Frankie at Work – Chapter 14: Elijah

Chapter Fourteen — Elijah


There’s a silent knock on the window in the middle of the night and Frankie nearly drops out of her bed out of fear. But it’s repetitive and persistent, so she walks over to her window and opens the curtains — armed with a baseball bat and that incredible fear you experience after watching the Scream movies too much — and she bumps into the perfect face of Noor, standing in the pouring rain, knocking at her window. Frankie rubs her face and sighs. She puts the bat down, walks through her room to the hallway and opens the front door. The sound of the rain is deafening. Noor must have stood here for a while now. She’s drenched to her underwear.

“God, I’m getting whiplash. What are you doing here?” Frankie asks, while tangling her fingers behind the buttons of that designer shirt and pulling her inside, where it’s warm and safe. And dry.

“I thought you were banned to see me?” she then smiles, as if it’s even funny in the first place.

“Yeah. Totally,” Noor whispers through her repeated shivering. 

She’s soaked, she’s cold, she’s about to shake out of her clothes, but all she can think of is kiss that girl in front of her. And so she does, and she launches her entire body weight at that perfect little dancer. It’s an expression of fierceness and determination and adoration. Frankie’s too startled to make it stop. The girls move toward Frankie’s bedroom until their feet bump into the edge of the bed and suddenly, Noor bursts into tears.

“I can’t leave him, Frankie. I’m so sorry.”

She buries her head in Frankie’s neck and grasps onto her tightly, wrapping her arms around her until she might choke her. Frankie is wet now too, but she doesn’t mind.

“I wish I was stronger. I wish that I could just chose you and never look back again and take away all your pain. I wish that I could save you, because you need saving right now. But I’m so scared. I’m so afraid that I can’t breathe. And I can’t think straight — I’m afraid to allow all my emotions to invade my body. And after everything you’ve told me. After all the uncertainties and your doubts and …”

Frankie pats her head and nods, making her feel every movement. She’s panting from the heavy kissing. 

“I know. I understand.” 

She closes her eyes as if it was to reset her feelings and emotion and nods again, maybe just to assure herself: “It’s the smartest thing to do. We’ll be okay.”

They lay down on Frankie’s bed. The soft hands of the dancer undo the singer of all her clothes, until she’s wearing nothing but her panties and a purple bra. Noor lays down on top of her and focusses on the heartbeat beneath the chest she’s positioned on. Her voice calmly explains the situation. There’s talks about the move, about the job opportunity, about his sincerity and the way he looks at her again. Frankie understands. Though her heart is breaking, she understands. Noor’s body is moving on top of her. She’s aware of every fiber that’s touching her skin — aware of ever shift in their connection. She doesn’t just like it: she’d love this moment to last forever. Simply because she knows it’ll end eventually. 

“When are you leaving?”

Maybe she doesn’t even want to know the answer.

“In three days.”

“With Aiden?”

A question she already knows the answer to.

“Yes. We talked. He got it all figured out. He knows about you and I.”

Frankie nods: “Yeah, he does.”

Noor looks up and kisses her on the mouth again. She kisses her on the lips without a warning, without permission or without reason. But Frankie lets her. Because it feels so natural, so casual that it might be the most normal thing on this planet. This is a goodbye. It feels like a goodbye. A final goodbye after all the false ones they’ve had.

Noor slips her tongue passed their lips and deepens the kiss. But it doesn’t evolve. The caressing stops eventually until all there’s left to do is stare into each other’s eyes.

“Then stay,” Frankie suggests while circling her fingers over the bare skin beneath Noor’s bra, “Stay with me until tomorrow. Go back to him tomorrow, but stay with me tonight.”

Noor smiles and crawls down until she has her head positioned on Frankie’s belly. She smiles as the rising and falling of Frankie’s inhalation reaches her awareness. 

“That’s the point. It’s why I came here. I’ll be gone by the time you wake up.”

Frankie heaves a troubles sigh and fights back some tears. She expected it too, but knowing it now hurts: Aiden won. He always had the advantage. He was supposed to win. 

“I’m going to miss you, Frankie.”

The blonde shivers. She said her name.

“Like I miss air when I’m under water,” Noor continues in a silent voice. “Like I miss the summer when it’s winter. Like I miss singing when I’m not on stage.”

“It’s better this way. It’s the right thing to do,” Frankie tells her again.

The singer examines the pace of the heartbeat underneath her and remembers a conversation they had a while ago. She remembers the song she’ll have to sing a million times more from now on and it’ll always remind her of the girl she lost — of that purity of love and friendship she has to let go. At least for now.

The girls ultimately fall asleep like that — entwined but still far apart. They keep connected but refuse to cross boundaries. There’s an opportunity to have sex, to close this fairytale with the utter act of love, but they know it won’t change a thing. It won’t change their feelings, it won’t change the fact that Noor will be gone in a few days.

Frankie’s sure she’s doing the right thing. Noor and her are too different, they live in different worlds. Noor’s married. Her parents always taught her that marriage is sacred. And she’s not ready. She’s only started to build her life back together. It won’t be over soon, this tsunami of emotions. 

By the time Frankie wakes up, Noor’s words have come true: she’s gone. Dissapeared like a thief in the night. Her heart drops and for a second, she wonders if it was all a dream. After turning around in her bed, Frankie finds a note. It’s Noor’s handwriting.

‘I will come back. I’ll come back for that promise. You’ll be ready and I’ll be ready and it’ll be perfect. One day, life will be perfect.’


Seasons pass as quickly as they arrive. Noor and Frankie part ways and don’t speak again. Life goes on and they don’t seem to mind. Frankie has things to figure out, Noor has her marriage, career and public life to maintain. The red carpets aren’t waiting and her latest album just broke all the chart records. The dancing studio absorbs most of Frankie’s time and it’s glorious. She focusses on the wellbeing of others, of little children and after classes, she sometimes even helps them do their homework. Her parents are proud, her sisters are proud — even June though she’ll never admit it — and Kennedy is her loyal bystander for as long as they both enjoy it.

The second anniversary of the studio announces itself at the same time news papers announce some other exciting news. Ellie walks into the kitchen area and puts a paper on the counter, flashing a big headline that says: ‘Noor pregnant’. Frankie strangely isn’t heartbroken over it. It seems unreal — like it’s happening in a different dimension. Except it’s not.

The couple appears on every single magazine cover after that. Being supportive, happy, acting like the perfect family. Photographers chase them everywhere they go, hunting for that perfect pregnancy picture. Frankie subtly tries to block out all the press attention she’s forced to deal with. She blocks out what seems obvious: Noor moved on. Aiden finally got his wish: a child. 

It’s summer when every single person in the world cheerfully yells at their cellphone screens once it’s announced that Noor gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. It takes another three days until the name’s revealed: Elijah. Frankie sees the pictures and heaves a troubled sigh. Something inside of her died a while ago. It has lost the ability to care, to be genuinely mad or happy. It just left the mark of indifference. Kennedy watches her closely as she turns away from the laptop in her apartment. The blonde dancer’s so much different from who she used to be. Things never changed between the two of them — they are still strolling down this path of careless fun and supportive friendship. Kennedy’s still touring around with artists, less and less in the circles of Noor, and whenever she gets home, Frankie’s there. It’s not a relationship. Both of them loathe the idea of being in a relationship, even though it’s for different reasons. And now Noor has a baby and Frankie thinks she’ll never really want a relationship ever again.

The impact of the news fades out. Pictures pop up every single week, of Noor holding the kid — actually quite the adorable little brat — and Frankie seems to get used to it. When you see something often enough, the hit softens. Elijah gets bigger. He must be crawling by now, Frankie often thinks. And now, maybe he’s even standing up on his own. She compares him with her sister’s kids. Cece has two by now, a boy and a girl. Ellie’s expecting. 

Frankie’s nowhere in life.


Aiden walks into the living room and yawns. He must have slept for hours and hours, because the house is filled with productive noises and busy people and he never even noticed. Maids and gardeners and managers direct the place. Noor and Aiden merely live in it. Through it. Amongst it.

“Hi.”

It’s Noor, sitting in the lounge chair, staring out the window. She’s feeling tired. Elijah woke up three times last night. Must be nightmares. Or the heat. Aiden didn’t hear him.

“Hi. Did I wake you up last night? Can’t remember when I got home,” Aiden mumbles as he rubs his eyes.

“You came to say hi and then you went to bed.”

Noor looks up to him and forgets to smile. Bed isn’t their bed anymore. Bed is across the hallway, second door to the right. Bed is where things ended a few months ago and their relationship slipped into a repetitive pattern. Aiden’s out of the country a lot, for work. That show he talked about ended after two seasons. The show that was supposed to change their entire life togehter. His focus is on movies again. So he flies to London and Dubai to shoot scenes, he passes Los Angeles and Mexico on occasions. He shows up at Cannes and Milan. In between jobs, he visits home, which is New York now. It’s not that often. And in all fairness, Noor doesn’t really care. She has her hands full with raising Elijah and combining her music career. The couple grew apart, once more. They pass each other in the hallways and after a while, without discussing it or fighting about it, they each picked a room to sleep in. It’s not that Aiden’s cheating. At least, she doesn’t think he is. They are a respecting pair of friends now, living next to each other instead of with each other. And they adore their cute, little, perfect son. Noor had hoped so much for all of it — she hoped the promised big change would in fact make it all better again. She hoped that moving away would solve it all. Elijah would solve it all. It didn’t. It’s no mistake that they were happy for a while. They raced the big carpets and attended all the big Hollywood parties. The people are still crazy about them — the absolute IT couple. The Hollywood dream. And then she got pregnant and Noor discovered a whole other level of loving someone. She loves Aiden — she really does. He’s the father of her child. That love will never fade. But it’s different. Not passionate. Not romantic.

