I looked up as Mr. Coffin belted out his new tune. It really wasn't too good. In fact, it sucked. When he finished he looked at me pleadingly. "So Ms. James? Am I any good?" His massive green eyes looked at me so hopefully; I couldn't break his heart by telling him he was atrocious. "Um, Mr. Coffin, you said right? Well Sir, you do have a very… well inimitable voice, but I'm just not sure if it's quite right for this certain musical. I'll be sure to keep you in contacts in case we have anything that would suit you better. Thank you very much for your time." He sighed, and thanked me as he walked out the door.
The moment he left, my secretary, Louise, exploded into my office. "Oh Emily, please tell me you did not let that man actually audition! He was awful! No words can describe how bad he sounded through the walls. And he had a funky smell." I laughed at her honesty, and promised I did not let Mr. Coffin actually be in the new production, and no, he did not have a funky smell to him, it was just her pregnant nose.
"So guess who called me last night?" Louise casually picked at her manicured nails. "Who?" "Missy Haven" "Missy from Yale?" She nodded. "God- whats that- the 3rd person from your past coming around just this month? Jesus- if I saw anyone from my dark past, I don't know what I'd do." "See Em, that's your problem. How come I have never, ever, in the 15 years I've known you- met anyone from your life? I mean god! Your life could not have been that awful before Yale?" "Believe me Louise, everything that could happen to someone, happened to me. I just don't like to think about the past. I mean Jesus, everyone's always like don't dwell on the past, blah, blah…But when I don't like to tell people about myself in my golden years- they're like Oh my God! Whats your problem. Jeez." "Okay then touchy-touchy. Your Golden Years? Haha okay then. Oof. God I hate being pregnant. I cannot WAIT until I'm back to my old sexy figure." I laughed. "Hey- that is not funny. At least I can start a family. At least I'm not so freaking picky about every date I go with. Well before I got married. But GOD Emily, talk about anal retentive!" "So I have standards? At least I'm not some whore sleeping with every breathing being. Just because I have rules doesn't mean anything." "Yeah, sure, everyone has rules. But I mean your rules! God it's like Hitler Rules: The restaurant you go to must be at least a 4-star; No talking about Cars; No 2nd or 3rd dates, its all or nothing. COME ON." "Alright-Alright! Let's talk about something else. So do you have everything ready for the baby?" "Yeah- Will just put up the crib-"
"So, when's that puppy coming out?" Someone, a male, called from behind the closed office door. "Who's asking?" Louise called back, startled.
"Ben. Ben Michelson." Louise looked at me in a puzzled way, and I returned it the same way. Neither of us had any idea who in the world Ben Michelson was. 'Ben' opened my office door and let him self in. "Sure, come on in." I mumbled. "Uh, Sorry Ben, I don't think we know- Oh. My. God." "Hey Em, how's it going?" I was looking at my former best friend Benjamin Michelson, whom I haven't seen for, ten years, at the least. "Ben? What are you doing here?" I asked irritated. I did not particularly enjoy surprise visits, especially when it was a surprise visit from the past. "Well, I just happened to be in the neighborhood, and I was thinking about the last time I saw my best friend, so I thought, hey why don't I go look up where Emily James, hoping it's still James, lives, and surprise her. So here I am! SURPRISE EM!" I exhaled loudly, and fell into my green puffy chair dramatically. "Well, Emily, if you don't mind, I think I'm going to head out for the day. Have a nice night catching up with your pal." She turned to Ben and smiled "Nice to finally meet one of Em's friends from her 'golden years' I hope to be seeing you again." She waddled out the door, but not without motioning for me to call her with the 'details' of mine and Ben's encounter.
The second she left, I attacked him "So, Ben, why are you really here? I know you didn't just out of the blue think of me, so enlighten me." He tugged at the end of his fair blonde hair and smiled. "You mean you're not happy to see me?" He asked sarcastically. "No, actually, I'm not overjoyed to see you, Ben. You know my feelings towards you. I don't know why you keep trying. I told you the last time I saw you, ten years ago, that this was the end. Now if you don't mind, I would really like you to leave." I got out of my chair and moved towards the door. "Emily, Em please, I know that we had our rough patches, but, Emily, you cannot tell me that you don't miss the good times when you were with me. I sure miss them. I just, I just want to see you one more time. I've changed. I have really changed. I swear."
