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Strangers

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You left and she didn’t stop you.

 

You try and breath properly but you can only heave between quiet sobs. You haven’t even left the building yet because you’re such a mess. You wipe away the tears streaming down your cheeks but it’s useless, they just keep pouring out and you feel so stupid.

 

You can’t believe she hadn’t mentioned it before. All those times that she said she didn’t want anyone right now and you thought–you just thought…that maybe it was because of you. You shut your eyes and shake your head, your fist bumping your forehead a few times because how could you have been so stupid? How could you have let this get so out of hand? All these feelings you tried so hard to keep bottled up inside for so long. All those stupid thoughts of her maybe wanting you as more than some stupid fuck buddy.

 

She had actually slept with someone else while you were busy tossing all these thoughts around your mind. While you were missing her every single day you were away. While you were eager to come back so you could finally see her again.

 

When could it have been?

 

You open your eyes as you start to think through the possibilities, one standing out in your mind once you remember. The one time you came back and something was different. Something had been off and you were to blind to see it in plain sight.

 

She had changed the bed sheets and you’d noticed.

 

You’d noticed and told her and still didn’t even think it could’ve been because someone else had been there.

 

You scoff at your own lack of sight.

 

This happened months ago and she tells you this now?!

 

She could have just told you. She could have just been honest and come out with it. You might’ve been more understanding then. You might not have had all these useless feelings for her back then. It’s like she said, you didn’t have any obligations towards each other after all, maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. Maybe things could’ve stayed simple between you two. Maybe you wouldn’t have gotten so attached so easily.

 

You feel sick and you really don’t want to stay inside this place right now. For the first time ever, you don’t want to be here. And the thought that you’ve always wanted to before, more than anywhere else; only makes the ache in your chest worse.

 

You look above towards the stairs wondering if anyone is close enough to witness your misery and it only makes you realize how she didn’t try to follow you either. How little you must have truly meant to her. How did you confuse things this much?

 

You don’t want to be here anymore. You don’t want to feel this—you don’t want any of this at all. You push yourself away from the wall and step outside barefoot to hail a cab. Last night’s heels dangling from your hands and you would have left them behind if they weren’t new, your dad having paid for them along with the rest of yesterday’s outfit. This stupid outfit that you’re messily holding in your hands after last night. You look down at yourself remembering what you’re wearing. You didn’t even think twice about leaving in Carmilla’s clothes, but you’re not going back.

 

 

So you really leave this time, and she still doesn’t stop you.

 

She doesn’t text or call you.

 

And you really thought this morning that the two of you had to be something. With the way Carmilla smiled as she tucked stray hairs behind your ear last night, or how her eyes wouldn’t stop shinning with something more than just desire. You’ve both been doing this for months now and even when you were away you’d come back to her as if nothing had changed.

 

Because she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t change.

 

She’d only be there with you more than before. Kiss you more, smile at you more, asking more and more about you and your day. You and her wouldn’t even meet up just for the sake of sex anymore. You’d casually hang out, go out to eat, see each other during lunch breaks or even meet up after work to just spend time with each other and talk. She even did things for you like go to that award ceremony or bring you goodies to the office, even though you had to go back in instead of heading home with her.

 

All those random sleepovers and food dates.

 

…Last night’s dinner.

 

You wipe the stray tears with the collar of Carmilla’s shirt and you hate how much it smells like her.

 

How much you love that smell.

 

How you’d grown to find it so comforting.

 

How it manages to stand out from the smell of sex that’s still stuck to your body, or the salty taste from your tears.

 

You really thought the business dinner was going to be the hardest thing to go through yesterday. The dinner she didn’t even have to go to but showed up anyway. Surprising you, looking just stunning and getting involved in your life more and more. And you thought it was all so stupid and so clear and you didn’t know why you didn’t just let it happen sooner.

 

But you see it now, you see how she didn’t want what you did.

 

 

 

And after a few weeks it still hurts. It still feels like someone cut a hole in you and you realize just how attached to her you really were. How big of a part of your life she had turned into. Daily or not. Physically or virtually.

 

Emotionally...

 

Your thoughts trail off because she was never a bad to you. She always asked about your life and how you had been doing and it wasn’t always just sex. And maybe that’s what caught you off guard. Maybe that’s what convinced you that maybe she felt the same way. She had just been a decent person from the start and it whipped you so hard but still…

 

She was more than just a stranger to you, and now, after all you’d been through…

 

You pass your fingers through your hair trying to sooth yourself after having such an emotionally draining week trying to control the urge to go to her. Because you just can’t do this anymore, you can’t just be some girl to her again. You can’t stop all these feelings you have towards her anymore. You sigh and go back to the paperwork on the desk.

 

…How did you become strangers again?

 

 

You can barely pay attention to the words in front of you, your dad doing his best not to push you to work faster. He hasn’t directly asked you about the elephant in the room but he doesn’t mind tiptoeing around it. He is your dad after all, he knows you too well.

 

“Any plans for lunch with anyone?”

 

“No dad.”

 

“Huh…Really?” you nod and keep reading through the same sentence over and over in the report. “Cause if you do I’d understand if you had to go ahead of break time.”

 

“Thanks dad, but I’m good right here.”

 

“Well…there’s not much left to do here anymore.” He pats the small stack of papers on his desk. “We can go get something to eat together. Maybe stop by that bakery you like.”

 

You keep reading and slightly shake your head. “I’m not really that hungry.”

 

That catches him off guard, he seems to give up and take a seat as he watches you read. You know he can tell you’ve been acting off for weeks now and you’re thankful you haven’t had to bring it up to anyone who’s asked you.

 

Not even LaF. Not even Perry. But you can feel how hard your dad’s been trying to lay off.

 

“Laura, can I ask you a loaded question?” he asks a bit worried but calmly and you hope this won’t be the moment you’re forced to break again. You don’t think you could take much more of that. Especially here with your dad. You take a nervous deep breath and look at him.

 

“Sure. Just…keep it as light as you can, kay?”

 

He nods agreeing, calmly watching you before he straightens up and takes a steady breath. “Do you like it here?”

 

“What, like…in this office? I mean the light green walls remind me of minty gum but-“

 

“No no! not here here just…here in general. The company, the town, the house?”

 

You close the report and move it aside to pay more attention to your dad. It’s not like you were reading it anyway. “Well…yeah. I mean, it’s what I’ve know all my life. Of course I like it here.”

 

He nods and looks down in deep thought. “I see.”

 

You furrow your brow as you watch him think. “Why do you ask, dad?”

 

“I don’t know. I guess I just—I just hope that you don’t feel stuck to this—to this place. To working for me all the time. Not focusing on yourself as much as you could or should.” You fee a sharp jab somewhere in your chest but he just shrugs with a sigh. “I don’t know, something like that.”

 

“Dad, I don’t feel…stuck. Sure my friends are here and you. I love spending time with you, dad, but…”

 

He quirks up as you look away. “But?”

 

You chew on the inside of your bottom lip, your brow worrying together as you try and keep yourself from thinking of her. Of how much she meant to you for so long now. “But…nothing else is holding me here. I could go whenever and go…sight seeing or travel the world and I wouldn’t feel bad about it. I’d miss you all obviously but…yeah. I’m not stuck, dad. I’m here because this is where I need to be right now. I want to be here with you and all these stupid reports.” You finish with a shrug and a half laugh.

 

His lips twist as he thinks about your words until he slaps his hand against his knees as if suddenly done. “Well, good to know!” He leans forward, his fatherly caring eyes giving you a look you’ve rarely seen after your mom passed away. “Because I’ve been meaning to ask you something. The actual loaded question I mean.”

 

“That wasn’t it??”

 

He laughs and shakes his head no. “Nah I just needed to squeeze that information outta’ ya.” You glare at him and he smiles at you, resting his arms on the desk. “What I really want to know…is how you’re liking your job after all of this chaos?”

 

You pout a bit surprised and shrug again. “It’s nice.” He waits for you to say more so you scratch the back of your head and think. “It’s a lot easier after having to do so much so fast. And uh…I guess…the meetings flow better now and the…software update is…great?” you add a bit confused.

 

He nods. “So you’re more comfortable handling everything now.”

 

“Yeah I guess.”

 

“Well…I was thinking—since you mentioned now that nothing’s holding you here—with the new deal overseas with Von Vorden Corp opening up so many job opportunities for us people. Which is a truly large amount might I say. Large enough to open up a small office for us over there.” He lowers his head, his chin resting against his fist as he looks at thin air and thinks. “well…I was wondering…” You lean closer urging him to go on but he seems to be stuck having a conversation with himself in his head. “Well…you do love travelling…”

 

Dad..” you warn not knowing what he’s trying this time. His plans for you haven’t exactly been your favorite lately.

 

“Now hold on, I’m asking you this one before making any preparations.” He extends one of his hands to grab yours. “…Would you want to move to London for a bit? Just to get everything started! Settle the company—and you can come back once you’re done!” You open your mouth to speak but he interrupts you. “Or—” you squint your eyes at him. “Or, you could stay there making sure everything keeps running smoothly if you want.” He squeezes your hand proudly. “You’re more than ready to boss people around.”

 

You stare at each other for awhile until you finally sigh. “Dad…I don’t know…”

 

“There’s no one I’d trust more with this. If not, then I can just go take care of it myself. There’s no pressure on this one, sweetie. It’s whatever you want.”

 

“But then how long would you be gone?” you frown at the thought. You took this job to be closer to him, not further away.

 

“As long as needed be, I can’t know as of yet.” He shrugs.

 

You chew on your lip trying to decide what to do. “Can I think about it?”

 

He nods. “Of course you can! I’m still handling things with Danny to find a nice building and place some adds. There’s no rush.”

 

You slowly nod and squeeze his hand. “Okay, dad.”

 

He squeezes it back and uses his free hand to pat over yours. “Okay.”

 

 

-

 

 

You’re frustrated.

 

Still standing by yourself in the middle of your apartment, trying to convince yourself that you did the right thing not going after her.

 

But you want to so badly.

 

It’s like you’re being pulled by her force but you won’t do it. You won’t go after Laura.

 

Your whole body feels stiff as if fighting you on this, begging you to take a step towards the door and to just keep moving but you won’t.

 

That’s not something you do for people. You squeeze your eyes shut tightly, your fists clenching harder at your sides and you refuse to chase after someone.

 

After anyone.

 

That only ends up making things worse. Making things more complicated than they need to be. You take a deep breath and head back into your room, slamming your own door shut. You sit on the corner of your bed, your legs curling up as you wrap your arms around them and you think it’s the only way you can keep yourself from going anywhere.

 

You did the right thing this time, it’s not like Laura was special. It was about time you stopped getting ahead of yourself and clinging to this girl like an idiot.

 

You look toward your window when you hear some tires scrapping over the wet road and you try not to think how it could be Laura leaving for good. Your eyes go lower until you’re staring over the top drawer by your bed, reminding yourself what happened the last time you let yourself get caught up in someone. The only thing you’ve ever kept from your high school mess of a relationship sitting inside it. Your grip tightens around yourself.

 

Elle’s farewell letter.

 

Though it was much more a ‘note’ than a letter if you’re being honest with yourself. You can’t blame her for it though, at that age everything was much more dramatic than it needed to be. You would skip classes just to meet her for a few minutes in the girls bathroom. Always leaving more hickeys than necessary as if marking your territory, fearing that someone else would try and take her away from you. But in the end no one did, no one had to, because she took care of that herself. You remember how strict your mother was, not letting you be with her after 7pm because it was a school night. You remember how little you cared and would sneak out the window anyway to go see her. Because you’d always go after her, no matter what the obstacle was. But your mother caught you once and threatened to call Elle’s parents to tell them the truth about you two. Her father loved you and would always have you over but Elle never told him about the things you two did. About what you two were. She never told anyone. So when your mother gave you a letter after school and you saw it was hers you wondered why she hadn’t just texted you after school. You wondered why she wouldn’t meet you in the bathroom anymore after you told her how you wouldn’t let your mother come between you two. You remember how she wasn’t as excited to travel together after graduation anymore but most of all; you remember how lost, angry and broken you felt when you read the few lines in her handwriting. Angry at how she could just put it all into a few words instead of a long meaningful letter. Angry at how easily she decided to end it all. How effortlessly she left you.

