One Year Later…
Arizona brushed a lock of hair away from her eyes and used her hand to wipe sweat from her forehead.
She surveyed her work with an easy smile.
"You again," she said with fake surprise to the painting in front of her. A painting of Callie Torres.
The day they met, Arizona went home and drew the other woman from the fresh memory.
Ever since that day, she surprised herself by painting Callie on occasion. Not all the time, every other month or so. In her own little way, she thought she was making Callie eternal by doing that. She wanted to. She knew it wasn't a healthy hobby, but Callie wasn't the first dead person Arizona was obsessing with through her paintings. She couldn't control it, either. Painting was the one thing in her life where Arizona didn't have to think before expressing or to censor herself. Whatever needed to come out, found its way onto the canvas.
Callie would think I'm a creeper if she ever saw these portraits, she thought months ago, lucky me that she's dead, I guess.
In reality, there weren't more than five paintings. It's not that Callie haunted her. Arizona didn't get to know Callie well enough, but Callie mattered. Maybe it was because Arizona didn't get the chance to spend more time with someone whom she instantly liked or maybe it was the way Callie unintentionally reminded her for a second what is was like to be authentic again. It was a million little things, it was symbolic to Arizona in many ways. It was like a mantra of going back to how Arizona was before, and Arizona needed a face to go with that Mantra. And Callie's face was pretty enough, to say the least.
Arizona almost felt like she needed to do something that would make Callie proud of her. Tim, too. Go back to the "fun." Go back to the person who could voice her actual opinions out loud.
Trying to make Callie happy made no sense whatsoever, they were strangers, and they would remain that forever. And yet, every now and again when Arizona was struggling with a decision, she would ask herself what would Callie say. Maybe in a world where it was hard to find real, agenda-less connections, it was easier to be close to someone who was dead.
Arizona sighed and went into the bathroom to wash her hands. She had no doubt Callie had many faults that Arizona didn't get to witness, but Arizona will always remember Callie as the laid back, humorous person that she met that day. The person Arizona could really easily open up to. A person who cared enough about Arizona, even if only for a moment in time, to ask her plain and simple if she was happy. Not only to ask her but also to care what the answer would be.
Arizona looked up at the mirror above the sink.
"Am I Happy?"
She sure tried harder. Every day since she met Callie, she tried to find a bit of what she lost. But it was easier said than done when she wasn't exactly sure how to make herself feel better, or pinpoint what it was exactly that she lost.
She did have the job of her dreams, after all. Just four months prior she wrapped a film that was the most satisfying project she had ever worked on.
But then when April called her to go through the details of a press tour for another film that was about to be released, Arizona groaned, hung up the phone, passed by one of Callie's portraits on her way to bed, said "what do you know, anyways? You're dead," and fell asleep before 10 PM.
"Striving to be better, is what makes us better. Or some poetic shit," she said to her own reflection and walked out of the bathroom.
She stood in front of her latest creation. Scrutinizing it with judgment, like she did with all of her artistic outlets.
"You're fading away," she said quietly, realizing that Callie's features were way more general in this one. It didn't do justice to the dead woman and Arizona knew immediately that she'll have to get rid of it. Arizona Robbins was nothing short of a perfectionist, after all.
She sat in front of her laptop, went on Facebook, and hesitantly typed Callie's name. She knew that even if Callie's profile was private, which is something Arizona could absolutely understand, she should still be able to see her profile pictures.
Soon enough, Callie's profile came up, private as Arizona assumed.
Arizona felt creepy as she looked at the photos, feeling like she was stalking a Dead Girl's life. She was.
But she couldn't help it. She felt connected to the other woman and she came to realize and accept that she always would. She didn't want to let the image of Callie disappear from her memory completely.
The photos showed Arizona one of the prettiest people she'd ever seen. Not that she didn't already know Callie was beautiful, but to see her healthy version, was mesmerizing, and sad.
"Only the good die young," she said quietly as she reached back to the latest photo in the album. Arizona couldn't help but stare at this version of Callie. With the longer hair, color in her cheeks, looking defiantly at the camera with that twinkle in her eye. The one Arizona saw remnants of when she met Callie. But the twinkle in the photo was different. Callie looked like someone who loved being alive, so unlike the woman who told her that she just wanted to rest.
Arizona wondered what was the occasion on which such a great photo was taken and her eyes found the upload date, which was 7 months after Arizona met her.
"They still update her page regularly, that's odd, and creepy and sweet." It made her realize just how long it's been since she met Callie, and it hit her right then and there, that she was never notified when Callie passed away. What if she wanted to visit her grave? She wouldn't even know where to go.
"Rude," she said, voicing her thoughts. She realized she was hardly an acquaintance, but she still spent hours with Callie during her last days on earth. She took the time to come and meet a person and she figured it at least bought her the right to be notified when said person finally passed away.
She took her phone out, saw that she had 12 missed calls from April and 2 from Teddy, and dialed her manager.
