Brandt was disappointed in me yet again. I didn’t want to talk to the therapist, and I didn’t want to take the pills. When he gave them to me, I started to put them under the couch. The pain pills and the one-time drug experiment at a party caused more trouble than it was worth. Why did he think these pills would be any different? I took one the first day and started to feel funny. He wouldn’t understand if I told him I didn’t want to take them, proving me uncooperative with his new shrink friend, so I just hid them.
Not only did he push the medication on me, but he tried to feed me all the time too. I was not interested in either since I never felt hungry, but I hated how he worried about me. When he left for the studio, I opened a can of soup and dumped it down the drain. It prevented him from asking me if I ate, and I worked out the soup idea so he would leave me alone. Less of a hassle in my opinion. Anything to not see the disappointment in his eyes. I had done it enough lately.
He spent all his time at the recording studio, and when he came home, he stowed away in his home studio. I got up the nerve to see where he hid all day long and the door wasn’t completely shut when I heard him strumming his guitar and singing a pensive melody. Although I only heard a couple of verses, it tore at my heart, speaking of loss and an emptiness so profound, he called it a black hole to his happy memories. I heard his pain through the woeful notes and turned away before the tears fell, amazed I could still cry at all, deciding I didn’t want to go looking for him anymore.
Today was no different from any other day. We assumed our customary positions: Brandt in the studio and me on the couch, when a knocking at the front door disturbed the new home improvement show I was watching. This time, they were on an island trying to find a house on the beach in an exotic location. They fixed them up and sold them for top dollar all within a comfortable sixty minutes. How wonderful it would be to take something absolutely shitty and turn it into something majestic in an hour. Why couldn’t life be that way?
Brandt must have been in the studio, unable to hear the disturbance through the soundproof walls. I half thought about getting it but in the end, I realized I couldn’t care less. Maybe they would just go away. Finally, the knocking stopped, and I was out of the woods. At least I thought.
Brandt came down the spiral staircase, stopping briefly at the couch before heading to the front door. “Chelsea, didn’t you hear the knocking?” I glanced at him, slightly guilty, knowing he caught me.
Who would come here anyway? The band didn’t come here anymore. They met in the studio and even my so-called friends couldn’t stand to be around me, not knowing what to say. There was too much pity in their eyes for me to stand to be in their presence either.
When I heard her voice, I secretly cringed. “Hey babe, whatcha doing?” Amilyn came around the corner and flopped down on the loveseat next to the couch as if nothing had changed in my life. I just stared at her. She looked refreshed, tan and luminous even for it being this late at night. Did she forget what went on in my life over the past two months? The last time I saw her was at the funeral. Could she not see the miserable hag I’d turned into or was she just ignoring my discontent? I kept staring, unable to answer her, flabbergasted at her audacity.
When I didn’t answer, she continued on in her Ami way, “Well, thank you for asking. I am doing great. My company sent me to Europe for my job. Luxembourg to be exact, with a stop in South Africa, and you were the first person I thought of visiting when I came back. Lucky you.”
"Ami, why are you here?” It came out more bitter than I intended. Not that I didn’t want to see her, it was just obvious there were better people for her to visit. People who were as full of life and not as damaged.
“I came to see you.”
“Well, here I am. When are you leaving?” Her green eyes turned cold, and I instantly regretted my sharp tongue. Although she tried to be a friend, she also ruined my solitude, and the last thing I wanted to hear was her talking about her fabulous life.
“I will be staying for the night. I fly out again tomorrow and only had one day to spend in the States and I wanted to spend it with you.” She looked at me like I should be grateful.
“Sorry to disappoint you but I don’t feel up to partying all night with you. Besides, I didn’t get a chance to pick up my ball gown from the cleaners.” I couldn’t help it. Why should I be grateful for her solicitude? I didn’t ask her to come.
Ami gaped at me with an open-mouthed stare. Unable to meet her gaze, I went back to watching my show, now mad I missed what they did to turn the shack into a mansion. I could almost guess by now, watching as many as I had, but still, I was annoyed knowing the rerun wouldn’t be until two in the morning.
