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Travelling Words

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New York City, NY, January 3rd, 2020

 

Dear Therese,

 

Here I come to you again, another day, another piece of old and yellow paper. When will I stop? When will I give up? Oh, I fear the worst, I fear I won’t ever… But see, let’s move on my darling, there are better things to discuss. Harge is away, drunk at some old and cheap bar probably. I don’t blame him nowadays; I’d do the same if I had to deal with a dysfunctional wife. But alas, there are better things.

 

Rindy is getting smarter every single day that passes, just last night she told me there was no reason for boys to go in separated teams in P.E., she says girls and boys should play together. I’m very proud of her, and it’s easy to see the influence you had on her. Rindy asked me about you last week, she says she’d like to see you, she says she’s filled with saudades. Different little word, had never heard before. It’s Portuguese, it’s the feeling of missing someone deeply. I got to say, I’m filled with it too. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that we are very likely to never get rid of said feeling, for you are unlikely to ever even respond my letters, I said someday she might see you passing by, she looks forward to it.

 

This time I won’t ask you to come back, don’t worry my dear, I’ll just ask for you to be alright, healthy and safe. I do have to say that I miss you, although I know you’re tired of reading these words. Please, do be alright. I’ll be here, if anything.

 

Love, Carol.

Chapter Text

Miami, FL, December 27th, 2019

 

Dear Therese,

 

                Christmas has passed. I’m sure you noticed. A Christmas without you. I bought you gifts, did you know that? I made an album, with photos of places you liked to visit when every time we walked around town out of boredom. I also bought you a nice pair of sneakers, those that look like black socks, I remember when we argued about them, you said they would look nice on you, I said they would look horrible in anyone. I’ve changed my mind, as I often do. Rindy bought you something too, but she said I couldn’t tell, she’ll keep it a secret until you show up. Will you ever? I fear not.

 

                We came to Miami, Harge wanted to see the ocean and be far from New York, says he needs some peace. I do agree. But I’d much rather be at home, where we spent our last Christmas, listening to Etta, dancing around, putting Rindy in her bed, reading a bedtime story. I’d rather look at my old sofa and remember you. The ocean will have to do.

 

                How are you? How was your Christmas? I saw someone on Twitter say it’s very cold in Canada right now, is it true? Oh, dearest, do forgive me for such a boring topic to ask about, I’m curious about the most mundane things in your life, for I miss knowing every detail about your daily life. Do you miss telling me about your day? If ever, do come back. I’ll forever be waiting.

 

Love, Carol.

Chapter Text

New York City, NY, August 7th, 2019

 

Honey,

 

                          I’ll send you this later, not now, for you are laying in my bed and there’s no reason for me to wake you up. You look stunning. Breathless, I am always, whenever I see you. I’m writing this for kick of it, but also because you’re leaving New York for a year, and I want you to remember me at all times, I’m writing a bunch of letters to send you. I know, I could just text, DM you on IG, whatever. But I like this, it feels more intimate.

 

                          I told Rindy just this morning about your trip, she’s heartbroken, I understand her. I sent her a picture of you, sleeping, she said you sleep funny. How long until you wake up? Not long, I guess. Wait a little or I’ll burn your eggs.

 

                          I’m back, you’re eating now, right in front of me, and I’m here, with paper and pen in hands. You just asked me, with the loveliest voice, “Babe, what are you writing?”, I said I’m taking notes of a book I was reading; you know I’m lying, there’s no book in sight. You rarely question me on small things like this, so you don’t mind.

 

                          This will always feel good, to have you around, so do know that having you here, knowing that you’re leaving soon, creates a need of you with you in sight. I miss you Therese. Can’t wait to see you. Whenever I can, I’ll drive all the way to Yukon to see you. Or I’ll just take a plane, what ever feels right in the moment, you know I’m impulsive.

 

Love, Carol.

Chapter Text

New York City, NY, September 30th, 2019

 

Dear honey,

 

                Tomorrow is our one-year anniversary, but things are kind of off. Harge showed up yesterday and he was very rude to you, I did not stop him from it, again. It’s clear to me now that you’re not happy with the way I’m dealing with this whole situation, but please understand me, love, he’s been with me for years, he’s heartbroken, it’s normal for him to react like that. That does not mean I stand by it, just that I think we should be patient, so, will you forgive me? I hope that by the time you receive this letter that you have so.

 

                Anyways, screw Harge, tomorrow is our anniversary and I prepared some great things for us. Booked dinner at your favorite restaurant and got a nice mariachi band to play some romantic songs for us after it, I know you enjoy Romeo. I hope the day goes alright; I want to do everything to make you happy. I love you, you know that, right?

 

                Abby called me just now, she says we got to get married already, she’s in a hurry! Abby always wanted to make me a super bachelorette party, since I never got married to Harge, she didn’t get to do it, so now she’s hyped up. But things come as they have to. I’d marry you right now if I could, but I think is best if we wait you come back from your trip. But don’t say anything! I’ll propose, I’ve got it all planned, it’s a big secret!

