Consider Me Gone
Hesitating with a hand raised outside of her wife’s home office, Miranda took one final breath before knocking lightly on the wooden door and entering.
“Andréa, can I speak with you a moment?” she questioned in a surprisingly even voice.
Blue eyes watched closely as the brunette’s shoulders tensed and Andy began nervously shuffling the papers scattered across her desk.
“Kinda busy right now, honey. Deadlines.” Andy’s voice was high and tight, her eyes skirted around the room looking at everything but Miranda before she returned to furiously typing on her keyboard.
Miranda doubted that actual words were being written.
With a soft sigh, she stepped further into the study before coming to a stop in front of Andy’s desk. Gripping the edge of the desk with both hands, Miranda leaned forward slightly and lowered her voice to its most dangerous level, “By now you must realize that I know you, Andréa Priestly-Sachs. You are hiding something.”
Andy’s hands stilled and Miranda had all the confirmation she needed in that one action. Hurt and anger welled up from deep inside and she struggled to maintain her usual calm. She had put off her suspicions for far too long already and would not let a word misspoken in anger ruin this opportunity to learn the truth.
“Lately, if I turn the conversation towards anything other than the weather, you completely shut down. You close in on yourself and hole away in your office with the convenient excuse of deadlines to meet. Believe me, Andréa, I’ve heard and used them all before.”
Brown eyes finally rose to meet her own. For the first time in their fifteen years together, Miranda could not read the look on her wife’s face. Andrea wore a mask that she had never had to wear around Miranda before. One that was hard earned from her time as a reporter and nearly impenetrable.
“Can we not do this right now, Miranda?”
“Ah,” Miranda practically sneered, “your next move. I request an explanation for your continued silence and you counter with, ‘I don’t want to talk about it now’. How very original.”
Straightening back up, Miranda stepped back and consciously moderated her tone.
“What you are saying is coming in loud and clear, Andréa. We are at a crossroads now and I cannot get us through this by myself. I need you to talk to me.”
Andy’s shoulders slumped and Miranda’s heart broke in the ensuing quiet. Silence had been the death knell for her two previous marriages. When her husbands had eventually tired of verbalizing their anger and frustration and she had grown weary of apologizing and begging for understanding, all that had been left was their silence.
Miranda had filled the void with her daughters and Runway. Her first husband, Greg, had found solace with the nanny and Stephen, the second husband, with a bottle. Neither man had stayed long after that. Miranda never thought Andrea would end up just like them.
Andy opened her mouth to speak, but Miranda held up an elegant hand to forestall whatever excuse was forthcoming.
“No, please, let me speak,” Miranda’s voice cracked as she pushed back the burning in her eyes. “You owe me that much.”
At Andy’s slow nod, Miranda spoke, “For the fifteen years we have been together, I have been honest and open with every aspect of my life. There is nothing I have ever tried to hide. Not from you. You are the only person in my life that I can truthfully say that to.”
“No one knows me the way that you do and, until recently, I believed I could say the same. Until recently, you never hesitated to tell me anything, but, out of nowhere, you clammed up. You stopped talking to me; stopped telling me what is bothering you and I know something is.”
Miranda was trying, but she could not keep the frustration out of her voice any longer.
“You leave me here, alone and uniformed as to where you’re going or why you are late. Let’s not forget about the hushed phone calls behind closed doors or the fact that you haven’t touched me in months. I can’t help but think that we are looking at ‘goodbye’ here. The sad part is that I truly would understand. You are barely into your forties and I am rapidly approaching seventy.”
Turning her back to her wife, Miranda walked over to the bookcases lining the far wall. Blue eyes wandered aimlessly over the various pictures displayed that highlighted their life together as a family. If Andrea really wanted out of this marriage, Miranda would allow the younger woman to bow out gracefully.
“I worried about this moment for years, but with each passing day my fear slowly faded. You made me believe in forever, Andréa, and all I am asking for is a strong shot of honesty. If I am not the one thing you cannot stand to lose, if I am not that arrow to the very heart of your being, if you no longer get drunk on my kisses, then please do not drag this on any longer.”
