I'm getting to old for cattle calls. Waking up at 5:00 to be # 231 in line behind some decrepit theatre next to girls who... lets just say they don't make me feel great about my body. My almost 30 body. No, don't remind yourself, Cathy. Just get some food. You should eat. Tapping on an empty stomach is not a good thing. Ok, maybe just some orange juice.
She opened the fridge. Almost bare. She thought briefly about going downstairs and across the street to get a muffin, but poured some orange juice and shoved a piece of bread in the toaster instead. She flipped on the tv, praying the winter hadn't set in overnight, and she would have to stand outside in the snow.
There he was. Chatting it up with Charlie Gibson on Good Morning, America. Pretending to flirt with Diane Sawyer...
Why is Jamie on Good Morning, America? A New Book? I haven't seen anything about a... stop it, Cathy. Turn it off.
But she couldn't move. He looked good. Really good. Almost a year... it had been almost a year. What had she done in a year? Well, there was that national tour she had done for awhile... that had been good for her. She had gotten experience, traveled the country, been with a few guys that had been fairly attractive and sweet, she had tried to heal, to forget... but now he was staring right at her. Well, not right at her. At Diane Sawyer.
"For those of you who have just tuned in, we're talking this morning to Mr. Jamie Wellerstein, author of the New York Times # 1 Best selling novel, Growing Colder. Before the break, we were talking about your inspiration for the book. Jamie, could you tell us a little bit more about that?"
"Alright. You see, this particular book is based on... it is actually based on my own marriage, while it lasted."
Orange juice flew across the room. Cathy blinked. # 1 Best Seller? About his own...
She wiped her mouth with the sleeve of her robe and remained fixated on the television.
"While it lasted?"
"Yes. I was married for... for five years until last year, when things sort of fell apart. So the book is based on that. It's about disenchantment, really. "
"I see. Now Jamie, the majority of your fan base is female and under 35. You're obviously rising in popularity very quickly- last week People magazine declared you the "hottest author of the year", and they weren't just talking about your book. How is this affecting you?"
"It's all very new and strange. It's incredibly exciting, you know, seeing my book in the Barnes and Noble window under a # 1 sign, or getting recognized in a coffee shop by some random person I've never met... but I'm trying to keep a level head. I've got more to write, and I'm excited to have an opportunity to do that."
"And so humble, too! We expect you back here when you're next novel hits # 1!"
Jamie smiled. Cathy's heart stopped.
"I hope so."
Cathy clicked the tv off. She was awestruck. A book... about their marriage? More importantly, about how it fell apart? God, she couldn't believe it! How could he broadcast their personal problems to the entire nation- the entire world? She threw herself into the shower and got ready for her audition, which suddenly seemed utterly meaningless.
The theatre was chilly. It was always either too hot or too cold, she had noticed. The old theatres in the city either didn't have enough money to get new heating and cooling systems, or wanted the actors to be as uncomfortable as possible. That's how it seemed, at least.
"194, please give your name and age"
"Catherine Wellerstein, 27"
Oops, I forgot to lie about my age. Oh well, they wouldn't have bought it anyways. They'll see my id if I get a callback, so it really doesn't matter. Maybe I should change my name back. Now that his book is out and doing really well...
"and what are you singing for us today, Ms. Wellerstein?"
"When You Come Home to Me"
"One moment... alright, go ahead"
When you come hom... I wonder if it's sold out at Barnes and Noble. I could go by on the way home, pick up a copy. I need some groceries, though.
Damn him. Damn him and his stupid success... ok, I don't mean it. I'm... I'm happy for him, I guess. Maybe I should call him, you know, just see how he is, congratulate him and whatnot. No, I can't do that. I'm practically unemployed and have gotten nowhere. I'll look like an idiot. What would I say? "Hey, Jamie. It's me, Cathy- you know, your ex-wife... I'm a waitress at a really nifty little cafe, and I-"
"Thank you. Next."
Cathy walked offstage. Had she actually been singing? She couldn't remember. Maybe it had been good. She doubted it. She didn't quite know where she was going, but her feet seemed to be leading the way. They stopped her inside the Barnes and Noble, right in front of a huge display.
