Chain Letters

Chapter 8

"Oh crap"

That was the last thing Darren said before you, him and your older brother went to your apartment, right after you met your brother in that coffee shop. You haven't seen your brother since he had the chance to go away from your house, leaving you and your alcoholic mother alone. You haven't got news from him since then. You needed him after the death of your father, after all blurred and terrible things you went through when your mother started to take drugs and being alcoholic; but he wasn't there for you. And now he was there with you and Darren in your apartment, sitting on your table in silence, in a very uncomfortable situation for everybody.

"I'm gonna leave you alone, so you can talk." Darren's voice echoed in the silent room.

"No, please stay." You grabbed Darren's hand when he stood up to go away.

You needed Darren with you in that moment because this was a very hard moment for you and you couldn't be steady and you didn't know if you could contain yourself and your intemperance and dread once you and your brother got to be alone. Darren made you feel safe and, after all, he knew almost everything what happened in your past. You didn't want to be alone with that man that was your brother. Darren grimaced nervous and uncomfortable, but you looked at him imploringly. This was an awkward situation for Darren because obviously he felt as if he was nosy amid your family problem. But you really needed him.

"I don't want to disturb you and whatever you have to talk about."

You looked at Darren once again and then you looked at your older brother, who was in silence, looking down. You talked directly to him, with trembling but resolute voice.

"Would you mind if he stays here? It's important to me."

Your brother looked up to look into your eyes and he shook his head. Darren nodded and bit his lower lip, still uncomfortable but he sat again next to you. Darren looked down and he grabbed your hand under the table and you were very thankful for his action. Definitely this was a very uncomfortable and weird situation for Darren because your older brother was Chuck's friend and probably he was his friend too; and now it turned out that Darren realized that Jack, your older brother, was the man who left you alone when you needed him the most. You didn't know what Darren would be thinking or feeling now; but you knew he was confused and astonished by realizing this fact.

"Soon I'd have to go, you know, I have to pick up Sami from school." Darren whispered in your ear.

"I can sort out it. Matt has free time and I could ask him to do me that favor."

"Matt?" Darren whispered frowning. "I'm not sure..."

"Dar, if you don't want to be here I won't force you; but if not, Matt is my friend and he gets along with Sami." You whispered back to him.

"Okay. Yes, ask Matt then." Darren shifted uncomfortably in his chair while you nodded, grabbing your phone.

"Sorry." You said directly to your brother. "I have to sort out something, just give me a minute."

"It's alright. I have time." Your brother answered with an unexpected apprehensible tone.

You started to text Matt, asking him if he could pick Sami up because something that wasn't in your plans happened and you had to solve it. Not after long time, Matt texted you back.

From Matt: "Count on me. Your text didn't sound so good. Is everything okay? Do you want me to come over before picking Sami up?"

To Matt: "Thank you Matt, I owe you one. No, nothing is okay, but don't worry I'm gonna clear it up. I'm gonna pick up Sami to your apartment later. XOXO"

From Matt: See you later, Shorty. Hope things work out for you and you and I are gonna have a talk later. Love you."

You really loved Matt, he was always there for you whenever you needed him and he always knew the way to make you feel better. Your friendship grown up as the time passed and you were very close friends. Even though you were only friends, Darren didn't like Matt and he seemed uncomfortable by your relationship but he never tried to separate you from Matt. You put aside your phone and you looked up to find a very awkward Darren and a very silent brother.

"I'm gonna make some coffee." Darren said, running his free hand through his hair.

You nodded and he stood up, going to the kitchen. All of a sudden, you got nervous and you didn't even know what to say to your older brother who was sitting in front of you. You actually had a lot of things to talk about to him but at the same time you didn't know what to talk about. It had been a long since the last time you saw him that you wanted some answers, you wanted to know why he disappeared all of a sudden and you never got news from him again; but at the same time you thought that it wouldn't make sense to talk to him now because now you didn't even know this man who was sitting in front of you, you didn't know anything about his life, and you weren't sure if you wanted to hear the answers he would give you. The fact was that you and your brother didn't look to each other and neither of you both uttered a word. Neither of you both knew how to start this conversation that you knew was going to be intense, as all the things that were related to your past. Darren, from the kitchen, looked at you encouragingly and he smiled fondly at you. That helped you take the initiative.

"It has been so long. Is crazy to see you again, I never thought it would happen." You said firmly and looking very intently at your brother.

Your brother shuddered at the sound of your voice and he quickly looked up at you. You were looking coldly at him even though you were really hurt, tormented and frazzled inside. He, instead, was nervous and he had something in his look, something that baffled you. It was a sad but poignant look.

"Yeah, it has been a long. I wished for so long this moment to happen." Your brother said candidly and you raised your eyebrows in stupefaction.

"After all that happened? You wished this moment for so long after all those years, after the fact that I needed you and you weren't there?" You frowned looking at him completely confused and hurt. "I was so little, Jack. And you didn't care; you didn't care that your little sister needed you, that she was suffering, and that she had to go through a very hard moment. You simply left me there alone with a woman who even wasn't able to take care of herself. You left me alone with all my pain, you didn't help me. And you never came back, I never knew from you since you left."

Your eyes filled with tears as you were talking to your brother. Just the fact of remembering the time when your brother left you, the fact of bringing all of this back to your memory; made you feel devastated because it was as if you had to live what you lived in your past over again. No matter how hard you tried to forget your past, it seemed you couldn't let it go. Your brother was silent but he was looking at you intently, he was respecting the time you were talking. Darren, from the kitchen, stopped making the coffee to look at you and listen what you were saying.

"I never could understand why you decided to leave me alone and never come back if we had a really good relationship. I never could understand what crossed on your mind to don't care about it at all. I thought that you left because of my fault, because you felt ashamed of me now that I wasn't..." You inhaled deeply and closed your eyes, pressing them to not let fall down the tears.

All that happened that night when you were sixteen years old; the night that changed your life and was the mean reason of all the pain, trauma and problems you had throughout your whole life. You remembered it all that you tried to erase from your memory. The darkness, the fear, the alcohol smell, the rough touching, the laughs, and the moans. The night that you had been raped was now fresh on your memory and you started to feel that pain in the chest that didn't allow you to remain steady and firm. You covered your face with your hands to not let see neither of your brother nor Darren, you crying uncontrollably.

"...pure." You finished saying with choked voice, still covering your face with your hands and crying. "Why did I stop being important to you to not care? Why did you disappear and you never tried to find me? We could have started all over again. I wouldn't have lived all the pain I had to live if you were there with me. But you were gone and I had no idea where you were. And I remembered all my life what you said the day before you left..."

"I asked if you'd love me no matter what it would happen to come and you said yes. And I told you to remember that you were always going to be in my heart and no matter where we were; we were going to be together always." Your brother said and you put away your hands from your face at his words. He was looking at you with teary eyes.

"You promised me to stand by me. You promised me that you were going to be always with me; that you wouldn't let that something bad comes to happen to me. You promised me that you were going to look for me to be together again in the future. I didn't get what you tried to tell me with those words because in that moment we were together and I never imagined that you'd run away from that hell we were living, leaving me all by myself. And you never kept your promise." You said hurt, looking into his eyes and bringing in all of those memories hidden in the recesses of your memory.

"I didn't break my promise. I had no option; I had to go that time. But I never stopped thinking of you; I always kept you in my heart. Maybe I couldn't be next to you physically, maybe I couldn't help you when you needed me the most, and maybe I couldn't save you from that hell; and I'm sorry about that. But I never ever stopped looking for you." Your brother said, looking into your eyes almost desperate.

"Stop lying to me! I'm sick of lies, all my life has been a huge lie and I don't want to hear another damn lie!" You said in disbelief, laughing bitterly. "I was finally doing alright before you showed up!"

You crossed the line, but it needed to be told because it was what you were feeling and you couldn't hold back it any longer. Your brother looked you hurtful before looking down and bit his lower lip. After a while he looked up at you again, deep into your eyes.

"I'm not lying." Your brother sighed.

"Then explain me why it took you so long to find me. You weren't even looking for me. If it wasn't that I was in that coffee shop we'd never have met again. It wasn't so hard to find me; I wasn't the one who disappeared from the face of the earth. You were the one who ran away because wasn't brave enough to deal with the hell that was living." You said distraught and jumbled.

In that moment Darren appeared with a tray with three cups of coffee and left it on the table. He quietly and silently sat next to you. He placed a hand on your thigh and softly squeezed it to calm you. You leaned your elbow on the table and held your head, trying to chill out to keep talking to your brother. After all you needed those answers. Your brother seemed to be finding the words to say you something, he looked thoughtful.

"I'm gonna explain you how the things actually happened. I won't expect you to forgive me, that's up to you. But I'm gonna expect you to listen my version of things." Your brother said delicately as you nodded and Darren remained silent. "I don't know what our mother told you about me and my departure. But there's something that probably, more like surely, you don't know and you need to know; so that way maybe you'll understand the reasons why I went away and why it was so hard for me to find you."

"Go ahead."

"You know pretty well how hard our dad's death was and how it changed all we used to have as a family. You and I forged a strong bond between us in that moment, unlike Peter who decided to go his own way far apart from all the family. I always tried to stand by you in that rough moment because you were my little sister and you were very helpless against this, you were too young to have lost dad at that age. But I was completely wretched and I couldn't let you see me like this, hence why sometimes I used to draw away from everything."

Jack seemed to be deep in thoughts, remembering that moment when you recently lost your dad because he was like looking at nowhere. You also were remembering that moment, when Jack was your most important person to you, when he was your favorite brother and when you used to think that nothing was going to bring you down because you were together. But what you thought was very different of what actually happened. Jack disappeared and now he was trying to explain you his reasons. You weren't sure if you could believe him, but you needed to listen to him because maybe that way you'd understand all you couldn't when you were all alone. You remained silent to let your brother to finish telling his version of things.

"You were and you are my favorite sister, one of the most important people in my life. But horrible things happened after dad's death. It affected mostly to mom, who fell into drugs and alcoholism. She wasn't the same person than ever, dad's death got her very depressed; that's what led her to take wrong decisions and what made her being the horrid person she is now. I don't want to cram your head with my opinions about mom, but, as for me, I lost any kind of contact with her. I don't know about you." Your brother said, looking at you apparently sullen at having thought of your mother.

"It doesn't matter what's my opinion about that person who is supposed to be my mother. And I don't get your point, I thought you were going to explain me why you left and never came back." You answered distantly.

"Yes, that's what I want to explain you and our mother has a lot to do with all of this. She was feeling alone when dad died and she reached the nadir of her sorrow. Whenever she saw us trying to move on after dad's death, she was totally out of herself because she couldn't understand how we could get it and she couldn't. That bothered her to the point she got mentally insane and sick. She couldn't stand our happiness because she was selfish, because she was the one who wanted to be happy and she wanted to kill every moment of gaiety we had. You remember it, right?" Your brother said doleful, looking into your eyes.

Old memories popped into your mind. You and Jack swinging on the swings and your mother coming up to you upset, taking your hand roughly, you crying and Jack yelling something to your mother. Jack teaching you to ride a bike, you smiling and Jack cheering you when you got it; your mother throwing away your bike and your mother raising her hand to slap him while you watched them unable to move because of the shock. Jack comforting you when you were crying because you lost your stuffed unicorn that your dad gave to you; your mother calling both of you stupid and retarded. Jack giving you a birthday cake that he made for you; you excited and then your mother throwing it at Jack's face. Hundreds of memories that you thought forgotten, reappeared in your memory.

"Yes, I remember." You said bummed and aggravated.

"Then you might remember something that happened the night before I left." Jack said sorehead, disgruntled and pissed.

"Sorry. All I remember is you telling me to remember that you were going to stand by me always, promise that you broke even though you say the opposite." You said resentful and a little hostile.

"Yes, promise that I didn't break. But before explaining you it, i have to finish telling you why I left." Jack said, hurt by your words. "That day mom was really upset because both of us sneaked out from home and we went to watch a movie because you were feeling sad and I couldn't stand seeing like that. When we came back, mom was sitting on the couch in the dark. She was completely out of herself, she was madder than ever." Jack said this last coldly and a gloomy twinkle darted from his eyes. "She started to yell, she lost all her control, and it was scary to see her like that, looking at us in a rage. That time she crossed the line. She...god, she exposed dad's baseball bat, threatening us. She walked toward you, she was about to beat you, she went round the bend."

Jake's voice was trembling and it emanated anger and fear. Darren, next to you, was silent and befuddled; he was raising his eyebrows and his eyes were widely open as his mouth. Darren was silent but he was listening intently the whole story, always seeing you and your brother as you spoke. You looked down frowning because you were starting to remember that night. It was a terrific night that you erased from your memory because you didn't want to remember it, but now those memories were flowing in your mind so quickly and very fresh. Your mother waving the baseball bat in front of you yelling like a mad women, you remembered she was about to beat you when Jack stood in the way of you and your mother. He stopped her by punching her face. She fell off the floor bleeding and she looked at him with a stink glare. Jack quickly grabbed your hand and he took you to your bedroom, hiding you inside the wardrobe. Your mother walked in your bedroom. You couldn't see anything, you were terribly startled. All you could hear were screams and thumps, but you covered your ears because you didn't want to hear so you couldn't remember what they were screaming.