Noor stares out the window again and catches the blue sky. It hurts how much life didn’t turn out perfect. How she put people aside and threw away her dreams and desires to live up to a vow made in a church. To please fans she never even met. 

 “I always thought we could make it,” she sighs as Aiden sits down in front of her on the orange couch she never liked in the first place. “I gave up a lot to make this work. Maybe we were wrong.”

Aiden freezes to the spot and loudly swallows. His morning mood disappears immediately as the words sink in. She must have been thinking about this for a long time — it’s not just one of those things you say after pouring a cup of coffee. It takes nights of doubt and processing. He recognizes the feeling.

“I can’t shake the idea that you still miss her,” Aiden admits and it doesn’t even take a second before she understands what he’s talking about.

He’s not wrong. She still dreams about Frankie. About the way she used to touch her, or look at her, or kiss her softly on the lips. Or dance and laugh at the same time.

“You should know something, Aiden,” she says after clearing her throat.

The woman gets up and watches over her shoulder, through the window, how Elijah is having the time of his life with a nanny. This is great. Having a kid is great. Having a child brings meaning to your life. It really does. But thinking about the alternative — about what she could’ve had with Frankie, it never left her mind. It always came to haunt her. She could’ve had a kid with her. She could’ve quit the singing and being normally boring would’ve been perfect. Aiden raises a curious eye and stares at her. He’s not even looking upset, just pulls a stoic face and listens.

“She never crossed any boundaries. I did,” Noor explains to him for the first time in her life. “I overstepped every line that was acceptable. I kissed her first. I always went in for the hug. I threw myself on her when we had sex. It was after I found out you cheated on me and it was the only time it ever happened. And she felt bad about it — so very bad about it because you were her friend. But I blurred the lines on many occasions and always made sure she’d get back to me. I begged and cried and went searching for her. I loved her, Aiden, from the bottom of my heart. From the deepest part of my soul. With everything there is to give. I still do. I dream about her — even when I’m awake.”

Aiden nods, but suddenly, he starts to shake his head. None of this makes sense.

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because you and I aren’t working. And it’s not because of Frankie, it happened long before she came along. You and I fought hard, very hard to make amends and fix things, but maybe we both knew it was hopeless from the start. And I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live this life anymore — this lie. We have Elijah now. It would kill me to raise our beautiful son in a home that isn’t filled with love, but is driven by a business deal.”

She points at the distance between them to point it out: “We are a business deal.”

He’s not even denying it.

“So what? You’re going to leave me for a girl?”

He almost smiles.

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen her in years. I don’t even know what her life’s like now. But I rather take a chance and find out than to be trapped for the rest of my life. We are so directed by our managers and this artificial life we life in. It’s not healthy, Aiden. We do as the crowd pleases. It’s not supposed to be this way.”

She heaves a sigh after watching his face being overcome with sadness.

“You’re a great dad, Aiden. And a great friend. Shitty husband at times, but still.”

A charming smirk appears. After everything, they still make each other smile.

“I want you to be happy. You deserve this feeling I feel whenever I’m around Frankie. You deserve to bring our son into a relationship that shows him how it’s done. Set a good example, teach him the right things. We’ll always be friends, you and I. We have been for years now. And I love you, but just in a different way than I used to.”

He remains quiet for a long time after she finishes talking. The room is silent — a nanny is still playing with Elijah, who has curly blonde hair and chubby, perfect cheeks. They’re playing on the swing. 

“I think I’m feeling kind of relieved that you just said all these things,” Aiden suddenly admits, after thinking things through. “I tried, really hard. I don’t know if you know that, but I did. Because I love you. I’ve always loved you.”

Noor nods. She bends toward him to kiss him on the cheek. He feels warm and soft. His skin smells like sunburn. Aiden opens his arms and invites her to a tight hug. He presses his cheek against her forehead and sighs.

“I want you to be happy too. But are you ready for all of it? For this. Because it’s big. It’s the biggest thing that ever happened to you.”

Noor sighs against his chest. They haven’t shared this many emotions in a while. It feels good. It feels great.

“I’ve had many years to be afraid. But it doesn’t get less scary as time goes by. It just turns into missed opportunities. Sometimes you just need to do it, you know?”

He faintly smiles. He knows. 


Frankie is standing in her office talking to a very attractive woman, when Noor walks in on the duo. She remains in the doorway, but they see her anyway. The girls immediately stop talking. The brunette on the left because she has never seen the superstar up-close. The blonde because it’s been ages. And this might be a dream. Someone should slap her, she thinks. But it’ll be rude to ask her friend. She was holding a pen just a few seconds ago. It’s on the ground now.

“This is yours,” Noor smiles as she pulls an old notebook from her purse.

It’s the MoodBook Frankie always carried around. Noor took it — actually stole it — from the desk the last time she saw Frankie at the opening of the dancing studio and ended up wandering around. Frankie always had a suspicion, but she was too tired, too defeated to text or call the singer once she found it missing.

“So you’re the mysterious thief,” Frankie smirks, secretly just thrilled to see her again.

Oh, her heart still skips a beat and it’s familiar. Her body still goes completely weak. She missed this feeling of total loss of control. And she suddenly remembers how she has always loved it. It was a masochistic way to love, but still. Everything about loving Noor might have been masochistic. 

“Do you know her?” the mysterious woman gasps as she reaches for her chest. “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Jessica.”

Noor smiles and doesn’t move a feet.

“Nice to meet you too.”

She quickly looks to her right and finds comfort in whatever she sees.

“Why are you here?” Frankie wonders, getting straight to the point. 

After all these years, after all that distance. Noor can’t help but smile — she likes the way this girl works, how she doesn’t play around. It was one of the things she loved about her. She opens the MoodBook and shamelessly flips some pages, searching for her target. She might have read it a thousand times. A million if possible. She examined the handwriting. She smelt the pages, because maybe — just maybe — it had Frankie lingering over it.

“I belonged to you the moment we met,” she quotes with a soft voice and soft eyes. “Maybe even before that, when I couldn’t stop staring at you. I belonged to you from that moment. And I still do.”

It was written days before Noor took the book with her during the festive opening. And Noor had cried over the words at home. Frankie sighs and looks down to the ground, feeling all the things that have been hidden for so long. But they come resurfacing and it’s like they can finally breathe now. After all this time, her body can breathe. Noor flips some pages again and slides her fingers over one particular page.

“I love not to talk to you. I like sitting next to you and not saying a damn word. Because while we’re not talking, you let me in on all your secrets.”

Frankie just sighs as she briefly glances at the girl standing next to her. It’s like Noor read all her secrets. She should be mad, but it’s impossible to be. Because they were written for her, about her, next to her while she was asleep or on stage singing. Noor should’ve read them years ago. The words belong to her.

“Look, I’m not gonna make a scene or have this impressive speech to influence your entire life. All I’m going to do is stand here and beg — from the bottom of my desperate heart — to choose me. Choose me, not anyone else. Not Kennedy, not this girl.”

A finger points at the confused brunette and Noor just shrugs as a way to apologize. But that girl doesn’t seem to mind — or understand the conversation that’s happening in front of her. Frankie softly smiles, subtle enough to get by unnoticed.

“Because if you don’t, I’ll die from heartbreak. And it’ll be your fault,” Noor continues and it’s now that Frankie’s breath is starting to choke. “Because I love you. I love you like you love Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream on a summer evening. I love you like you love to dance in front of twenty-thousand people. I love that I know every little thing there is to know about you, even the disgusting ones. So please, don’t walk away or throw me out. Choose me. Stay with me. Make me happy. I’ll never hurt you – not ever again. And I’ll never leave you. I’m here now. I know it took a really long time and I’ve been a total coward and a bitch, but I’m ready to make that promise now.”

Frankie’s trembling and crying at the same time. She inhales deeply to waver the feeling off. To make the overwhelming sensation bearable. She’s thinking, except she doesn’t need to think about it. Her mind is racing nonetheless. It’s been years since she saw this woman. It’s been years but her feelings didn’t change. And her heart’s been healing. The grieving has passed. She opens her mouth and closes her eyes. This is scary. This is so scary, but it all makes sense.

“Okay,” she whispers.

“Okay?”

They look up at each other. 

“Okay. I’ll choose you. You don’t need to ask, Noor. I’ll always choose you.”

She walks toward the singer and cups her cheeks. Their foreheads connect and then, instead of kissing her, she puts her arms around that beautiful body to intensely hug her. Jessica, witnessing it all, quietly announces her departure and on her way out, she bumps into a charming little toddler, who’s patiently and quietly waiting for his mommy. Noor frees herself from the embrace, takes a couple of steps back and puts her hand behind his head to lead him in. He was waiting in the hallway, just like mommy told him.

“Come here,” she softly tells him and as he sets foot into the office, Frankie’s radiant smile appears.

She bends over and says hi. He’s too shy to respond and buries his head in mom’s dress.

“He’s beautiful.”

Noor stares at her and caresses Frankie’s temple: “You’re beautiful.”

She then clears her throat and realizes that none of this is fair to the dancer. Things have changed over the years and maybe she won’t be okay with that.

“I have baggage. I mean, Aiden and I, we’re through. For real. But there’ll always be this little boy. And it’s probably not as you pictured things. It’s not how I pictured things. But he’s here and I hope you can live with that.”

Frankie just nods and smiles, as if it’s the simplest request in the world. She tries to connect with him again, by putting out her hand in a dramatic way and kneeling as if he were a king.

“I’m Frankie,” she overacts and the boy starts to smile.

His blue eyes light up and suddenly, the blonde realizes how much he looks like his dad.

“Are you King Elijah?”

The boy nods and Noor smiles the dorkiest smile over their interaction. He puts his tiny, perfect hand in the dancer’s and shakes it. Frankie fakes being hurt over his powerful grip and he giggles.