Rustling through her purse, she brought out a pack of cigarettes and stomped her way through the French doors leading out onto the deck. When she left, I sighed, knowing I was being a bitch but seemingly unable to stop. Why was I being such a cold-hearted witch to my best friend? I knew why. She threatened me with her presence. Why else would she be here but to either get me to talk about it or tell me to toughen up in her ′Ami′ way? Well, it wouldn’t work this time. I wasn’t game for her enlightenment and it just might be time to sever ties with her.
When Ami left to talk to Chelsea, I went through the kitchen, heading out on the deck to feel the salty air on my face. The night was still a little muggy, a stark contrast to the heated days of mid-summer. I looked out at the ocean, gazing over at the tide. The same one we used to watch roll in at night and I instantly missed what we had.
The doors opened at the far end of the deck and Ami walked out with an irate cloud forming above her. Glancing in my direction, she stormed over, lighting up a cigarette on the way. It didn’t seem like such a great sign.
“She is depressed you know.”
“I think she should see someone.”
“She is. I mean... well sort of.” Squinting her eyes, she asked me what I meant.
“I took her to Dr. Kellen, a psychiatrist her doctor recommended. Chelsea wouldn’t talk to her. She got upset and stormed out of her office, refusing to go back. I thought I would give her some time. At least long enough to get her started on her prescription anti-depressants, but I found out she hasn’t been taking them. Instead, she has been stashing them under the couch. I found them right before you got here.”
She looked at me with alarm. “She had a stash of them?”
“Yeah, I don’t think she took any after the first one over a week ago now.” Her eyes widened in alarm as she put out her cigarette.
“Do you think she stashed them for a reason?” I didn’t know what she was getting at, but then it hit me. Did Chelsea stockpile them to harm herself?
Ami reiterated what was going through my head, “You don’t think she would take them all at once do you?”
My stomach sank as realization flooded me. Would she try to kill herself? She was depressed, yes, but suicidal? Here I thought I was helping her somehow and I could have given her the ammunition to kill herself.
“Damn it. What the hell am I doing? Everything I touch turns to shit and Chelsea is no exception. She would have been better off without me.”
Ami shook her head, “No, Brandt. She loves you. You help her more than you know.”
My fist pounded on the deck railing as she came over to me and wrapped her arms around me, hugging me. I accepted the consoling. It felt good to have human contact. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had someone touch me, and I only wished it was Chelsea.
“Brandt, she loves you. I know it. Please don’t give up. She is in there somewhere.” No, I didn’t want to give up but what else could I do? Chelsea pulled away the harder I held on to her and my grip seemed so ineffective.
Ami held me for longer than I liked to admit. There was an intimacy in the embrace, but it stemmed from an understanding. The ability to both love someone so much that we felt an overbearing helplessness. Neither one of us wanted to let go.
We talked long into the night, and when we went to check on Chelsea, she was fast asleep. No surprise there. She slept a lot now. I didn’t think she got a very restorative sleep knowing how my sleep was just as disjointed. The only way I could get more than a couple hours at a time was if I drained myself in the gym or exhausted myself in the studio, and yet I still dreamed. The one with Dan in it where he cajoled me, asking the same awful question over and over. You like to hit her too, don’t you?
Showing Ami to the spare bedroom, I left to go back to my desolate room. I hated not having Chelsea there. She hadn’t slept with me since the night of the storm several weeks ago. I should be used to it by now. No matter what, she wouldn’t be coming back to me.
It was halfway through the next TV show when my guilty conscious got the better of me. Maybe I should apologize? Ami didn’t deserve my acrimony. She was my only true friend and if I asked her to back off, she wouldn’t pressure me. At least not yet. It did take her a couple of years after my last breakup before nagging me to stop wallowing in self-pity and get a grip on life again.
Not able to stand it anymore, I got up and looked out the French doors. I didn’t see Ami out the side by the family room and decided to look out the kitchen side. Traveling down the length of the house to the kitchen, I didn’t hear her there either. The lights were off in the kitchen and when I looked out the patio doors, I could see them hugging. Brandt and Ami. It wasn’t a brief hug either. She had him engulfed in her arms, and there was more than a tinge of jealousy in me. Not that Amilyn would take him away from me but the fact that she got to touch him. Console him. Have him trust her enough he felt he could confide in her. It hurt more than I would have liked to admit.
