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Far From Where I've Been

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{it’s alright and it’s nice not to be so alone
but I hold onto your secrets in white houses}

"I still don't get why we're doing this."

"How many times do I have to explain it to you? We're going to go, say hi to the kids, and then we'll be on our way. It's not like I'm asking you to go on a three week vacation with him." You glance over your shoulder, catching a glimpse of some asshole who only narrowly avoided sideswiping your car. "Who lets these fuckers on the road?"

"How much coffee did you actually have this morning?" Brian asks, looking mildly fearful like he does every time he's a passenger in your car.

"Does it matter?"

"It's just that you're a more aggressive driver when you're all hyped up on caffeine."

"Is there a problem? Have you seen me hit anybody? Anything?" In fact, you hadn't even had a full cup from the time you woke up until the time you set out for Queens. You didn't need it, not when you were already on edge for reasons you couldn't completely articulate. It wasn't that big of a deal- Elliot had mentioned that you were a 'rockstar' at their house, at least as far as Eli was concerned, ever since Kathy had told him the story of his entrance into the world on his last birthday. He only knew you from photos, of course, but Elliot had promised him he would introduce the two of you someday. It just so happened that Maureen had returned from Mexico last week, so she and Kathleen would both be home for the weekend, and Elliot wanted you to come out there because it had been years since you had seen any of the kids.

If you were to be completely honest, being at the Stabler house freaked you the fuck out. You had no experience when it came to the whole large family dynamic, which was intimidating to you in the first place, and then on top of that came all the discomfort of feeling like you were intruding on something that you shouldn't really be a part of. As much as you adored his kids, and as much as Kathy had always been very gracious to you (at least to your face), you still couldn't help feeling like an interloper. But Elliot either didn't notice or chose not to notice your unease, so you sucked it up for his sake and pasted on a smile for every baptism, first communion, graduation, and whatever the hell else those kids had going on now. It was important to him for some reason that you be there, and so you were. God knows you had done plenty of more (objectively) hazardous things for him using the same rationale.

As for Brian, the alignment of the universe seemed to be tilted in your favor for once, because you had already made plans to go out and see his mother that afternoon. Elliot's place was conveniently right there on the way, giving you an excuse to drag him along so you wouldn't have to face la familia Stabler alone.

Unsurprisingly, Brian had strong feelings about this plan, feelings that you ignored. It wasn't going to cause him grievous bodily harm to be under the same roof as Elliot for a short time, and having him there would serve nicely as proof that you had no ill intentions. No one would bring their boyfriend along if they were planning to make a move on someone else's husband, right? That would just unnecessarily complicate things.

Not that you had any such plans, but you know that appearances are everything. And you also know that Kathy must have suspicions about you that she keeps under wraps when you're around- at least, if her family's reactions to you are anything to go by. At Eli's baptism, her sister and a couple of her female cousins didn't even try to hide that in their eyes, you were maybe half a step up from a garden-variety hooker.

Back then, you had gone home and cried and then felt guilty about simply existing (that is, more than usual) for a week. But now, you-

"Curb! Jesus Christ, watch the fucking curb!" Brian shouts, abruptly interrupting your thoughts.

"Oh my god, I had one wheel up on it!" you say, steering sharply in the other direction as you finished parking. "I hope the car's not totaled! Are you gonna need a chiropractor now?"

He rolls his eyes but says nothing as he gets out, slamming the door behind him a bit harder than usual in case you hadn't picked up on the fact that he was irritated.

"Stop sulking," you say, giving your reflection in the car window one last glance.

" 'm not."

"Yes. You are." You don't get a chance to keep scolding him, though, because Kathy has already seen you coming up the walk and is opening the door. She reaches out to hug you like a long lost friend once you're on the doorstep, which you're a little surprised by, but you just roll with it as you exchange the usual pleasantries and introductions.

"I'm just so grateful you could come, Olivia," she says, voice going quiet. "You've been in all our prayers since the moment we heard. Not just us- our phone was ringing off the hook with people from our parish who saw the news and wondered if you were someone El used to work with. So you had a lot of people praying for you."

"Thank you, Kathy, that...I appreciate it." You were slightly embarrassed at the thought of all that attention directed toward you from complete strangers, but you knew Kathy meant well and frankly, you needed all the help you could get from as many deities as possible.