“So, now what? Are we going to start dating?” Noor asks with a whisper to keep her little son from being confused too much. 

He doesn’t quite understand that his mommy and daddy aren’t together anymore. It’s normal. But talking about dating makes Noor blush like she has never before. Because it’s about dating Frankie, something she’s been dreaming of for years. Frankie just shakes her head and looks at her very strict and determined. 

“I don’t want to date you, Noor. I want to marry you. I want to have kids with you so we can have our own little family. I want to raise Elijah as if he’s my own child. I want to build a house and settle down with you. I want it all. But not if it’s not with you. I realize that now. I’m ready.”

Elijah is off to wander around the office and play with comic books that are spread across a coffee table when Noor leaps forward and presses her body against Frankie’s to kiss her intensely. She makes the girl gasp for air when they part again. 

“I’ve wanted to do that since I walked in,” she explains as her fingers tightly pull the sleeve of the dancer’s outfit.

Frankie nods and processes the kiss that just changed her life yet again.

“I wanted you to want to do that.”


Previous Chapter < > Next Chapter

Frankie at Work – Chapter 11: Tragedy Strikes

Chapter Eleven — Tragedy Strikes


The earth stands still as tragedy hits the stage. Kennedy has Frankie’s hand in hers, while her dark eyes remain closed. There’s dust and clatter, there are noises and at the same time — a deafening silence. People are screaming in panic while all Frankie can do is stare around in confusion. A loud bang, that’s what shook the arena up. A loud, overruling thunder above their heads, as the dancers finished the last of the rehearsal in their sweat-soaked outfits. Frankie looks up and stares at the ceiling. It’s the place were all the lights and boxes hang from wires and ropes. It’s the place where metal constructions are aligned to orchestrate the concert. Tomorrow the tour will kick off. Tomorrow the entire circus will start again. And now there’s nothing but chaos and anxiety filling up the place. 

She snaps out of her infatuation once Kennedy pulls her aside. Her face is covered in smuts of grease and blood — such a weird combination.

“Are you okay?” the girl wonders, while putting both hands on Frankie’s bruised face with concern.

The blonde turns around and nods, suddenly searching for familiar faces. Her body hurts. Something might have hit her. Her eye feels bruised.

“Noor?” she stutters, suddenly overcome with fear.

“Noor’s not here, remember? Are you hurt? Did something hit you? What the hell happened?”

Kennedy looks up to the sky and heaves a panicking sigh. The stage collapsed. Out of nowhere, after all those hours of dancing, the stage collapsed. Like the sky fell down on them. The majority of the dancers are draped across the floor, which is now partly caved in. Kennedy lets go of Frankie’s hand and starts walking around the place, jumping over rolling bars and broken boxes that came falling from the sky. They were dancing, just a second ago — and now there’s tragedy. 

“Miguel,” Frankie suddenly remembers as she starts taking her first steps. “Where’s Miguel?”

Kennedy’s pulling people from under the ruins and stops to look at her, but she hasn’t got an answer to give. People are screaming, some are crying. In the corner of the room, Frankie notices Cameron, with a heavy bar pressuring down his upper body. She runs over to him, coughs through the dust and puts her warm hands on his face. He’s tearing up with pain and she’s afraid there’s nothing she can do to help him. This bar looks heavy. She gets up and tries to lift it — but fails. There’s no way in life she’ll be able to lift this thing. That’s when she starts shouting names to ask for help. Some of the dancers that got away with a couple of bruises and scratches quickly arrive. They join to lift the heavy metal from Cameron’s body and once’s he’s free, his real tears kick in. Maybe he’s overwhelmed with fear. Or happiness that he didn’t suffer worse.

“Where’s Miguel?” Frankie asks him, too overcome with concern to focus on his injuries.

Sirens reverberate in the background. The police and the fire department must be on their way. No wonder — the sound that came from the collapse was immense. All around them, there’s hysteria and madness. Frankie has never felt this lost in a crowd — so alone and distanced. 

“Where is he?” she pleads, as she turns her head around to find his face between all the others.

He’s not there and Cameron can’t tell her. He hasn’t seen Miguel in a while. She turns to a redhead, Jennifer, but she hasn’t got a clue either. No one does. Suddenly, in between all the drama and hysteria, Kennedy’s voice transcends everything. Frankie looks up to find her standing across the stage, across the large gap and the tons of materials. It seems so far away.

“He’s here!” Kennedy shouts at her pointing at the gap in the floor. “Miguel’s here.”


A silent knock on the door doesn’t make her look up once. When the door opens and Noor enters the cold room like a thief in the night, Frankie doesn’t move a muscle. All she can do is stare at the nothingness in front of her. At the endless sky streaming in through the hospital window. Her mind and body feel numb, though every time she moves a muscle, her entire body hurts. There are bandages wrapped around her head. There’s a bandaid on her upper arm and one near her collar bone. Noor walks over to her, with a stoic face and eyes that reflect a scared animal in front of headlights, and sits down next to her on the bed. She lays her hands carefully on Frankie’s bruised cheeks and heaves the most troubling sigh. The singer’s been worried sick about her. The second she heard about the stage disaster, she jumped in her car and raced straight to the hospital. It was dress rehearsal today. She was supposed to join them later, in an hour or two. The last one before the tour will start tomorrow. But that all didn’t matter after the news reached her ears. Because all Noor could think about was Frankie. Whether she was save. Whether she was hurt. Whether something hit her. She cried in the car. She was hysterical and she didn’t know how to handle her feelings. She drove faster than she ever did and nothing about it felt wrong. Because she would’ve gone even faster if she could. Something stopped her on the way to the reception after the pictures of the stage on some of her employers’ phones left her breathless. And that something was Kennedy. The girl grasped her hand and abruptly ended the hurried pace of her boss.

“Where is she?” Noor demanded to know without once wondering if the girl in front of her was all right. “Where’s Frankie?” 

“She’s in room 417,” Kennedy stuttered, exhausted and worn out. “Have you heard?”

Noor turned around all confused and scrunched her eyebrows. She saw all of her friends and colleagues. They were cramped up in this small room — all with bandages and bandaids or crutches to support their hurt bodies. It made her choke up. She had never seen such a scenery.

“Heard what?” she muttered .


Frankie hasn’t said a word since Noor walked in and the singer doesn’t know what to do about it. Her lean fingers stroke the pale, dirty skin of the girl next to her for the third time. They are sitting on a squeaky bed. This place seems worlds apart from the chaos Frankie just escaped from.

“Are you okay?”

It’s the softest voice that ever reverberated, filled with fear and sadness. Frankie finally faces her and leans her face into the caressing of Noor’s fingers for a while. Her eyes are closed, but the singer detects hurt and confusion. How can she help her? What can she do? There must be something.

“Frankie.”

When she says her name, those shivers return. The same shivers that run up and down her body. It’ll never change.

“Are you okay?”

Frankie then nods. She swallows down her lost tears.

“I’m fine,” she whispers.

But as the words leave her body. She fights back the hurt in her muscles and skin.

“Fine,” she repeats, less convincing.

She closes her eyes for a second and sighs away her frustration. Not a painkiller in the world could fix this right now.

“I’m fine,” she ultimately says as she clears her throat and sniffles.

Noor runs some fingers up and down her face, gently wiping away traces of dirt and grease. She softly touches the redness where Frankie must have bled a few minutes ago. It kills Noor to just think about it. 

Her act isn’t fooling anyone. Miguel died. Miguel died on that stage. He’s the only casualty. The only person tragically hit in the head that didn’t survive. Of all people, Frankie’s very best friend.

“That bad, huh, honey?” Noor concludes in a soft voice.

Her favorite girl in the world flashes heartbreaking eyes. Noor just broke her wall. 

“Yes.”

She bends forward and buries her body in the comforting arms of the woman she loves. The woman she hasn’t talked to in a while, the one she’s treaded badly and acted all distant to. Because it was for the best. It was a way of dealing with her feelings and the fact she’ll never be with her. It was to protect Noor and her career. That’s when she starts to cry uncontrollably. Being in Noor’s embrace has that effect on her. She’s allowed to let it all out — worse: she can’t help it. The dark-haired beauty doesn’t judge or talk. She just holds her tightly and soothes the loud, hiccuping and devastating sounds of the blonde. 

“Can we, just, not act all distant right now?” Frankie begs her a minute later, after her first wave of emotions have passed. “Can we just talk and support each other and forget about the fact that I have feelings for you and I’m being this really big bitch about it, just for a second? For one night? Because I really, really need my best friend right now to talk to and it’s like … I’m missing you so hard. I miss you every single second you are not near. And not being able to talk to you is … it’s the worst thing that ever happened to me. And I really need you right now.”

Noor nods. She feels the same way. Frankie tried to live up to her promise. She tried to stay away after their little talk in Frankie’s backyard. It was so hard. So devastatingly hard. But they managed. 

“Okay,” Noor says quietly. “I’m here.”

Frankie breaks down in pieces, right in front of her eyes. And Noor doesn’t need to pick them up or glue them back together. She just ignores the brokenness and sees her for the complete person that she is. The singer holds her while she cries her heart out — she holds her tight and doesn’t say a word for hours. It’s the thing you are only able to do with people you entrust your heart to.

Neither of the girls know how much time has passed when Frankie sits back up and leaves Noor’s comforting arms. The superstar wipes the tears away with some fingers and smiles — even if it is to make Frankie seem less sad. It’s not working, though.

“What do you want? Tell, me! Whatever it is, I’ll get it for you and it’ll make you feel better. Just … what do you want?” she wonders.

She’s willing to fly her around the world if that’s what it takes. Or home. She could fly her home to her parents and sisters. They are hours away from here.