She comforted him, and he leaned on her. It should be me but really, why would he look to me for solace? I was a mess, the cause of all his pain.
Turning to leave the kitchen quickly, I knocked over a stack of cards lying on the countertop. They were sympathy cards, and I hated every one of them. Frustrated and angered, I opened up the top of the garbage can to throw them in when I spied my pill bottle. The medication Brandt kept feeding me twice a day. He didn’t give me one this morning or this afternoon. He really had given up on me.
It made me wonder? Making my way back to the couch, I looked under it, feeling for my stash of pills. They were gone. He found them, and he must be angry. Shit, Chelsea. Why are you torturing the guy? Well, he knew I was a lost cause now. He should have seen it weeks ago.
Settling back on the couch, I worked my way back under the blankets and didn’t have to fake sleep. It came more natural to me now that living wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
The next morning, Ami came and sat directly in front of me on the coffee table. I could tell when something was on her mind as she never beat around the bush. “Chelsea, we need to talk. I know you have been through a lot, but this is no way to live.” Uninterested in where this conversation headed, I tried to tune her out and went back to the television, hoping she would get the hint.
"Ami, please. This is not the time for your pep talk.” The last thing I wanted was a heart-to-heart with Ami on what she felt I needed to do.
“This is not a pep talk, it is a reality check. You need to get up and live life again.” Her choice of words made me mad. Did you really know what someone was going through if you didn’t walk a mile in their shoes?
“Don’t go there, Ami.” She didn’t heed my warning.
“Chelsea, look at yourself. When was the last time you even showered? Come on. Even you have to admit that you would feel better if you would just get up and do something. Get out and enjoy nature at least.”
Every word of her motivational speech caused my hackles to rise. She was sticking her nose in a situation she had no clue about as if her life was so special. She might be the worldly socialite, but she had never been in a long-standing relationship. How long did Phillip and her last, months? “Get out and enjoy nature? Live life? Is that what you do? Live your life to the fullest? Aren’t you the one jet-setting around, avoiding life? You find some random stranger to fuck and then leave, not wanting to have any ties to anyone just so you can say you are an independent woman. Well, if that is living, you lead one fucked up life.”
Her eyes widened as her mouth went slack. I had never talked to Ami like that. In fact, I had always admired her independence. When I was holed up in her house avoiding any type of physical interaction with the opposite sex, she was out exploring her options. I loved that she had passion and daring in a way I never could, and there had to be a reason the two of them didn’t work out, and I was just rubbing it in. Pain surfaced in her eyes as well as... disappointment?
"Ami?” Brandt called from the hallway and must have heard my hateful words. He looked from me to her. A sheen of moisture covered the whites of her eyes, and I looked away, embarrassed by my impudence and not knowing how to make this better.
“Brandt, I better go. My plane takes off in a little while, anyway. And I have my life to avoid.” When she swiftly walked past me, I recoiled, horrified by my own behavior. I knew I should have stopped her. Said something, but I didn’t. I let her go. In the end, I decided it might be easier for her this way. Maybe she wouldn’t be tempted to come back and watch me deteriorate into hopelessness.
Brandt offered to take her to the airport, and when they left, I sunk into a pit of remorse. Ami was always my voice of reason. In a way, I held her back. She always checked in on me to make sure I was doing okay and maybe now she would live her wild life with no sense of obligation to me anymore.
It didn’t escape me I had the same wish for Brandt too. As much as I thought I didn’t want him disappointed in me, maybe it was better this way. If he hated me, it would be easier to be mad at me, yell at me, get rid of me. I destroyed his future, and he still was present, trying hard to be my Superman.
He would never tell me to leave if he still loved me. He was too nice of a guy. It couldn’t last forever. Get mad, Brandt. Do it. You deserve to tell me off. Get me out of your life once and for all. Please do it soon because I am too weak, a coward. I should leave you so you don’t have to kick me out but I just can’t. Why do I keep torturing you?