"Hi, is this Helena, as in Larry Paul's ex-wife?"
"Yes, and you are?"
"Sorry, I'm Ally McBeal."
"Ally McBeal! Oh wow! What can I do for you?"
"You and Larry seemed…, well, what I mean to ask is… are you still in touch?"
"Yes. We're still in touch. Why?"
"Because I… I need to write Larry a letter but I don't have his address in Detroit. Do you, by any chance, have it for me?"
"Yes, I do and here it is!" was the merry reply.
Ally jotted it down. "That was easy, thank you."
"Go get him, Ally" Helena said.
Ally gave a sarcastic little laugh, "No, I don't think so. He doesn't want me"
"Yes, he does. He's just too scared"
"Oh… I…" Ally started, not really knowing what to say.
"It's been what, 4 months? He misses you terribly. He's miserable."
"He shouldn't have left… just leaving a note... I mean, who does that?"
"I know. Still I say: go get him. You two are meant for each other."
"I… I can't. I need to write him, give this some closure, and then move on."
"I understand. But I still hope you and he…"
"You know, for an ex-wife, you're awfully supportive of an ex-girlfriend!"
"Larry and I are friends, always have been, always will be. I have found happiness with someone else and I so want that for him too, especially now I know who he could be happy with!"
"He won't be happy with me, but thank you. I've gotta go." Ally felt the desperate need to sign off now.
She put down the phone and took a few minutes before opening the Christmas card she'd bought. She'd seen it in a shop, this big card with a snowman on the front, wearing a jacket and hat, and she couldn't resist buying it. She'd intended to just have it there, on her piano, to look at. She found herself regularly picking it up, looking at it, and putting it down again. Then at one point she had taken her black fine-liner pen and had drawn a pair or rectangular black glasses onto the snowman. And then she had known she couldn't keep this card, it needed to go to the person who still held her heart, the person who had left her with only a note to show for it. She needed to move on. It took her a few days to find the courage to track down Helena and now here she was, trying to figure out what to write. She finally wrote "Dear Larry" and after that her pen couldn't stop anymore.
It is the Christmas season and you have changed Christmas for me forever. Christmas reminds me of you now, just the way Christmas reminds you of Sam. Anyway, I wish you and Sam a merry Christmas.
It's been months since you left, leaving me that awful note. I refused to read it for weeks but I finally read those 4 words you wrote and it seemed like such an inadequate ending to what we had together. Yes, I technically I broke up with you but you had already checked out before that. Still, until that note I still had hope.
You left, fearing failure and I get that. You don't trust yourself, I get that too. Truth is, we are all battered and wounded and afraid to give away our hearts, but we can't just let that get us down. Yes, maybe we would fail. Then again, for maybe the first time in my life, I thought I'd found someone to be happily ever after with and I know that at some point you have felt that for me too. It just doesn't seem fair to give all that up, just for fear of failure. It doesn't seem fair to give up, just because you still have 2 exes that will forever be a part of your life and you can't deal with a third. I could deal with the Jamies and Helenas of this world as long as I knew I held your heart. It doesn't seem fair to give up just so you can avoid further heartache. There is heartache now, terrible heartache, and maybe if you'd given us a longer chance there never would have been terrible heartache like this! I still love you, Larry. I always will. You once said love is everything, especially if you'd gone on without it for long enough. I guess you were wrong. If it really had been enough you wouldn't be in Detroit now with me here in Boston.
I think I have said all I needed to say now. I can not dwell on this forever. I need to finally move on and I need closure. This is my way of doing that. So, I want to echo the note you left and say: I love you too. Goodbye.
Ally walked to the mailbox, pressing the card to her heart. She stood in front of the mailbox, staring at it, tears rolling down her cheeks. Then, finally, she mailed it, whispering a "Goodbye Larry" as she finally pushed it through the opening and quickly turned and walked home again.
