Road Block Chapter 17: Your Ex-Lover is Dead*

The phone rang off the hook since I returned from Atlanta. It could either be Ryan or Steve—I really don’t care. I want to just… disappear.

I made a mental note to arrange for my phone numbers to be changed. New life includes not having contact with the old people in it.

I stood up, taking my chocolate chip mint ice cream with me. I pulled the phone’s cord out of the socket, effectively killing its shrieks. I love the fact that I have work tomorrow—something to bury myself in while forgetting what happened.

I went back to my seat in front of the television. I had Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, CSI New York, Bones and a Yankees game on my TiVo. Being a couch potato has never been this good and this easy. Burying myself in life based on science and empirical evidence is better than dealing with emotions.

WAY BETTER.

Yesterday I went to the jeweler and got myself a new bracelet with my name on it, and I had the charms that Steve gave me attached to that bracelet.

Mental note #2: Send the other engraved bracelet back to Atlanta where it belongs

And then I spent the entire afternoon yesterday ridding my house of anything Ryan—which is relatively easy since I haven’t really unpacked my things since I moved in a month ago. I did the unpacking yesterday, boxing the things I don’t need (read: Ryan’s things) and placing them in the spare room, along with the gym bag I brought from Atlanta.

Mental note #3: Put life in compartments

Chocolate chip mint ice cream, for the freaking win.

I took out my mental recycle bin, threw all my mental notes in them, and started to cry.

Bawl is more like it.

Or breakdown.

Pathetic. Pathetic this life is.

I ignored the knocks on the door. I have not been what you can call friendly ever since I got back—I spent most of my time in the office, only coming home to change clothes and grab at least three hours of sleep before heading back again. I haven’t spoken to Ryan (not that he had made any attempts to contact me) or Stephen—and I feel it was unfair for Steve since he doesn’t have an idea what went on in Atlanta.

He tried though, to visit me in the office, but I had Angel tell him I am in a very important client meeting—a lie.

Samantha, please. Open the door.”

Steve. At my doorstep. Pleading.

I am sorry, Stephen. The Samantha you know and the Samantha you want to see is not in the house.

I placed my iPod on its dock and turned up the volume on the song playing.

Live through this, and you won’t look back.

Live through this, and you won’t look back.

Live through this, and you won’t look back.

There’s one thing I want to say, so I’ll be brave.

You were what I wanted.

I gave what I gave.

I’m not sorry I met you.

I’m not sorry it’s over.

I’m not sorry there’s nothing to say.

I’m not sorry there’s nothing to save.**

She’s dead.

I was lost.

Or I am lost.

Stupid verb usage.

Past or present, it doesn’t matter. With Ryan, I am always, always lost. If he loses me all the time, I am lost all the time when it comes to him. I lose myself in him and I get lost in the end because no matter how much we flip the world, the moment I laid eyes on Ryan, I told myself it’s him. He’s THE ONE. So if he had tried to make it work because he thought the same of me, on my part, I had tried as well. And even though I slipped and fell in love with other guys and just gave up on him a couple of times before, it was because I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t strong enough for all the love Ryan can give. In our relationship, it was Ryan who carried it. It was him who loved more. It was him who fought harder. It was him who gave up a lot of things. And just when I decide to go all out just like him, I end up losing Ryan.

I end up losing the man I love for more than a decade.

After Ryan, after what I saw, after Atlanta, where is salvation?

I don’t know where I am going. How do I get back on track? Trying to save a relationship that was already over before any efforts had been made—pointless and stupid. But at least I could say I have tried.

I tried, Ryan. I tried.

I fought for you. Hard. But I finally understand why and if you wanted to give up. On me. On us.

I had probably walked three blocks from Times Square. I don’t know where to go.

And then I looked up, saw an answer on the full moon—hey, it’s written there, what do you know—and I just knew.

I knew where I’d go.

I didn’t knock. I remember back when he handed me the keys to his place like it was the most normal thing to do. I found the key, cold in my palm, and slid it into the lock.

