Chapter 55: Wildest Dreams - Taylor Swift
I looked out the circular window though it was dark out to hide my tear-dripping face from the person seated next to me on the plane.
“She is perfect for your image! Think big picture, Artie. She is charming, stylish, and absolutely gorgeous for a black girl. It’s all very progressive. We can really use this to our advantage!” His agent was louder than socially appropriate at an after-party because of his level of intoxication.
I was a few feet away, having just departed the ladies room. I stopped in my tracks and peered through the crowd to see and hear Art’s uncensored response.
He side-eyed him with an eyebrow raised.
“Say something, Kid.” His agent patted him on the shoulder.
“I’d rather not.” He strode off in the direction of the bar.
I huffed and charged after him without thinking. “I need to speak to you.” I hissed beneath my breath.
He jumped due to my sudden arrival. “Wh—“
I grabbed his arm and dragged him away before he had the opportunity to response or oppose. He tripped over himself trying to keep up with my pace. I shoved him into a janitor’s closet and pulled the metal ball cord as soon as I shut the door.
“A little more dramatic than usual, but okay –“ He leaned down with this eyes closed and lips puckered.
“Now you can say more than three words?” I slammed my hands on his chest.
“What are you talking about?” He opened his eyes.
“’I’d rather not.” I quoted him.
He sighed and rolled his eyes. “Mark is too drunk to know what he is talking about.”
“He said exactly what he was thinking and you said nothing in response.”
“What did you expect me to say? Call him an ignorant bastard and storm off after declaring I will be finding another agent? He got me this gig and has plenty more like it lined up. I do not have to agree with the guy’s politics to work with him.”
I shook my head in disbelief. “You have no idea.”
“Then tell me because I honestly don’t know what I did wrong.”
I swallowed hard to remove the lump in my throat and returned my eyes to his. “Do you wanna know why I push myself harder than is healthy? I am trying desperately to compete with my qualifier – ‘for a black girl’. Most of the people in there think some version of that when they see me. I can’t good enough to have it removed; I have to be great – greater than anyone they have ever seen. And to some of them, I’ll still be less than. –“ I teared up.. “You just rolled your eyes and walked away like it was nothing. And you know what? You’re able to do that without ever feeling even a shred of this!” My voice cracked when I pointed to my chest.
“Elle, I –“ He stepped forward with sympathetic eyes and his arms outstretched.
I clasped over my mouth to mute my sobs as I stepped out of his reach.
“Please. I love you.”
I shook my head.
“Yes, I do. I made one mistake. It was a big one, but it will never happen again.”
“I shouldn’t have had to do all of this.” I heaved.
“I know, but –“
I mustered up the strength to look up at him. “Step across this line – not now, not – not yet.”
“You are breaking up with me?”
I swallowed hard and nodded. “The timing is – I am so proud of you, but you don’t understand and I don’t know how to explain. I’ve never made it this far.”
“Please do not do this. I know you love me too.” His eyes glistened with tears.
I flinched a smile. “That’s why.” I stepped forward and kissed him on the cheek.
He hugged me before I could leave.
“I want to remember it like this.” I clenched my eyes shut.
He moved his head back and put his hand on the side of my face. He caressed my cheek with his thumb. “I love you.”
I kissed him one last time and rested my forehead his before prying myself away.
End of flashback
I clasped my hand over my mouth when I started crying harder.
“Hon, can I get you something? A tissue, a cup of water?” A flight attendant asked kindly.
I shook my head as I offered her a kind smile, drying my eyes with my sweater sleeve. My seatmate and those around me were thankfully fast asleep, limiting the embarrassment.
“I will bring them to you just in case you change your mind.”
I was left with too much time to think during the eight-hour flight. My heart crumbed as I thought of all of our good times. By the time my flight landed and I arrived at SMA, it was late afternoon. My suitemates were in class when I keyed into our home. I was not expected to return for a few more days. I was grateful I didn’t have to tend to questions of my premature arrival right off the bat.
I dropped my bags in my room. I caught sight of myself in the mirror when I did. I looked as tattered as I felt. I stripped down and went into the bathroom to take a shower. I turned on the showerhead and sat down in the tub. I rested my head on my knees and allowed the water to wash over me. I lost track of time. I lifted my head slowly when there was a bang on the door.
“Whoever you are, you need to leave now! I have Sami here and she is more than amped to fight!” Izzie shouted.
“Yep! Lots of anger to work out!”
“It’s me.” I returned my head to my legs.
Apparently I wasn’t loud enough for them to hear over the water. Sami body slammed the door and whipped open the curtain once she gained access.
“It’s just Elle.” She covered her eyes and turned around.
Izzie dropped the broom she was holding and knelt down beside the tub after turning off the faucet. “What are you doing home?”
