All We Are.
It's really cold out. Really, really cold out. My breath can see its breath. Why am I not inside? When did breath get breath? You know, I have no idea. See the buzzer there, the one that reads 'Carlin'. Yeah, I'm having problems ringing it. It's not that I'm scared or anything, it's just that, there's a lot of stuff in that apartment, a lot of stuff I don't know if I can face. I'm trying though. I'm really trying. I think the snow that somehow got into my new pair of shoes, slowly causes hypothermia, can attest to this. It's a great motivator.
Charles drove off about five minutes ago. Okay, it may not sound like that long ago, but below zero temperatures means you take the amount of minutes and you multiply it by twenty. Which means, technically, I've been out here one hundred minutes. Now, see, that sounds like a lot. Ugh, stop spinning terrible logic, Davies, and push the damn buzzer, before you're too freezing to have these seemingly terrible inner monologues.
I push the button after much negotiating with my mittens. Who knew that mittens were so hard to operate? Nowhere on their tags do they mention this. I checked when buying them. I would have liked a nice warning that no matter how warm they look you always want gloves. You never appreciate your fingers so much as when you can't use them. She quickly buzzes me in and I climb the stairs slowly. One stair, two stair, three stair…
I don't get a chance to knock. She opens the door to the apartment and smiles widely at me. I try to return the smile, but I think I only get out a half awkward and a half wounded animal that needs to be put down smile. Attractive. "Hey you." She kisses me as I enter the apartment, and I revel in the kiss, because it's still telling me all those things I need to hear, and her lips are soft and warm and so alive.
But she breaks away from me. "Hey," I respond, because it's all I can think to say.
She takes my hands that are playing absentmindedly with the zipper of my coat. "I didn't think you'd ever get back." But, Spence, that few hours were a lot less than the month or so you went before. What changed in a day?
This isn't really the time, Davies, really it's not. You're doing one of those defense mechanisms that you can never remember the name of. One of the lesser important ones. Yea, there are degrees to these types of things. The king? Sarcasm. Under this, I'd say avoidance. Mhm. Something like that. One day I'll draw a hierarchy. Focus, focus. "Yeah, me either."
She drops my hands and tilts her head to the side. She is reading your mind, Davies. Deflect, deflect, think of something, think of something. Koala Yummies."You alright?" This is a good question. Are you alright? Koala Yummies? Okay, seriously though, why would they stop selling them? They were the perfect combination of chocolate and crunchy cookie outside, with the cute little koala imprints. It's always the good things that go away. … Always.
Did Koala Yummies seriously just depress you, Davies? You need to snap out of it. Seriously. "It just didn't go like I wanted it to." Not really at all.
"Anything I can do?" Yeah, a lot, but I think I'm more than afraid to ask. Whatever happened to being the bear, Davies? The bear died a few revelations back. Rest in peace, and all that.
I take my coat off and lay in on the couch. Change the subject. Change the subject. I use to be better at this. "Where's Ian?" Ian? Real name and everything. That was some serious subject change, Davies.
"Oh, Aiden took him." Aiden was here? I knew I felt the faint vibes of stupidity passing me when I opened the door; I just couldn't pinpoint what it was.
Breathe in, Davies. Blue Eyes, by no fault of his own, is Aiden's son. At least biologically. "Oh."
She shifts uncomfortably on her feet. Ugh, way to be, Davies. Could you make it more awkward? Probably. Remember, that wasn't a challenge. "So, you ready for dinner?" I hope that question was rhetorical. I'm always ready for dinner.
I walk towards where she is leaning against the wall before the hallway, watching me carefully. We never really did discuss Aiden did we? We never really discussed much of anything. "Depends, what did you make me?" I'll prioritize these conversations. In the meantime, food.
She smiles, shakes her head, and wraps her arms around me. "One day, I'll teach you manners." Of all the things to teach me, Spence? You are the genius.
I kiss her because I want her to teach me manners. I want her to teach me anything and everything she knows, as long as she's the one teaching me. "I'll teach you other things."
She laughs and I smile, the first one in awhile. "And what, pray tell, do you mean by that?" I wink and release her, traveling down the hallway to the kitchen.
I know that smell of sweet ambrosia. "I smell Italian." I just have a nose for these types of things.
Bingo. I turn the corner and there it is all hot and wonderful sitting in a pot on the table. "Spaghetti and meatballs." She smiles and gives me a quick peck as she goes around me to sit on the opposite side of the table from where I am standing, salivating. "I went simple."
