. Ever since the bad news, things have changed a lot. Alex gave up trying to work. She spends her days at the hospital or lying in the couch. There are the exceptions where she feels great and gets to have fun with an adjusting Amy. The blonde has learned to deal with the mood swings that cannot be tempered. The human body’s a strange thing. It can break down just as fast as it has the ability to gain strength again. Alex likes to use a hangover as the metaphor to ridicule it. After a great night out, you never know what to expect in the morning. Blistering headache or a fresh, sparkling attitude. Always a surprise.

And so, 2020 means a lot to Alex. It means that she made it another year. That, against all odds, she’s stronger than the doctors anticipated. Stronger than this thing called cancer. Because every day she gets to add to her life is another win. And every day she gets to spend with Amy, is a miracle.

“Babe. I want to go to the party. Come on, everyone’s going to be there.”

Amy sighs over the untiring nagging coming from her wife. She’s been going at it for hours now, perfectly reenacting a five year old on a mission. Thing is: little Miss supermodel would love to attend a rather fancy party with all her famous friends, while Amy reckons going to her mom and dad’s is a better decision. Health-wise, that is. In all fairness, she’d like to party too.

“Name five people you actually speak to on a daily record that will be there,” the blonde dares her.

The pretty determined Latina crosses her arms over her tummy and smirks: “Julia.”

“Julia doesn’t count. She’s an in-law.”

The smirk has disappeared by now and an intrigued Alex squeezes her glasses-less eyes a little. Something tells her she might not win this fight. That’s rare.

“Please, I can’t spend another night at your parents’,” she continues her plea. “Your mother is horrible. Last night she put a towel around my neck as a bib. And she cut my meat for me. I can cut my own meat.”

Amy scoffs over her comment and walks over to the woman she married. All around them, there are people. Countless people. Some for hair, some for makeup, some for fashion tips. Alex calls it her personal prep team, though most of them come just as fast as they go. Clearly, the most famous patient in the world is having a great day today. And she’s determined to show it.

“Don’t call my mother horrible. She’s just worried about you,” Amy tells her, prying the room she’s in.

Yes, most of them are secretly looking at them from the corner of their eyes.

Sure, Eleanor can get overly affectionate and concerned. But that’s just the way she is. Amy thinks it’s sweet that her mother cares so deeply for her wife. That’s the thing about their big family. They all get along so well. George and Amy have been inseparable for years.

“I liked her better when she hated me,” Alex sighs, while shaking her head at some outfits a younger stylist is showing her.

“No, you didn’t. Look, I just don’t want you to …”

But Amy hesitates. If there’s anything these past couple of months have taught her, it’s not making the disastrous mistake of using her disease as a rejection or an excuse. See, only Alex is allowed to use the cancer card. Rules only apply for the ones surrounding her.

“I can handle a party, okay,” Alex hisses, suddenly agitated. “This round of chemo finished three weeks ago. And Dr. De Weerdt’s other options start next week. I earn this party.”

She looks at her wife with fierceness in her eyes. That same sparkle Amy knows too well.

“Don’t say it,” Amy rolls her eyes too tired of hearing it.

She’s going to say it.

“It’s on my bucket list.”

The words make the blonde sigh with frustration, not intense enough to be mad. She said it.

“Always that damn bucket list. You just keep randomly adding things you want to make me go along with it,” she recalls.

Alex demonstrates her flirtatious evil smile and feels really proud about it.

“And I am so happy you love that about me,” she coughs subtly.

But Amy’s mood hasn’t changed too much yet. She rolls her eyes once more and tells herself not to get dragged along into one of Alex’s self-flattering frolics.

“Hm. I don’t,” she entrusts her.

As the Latina sits down in the makeup chair put in the centre of the living room, some of the people of her entourage gather around her with brushes and powders.

It lasts a good hour, where the both of them tirelessly huff and puff over their childish behavior. Amy is prepping herself in the bathroom, kindly rejecting the help of her wife’s employees. She paces up and down the apartment, searching for an appropriate outfit and a matching hairdo. It’s hilarious and the bystanders just mysteriously gloat over it. Many of them have witnessed similar scenes.

“Just wait for it,” Alex whispers amusingly to the three women surrounding her. “I give it another minute.”

They all mischievously smirk and await her prediction. Alex Ochoa usually gets her way. Now more than ever. Amy briefly reenters the living room to search her phone and the cock-sure Latina decides to change the game.