She ushers you and Brian into the living room, excusing herself to go find wherever "the boys" had wandered off to. A few seconds after she leaves, a little blond boy comes racing toward where you're sitting on the couch, barely avoiding being tripped up by the rug. "Are you Olivia?"

"I am," you say. He has his mother's nose and chin, but those eyes are all Elliot's. "Are you Eli?"

"Yup!" He looks you over carefully, sizing you up like a miniature version of his father. "Were you really there when I was born?"

"I was. I was actually the first person who got to hold you. You were a very cute baby."

He seems pleased by this. "I came out of my mom in an ambulance!"

"You sure did. You were in a big hurry to get out and meet your mom and dad."

"D'ya know how I got into my mom's belly?"

"Uh." You know more than you cared to, really, but that was beside the point. Glancing over at Brian, you see that he's trying very hard to keep a straight face. You nudge him with your foot and turn back to Eli, remembering his dad's second rule of depositions- the only good responses are yes, no, or I don't know. "Yes?"

This was evidently an acceptable answer, because he ignores it and turns his attention on Brian. "And you're Brian?” When he nods, Eli grins brightly. “My daddy says you're an asshole!"

You can't stop yourself from snickering, covering your mouth to muffle the sound. Brian looks earnestly at Eli. "You know what you should do? Tell your mom to ask your daddy where he was last Fri-"

"Brian," you interrupt sternly before he can finish that sentence. "Eli, I bet your mom doesn't want you using words like that, does she?"

"I'm not allowed to say ass," he agrees. "But I think I can say hole." Hearing the screen door open, he takes off without a goodbye. "Daaad, I said what you told me to! Can I have my money now?"

"For christ's sake," you mutter under your breath, still struggling not to laugh even though you will definitely be having A Word with Elliot later about sending a small child to do his dirty work.

"He's your friend," Brian points out when he hears you grumbling. "If it was up to me, we would still be asleep right now..."

He keeps talking, and you hope he isn't expecting a reply because you've basically stopped listening. You can see into the dining room, where Eli is jumping around at his dad's heels and chattering as fast as he can get the words out, but you can't hear what he's saying either. Not when Elliot has turned his head to look over at you and, when he sees that Brian doesn't even notice him, he gives you this tiny blink-and-you'll-miss-it smile and mouths hi like it's a secret, like something meant only for you in the midst of complaining boyfriends and overexcited children and slamming screen doors and Kathy announcing that honey, the girls are here and Kat thinks her brakes are squeaking, will you go give it a listen?

Hi, you mouth back, biting your lip to hide a shy smile. Your eyes linger on one another just a second too long to be completely platonic, just long enough for the world to shrink down to the distance between you.

A loud crashing sound comes from the kitchen. "Goddamnit!" Eli shouts and just like that, the spell is broken and the universe at large comes rushing back in.

"Language!" three different voices scold, and then Elliot is nodding toward the garage and saying he'll be right back and you can hear Kathy asking Eli what the heck he's gotten into and Brian is chuckling as he reaches out for your hand, and all you're left with to remember the moment is the little fluttering sensation coming from somewhere far too dangerously close to your heart.

This is so utterly ridiculous.

{maybe I’m a little bit over my head}

After being taken on an incredibly detailed grand tour of the house by Eli, including an extended stop in the attic to see "where the ghosts live" and a fruitless search around the yard for the neighbor's cat, you finally end up back inside the house where the girls are sitting around the dining room table with Maureen's husband.

"Show Olivia the wedding pictures!" Kathleen urges her sister, who gets up to go find the iPad. "You're gonna love them. The whole thing was gorgeous."

"Was expensive," Elliot corrects from where he's hanging back in the kitchen, beer bottle in hand.

"Ignore Daddy," Kathleen says in a loud whisper. "He cried like you wouldn't believe at the reception."

"Oh, I believe it," you say, looking back over your shoulder at him and grinning knowingly.

"I was crying thinking about how they spent $1500 on flowers that would be dead three days later," he retorts, but there's no hiding the pride in his smile.

Kathleen shakes her head. "So do you have a new partner, Olivia? Someone who's less of a pain in your ass than my dad?"

"Language!" Eli yells from the living room.

"I do. And as far as being less of a pain in the ass-" you say, whispering the last word.

"I'd say it's a toss up," Brian chimes in, and you can practically see the light coming on in Elliot's head even with your back to him.

"Cassidy, my man. Come talk to me," he says.

