AA-meetings – Chapter 22: Amaranth (final chapter)

Amaranth 

2020


 

Trembling fingers reach out to the clothes that are hanging in the forgotten closet at the good old Ochoa mansion. David’s eyes glare at the familiar pieces of fabric and, almost immediately, his breathing chokes. He hasn’t cried yet. He can’t. Because if he does, it’ll never stop.

There’s a scent flowing from the closet that reaches his nose after a few seconds. It’s Alex’s. A mixture of perfume and body lotion. She always smelt like cinnamon.

He clears his throat and orders himself to be strong. His dear uncle George shouldn’t be burdened with cleaning the long lost closet of his daughter. Ever since she moved out, nobody else ever slept in this room. Now it’s time. Time to clean up. Time to say goodbye.

His fingers reach the first shirt falling down a hanger and the touch startles his skin. Goosebumps take complete control of it. The brown haired guy squeezes the fabric in his fist as he steps back to heave a breath. The bed they spend countless hours on, watching movies or doing homework – because it’s easier when you pair up – offers him support. He sits down on the amaranth purple sheets and presses the shirt against his face to absorb the odor. Every time he closes his eyes, she appears. Dancing, joking, posing, laughing. Alex has always been there. Ever since he was a little boy. When his mom died and Eli was too occupied with taking care of funeral arrangements, the five year old offered her comforting embrace so he could cry in the dark. He stood by her bed in Belgium, during that first round of chemo. Flying across the world to see her just two days seemed the most natural thing in the world. And now again, all those weeks at the hospital. He visited every day. He walked in, always just as optimistic and happy – even though it was fake – so she wouldn’t lose hope.

His eyes start tearing up. Soon, heartbreaking sounds of crying reverberate through the room. It’s muffled by the shirt he’s holding close to his face. The grown up guy crawls into fetal position and now that he started crying, it appears that he can’t stop anymore.

Julia walks into the room and remains quiet. Her eyes are red from quietly crying too. Uncertain about the appropriate thing to do, she decides to make her way over to her boyfriend. She sits down next to him and lays her hand on the back of his neck. He doesn’t look up. He just keeps sobbing uncontrollably. Her hands pull his body closer until he finally gives in and crashes on her chest. His eyes are flaring red. The blue shirt he’s holding is soaking wet. Julia’s tender fingers run through his curls while she makes shushing noises to calm him down. David is heartbroken. And there’s nothing she can do to help him.


 

Surrounded by a group of children and their caretakers, an old man inhales the coldness of the wind. His bald head reflects the little rays of sunlight that keeps the earth warm. His eyes stare into the nothingness while his body feels numb. The entire world feels numb. There’s rock bottom. Then there’s sixty shades of mourning. And then there’s him.

To his right, a young girl – she must be six years old – drags her best friend to the nearby swing. They mount it and wiggle their feet until their bodies start moving through the air. Childish shrieks reach his ears, but the sound doesn’t please him. No, it makes his heart break even more. Because it’s the sound his little girl used to make when she was little. He’d drag her to this playground and put her on the wooden shelf so her feet no longer touched the ground. For a second, she’d panic, but then his hands would find their way to her chubby cheeks and he’d tell her it’ll all be okay.

A lost tear slides down his cheek. It’s the first one in a while. Crying stopped somewhere last week. There’s nothing left anymore. After the loss of his wife, George assumed that the worst already happened to him. Losing the woman he adored was like literally taking his heart away from his body. But then he looked down at the squirming, shrieking creature they had produced. She was small and fragile – searching for someone to hold her. She felt alone and scared. His grief had taken a part of his reasoning up until then. When he looked into her deep brown eyes, it hit him: this person became his responsibility the minute she was born. This person was in dire need of his protection from now until forever: the first bottle of milk she’d get, the first word she’d ever say – it was daddy – and the first steps she’d take. All up to the moment when she walked down that isle to marry the woman she fell in love with. Something changed right there. Part of his responsibilities seemed to have ended the second she swore eternal devotion to her significant other. But he was wrong: a dad’s job is never done. George’s job was never done.