It was Christmas Eve and Ally was standing in her hallway with her packed suitcase. She would be leaving to see her parents and stay there for a few days. She needed that comfort. She put on her coat, scarf and gloves, grabbed her suitcase and walked out the door. Just as she was locking her door, she heard a familiar voice behind her softly say, "Hi Ally."
Her head jerked up, her heart skipped a bit. She then sighed and shook her head. She'd gotten used to these illusions. She finished locking her door and turned around. There Larry was, standing right before her.
"Go away!" she said, annoyed, brushing him away with her arm and moving forward to walk away. Except, this time she wasn't brushing away air, she actually hit the side of vision-Larry's arm. This stopped her in her tracks. She took a moment, closed her eyes and then opened them again. Larry was still there, looking at her intently, the beginning of a smile forming on his lips.
Again she closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them.
Yep, Larry was still there. Her eyes grew large but she couldn't trust her voice to speak.
"Hi Ally," he said again, studying her. She jumped at the sound of hearing his voice again.
"Hi," she finally managed to croak.
"You seem to be going somewhere. My timing is off. As usual," he said.
"Yes…. Yes…" Ally said distractedly. Then regaining her composure she said, "Christmas with the new boyfriend, what can I say?" and she started moving forward, pushing past Larry, lugging her suitcase to her parked car.
"New boyfriend?" Larry asked behind her, "I didn't realize".
"Yes, well there are a lot of things you never realized, Larry," Ally replied, while opening the boot of her car.
Larry stepped forward, took the suitcase from her and loaded it into the boot.
"True," he said, "How long will you be gone? This suitcase feels like you're emigrating!" he continued, trying to make light of the situation.
"Well, it won't be to Detroit!" Ally said sarcastically, closing the boot again. She turned to face him, giving him her most defiant stare.
"Maybe I should move back to Boston then," Larry said quietly, searching her eyes.
"You have a nerve…" Ally said, eyes open wide and quite taken aback.
"I got your Christmas card, Ally." Larry started.
Ally looked down, said "Hmm" and then moved to pass him but he stopped her short, putting his hand on her arm.
"You have changed Christmas for me too, Ally McBeal," he continued on.
"You have a nerve…" Ally whispered again, staring at Larry's shoes.
"I… I just suppose I…" he didn't know how to continue, but then said instead, "In your card you reminded me about love being everything…" He tried to read her face but it was impossible to see her face with her looking down like that. Ally studied Larry's toes some more and then looked up.
"Yes, well, obviously you were wrong about that Mr. Paul" she said and then tried to move away again.
"No, I was right," he said, allowing her to pass, "I have been miserable these past 4 months without you, Ally, and then when you wrote your card and reminded me I realized how stupid I have been. Love is everything!"
"Well," Ally said, swinging around back to him, "You have it now in Detroit with Sam and Jamie, so lucky you!"
"Jamie is …" he began.
"I don't want to hear it!" Ally interrupted, "Can't you just let me move on? That was what that card was about! Go back to Jamie and Sam, please," she almost begged.
"I don't want Jamie. I've tried wanting Jamie these past few months because it would make life so much easier for me if I did want her, but I don't want her. She's not you, Ally…"
"So what do you propose, Larry? That we get together again as if nothing happened? You know, I was right, love isn't always enough!" Ally exclaimed, "I think it is too late, Larry!"
"What I propose, as preposterous as it may seem, is spending a lifetime together, Ally," he said gently.
Ally looked at him like he was nuts, lost for words for a few moments.
"I can not believe I am hearing this," she finally whispered.
Larry moved a step closer but Ally backed away.
"I can not trust you to not leave me again, Larry," she said, "You left fearing failure. Now I think I'm the one who needs to leave for that same reason. I can not again go through everything that I've been through these past few months. It would literally be the end of me. I can't Larry." She searched his face pleadingly before continuing, "You have got to let me go, just as I let you go with my Christmas card."
Larry bit his lip, staring at her, lost for words.