Miranda reached for one of the framed photos, caressing the glass as she stared at the picture contained within.
“Let me go,” she practically whispered as she walked back towards Andy and placed the photo on the desk facing the brunette. “Simply consider me a memory, a smile in an old photograph, or maybe just someone who used to make you laugh.”
Tears welled at the edges of Andy’s eyes as she absorbed the picture of her and Miranda taken just six months ago during Andy’s 42nd birthday party. Andy’s head was tilted back in unbridled laughter, frosting covering her face as Miranda faced the brunette, signature smirk in place and a paper plate of smashed cake in hand.
Miranda watched as tears began to stream down Andy’s face, but the younger woman still made no move to respond. With a heavy heart, Miranda turned to head back to their... her bedroom. Every step she took increased her urge to vomit, to scream out, to beg Andrea to love her again. But Miranda Priestly-Sachs had never begged anyone to stay and she would not start now, not even for her Andréa.
Just before she crossed the threshold, a chocked voice spoke from behind her, “I have cancer.”
Suddenly lightheaded, Miranda stumbled into the doorframe as she felt the blood drain from her face. Static filled her ears and her hands alighted in pinpricks. The world spun dangerously around her until she gasped in a strangled breath and air rushed into her starved lungs once more.
This was worse than even her worst fear. Losing Andrea to another would break her, but at least she’d know the younger woman was out there alive and well. But to lose her forever... Miranda’s mind immediately jumped to the shattered husk of a human she would become without her Andréa in this world.
Strong arms wrapped around her from behind, allowing her to ease the death grip she had on the doorframe. Shock. She was in shock, she absently thought while Andy guided her to the leather couch and set her down gently. The cushion dipped as Andy sat next to her. Long fingers of one hand grasped both of Miranda’s as the other hand came up to cup the older woman’s trembling chin.
“Miranda, honey, I need you to breathe for me,” Andy said with a calm strength that Miranda clung to.
“There we go, my love. In and out.”
Following the cadence of Andrea’s breathing and the soft lilt of her voice, Miranda felt the slow return of her normally unflappable control. As the fog lifted from her mind, anger once again returned to take its place.
To her credit, Andrea didn’t flinch in the face of her rage; she’d had several years of practice after all. Instead, her eyes remained gentle and patient as she grasped Miranda’s face with both hands. A tear tracked down her cheek as she spoke, “I am so sorry, Miranda.”
“When I first found the lump a couple of months ago, I froze. I was so terrified that I threw myself into my work and ignored it completely. I could lie and say that I hid it from you because I didn’t want you to worry. While partially true, I also knew that once you found out, you would force me to face it head on and I wasn’t ready for that. The fear of leaving you and the girls behind so soon was nearly crippling, but it was also what finally convinced me to take action. Two weeks after finding the lump, I had my first appointment. After testing, I was diagnosed with stage-2 breast cancer. The late nights and phone calls have been doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions.”
Miranda was brought back to the present as the town car was forced to make short turn due to traffic. What had followed that conversation was a fear-fueled rant on the importance of unwavering trust, love, and commitment. Andrea had sat serenely through her entire diatribe, allowing Miranda to vent all of her anger and fear before offering a heart-felt apology. They’d spoken late into the night, awaking the next morning in a tangle of limbs.
Despite her desire to be home, Miranda was thankful for the slight delay. Andrea had received the results of her final scan today and Miranda was anxious about what the doctor had said. After a lumpectomy and radiation treatments, Andy had been declared in remission with periodic mammograms to ensure all remained well. Every scan so far had been clear, but this was the five-year mark. This was an important anniversary.
After coming to a stop in front of the town house, Miranda waited for Roy to open the car door. Stepping onto the sidewalk, Miranda strode up the stairs and unlocked the front door before slipping inside. A delicious aroma floating from the kitchen assaulted her senses first followed quickly by the sound of her wife’s voice calling her name.
Turning, Miranda found herself wrapped up in Andrea’s strong embrace and a firm kiss planted on her lips.
“Welcome home, gorgeous,” Andy whispered before swooping in for another kiss.
Later, Miranda would want the full details of Andrea’s appointment, but for now, she had all the answer she needed.