I sit down and smile like a fool whose Christmas just came early. "One of my favorites." You can't beat the classics. You just can't. Like mac and cheese. Who doesn't like mac and cheese?
She giggles a bit when I fill my plate to the brim. Why are plates so small? Anyways. "I forewent the candles." I can't keep the blush from appearing on my face. Hey, you said you liked them, or something. That's so the last time I ever take romance advice from anyone. I'll stick to the chocolate thing. You think I should have bought her chocolate? I should have. I'll do that. I will.
"I think we'll manage." I notice that she's only put a little bit on her plate. Really, Spence? Blue Eyes could probably fit that amount in his mouth at once. And babies have little mouths. This might be why
they don't have teeth at first. Whatever higher being decided he wouldn't tempt them with large juicy steaks if they couldn't consume them at a fast rate. Or, this could be completely off and be my stomach talking. Whichever.
I point to the food with my very full fork. I'd make out words but my mouth is full as well. I'm sensing a pattern with this whole food thing. "I'm not really all that hungry."
I put the fork down. I remember Cosmo once saying that sometimes you eat when you're stressed. Not that I read Cosmo, and not that I'm stressed, but, you know. "You feeling okay?"
She eats a forkful of spaghetti. Oh, convincing, but not really at all. Like a five year old that was just told they can't have dessert without eating their broccoli. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"I'm banning that word." That's right. It's about time I got all Mussolini on her. Okay, look, he doesn't get enough credit. He was badass, he was, he just had that little bit of Italian lover in him. You can't blame him for that.
She laughs. Did I say something funny? "You can't ban a word."
Was she not listening? "I can too and did." I'm sure someone somewhere banned a word at sometime. And I can think of at least half a dictionary that should be banned. I'm doing society a favor.
She shakes her head with a grin. Never takes me seriously. "Then I won't cook for you anymore." Would she do this? Could be a bluff, Davies. Wait, she is the tortures types.
We can get around this thought. It's all good. "They're called restaurants, Spence."
"Are you saying a restaurant could make you this delicious of spaghetti?" No, what I am saying is that the spaghetti isn't all that important, and I don't say stuff like that much, and I'm saying that there's something more than just being fine.
"I'm saying you have a pension for bribery." Emotional, physical it's all free game for you, Bugs.
She laughs and takes another bite. Hey. At least that's two. "Whatever gets the job done." Davies, keep your twisted mind in check right now. We have purpose at this meal.
"Now, is this in every situation?" So disobedient. It's okay. Like usually, all her fault.
Is that a smirk? Is she smirking at me? She's going to be the death of me. "I like to get the job done."
"I'll keep that in mind." Yeah, keep that in mind when you don't choke on your food. Swallow. Swallow. Good.
"You should." Focus, Davies, focus.
I twirl the spaghetti on my fork and sigh. It's really now or never, Davies. Okay, maybe not never, but this seems like a ripe opportunity for you to show you aren't a pansy. "Can we talk about something?" You already were talking about something, you idiot. Good opening.
I sense a cringe in her face. She knows what's coming. She knows and I know. And I think she's known since I got home but she's been avoiding just like I have. Just like me. "What do you want to talk about?"
"You." Usually my favorite topic. Look, you're ruining my favorite topic. Oh, right, Davies, blame her for your inability to grow a spine. Really mature.
Her frown is instant. I know she'd punish me for this. Any chance to punish me, and never in the good way. When did the old fashion tying someone to the bedpost punishment go out of style? I'd even take handcuffs. I can take some wrist pain; I've been very bad. Will you seriously shut up. Davies, seriously.
"There's nothing to talk about, Ash." Oh. Lie. Such a lie. Even if none of this was happening there's so much to talk about. I still know so little about you, Spence, and I want to know it all. Don't you know that?
"I just feel like you're not telling me everything." Or, nothing at all, but I figured I'd go for the more diplomatic. Less trouble that way and who wants to be in trouble when the punishment is actually painful? No one, that's who. And I can't think of much more painful that the most beautiful girl you've ever seen posed to cry.
She shakes her head and looks down to her barely touched food and back to me. I suppress the overwhelming urge to change the subject to make this all better to make her smile and to dispel the tears I know that are collecting. This has to be done. Doesn't it? It does. "Ash, please, leave it." Well, at least, she's not lying. Avoiding, but not lying.
"Spencer, please." I reach over the table and grab her hand, trying to relay what my mouth just can't seem to say, it's going to be okay. But, she doesn't squeeze my hand back at all.
