I Need You So Much Closer

Chapter 12 (The End): Only One

My eyes open against the objections of the crust that has formed a barrier on my lids. The blue glare of my alarm clock taunts me. Shouldn't Emma be here by now?

I shuffle down a small hallway and almost collapse, saved from the cold tile by my tight grip on the bathroom sink. I splash water on my unshaven face, glance at my razor, and decide against it. It's too early and I'm too hungover to shave.

I take my morning piss and groggily wash my hands off. Passing by my mom's bedroom on the way to the stairs, I hear her heavy passed-out-from-alcohol-induced snores. I try my best to ignore them as I head down the stairs and straight for my pantry. I sprawl out liberally on my couch as I wait for my cherry pop-tarts to pop. A horribly dry Christian talk show assaults my senses as two Southern-accented "brothers" discuss a young woman who was "saved" only a few weeks ago. As I head for my now-overtoasted pop-tarts, all I can think is how one of these preaching Baptist types should save Ashley.

Realizing that I'm not as hungry as I thought I was, I throw one of the blackened tarts away and start to nibble on the other one as I walk out the kitchen door. The door protests my moving it, but it eventually gives way, almost taking me down. I stumble down my walk, wearing the same old jeans and Back in Black t-shirt that I've had on for six days, simply throwing button downs on over top whenever I'm around people.

I decide to walk towards Emma's, take in as much of the nice weather as I can, and hope to God it somehow alleviates my hangover. I run a hand through my dirty, overgrown hair and don't even bother to sidestep patches of mud; my shoes can't get much dirtier. I wonder when I got taller than Emma? God... that must make me, well, if I have a few inches on her, I must be brushing against six feet. That's crazy.

I veer into the grass to avoid the green jeep parked at the edge of my road. A small note attached to the door catches my attention and thrusts me out of my thoughts. I take a step back as I realize that I own a green jeep, and that this, in fact, is my green jeep. My initials, JT, are hastily scrawled on the folded part of the note facing me, so I rip it off the car. Emma... I could kill her.

I rip the tape off and try to stab it into a ball before throwing it on the grass, doing my part to kill the environment. Little Emma would be proud. I open the note and read in a lightly pressed font:

"I don't want this to be the end, but I just can't do this right now. I love you, and you know that, but you have so much Ashley you need to purge out of yourself before you can do this. It has nothing to do with last night. Please don't be mad. Your keys are in the glove compartment.

-Em"

I ball the note up and punch my palm against the top of my car. Fuck Emma. Fuck this. Ashley? This is about Ashley? I LEFT ASHLEY. For once in my life, I took some initiative, and I dumped her. And she cried and she was miserable because she knew she couldn't control me anymore. And I go to Emma, perfectly fucked up Emma, and I hope, for once, to be understood, and I get a note attached to my car parked, illegally mind you, at the end of my street? That is fucking bullshit. Don't be mad? I'm not mad. I'm irate. I'm at the point where I won't be able to look at the blonde Queen of the World without gagging in my mouth. That bitch. That stupid cunt. I can't even begin to believe this.

The worst part is... she's so fucking right, too. Like always. Yea, I need Ashley rehab. I need them to detoxify me of her. I can't think of anything but her, and how she must've fucked Toby right under my nose, and how she's played me ever since I fell for her, the first time. I can't just forget Ashley. I want Ashley. But I love Emma. I love that stupid little bitch, as right as she is.

"Broken, this fragile thing now
And I can't, I can't pick up the pieces

And I've thrown my words all around

But I can't, I can't give you a reason"

I see her blonde hair at the counter, so I make a u-turn and walk into the restaurant. I prop myself up on a stool two away from her, but she doesn't see me. I order a Pepsi to the middle aged Dolly Parton-look-a-like behind the counter, and as soon as she hears my voice, Paige whips her head around.

"What are you doing here, Sean?" she asks, her voice not quite as bitter and hateful as I had expected, but not a basket of roses, either.

I point out the window to nothing. "I was walking by, and I saw you, and I thought it a pity to see anyone eat lunch alone. Especially someone as beautiful as yourself."

"You know I'm not a sucker for a sweet talker."

