Tina’s birthday comes a month later and she likes to think that it brings her happiness and new beginnings. This year, however, she feels like it marks another step closer to a moment of dread.
Lima Autism Center takes its staff’s birthdays pretty seriously. The staff meeting at the end of the month always involves a birthday cake and a mass song and lots of well-wishes. Tina’s birthday is no exception, except Mike steps it up a notch and makes her go around the Center retrieving little clues from all the participants by doing tasks with them. The staff members giggle as Tina starts off with getting Brittany to draw a credible-looking monkey just by describing the animal to her without saying the word ‘monkey’. Brittany’s incredible intelligent when it comes to art though – the mention of a long tail, brown fur, hands and round ears gets her drawing the cutest monkey ever, and everyone is distracted momentarily by cooing over it. Brittany then hands over Tina’s next clue, which is to find Howard Bamboo.
Tina’s next task involves building a six-level tower card with Howard. Through her guidance, he’s able to put aside being rather nervous with all the attention and even as Tina’s cards fall flat, he doesn’t complain and helps her put it upright again.
“We should do this for every single birthday!” yells Tina, once Howard and her are done, and the staff cheers while Mike groans, “I can’t keep thinking of new stuff!”
Sugar completes her task of matching latest outfits to the brands, while Finn successfully chips off a wood block in five minutes to produce a vague figurine (“The next time, we’re hitting four minutes,” Ken adds gruffly). Sam gets through a mini-spelling bee without getting too agitated as Tina works the consonant and vowel sounds with him. By the time Tina is directed to Artie, she’s exhausted – though she has to admit it was good fun.
But Artie isn’t anywhere to be found. He’s not in Room No. 3, nor is he in the music room. Tina is confused as she scours the canteen but still can’t find him. Her heartbeat starts to race as she wonders...
Mike looks equally perplexed. “I told Santana to pass it to him and make him stay in the room!”
“Oh, I forgot about the last part. I handed it to him and he said he had a headache and wanted to go back,” says Santana, nonchalantly.
Tina heaves a mental sigh of relief.
“And you conveniently forgot to mention that till now?” Mike looks at her, annoyed.
“It’s okay!” says Tina, brightly. “I’m assuming you still have the final clue, Santana.”
Santana hands it over with a sly grin, and Tina opens the envelope up to find an invitation to an extremely fancy Italian restaurant in Central Lima. She blushes a brilliant red as all her colleagues grin and giggle at her, while Mike pulls her in for a quick hug and tells her he’s already got her mom to pick out a nice dress for her and she can get it from his car to change into later.
Sue announces that she still has more things to settle with a few staff members, including Mike, much to his dismay. He hands her his car keys and tells her to go change first. However, when Tina goes to her desk to pack up, she turns to look at Santana curiously.
“Artie,” says Tina. “He had a headache? Is he okay?”
“He’s fine,” says Santana, eyes still glued to her computer as she types.
“Was he... was he upset or anything? Did you take him today or something? Was he doing the usual stuff or the musical or you know... anything out of the ordinary?” Tina pauses, before wondering aloud, “Did he say anything weird to you?”
Santana swivels around in her chair. “Oh for God’s sake, why is this thing between the two of you unsettled?”
“What thing?” demands Tina, even though she knows very well what Santana is saying.
“You’re worrying a hell out of a... oh, Jesus!” Santana throws up her hands. “You’re crazy, Lady Chang.”
“He’s my friend,” says Tina, adamantly.
“There isn’t a rule that stipulates that friends can’t be made, right? Like you and –”
“Don’t throw Brittany at me!” warns Santana.
“I think I’ll go and see him,” says Tina, taking her bag.
“Hey, hold up, what about your date?” Santana points to another bag, the one with her dress inside.
“I won’t take long!”
She runs to the dorms and the security guard is rather disgruntled about letting her visit Artie so many times, but relents anyway. When she reaches the corridor, she can hear the strains of a familiar tune,
You are my lucky star
I saw you from afar
Two lovely eyes at me
They were gleaming
I was starstruck
Tina makes her way to Artie’s room, straightens her posture and knocks on the door.
The strumming and singing stops abruptly. “Come in.”
Tina pushes open the door. Her gaze first lands on the wall before her – it’s covered in A4-size pieces of paper. What astounds her is that every piece of paper is covered with a colorful piece of drawing. It’s simply rendered, thin limbs and figures with a touch of color, people doing things, moving around, a blue dress and mustard-colored blazer featured most often. As her eyes flick over the pieces, she realizes what story it’s telling.
