Chapter Eleven | Have You Seen My Sanity?
♬ Blythe °
One week later
Short notice giving morons; Why would they book my flight the morning before I’m supposed to be working on this project? I’ve ONLY been asking for more information on next steps all month.
The tranquil dinner rendezvous for one I’d been enjoying at a local bistro was cut short about twenty minutes ago, a mild irritation considering I haven’t gotten much time for myself in weeks. I’m not usually the type to discuss private or business affairs while out in public, and even if I were, I knew I needed to get back home to prepare. Still wearing my plain black t-shirt and matching slacks, I hadn't even stopped to change.
I’d much rather be munching on my ruben sandwich that’s now sitting in a to-go container on the kitchen counter than rushing around like a crazy person, but this is what I get for making myself readily available for assignments.
“Are you there, hon? I think I cut out for a minute.” High pitched laughter rang in my ear.
“Yeah, I can hear you just fine. Anyway, you were saying?” I was busy neatly folding a week’s worth of lighter clothing as my director rattled off rental vehicle and hotel information a mile a minute. Gigi Hartford is a woman of many, many words—so I knew I could get away with focusing on packing for my sudden trip to Naples, Florida while she prattled quickly into my small black blue-tooth headset.
“Oh yes, well. The company card you’ve been given is fully activated; Please use it for any expenses that may arise. You’ll be working directly with the Concertmaster as we’ve discussed over the last three months. I know your team can’t wait to become acquainted with you, Blythe.”
She finally took a breath! Now’s my chance to get a word in.
I seized the opportunity.
“Yes, thank you Gigi. It looks like I’ll be spending roughly five months of this assignment in Florida intermittently, correct?” I interjected passively while scouring over the initial email I was sent just after accepting the prestigious year long project. This wasn’t my first Symphony, but like music itself, each one is unique in it’s own right and it’s important to remain flexible and fluid at all times. Which, started with obtaining and clarifying the details in advance.
“Right!” Gigi’s confident tone relaxed me some. “The duration of each trip may vary, but you’re free to return to New York while your hands-on presence isn’t required.”
At least I could count on some of the information being accurate; I hate surprises when it comes to my professional life.
“Very well; I’ll let you know once I arrive, and will report my activities accordingly. Is there anything else...? I need to finish up here and get some sleep.” Tucking a strand of breast length dirty blonde hair behind my ear, I patiently awaited Gigi’s reply while glancing out the 10-foot tall arched window of my roomy studio loft. Even from behind closed doors, New York’s infamous polluted smoke could be seen snaking up toward the cloudy grey sky. A sea of colorful vehicles bypassed each other from every direction, and those not driving crowded the cracked sidewalks.
“That’s all for now, Blythe. Fly safely and please feel free to contact me if anything comes up.”
I nodded my head out of habit, something I’ll usually do to let someone know I understand. “Alright, thanks Gigi. Talk soon.” After ending our phone call, I resumed packing so I would have everything set to go for tomorrow. Patrick Metheny’s ‘Have You Heard’ picked up where it left off before Gigi called, and I closed my eyes for a second to appreciate it’s uplifting beat.
The distinctive tone and syncopated rhythmic patterns were pleasing to my auditory senses; I couldn’t ever get enough of this progressive Jazz style. I had the pleasure of seeing Pat and his group perform live when I was seventeen with my zoologist father, who took some time away from his exotic studies to give me a spectacular birthday. From then on, I was sold. I own all of Patty M’s albums to date.
Track after catchy track played, and I occasionally pretended to drum on multiple surfaces with my prized felt tip pen—the one I was simultaneously using to check off each item going to Naples on my yellow legal pad. As nostalgic memories of that concert rushed forward, I paused to tap the pen against my lips, trying to think of the last time I even spoke to my parents.
To their credit, they’re usually the ones who try and touch base semi regularly; I just suck at getting back to them. It’s nothing personal, but I never know what to say. Half the time I feel like I’m the adopted child, instead of my twin siblings who eat, think, and even breathe like our parents. It’s almost scary, but I’m thrilled to death that they all have that bond.
Still though, I should probably return dad’s call; It’s been a few weeks since we last caught up.