"I remember now. But…I don't remember what…what happened while I was…when you hid me in the wardrobe. I remember the screams and thumps. But I don't know, I was covering my ears. I can't remember what happened next. I was scared, so scared. What did our mother do while I was hidden on the wardrobe? What did she do with you?"

Now your attitude was different. You weren't angry your brother, you knew there was something that you never knew, now you knew there was a real reason why Jack disappeared all of a sudden and he never came back, and you knew that had something to do with your mother. Now you were trembling and you were scared to hear what your brother had to say. Darren looked at you astonished and aghast when you mentioned a little of what happened, surely he was picturing something on his mind.

"What our mother did was something unforgivable but I don't want you to know it. I don't want you to argue with her or whatever. She did it to me, not to you." Your brother said distressed, looking down.

"For god sake, Jack! That woman and I are no longer relatives. I broke any bond with her. I'm not anymore a little helpless girl, I was forced to grow up when I was still young and I need to know what happened. What has she done to you?" You asked desperate, looking intently at Jack.

"She thrashed me with that bat. Hard. I barely could move. She was yelling at me that she was going to kill me, that I was misbegotten. I didn't get what she tried to tell me, but I didn't care in that moment. All I wanted was to keep you safe because she was completely out of control." Jack was sorrowful and gloomy.

"Oh damn. What did you do? What happened next?" You asked terrified.

"I couldn't do anything. She took me by my arm; I was too weak to defend myself. She took me to her car and she started driving for hours at high speed. She was cracked and off her head. I thought we were going to die in that damn car but I couldn't move and I couldn't talk." Jack said with trembling voice and pained. "She drove me to some dessert place. I had no idea where I was. She left me there; she threw me down there as if I were trash. She told me to not come back or she was going to slay me and you. She told me to stay away from you if I wanted to keep you safe. Then she left." Jack said tormented and biting his lower lip, he seemed completely mortified.

You were looking at him disturbed and obfuscated. Finally you knew the real reason why he left and why he never came back. And he didn't leave you alone, he didn't want to leave you; he was forced to be away from you. Your mother was the one who took him away from you. All these years that you had to live away from your favorite brother was because of your mother fault. You were feeling distressed and totally angry and huffy. You knew that your mother was a wicked person but you never thought she could be this flint-hearted to leave her own son neglected in the middle of nowhere. Your brother was banished from the family and you never found this out. It never was his fault as you always thought. You looked at him with a tearful and compassionate look. Darren was mute, perplexed and looking down while he was holding his head with his hand. Finally the loose ends of your past were tying up.

"So that's the reason why you disappeared. Because our mother kicked you out. And that's why you never came back. God, I always got everything wrong. I'm taken aback. I'm really sorry Jack; the way I treated you, the way I thought about you, I swear I had no clue of all of this." You said with choked voice and regretful. "She banished you and she called you misbegotten. She's the most cold-hearted person I've ever meet. I'm sorry you had to been through this and I never knew."

"Yes, that was the reason. But I did, I looked for you after that. I knew you weren't safe with that woman and I wouldn't forgive myself if something bad were to happen to you. It took me so long because I had no idea where I was and on my way home, things happened. I finally arrived home. I was scared that our mother could catch me out, but I was there for you; to bring you with me so we could restart our lives away from that hell we were living. Our mother wasn't there neither you were. I went to your bedroom, your personal stuff wasn't there and I started to freak out. I had no idea what might have happened to you. I asked our neighbors, they didn't give me an answer. Finally an old woman approached me and told me that she saw you leaving the house with a suitcase and your mother was yelling at you to come back, but you left anyway. That calmed me a whole lot, but I was still worried about you. And San Francisco is damn hell of big city and I didn't know where to start looking for you. I went to your school but they told me you weren't going there anymore. I searched for you everywhere and I didn't find you, I was desperate, I needed to find you, I needed to know if you were safe." Jack was telling you all of this desperate.

"I wasn't in San Francisco. And I left behind all that was part of my past; I didn't want our mother to find me." You said to him almost in a whisper and your brother nodded. "I went to the suburbs of San Francisco. I started to go to a new school, I finished it. I was living in a rented a room in the house of an elderly couple. Once I finished school I moved. That's why you couldn't find me. Why did you give up on finding me?"

"I didn't. I've been looking for you all this time but I never could get anything. Now I understand why I didn't find anything about you. I saw the diploma hanging on the wall as soon as I got here. You changed your name."

You shifted uncomfortably in your chair, looking down and completely blushed and nervous. Darren looked at you puzzled and raising his eyebrows, with eyes wide open. Then Darren blinked and looked down frowning, disconcerted and he seemed a little upset; but he didn't utter a word.

"Yeah, I did. I wanted to leave behind all my past." You said nervously and uncomfortably. Then you looked uneasily at Darren with remorsefulness. "I'm sorry I never told you. It's just...I didn't want to remember...I..."

"Forget it." Darren answered frivolous, still looking down and frowning, waving his hand.

"Darren…" You looked at him beseeching.

"It's alright." Darren said short and he stood up. "I…I'm gonna clean this up." Darren quickly grabbed the tray with the three cups of coffee that no one of you drank and he quickly went to the kitchen.

You saw Darren's face and that brought you down. Darren was sort of disappointed and miffed. You grabbed your head in despair and sighed. You were fucked up, you just knew it and you knew the fault was yours. You didn't know what to do because you wanted to talk to Darren about this, to explain him why you never told him that, to apologize for that; but you also needed to talk to your brother, to finish your talk, to clarify everything that happened because you knew there was something else. You bit your lip and frowned, then looked at your brother.

"Give me a minute." You said and Jack nodded.

"Take your time." Jack said understanding and gentile.

You nodded and stood up to go to the kitchen. You found Darren sitting on the floor with his feet shoulder width apart, with his legs in a triangular position; burying his head on his knees and his hands wrapped around his legs; leaning against the kitchen counter. You slowly approached him and sat next to him, in silence. Darren didn't move and he didn't look up to you, he just remained in the same position.

"Darren..." You started to say softly, in a whisper.

"You shouldn't be here; you should be talking to your brother." Darren interrupted you, still burying his head on his knees.

"I need to talk to you." You said pitifully.

"Oh yeah, we're gonna talk. But not now, later. Now you have to talk to your brother."

"Darren, please, don't be like this." You said desperate.

"How the hell do you expect me to be?" Darren finally looked up to you. He seemed really upset. Then he bit his lower lip, strained, and he sighed. "We're gonna talk later."

Darren stood up and started to walk away from you. You also stood up and grabbed him by his arm, to stop him, but he sharply withdrew his arm from you. You looked at him drearily.

"I'm sorry." You said regretful.

"Yeah...I'm gonna be in Sami's bedroom. Tell me when you and your brother when you finish talking." Darren said frivolously and he left the kitchen.

You tried to hold back your tears and you came back to where your brother was. When you entered in the room, he looked up to you while you just stood there, looking down and biting your lips. You were a mess and you wanted to keep talking to him but you couldn't because you also needed to talk to Darren. What were you supposed to do?

"I think I messed up. I'm really sorry; I didn't know…I didn't even know he was your…boyfriend? And I didn't know he had no idea of your real name." Your brother said, standing up to approach you.

"Yeah, my boyfriend. And don't be sorry, it was my fault." You said and suddenly you started sobbing.

Then your brother did something that you weren't expecting and it felt extremely weird. He hugged you reassuringly, rubbing your back softly. Your body tensed at first, but then you wrapped your arms around him, burying your face on his chest and sobbing even more. On that hug from your brother you found all the solace you needed; you felt what you didn't feel in years. It was a feeling that only Jack could make you feel; it was that consolation that only your brother always could give you. It was real brotherly love, and you felt good to have your brother back. You didn't realize until that moment how you needed him all the time you were apart. Your brother, who you used to love when you were young, the one who disappeared from your life and you thought all these years that was because he didn't want to know anything of you; your brother that you got back, was hugging you. He broke up the hug to look at you.

"I still have a lot of things to tell you. But it's not a good moment now. You should go talk to your boyfriend. Now that I got you back, I can finally say that we can talk another day." Your brother said smiling at you.

"Yes we can. And thank you, for understanding. Thank you for don't give up on me after how shitty I treated you." You said with choked voice and shedding tears.

"Of course I wouldn't give up on you. You just treated me how I deserved if things would've been as you thought they were. It's...impressive to see how grown up you are." Your brother said astonished and you half-smiled at him. "Well, I won't take longer. I'm gonna come over tomorrow. Now go talk to him. Be candid and open-hearted and you'll see that he's gonna understand you. If you think he's the one, don't give up on him." Your brother smiled at you soothingly and you nodded, wiping away your tears.

Jack walked toward the front door and before leaving he turned around to look at you and smile fondly.

"I'm happy to have found you."

"I'm happy too, Jack." You answered frankly and smiling affectingly.

Jack smiled once again before leaving. Now you were alone in the dining room and the silence freaked you out. You were nervous because you didn't know how Darren would react once you explain him why you didn't say anything. You didn't even know if he'd understand and forgive you. You took a deep breath before walking to Sami's bedroom. You opened the door to find Darren leaned on bed with his head buried on the pillow, covered with the quilt. He didn't move when he heard you entering the bedroom and neither when you sat on the edge of the bed. Your heart was beating fast and you felt a pressure in your chest, but you needed to talk to him.

"Darren…" You started to say softly.

"How could you do that?" Darren looked up to you indignantly, frowning.

"Because I thought that changing my name would be the best, that way my mother wouldn't find me. I needed to try to restart my life over again and just forget all the bad things that happened. Well, I couldn't forget my past but at least my mother didn't find me in a couple of years." You said afflicted, looking down because you were feeling bad because of Darren's reaction.

"Oh dammit, I'm not talking about it. Yeah, it's weird that someone changes the own name, but yeah. Practically is understandable, even though I wouldn't do it. I get what was your point to have done what you've done. But my point is..." Darren said really upset, raising an eyebrow and tensing his jaw. "Why the fuck didn't you tell me so? It's not like you hid from me what your favorite color is. You hid from me what you real name is! Your fucking real name! Do you have any idea of how I'm feeling right now?"

You remained silent, looking down, wanting to cry but trying to hold back your tears. Darren was right, you shouldn't have hidden from him your real name; but you never told your real name to anybody because you didn't want to be that person you used to be. Maybe your attitude was very childish but you couldn't help it. You were feeling really bad because of that and Darren seemed completely mad at you, and disappointed. Disappointment. The worst feeling that someone can feel when someone is disappointed of you; and more when it was from the person you loved. Darren bit his lower lip and then looked at you still very angry and bitter, puffing and blowing.

"I feel as all we…had is a damn big lie. Everything is a fucking damn lie. Nothing is real, like your name!" Darren yelled raising his eyebrows enraged and you just closed your eyes and pressed them to hold back your tears. "I don't even know who you are right now. I don't even know if I know you at all; I don't fucking know what is a lie and what is truth and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference, because apparently you're brilliant and outstanding at lying. You weren't kidding me when you told me that acting is your passion, but I could have never imagined that you were referring to act in real life and not in a play." Darren looked at you disgusted. He's never looked at you repulsed, as if you were some kind of sickness; and that made you feel terribly downhearted. "I thought you trusted me, I thought you always have been honest with me, I thought I was a trusted person for you; that both of us can make this work because we can count on each other. And I thought you loved me. Unquestionably, I was completely mistaken and I was such a dumbass! How would you love me if the livelihood and basis of a relationship, what makes it make sense, is trust and that's punctually what we don't have? What kind of love is that you have for me? Yeah, I know, a huge fucking fake love. What's the point of keep having a relationship based on lies and deceptions?" Darren asked negligibly and enervated.

You looked at Darren in a shock, you were unable to talk and you wanted to tell him so many things. Your body started to tremble at hear those words from Darren's mouth. He was asking you what the point to keep having a relationship like this was. What was he trying to say? Darren never acted with you like this, he seemed as if he were sickened of you, as if you were an abomination to him. Everything was going so fast that you barely could settle down things on your mind to try to understand what precisely was happening. You didn't want to hear anything more from Darren because you knew what he could say after all of this and only the thought of that exasperated you.

"I never lied to you, Darren." You whispered with choked voice and altered.

"Fuck it." Darren yelled enraged. "You never lied to me but I didn't even know your name. What an incredible show! I'm not that jerk. So stop all that shit. At least have the decency and dignity to tell me the truth once for all!"

"I'm telling you the truth, Darren. And don't yell at me." You said frowning and in disbelief.