 

                Miss you babe, how’s Canada? Call me.

 

Love, Carol.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

"In this part of the story I am the one who dies,

the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,

because I love you, love, in fire and blood."

 - Pablo Neruda, Sonnet LXVI

 

 


 

 

September 29th, 2019

 

“Thanks for being such a gentle host, Carol, as you always have been,” he said sounding like royalty, his voice was eloquent, his eyes didn’t leave hers, “I miss having you at home, receiving my friends with me, George almost never shows up without you there.”

 

“There’s nothing to thank me for, Harge,” she answered politely, “I’ll get Rindy by noon on Monday.”

 

“Alright, good night Carol.”

 

“Goodnight.”

 

He left and she closed the door, inhaled deeply and thought of the battle she was about to enter. She should’ve known better. It was always like this, but she couldn’t stop him from coming visit their daughter, he was the father no matter what her relationship status. She walked to the kitchen.

 

The dark-haired woman by the sink was washing the dirty dishes, she didn’t flinch hearing the steps of the woman she loved, she kept washing the dirty dishes. Her eyes were focused on the sink, her hands had all of their ten fingers wrinkled by water, maybe she was there for a little longer than necessary, the dishes weren’t actually dirty anymore. She kept going with that task.

 

“Therese,” the voice hit her ears, she didn’t stop, “please, look at me,” she didn’t obey, “the plate is clean, can you stop for second?”

 

“Please don’t talk to me right now,” the sound that came out of her was calm and controlled, but it looked as if it came from somewhere else, she did not stop her task.

 

“Therese, don’t be childish, we need to talk.” As soon as those words left her lips, Carol knew she should not have said that, she tried to apologize but there was no time for it, a plate crashed on a wall far from her.

 

“Childish,” Therese’s eyes were red, filled with tears, her breathing got out of pace, she felt her lungs get filled with more air than they could hold, “your ex, comes into this house you claim to be ours, uninvited,” she felt the air hurt her, it was getting physically painful to talk, “when he was supposed to come a week later only, you welcome him, that’s okay, but,” a pause, her eyes never meet Carol’s, they’re looking for anything to hold to, “he mistreats me, me, the woman you claim to love, and yet you keep treating him as a honored guest…”, the words leave slowly, they don’t sound like they belong in that house, Therese never wanted them, “Yes, honey, I’m childish.”

 

Carol stays in the same place and position for a minute or two, looking at her lover, thinking to herself, pondering, but Carol does not know what to say, what to do. It’s her own fault, she thinks, that Harge would treat Therese like that, she shouldn’t have lied to him about her so many times, so if it was her fault, how could she mistreat him? Therese was grown, she should understand her, but she did understand Therese, so she said: “I’m sorry, Therese, I shouldn’t have said what I said and shouldn’t allow him to treat you that way, will forgive me?”

 

She sounded truthful; however, it was not enough, “I heard that before, Carol, you always apologize for him.”

 

Carol took a deep breath, “I don’t know what to tell you then, do you expect me to prohibit him from entering the house?”

 

“I’d never ask for that, it’s your house,” she answered now looking deeply into Carol’s eyes, “he’s the father of your daughter, still I expect to be treated with respect.”

 

Knifes flew into Carol’s heart, she searched for the air missing in her lungs, not enough, she understood those words, they were short and simple, but held significant meaning. Her house. Her daughter. Wasn’t it true? Although Rindy loved Therese as a mother and was treated by her as such, Carol never consulted Therese for anything regarding the girl. She welcomed Harge into the house whenever he came, making Therese uncomfortable in a way she’d not feel had she been in her own house. How could she claim her and leave her out? Yet, how could she fix it? She saw no way out. She had spoken to Harge a couple of times already, asked him to be nicer, and he always saw no wrong in the way he was towards Therese.

 

Abby would always suggest that she should stop Harge from showing up out of their scheduled meetings, but she thought that was being too harsh on him, he had her in his life for what? Seven, eight years? Something of the sort. How could she cut him like that? She saw no way out.

 

“I’ve spoken to him, I don’t know how to solve this,” she said finally.

 

“Well, I won’t have the answers for you, Carol, I apologize,” she dried her hands, “go to bed, I’ll be there in a minute.”

 

Carol obeyed her, leaving quietly. Therese picked every piece of broken glass from the plate she threw in the wall. One by one, and watched her hand get red from the blood leaving the little cuts made by the sharp glass. She rolled all the pieces of glass with journal paper and wrote “Careful, broken glass” on a post-it yellow paper and stuck it in the journal paper. She washed her hands carefully, wrapped them with some white gauze she always had in her backpack for emergencies.

 

It had passed much more than a minute when she went to bed. She watched Carol sleep, sitting on the end of the bed, for a while, even with all the turmoil she looked beautiful. Therese knew she could never leave Carol, she loved her too much, if that meant listening Harge’s stupid offenses and hurting comments, then, she thought, she’d had to beat it.
 