It’s the story of West Side Story.
Her gaze lowers to Artie seated on the bed with the guitar in his hands, eyes fixed on her. His wheelchair is by the side with a stack of musical book scores on the seat. The Singin’ In The Rain book is wide-open on a music stand before him.
She turns to see that the other wall has a big noticeboard on which he has plastered various profit-and-loss table templates of various musicals. In the center is an A3 size stack pinned with a large thumbtack, entitled ‘ESTELLA’.
By his bed is a mantelpiece where there are various photograph frames lined up neatly, equidistant from one another. Photographs of Artie when he was a little boy – when he could walk... of him and his parents... his parents alone... of him and a few children... none of the photographs showed him beyond the age of eight.
“I miss them.” Artie’s raw voice cuts through her thick thoughts and brings her gaze back to him. “I wish they can watch me direct the musical.”
Tina sits down at the edge of the bed. Her eyes go back to the drawings on the wall. “Did... did you draw those?”
He follows her gaze. “Yes.”
Tina lets out a tiny gasp. “Artie, what other things can you do?”
“I can do a lot of things.”
The strength in his voice feels unfamiliar, yet she feels the power in it, the same power he has when he gets angry over something. All that rage and hurt in him, now translated into something so strong and determined.
“They wanted to take away the photographs,” says Artie, his voice still thick. “They put everything into big boxes and put them in a truck. They wanted to move me away but I was holding onto all the photographs. I didn’t let them take it. They can’t have it.”
“Artie,” says Tina, quietly. “Those photographs are yours to keep. You had every right.”
“Is it bad? Many people say it’s bad to hold onto the past.”
Happiness, sadness, anger... Artie has learnt to adjust his voice volume and strength accordingly to those emotions, but it never quite rings the same as most others. Tina occasionally wonders if the emotion that gets conveyed is really his own or out of her own imagination. Now is one of those moments that she could only be very sure that he was, undoubtedly, sad.
“It’s the past that makes you so much stronger,” says Tina, angling herself to face him. “So many people in your position would have been so devastated, they would have quit and said I can’t go on with life. But you kept on going, even when people laughed at you. You held onto what your parents have said and did for you in the past, and it’s what has kept you going all this while.”
“But life is not better,” says Artie, as he takes down a photograph of him and his parents. “If I let them go, maybe I’ll be happier.”
“You won’t be,” Tina interjects immediately. “You love them so much, Artie. Don’t.”
He looks at her, his eyes full of emotion. “I love them, but they’re gone. If I keep looking at these photographs, I remember them and I get sad. I don’t want to be sad, Tina. I’m tired of being sad.”
Tina can’t help inching forward to hold his hands. They fit right in hers; they hold onto her. But the words are all stuck at the back of her throat. So she comforts him the only way she knows how. She pulls him into an embrace and runs her hands down his back.
“You’re one of the strongest people I’ve ever met,” whispers Tina, as Artie clings onto her. “There are so many people out there who believe in you and love you.”
“I know,” comes the muffled reply.
Then he pulls back and looks at Tina. Then suddenly, his hand is millimeters away from her face. He reaches out to tuck a stray strand of hair back behind her ears, and his the split second of contact between his finger and her ear makes her shudder slightly.
She doesn’t move away. She should, but she doesn’t, because she wants – she needs that look in his eyes. It’s strong, resolute and intense... yet, tender and filled with wonder all at once. Sometimes, she thinks it’s just the brilliant blue of his eyes that makes her think his gaze is a lot more than blankness. But now, the mix of strength and innocence before her is so riveting and pure and real that it makes her heart ache. His fingers are ghosting around the side of her face and it’s like time has stopped.
He’s the one who breaks away first. His eyes dart to the ground, where Tina has placed her bags of presents from the staff. “What’s that?”
Tina blinks rapidly, then focuses her gaze on his object of interest. “Oh. Um. Birthday presents.”
“It’s your birthday today?” His pitch inclines a little high towards the end.
He breaks out into a soft smile as he picks up the guitar once again. Then he softly hums the birthday song as he strums. Tina can’t help matching his smile as she listens.
“Did you make a wish?” Artie asks, once he has finished.
Tina stops clapping. “Um. Yeah.”
“What did you wish for?”
Tina grins. “It’s not going to come true if I tell you.”