She looks down to where they are linked and draws her hand back towards her, hugging herself with her arms. "I need a lung transplant." What do you mean you need a lung transplant? Lungs and breasts two different things, as I was taught in ninth grade, just because they're in the same region doesn't mean they do the same thing.
"What?" Really intelligible. You're winning on sensitivity and intelligence, right now.
She isn't looking at me. She's looking past me, her eyes are on me, but I don't feel them at all. "Cancer spreads, Ash." Well, I know this, I do. I just. Why would it bother spreading on you? Any part of you is worth more than an entire body of someone else. I think this logic might be twisted, but I don't care.
"Mine spread." Like your mother's did. I remember this story. I remember when you told me it a long time ago, and now I know why I couldn't hear it then. Because stories always repeat. That's what they do.
"What do you mean?" Davies, really? Wait, no I do mean something by this. "They don't treat lung cancer with lung transplants." I know this. I saw it on an episode of ER, because of cancer spread and the immune system, or something. Yes, I am feeling really smart right now.
"I know." Right, you know, I know, so what's this all about? Because, this, this isn't something to joke about. This could be under the definition of serious in the dictionary. I think I have a thing for dictionaries.
"Alright." I just don't know what else to say
She plays with a string on the hem of her t-shirt, and I watch entranced, not by her fingers, but by the silence that they symbolize, and we sit this way for a while, but I don't know how long, I really can't count time in these kinds of moments, the ones where you don't know if it's okay to breathe, or if it would take away from the silence that seems to be the purpose of every second clocking by. "We've been using experimental treatments." Wait, what? Nothing in that statement sounded safe, not at all.
"How experimental?" There are degrees to things like this, right? You know, the, it's completely safe, I just use the word experimental cause it makes me feel badass, response would be great right now.
"Very." Way to never answer the way I want you to. I think you do this on purpose. I really do. You're still retaining a lot of your sadistic nature, and here I thought it was draining, or something.
Breathe, Davies, you can do this. You really can. You have to. Because your everything is breaking and I don't know if you know how to put it all back together again if it gets that far. You weren't even all that good at legos. "And?" Well, it's better than nothing.
She sighs and finally I can feel her eyes on me because I think she knew I needed that, I needed to feel the warmth of the promises that no matter how bad all this gets I can still read there. "And I need a lung."
Okay, you know what, we passed this point. I now understand the saying one step forward two steps back. Very, very frustrating. "Okay, why?"
She takes a long drink from her glass. That's not alcohol, Spencer, it's not going to help at all. Because stalling only lets the sting build up more. It's like when you wait later to pull off the duct tape. Never a good idea. I have no idea why I'm mentally using terrible metaphors at a time like this. "The procedure has been working."
Okay, this, this is good news. Ugh, but she cancels any grin I may or may not have been developing with her downcast eyes and chronic frowning. Stifling my development, that's what she is doing. Or something. Doesn't she know good sentences when she hears them? "Isn't that a good thing?"
She nods, but her facial features barely shift at all. Ruins even the best sentences. Even the best. I just don't understand. "But, it's caused other problems."
"But, there are other ways." I've watched enough medical shows to know this. Come on, they are seriously invading my TV. Once there was just ER, now. Right. Focus, Davies. You can't avoid this situation.
She stands. I stand as well. You just follow actions like this. She walks towards the hallway, but I stop her by grabbing her hand delicately, not to pull too hard, because I'm scared right now anything could break her, but I pull her close to me, and she buries herself into me, head resting on my chest, as I wrap my arms around her. "My lungs, Ash, are just failing." But, I don't understand, nothing on you could fail, nothing. "And, he thinks this is the best way to go about this." Med school, you went to med school, I remember this, what do you think, Spence? I don't care about him.
Wait, you've been breathing fine, you have been. You've only been here a day, Davies, you have no idea. You have no idea about any of this. You've never been so in the dark. And what's with the ambiguity? What's with that? That's my thing. "I'll fix this." You will? Haven't we covered you're not a super hero, Davies, how do you plan on fixing any of this?
I can feel the tears collecting on my shirt and I can feel the headshake against my chest and I think I know what she's going to say before she says it but I let her because she has to get it out and I can't deny her anything. "It's not for you to fix." But you're mine to fix, so you're wrong, Spence, and it doesn't happen often. "I just need you to be here."
Right, but, Spence, I can do both. I can. I didn't think I could, once, but now I know I can. And, you know what, that doctor, the one you seem to have so much faith in, he knew this too. And suddenly my appointment tomorrow makes sense. This is all going to be fine. We can fix this. Because, like I've said before, you have two sets of organs. You do. And I know this because the other set is mine, and if you need it physically, it's yours. "I'll give you a lung."
