Lorelai heard the door close behind Rory. She let out a sigh of resignation as she made herself comfortable on the couch again, flipping on A Star Is Born. Her one bright spot in all this mess with Luke had been Rory spending spring break at home; a full week of distractions and good times with her daughter-best friend combo. Since that had been abruptly taken from her, Lorelai had little else to keep her spark from diminishing into a dingy ember.
She had found a way to manage since her big wallow after she and Luke had broken up; after her disastrous and embarrassing phone call; after he took his boat out of her garage and displayed it for all the town to see; somehow even after the production of Fiddler on the Roof.
They had both felt something while Tevye and Golde sang "Do You Love Me?" They had both turned to face one another, ready to finally say something…but were unable to follow through due to the mass influx of elementary children rushing between them backstage.
The moment was over, and so, it seemed, was their relationship.
But Lorelai felt cautiously optimistic after the musical. There had been a moment—she knew there had been a moment. So she clung onto the tiniest shred of hope that soon Luke would come to her and their healing could begin.
He didn't come that night. Or the next. Or in the days following.
And that was that.
So there Lorelai sat, suddenly alone for the week, the flame inside her flittering out into nothing more than dull, gray smoke.
Everything seemed dull and gray lately. Though Lorelai was known for being colorful, since her breakup with Luke, she had begun to see her world in grayscale. Her friends and neighbors had adorned themselves with pink or blue ribbons to show support for her or her former beau, but Lorelai couldn't tell a difference, nor did it really matter.
But in the midst of her black-and-white existence, there were splashes of color that appeared every so often. In Sookie's baking. In Michel's usual contempt. In Weston's delicious morning baked goods. In Rory—especially Rory. At times, she felt like she was living in Pleasantville rather than Stars Hollow. Everything in her seemingly colorless world seemed in place and in order…except for her.
She sighed again, eyes glued to Judy Garland as she sang her lament…
The night is bitter, the stars have lost their glitter.
The winds grow colder, suddenly you're older,
And all because of the man that got away
No more his eager call, the writing's on the wall,
The dreams you've dreamed have all gone astray.
She was so transfixed by the iconic performance that a knock on the door made her jump.
She wasn't expecting anyone, and as she made her way to the hall, her heart began to pound erratically in her chest; she couldn't help but allow that small hope to reemerge.
She braced herself and twisted the knob.
When she opened the door and laid eyes on her visitor, the ache in her heart increased tenfold.
"What do you want, Mom?" she asked, using all the restraint she had not to slam the door in Emily's face.
"That's no way to greet a guest, Lorelai," Emily said brusquely.
Lorelai rolled her eyes. "Calling yourself a 'guest' would imply that you are welcome in this house, which you are not."
"What do you want, Mom?" Lorelai repeated.
"We haven't heard from you in weeks. The only information we have about you comes from Rory, and even that is like wheedling confidential information out of a CIA operative. Honestly, Lorelai, this little feud has gone on long enough."
Lorelai shook her head incredulously. "You say 'little feud' like we had a minor disagreement over the menu for a DAR function. I think I'm entitled to feel a little betrayed by my mother intentionally sabotaging my relationship. You got what you wanted, Mom. I don't know what else you want from me."
"Oh, don't be so dramatic. I only did what I thought was best—"
"Enough, Mom! I've listened to you spout that line since I was 16, and it means just as much to me now as it did then. So unless you've figured out how to build a time machine for you to go back and undo your meddling, I have no interest in hearing anything else you have to say."
Lorelai glared at her mother, fire in her eyes. Emily lifted her chin haughtily, then turned and walked away. Lorelai waited until she reached the bottom of the stairs before finally slamming the door.
After she trudged upstairs, she flopped onto her bed and grabbed her nearest pillow, hugging it closely to her. Eventually she fell into a troubled sleep, overwhelmed by her sadness and swirling thoughts.
In the days following her mother's visit, she felt the blackness in her chest expanding and filling the rest of her body. She thought she was past this. The false hope. The bitterness. The thought that anything good would come from this turmoil. The missing. God, the missing.
Lorelai had missed Rory when she had been in D.C., and when she had been in Europe and they had been fighting. Rory was her life, yet Lorelai had never felt longing of this magnitude in her absence; she didn't even know it was possible to miss someone so deeply.
She thought about the summer Rory had been in D.C., the same summer she and Luke had been at odds. She had missed him then. Her life had felt incomplete. He had been stubborn and slow to forgive her then, so why should this be any different?
She considered her hope that Luke would come after her following the musical. Would he really have come? Or were her deepest wishes clouding her judgment?
