From Across the Room

She was the writer, he was the inspiration


12. Not Today

I had ended up going home later that evening to see my mom and sister. I had dinner with them and when a question about Bethany was asked, I passed it along as if nothing had happened. I didn’t need what she was going through to become everyone’s business. I’m sure no one would have any bad intentions about talking to her but it wasn’t something that needed to be tossed around…at all.
I was laying in bed that night. I hadn’t bothered to turn on any music or TV like I normally would have at night. I like the noise…it keeps me sane but tonight I just didn’t want to hear it. I wanted to be by Bethany, I wanted to hear her voice. I needed to know she was still okay. I knew she was with her mom and her mom would have her back if I couldn’t but it still didn’t change the fact that I needed to hear her voice.
“Hello?” Bethany said, answering the phone.
“Hey you…”
“Harry…how are you?”
“I should be asking you that.”
“My mom is here…it’s almost hard to be sad with my mom around.”
“Well that doesn’t really tell me how you’re doing.” I pointed out. Bethany laughed softly and I could almost see her smiling over the phone.
“No, it doesn’t, but it is what it is. There’s really not much you can say to any of this. It’s a lot to handle or take in at once. I’ve had better days, I’ve had worse days. Does that answer you’re question?”
“Sort of.”
“Sort of? What more can you ask of me?”
“I don’t think I can ask for much more. You’ve done pretty well considering the circumstance. I have a feeling I interrupted you though.”
“What makes you say that?” Bethany asked me.
“I have a feeling you were writing.”
“What makes you say that?”
“You have that slight distracted tone in your voice and that slight grumpy tone in your voice that you get hen I interrupt your writing.”
“Okay, you caught me. I was writing.”
“That’s it?” Bethany asked. “No questioning what about, no hounding me for answers?”
“Nope…if you want to tell me, you will, and if you don’t want to tell me, you won’t. It’s just that simple.” I said. I was almost relieved that she was writing since I knew it helped her clear her mind, but at the same time, I didn’t want her to push this all so far back into her memory that it became a blimp of nothing, a bad dream.
“Do you want to come over tomorrow?” Bethany asked after a pause.
“But your mom is in town?”
“So? I’m sure she wants to get to know you more and I know I don’t want to not see you for the next three weeks just because she’s going to be here.”
“Three weeks?”
“Yeah, remember? My family comes in the last week of June. So she’s just staying until the rest of my family gets here and then she’s going to go home with them.”
“I see…well then in thatcase, yeah I can come over tomorrow. I wouldn’t want to not see you for the next three weeks just because of family. Speaking of family, how is your mom and sister?”
“They’re good. They’ve asked how you were doing.”
“What did you say?”
“That you were doing good. I mean it’s only been a few days since they saw you last.”
“You lied to them?”
“I didn’t think you would want me telling everyone your business…” I said slowly, hoping she wasn’t going to get mad.
“I appreciate that…thank you.”
“No worries…”
“So…” Bethany said slowly.
“Is there anything you called for specifically?” Bethany asked.
“I needed to know you were okay.”
“That’s really sweet of you.”
“Yeah, I try.”
“Okay well…do you mind if I get some sleep? I think I’m about to call writing quits for the nights and head to bed.”
“Of course. Call me if you need anything. I mean anything at all, no matter what time.”
“I will Harry…thank you.”
“Goodnight.” I said.
“Goodnight Harry. Sweet dreams”
“Sweet dreams.” I said right before hanging up.

I made my way up to my room after my phone call with Harry. My mom was already settled in, probably asleep in the guest room. I felt a weird snese of relief having her here and having Harry call me to make sure I’m okay. It made me feel safe even though he wasn’t here. But I wasn’t going to be that person.
I looked up at my ceiling for what felt like hours, I couldn’t sleep in fear of having nightmares, in fear of screaming and shaking in my sleep…I just didn’t want it to happen. I rolled over, onto my side and saw my face in the mirror, out of the corner of my eye. I didn’t even recognize myself…I looked like I had been torn down and beaten, just in a different way this time. I started to cry silently to myself, just wanting something to be different. I wanted to be anybody but myself right now.
I got up and walked up to the mirror and just looked into my own eyes. They were glazed over and I just knew I needed to smoke. I went into my closet, found my stash from years ago and dug out the papers and weed. I stepped onto the fire escape outside my window, rolled the joint, and started smoking. I felt all the stress and anxiety slowly start to fade away, like I was going to be okay again.