 

 

Chapter Text

Miami, FL, December 31th, 2019

 

Dear Therese,

 

                It’s almost a New Year, are you excited? For me it feels like the turning of the week, not much. Today the beach was a pleasure to look at, the sky was cloudy, the water cold, everything grey. You painted something like this once, I remember.

 

                Abby called, asked if I had any news about you, I didn’t have, she tried to brush it off, she’s always kind now, rarely makes jokes about me, really caring. Talking about friends, how’s Danny? I saw Phil today, briefly, didn’t talk to him, he didn’t see me, it felt weird seeing someone that’s part of your life and being unable to connect. Weird feeling, am I not part of your life anymore?

 

                The thing is, Therese, I need that answer, although I won’t get it, I need it. Harge wants us to get married. Says the fact we never officialized our relationship was what ruined it. I don’t really agree. He always called me his wife, I always called him my husband, that was never the issue. I cannot say yes, but I fear with time I’ll have to. Marriage is scary, isn’t it? But weren’t we married before? I feel he just wants to have a grip on me. He fears you’ll come back, silly him, I fear you won’t.

 

                So do call me, if you feel inclined to, and tell me, should I?

 

Love, Carol.

Chapter Text

 

 

All love letters are

Ridiculous.

They wouldn’t be love letters if they weren’t

Ridiculous.

 

In my time I also wrote love letters

Equally, inevitably

Ridiculous.

 

Love letters, if there’s love,

Must be

Ridiculous.

 

But in fact

Only those who’ve never written

Love letters

Are

Ridiculous.

 

If only I could go back

To when I wrote love letters

Without thinking how

Ridiculous.

 

The truth is that today

My memories

Of those love letters

Are what is

Ridiculous.

 

(All more-than-three-syllable words,

Along with unaccountable feelings,

Are naturally

Ridiculous.)

 

        — Fernando Pessoa

 


 

 

 

The scratch of pen on paper was loud because silence amplified every feeling at 3 AM. The pen knew its ways, it’s curves and straight lines were but a way home. What is a blue mark on yellowish paper if not a way home? But one might argue it’s much more, another might say it’s much less! For a pen, it’s nothing but habit, “I’ve done it a thousand times, and will do it for a thousand more,” the pen will say, however pens do not speak, they run and slide throughout the paper with no regard for what’s said, never worried for what’s written.

                But the woman writing at this very moment, she’s no pen, no piece of paper. As matter of fact, she holds these two objects in hand and with them she has a power granted to few. The power of the written word. To speak is to do, to write is to declare. She declares war, but a war within herself.

“Dear Therese,” she starts, her grip on the pen is firm, her movements are steady, “It’s 3 AM, I’m sober, too sober, and thinking of life.” Oh, that is true, she is thinking of life, and I think you might agree that that is a dangerous thing do at 3 AM.

                But she continued, and words came out of her mind, through her veins they found the tip of her fingers and were transcribed if they suited her plans. Billions of words made they way, trying to fit, trying to please her, but not many of them were of her liking. Difficult thing, writing.

                She heard soft steps closer to the door of her room and a brief knock. “Mommy?”, it was her daughter, a young and very small child, blonde hair and innocent eyes, “Come in baby,” she answered and the door opened, revealing the curious look of the child.

“Why are you up? Nightmares?”

“Yes, a big bad wolf this time.”

“Come up, sleep by my side, I’ll protect you.”

The girl laid by her side, covering herself with the fluffy blanket she brought from her own bed, she looked over to her mother, “What are you writing mommy?”

“A letter,” she answered simply.

“To Therese?”, the girl asked excited.

“Yes, baby, to Therese.”

“Will she answer?”

“I don’t know yet, but don’t think about okay? Think of fairies and unicorns and try to sleep, okay?”

“Okay, mommy.”

And now she knew her task would be harder, how to finish that which should change everything with her daughter by her side? How to open her heart, with a dagger she called honesty and spill every drop of blood on a piece of yellowish paper, without waking up her dear daughter with her loud tears?

But the girl helped, her paced and calm breathing reminded Carol why she had to continue writing. For the sake of her own peace of mind, for the sake of the family she truly wanted to have. Those words would settle, those words would finish, those words would claim victory.

She kept on with her task. By 6 AM, she had chosen her sentences, and with that, her sentence. And now, all there was to be done was contemplate. So back she was, thinking of life.

                Much younger than now, Carol met Harge, a man a few years older, experienced in life, settled, smart, charming, easy choice. He was kind, he was helpful, he guided her through her difficulties. At some point, they were together and Carol found herself saying the precious words a lover keeps to their significant others. On this particularly night, she wondered when was the first time she lied to him.

                They never got married, he proposed of course, Harge was a man of traditions, he did what was expected of him, and Carol did accept, but things went another way. A few months before the wedding, Carol’s parents died in a car crash, so she felt she could not go to the altar without them, the wedding was postponed and, eventually, cancelled. They kept living as a married couple, but never a ring in hand.