 

 

‘Cant do this anymore. It’s too much for me. I could never be as committed to you as you wish I was. You’re not mine, Carmilla, and I can’t be yours.

 

 I’m moving before grad.

 

Sorry.’ –Elle

 

You try and block out how much you panicked afterwards.

 

It was so pathetic the way you’d chase after her all the time.

 

So dramatic and angsty and you honestly still feel a tinge of shame whenever you think about those days. You tried leaving the house to go after her as the sobbing gay mess you were but your mother wouldn’t let you. She insisted you were being childish and of course you were; you were only 16 and your first love had just dumped you through a ripped notebook page tucked in a pre-used envelop sealed with tape. At the time you could only accuse your mother of falsifying it but you knew it was her writing. You knew those little stars on the top of the page from her English notebook and you still refused to believe it’s authenticity. Your mother was making dinner at the time and as you yelled at her to let you leave and she refused, your young emotional self went into a fit and threw things around.

 

Flammable things. 

 

Towels and books and whatever you could find near the kitchen, accidentally spilling the pot of goods she had brewing all over the floor. The kitchen curtains somehow catching on fire. You and your mother struggling to get close to it because of the hot substance spilled all around.

 

The kitchen had burned down, the flames reaching the side of the house and up to your room’s window which you had snuck out of so many times for Elle.

 

How mad your love for her had made you, it had you feeling as embarrassed and ashamed of yourself as your mother was. The fire department made it in time to save the house but the kitchen was ruined and half of your room as well. And yet you still wanted to run out of the house and go after Elle but you stayed. You sat in the stairwell and read her note over and over once everything was finally sinking in and you sobbed there. Your mother dragged you outside of the house while the firemen assessed the damage.

 

You actually laughed at the sight of the blackened wall outside as your mother seethed beside you. Your mother went inside to sleep on the couch, not before throwing you a pillow and blanket to lock you outside. She told you to move out after graduation and grow up.

 

You slept in your backyard under the trees and stars that night and didn’t feel as lonely as your heart kept trying to tell you you were.  

 

You did move out after graduation. As did your mother, moving away like Elle, leaving you alone in this god forsaken town. But you had Will and Kirsch now and they didn’t pry into your life to the level your mother did. They didn’t care about who you dated or not, how you spent your time and with who, what girls you brought over your place. You could finally feel like you had no care in the world with them. And you learned more about the world each new day. You’d grown after that fire, the remnants of the house always remind you of how far you’ve come. The spot behind the house always reminding you the stars kept you company when you didn’t want to feel alone.

 

You look out your window and don’t feel that reassuring company as the morning light shines through. You brush your hair back frustrated with an angry groan. How had caring made it’s way back into your life? Your anger only growing when you feel the tears stinging as they try and leave your eyes but you won’t let them. You throw yourself back with a groan, laying down on your bed.

 

You don’t go after girls, you don’t do feelings or relationships and you should have remembered that a long time ago instead of spending so much time with her.

 

Why did you spent so much extra time?

 

You should have stayed away from Laura Hollis.

 

So you will.

 

You’ll ignore her.

 

And you think that’s what you’re doing for days but Laura hasn’t even reached out to you since that fight. No calls or texts, just nothing. And you actually find yourself waiting for her to even try, though you wouldn’t pick up her call either way.

 

You say that, but she never does.

 

And you’re left looking at the pictures of her on your phone before bed almost every night because you’d grown used to her. Her face, her presence. Her just wasting time with you every other day. And it isn’t until it’s been over a week that you notice how slowly your days go by. How much time you have left over between work and food and sleep. Because Laura took all of that time before with her messages and her pictures and her funny work stories. Because you had let Laura become such a constant in your day to day life and now you just feel so alone and empty.

 

 

You can’t see the stars that well from your window, their light not being able to help comfort you. You roll over in bed failing to fall asleep again and you hug the yellow pillow Laura left after her second trip. It’s something you’ve told yourself that isn’t a big deal, it’s just a comfortable pillow you’ve grown used to. But sometimes you get angry at how much you need its comfort to sleep. You’re still so childish and naïve and alone. So you angrily throw the pillow across the room and try to fall asleep on your own, but you can’t. You can’t sleep for more than a few hours without it.

 

You need the stupid thing.

 

So in the middle of the night you feel around for the stupid thing and it’s not there. The space beside you empty making you feel just as much, so you sit up all groggy and sleepy and stare at the bright yellow pillow across the room. The way it taunts you from a distance irks you inside. You slowly get out of bed and grab it to take it back with you. Hugging it makes you feel like shit after how you treated Laura all those days ago. Her hurt face engraved in your thoughts whenever you try to close your eyes and sleep. But her familiar smell bringing a sleepy smiling Laura into your mind instead.  

 

Each night the smell of her familiar shampoo fades more and more on her pillow and you can’t stop feeling like you wish she was here.

 

You can’t stop yourself from missing her.

 

 

-

 

After your dad got that idea in your mind you haven’t been able to get it out. Every morning you’d wonder what it would be like to get away from this place. Away from this routine you’ve had ever since graduating. Away from the people in your life that you cherish and love so much.

 

From Carmilla…

 

You stand by the glass window staring out into the city as the sunset pours through the buildings. It reminds you of all the times you saw the light do the same through the windows in her apartment. They were always sunrises though, not sunsets. Maybe that’s a perfect way to see everything this relationship has been. Maybe the rise was beautiful and bright only to end in so much empty darkness. You watch the clouds slowly move above and think about how maybe even the stars that Carmilla loves so much won’t be able to light up your night skies anymore.

 

She hasn’t tried contacting you in weeks and you refuse to be the one going after her like always. It’s you who would text her every night, who would go visit her at her place with a simple text as an invitation and really, you’d go anywhere if she asked you too.

 

But not this time. This time it doesn’t feel right to be the one trying. You’re tired of that.

 

“You know what, dad?” you suddenly say once you hear him talking to someone as he walks nearby.

 

“—Yes?” he stops in his tracks waiting for you to tell him, Betty standing beside him taking notes of whatever it was he was saying.

 

“I think I do want to go.”  You state plainly and for a minute you think your dad doesn’t get it. “Overseas, I mean. I want to.”

 

His eyes widen in realization. “Oh…Oh! Yes of course, Laura. I’ll uh…I’ll get Betty here started on the plans. Betty?”

 

“Consider it done. I’ll send over Ryan to get on it. Any specific date?” She looks over to you and you watch as the sunlight starts leaving the horizon.

 

“…Maybe next week?” you shrug not even sure if you’d rather leave right away or wallow in the weight of your decision for a longer period of time.  

 

Betty gives you a look and you hate how well she knows you. “I’ll tell Ryan to get you an early flight. Give you some time to settle once you’re there.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Anything else Mrs. Hollis?” she says and you hate how distant it makes you sound and feel. You know she’s only preparing for what comes once you’re gone.

 

“Yeah…Have lunch with me today?” you plead more than demand and she squeezes her lips tightly together with a small but sure nod.

 

“Count on it.” She turns and heads to the elevator to start her tasks and you’re going to miss her more than most people would ever know. Betty and you were roommates for years. She may have been stuck up sometimes and not one for sharing but you grew close; you even pulled some strings to get her a job here knowing she’d be a hell of an asset for this place. You could always count on her to be like a big sister to you in college. Perry would be there for you, sure; but Betty would see right through you, understanding you and consoling you with no need for words or pity. You’ve always been able to rely on her both in your personal life and work life.

 

Things won’t be the same without her only a few minutes away.

 

You sigh and rub your forehead, realizing you’re going to have to tell others.

 

“Laf and Perry.” You note, letting your form melt with the new stress.

 

You’ll figure something out later.

 

Days later, in fact.

 

They take it way better than you’d expected, acting much more proud of you for “exceeding yourself” in the work place. And maybe you wish at least someone would plead you not to go.

 

Laura (4:28PM): I don’t wanna make a big deal out of this LaF

 

LaF (4:28PM): doesn’t mean we can’t do it for you

 

LaF (4:28PM): we need to go to all our favorite spots! OOH OOH! WE CAN GO TO PERRY’S MOM’S PLACE AND SKINNY DIP IN THE LAKE AGAIN.

 

Laura (4:29PM): that was in SENIOR YEAR LaF. We’re adults now.

 

Laura (4:29PM): …we’re wearing shoes this time.

 

LaF (4:30PM): Agreed. Perry’s got another idea too.

 

LaF(4:30PM): We’re throwing you a farewell party.

 

Laura (4:30PM): NO.

 

LaF (4:31PM): They’ll be a ‘pin the stake on Angel’ game and table dancing!

 

Laura (4:31PM): LAFONTAINE, NO. U ARE NOT CONVINCING ME THROUGH HOMEMADE BUFFY GAMES.

 

LaF (4:32PM): oh my god we can do it at your house and build a makeshift slide on the stairs, hold on I’m writing these down.

 

Laura (4:32PM): S. LAFONTAINE NHFLDJKJGFRICHN WE WILL N O T

 

LaF (4:33PM): Perry says its fine as long as she handles the catering. She’s not over the mushroom thing from last time.

 

Laura (4:33PM): how are you not listening right now

 

“Hey honey!” your dad suddenly opens the door and leans in. “I told LaFontaine the slide only goes if I’m supervising the making for safety measurements of course. Ooh! I’d better get started on those plans. We can use the scraps from the old tree house.” He mumbles to himself as he slips back out and your left gapping at the door.

 

Laura (4:34PM): YOU

 

Laura (4:34PM): CALLED

 

Laura (4:34PM): MY

 

Laura (4:34PM): DAD?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

 

LaF (4:35PM): I have him on speed dial. He joyously agreed. Party’s on Tuesday!!! 8D

 

 

You kept nagging them to not make a big deal out of this but it was useless. LaFontaine somehow got a hold of the company contact list and invited some of your coworkers along with a few of the girls who were in your dorm. Still, when the party finally comes you’re glad it’s smaller than you anticipated. There’s no Kirsch, which shouldn’t surprise you since you don’t actually have his number. You two aren’t super close or anything and he isn’t really close with LaF and Perry either so you try and not think much about it. You’ve grown to care about him though and maybe you wish someone had actually tried to invite him.

 

But then he might’ve brought Carmilla along with him with how innocent and clueless he can be.

 

You twirl the straw inside the drink you’ve barely touched tonight. The small crowd surrounding your house all in lively conversation. Perry’s familiar yelps as she goes down the makeshift slide for the first time, LaFontaine helping her up once she reaches the bottom in a fit of giggles. You chuckle to yourself as you watch them both always being there for each other and look back down at your now luke warm drink.

 

Would she even have cared to come?

 

You doubt she’d want to be here with the way things still are and honestly, you don’t think you could handle having her here, even if it was just as friends.

 

You place your drink on the small table beside you giving up on it with a sigh. You wish Kirsch was here. Even if just seeing him would remind you of her.

 

You’re gonna miss that big puppy too.

 

-

 

Carmilla slams the van door shut and grumpily follows you inside the supermarket.

 

“I still don’t see why you’re forcing me to come with you.”

 

“Uh, because this is your food, dude. Seriously I can’t believe you haven’t stocked your fridge since last time!”

 

“Will isn’t back yet.” She says guilty and looks away. She hasn’t been acting right for weeks now. You might not be the smartest guy in town but you’ve seen the lack of Laura and the obvious sloppy depression she’s going through super clearly. “Couldn’t you have just done this on your own and surprised me? You’re into that caring crap.”

 

“I probably woulda’! But you have got to get out more.”

 

“I get out all the time.” She says as you grab an empty kart.