Frankie blinks a few times and looks numbed and sedated at once. Her phone’s been buzzing like crazy, but Kennedy took care of most of the panicking calls for her the first hour. After a moment of silence, she stares right at her. She feels it in her bones. She feels it in her heart and head. There’s only one answer. One that will do all her feelings justice. One that shouldn’t be said but is dying to come out.

“I want you.” 

It’s so quiet and soft that Noor could’ve easily misheard.

“I want you,” Frankie whispers while the tragedy of her words invade her heart. “I’ve always wanted you.”

Noor closes her eyes briefly and inhales sharp strings of air. 

“Wait, Frankie. I thought we settled this — that we were waiting or stopping  or — that this was …”

The blonde nods and swallows deeply, which hurts as well. She thought that too. But then again, she thought a lot of things just a few hours ago. And yet, everything has changed. Abruptly, suddenly, without a warning. Life was easy and careless. It revolved around dancing and working. She stepped back from Noor and blurred her mind with other things. Noor kept her careless life, Frankie kept dancing. But then the stage collapsed. Miguel died. The world changed. Perspective changed.

“Well, I thought that too,” Frankie says. 

She’s fighting back the tears but keeps her cool at the same time. 

“I thought I could get over it. But’s it’s grown to be much more serious to just flirt and play anymore. I am jealous of every second he gets to spend with you. And I’m going crazy just thinking about you sleeping next to him instead of me.”

Noor puts her hand on the rising chest in front of her.

“Frankie …”

She cannot do this right now. The adrenaline is speaking. Not one single person of their entourage is thinking clearly now. Not even Noor. She might just say yes. She might just give Aiden up in the blink of an eye after today’s events if Frankie keeps talking. That scares her tremendously. The dancer looks at her and holds onto the hand that’s touching the skin close to her heart. 

“I have fallen in love with you. Hard. Like, falling from the sky, missing all the branches of the tree to break my fall on my way down, smack to death on a concrete floor instead of a trampoline kind of hard. And I don’t want to play anymore. But I know I should. I have to.”

The confession takes the singer’s breath away. Her heart is racing and her senses are going wild. She has never heard anyone being so honest and brutally confronting. Because everything she just heard, it reflects her own feelings. It’s the exact same spell infecting her body and soul. She’s in love with Frankie too. She might have been from the second she laid eyes on her. It took her a while to figure it out, but there’s no denying it. Not anymore. 

“Frankie, I’m …”

Noor’s just stuttering words. They are unordered and spontaneous and confusing. Frankie notices.

“I know. I know, it’s … I have to go.”

Frankie tries to get up, but Noor stops her by getting up herself and pushing the dancer back down. Her face is overcome with expressions of pain. She must have been hit hard.

“No,” Noor gently tells her, while keeping her hand just a little longer on that bruised skin. “You stay. I’ll have someone pick up your family. They’ll be here in a few hours, okay? Just stay in this bed …”

Her voice breaks for the smallest second, so she needs to pick herself up again to continue. 

“… and get better and sleep until they arrive. Please, Frankie, do that for me? Promise me.”

Frankie closes her eyes and refrains from bursting into tears. She nods and turns away from Noor to inhale deeply. Noor bends forward and kisses her temple with so much love it might just be the sweetest gesture in the world. It might be her confession of love. She’s dying to, but she can’t tell her. She can’t tell her she feels the same. Because of her career. Because of Aiden. Because of her marriage. Her vows. Frankie’s promise. That talk in the backyard.

“I can’t be your best friend anymore, can I?” she wonders, after softly caressing the face she once kissed so fiercely. 

It tasted great. It still tastes great in her memory.

“No,” Frankie mutters, averting from her. “I don’t think you can.”

Noor pulls her hand back and realizes where this has ended up. This thing she has with Frankie, it’s epic. It’s the purest thing she’s ever experienced. And in order to be able to get passed that, she must walk away — don’t treat her as her best friend anymore. It’ll tear her apart, because those feelings are so very strong. It’s the only option. They both realize that. It took a tragedy to accept the truth.

“I don’t think I can either.”


The tour ends before it even starts. Noor cancels the four-month journey across the world. Tickets are returned and refunded. Fans are disappointed, but understanding. The dancers split the entourage as if they were never part of it. Some of them got bad enough injuries to never professionally dance again. Miguel gets buried on a rainy Thursday morning and it’s the saddest damn thing in the world. Frankie cries throughout the entire ceremony, while Noor seems a million miles away from her. Except she’s not. She’s standing two rows behind her, watching her every move, every shake of her shoulders going up and down from crying. It’s breaking her heart and there’s nothing she can do to make it better. Aiden holds his wife’s hand to comfort her, but Noor realizes she’s too worried about Frankie to cry herself. 

Frankie resigns as a background dancer and doesn’t even call Noor to inform her. The singer gets over that disappointment rather fast. She understands that Frankie’s grieving. Noor is on a media turmoil of interviews and expressing her sentiment for the family of her deceased dancer. Tabloids post the horrible pictures of the stage. The management sues the arena and the stage builders. They win. Miguel’s relatives receive a large amount of money to ease their pain. But will it ever? Noor ultimately returns to the studio to create her new album. It’ll be paced down and emotional, to honor the tragedy that hit her world tour. Noor doesn’t tell the world press that it’ll be to write off the pain of missing Frankie too. She’s missing her with every heartbeat and every second that passes — and there is absolutely nothing she can do about it.

Months pass and Noor still hasn’t heard from that pretty blonde that shook up her entire life. Her life seems meaningless and directed by others. Aiden is being a perfect husband. David drags her from photoshoots to arenas, but it doesn’t feel real anymore. Singing for all those fans is different now. It’s not as important anymore as seeing Frankie smile. As knowing she’s safe and happy. If only she were happy.

Somehow, she hoped the girl would’ve reached out to her by now. That she’d be missing her as well. Aiden gets to see her on occasions. They attend sports games and meet when he’s in town. It’s like Noor’s being left out on purpose. And nobody even notices.

Her house feels deserted. Frankie no longer spends nights in the spare bedroom anymore. She doesn’t roam the halls of the arenas with her underwear on her head to make others laugh. They don’t sleep in the same bed anymore. Noor can’t sleep at all, at night.


“Are you having fun?”

Aiden turns his head to a numbed Frankie and pokes her shoulder playfully. She looks up and smiles — faintly. 

“This is great. Thank you.”

He frowns in a disappointed way: “You don’t really burst from enthusiasm. Want to get out of here?”

“No,” Frankie insists while turning back to the baseball game happening in front of them. “It’s good to be out here.”

Aiden offers her some chips, but she kindly declines. Her mind’s not at this game. Her mind’s with Miguel. It happened six months ago this day. It’s almost an anniversary. They watch the game in silence and as time passes, Frankie downs more and more cups of beer. She’s getting buzzed and likes the feeling of not caring that much anymore. Aiden is worried, but he lets her. He understands that she needs this, especially today. When the game ends, a line of paparazzi welcomes them at the exit. He supports her body with his strong arms as he charmingly waves at the gathered photographers. Nobody notices just how drunk his mate is. 

“Don’t you hate that your life is directed by strangers?” she asks.

He just nods.

It’s late at night when he puts her to bed. For a while, he sits at her side, patiently waiting for her to fall asleep. June walks in after work and nearly scares herself to death when she sees him through the open door of Frankie’s bedroom. He just puts his index finger on his lips to shush her. Frankie’s eyes just closed. They are wet from crying. It broke his heart. When he leaves the room and pulls the door silently into its lock, June’s startled expression amuses him.

“Hi, I’m not sure we met appropriately. I’m Aiden Stonewell.”

“I know,” the brunette mutters. “I’m June.”

It makes him smile. 

“What happened? Did she get drunk again?”

It sounds demeaning and criticizing. He now understands why Frankie calls their relationship fractured. 

“She lost a friend. She went through a terrible thing. A whole stage collapsed on top of her. She’s allowed to act out for a little while.”

But June disagrees: “Frankie’s no saint. She’s always been the dysfunctional one of the family. Never really has a job, always out until sunrise, terrible taste in girlfriends, …”

Aiden walks past her, heading toward the front door. His blood is starting to boil. Frankie does have a job — or at least she had. She was a professional dancer for the biggest star in the music industry. Despite that, she chose to educate children in her free time and help out at her sister’s restaurant whenever she could. She trained every single day to perfect her dancing skills. There’s nobody who works harder than his friend, maybe not even Noor.

“Not everyone is perfect, June,” he tells her, embracing his own mistakes and flaws before holding on to the handle. “Doesn’t mean they stopped trying to make the best of it.”

He shuts the door behind him after wishing her a good night’s rest. June aims her sight at the locked doors surrounding her. Great, now he thinks she’s an ass. 


“Morris! Get up!”

It’s late at night when Aiden stands in front of her. She’s positioned on the floor, outside a trendy club in midtown. Her dazzled eyes look up and she recognizes him eventually. He’s not angry or upset, he’s just worried. His arms go searching for hers, so he can get her off the ground. It took her an hour before she realized there was no way she’d be able to get home on her own. All her friends left hours ago, Kennedy didn’t even join. When she grabbed her phone, she automatically went searching for the name she adores. Noor. Her fingers almost pressed the green button. But she didn’t. She couldn’t. Calling Noor now would’ve broken her completely. She felt messed up enough already. God, she misses her. She misses her with every breath she takes, every second that passes. She misses her voice and the way she chuckles whenever Frankie’s acting all goofy. The only thing keeping her close are the pictures in tabloids. Pictures of her at events or concerts. Photoshoots for famous brands and interviews. Pictures with fans. But that’s nothing compared to the memory of touching her skin — of kissing her lips. 

