A/N: okay i know. I'm horrible. i became the very thing i hate - one of those authors who all but abandons their writing and just when the story was starting to get (at least in my opinion) interesting. Life kind of just ran away from me (a sister's bridal shower, wedding, and all that rest that went with it, then the holidays, getting a part time job, but still needing a full time one because i need more money and health insurance...). It hasn't been an easy few months and i really i was in no state to speak with the muses about this story. I will try to do better, promise. Still, feel free to throw rotten fruit, rocks, etc at me, but spare my poor story. It didn't do anything wrong.
The song for this one is truly a favorite of mine by my favorite band hands down. Hopefully you enjoy the direction I've taken with the story. also hopefully you aren't confused. As always please READ & REVIEW! Thank you for those of you have stuck with this story and been waiting for it...NOW! on to the story!
Chapter Six: Sorrow
Sorrow found me when I was young
Sorrow waited, sorrow won
Sorrow they put me on the pill
It's in my honey, it's in my milk
Don't leave my hyper heart alone on the water
Cover me in rag and bone sympathy
'Cos I don't wanna get over you
I don't wanna get over you
- "Sorrow" by The National
SEVEN YEARS EARLIER
"If this is your way of telling me you're gay, well than nope, not very subtle," Amie told her brother as they stood in the doorway of a rather spectacular New York City duplex.
"Oh I like her. She's obviously the sibling with the sense of humor," interrupted the duplex's owner, "and much to my dismay darling, this isn't your brother's coming out. This is your new home."
"Amie, this is Collins – a friend from college," Adam made the introductions, motioning between the two of them as the threesome moved into the apartment. "Collins, my sister Amie. Collins and I always seemed to have a class or two together and as an aspiring set designer he was usually assisting at the same shoots as me."
"Nice to meet you," was all Amie could seem to make out.
"Same here. Your brother has told me a lot about you actually. Plus, it's nice to see the red hair in person. Makes it easier to imagine what your brother's used to look like before he took a razor to it."
While Collins and Adam took a minute to talk, Amie gave the new man an appraisal. Tall and lean – those were the two words that came to mind. Taller than Amie (though most people were), everything about him was long and skinny – legs, fingers, arms. His hair too was in stylized disarray, longish at least on top and a soft blonde. While Adam had quickly and bluntly said, "Oh and he's gay" just before the door was opened, Amie was pretty sure she could have figured it out all on her own. It wasn't that he was overtly obvious; he just didn't hide it, giving off the vibe of someone very comfortable with himself and in his skin. To Amie he seemed so much the opposite of Adam; it was almost funny to see them together, side by side. Too bad she didn't feel much like laughing.
Her eyes wandered while the guys continued to talk, taking in the immaculate, bright, and open floor plan. From her spot in what appeared to be the sunken in living room area of the living-dining-kitchen room, she could see almost the entire first floor – a few screens and half walls blocked out the rest.
"Amie?" called Adam and not for the first time.
"Oh, um, what?" she'd been caught.
"I'll give the grand tour after you settle in. Bedrooms are upstairs though," said Collins as he led them toward a stairway hidden behind one of those half walls. Amie followed behind, starting to feel a little numb to the whole experience.
"Okay," Collins began sounding like a tour guide, "I'm there at the end of the hall. Apologies in advance for the loud drunken stumbling that is bound to occur with some frequency. Adam, you're on the left; Amie on the right."
"Bathroom?" questioned Adam, since there were only three doors.
"Each room has its own. Just open a door inside and it will either be a closet or a bathroom. And don't look so shocked my little plebian friend. The parental units were very well endowed."
The ring of the doorbell brought Collins to a pause. "That must be the doorman with the things from your car. I'll go let him in," and off Collins went.
The siblings looked at each other, both a little unsure at the moment what they were supposed to do next. Adam gave a shrug and tentatively each entered their respective rooms.
Taking a step inside, Amie knew right away that she should be in raptures, enthralled, stunned, at the very least – excited. Her room was amazing. Larger than what she had lived in for the last 18 years by a long shot, it looked more like the chic bedrooms you saw in a magazine and fantasized about. It certainly did not look like a place a real person should be allowed to live in. Her brother had said Collins was well off, but she'd never imagined this.
"So how do you like it?" came a voice from behind her.
Spinning, Amie gave a yelp at Collins' silent entrance, almost knocking over a (rather expensive looking) vase full of fresh (and expensive looking) flowers.