Ally tried a weak smile, then stepped forward, whispered, "Goodbye Larry," and leaned in to plant a kiss on his cheek that lingered longer than it should have. She had forgotten the thrill of touching his rough cheek with her lips; she breathed in the scent of him, savouring it for maybe the last time and then quickly regained composure, drawing away, ready to turn to get into her car. But drawing away wasn't so easy.
Larry grabbed both her shoulders, found her mouth with his and planted a kiss on her lips.
"No!" Ally's head screamed but she couldn't move herself to escape; she succumbed and moved closer to Larry, relishing the closeness and the kiss.
His arms encircled her waist and he pulled her towards him, his lips never once leaving hers. Her arms travelled up around his neck and she grabbed his hair and they were locked together thus for a few moments more before Ally finally dragged herself back to reality. She pulled away.
"Ally…" Larry began, not wanting to let go.
"Larry, I can't take you leaving again…" she interrupted, "Please let me go."
He let her go but not without adding, "I don't plan on leaving again."
"You've said that before." Ally said, searching his eyes.
"I know and I can't promise anything but I really don't plan on ever leaving you again." Larry stated again, returning her gaze. "Ally, love really is everything! These past 4 months have proven that to me. I just didn't know how to make things right again, and then your card came and it made me think. If you love me only a fraction of how much I love you then I think we deserve to give this another shot. "
"If you still love me, can we try?" Larry asked, stepping closer to her again, searching her face in desperation.
Ally responded to that look with another "I…" but faltered, not finding any words.
The next second she was in his arms and he was embracing her tightly. So tightly she could hardly breathe but she didn't care. So they stood for a long time.
"I didn't write the card to get you back, Larry." Ally said finally, softly against his shoulder.
"I know" he whispered, planting a kiss on her head.
"I wrote it to say goodbye for good, I…I needed to move on," she continued.
"I know," he whispered again, "And the finality of it scared me more than anything else. It jerked me into action. I packed my suitcase and was out the door almost the minute after I finished reading it." He kissed her head again. She finally looked up at him and found his eyes red just like hers.
"So, what now?" she asked, continuing to search his features.
"Now, we live happily ever after?" Larry tried with the hint of a smile.
Ally wasn't ready for that yet. "Continue as if nothing happened?" she asked. "I can't do that… I can't trust this… I'll always live in fear of finding another note again and you being gone…" She started to disentangle herself from his arms.
"I will try, Ally. I will do everything in my power to help you believe in us again," Larry said, still keeping a firm hold on her.
"So, if I act jealous of Jamie or Helena or if I annoy you with my insecurities, I can trust you not to bail?" she asked, still leaning back and suspicious.
"There is no need for you to be jealous of Jamie or Helena and I love your insecurities. I just need to deal with mine and not let them get in the way anymore," he said.
Ally pulled out of his arms and with her arms crossed and fixing him with a searching look inquired, "And how will you do that? How will you not let your insecurities get in the way of being with me?" she asked.
"I will remember the hell - and it was hell, Ally - of being apart from you for 4 months! That should keep me on track. I had Sam but even he couldn't make it better."
He looked pained but as much as Ally wanted to hold him again, she couldn't just push away the pain of the past 4 months. They held each other's gaze for a moment.
"You're it, Ally. You're the one," he said softly, shrugging his shoulders. Fresh tears sprung to her eyes. It was what she longed to hear but could she trust it?
"I love you and I want to go on loving you for the rest of my life," he ended.
"Hmmm," Ally said, looking down to her own toes, still not sure.
"You once said that love is an obstacle course and I have decided that we shouldn't let these obstacles win. I want to overcome them. With you. You're it, Ally," he said, pleadingly.
She looked up again at him and said softly, "You hurt me, Larry! I've been hurt by love before but it was never ever anything like this. Don't do that again."
He gathered her into his arms instantly and claimed her lips again. "Not if I can help it," he muttered against them and Ally finally allowed herself to be swept away by the love of her life. It was true: love really is everything.