Frankie ultimately ended up calling the husband. A for effort. He’s been her buddy for the last couple of months, the one that drags her along with his friends to sports events and great parties. But Aiden’s getting tired. There’s work. Acting is a demanding job. And Noor requires a lot of his time as well, now that he’s behaving so perfectly. They go out to fancy restaurants, take romantic walks in the mountains or strut the red carpets while holding hands. It’s painfully visible for Frankie. Every page she turns is a scrapbook of the relationship she cannot have — the one her best friend has. With her other best friend. There used to be Miguel. He’s gone too. All because of her ridiculous obsession with Noor. Her obsession with dancing and making it in that industry. Her obsession to include him in her dreams. Now he’s dead. 

She wrote in her MoodBook this evening, right before she headed out the door and got wasted. ‘You left — and you took everything from me with you.’ She wasn’t really sure who she was talking about.

Aiden pulls her up and guides her to his car. Photographers snap some pictures and he kindly ask them to stop. They don’t listen. After he hits the road, Frankie turns her head to him.

“Thank you.”

“No problem,” he says.

It remains quiet for a while. Frankie’s trying really hard not to throw up in this million dollar car. Well, maybe it’s not that expensive. Aiden looks at her and sighs. There must be a way to cheer her up — to lighten up the mood. He clears his throat and blinks a few times. He was fast asleep when she called him. Noor jumped up in a panic, wondering whoever dared to call at such an unholy hour. He said it was Frankie, which shut her up immediately. After the call ended, he explained what happened. Frankie was drunk and lost. She didn’t know how to get home. Noor begged him to go get her. When he suggested she should join him, the singer declined. Aiden just nodded and turned his head away from her.

“I met June after I drove you home and put you to bed last week. Must say, she’s quite the character. Are you sure you’re related?” he asks.

Frankie smirks and faces the street lanterns.

“I’ve had my doubts,” she says calmly. “But mom insists it wasn’t the milkman.”

Aiden pats her leg to offer some comfort. She apologizes once more for dragging him out of bed, but he says it’s fine once more.

“Mind if I ask … Why didn’t you call your parents? Or your sisters? Noor once told me you were a close family.”

“We’re close and at the same time, we’re not,” Frankie tells him. “We hang out a lot, spend every Christmas and holiday together. We gather to talk about work and gossip about other relatives. But it’s not like I share my emotions. Maybe with Ellie, but that’s it. The truth is, they make a great family as long as I’m not there.”

“What does that mean?” Aiden wonders as he switches driving lanes and checks his rear-view mirror.

“I’m the special one. But not in a remarkable way,” Frankie explains with a soft voice and small eyes. “I’m the sister that doesn’t fit in because she can’t bring herself to talk about fashion or gossip, and instead, rather talks about culture or parties. We’re miles and miles apart, but this family thing, it keeps us together. It’s a rope that has us enchained and no matter what, our surname, our legacy, our family tradition keeps us tied to it. There’s no way escaping it. I’m the lonely one. The one that peeps from the corner, the one who doesn’t understand what the hell keeps them entertained. And because they are family, I’m never allowed to leave them. So they are kind of my charity event every week. I keep going back to them, even though nothing — not a single, freaking state of mind — keeps me connected to them. And despite all of that: I love them.”

Aiden nods and thinks about his own family. Families are never perfect. Still, you fight for them. Because if you don’t even fight for those related by blood, what’s the point, right?

Frankie’s concentrating really hard to keep her breathing controlled. It’ll keep the nausea away as much as possible. Her friend sees her stoic expression, notices how she keeps her eyes closed. His fingers press a button and her window lowers a little bit.

“Fresh air might help,” he explains.

His mind is wandering. It brings him to places where he never thought to see his friend. She’s messed up right now. She’s seriously hurting. And this isn’t helping. For a while, he thought it was fine. Acting out sometimes help to process things. But after a while, it has to stop. She hasn’t even danced in months. Not a single move, not a little twirl. She backed away from it without any explanation or reasoning. It might remind her too much of her childhood years, where she frantically practiced every day in her room, with the enthusiastic and funny Miguel by her side. 

“This is the third time this month I have to come and pick you up in such a state,” he says. “See, Frankie, I don’t care if you want to go out until sunrise and get hammered. I’m not your father. I don’t care if you get lost on your way home and you have to call me in the middle of the night. I don’t care that this is your way of mourning. It’s your right to go crazy and wild over what happened.”

He pushes the gear shift and stares into the darkness of the night. That’s when he lowers his head briefly before opening his mouth again.

“I don’t even care if you’re sleeping with her,” he calmly adds.

Frankie looks up to him with wide eyes. Her heart stops beating instantly. What did he just say?

He swallows disoriented and shakes his head: “Or maybe I do. I don’t know. Noor and I — we’ve come a long way. I screwed up plenty of times. But I love her, okay? I adore her. She’s my wife. I can’t imagine my life without her. I won’t survive. Please don’t take her away from me.”

Frankie’s too ashamed and overcome with surprise to even say a thing. She just stares at him, feeling utterly disgusted by her own actions. Suddenly, the nausea returns. After a couple of seconds, she heaves a troubled sigh. How can she ever say the right thing?

“I’m not sleeping with her,” she says. 

Frankie’s not even sure if she’s telling the truth. Apart from that one-time-event at Noor’s birthday, they didn’t actually have sex again. But whatever they were doing might be so much worse. 

“I know she loves you,” Aiden resumes with a soft voice, as if it’s the most natural conversation in the world. “She’s crazy about you. I see it when you’re at the house. It took me a while to realize what’s going on. Her eyes light up when she sees you. Her mood changes drastically whenever you enter the room. She cries when she misses you. I get it. You’re one of my best friends. I could fall in love with you in an instant. But you have to realize that, as long as you’re around, Noor can’t love me too. And she needs to love me. We made a vow. I promised to forever stand by her side and I intend on doing that. I sobered up, changed my ways, I haven’t flirted with a girl in months, you know that. It’s not even a big deal, because I have her. So I want you to leave her alone, Frankie. I am asking you very politely to leave my wife alone — to save my marriage. Could you do that?”

She’s sitting in the passenger seat of his black SUV. He just got out of bed at two a.m. to pick her up after a desperate call. He’s driving her all the way home, just because she asked. He’s a good friend to her. He’s a great friend, actually. Never has he ever disappointed her in this relationship — and look at her, betraying him in the worst way possible.

“Okay,” she whispers.

It’s done. They don’t say another word after that anymore. Noor texts her that night to see if she’s okay. Frankie turns off her phone.


 

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Frankie at work – Chapter 7: Noor’s birthday

Chapter Seven — Noor’s Birthday


The teasing has been going on for months. Summer passed as fast as it came while fall and winter are now battling each other for dominance. It’s cold outside and Frankie can’t wait until spring will make its reappearance. Just a few more weeks. Sunshine is always coming back. She’s shivering as time passes slowly. Noor and her entourage disappeared in a nearby music store to promote the new album while the dancers gathered around the tour bus, patiently waiting to head toward the next village that’s on the schedule. She secretly loves being on tour. Everything’s happening so fast and unexpected, it’s crazy. June is over the point where she’s pissed off about Frankie’s sudden career peek. She just talks to her little sister with words drenched in sarcasm and criticism. Not that Frankie’s home a lot. When it’s work-related, she often stays at Noor’s house. Whenever she feels like having some fun, Kennedy’s apartment door is open for her. And in between, touring or rehearsing takes up most of the time. That’s when all her favorite girls get together and things get complicated at times. Luckily, Frankie doesn’t seem to care a lot. Noor must know what’s going on between Kennedy and Frankie, but she has never said a word about it up until now. And Kennedy raises more than one questionable eyebrow over Noor and Frankie’s interaction, but maybe she’s happier not knowing.  Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 7: Noor’s birthday”

Frankie at work – Chapter 6: Utter Confusion

Chapter Six — Utter confusion


The inevitable happens four days later. Kennedy and Frankie are left alone when David and Noor head out for drinks with the big shots of the music label. Dancer friends aren’t optional. So the girls go out for dinner at a local restaurant and remind themselves this is certainly not a date. Kennedy explains that it’s hard to maintain a relationship when you tour a lot. She’s been Noor’s loyal sidekick for four years now. Her last girlfriend dumped her after not hearing from her in two weeks. But the dancer acknowledges that a busy tour scheduling wasn’t a very good excuse to just disappear from said girlfriend’s life.

“I just don’t think I’m a hundred percent relationship material.”

“Why is that?” Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 6: Utter Confusion”

Frankie at work – Chapter 5: Get to know me

Get To Know Me


“Tell me about your family.”
Frankie raises a curious eye and shrugs. It’s getting late. Three in the morning. The morning sunshine won’t be their best friend in a few hours. Noor’s changed into some cute pajamas and pulled back her gorgeous hair into a ponytail. She almost looks normal.
“What about them?”
“Tel me about them. Being related to you must mean they are extraordinary people.”
But Frankie laughs the sweet comment off.
“You’re always asking about my family. Why is that?” Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 5: Get to know me”

Frankie at work – Chapter 4: Normal life

 Normal Life


 

The show was amazing. Frankie danced like she had never missed an evening of the tour — or an hour of repetition. Her complete concentration was focussed on the dance moves, on the way Noor’s musicians filled the entire arena with powerful vibes and rhythms, on the way the energy of the crowd made her try even harder. She’s sweating like crazy by the time the last song fades out. The crowd is going insane. It’s ecstatic. It’s unreal. It’s amazing. This might be the best experience of her life. Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 4: Normal life”

Frankie at work – Chapter 3: Berlin

Berlin


Well, the bad news is: June was about to kill her when she got up and announced her plans for the next three weeks. There were certain days, mostly Saturdays, when she really needed her help at the restaurant. The good news is: a second later, Noor walked out of the same bedroom and June forgot about all of it to stalk the famous singer for a decent hour. Noor didn’t mind. She was happy to get to know Frankie’s sister — even though she was a bit intense and weird. Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 3: Berlin”

Frankie at work – Chapter 2: Miguel

Miguel


 

“What do you mean, you went on this small trip with Noor?”
June is standing in front of her, all defensive and — not to mention — mad. Frankie completely bailed on her and she’s not happy about it. Sure, she hung out with the rest of that famous crew for the rest of the night and scored the number of a famous producer, but still — there are boundaries. The youngest of the sisters clacks her tongue and resorts to silence to come up with a decent explanation, but there isn’t one. It’s late and Frankie’s feeling tired. All she wants to do is go to sleep. In her own bed this time.
“Where did you go?”
“Just somewhere out of town. Into the woods.”
June frowns: “The woods?”
“Yeah. The woods. It was fun.” Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 2: Miguel”

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. Continue reading “AA-meetings – Chapter 22: Amaranth (final chapter)”

AA-meetings – Chapter 21: Abattoir

Abattoir

2020


“You look like shit,” George laughs when he walks into the bedroom of the girls.

