"…Here's to the fools who dream…
Crazy as they may seem…
Here's to the hearts that break…"
She is singing a story. The most amazing girl I've ever met. Such a soft, melodious and enchanting voice she has. I don't know this song but I'm holding on to each of the lines of the lyric. She's singing about her childhood with her aunt. The aunt who inspired her to chase her dream. She has told me a bit about all in her family but she talks most about her crazy aunt. She told me the way they both would re-enact scenes from their favorite movies and the beautiful summers they spent together in the small old movies section of the little library across her home in Boulder City. I remember how afraid she was last night when I said she had had a callback from Brandt casting company. She has believed for a while now that she's not good enough. Being too modest does strip you of your confidence. I happen to know that a lot. But with the aplomb she's auditioning right now, I believe she's outdone herself.
I don't know when she stopped singing but I am about to stand when I am attacked by a mass of copper shimmer and topple to the bench. She laughs and kisses me without rising and then we sit upright.
"How was it? Did I do okay?"
"It was amazing! I never heard such a beautiful story in a solo song. It was great!" I say.
"Really? Will they like it? What if they don't?" she asks hurriedly and holds on to my arm.
"They will love it."
We sit in my car and I drive. I look at our joined hands and then at her face. She's smiling looking out of the window. The smile warms my heart and my mind wanders to the night we danced in the moonlight. She looked so beautiful in the yellow dress. I can still remember the exact notes we danced to, the exact steps we danced to and the way the light from the lamppost sparkled off her pale skin and…
I look over to her and see amusement dancing off her as her mouth twitches.
"What?" I ask.
"You were humming. And smiling." She answers as she leans over seat and faces me. I kiss the back of our joined hands.
"I was remembering the 'The Lovely Night' that caused us to rediscover our animosity towards each other and rename it as something more appropriate such as….love."
"Wow that is very thoughtful." She gives me a grave look. And then we burst into laughter.
I look over and see that I've stopped us in front of the Griffith Park.
She climbs out and we walk over to a sunny bench and sit down. I glance around at the trees and the setting sun. Life is going to give us both a new chance to pursue our dreams. All the elation I should have been feeling, all the excitement that should have been coursing through my veins like electricity turned in a gloomy mist of ice and dropped into my stomach and I started feeling light-headed. The warm sunlight that should have felt amazing in the winter evening felt burning into my skin. I looked over to her face and saw her looking over to the city that was all too famous for the endless love and breaking hearts.
She will be going to Paris.
A throbbing ache started to settle into my chest as I fought to keep my voice straight and eager and not dull and anxious and quivering.
"So, when do you find out?" I didn't explain but she understood what I meant.
"They said in a couple of days." She paused and looked at me. "But I'm not expecting to find anything out." She said.
Great. The undervaluing over-modest Mia is back.
"You're gonna get it." I said as a matter of fact.
"I really might not. I don't want to be disappointed." She said with half a smile. The sparkle in her eyes was gone. I hated my sour voice that might have caused it.
"You will get this. I know these things. I know." I said and fought to keep my face straight and calm. I flexed my fingers repeatedly and looked over again at the trees surrounding us. My eyes squinted a bit at the glare of the sun and I took a few quick breaths. Even those trees know that when winter arrives, they will have to shed all their leaves and start afresh. They also know that when the spring arrives, the leaves that grow on them again will never be the same they had to lose.
"Where are we?" she asks. I look at her face again and hold my right hand closed in a tight fist. She looks like she has aged ten years in that moment. The tiny freckles that ride alongside her eyes look prominent and her pained green eyes look at me searching. She leans on her elbow and frowns.
"Where are we?" she asks again slowly and I fight hard with myself not to take her in my arms and never let go. "I know."
I take a deep breath and stop a shudder that runs through me. I clear my throat and speak without emotion.
"I don't kn-know." I close my eyes for a second and tell myself to do what I've been trying to do since the day I met her. Because if I don't, she will never find her dream or live it. All of this would have been for nothing. I gather all the courage and motivation I had felt when I had decided to drive through all the four hundred miles to get her to do this audition. She deserves this.
"Once you get this,-"
"If I get this—"
"When you get this, you gotta give it everything you got. It's your dream." I say firmly, but gently. She half nods slowly reading my face of emotions while I try to keep my face devoid of any.
"What are you gonna do?" she asks.
"I gotta follow my own plan, you know, stay here. Get my own thing going." She nods again and looks down.
She looks like she is going to cry. I can't let her change her mind. So, I attempt at humor. It always saves the day for me.
"You will be in Paris, Good jazz there, and now, you love jazz. Right?"
"Yes." She laughs.
"I guess we will just have to wait and see where this goes."
Her face settles into a grim smile and as she glances at me. Her eyes reflect so much pain that I did a double take. Am I making a mistake? This is what we have to do? Right? This is what we need to do, right? I was so lost that I could not believe what I heard next.
"I'm always gonna love you." She says her voice heavy. She looks like she is about to cry.
"I'm always gonna love you too." I say immediately and then think what we just said. Was it a goodbye? My chest constricts till I feel I am not able to breathe. But looking at her again, I realize this is at least as hard for her as it is for me. Isn't it?
I look around again. I tell myself that we will see each other again. What did I just think? See each other? Oh my God. I can't even talk to myself now without making myself all the more miserable.
"Look at this view." I point my fingers towards the scattered trees and the observatory in front of us.
She laughs again. "I've seen better."
"It's the worst." I say.
"Yeah." We respond together and then laugh.
I wrapped an arm around her and she laid her head on my shoulder. I kissed the side of her head and buried my face in her hair and closed my eyes. The sweet scent of strawberry engulfed my senses and the ache in my chest deepened. Is this really our last time together?
"I love you." I said. My voice came out like a whisper and my throat constricted and a tear escaped. I wiped it away quickly but she had seen it.
I opened my eyes and saw her tear stained face looking back at me. "Mia."
We lunged forward at the same time and our mouths connected for a needful kiss. I poured all my emotion and love in the kiss.
She pulled back once to whisper against my lips "I love you too." My heart leaped and I tugged at her lips. She rested her forehead against mine and said, "Come with me."
That had been my thoughts once when I heard she had to go to Paris. But my dream is here. In Los Angeles.
"I can't." I whispered. "I have to make my dream come true too."
She did not respond further and nodded once. I pulled her closer against me. "Wanna come home with me?"
"Yes." She said.