Collins nimbly steadied the vase, "Sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."
"No, no it's fine. I'm just a little…"
"Overwhelmed," he supplied.
"Yeah," she let out with a sigh, "This really isn't what I expected when my brother told me we were sharing an apartment with a friend of his."
Collins laughed. "Wondering how I can even afford this?"
"Yeah and let me tell you that things like assassin for hire or high priced escort or maybe in your case pimp to high priced escorts leap to mind first thanks to some of the crazy stories I've overheard from Adam. No offense."
"Yup, you definitely got the sense of humor in the family. And while I'm slightly flattered for some reason by your suggestions, the truth is much more mundane. Trust fund baby with neglectful, just write him another check, parents. The apartment was actually theirs. Something they bought for when they came to New York, but now that's out of fashion so their off living in some remote part of the world. I'm going to say South America, but don't quote me on it. Gave this to me as a 'won't be seeing you in a few years' present."
"So. Good gift," was all Amie could manage.
"You could say that. At least now I can put it to good use by having you and your brother live here with me."
"Thank you again," Amie quickly replied, finally remembering her manners.
"Oh please!" he cut her off, "Do I look like a person who does well without an audience? Collins gestured to himself rather grandiosely. "I've been dying to find roommates, but I'm what people might call picky…or hard to live with. I can't remember which. Besides I had also been begging your brother to accept the apprenticeship here and when he brought up the issue of you at home all by your lonesome, I didn't hesitate to remind him this was a three bedroom apartment and that I always wanted a little sister."
There was an awkward pause- he didn't know what else to say, expecting her to say something but she refused to say anything else as all she wanted was to just be left alone since she felt her resolve weakening.
"So, um, the moving van should be here tomorrow with the rest of your stuff and then you can really get settled in. Just let me know if you need anything – you'd be surprised what I can come up with," Collins offered.
Amie had to restrain herself from making shooing hand gestures as he slowly backed out of the room, pointing out little things here and there he thought she'd want to know about her furnishings.
She released a deep breath as the door shut, only to choke on it as Collins' head popped back in through the door.
"Oh! Forgot to tell you: despite the wonderful high end kitchen I can't even boil water. So I'm going to order the best of the best from a bunch of take out places around here. Consider it a tasting menu. Anything in particular I should stay away from?"
Amie just shook her head no, all the while biting her lip to keep her scream of frustration in.
"Perfect." And this time when Collins left, she raced to the door and locked it behind him.
"No. No!" she said to herself. She wouldn't do the clichéd movie slide down the door and cry thing.
"I will do the scream into the pillow thing though," she decided, throwing herself onto the bed. "Jesus! Why is this bed so high?!" She grabbed one of the dozen or so pillows on the bed and buried her face in it. The scream never came though. Instead like a mantra, she kept asking, "What am I doing here? What am I doing here…"
"How much longer is this going to go on?" asked Collins as he stood in Adam's bedroom doorway.
"What go on?" Adam asked back but his attention was more focused on finding the lens cap to his camera.
"What!" exclaimed Collins, unbelieving Adam could be so blind. "Your sister. I mean I know you're busy with the first few days of the apprenticeship & all but don't tell me you haven't noticed."
Not looking up from his search Adam kept his voice even, almost bored sounding."The locked door, the coming out only to eat, the not touching the boxes of stuff piled outside her door. Trust me, I'm her brother. I've noticed."
"And you're not worried..." Collins still sounded appalled.
"Oh, of course I'm worried. Every time I pass it, I have to stop myself from breaking down the door and shaking her out of whatever this is. But that would probably make it worse."
"And talking to her; did you ever think of trying that?"
Finally Adam looked up, a pointed look directed at Collins, letting him know his not so subtle sarcasm was not appreciated.
"Amie doesn't like talking about herself. She's going through some stuff; a lot has changed for her and I think she's just trying to figure it all out. Give her a few more days and then, if things haven't changed I'll break down the door. Okay?"
"Stuff? Things? What kind of things? I mean not to offend & sound morbid but she's not going to kill herself in there is she? I don't need to remove sharp objects and start looking through carpet samples do I, because blood stains would never come out."
"Collins!" Adam yelled, jumping to his feet. Death was a touchy subject with him still.
"What! I'm sorry. From everything you said of your sister, the girl in there is not your sister. I get the distinct impression she doesn't want to be here."