Alex is spread across the bed. Amy’s lying next to her – upside down. She’s practically hugging her wife’s leg. In the living room, the bald man passed the spiritless bodies of his nephew and his girlfriend. They ended up on the couch. Susan – well, nobody really knows where she disappeared to with that rocker boy. It was a memorable party. So memorable nobody remembers a damn thing. How the hell did they even get home? Sure the paparazzi will show them in a few hours.

Alex opens an eye and immediately realizes that last night might be one of the dumbest ideas she’s ever had.

“Dad, what are you doing here?” she mumbles while covering her face under the sheets.

There’s barely any light, yet it’s killing her. Her old man tries to find the fun side in all of it, but he’s well aware that his daughter shouldn’t be drinking. He just came to check up on his little girl.

“It reeks like alcohol in here.”

“I dropped a bottle,” Alex explains while reminding herself not to puke.

She crawls on her knees and is so proud of herself after discovering she put on a pajama when she got home. No memory of that what so ever.

“In your mouth?” her father smiles.

She needs a second to remember what the conversation is about. Oh, right. Bottles. There have been a lot of those yesterday. Very expensive champagne bottles.

“I drank like an immortal last night. So excuse me while I’m having the hangover of my life,” she apologizes.

He gets her up on her feet and immediately notices how worn out she is.

“Are you okay?” he asks.

She nods. Going out might not have been the best idea, but it was the most fun. She’d be miserable if she had missed it. Not that she’s feeling any better right now. When she quickly glances at her wife, she can’t help but smile. Amy looks like a drowned cat covered in piles of sheets and towels – head down. Did she take a shower late last night before dropping into bed? Did she jump into a fountain? Who knows?

Ten minutes later, she’s seated at the kitchen counter, cupping a strong cup of coffee her daddy made her, wearing shades. David and Julia continue their beauty sleep in the living room.

Alex’s body feels week and all her muscles are cramped. The sunglasses covering her eyes are hilarious, especially with her fluffy hair pointing in all directions. Ultimately, Amy joins them and she can’t stop yawning for a solid fifteen minutes. George snickers.

“Yesterday was awesome,” the blonde whispers with a sore throat after tenderly kissing her wife. “Today is horrible.”

She reaches for the sunglasses on Alex’s nose, but the Latina playfully fights her off. George softly smiles over the cute interaction. These girls have been lighting up his life ever since they stepped into it. They forget about the presence of Alex’s father for a while and pull each other close for a loving kiss, arms wrapped around each other. Even hungover, they can’t stop this behavior.

“Are you okay?” Amy asks all concerned when they part.

Her fingers linger over the cheeks she adores to smooch while her eyes execute a thorough examination of her wife’s body. Alex nods and can’t help but think all of this worrying is dead-cute.

“I love these sunglasses. Am I staring at that painting? Am I staring at your boobs? Who knows!?” the model jokes the most obvious joke.

She buries her head between Amy’s braless chest and makes the blonde giggle. George holds up his hand in a protesting way and sighs.

“Enough, enough,” he orders them. “You’ve had all night to do that.”

Amy scoffs and takes a sip from her lover’s cup of hot coffee.

“You’d think. But someone passed out the second we got home,” she smirks. “Right after she told me she had superpowers. She took a cute, little run-up and jumped on the bed.”

Amy holds her hand up in the air to demonstrate the curve of Alex’s movement. George patiently awaits the next part, but the girl just shrugs.

“And that was it. She fell asleep right that second. Nothing but drool and snoring for the next few hours. Quite the superpowers.”

Alex’s small fingers poke her wife, but her movements suddenly completely stop. A stinging feeling just passed her ribcage and that didn’t feel right. Nothing that didn’t happen before, though. She’s used to it by now.

“You can’t do this to your body, Alex. It’s not good for you,” George gently explains after witnessing the change in her behavior.

“I can do whatever I want, dad. Sad truth,” Alex coughs while shutting her eyes tightly.

She breaths in and out. And again. It slowly starts to feel better. Amy carefully and supportively caresses her cheek, hoping the soft gesture might help her get through it.

“No one listens to me anymore,” the old man mumbles as he rolls his eyes.

Amy, completely absorbed by the intensity of pain that’s taking control of Alex’s face, looks up all confused and frowns: “I’m sorry. You were saying?”


Dr. De Weerdt has started an experimental treatment he used in Belgium a few times. In some cases, it worked. In others, it failed terribly. Alex doesn’t care, though. As long as she’s trying, she’ll feel better about herself. Because if she won’t, it’d mean she’s giving up. And she can’t do that. She owes Amy her best effort – her biggest fight. The girls are preparing for another stay at the hospital. Normally, Alex will stay there for about two weeks. But that might change along the way. She’s weak right now. Weaker than usual. Her sickness is catching up with her energy level. The New Year’s Eve party last week took about all she could handle. Ever since then, she has laid in bed and slept. Amy took work home and spent all her free time by her side: computer on her lap, Alex’s head on her shoulder. When their friends wanted to visit, Amy urged them to keep their distance for a while. Alex hated that people could see her like this and her wife understood.

“Sweetie, have you seen my glasses?” Alex annoyingly sighs through the apartment. “I’m in a situation where I’m aware that I own glasses but I lost the glasses and now I need the glasses to find the glasses.”

Amy’s astonished about that little literary work of art and smiles. When she walks into the living room, she finds her wife heavily panting on the couch. She must have gone through the apartment, searching for the glasses she loathes so intensely. The smallest movement seems to be a lot of work lately.

“Here,” Amy says, while holding them up for her to see – they were in the bedroom. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

Alex smiles as she puts the black instrument on her nose and heaves a relieved sigh once she recognizes the things around her.

“You can talk to me for two minutes if you like,” she amusingly assures her.

Her hand faintly pats the empty seat on the couch. Alex’s body is drained, hence the lack of enthusiasm. It’s a nervous feeling that’s creeping up on Amy. This whole checking into hospital thing is scaring her, mainly because during all previous committals her wife was in a clearly better condition. Something about dr. Cullers diagnose – about Alex probably not making it another year – won’t let her go. Because what if it’s true? What if, despite all of Alex’s brave comments and determination to fight, she will be gone soon? What if those funeral plans will take place?

Her fingers search for those that have held hers for years now. Those who know her skin best. She nervously inhales and exhales and squeezes the caramel flesh she adores. Alex asks her what’s wrong.

“Sweetie, I’ve been thinking. What if …”

She can’t even say it without tearing up. Alex faces her and caresses her cheek. She knows what this is about. Amy’s scared. So is she.

“You need to promise me that, if this doesn’t turn out well – if you … die – promise me you’ll say goodbye to me.”

Her eyes are dark and determined. Alex nods while experiencing a tremendous heartbeat taking control of her chest. She wouldn’t dare to leave this earth without saying her last words to Amy.

“And you’ll talk to Him. Or Her.”

Suddenly, the Latina frowns all confused and even dares to smile: “What?”

“God,” Amy bravely continues.

It’s a dream she had last night. A dream in which it all happened and she found a way out. It won’t let her go. She’s not even sure if she believes in God. But there’s a small chance – and that’s enough.

“If you die and you see God, beg. Plead. Yell, shout, threaten. Throw a vase at him, if necessary. But fight and refuse to do anything until you get to come back to me. Promise me.”

It’s so desperate, it’s borderline cute. Alex heaves a defeated sigh and lowers her head.

“It doesn’t work like that, babe,” she whispers softly, afraid it’ll break Amy’s heart.

But Amy refuses to give up hoping, so she shakes her head all sad: “You don’t know that.”

Her eyes are filled with tears. Just looking at them makes Alex’s heart bleed. The model opens her arms and pulls her wife in for a tight hug. The small body of Amy crashes on top of her.

“It’ll be okay, babe,” she shushes her. “No matter what happens. It’ll be okay.”


They checked in. Alex got her first round of special treatment in the luxury room they reserved for her. First there were scans, then there were injections. Finally, bags of chemotherapy got connected to her IV. Now she’s in bed all day and all night, mostly asleep, rarely awake. Whenever her eyes open, she asks for Amy. The blonde is always by her side, holding her hand or running fingers through her short hairs. She cancelled work for a couple of months, just to be with the woman she loves. She’ll cancel it forever if she has to.

David walks into the hospital bedroom and finds his old friend on the windowsill. Her hair’s a mess, her eyes look tired. She’s been up all night, listening to the troubling and moaning noises echoing from Alex’s battling body. Every time Alex stirs in bed, her eyes flare open wide.

“Hi,” he whispers. “What’s going through your mind?”

His eyes glance at the sleeping Alex for a second, before making his way over to Amy. The blonde doesn’t really turn her head. She just stares into the distance and sighs in a dramatic way. This windowsill has been her thinking bench for a long while now. It’s where her brains start working.