"Can I sit next to you?" She shrugs and moves her purse. I graciously take what I can get and I slide my Pepsi, and then my body, to the seat next to her. "Uh, well, actually, it's good that I caught you, then. I'm leaving tomorrow." Her eyebrows raise and she takes a drink of her vanilla milkshake. "I'm going home."

"Where's home?"

"Wasaga."

"And my brother? Are you just leaving him like you left me?"

I tap my thumb on the counter nervously. "Your brother asked me to leave. We're not together anymore. He's with. . .he has a new boyfriend, I guess. Oh well. What goes around comes around. I deserve it; I know I do."

She laughs a little under her breath. "Who's my brother's latest conquest?"

"An old conquest revisited, actually."

She laughs a little louder now. "You don't mean Marco, do you?"

"I do."

"Oh, that's too good."

I take a long drink from my Pepsi. "Hopefully they'll be happy this time. They'll be at the same school, both at the UofT, hopefully it works out for them."

"Do you mean that?"

"I don't know." I look out the window, longing to be anywhere else. "Things between us will never be OK, will they?"

She shakes her head 'no' slowly. "You know what, Sean? They should've never been OK to begin with. We don't have anything in common, you know that. And besides my little Emma-Nelson-like-crusade of falling in love with the bad boy, there's no reason we should've dated. I love Jay. It might sound crazy, but I do. But you don't actually think we'll make it, and I don't really, either. I'm going away to college, and he's starting to work as a mechanic. I love him, and I don't want to leave him, but if it falls apart like we did, if I realize we have nothing in common, I will."

"Don't leave anyone you love."

"I'm not planning on it."

I polish off my Pepsi and put down a few crumpled dollar bills. "I'm sorry I hurt you."

"I know," she says without making eye contact.

"Goodbye, Paige."

"Later Sean."

"I feel so broken up (so broken up),
And I give up (I give up),

I just want to tell you, so you know."

"This is historic lasagna, Mrs. Santos." I lick my fork clean in appreciation.

"Why, thank you, Gavin."

"So you're not pregnant again?" Manny's dad rudely asks his daughter who almost spits up her mouthful of food.

"Daddy! There's guests in the house."

"Well, I'm sure they'd like to know, too."

"No, sir," I chime in as I can tell Manny is far too uncomfortable, "she's not pregnant. We're in love, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. Children, if we do decide to have them, are going to be way, way in the future. I haven't even started college yet."

"And she hasn't finished high school, you do realize."

"We do, daddy, that's why we're not getting married until after I graduate and start at UT."

"That's pretty presumptuous, sweetheart," he says with biting sarcasm. "You haven't even applied to the University, let alone been accepted."

My mom gives me a sideways glance. She knew it would be awkward tonight, but she thought it would be because she and my dad would be in the same room again. She had no idea Manny's parents would be like this. "My son says Manuella received top scores this year," she says, trying to alleviate some tension.

"Well, she did. But she had a rough start at Degrassi and they like to look at all of your grades for admission. That's my alma mater. I know," Mr. Santos continues. No wonder Manny wants to leave her family so bad. Her dad is a prick.

An uncomfortable and highly noticeable silence falls over the room. Finally, Manny's mom breaks it. "Do you like the pudding, Gavin?"

"Very much."

"It's a family recipe, you know. Most kids never have warm pudding."

"Well, I'm one of the lucky ones, that's for sure." She beams.

"I can tell one thing," my mom says towards Mrs. Santos, "my son has never smiled as much as when Manny is around." She looks at me and I raise my eyebrows. "I don't mean to embarrass you, Gavin, but it's true, isn't it?"

I look at Manny and hold her gaze. "It's definitely true."

Manny's dad takes a deep breath and clanks his fork down on his plate. "What's your major going to be, Gavin?"

"Business, sir," I say.

"Business, huh? That's a good major. A good, stable career."

"Not the way this market's acting," my dad retorts quickly.

Mr. Santos turns slightly towards my dad, registering his presence for the first time all night. My mom looks embarrassed already. "Well, I wouldn't know. What kind of career are you in, Mike?"

"I'm an lawyer. A lawyer for a food corporation downtown."