                “Was it the right thing to do?”, she wondered, but there was no way to tell, one must not dwell on decisions one cannot change.

                Yet, there she was, thinking of life, at dawn. As the Sun slowly crawled out of it’s hiding, she questioned herself and sometimes answered herself. Her mind often searched for Therese, but, even in her head, Therese was far away. The blame rested on top of her, she could see it, she could touch it, but she could not change it. She did that to herself, she put herself in that position, she broke the heart of the woman she loved.

                That night was confusing and blurry, yet there was no doubt of her blame. Had she said something, had she done something, something else might’ve happened. The song still played in her head in times of distress. And although she knew her mistake, there she was, living her wrong decisions.

                “I shouldn’t have gone to Harge, I should have taken the first plane to her,” she told herself, but it was expected of her, to stay, to go back to him. Carol was never brave, she never left her comfort zone, how could she throw everything away and run to an uncertain love story? She was a mother, for God’s sake! That would be irresponsible, it would be ridiculous. Would it, really? But Harge was there to catch her, as he said he would. He was certainty.

                “It doesn’t matter, I’ll never truly love him, what’s the use of that?”, it was true, her heart was unable to accept anyone else. It was full. No empty spaces. Her priorities were Rindy and Therese, but she was blind to notice the later. “She’ll never look at me again, she probably hates me now, what’s the use of this?”, she looked to the blue words on the paper sitting on her lap.

And that was the catch. That was the jump of faith needed. As much as she claimed to know that her lover would not accept her anymore, truth was that she was not sure, that’s why the letter was still there, that’s why she could not sleep and that’s why a pen exists. Write your poems, write your love songs, register the days you thought about her, sure or not, grab the pen and some paper, let the blood in your veins guide your fingers. Do something.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

February 1st, 2018

 

Dear diary,

It’s been quite some time since I last wrote, and I feel silly for even doing this today, but I don’t wanna talk to Danny about this yet. So, what happened was that I was walking by NYPL today, there was this really important book I needed. I entered and it was almost empty, surprisingly, then I went to look for the book.

 

As always, I lost a ton of time just walking by, looking at the shelves full of books I won’t ever read. I saw this really interesting blue book with an odd symbol it’s the spine, along with the title “Anguish”, I got curious, so I went to pick it up, you know, to see what it was about. But of course, life has its ways to make me a joke, I couldn’t reach it, it was too high up. Not even seconds later, a really pretty hand got to the book and handed it to me and I still can’t believe the owner of said hand was even prettier. Honest to God, I almost died right there, she’s probably the most beautiful woman alive. Never seen so pretty. She handed me the book with a really soft smile and said:

 

“I wouldn’t get that one if I were you, the title is pretty honest with the content,” and boy, I felt I could throw that book through the first window I saw if she said so. What a beautiful voice, damnit! So lovely, it sucks that I almost had a stroke and couldn’t sound any less stupid. You wanna know what I said? I said, “It’s pretty,” man, come on, ridiculous. She must think I’m some idiot girl who goes to the library for pretty looking books.

 

Anyways, if it had been just that, I could tell Danny all of that but the point is: she kept talking to me, she asked me things, she helped me look for the book I was looking for and at some point she had to leave, as normal people do, not me, I stayed in that library for 5 hours, lingering around. So, she left, and I tried to start reading the book but I just couldn’t focus on it. My mind kept going back to this woman, Carol, that’s her name, Carol sounds really nice, too nice. How come someone has pretty hands, a pretty face AND a pretty name? To me it sounds like cheating. Not fair. But Carol left, so I tried to read the book and failed, so I just sat there thinking of her and how pretty she was. For hours. Ridiculous, I know, but I thought of other things too, ok?

 

Then I decided to go home, took the subway, and guess what happened! I couldn’t imagine. I opened the book again and a   piece    of    paper     fell    on     my     lap. Ten points to Gryffindor if you guess what was written. Man, Carol’s number and IG. Her number. And. Her. IG. What a world to live. I get to call her AND see her face. Honestly, major win today, but I don’t know if I’m actually calling lol. She’s waaaay out of my league… But hey, she willingly gave me her number, maybe that’s something? I’ll think of what to do tomorrow, I’ll try to get some sleep and not think of Carol, the goddess, the masterpiece, the tall blonde lady who could kill me and I wouldn’t really mind, at all. I hope my brain gives me a break. Anyways, that’s how my day was. God help me.

 

 

Chapter Text

October 1st, 2018

 

                                          Carol’s lungs seemed to be disconnected from each other, each going on its own pace, her chest was going up and down confusingly. The cold sweat on her hands were a sign of her state of mind. She questioned her fashion choices, although beautiful, she feared her high heels were going to fail her, how bad would it be if she fell on the very specific moment she’d been planning the whole week? Maybe she should’ve picked the black dress, the baby blue she was wearing was just above the knee, it was her favorite, but she feared it would get too dirty if she fell down because of the heels. “Should have planned this better,” the thought occurred to her.