“Oh. But can I tell you my wish for you?”
“Why would you wish for me?”
“People give well-wishes, don’t they?”
Tina can’t argue with that, so he continues, “I wish that you will also make your dreams come true.”
“You like singing and dancing too.”
Tina draws in a sharp breath, then she looks away. “I... I have to go.”
“You don’t?” Artie sounds confused.
“No, I do, you’re right,” says Tina, shakily. “It’s just that I usually have to point it out to people.”
“Artie, I really have to go.”
“Okay,” he says, with a mild dramatic sigh. “Do you want anything else for your birthday?”
Tina chuckles. “And what would you give?”
Artie stares at her, then says quietly. “Close your eyes.”
Tina’s not sure why she feels so obliging towards him at the moment. Maybe it’s his eyes. Maybe it’s his voice, which is filled with a raw and charming sense of sincerity. She isn’t sure why she didn’t expect it, but when it comes, she knows deep inside that she did.
His lips are gentle, yet rigid against hers. Then inexplicably, she presses back lightly and the rigidity dissipates. In its place is a softness and tenderness that vibrates under her skin.
The sharp edge of his spectacles cut into her nose and she’s suddenly highly aware that Artie has his eyes closed and is kiss–
Tina pulls back sharply, her fingers flying to her lips. Artie’s eyes flutter open slowly, but she doesn’t want to see the expression in there. She doesn’t want to know what her moment of foolishness has done to him, to herself... all she knows is that she has to get out of there. The usual ‘Goodbye’ is lost in the wind as she dashes out with her bags down the corridor. When she’s reached the foot of the stairs, she’s knocked out of breath and can only lean against the wall to catch it all back.
But she can’t. She can’t catch anything back.
Tina Cohen-Chang... what the hell are you doing?
Upstairs, the soft strains of song continue,
You’re all my lucky charm
I’m lucky in your arms
You’ve opened Heaven’s portal
Here on Earth for this poor mortal
You are my lucky star...
Tina swallows hard and makes her way to the staff room. Mike is waiting there patiently, and the bag with the dress is on her seat like incriminating evidence.
“Tina!” Mike notices her at once, and worry is etched into his face. “Where did you go? I thought you –”
He stops abruptly and concern overtakes him. “Are you okay? You look so pale.”
Santana shoots her a suspicious look from the side.
“I... I’m so sorry, Mike,” Tina whispers. “But I’m suddenly feeling really, really unwell. I need to... I just need to...”
“No problem, I’ll send you home,” says Mike, but Santana suddenly interjects, “I’ll do it.”
“No buts, Changster, your man-boobs are not enough to provide sufficient absorbent material for lady crying.”
Mike is stunned into silence.
In the car, Tina just keeps staring out of the window. Her head is too heavy to think anymore, until Santana breaks through the haze with her cutting words,
“You’re not being fair to either. I hope you know it.”
Tina can’t even bother to correct Santana that there is no issue here, there’s no question of fairness or the lack of it, Artie and I are just mentee and therapist and my boyfriend is Mike... She knows this is why Santana volunteered to bring her home, but she’s just aching outside and inside and there’s just no way replying Santana is going to make all of that go away.
She leans her head back on the headrest and continues watching the cars go by.
Tina’s buried behind stacks of files and sheets of paper when Blaine comes up to her desk early in the morning.
“Hey!” he says, enthusiastically, nearly making her jump out of her seat. “Morning blues?”
“On the scale of one to ten, I think this looks like a thirteen. What are you busying yourself with?”
“Sue wants me to draft out a proposal for a state conference on autism and I’m trying to edit Jacob’s latest writing efforts, which although is thought-provoking and brilliantly written I must say, it’s also really controversial and would really not pave his way into the local newspaper.”
“Wow, he’s trying out for the Lima Tribune? That’s fantastic.”
Tina puts down her pen and looks up at Blaine, who is smiling way too brightly. “And yes, Mr. Sunshine, what’s with the sudden interest in my affairs?”
“Have I not been a good enough friend that you should question my concern?” Blaine sighs loudly. When Tina merely continues staring at him, he sighs again and says, “Alright, it’s Artie.”
Tina jerks involuntarily. Thank goodness Santana is away on an errand and isn’t around to make any more of those snarky comments that had tormented her throughout the entire car ride a few days ago. “What... about him?”