"Sounds like a good job."

"It's new. I used to be pro bono, but that didn't keep a steady paycheck." My mom clinches her jaw, but my dad doesn't see. This had been a huge issue in my house for months. My mom thought my dad was "selling out" but my family just couldn't live on her income alone anymore. Eventually, though, she found out most of his motives involved his new boss who, consequently, just became my new step mom. Oh, the drama.

Our fathers get into an animated discussion about the stock market and our mothers begin to clean up, so we slip away. I sit on her bed and she sits at her computer, double clicking the mouse four or five times until some generic, boring pop song comes on. I love the girl, but I hate her taste in music.

"We're really doing this, aren't we?" she asks after a few seconds.

"If you want to."

"Mrs. Manny Mason. Ahh! So many M's, so little time."

"It's better than this chick my cousin knew. She became Andi Anderson."

"That is bad. I'd keep my own last name if that happened."

"Manny, if I don't make a lot of money at first..."

"Spin, I don't need a lot of money. I just need you and your fidelity and love. With that, we'll make it through anything. Some people may call me naive for saying that, but I believe it."

I grab her hand. "I believe it, too."

"Here I go, scream my lungs out and try to get to you;
You are my only one.

I'd let go, but there's just no one that gets me like you do;

You are my only, my only one."

I'm not sure how I let myself get so decrepit. I've been thinking about this for four hours as I roam the streets of Manhattan, and that's the best word I can think of for my mental state: entirely decrepit. I used to be smart! I used to have a life, and friends, and love! I did, I swear to God I did! I used to have a Mom, I used to have a Dad, I still have a Joey and an Angela even though I haven't thought enough to phone them in a few weeks. Oh, but the big city life, the college scholarship, it all seduced me here: into my own nothingness. My spiritual, my emotional, my intellectual selves have all died. The only part that is left, ironically enough, is my physical self. The one part I haven't attempted to rid myself of because that would be it. The end. But maybe one out of four isn't good enough.

I've been sitting on the steps of St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church for an hour now. It's beautiful, you know, in that classical sort of way. It's Gothic buttresses will haunt my dreams, they have for awhile even though I've never seen the place before. I hate that I know all about it from my teacher's lectures; I want, for once, to be introduced to something not as a thing of beauty or despairing beauty(for, in fact, isn't everything a thing of beauty, if you consider both natural and despairing beauty), but just as whatever it is. Take, for example, this church. Why can't I just see this church as a church? Why must it be St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church with the intense Gothic architecture copied from some of the more famous Cathedrals in France? A homeless man walks up a few steps and approaches me slowly. A few feet away, he asks for spare change. I reach in my back pocket, rearing to give him a couple wrinkled bills, but I tell him to get away as soon as I remember that I'm dirt broke, have been for awhile.

When he persists, and even calls me "son," I run quickly into the sanctity of the building. It's eerily quiet, like a book, like all books (I read that somewhere, but it's not worth it to try to think where I read it, I no longer read), and I very suddenly realize that I haven't heard the sound of quiet in far too long. I duck into a pew a few ahead of and on the opposite side of the only other occupant, an 80+ year old women praying the Rosary with shaky fingers. I wish I had a Rosary; it seems I've forgotten how to pray. I don't know whether to kneel or not (the old woman isn't, but then again, she might not be able to, she's pretty old), but I figure God can hear me from wherever I am. If I remember this correctly, all I have to do is start talking in my head, and that's praying. Alright. Here goes.

