The Art of Being Okay

Chapter 15

New York Times: Dodgers Stayin' in Big Apple!

Article by: sports correspondent, Babe Ruth

Despite the recent attempts to move well-loved baseball team the Brooklyn Dodgers to somewhere as – excuse my French here, New York – asinine as California, statewide loyal fans have held fast.

And so have their protests, including the steep increase in ticket and merchandize purchasing, the anti-LA marches and the recent flooding of the internet with hate for California. Now, some, including California governor Bob Dylan, have protested these measures as extreme, once again appealing to the international community for a bit more peace and kindness.

"We won, and you're just sore. Suck it." Responds New York's own governor, Robert Downey Jr.

Dodgers in Apple cont. on pg. E7

...


...

By Monday morning, everyone who matters has heard the news, and Bunnymund still reads the front page of the New York Times, because he does that every morning and he isn't quite sure how to deal with Pippa's death.

He doesn't and can't believe it.

Not at first. So. He follows his rituals: first makes himself a cup of coffee, and then drinks it while his eyes glaze over the newspaper without taking in a single word.

Yawning, Babytooth wanders out of the spare bedroom, Tooth on her heals.

North is still asleep and Sandy's been working on an expensive looking laptop in the corner of the kitchen since three am, but Jack isn't there because he isn't answering his calls and no one can find him.

Bunnymund wonders just how screwed this makes them and picks at a bowl of oatmeal, periodically taking out his phone, punching in the passcode and turning it back off again.

He doesn't count how often he does this, but he stops after twenty minutes, tells himself that this isn't helping, and then turns his phone on, punches in the passcode and turns it back off again.

Bunnymund's fingers clench tightly, and release. Bunnymund watches his phone hit the floor apathetically, and then, as a cold sweat breaks across his back, wraps his fingers around the newly polished counter.

His knuckles are completely white.

Jack's fine, Bunnymund tells himself and his fingers begin to loosen. They twitch, as though missing the presence of a phone beneath them; but the second they do so, Bunnymund's eyes go a tad wild and his fingers sink more harshly into the biting courter top corner.

It's five minutes later, and Bunnymund hasn't – won't – loosen his grip, not again.

He takes a large, shaky breath, and lets his mind wander.

Ten minutes later, Bunnymund is reaching down for his cell phone and catching himself in the act. He recoils, horrified and the breaths turn ragged again, amplified, the only sound in Bunnymund's mind, the only thing he can hear as darkness dances on the edge of his vision.

"Fuck. Budger." Bunnymund hacks out into the air. Entire body bent forward at a crocked angle, Bunnymund takes one hard step closer to the counter, slowly and painfully crushing the phone with his fingers, Bunnymund can't help looking at his phone and, telling himself that he's fine and he won't and it's okay and Jack will be fine, slide his phone open and off.

He watches, and doesn't stop and he can't help this. It's compulsive and Bunnymund doesn't think people really understand the term 'addictive personality' and he doesn't think they understand how he can't do stuff like this, can't do something he really doesn't want to to do over and over again, or a need to obsessively repeat actions and has Bunnymund mentioned how badly his wants a drink?

Bunnymund lifts his fist in the air.

He doesn't think they understand how much he doesn't want so much as need a drink right now; but he doesn't throw his phone at the wall, because they're expensive and he can't afford it and he's better than that now.

Instead, he breaks down, body curving inwards, contorting on himself as completely silent tears shake him back and forth, alone, letting himself release the frustration through angry dry tears.


...

There are other things that happen, that day, Jack tells Dr. Bennett after their seventeenth session. I'm sure there were. But I wasn't there and I can't … Bunny's a stable point. And my memory's not so great anymore.

I know, Dr. Bennett tells him. But you can fix that.

I don't want to end the chapter here, Jack says, slowly and careful, after a pregnant pause. He does anyway, though.


...

Things Jack Will No Longer Get Have to Do, Now That Pippa is Gone(lie)

Visit the hospital

Talk to annoying doctors

Entertain Pippa(lie)

Take care of his mentally unstable sister(lie)

Worry about nightmares(lie)

Have a purpose(lie)

Pay outrageous hospital bills

Lie to my friends about what I'm doing(lie)

Avoid mentioning Pippa(lie)

Have a scapegoat for my problems(lie)

Not Eating(lie)

Eating

Inspiration for novels(lie)

Write(lie)

...


...

It's the most honest Jack has ever let himself be, and he ends up crossing most of the stuff off of the list in his head. It's supposed to help, to work, to do something that makes losing Pippa (everything) better.

It's not working it's not working it's not working

"I know!" Jack bursts out at the air, garnering a few curious gazes from the early morning whores and a lone jogger without headphones, face red and panting in the sun, looking exhausted and thin to the point of terrifying, and Jack can't help but admire her, because she's the him that's going to succeed.

worthless you fault dead you dead dead dead working food don't deserve

"Shut up! Shut up shut up shut!" Jack screams, a child, at the wind, mimicking the voices taunting and ricocheting and pounding around in his skull.

The jogger, the one with the eating disorder, stumbles.