“If you want to go to your parents’, just go. I’ll be fine, all alone at the party.”

The tone of her voice is off and the blonde immediately notices. The way she emphasized ‘alone’ makes her blood boil. This is to manipulate her. The manipulating voice. It’s been used before, but it won’t work this time, she promises herself.

“Okay, I will,” she calmly responds too stubborn to even discuss things like an adult.

Alex couldn’t care less and shrugs: “Fine.”

But Amy’s defensive wall already starts to show the first signs of cracking. Her entire body screams with frustration. Somehow, she finds it within herself to growl in an annoyed way.

“Fine!”

Including stamping foot and clenching fists. She storms out of the room again, into the bedroom, and Alex raises her hand. Her stylists waits patiently. She mouths the countdown from three to one and even demonstrates it with her fingers. When the last one is down, the pretty blonde appears yet again, all worked up and frustrated. She forcefully walks out again. And back in. Clearly, this is eating her alive. Her body doesn’t move a muscle, nor does she say a word.

“So, you’re coming with me?” Alex bashfully presumes in a natural voice.

When she turns her head around, she sees just how angry Amy is at herself. Her arms are crossed, her back is straightened and her face is clearly the reflection of defeat.

“Yes,” she utters submissively.

There’s even a pout. A pout that secretly ensures her it’s not even that big of a deal to give in. It’s dead cute and the little smile that Alex is carrying suddenly makes her feel a little bit better about being whipped this much. Because she can’t help but making her happy. It’s the goal of life, it’s the only thing she might be able to do for her from now on. Alex feels good about winning this one, but not as much as feeling loved. Because Amy can be stubborn as hell if she wants to. And every time she changes her mind over something Alex wants, it means the world to her.

The second her wife can’t hear her anymore, the Latina’s eyes flare up at the girls suppressing an enjoying smile.

“How do you always do that?” one of them asks.

She’s a pretty Asian girl. That’s probably the reason why Alex hired her in the first place. The model shrugs and demonstrates her smug face.

“I’m very, very stubborn and filled with evil. But in a cute way.”

Suddenly, a terrifying shriek startles them all. One of the makeup girls actually almost pokes out one of Alex’s eyes with the mascara stick she’s holding.

“What the hell?” she yells, after Amy comes running in from the bathroom.

The she sees it: her entire upper body is covered in glitters. So is her neck and the bottom of her face. Alex frowns and holds up her hands to ask what the hell happened.

“I dropped the box of glitters,” Amy confesses, totally ashamed about it.

It’ll take at least one shower and a complete makeup do-over to fix that. Alex gets up on her feet and observes the hilarious picture. She clears her throat and bites her lower lip. She also refrains from taking a selfie with this glittery monster.

“You look like you just came back from a strip club.”

Amy demonstrates her evil eyes but immediately resorts to spontaneous laughter.

“Okay, okay,” Alex sighs, while carefully rubbing the sides of her wife’s arms as if she were contagious. “We can fix this. Uhm – let’s see.”

She turns around and points at some of the people around.

“Bethany, Zion, Claire. Help us out a little bit, okay? Take this -”

She circles around the grinning blonde and grabs the back of her shoulders to identify the subject.

“- beautiful Tinker Bell and turn her into the most gorgeous, jaw-dropping, eye-tingling, panty-quivering, jealousy-attack-causing, gay-radiating date I ever got to bring to a party.”

The trio jumps to its feet like a goddess just ordered them to go to work and start rambling about all the ideas that flash through their mind. Amy’s feeling very appreciative over the kind action of her wife and turns around to stare at her in a loving way. When she bends over to kiss her, Alex stops her though. The caramel fingers point at all the glitters taken possession of Amy’s body and she shakes her head reluctantly.

“Maybe later,” she suggests.


“Okay, let’s queer it up a bit in here,” Alex joyfully announces while handing her coat to someone at the entrance.