You left Elliot to interrogate Brian about Nick while Maureen came back and started showing off her wedding pictures. Apart from the usual amazement that this girl who you met as an eighth grader was now grown up and married and starting a life of her own, it was slightly bittersweet to see all these photos of something that you had never imagined not being a part of, to be reminded that his life had gone on in your absence just as yours had gone on without him.

A heavy thud comes from the direction of Eli's room, followed by a little voice. "Uh oh."

Kathleen decides she'll be the one to investigate, and once she leaves you go back to scrolling through the pictures. "These really are gorgeous, Maureen. It looks like everything was just about perfect."

"I'm sorry, you know. That...I would've invited you, but Dad, he," she trails off, sighing.

"I get it," you assure her, knowing that there was no way you would've been able to show up and risk having to face him in any case. "Believe me, I understand."

"Well, I'll be sure you're invited to my baby shower." She turns pale, clapping her hand over her mouth and looking at her husband with panicked eyes. "Oh no."

"Should I pretend I didn't hear that?" you ask.

She giggles nervously. "No, no, but- crap. Just please don't tell my family. We're keeping it a secret until we find out whether it's a boy or girl next week. Well, we are if I can keep my mouth shut. I'm going to steam fortune cookies open in the microwave and replace the fortunes with ones that say it's a...whatever we're having! I want it to be a total surprise for everyone."

"Your parents are going to be thrilled no matter what," you promise, quickly looking down at the iPad as Kathleen comes back into the room.

"Anybody seen Dad? I think he's avoiding me. He must have bad news about the car."

You gesture toward the window that overlooks the backyard. "He's still out there grilling Brian about my new partner," you say, taking a peek at them and feeling relieved that neither looked overly aggressive.

Kathleen heads outside and Maureen watches out the same window as you. "Dad's not a fan of your boyfriend, is he?"

"They have...their differences."

She shakes her head slowly. "No one's ever gonna be good enough for you in his eyes. You know that, right?"

You hum noncommittally, buying time to come up with something to say when you're saved by the sound of the front door opening and little footsteps racing toward you.

"Olivia! I found Mr. Truman!" Eli calls out, depositing a long legged orange cat at your feet.

And just like that, the conversation is all but forgotten. God bless this kid.

{I come undone at the things he said}

Your phone buzzes while you watch Eli try to retrieve the cat from its current hiding space under the couch.

«you look amazing today»

«stop it el», you type back, looking through the window as he pulls his phone out and smirks. Your face feels flushed and christ, you hope you're not blushing.

"I'm gonna leave him a little dish of Mountain Dew and maybe he'll come out," Eli decides.

{we were all in love and we all got hurt}

"Eli! For the last time, that is not our cat," Elliot warns as he sees a flash of blond hair and orange fur sprint past.

You had all been sitting around outside, enjoying the October sun and a surprisingly non-hostile conversation while Eli ran by every few minutes, taking advantage of his chance to show off in front of a captive audience.

"He needs a kitten of his own," Brian says, and Elliot's stony expression clearly spells out what he thinks of that idea.

"El's about as much of a fan of pets as I am," you explain, arm linked with Brian's as you lean against him slightly- both of you having apparently woken up with a newfound love of PDA. You had stayed glued to his side whenever Elliot was in sight and you knew it was irritating the hell out of him. Sure, to the untrained observer Elliot's expression might have seemed neutral, maybe minorly annoyed. But a dozen years had given you plenty of time to learn how to read him, and you could tell just from the look in his eyes that it was taking everything he had to hold back from saying something he knew he couldn’t say in mixed company. Oh yes, you could play stupid games just as well as he could, and you didn't even have to recruit a five year old to help out. One point for Team Benson.

You decide to give him a momentary respite and volunteer to go inside and get everyone another round of drinks. A harried-looking Kathy is standing in the kitchen, having just hung up the phone. "I swear, Olivia, I spend way more time on my class than on my actual job."

Oh God, not her class again. "Still doing that, huh?" you ask, trying not to cringe. There had been a day years ago when you had come by the house to pick Elliot up, and he was taking his sweet time getting ready so Kathy had invited you in while you waited. She had made a remark about being on her way to church to teach her class, and so you'd asked about it in the name of making polite conversation, imagining it to be some sort of Bible study.