 

                                          But now was no time to complain, nor to go back. Things were settled, she had the concert tickets, she had the taxi waiting for her outside, she had a message telling her that her lover was waiting for her, her daughter was with her friend Abby, she had to go.

 

                                          She left the house and entered the car, “Good evening sir,” she greeted the driver, he answered and took off. The way to Therese’s house was calm, they didn’t live too far away from each other, but it was long enough for her to think about going back home four times. The driver seemed to have sensed her anxiety and offered her a chocolate bar, she accepted. The car got slower and finally stopped, Therese was waiting for her on the sidewalk.

 

                                          Carol quickly got out of the car and held the door open for Therese, looking at her, from head to toes, with a look of pure delight and admiration. She did not consider giving up any more times that night. The dark-haired woman had a shy smile on her face, a navy-blue dress and a brave idea in mind. They greeted each other with a brief hello and Therese entered the car, being followed by Carol.

 

“You didn’t have to hold the door for me, you know.”

 

“I know, but I wanted to.”

 

“You’re silly, Carol.”

 

“You look beautiful, Therese.”

 

                                          Therese was filled with a feeling of utter happiness, she didn’t even blush with Carol’s words, she was too happy with her own luck, never she’d imagine she’d be with such a perfect person by her side, telling her words no one would ever. “You’re something.”

 

                                          And the rest of the journey was full of random words and topics, the weather, work, politics, books. Carol was glad to have someone with such a range of ideas; someone she could talk about anything. She thought of her life before February, she had Abby, but Abby was constantly busy with work and, well, Harge wasn’t much of a friend to call and talk about how nice was when it rained at night.

 

                                          As they arrived to Citi Field, Carol did the same as before, leaving the car and holding the door open for Therese, getting a wide smile from her. Just as she closed the door and the car left, Therese reached for her hand, and like that, they entered the stadium.

 

                                          The concert started, it was unlike anything Therese had ever seen, but she had always been a huge fan of Queen Bey, so she was not surprised, just overwhelmed. As  ’03 Bonnie & Clyde’ transitioned to ‘Drunk in Love’, Therese felt her hand lose Carol’s grip, she looked to the blonde and Carol smoothly got behind her, softly pulling her into a warm embrace, she felt her legs lose strength and things flying in her stomach, “This is one of my favorite songs,” Carol whispered in her ear, “Why can't I keep my fingers off you, baby? I want you, na na…” she sang along.

 

Therese wondered if she would make through that night, how could Carol do something like that to her? Even her voice was beautiful, how ridiculously perfect she was! She hoped her breath wasn’t too out of pace, she hoped Carol wouldn’t notice her losing her mind.

 

Carol on the other hand was having her own moment of complete and utter desperation, although she felt confident and encouraged by Therese, she feared her flirting skills weren’t the best. Singing along to Drunk in Love? Could she be any less of a cliché? She wondered what Therese was feeling, were her feelings being reciprocated?

 

But the show went on, and at some point, Carol let hold of Therese so they could both dance together, they were clearly not the best dancers that night, but they enjoyed the time they were spending together. Carol could swear Jay-Z looked at her and Therese was over the moon with seeing Beyoncé so close, she would tweet about it all week, and Danny should be ready to hear her talk about that night for the rest of his precious life.

 

Carol had planned to ask at the last song, so if she said no, the rest of the concert wouldn’t be an awkward memory for Therese. She was doing her best, trying to be smooth and send her the right signals, but something might’ve been too right, because when “Upgrade You” started, Therese turned herself to her. She was half lip syncing half laughing, she knew how silly she looked, but she was so happy she couldn’t care less.

 

To say that Carol had a wide smile on her face is to hide the fact that it was much more than a smile, her whole body was awake and functioning as if she had just scored a goal in a World Cup match. But it was nothing compared to Therese. Therese felt more than happy, she felt brave and capable of conquering Russia during the worst winter, so brave that in the middle of Jay-Z’s part of the song she looked to Carol and said: “Do you wanna be my girlfriend, Carol? Do you wanna be with me?”, and the rest of the night was not ruined for any of them. Beyoncé does wonders, doesn’t she?

 

 

Chapter Text

 

November 4th, 2019

 

“Babe, hello, sorry for calling during your work time,” Therese heard the sound of paper being ripped and people walking, “things are a mess here and I have to pick Rindy up at school in less than an hour, could you do that for me, please?”, she heard Abby yelling at someone, well she didn’t have much to do herself, the photoshoot she was doing had finished early because the model was very experienced so they didn’t waste time, she agreed to help Carol, “Oh, thank you Therese, you’re an angel, I’ll call later, I love you, bye.”

 

Therese took the sub, heading for Rindy’s school, it wasn’t that far, so she didn’t rush, and got there some minutes early. She waited, patiently, scrolling through Twitter and Tumblr. Things were a little wild, someone had said something about feminism and people were freaking out, she was just laughing at most of the memes. A bell rang, seconds after children started leaving the school, running to their parents, Therese got closer to the school gates.