The happy-go-lucky hippy couple who gave me life are eccentric animal lovers, involved in various wildlife volunteer work and conservation efforts. Half the year, they aren’t even in the United States since my mother in particular specializes in rare species of reptile, not found anywhere else except for regions like South America. While sorting through suitcases, I wrote myself a mental reminder.
Tomorrow. I’ll leave a voicemail or something on my way to the airport.
In just under a half an hour, I had three pieces of midnight blue Mark and Graham luggage fully packed and aligned perfectly by the front door. Then, I lit my favorite Akemi ceramic candle before striding back over to the window for some reflection. Hands behind my back, I peered at the nightlife below and contemplated my overall happiness in such a hectic area.
My place wasn’t much to look at it, but I’ve made it into a cozy little spot. The South Park Slope loft I’m renting in Brooklyn boasts a open room consisting of my queen sized bed and walk-in closet located up a mini stair-case, secluded bathroom, a modern kitchen equipped with sturdy appliances, and decent sized ‘living section’. I got a great deal on it and haven’t felt the need to move in three years. Especially since I’m constantly traveling for work as it is, lately and otherwise.
I liked bustling city life well enough. Hidden away in my high rise loft without anyone to distract me, I truly thrived. Nixx on the other hand couldn’t stand seclusion or New York as a whole, so I already knew it would be much harder to keep her under control once we reached a warmer climate. My alternate personality, while a highly irritating pain in the ass, has been with me since I was four without any intentions to leave.
‘Dissociative identity disorder’ the specialists my parents took me to called it. There isn’t any obvious rhyme or reason why Nixx came to be, we’re just rolling with the punches while involuntarily sharing one body.
At least our career paths are identical, as we both adore music with everything we are. We’d be getting into it constantly if Nixx had a different interest, because I’m just way too passionate about-
What the hell? I’m not expecting anyone this late.
Jolted from my mental tangent, I frowned with confusion before turning away from the large window to approach my intercom system mounted on the wall, just before my entry way. I leaned in to press the button so I could speak into it clearly, and damn near shrieked in surprise instead.
Buzz, buzz, buuuuzzzzzz-
Before I could utter a single syllable, whoever was at the other end started abusing the buzzer with an enthusiasm I couldn't help but grit my teeth in annoyance at. Pressing my forehead against the wall, I groaned out a response.
“Give it a rest. That’s enough, I’m home! Who's there?” I hoped I sounded as pissed off as I felt, but probably not. Just thinking about this upcoming trip exhausted me to no end.
“It's Fern! Ugh, I was afraid I missed you. We really need to talk. Can I come up?” My EX girlfriend sounded out of breath and anxiety ridden, but grateful to have caught me in time. I knew she wouldn't be easy to get rid of without entertaining whatever conversation she wanted to have first. I screamed internally.
"Phone calls are still a thing, Fern. Don't tell me you already forgot my number?" I scoffed, which I regretted immediately. My EX's childish pleading drowned out everything else around me, all the peaceful little sounds my home made moments ago ceased to exist.
"I'm seriously serious, Blythe! Please talk to me!? It can't wait!"
What did I ever see in such an impossible brat? More importantly, why do I always get stuck with girls like her? Who am I kidding, spoiled women...they can't get enough of whatever I do for them; It's almost as if they view me as a glorified babysitter tending to their every whim.
They aren't completely wrong...but I only reward good girls; Those who choose to take advantage of me learn their lessons the hard way. Fern could write a whole book on the subject by now if I ordered her to.
"Make it quick, I don't have time for this right now." I all but growled before turning on my heel and heading right for the fridge in search of some bourbon. One thing I couldn't be while talking to or about Fern Vonhilde, is sober. I'd been so careful to avoid her ever since our disastrous breakup, the mere thought of coming face to face with the mossy green eyes I've loved for close to two years made my mouth go dry.
Nothing crazy happened, we were just two souls destined for different paths. Fern is a family girl, close to her eight siblings and longing for at least a dozen children of her own. That woman dreams of white picket fences and vacations to Disney Land. She's a child at heart, pure and innocent...but there's another side to Fern too, and that side was absolutely relentless the night she made it clear I couldn't ever be what she wanted deep down.
I hated to admit it at the time, but Fern was right.