"Oh sorry because I'm pulling out the entire letdown you caused me!" Darren said sarcastically and insolently. "But hey, I'm being honest. What a cool thing, being honest, don't you think?" Darren asked ironically and obstreperously.

"You're just being muffled and stupid." You said helplessly.

"Holy my Godness!" Darren laughed bitterly and sarcastically. "But you know what? Yeah, I'm fucking stupid guy, I've been a stupid guy all this time, wasting my time with a girl who is unable to trust on someone. I was a complete idiot because I thought I was important to you, that at least I meant something to you. Yeah, I've been a totally idiot because I let myself to fall in love with the idea of a person, because I fell in love with someone I have no idea who is." Darren said frigidly looking at you apathetically.

Darren's words stung you in the depths of your heart. You were now entirely downhearted and broken. You couldn't utter a word because the lump in throat didn't allow you so. But you didn't cry, you didn't shed tears, you didn't scream; you were in shock because you couldn't believe all of this was happening.

"I'm sick of all of this." Darren sighed sullenly. "That's it. I'm not gonna be with a person that wasn't what I thought it was. I gave you all I was afraid to give to someone and you fooled with it. And what hurts me the most is that you said you hated your mother because she was cold-hearted and you're just like her. You knew how hard it was for me to open my heart to someone and you just played with it. You just talk about how you hate the hypocrisy and you're such a hypocrite." Darren sighed jaded and irked.

"I didn't..." You said with choked voice and completely disturbed because of the comparison that Darren just made.

"I don't want to hear you anymore, dammit." Darren exclaimed exacerbated. "I'm gonna take Sami with me, I'm gonna take all of her stuff, she's gonna live with me now. We need to go to that Matt's house so I can pick her up. I'd appreciate if you leave me alone now so I can do it peaceably." Darren said phlegmatic.

You looked at Darren hurt and you stood up to leave. Darren ignored you so you finally left Sami's bedroom, closing the door behind you. You ran to your bedroom and locked yourself there. You leaned over the bed and you cried over all you were holding back while you were arguing with Darren. Darren just broke up with you and he didn't even understand you, he didn't even give you the chance to try to explain him the reasons why you did what you did. He misunderstood everything but you couldn't say anything in that moment because his words were very hard and hurtful to you so you couldn't utter a word because of the lump in throat. You just lost the man you loved and that brought you down, deeply heartbroken. But you knew you shouldn't give up on him; mostly because he didn't get how things were, because things weren't just as he pictured them. And you wouldn't give up on the man who saved you from the sorrow and gave you all the reasons to keep going on. But now, you just couldn't.


You and Darren were in front of Matt's apartment, waiting for him to open the door. Darren acted as if you were a ghost in all the way to Matt's house. He had packed all his and Sami's stuff, determined in his decision to leave you. Now Darren was looking away, crossing his arms and serious and you were just looking down, down because of the way Darren was ignoring you. You heard some steps coming closer and then Matt opened the door. He was smiling but then he looked at Darren, raising his eyebrows surprised.

"Hey man, I didn't know you were here in NYC." Matt greeted politely, shaking hands with Darren. "Shorty!" Matt smiled widely, hugging you and you smiled slightly at him while Darren just raised his eyebrows and looked away, upset. "Come in, guys."

Matt stepped back to let you and Darren to come into his apartment. You walked in first and Darren walked in after you, but he stayed away from you, avoiding your gaze. When Matt observed the situation he got bemused and he frowned slightly. The latest news that Matt knew about you and Darren were that you were doing really good, and now obviously the situation was tense and distant.

"Where's Sami?" Darren asked curtly, looking at Matt earnestly.

"She's taking a shower; she said she wanted to be clean to some lunch she was going to have." Matt answered still politely, but disconcerted because of the odd situation. "Please, take a sit. She's gonna take a while. She just entered to the bathroom."

Darren nodded and he sat on Matt's couch of one seater, in silence and looking away. Matt glared at you frowning with his look of "What the hell?" and you shrugged, muttering him that you'll explain later and Matt nodded. You sat on the couch of three seaters, looking down. Matt stayed stood, and he looked at you both.

"Would you like something to drink? Coffee, water, juice? Or maybe something to eat?" Matt asked courteously. Both Darren and you shook your heads. "Fine, if you want something, feel free to ask."

Matt sat next to you, looking intently at Darren, who was resting his elbow on the armrest of the couch, resting his chin on his fist; staring into nothing. Then the uncomfortable silence started again and you started to get a little nervous. Matt caught the way you were feeling and he patted your shoulder reassuringly.

"So, Darren, when have you arrived here?" Matt asked to Darren, breaking the awkward silence. Darren looked at Matt, startling by the unexpected question.

"Uhm...yesterday night." Darren answered shortly and he looked away again.

"Oh, recently. Is it for work or only because you wanted to visit here?" Matt asked, trying to start a conversation so the uncomfortable silence could end.

"Work. And of course, taking advantage to see...Sami." Darren answered coldly, glaring quickly at you and then looking away again. You looked down sadly when you heard the way Darren emphasized only Sami's name.

"Yeah, naturally. You surely missed your girls here and what..." Matt started to say, but Darren interrupted him.

"Yeah, I missed Sami." Darren emphasized only her name again. "Could you teach me where the bathroom is? I need to hurry Sami up." Darren asked frowning, looking at Matt and avoiding your sad look.

"You don't bother..." Matt started to say politely, but Darren interrupted him again.

"No, it's not for that. We need to go now." Darren said harshly and Matt raised his eyebrows, consternated.

"Sure. Down the hall, last door on the right." Matt said, pointing the way.

Darren thanked Matt and he stood, leaving you and Matt alone in his living room. Matt made sure Darren was away before looking at you completely confused and flustered.

"What the hell is going on here?" Matt whispered at you. "I thought you were fine?"

"We were." You answered him in a whisper, wretched and looking down. "He broke up with me."

"What?" Matt squealed in shock, looking at you with wide eyes.

"Shush, Matt!" You whispered altered and jittery, looking in the direction where Darren was, to see if he heard Matt's squeal.

"Sorry. But really, what the heck?" Matt asked this time lower, taken aback.

"I'm gonna tell you everything later, Matt." You sighed and looked down, joyless.

"Fine. Now I get it, shit. That's why he was so quiet, that's why he wants to leave. Oh damn, it makes sense now." Matt said, more like saying out loud what he was thinking for himself than really talking to you. "And Sami. He wants to bring Sami with him, doesn't he? He wants to take Sami away from you, right? Oh wow."

"Matt, please." You looked at him supplicant and gloomy. "Please don't say all that now; it makes me feel like crap. I just...I didn't see all this coming and now..." Your voice started to tremble, trying to hold back the tears that now were appearing in your eyes.

"Hey, no. No, no, no. I won't want to see you like this." Matt said gently, placing a hand on your shoulder and squeezing it. "This is what we're gonna do. We wait until Darren and Sami leave, then we talk and I hear what happened. Then we're gonna figure out what to do. I know there may be something we can do about. So wipe away those tears because we're gonna make it right again."

"Y-yes. Th-thank y-you, Matt." You stammered.

You wiped away your tears and hugged Matt, resting your forehead on his shoulder while Matt started to rub your back reassuringly. In that moment Darren popped into the room with Sami and he cleared his throat. You stopped hugging Matt and you looked up at Darren, who was looking at you both coldly. Matt bit his lower lip and he stood, looking at Darren in a weird way. Matt was looking at Darren a little disturbed and with a hint of displeasure and anger. Sami smiled at you and she walked to you, to kiss your cheek and look at you sweetly.

"I'm ready to go to McDonalds! I'm so very excited, aren't you excited auntie? What hamburger are you gonna choose? And after our lunch I'd love to eat a cake, a chocolate one!" Sami said bouncing in happiness. "Come on, auntie! We need to go, uncle Dare said we were in a hurry!"

"Oh, Sami..." You said a little sad and nervous.

You tried to hold back your tears and tried to find the right words to explain Sami that you wouldn't do it without hurting her feelings. She seemed very excited and you really didn't want to make her feel bad, but you had no options. Everything that you planned before was gone and you couldn't reverse it in that moment. Darren walked to Sami and he grabbed her hand a little rough. You looked up to him frowning and a little upset because Darren could be mad at you, but he had no right to treat Sami in that way because she had nothing to do of what happened between you and him. Darren ignored you and he looked at Sami sternly.

"Sami, i said you and I were in a hurry. She..." Darren looked at you grimly. "She's not coming with us. So say goodbye, Sami. And hurry up."

"What? But you said that we all were going to…" Sami started to say muddled.

"I know what I said. But that's not gonna happen and it's decided." Darren said determined and bossy.

"No!" Sami protested in a huff. "You promised! You promised!"

"Stop being so childish, Sami!" Darren said serious, looking at her frowning. "Now say goodbye. We have to go."

"And where are we going and why auntie can't come with us? I want her to come with us!" Sami threw a tantrum and Darren sighed, biting his lips. Then he kneeled and looked at her very intently.

"Sami…there are things you won't understand know, but you have to do so. Older people make decisions that sometimes young people can't understand, but with time they get to understand it. For now, you just have to abide by what older people say. We're going to live somewhere else now and she can't come with us because of reasons you can't know right now. So please, you don't want to go without saying goodbye. Don't make it harder." Darren tried to say gently and Sami frowned, still confused and upset.

"I don't want to go." Sami huffed and crossed her arms.

"Fine. I have no options then." Darren said standing up.

Darren lifted Sami up and she started to throw a tantrum, screaming and trying to get away from Darren. Darren looked at Sami warningly but Sami kept screaming saying no repeatedly; what made Darren feel hysterical and seething. He walked toward Matt and Darren looked at him in apology because of Sami's behavior.

"Sami, stop it!" Darren said frenzied looking at Sami and then he looked at Matt again in apology. "Sorry because all of this and thank you for taking care of Sami. Now, if you excuse me, we have to go." Darren said, shaking his hand with Matt.

Matt looked at Darren scrambled, he was in shock because of all that was happening and he couldn't get what was going on. So Matt just nodded, without knowing what to do while you just watched how Darren was walking to the front door with Sami in his arms, without greeting you or saying goodbye to you. Darren opened the door and he stayed there without moving and giving you his back for a while, in silence while Sami was still screaming your name and yelling no. Then Darren turned around to look at you frowning and biting his lower lip, with a look that indicated dreariness and letdown. You only looked down at your lap, feeling very guilty and troubled.

"Bye." Darren said curtly and then he closed the door, leaving you there more miserable than ever.

You closed your eyes while you were still hearing Sami's screams from the corridor. You tears started falling down your face wildly. It was very hard for you to see Darren like this with you and it was even harder to see Sami very desperate to stay with you and you weren't able to do anything at all. You weren't only separating from Darren, but also from Sami. You were totally falling apart and you didn't know what you should do. You couldn't talk to Darren now, because right now he turned a deaf ear to all that you said and because you couldn't really say anything because you were feeling down. But you also wanted to be idly, because both of them meant a lot to you and you didn't want to lose them. You felt how Matt sat next to you and you opened your eyes to look at him with teary eyes. Matt was looking at you with his eyebrows pulled in and partly up, with a sad look. You leaned your head on his shoulder and started to cry while Matt started to pat your hair softly.

"Calm down, Shorty, shh." Matt said consolingly. "What happened? Why did you guy broke up?"

You looked up to find that Matt was looking at you confused but at the same time he was trying to comfort you. You took a long breathe to try to calm down and explain Matt all that happened between you and Darren.

"I lied to him." You answered with choked voice, but trying to calm.

"You what?" Matt asked even more confused and frowning. "You lied to him…what about?"

"I met my older brother and…" You started to say, with a downward look.

"Wait, what? Have you met your older brother? The one you didn't see in years? When? How did this happen?" Matt asked bewildered and flurried, with wide eyes.

"Yeah, I have met him this morning. Darren and I went to a very odd coffee shop and there he was. He recognized me and then we went to my apartment to talk." You answered still looking down and sad.

"Oh damn. I can figure out that things didn't go well." Matt said frowning.

"Oh no, no. I mean yes, things didn't go well but not because of my brother in particular. I mean, yes he had something to do with all that happened but he didn't do anything wrong…"

You realized that you were rambling because Matt was looking at you trying to get what you were saying but he was failing; so you sighed and tried to clear up your mind to explain the situation in a reasonable way.

"Okay. Let me start again." You sighed and Matt nodded. "My brother and I talked about all that happened between us, actually almost everything. We cleared up the reasons why we got apart and I understood it. Anything was his fault and now I guess we're fine. And I'm really happy to have met my brother because now we can catch up and we can make it for the lost time. But he mentioned something…something that no one who knows me now knows it, not even you, not even Darren. Well, now Darren knows it and that's why he broke up with me." You said with choked voice and started to shed some tears again.