Amy’s eyes are still flashing from all the camera men targeting them on their way in. This party must be the most important event of the evening, given the press attention. There are blank spots everywhere, like there’s firework and she’s the only one who sees it. Alex holds her hand, so it’s pretty safe to assume she won’t stumble while readjusting her vision. It’s funny, how despite the circumstances, Alex turns out to be the supportive person this evening. Like the promise of a good night out keeps her up on her feet steadily – it makes her body forget about the cancer for just a few hours. But fair is fair: Amy and Alex made a pact about this New Year’s Eve. There will be no talking about the cancer. No thinking about the cancer. No predicaments or worries about the cancer. The cancer simply does not exist. It’s not present. It never actually happened. The only thing that did, is the two of them – their connection – their marriage. Later tonight it’ll be 2020. And that’s all that matters to Alex. She wants to party. She wants to use all her energy and exploit it until the sun comes up again tomorrow morning. Because tomorrow guarantees to be a bad day.

“You look pretty,” Amy tells her, while finally regaining her sight.

Alex is wearing contacts now. It hurts her eyes a little, but no way she’s entering this glamorous party with her cancer glasses. That’s how she calls them. To Amy, they’re just glasses. Pretty, expensive glasses. They make her wife look like a hot secretary.

“And you look like a goddess. Less sparkly than before, though,” the Latina mocks her.

“Are you feeling okay?” Amy wonders to check up on her.

She wouldn’t feel good about herself if she refrained from asking. This Ochoa girl is her main concern. All the other models and artists could strip down right this second, she’d still only look at her.

Alex nods and looks at her with determination in her eyes. She’s being honest: everything about tonight feels okay. Her body’s slightly tired, but less than usual. It’s excitement that is taking over.

Normally, the two of them don’t attend these kind of parties too often. Amy’s not a big fan of them and to Alex it’s simple: if Amy doesn’t want to tag along, it just won’t be as much fun.

“Where are your friends? And David?” Amy asks, while staring into the poorly lit room.

Famous people like to hide in the dark. There must be five hundred of them. And one by one, they start noticing the it-couple’s presence. Luckily, Alex’s own blood and flesh is one of them.

“You’re here. I didn’t think you’d make it,” David joyfully proclaims while he sneaks up on them from the side.

The girls light up as they recognize him and hug it out for a while. Julia quickly appears as well.

She rolls her eyes at Alex and sighs: “God, so many people. Everyone wants to talk.”

Such a burden to be famous. Amy and David silently grin. They enjoy the more invisible aspect of success. Few people can name three editors without Googling it first. And David’s blog has been faceless since the start of it. It’ll probably always stay that way.

A shrieking utter of recognition resounds and everyone looks up to find one of the relatively new pop artists of the last few years: Tezz. She’s small and a bit eccentric. But that’s probably what Alex likes so much about her. She bends over to the brunette and kisses her softly on the cheek. They met at a party two years ago and hit it off right away. The group chats a little. They have drinks and they dance. Suddenly, Tezz wiggles her black hairs around the place and faces Alex.

“You weren’t in London or New York for the fashion weeks in September?” she suddenly remembers.

The Latina shakes her head nervously and lowers her voice: “No, I was – uhm – sick. I couldn’t make it.”

Suddenly, everyone gets drastically reminded about the illness of their most known friend. Amy gently and lovingly strokes the caramel skin of her wife’s lower arm. Nobody around here would ever realize she’s sick if they hadn’t read the news in a paper. The glam team has done a colossal work. And it’s not like she wasn’t skinny before she got cancer.

Tezz stares at the beautiful woman wearing a designer strapless, black gown and realizes how ruthless her question appeared to be. She apologizes, but Alex tells her it’s fine. She’s here now and it’s great. She’s wearing an amazing outfit. Her hair – technically a wig – is hanging loosely down her shoulders, slightly tickling the skin of her bare back. Her high heels are to die for. And she has Amy, holding her hand. The blonde is looking amazing, as always. Perfect makeup, perfect white dress, perfect face. Perfect wife.

People come and go – everyone kisses everyone. Most of the people attending haven’t seen Alex in public in ages. They all know her condition, yet nobody is brave enough to mention it. Lucky thing, though, because Amy might be capable of punching them in the face.

As the evening progresses, they all start dancing. The entire atmosphere is festive and glamorous. It’s New Year’s Eve after all. Just as their feet are starting to get worked in, Alex’s throat starts to feel dry. She’s already exhausted, but it’s manageable. There have been worse days. She has an amusing look at the frenetically dancing people around her and can’t help but feeling happy. Genuine, unrestrained glory captivated her – it mesmerizes her for a whole minute.

Tezz hugs her the third time this evening and Amy can’t help but feeling a bit playfully jealous about it. She sneaks up on the popular showbiz phenomenon and squeezes her eyes.