"She does. Deep down inside...at least I hope. I'm not stupid. She did it to keep our little family together. Personally I think the two of us need a new start. This will be good for her. She needs this. She just has to realize it."
Letting out a dejected sigh - a clear indicator Collins was giving up for now - "A few more days?"
"A few more days."
"Aha! Gotcha," Adam exclaimed having located his lens cap. "I'm off. We're still meeting up later for drinks?"
"Yes. I've got people to introduce you to. I've rounded up some of the old gang too from our school days."
"Sounds good to me," Adam said, shrugging on his leather jacket with one hand and pushing Collins out of his room with the other. Pounding down the stairs, Adam called a general "See you later" before disappearing behind the door.
"Yeah," Collins said more to himself, watching Adam leave. He gave one last glance towards Amie's door and forced himself to turn away. "A few more days. Just a few more days..."
"If you spend another day in this bed, I think either your brother or I are going to have a nervous breakdown," Collin said, throwing himself onto the covered mound that he knew to be Amie in the bed.
"Go away," she muffled out.
"Nope, not until I get you out of this bed and out into the real world. I mean come on! This is the city, not some podunk suburb!"
"Please go away."
"Politeness won't help you here." He paused waiting for a reply and when he received none (he could not see her flipped middle finger under the covers), he continued on. "I'm told I am a good listener. The best even. Talk to me. And don't even try telling me nothing is wrong. It's either me or your brother. I'd choose me, but maybe that's just my narcissism talking. We've given you two weeks. Time is up."
Slowly pushing the comforter back from her face, she didn't send him the nasty look he expected. Instead, she stared straight at the ceiling, tears already visible in her eyes.
"Have you ever….Did you ever…" sigh "No. That's not. I…where do I start?"
In that moment she seemed so utterly pathetic, Collins wanted to just tuck her back under the covers and walk out the door. But he couldn't do that; wouldn't let this behavior go on any longer.
"They say the beginning is always a good place."
Amie swallowed audibly and closed her eyes as if she could see behind her eye lids a map of how to go. She opened her eyes but instead of looking at Collins, stared straight to the ceiling. "I woke up one day and realized it was gone. My life was gone and I didn't know until it was too late. I never even got a say in it leaving. One day I am a daughter and the next I am an orphan. One day I am a best friend and the next I am still just a best friend despite my best efforts to the contrary. It was going to be my grand gesture. And he didn't even show. I'd picked up my dad's guitar, written a song about how much I was in love with him, I prepared to sing it to him in front of a group of strangers, and he couldn't bother to show up."
The sigh she let out was wet with her unshed tears.
"That was when it hit me. I realized the life, the future – everything I planned for – wasn't going to happen! And now I am here. I mean, I couldn't let Adam pass this up; I mean the ability to apprentice under one of the best photographers and he was going to say no because my life wasn't…just wasn't. I couldn't let his life be ruined too. I woke up and knew I needed a new life, so here I am. But that means doing more than just running away for the summer to here; more than just leaving things behind for the summer. It means stepping out that front door and doing that comes with consequences I don't know if I am ready to accept."
"Like what Amie?"
"I love…I miss my parents. No one is ever ready to loose them. No one. I love…I thought I loved my best friend – the whole cliché boy next door thing. I thought he was someone who wasn't going to die or leave me, someone who was still there despite all the mess. And I was wrong. But when I walk out that door that will all become past tense. I am going to fall in love with this city. I am going to find the new life I need. I will miss my parents a little less each day and the ache I feel when I think of Benjamin will dull more and more…" her voice broke, tears fell. "I don't know what to do now."
"Well," said Collin, after a moment. He had to shake the emotion from his voice; the tears from his own eyes that threatened to fall. His sniffle though gave him away.
"Well, what you have to do is get out of this damn bed. You get out and you take that step out of the apartment – you know after a shower and in a nicer outfit that those ratty pajamas. You move on Amie. It's hard but eventually it is going to happen whether you want it to or not. At least, if you take that step, then you can decide what direction you move on in. You get to make the choice this time. It won't leave you. It won't not be there for you. And most of all, it won't be made for you."
Placing a light kiss on her forehead, he got up and made to leave the room. As he stood in the doorway Amie called to him.
"You are good," she said.
With a small laugh and much put upon sigh Collin replied, "I know" and left the room.
Amie – she left the bed. And soon after that, she left the apartment too.