"So, not married, no kids, not even a pet fish? Wow Em, I would've at least guessed you had a pet freaking fish." "Hey, I'm a working woman. I have bills to pay, and people to judge. I don't have time for, what'd you call it, "a freaking fish." He smiled and put his arm around my shoulder and squeezed. "I missed you Emily, I really did." "Yeah, yeah, yeah, enough chit-chat. Tell me about your life, oh criticizer." Ben smiled and took a sip of his coffee. I agreed to one cup of coffee, and one scone, and that's it. No funny business. "Well, I am 27- you know, not married, one niece, Kelly, who I adore to death, a pet cat named Whiskey and I live in a small townhouse in New Hampshire. Anything else you want to know?" I finished chewing my scone and asked "What happened to Elizabeth?" His face turned sour. "Elizabeth is no longer with me. She left me junior year of college." This bit of information made me smile. "So the golden couple are no longer? Ahhh, do tell me the story.'' He sighed and started. "Well, everything was fine and dandy for what, 5 plus years? Well then one night, after Philosophy, I was going up to Lizzie's room to hang out, the usual. So I knocked on the door, but nobody answered, so I let myself into her bedroom, to find her, and when I got into her room, I saw something that I wish I hadn't. There was Elizabeth and my best bud Scott. I was crushed. I mean my girlfriend and best friend, who would have thought it." He sighed and took my coffee and gulped the rest of it down. "Oh, Ben, I am so sorry. I didn't know… I mean if I knew how it made you… oh Ben I'm sorry." He smiled and laughed. "OH please, I am so over her. It's been like… 3 years since I even thought of her." "So, you don't have anyone in your love life anymore?" I asked curiously. "Well, you, but that's old news." He chuckled. I felt my cheeks warm, but played it off. "Oh, come on Ben, Foreal, I mean we dated in like freshmen year. Like a million years ago." "We dated all through freshmen, sophomore and junior year Emily. Don't act like you don't remember." "Hey-we'd probably have gotten married if it wasn't for that stupid whore Elizabeth." I spat out. "Okay-okay I get that you're still not over that." "NOT OVER THAT? NOT OVER THAT Ben? Really? I loved you Ben. And one stupid breakup happens, and you're all over that girl. ALL OVER HER. I remember coming home, after crying at Kati's house after breaking up- and I remember calling you-and you telling me your busy- and hearing that whore's voice. That's when I knew we were done forever Ben." "Emily, please. It was like 16 years ago. I was a young hormone foolish boy. You know that. Im sorry I hurt you so bad. You've heard me tell you that millions of times. But hey- I got what I deserved. Elizabeth cheated on me. I know how it feels." His face twisted in angst. Can't we just start over?" "Last time we tried that- what happened? Don't you remember? I came to your dorm room sophomore year- after flying all the way to DARTMOUTH- and told you I wasn't over you- and I loved you- and you shot me down. You made me feel so ridiculous. In front of Elizabeth and all your college "prep" friends. Do you know how I felt? Awful, neglected, embarrassed. I made the mistake of coming back to you- and it wasn't what I wanted. Now- Now Ben- I don't want to start over again. I don't want you back anymore. I just want you to go." "Emily, Em, listen. Im stupid, ive made so many mistakes in my life. But one thing that will never be a mistake is you. You are the one thing that keeps me in balance. Even when we weren't together, you held me tight. You're the one I thought about when I made love to Elizabeth, you're the one who kept me awake, haunting my dreams at night. Em, you're the one." I shifted in my seat, feeling my cheeks flame up. Everyone in the coffee house was staring at us. "That is…a bunch of bull Benjamin." I got out of my seat and walked towards the door. "Emily I swear to God. I have changed. Emily! This will not be the last of me. EMILY" Ben called after me, as I walked to my car. He caught up to me, and grabbed hold of my shoulders. "EMILY. Listen, please, God, Please I have changed. Please Em, give me ONE last chance. Just one. I swear it will be the best mistake you have ever made." I sighed, and rested my arm on the hood of my BMW. I looked at Ben- golden blonde, shaggy hair, piercing blue eyes, staring into my soul, fierce look on his face, as if trying so hard to win me over. At that moment, the moment when I saw his face, so determined, I knew. I knew that all the rules were not in tact. I knew at that exact moment that this was a whole new beginning. I looked at Benjamin, and kissed him.