"I'm not getting this." Matt said frowning completely tangled. "So yes, I got that your brother and you now cleared up everything and that you're doing fine. And honestly I'm happy for that, Shorty. But, what's that he mentioned? It seems a big deal if it was the reason why Darren broke up with you."

"My name. He mentioned my real name." You said sighing.

"Your real name? Okay really, I'm so confused Shorty."

"My name, the one you know and everybody knows, isn't my real name. I changed my real name when I ran away from my house. I never told Darren what my real name was and he thought I was lying to him all this time. He was disappointed because I didn't trust him enough to tell such a thing to him. My real name, Darren never knew my real name." You started to cry again uncontrollably.

"Oh holy shit. It seems is gonna be a very intense conversation." Matt said speechless and stunned. "Beer?"

"Don't you have something stronger?"

"Whiskey."

"Sounds better."

Matt nodded and stood up to get two glasses of whiskey and then he returned. You took a shot before start telling Matt all the events recently occurred. You told him everything: how you were feeling with Darren about not being able to have a normal relationship; how Darren took you to that odd coffee shop to have a good time together as a normal couple without having to worry of people approaching him to get autographs or pictures; how you drank that aphrodisiac coffee and you got unleashed and you and Darren went to that stage to sing and dance like crazy people; how people started to sing and dance along watching you both; how your brother recognized you when you were on stage and then he approached you; how you went to your apartment and talked to your brother about all that happened when you were very young; how the story between you and your brother actually was; how you forgave your brother because he actually wasn't guilty and he has been looking for you all this time; how you were happy because of that but at the same time you were feeling extremely gloomy because Darren was being cold with you after your brother mentioned your real name; the reasons why Darren broke up with you and how Darren was feeling like betrayed; you told him all the things that Darren said to you, how angry and disappointed in you he was; how Darren compared you to your mother; how you weren't able to utter a word because it was very hard for you to hear those words coming out from Darren's mouth; and how you felt when Darren started to pack his and Sami's stuff to go away, ignoring you and making you feel abandoned. You told him how you were feeling now about your brother, Darren and Sami; that you were in an all-time low. Matt didn't say a word while you were talking, but he was listening to you very intently, trying to understand the entire situation, rubbing your back whenever you started to sob or calming you when you were starting to get angry with yourself. When you finished talking, Matt sighed and he looked down a little befuddled.

"Oh damn, this is more complicated than what I thought or imagined." Matt said biting his lower lip and looking up to you. "I'm gonna be completely honest here, please don't take it in a bad way. I'm just trying to help you out, and as your friend I'm not gonna lie to you."

"Alright, I won't." You whispered, looking down and frowning. You had no idea what Matt would say to you and you didn't even know if he was also mad at you because you never mentioned him your real name.

"Okay. I think Darren acted in a way that someone else would have acted. Finding out something like that after…since how long? More than a year since you met him?" Matt asked you and you just nodded looking down, because you knew Matt was right but it always is hard to face the rough reality. "Well, finding out something like that after a year you met and after all you've been through, after all the love and trust you both had…it's kinda shocking. Is normal the way Darren acted and you have to accept it. Try to walk a mile in Darren's shoes. The guy thought he knew everything about you, of course not everything but the most important things about you and the he realized that he didn't know the most important thing about you. How would you feel if Darren hides from you the most important thing about him all the time you were together? What would you think?"

"I don't know. I guess...I'd feel as if our relationship was a cock-and-bull story. Yeah." You admitted sadly.

"Right. That's how Darren is feeling right now. The boy decided to trust on you and give you everything; you told me it was hard for him to trust on somebody this much, but he did it with you because he loved you, or what he knew about you. And suddenly he finds out that what he thought about you wasn't completely true. You hid from him only one thing, but that thing wasn't a minor thing. Only one thing and now he doesn't know if all the things you showed him were completely true, because you weren't completely honest with him about everything. Obviously he would feel like betrayed, like he gave all to you and you didn't do the same for him. And a relationship has to be reciprocal, but it wasn't because you hid such an important thing from him. Clearly he wouldn't want to be with someone who isn't what he thought; nobody would like that. I won't deny the fact he loves you, because he really loves you; but for sure he doesn't know if he loves you or if he loves what he thought you were." Matt said a little harsh and you felt really bad, because that was the reality you didn't want to accept. "I know I'm being rude, but the entire situation is rough. You need to try to understand Darren and to accept that the way he's feeling now is completely normal. Once you get to deal with it, you'd be able to change things and get him back, if that's what you really want. Can you understand him? For a minute just forget about everything and pretend that Darren was the one who did all of this to you. Just for minute try to picture how you would feel."

"Yes, Matt. But I don't want to accept it, I don't want to picture how it'd be if Darren was the one who did all of this, because I know what would be the answer, I know how I'd react and that freaks me out." You said, looking at Matt desperate and dismayed.

"Listen, you knew this would be hard and you cannot throw away everything you feel, you cannot hide and pretend for a long time the reality of it. Sooner or later you'll have to deal with it; and it's better now than later, when it's gonna be late to regret all the time you lived lying to yourself. So I'm right here and now to help you out, or at least to try to do so. So, even though the answer freaks you out, tell me how you would react." Matt said softly looking at you intently.

"I wouldn't be able to forgive him. I'd break up with him and I'd never have a relationship with him again. Because if he lied me once, he probably would do it again, and I wouldn't want to be fooled again." you answered with choked voice and weeping. "And that's what is gonna happen between us! Darren won't trust on me again, he won't come back! And that's exactly what I don't want to accept. I don't wanna deal with it because I can't stand the fact of picturing my life without him from now on."

"That's exactly what I wanted to hear. Yeah, Darren won't trust on you again, he won't come back because what you hid from him is a big deal." Matt said nodding.

You just looked at him thunderstruck and frowning. It was supposed that Matt would make you feel better not even worse than you were feeling now. Matt was acting in a weird way, as if he was defending Darren and he was also feeling as Darren felt earlier. You couldn't get why he was doing this to you. He was making you feel as if you were completely a flint-hearted person, a completely bitch who caused s lot of pain to everybody; and probably you were, but that wasn't what you wanted, you never did all the thing you did on purpose with that intention. Matt always knew the way how to make you feel better and keep going, but this time he was doing the opposite and you wondered if something on your relationship changed when he also found out that he didn't know your real name all this time.

"But there's something that makes the difference." Matt said redundantly and you looked up at him, stunned. "You didn't hide it from him with the intention to hurt him. You never wanted to lie to him, it never crossed your mind; only for the simple fact you don't feel identified with your real any longer, because you aren't that person you used to be a long ago. For you it was natural to be called by your actual name, because that was your real name for you and not you birth name. You never lied to him because you showed him how it is truly you. The person of years ago with another name isn't what you are now, because with time you've grown and you changed yourself, including your name. You have to understand Darren but he has to understand you too; as I said, the relationship has to be reciprocal. He wouldn't forgive you, he wouldn't come back if you actually lied to him, but you didn't do it. You just never mentioned your real name because you weren't that person, because you're now the person that he fell in love with. All the things he loved about you, those things aren't a lie."

"But...he can't see things that way. He..."

"I can imagine what he feels. And yeah, I won't lie, it's gonna take a long time until you get to talk to him and try to get him to understand you. But he still loves you; he cannot stop loving you from one day to another. And believe me when I say that he probably is more confused and lost than you now. You have to give him time until he can clear up his mind and he calms down. In the meantime, you have to do the same. Try to find out what you really want and if you'd risk all you have to be with him, if you'd be able to give him absolutely everything about you to him. If you're willing to do it, then I don't see why your relationship is not gonna work." Matt said convincingly.

"But what if not? What if...?"

"No. Don't start with that thing of what if. If you truly love him, then things will flow naturally. It could sound sappy or whatever, but it's unbelievable the power of love goes a long way when it's real. And I know that what you have is real because I know how your entire relationship developed throughout the entire year. And remember that every single relationship in world has ups and downs; you'll always have fights and bad moments. If everything in a relationship were perfect, then it isn't a real relationship and it's a huge bullshit; it'd be a farce because it'd mean you don't have a strong bond to deal with your troubles that every human has." Matt said true-heartedly and you nodded in agreement. "So don't be scared, things are gonna work out; whatever it comes to happen."

"Yeah, I hope so. Matt…" You looked at him with teary eyes. You were thankful because of the way he said you the truth of things and not just kind words to make you feel better.

"Nothing." Matt said smiling at you and caressing your shoulder. "And what Darren said, when he compared you to your mother, he said that as a defense mechanism because of all the pain he was feeling. Because humans are so when someone hurts us, we always seek to hurt the people who hurt us in their deepest point of weakness, even though we don't mean it or even though we know it isn't true. And you always say the worst things to the people you love most, because we know that those who truly love us will always forgive us, because the people who love us most are the people with whom we free ourselves. Humans have always been like that for unexplained reasons and this is how it has worked ever since." Matt said twinkling and shrugging.

"If you weren't gay, you'd be the perfect guy for me, Matt." You said giggling softly, more cheerful and Matt laughed along with you.

"Probably not. I'd have a guy who would kill me only to get you. I must admit that is scary the way Darren looks at me, even though he know I'm gay." Matt said widening his eyes and then he laughed again.

"Yeah, probably not. I wouldn't want you to be killed. What would I do?" You said frowning exaggeratedly and then you leaned to kiss his cheek softly. "And for the record, Darren still doesn't know you're gay."

"What the hell Shorty? If you don't tell that to Darren, then your adorable friend you're looking at right now is gonna be buried seven feet under soon." Matt said with an exaggerated grimace of disturbance.

"Then you're gonna be my very first zombie best friend." You said winking at him, jokingly.

"And then I'm gonna turn you into a zombie!" Matt said with a weird grimace pretending to be a zombie and you laughed when he lunged at you, pretending to bite you.

You were joking Matt in that moment, but there was a thing that was true. You didn't know what you'd do without him and his friendship. Matt was the best friend you could have asked for.


THREE DAYS LATER…

It was snowing and it was a very cold morning in NYC when you were shopping for Christmas. Everybody in the shopping was happy and with the Christmas spirit; it was cheerful to see everybody like that, but you couldn't feel that way. Christmas for you always was a sad day because it reminded you all the Christmas you spent with your family when your father was alive, all together having a dinner and waiting for Santa to leave the presents under the Christmas tree. But it turned into a sad day when you drew away from your family and you had to spend Christmas completely alone, seeing how everybody was happy and you couldn't have it. You never got a Christmas present, you never gave anyone a Christmas present, you had no one to spend the Christmas, you didn't even get a greet. And this time you thought that everything would be different because you had Darren with you and also Sami who still believed in Santa. But Darren didn't call you, he didn't text you, you had no idea what he was doing or how he was feeling or thinking. You had imagined spending Christmas with Darren and Sami, like the closer thing you had as a family; you thought that with them both you'd have what you used to have in this special day; but none of that was going to happen. But you were there anyway, buying some presents for Sami, Darren, Matt and April. You didn't know if you were going able to give those presents to Darren and Sami, but you didn't care, you needed to buy them something because they were the most important people for you. However, Matt invited you to go to his place on Christmas because he was going to be alone since his family went to Europe for holidays. Of course it wouldn't be the same as if you had Darren with you, but Matt was your best friend so surely you'd have a good time with him and you weren't going to be alone. Suddenly your phone buzzed and you checked it. Your heart started to beat faster when you saw that Darren was the one who texted you.

From Darren: Hey, are you free this afternoon?

That was a weird message. You started to freak out in the middle of the mall and you had to sit in chair near there. Finally Darren had texted you and he was asking if you were free that afternoon. Maybe he wanted to meet you; maybe he finally was ready to talk and try to fix things between the two of you. Maybe after all things weren't so screwed as you thought, maybe Matt was right. But, were you ready to talk to Darren of everything that happened that afternoon? You were still nervous and your mind was a mess, thinking about everything; but you wanted to talk to Darren because you needed to explain him your point of view that three days ago you couldn't. But you actually didn't know what Darren wanted, so you just decided to reply his text message.

To Darren: Hey Darren. Yes, I'm free this afternoon. Why do you ask?

From Darren: Oh, cool. I was wondering if you could go to the Central Park about 4pm? Sami wants to see you.

To Darren: Yeah, sure I can. Where?

From Darren: Same place. You know where it is. See ya.

To Darren: Gapstow Bridge over The Pond, 4pm. Gonna be there, later.

You needed to come back to your house and get ready. You were going to see Darren again after all that happened and you really wanted to see him. He didn't mention anything about talking; he only mentioned that Sami wanted to see you and you wanted to see her also, you really were fond of her and she was very important to you, you were used to spend all the time with her and now being apart for three days was hard for you. Maybe you were going to spend time with Sami and then Darren and you would talk. You were completely nervous but you needed to do it, so you left the mall to come back to your house.


