Bottled Up
By Ahhelga

Disclaimer: I do not own Hey Arnold!, of course.

If you had asked woman what in the world she was doing out on the pier all alone, she honestly wouldn't have been able to tell you. Instead, what she had been letting happen wasn't of her own accord; she was letting her body do the actions, and she was the viewer.

This woman could have looked as if she was on her way to a cocktail party, or maybe even away from it as it could be noted by the expression of her face. Her long blonde hair was swaying in the wind, which created a beautiful silhouette, but when you got to her face, all you could see was a tired woman filled with grief and maybe sorrow. It was because of the years wasted away and hopelessness that had stuck with her. She was so tired; she didn't even realize she was still holding a beer bottle in her right hand and a crumpled paper in the other.

The sun was setting, and it was apparent that she didn't want to stay after sundown all alone out there on the harbor. Plus, it was getting chilly, and she had no coat. This is what happens when you run from the things that are supposed to bring happiness, even if it was just a big lie. In fact, she had been running and running for all these years, all because of lies thrown left and right. You could say it was why she was there at that moment.

Her clutch on the paper had tightened, crumpling it a little more. She didn't care. Nobody was going to read it anyway. Nobody ever did. Nobody ever would. This was when the tears were supposed to come in, but she stubbornly bit them back, furrowing her brows. In the past thirteen years she tried holding back her tears as long as possible. In fact, she had been doing that her whole life, except for one incident when she just didn't care.

But that was a long time ago. And she was there in the now.

Without thinking, she quickly stuffed the crumpled up paper into the bottle. The bottle was completely empty—she drank it all, along with a few others just in the past hour—so there was no worry of the paper being damped by beer. After capping it, she stared at the bottle. This was not complete. Pulling out an empty locket from her purse, she felt ready now.

This was it: the final plunge. She was ready. She had to have been ready, because for the past 28 years of her life had been devoted to one single being, and it was time to face the music.

She would never get what she would want.

It wasn't the first time she was hit with this revelation. As soon as all contact with her old life had diminished, she realized she was all alone in the world. Parties from coworkers here and there, but to have friendship with them would be like pulling teeth. Sometimes, everything just made her lonelier than she ever was. Those were the times that reality came down hard, and she hated it. It felt as if she had been in a constant state of depression for the past thirteen years.

She was finally ready. Ready to let it all go away. This time, she wasn't going to let fantasy rule her.

Her arms were extended. Beer bottle in the right hand and locket in the other; this was it. Her body was trembling. She was biting back more tears. She had to do it, she kept telling herself, and she had to live her life not revolving around some dream. Breathe in, breathe out.

She was crying now. At first it was light and lingering, but then, as if a ton of bricks hit her, she was sobbing. She tried to look through her wet eyelashes and misty eyes at her extended hands, hoping for something to give her that little push. The tears weren't helping, and all she could think about was the past and a hopeless future. There was no now anymore, in fact, there was never a now.

Bringing back her arms, she collapsed. She was so weak, so, so weak.

She didn't know why she let herself live with this, and why it was so hard. She held onto the locket, as if it would give her strength. Though there was no more picture in it, as it had been for thirteen years, she could imagine her love staring back at her, telling her to persevere and that everything would be okay. She wasn't entirely sure what she was doing, but she faintly had caught herself asking "Why?" repeatedly to the absent picture.

Then, as if in the heat of the moment, she couldn't bear it, and threw the locket out into the sea. Before she lost her chance at this newfound pride, she threw the bottle in it as well.

There. It was done.

This time, she was crying. But she wasn't crying for grief, it was a much greater cry, one that let her release her inner demons. So she sat there, not caring to ruin her dress, sobbing uncontrollably in between laughs. She could live her life. And while she would still love Arnold forever, she had the courage to not let it control her life.

But what she wasn't expecting was someone behind her, as if they had been watching her the whole time. Those half-lidded green eyes had almost a knowing look.

He broke the silence first, "Hello, Helga."

Author's Note: Oh God, it's been such a long time since I posted anything (which is funny, because I've been writing more than ever, just on…different things). Okay, I wasn't really expecting much out of this one. I've just been in such a Hey Arnold! mood, I've been getting plot bunnies left and right. This was one of the most nagging ones and the easiest. So, in a haste, I wrote it all within the hour (which I'm sure is apparent). But, I'm okay with it, and that's all that matters. Still, I would love some reviews. :)

That's me
AKA Pauline