Chapter Eight | Misery Loves Empathy
◦◦ Sawyer ◦◦
I felt so fucking pathetic, sitting across my dining room table from Kate while we quietly dug into the blueberry french toast I prepared for us not ten minutes ago. Her remarkable hazel eyes were aflame with questions I had no plans on answering, not because I didn’t want to...but I just couldn’t bring myself to get into what I’ve been so carefully avoiding. Not again. Risking another downward spiral didn’t sound like the sort of hellish party I wanted to attend.
That stuck up bitch in the old photograph Kate held in her hands before I grabbed and broke the frame encasing it, is my most recent EX girlfriend; A.K.A a prime cause for the majority of my slew of idiotic drunken escapades.
If one could even call her that. We weren’t official after all, but Violaine Gagnon gleefully yanked and played with my heart strings like the manipulative, master puppeteer she is...and the more I struggled, the more tangled up in her grand performance I became.
Dazzled by Violaine’s seemingly timeless beauty and wit, she unwillingly took me on a fast and furious emotional ride from the literal moment we met at an upscale Country club eleven months prior—leaving me sick to my stomach, and vomiting feelings of adoration toward her by the end of our one sided relationship.
I never failed to feel dizzy, confused, and yearning when Vee disappeared for yet another few weeks after a wild get together— but God damn it, did she know how to keep my nose trailing after her potent French perfume, and I foolishly fell for every fib promising she’d stay with me a little longer ‘next time’.
It was always next time, never when I particularly needed her by my side. That phrase alone kills me to this day, probably because I allowed myself to believe it over and over again, as if it were the very first time I heard those false words uttered from her poisonous lips.
“We’ll plan for next time, Sawyer.” Violaine would purr into my pierced ear as I whined in protest, struggling to maintain contact with her fleeting wrists before they were yanked away from my halfhearted grip. One gentle kiss and a flip of her dyed blonde hair later, I’d be left alone in my apartment longing for ‘next time’.
I’ve never been a fan of hard drugs, but Vee changed all that for me with nothing more than a simple request to join when she arrived for one of our huge blowouts. In her company alone, I’d snort fine white powder and pop the colorful pills she always needed my money to buy.
You’d think this beautiful Parisian girl who claimed to love me would stick around to ensure I wouldn’t blow my mind afterwards from sheer paranoia, but no. Just as soon as she got what she wanted, Violaine would make up every excuse to bolt. If it wasn’t in my wallet or between my legs, she had no use for what I had to offer.
I’d had enough of being shoved aside, and started asking more from her when we hung out. Of course, I wasn’t successful. Not even when it especially mattered.
The final night we spent together, my EX’s inpatient French accent grew hastier with every vain attempt I made at pleading for just a few more minutes of her precious time.
I wasn’t taking well to the pills she placed under my tongue hours earlier, and the next thing I knew the only person there for comfort was abandoning me after swearing she was here to stay this time.
Latched onto Violaine’s nylon clad ankles like a small child terrified of being dropped off on the first morning of Kindergarten, I whimpered from acute chest pains and the mere idea of having to come down all alone.
“I can’t BREATHE...please don’t go, Vee...I’m BEGGING you...these pills...get them out!” I felt her legs lift out of my grasp forcibly, causing me to nearly fall face first onto the hard wood floor—beneath those high heels I always felt so exhilarated to hear click clacking when my ears picked up the sound of their approach. This action only made me cry harder. In a pitying tone, she tried to comfort me with the minimalist amount of effort.
“They will wear off, ma trésor. Go to bed and breathe as you normally would.”
I started hyperventilating, and my heart seized in agony. “I CAN’T! I need you...y-you can’t just GO right now. V-violaine...you said you’d spend the night if we-”
She interjected coldly while I continued to snivel.
“This is ridiculous. You’ll have to manage on your own, Sawyer! You’re behaving like a spoiled brat; You KNOW what this meeting could do for me, I had no idea they would phone with a proposition tonight. Au revoir, I will call when I’m available next.”
...and so there I laid, hopelessly sobbing out her name at my front door while I pounded against it with a shaking fist—forced to deal with the panic attacks that consumed my entire existence for hours to come. Her reasoning? A business deal she’d been waiting on first thing the next morning that came through last minute. Vee scorned me for acting selfish after pumping my body full of drugs, knowing how bad my anxiety and loneliness could get under the influence of such dangerous substances.
Vee swore nothing would steal her away that stormy night, but she left me behind at the first opportunity. As usual.
How dare ‘I’ try and ruin this for HER! Meanwhile, I felt like the world was crashing down right on my chest, suffocating me.