 

“Yuh huh.” You roll your eyes way harder than necessary since all your best friend has been is moody and childish so far. “To the channel! Not to like— eat and shop and visit your bestest bro in the whole world.” You add accusingly and she sighs shaking her head but following you inside.

 

“I’ve been…busy. You know that. Will’s-“

 

“Yeah yeah, Will’s extra gigs. Driving all over town for shows. Whatever, bro.” You look at the veggie aisle but decide to turn to the snacks instead. Cookies are good for the heart right?

 

Carmilla drags behind you not even trying to carry on the conversation you were having. It’s actually starting to worry you. You haven’t seen her so out of fighting power in a long ass time. She won’t share if she doesn’t want to, you know that from experience. But you still gotta wonder what could be up.

 

Why haven’t you seen Laura around?

 

Or why does Carm stop talking whenever you mention her? Like that time you said ‘woah look at that pie discount, I bet Laura would take like three.’ Or ‘So like British people drink tea and stuff right? There’s like 50 different kinds! Which one would the British lady who moved next door like better? Gah, Laura would know.’ She wouldn’t agree or disagree, she’d just…stand there picking at her nails or literally walk away.

 

Her apartment isn’t even clean anymore. Not that it ever really was but…when Laura came by, Carmilla would always at least pick up her clothes! But now…

 

You look back at Carmilla who’s barely trying to pick out things on the shelves. She keeps looking at her phone every few minutes like she’s waiting for someone’s call or something. She doesn’t know you’ve watched her do it for like the ninth time today.

 

You frown and scratch at the back of your neck. What else can you do for your best friend? You’re literally buying her enough supplies for like a month. She hasn’t even picked anything out herself like what’s up with that?! Doesn’t she have like cravings or something?

 

You exhale through your nostrils sharply and keep pushing the full kart.

 

Wait, cravings. You remember her and Laura gushing over some Choco Crunch the last time you were all here. They bought like three friggin’ boxes. Carmilla’s probably running out by now since everything else in her kitchen is empty. Maybe that’d cheer her up at least a little, right?

 

“I’m gonna go get something.”

 

“Whatever your canine heart desires.” She says half heartedly shooing you with her hand for you to leave.

 

You dash down the aisles with the kart looking for the cereal aisle when you recognize some rad red hair ahead of you.

 

“Mad scientist!” They turn their head towards you in a flash and you smile widely pushing your kart towards them.

 

“Muscle mass, what’s up?”

 

“You know, just gathering some heavy fuel for the ol’ machine bod.” They snort at you and the other ginger comes up behind them greeting you with a wave. You nod at her and push your kart a bit to the side. “So, how cool is it that we both shop here huh?”

 

“Ordinary level.” They say.

 

“Kirsch, it’s so good to see you! If only we had had this run in sooner.” Says the one with curls making you real confused.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Well…” she starts and rad hair cuts her off.

 

“We had this party for Laura last night, she probably would have liked you to be there.”

 

“Sorry…we didn’t know how to contact you.” says Perry.

 

“Aw, that sucks… It’s cool though, hit me up when you guys go party next time.” You take out your phone. “Can I get your numbers? Oh! If that makes you uncomfortable or something I can just give you mine, I don’t wanna push.” They give each other a weird worried look and you’re still confused.

 

Were you being creepy again or something? Man, people are so hard to read sometimes.

 

“Kirsch…” Perry starts but doesn’t go on.

 

“There won’t be a next time for a while now…at least not with Laura.” says LaF.

 

Perry nods quickly. “Yes— but you can still have some fun with us!” She hands you her phone for you to type in instead.

 

“I don’t understand. Why isn’t Laura going to party?” you worry your brow as you finish and give the phone back. “Wait…is Laura sick or something? Does she need some soup? I got some soup.” You pull out a can from the kart and hold it up but they shake their head.

 

“Kirsch…” they sigh. “Laura’s moving away.” You stare at them both, your mouth a bit a gape. “It was a farewell party.”

 

“What…but..” you look down at the Choco Crunch in your other hand. “..but what about…”

 

Perry pats you on the arm. “Cheer up, Kirsch.” Her eyes brighten. “Laura’s still in town! You can go visit her before she goes if you’d like!”

 

They nod and bump your shoulder with their fist. “Yeah, you still got some time.”

 

You nod and slouch a bit. “Yeah.” You stare at the cereal remembering why you’re here and straighten up suddenly. “I gotta go! Seeing you guys was great! Later!” you struggle turning your kart around and dash down the aisles looking for Carmilla with new found determination.

 

She’s gotta know about this. She has to.

 

“Carm!” you come to a stop only inches away from her and she jumps back startled.

 

“What the hell, Kirsch.” She kicks the bottom of the kart with her boot.

 

“Carm, dude, you have GOT to listen to this.” You turn the kart away to step closer to her and she gives you an uninterested look as usual. “Dude. Laura’s moving.”

 

You don’t think it registers for a few seconds. “…What?” she says and okay maybe you should explain more.

 

You sigh exasperated and roll your eyes. “Okay, so I ran into the ginger squad and they were arguing over the difference between Frosted Flakes and Korn Flakes.” She gives you an even more confused look and you groan. “It’s a thing. Point is, I ran into them! And they told me about this party! This party I was supposed to be invited to but I wasn’t so they told me about it because I should have been there and like it was an important party and I’m kinda bummed out I didn’t get to go but-“

 

“Kirsch.”

 

“Right.” You finally breath and swallow. “Laura’s moving. The party was for Laura, for like goodbye’s and stuff. Because she’s moving. Because –huh…I actually don’t know why. I forgot to ask.”

 

 

She stares at you for a long moment before shrugging and walking past you. “Okay.”

 

You turn your kart baffled and quickly follow her. “Okay?? Dude!” she gives you a side eye. “Wait, did you know about this??”

 

“No.” she grabs some instant noodles, eyes them and throws them in the kart.

 

“Well aren’t you gonna do something?!” she keeps walking and you follow again.

 

“And what exactly would you have me do?”

 

“Call her or like go see her?!?!”

 

She doesn’t comment on it and your left following her around the supermarket anxiously, anticipating her to finally admit she needs to go see her off. They’re really close after all right? She’s gonna go, she has to. But nothing comes and you both head back to her place.

 

You’re legit upset, not saying another word to her even when she asks you if you want some of her noodles. Hopefully the silent treatment will break her and get her to talk about things because you’re seriously getting sick and tired of this avoiding game. Cause that ain’t healthy. But it doesn’t work so you just unpack her groceries in a passive aggressive way.

 

You won’t push her. She’ll talk when she’s ready right?

 

You grab the box of Choco Crunch and stare at it, your jaw clenching as you think how you’re running out of time. You stare at Carmilla lazily lounging on her futon exactly how you found her this morning and you’re worried.

 

She’ll talk eventually right?

 

 

You force her to spend the rest of the day with you. She won’t leave her couch though so you just chill with her watching some series on her laptop. She isn’t really watching though, a book in her hands only twenty minutes in. You notice after the third episode how every time you looked over to her she was still on the same page.

 

Man this is frustrating.

 

You finally leave her house when you notice it’s past seven. You actually want to go see Laura even if Carmilla won’t. Maybe Laura will talk about whatever it is that happened between them. You go to her job and ask Betty to let her know you’re here. You remember Betty from all the times you’d study with Laura in her dorm room. She was kinda mean but always meant well and Laura and her had a sibling thing going on with how they argued but never seriously.

 

Betty seems glad to see you though and she tells you to wait over by the lobby. When Laura finally comes down you immediately smile and hug her. She seems happy to see you too even though there’s something different about her. You notice she doesn’t look so good, her eyes not as bright as they used to be, her smile missing some of that hopeful happiness in it she’s always had. The usual rush to talk or move her hands around fast not there.

 

“Kirsch, what are you doing here? Not that I’m not glad to see you—I’m so glad to see you.”

 

“I ran into LaF and Perry at the supermarket. They told me about the party thing.”

 

She seems to catch on fast. “Right, the party! I’m sorry about that. I wanted you to go but… you know not having your number and all, I didn’t want to just randomly show up at your place to invite you.” She says but you feel she’s implying something else.

 

“It woulda’ been cool. You’re always welcome at Casa de Kirsch.” She smiles at that but you can see the truth behind her eyes.

 

“Yeah, thanks…I just…didn’t want to bother anyone.”

 

You give her a sympathetic grin now knowing what she meant. She didn’t want to run into Carmilla. “Well anyway, I wanted to see you before you go. Congrats and all that stuff. Horraaay.” You half heartedly said the last bit and she chuckled lightly. “Betty uh…mentioned it’s like a promotion so.”

 

“Yeah…I feel kinda weird about it, but I’m happy.”

 

You nod in response and look at her general expression again.

 

She doesn’t seem happy…

 

“I’m really gonna miss you, Tiny Hollis. Don’t go and forget about me over there.” You add jokingly and she chuckles again.

 

“No way that could happen.” She jokes back and the two of you smile at each other quietly for a moment. “So…how’s everything going?”

 

“Like at college? It’s going great! I joined this study group that’s been helping me out a lot. Made a couple of new bros and everything. I still have extra time to do my shifts at the dinner though, especially with Carmilla being too busy for me all the time.”

 

She nods slightly, inhaling deeply as if building up some courage. “How is Carm?” she chews on her lip and looks at something by her feet. “I mean, I bet she’s doing great with all the extra work and all.”

 

“I mean I guess but…” you cross your arms. “I don’t know. She’s seemed kinda off lately. Like I get that she usually ignores me and calls me names but it’s like next level weird and…broody.” You scrunch your face up trying to imitate Carmilla’s angry expression. “She hasn’t even had the time to come by the dinner for her steak, driving all over for gigs and people. It’s making me miss her already. I spent some time with her today though so that was cool.”

 

Laura just nods at what you’re saying but you can tell she’s listening attentively.

 

“I’m glad. You’re all she has, with Will still gone. She should give you more attention.” She taps you on your shoulder.

 

You shrug. “Carm doesn’t really like caring about other stuff but I know she does deep down. I know being alone for so long is probably getting to her. Will’s been her housemate for a few years now but he’s never been away this long. Must get kinda lonely there.”

 

Laura’s nostrils flare after she swallows, her lips tightening. You think she’s trying to hold something back.

 

“Yeah…I can imagine.” She says.

 

You consider it for a while before finally deciding to just get out with it. “You haven’t been over in awhile right? Did you two like get into a fight?”

 

Laura sighs and shakes her head. “I guess you could call it that.”

 

“’I’m sure Carm’s just being dumb and grumpy. She’ll get back to you soon. I think I can push her buttons some more before you go away. Wait, right! You’re leaving soon! Don’t worry! I’ll scold her and tell her to call so you can like make up and get her to clean her place again. Man that girl can be dirty. Did you know she’s been wearing the same pants for like a week now? It’s like she barely at home long enough to wash! I’m starting to think she might be living in her company van now. Did you know she’s officially got a company va-“

 

“Kirsch.” She pressed a hand to your chest with a small shake of the head and a sad smile. “Please. Don’t, okay?” You shut your yap and nod slowly getting sad but Laura still manages to smile at you. “Just…let her be. I’m fine. Honest.” She says straightening up a bit, her hands gently rubbing against the side of her thighs.

 

You don’t believe her. “Okay.”

 

She gives you a big hug. “I have to get back to work, but thanks for coming by. I’m happy I got to see you before leaving.”

 

“Y-yeah. Me too.” She pats you on the arm and goes to walk away, waving at you as she presses the button for the elevator and steps inside. “Bye, Laura.”

 

You spend the trip back home thinking and thinking about what could’ve happened. What could you do to fix it? You have to do something to make this all right again because it’s all just so messed up.

 

You sigh as you open your front door, throwing the keys on the shelf. You drop yourself on the couch defeated. Your fingers scratching at your chin as you keep trying to think of a way to help. You said you wouldn’t do it. You agreed to Laura you wouldn’t push it so you won’t. But you really don’t want things to end on such a bad note.