A cute, little kid walks over to the lost man on the bench. His ball rolled all the way to the fancy, expensive shoes that haven’t moved in minutes. It has the color of amaranth. When the child picks it up, his innocent green eyes flare up at George’s broken ones.

“Are you alright, Sir?” the young voice asks all concerned.

George finally faces him and snaps out of his confusion.

“I’m fine, boy. Don’t worry about me,” he softly assures him.

The tiny hands twirl the ball around a couple of times before kindly smiling.

“Do you want to play some football?” the kid offers.

George chuckles and shakes his head calmly. This is the example of innocence. A person too young to understand the cruelty of life, walking up to a troubled grownup to clear his mind.

“I’m too old to play football, kiddo,” George sighs with a half smile. “But …”

He points at the old swing that brings back all sorts of memories and notices how the boy follows the direction of his fingers.

“… whenever you feel like using that one over there, just call me. Okay?”

The curly, charming boy starts nodding. He says bye and runs back to his other friends to continue the football game they were playing. George follows his movements and heaves a sobering sigh.


 

“Did you bring it?” Dr. Greer wonders.

He turns around and faces the disorientated blonde he met a couple of days before. Amy looks up to him, with teary eyes, and nods. The last few days have been horrible. Unreal. Extraordinary. She has her hair tightly pulled back into a ponytail. All she’s wearing is some jeans and a blouse. There’s a little note in her hands. It’s been folded and unfolded multiple times. The edges show signs of usage. There are little ruptures and creases. When Dr. Greer examines her eyes, he notices just how swollen and red they are.

“Are you … ready to do this?”

After a long pause, Amy clears her throat. Her fingers fiddle with the white note. It’s a speech. The one she’s dreaded. The one she never wished to rehearse in the mirror and speak out loud in front of a crowd. Her head starts nodding almost invisibly.

Dr. Greer sits down on the sofa across his patient. His observing nature catches her nervousness – the way she uncomfortably glances through the room, from one object to another. When her hasty stare suddenly freezes, it’s oriented at the amaranth-colored vase on the white cabinet to her right. If Alex were here, she’d feel the urge to smash it to pieces. Right now, she feels the same.

Her fingers wrinkle the paper once more and suddenly, she starts to read the words that have been written down some days ago.

“I stand here on this incredibly sad day to say goodbye to the love of my life. Alex Ochoa. The first time I ever laid eyes on her, I knew she was about to change everything I had ever believed in. Of course, I was merely five, so I had big dreams, big expectations. But that didn’t matter – she fulfilled them all. We started off in kindergarten, with Miss Jocelyn. She walked over to me and said: ‘You’re going to be my best friend!’. She was right. By the time we found ourselves in love, we were both just like: ‘Oh, okay, that makes sense’. There was no drama, no fear of what we were going through, no doubt. She just smiled at me and it calmed my heart. Because how was this soul not meant to connect with mine on a deeper level? How could it be wrong to fall in love with your best friend? It’s a privilege, you see. She was without a doubt the funniest person I’ve ever met. No one has ever made me laugh harder than she did. She knew that, and she enjoyed it.”

Amy pauses to catch her breath. After watching her own shaking hands for a while, a mysterious smile surfaces.

“I remember, just a few weeks ago, she was telling me a joke or something, and while she was explaining it to me, she started laughing uncontrollably. There were tears in her eyes, her nose was all curled up with joy, she held her hand on top of her small, shaking chest – it was such a beautiful thing to witness. Anyway, I never did get the end of the joke, since she just couldn’t finish it without bursting out into laughter. I loved that about her.”

The paper shows stains of ink-smudging tears. She has read it out loud before. She knows the words by heart. She remembers the moments they describe like they happened yesterday.