 

It didn’t take long for her to see Rindy, the girl came fast running on her direction with a huge smile on her face, she jumped into Therese’s arms, “Therese!”, she yelled with excitement, “Where’s mommy?”

 

“She’s stuck with some work, but you’ll see her soon at home,” Therese answered softly, that child always got the best of her, was just looking at her and she instantly felt calm and happy, “C’mon princess, let’s go home.”, and saying that she got Rindy on her back, and started carrying her to a taxi she had called.

 

But just as she was getting close to the car, a heavy hand pulled her. “Where do you think you’re going with my daughter?”, a husky loud voice asked, Therese turned around to see Harge, looking at her with anger and something she couldn’t quite tell what was, “Rindy, get down, now.”

 

The girl obeyed her father, and Therese put her on the ground, “Harge, Carol asked me to pick her up, please don’t,” Therese tried to explain calmly, knowing that provoking him would not work, but Harge interrupted.

 

“I don’t care, girl, you don’t get close to my daughter again, you hear me?”, now he had his hands grasping the child’s arms possessively, “You get near her again I’ll get you; you understand?”

 

Therese heard his words with patience, she understood he was threatening her so she backed away, pondering her options. Question him and take Rindy would be probably the worst, he’d just be more aggressive and it could damage Carol’s chance to have the girl for more time. What if she did something and Harge used it against Carol, and she lost custody of Rindy? No, she couldn’t do that, so she did what she thought better and said, “Okay Harge, just explain Carol later okay? I’ll go home.”

 

Yet, the man did not seem satisfied, she looked her curious, he did not expect her to give up that easily, “I have nothing to explain to her, she has to explain to me why she’d allow a monstrosity like you to be near my child,” he looked at Therese from head to toe and shook his head, “I’ll never trust you with my daughter, who knows what your kind of people can do…”.

 

And then Therese understood what he meant, and that was no good for her heart, but she didn’t show him her emotions, she just confirmed with her head and opened the taxi door, “Okay, bye Rindy, your mom will see you soon, okay? Don’t worry princess.”

 

The girl who seemed to be confused with all that conversation just agreed and waved her hand saying goodbye to Therese, who entered the car, closed the door and left a very angry Harge looking at the empty street.

 

Therese didn’t go straight home, instead, she asked the driver to leave her at the public library she had met Carol. She liked to go there every time things got her a little broken, it helped her remember why she kept picking up her pieces and putting them together. It was for Carol. Carol was worth it. Since the first day. She walked the corridors, looking at the bookshelves, thinking about everything that had changed in her life, for good and for bad. Would she be crying at her favorite library in the middle of the day before Carol? Probably not, she always waited until at least 6pm and cried at home.

 

She laughed to herself, thinking how ridiculous it was to be fighting her own feelings and let herself cry, and oh boy how did she cry, at some point the floor was wet with her tears and a girl passing by offered her tissues. She accepted, but they were not enough, Therese felt she needed a whole desert to fill with tears and be finished. Yet she got up, cleaned her tears and headed out. In the middle of the way she saw something that caught her attention. The same book Carol had said she should not read on the day they met, Anguish, lonely on an empty table. She reached for the book and no one stopped her. She decided to read it, so she checked out with it, and then left the library.

 

 

 


 

 

She headed home, wondering what Carol would say about Harge picking up Rindy. All she needed was for Carol to hug her and tell it was fine, tell her she would not allow Harge to say that kind of stuff to her, that was all she’d ask for. She feared her lover would be mad her, she knew how Carol valuated her time with the girl, and so did Therese, she loved Rindy and sometimes felt as if the girl was her own, but she also knew she couldn’t compare. It didn’t take her too much time to get home, she was walking rather quickly. She knocked the front door, as she always did, even if she was living there for a while now. “Get in, Therese.”, she heard Carol say, so she did as she was told to.

 

She entered the house and felt the scent of Carol’s favorite perfume and smiled involuntarily. She walked to the living room, following the perfume. Carol was sitting on the sofa, with a glass of what appeared to be wine on her right hand, “Hey, rough day?”, she asked.

 

“Yes, a little, what about you? Why’d you take so long?”, Therese notices the look of worry on her face, she figured Carol had not spoken to Harge.

 

“He didn’t tell you, then?”

 

“Who?”, the confusion was clear in her face, she put the glass on the center table.

 

“Harge, he showed up at Rindy’s school and picked her up.”, she said simply, and put her backpack on the floor.”

 

Carol got up instantly, her eyebrows frowned, “He what? Why’d you let him?”

 

“I couldn’t stop him if I wanted, he’s her father, remember?”, her voice was plain and unfazed, she hated what she heard and got her walls up immediately.

 

“I know but, well, sorry, that is true.” Carol breathed deeply, “I’m sorry, Therese, I didn’t know he’d show up.”

