The Sound of Silence
A futuristic one shot. Paige has known about Eve and JJ's multiple trysts for well over a month now. She's not speaking to either of them but lashing out at the world in a different way. I hate Eve (I mean I really, really hate her!) but I tried to channel her human side here. She's got to have one, right? LMAO
Silence is deafening. Sure, that's the biggest kind of cliché, but it is also, so frighteningly true. Night after night, Eve comes home to… nothing, to no one. Everyone has turned on her, even her own sister Theresa talks down to her over the whole thing with JJ. JJ, meanwhile, gets a damned near free pass for what went down between them while the bulk of Salem has all but pinned a red letter "A" on Eve's chest. People whisper and point when she passes by and some even cross to the other side of the street when they see her coming. She can handle that though. She's not falling apart. She can handle anything… Well, she could if only the one person she loved most, the only person she has ever really loved in her whole life; would just talk to her or hell, just yell at her. But Paige … Paige is completely done with her. There will be no reprieve this time; no second or heck, hundredth chance. It's over.
Eve moves to the stereo and turns it up just to dull some of that obnoxious silence that drives her so damn crazy. Pat Benatar is crooning about belonging to the night as Eve breaks into an impromptu swaying-dance, holding herself, hands on her slim hips, pulling herself inwards as if someone were hugging her. No one hugs her anymore. Certainly not her daughter – her daughter who gave the best hugs.
Paige, Paige, Paige…
Eve cranks up the stereo until she's sure the walls must be shaking with the ferocity of the beat. Still, it's not loud enough; not nearly loud enough at all.
The phone suddenly rings, trilling softly in her ears. She flips the dial off on the stereo and dives for her cell phone. She doesn't care if it's a telemarketer; she just needs to hear someone's voice. Anyone's at all.
"Hello?" She says.
"Eve… its JJ."
If she could reach through the phone and throttle that little shit, she would. "You piece of crap! How dare you call me after the way you ratted on me to your sainted mother? You little fuck, get the hell off of my line!" She wanted to talk to anyone; maybe just not him. Together they destroyed the most perfect human being she has ever known. In the past, arguing – violent arguing – was foreplay for them, but not anymore.
"Don't hang up!" JJ shouts. "Don't. I am calling about … Paige." His voice sounds pained. So it hurts for him to say her name too, huh? Well, good. Damned good. Let him feel a fraction of Eve's misery.
"Take her name out of your nasty mouth," Eve spits.
"Look, you hate me; I get it. Trust me the feeling is entirely mutual but this isn't about me, it's not about you; it's about your daughter. She's what matters, okay?"
"You sonuvabitch, if you're after her again-"
"I'm not, I swear. It's just I've been seeing her around campus-"
"You stay away from her!"
"Will you listen to me, dammit? She's … not been herself. At least not the girl we knew. I mean, there are rumors swirling around that she's banging the captain of the football team now and she's partying every weekend and staying out all hours. She's also dressing like…"
"Well, like… not herself. She's always got on really tiny skirts and midriff tops and big, funky jewelry. Plus lots of makeup."
Eve cringes. "And?"
"And, Eve," JJ says, "girls like that, they get bad reps; bad things can happen to them. You hear about it happening all the time on campus so just – "
"Go stop it. Stop it before she gets hurt any worse."
"I can't do that. She won't even look at me. I can't –"
"This isn't about you, Eve! It never was. It's about Paige. I think – god help her, I think she needs her mom. I think she needs you…"
Eve doesn't even hear what JJ says next. She slams down the phone and is grabbing her silver handbag she's never without, rushing out the door. She isn't sure where to find Paige. If what JJ is saying is true, Paige might not be at the dorms but Eve's got to take the chance. If Paige is in danger, if she's spiraling out of control, then Eve has to try to get through to her. Even if Paige hates her forever, at least Eve'll have said something. Eve doesn't want her daughter to - Well, she doesn't want her daughter to end up like her.
Bitter, damaged, pathetic…
She arrives at the dorm in the next ten minutes. She drove like a bat out of hell. She jogs up the big staircase and approaches the door to Paige and Daphne's room. She wants to see Paige so bad; although a part of her – a part of her she would never admit to; is a bit afraid too. But she would rather Paige tear her from limb to limb than keep ignoring her. Eve hates to be ignored. Even she can admit that.
She knocks, rapping on the cheap wood three sharp times. The door finally opens and she can't believe who's standing there. It's her daughter, her Paige. And dear god – JJ wasn't lying. Paige's wearing bright red lipstick; her high cheekbones are rouged up, her eyelashes are heavy with black eyeliner and blue mascara. She's dressed in a teeny-tiny gray halter dress and high heels that even Eve herself would worry she would break her neck wearing.
"Mo-" Paige starts and quickly breaks off. "Never mind. Get the hell out of here." She tries to shut the door in Eve's face but Eve quickly shoots out a hand and blocks the attempt.
"We need to talk."
Paige growls at her. "I don't want to talk to you! Do you honestly think I even want to look at you right now?"
"No, I know you don't. But see, I needed to see you. I'm worried about you."