“In all fairness, I don’t have many bad memories of her. Not even from the time that she got really, really sick. Somehow, I always believed she refused to show me that weaker side of her, to keep me from getting too scared to let her go. But I was scared; watching her slip away from me was the scariest thing I’v ever been through. Losing her is losing nearly every awaking moment of my life, losing the most important person since kindergarten. And I feel lost.”

Dr. Greer patiently analyses her controlled breathing. Her eyes are imprinted on the paper as if her life depends on it. It strikes him what a beautiful reading voice this girl has – even though it’s overcome with emotions.

“I don’t really know what I’m supposed to tell you about her. Everyone that ever met her must have this image in mind about who she was. All that I can reassure in front of all of you is that she was – without a doubt – kind, loving, stubborn, persistent, warm, energetic, enchanting, gorgeous and magical. That she was the love of my life. That she’s taken away from me way too soon. But there’s not a second, not a silly fight, not a hard moment in her battle against this hideous disease that I regret. Every single moment I got to spend with her was a gift from above.”

Her chest rises as a long, deep breath of air cuts through her lungs. The room is too quiet. The therapist’s too quiet.

“Knowing that, knowing that she loved me with everything she had to offer, I can find peace in trusting that whatever lies ahead for her from here, she’ll do it with her natural grace, her all-knowing fierceness, her classic beauty and her infinite heart. And if she’s patient enough, when my time will come, I hope she’ll be waiting for me. To kiss me on the side of my lips, like she always did.”

Suddenly, it feels like that sensation of Alex’s lips on her skin magically appears again. It makes Amy smile nostalgically. It doesn’t even hurt this time.

“Alex, babe,” she sniffs through her tears, “you haven’t been gone for a whole week and it already feels like I can’t breathe, like the air is missing from my lungs. I have never missed anyone this intensely, this much. And I promise, as time will go by, that feeling will never stop.”

After wiping her tears away and looking over at the compassionate Mr. Greer, Amy leaves the office in a hurry. She doesn’t say another word.

She goes home to gather the bags that are packed for her departure. Susan waits at the car downstairs, while the concierge loads them in the trunk. It’s been a hard couple of days. After giving it some thought, it became clear that a time-out was necessary. Amy needs to get away for a while. Staying in the apartment all alone, without Alex, just torments her every awaking second. Friends come and go, but their lives has continued.

A heart-broken Rick Spencer called in some favors – so did Eleanor and William – and there’s an awesome opportunity as head editor for Michael Kahn’s new movie Amy simply can’t refuse. This is it, everything she ever worked hard for. The chance of a lifetime. And right now, the perfect distraction. It doesn’t excite her as much as it should, though. Frankly, thinking back, Amy would give up her experience in Stanford and all her hard work and dedication of the last few years. She’d trade it all, or toss it off a bridge, if that means she could’ve spent that four missing, lonely years with Alex. Even though she was sick and struggling. Even though they may have been just as awful and depressing as the last few months. Just to see that smile from time to time. Or the spark in her eyes whenever Amy walked into the room. She’d even give it up just to watch her sleep. She’d give it up for one more second in her arms.

Susan rubs her back to express her genuine compassion and asks her if she’ll be alright. Amy can’t answer that. At least not yet. Her eyes turn back to the apartment building that was her home for so long. She turns to the street to remember the movement of the cars, the few trees that decorate the place. The turn to the right where that fountain lies ahead – the one they trashed a long time ago. The flow of memories are too much to handle. She realizes it.

“I won’t be coming back here for a while,” Amy calmly utters. “Maybe for a long while. Maybe never. It’s just too hard, you know. And I’m not sure if it’ll ever get easier.”

Susan nods. She understands. Not another word is being said. The girls hug for a solid minute and part with a deep sigh. That’s when the blonde gets into the car. She opens her purse to stare at the picture she keeps inside of it. It’s a memory of an AA-meeting. She sighs and then forgets to breathe for a while.


 

“Amy.”