I don't expect enlightenment; I don't expect much of anything. I'm in here by chance; I'm in here because I can't think of any other place to be. I'm lost. I'm so, so lost. And I'm starting to think that maybe it's because I don't believe in anything. I don't. I've never really believed in myself, but I've believed in Ashley and in Emma and in my two unborn children; I've believed they could save me. But maybe that was wishful thinking. I've had love and I've lost love but I've never had You, God, not really. I mean, when I was really little, Mom and I would go to Church and I would leave during the Homily for Bible School and come back to her right after Communion. And, I mean, I've been baptized and I've had my First Communion and my First Reconciliation and everything I need in order to "have" You. Mom died before I received my Confirmation, should I do that? Should I confirm my faith? That's planning a wedding before finding the girl, though, right? I should do this first. I should focus and I should tell You that I do need You, really need You, now more than ever, probably, and I know enough that even though I'm fucked up, I'm sorry, not good, You'll take me back because I'm a lost lamb or something, right? I think so. Should I talk to a priest? I don't know if I want to be converted on the spot. I think I'd like to wait a day or two, if You don't mind. I'm sorry if I'm no good at this. I should apologize, shouldn't I? Alright, I'm sorry for hurting You and straying from You and blaming You when my mom died and using it as an excuse to stop going to Church. I've been defiling this body You gave to me, and I know You know, but I thought telling You might help because I do admit that I did it and I do admit that it's wrong. It was just so hard, You know? Down here alone, when all of my friends and Ashley and Emma and everyone was in Toronto, but I wanted to be here, I thought. I mean, New York is great. The opportunities here are endless, but how many more times will I mess up if I keep going on the path that I'm on? I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to cry myself to sleep or have sex with any more women because I'm too lonely and I need to fix myself before I'll feel happy. I know. I want this. I want You. I want to sit in the second pew during every mass every Sunday and I want to find a Church woman who can feel for me and I want to get married to her in an afternoon ceremony. I want Joey and Angela to be able to watch, and then I want to have kids. I almost did, twice, but I want to have them this time, and I want them to be beautiful and healthy and happy with You. That's all I really had to say. Thank You for listening. I'll come back tomorrow, if You'll still be here, and I'll tell you how my day went, if You want to listen. And I'll talk to a priest tomorrow, too. We'll be good. We'll get through this.

That was the healthiest thing I've done since coming to New York.

"Made my mistakes, let you down,
And I can't, I can't hold on for too long.

Ran my whole life in the ground,

And I can't, I can't get up when you're gone."

Heading into the terminal at JFK, I suddenly feel nostalgic for a memory that actually does not exist: through the haze of New York foot traffic, I see the figure of a lanky young man running towards me, his curly hair flopping with each step he takes. His leather jacket clings to his skin in the 60° atmosphere of the building, and his jeans are ripped, not for fashion purposes but because the material hasn't survived the rusted metal and harried brick baths he's given them inadvertently since moving to the City. He waves and calls out to me from fifty feet away, and I raise my eyes in anticipation. When he reaches me, his calloused hands engulf my own and he lifts me off the ground in greeting. He puts me down just to hurriedly exclaim how much he has missed me and how much he loves me.

However, the immediate hustle and bustle of the city makes me leave my daydreams at the gate. I walk, alone, through the terminal until I reach Baggage Claim. It seems I beat my luggage down here, so I sit on a gray chair in a corner and pull out a book. It's a James Joyce novel that I was asked to read for my Lit Class. Close to fifteen minutes later, my bag finally arrives and I heave it to the curb and start to hail a cab. Oh, my first day in New York.

My new roommate meets me on the ground floor of our apartment building. She introduces herself as Natalie Parker, a beautiful girl taller than even me by an inch or two, who immediately hoists one of my bags over my shoulder without asking. I love her already.

We take the steps to the third floor, where we walk down a small hallway. She stops in front of 3C and brushes her long, light blonde hair out of her face as she fishes for her keys. "The place is great," she starts to explain as she lodges the key and unlocks the door, "but the neighborhood is not great. Well, you'll find that a lot in the city. But you always have to lock up. I already made you a key," we enter the decently sized apartment, "here, it's on the kitchen counter."

"This is really nice," I say as we head into my bedroom. "Wow, there's a bed already?"

"Oh!" she says as she turns from the closet where she was putting my bag down. "I forgot to tell you. We had an extra mattress and box springs from my sister, and my mom said as long as you're staying, you're welcome to them. If you don't like them, of course, we can get rid of them and you can get your own..."

"Are you kidding? This is great. Thank you, and thank your mom, so much."

"So, Christian's coming over tonight, and he's bringing a few friends. Not a lot, not like a huge thing, but just a little thing. Oh, Christian's my boyfriend, but if you don't like him, don't worry, he probably won't be around much longer. Oh, do you drink?"