 

How could things get so messed up so suddenly?

You stare at the picture of you and Carmilla hanging from the wall. It’s one of the few existing pictures where she’s legitimately smilling.

 

How could Carmilla just let her leave?

 

-

 

 

Kirsch came by your place again to do his assignment for class. He literally keeps barging in like it’s his damn house. You really need to get a new lock. He’s been coming over almost every day since last week. He’s not as talkative as he used to be, mentioning Laura whenever he could to try and get information out of you about what happened. Each time he comes by he seems more upset about something. But you’re not a fool, you won’t ask. That would just get him going on and on about things, trying to pry into your problems again but deeper than before. He must be dying to ask you about Laura again, insist on you calling her as if you should be the one to do it and not her.

 

You shake your head.

 

As if either of you still had any reason to call anymore. It’s too late to do anything about it either way.

 

You lay on your futon, Laura’s yellow pillow on the back of your head again as if it didn’t mean anything to you anymore.

 

Yet you still don’t sleep at night without it.

 

You stare at the words in the book lying on your chest but you haven’t been able to read at all these days. Your mind can’t seem to concentrate properly on anything you try and do, and it just weighs you down more each time. You sigh and drop the open book atop your chest, Kirsch suddenly taking a deep breath through his nostrils looking almost like a bull. You quirk your brow at him as he drops his number two pencil and looks at the ceiling.

 

“Homework really is taking it’s toll on you huh?”

 

“That’s it! I can’t take it anymore!”

 

“What are you-“

 

“It’s been days since Laura left the friggin’ country and you’ve just been laying there! For weeks now! Why won’t you do something about it?! How can you just let Laura go like that?!”

 

You sit up and give him a stern look. “Laura can do whatever she wants, Kirsch. It’s her god damn life.”

 

He groans desperately as he stands and raises his hands as if infuriated. “ Why do you have to act like this?!”

 

“Like what.” You ask sternly and stand up as well.

 

“Like you don’t care!”

 

“Because I don’t, Kirsch.”

 

Stop lying to yourself!” he demands raising his voice.

 

You toss your book aside and step closer to him. “Stop thinking you know what I’m doing!” you raise yours back.

 

“I do know what you’re doing! I’ve been there!” he shakes his head with a huff, his fingers pressed against his temple. “You have a lot of feelings right now and you’re scared. I get that. But you can’t just let fear –like…boss you around!”

 

“What?!” you ask in disbelief and you’re angrier than you’d normally be. Kirsch isn’t wrong. You do have a lot of feelings. Most of them anger at this very fucking moment. “You have no idea what I feel. So stop trying to understand what’s going on inside my head.” You walk out of the living room and storm into your room, slamming your door behind you.

 

Kirsch follows behind you, opening your door and you verbally growl. “Carm, I’m not letting you do this to yourself. Laura isn’t like anyone else! She’s special, totally super special to you and me and to be honest probably everyone else who’s ever met her.” He tosses her yellow pillow besides you on the bed and points at it. “You guys have basically been together for months! How have you not noticed that, bro?!”

 

You can seem to speak out against him, your body reacting instead. You can feel your chest rising and falling with anger, your hands slightly shaking.

 

“I don’t want to see you like me, Carm. I don’t want you to be some dumb sappy loner who cant find someone else after Sarah Jane. I really don’t want you to –like, –lose this chance and this awesome girl I’ve known for years and she’s great and like…funny and she loves you! She has to bro!”

 

You try and open your mouth to speak out but nothing comes out, the angry shaking making its way to your shoulders now too. Kirsch just keeps going and you hate him for doing this to you. You hate him from not letting things go when you specifically told him not to do this.

 

“How can you not see the way she looks at you? Or not even that, how can you not see the way you do! Like, you have been whipped for months now bro. Super whipped.”

 

“Kirsch!—“ you shut your mouth trying to control your tone. Your tongue brushing over your front teeth. “ I don’t want to do this right now or if I’m lucky, ever. It’s over!! Just like this stupid conversation.” You push past him and go to the kitchen, opening the fridge and looking inside just to distract yourself with anything other than this mess of a night.

 

“It’s only over because you let her go! But you can fix it. I know you can bro, just call her and tell her how you feel!”

 

“I’m not calling her. What I will do is break your neck if you don’t stop fucking talking.” You grab a grape soda and start chugging it down trying to keep your mouth busy. You really need to take your mind off of this. You really need to make this conversation stop.

 

“But you and her-“

 

“Me and her are nothing!” You yell back side punching your fridge with your free hand. “We were nothing and we will continue to be nothing because nothing is exactly what I want from her. Nothing is exactly what I need you to keep fucking saying.”

 

“That’s not true.”

 

You scrunch up your fingers, a gesture Laura would do when she was angry too and you hate that you remember that. You hate that Kirsch is making you think about things you’re trying so hard to just forget.

 

“Kirsch I swear to god…”

 

“That girl. The one you slept with to like spite Will and me on your oh so bad ass babe who does whatever she wants phase, well that girl fucked you up and you know it.” You squeeze the can of grape soda in your hand and clench your teeth so hard together that it actually hurts. “You came to my house the next day and I could see how fucked up you felt inside. Eyes don’t lie bro. They’re like, the door to the soul or whatever and your eyes? They were saying you felt like shit for screwing some hottie to prove a stupid point. That nobody asked for by the way! Since when do you force yourself to go with Will’s games? But whatever, that’s not my point. My point is you weren’t happy about it. And you know why?” He asked in a demanding way, stepping closer to you. “Because. she wasn’t. Laura. That’s why.”

 

You threw the half empty can of grape soda across the room, some of it dripping onto Kirsch’s arm. “Shut up, Wilson!!”

 

“No! You need to hear this bro. You need to-“

 

“I don’t need to do anything! I’m sick of dealing with you and your stupid annoying bullshit! Get the hell out!” you point towards the door. His eyes glance behind him to where you’re pointing at and he straightens up standing his ground, his eyes pleading you to listen to him.

 

“But, Carmilla—“

 

I said out God damn it!” You screamed finally breaking. “I am nothing like you and your weak, sensitive, childish heart that just can’t get over your damn ex. She was a stupid naïve girl who couldn’t handle her alcohol and you’re no better than her! You’re just as much of an idiot as she was!” you shove your finger into his chest and he flinches. “The only difference is that I’m still stuck with you and she isn’t!

 

The long silence that comes after your words is deafening. Realization hitting you once the heat of the moment drops into a bone chilling cold in a matter of seconds.

 

Shit.

 

Kirsch’s breath is shaking as he finally speaks again. “At least I’m trying to get over her. You’re the one who’s stuck on that chick from high school who was driving you so crazy you—“ you clench your jaw and he inhales deeply. He stares above blinking rapidly, his chin shaking as he tries to keep his emotions in check. “No…never mind…I’m not gonna be that guy.” He shakes his head, his eyes covered in a glaze. “Just—can you try and see what I’ve been trying to tell you…? You and Laura—“

 

You storm past him, shoving his arm out of the way as you go to open the front door. “GET. OUT.”

 

His lips part as if to say something else but you only open the door wider for him to leave. You watch as he swallows, his nostrils flaring as he tries to hold back the tears you can already see begging to drop from his big gentle eyes. He nods to himself and starts picking up his things, throwing them in his back pack and storming out just like Laura did all those days ago. You slam the door behind him and lock it, heading to your room to get dressed properly and leave.

 

You can’t be in this stupid apartment on your own. Not after everything that’s happened. Everyone keeps leaving you here and you hate it. You hate feeling so fucking lonely and pathetic. You hate the way you can’t control your emotions enough to not hurt your best friends feelings.

 

When did you get so bad at being a fucking decent human being?

 

You hate yourself more than anything now. But you hate everyone else for always pushing you away. For always being right about things you can’t seem to accept until it’s too late. For always coming into your life while you mess everything up over and over again.

 

You’re sick of it.

 

You got drunk at the shitty dive bar nearby, going to the store to buy a new lock for your door. You return to your apartment with two locks and a case of beer, cursing and pinching yourself with the hammer as you try and put them up. Throwing the instructions across the room where they landed on the sticky grape soda from earlier. Flipping over one of the island stools in frustration and anger at what a pathetic mess you are. You yell as you drop the hammer and give up, sliding down the wall to sit on the floor and drinking another one of your beers. You think it’s fitting sitting on the ground while you feel like such garbage because you hurt everyone you ever care about.

 

You hurt your mother the day you shamed her. You hurt Elle the night you begged her not to leave. You hurt all those girls you’ve used for your own enjoyment. You hurt Laura for being honest and sincere and so so good to you.

 

For loving you.

 

Why would she even love you?

 

You hurt Kirsch for having the guts to tell you the truth to your face even when you’ve done everything possible to avoid it. To not admit how you actually feel after all of this. How messed up you are over losing Laura; over letting her leave.

 

Your phone shimmed in your pocket and you whip away the stray tears that had fallen without your permission before tugging it out of your back pocket.

 

Kirsch (9:51PM): u can yell at me all u want. UNFRIEND ME EVEN! But I just have to.

 

Kirsch (9:51PM): -download image-

 

Kirsch (9:51PM): -download image-

 

Kirsch (9:51PM): -download image-

 

The notifications keep coming in, your phone shimming over and over as more pictures are received. You download them confused and curious not knowing what he would send so much of, thinking that maybe it’s him throwing everything that belongs to you out.

 

But that’s nothing close to reality.

 

You cover your mouth as the pictures load, pictures of you and Laura through out your whole time together. Some you had no idea he ever even took. You knew some of them like the one in the futon the day he was drunk over SJ. The one at the prize night for LaF’s science thing, but the other ones?

 

The other ones were something else.

 

He had pictures of you and her growing together. From the one at the zeta party with you flirting with Laura by the bar, to you sitting in his couch smiling at your phone as you texted her teasingly, from your not-date at his job of you and her smiling at each other playfully, followed by another of you taking her French fries and her mouth hanging open.

 

You laugh at that one, the sound much more watery than you’d expected and you notice that you’re actually crying now.

 

The next picture made you feel terrible, your heart sinking to your stomach. It’s one of you and her hanging out with Kirsch and her ginger friends after her first trip away. Days after you had already slept with that one girl you wish you’d never even met. And you hate how genuinely you’re smiling at Laura in the picture because how could you do that to her and still feel this way?

 

You want the pictures to stop.

 

Your phone keeps shimming as they keep coming in and it hurts. It hurts so much to see Laura again. It hurts too much to not have her anymore.

 

Another picture loads and it’s you feeding Laura a taco during one of her lunch breaks. You had run into Kirsch that day since he was the one who recommended the food truck. Laura wanted him to join you and you hate how sweet she always is to other people. You hate how you ruined everything.

 

Another chime, another image breaking your heart harder than the next. You and Laura are reading the back of some box next to a shelf and your packed kart at the supermarket. You remember the time Kirsch wanted to go grocery shopping with you but you insisted you didn’t want to go until Laura said she’d come with to help again. She was always willing to go do things with you. She was always willing to go out of her way to spent time with you even though she was always so busy, always so tired. Laura always showed up.

 

Laura was always there.

 

And you let her go.

 

You loved feeling her presence around you so much, her laugh, her caring touches. You loved her an you pushed her away because of it. Because of how scared you are to care again. Because of how scared you are to get hurt.

 

And you realize you hurt her instead. You broke Laura’s heart because you were to afraid to get your own broken. Even when she was the one who confessed she loved you first.

 

You fucked it up.

 

You always fuck everything up.

 

The pictures break you, making you sob and spill the empty beer bottles beside you. You go to the fridge and push the remaining beers you had bought away, going for Will’s heavy stuff instead. You’re a mess and you just really miss Laura Hollis so much. You really love Laura, and you hate yourself for everything you said to her. For all the lies you kept telling yourself for so long until it was too late.

 

You lost Laura Hollis.

 

And it was all your fault. You lost someone you love again and this time it was all on you. This time you feel more alone than ever.