A soft, familiar voice forces her to open her eyes. It’s early and the blonde’s completely overwhelmed by her level of tiredness. She sniffs loudly and blinks a few time before staring at the ceiling. It feels like her heart is broken. Like her body is broken. Like the world is broken.

“Amy!”

She inhales some air and can’t help but feeling lost. When did she fall asleep? What is this place? Who’s that person talking to her?

Suddenly, she recognizes the voice that’s loudly addressing her. Amy jumps up from the blanket and turns around to look into brown intriguing eyes that have stared at her for years. It’s Alex. It’s actually her. Alive. She’s alive. And Amy has never felt this confused.

Her blurry mind makes her shake her head with confusion. Her heart is racing. Is she drunk? Did she finally go insane?

“It was a dream,” she mutters, all shaken up after realizing she just woke up.

She runs some fingers through her hair and realizes how she can’t stop staring at her wife. Heavy breathing concerns the Latina.

“What was a dream?”

Amy crawls closer to Alex and touches the caramel skin. Just a minute ago, she dreamt about never feeling that sensation ever again. Now she’s close to having a heart attack over it.

“What is it?” her model wonders, clearly sensing something’s wrong.

But Amy just shakes her tired head and remains quiet. Her heart is racing. It’s nothing. It’ll all fine. That horrible feeling of being completely and utterly lost, it was fake. It was just a dream.

Amy’s hand caresses every inch of Alex’s face. She has to, or she’ll go mad.

“You need to get up,” Alex orders her eventually. “By the way, you’ve been sleeping on my arm all night. It’s numb.”

She wiggles her shoulder, but her arm remains stiff. It’s cute enough to make the blonde smile. The hideous aftermath of the nightmare keeps creeping up on her, though. It’s there, as a reminder.

“Why do I need to get up?” she suddenly asks while clearing her throat.

She gets up on her feet and coughs. The hospital room is exactly the same. The wires and the tubes – the machines and the constant beeping. She’s strangely excited to be here.

“Dr. De Weerdt texted me. He’s going to be here in a few minutes.”

That’s right. Alex and Dr. De Weerdt on are texting terms. Special little supermodel privilege. The man flies around the world to treat her, he can at least give her his phone number.

The excitement confuses Amy. Because Alex hasn’t looked excited in weeks.

“What is it?”

“I don’t know,” Alex admits. “But I have this strange feeling.”

She forces herself to sit up straight and moans in pain. To her, it might as well resemble jumping out of bed. Amy puts her hand behind Alex weak back and can’t help but kissing her wife on the cheek. It feels even better than she remembered.

“Let’s get you cleaned up, sweetie,” she whispers in her ear.

She puts her other arm around Alex’s shoulder and hugs her intensely. This weird behavior is starting to freak the Latina out, but she’s too touched to ask Amy what’s going on.

Amy walks over to the cabinet at the other end of the room and grabs some stuff to take care of her wife. A washing cloth, a towel, some bowl filled with water and a fresh pajamas. The nurses can easily take care of this, but it’s not even an option. This is why they got married: to take care of each other – for better or for worse. In sickness and in health. And after the dream she just had, being able to wash Alex and help her brush her teeth sort of feels like a privilege.


 

Dr. De Weerdt walks in all confident. The way he roams the place makes Alex’s face light up. This chubby guy has been her savior before. Even if she won’t make it this time, he’ll forever be her hero. Because he gave her a second chance. A second life – one that led her back to Amy eventually.

“I was going to ask you to sit down,” he starts saying in his gentle voice, “but then again, you’re already on the bed.”

A little joke to lighten the stressed atmosphere. Amy holds on to Alex hand tightly, like she’s afraid to let go. In theory, she actually is. The doctor is holding some papers. He starts waving them up in the air before walking over to the bed. Once there, he sits down on the side, in a very familiar way. He heaves an enormously deep sigh and then looks straight into Alex’s eyes. His expression shows a lot of sympathy, a lot of empathy. They have shared quite the roller coaster ride. Ups and downs, successes and failures. Not once, Alex blamed him. In fact, there was this constant belief in his abilities – his talent. His warm left hand searches Alex’s and suddenly, a soft smile takes over his entire face.