“He’s in a funk. Like he’s contributing and stuff, but he’s been really listless and his ideas – they don’t really sparkle much anymore. They’re very mundane comments – very unlike him.”
“Maybe he’s really run out of them, you guys are already driving forward very well.”
“Tina,” says Blaine, his voice now carrying a note of urgency. “He’s losing steam. We can’t have the director losing steam. This whole thing has driven forward so far because of him. I’ve talked to him but it just seems to go out the other ear.”
“Then why do I have to do it?” demands Tina. “What I say goes out the other way too!”
“You know it doesn’t.”
“Yes, it does!” Tina glares at Blaine, who shrinks back slightly. “If the message got in, he damn well shouldn’t still be –”
She trails off and throws her head back on the chair. “Ugh!”
“I don’t want to delve into whatever you’re thinking about at the moment,” says Blaine, his thick eyebrows raised to the top. “It’s up to you though. This musical was your idea right from the beginning and I really thought you wanted it to go through perfectly because it was for Artie. Think about it.”
Fine. She will do it for Blaine. She will do it for Artie – but only because he’s from Lima Autism Center. It’s exactly how she got Sugar’s designs to Kurt’s company. It’s exactly how she’s gotten Jacob’s articles towards (not to) the Lima Tribune. So this is her way of getting Artie to the Lima theater scene. That’s why she’s doing this.
She repeats those sentences in her mind over and over again as she heads towards Room No. 3. Usually, she feels a sense of expectation, hope and positivity whenever she embarks on that familiar route. Now it only feels dismal. What still remains is that there is the feeling of static – that the T.V. is on, and sure enough, West Side Story is playing.
Sleep well and when you dream...
She pushes open the door slightly. Artie doesn’t flinch as he watches Tony and Maria hold each other’s hands.
Dream of me...
“Hey,” says Tina.
Artie switches off the T.V. and turns around. “Hi, Tina.”
“So...” Tina crosses over to the table and sits down. What a familiar position too. “Blaine was telling me you’ve not been very focused during rehearsals.” Before Artie can answer, she holds up a finger. “Don’t tell me you’ve been tired. Everyone in musical theater business works crazy hours and get really, really tired. This is nothing compared to the big-scale shows.”
Here it goes again.
Tina sighs wearily. “What now, Artie?”
“I’m sorry for kissing you,” he says, and her body snaps up straight. “I made you uncomfortable and I’m sorry. I should not talk to you anymore.”
“What... what about being friends?” Tina asks, weakly. “It’s okay, Artie, it was just –”
“You said that it was a crush. But it’s too heavy,” says Artie, quietly. “It’s heavy for you too. I think we really shouldn’t talk.”
“Listen, Artie, this is not about you. You’re a really good and kind and talented young man whom I admire so very much,” says Tina, her voice cracking. “It’s just not right and there’s nothing that can happen between –”
She stops and stares at him.
“If... if I didn’t have autism,” says Artie, then he breaks out of his thought process for a bit to muse, “Estella only came to Pip when he was rich. She didn’t want him when he was poor and wasn’t a gentleman.” He blinks rhythmically for the next few seconds and mutters unintelligible words under his breath.
“I don’t get you...” Tina pauses, then cocks her head to the side as the story of Great Expectations flows back in her mind. “Estella always loved Pip. She was just holding onto the lessons that Miss Havisham taught her.” She looks warily at Artie. “Are you trying to say I’d like you if you didn’t have autism?”
When Artie doesn’t respond, Tina throws up her hands. “Artie, this isn’t about you having autism! I already said...”
“But you said it’s because you are my therapist,” Artie interjects. “It’s not right. You said it’s not right.”
“It’s not just that, it’s also –” Tina trails off helplessly.
“Estella loved Pip all the time?” Artie asks.
Now it’s Tina’s turn not to respond. She starts to tidy up the sheets of paper on the table.
“Come watch my rehearsal,” says Artie. “Please,” he adds as an afterthought.
She doesn’t give excuses this time. She simply says goodbye and walks out, tells Emma to help her with Jacob for today, then goes over to Blaine. Blaine is delighted to hear that she will attend the rehearsal and when he asks if Artie is better, she can only reply, “I don’t know.”