 

You end up falling asleep dead drunk on the hardwood floor, not waking up until the sun was already going down the next day. A ton of text messages on your phone that you hadn’t heard or seen.

 

Frank (2:19PM): where are you? Is everything okay?

 

Frank (2:20PM): I’m covering for u until u get here hurry up

 

Frank (8:01PM): aaaand u didn’t show, I hope ur alright. I covered for u. u owe me some bagels and a good explanation.

 

You’re too afraid to see if Kirsch had messaged you last night after those pictures but you see you don’t have any unread messages from him. Only some from Will.

 

William (6:34AM): ey what’s up? Can you check up on kirsch, he called me last night. I think the SJ stuff got him bad again.

 

William (7:00AM): Carmilla?

 

William (7:12AM): hey answer the phone I’m serious. Is he okay?

 

 

You toss your phone aside feeling like shit both physically and emotionally. You go to try and shower your legs wobbling the whole way there. The room unbalanced and spinning and you end up stumbling towards the toilet, throwing up in instead. You spread your legs leaning your back against the wall, cursing and kicking the trash can by the toilet as you start to cry again. You’re such a fucking mess today but all you can think about is how you let Laura go. How you wish you could just drive over and knock on her door to get her back.

 

But it’s too late. Laura’s been gone for days.

 

She’s gone and you let it happen. She’s gone and you didn’t even try to stop her. You didn’t even get to admit how you felt for her which isn’t even close to what Laura deserves. Laura deserves the world and stars, the kind of love that pushes through always, the kind of love that tries.

 

Your body shakes as a breathy sob escapes your lips, your weak hand coming up to swipe your lips clean. And you rest your head against the wall, staring up at the crappy light bulb dangling from your bathroom ceiling.

 

She has to know how you feel. You have to tell her the truth even if it’s pointless. You have to try. You stare down at your phone in your clammy hands.

 

But should you at this point?

 

 

-

 

You’ve really been trying to do your best to ignore everything today.

 

It’s still so hard for you. Especially with all your closest friends seeing you off at the airport. LaFontaine clearly noticing how Carmilla isn’t included in the small group and looking at you worriedly. All you can do is dodge their look along with the questions they and Perry seem to finally ask you.

 

‘Where’s Carmilla?’

 

‘Missing your party was whatever but missing this?’

           

            ‘Laura…are you okay?’

                       

                        ‘Something totally happened…didn’t it?’

 

‘Sweetie why didn’t you say something sooner?’

           

            ‘We knew you wanted some space but… Oh, Laura…’

 

You tried dodging their questions, you tried paying attention to Betty instead as she whined and whipped a few tears away. But Betty wasn’t having it, she wasn’t going to let you use her as a distraction, not when she wanted to know the same things LaF and Perry did.

 

“It’s fine guys.” You lied and all of them saw through you so easily. You can’t handle this. Not today.

 

“Here’s your ticket and your coat, honey.” Your dad came up beside you with an extended arm. The new coat you’ve only managed to wear for the last business dinner in his hand for you to grab.

 

It makes your stomach drop.

 

But you take it. “Thanks dad.” You look between him and your friends and take a deep knowing breath. “I’m gonna miss you guys.” Your dad clicks his tongue and goes to give you a big bear hug, your friends joining in.

 

“You take care, sweetheart. Anything happens you call me alright?” he demands and you laugh pulling away from the group hug.

 

“Always dad.”

 

“Exactly. Tell Danny she’d better keep you safe.” He says pointing at you. “Or else.” He widens his eyes ass if threatening and you laugh again giving him one final hug before walking towards the TSA. You give them one final look and you didn’t think your heart could break for a second time but here you are about to crack as your loved ones wave back at you. Your dad whipping away his tears, frowning deeply as he waves.

 

The now familiar flight across the ocean is duller than all the other times. Since you refuse to watch any of the movies they offer in fear of being reminded of her again. The music in your phone only going to bring memories and feelings back that you don’t think you can handle alone. Your dad thankfully only calling to check up on how you were doing once you landed, not asking anything else from you. Danny came to pick you up as usual with a bit of more excitement than usual and you wish you could force yourself to be as happy about this as her. But you can’t. Not yet anyway. Danny must’ve noticed something was up with you but miraculously she never brought it up. She’d only bring more food for you in the mornings along with different cookies every other night. You think it’s odd especially since it’s Danny. She’s always been pretty straight forward about everything and anything and yet she hasn’t asked you a thing yet. You think Perry must’ve warned her about what you’re going through after finally piecing things together with your departure.

 

If that’s the case, you have to remember to thank her one of these days.

 

The new office is coming along nicely. Every other day you have interviews for the new workers who’s resumes your dad approved of back home. Being the boss is strange though. Not different just…strange. You think the change isn’t that drastic since you’ve been doing basically the same as you were back at the office with your dad. The strange part is probably how people treat you. Before everyone was friendly, sure but, now they seem more tense with your encounters as if afraid of you instead of open. You don’t like that so much. You’re trying to convince everyone to be afraid of Danny instead. She’s your right hand gal here which is something you’re honestly glad about. You and her have always worked so well together. A super gay team up for the win. The way she always drives you back to your rented loft is nice but nevertheless leaves you kind of lonely.

 

Having Danny around all day along with all your new coworkers is great up until you’re alone at home.

 

Home.

 

It’s been a few days and this small loft hasn’t gotten any closer to feeling like home at all. Sure, for the most part it’s still empty other than your bed and the small couch Danny lent you. Everything else is just a few boxes. You didn’t bring much from your dad’s house. Just a bunch of clothes for the cold, some pictures of you and your mom and dad, and your doctor who dvd collection. You would’ve brought your favorite pillow with you but you lost that forever.

 

You sigh, lazily sliding your shoes off before diving into your new bed. It has that new sheets smell that’s nice but unfamiliar. You blink a few times as you take it all in from where your laying and it’s all so new and—

 

You shut your eyes choosing not to look at this new world of yours, your face pressing deeper into the soft mattress.

 

Lonely.

 

You flip over choosing to sit against the headboard instead and take out your cellphone. You swipe through all your unread notifications not really caring much about anything but sending your dad a goodnight text like you’ve done every night so far.

 

Papa Bear (10:39pm): good evening ^-^

 

You snort at his use of emojis that you taught him since you communicate through text more than talking lately.

 

You’re not actually tired though but you don’t feel like talking to anyone choosing instead to go through your phone some more. You ended up going through your old pictures with friends and the office shenanigans making you nostalgic and smile until you reach the pictures of Carmilla.

 

There’s so many of them.

 

So many of her.

 

You gnaw on your lip as your hand clutches your phone harder. You inhale a determined but shaky breath and delete the first one followed by another one. Your mind is set on deleting all the pictures of her on your phone. You can’t just stay stuck on the past anymore if you plan on actually moving on. So you delete another, and another and another. Going one by one, your body feeling calm and numb from the pain you actually feel deep down. The pain you’ve been trying so hard and for so long to shove deeper and deeper away.

 

It isn’t until you get to the ones that were of you and her that it hurts you harder. Pictures of her staring at you with a smile you didn’t notice at the time. All those pictures you’d make her pose for like the ones from the award show with the rest of your friends. The way she scowled at first but teased you after. The ones you used as her contact photo before eventually loving another picture more and changing it. The ones of you and her where she’s looking at you in such a soft way that you no longer can make sense of.

 

You didn’t notice the tears rolling down your face.

 

You would hesitate to delete those pictures the most, your finger fighting your mind to press them away forever. And when you got to the really old ones, the first ones she ever sent you, you start remembering those moments more. Remembering her voice as she would greet you in her bra and a smirk. When she’d tug you inside her apartment and kiss you for so long. The way she’d playfully say things to your ear that made you giggle and blush. How you’d feel her warm skin against your own as her hands would take off your clothes. And you hadn’t noticed you’d closed your eyes, your mind subconsciously pushing you to remember everything about her, every detail of her dark yet hopeful eyes, the courses she’d take to touch you, her voice always so sultry yet sweet. Always so caring and careful. The way she had started moaning “Laura” instead of all the terms of endearment she’d call you. How she’d do it against your ear, how her body would tremble above you with the heat of the moment.

 

Your hand starts to caress it’s way down your stomach as you unconsciously start to look for her touch, mimicking what she would do in your mind.

 

But you only found yours.

 

And your mood disappeared instantly, the image of her clearer than any of the pictures left in your phone and you know that no matter how many of them you delete, you’ll never get her out of your head.

 

You squeeze your lips together along with your eyes as tears continue to stream down your cheeks into your hair. Your hand hand moving away from your bare stomach, going to your face as a sob finally escapes you.

 

You hate that you’re this weak.

 

You hate that you can’t stop thinking about her as hard as you try to. And as you cry yourself to sleep that night, you hate that you couldn’t force yourself to delete that last picture.

 

 

By the weekend you still haven’t recovered emotionally. You’ve been dozing off during your lunch with Danny. She’s been trying to explain something that happened with one of the new employees to you but you haven’t been able to force yourself to listen to her. Staring down at your food as you push it around the plate instead.

 

“Laura?” she suddenly says louder, her finger snapping in front of you and you jump so suddenly that you spill your drink over your own phone. You can’t make yourself move to try and save it, your body freezing as you realize you’ve lost the only thing you have with Carmilla in it for good. Danny takes it and tries drying it before handing it to you and you somehow manage to reach out and take your dying phone in your hands. The screen glitching as a final sign of life before slowly going dark and you can feel her leaving you. All those calls and text messages, the last picture…it’s all gone.

 

 You feel Danny rub your shoulder reassuringly. “Well…weren’t you getting a new one anyway?” you don’t answer. You feel chocked up already. “Laura?” Danny’s tone changes into worry and she kneels down beside you to look at you directly. “Hey, are you okay? I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have startled you.”

 

You shake your head. “It’s not your fault.” You’re surprised by your own words not realizing they even started leaving your lips.

 

“Well, don’t worry about it okay? Everything you’ve got backed up to the cloud should still be there later.”

 

“I didn’t…” you clench your teeth together trying to stop the small quiver of your chin that slipped. “Dad doesn’t trust the cloud. He didn’t want my information to be up there.”

 

“Oh.” She takes a deep breath. “Okay so that sucks.”

 

You inhale deeply, nodding. “Y-yeah…” you shake your head a bit and blink back the sting fighting to leave your eyes. “I was getting a new one anyway. Whatever.”

 

Danny pats your shoulder and you grin at her for trying to make you feel better but she couldn’t know how much this actually hurt you. “I can drive you after work. We can get you one right away! Don’t want your dad biting my head off when you can’t answer his calls am I right? Haha.”

 

You force yourself to laugh along but it comes out weak and small. Danny sits back across from you and keeps talking about things you’re supposed to hear. But you’re still not listening, staring down at your dead phone between your hands. You clutch it tightly. Who are you trying to kid?

 

You weren’t ready to let all of that go.

 

Danny accompanies you to finally change phone companies since it’d be better for you to switch to a local number. You’d been pushing it back as far as you could, feeling so attached to your old one. That’s always been your number.

 

Adulting sucks.

 

You finally got a better smart phone though against your dad’s wishes but he can’t tell you how to live your life anymore. Not from so far away anyway. Danny drives you back to the office as you go through your new phone getting familiar with it but it’s so…empty.

 

It’s literally a new life. A clean slate.

 

You sigh and tuck it away. It won’t fully work for a few more hours while they activate it anyway. Once you’re at the office using the wifi you start downloading all the main apps and personalizing your phone. What was once a wallpaper of Carmilla making a face is now a Tardis floating through time and space. The conversations completely empty. You told your dad you’d cancel your old number yourself later so you do while taking a break at work. You call your old provider and give them all the necessary information.

 

“Alright Miss Hollis! Everything is set for your cancellation. You currently have some messages on your old number. Would you like them to be deleted at this time?”

 

You furrow your brow. “What messages?”