You were, to put it lightly, wrong. Her class was about 'natural family planning' for those who didn't believe in so-called 'artificial' birth control. This seemed strange coming from someone with five unplanned children, but you smiled and nodded, which she took as an invitation to explain it all to you in great detail. It wouldn't be your personal choice, seeing as how it sounded way too time consuming for someone like you who struggled with remembering to take a pill every day, but it was interesting enough- until she got to the part about cervical mucus.

"The thing is, it changes depending on whether or not you've already ovulated for that cycle," she said, and you'd never considered yourself a prude in the least but dear jesus, this is not a conversation you ever anticipated having, least of all with Elliot's wife. You focused on sending him telepathic messages to get his ass down here yesterday as she kept going. "It's easy once you know what you're looking for, because cervical mucus gets clearer in color, and it has more of a wet, stretchy feel as you get closer to ovulating."

You know now that God exists, because at that very moment Elliot finally made his way downstairs to save you from having to hear any more mucus-related talk. Strangely enough, he seemed completely unfazed by this discussion, which left you wondering just what exactly the boundaries of polite conversation were at the Stabler house.

"Oh, of course, we've got such a great turnout this year," Kathy says, and you've never been so relieved to see someone's expression suddenly turn serious. "Olivia? While I have you here away from everyone else, I just want you to know...I never wanted Elliot to cut off contact with you the way he did. I promise you."

"I know you didn't," you assure her quickly, both because you want to put this topic to rest and because you know quite well that if Elliot had it in his mind to do something, her opinion was probably not going to change his plans.

"He was just in a really bad way and there was no talking to him," she continues, oblivious to your discomfort. "I mean, when is there, right? But lord knows I tried. I said if you're done with the job, that's one thing, but Olivia doesn't deserve this. I tried to reason with him, I said look at this the other way- if she walked out on you without a word, you would've been devastated. Didn't do a thing."

"I know, Kathy. Well, I don't know much, but I know there was lots weighing on him," you say, trying to make it sound like the whole thing had been resolved and stored away in some forgotten corner of your mind, like just thinking about it right now wasn't making your chest ache a little, like there wasn't a part of you that still wanted to scream how could you?

"That's just it. He sure wouldn't talk to me about it, about anything, and I told him that I get it. If he thought I wouldn't understand or whatever- I probably wouldn't. But you would. I knew you wouldn't judge and frankly, I was hoping you could talk some sense into him, tell him he needed to get his shit together," she said, voice lowering out of habit on the word 'shit'. "But I think that was the problem. You get how he is. He was too embarrassed for you to see that he was self-destructing, y'know?"

The ache kept growing, threatening to overtake you. He needn't have worried, considering you seriously doubted you were much better off than he was back then. Not when you had been drinking too much, sleeping too little, and sneaking out of a stranger's apartment at 3am too many times. "Yeah. I know."

"I almost called you myself at one point. Just to...well, see? I didn't know what to say or if I'd end up making things harder on you. I told myself Kathy, you can't do this anymore," and her voice catches a little, "you can't fix him. Until he decides for himself that he's ready to get on with his life, nothing you do is going to make a difference. But that didn't mean he was gonna drag the rest of us along for the ride. If he wasn't asleep, he was drunk. Wasted. The kids and I, we couldn't keep living like that. Thankfully it was summer so we took off for my sister's, and all I could tell him was to give me a call whenever he woke the hell up. And honestly, Olivia, I didn't think we'd hear from him again. Every time the phone rang I thought...this is it. This is when they call and say we're sorry, m'am, but we found your husband and..."

"God. I." For all that you didn't want to have this conversation, you understood why she needed to tell you the story even years after the fact. It's a unique kind of loneliness, dying slowly and feeling the ground being yanked out from underneath your feet because the person you need the most at that moment is the very person who will end up killing you. "I had no idea. I wish I would've known then, maybe there was something I could've done..."

She shakes her head. "There wasn't. That's what I had to accept, that it was all up to him, and fortunately in a month or so he finally started to get back on track. And things are so much better now. He's changed, honestly. We're doing better as a family than we ever have now that he's learned how to mellow out a bit. My only regret is that it took so long but...oh, Olivia. I don't know what would've happened if you hadn't, uh. Made it. It would've destroyed him. As it was...I told him honey, you need to do something about this. You can't not."