You were in the Gapstow Bridge over The Pond, waiting for Darren and Sami that yet haven't arrived. It was already very late and you started to wonder if they changed their plans and they forgot to tell you. Even though you enjoyed being there and mostly now that was everything covered with snow, you were already getting very cold and you needed to drink something hot or go to a place to get warm. When you checked your wristwatch and you saw it was already 5pm, you decided to leave. But that was the moment when you felt how a snowball crashed on your face, making your face to freeze. At first you got a little upset because you were grumpy because of the fact that Darren and Sami stood you up. You looked in the direction where the snowball came, to look at those kids who were playing near you. But you didn't see those kids; instead them you saw Darren and Sami walking toward you and laughing. You wiped away the snow from your face and smiled at them, shaking your head. Sami came running to you to hug you while you kneeled to hug her. She looked really happy and you didn't realize how much you missed her even though you haven't seen her only for three days.

"I gave you!" Sami squealed happily and bouncing of excitement. "My aim is getting better!"

"Yes, it is. But let's see who wins when our snowball war begins!" You said challenging Sami jokingly.

"Bring it on!" Sami said excited, getting in defense posture.

"Not now, Sami. I wouldn't want freeze you in the first ten minutes of the afternoon." Darren said amused, looking at Sami playfully. Then Darren looked up to you and he changed his amused expression, getting more serious and you stood up, getting nervous and slightly sad because of his sudden change of expression on his face. "Hey." Darren said curtly, nodding his head.

"Hi." You answered looking down a little sad because of Darren's taciturnity.

"So Sami, now finally you're here with her as you wanted." Darren said looking at Sami with a half-smile and then he looked at you. "I'm gonna leave you alone now, so you can spend some time together. Text me when Sami gets tired or if she wants to come back. I'm gonna be near here."

"Oh. Yeah, sure. I thought you were going to…" You said frowning and puzzled because you got everything wrong. Definitely Darren didn't want to see you.

"No, I'm not gonna stay here. So, have fun." Darren interrupted you sharply.

"Yeah, I got it. Sure, I'm gonna text you." You said nodding but looking down, trying to hide your disillusionment.

"Great." Darren answered unemotional and then he looked at Sami. "Please Sami, behave and be careful. Tell her when you want to come back to home and I'm gonna pick you up. And of course, have fun." Darren said smiling, patting Sami's head.

"Uncle Dare, please stay! I don't get why you don't want to stay. Uncle Chuck said you don't have to work until after Christmas Eve!" Sami said frowning and complaining.

"We talked about this already, Sami." Darren said warningly.

"But please! I want to spend the afternoon with both of you as you promised days ago!" Sami protested.

"Sami..." Darren said strictly.

"Just a few hours. It wouldn't be that bad to spend together just a few hours. Pretty please?" Sami begged, looking at Darren with the same puppy dog eyes of Darren.

"Fine." Darren sighed, frowning and biting his lips. "Just a few hours."

"Thank you uncle Dare!" Sami bounced in excitement and hugged Darren by his legs while Darren giggled softly. "We should go ice skating! I love it!"

"Alright, but if I fall, you gonna have to help me stand up." Darren said giggling. "Thankfully almost no one's gonna recognize me with these threadbare clothes."

"Yes, you look terrible." Sami said serious looking at Darren who was wearing some frayed pants, a Roger Rabbit hoodie, a black beanie and a colorful striped scarf. He also was wearing shadows glasses, and not his usual pink glasses. "You could at least have mixed and matched your clothes. Aren't you ashamed to go out looking like that?"

"Woah! Are you ashamed of your adorable quirky uncle?" Darren asked amused and playfully frowning.

"No, but when you go out like that, yes." Sami answered still serious. "Whatever, you'll have an intensive class of how to mix and match clothes later. Now can we go ice skating?"

"An intensive class of how to mix and match clothes. Weird when you get an advice like that from a little girl." Darren said laughing.

"I'm not a little girl!" Sami huffed, crossing her arms and frowning and you laughed softly.

"Sorry, miss I'm super old and wrinkled!" Darren laughed at her jokingly but Sami didn't laugh along with him. "Okay, okay. It's just a joke, Sami! Don't look at me that way, miss. Fine, let's go ice skating only if you change your face."

"Yes!" Sami said now smiling widely and Darren shook his head in disbelief, smiling.

You all started to walk in silence to the Central Park's Wollman Rink in silence. Sami was extremely happy and excited, Darren was walking with a slight smile on his face joking Sami, and you were walking in silence and looking down. It was nice to spend time with them as you wanted, but what you didn't want was to be feeling this uncomfortable. You knew that Darren didn't want to be there, not because he didn't want to be with Sami but because he didn't want to stay near you. You could notice it because of the way he was ignoring you and he changed his face expression every time he looked at you. You've imagined spending time with them but being happy, just enjoying the time together; but this was completely different. You wanted to be happy for Sami and just act naturally, but you couldn't because you were feeling really bad inside. Maybe this was a bad idea. When Sami ran to the ice skating rink very excited to get Ice skates, Darren got closer to you.

"I want to let you know I'm doing this only because of Sami and nothing else." Darren whispered harshly in your ear and then he walked faster to approach Sami.

As soon as Darren told you that, you stopped walking abruptly. What he said hurt you deep in your heart; he had no need to tell you that because you've guessed so since the very first time he said he wasn't going to spend this afternoon with Sami and you. Yes, you had hopes that maybe after a few hours he was going to be better with you that maybe he'd want to talk to you; but now he made it clear. You shouldn't be feeling this bad because you knew that probably Darren would say something like that; you've talked with Matt about this and you had to understand Darren's reaction and the way he was treating you. You understood Darren, but it didn't mean that you were going to feel indifferent at his rough words. Why did it have to be so hard to handle? You really wished that things could be different now, but it was heartbreaking instead. You shyly and sad walked to the ice skating rink, where Darren and Sami were already ready to start skating. Once you got there, you stayed quiet, watching them both with no intentions to join them. Maybe you could only watch them having a good time; seeing the two of them happy made you happy as well. It seemed that they forgot you were there because they were skating very happy and laughing; it was amazing to see them like that. No one recognized Darren yet, so he was enjoying the time with Sami and both of them knew how to ice skating. Then you got distracted with a woman who fell off and her friend was helping her to stand up; you thought you could be that woman and that made you giggle softly.

"Hey, aren't you going to join us?" You heard Darren's voice.

You turned your gaze to look at Darren who was standing in front of you with a smile because of the good time he was having. Sami now was skating with a little boy, her own age, so Darren was standing in front of you alone. His smile made you feel a little better, it was adorable seeing Darren that happy and laid back.

"If you didn't bring money to rent ice skates, I can give you money. You know I wouldn't mind at all." Darren said smoothly, very different than the way he talked to you minutes ago.

"Oh, no. You know I wouldn't accept it. I don't like very much when people pay things for me." You answered a little embarrassed, slightly blushing.

"Oh bullshit. Come on, let's go get some ice skates for you." Darren said jovially.

"No, oh no please." You said this time more embarrassed, shaking your head.

"Why not? You wouldn't leave me ice skating alone like a fool. Seems that Sami made a new friend." Darren said looking at Sami who was laughing, still playing with that boy. "She totally forgot her uncle." Darren frowned still looking at Sami and that made you laugh, what made Darren look at you, amused. "Not funny, I feel replaced. So, come on, I'll rent those ice skates for you."

"No, Darren. No. It's not about the money..." You stopped laughing to feel embarrassed again.

"So why? Oh, got it! You really want to see me making a fool of myself." Darren said squinting still amused and you giggled nervously, shaking your head.

"No, not at all. It's just...Uhm...I never...I don't...oh damn." You stuttered awkwardly, blushing increasingly.

"Hay, chill out! Seems that you're gonna explode judging by your really flushed face." Darren said chuckling softly. "Just tell me why you don't want to go ice skating. It's simple."

"I've never ice skated before. No one taught me how to do it." You whispered completely abashed. Suddenly it seemed that it wasn't a very cold day because your face was extremely flushed.

"What?" Darren asked with wide eyes and raising his eyebrows, stunned.

"Yeah, you know. I never learned. So no thanks, I'll pass." You whispered even more embarrassed, looking down and starting to walk away, but Darren followed you.

"Hey, no wait!" Darren yelled behind you, approaching you. "I'll teach you. It's not that hard. Have you ever roller skated?"

"No. Never. I didn't have the chance, you know...My childhood...no." You answered awkwardly, wanting to disappear from there.

"Well...I'll help you. You'll see, maybe at first is gonna be a bit hard but then you'll want to skate all the day long. Come with me." Darren said making a gesture with his hand to follow him and you, unsure and doubtful, followed him.

Darren rented you some ice skated and told you how to put them, still encouraging you to do it. You had no idea why you were listening at him; you knew this was a bad idea and that you surely would end lying on the ice skating rink all bruised and making a fool of yourself in front of million people who were there. But Darren always had that power of conviction in you. He could tell you to jump off a cliff and you'd do it only because he said so and he convinced you. Once you finished putting on the ice skates, you started to freak out unable to move. Darren laughed softly at your panic face.

"C'mon, stand up." Darren said encouragingly and you did so. You wobbled but didn't fall, feeling exceedingly nervous.

"I can't do this." You said panicking, trying to not fall.

"Yes, you can. Come on, now just slide very slowly." Darren said reassuringly.

"Alright." You said freaking out.

You tried to slide but you wobbled and you almost fell off, but Darren quickly grabbed you by your waist to keep you from falling. Your heart started to beat very fast, not only because you almost fell but also because finally you felt Darren's touch. You felt his warm hands on your waist as you were wanting since the time you brawled. You didn't know how this was happening after Darren treated you harshly minutes before, but it felt nice. Maybe he was doing this only because Sami was entertained playing with a boy and he didn't want to ice skating alone, missing the opportunity to do something like that that probably hadn't done in years. Whatever the reasons were, you needed to enjoy this moment, but you couldn't because you knew you were going to fail ice skating.

"See? Goddamn, Darren, I can't do this shit!" You said embarrassed and scared to fall down.

"Biggest bullshit ever. I told you i was going to teach you." Darren said laughing stilly and he grabbed your hands. Wow, that felt really nice and he made you feel safe. "Now just trust me. Slide slowly, like this."

Darren started to slide very slowly still grabbing your hands and looking at your feet to see how you were sliding. You both started to slide on the rink very slowly and a bright smile appeared on Darren's face. You started to laugh nervously while you realized you were doing it.

"Yeah! Just like this! See? You're doing it!" Darren exclaimed excited and you started to feel more secure. "Come on, let's increase the speed." Darren moved to get on your side, grabbing only one of your hands and he started to slide faster along with you. "Good job! Now let's do this. Place your feet in V position, heels together and toes apart. Now bend your knees slightly with your arms out like an airplane's wings. Yeah, like that. Now lift your knees, keeping your feet in the V position. Now push your skate out to the side, not to the back as in walking. Yeah! Just like that!" Darren said smiling widely, looking at you while you were sliding nervously but more secure now.

"Am I doing it right?" You asked still a bit jumpy but excited and happy. It was feeling very good sliding on the ice skating rink.

"Very good!" Darren said encouragingly, still grabbing your hand. "Now, faster!"

You both started to slide faster and you were losing the nerves you were feeling before. It was a weird feeling being skating, as you were free. Then Darren looked up to you, still smiling.

"Ready to do it by yourself? I'm gonna be right next to you just in case."

"Okay. Yes, maybe I can do it." You said tense but you wanted to try it.

Darren nodded and he let out your hand. At first you wobbled but then you recovered the stability and started to slide naturally. You squealed in excitement when you got it and Darren cheered you. You were feeling extremely happy and that feeling of freedom. Darren was sliding next to you, checking you all the time just in case you lose control and fall down. But you were doing it and you were feeling very safe. But then you saw how a little kid was approaching you and you started to freak out because you didn't know how to turn.

"Darren! Darren! Oh my god, Darren! What do I do? Tell me what I have to do! I can't turn around. Darren, I'm gonna crash that kid!" You yelled completely scared.

You noticed that the kid was also learning how to ice skating and he also didn't know how to turn around. You were very close and the kid also started to yell, what made you feel even more scared and you started panicking. You closed your eyes when you saw the kid closer because you knew that you were going to crash him. But then you felt how Darren's hands took you by your waist, making you slide away from the kid. But in that movement, your feet tangled with Darren's, making both of you totter off balance. You felt how your face crashed the cold ice and then you felt how Darren fell on top of you. You finally opened your eyes feeling pain in your entire body and you saw Darren wincing in pain. Darren was still on top of you, his face only five inches from yours; he was so close that you couldn't avoid your desire to kiss him as you were used to do, you really missed him, and you couldn't be enmity with him. Darren got jittery and quickly he moved away from you, kneeling next to you and looking at you with wide eyes.

"Oh damn shit! Are you okay?" Darren asked concerned while you sat on the rink, still a little painful.