"Emily! Oh my god! You and Ben?! Already? Dude it was like 8 hours at the most. How did it go? Did ya'll look into each other's eyes and know?" Louise laughed at the thought. "Something like that." "So come on! DETAILS!! He is so cute! How do you even know him?" I sighed. "Middle school, we dated in high school for a while-then had a gruesome breakup, and here he is. God, Louise, I don't think this is a good idea. I mean when I say it was a gruesome breakup- I am lightly coating it. I just feel that everything's gonna blow up in my face. You know?" "But Em!!! He came out here, all for you. He is in love with you!!! Did you not tell me he said he thought about you when he had sex with his EX? That is major love hun." "Yeah, but I just have a really bad feeling about this." "Girlie, its going to be fun. You're young, and hot. If it doesn't work out-hey whatever right? Listen, I have to go. Doctor appointment for my little baby here. I'll call you when I get back 'kay?" "Alright, I'll talk to you later. Bye."
I hung up the phone and sat in bed. Ben and I ended up making out in the back of my car for…well for a long time. He ended up at my place, crashing on the couch. I looked at the clock, 8:47am. I figured he was still asleep, so I crawled out of bed and crept into the kitchen. As I walked past him, I sighed, looking at him sleeping. He was really cute as Louise said, but something felt wrong about him sleeping there. Last night, he had tried to get me into bed with him, but out of habit, I refused. Sure, I would have loved to get with him; having the pleasure, but it wouldn't have felt right. I sighed again, and turned on the coffee maker. "Ahhh hot, fresh coffee, my kind of wake-up call." Ben stretched and came into the kitchen. "Good morning Emmy. How'd you sleep?" Emmy. He called me Emmy. Nobody has ever called me that since like 10th grade. He asked, slyly attempting to put his arms around me. I pulled away, and grabbed some mugs out of the cupboard. "Fine, how about you? Was the couch comfy enough for you?" "It was dandy! So, do you want to, talk or something?" He asked, brushing the hair away from his eyes, like a fifth grader. "Uh, what would I want to talk about?" I asked, smiling. Ben came up to me and kissed me. It felt so good. "Ahhh. What was that for?" I smiled, kissing him back. "I have wanted to do that for such a long time. I'm glad I'm here Em." He wrapped his arms around me, and I forced myself to hold on.
Ten years before.
"Hey, Ben!" I smiled and kissed Ben's forehead. We had been dating almost three years now, and I was perfectly comfortable kissing him in public. "Oh hey Emmy. How was trig?" "God, it was killer," I said, laughing as I slid into his lap. He froze before slightly touching my back, and sighing. "Everything okay Ben?" I asked, cautiously. I've dated enough guys to know what the sigh sounds like. This was the sigh that usually came before the break-up conversation. "Oh, me? Yeah I'm fine. It's just…Oh its nothing." He said, pulling me off his lap to stand up. "Oh come on Ben; just tell me, I'm a big girl. Is it my new hair style?" I said, jokingly. He didn't even crack a smile. "Em. Emmy. I think that we need a break for a while." I frowned. "Well, this is…sudden. Why?" He ran his fingers through his hair, a signature move of his, and sighed again. "It's just; we've been dating for so long. I think we should just take a break from each other…" I knew what was coming next. "And see other people." We said together. I looked at him and huffed. "Well Benjamin, if you feel that way, maybe we'll never get back together. Maybe we can just go our separate ways and just act like we never had anything. You know, I thought you were different from the other jerks, but obviously I was wrong." I stood up and threw my backpack over my shoulder. "Goodbye Benjamin." And I ran off, listening to him calling out my name.
"He just dumped you? Like no reason at all?! What a dick Em! Want me to go kick him? I'll rip him to pieces Em. I swear if you want me to-"No, Kati, just…no. I don't want to talk about it. It's fine. I mean we've taken breaks before. I'll just call him tonight, and ask him whats going on. It's fine. It's just. God right there! I bet like everyone saw. He didn't even give me a legitimate reason." I cried into my bestfriends' arms. Kati held me, and then got up and ran to the fridge to get some ice-cream. We spent a good three hours just sitting on her bed crying and eating a whole carton of ice-cream. By the time I left, I was feeling so much better, and I was ready to call Ben and ask him what was up.
"Uh, Em, this isn't a uh good time." I heard Ben rummaging through what sounded like papers? "What are you doing? Can't you just talk for a sec…for me?" I asked, seductively. That's when I heard "God Ben is she that pathetic? Get off the phone and come here, you dirty man you." It was Elizabeth Gardens voice. The school tramp. Everyone knew she was like a leech, sucking one man, to the next, until she's slept with every guy at school. Ben was next. I felt like ripping his heart out and choking him. "Is Elizabeth at your house? Ben, are you serious. Fucking Elizabeth Gardens? The school whore. Are you seriously going that low? God Ben, I loved you. Why would you do something so hurtful?" I spat out. "Em, Emily, just listen-'' I hung up before he could finish.