“I need to show you something,” he hesitantly tells her.

Amy just stands there, completely frozen to their side. She has no idea what’s going on. Dr. De Weerdt is a gentle man, always has been. But this compassionate behavior means nothing, it’s just the way he is. Is it bad news? Is it the mastermind, finally delivering the news that the end is coming? Was her dream some sort of prophecy? She analyzes his small, brown eyes but reads nothing. Her heart is racing, but that’s probably nothing compared to her wife, who’s just anxiously awaiting his next words.

The doctor opens the file and puts the papers on Alex’s lap. The blonde bends over to sneak a peek. They don’t really learn a lot, most of it are vital signs and abbreviations. There are numbers and colors that could mean anything.

“Look at these graphs,” a calm voice starts to explain, while pointing at the middle of the page.

The girls hold their heads close together and both frown. Next to his finger, there’s a small bar that contains all the colors of the rainbow. Like it’s an indication. The little arrow above is located far to the right of the bar.

“What is it?” Alex silently wonders.

“Look at the results. They are amaranth – purple-ish. That’s good. Amaranth means it’s good.”

Amy blinks and goes searching for a memory. Something tells her she’s seen this color before.

“I don’t understand,” she mumbles after a while.

Dr. De Weerdt looks up to her and shows her his most radiant smile.

“This is my test. My index whether or not treatment is going well. These last few weeks, we’ve pretty much tried everything, haven’t we?”

Alex nods. The constant puking and nearly-dying was a pretty good lesson to remember. The man in front of her enthusiastically jumps off the bed and holds up his hands to demonstrate his explanation.

“Well, I can’t explain it. I don’t know why you and not others, I don’t know how exactly, I don’t know which combination or what exact dosage, but it’s working. For some reason it’s working. Your test results are better than they have been in months. After going down so badly, they are now going up.”

The second it sinks in, Alex’s chest starts moving up and down rapidly. She’s breathing so fast, so uncontrollably that Amy starts to worry. It’s nothing bad, just an expression of utter happiness. Tears dominate her eyes and her worried wife wipes them from her cheeks as they stream down her face.

“It’s working?” she hiccups in between unrestrained gasps for air.

Dr. De Weerdt is standing still right now and simply nods, completely proud of his accomplishments. The way she’s exposing herself so fragile, so happy, warms his heart. She’s been his most extraordinary case since he started saving lives. It pleases him just as much.

Amy wraps her arms around his neck and thanks him from the bottom of his heart.

“I am so happy you had no idea what you were doing,” she tells him.

He laughs over the lack of confidence that usually should express. When she turns back to the Latina, who seems to have calmed down again, her entire face lights up. Is this really happening? Is she allowed to spend a few more years with the love of her life? She walks over to her, cups both faint and skinny cheeks and kisses her on the mouth with so much love that the world seems to disappear for a while. There’s no doctor in the room, no hospital bed, no tubes or wires.

As they part, Alex grasps onto Amy’s sleeve tightly. The blonde sits down on the bed next to her and lays her head back on the pillow to briefly come to her senses. When she sits back up, the file is still in front of her, on the blanket. She runs some fingers over the pages to make sure it’s real and stares at the beautiful shade of purple just to be sure.

“Why amaranth?” Amy curiously asks, like that even matters right now.

Alex doesn’t get it. She doesn’t even remember the doctor saying it before. But he does. He picked it out specifically to indicate success.

“In Greek mythology, the amaranth is a sacred flower. It represents immortality. They decorated images of Gods and tombs with it. The Chinese used it for its healing capacity. It heals infections and migraine. I thought that was pretty special.”

Amy’s face lights up. The way Dr. De Weerdt describes the color warms her heart. Her fingers go searching for Alex’s skin.