"Arizona, where have you been?! I've been trying to reach you for hours!" April whined. Her favorite client was proving to be a pain in the past few months.
"I've been busy," Arizona replied non-commitingly. Her painting therapy was still not something that she discussed with anyone. Except for her dead muse, and Teddy, who occasionally came to visit and demanded explanations for the portraits.
"Well next time, call me back sooner," April demanded. "After all, I'm the one who makes sure you stay busy."
"I need you to find out something for me," Arizona said, practically ignoring her manager's spiel.
"So is this how it is? I try to reach you all day and you only call me back when you need something?"
"This is important, April," Arizona argued.
"Fine, what is it," April huffed, exasperated.
"I need you to get me the email of Addison Montgomery."
"Who?" April asked in confusion.
"Addison? Remember her? She called you about a year ago? Her best friend had cancer and she wanted me to visit her?"
"Oh, right. Well, I'm not entirely sure how to find her. I mean I keep records, but that was a year ago and…"
"Please just do it, April. I'll pay you over time."
"I already work over time as it is and you never paid me extra before," April noted.
"Well then I guess I'll start," Arizona said and finally smiled.
"Fine, I'll go and look through a year of emails," April gave in bitterly.
"Oh, just use keywords," Arizona brushed her off condescendingly
"Sure, don't trouble yourself at all!" April added in fake cheer. "I'm emailing you the contract for 'Anecdote,' please, for the love of god, read it soon and send it back signed."
"I will, I promise. Bye April!"
"Wait, I'm not done talking about the…"
But Arizona hung up. This was one thing that she was getting better at, or at least trying to. Me-time meant me-time, and she couldn't constantly do things to make others happy. She would never act in an unprofessional manner, and she heard April, there was a contract to sign, and Arizona was going to do that as soon as she received it. Which was a second later.
She sat and read it for another hour. She didn't have to, she trusted April completely when it came to negotiating for her, but she liked to be in the loop. She wouldn't be her control-freak-self if she hadn't.
She was in bed reading a script for fifteen minutes, just about to turn off the light, when her phone vibrated signaling an incoming text.
Addison's email is in your inbox. Good night, the text read.
"I really should pay her more," Arizona thought out loud seeing that it was 1 AM. She smiled and decided to contact Addison and deal with the rest the following morning. It was about to be a rarely rainy day in the usually dry Los Angeles. Not a good day to go to the cemetery anyways.
This is Arizona Robbins. Hmmm… I don't really know how to say this, but…
She hit backspace and tried again.
Arizona Robbins here. The actress.
"Oh, holly hell!" Arizona said, rolling her eyes at herself. Why is this so hard?
I hope it's okay I'm writing. This is Arizona Robbins. I guess… I guess 'I'm sorry for your loss'
is in order. I apologize it took so long, but know that Callie has been in my thoughts. I'm
not sure how long it has been since she passed, but in my experience, doughnuts help
somewhat, even a year later.
Do I sound totally stupid and callous?
I hope I'm not being presumptuous here, but I was thinking about going to visit Callie's
grave. I know we only met once, but I really liked Callie and I'd be happy… I mean,
obviously not *happy* happy, but I'd like to pay my respects. So if it's not too weird, and
you could tell me where she's buried, assuming it's even here in LA at all, I'd very much
P.S. – I'm sure there's no need to say this, but I'd really appreciate if you didn't share this
email address with anyone. Thanks!
Arizona cringed as she wrote the last sentence. It wasn't the nicest thing to say, especially not to a woman who lost her best friend, and especially since Arizona basically asked her to share personal information, but Arizona learned long ago that she had to protect herself. April offered to email on her behalf, but Arizona thought that the least she could do was to reach out in person.
Once the email was send, she got ready to head out to her meeting with April. She knew she owed April and planned on picking up her favorite lunch on the way to her office.
By the time she locked the door behind her and climbed into the town car, greeting Eduardo, a redheaded woman sat in front of her laptop in another part of town, with a smile on her face.
That day, at the hospital, she peeked on the two women often enough to see that there was something there. The anxious actor seemed very at ease around her dying best friend.
Addison would never dream on reaching out to Arizona again. She had issues with boundaries, but not in such an intrusive way and not when Arizona was as famous as she was. Addison had been waiting, hoping for something like this email, for a very long time.
"Took you long enough, superstar."
Arizona left her meeting with mixed feelings. On the one hand, she gave her surprised manager a raise and was delighted to see that April was happy, but on the other, April set her a beauty shoot that was sure to pay very well, but Arizona wasn't in the mood of being told what to wear and how to stand. She very rarely enjoyed these shoots. The photographers were very talented, the designers were original and intriguing and the hair and makeup artists made her look flawless, but it was far from her favorite thing to do with her time.
She stopped on the way to the car to get a coffee and saw her cup had heart and a guy's phone number on it. She groaned quietly but smiled politely at the male barista who winked at her and went back to work.