 

“You have two unheard voicemails.”

 

“Really? How can I listen to them?”

 

“Just call your old number and press the pound button followed by your security code to listen to your voicemail.”

 

“Pound button?”

 

“The Hashtag, Miss Hollis.”

 

You shrink a bit embarrassed. “Oh, yeah. Of course it’s that one. Ummm what if I don’t know my security code?”

 

“Would you like me to get you your code?”

 

You sigh relieved. “Yes please. That be great actually.” You hear some typing on the other line for awhile.

 

“Your security code is 2243. Is there anything else I can do for you at this time?”

 

“No that’s it.”

 

“Okay Miss Hollis your voicemail will continue to work for the next 24 hours while the cancelation procedures are finished.”

 

“Okay. Thanks for all the help.”

 

“My pleasure! Have a great day and thank you for calling.”

 

You hang up and melt back into your new desk chair, your foot slightly rocking it.

 

Who could have left you a voicemail? Your dad already knew you didn’t have a working phone till now so it wasn’t him. You face palm yourself. “LaF and Perryyyy.” You’ve been in such a daze lately that you forgot to let them know about your new phone. You’ll call them later to let them know. You furrow your brow as you stare at your office phone. If it was them they would’ve called you here after trying your phone, but you don’t have any messages saved there. “Weird…”

 

You look away when you hear a notification go off on your computer. Another email to deal with. You sigh and roll towards your computer to get back to work, the curiosity over the voicemails bugging you at the back of your head. You try to focus on reading through the files stuck to the email but glance at the office phone for a second time just to be sure you don’t have any messages there and you still don’t. You sigh as Danny walks into your office.

 

“Wow, tired already?” she teases and you pout.

 

“I hate this chair. It’s too comfortable for my own good.”

 

She laughs. “I’ll be sure to get you a worse one tomorrow. Anyway I’m heading out. You want a ride?”

 

You shake your head and slouch forward resting your cheek in your hand. “Nah, I’d rather finish reading these files today so I can actually work tomorrow.”

 

“Reading files is work, Laura.” She chuckles and your pout deepens.

 

“It doesn’t make me feel productive okay. Being the boss is boring and tiring.” You let your face rest against your desk. “I need some fun in my life.” You say, your voice muffled.

 

“You’re the boss. Why don’t you schedule a work party?”

 

“Oh, right. I can do that.”

 

Danny snorts. “Still got that head of yours in the clouds today.” You raise your head at that, looking at Danny a bit surprised. The tightlipped smile she’s giving you as if she knows why. “Well, I’m off! See you tomorrow Hollis.” She gives you a small wave and leaves you to keep working on your own. The saddest thing is how you wish she’d actually stayed. Danny’s your only friend here. She’s the only one you can be comfortable around and right now alone in this generally empty new office you feel pretty lonely.

 

You tuck your chin between your arms resting over your desk. You’re starting to get used to your own company but that doesn’t mean you miss your friends any less. You look over at your new phone tapping a button so the screen could light up. You notice the signal bars are working now and stare at the screen until it goes back to black. You look back at the shut door and then at your computer screen, your thumb rubbing over your own arm as if comforting yourself.

 

You can finish reading later.

 

You sit up a bit and grab your phone to start messing around with it, syncing your emails to it and going to add the contacts you know by heart only to see they’ve already been added. You look surprised but realize they must’ve synced to your email. Your dad said no syncing to the cloud not your email… you’ll just keep this to yourself. You start scrolling through the contacts to start personalizing some of them and can tell which one’s obviously missing. You switch to the keypad as you remember that number but your fingers just hover over it. You stare at the blinking line for a few seconds. It’s taunting you, waiting for you to start dialing the number down but you don’t.

 

Instead you dial your old number and press call.

 

“The number you are calling is temp-“ you press pound impatiently. “To listen to the messages please press-“ you type in your security code quickly an gnaw at your bottom lip. “You have two new messages. To play your messages press 1.” You do as your told and wait for the first message to play but you don’t hear nothing but silence and a hang up after a few seconds. You squint at the empty message. You sigh and slouch deeper into your chair.

 

“God, is it so hard to hang up before the thing is finished? Why do people do that?”

“To replay your message press 1, to delete your message press 7, to save your message press 9.”

 

You press 7 and wait for the voice to continue.

 

“Deleted. You have 1 new message.” Followed by a beep. You listen to it but the beginning is exactly the same as the other one. You grunt exasperatedly and go to press number 7 again when you hear it.

 

“Laura…” You feel your bones freeze up. Your blood suddenly getting cold. Your stomach dropping lower than you’ve ever felt it and you slowly put your new phone against your ear again. “Hey. It’s uh…It’s been awhile huh cupcake?” and you feel the air catch in your throat at the familiar nickname. A strange sensation under your ribs. You hear a sigh. “This is stupid. I don’t even know how to even start speaking to you.” You feel your eyes start to sting again like the other night. “I’m pathetic. I can’t even speak properly to the person I want to talk to the most.” There’s a nervous pause that you share with her while listening. “So how’s Europe going? Well I presume. I heard about it from Kirsch some time ago… is it what you’d hoped it’d be?...You always did like growing in your job…wanting to help out your dad and all…” There’s a long pause and you swallow pressing the phone closer to your ear. “Are…are you happy there?” A small scoff comes from your lips at the same time one does from the voicemail and the fact that she can still have that effect on you makes your heart grow even if it’s for a short time. “I’m sure you’re doing amazing. You’ve always been amazing.” She says with a breath at the end. “I would tell you I’m doing well but I’m sure you don’t care much about that. You know, since you must hate me now.” And you catch yourself almost saying no automatically but you stop before the words could come out. “And it’s okay it’s—it’s okay…I understand.” You hear a bitter chuckle and a watery voice come after. “I just wish I had been brave enough to have stopped it from getting to that level.” You hear what you think is her trying to compose herself and it aches your heart. “I…I miss you, Laura.” The ache quickly grows, your hand holding the phone shakes a bit.

 

You’re breaking again.

 

“And I know that’s probably not what you’d want to hear right now, but I do. And…I wish I would have known it would have been this much. I wish I would have known how much having you around meant to me. But I was a fool, and wishing for something like that only makes me an even bigger one. I know I was mean and cruel and hurtful to you…I’m sorry. I—I’m sorry I didn’t know how to give you what you wanted. No I—I’m sorry I was afraid to give you what you wanted. Afraid to take what I wanted too…I—“ her voice is quick and desperate now, a small shake in it between every few words. “I’m sorry I pushed you away when all I ever wanted was to pull you closer. I’m sorry I didn’t stop you from leaving town, from—from leaving my god damn apartment. For not stopping you in time to tell you everything I’ve ever felt for you—feel for you.” You think that by the way she’s sputtering the words out quickly and the way you can hear her shaky breaths that she’s maybe crying.

 

Crying like you are right now as you gnaw on your bottom lip trying to keep it together.

 

Trying, trying so hard to keep the sobs from making their way out of your lungs and up your throat as you continue to listen. As you continue to stop yourself from breaking so hard again.

 

“Laura, I love you.”

 

You let your lip go along with the first child like sob you breathe out.

 

“I love you, and I’m so so sorry it’s taken me so long to just tell you  that. I’m sorry that even after all I’ve made you go through, I still have the guts to call you after so long and tell you now how much it is that I love you, because I do. I do love you soso much. And I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry, Laura.”

 

You can’t breath properly by how hard you’re crying now, the sounds of her words coming from such a broken voice instead of her usual strong one is killing you inside. “I broke your heart and I never meant to. I let you go and I never wanted to. I want you back when I have no right to.” You wipe some of the tears streaming down your face onto your work shirt, Carmilla taking a deep steadying breath on the other side. “God, I can’t believe I left you this voicemail, I’m pathetic.” She laughs a bit between her crying. “But I needed to at least say it. I needed to at least tell you the truth. I don’t care about anyone other than you, Laura. It’s just-It’s you…” she takes a long breath. “You and no one else.”

 

“Carm-“ the name finally slips out as if she could even hear you back.

 

A sad laugh coming from the phone. “It’s probably too late anyway for this, but I couldn’t take it anymore.” A pause. “I hope you’re doing well…and…and if you’ve somehow ended up with someone else…like your knight in shining gym shorts then…I…I sincerely hope that you’re truly happy.” She stops again. “You deserve to be.” Then silence for a long moment and you think it’s over. “Bye Laura.”

 

“Don’t-” you squeeze your phone against your ear as the recorded voice comes back.

 

“End of message. You have no new messages. To replay your message press 1, to delete your message press 7, to save your message press-”

 

Your phone slips from your hand onto your desk and you let yourself finally break.

 

You miss her so fucking much.

 

You have to try.

 

-

 

You’re lazily laying on your bed, Laura’s pillow under your head as you stare at your ceiling. You’re supposed to do some extra work tonight with Frank to pay him back for helping you but you can’t seem to make yourself pick up the pace. You haven’t even been able to finish getting dressed, your pants still unbuttoned, your shoes on the ground beside your bed, the work shirt you’re meant to wear nowhere in sight. You sigh again feeling stuck to the bed as if you can’t handle your own weight to move. Will called you earlier to let you know he was coming back today, so things should be back to the way they were. You blink a few times as you realize that there’s no way that would be the case.

 

Nothings is as it was before.

 

Nothing is normal.

 

Still, you’re glad you’ll have some company again. This apartment was getting to you with how empty it felt. Especially since Kirsch hasn’t been around anymore. You manage to lazily move your arm and rest it above your head with a huff. You don’t know what to say to him. You were horrible. A truly terrible friend but there’s only so much apologizing you can take in one week. Your face turns sad.

 

Laura never called you back.

 

She probably didn’t even bother to hear your messages. Honestly though? You probably deserve that. You deserve how shitty your life has been lately because you’ve been nothing but the same to everyone in it.

 

And they don’t deserve that.

 

You sigh, your hand coming down to rub at your forehead from how tired you are of feeling everything so much. You should probably just get going.

 

You hear your phone chime on your bedside table so you tilt your head up to look at it. You sigh again and turn over, stretching to reach for it.

 

Unknown Number (6:33pm): Hey

 

Well that’s plain.

 

You’re about to toss your phone back to where it was when it chimes again in your hand.

 

Unknown Number (6:33pm): What are u up to?

 

You furrow your brow and scratch your temple confused.

 

Carmilla (6:34pm): depends who this is.

 

You curiously wait for a reply and it comes quickly.

 

Unknown Number (6:34pm): who do u want it to be?

 

You squint your eyes even more intrigued.

 

Carmilla (6:34pm): preferably not a stalker.

 

Unknown Number (6:34pm): I was sure you’d say ‘a blonde’ since u said that was ur usual type.

 

Unknown Number (6:34pm): I’m not blonde btw just in case. though there’s different opinions on that.

 

Okay?

 

Carmilla (6:35pm): great. so who is this again?

 

Unknown Number (6:35pm): not an old man.

 

You raise on eyebrow. Yeah, that doesn’t sound creepy at all.

 

Carmilla (6:36pm): yeah that’s exactly what an old man would say.

 

Unknown Number (6:36pm): HA!! I thought the same thing!

 

Carmilla (6:37pm): yeah…so?

 

Unknown Number (6:36pm): so??

 

Carmilla (6:37pm): Jesus, so who are you? Do I even know you?

 

Unknown Number (6:37pm): pff oh u know me alright.

 

Unknown Number (6:37pm): like waaaay closely if u know what I mean.

 

Your eyes widen realizing this must be someone you once had sex with. How did they get your number? Where you that wasted at the time?

 

Carmilla (6:38pm): Oh.

 

Carmilla (6:38pm): yeah I get it but no thanks.

 

Unknown Number (6:39pm): ???? JUST LIKE THAT???

 

Carmilla (6:39pm): I’m not interested. Sorry.

Unknown Number (6:40pm): how come?

 

You let that message stick for a few moments sighing as you re read it because you know why. Even if the two of you aren’t together anymore. You know it’s because of Laura. You don’t know why you feel the need to reply but you type back.