There he was again.
A massive, black and white picture with his signature scribbled across the bottom.
Since when did Jamie have a publicity shot?
She picked up the hardback, flipped open the cover, and was immediately greeted by his infective smile. She couldn't help but smirk. She turned to the first page, and started reading.
Nora was everything he had ever wanted in a woman,. She was a passionate temptress, thrown together in a frenzy of talent, intelligence, and that soft, natural smell of shampoo that made his knees buckle and melt beneath him. The moment he met her, he had to have her. She was the one.
Cathy's eyes welled up with tears.
No. I can't do this here.
I can't break down and cry.
Especially not in front of an incredibly hot, life-size picture of my ex-husband.
She snapped the book shut and held it to her chest, walking briskly to the cashier. On her way home, she stopped at the store and bought juice, milk, bread, frosted flakes, two frozen dinners, and a half gallon of cookie dough ice cream. Arriving at her apartment, she quickly changed back into her pajamas and robe. With her spoon and ice cream carton in hand, she curled up on the couch to read.
It was amazing.
There were no other words. Six years of feelings bottled up inside of her were suddenly surfacing. The things he wrote about her... well, Nora... But the things he wrote! She was seeing the entire story unfold in front of her. Seeing it from his point of view. Seeing, and finally understanding what it must have been like for him. Why, maybe, he had gone to Elise...
Emily ran a hand through his hair.
"Its alright, Sam... I could have guessed as much."
"You don't understand," he protested, "I love her, but-"
She kissed him with a firmness, a decisiveness, that he had not felt for some time. It was wrong. He knew it. He loved Nora, more than he had loved anything in his entire life, but... but there wasn't this. There wasn't this warmth. There wasn't the passion, the insane emotion of simply being with, simply kissing someone you love so much. She didn't touch him like that. Not anymore.
Nora was preoccupied, he understood. She was busy- trying to make her own career, follow her own dreams, become someone- while he betrayed her, sleeping exposed, naked next to his lover. It wasn't the same with Emily. Could never be the same. But it would do. Emily was crazy. Her everyday routine consisted of all the things he had dreamed about doing in college but was always too concerned about flunking to try. She was successful, beautiful, nice enough, undenyably flexible, and most of all- - convenient.
He hated himself. That feeling would never go away. But as Emily ran her prettily manicured fingers over his bare chest, he could feel.
He left the next day.
He couldn't stand the thought of betraying Nora just to feel warm again... but it was happening. Something had to give. He had to be honest. He had to let her go. He was hurting her. He sat at the kitchen table in the apartment he shared with his wife, mulling over his wedding band. He knew it would break her. But it was better to leave, wasn't it? All they could do anymore was fight. She would be better off without him... Yada, yada yada. As he tried to make excuses to himself, he realized that he could never justify his own actions. Explaining himself wouldn't change his actions.
Nothing changed the fact that he was leaving, and that it hurt Nothing could change the fact that he had cheated on her, and wanted to jump off a tall building. But how he felt really didn't concern him that much at this particular moment. He was hurting Nora. That fact alone made him want to drive a wooden stake through his heart. A wooden stake or some large, metal garden tool. Why the hell had he cheated on her?
Sam put his face down on the table, eyeing the ring lying flat against yellow paper. He didn't remember what he had written. It all was the same to him now.
Why am I doing this, he thought, if it hurts this badly?
He had never given them a chance.
And though he had wanted so badly to believe their relationship would work, he now realized that he never actually thought they would be together forever. Sure, he had hoped it, but had he actually believed in it? Knowing the answer, he stood up. His bags were by the door. Emily had agreed to help him move them to her place later that day.
He glanced over the note one last time.
I called Emily to help me pack my bags
I went downtown and closed the bank account
It's not about another shrink
It's not about another compromise
I'm not the only one who's hurting here
I don't know what the hell is left to do
You never saw how far the crack had opened
You never knew I had run out of rope and
I could never rescue you... All you ever wanted
But I could never rescue you
No matter how I tried
All I could do was love you hard
And let you go
No matter how I tried, all I could do was love you
God, I loved you so
So we could fight, or we could wait, or I could go.
