“You’ve reached Stellan. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
Sighing, I hung up the phone and dropped it onto the counter of my bathroom. I had managed to loose my best friend and more importantly my boyfriend in the span of a short night. I couldn’t call either to talk about either. I looked at my reflection and felt disgusted. My eyes were red and swollen from all the tears I had shed and dark bags hung heavily under each eye. I felt as if I had been beaten on the inside. My head hurt from crying and my heart ached for the gaping holes that were in it.
I climbed into the shower and slid down the wall as the water beat the outside of me. I wrapped my arms around my legs, rested my head on my knees and cried.
Stellan had become the most important thing in my life. He had even become more important than writing. For once, I was okay with the fact that a human was my main priority. I sure wasn’t my main priority. Writing had consumed me heart and soul for so long that I had forgot what it was like to live. Yes, I once had Roman and the bar, but it wasn’t living. It was just a façade I liked to believe that was once was my life. It didn’t inspire me to create and to live. It didn’t make me appreciate each and every day I had.
Feeling the water turn cold against my skin, I left the last bit of soap and tears wash down the drain. I stood underneath the water until my teeth started to chatter against each other. Throwing back the curtain, I climbed out and wrapped myself with a towel.
I was going to spend the day with Maddie and she would want her happy aunt with her not the broken hearted aunt. Not that she knew the latter of the two. I took a deep breath and looked at myself in the mirror once again. Nothing had changed on face except my lips were now a nice pale shade of blue from standing underneath the cold water for so long.
“God damnit,” I said to myself.
Wiping my hands off on the towel, I dialed Stellan’s number again. It went straight to voicemail. “It’s Anna,” I sighed into the phone. “I’m checking in to see how your dad’s doing and how you’re holding up. Call me if you want.”
I hung up the phone and fought back tears. Why couldn’t I just be a cold-hearted bitch instead of an insecure girlfriend who fucked things up?
# # #
“You look like hell,” Walsh said as I walked passed him and into his house.
“Love you too,” I replied, walking across the living room and to the kitchen. I dropped Maddie’s presents on the kitchen table and then went straight to the refrigerator. I grabbed two the nearest beers, opened one, and drained the bottle in six or seven gulps. Closing the refrigerator door, I threw the empty bottle in the recycle bin and opened the second beer in my hand. “Where’s Maddie?” I asked, grabbing one of the presents off the table.
“Outside,” Walsh answered and cut me off as I was walking towards the patio door. “You’re not going anywhere near her until you explain yourself?”
“Explain what?” I asked, folding my arms across my chest.
“This,” he answered, grabbing the beer out of my hand.
I grabbed it back out of his hand and shoved my way past Walsh. He had turned their backyard into a six year old’s princess dream place. Pink, white, and purple tulle, flowers, streamers, balloons covered the entire backyard. I fought my way through the decorations, collapsed on the swing, and put the present beside me. He, like Stellan, had invested in outdoor heaters for his party as well.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Walsh asked as he landed in front of me.
“It’s a long story,” I answered, “and you have guest arriving in ten minutes. So go do the dad thing while I sit here with my niece.”
Grunting, Walsh took a deep breath and then called Maddie from the princess bounce house. “Look who’s here.”
“Anna!” Maddie climbed across out of the inflatable contraption and ran across the yard to me. Throwing her arms around me, she collapsed into my lap with a gasp and a sigh.
“We’re not done,” Walsh said.
“I know,” I replied. “Go. Maddie, tell you’re dad we’re just spending girl time together before everyone else comes.”
“Yeah Daddy,” she said, climbing onto the swing next to me. “Is this for me?”
I looked at the present between us and fought back tears. I had thought about leaving the present at home, but in my heart of hearts, I couldn’t find the anger, the hate, or the nerve to do so. “It is,” I answered, pushing the present to her.
“Is it from you?”
“No,” I answered. “It’s from my friend Stellan.”
“Is that a boy or a girl?”
“Is he your prince charming?”
I felt a tear escape and quickly wiped it away. “I hope he still is,” I answered.
She looked at me with her head cocked to one side. “Don’t be sad,” she said, patting me on the arm. “The princess always gets the prince at the end of the story.”
“Honey, that’s a fairy tale. This is real life.”
Maddie put her hand on her hips and glared at me. “What’s the difference?”
I looked at her sitting there in her pink princess costume and smiled. “Sometimes the princess screws up and makes the prince mad at her.”
“Then you just have to fix it,” she smiled.
“How do I fix it?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know,” she answered. “What did you do bad?”
“A lot of bad things,” I answered. “I think mostly, I hurt the prince’s feelings.” At least that’s why I thought I had done to Stellan. It was a long list of possibilities really. I couldn’t place my finger on just one thing that Stellan was mad at me for, but it the only one that was appropriate to tell a six year old.
“Then you apologize to him, but you have to mean it.”
I smiled and straightened her tiara. “You’re a pretty smart princess.”
“I know,” she answered. “I’m a year older now. Can I open this now?”
I nodded and she ripped into the paper. Within seconds, her gift was unveiled and she squealed with excitement. “This is my favorite gift ever!” she screamed and threw her arms around my neck.
I hugged her tightly. “You don’t even know what else you got yet.”
“But I’ve wanted one of these forever.” She jumped off the swing and ran across the yard screaming, “Wait until Daddy sees this.”
Smiling, I dialed Stellan’s number again. “Hey,” I said into his voicemail black hole. “I just wanted to let you know that your gift is Maddie’s favorite. She absolutely loves it.” I sighed and then continued, “On the advice of a very smart princess, I wanted to say I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry.”
This page copyright © 2009 Shelia Taylor
All rights reserved | This is an excerpt of the rough draft and not the final version