Almost against his will, Jack's heart bounces in his chest. He hopes that he won't have to watch someone die in front of him (or maybe he doesn't care anymore; he can't tell).

But he doesn't have to worry about that, or her, because she picks herself up, albeit slowly, and despite tears in her eyes, there is determination on her face, and she pushes onwards.

Jack thinks it's got to be a sign. (Not really.)

It has to be a sign. (He won't know what to do if someone doesn't tell him.)

There's no way this is coincidence. (He needs something not to be meaningless.)

He's been right all along. (Jack's tired of eating.)

Thump.

Unwilling to listen to his thoughts chase each other around and unable to fight anything let alone himself with Pippa gone, Jack slams the back of his head into the wall and stays there for a while, in a ball, against the alley wall unmoving and clutching his head.

It's late afternoon when he staggers himself up again, and when he does, he closes his eyes for a blink and he gets that he's on a cliff just by his pinky finger with his friends at the wrong address, still in the car.

He opens them and the colors and world swish and reset in his vision and it's a combination of nausea and dizziness that compels Jack back to the ground.

He doesn't, though, because it's just a stomach ache and since when has Jack gotten so bad at dealing with those?

He's got one hand on the wall and the other sunk deep into the ratty hoody Pippa gave him for their first Christmas on the streets, way back in the nineties.

Jingle. Jangle.

Jack's unstable fingers meet metal and thin whispery paper and that's new.

He's got money this time, and Jack wonders if he should go to a bar. It's something he's always wanted to do; rush into a bar, heartbroken and windswept, order a pint and spill out his problems to the bartender and/or mentor figure, because he's a writer and he thinks of life like that.

Jack's never been able to do that.

He can't now, either, because of Pippa, and because that's hopeful.

Jack's still numb, and that's why people go to the bars – numbness.

(the real reason he won't go: alcohol is calories)

Vaguely, he wonders where his phone went, but then he stops because he doesn't know that somebody stole it and he doesn't know that he lost it but he does know it doesn't matter anymore.

There's nothing, there's nothing and there's no one and Jack is completely alone.

He doesn't have to worry about leaving Pippa behind, because she's already made up her fucking mind about that one. That's the most painful bit, is that Jack put his entire life around her and she can't even – she can't even – she chose to leave him behind anyway.

He doesn't resent her; he never will, because she never asked and he never could have made a different choice.

A silent scream crawls its way out of Jack's throat and his hands sweep over his face and he is entirely alone.

God, he'll never play with her, or talk to her or watch her blush whenever she made eye contact with Doctor Douche Bag.

It doesn't feel like that isn't even going to happen again though. It's another day and everything is the same and it doesn't feel like Jack's world's been dumped, trashed, at his feet, not even to Jack.

This is denial, Jack assumes, but he feels like there's something wrong with him without feeling like anything is wrong.

It's all numb and still and empty except for those moments. Those moments where it registers. The moment when all Jack wants to do is give up and cry. Those moments where everything hurts so much that it suffocates him.

The moments where breathing is pain, the ones where he wakes up thinking Pippa is alive, the ones where he knows he's going to die soon.

The ones where he wants to die soon.

There's the moments where he remembers how completely and utterly alone he is, how the one person he loved the most he won't ever be able to see. The moments when he thinks of how much Pippa loved and how good she was and how much she missed out and how it's too late for everything now.

He has moments of remembering his friends, where he thinks he can be helped, but they're easily drowned out, dismissible.

Sometimes, during the moments where everything sinks in, they last seconds because that's all Jack can stand. It's all he can stand and people don't understand! They don't understand how much depression, stress, hurt courses through Jack's veins during that moment! They don't get it. Why don't they get it?

He doesn't understand how it's possible to feel this much and it's like being buried alive because he knows he can't get out or escape (ever).

It won't ever end and he can't catch his breath and death is the only escape.

It's getting dark again, and Jack doesn't notice.

He's outside of Babytooth's door and he doesn't notice.

He's sunk to the ground and there are walls and things that poke and everything aches and shudders and god Jack head is throbbing with his body and there's a desperate need to eat or cry, only they're kind of silenced when Jack smashes his head back against the wall.

He'll get trapped in a moment and he'll thrash and then it'll be broken and he can escape through the repetitive physical pain of his head against a wall and denial; but then they're back, they're always back and Jack doesn't know how to deal with this.

He spends the night, curled in on himself, head clobbered, mashed, banged, bounced, plunged, stabbed against the wall and Babytooth wakes at seven in the morning, hair sticking up and mascara smeared with tears to get the paper and Jack sitting outside, head soaked in red, body frozen, and pulse sub-40 bpm.

...


...

"The end," Jack says. "That's it. How I got here. That's the end of the story."

It wasn't; of course it wasn't. There was still months of therapy and years even and a funeral to plan for.

There was so much more, but that was a different book and a different story.

This story was over, and it isn't quite hopeful enough, Jack knows.

"So," Jack suggests, a wild, crooked grin on his face and mischief in his eyes, "let's have a funeral." He laughs.

...




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