She pushes me away faster than I knew she could and stares at me incredulously, cheeks still stained with tears. "You will not." Hey, you are not the boss of me.
And I will do what I want. "I will too."
She shakes her head. "My brother and my father weren't matches." Oh great, so everyone knows but me. How are things like this fair? Nothing makes someone feel less important, Spence, just saying. Who knows who else knows. I bet Madison was first in line. I didn't even get a chance to be first in line.
This really isn't the time to get upset, Davies. You can sulk later. And this just sounds like she has no faith in me. None at all. "I'll be a match."
She shakes her head and looks down to the floor. "No."
You could at least look at me when you're rejecting all of me. It be a nice common courtesy, but you've always seemed to have this problem, haven't you? "I'll make this better." It doesn't matter because I'm done just accepting your downward eyes and small headshakes and tightened body stance. I know it all too well and I'm done with it.
"No." Yeah, you've already said that.
Annoying, aggravating and obnoxious. This is what she's being. "Listen to me." Why don't you stomp your foot a little too, Davies? What? She never wants to listen to me.
Her head shoots up and her eyes are digging into mine before I had time to prepare. I think I said something wrong. I can't decide if it was in my head or out loud, on account that she hears both. "No, you listen to me." Always do, thanks. "I don't want your lung, Ash." Don't say that and look at me like that. It isn't fair. You can't play the game like that. You can't.
"What?" Intelligible. Nice.
Her eyes are back on the ground. Fuck you, ground. That's right. I said it. "The chance that you're a match is low anyways." Her voice has lowered considerably.
I walk closer to her. I know she needs me close even if she won't admit it. Even if she wants to focus on the floor and not on me at all. "I like to beat the odds." And she needs hope from me, I know she does, even if it comes out cliché and overused and barely above a whisper because I'm standing completely in front of her now. I know she needs me. I know because of the look she's giving me.
I hold out my hands and she takes them, lacing our fingers together carefully, her eyes never leaving mine. "This isn't a movie, Ash." But she says it so quietly it barely counts as words at all, or it counts more, either way, I pull her close to me again and she comes willingly, laying her head on my shoulder as we lean against the kitchen wall.
"It'll be fine."I know, but I mean it. I can feel it. I can feel more than fine when we are like this, but I felt like those words are just a little too brash with the situation, words like perfect and wonderful couldn't live in the air right now, but they'll live in my head. Because I can feel it.
I hear a giggle. Ugh. "I thought you banned that word." Difference. When I say it. It is fine. When you say it, it could mean the world is crashing around you like glass but at least it hasn't cut any major arteries yet. See. Huge, obvious difference.
Hey, and wait, she isn't playing fair. I have to get her a user guide. "Don't use my words against me."
She laughs again. "Well, don't ban my words." Well don't use overused phrases, that's my thing.
Davies, can you please focus. "You're changing the subject."
"Don't you get it?" She buries her head into my shoulder and shakes her head.
"Seemingly, not." I place my chin on her head, buried deep in the crook of my neck, and shake my head so she can feel it, so she doesn't have to pull away at all from me at all to know that I really don't. I don't get it at all.
"So many things could go wrong, Ash." Yeah, and the most important, the biggest one, is that I could have to go a day without a purpose for waking up. Don't you get that? "I don't need you to save me."
Maybe not. But I need for me to save you. I need you. This can be completely selfish if it needs to be. If that's what it'll take for you to listen to me. "I don't."
"What if I want to?" What if it's all I want to do with my life right now? What if albums and movies and anything else means nothing to me anymore? What then, Spence? You can't take that away from me.
She twists her head and looks up at me. "Ashley." Okay, maybe you could, sadistic and all, but it wouldn't be nice at all, just saying.
You know what? This really isn't up for discussion. I'm not going to give in. I don't care how blue her eyes are or how soft her skin is or how much my heart still shakes when she says my name, I don't care. Or, I do care, and that's why I can't give in. "I'm getting tested." And you can't do anything about it, okay, leave out that part. "You can yell at me more when I'm a match." By then maybe I'll sound more convincing, or I'll have found a drug that makes you extremely more agreeable. I'm thinking the latter is more likely.
"I dislike you so much right now." But she pulls me closer to her and I allow my arms to pull her as close as she can get, trying so hard to ignore bruises because she seems to want to and I don't know which ones hurt or where they all are at all.
