“You’re moving back to the ‘burbs?!? Why are you doing such an insane thing as that? And leave the City?” Gregory walked up behind Alyssa, where she stood packing her belongings on what had been their bed. “Why would you leave here after everything you did to get this far?”
“This was never MY idea. I’ve just realized that.” Grinning, Alyssa turns around to him then walks right past him. “You wanted to live here. You thought it would be fun if I helped you direct and tried some on my own. It was you who thought this would be a good experience for me. The only thing that wasn’t yours in this entire charade was the decorating of the apartment and the cat. Who, by the way, is coming with me.”
“You’re taking the cat too?”
“Of course.” Dropping her books and CDs in the case, Alyssa started looking for the last CD that was missing. “I’m the one who adopted her; she gets to come with me. Plus, when was the last time you remembered to feed her?”
“That’s so not fair.” Pouting, Gregory looked around the apartment. It now looked half-inhabited without her stuff helping clutter the shelves. “So this is really serious then?”
“You have nobody to blame except yourself.”
Gregory sighed and sat down on the bed. Looking around at the few bags his old lover had packed for her rather extended stay at her flaky friend’s new house. “This is Chris’ fault, isn’t it?”
“No, and I’m rather insulted that you would even imply that.”
“What does this mean for us?” Alyssa continued to wander around the apartment, making sure she has everything packed. “What do you want from me?”
“I don’t know. You’re the one who had an affair-”
She continued, as if he had never been interrupted. “You’re the one who decided that my career wasn’t satisfactory for what I should be doing. You’re the one who convinced me that I should follow my career and move to the city and pursue this insanity. Now, I’m following my heart and staying away from you for a little while.” She stopped for a second, and looked into Greg’s eyes. Reaching out, she ran a hand down the side of his face and for a moment her resolve was tested. Shaking her head, she continued and zipped up her bag and looked one last time. “I’m following what my heart tells me, and it’s telling me to get out of this apartment for a while. I think we rushed into everything too fast. Our relationship, living together…everything too fast. I just don’t want to compound all of these mistakes by forgiving you too quickly and staying with you.”
“Gwen needed me.”
“So did I.”
“Ouch. That was low and you know it.”
“But not undeserved.” Shaking her head and picking up the last of her bags, Alyssa walked out of the apartment she had shared with her lover. “Consider us separated… don’t know what I want next. If you see my recording from Cuckoo’s Nest, send it to me? Jay would be miffed if I lost it.”
“Goodbye Greg…I’ll call, or Chris will.”
“So it’s done.”
Christine took a swig from her bottle. The two were standing on Christine’s 2nd story porch, swigging back Bartles & James. The night was cool and crisp, a perfect fall evening. Overhead, the stars winked in a clear, moon-dark sky. “I can’t believe you ended it like that.”
“I can’t either.” They had just recently finished getting Alyssa’s wing properly decorated and set up for Alyssa’s stay in their house. It even felt more like home for Alyssa than her old place with Gregory did. Gregory…why had she ever gotten together with him? “Why did you let me be with him in the first place?”
“I didn’t know about it until too late, remember? You guys ran off and the next thing I know I’m getting a call from the Virgin Islands saying you’ll be back in a week.”
“I am an idiot.” Alyssa sighed, staring into the night. “At least we didn’t get married.”
“True. You’d only be an idiot if you had stayed at the apartment and let him convince you that life was perfect and just as it had been.”
“What are friends for?” The silence lengthened, broken only by the small noises of the insects in the night. “Who was Gwen?”
“Long story or the Cliff Notes?”
“It’s an early evening…what’s the long version, and give me the full details of why I should hate her. But I think I need wine for this.”
“That simple, huh?” Christine was studying her toes at the moment. During Alyssa’s recounting of the failure of her 4-year relationship, they had gone from a chipped up sedate mauve to a marvelous fire engine red.