“Are you in love with my wife, Tezz?”

The black haired beauty looks up to her and her hands come resting on her bare arm.

“Love is a lot of things. When it’s good, it’s the reason you’re living. When it’s bad, it’s the reason you’re dying.”

Amy has no idea where it’s coming from, but it is in fact, one of her song lyrics. The poetic attitude of those musicians nowadays is quite something.

“Oh, you’re cute,” Amy tells her, while winking at Alex. “Such a romantic. You’re straight?”

“Yes,” Tezz nods with a cute smile.

Alex bends in to throw in a classic joke and reaches for her most charming expression: “Well, we can help you with that.”

“Alex, stop teasing her,” Amy tells her strictly, afraid the pop star might take them up on that offer.

The wives chuckle and that’s when Alex realizes just how thirsty she is.

“I’m going to get us some drinks, okay?” she tells Amy, right before kissing her on the side of her lips.

She goes on the search for the bar and crosses her dear friend Katy McGrath, who’s passionately discusses one of her latest parties to a group of friends that normally hangs around Taylor Swift or Katy Perry.

“I was at a party last week, and this guy – complete jerk who spends daddy’s money – jumps into the swimming pool. With his laptop in his hands. And I’m like: who does that. Right?” she says in a girly voice.

The group expresses a rehearsed laughter. Alex smirks and pats her on the back. The Asian looking girl looks up and recognizes her immediately.

“Alex!” she shrieks before wrapping both arms around her neck. “I didn’t know you’d be here.”

She kisses her pale cheek a few times and holds on to her hands a little bit too long. Her eyes ask the question she doesn’t want to say out loud: is she okay? Alex nods. All things considered, she is. At least tonight.

“We’re over there. Come say hi to us later. Julia’s here too. And Amy.”

Kathy promises she will. She looks a lot healthier than before. Together with a therapist and a doctor, she’s working on her bad habits to remain skinny. It seems to be working. Somehow, Alex’s complete verbal throwdown worked. After saying goodbye, she proceeds her route to the bar. Two glasses of champagne are being ordered. The rest isn’t in need of a refill yet.

To her right, there’s a man staring at her. Weirdly, it’s flattering to feel this admired, especially after all the sick crap. Sure, the makeup team had a lot to do with it tonight, but that doesn’t matter. He’s a man, but that doesn’t matter either. He offers her a cigarette, right after she kindly greets him.

“No, thanks. I’m acapnotic.”

She looks around and realizes it’s pretty prohibited to smoke in here. Clearly, this older, grey millionaire-like man couldn’t care less. The only thing that interests him, though, is the word she just used.

“I don’t smoke,” she clarifies.

For a man his age, she’s certainly capable of looking like a foolish teenager.

“I’ve had a lot of time lately. Been reading the dictionary,” she tells him, before accepting the drinks a waiter hands her.

Boredom does a lot of things to a person. Since work is no longer an option – at least on most days and on doctor’s orders – a person resorts to the craziest things to keep themselves entertained. Like a dictionary.

“God, you are way too pretty,” he suddenly lets her know. “No, seriously, you are gorgeous. You are my favorite model since … ever.”

It’s obvious he recognizes her. She softly smiles. It’s not the first time someone has said something similar.

“Thanks.”

He scoots over to her side and leans on his elbow to have a proper look at her.

“Alex Ochoa. You must have all the men love you and all the women hate you,” he romantically fantasizes.

She squints amusingly and shakes her head: “Well, I have a wife, so I certainly hope she doesn’t hate me.”

He doesn’t get the clue and, again, his manly ignorance shows.

“I like women,” she clarifies.

Alex is way too happy to witness this sudden dazzled behavior. Seriously, does he not read the paper?

He twists his head and wiggles his nose a second: “Like in a feminist way?”

“Sure,” she nods before exploding with laughter. “But also in a gay way.”

Ultimately, he realizes she’s a lesbian. That makes him gloat with joy: “It must be awesome to be this perfect.”

The way he’s staring at her, the way his head is positioned on his supporting fist and the way his eyes admire the perfection in front of him warms her heart. People still think she’s gorgeous.

“Hm,” she seems to disagree, though. “I’m currently dying from cancer, so perfect’s a bit exaggerated.”