“You know, I used to think that your whole life, you were supposed to work toward a goal. Studying, working, practicing your skills. All for a greater cost. For that dream job, that little extra money. I did that. I studied really hard, I got into the best schools, I’m in my late twenties and I already have an amazing career.”

She then looks at him and he can’t really respond. Julia isn’t with him. She stayed at home, simply because there aren’t a lot of visitors allowed. She’ll visit in the morning.

“But I was wrong,” she continues after realizing he won’t say a word. “And it’s so stupid that I didn’t realize it earlier. Finding her, being in love with her, that’s the thing that has truly fulfilled my life. It has made it extraordinary. And none of those things that have kept me occupied had anything to do with it. They just kept me away from my main goal: making her happy. And guess what? I did make her happy, with that little time I had with her. I put a smile on her face, made her laugh out loud, made her feel safe when she got scared. Me, I did that and I didn’t even have to do anything special.”

Amy points at her own chest, like she barely even believes it herself. David walks over to her and puts his hand on her shoulder. She runs her fingers through her tangled hair and sighs. He nods, like he understands what she’s talking about. Maybe he does – he found happiness with Julia. He finally realized what it is to be in love. To be utterly consumed by your feelings for someone else.

“Loving her has been the point of my life. And now that I realize it, I have to say goodbye to her. You know, I keep saying the same thing – that it isn’t fair. And it’s true. Because I deserve another fifty years with her, really. To put that same smile on her face again, to see those dimples on her cheeks when she does and to have this amazing, exceptional feeling when I realize that I am the cause of it. Do you know how wonderful it is to be with her? How everything she does and every word she says enlightens my day? How it pains me not to spend every second of the day with her when I’m gone? Do you know how badly I want all eternity?”

David does. He has seen these girls all his life. There couldn’t be a bigger example of love. Everything he knows, everything he feels whenever he’s around Julia, it has played in front of his eyes before. During sleepovers or parties. While they sat around the dinner room table or jumped up and down the big couches of the Ochoa house. Whenever Alex looked over at Amy and she looked back and the rest of the world disappeared. All these AA-meetings are marked in his memory.

“I understand,” he tells her. “I really do. I want another fifty years of my amazing friendship with her as well. But we have to accept that we probably can’t have that. We can, however, get the most out of the remaining time we have together. And with those memories that are already up in here …”

He lays his index finger on her forehead. She closes her eyes all desperate.

“… and here …”

His hand moves to her heart.

“… she can live on forever, even though losing her might not have been fair.”

It’s bullshit. At least to Amy it is. She can’t stand seeing her wife like this, so helpless and fragile. Alex is a fighter. She’s a raging devil, never afraid to kick the problem square in the balls. If she won’t make it, no one will. Why isn’t it working this time?

It has been weeks now. Weeks of trying and experimenting and nothing seems to work. In fact, Alex only deteriorates. She’s getting more sick and weak as the hours pass.

“She calls this an abattoir,” Amy eventually sighs.

“Abattoir?” David repeats all confused, not immediately following Amy’s change of subject.

The blonde nods and mysteriously smiles: “She never did get any further than the letter A in the dictionary.”

When she looks over to one of her dearest friends, she finds his troubled eyes.

“It means ‘public slaughterhouse’,” she explains. “You know her, always finding the most charming aspects in a situation.”

Machines are beeping and wires are pushing fluids into the fragile, skinny body of Alex. It’s hard to witness. Something about this hallway does exhale the atmosphere of a slaughterhouse, once you go searching for it. David invites Amy for a cup of coffee down the hall. She accepts the offer. Getting out of this room might clear her mind for a second.


Another three weeks pass. George offered to trade places with Amy, so she can get some rest. Naturally, Amy refused. Every night anew, she falls asleep on the uncomfortable bed next to Alex luxury hospital bed. It squeaks and it hurts her back, but nothing will get her away from Alex’s side. The doctors are barely talking to the family, mostly because they don’t have a lot of positivity to spread. Each time George or Eli inform themselves about Alex’s current condition, Dr. Cullers charismatic smile faints. And as soon as Dr. De Weerdt addresses them, he emphasizes the lack of guarantees this treatment has. The guy’s hasn’t returned to Belgium once.

Amy slowly starts to accept that her supermodel wife might not be a superhero. In between visits from family members, the girls discuss funeral arrangements. It makes them sob silently. At times Alex is so lucid that Amy holds out fashion magazines for her to judge. Snarky comments make her smile. Anything to make the Latina smile.

Her caramel skin seems grey now and her eyes are small. Those lean fingers are nothing more but skinny bones and her hair has fallen out once again. Still, nothing can convince Amy of the fact that she’s the most beautiful woman in the world. Her wife. She gets to call her her wife.

Susan is standing on the other side of the window that’s keeping her from the room Alex is in. There’s an air pressure system that makes sure no unclean outside air gets into the room, to avoid infections. That’s why so little people are allowed inside. When Amy notices her old friend, she nods to tell her she’ll be there soon.

When they face, the girls hug.

“How are you?” Susan asks all worried.

She curiously searches for Alex, who’s fast asleep. Susan hasn’t seen her with eyes open in a long time. Amy just shrugs and walks her to the nearby coffee corner. She spends most of her days on this floor. Each time she gets hungry of thirsty, this room is the place to be.

“Dr. De Weerdt came by an hour ago,” Amy tells her.

Her eyes are all puffy and swollen. It’s from crying. Susan doesn’t really want to say anything, but Amy’s clothes are dirty and wrinkled. Maybe Alex accidentally threw up on them. Maybe Amy didn’t notice. It wouldn’t be the first time.

“It doesn’t look good,” Amy continues. “But I guess we already knew that, right?”

Her tough act fails terribly. Especially in front of Susan. There’s no room for jokes or sarcasm here, which makes the girl rather uncomfortable. Instead of saying anything, she offers her a piece of cake she brought along. Amy has always loved cake. The blonde takes a small bite and it’s clear how much it takes of her to swallow the sweets. Food isn’t exactly on her mind lately. All she thinks about is that helpless creature in that bed, attached to machines and wires. It kills her to see Alex mumble in her sleep, when she’s dreaming or hallucinating. It kills her to hear her breathing with so much trouble.

“She might be gone soon,” Susan nervously concludes. “Have you thought about life after that? About what you’re gonna do? Move back home to your parents or stay here?”

There’s been a lot of talking, just not to Amy’s face. All her friends and family are really worried about the person that’ll be left behind. It’s a tragedy that Alex might die. And all facts point in that direction. Now more than ever. But nonetheless, Amy’s the one to pity. She’s the one that’ll have to face this life alone once Alex passes. A lot of people fear she might not be capable.

“I don’t know,” Amy sighs as she puts her hands around the cup to feel the warmth. “I started thinking the way she does, you know. Day to day is as far as it gets in my mind lately. She has always been the most important part of my life, meaning that I don’t know what it is to have a life without her. I am scared shitless to think about that opportunity. Because it’s unreal to me.”

Susan nods, but puts her hand on top op Amy’s shoulder to offer some compassion.

“You’ll be fine. You’ll pick up the pieces and you’ll be fine.”

That’s easier said than done. But what is a person supposed to say?

“Except I won’t. Even when we broke up and I moved on, it’s like – she always had some sort of power over me. Like she was never really gone. I dated girls and boys, then I met Christopher, but I swear: it never felt right. She’s been the love of my life ever since we met in kindergarten. No other person came even close to rising a spark inside of me the way she did – still does. I’m afraid that once she dies, I’ll never allow myself to fall in love again. I’ve had the opportunity before, and I was angry enough – heartbroken enough – to actually believe in it. And nothing ever happened. Nobody is as matching as she is.”

Susan likes this romantic side of her friend. She has always believed in the power of their love. The power that, no matter what, Alex and Amy would make it through everything.

“So you’re saying you’ll never move on? You should, for her. It’s what she’d want.”

Amy shrugs and tears up immediately. Thing is: she doesn’t want to move on. She’d be happy lying in bed all day, crying until the sun comes up, just thinking about Alex. But of course she can’t do that.

“I’m going to miss her forever, which scares me tremendously. It’s gonna hurt, every step of the way and every second of the hours that’ll pass. And I swear that I’ll continue to live life to the fullest: I’ll go on holidays and work hard to accomplish goals. I’ll be that kick-ass editor she dreamt me to be. I’m going to have that baby we talked about and raise that little person to be a perfect little creature. But I will never love anyone as passionately as I love her. With such commitment and dedication. And you know what? That’s okay with me. Because I’ve had her. And it was a privilege.”

The blonde stands up and walks away. She leaves her best friend sitting silently. Susan heaves a deep sigh and shakes her head: this situation is utterly fucked.


“Are you afraid?” Alex asks with a soft, faint voice.

It seems like talking hurts. The blonde puts her soft fingers on the damaged lips of her wife. She kisses her temple and crawls on the bed, next to her, just to hold her tight. It makes Alex smile. Anything for a smile these days.

“I’m scared that I’ll miss you forever and I’m scared that I won’t. I’m scared that every second of my life from now on will be controlled by the memories of you, with grief over you, with missing you. At the same time, I’m scared I’ll forget you, or little things about you. That one day, I’ll wake up in the morning and not think of you the very first second I open my eyes.”

Alex slowly moves her fingers up and down Amy’s bare forearm. She likes the touch of her. And her smell. Lots of her senses have been disabled for some reason, but she can still smell her. Vanilla cream.

“It’s okay to sometimes think about other things than me, babe,” she whispers. “When I’m gone, I won’t be in your life anymore. That doesn’t mean you have to stop living too. It just means that … it’ll be hard. And yes, I hope that you’ll think of me when you wake up, and when you go to bed. And sometimes even in between. But I won’t hate you if you don’t. I could never hate you.”