 

“He threatened me.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“He insinuated that I’m not to be trusted around kids, at least not people of my kind,” her eyes pierced through Carol’s, revealing her pain, “you know what he meant, don’t you?”

 

Carol averted her look, got the glass of wine from the table and took a sip, “I’m sure he didn’t mean that, Therese, please, don’t exaggerate,” she walked closer to Therese, “just ignore him, he’s hurt, I’ll get Rindy tomorrow.” She tried to soften her words to soothe Therese, but it was just what broke it.

 

“Will you ever take me seriously, Carol?”, Therese asked, her voice almost breaking, “I’m not exaggerating, I just want you to understand me.”

 

And that was the crucial moment. Therese was hurt, hurt by Harge but mostly by Carol. She needed her to be on her side for a change, sooner on the library she thought of that, she was certain that Carol would be with her on that. Harge showing up out of nowhere and threatening her like that, how could Carol ask say it was overreacting? She remembered words Danny had told her weeks prior, “Her daughter should always be her priority, that’s just correct, but she shouldn’t say she loves you and let you be treated like a dog.”. She had fighted him for those words, said he didn’t understand Carol, said he shouldn’t imply things about her relationship, but was he really wrong? The silence lasted an eternity, but Carol finally answered her.

 

“I know this, Therese, I do take you seriously, I love you, I just don’t think you’re giving him a chance, you know? Maybe he’s had a rough day, but I swear I’ll talk to him.” And having said that she went back to her cup of wine and finished it. Therese looked at her for some long minutes. Carol was grown woman, and she had issues of her own, what could she do? How could she act as if it was just some silly competition?

 

Therese’s eyes travelled the living room, everything there was Carol’s, and one day a lot of that had also been Harge’s. She saw the picture frames near the TV, pictures of Rindy, smiling and happy. Carol was sitting at the sofa, looking to the ceiling, now bottle of wine in hand. Therese wondered if she was the one responsible for that broken situation. “No,” she told herself, “but I’ll won’t fix this either.”

 

She walked to Carol, sat by her side on the sofa, stared at the ceiling also, inhaling all she could of Carol’s scent, trying her best to fixate that on her head, not only the perfume but also the feeling of having Carol by her side, so close. Before she was able to open her mouth, tears rolled down her eyes without her permission, and now that was the second time she cried in front of someone in the same day. A record, for sure. She laughed to herself, counted to ten and finally said:

 

“I love you, Carol,” hearing that Carol looked over to her, “I’ll always love you, you know that, right?”, she waited for Carol to answer.

 

“So will I, babe, I’ll love you forever.”

 

“I hope you don’t,” the words came out as barely a whisper, someone a meter away from her wouldn’t be able to hear.

 

“What do you mean, Therese?”, Carol asked, already imagining the answer.

 

Therese’s head was filled with racing thoughts, loud and unclear, all of them yelling at her, she felt her head hurt, but she had to close it, she had to finish. She knew she couldn’t go through that again, she couldn’t fight for pity, for compassion, she needed a break, she needed time, and maybe it was better for her to be alone. She answered calmly: “I can’t be with you anymore, Carol.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

June 23th, 2020

 

The sunlight hitting the right corner of the door was alluring, but her legs were heavy. Wood was never a passion of hers, but after the time she passed photographing wildlife, flora and whatever came into her way, she started paying more attention to small aspects of things. She now focused on the patterns on the wooden door. They looked as if they could drive her away from her troubles, their curves and straight lines reminded her of roads and the colors, the different tones, brought her a sense of smelling cognac. Maybe she needed a drink, she asked herself if she was going insane, but remembered someone saying that crazy people don’t ask themselves questions like that. She watched as the corner of the door got darker, the sunlight dissipating before her eyes. She loved to watch nature.

 

A car honked outside, she got up and walked to the door, stopping just to look at it for a last second, opened and left the house. The car waiting for her was Danny’s, he was looking at the rearview mirror, fixing his eyeliner. She got into the car and breathed deeply. “It’s gonna be a good night.”, she told herself for the thousandth time that day.

 

Danny was now staring at her, “You know you can quit it, if you want to, right?”, he said with a friendly tone.

 

“I know, but it’s alright, I want this, also, you look beautiful as always, Danny.”

 

“Thanks, Therese! Now, let’s party.”

 

Their drive took a while, but Therese loved the fact that Danny was a safe driver, he always had been. The whole journey they talked about work, a subject they couldn’t avoid, for it was a huge part of their lives. Therese casually looked into her phone, tweeting random thoughts she had, and Danny never took his eyes of the road.

 

When they arrived at their destination, a cabin adorned with purple flashing lights, Therese tossed her phone into the car glove compartment and stepped out of the car, being followed by Danny. “Why are you leaving your phone behind?”, he asked?

 

“It’s rude to use your phone at dates, I just read it on Twitter,” she answered with a soft laugh, “might as well give it a try.”

 

They walked into the cabin, and the music blasting on the inside made Therese temporarily numb. She searched for her date, but Danny found her first. He guided her to a table near an improvised stage and she realized where she was. Karaoke night. “This is going to be hell.”, she thought, the memories she had of herself singing in public were not her happiest.