All you can manage is a small nod, your chin quivering in warning as you turn your head toward the window. Kathleen is telling some sort of story, gesturing animatedly, and Elliot just looks amused and nods in a way that you know means he has no clue what the point of this tale is, but he's going to try and laugh in all the right places anyway for her sake. You wonder what his first reaction was when Kathy had given him the news about your little...incident. If it was regret or anger or just sheer fucking terror. If he knew that you were thinking about him, that if these were your last moments on earth you wanted to spend them recalling every single second of those thirteen years you had together, no matter how mundane.

Well, okay. Maybe not every single second, now that you think about it. Definitely not the time when you went into that abandoned building and both got scabies. You would just as soon not relive that. But, you suppose, if you absolutely had to come down with it, there's no one else you would rather share your suffering with. Just like the thousands of other dark hours where the only light you could find came from knowing he was at your side. You wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Kathy sighs. "He was still hesitating, even then. I think he was just overwhelmed, didn't know what to say. He thought you'd be angry that it took something terrible like that for him to finally reach out to you and I said honestly, hon, I don't know. She might be, but that's up to her. You can't do anything about that. But at least you'll know you did all that you could do. Then I just let it be, and a week or so later I'm halfway asleep one night when he says oh, by the way, I talked to Olivia. Surprised me, that's for sure."

You try to discreetly swipe your fingers underneath your eyes, disguising it as an itch, and you wonder if it's too late to ask if you could go back to talking about the texture of the cervix. "Yeah. I...he's been really supportive. Helped me out so much."

She presses her lips together and nods, turning away from you to stare out the window while her arms hug her midsection. Mr. Truman has returned, climbing onto the back of Brian's chair like a bird on a perch while Eli laughs hysterically. Elliot is deep in some sort of discussion with the girls and Maureen smiles at him, shakes her head. She will make a great mother, and her little one will be thoroughly spoiled by the whole collection of aunts and uncles and grandparents and he or she will never, ever doubt how much they're loved.

It makes sense that ultimately he would always choose this. You were naive to think that you ever had a chance while he and Kathy were separated because, in hindsight, he never really let her go. Never let himself stop hoping that maybe they would have a second opportunity to get it right. It was never a matter of not wanting you, he had said. You believed him, but you also knew that for however much he wanted you, he just wanted her more. She was always the one he was going to go back to- and you understand why, you really do.

This is just how it was always supposed to be for him. For them. And you were meant to stay on the outside. Nothing was ever going to change that.

When she turns back around, you're surprised to see that she's started to cry too. "We've finally got a good thing going here for our family. Finally," she says, but her voice has an edge to it as her stare is leveled at you and you are so, so confused. Does she really think that there's anything that you would- that you could do to change that, even if you wanted to?

The phone rings before you have the chance to come up with something to say. "It's Liz," she explains, inhaling deeply and putting on a forced smile. "Hi honey- yeah, we're all here. Is your brother there? He's not answering my texts."

You take one last look outside at Eli, who's crawling into his dad's lap and beckoning Mr. Truman to join him, before you walk away.

{boy we’re going way too fast
it’s all too sweet to last}

"Liv," you hear someone whisper as you finish fixing your makeup and walk out of the bathroom. A second later a familiar arm reaches out for your wrist, pulling you into the next room and shutting the door behind you both.

"What the hell are you doing?" you hiss as that same arm wraps around your shoulders.

Elliot laughs at your annoyance. "I wanted to see you."

"I've been here all morning."

"Not what I meant," he says, mouth skimming across the top of your head. "The kids are really happy you're here."

"Oh, just the kids?" you ask innocently as he touches a piece of hair that escaped from your ponytail, pushes it behind your ear, and doesn't he realize that the only thing you can do for him is to make his life that much more complicated? You've done your best to warn him ever since he showed up at the door of Brian's old apartment, back when you still had your arm in a sling and a bandage across your forehead and you dressed in multiple layers despite the June heat as if you could make yourself disappear inside them. You've tried everything you could think of to scare him off or push him away and the stubborn fucker just won't quit. He knows this is it, that the two of you are never going to be more than this, and he sure as hell knows you're the last person on earth he should hit up if he's looking for a quick no strings attached fuck. He's seen you break down and he knows that's only a tiny fraction of what lies beneath but he's still going to come after you if you start running.

You remember the night he spent over at your apartment, how you were stretched out on the bed with your head resting on his chest while he ran his fingers through your hair. "It's been a long time coming," he said when you wondered aloud if this was a terrible idea. "We deserve this."