Amy wraps her arms around the fragile body a little bit tighter, as if she’s afraid to let go. Her heartbeat increases, just like the level of fear sneaking up on her. She can’t believe all the conversations they’ve been having lately. All those words about death. And funerals.

“We had so many dreams together, sweetie. You and me were supposed to …”

But she chokes before the words are said. Alex just nods, while concentrating on her breathing. That little tube in her nose has been bugging her ever since they gave it to her, but it’s necessary. Breathing doesn’t come as easily anymore. Nothing does. If only the medication would work. If only the experiments and efforts paid off.

“Dreams disappear when you wake up,” Alex eventually reveals the secret.

But Amy disagrees: “They don’t when I wake up next to you.”

They are so close together that their heartbeats are aligned. Alex’s is soft, while Amy’s pounding through her chest.

“Remember our wedding?” the blonde suddenly wonders.

Alex nods quietly. How could she ever forget. It was the most beautiful day of her life. She had the honor of marrying the most gorgeous woman on this earth.

“I especially remember the party. And the afterparty,” Alex mischievously smirks in silent pain.

“Our wedding night,” Amy nods with a big smile. “That was epic. And the night after our wedding night too. Except for your granddad walking in on us.”

Alex snorts and accidentally loses her nose tube for a second. Amy’s careful fingers put it back in place.

“I am so glad I married you, Alex,” she tells her. “I am so proud to call you my wife.”

The Latina closes her eyes briefly and allows the compliment to sink in.

“Well, you did marry a Victoria’s Secret Angel. That’s quite the achievement,” she brags.

So sick, still strong enough to be sassy. Amy rolls over and kisses the side of Alex’s lips. Normally, she’s the one getting that kind of kisses.

“When you walked down that isle – my heart stopped beating,” Amy admits. “You looked so beautiful. Even now, you are still gorgeous.”

“I’m not,” Alex objects with a sense of self-loathing.

But Amy puts her hand on top of Alex lips to make her stop talking.

“Shut up. You are gorgeous. You have the most enchanting eyes. I get lost in them every single time – it’s distracting. And you have the biggest, brightest smile. The most perfect lips to kiss. The softest voice in the world. And the way you scrunch your face when you laugh over my ridiculous jokes is super cute. And -”

She bends over to whisper in Alex’s ear teasingly as her hands crawl up to Alex’s chest.

“- you have the nicest set of tits I’ve ever seen.”

She squeezes them briefly. Alex grins in a naughty way and then cups Amy’s face.

“Remarkable, how you can make a cancer patient believe she’s still beautiful,” she says thankfully.

Amy shakes her head: “With you it’s easy. I don’t even have to try.”

They kiss, tenderly and soft on the lips this time. Alex realizes she could die a happy woman kissing Amy. She pants, because she’s getting tired.

“I am kind of sorry that you never got to use some of your lame pick-up lines on me. We never really dated, did we? We just went from being little kids to being best friends to being girlfriends,” Amy suddenly realizes. “God, you had such stupid lines when you talked to boys in high school.”

Alex’s weak arm pushes her to object: “Because boys are stupid. Secretly, I just wanted you.”

“Nice one,” Amy tells her with a proud nod. “How did you seduce all your colleague models?”

It takes a while before her wife can answer that question. First of all, she needs to inhale sharply before she can talk. Plus, thing is, that industry is just really weird. Normal doesn’t apply to those people. And not just the models – Alex’s been with singers and artists too.

“You don’t really seduce them. You just randomly ask while you’re undressing after a shoot. The adrenaline of the job makes it a lot easier to cross your boundaries,” Alex explains before coughing loudly.

The blonde’s impressed and wiggles her nose: “Like handing out candy sticks, huh?”

“Something like that,” Alex playfully smirks.

Her eyes quickly turn tired again. Being awake for longer than ten minutes seems unrealistic lately. Memories suddenly bring her back to the actual wedding part. Warm, tropical Mexico. All their friends and family. Sand under their feet and a sea breeze dancing with their hair. It was magical. Everything about the spontaneous event was magical.

“Want to know a little secret about our wedding?” Alex mysteriously whispers.

She closes her eyes and softly smiles. Amy’s going to love this. It’s time she knows.

“What about it?”

“You always complain that I’m the only one – apart from Rick – that met Spencer Riddick,” Alex says, though her words are separated by short gasps for breath. “On several occasions.”

Amy frowns and lifts her head to look at Alex’s peaceful face: “Yes?”

“He was the officiator. He’s the one that married us. Rick asked him to. So you did meet him – you just didn’t know.”

Amy’s jaw drops as her back rises from the bed. What the hell? She doesn’t even remember his face. Just the calmness of his voice, the tenderness when he addressed the couple. The way Alex smiled at him. That was Spencer Riddick? The mysterious fashion God? The legend itself?

“Are you kidding me? Even after meeting him, he remains a mystery?” Amy points out. “Wow.”

Alex opens her eyes again and caresses Amy’s hand.

“I’m sure there are pictures. Just never tell anyone.”

The person next to her lovingly smiles and nods. It’s a promise. Amy runs the tips of her fingers up and down Alex body. They start at her temple and trace the figure of Alex’s face down to her collarbone. They draw a soft line from her breasts to her loin. Then they move to the side of her body and slide back up. She needs to remember her. Her body. Her curves and her perfection. Alex enjoys the touch. She hasn’t been touched like that in over a month. Lately, they just hug each other to sleep. Or Amy sits in that uncomfortable chair while Alex coughs and throws up uncontrollably. Though she feels bad about it, it warms Alex’s heart each time Amy carelessly helps her to get out of the dirty clothes she puked on – even though the nurses offer to do it. When she has to pee, Amy supports her all the way to the bathroom. It’s not even a question, more of an intuition. Amy’s her rock. The one that’s always been there.

“Thanks for never walking out on me, even when I was a bitch,” Alex says.

She remembers a part of Amy’s wedding vows. The entire crowd had a laugh over it back then, but Alex knew exactly how serious her lover was at the time. The blonde nods. It comes naturally, staying with her. There hasn’t been a single moment when she even thought about leaving.

“What about you? Think you’ll still love me until infinity?”

A silence takes control of the room. This conversation suddenly shifts to a darker place. Because right now, thoughts about the afterlife appear. Behind all the gorgeousness she witnesses, there’s the faint appearance of a dying person. There’s the deterioration of Alex’s health. And there’s not a single thing to make it shift. Alex painfully inhales and nods.

“I have always loved you, Amy. I don’t know anything else. Wherever I’m going to after this, you’ll be with me,” she promises.

Amy fights back some tears. She sits back up and pulls Alex in her warm embrace. Alex lifts her weak arms to wrap them around Amy’s waist. Her head rests on the familiar lap.

“Everything okay, sweetie?” the blonde wonders all concerned.

“I’m okay,” Alex coughs with both eyes closed. “I’m ready. We might not have had the happily ever after with kids and puberty ruining our sex life … But for twenty two years, I’ve had you. That’s rare. Even when we were apart, I always had you. The thought of that kept me alive for years. Our love has prepared me for a peaceful goodbye. That’s the prettiest, most wonderful present anyone has ever given me. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing me the true colors of love. I love you.”

Amy leans her head back against the metal frame of the bed and bites her teeth in order to keep it together. Her fingers stroke the designer bandana that’s keeping Alex’s bald scalp from being seen. Her girl is falling asleep. She’s exhausted from their talk. She’s exhausted from being awake. Even when George was here earlier, she barely moved a muscle. A lot of times, it seems like she’s floating between unconsciousness and sleep.

Amy’s eyes keep focussed on her fingers – how they keep going back and forth over the piece of fabric on Alex’s head. She hopes it’ll calm her down, that it’ll guide her to a more peaceful dream this time.

The room is deserted. Flowers aren’t allowed, so the family hung up pictures of their gatherings to decorate it a little. The first are some of their wedding in Mexico. The girls look breathtakingly beautiful. Their outfits make them seem supernatural – fairylike. Paparazzi pictures of the proposal scene on the catwalk appear as well. Some of the images are them just strolling down the streets in New York on their way to a meeting. Busy and in a hurry, but still holding hands, as always. Susan, David and Eli and the two of them are combined at a party snap from a couple of years ago. Next, there’s Eli and Jessy – and baby Macy. She’s so big already in that family portrait. In the one far to the right, George, Eli and granddad sit around the table with the Wolfe’s during a family dinner. They all wave at the camera. Amy smiles over the genuine laughter happening in the picture. Her parents look happy. Everyone does. Their first and last photoshoot together is in the center of all of their memories. Amy’s positioned on top of Alex and they suggestively stare into each other’s eyes. God, they make a gorgeous couple. A perfect couple. It has been a wonderful life together.

“I gave everything up for you so easily,” Amy admittedly starts whispering after a long moment of silence.

She’s uncertain if Alex can still hear her. The girl’s heartbeat has slowed down, as has her breathing. She’s probably asleep, even though nowadays you can’t really be sure anymore. But that doesn’t matter. Amy needs this to be said. She needs to confess how she feels about her. About the life they’ve shared.

“I gave you everything so easily. And now that I know the outcome, I’ve seen the path and the terrible ending … Alex, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

She strokes the top of Alex’s cute nose and mysteriously starts to smile. Alex’s not responding anymore. She’s drifted to another place, in her arms. She’s far gone and Amy’s heart is breaking. It’s breaking with the strength of an earthquake.

“I regret nothing,” she whispers through her tears. “Not a single fight, not even your worst day. Because it was so easy, just being with you. So breathtakingly, utterly joyous, exhilaratingly, perfectly easy. And I’ve never been happier than when I was with you.”

She bends over and barely makes it to kiss her wife’s temple. Her head stays there a little longer. So absorb her touch, to memorize the sound of her breathing. And to whisper how much she loves her.


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