She recalled their first kiss when he'd told her that he was "trying to let his actions speak." What were they saying now?
She'd seen him in the diner and he was unhappy. But then why wasn't he coming for her? Contacting her? His business has been bad for weeks. How long was he willing to go on like this? What would it take for him to make that leap?
If only she knew what he was thinking.
In Lorelai's mind, it was his turn to make the effort. She had already tried to make amends; he hadn't. He pushed her away and kept his distance. She'd made a spectacle of herself in the market trying to fix their relationship, but he wasn't interested. Lorelai had put everything out there with no reciprocation of any kind, and she didn't know how much more of herself she could give.
Where had it all gone wrong? Besides the obvious, of course: she shouldn't have lied about being with Christopher. But how had a small lie over something completely innocent escalated into a near-brawl at the vow renewal? Christopher was clearly drunk. Why had Luke let Christopher get so deeply under his skin? Why had he left her there alone to deal with the fallout?
She'd made a mistake, she knew. She was not blameless. But she wanted to fix it; wanted to make things better.
And he didn't.
Was it because Emily was behind the plot? Because both her parents went out of their way to make him feel less-than? Why had he never voiced his insecurities about Christopher? It was only natural that Luke feel hurt, but didn't he know her well enough to realize that frankly, she didn't give a damn about what her parents thought about any aspect of her life? That Christopher was nothing more than a childhood friend?
Could I cut them off entirely? she wondered.
Not forever, she knew that. They were her parents after all, and she would alway be connected to Christopher through Rory. But she could let them know she meant business. Luke was not a fling. He was the real deal; her total package. And until they were ready to come to terms with that and actually treat Luke like he mattered and was worthy of her, she would not be in contact with them except in case of emergency. She would make Christopher understand that he needed to figure things out on his own, without her help. They were done other than their shared interest in their daughter.
All this she would've said to Luke if he had given her a chance to speak, instead of avoiding and scaring the shit out of her, which had led to her begging, pleading, pushing him to listen and give them another chance.
She could put in the work. She was all in.
But her words seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. He couldn't be in this relationship.
"It's too much!" he'd declared.
But Luke knew all about her "muchness." It's what set him apart from everyone else she'd dated. He knew her history and knew her parents schemes by proxy; he had heard all the stories over the years. He had seen Christopher at some of his worse moments and had heard about others. How could he allow this stupid incident to topple everything they'd built? Without even giving her the chance to explain?
He said he was all in. He showed her the horoscope. So she'd leaned in to her vulnerability and allowed herself to be cracked open. She was daring greatly; knowing and being known. But being open left her exposed to so much more hurt and pain.
He'd said he was all in, but the moment things got hard, he was out.
How could he do this?
Had he placed her on a pedestal, then lost interest as soon as she failed to meet his expectations? Was it because he finally saw her for who she really was? Too talkative. Too loud. Too caffeine addicted. Too flirty. Too laden with pop-culture references. Too inquisitive. Too much baggage.
Too much, yet somehow still not enough.
Maybe that wasn't the truth, but how was she to know otherwise? She hadn't spoken with him since he'd yelled at her in her garage before Fiddler on the Roof.
When she thought about going to him at the diner, the heaviness and the ache in her chest were so intense she thought she might collapse. But it couldn't possibly get worse, could it? Even if he completely rejected her, what in her life would change? She would continue going through the motions of her bleak, ashen life until things became more sepia-toned.
The more these thoughts swirled in her head, the more certain she became that she could not live this way. As terrible as she felt, she had to act. The not knowing, the constant reigniting and extinguishing of her hopes, was much worse than whatever terrible finality their relationship reached. At least if it was over, really over, she could figure out how to start putting the pieces of her life back together; try and figure out how to paint some color back into her world.
She moved from her place on the couch, put on her coat and boots, and raced out the door. She walked the familiar path to Luke's diner, her heart thudding wildly. She stared at the ground as she walked, gathering her thoughts, and when she looked up, she saw a figure in the distance making its way toward her.
It was Luke.
Even at this range, she could see his eyes widen upon recognition. For a moment, they just stared at one another.
All the anxiety Lorelai had been feeling threatened to overtake her, but she steeled her nerves and continued walking toward him. He watched her as she moved closer, but stared at the ground when she came to a halt directly in front of him.
She took a deep breath.
"Hey," she said quietly.
He didn't respond immediately. But when he looked up, he gave her a small smile.
The dark undertones of Stars Hollow melted away, and the blue of his baseball cap had never looked so vibrant.