 

Carmilla (6:48pm): Not into most girls anymore.

 

You close the message app and stretch your arm to put your phone where it was.

 

Another chime surprises you.

 

Unknown Number (6:48pm): “I’m not like most girls.”

 

You stare at the message a bit perplexed. Why the quotation marks? You move yourself so that you’re sitting up on your bed.

 

Carmilla (6:49pm): um…okay? that doesn’t matter.

 

Unknown Number (6:49pm): but I thought u were really into me.

 

You scoff.

 

Carmilla (6:50pm): yeah well things change. Sorry.

 

Carmilla (6:51pm): Are you even sure you’ve got the right number? I still don’t know who you are, sorry.

 

Unknown Number (6:52pm): I’m sure.

 

Unknown Number (6:52pm): believe me I tried to forget it.

 

You furrow your brow again.

 

Carmilla (6:53pm): that bad huh? I didn’t mean to lead you on or anything at the time. My mistake.

 

Carmilla (6:53pm): but I’m not really looking for anyone so yeah.

 

Unknown Number (6:54pm): u told me once to text u back if I was still down to have some fun..

 

Unknown Number (6:55pm): and I thought u only did ‘fun’. That’s the message I got from u awhile back anyway…

 

Carmilla (6:56pm): Well I don’t. So stop texting me and go catch somebody else. Goodbye.

 

You send a bit aggressively because her words hurt you harder than they should because they were true. They used to be anyway but not anymore. You’d really rather not have a reminder of how shitty you were but she texts you back again and you huff through your nose a bit upset.

 

Unknown Number (6:57pm): I can’t…I uh..I don’t really want anyone else. So…yeah. I think ur stuck with me.

 

“Stuck with you?” you angrily say back to yourself.

 

Carmilla (6:58pm): yeah I don’t think so. Delete my # and leave me alone okay. I’m not interested.

 

Unknown Number (6:58pm): wow Carm ur super harsh.

 

Your angrily furrowed brow suddenly relaxes and raises as you read over that last message again and again.

 

Carm.

 

You fumble with your phone typing as fast as you could.

 

Carmilla (6:58pm): wait  laura?!? is thwt you?!?

 

The reply doesn’t come as fast as the other ones did. Your heart beating insanely fast in your chest as you keep staring at your phone wistfully.

 

Unknown Number (7:00pm): …

 

Carmilla (7:00pm): ???? please answer me.

 

Unknown Number (7:01pm): I thought u never remembered the girls u did stuff with.

 

Okay, that stings.

 

Carmilla (7:01pm): you said it yourself. You’re not like most girls.

 

You reply with a sad smile on your face because of course she’s not.

 

Unknown Number (7:02pm): yeah well that didn’t seem to matter.

 

Carmilla (7:02pm): it does I swear it does.

 

Carmilla (7:03pm): did you…uh..did you get my messages?

 

Unknown Number (7:08pm): I did.

 

Unknown Number (7:08pm): I mean I think I did. I got a new phone. Did u text me?

 

Carmilla (7:09pm): no.

 

Carmilla (7:09pm): I didn’t want to push you.

 

Your fingers hesitate to write what you want to ask.

 

Carmilla (7:10pm): is the new phone my fault?

 

You wait for the reply and swallow hard when it doesn’t come right away.

 

Carmilla (7:11pm): I didn’t mean to bother you, I swear.

 

Unknown Number (7:15pm): no, it wasn’t.

 

Unknown Number (7:16pm): u didn’t bother me.

 

Carmilla (7:18pm): so what now?

 

Unknown Number (7:18pm): what now..?

 

Carmilla (7:19pm): yeah. How are you?

 

Unknown Number (7:20pm): less cold that this morning.

 

Carmilla (7:20pm): you know what I mean..

 

Unknown Number (7:22pm): …I’m okay I guess.

 

Unknown Number (7:22pm): can’t really change that so easily.

 

Carmilla (7:23pm): I’m sorry.

 

Unknown Number (7:23pm): yeah, I heard.

 

You stare at the keypad not really knowing what else to say to her. What would count as the right words anymore with Laura? How are you supposed to talk to her now?

 

Unknown Number (7:25pm): u suck u know that?

 

Carmilla (7:25pm): I’m aware.

 

Carmilla (7:25pm): I really am sorry Laura.

 

Unknown Number (7:26pm): well u have a pretty shitty way of showing it Carm

 

Unknown Number (7:26pm): first via voicemail, now via text. I mean a letter would’ve at least had some deep handwritten value you know!

 

That you know to be true.

 

Carmilla (7:27pm): I didn’t have your new address!

 

Unknown Number (7:27pm): uh huh.

 

Carmilla (7:28pm): how can I prove it to you?

 

Carmilla (7:28pm): how sorry I am I mean.

 

Carmilla (7:28pm): I’ll fly over to you if you’ll let me. I swear.

 

You quickly stand up and start rummaging through your drawers looking for your goddamn passport. You know it’s somewhere in this room, hopefully not expired. If it is, you’ll go get a new one right now. You’d do it if it meant getting Laura back somehow. No matter what the costs for such sudden travelling is. Your phone chimes and you immediately stop what you’re doing and dive back into your bed, snatching your phone and clutching it in your hands.

 

Unknown Number (7:31pm): that’s really not necessary.

 

Carmilla (7:31pm): it is to me. I’ll do it if it means even the slightest chance I can make things right again.

 

Carmilla (7:32pm): please just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it Laura.

 

Carmilla (7:32pm): I’ll leave right now

 

Unknown Number (7:33pm): please don’t do that!!

 

You worry your lip, your chest hurting a bit.

 

Carmilla (7:33pm): Laura…

 

Carmilla (7:34pm): please, just hear me out in person okay? That’s all I ask

 

Carmilla (7:34pm): I’ll drop everything okay just please let me try

 

Unknown Number (7:35pm): no seriously please don’t

 

Carmilla (7:35pm): why?

 

You connect the dots and it’s the biggest hit to your ego yet.

 

Carmilla (7:36pm): oh, are you seeing someone else?

 

Carmilla (7:36pm): I didn’t mean to intrude…I’m sorry…

 

Unknown Number (7:37pm): that’s not it

 

Your chest untightens again, a small crack of hope seeping through.

 

Unknown Number (7:37pm): can u just…give me like 10 minutes?

 

You look at the time on the top right corner and remember you have to go help Frank at 9.

 

Carmilla (7:38pm): of course.

 

You sit up on your bed, your legs dangling off the side as you hold your phone in your lap. You sigh letting your head sink forward. You nervously wait for Laura to text you back, time ticking by slower than usual. You click on the number and add it to Laura’s old contact, her old contact picture syncing and coming up on your screen. You sigh again as you stare at it remembering what it was like to see it popping up all the time before. Your phone chimes as you stared at the image and your eyes quickly widen, quickly looking for the new message.

 

Laura (7:47pm): where are u right now, like exactly?

 

Carmilla (7:47pm): alone in my room.

 

Carmilla (7:47pm): I didn’t mean for that to sound like a seductive invite or anything I promise.

 

Laura (7:47pm): carm -.-

 

Carmilla (7:48pm): I didn’t! ugh never mind just ignore that.

 

Carmilla (7:48pm): what I meant is that I’m free if you want to talk right now.

 

Laura (7:48pm): I do.

 

Nothing comes after that so you type in a reply.

 

Carmilla (7:49pm): should I call you or…?

 

Laura (7:49pm): pff no.

 

You’re confused.

 

Carmilla(7:49pm): ????

 

Laura (7:50pm): did you not read how I said voicemails and messages aren’t as meaningful?

 

Laura (7:50pm): well phone call is totally included there.

 

You scratch the back of your head unsure what she wants you to do.

 

Carmilla (7:51pm): does this mean you want me to go over there then?

 

Laura (7:51pm): no

 

You lean forward, your free hand raising in the air in confusion. “What? I am so lost right now.”

 

Laura (7:52pm): that’d suck since I’m kind of already here.

 

“Here? As in town? Or-” you hear a knock on your front door that interrupts your train of thought. Your heart stopping as you look towards the outside of your room through the doorframe. You dash forward almost stumbling and start to quickly unlock the new door locks you had installed after Kirsch.

 

You basically yank the door open to find her standing there like she did so many times before. You let out a harsh breath. She looks a bit different. Her clothes more professional that the ones she’d usually wear. Some boot like heels you’ve never seen her wear before along with long dark blue pants, a white button up tucked into them, two buttons at the top undone showing some of the freckles on her skin, that long new coat she had gotten covering the rest of her body. Her hair seems a bit darker too but maybe that’s just you after not seeing her for so long.

 

You’re both standing there, dumbfounded by the sight of each other. Laura’s the first to snap out of it, raising her new phone with a tight lipped smile before putting it away in her coat.

 

“Laura.” you want to just step forward and touch her but you hold yourself back.

 

“Did you mean it?” she asks and you take a second to try and catch on to what she might mean. You nod.

 

“I did.” She looks down and away from you, slightly nodding to herself too. It’s quiet for a few moments after that, neither of you having attempted to move from where you stand. She won’t look directly at you though while you instead can’t seem to look at anything but her in front of you. You swallow, taking a small step to adjust your footing. “Do…do you want me to say-” Laura quickly looks up, her familiar big brown eyes stopping you before more words could start spewing from your mouth. You can practically feel your heart as it’s banging against your ribcage now. You get lost in those eyes longer than you probably should have considering how things are right now.

 

How could you have ever let her leave?

 

Laura suddenly blinks a few times, looking to the side and away from your stare. She exhales through her nostrils harshly, her lips bunching up as if she’s trying to hold something back but she looks directly at you and you take a deep breath at how powerful a simple look can be.

 

“…Do you want me to s-” You were about to go back to rambling about what she asked you when she lunges forward interrupting you first with a kiss and it’s just one and it’s rough but it’s everything you’ve missed and more so you feel yourself melt into it. Her lips leave yours but she doesn’t step out of your space. You slowly open your eyes to find hers locked on your lips. “-to say it?” you finally finish and Laura takes a deep breath shaking her head after she finally exhales. You feel the uncertainty in the gesture but Laura still goes to grab your face anyway, gently pulling you into another kiss, this one much softer. When her lips part from yours her grip is still tight on you as if she’s afraid you would somehow go. “I’ll say it.”

 

“You don’t have to.” She shakes her head and you stop her by pushing your forehead against hers. Her eyes close at the contact and she inhales sharply.

 

“I love you.” you say anyway before your lips brush against hers as you go to kiss her again. Her hands leave your face, quickly going to the back of your head pulling you closer as if it was possible. The gesture forces you both to deepen the kiss into a bruising one but you don’t care. Your arms finally wrapping tightly around her body as you try and pull her eve closer. When you finally pull away you see Laura’s suitcase on the side of the door. “Wait, did you just get here?”

 

Laura follows your eyes and looks at her suitcase as well. “I took a cab from the airport, so…” she gestures to her bag with a huffed smile. “I didn’t really think that through.”

 

“So you’re staying?”

 

“…I don’t know…I wasn’t thinking that far ahead. Maybe..?” she sighs. “It depends. I can leave it out here while we talk-”

 

“No, it’s okay.” Laura looks back at you as you stare intently into her eyes. “Leave it here.” She gives you a confused look and you shake your head with a big smiles, grabbing Laura’s hands. “Move in with me.”

 

“Wait, what??” You give her an honest look along with a genuine loving smile. “You’re serious?” you nod and you see a smile start to form on her lips too. “But I—but you just—I didn’t think you’d really—“

 

“Move in with me.” You simply repeat interrupting her, and her body deflates as she huffs out a relieved smile.

 

“Really…?” You see her eyes starting to get watery and you nod again, your smile widening because you wouldn’t have it any other way. You want to be with her for sure. Laura giggles giddily before suddenly changing into a bunched up face and taking her hands away from yours, crossing them over her chest. “You can’t just do that. That’s not fair.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because we haven’t fixed anything!” her arms flail around as she starts her rambling. “You can’t just look at me like that and kiss me!”