I sat on that traumatic experience for three days before finally calling the puppet show I was starring in quits, after a few shots of tequila for courage naturally. Weeks passed, then months. I never heard from Violaine again. I’ve always been rather reckless with my life, but it’s never been as bad as it is now. That’s part of the reason I couldn’t look at Erin yesterday while she was fiercely scolding me, because I knew I’d completely lost all sense of control while trying to regain some of it back from Vee.
The problem is, I just stopped believing in every and anything...dead set on accepting a life of risky, adventurous solitude. That was, until Kate not only made it her personal mission to be there while I was drowning, but showed up at NCH Baker hospital to see how I was holding up after leaving work for the day.
Those consoling hazel eyes, that affectionate smile...she truly was another chance at something in this world for me, I felt it in my gut and refused to let intuition go by the wayside. Our connection was something I’ve always wanted from every girl I’d been with before, and I found it with Kate in a single day.
Violaine is nothing but a vivid memory now; An unpleasant, torturous recollection of how cruel the women in my life have proved to be. She was the worst of them all though, the bottom of the shit barrel.
I was ready to take a chance on something different.
“This is really good...thanks, for um...insisting I stay for a bit longer this morning.” Kate spoke up between a mouthful of food, jolting me from my concentrated reverie. She played with the end of her short chestnut shaded ponytail nervously while I grinned slyly in response, taking my time as I brought the fork spearing at least three layers of fluffy french toast to my lips.
“Hmmmhmmm...” I crooned approvingly with a nod, savoring the airy sweetness while chewing. Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day, mostly because it’s like having an extra dessert and calling it essential. Pancakes, waffles, french toast—I rotate through them happily, never growing tired of the same three choices I constantly tend to make dating back to childhood.
I caught Kate's gaze shifting, and I followed her line of vision as it kept trailing toward my room. I wasn't sure if knowing the last picture I owned of Violaine and I bothered her was a relief, or an irritation. I sighed quietly and set the fork down, folding my arms on the table.
"I meant what I said, Kaitlyn...she's not important. Since you want to know so bad though, her name was Violaine. She's someone I ran with for just shy of a year, but it's over. It's been like, two months since I kicked her out of my life. So...can you maybe start enjoying your breakfast now? It's not often I get to cook for beautiful women...they usually prefer to go out."
Hell, even Erin did. But she was an entirely different story; My independent friend almost always insisted on paying for herself. She chose to accompany me for no other reason than genuinely wanting to. I should probably text her today...offer to mix up a few mimosas or something; Erin couldn't ever stay mad at me long. She tries, but I make the task impossible.
Kate's head whipped back around, and the cute little glare she had plastered across her face made me chuckle. "Two things; I told you to stop calling me that, for real. It's Kate, and secondly...why should I care who Violaine is or-"
"Was." I reminded her pointedly, stuffing another forkful of french toast in my mouth. The two hazel eyes I'd fallen in love with already rolled back in annoyance, and I almost choked on my barely contained laughter.
"Was, whatever. You made it clear the topic is off limits, so I'm not trying to force anything." She admitted in a pained tone. It almost sounded like Kate was totally convinced that I didn't want to let her in, but that's not what this was about at all.
I've never walked away from anyone before...and even when I knew it was for the best, cutting ties with Violaine was one of the hardest choices I've ever had to make.
"I just don't see the point in talking about the past." My voice sounded foreign, like someone else was talking for me. That crazy time in my life was over, why relive even a moment of it?
Kate squinted at me with a twisted smile as she leaned back in her chair, arms tightly crossed. "...Can I ask you something then, Sawyer?"
I locked my jaw in anticipation. "Yeah, sure."
She licked her lips, looking off to the side before peering into my eyes as if to search for more information than what I was giving her. "If you aren't holding onto the past, why do you still have that picture? Isn't that sort of counterproductive?"
I glanced down quickly, pushing around what remained of breakfast with my fork in a listless manner. I felt Kate's smoldering stare soften when I scowled. "...I'm over her, I am...but I'm afraid if I get rid of the last reminder I have of our time together, it'll be like it never existed...does that make sense?"
She seemed to consider my words. "Well, yeah okay-"
Before Kate could continue, I scrambled to finish my explanation. "Haven't you ever felt like that? About anyone? The 'relationship' sucked, it really did...and I got rid of literally every thing else...but whenever I look at that photo, Kate...I remember how miserable Violaine made me. It was taken the last time I saw her, at one of her friend's parties...and uh, she left me when I was really counting on having her around. I kept it because I needed a good, hard look at what was waiting for me if I decided to take back what I did. You know, she never returned my call...and I don't chase after people...so...that's it."
I didn't realize I was crying until I felt Kate's strong arms wrap themselves around my shoulders from behind. I swallowed the hard lump lodged in my throat, tasting salty tears as they crept through the corners of my mouth.