"Yes, yes. I'm fine." You answered, your voice trembling and rubbing the side of your face that crashed on the ice, which was the most painful.

"Let me take a look." Darren said, still concerned and moving away your hand with which you were rubbing your face. "Oh crap! It looks terrible, it's all bruised. Does it hurt? We should get something to put right there."

"No, Darren. I'm fine, I swear. It was just a small hit." You said frowning and shaking your hand.

"But really, it looks so bad." Darren said worried.

"Darren, please!" You said this time looking at him and then suddenly you started to laugh out loud. Darren looked at you confused and frowning.

"Why are you laughing?"

"This was just so funny! The whole situation, me freaking out, you trying to safe that poor little kid who was flipping out, falling and crashing the ice. The adrenalin that I felt. Oh gosh! This was the funniest thing I've ever done! Look at us! We totally messed up and we're all bruised but anyway it's the funniest thing ever!" You shouted of laughter and Darren started to laugh along with you.

"We cannot be tamed." Darren laughed amused. "I think we should do our very own commercial. Wanna make a fool of yourself? Wanna learn how to be clumsy? Wanna cause an epic fail riot? Just hire us, you'll be ensured to obtain a high quality product. Call us at 212-DORKS for more information."

"Oh my god, you dummy." You burst of laughter, nudging Darren playfully.

"Come on, just let's go find Sami. I think both of us need to be slammed with something hot, then we're gonna be able to beat that sneaky devil cold ice that hit us!" Darren said randomly, standing up and stretching his hand to help you up.

Darren grabbed your hand to slide together and keep you from falling again, both of you still mocking of yourselves. Finally you found Sami that was still playing with that little kid. She was very entertained but when she saw the two of you, she widened her eyes in astonishment.

"What happened with you?" Sami asked looking at your faces.

"Oh well, the ice wanted to check how our faces tasted. Apparently we're delightfully warm. Or we were." Darren answered laughing along with you.

"You act as if you were my age!" Sami said shaking her head. Sometimes Sami seemed more mature than Darren and you.

"Hey, I'm just four years old. I'm just dressed up as if I were twenty-five." Darren said jokingly and Sami looked at him in disbelief. "Miss, don't look me that way! Let's go Sami; I invite the two of you to get some hot chocolate."

"Hot chocolate! With marshmallows?" Sami bounced excited, this time acting as the little girl she was and you smiled at her adorableness.

"Only if I get a hug." Darren said looking at Sami amused. Darren kneeled and waited for Sami to hug him. She hugged Darren tight and you just smiled widely. You loved to see Darren and Sami like that, it was completely lovely.

Darren, Sami and you went to get hot chocolate as Darren promised. You didn't know how this was possible, how all of a sudden it seemed as if Darren and you never argued. You were acting naturally and Darren was being very nice compared how he acted with you the last days. That was making you feel very cheerful but you knew you still had to talk to Darren to clear him everything, but now you had hopes again. You felt that you still had chances to make it work. But then Sami went to the bathroom and the situation between Darren and you turned tense and uncomfortable as before. Darren was quiet, focused on his hot chocolate and avoiding your gaze. That made you feel bewildered because it was a dramatic change. You didn't talk because you really didn't know what to say, because you couldn't understand why Darren suddenly was this cold again if you were doing more than well minutes ago.

"It was a funny day." You finally broke the silence.

"Yeah." Darren answered curtly.

"Is there something wrong? Because it seems you suddenly change your mood." You asked frowning and Darren looked at you raising an eyebrow.

"Look. Only because we just had a good moment minutes ago, it doesn't mean that things are fine now. Don't think that I forgot what you did. I wouldn't have done this if it wasn't for Sami." Darren said forthright and you looked down, biting your lower lip. "And yeah, Sami wasn't with us for a moment. And yeah, the two of us enjoyed ice skating; but I did it because after all we were there to enjoy the afternoon and I wanted Sami to interact with more people of her own age. But I think I made clear how things are between you and me."

"Yes, right. Darren, I'd like to talk to you about it."

"But I don't want. I got over all of this. What you have to say won't change what I think of you now. Listen, maybe I overreacted when I compared you with your mother and stuff. Maybe you're not a bad person, but you're not for me. I need an honest person who can trust on me and you just proved me that you can't do it. So please I don't want hear from you that you're sorry and that you want to make things work, because that's not gonna happen. We tried to make things work over and over again, and we never get it. Yes, we had amazing time together; yes, you made me feel happy; I won't deny it. But I imagined you as the person as I wanted to have next to me and not the real person you were, otherwise I'd have noticed that you were lying to me all the time we were together. And I'm not blaming you; I'm blaming myself also for being so blind. So just i don't want to hear what you have to say to me. Just forget about me and restart your life without me, you'll find someone who's accurate for you. That person isn't me, I don't want to make this work anymore; I don't want to force a relationship that isn't meant to be. It's over, and it's determined for me. It should be determined for you too." Darren said bleak but frigid.

Darren's words pierced your chest as if you were being stabbed. He was very resolute and he made clear that he wouldn't come back with you. You heart was breaking in million pieces and you felt terribly dejected. All that Matt and you talked about was in vain, because now you knew you had no chances. Maybe it was time to forget Darren as hard as it was going to be. You didn't know if you could forget him, but you couldn't live all your life wishing to have Darren back if he made clear that everything was over and that wasn't going to change. He didn't even want to listen what you had to tell him and that was unfair, but you couldn't do anything about it and less in that moment when you were broken and you couldn't talk without starting crying. You needed to go away and come back to your house to let out all the tears you were holding back in that moment. Then Sami returned and you looked away so she wouldn't see your teary eyes. You tried to contain yourself and pretend you were okay to not make Sami get worried and to not screw the afternoon.

"Well Sami, it's kind of late and we should come back." Darren said looking at Sami.

"Right now? Okay. Is auntie Ari coming with us?" Sami said, yawning.

"Sami I told you to not call her like that anymore." Darren said softly, uncomfortable. "And no. She's going to her apartment and we're going back to house. Surely Chuck is making dinner."

"She could join us." Sami proposed.

"No, Sami. Come on, grab your coat, is cold outside." Darren said, standing up and grabbing his coat.

"Fine. But we're gonna see her again soon, right?" Sami asked, yawning again.

"Maybe. Now hurry up or Chuck is gonna be in a rage if we're late." Darren said, helping Sami to put on her coat. Once both of them were ready, Darren looked at you. "Here, the money to pay the hot chocolate."

"No, please." You said shaking your head, still looking away.

"Yes, I invited. Take it." Darren said, leaving the money on the table. "I wish you a Merry Christmas ahead. Hurry, Sami. Say bye and let's go."

"Bye auntie Ari!" Sami said smiling at you and kissing your cheek. You hugged her tight. "I hope to see you soon."

"Bye, Sami. I hope the same. Remember that I love you" You whispered in her ear, with choked voice.

"I love you too." Sami said with a bright smile, before leaving.

Darren and Sami left you alone there, completely anguished. Maybe that was going to be the last time you were going to see Sami and Darren. Maybe that was the last hug you gave to Sami, the girl who was like your daughter for you. You saw also how the man who you loved was walking away from you to maybe never come back. Restart your life without them seemed to be impossible to do for you. You felt neglected as you felt when you were young and you lost your family. You were losing a family again.


FIVE DAYS LATER…

It was Christmas Eve and you were at Matt's apartment as you've planned. Your brother had called you to invite you to spend Christmas Eve with him, but you told him that you already had promised your friend to be with him. You haven't had the chance to meet him again and talk about all that was left open between you. You really wanted to talk to your brother but this wasn't a good moment for you because you were feeling a complete mess after the last time you saw Darren. You knew what you had to talk to your brother was going to be intense like the time you met him about a week ago, and you couldn't stand more intense things right now. So you explained your brother what happened between Darren and you and he understood the reasons why you couldn't talk to him yet, that he was going to wait for you whenever you were ready. He was really nice to you and he wished that all between Darren and you could work, because he saw you both really happy that day in the extravagant coffee shop. Regarding your brother, you were feeling good. Probably that was one of the few things that made you feel happy that moment. Somehow you felt that things between Jack and you could be fine, that finally both of you would be able to be real brothers again as you once used to be. Regarding Darren, you had no news from him. He didn't give you any signs of life. You had no idea how he was, where he was, if everything was alright, if he was happy now without you or not. You didn't know because he neither called you nor texted you. You once texted him because you couldn't stand not knowing anything from him; you only texted him asking how he was and how things were going with Sami; but he didn't reply you. You waited for his reply all day long but you didn't get anything, making you feel distressed. Undoubtedly, he was very determined and serious when he told you that he didn't want to know anything more about you, that all was over. You wondered how you could be this broken and Darren could have forgotten you so fast. Why was it so hard for you and it seemed it wasn't hard for him? You wished you could be like Darren now, maybe you could be feeling better at the moment. But you knew which was the reason why you were easily forgettable for him but he was an unforgettable person for you. It was because you rebuilt your life around him and with him, he was the actual reason why you were still here, and because he meant all the good things you had in your life. Unlike, you were just a simple girl for him who randomly showed up in his life, but you didn't do anything special for him, at least what you did for him was nothing compared to all he did for you; so it was obvious that he'd forget you easily and it'd be hard for you to forget him.

"You seem very thoughtful tonight, Shorty." Matt's voice said behind you.

You were leaning on the railing of the balcony, overlooking the big city of New York covered with snow and filled with millions of colorful lights that decorated the buildings. In the atmosphere felt the Christmas spirit listening to carols sung in the background. It was peaceful and cheerful to see everything like that, all very beautiful like a dreamlike. Matt stood behind you and he wrapped his arms around your waist, resting his chin on your shoulder and looking at the precious city before looking at you with a smile.

"Splendid, isn't it?" Matt whispered cheerfully in your ear.

"Stunning. This is what Christmas is, huh?" You said this time looking at Matt with a smile.

"Almost."

"What's that thing of almost?" You asked frowning and slightly amused.

"Well, let's see this way. We both love the theater, right? So, let's exemplify this as if it was a play. New York City, cold and covered with snow, Christmas lights coloring the city, a big Christmas tree that is highlighted in the city. That's the scenery." Matt said sparkly with a wide smile.

"Yes, I'm picturing it." You said looking at Matt amused and joyful. You loved those things about Matt.

"Perfect. Now you hear carols everywhere. That's the soundtrack of the play. But we need the actors. You and I, the starring actors of the big play of all time called The Christmas Eve." Matt said grabbing your hand and looking at you entertained.

"I like how it sounds so far." You said giggling.

"Of course yes, it's the best play ever seen." Matt said nodding and smiling. "But what would be the play without an audience to watch it? Who will be the audience?"

"I have no idea. Seems it's just you and me, but we're the starring actors." You said shrugging.

"Wrong answer." Matt said raising his eyebrows and looking at you mysteriously. "Sometimes the audience is hidden, sometimes the starring actors can't see that audience but it doesn't mean that it's not there."

"Do you mind to elaborate?" You asked intrigued and amused.

"It's not an usual play. It's innovative and spirited. The audience is ephemeral, unlike the usual plays where the actors are ephemeral. This time the actors are only you and I, and the audience is inconstant. The audience who is gonna be at the beginning of the play is gonna be different from the audience who's gonna be at the end of the play." Matt said mysteriously.

"Sounds...weird but interesting. But who is gonna be the people who's gonna be at the beginning and who's gonna be the people who's gonna be at the end?" You asked absorbed on Matt's explanation.

"Well, the actors never know who's gonna come to watch the play, right? That's the exciting part. Everything is a big mystery and we have to find it out as the play progresses." Matt winked and you chuckled.

"Oh, I see. It's like a big adventure, isn't it?"

"Exactly!" Matt exclaimed, clapping and you laughed out loud. "But hey, every play has a plot to be developed. Wanna know how it is?"

"Of course. Bring it on!" You said eager.

"Well, you know that a play can be in two ways. The one that is all planned and the one that is impromptu. Well, the interesting thing of this play is that is half planned and half impromptu. The planned part is that the two starring actors are gonna have an amazing Christmas dinner, they're gonna enjoy this Christmas as never before even though they're alone. Because the message we want to make there is that you don't need a lot of people to have a great time on Christmas. You can enjoy it even though it's a lonely Christmas; the spirit is what counts here. You don't need a lot of people, you don't need millions of presents or a huge dinner, and you don't need a huge Christmas tree or luxury decoration to feel the spirit of the Christmas. And do you know what that Christmas spirit is?" Matt asked you and you shook your head, very touching by Matt's words.

"No, I don't."

"To spend it with the people you love. Maybe you can't have all the people you love at the same time with you. Some people isn't in this world anymore, some of them are far away, some people are apart and as much as you'd want to be with them you can't, some people just decided to spend the Christmas with other people because their family has grown. But it doesn't mean that we aren't spending Christmas with them, as long as we keep them in our heart and mind. That way you celebrate Christmas with all the people you love, and you don't need anything else because you know you're happy for that." Matt said adorably and you looked at him with teary eyes.