“So amaranth is good,” the model wonders, still not sure why they are having this conversation.

Dr. De Weerdt stares into her eyes and demonstrates his typical half smile: “Amaranth is very good.”


 

“I can’t believe it all turned out like this,” Amy sighs relieved after walking through the front door of their beloved apartment with Julia. “I can’t believe we have an actual shot at the future.”

She’s been lucky. Alex’s been lucky. When she turns around, David pushes the wheelchair Alex is in into the apartment. Her health has improved so much over the last couple of weeks, she’s finally allowed to leave the hospital. Medication, through injections and pills, should close the deal on becoming her old self again. Her hair is actually already starting to grow back. Just not enough to leave her wig behind. But Dr. De Weerdt has been very specific: it’s crucial Alex remains calm and rests a lot. If she starts running around or working too soon, it might backfire. Amy solemnly swore to tie her down if she had to. Alex made a useless remark about how sexy that could be and Dr. De Weerdt secretly smiled over her comment.

When the wheels stop turning next to the couch, Amy carefully supports her wife to crawl into the couch. A tired whistle welcomes Alex home. Her couch. Oh, she loves this piece of furniture. She has spend days on it, doing absolutely nothing and it was amazing.

Julia and David drag the bags the concierge put in the hallway into the bedroom and dreamingly observe the way the married women handle each other. The long fingers of the short-haired blonde points in their direction and David can’t help but feel completely overwhelmed by a heartwarming feeling.

Alex leans back, but can’t refrain from pulling Amy on top of her. It makes the blonde shriek all excited.

“I mean it,” Amy repeats, “I can’t believe it turned out like this.”

“Well,” the Latina whispers, like it’s a secret, “I always get what I want, don’t I?”

The bright blue eyes that are drowning in hers sparkle. Amy has never looked more beautiful, never more pure and at ease. She’s just so happy to have Alex back home again. Close to her – far away from that hospital.

“So, I’ve been thinking,” Alex continues.

She pulls Amy closer to her chest, not that that’s even possible, and mysteriously smiles.

“What?”

An observant Julia keeps a returning David from interrupting the moment and pulls him back to the bathroom to further empty some bags.

“We’ve been together for years,” Alex clarifies.

Amy nods like it’s been a burden: “So many years.”

She gets poked after she mischievously smirks. A soft peck makes it all better.

“And we’re married. We have a house we call a home. We both have very successful careers.”

A proud blonde nods, but it’s not like her career means anything compared to having the love of her life underneath her right now.

“That’s correct,” she confirms. “Don’t forget the cancer thingy.”

“Oh, right,” Alex playfully recalls. “There was this cancer.”

“Also gone now,” her wife quickly reminds her.

They stop moving and talking for a split second. That realization is so fragile, so objective, so quickly changeable. But that doesn’t matter now. They could cross the street and get run over by a car tomorrow. So they both readjusted their awareness of being alive. Every new day without cancer is a gift, and they’ll appreciate it from now on.

“But you’ve been thinking …” Amy wiggles her eyebrows all curious.

This promises to be good. Whenever Alex implies a serious conversation, it quickly turns to epic proportions. Conveniently, Alex is wearing a red top.

Alex seems to have forgotten about her thoughts, so she quickly shakes her head to clear some space and kisses the tips of Amy’s slim fingers.

“When I get better and stronger again,” she elaborates while dreaming about the near future, “how about we finally start a family? We’ve had an amazing life, just you and I. We spend years doing all the things we wanted to do. We went on holidays and stayed in bed all day if we felt like doing nothing else. I think we enjoyed life enough to move on from that. So, I decided to start, like, a new bucket list thing. And that’s number one.”

Amy’s breathing chokes momentarily. Is Alex Ochoa really discussing this with her? The famous, traveling-crazy, adventure-searching model?

“You want to have babies?”