"...I get it, Soy Bean. Trust me. You know that girl from yesterday, the one helping us at the concession stand?" She waited for me to nod, and I wiped my upper lip and nose while listening intently to her every word.
"That's my EX girlfriend, Danica. We were together for eight months...and I felt like she was pulling away toward the end, but every time I asked her if things were alright between us, she always assured me they were. Then...I left for a semi-final lifeguard competition taking place in California, and she called me in the middle of the night after I got back, while I was asleep...and broke it off. It's only been a few weeks...and I swear, sometimes she acts like I'm the one who dumped her."
I looked over my shoulder, upwards toward Kate who was smiling sadly at me and blinking back tears of her own. "I can't blame you for dealing with your heartbreak the way you are...I just wanted to know about it, and it turns out I can relate..."
I didn't even know what to say, but for the first time in my life I felt strongly compelled to soothe somebody else's distress...so that's what I proceeded to do.
Well, attempted anyway. I'm no good at this shit and never have been. Even still, I couldn't stand to see an amazing, selfless person like Kate so broken up over someone who obviously couldn't see how lucky she was.
"Christ, Kate...I didn't know what her problem was, she was acting so jealous while I was talking to you. I figured...I mean...I'm sorry..." I twisted in my chair, taking her golden face in my palms and cradling it so I could rub my nose with hers. "I know we don't technically know each other...but somehow, I feel like I've known you my entire life...and I'd really like to see you again...and again...and again. This doesn't have to end here..." Hope dripped from my voice, and I barely had time to react before Kate pressed her trembling lips against mine, threading her fingers through my white blonde hair as she did so.
When Kate broke our passionate kiss, my heart stopped in the worst way. She was frantically shaking her head from side to side, refusing to look into my questioning eyes.
"...I'm sorry, Sawyer...you're right, we really don't know each other...and I've got this super important tournament coming up, winning it is all I've been dreaming about for the last five years...and I'm finally ready. You distract the hell out of me. I-I can't do thi-"
I sat up straighter, pressing my fingers into her wet cheeks gently. I couldn't fully respect Kate's passion, because it was keeping us from taking the chance I knew we wouldn't regret. I just wanted a little room to wiggle around in her heart, a warm place I could feel safe...I knew I'd go right back to feeling empty the moment she left.
"No." I responded simply with hardened eyes. When Kate's brow raised in confusion, I cocked my head to the side and began to purr seductively. "I can behave myself...with a little motivation."
"Oh yeah? What kind of motivation, Sawyer?" She played along, a tentative smile tugging at her lips. I abruptly stood up, wrapping my arms around her waist as I swayed us from side to side. She squealed loudly in protest when I practically twirled us into my stainless steel refrigerator. "Yo! Knock it the hell off!"
"No problem, just agree to see me again. One date!" I was enjoying this way too much, and although Kate probably wouldn't have admitted it, I knew she was as well.
"Oh my God, NO." She didn't sound so convincing. All traces of misery were gone, replaced with impish mirth and hysterical giggling. Tightening my hold, I went in for the kill.
"Pleeeeeaaaase?" I sing songed persistently, erupting into squeaky laughter when I felt Kate's mischievous fingers viciously slip under my arms. She wriggled them around, tickling me halfway out of my mind. "EEP! WOULD YOU HAHAHAHA STOP THAHAHAT?"
"Let me go and I will, ticklish girl." Kate cooed into my ear as I thrashed against her. I fell right into her trap, and the second I ripped away, she managed to dig into my hallows deeper. “Shoot Soy Bean, I lied. Tickle tickle tickle!”
God damn it.
“NOHOHOHO HAHAHA *snort* stop, STHAHAHAP!” I threw my head back and yelped from the ticklish shock waves tormenting me, and I heard Kate scream with glee as we came crashing down onto the hard tile. Luckily, she seemed fairly unharmed for the most part.
My back didn't fare so well however, and I groaned audibly. "Fuuuuck..." I lolled my head from side to side, laughing lightly. When I opened my soaking wet eyes, I found Kate's nose practically touching mine once again.
Mmmmm...her smile alone could move mountains.
"I know the second I leave I'm just gonna come straight back...no use fighting it anymore. Okay, one date...Sawyer...?" Her voice trailed off, searching for my last name no doubt. I cricked a lip and tugged on the end of Kate's darkish ponytail as it unintentionally teased my sensitive neck.
"Driscoll....Kate...?" I drawled in the same tone, titling my head upward as hers came back down so she could brush her lips against mine. I bit the bottom part benevolently, and she moaned into my mouth as I broke out into a wide grin.