His white coat was absently strewn across the leather couch told me he’s here and he’s not on an extended shift. I found his room, his apartment as familiar as mine’s, and he was in his bed, half-naked, as I’d found out weeks ago that he is a just-boxers kind of guy when he’s sleeping.

I kicked off my shoes and removed the blanket covering his body. He immediately felt the cold—hey, he’s sleeping half-naked—and he stirred. He half-opened his right eye and saw me.

“Samantha.”

He opened his arms and I allowed him to hold me together. To hold the broken me together. He held me tightly, not wanting to let go. I felt him kiss me on the hair as he snuggled closer, pulling the thick blanket over our bodies to warm us.

I didn’t know when I had drifted to sleep, but I was pretty sure it was because of Steve’s soft snores in my ear.

I opened my eyes and I saw Steve, staring at me.

“Staring—and I know you watch Vampire Diaries—is freaky,” I told him, and he rolled his eyes. “It’s gazing, as Elena lovingly called it,” he replied, brushing the hair away from my face.

“What happened?” he asked, and I shrugged, showing him my ringless right hand.

“You weren’t able to save it?” His voice was quiet, as if he was afraid he’d shatter this moment or even shatter me.

“I wasn’t,” I told him equally as quiet. I went through what happened in my head but tried to modify it to be a cleaner version. “I saw him with another woman… in a very compromising situation.”

Steve couldn’t keep himself quiet anymore. He sat up and I settled on the pillow instead. “My brother?” he said, finding the idea very ludicrous.

“I am pretty sure it’s him I saw. You do know I know his anatomy, right?”

Steve winced. I continued. “And I know his voice. Even when he speaks… that way. And I do know that the clinic I went to was his. So I am 100% sure that it’s Ryan.”

“Why… why would he do that to you?”

I shrugged. “Maybe it’s the same reason I fell in love with Terrence before?” I sat up, more rational now than I was in the past days. “I wasn’t there for him. We were together in the past months almost every day and then poof, I’m suddenly gone—”

“Sam, it’s not an excuse—”

“You of all people know how well Ryan and I are when we’re separated from each other. One of us just falls of that wagon. We just crumble. Most of the time, it’s me. I fade. I disappear. This time, it’s different.”

“You guys are just weird when you’re apart. One of you cheats or just disappears,” he said, shaking his head. “I just can’t believe that he’d go up to that length just coz you’re not around.”

I heaved a sigh, not commenting further.

“You talked to him already?” he asked, and I shook my head.

“Have no intentions to.”

“You can still save—”

“Oh… no,” I said, laughing bitterly. “He and I were given so many chances. Maybe they are not chances for us to see that we’re meant to be. Maybe those are chances for us to see that we are not meant for each other at all. I think it’s high time I realize—no, Ryan and I realize that we should just give up. We tried so many times, but…”

“Samantha.” Steve reached out and held my hand. I look up at him.

“Ryan,” I said, my voice breaking. I cleared my throat and started all over again. “Ryan felt it was time to stop fighting, Steve, and I’m fine with that. He found someone who’s… who’s there. Who he can fight for without too much tension and too much drama. He’s tired, Steve… and—” I shook my head, looking away and letting the tears go.

“Sam—”

I felt him pull me towards him and into his arms and I just broke down. I just shattered. I just faded again.

“I now know how he felt when… when Terrence happened. When Sean happened. It hurts, Steve. It hurts so much. It’s like… he just took my heart, set it on the floor and stepped on it. No… he stomped on it over and over. I love Ryan so much and… it just hurts, Steve. I’m fighting for him now and he just… gave up. We’re fighting for this for so long and… it just hurts. It just hurts.” My voice broke, and Steve made hushing sounds as he rocked me in his arms.

“Sam, shh,” he whispered. “Sam…”

He couldn’t say anything more. He just hugged me.

Note: Chapter title is a song by Stars. Lyrics listed (see **) are also from the song.

 

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