Her voice sounds all excited. It’s not like she didn’t expect this to happen one day, it’s just that she always assumed she’d be the one bringing it up. And with Alex being sick and all …

The dark-haired beauty strokes the skin of Amy’s chest and nods without looking at her.

“Yeah. Someday. I want to have babies with you. A lot.”

That image feels good. Great, actually. Amy puts her head on Alex’s boobs and listens to her heartbeat. It’s stronger again – more determinate. She sighs the most careless sigh she’s uttered in months.

“We’ll have babies,” she whispers. “And toddlers. And teenagers. And teenage daughter boyfriends. Or girlfriends.”

Alex puts both fingers in her ears and orders Amy to stop. She didn’t want to go there yet. Let her have a peaceful fantasy of another carefree sixteen years before that horrible dating thing happens. It’s already written in stone: Alex will kill whoever dares to kiss her children. Boy or girl.

“Maybe we should buy a house with Eli and David. Then all of our children can grow up together like we did,” the Latina teasingly implies.

Amy crawls on her knees and fists and looks at her in panic.

“Are you crazy? I’ve spent many, many years with you guys. I finally got rid of all the men, won the girl, didn’t die after marrying her – despite the curse – and now you want me to move in with them again?”

It’s not angry or completely objecting, more to have a good laugh about it – but still. Alex pats her shoulders and shushes her. Of course she was kidding.

“Shut up, silly. My family is great. Our kids would love growing up with a pack of wolves,” she stresses, feeling protective of her own childhood.

They shut op for a while and get lost in romantic staring.

“So … A new bucket list, huh?” Amy gasps anxiously.

“I didn’t get to finish my first one, which is totally fine. I didn’t die in the arms of the one I love. But the thing is: if I finished it now, there’d be no more expectations. There’d be no more life goals. So yes, I will die in your arms one day. But I forget to write my preferred age next to that desire.”

Amy smiles over the complete nonchalance Alex puts into her sentence about dying.

”What is it?”

Alex shrugs: ”I don’t know yet. But it certainly isn’t now.”

This conversation has gotten Amy all curious. Her eyebrows wiggle suggestively and Alex fesses up. What’s number two on that list?

“I also want to have sex with you in a car.”

But that ignites a ridiculing laughter: ”Yeah, because we’ve never done that before!”

“Sarcasm, much?” Alex scoffs. “No, No. I mean with the driver still in it.”

Amy’s eyes light up with surprise and she gasps for air: ”Oh.”

The doorbell rings and David shouts he’ll get it. A couple of seconds later, Susan dramatically enters the room. She’s holding some bottles of alcohol-free champagne to celebrate the return of her most famous friend. Alex can’t drink.

Amy amusingly sits up straight and puts her wife’s feet on her lap. She massages the tiny toes that are wrapped with warm socks. After Amy notices the presence of her favorite couple in the world in the room, she winks at Julia and David, without Alex realizing it.

“About that moving in with your cousins, though. Veto!” she continues her battle for a private home.

Alex curiously raises her brow.

“You know what it’d be like, living with not just one but two supermodels?” the blonde explains.

Julia laughs from a distance and Alex suddenly realizes how all of it is just a joke. The two guests accompany them and sit down on the nearby couch. They stay really close to each other and the girls think it’s adorable. Shouldn’t take long before little babies pop up in that house as well. At the same time, Susan returns from the kitchen with some glasses. Everyone in their little circle of friends knows their way around this place. It’s a self-service kind of friendship. You want something? You go to the fridge and take it.

The beauty fills the glasses with her special, sparkling beverage and proposes a toast. The second she’s about to open her mouth to probably start rambling the most ridiculous speech ever, the doorbell rings again. David jumps to his feet and returns with his brother, his little niece and his sister-in-law. Macy’s asleep in Eli’s arms, so he walks over to the bedroom and puts her down on the kingsize bed. Her curly blond hairs are so cute it makes Amy’s heart melt.

They all hug and kiss to say hi. A frustrated Susan goes searching for more glasses. This hosting thing isn’t her best quality. It took a lot already to pick the alcohol-free bottles.