At the rehearsal, she gets what she expects: Artie is brilliant and impressive. Or at least what she has always expected, barring the recent slump in motivation. Clearly, the morning encounter with Tina seems to have sparked something in him, and he’s in his element, calling out directions and feedback in that stern voice of his. He’s always critical about some little detail in every scene, never giving any a pass. Yet, his instructions have improved drastically from the first time Tina heard him criticize West Side Story on screen, and also that faithful day at the theater when he had yelled at the stage. He is confident, sharp and honest, but he is not condescending and makes sure the actor understands where he is coming from. It helps that the rest are special needs adults who don’t misconstrue his honesty for rudeness or jibing. The music is enchanting, the lyrics are sweet and the acting is surprisingly real. Everything is woven together with Artie’s intricate directing and even though it’s still half-baked, it still rings with a simple sincerity that is touching.
Just before the last scene ends, Tina slips out of the auditorium, a huge lump in her throat. Her mind is still whirling with the morning’s events and she really needs to sort through all of that once and for all.
“I met Mrs. Chang at the supermarket this morning.”
Tina’s at the dining table with her laptop; she looks above the screen at her mother. “Oh. Okay...”
Tina’s mother walks over and sits down across the table. “She thinks you’re sick very easily and wanted me to pop by her house for some Chinese herbs.”
“Eh? No, Mom, I think Mike just exaggerated some of my... colds.”
“So... Mike talks to her about your health and you talk to me about... nothing regarding him?”
“Well, what do you want to know?” Tina goes back to typing.
“Maybe, what the two of you have been doing on dates, how he makes you feel?” Tina’s mother looks at her hopefully.
Tina eyes her mother skeptically. “Really? Are you that interested in those stuff?”
“Tina, when you had your first boyfriend, you literally skipped home everyday to tell me what went on. He took you to the movies, he held your hand, the two of you had a near-kiss... that happened to Guy No. 2. Mike is your first boyfriend since a hell of a long time and you’re telling me you’re not excited about the little milestones? Or you’re just too grown up to share all those things with me?” Her mother looks hurt.
“Mom, it’s not like that.” Tina sighs. “I just... Maybe I’ve really grown up, but it’s nothing to do with you, okay? Haven’t I been talking to you all the time? I tell you what goes on at work, I tell you about...”
“Artie Abrams, yes, you tell me about the little stages of progress he is in and you don’t tell me the stages of progress in your relationship. Although you hardly talk about Artie now, anyway. Oh yeah, I forgot, you’re not his therapist anymore.”
“Tina, I can’t help but be worried. Your emotions have been completely tied to that boy’s progress, don’t you realize?”
Tina’s hands still above her keyboard.
“When he’s doing well, you’re so excited, you make us feel happy for you that you’re doing well in your job. When he’s gone and blown things apart, you’re so dejected, it makes us wish that we can take you out of this miserable and thankless environment. Now when you’re no longer in charge of him, you just don’t speak much anymore. It’s like there’s something weighing down in you.”
She doesn’t quite know what to say. Mom, he likes me. I don’t know what to do because I made him upset and now I’m upset too.
And I kissed him, I liked it, and that’s just a whole new level of screwed up.
“I just... he’s my first mentee after all.”
“Tina, it’s just – it’s just concern, right?” her mother asks, worriedly. “He sounds lovely and all, but there’s, you know, nothing...”
“He’s my friend.” But even her voice chokes at that.
“Oh, honey, you were never a good liar.” Her mother sounds a bit desperate now.
“I’m not –”
“Tina, he’s not... he’s not typical.”
Tina laughs humorlessly. “I wish he wasn’t.”
“Why didn’t you tell me –”
Tina slams down her laptop cover. “What am I supposed to say? Or do? Come home crying because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing? That I entered this school to make a difference to people’s lives, had somebody turn the tables on me and make a difference in my life, and then when everybody tells me I’m getting too attached, I just laugh it off but in fact I really am? That I want to believe so much that I’m just pitying him even though I’d hate to do that, I don’t do that because I really believe in him, and I try to distance myself but in the end, we just end up gravitating towards each other again and I really,really want to be there for him because every single thing he does or says just gets at me... and I’m attached and I don’t even know why this is all happening!”
She buries her head in her hands and cries out loud for the first time in ages. Her mother’s arms wrap around her a while later and it’s comforting, warm, but it doesn’t help to make the ache go away.
“Do you remember Aunt Jenny?”
In between loud sobs, Tina manages to squeeze out a, “Who?”
“She was here for the big Thanksgiving gathering three years ago. She didn’t really talk much back then and left the party early. I remember she offered you a sweet though and you didn’t take it.”