You never noticed how the wind had changed
I didn't see a way we both could win
His hand brushed over the cold golden ring. He suddenly felt liquid welling up in his eyes, a sensation he hadn't felt for a long time. He hadn't cried since he broke his collar bone playing lacrosse his senior year of highschool, and that was only because it physically hurt so bad. This made him physically sick. He couldn't look at the ring anymore. He couldn't see her. He would break. He grabbed his coat and left the apartment.
Emily only lived a few blocks away, but it felt like miles with the cold of the early winter wind thrashing him about. Sam went upstairs and let himself in the apartment. The heat was on, and the room was pleasant. Emily came into the room, but didn't say a word.
Why did it hurt?
He had to get away from it. He had to do something to get rid of the pain. He grabbed Emily by the arm and swung her into a rough, needy kiss. She responded by throwing her long arms around his neck, breaking momentarily to speak.
"Are you alright, Sam? Want to talk about it? Here, let me-"
This time, it was he who cut her off.
"No. Just this. Just make me feel."
And so she obliged him. She gave him exactly what he wanted- passionate, fierce, powerful love that otherwise would have thrilled him to the bone. And though he knew his body was pleasured by her, he was numb. He drove into her with all the force his body could muster, but he still felt it. Maybe it would never leave him. As he laid next to Emily, holding her loosely, he felt it in the center of his body, traveling outwards. Sinking deeper. Growing colder.
If there had ever been a time when Cathy felt like doing herself in, this was it. She felt... she almost felt worse than she had when he had left her.
What does he think he's doing? God... this book... I have to call him.
She pulled her body off the couch and deposited the remaining icecream into the freezer. After a quick pull-it-together shower, she picked up the phone. Hoping his cell phone number was still the same as a few months ago, she let her fingers dial the familiar path. It rang.
"Hello, Jamie Wellerstein"
Cathy attempted to clear her throat quickly so her voice wouldn't waver. What do I say? Why the hell did I call him? If I hang up quick, maybe he'll forget all about it.
Idiot... you're such a moron. If only you could shut your big mouth for one minute...
"Hi... I mean, um, yeah, it's me. I saw you on Good Morning America today. I thought I would call and see how you were doing and- and congratulate you on your book."
"Really? Thanks. Did you," he hesitated, "did you read it?"
Her eyes swelled up again and she felt a familiar catch in her throat.
Pull it together.
"Yes. I just finished. Its... its amazing. I'm really happy for you."
There was an awkward pause. Neither party seemed to know what to say. Jamie was first to speak.
"So... are you ok with it? I should have asked you, I know, but it just flowed right, you know? It felt good. Before I knew it, it was out there."
"I understand. You can't stop something like that. Is Elise ok with it?"
She mentally kicked herself again. Stupid. Now you bring up the girl he cheated on you with. Real smart, Cathy.
"Actually, Elise and I... aren't seeing each other anymore."
Cathy tried to hide the surprise in her voice.
"You're not? Oh, I'm sorry."
She winced, hearing the cold sarcasm in her own voice.
"Don't be. It was inevitable. I have this thing with relationships. They get too good, I screw them up. It's a bad habit."
Make me feel bad about it, why don't you Jamie.
"That isn't true, Jamie. You made some mistakes. Some big mistakes, granted, but you don't screw it all up... it was my fault too."
"No. I don't want to start the fault game," he sighed, taking a breath, "but I really would like to talk sometime, about the book, about how you are."
She barely hesitated.
"I might have some free time tomorrow around seven"
"Still on top of everything. How about I meet you at seven at that place on 3rd with the weird lights on the front."
Somehow, she didn't find it odd that she knew exactly the restaurant he was referring to, bad-description and all.
"Alright. I'll... see you then."
"Ok. And um, Cathy?"
"It's good to talk to you."
She heard a brief click, and he was gone.