Keep It Together

Chapter One

He spun the hand gun around his finger precariously, gradually quickening the pace of his celebrated trick. David's heart pounded heavily in his chest as a feeling of dread crept over him. He cried out for him to stop. Yet, Scott continued to spin the pistol…faster and faster…

BOOM.

David shot up in bed suddenly, his breath hitched in his lungs. His bare back and chest were soaked in a cold sweat, his heart racing at a million miles a minute.

"Donna," he gasped through staggered breaths. "Donna…the nightmare…it happened again…"

He reached behind himself to grasp his wife, with whom he knew he'd find the comfort he needed. All he felt beneath his palm were cold, bare sheets. Temporarily confused, he turned to see that the other side of the bed was empty.

Reality returned to him like a gale force wind. She had left…she no longer lived there. His Donna…a thousand miles away.

The memory rang through his mind like a cruel symphony.

"David, this isn't up for discussion. I've opened a store in Beverly Hills. I'm not staying."

"Donna, be realistic," David pleaded, walking backwards to face her as she bee-lined towards the closet. "What about Ruby? What about our apartment? What about—"

"What about the dreams we planned to follow, together?" she interrupted forcefully. "Japan was not supposed to be in the equation. When we agreed to go, I didn't think it would be permanent."

"What do you want me to say Donna?" David demanded as he watched her carelessly yank clothing off of hangers and throw them into her suitcase. "What exactly can I say to make this better? You know that my job here has been too great to pass up. The money is better than we ever imagined! I can support us best if we stay here."

Donna paused in her task, turning to face him somberly. "David…" she began quietly, "it was never about the money. It was about us, being together—raising a family. You know that's all I've ever dreamed of. We could have been dirt poor…"

"But we're not!" David argued. "We're not poor. We're wealthy and successful and it's an added bonus."

"Not if there is no one to share it with," Donna whispered, hurriedly wiping the appearing tears on her cheeks.

David gulped hard to keep the lump in his throat from rising. "What are you saying?"

Donna released a sharp exhale and turned away. "We have no support system here. It's been four years…and I still feel like a tourist. I…I'm saying…I'm not happy."

"You're not happy with me?" David asked quietly.

Donna choked back a sob and failed to reply. This deafening silence seemed response enough for David, who felt his strongest defenses gearing up.

"Fine," he conceded, throwing his hands up. "Fine. You want to go? Go!" To accentuate his point, he picked up where she left off with throwing clothes into the suitcase.

"David," she cried, crossing her arms across her chest protectively. "David, don't. Come with me. Please."

"I can't," he said sternly, slamming the full suitcase closed. "You know that's not going to work."

She wiped the moisture from her cheeks and smiled sadly. "Then neither will we."

David inhaled deeply, dejected. It had only been a couple of weeks since she had come back to collect her things. And yet…it seemed like a lifetime ago. He flopped back onto the sweat-drenched sheets, staring at the dancing lights the muted television played across the marble ceiling.

Through all of their trials and tribulations, David had managed to hold fast to Donna, no matter what. After ten years of on-again-off-again dating, he could not have imagined spending his life with any other woman. That's why he proposed. But now…

Try as he might to resist, he could not help himself. He turned to his nightstand to admire the framed photograph of them on their wedding day. Remembering their vows, he could not remember another time in his life that he had felt so happy and so…secure. He was sure it was everything he had ever wanted…

Then why was his pride ruining all of it now?

Because, a stern voice in his head commanded, because David Silver has never before had anything to show for his successes. It's not selfish to finally feel like you're accomplishing something.

The internal dialogue had been plaguing him for months, since the arguments had started. He found himself growing truthfully exhausted by the perpetual angel-and-devil-on-each-shoulder dichotomy. No matter how feverishly he argued with himself, he could not bring himself to budge on the issue.

He rubbed his eyes tiredly and looked at the television.

"Hmm," he chuckled bitterly. "Hartley House." He allowed his eyes to flutter shut and exhaustion overtook him once more.


BRRRRRRING! BRRRRRING!

David carefully opened one eye to examine the source of the unwelcome noise. Stupid telephone.

"Go away, I'm not here," he mumbled tiredly, burying his head tightly between two pillows. Despite his innocent night, he felt insanely hung over.

The answering machine clicked on. "You've reached the Silver residence. Leave a message."

"David, it's Bradley."

David weakly lifted his head at the sound of his agent's voice on the recording.

"Big news buddy—I spoke with Mr. Yamamoto. He's offering you a handsome record deal with his label, and a full-scale tour. I told you he'd come through for us, Silver! Call me as soon as you get this."

David sat up straight, wondering if he had heard correctly. After all the years of music production, had he finally accomplished his true dream of recording his own creations? To confirm his understanding of the message, he played it back a second time for safe measure.

"No way," he whispered excitedly. Before even considering the potential consequences of his actions, he leapt towards the phone and dialed what had become a painfully familiar international number. It rang once—twice.

"Hello?"

Her voice had never sounded so sweet.

"Baby, it's me," he said immediately. "Guess what just happened?"

A hesitant silence separated the conversation. "What is it, David?"

"My manager called. He finally got me a record deal. Isn't that fantastic?" David tucked the phone between his ear and shoulder so as to pull on his jeans.

Another pregnant pause. "That's wonderful," Donna said, her voice devoid of any true joy.

David stopped dead in his tracks, pants still unbuttoned, to realize the foolishness of the phone call. He was so used to calling her with good news…He had momentarily forgotten entirely about the separation.

"Y-yeah," he stuttered as his buzz painfully fizzled. "I wanted you to be the first to know."

"I'm happy for you."

It certainly didn't sound that way.

"Look, Donna," he began carefully. "Now that my music career is taking off for real, maybe we can discuss moving you back over the Pacific."

The deafening pauses between each of his sentences was becoming asinine.

"David…" she began quietly.

Suddenly a child's voice cried out in the background. David felt a painful tug on his heartstrings at the sound of his daughter's sobs.

"I have to go," Donna said abruptly. The immediate dial tone echoed in David's ears.

Frustrated, he ended the call. How could she do this? Why wasn't she happy for him? Why wasn't it enough to bring her home?

"God damnit!" he bellowed, launching the phone across the room with all of his might. The impact shattered a hanging mirror on the far wall.

He collapsed back into a sitting position on the bed, holding his head in his hands, feeling as though he had entered into a bipolar relapse. What a strange thing, to be able to cycle through so many different emotions in such a short ten minutes…

He counted silently backwards from one hundred to level his breathing and control his trembles of anger—just as his therapists had taught him to do. Once calmer, he raised his head to once again be met with the same photograph he had studied so mournfully the night before.

He took a deep breath and declared his unspoken vow aloud: "I'm going to win you back, Donna."