Hope you're all well.
I finally wrote this chapter, I apologize for the stupidly long delay and hope you're all still interested in the story. I am. I'd love it if you all left a review to tell me what you thought/how I can improve/what you would like to see or see more of in the story. I'll try and write the next chapter as soon as possible.
"This had to happen, didn't it?" Carrie asks suddenly, penetrating the silence that had been lingering at table 7 of the quaint coffee shop she, Miranda and Charlotte had discovered on the edge of Manhattan. It wasn't the most stylish of coffee shops, on the contrary it was cramped, dim and generally unpleasant, with the only admirable quality being that it was one of about two coffee shops in New York they hadn't visited in the past with Samantha, but neither of them cared in the slightest. This day was going to be hard enough. They didn't want memories.
"You got your baby," Carrie continues, motioning towards Charlotte, "you got married," she moves her gaze to Miranda, "I got with Big, for Christ sake. We all got our happily-fucking-ever-after. Something was going to go wrong, and bam..." she hits the table, making both Miranda and Charlotte jump, "...one of us drops dead."
There's another silence. None of them look at each other. Carrie's hair is tied back, her signature curls looking limp and lifeless at the back of her head. Her face bears minimal make-up and she's wearing clothes a regular, non-mourning Carrie would only see fit to clean the apartment in.
"Excuse me, is this chair taken?" A 20-something girl appears at their table, her hands clasped on the empty chair between Carrie and Miranda. All three of them suddenly turn to stare at it. "It was empty, I just thought-"
"Yes. No. Yes, I mean take it. It's not, uh... it's not taken," Miranda replies uneasily, forcing a smile as the girl walks away with the chair awkwardly.
Miranda turns back to the girls, who are still staring at the empty space where the chair was, their expressions practically blank. "Does anyone want more coffee? I might get some more coffee. It tastes like shit but it might've been a bad cup, right?" Miranda says shakily, and she hastily leaves the table without even waiting for an answer, leaving Carrie and Charlotte alone.
"So," Charlotte begins a moment later, her voice so soft it's basically a whisper, "how are you?"
"What?" Carrie breaks her gaze from the invisible chair and turns to Charlotte, her eyes look tired and unfocused.
"How are you?"
"Oh," Carrie turns away, as though she had been expecting this question since the moment they walked in.
"How are you coping?"
"I'm not," she says simply, just as Miranda returns to the table, a cup of coffee in hand and looking noticeably relieved that some form of conversation had begun, while Charlotte continues to stare at Carrie, concern etched on her face over Carrie's last statement.
"Nope, still tastes like shit," Miranda states after taking a sip of her coffee.
"What about you, Miranda?" Charlotte now rounds on Miranda.
"What about me, what?" Miranda looks slightly wary.
"How are you?"
"Fine," she says abruptly, and she takes another sip of her coffee and recoils, momentarily forgetting it's "shit"-like quality. This time, even Carrie turns to look at her. "What?" Miranda says defensively at Carrie and Charlotte's intense stares. "I'm fine," she says again, this time a little too enthusiastically.
"It's just us, Miranda," Carrie says quietly.
"Yeah, you don't have to pretend," Charlotte rests her hand on Miranda's, which had taken the liking of tapping nervously on the desk for the past couple of seconds, whether Miranda was aware of it or not.
"It's been hard," Miranda says in the lowest voice they've ever heard her speak, "at home, I... I've been..." she nods her head disapprovingly, apparently unable to complete the sentence, "Steve's always asking me if I'm okay, trying to hug me, trying to do things for me, I just... I won't even let him touch me, for fucks sake," she blurts out, her voice shaky and eyes glistening.
"Why not?" Charlotte asks worryingly, tightening her grip on Miranda's hand.
"Because if he does," Miranda's voice rises, "I'll turn into a fucking Lifetime afternoon movie, and I can't handle that right now."
"Miranda, you have to let him in. You can't keep things bottled up like this, especially not this."
"She's right, sweetie," Carrie speaks, "you can't do this by yourself. We're here for you like we always are but I don't know what I'd be doing without Big right now."
"Me neither, Harry has been so good," Charlotte intervenes.
"You need him, Miranda," Carrie finishes, looking at Miranda with sad, understanding eyes, "I know it might be hard to admit for you but you do. You need Steve."
The glistening in Miranda's eye had now formed into a tear now making its way down her porcelain cheeks.
"Oh shit," she says unexpectedly after a moments silence, startling both Carrie and Charlotte.
"What?" Carrie asks curiously after Miranda fails to elaborate.
"Do you think...?" Miranda begins but stops, apparently lost in her own train of thought.
"Honey, you gotta start finishing sentences,"
"I'm a bitch again, aren't I?" Miranda looks imploringly at both Carrie and Charlotte, as if expecting a 'yes' or 'no' answer.
"What are you talking about?" Charlotte looks slightly bemused.
"You've noticed a change in me for the past couple of years, right?" Miranda crouches down and lowers her voice, as if indulging in some sort of secret (Carrie and Charlotte naturally follow suit). "You know, since I've had Brady I've become softer, more nurturing, more motherly, more all that shit?"
"I wear dresses and curl my hair, for Christ sake."
"Yes, yeah, we get it, you're less, uh, you know..." Carrie tries to find the words, "uptight."
"Bingo," Miranda snaps her fingers at Carrie and sits back up straight, "I'm less uptight, and what am I now? I'm uptight. I mean, Jesus, look at my hair," she grabs a couple of strands and shows them to Charlotte, "it's straight, it's snatched back..."
"Well, the make-up dresser isn't exactly the main priority for any of us right now."
"Look at my clothes," Miranda continues over Carrie.
"Like I said..."
"Okay, look at me snapping and bitching at Steve," Miranda says, to which Carrie has no reply. "I'm even struggling to look after Brady lately too."
"But that's understandable..." Charlotte attempts to calm the situation.
"Charlotte, it's fine, you don't have to make excuses," Miranda puts her hands in the air as though admitting defeat. "It's like the old me has just woke up inside of me and is like, 'what the fuck? I'm married to Steve? I have a baby? Fuck!'"
"Hey, hey, missy, just stop..." Carrie puts her hand in the air, it's the most active and alert she's been all day, "we're all going through some shit right now and we're all dealing with this our own way, isn't that right Charlotte?" she glances at Charlotte for support, who begins to look very uncomfortable. "I promise you this is just some stupid phase you'll get out of eventually when all this... well, in time or something."
"What if it isn't?" Miranda replies instantly, "what if the Miranda before was just a phase and this is the real me, it just took something fucked up like this to happen to unleash it."
"Look, your mind is a mess, you're over-thinking..."
"Yeah, after this just go home, get some rest and relax," Charlotte adds.
"I'm just scared," Miranda's voice is now less aggravated and more vulnerable, "if I've fucked things up with Steve twice before, what if I do it now?" She bows her head down, takes another sip of her coffee before spitting it back out into the cup, "and can we please go somewhere else for a fucking cup of coffee?"