 

As they approached the table, the two girls sitting at it, got up. One, a redhead the same size as Therese, took Therese’s hand and kissed. The redhead appeared to be mildly drunk, Therese thought, for the girl wasn’t much of a toucher when they met. She didn’t say anything about the kiss and greeted a girl with a soft smile. She looked to her side and saw that Danny and Barbra were already kissing and well, she was not surprised. They all sat.

 

The table was filled with bottles, vodka, beer, whisky, absinth, Therese wondered if she’d handle drinking with them, they didn’t look like lightweights, but she could not drink too much, that meant trouble. The redhead, Genevieve, poured a shot of absinth and handed to her before she finished her thought process.

 

“Go on Tess, your turn,” she gave a provocative smile and arched her left eyebrow. With doubt and concern for her own health, Therese got the small cup and quickly drank the whole thing straight. She felt her throat burn, but she knew it wasn’t actually burning, it was just sensible, so her face was unfazed.

 

“Done,” she said simply, and smiled back to Genevieve, who was staring at her as if she was an alien, “why the surprise?”

 

“How’d you do that? That shit burns!”, she asked loudly.

 

“It doesn’t actually, it’s just your throat becomes more sensitive.”

 

“Still, it doesn’t bother you?”

 

“It does, but I’ve learned to hide it pretty well,” she laughed, thinking to herself that hiding her bad feelings was her specialty.

 

“Therese, you are a champ.”, saying that, Genevieve started pouring more shots, now of vodka.

 

And they must have had some five or six rounds of shots and small talk until someone Therese heard Danny’s name being called from a very loud speaker, she had forgotten the whole karaoke thing, being so absorbed in the whole drinking thing. The young man she called her best friend got up his seat and rushed to the stage, she watched. Danny got the microphone, and gave the small crowd of people watching him his best smile, and proceeded to sing his chosen song.

 

Therese didn’t even need to hear to know what song it would be, it was he’s go-to, he called it his opening act. She heard the bass intro and laughed; she loved the predictable parts of Danny.

 

“Someone said they left together; I ran out the door to get her,” he sang, and some people cheered in support, his voice was actually good.

 

“Damn, didn’t know he could actually sing,” Barbra said, and Therese wondered if all they did was kiss each other all the time, they were together for a month now and Danny loved to sing, he sang all the time.

 

“Modern love is awful,” she thought, “but not everybody likes romance, I guess.” She looked over to her date, Genevieve wasn’t paying much attention to Danny, she was scrolling through some app her phone. Therese focused on her friend.

 

Just as he finished the song, a wave of applause took place, and Danny thanked the cheering crowd. Therese yelled “You’re the best, Danny!”, and he yelled back that he loved her, then proceeded to go back to their table.

 

The drinking proceeded, Genevieve poured, Therese drank, and they chatted about boring aspects of their lives. At some point, Therese was telling Genevieve about this one time she got to photograph an author she liked when she saw her get closer to her, she stopped mid-sentence.

 

“So, what she said?”, Genevieve asked, placing her hand on Therese’s, they were side by side, and only way to escape her would be to leave the table. Therese looked at Danny, he was very occupied kissing Barbra, so she answered.

 

“She said…”, but before she could finish Genevieve’s head got too close to hers, and she turned her head away, getting a slouchy kiss on the cheek. She heard Genevieve’s name being called on the speakers and got up to give her passage.

 

“Saved by the bell, baby.”, she said as she passed by Therese, heading to the stage. Therese searched for the exit, to be sure, and called Danny. It took a second for him to answer, Barbra didn’t want to let go of him.

 

“Can we go home?”, she said so his date wouldn’t hear, “I’m a little tired.”

 

Danny looked at her, curious, “Are you really? C’mon Therese, give it a chance!”, his words came a little swirly, he had a strong smell of whisky, “But if you really wanna go, we go.” Barbra pulled him again, crushing him with her lips.

 

Therese heard Genevieve presenting herself to the crowd, “Should I give it a chance?”, she questioned herself, “Maybe I need this, maybe that’s what it takes.” Her mind drifted away, travelling around the possibilities, she had been trying to put her own feelings at ease for a long time, but no matter what she tried, nothing worked. “Maybe.”

 

But her ideas were put aside the moment Genevieve’s song started. Therese felt as if the universe was playing a joke on her, she felt that maybe she was the joke. How could that go like that, it was ridiculous, in a thousand billion songs. Yet how ridiculous it was for her to have such a mixture of really strong feelings attached to a song so common, so known, so popular. Maybe she was the joke.

 

Genevieve was struggling with Jay-Z’s part in Upgrade U when Therese left the cabin and locked herself in Danny’s car.

 

[23:17] Therese: Danny

[23:17] Therese: I’m waiting in the car

[23:18] Therese: don’t rush

[23:17] Therese: don’t bring Gen please