Chapter 51: Impossible Year - Panic! At the Disco
I sat on the living room couch eating hazelnut chocolate spread straight from the jar, scowling as I watched entertainment news network. I was hoping to find a rerun of my favorite reality show; instead, I was bombarded by pictures and gossip about Izzie and Milo.
“It is modern day fairytale; look at how in love they are.“ A celebrity talk show host gushed. A picture of him spinning her around on an airplane tarmac was on the projection screen behind her.
Milo was grinning from ear to ear in the photo, looking as though he was on the verge of bursting because of too much joy. Both of them were glowing, too engrossed in their relationship to care about the world around them.
I seethed with jealousy, narrowing my eyes as another picture appeared on her screen.
“You are really letting yourself go.” Andy sat down on the couch.
I put up my middle finger as my eyes remained on the TV.
“What are we watching?”
“Celeb Scoop.” I grumbled.
They were kissing in the photograph on the screen. Their explosively passionate kiss looked like a still from a romantic drama movie. It made me sick to my stomach. “She’s not hot enough to be on TV.”
“I can’t see her all that well, but her legs and hair working in her favor. He could do much worse.” He contradicted me.
“It’s shiny and bouncy, like it’s from a shampoo commercial.”
I rolled my eyes. “You have no taste. Your opinion doesn’t matter.”
“You’re just shitting on her because you’re jealous.”
“Ha! She wishes she was me.” I placed my spoon into my mouth upside down pulling it out of my mouth slowly to collect the spread.
“You are doing it, Ann. You always do and it’s getting old. Move on. You didn’t even like him that much.”
“I did too. And he never invited me to his kingdom or flew me anywhere on his private jet. They did not even know about me. We would have looked like that too.” I gestured to the screen.
He rolled his eyes. “You don’t want him. You want to be famous.”
“They keep saying she’s going to be the next Princess Grace. It hurts, you know? She has everything I want – true friends, someone who loves her, and the world knows her name. She’s somebody.” My lip quivered as I willed myself not to cry.
“Hey, come out with me and my friends tonight. And stop watching this crap.” He elbowed me gently.
“I just want to be left alone with my chocolate and the television. My hood being up should give you a clue that I’m not in a social mood.” I finally changed the channel.
“Please. You’re in need of fun and we always have it.”
“You just don’t want me to be sad and alone.” I sought comfort from my food.
“Of course I don’t want that. I know you are trying to be a decent person. You’re finally cool enough to chill with me and my friends.”
“Shut up.” I cracked a smile.
“Princess Grace was in a horribly abusive relationship she tried to buy herself out of with millions of dollars if that makes you feel any better.”
“It doesn’t. That’s sad and I know they are happy. He treats her so well.” I recalled their often times odd, but touching interactions.
“They can’t be as perfect as they look. No one is.”
“You’re right. That’s what makes it good – worthwhile; they love each other – flaws and all. What if I have too many? Everyone thinks I’m terrible.” I looked in his direction with tears in my eyes.
“We’ve already established that you have no taste.” I quipped as I leaned in his direction and subtly dried my eyes.
“You feel. The conception is that you don’t.” He softened his tone, frowning.
“I just want to stay home. Will you stay with me?” I rested my head on his shoulder.
“You didn’t need to ask.” He put his arm around me and kissed the top of my head. “Have you ditched that Alex kid once and for all yet?”
“Months ago and then he was expelled. I don’t know why, but I am thankful for it. Seeing his face made me feel worse about all that I have done.”
“We are not doing this all day.” He pried me off of him and stood up from the couch.
“You said you wouldn’t leave!”
“I’m not. I getting something from the garage. Do you trust me enough to believe that I will come back?”
I threw a decorative pillow at him as he walked away. He chuckled and continued out of the room.
He came back with a box labeled “Andy and Anna’s childhood #7”.
“How many boxes are there?” I eyed it as he put it on the ground in front of us.
“It is best I do not answer that question. There are too many for comfort. I think they have tissues from our first colds out there.” He crouched down on the other side of the box and lifted each flap one at a time.
I giggled. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
“They love you too, you know.”
“I know.” I meddled with my hands in my lap.
“Believe it. We talk about how much we miss you all the time.”
“I miss you guys too.”
“We’re finally on the same page.” He reached his arm into the box.
He pulled out a VHS tape labeled, “Andy and Anna’s Home Talent Show”, and held it up.
“No.” I grinned uncontrollably.
“We’re watching it and everything else in this box. Nothing says love more than dancing matching pea costumes.”
“Because we are two peas in a pod.” I quoted our mom, doing my best to imitate her voice and mannerisms.
“You are getting good at that.” His dimples popped as he looked back down into the box to see what was inside.
“Practice makes perfect.” I glanced over the side of the couch to catch a glimpse of what he was rifling through. “We need to watch our first bike rides first.”
“You only want to because I fell and you didn’t.”
“Maybe.” I bit on my bottom lip.
“Actually, I think the bath time one is a good starting point.”
“You wouldn’t dare.” I pointed at him.
“Ashamed that wittle Anna was afraid of the rubber ducky and begged never to bathe again?” He used a baby voice.
“It is not a very good representation of who I am as a person. I love to be clean. I was confused.”
“The tape doesn’t lie.” He held it up and shook it. “This is who you are. It is time you recall your roots.”
“You really are the worst, you know that?” I leaned back on the couch and crossed my arms.
“Oh, I love you too.”
For the duration of winter break, we remained plastered at each other’s side. We watched our hideously embarrassing home videos. Once we were finished, we switched to shows and movies we loved as children. Most of them did not withstand the test of time, but they enabled us to laugh at what we once found amusing. He was my big brother, the one sent to protect me. I didn’t realize he was the best friend I’d ever have until that year; he actively stood by me after the night I called him, checking on me and my progress. I had a true friend. There was someone who loved me. I was well on my way to making people in the dance world know my name by having signed with the New York City Ballet Company. I had what I wanted. It wasn’t until I stopped watching everyone else that I noticed.