"Not anymore, but it's totally fine if you do."

"That's so fucking noble. I love it. Love it entirely." Ha. Me, noble? Awesome. Such a lie, such a boldfaced lie.

"Well, I need to do some shopping today," I say after a silence fell upon us. "Anything you need for the apartment? I'll be glad to pick it up."

"Um, oh, nothing I can think of. Just grab yourself whatever you'd want to eat because we're all pretty much on liquid diets around here."

"Oh right. Okay." I grab the keys sitting on the kitchen counter. "I should be back. . .soon. You have my cell number, right?"

"Somewhere around here. Go, go! Live, enjoy the city!"

I walk out quickly. That is the last time I let Paige find me a roommate.

"And something's breaking up (breaking up),
I feel like giving up (like giving up),

I won't walk out until you know. . ."

I sit down in first period Media Immersions and toy with the idea of bailing out on school for the day. If I didn't still love him, that would be one thing, and easy, but the fact that I still do want him and need him and love him is a different prospect entirely and it's making my throat dry. However, I don't think anyone, my step father included, would like me skipping out on my first day of classes for grade 12.

He walks in three seconds after the bell sounds and ducks into a seat in the back of the room. He looks good. Damn good, and I don't know why I told him I didn't want to date him. When did he get so tall? He's probably almost as tall as Craig now. It's sexy.

But sex is never something I did well. In fact, I screwed it up enough to get a baby out of it. A dead baby. Those were good times. Except by 'good times' I of course mean 'worst times of my life.' But whatever. The devil's in the details.

I catch him as he's walking out of class. I tap his shoulder and pull him to the side of our retreating classmates. "What is it, Emma?" he asks as he shrugs my hand off his shoulder.

"I just thought we could talk."

"About what?" he says, looking around the halls.

"Well, I guess, us..."

"Emma, what is there to talk about? You don't love me, or you can't handle a relationship, or you just want to be friends. Whatever, I get it." He starts to walk away without letting me get in a word.

"JT!" I scream a little louder than necessary. He stops and turns. "I love you."

The phrase hangs over us and the entire hallway has turned to look at us. "I don't have any idea what that's supposed to mean, Emma."

I take a step towards him and he holds his ground. "It means that I'm a dumbass. It means that I dumped the only person who I could ever fall in love with. It means that I'm going to do anything I can to get you back and that includes larceny and assault with a deadly weapon. It means that I'm not giving up, so if you gave up back in June, I suggest that you un-give up and you start to love me again because I'm not going anywhere and damnit, you can't make me."

"We tried, Emma. We really did."

"We didn't put any effort into it."

He finally smiles. For once, he smiles. "I thought you never wanted to speak to me again."

"Oh, there was a time there when I didn't. But I do now. And I can't guarantee that tomorrow I'll be too keen on you. But as much as we fight, we're always going to be in love. And no one can deny that, least of all you. You love me, James Tiberious Yorke. You love me almost as much as I love you. I can see it in your eyes. Now you give us a fighting chance, and we'll make this work. I promise you that."

"You are all about the goddamn speeches today. Emma, I'm not fighting you. I'm all for us getting back together."

I stand silent. "Oh," I finally say. "I had a few more speeches planned."

"I'd love to hear them someday. But not today. Let's just go to second period."

I finally realized then that the crowd had thinned, and we were standing alone in the hallway. "We're late, aren't we?"

"The bell rang sometime during you assaulting someone with a deadly weapon."

I laugh and he wraps his arms around my shoulders. "Curling irons can be deadly if used the right way."

"Sure they can, Nelson, sure they can."

"Here I go, scream my lungs out and try to get to you,
You are my only one.

I'd let go, but there's just no one who gets me like you do,

You are my only, my only one."

When did it become that I, Paige Michalchuk, became the person with the most normal relationship I know? Spinner and Manny are fucking nuts. They're not even old enough to buy a lottery ticket legally and they're getting married. It's asinine. It's. . .their choice. But, still, it's a damn stupid one.