"No rest for the wicked," she said and crossed the street to the nice park, finally sitting down and checking her phone. She texted Eduardo quickly telling him she's taking a little break and then she opened her inbox.
She quickly skimmed through a few emails before she saw that she received a reply from Addison. She gasped and nearly spilled hot coffee all over herself.
"Why the hell am I so nervous?" she wondered as she opened the email.
It's really nice to hear from you, and it's totally okay and lovely that you care enough to
reach out. Thanks for the doughnut tip, I'll have to remember that one.
"Well, we're off to a good start," Arizona relaxed somewhat.
I'm sorry that I'm going to have to disappoint you,
"Uh oh," Arizona's body tensed.
but Callie isn't dead.
"Wait, what?!" Arizona stared at the phone dumbfounded, rubbing her eyes to make sure she was reading correctly.
I'm not going to get into details because it's not really my place, but she's alive, and well,
just as annoying as always and figuring herself out.
Arizona read the sentence over and over again, not entirely sure how to feel. She was relieved, and mad, and curious and worried all at the same time. She was also not convinced that she wasn't being pranked.
I'm sorry no one told you sooner, had I known it would matter, I would've let you know.
"Why do people keep thinking I don't care?!" she raised her voice angrily completely forgetting she was in public. "I'm famous, not inhuman!" she was now more upset than anything else.
If you need anything, feel free to text me if you want an immediate answer. I promise not
to forward the number to anyone ;)
Arizona could do nothing but groan at the cheeky comment. First, Addison doesn't tell her Callie was alive, then she mocks her.
My number is below. Feel free to text me anytime.
Arizona stared at the email, not sure what to do. Then, it hit her, somewhere out there, Callie Torres, the beautiful, easy going, brave woman that she met, was still alive. The thought made a warm feeling spread in Arizona's body.
"She's alive," Arizona said with a smile. "She's alive and she didn't tell me!" she suddenly realized, hurt. They weren't friends, Callie had no obligations to her, but Arizona thought they shared enough in hours of conversation for Callie to at least let her know she was indeed, still among the living.
I guess she didn't really see me after all as well. But we shared so much… she thought and then fearfully realized, we shared a lot. I told her things no one knows.
She took her phone out and texted the number Addison gave her.
Hey Addison! This is Arizona. I guess I need to say something like 'I'm glad your best friend isn't dead?" this whole thing is very weird. Mind telling me where I can find her?
Arizona hit send. She was pissed at Addison, and she was hurt, but she had no business fighting with her over texts. She had way bigger fish to fry.
Hey Arizona! Glad my email reached you okay, and yes, I too am glad that my best friend didn't die. Thanks! I'm afraid Callie is not around. She's in New York.
"New York?" Arizona squeaked in surprise. But she realized she shouldn't have been because she hardly knew Callie. She visited her at a hospital in Los Angeles, so she just naturally assumed that's where Callie's home base was located.
Why is reaching a living Dead Girl so complicated?
What do you mean she's in New York?!
Arizona was getting more and more annoyed. She started this day emailing Addison, hoping to go to a grave and pay her respects, and instead, she found out that someone who knows a lot about her, someone who she felt really comfortable with, someone who was by all accounts supposed to be dead, was walking around the streets of New York, knowing way too much about her personal life. Her phone buzzed just when she recalled that that someone was also ridiculously beautiful.
She wanted to start over in the big city. The whole thing is very Thoroughly Modern Millie if you ask me.
It's Kimmy Schmidt these days, Arizona responded.
I knew I liked you, came the response which made Arizona smile, to her own displeasure.
"Always the people pleaser," she said and texted back.
While I do appreciate the sentiment, would you mind giving me her address?
You're not just gonna show up there, are you? Addison asked. Arizona had no idea that the other woman was smirking.
Of course not, I'll send her a letter or some 'glad you're not dead' bouquet, Arizona lied.
That's original, I suppose. I'll allow it.
"Gee, thanks." Before she had a chance to reply Addison texted again with Callie's address.
Arizona smiled widely and didn't miss a beat before she called April. She could've walk back to her office, but bad news were more easily delivered this way.
"Hey!" April said happily.
"Hi, I'm going to New York tonight, be back the day after tomorrow!" This wasn't about how beautiful Callie was but solely about self preservation of personal knowledge. Or that was what Arizona kept telling herself.
"Wait, what? You have a meeting tomorrow!" April reminded In horror.
"Push it to when I'm back! Bye!" she said and hung up.
Okay, that wasn't exactly professional, but I just gave her a raise. She'll deal.
Arizona could do this, needed to do this. She could take care of this problem and also be spontaneous and adventurous and…fun. After all, that's what she assumed Callie would want her to do. But Callie couldn't be the face of her mantra anymore. Because Callie wasn't dead. It hit Arizona once again, and she couldn't help but smile like someone who just got back something very important that they'd lost.
She's alive, she thought in pleasure, then a grimace found its way to her face, I'm going to kill her!