You knew why Matt was saying all of this to you and you were very thankful that he was saying all that in a subtle way. It seemed as if Matt could read your mind, he could always sense what you were thinking or feeling and he always knew what to say. He knew that for you Christmas was actually a sad day; because your father wasn't here anymore; because you didn't have a family to spend it, and because Darren and Sami were now apart. But he was changing your point of view, he was making you see Christmas as you should since long ago; and he was right. You turned around to face Matt and you grabbed his hands, looking at him deep in his eyes while he smiled at you.

"That was beautiful." You said softly with a slight smile.

"Yeah, the whole plot of the play is beautiful. But that's not everything. The starring actress, that is, you; is gonna get a present from the starring actor, that is, me. But before it, they're gonna have that Christmas dinner. After the starring actress gets the present from the starring actor, everything is gonna turn into an impromptu play. They don't know what is gonna happen; they'll let the story unfold naturally, without having to worry about following a script. The question is...Will they finally find out what the real meaning of Christmas is? And that's the main topic of the play. What do you think about it? Will you take it?" Matt asked you expectant and looking at you kindly.

"Well, I have to talk to my manager. But I must admit that I'm quite interested of portraying that role-play." You said captivatingly, raising an eyebrow amused.

"Well played. This time we can skip the manager part. You're free to take you decision." Matt winked and laughed softly.

"Then, I take it. When do we start?" You asked enthusiastic.

"Perfect! We start right now, if you don't mind."

"I don't mind at all. Let's do this."

"We've got this on the bag." Matt winked and laughed along with you.

Matt led you to the dining room. He had already everything prepared and he had refused to get any kind of help. He had done dinner by himself, he set the table, and he decorated the whole room. You didn't celebrate Christmas since ten years ago and now you were doing it, and you weren't alone on that date; you were with your best friend who made all of this for you. A huge feeling of happiness came over your body when you stopped to think about it. Yes, you have imagined spend that day with Darren and Sami; but as Matt said, they were with you in your heart and mind, so you didn't feel so down about it as minutes ago. Matt and you had an amazing Christmas dinner full of anecdotes, laughter, stories, exchange of views on certain issues, among other things. You forgot about all the bad things and you just let yourself enjoy the excellent moment you were spending with Matt.

"We're gonna change the traditional way of celebrating Christmas to be more spontaneous and unpredictable." Matt said, after he finished eating dinner.

"What?" You choked with the wine you were drinking, laughing senseless. You were a little tipsy and so was Matt.

"Yeah, check the time. It's almost midnight. When the clock strikes midnight, you're gonna get your present. Santa gave me it this morning. I met Santa, wow! He must have been really lost, because...since when Santa gives the presents on Christmas Eve? And since when Santa shows up in front of someone? He usually is very stealthy!" Matt exclaimed exaggeratedly and you burst of laughter.

"We're in presence of a hip Santa!" You laughed hard along with Matt.

"Look, look, look! It's midnight! MERRY CHRISTMAS!" Matt yelled excited and he stood up to hug you tight while you started to laugh.

This wasn't what you planned for Christmas, this wasn't what you expected on Christmas a year ago; but it was happening. You were being extremely happy and no one could take away that happiness and that wide smile you had in that moment. You hugged him back, and suddenly you started to shed some tears of joy. You saw Matt and you found that Matt was also shedding some tears of joy. You didn't know if this was due to alcohol or if it was due the both of you were really happy to have each other in that cold and white Christmas. But you knew that moment was very special, a moment you won't forget; because this was what a really Christmas was supposed to be, because this was you very first real Christmas in years. And you knew it was the same for Matt, because Matt didn't have a family to celebrate it since his parents reject him for being gay. You knew this was very important for Matt. In that moment anything else mattered, there were no bad moments on your minds; it was just him and you, with nothing special or luxurious but the fact to spend this day with a person you truly loved. Matt looked for something on his pocket and then he gave you a small gift box, with a wide smile on his face.

"Merry Christmas, Shorty." Matt said sweetly and you smiled at him with teary eyes.

You opened the small gift box that Matt gave to you. It was a fine silver drama mask necklace, with your name and his name engraved on the back. It was precious and surely it was very expensive. You couldn't accept it; you really didn't like people spending their money on you, and more when it was something expensive. You looked up to Matt with teary eyes and a fond smile.

"I know it isn't a big deal. But I saw it and I thought you'd like it since both of us love drama. And our names are engraved. It's just a little thing that I wanted you to keep as reminder that I'm gonna be always with you, in good and bad times. I'm gonna be always your friend, because you became my best friend and you mean a lot to me. And I'm being all sappy and stuff, but it's true." Matt said smiling affectionately at you.

"Matt, I love you." You said with choked voice and you hugged him tight, shedding some tears on his shoulder. "I have something for you too. It isn't as amazing as this…" You said pointing the necklace that now was on your neck. "But it's something." You smiled at Matt and you looked for the gift you bought the day you met Darren. "Here it is."

"You didn't have to, Shorty." Matt said, receiving the gift box.

"Oh, bullshit. Just open it!" You smiled and Matt opened his gift.

"Oh no, you didn't!" Matt said laughing when he saw your present. "What's up with you and your funny gifts? Oh damn, you're awesome. This is awesome!"

"You know there's nothing better than a funny gift." You laughed along with him. "Like it?"

"As if I couldn't!" Matt said, taking off his t-shirt to wear the new one you gave him, emblazoned with a heart and a cock. "How do I look?" Matt said laughing with a grimace sexy.

"If I were a boy, I'd be so into you." You winked at him and both of you started to laugh.

"I'm gonna keep it in mind. If you turn into a boy, just call me." Matt winked seductively and he started to laugh out loud.

Then your phone started to buzz. In that moment Matt tried to control his laughter and so did you before checking who was calling you. Probably it was your brother and you didn't want him to hear you laughing uncontrollably because he'd know you were tipsy. You shushed Matt and then you checked who the person who was calling was. Your laugh disappeared and your heart started to beat fast because of your nerves when you saw Darren's name.

"Why the face, Shorty? Just answer the call!" Matt said softly and you shook you head, serious. "Who is it?" Matt asked, this time gingerly and curious.

"Darren." You whispered looking at your phone still buzzing.

"Answer your phone!" Matt exclaimed, hurrying you.

"No, Matt, no! I can't! I was having a good time and no...What if he doesn't have something nice to say? Things aren't good between us!" You said panicking while your phone was still buzzing.

"Listen. Remember what I said about the play turning into an impromptu play? Remember what I told you about the ephemeral audience? Well, Darren is the audience now and this is the impromptu play. You'd never know how it's gonna end if you don't find it out. It could be a good thing. Come on, answer your phone!" Matt said reassuringly and encouragingly.

"Okay, fine." You said looking at Matt in horror, trying to control your nerves before answering. "Hello?"

"Oh goddammit! Why did it take too long to answer?" Darren's voice said, slurred. "It seemed light years, man!"

"Sorry, I was...busy."

"Busy? Oh got it, you're with other man, aren't you? I don't even know why I'm calling you. Why am I calling you? You must be having fun with that guy and I'm here, bothering you. Put him on the phone, I want to talk with that guy!" Darren's voice said a little upset, still slurred.

"I'm not. Darren, are you drunk?" You asked suspiciously.

"What's the matter if I'm drunk or not! Screw that, screw everything, screw you!" Darren's voice said frustrated, still slurred. Definitely he was drunk. "Yes, screw you...that's it. I told myself to screw you, but here I am, calling you. You know why?"

"No." You answered curtly, trying to ignore those words from Darren.

"Because you played with me, you were so bitchy but I can't get over you. All the things I've said to you on the snack bar, it was all a huge bullshit. Not really. I've said the truth, but the truth is also I can't take you off my mind. Why do you have to pop in my mind all the fucking time? You were so fucking beautiful that day. I wanted to kiss you. But you're not what I think you are. And yet I still miss you. Why? I love you, I love you so much. But I don't even know if I love you, because you're not you. And you hurt the other day when we were ice skating. Are you okay? I worried so much when you fell. And you told me you didn't know how to ice skate, not even roller skate! How in the hell someone doesn't know how to do it? And I was a totally fool and douchebag because I haven't thought about your childhood that moment. That broke my heart; thinking about all the things you missed. And I wanted to make you happy, to give you all the things you didn't have. But I can't do it because I have to forget you. Damn, get out of my life! Help me to forget you!" Darren rambled slurred, sounding frustrated and desperate. You tried to follow all he was saying, but he was talking really fast and he was rambling so much that it was hard for you to understand. But what you heard was hurting you, even though you knew he was drunk.

"Slow down, Darren. I can't understand all you say." You said quiet, trying to hide how gloomy you were feeling. "Where are you now?"

"Why would I tell you where I am? I won't say it. I don't want you to come over where I am. Stop it, stop texting me. It fucking hurts to get a text message from you and not replying it. I don't want to hear from you. But at the same time I want to hear from you. Oh holy shit, I'm so fucking screwed." Darren sighed in frustration and he remained silent for a while. "I need you. I'm driving to your apartment. I want to be with you. It's fucking Christmas and I've been waiting for this day for so long, to spend it with you. And look at us! We're not together. Everything went to hell and I didn't have this on mind. I broke up with you. Why the hell did I do that? Do you have any idea of how hard it was for me? Seeing you sad face when I broke up with you, it destroyed me. But it was what had to be done. I've imagined both of us in the future, happy, having a family, being together; not like this shit. It's so fucking unfair, you know? You could have told me your real name, I'd have understood you; but you didn't and that lie was what killed me, what killed our relationship. But I need you, so I'm driving to your place."

"Darren, you're drunk! You can't drive!" You squealed edgily, getting very nervous.

"I'm not that drunk and I can perfectly drive. I need to see you." Darren said determined, still slurred.

"Darren." You said strictly. You needed to be determined because Darren really couldn't drive while drunk; he could end up in a car accident and you wouldn't forgive yourself for not preventing it. "Stop the car right now."

"I won't do it. Don't you want to see me as well? Don't you miss me as well? I miss you like hell and I want to spend Christmas with you as I've planned." Darren said stubbornly, babbling.

"If you don't stop the car right now you won't see me never again, I swear." You said rigorously, trying to stop Darren.

"Maybe I should keep driving then. After all that's what I need, never see you again. That way I'd forget you; that way maybe I'm gonna be able to get over you. Shit, I don't even know what to do; I've never been this insecure before." Darren said doubtfully.

"Then if you keep driving I'm gonna keep popping in your life, so you won't be able to forget me." You said brusquely, trying very hard to convince Darren to stop; the situation was freaking you out.

"But I also want you in my life. See? The fuck! I can't make a decision. Fuck my life." Darren complained angrily.

"Fuck, Darren! Stop the damn car right now and don't argue! Right now!" You yelled authoritatively.

"Woah!" Darren exclaimed, apparently surprised by your authoritarian tone. "Fine."

"Good." You said more relaxed now you heard Darren parking the car, completely stopping the car. "Where are you?"

"I don't even know where I am! I only want you to be with me. I can't drive but please come over. Please." Darren begged and stammered with difficulty because of alcohol.

"I wouldn't be able to do so if you don't tell me where you are." You said clearly, trying to find out where Darren was because you couldn't leave him alone while he was drunk.

"If I tell you…Would you promise to come here?" Darren asked hoarsely.

"Yes, just tell me where you are. Something. Tell me what you see around."

"Uhmm…" Darren muttered with difficulty, apparently he was trying to recognize something. "I see… a weird building, white; it looks like a white ribbon curled into a cylindrical stack. I don't know man it seems a spring. Who would build something like that? I have the feeling that if I climb the top I'm gonna start bouncing, man." Darren said incredulous and delirious.

"Darren, please focus on describing where you are." You said roundly.

"Yeah, right. Okay that weird building is on my left, it's between two rectangular buildings. On my right there's a lake. I think is Central Park. Yeah, and I see a bus stop sign. It spells M1, M2, M3 and M4. I don't know this place is so familiar." Darren said confused.

"Yes, that's because you're in Upper East Side, surely 5th Avenue. And yes, what you're seeing on your right is the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir and on your left you're seeing the Solomon Guggenheim Museum." You said, also thinking were Darren was. You were almost sure he was there.

"How do you know all those things? Damn, you're good." Darren said hoarsely and surprised.

"Darren, please listen. Stay right there, please don't move." You said firmly and clearly.

"Yes. Stay here, don't move. Noted. I'll wait for you, please come." Darren begged slurred.

"Yes, just stay there."

"Will do. See ya." Darren affirmed and then he hung up.

