“Life is just a slide.– Nicole Lyons
Back and forth between loving and leaving,
remembering and forgetting,
holding on and letting go.”
San Myshuno Senator Suites Penthouse
The door behind her opened, and instantly filled the air with the scents of the delectable food and loud sounds from the party happening inside, before it was shut again, the sounds dulled as if someone hit the mute button on a TV.
She could feel him almost physically, before she smelled the familiar aftershave and out of her peripheral vision noticed him quietly crouching down next to her, wordlessly, while she stoically kept staring straight ahead.
After long moments of silence, he cleared his throat and spoke.
“It’s been a long time since you last visited …”
“Well, what can I say? Lots going on. I still have to study; semester finals are coming up. I still have parents I like to see in Del Sol Valley, whom I have been neglecting to come to Nick’s place to stare at his walls while certain other people were too busy for me.” she said coolly.
“Okay.” he said, sounding defeated and sad, acknowledging the jab at him.
“Look Rohan, I know you saw me at Ewan & Ashley’s engagement party and I know you saw I was there with someone, a man. Before you assume stuff, I introduced him as my ‘friend’ and I know everyone thought I meant romantically, but in reality, he goes by the glorious name of ‘Bear’, won’t tell you his real name, and is security, was paid to be there by my parents and is about as approachable and comforting as a rod iron fence. My parents got a little jumpy when they heard about me being left at airports for an hour. Luckily my Aunt Fallon took him off my hands for now, because Bianca found him super-creepy and vetoed the heck out of him. She’s right and the last thing I needed at uni was some grim-faced bodyguard creeping around. As if I don’t already have enough problems trying to fly under the radar.”
“I am sorry about that. I had a lot of time to think and I see now how you could have misunderstood a …”
“I didn’t misunderstand anything, Rohan! You did what I said you did and there is no fluffing that into something harmless. Don’t even go there. I don’t want to hear it!”
“Then what can I say to make you see I realized I made mistakes but that I really do love you? You didn’t even give me a chance to apologize to you. I tried calling you, you are not answering my calls, texts or Skypes …”
“Yeah, how does that feel, huh? Truth be told, it’s only a little bit me being stubborn and trying to give you a taste of your own medicine, and mostly me being overwhelmed with studying. Classes towards the end of the semester are getting harder with each semester that passes. Bianca has a boyfriend now and she is struggling to make all that work. She dropped a whole grade and so did I over all our mess, and let me tell you, mom and dad don’t find that acceptable at all.”
“Maybe this is for the better, for you at least. And maybe even for me. I hate that it ended, but especially that it did end this way, I really do, but I don’t know how to fix it. I just can’t change the core things that seem to bother you, I still have to work crazy hours and surprise shifts when I can least use them, I am still a father with sole custody of a toddler and frankly, Ezzy isn’t doing badly when she has Aryelle, but really is not mother-material, no way I would feel comfortable giving her our daughter for a whole weekend unless it’s guaranteed Ezzy’s parents are there too. Nick and Addy help me so much with Aryelle already, I really don’t want to ask them. I was gonna come visit you, but I really have no idea how to make it work, without bringing Aryelle or being at Ezzy’s parents’ mercy.”
Aria-Grace huffed unamused.
“It’s been over a year that I started college, Rohan, and you haven’t visited me once, while we were still a couple, so why bother now?”
“AG, I am trying here. I do see how I made grave mistakes, but I feel some of it is still fixable. I get it, you are over me, but I don’t want to lose you completely, I don’t want you to hate me. I could visit as a friend.”
“Yeah, my BROTHER’s friend … that would be sooooo not weird at all.”
“AG, please …”
“Fine, you’re right. Arguing about this is completely pointless anyway. I wanted to say sorry too. I should have broken up with you face to face, but honestly Rohan, I really felt it would be easier for you coming from Nick anyway. Look, this isn’t easy on me either. I don’t want this at all. But I want what we called a ‘relationship’ even less. Sure, whenever we were on vacation somewhere, it was heaven, like staying at my parents, or at Nick’s wedding … but the reality isn’t anything like that. I skipped visiting my parents and other family to come see you so many times, and in reality, I wasted entire weekends, sometimes 4 days, to only see you maybe a total of 2 hours each day, sometimes even less. My parents, grandparents, etc. had to come see me, if they missed me. I know I miss them too and when I go there, they make time for me. Even my workaholic dad, but not my boyfriend or fiancé? Man, this is so damn screwed up!” with a groan of desperation AG put her head on her knees.