"Yes, well, I think you're annoying right now." Not that that's a secret.
She laughs and I feel it inside of me as her body shakes against me. "You always think I'm annoying."
I kiss the top of her head. "At least I always think you're beautiful." And a long list of other things. "Does that make up for it at all?"
She shifts in my arms and kisses me hard on the lips. "Barely." There was nothing barely about that kiss. "But I know what would." Of course you do. Of course.
"What's that?" Because really, you know, and I know, that I'd do almost anything for you. Even if you don't want me to.
She smiles a coy smile, kisses me, and pulls away. "Play a song for me." This again?
"Okay." Ha, wait, loophole. I love loopholes. And I pride myself in my ability to find them. I'm equipped with a radar. "I don't have a guitar, and my songs really need one." Well, they are written for guitar and all.
She's walking towards her room. "In my closet."
Wait, really? Wait a minute. I hear her rustling in the closet as I follow her into the bedroom. "You don't play."
She turns to me with a brand-new, mahogany acoustic in her hands. Okay, well, that's definitely a guitar. Thanks for the obvious, Davies. "I bought it just in case." You mean, you bought it for when you knew I'd come after you, because we both knew it was undeniable. You could have just called, or something.
She hands me the guitar and sits on the bed patting the spot next to her. I take the spot. "It's really terrible." I'll wonder when I developed stage fright of a one person audience later. She's heard all my songs, all of them. More than anyone else. What's the problem?
She kisses my cheek and settles back onto the bed. "Just play it."
"Pushy." Easy for her to say. I could claim I don't have a pick. Maybe she doesn't have one of these. But I reach into my back pocket and pull out my blue one. I always have one on me. If she wants a song I should give her a song. I should. If she wants the world I should find a way to give it to her, because I may not have a chance tomorrow or the next day. Right, I position the guitar and recite the cords in my head before I play. G major and I begin.
"Dear Bella, I wanted to tell you that the world now wishes on us. It's true. I woke up this morning, much like all my other days, completely blinded with you on my mind. But today it was different when I lifted my head from my lone pillow and pulled my legs up from their undercover caves, today I just knew. "
Breathe. One part done, Davies. You've sang millions of songs to millions of people. Stop being a pansy.
"And it wasn't the smile you casually stamp on my lips with yours even from miles away because I've always felt this. And it wasn't the way your name travels through my head bouncing through all my situations because its always been there. And it couldn't be the heat that your laugh causes because I've always relied on it. Relied on it to warm me every night."
Can you say poor sentence form, Davies? Maybe you should have made it rhyme, or make sense, or anything.
"No, there's another reason that we're shining bright, bright enough to cause attention to the world's wishes, bright enough to envy stars, too bright for me to sleep at night. "
Your fingers are slipping, Davies, D major. D major.
"I knew it when you said hello last night and everything just fell away and I knew I wanted to hear it for the rest of our forevers. I'd give my lifetime of memories for a new lifetime of hellos and how are yous and goodnights and I wouldn't regret a thing. I'll never regret waking from all those dream of your hand on mine to the reality of just your voice. Just your voice undoes me."
And I get it now. It's hard because this time it matters. Her thoughts, her opinions, her ears, they matter to me. And this song. This song might matter to her.
"So I'm writing you this letter, basking in the cold morning light, I thought you might want to know, that I'm promising you an eternity and maybe plus a day and if you don't want that maybe a million songs or three billion written words, or maybe I'm just trying to say I love you, I'm trying to find my way. Love, love."
Ugh, pure crap. I should have actually taken time to write it. And I'd smash my head against the wall if it wasn't for her taking my hand and squeezing, like I wanted her to do earlier in the day, in that precise way. I guess if she wants me to sing sappy, horribly written songs to her, then I can do that. I can do whatever she wants to get that smile.
"Come on, Bella, let's go to bed." She stands and takes the guitar out of my hands placing it delicately against the wall.
"It that a demand?" I kick off my pants and pull off my shirt. Underwear and a tank top make an alright sleeping attire because tonight is a night for sleeping on promises and all those things. And she does the same.
She laughs as she climbs under the covers and I follow. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
I pull her close to me and she fits perfectly into me like she always has since the first night we slept this way, since the first time I felt her hot breath warm my neck, since the first time I knew what she meant to me, what all this was to me. "Immensely." Because right now it's all immense but just right and I wonder when my heart grew this big to hold this all inside but I know it can. I know it. Because I know I could never run from this silent sleeping form, so small, but holding so much more inside.