His smile drops the second her words sink in. She might be overreacting about the state of her condition, but still … Out of nowhere, she gets surprise-attacked by the love of her life. The champagne sloshes over the edge of the glasses and in a desperate attempt to keep the deliciousness from completely ending up on the floor, Alex jumps aside to free her from the warm, tight touch of her lover.

“Amy!” she shrieks.

The millionaire that was talking to her all that time witnesses the spectacle and smiles approvingly, only to excuse himself and disappear a few moments later.

“What was that?” Amy asks her curiously.

Her wife shrugs and she’s aware that her entire attention is focussed on the hot blonde in front of her: “I challenged him to a little game called ‘guess my sexuality’.”

“You weren’t flirting with him. You changed,” Amy notices after flirtatiously licking the spilled champagne off Alex’s fingers.

It makes the Latina slightly shiver. She’s about to invite her wife to the bathroom and do very bad things to her. In fact, she might put it on her bucket list – the one for tonight.

“Maybe I did. The thing is, when I’m with you, I forget about the rest of the world. Even the people in it,” she romantically explains.

Amy stares into her eyes and forgets about the festivities around them. There’s nothing but blue eyes and brown eyes shamelessly staring at each other. There’s a white dress and a black dress, matching perfectly. There’s Alex and Amy, and the overwhelming desire to kiss each other within the next minute. There’s no sound or music. No flashing disco lights or dancing people. Suddenly, they both realize how other people call this: AA-meetings.


Amy is totally wasted. So wasted that Alex is discovering a whole new side of her. Though she thought she had seen all of her, this night turns out to be a great surprise. The group shifted to a corner of the dance hall now – near the bathroom. Just in case one of them might end up having to puke. Everyone bet fifty bucks it’ll be Amy. Susan, workaholic number one, found the time to join the friends. She walked in way too late and practically jumped everyone in all her excitement. Still that same crazy personality. Still adorable and rude at the same time.

When Alex finds her wife after having a dancing chat with her famous coworkers, Amy’s leaning back against the wall. Her hair’s a mess from acting out and playing around, but that’s fine. Even Susan agrees that she looks genuinely happy. Tomorrow morning, she might feel different about it.

Amy’s eyes find her. They are flirtatiously checking out Alex from the other side of the room. Her butt is swaying from left to right, following the beat of the music. She looks like a goddess while dancing. But the level of alcohol has an effect on her movements. Her feet are unstable – especially on those killer heels – and her equilibrium is just shit. Suddenly, she completely tumbles to the right and Alex reaches her just in time to grab her hand.

“Now that’s sexy,” she sarcastically tells her wife.

For real though, if should be illegal for a person to be this effortlessly sexy. Amy’s blurry eyes soften and a giggling laughter appears: “Want to have sex in the bathroom?”

Alex kindly refuses the offer and has a sip of her glass. She’s not really allowed to drink. Dr. De Weerdt thinks it’s very damaging to drink alcohol, she feels like it’s okay – at least for tonight. She’s been a perfect patient for months now. She’s been taking her meds, attending the appointments, listening to the doctors. She gets the night off. Tonight is her one night off.

“I’m going to find Susan, okay? And I’ll be right back,” Amy stutters.

“Do you want me to come with you? You look rather unstable,” Alex bluntly responds.

The blonde shakes her head and kisses her wife intensely for a whole minute. Her fingers pinch the flesh of Alex’s neck. It’s a reaction of desire, of need. Also, of alcohol. The sensation makes Alex’s lips tremble. And all the others watch.

“I’ll be fine,” Amy assures her. “I’ll get a glass of water and I’ll be fine.”

It’s not just Alex that deserves this night off. Being here is liberating for Amy too. Because she’s just as much a prey of this cancer as Alex is. It completely overshadows her life, it controls it – the fear of losing Alex, of living a life without her.

By the time the blonde disappears from her sight, the sweating model realizes it’s almost midnight. See, wearing a watch isn’t fashionable when you’re draped in diamonds and jewelry. So naturally, someone around must point out the hour of the moment. Four more minutes. That makes Alex panic. 2020 is symbolical to her. It’s about surviving, about making it to another year. But that means nothing is the first second can’t be spend pressed against the lips of her beloved wife. Her feet feel tired. Her entire body is exhausted from the endless dancing. It’s been glorious – it’s been amazing. And now it’s almost time for the countdown.