Rohan looked down and nodded.
“I get that. Guess we are both stuck. Maybe the timing was off. Maybe one day …”
“One day? Seriously? When? By the time we’re retired? If I really survive college and actually graduate, I am probably gonna be very illusive trying to get my career started. I am not above tossing my family name around to get into doors, but I still want to distance myself from it all and do my own thing. I mean, Rett & Reed did Jazz and stuff, Grandpa Blaine does Rock Music, Chase and Colton with 2Dark 2C do this Rock/Pop/Electronica stuff, mom does Pop Music, … the world doesn’t need another Cameron doing the same crap. So, I need to find my own way. I performed before, with mom, people loved it – and then it’s like they forget. I need to find a way to make them remember me. Seems to be a recurring theme in my life, people forgetting me. Maybe I am just not that memorable.”
“You are. You are one of a kind and very memorable. I love you, AG. Always will. I know you think I fancy Ezzy or Sheridan, but in reality, I used them just the way they used me, to divert my attention from the what I thought was an unattainable girl who was way too young for me and just happened to be my best friend’s little sister. Of course, meeting people like Sheridan was impressive, but I knew she was just making fun of me the whole time, the shy nerd. And Ezzy never gave me the time of day, until she wanted to have sex. I was the only one available she wasn’t related to and who wouldn’t potentially start rumors about her being loose. And if you are a young man without any options and then a pretty girl offers herself up, you don’t really overanalyze the situation … gifted horse and all.”
“Yup, that’s checks out. Maybe in light of that overshared revelation then it won’t be so hard for you to hear what I am going to say next. I want to live like a 19-year-old. Since my parents kinda force me to go to uni, I want to at least really get the full experience, every aspect. I want to dance, go to parties, make out with boys, do dumb shit like – whatever – TP a prof’s home or something, do keg stands and crazy shit and maybe even date. I am tired of feeling lonely among so many people there on campus, that’s just wrong. And I am tired of declining dates saying I have someone, even though nobody but Bianca ever saw you. It’s like you were my imaginary boyfriend. Maybe we can manage to be just friends … once the gashing wound this breakup left scabbed over. I mean, nothing is ever normal about us, it’s not like usual break ups where you yell your feelings at each other and then just go different ways and never see each other again. We can’t avoid each other. And I am not sure I want to. I miss you, Rohan.”
“Not as much as I miss you. In just those few months that we have been romantic, you have become such a big part of my life, AG.”
“Yeah, and there is my big problem again. Call me whatever terrible names you want, but that’s just not enough for me. I tried to make it work, thought I could do it, but all it did was make both of us miserable. The truth is that I don’t want to be a part of my lover’s life, I want to be the center of it. Maybe one day I can be happy with less, maybe if and when I decide to have a child, that will change and they become the center of the father’s and my lives, but first, it needs to be me.”
“Yeah, I do get that. Believe it or not, I do. Better than you might think, I would probably feel the same, but that choice was taken from me. My world HAS TO revolve around Aryelle, she deserves no less. Especially since her mother may love her but does not make her a priority. Someone has to. I don’t have the luxury of choice anymore.”
“Okay. Now what? I really don’t know what to do here, Rohan. Act like nothing ever happened? Ignore each other best we can, except hellos and goodbyes?” she looked at him, so desperate for answers.
With a sigh, Rohan snaked his left arm around her and pulled her closer, willingly, she wrapped her arms around his neck and put her head against his shoulder.
“No AG. I don’t think I could do that and while I am no psychologist, pretty sure that’s not healthy either. We need to accept the unchangeable, allow ourselves to be sad and try to deal. I love you, Aria-Grace. Still. I can’t act as if I don’t know you. But I can act civil, and keep it platonic, I have done it before.”
“I love you too, Rohan, that is the bitter part. But you’re right. We can do this. If we both put our effort to it, we can be something resembling friends. Still better than never seeing you again. I don’t think I could do that. Can you just platonically hold me? Please?”
Rohan said nothing, allowed her to lean up against him while folding his arm around her, unbeknownst to them, watched through the patio window by Nick.