You left your phone aside and you started to walk around Matt's apartment hysterically. You felt a lot of feelings during the conversation, but there was a thing that was certain: it wasn't a nice conversation. Darren was drunk, he was driving in that condition, you didn't know if he heard you clearly, you didn't know what he would do, if he was going to stay there or not. He also told you very hurtful things; he was completely confused and he told you things that contradict. At this point you didn't know what Darren's feelings were; maybe he just said all of that because he was drunk. And what would you do? You couldn't leave Darren there alone but you weren't sure if you should meet him. He almost begged you to go there; but what would happen in case you go and then you have an argument? It'd be the same situation, Darren would want to drive away to whatever he was staying; and he was drunk and he couldn't do it. And you didn't even know how to drive to help him or drive him to his house.

"Oh shit." You thought out loud.

"Judging by your face and mood I assume that things haven't gone fine." Matt said raising his eyebrows, and looking how you were walking hysterically from one side to another of the room.

"He's drunk, Matt. And he was driving to my apartment, and he didn't even go to the right way. He had no idea where he was. He didn't even recognize the Central Park and the Solomon Guggenheim Museum!" You answered altered.

"Calm down, Shorty." Matt said reassuringly, still looking at you walking hysterically. Then he approached you and he placed his hands on your shoulders to stop you. "Stop walking, just calm down. Is he there now?"

"Yes, he's there! But I don't know if he's gonna stay there or not. He asked me to go there, he almost begged me that he wanted to see me, but he also said hurtful things. Damn, Matt! What am I supposed to do?" You said scrambled and flurried.

"First of all you have to chill out." Matt said looking at you intently and you sighed, trying to do so. "And I can go with you to pick Darren up. I don't have a car but we can take the subway or the bus. Or the other option is that you can call a relative, his brother maybe who's in the city as you told me."

"Yes. Chuck. I could call him and explain everything. Maybe that's the best idea. Yes, it could work." You said thoughtful and Matt nodded.

"Yes, I think it is. Just call him." Matt said quietly.

You thought it for a little bit more and you took a deep breath before grabbing your phone. You weren't completely sure about this because you didn't want to bother Chuck and less in Christmas; but it was going to be the best idea. Decided now, you started to call Chuck. It didn't take so long till Chuck answered.

"Well, well. Look who is it! Merry Christmas, mysterious girl! How are you doing? I miss seeing your face." Chuck's voice said cheerfully.

"Merry Christmas, Chuck." You said smiling slightly. "I'm fine…actually…"

"Is it because of Darren?" Chuck interrupted you, immediately capturing what you were trying to say.

"Yes."

"What did he tell you now? Crap, I told him to stop treating you bad. I'm gonna kill him." Chuck said a bit upset. Apparently Chuck was aware of what had happened between Darren and you; yet he was being nice to you and you wondered why. But it wasn't the right time to be thinking about it now.

"No, no, no. It's not that." You said quickly, trying to control the nerves you were feeling again. "Darren called me and he's drunk."

"Yeah, I know. I've never seen him drinking like that. I'm sorry he called you, I hope he didn't say anything inappropriate." Chuck apologized for Darren.

"No, it's fine. The fact is that Darren was driving to my apartment while drunk. He didn't even know where he was and I…"

"What the fuck? That's not possible. Darren was with us minutes ago. He couldn't be driving to your apartment." Chuck said this time worried and confused.

"Well, he was. I forced him to stop the car. He's in the 5th avenue at 89th Street, right where the Solomon Guggenheim Museum is. I can't go for him, I don't have a car and I don't even know how to drive. So I just…I didn't want to bother you but…"

"Hey, it's alright. He shouldn't have called you and make you worry like this. That asshole, I don't even know when he left the house; he was very sneaky. I'm going to kick him in the eye twice." Chuck said worried and upset. "Thank you, for telling me. I'll pick him up, don't worry, okay?"

"Alright. And thank you for doing this, Chuck." You said a bit more relaxed now.

"No, it's okay. Sorry because of his stupid behavior. He's gonna listen to me after this." Chuck said getting rattled. "And hey, whatever happened between Darren and you, it doesn't mean we can't see each other sometime. I hope to see you soon."

"Yeah. I hope the same, Chuck. Guess I'm gonna see you soon." You said smiling slightly. "Thanks, Chuck. Let me know if he's alright, please?"

"Will do. Smell ya, mysterious girl!" Chuck said before hanging up.

You sighed more relaxed once you finished talking to Chuck. Now you knew he was going to pick Darren up and hopefully Darren was still there, waiting for you. It was a bunch of feelings and then suddenly you felt extremely tired. You sank into the couch, sighing and grabbing your head, which was hurting like hell. Matt sat next to you and he gently started to caress your hair.

"Maybe not the best Christmas, but at least was full of unexpected events." Matt said smiling slightly, trying to picture the positive way of the situation.

"I'm sorry Matt, I screwed it all." You apologized frankly.

"Hey, no! It's cool for me. The one who matters here is you, if you're alright."

"I'm not. I mean, yes I was having a blast with you until Darren called. I wish we could have finished this day in a good way."

"I know how. Going to sleep now and hanging out together tomorrow morning. New day, new mood." Matt said trying to cheer you up and you smiled fondly at him. "You can stay here tonight, I don't mind."

"I'd like that, Matt. Thank you."

"Sure. Come here." Matt said smiling and he hugged you tight until you fell asleep in his arms.


You didn't wake up when Matt took you to his bedroom. You didn't even wake up when Matt changed your clothes to sleep more comfortable on his bed, when he covered you with his quilt. You didn't wake up when Matt kissed your forehead wishing you goodnight. But you woke up when your phone started to buzz. Sleepy and disconcerted, you answered it before checking who it was.

"You promised me to come over here! You promised me you were going to come, not Chuck. Why the hell is Chuck here and you aren't? Dammit!" Darren's voice said upset slurred. You suddenly got wide awake.

"Darren..." You started to say hoarsely.

"Screw you! Fuck off and get lost! I was waiting for you and you sent Chuck to come for me. What the hell?"

"Darren, what are you doing? Are you calling her? Holy shit, Darren, gimme your phone!" Chuck's voice said angry.

"Kiss my ass, Chuck! It's my phone and I do whatever I want with it." Darren's voice said also angry. You heard a struggle and the both of them yelling at each other. "Gimme my phone back, Charles! Fuck, gimme it, what are you doi..."

Then apparently Chuck hung up because you didn't hear anything else but the silence of the bedroom. If things were screwed already, now it was worse. Darren was completely angry and he never before cursed at you the way he just has done. Your head was spinning and everything was blurred. Definitely things never go the way you planned it and that just sucked. Minutes later you got a text message.

From Chuck: I'm sorry for what has recently happened. Darren's fine, drunk, but he's safe. Angry and stupid; but only because of the alcohol. Forget about all he said to you, he barely can think properly. Thanks for everything, smell ya!

To Chuck: Thanks for letting me know so. I'm glad he's fine; please take care of him and you. And thank you.

You sighed because you knew that even though Darren was drunk, he'd remember something about all that happened that night. And you knew that things were getting worse over time. Getting him back now seemed very hard and it seemed likely to happen in the very distant future. You wished you could have some kind of magic to make everything right and just to be with Darren like months ago. But that wasn't going to happen and that brought you down.


FOUR DAYS LATER…

"Let's catch up about all that happened between Darren and you. I wanna know everything."

April and you were in a Starbucks shop, after a long time you didn't see each other. You really missed her and you weren't in mood to screw your time together with all the drama that happened between Darren and you. She deserved to know, but not now, because this was being a good day for you. You looked away and ate a wafer roll filled with chocolate, playing the fool.

"Shorty..." April insisted persuasive, looking at you fixedly.

"April, please. I don't want to screw this day with drama. Just let's enjoy the day." You tried to say convincingly.

"Screw the day? Oh please. Just tell me, I wanna know. And judging by what you said, I guess things aren't going well. Put me up!"

"It's so long. And I don't even know where to start; it's like a host of things that happened in the last days."

"I have all day free. We have time." April said eloquently.

"Alright." You sighed, giving up.

You started telling April all that happened when Darren came to NYC more than two weeks ago. You got surprised of all that happened only in just almost two weeks. Everything seemed so intense and very bad, that only two weeks seemed a very short time judging by all that happened and the way you were feeling. How could you miss so much someone in a very short time? It was almost ridiculous, but you couldn't help it. It was heartrending being apart from Darren. Yes, you've been separated from him for months, when you were in NYC and he was in LA; but that was different because you were fine and you texted and called each other almost all the time; and now you were ignoring each other, no one knew anything about each other, you were distant and cold and that was what was heartbreaking. April listened to you very intently and she didn't say anything while you were telling her the whole story. When you finished, April was looking at you in shock, raising her eyebrows in astonishment.

"Oh well, that really sucks." April finally said, still stunned. "After the last time he called you, did you text him or something?"

"Yes, I did."

"And well?" April asked curious.

"He didn't reply me, as he's been doing all this time." You answered sadly, looking down.

"Damn, this is hard." April said frowning and really concerned. "Shorty, you can't keep being like this. It's hurting you."

"I know. But what else can I do? I can't help it." You exclaimed tormented.

"You need to get over him." April said roundly, looking at you sadly.

"I can't do that, April. I love him as I never loved anyone else." You said desperate.

"Yes, you can do that. It's gonna be really hard, but is what you have to do. Darren is trying to forget you, Shorty. He doesn't want to come back with you and he made it clear. He told you so several times, he even ignores your texts, he doesn't want to see you, and he told you very harsh things. He's hurting you. Maybe his intention is not to hurt you, but he's doing so because you love him so much and you can't stop thinking about him while he keeps ignoring you. You're thinking about him, but...is he thinking about you? I don't think so, Shorty. Otherwise he'd have replied you at least one text message. He's trying to move on without you. Now he's chasing his own dreams, you're chasing him. And the question is...who's chasing you?" April said pitiful but honestly.

"Nobody." You answered in a whisper, broken when you realized how the situation actually was. Very deep in your heart you knew it, but you didn't want to see it. You needed someone to tell you so to admit it.

"Can you see it? You're being down because of someone who maybe already forgot about you. It's time to keep going, and without him this time, Shorty. No one else here is hurt but only yourself because you can't leave behind something that is already determined and it's not gonna change, judging by what he said. A lot of people are still out there; ready to give their love to you and to get your love. Darren isn't the only man in earth. Yes, he was your first love and you'll never forget him, but it's over. It's over for him, Shorty. You have to admit it and once you do it, you'd be able to move on and be open to give your love to someone else. You're a lovely person; many people would fall in love with you if you only open your heart. Come on, even Matt told me if he weren't gay, you'd be the perfect couple for him, because you're an amazing person." April said frankly, and trying to cheer you up because you were feeling miserable. "I'm sorry I'm being tough. But I'm your friend and I don't want to see you sad; and I don't want to try to make you feel better by lying you and saying that Darren and you are gonna work, because possibly it won't happen. And if it comes to work, it'd happen naturally. Let it flow without forcing and let the wind take you in the direction that would lead you naturally. It's gonna happen if it has to happen. But now you're forcing this, you're trying hard over and over to get him back and it's not working, and that frustrates you and makes you feel distressed. Respect yourself; it's time to think about you and only you. It's not worth keep shedding tears for someone who doesn't love you anymore. Move on. Maybe you'd find someone who's gonna surprise you and is gonna give you all the love you deserve." April said encouragingly.

"Maybe you're right. But what if Darren decides to see me again? What if he regrets? What if he wants to try it again? I wouldn't be able to reject him." You said gloomy, but a bit better than minutes before.

"Then, try it. If he wants the same than you, only if he tells you he wants to try it again and both Darren and you are very sure about it; then try it. But in the meantime, enjoy yourself and all you have, all you have to live for and all the new things that remain to be found out for you." April said with a kind smile and she wiped away the tears that now were slowly falling down your face. "And smile. It's always enchanting seeing you smiling."

"Thank you, April. I promise I'm going to try it." You smiled slightly and April smiled widely. "And you weren't tough, maybe just a bit. But you were just being a good friend, making me see what I didn't want to see."

"That's what friends are for." April said, winking and grabbing your hand. "Friends are the biggest pain in the ass."

"Hell yeah." You said this time laughing along with April. Then your phone started to buzz and you got gloomy again when you saw who was.

"What's wrong?" April asked confused.

"It's Darren. Darren is calling me. Damn April, just in this moment!" You exclaimed in disbelief.

"Answer him. Maybe he regretted. And if not, it's gonna be a kind of test to see if you can go ahead without him." April said encouragingly.

"You're right. I can do this." You said determined and self-confident for the very first time in a while.

You took a deep breath before answering the phone. Your hands were trembling and you were freaking out. But you were self-confident, you forgot all the bad things, you decided to move on. And this was the best way to see if you could get it, and you weren't going to give up on that easily. You cleared your throat before talking with the man you loved with your entire soul but with whom you needed to get over.

"Hello?"

"I need you. I know things between us are screwed, but it's about Sami. She's really bad and I need you." Darren's voice sounded desperate and edgy. "I don't know how to do this without you."

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