I'm not living with my boyfriend. I'm not thinking about living with my boyfriend anytime soon. As a matter of fact, I would kill my boyfriend if I had to live with him. But the crazy thing happens to be that it's crazy to not be rushing my relationship. Saying "I love you" was a huge step, but honestly, marriage? Who can get married? That. . .that is crazy.

I wait until he calls me before I go over because that's what normal teenagers do. You don't wait for someone at their apartment with the key that you made yourself. You wait at home and you finish homework and put on your make-up as you wait for their phone call. That is normal, not this crazy commitment shit.

He calls and I play my Black Eyed Peas CD loudly as I slowly make my way towards "that part of town." You know, where all the loonies hang out and every man hits his wife and it's just not a place I'd like to end up, thank you very much. But it's better than the constant surveillance at mi casa and we're pretty much too broke to do normal dates for a while, so the bad part of town will do. It has to.

I walk into his house without knocking although I'm always scared to do that because it's just not civilized. I find him sitting alone in his room. "Paige," he says as warmly as Jay gets, which, after months of dating, has become not so warm at all "let's fuck."

I smile widely and clap my hands together with fake enthusiasm. "I've been waiting for you to ask that forever! Except, no, Jayson."

"Come on, baby, you can be on top."

"Take me out, Jay. Romance me. I'm not a stupid floozie, I'm not a tramp, I'm not Alex. I need something, I need dinner, dancing, roses on my birthday."

"Your birthday is in October."

I sigh and fall back against his bed's headboard. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."

"Nor a leopard's spots, or whatever that thing is. So, fucking, yes/no?"

If it didn't come to this every night, I might have been surprised at his bluntness. But the truth is it did, and this question had been asked at least fifty times before. And I'm not sure when the point of my existence was just to watch him drown, here in his wretchedness, in his filth. But that thought didn't stop me from embracing his upper body and rearing into him like a bitch in heat.

After all, that is what normal teenagers do.

"Here I go, so dishonestly,
Leave a note, for you my only one.

And I know you can see right through me,

So let me go and you will find someone."

I step out the church door like a ghost into the fog where no one notices the contrast of white on white. In one fell swoop it becomes clear to me that I need home entirely. I always thought I wanted so much more, but now I'm not really sure because I miss knowing someone's there for me.

I begin my walk down a busy New York street, focused on getting to my dorm room but not really focused on that at all, focused on getting home. Further than my shitty dorm room on the fourth floor of an almost deserted building on the edge of campus, but I want to go to my home, 490 some miles away.

My feet hit the concrete steadily for the first time, and I am finally seeing the faces of New Yorkers as faces: I notice the wrinkles in the forehead of a remarkably handsome elderly black woman and the dimples on the smooth, pale skin of a pre-schooler with red shorts. Beauty hides in the remarkable innocence of the streets of New York during the day; by night, these same streets will be infested with the lies that are only expelled through deep commitments to love, commitments I'm finally ready to make. I'm bleeding and I'm broken but I'm hers.

My right foot falls on a crack in the street and I don't flinch. I usually flinch. You know, step on a crack, break your mother's back. I remember being dared to do it the day my mother died. I did it and I stood with my foot on the crack defiantly for close to thirty seconds. I stood and I smirked and my best friend at the time, his name was Jami, he told me that I was a moron. I walked away and the next time I saw him, it was two days after the funeral, I pushed him to the ground and we didn't talk again.

I walk past my grocer and I realize how close my dorm is. I almost stop for some more root beer, my asshole roommate Mike drank the last one yesterday. I decide against it, because I'm pretty sure I'd rather wait until my paycheck before grocery shopping again, and I press on. The air is still unusually muggy and the girls are all wearing tank tops and short skirts, but I don't notice. Well, I do notice enough to see it, but I don't stare. It's pushing closer and closer to dusk, but everyone is walking and fanning off like we're in noonday heat. It feels like the end of the world, but it's not even the end of summer.

A woman six to eight steps in front of me drops her purse and tubes of lipstick, coins, and yellowed receipts fall around her heels. She stoops down, embarrassed, and after the four seconds it takes me to reach her spot on the sidewalk, I stoop down to help her. She looks like an avid fan of Sex and the City, a thirtyish woman with more style in her black and red pumps than I have in my whole wardrobe. She thanks me profusely and flashes a brilliant smile, but I'm not looking at her anymore.