I had trouble sleeping due to wondering if Bethany was okay. I was really worried about her and I just wanted to be there for her. I knew I was going to see her today but it didn’t feel like this morning could come fast enough.
“Where you off to this early in the morning?” Gemma asked me the next morning.
“Oh how is she?!”
“She is hanging in there. I don’t really know to be honest with you. She’s hit a rough patch.”
“Yeah I can get that. But you’re here for her, obviously. Are you going to spend the night at her place?”
“I don’t know yet. Her mom is in town for the next three weeks or so, so I don’t really know what is going to happen. We just decided to hang out for the day.”
“Well she probably needs it.” Gemma added in.
“Yeah, she does.” I said. Gemma only nodded and walked back off into the living room as I made my way to the car. I had already texted Bethany saying I was on my way. She didn’t answer but I didn’t mind waiting if I had to.
I had gotten my car parked when I arrived almost an hour later with breakfast and coffee and went to the buzzer at the front door. I pressed the button and waited for what seemed like years.
“Hello?!” It didn’t sound like Bethany’s or Pryia’s voice so I was confused on who this was.
“It’s Harry.” I buzzed back.
“Oh come on up!” I heard the door buzz and unlock so I walked in and took the elevator up to the pent house. When I got to the top floor, Bethany’s mom was standing in the door.
“Oh hello.” I said, surprised to see her waiting.
“Hello! I’m sorry it took so long to answer. I don’t know if Bethany is up or not so I had to figure out the buzzer on my own. I never had to do that before. But anyway, you can go up to her room and see if shes awake.”
“Thank you.” I said before I made my way up to her room. I knocked on her door before slowly opening the door. She wasn’t in her bed and her bathroom door was open so she wasn’t in there either. “Hello?” I called through her room. I saw a shadow move outside on the balcony and Bethany’s face appeared. She looked drained and depressed.
“Hey…you can come out.” I walked over and out onto the balcony and saw she had a joint in her hand.
“Why?” I asked her, nodding at her hand.
“It calms me down.” She said quietly. “I know, it’s dumb but it helps bring my anxiety down and sometimes it is exactly what I need.”
“I have a feeling you used to do this a lot.”
“Yeah, I did. I stopped for a little while…year or so, maybe a little more, but I couldn’t sleep at all and this calmed me down enough to get a few hours of sleep without waking up screaming.”
“You couldv’e called me. I would prefer you do that instead of this.”
“I’m sure a lot of people would prefer that but sometimes I need to figure things out for myself, make mistakes, learn from them…and yeah, this is a mistake I’ve already made but it’s different this time; a different mistake.”
“How is it different?”
“Because the situation is different. The first situation was trying to stop feeling the physical pain and to sleep through the pain. This situation is to sleep and relax.”
“But you know it’s a mistake…so why not stop now?”
“I don’t know to be honest with you. I like feeling relaxed and I like sleeping.”
“I’d still prefer you call me.”
“Okay, I’ll try to but I’m not going to make any promises.”
“I’ll take what I can get.” I paused for a minute before sighing. “I bought you coffee and breakfast.” I handed her the coffee and the little bag and she graciously accepted it.
“Thank you…” She put the joint down and we walked back into her room and sat down on her bed as she dug into the bag. She turned the TV on and sunk back into her bed.
“Are you going to go talk to your mom? She’s the one who let me in.”
“I figured as much but I will in a little bit. I do want to try and sleep a little more. I didn’t sleep all that great.”
“Me either to be honest with you.”
“Is that why you’re here so early?”
“Yeah…I was worried about you.” Bethany only nodded and sipped her coffee, like she knew why I was worried so it was silly to ask. We stayed silent at this point and I would glance over at her every few minutes, only to realize after about fifteen minutes, she was asleep.
I made my way back downstairs to her mom, who was sitting on the couch watching the same show Bethany had turned on in her room. I made my way over slowly, sitting down next to her mom. It was a little awkward for me due to the fact that I barely knew her but I knew Bethany needed her sleep.
“How is she?” Her mom finally asked me.
“She is definitely tired…she looks lost and depressed…”
“That doesn’t surprise me. Myles really messed her life up. And now that he is back, this doesn’t surprise me. Is she smoking again?”
“I won’t say anything. I’m not happy about it but I can smell it on you which is why I asked. I knew it was either you or her and you didn’t seem like the type of person. I know that sounds judgemental but I just watched her make that mistake once…it did not end well the first time around for her so it just makes me not like it.”
“No, I understand.” I said, quietly. Not sure I was enjoying this conversation very much.
“So…on a happier note…she seems to have taken to you.”
“I like to think I’m a good guy. One of her friends set us up. I didn’t know this stuff about her but it’s not something I’m willing to scare me off. I got to know her a little without Myles being around and she really is a great person.”
“Yes, she is. I like knowing that who she’s seeing, sees that as well.” I just nodded again, feeling awkward. This isn’t exactly a conversation you normally have with someones parents…especially the parent of the girl you’re seeing.