Julia heaves a content sigh and looks at her colleague with eyes that express compassion: “No but seriously. Alex, as much as I love you, I couldn’t live with you for more than a week.”

They once shared a hotel room in London. It left a mark.

“Neither do I,” David admits.

Alex pushes her body up with both elbows and looks offended. He did for years, though.

Her wife shrugs and sighs: “Too late for me now.”

The Latina’s eyes turn vicious. What the hell? Eli sits down on the ground and looks up to Jessy, who’s quietly sitting behind him on the couch. They mysteriously smile as they pick up on the teasing.

“You are a terrible cook,” Julia explains.

David resumes: “You always put the music too loud.”

“You throw with vases,” Amy specifically remembers. “Not to mention my favorite CDs.”

Alex scoffs all offended: “That happened once.”

Eli decides to play along and clacks his tongue: “You never take off your shoes when you walk in.”

Jessy smiles over his comment. He’s kind of a neat freak.

David points at the empty pots in the room: “You forget to water the plants.”

“You are allergic to our dog,” Julia smiles. “And I’m not leaving him.”

“You sort of have a criminal record,” Eli seems to remember.

Alex’s jaw drops. It was just a fine! Not even an official complaint. When exactly did this turn into a personal vendetta?

Susan rolls her eyes over what just happened downstairs: “The paparazzi follows your ass everywhere.”

“You never clean up the bathroom,” Amy whispers while closing both eyes as if it’s a tragedy. “Or any other room.”

Jessy sips from her glass and wiggles her nose.

“I never really lived with you, but I can tell you need too much closet space.”

David clears his throat and pulls a weird face while remembering certain aspects of their childhood: “You like to run around half naked.”

But Amy corrects him with exciting, approving eyes: “Or totally naked.”

Finally, Julia holds up her hands to express the final verdict: “And I didn’t mean to ever mention this, but you and Amy have way too much sex, way too loud.”

Eli sighs away his desperation and memories invade his mind: “Everywhere.”

They all raise their glasses and have a big gulp. That’s when Alex starts laughing uncontrollably.

“Fuck you all,” she snorts through some tears of joy.

She glares through the room and finds nothing but smiling faces. This is it. This is why she fought. To see her wife so carelessly happy. To have her best friends gathered around the coffee table. To have little baby Macy sleeping in the nearby room. For the first time in a while, nothing seems to bother her. She couldn’t care less about her fashion line or the modeling industry at this exact moment. That’ll be worries for later – next month or if it takes even longer, that’s no tragedy. Just like Amy, work doesn’t seem so relevant anymore. It’s a thing to keep yourself occupied with. Luckily, it’s a passion, something that drives them. But the most important things in life are all seated around this place. They are talking to each other and having a laugh over stupid comments. They don’t mention Alex’s health every other minute or remind her of how close to death she came. No, they tease her. They love to get a rise out of her. They treat her for who she is: that little, snarky girl from a quiet town just outside of Los Angeles. And she absolutely loves it.

Amy unconsciously slips her fingers through Alex’s while talking to Jessy about Macy. Two curious brown eyes linger over the connection, the way Amy’s slim fingers carefully stroke the caramel tone so softly it almost could be missed. Her heart starts racing for no reason. She turns her head to memorize Amy’s profile. That woman used to be the little girl in kindergarten she walked up to. She saw her from across the room and raised an eyebrow all intrigued. Two little ponytails decorated the sides of Amy’s cute face. She wore a loose, floral dress and shinny, black shoes. George lost the grip of his daughter’s hand the second Alex decided to walk over to the blonde and introduce herself. She was five, but cocky as hell. That never changed. Amy was quiet and cute as hell. That also never changed.

“I’m Alex. You’re going to be my best friend,” she confidently said with that stereotypical half smile she carries whenever she has set her eyes on something – as if it was a promise – an oath.

And man, did she.

 

The End


 

 

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