I stand up and turn immediately in the opposite direction. Those eyes, I'd know those eyes anywhere. She wasn't looking at me, she looked lost, but it was her. I catch the sight of one of her shining studs in her belt and I push through the pedestrian crowd that seemed to appear out of nowhere, simply to block me in the one minute that I needed to be completely alone with the girl ahead of me. Her hair's gotten longer, I noticed, as I excuse myself for bumping into a businessman who looks distracted and barely notices my intrusion. She's closer now, within thirty feet. I wonder how she got away so quickly, I wonder how fast she's walking. I think about yelling her name, but I don't. I don't know why I don't, I just don't. I wonder where John Cusack and his oversized stereo and Peter Gabriel ballads are when you need them. I wonder why she's down here, if she's visiting and who she's visiting and why she didn't call. And then I remember that the number she had was for Kate's apartment and that I haven't lived there for, well, awhile, and that Kate probably bitched her out if she even called at all. I wonder why I expect her to call when it is that we haven't spoken for months and I wonder why I'm chasing her when she's my friend, only my friend, and my intentions in chasing her down this street are more-than-friendly...

But then I don't wonder anything at all. I'm inches behind her and my hand is reaching out on its own accord to touch her shoulder where her soft hair dusts my wrist. She turns around, obviously shocked and scared and she hugs her purse to her torso. "I'm not going to rob you," I say as she recognizes who I am.

"My God, Craig, Jesus Christ, don't scare me like that! How did you- where did you-" her faces contorts into its typical confused pout, and I can't help myself. I really can't. I've been waiting for a chance like this for months, for fucking years, and I can't let it slip through my fingers unnoticed.

"Ashley, let me talk for a minute. I swear, just a minute and I'll shut up. Do you know that moment when everything in your life just has fucked itself over one too many times and you're awake all through the night and you can't figure it out but you know that you need something, anything, to change what you've considered normal for the past however long and you just crack? Well, you probably don't. But I do. I had that moment. And as shitty as that moment is, you do things to fix yourself if you have that moment. And I've been fixing myself. I'm a Christian, Ashley, I am. I've made friends with this awesome priest, his name is Father Kevin and you have to meet him. He knows all about you. And I can see by the look on your face right now that you'd like to know why he knows all about you. And that I'll explain. Um, okay, well when I had my moment, it wasn't only a spiritual life I was missing. It was, it is home. I've been thinking of going back home since the moment I got here and I've been thinking about it more recently and Father Kevin was looking into good churches back home and everything was almost set in motion. The thing is, Ashley, I love you. And you can think I'm crazy for saying that but there it is. I love you. New York, Toronto, Tokyo, Ash, I'm going to love you. You've been my best friend and my worst enemy and my hope and my life and my disaster and all through this I've loved you. I wanted to be in love down here, I'd rather have been in love, but in the end, I'd much rather it be you running through my blood, clinging to every thread that clings to me. I held out for that feeling again. If you're with JT, then shit, I'm sorry, I should've never, but I needed you to hear it. And even if you don't feel the same, let me take you out tonight. There's a great restaurant in Chinatown and I have a lot of film and you inspire me. So, just, let me. Please. I'm done. You can talk."

She looks confused. She runs a perfectly manicured hand through her hair and it takes her a few more seconds to get it all the way through than it used to. Fuck, I'm so love sick, remembering the exact seconds it took her to trace her hand through her hair. . . "Why didn't you call? I always waited for your call."

"I tried to, I really did, but my fingers wouldn't work. They were too sore from staying crossed."

She smiles, and as much as I have exaggerated every aspect of her that I could remember for the past few months, her smile is even more golden than I remember. And this moment is so corny I could cry, but I simply wait for the rain that is sure to come as she steps forward and clears all of the fog in my head with one, simple, meticulously executed kiss.

We're on top of the world.

"Here I go, scream my lungs out and try to get to you.
You are my only one,

I'd let go, but there's just no one, no one like you.

You are my only, my only one,

My only one,

My only one,

My only one,

You are my only, my only one."