I probabaly woke up about an hour later and Harry wasn’t next to me. I sighed and realized at this point I should probably go downstairs I just really did not want to. I wanted to stay in bed all day. I rolled over and looked out the window. It was the definition of a perfect day; the sun was shining, you could hear the birds chirping, and there was a light breeze that was still blowing my curtains around my room.
I pushed the blanket back and slowly sat up. I reached for the coffee, now more on the cool side and the biscut that was still in the bag. I slowly ate the biscut an sipped on the coffee. I didn’t go downstairs until the biscut was gone and brought the coffee downstairs with me.
“Oh good morning!” I heard my mom call from the kitchen. She was making bacon and some more coffee.
“Good morning.” I said. I looked over and Harry was sitting at the island with a cup of coffee, picking way at some of the bacon.
“Are you feeling any better?” Harry asked.
“I’m still really tired. But im surviving.”
“Maybe some writing would help?” My mom suggested.
“Mom…come on…”
“It was just a suggestion. Maybe you could go out for the day? Take a walk at least? You need some fresh air.”
“Okay…I’ll stop.” My mom finished up the bacon and put it on a plate and I sat next to Harry and started picking at it. At this point, my mom had walked back into the living room and was watching TV, leaving Harry and I alone.
“So…not up to anything at all?” Harry finally said.
“Not really…but I do think I will do some writing for a couple hours, if you don’t mind?”
“No, not at all. I’ll proably take a nap as long as you don’t mind. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
“Yeah, no…go ahead.” Harry and I finished eating in quiet and once done, I headed off to my office and he went off the my room.

Once I was in her room, I had crawled into her bed and was looking around her room. I was totally exhausted but still could not sleep. As I looked around her room, I noticed how many pictures there really were in her room. She looked so happy in every single one of them which made me feel sad, knowing there was sadness behind her smile.
I rolled over and was looking right at myself in a mirror on her closet and noticed a couple pictures taped or something to her closet mirror…again, looking just as happy. I sighed at myself and frowned; knowing how sad she’s really been all these years yet, faking it with all these people. I then turned my attention to her nightstand where there was one single picture of what looked like her and her sibling. I picked it up and brought it closer to my face. I looked at her and her smile and how happy she looked…how truly happy she looked. I smiled to myself then put the picture down and rolled back over in her bed. I closed my eyes and slowly drifted to sleep.

After a couple hours of writing everything out, I felt like I could breathe a little again. I saved my work and walked into the living room and sat down next to my mom. We were both quiet for a couple minutes before either of us spoke.
“Feeling any better?” My mom asked.
“I probably would if I took another nap.”
“You’re sleeping too much.”
“No I’m not. I’m sleeping the perfect amount.”
“You and I both know that you’re sleeping too much.”
“Mom, come on…”
“Yes, I know things are hard right now…but sometimes you do have to push yourself to leave the house even if you are scared.”
“Thanks mom…but today is not that day. Today is the day I go back to my bedroom and take another nap.”
“Okay, fine…I’ll be down here. I’ll probably make some sandwichs and leave them in the fridge for you and Harry if you guys aren’t up in a little bit. I’m going to go for a walk in a couple hours. I need to get of this couch and keep up with my exercise.”
“You make it sound like you don’t want to be here.”
“No, that isn’t it. I just like my daily walks. If I skip as much as one day I get upset with myself.”
“You haven’t changed a bit.” I joked.
“Hey, retirement leaves me a lot of time.”
“How is it that you retired and dad is still working?”
“Well I never enjoyed working. I did it to help raise you five kids. You’re dad was more of the working type. Never enjoyed it, but he did it and didn’t complain like I did.”
“Maybe that’s where I get all my complaining and dramatic genes from…”
“From me? Oh please.” My mom said.
“Probably my sass too.”
“Oh stop that.”
“Okay, well I’m going to go take my nap now…I’ll talk to you in a bit. If I’m not awake when you leave for your walk, enjoy it.”
“I will. Thank you darling.” My mom said, kissing my cheek. I then got up and walked up to my room and cuddled up to Harry in bed.

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