Tina hiccups, then takes a deep breath. When her shudders finally lessen, she looks at her mother, surprised. “I know who. You all didn’t really... like her, so I thought... I thought refusing her was the best course of action.”
“I liked her,” says her mother, “But your aunts and uncles didn’t, so I pretended like we didn’t really know each other.”
“Mom, that’s terrible!”
Her mother sighed. “I know, right. I’ve gotten into contact with her the last few weeks though, and she’s coming to Lima next month. I invited her to tea because I really owe her that apology. Turns out being too socially conscious has its own drawbacks, huh.”
Tina frowns. “What’s this, a lesson for the people at the center?”
“Your Aunt Jenny married a blind man,” says her mother, slowly. “Everybody thought when they were dating, it was just, you know, out of pity and all that. Your Uncle Nathan called her an idiot because she was signing away her life to a man who would be dependent on her and in his words, ‘leech off her every penny’.”
Tina clenches her fists instinctively and mutters, “I never did like him...”
“Back when she came for the party, she had just gotten engaged. I thought she was silly too, because that man would never be able to care for her the way any other man would. She was settling for someone who in the moment made her happy, that was all.”
“Now? She has one of the happiest marriages I’ve ever seen. I have her on Facebook, you know,” says her mother, with a laugh. “And she’s pretty active on it, posting lots of pictures and updates about their life. They do things together and he’s always doing little surprises for her, he’s working hard, he makes her happy. We just saw him for what he was, not who he was, and sometimes, I feel like it’s that disability that makes them so much stronger as a couple.”
“That’s... that’s wonderful. But I don’t –”
Her mother takes her hands and looks at her seriously. “Autistic people are very different. You never really know how they are feeling because they don’t express themselves the way we expect others to, right?”
Tina nods numbly.
“But I don’t think that writes them off the social world completely,” says her mother, gently. “That’s what you’ve taught your father and I, so that must be what you believe too. I want you to think about this not in terms of whether you are pitying Artie or humoring Mike, but who you are truly happy with. Whoever you pick, whether the two of you will be able to have a healthy relationship. Your father and I just want you to be happy, Tina.”
Tina looks at her mother in wonder. Her heart is swelling with happiness just knowing that her mother cares so much and trusts her. She clings onto her mother like a small child and closes her eyes tightly. Even though she still can’t make any headway with her jumbled thoughts, her mother’s understanding for her and the people she cares about is enough to make her feel the luckiest girl in the world.
When Tina walks by the reception sleepily in the morning, the receptionist has to get out of her seat to drag her into Sue’s office. It is only when Sue places a letter right in front of Tina that she snaps out of her reverie.
“What’s that?” she asks blearily.
“Great to know that two-thousand, six-hundred and forty-three words, and five minutes and twenty-eight seconds of my time has been wasted on your fly-span attention,” snaps Sue. “In short, that’s a letter from UCLA saying that they’ve done a speed review of Artie’s application and the local Ohio representative wants to meet with him.”
Tina gasps as she scans through the letter. “Miss Sylvester... that’s wonderful. When’s the meeting?”
“What? But they’re not giving him time to prepare!”
“Well, Sherlock, that’s the point. Emma’s recommendation letter said that he’s better at adapting to changes and they’re testing that, it seems.”
“They’re sadistic,” says Tina, wrinkling her nose.
“And if he’s really serious about it, I’m sure he can manage without preparation. Anyway, he will have you to cover up whatever poop he ends up throwing around.”
“Wait a minute,” says Tina, narrowing her eyes. “You want me to go with him?”
Tina can’t even be bothered to correct her.
“...I believe you were the one who wants to see Artie progress. This is his step ahead and you’re gonna chicken out of it?”
It was her idea for Artie to direct a musical. Her idea that he should work on musical and financial analysis. Her idea that he should step out of his comfort zone. Now she’s abandoning it all because she thinks she can’t draw that damned line between work and personal issues. She’s fallen apart at the seams because the line has disappeared into nothingness and suddenly, this letter before her has pulled her back together. Wherever that line is, she can’t be bothered anymore. Her head and heart have been aching so much the past few weeks that she really doesn’t want to think further. All she knows is that now she has to be there to support Artie for that next step he’s going to make, because it’s going to be one of the most important steps in his life. She’s not going to abandon ship just because she can’t freaking deal with her feelings.
She looks steadfastly at Sue and nods.
“I’ll be there.”