"That's rich," Paige sniffs. "But thanks for stopping by. Sadly, I need to get going."
"Where are you going dressed like that, honey – Paige? No good is going to come from what you're doing."
"What am I doing? I am not doing anything."
"Your outfit says different."
"Oh yeah? Well, so does yours. Like, you're fifty-five. Have you ever considered wearing a bra?"
"Leave me alone."
"Paige, I'm worried. This isn't you. This was never who you were."
"What can I say? I'm a product of my upbringing… seeing you chase guy after guy…"
"I deserve that."
"Damn right you do. You deserve that and so much more, but now if you'll excuse me, Brian is waiting for me downstairs."
"Brian? Who's that?"
"My new boyfriend. Why do you need to know who he is anyway? Want to sleep with him too?"
"Paige, please. I know I did a horrible thing, but it doesn't change the fact that I love you, okay? I love you so much."
"You don't know what love is," Paige screeches. She then shakes herself until she's more composed. "You're a liar and you're a cheat and I meant it when I said I never wanted to ever see you again. So if you'll just move aside-"
Eve can't help it. She grabs for Paige's slender wrist and holds on tight. She tried the very same thing with Paige's dad the night he left them and it didn't change a damn thing but she has to try. She can't just let Paige go. She doesn't want to; she's not equipped to. Whatever she thought she felt for JJ was a dream, an illusion, a way of slowly killing herself. She never wanted it to hurt Paige but now all she can do is try to force Paige to fight her. Anything is preferable to Paige walking out of there and Eve possibly never seeing her again.
Paige tugs violently but Eve holds fast. "Don't touch me! Don't you dare touch me!" Paige bellows. "I swear to God, if you don't let me go-"
"Paige, listen to me," Eve says. "This person you are acting like right now, she isn't you. You're hurt and you're angry and –"
"I don't need you to explain to me who you think I am!"
"But you're going to get hurt. Believe me I know what sick, degenerate men think when they see a pretty little girl all dressed up like that."
"I'm not a little girl," Paige cries. "I'm more woman than you'll ever be. Now let go out of me!" She tugs harder and Eve has no choice but to let go. Tears fill her eyes as she watches her baby girl grab for a tiny purse and stomp to the door on her tall stilettos.
"Paige!" Eve calls after her. "If you ever need anything – if you just need to talk, no judgments, no nothin'…"
"You won't be the person I call," Paige says and storms out.
Eve has no choice but to return to her tomb-like apartment. It's well after midnight and she's dancing to Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" with an empty wine glass in her hand when she hears a noise at the door. At first it's just scratching and then a little knock.
She runs for the door and yanks it open. She squeaks in surprise as she sees Paige standing there. "Paige, honey!" Her eyes search Paige's face and she sees a big gash in her daughter's bottom lip.
Paige hisses as Eve touches the cut. "Don't. Okay. I shouldn't even have come here –"
"Yes, yes, you should have. What happened? Get in here and tell me everything."
Paige seems to wage an internal battle within herself and then finally wobbles inside. She drops down on the sofa and touches her busted lip. "It's not… it's not as bad as it looks."
"Was it Brian? Was it that guy Brian you mentioned? I'll kill him!"
Paige sighs. "He wanted something… Something I wasn't ready to give, I guess. I dressed up like a total slut and threw myself at him but when push came to shove… I couldn't do it. I am such a tease. Just like he said."
"Did he hurt you? Did he-"
"He didn't get that far. I kneed him in the groin just the way you taught me to do and then I ran. For some reason, I ran right here."
"Oh, Paige, honey. I'm so sorry."
"I'm frigid. I am just what everyone said I was – a cold fish. That's why JJ turned to you and –"
"Don't say that."
"You are not. You're beautiful and smart and funny. You're perfect actually. Please don't let the worst thing I ever did mess you up like this. You did nothing wrong."
A tear slips down Paige's alabaster cheek. "I hate you…I hate what you did!"
"I know." Several tears roll down Eve's face. "I want to fix everything. I just want to make it all go away."
She nods solemnly. "Don't I know it?"
"I don't know why I came here," Paige says again.
"Maybe you needed me, just as much as I need you."
"Okay, how about half as much?"
Paige nods. "Maybe… it's just… For whatever reason, I needed you and I didn't feel good about our fight in my dorm room tonight."
"I need you too, Paige. I always have. You're the strong one of the two of us."
"Maybe I need you to be the strong one for the two of us, for once, just for tonight even... Can you do that?"
Eve nods. "I think I can."
"I need … I need my mom," Paige cries. She drops her teary face into her hands and she begins to sob. Eve hesitates only a moment before going to her daughter and pulling her into her arms. Paige tries to shrug away but Eve holds her tighter than she ever has before.
They stay that way for the longest time, tears intermingling, shoulders heaving. At some point, Paige falls asleep in Eve's arms. Eve smoothes back her daughter's long, dark hair. She really is so beautiful.
Silence falls over the apartment again but this time, the silence doesn't haunt Eve. At least not nearly so much as before.