Just as I finished pouring a generous amount of dark liquid over a vat of crushed ice, I heard my front door fly open. Within seconds, a tiny elfish thing was standing right in front of me, shifting uncomfortably as I swirled the bitter whiskey around in my glass without much interest.
"Blythe..." Fern gasped almost in disbelief, and I forced myself to appear unaffected as I glanced at my EX girlfriend. She looked exactly the same as the last night I made love to her two months ago; Soft, feminine, vulnerable.
Wasn't that what I loved most about Fern, her vulnerability?
I waited for her to continue, but when all she did was freeze in place, I sighed loudly. "So, what's the big emergency? I don't even feel like asking how you know I'm leaving town in the morning, but since it's clear that I am...I'd really like to move our visit along so I can get on with my evening."
Fern winced, as if I just slapped her across the face. I honestly couldn't bring myself to care. She clutched something in her hand, and I looked on blankly as it was dropped onto the counter with a small clink. "...I kept hoping you'd call me...for weeks. I always knew you were stubborn, Blythe...but I don't know anyone who could go as long as you have without caving and trying to talk to the person they love."
Fern's white gold promise ring glinted beneath the lighting of my kitchen. I went back to my drink, turning away from the expectant woman holding her breath in tears. "Before you leave New York...I need to know why you let us go...why did you give up? I wanted you to fight for what we had!"
I almost choked as I shot Fern an incredulous look. Her wounded gaze told me she was absolutely serious.
I've BEEN fighting, the entire way. Spending so much time being strung behind her, pretending like she supported me all while trying to mold my passions and interests with hers. The afternoon before Fern's twenty eighth birthday, she sat across from me...right over there on my couch, and listed off every single reason she didn't want to 'try and make this work' anymore. Everything from not wanting kids, to turning to music instead of her when I wasn't in a good head space. The more she spoke, the more I agreed.
I swallowed my pride and unconditional love for Fern to end our incompatible relationship once I was sure I could speak without crying. She tried to take it all back before the words left my lips, but I just couldn't handle our destructive dynamic anymore. I knew if we stayed together, we'd keep running around the same circle of resentment.
Compromise enough of yourself, and who do you become?
That wasn't going to happen to me; Not in this life, or the next. It didn't matter how enamored I was with Fern, I knew I couldn't fulfill her domestic housewife fantasy. Babies aren't all that cute, and there's no way in hell anyone would find me changing diapers and wiping mashed up banana off someone's chubby, dribbling chin.
I've worked pretty God damn hard my entire career, and I wouldn't stop until I found myself on stage; Conducting famous orchestras for the world to witness.
I laughed quietly, focusing on the rim of my glass as Fern hung off every word I spat out. "That's your biggest problem. You have this idea in your mind of how other's should react when you hurt them...I just took you by surprise, and made you literally eat your own words. I don't beg, Fern. You're the one who stopped me from meeting your parents the day before your birthday. Two years together, and you kept me from everyone in your life, and why? Because you didn't want anyone to know about us, or me. Because we're just too damn different, and you knew it. So why don't you take this fucking useless piece of metal-" I paused to swipe the expensive ring off my counter, following Fern's shocked expression as she watched it bounce off a wall and roll toward her feet. "-and choke on it? I've got nothing nice to say to you. Not a God damn thing, so if that's all you came here for...kindly see yourself out."
My face was flushed, and I felt irritated for allowing my EX to get the better of me. I couldn't help it; The nerve of her, showing up to antagonize the fuck out of me? Anger the bear, get the claws.
"I have no idea who you are anymore, Blythe...but I feel a lot better about leaving you alone now, so I guess it all worked itself out." Fern snapped in a trembling voice. My peripheral vision caught her stooping down to grab the ring, and I resisted the urge to flinch as she slammed it back down beside my empty glass. "Pawn it; I want nothing to do with anything you've given me. Oh, and another thing, I hope your plane goes up in flames."
"Of course you do. Hey, make sure you shut the door all the way. You've got this horrendous habit of leaving it open."
"With pleasure, bitch."
I used both hands to rub my face from stress, moaning a little when Fern slammed the door so hard, I heard a few picture frames become unhinged as they crashed onto the floor.
What a time to be single; I should have asked her to give me my sanity back.