“Simple. She needed him. It didn’t matter that so did I…she was important to his project, so she needed him to stay the night and he did. Doesn’t matter that I have no idea where he is and have my own personal crisis going on.
“How could he not realize?” Chris studied the red, deciding she needed to wear it more often. Even though the color usually meant bad things in her line of work, being sedate gets boring. Accounting needs its spice just as much as anyone else. “You’ve never been quiet about your needs before. Was he not listening?”
Alyssa was quiet. All through her telling of Gwen and Greg, she had paced through the living room, nursing a single glass of wine. The pacing was characteristic, she’d never been a still soul. Now Chris looked up, because Alyssa had stopped pacing and was completely still. “He wasn’t listening,” Alyssa paused holding the bottle for a second glass, “but I wasn’t really telling him either.” She put the bottle down and went back to the bar for something harder. The long island was a pre-mix, so it was an easy switch. “He made me realize early in our relationship that my problems were my problems – not his. So any problems between us were mine to solve, since none of them bothered him.” Taking a sip, she realized it was a little stronger than expected, but the burn felt good. “I just realized that.”
Scamp came prowling in, and stretched on Alyssa’s leg. Putting down her glass, she picked him up and curled up on the couch with him. A rumbling purr came from the smoky grey furball. He’d been happy to get out of the cramped apartment. Already he’d terrorized some birds on Alyssa’s porch. He was definitely happier here.
“That’s different for you.”
“I know. A lot changed over the past four years.”
“Not all of it good.”
The fire crackled. Chris just watched as Alyssa stroked her cat. The silence lengthened, but not uncomfortably so. It made Chris realize just how much had changed over four years. Alyssa was more introspective now, keeping her thoughts and feelings more internal. The vibrancy and life that used to pour out of Alyssa even when she was sitting was missing. It was unsettling for Chris to see.
“I have realized one thing these past years.” Raking her hand through her hair, Alyssa looked up from the cat in her lap to meet Chris’ concerned gaze. “I’m happier here than I ever was in the City. Sure, I’ll go do a show up there from time to time, but I’m not cut out to live there. I don’t know if I ever was cut out to be in that hectic, self-centered insanity.”
“I don’t know if I’d go that far –“
“Are you sure?” Chris got up, taking her empty wine glass and Alyssa’s full drink with her. In the kitchen, she put the kettle on for tea. It was late, had been a long day and hard liquor was not what Alyssa needed right now. Sleep was a much better idea.
“Now I am. Before, I wasn’t…but I need my space, which just was not going to happen in a cramped one bedroom shared with another just so we can afford it. And I refuse to spend an hour or more on a one-way commute. Here, there is plenty to do to keep me working, and it’s at reputable production companies not just small art houses.” Alyssa got up, resuming her pacing by the dying fire as Chris puttered in the kitchen.
“So you’re thinking long term return?”
“Looking at it.” Scamp was off again, trying to con Chris out of a treat. Alyssa joined them in the kitchen and fished out a goodie for Scamp while Chris made tea. “Not saying I’ll do it. I need to get back in the network here…which might be more complicated than I hope. But I want to try.”
“Morgana would probably love to help you.”
“I’m counting on it.” Accepting a mug, Alyssa sipped while thinking. “She said that Splash had a director back out for their next show and is scrambling for a replacement. They haven’t cast yet, but the designers are lined up.”
“Tomorrow’s phone call?”
“Actually, yesterday’s. Morgana and I were discussing the possibility, so she told me she’d drop a bug in the artistic director’s ear that I was coming back. I’ve worked with him before, so he knows my work style. I got a phone call yesterday to set up a meeting for tomorrow to see what’s already done, and discuss the possibility of my picking it up.”
“Moving fast then.”
“Hopefully.” Checking her watch, Alyssa was shocked how long they had been talking. “On that note, I should probably get some sleep. Goodnight.”
“G’night. Morning is going to come earlier than I want.”