You're still not sure if you believe him. Honestly, you don't understand any of it, but you think this must be what it feels like to be lucky. Maybe this is what it's like to want something and finally, finally get it.

You lean into him and close your eyes, arms wrapped around him loosely. "You okay?" he asks, and you nod and smile and breathe him in. Outside you can hear Eli giggling, yelling for someone to 'throw it to me! throw it to me!' "So you and your Mr. Right seem awfully cozy."

If your eyes were open, they'd be rolling. "We are."

"Aren't you precious."

"Aren't you jealous."

He laughs but says nothing, and you'll take that as a yes. "I meant what I said before. I always liked this sweater," he murmurs, rubbing your shoulder.

"I know. You mentioned it a long time ago...although I don't think those were the exact words you used," you tease. “I seem to remember you were trying to flirt with me. Badly. I should’ve smacked you.”

"I have no idea what the hell you're talking about."

"You're such a liar. I know you weren't that drunk."

"What else did I say?" and from the look in his eyes, you know full well that he remembers.

"That you wanted to feel it to know if it was as fuzzy as it looked, and that I should never get rid of my bangs, and. Well. If you don't remember the rest, then there's no way I can tell you about it."

"Huh, what d'ya know, I'm having a sudden flash of memory, and I remember you saying you wanted to-"

You quickly press two fingers against his bottom lip, laughing softly. "You're not gonna finish that sentence if you know what's good for you."

He takes a step closer to you, looking smug. "And what happens if I do?"

"Hmm, I dunno...but I guess you'll just have to wonder, because Brian and I won't make it to his mom's on time if we don't get going."

"She like you?"

You nod. "It's crazy how much. If it was up to her, I'd have been her daughter in law a year ago."

"Eh, it's not that crazy. You can be charming when you want to be."

"Right. I just never want to." You rise up on your toes slightly, lips brushing his cheek. "I'll see you in a couple days."

He motions toward the door. "Go ahead, I'll hang out here for a few more minutes."

You reach behind you and squeeze his hand quickly, listening for any signs of someone lurking nearby until you decide the coast is clear and slip silently out the door.

{it’s alright and I put myself in his hands
but I hold onto your secrets in white houses}

"Hey Bri?" You hear his voice coming from somewhere in the house, but when you check the living room you find it empty. Deciding he must be in the kitchen, you head in that direction and sure enough, there he and Kathy are.

He has a look on his face like a deer who's blinded by an oncoming semi truck, and you don't even need to ask why. "Brian! Hon, we're late, we need to go," you say, giving Kathy an apologetic smile. Brian, for his part, is looking at you like you've just turned water into wine.

You explain that you're going outside to say goodbye to everyone and drag a still shellshocked Brian with you. "She has this class, Liv..."

"I know, I know, I'm sorry. I should've warned you but believe me...she hadn't even gotten to the best part yet. Consider yourself fortunate."

Eli hugs you when you say that you're leaving, telling Brian he should come back 'like maybe tomorrow'. You promise the girls that you'll see them again soon, raising an eyebrow subtly at Maureen, and you try not to feel afraid when you hear Brian tell Elliot it was 'good talking to you' because God only knows what those two have to discuss.

You and Elliot exchange casual goodbyes, avoiding eye contact because you so badly want to reach out for him one more time and you know that if he looks at you, it's all over. Kathy hugs you again, tells you to take care of yourself, and you wish you could tell her that if you are lucky, she is doubly so.

{it’s more common than you think
he’s my first mistake}

"Thank you for playing nicely," you say to Brian once you're both back in the car. "I owe you now."

"You owe me so much," he agrees, and you lean over the center console to kiss him before he can start the car. He tastes like beer and peppermint gum and when you glance over his shoulder, you can see Elliot turning around and walking away from the living room window that overlooks the driveway.

Once Brian backs out onto the street, making sure to point out how he did not hit the curb, even with one wheel, you pull out your phone.

«hi el», you type out. «miss me yet?»

"So what actually was this best part of Kathy's thing that I missed? It can't be worse than the mucus," he says, making a disgusted face.

You read the reply to your text and smile, clutching the phone in your palm like it's a treasure. Yup. You're lucky.

"Liv? Seriously, what can be worse than that?"

"The cervix can change colors," you tell him.

{I feel so far from where I’ve been
so I go and I will not be back here again
I’m gone as the day is fading on white houses}