Morgan draped a towel over me.
“We broke up.” A new crop of tears hit.
“I’m kicking his ass.” Sam stepped over the broomstick in pursuit of the door.
“I ended it.”
“Why?” Izzie rubbed my back as she frowned.
“Yes, why?” Sam turned around with her hands on her hips.
“He said nothing at the wrong time.”
“I need more to work with than that.” She crossed her arms.
I returned my eyes to my knees as I pulled my towel tighter and told them the whole story.
“Mom, I’m going to Denver!” She picked up the broom and charged out the room.
“No, no, no --” She scrambled off her feet to chase after her.
Iz guided my face to hers. “I would’ve made the biggest scene if someone said that about you to me – screaming, glasses would have been thrown, a fire or two started and I’d still be kicking and screaming to get back in there as they were hauling me off to jail. I’m serious.”
I cracked a smile. “That’s why you’re my person.”
“You’re mine too.” She kissed the top of my head. “Let’s get you warmed up.” She stood up to assist me to a standing position.
I fastened the towel around my chest and accepted her help.
“You know you’re more than that, right?”
“More than what?” I sat down on my bed lifelessly.
She went to my dresser in pursuit of clothes for me to wear. “More than whatever for a black girl.”
“You will prove them wrong because that is who you are. You are brilliant in every way for anyone. Screw them.” She laid underwear, a t-shirt, my Yale sweatshirt, and pajama pants beside me.
“I am so tired.” I looked up from my lap.
“I’ll let you rest for a little while and get you back into fighting shape, Rocky III style, soon enough.” She kissed the top of my head.
“Because you’re my sister?”
“Always and forever.” She touched her hand to my shoulder.
I changed into my clothes and laid down in my bed. She put her arm around me and I rested my head on her chest.
“I miss him.” I thought aloud.
“I’d question everything if you didn’t.” She started rubbing my back. “Has he called?”
“Only a million times. Texted too.”
“Did you answer?”
“You are hurt. Give it time.” She kissed the top of my head.
“It’d be too hard.”
“Because you love him. You’ll be able to face him eventually.”
“Am I overreacting?”
“Only you can answer that.”
“It’s just like -- Milo always steps up for you, fights ruthlessly ,regardless of opponent.”
“Princey is stubborn and passionate to the point of it getting him into trouble, but he is who he is and that’s what he does.”
“I want that.”
“Then you did the right thing. I won’t allow you to settle for less than what you want.”
I sighed. “But right now it hurts more than I expected our goodbye to feel.”
“That’s why your babydoll is here.” She hugged me close.
I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
“Ry, I told you to stay away. This is a boy-free zone!” Iz whisper shouted.
“Then you shouldn’t have let Sami to come to our suite and loudly rant to Finn about what happened.” He retorted at a normal volume, anger present in his voice.
“Well, she’s asleep, so…”
“ELLE!” He defied her and shouted.
“She’s mine. Go away!” She shielded my ear with her hand.
“ELLIE!” He just got louder.
“What?” I opened my eyes, knowing there was no chance that he’d leave.
He knelt down on the side of the bed, putting his folded arms on it and resting his head on top to look me in the eye. “Hi.”
I cracked a smile. “You are an idiot.”
“Been called worse, mostly by you.”
“I will be okay.”
He put his hand atop mine “You got me through my thing. I’ve got you now.”
Tears welled in my eyes. “How is Rae?” I pushed down the lump in my throat.
“She is home now. We got to hang out. She couldn’t do much, of course, but I painted her nails before I left for school.” He removed his phone from his pocket and showed me pictures.
“She looks good. And not bad for your first manicure.” It made me feel better seeing his nightmare was coming to an end.
“I had fun with it.”
“And how are you?”
“Better than you.”
I breathed a laugh. “Not for long.”
“Counting on it. It’s been dull around here without you. Miles isn’t as much fun as he used to be – never letting me do what I want.”
“Lies. I said you shouldn’t come here, but I didn’t actively stop you.” He appeared in the doorway.
“Like you could.” Ry looked in his direction.
“You’re here too?” Iz cried in outrage.
“I wanted to see what he’d do.” He shrugged.
She rolled her eyes. “Both of you need to leave. She needs rest. She hasn’t slept in almost 24 hours.”
“Ugh, fine.” Ryan lugged himself off the ground. “I’ll be barging in later to check up on her.”
“Like hell you are.” Iz retorted.
“Watch.” He flashed her a dimpled smirk and winked on his way to the door.
“Annnd I’ll let him.” Milo quickly pulled him out and shut the door behind them.
“Do it and see what happens!” Izzie barked at him. She sighed and looked down at me. “You are so beloved by us; it is ridiculous.”
“I know.” I closed my eyes with a smile on my face.