 

“You were the one who kissed me first. I was being absolutely respectful!”

 

“Well yeah but how was I not supposed to!? You were standing right there with those sad puppy eyes in a friggin’ bra of all things!” she gestures to you and you look down at yourself realizing you never finished getting dressed.

 

“Okay. That’s fair.”

 

“Exactly! And you just go and leave me a stupid voicemail telling me all these friggin’ things when I couldn’t even say anything back because it was a stupid recording! It was practically mocking me!”

 

“Well you weren’t answering!”

 

“Uh, yeah, because my phone was dead you ding dong!”

 

You scoff and let your arms drop to your sides lazily. “How was I supposed to know that?! It’s not like we’d been talking!”

 

“Yeah well who’s fault is that, huh!?” she stares pointedly at you and your jaw hangs open as you try to come up with a reply.

 

“You—well you were the one who just came and dropped a bomb on me out of nowhere! How was I supposed to know how to react!”

 

“By literally telling me anything else rather than how you maybe sort of cheated on me!”

 

“I didn’t!” She crosses her arms over her chest again, giving you another pointed look. “Okay, I accept that it was my mistake but we weren’t technically together.” You say instead much calmer.

 

Laura’s lips are pressed so tightly together that you’re worried she’s going to leave you again.

 

“I get that, it’s just…” she sighs, the heat of the moment winding down faster than it began. She looks at the ground, some of her hair draping forward hiding some of her face. “I wish you would’ve at least let me know sooner.”

 

You watch her suddenly shrink into herself because of you. You sigh deeply and take a step towards her, your hand reassuringly on her arm. “Hey…I know. I’m sorry about that, okay? It was stupid of me.”

 

She looks at you with her worried eyes and you hate that all you can do is try and reassure her.

 

“I was drunk and stupid and trying not to think about you by proving a point to myself and it backfired instantly. Ask Kirsch. I was a mess, I felt like literal shit about the whole thing. I still do okay it’s haunted me ever since it happened.” She holds herself by her elbows and you can see the gears in her head turning.

 

“Why would you do that to try and not think about me?” she says lowly almost like a sad whisper. You swallow and look down.

 

“Because I don’t do so great with the whole feelings thing and I was getting scared with how attached to you I was actually getting.” She gives you a worried look and you try and dismiss it. “It’s stupid, I know.”

 

“It’s not.” She says uncrossing her arms but then tilting her head. “I mean it is but it’s not.” You laugh at that and she smiles at you. One of her hands grabbing onto your forearm. “Hey just…just don’t do that again please.”

 

“I won’t.”

 

“It kinda sucked.” You giver her an apologetic look and she gives you another tight lipped smile. “I mean if you ever want to, like please tell me first or something, don’t just do that stuff behind my back. Let me get ready or leave at least.”

 

“I won’t do it again, Laura. I promise.”

 

She looks down again slightly nodding and taking a step closer to grab your other arm. Both her hands sliding down to hold your wrists gently as you watch her just exist right before your eyes again.

 

How could you have hurt her so much?

 

“Hey.” You say, pulling one of your hands away to caress her cheek. She looks directly at you again much more easily than before and it fills your heart with so much love and hope that she’s actually here. “You’re the only one that I want now. Believe me, I’m pretty sure.” You huff out a smile and tuck some of the hairs that had fallen back behind her ear. Her eyes travel down to your lips again, a small grin forming on hers and you can only mirror it. She pulls you into another kiss and this one comes much more naturally to the both of you. Hands not being controlled by fears but instead by a want that you’ve both clearly had to be with one another again.

 

Laura takes the final step forward, her body pressing against yours as you kiss sloppily from how much desire is there. You force yourself to pull away to grab her suitcase and pull it along with her inside. “Come on.” And Laura’s all smiles now like she used to be and she keeps kissing you while you try to pull her suitcase in and lock the door. When you’re done you turn fully towards her and quickly take a step forward to kiss her desperately. “God I’ve missed you.” you say between the kiss. “I’m so sorry, I’m such a fucking idiot.” Another kiss. “I love you.” she pulls you closer, the feel of her finger tips already burning against your skin. “I love you so freaking much.” And Laura just keeps smiling into the kisses not stopping to hear you out. You press your forehead against hers, your eyes almost shut. “Is that weird?..” She finally stops and you think Laura struggles to not smile as wide as she can.

 

“No.” She kisses you again tenderly and now you’re the one who smiles against her lips.

 

“I love you.” you can’t stop saying it enough to her. You should’ve said it so long ago. “God I swear every time I say it I can’t breath properly.” Laura smiles, breaking apart from you as she fails to keep a chuckle in.

 

“Are you saying I take your breath away?” she jokes and you glare at her as she starts laughing more freely now. God you missed that sound. You turn her around and push her towards the door as she fails to get a hold of herself.

 

“Never mind go back to Europe.” You fake.

 

“No!” she whines and manages to turn herself around still smiling joyously. “I love you too.” You were ready to keep joking with her when she caught you by surprise and you must look like a deer in headlights. Your body seems to be completely frozen or numb with that. So she pulls you by your waistband, wrapping her arms around your neck to pull you into a loving and happy kiss that finally brings you back to her. “Gosh it really is hard to breath when you finally say that.” You’re the one that laughs this time making Laura giggle. She presses her forehead against yours and you close your eyes at the touch. “But I do. I do love you.” she pecks you on the lips. “You asshole.” The two of you snort. “It’s totally worth not breathing properly.”

 

“I can get into a few other ways that can make that happen.” Laura smacks your shoulder. “Too soon?” your smirk widens when you notice Laura’s blushing. And you love how you still have that effect on her.

 

“…We’ll work our way up to that again.” She says a bit shyly. You nod and go in for a sweet kiss, one much softer than you’re used to but exactly what you love with Laura. You pull her face closer, both of your hands on each side of her head pressing her face more into yours, her soft warm cheeks squishing lightly at the gesture. You feel her hands lightly hold onto your wrists as you hold her steady, they slide down your forearms before gently resting on your bare hips as she tilts her head changing the kiss, deepening it hungrily. You feel your stomach flex at the sudden change of pace, her hands seeming to notice the movement and tugging harder at your hips. You stay like that for a while, lost in the ongoing blissful kiss Laura’s giving you as if neither of you want to part ways any time soon. She suddenly sucks on your bottom lip causing you to shiver while she slightly pulls away to stare at you. Her eyes dark with desire but filled with lovingness. You can’t help but get lost in this girl like so many times before and she smiles when she notices how long you’re staring. Your hands brush through her hair caringly as if careful not to harm her in anyway and her smile leaves, the blush on her face growing into a deeper shade of pink. You rest your hands on her waist mirroring her for a moment, her fingers gently brushing your skin rhythmically as she watches continues to watch every detail of you. Your fingertips gently brush her lower back making their way down over her pants, your hands tucking in her back pockets as she smiles again. You smirk at her and gently squeeze her ass causing her to actually giggle this time. “You’ve always had a thing for that.”

 

“For what?” you act innocent.

 

“My butt.”

 

Your smirk widens. “That’s not the only thing about you that I adore.” You tease brushing your nose against hers and she giggles again.

 

“Huh. Really?” she teases playfully back and you bite your lip as you smile, your nose brushing over her cheek before your lips hover over hers and she’s the one that initiates the kiss this time. It’s slow but intense and open mouthed. Her hands finally travelling up your bare back caressing over your bra strap tenderly. You take a step forward and she takes one back as if wanting you to lead her along so you do, you start guiding her back towards your couch and her hands leave you for a moment so she can slip her coat off, dropping it aside somewhere on the ground. Her hands return to your back, this time scratching lightly more eager that before and the sudden sensation makes you stumble a bit as you continue to guide her. She giggles pulling away enough to turn and see where you’re headed and back at you. “Seriously, the couch?”

 

You remember the first time she said those words. The first time the two of you had met. The first time you’d fallen victim to Laura’s soft touch. 

 

The first time a girl had gotten you so lost in her.

 

You nod and Laura doesn’t seem to argue this time and you think she sees the moment too.

 

The two of you refuse to stop kissing and it makes Laura nearly stumble down onto your futon, one of her hands going behind her to catch herself as you push her further down to rest on top of her. Your warm body pressing against Laura’s mostly clothed one but you can tell every shape of her underneath it all, you can feel it pressing back, tugging you closer hungrily. This time her hands are the ones that go to your ass pulling your hips closer to hers and you smirk against her lips, teasing her as you lick her bottom lip causing her to gasp. You pull back enough to see her watching you, her chest rising and falling more noticeably now. You press your lips to her cheek and kiss her, then again against her jaw near her ear, another one down her neck and she exhales deeply under you. You leave open mouthed kisses on her neck, your hands working to untuck her button up shirt from her waistband. You feel her hands slip under your pants instead tugging at your ass over your underwear and the movement makes you press against her. You feel the way she instantly lifts her hips at the sudden touch and god you missed everything about her. You bite down on her neck, sucking lightly enough to leave a mark and her head moves slightly to give you more space. You nuzzle your nose against her neck and up to the hair behind her ear. You let yourself slowly grind down on her again a harsh breath leaving her lips and you push yourself up enough to hover over her, her hair tussled, her shirt messily bunched up as part of her bra peaked over the top. You let your hands go under her shirt through the bottom, brushing up her abdomen slowly as you try to feel the skin you’ve been wanting for so long. She licks her lips watching you hungrily and you move your hands out to tug at the top of her shirt in question. She nods and you start to unbutton it, spreading it open to reveal the warm skin underneath and the sight makes your lungs malfunction for a moment. You finger tips brush over the new skin and her hands move to mirror you as she touches your bare stomach before caressing upward towards your breasts. She tugs at your bra and the gesture turns you on way more that it should. You watch her, waiting for her to finally touch you. She tugs harder at your bra but it’s not to move it aside, instead to pull you down towards her again. You crash your mouth against hers, her tongue brushing over your lips as you finally give way deepening the kiss between ragged breaths.

 

And you’re desperate now.

 

You’re so desperate to be with Laura again. To dive into everything she has to offer and you to give. You wrap your arms underneath her and around her waist pulling her as close to you as you can because you love her. You love having her as close as you can to you. That’s when you hear one of the locks opening and freeze, looking dazed into Laura’s equally dazed eyes. The door fails to open thanks to the new lock with the chain you had installed and you hear him cursing.

 

“Dude, what the fuck?” Will struggles to open the door shoving it lightly and you smile down at Laura as she smiles widely at you. “Kitty?! Kitty when did we get another lock??” you both laugh this time and Will grunts. “Hey, come on open up! I can hear you laughing you know!”

 

“We’re busy.” You finally reply staring down lovingly at Laura as she bites down on her bottom lip.

 

“Well open up so I can get my shit in my room!”

 

“Can’t. Lock the door and comeback later.” Laura cackles under you and you caress her cheek.

 

“What has got you so busy that you can’t open the fucking door!”

 

“Love making.” Laura swats at your bicep making you cackle this time.

 

“Come on! You’re supposed to put a sock on the door or something! Let me in!” You quickly take off one of your socks and throw it at the wall next to the door. Diving back down to kiss Laura again. Will groans louder. “FINE! But you owe me a meal!” He angrily shuts the door and you chuckle against Laura’s lips getting back into the moment. And you love the way Laura sighs into the kiss. The way she still smells like that vanilla shampoo you’ve grown so obsessed with. The sounds she makes when you start to slowly grind down on her again as your lips brush over her ear.

 

And you finally feel like you’re home again. Like you have everything you’ll ever need as Laura’s hands sneak under your bra to cup at your breasts.

 

She smiles against your lips as her hands squeeze your breasts for the first time making you whimper already. And you think to yourself as she sits up to kiss you harder as you straddle her like you have so many times before,

 

 That tonight’s gonna be a long night.