She runs around the place and accidentally bumps into a few of her familiar colleagues. They all hug and kiss her. She smiles and pats their shoulders with the most radiant smile that has ever taken control of her face. This party is insane. Never has she ever seen so many public people acting like total random fools. The host of tonight orders to slow the music down and starts to talk. He’s commenting the wonderful year America’s had. The beautiful reproductions of the movie and music industry. The gorgeous models and actors attending this event. He smiles every once in a while, thinking about how great his life is. Suddenly a bright beaming crosses the entire room. A massive countdown sign appears across the wall. Twenty more seconds. Alex’s eyes quickly flash through the room. Where is she? Where is Amy?

Something blonde appears in the distance. It’s unstable, it’s on the move, it’s confused. It’s Amy! Alex heaves a big sigh and makes her way through the people that are already preparing themselves for the explosion of celebration. God, she’s feeling exhausted. One more hour, that’s all she’s giving it. After that, she’ll need to go to bed.

Ten more seconds.

The host encourages them all to participate in the countdown. Dozens of superstars do as he says. It makes Alex smile for a hot second. Then, she runs over to grab the hand of the woman she loves. Two more seconds. Amy’s eyes flare up at her and the expression of relief warms the Latina’s heart.

“I didn’t know where you were,” the blonde utters, in what seems like a little panic attack.

But Alex doesn’t say a word. Just one more second.

She cups the face of the prettiest person she knows and pulls her so close that their lips naturally blend. Midnight strikes. Loud music and cheering reverberates. And then there’s fireworks. Fireworks everywhere – in the sky, in the room, in their hearts. The girls experience the warmth of each other’s lips and enjoy it for a couple of enchanting seconds. When they ultimately part, all their friends have gathered around them. They cheer and throw their hands up in the air. Pecking and smooching happens. Alex refuses to let go of Amy’s hand, but starts jumping up and down until her health stops her. She’s panting and the blonde notices.

“Are you okay?” she wonders.

“I’m fine,” Alex tells her. “I’m just very tired, but that’s okay.”

It looks like Amy did get that glass of water, because her level of intoxication seems to have dropped. Maybe her worrying kicked it to the background.

“Sure?”

“Yes?” Alex nods. “Amy, I am so sure. This might be my very last New Year’s party ever. I probably won’t make it ’til the next one and that’s okay. Because, babe, … I’m having so much fun. I am dancing my ass off. And there’s friends and music and joy. Nothing reminds me of death. Nothing about this is sad or depressing – except that girl’s outfit.”

She turns around and points out a passenger. Amy chuckles. She’s still awfully drunk, though. She spent more time kissing Alex this evening than talking to her. To her, that’s a productive day. Alex’s eyes flare up at her once more and that’s when she recognizes the joy that’s always been there whenever she was having fun.

“I’m happy, Amy. I am close to dying, but this might be one of the happiest days of my life. Thanks to you.”

“Well, in all fairness, I was being selfish. I would do everything for you, Alex, but spending New Year’s Eve with my family was even too much for me to handle – so I tricked you into going to this party.”

It’s a total lie and Alex knows it. Her caramel fingers poke the sensitive ribs of her lover and she pulls a scrunchy face.

“Shut up.”

Amy obediently shuts up.

“Smile.”

Amy smiles.

“Kiss me.”

It’s adorable. Amy bends over and kisses her. Softly, tenderly, passionately. With her arms wrapped around her neck. Bodies pulled close together.

“Happy New Year,” Alex whispers through her mouth.

“Happy New Year, my love,” she gets in return.

They part and it hurts. Alex twirls around to run into David’s arms. The cousins dance for a while and drag Julia into the ridiculousness. Susan got her hands on a relatively known rocker, Seth Brendan. He’s the lead singer of a band called Messiahs. They are kissing. But then again, everyone’s kissing.

Seeing all of it, all this joy, all this careless behavior and harmless fun – it suddenly makes Amy choke. It makes her anxious and scared. Because this has been a wonderful night. An amazing memory. But somehow, she’s secretly sad about how there might be no ‘happy’ in this new year. It might be the year the love of her life will die. All facts point in that direction. All failures of treatment make it seem so. So this new year could turn out to be the worst year of her life. And look at Alex, being all positively hysterical about it. She’s laughing, so much that her eyes sparkle like diamonds. She’s dancing, so heavily in ways that her body hasn’t moved in months. She’s happy, so genuinely that for a rare moment, her sickness disappears from her mind.


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