It was the sort of morning when there’s no milk. While I want it desperately, I couldn’t be bothered going out to get any more. It was my own fault, but this was something I didn’t want to think about. I gave up on coffee, despite the thick feeling encompassing my head. Knowing I’d would pay for it later. The cotton-wool feeling already giving way to the sharp stabs of caffeine withdrawal.
Walking sleepily across the carpeted floor in my bare feet, I caught sight of myself in the mirror above my fireplace mantel. My hair pulled atop my head in a messy bun, brown wispy strands falling either side of my face and down my neck, last night’s make up smudged slightly, taking smoky eyes to a whole new level. My lipstick smudged from last night’s encounters, sweatshirt and track pants I had thrown on trying to bring comfort to my body and soul this morning.
Sighing, I continued through the living room and into my bedroom. Walking through the door, I saw the light breaking through the curtains in a harsh and unwelcomed greeting. The cream sheets on my bed messed up and tangled amongst the limbs of last night’s companion. Seeing him fills my stomach with regret, a hallow pit at the bottom rising up. Tears form in my eyes as I wonder what I have done. Did this one night stupidly ruin everything?
Inhaling deeply, I looked at the man in front me, the dark blonde short hair looking as if it had already been brushed. His meadow green eyes hidden by his sleepy eyelids. His rough calloused hands pushed under the pillow. His strong shoulders and back exposed to the cool morning air, muscles twitched under his skin as he slept. The sheets covering his lower half. Hearing him sigh in his sleep made me smile, maybe this wasn’t a bad thing.
I flicked my eyes to the alarm clock; 10 am. It felt more like 4 in the morning. I gathered some clothes from my wardrobe, careful not to wake the man in my bed. This morning’s encounter was something I was not ready to deal with. I entered my en-suite and closed the door behind me, taking in my over tired, slightly hung over appearance once again. Tequila, it gets me every time.
Showering, brought my mind and body back to some level of normality. The scent of the strawberry shampoo filled my nostrils, followed by my vanilla and sandalwood body wash. If I couldn’t have coffee, then this was the next best thing. I brushed my teeth, washing away the claggy texture that had formed, bringing in the fresh, minty, clean taste of the toothpaste. Drying off and pulling on my jeans and a shirt I felt human again, awake and ready to tackle the issue in my bed. Lack of coffee may be a good thing. I knew he couldn’t forgo it in the mornings. But despite the lack of milk I knew that he was going to want to have ‘that’ conversation. That talk which I have avoided for years.
I walked back into the bedroom to find the bed empty, there was a hope rising within me that he had just packed up his gear and left, although deep down I knew it wasn’t the case. I moved to the windows and shifted the curtains to one side, the onyx black charger that I had once called home was still sitting in my driveway, her engine cold and driver’s seat empty. I swore internally, he was in my house somewhere.
I took a deep breath and padded across the floors, full of uncertainty, towards my kitchen. There I watched the man as bent over observing my fridge’s contents.
‘Seriously Sarah, where the hell’s the milk?’ he grumbled.
‘I’m out, bit of a shame really. But there is a coffee shop on the way out of town,’ I offered.
Nervousness coursed through my body. I felt myself playing with the hem of my shirt without even realising that I was doing it.
‘Since when do you run out of milk?’ he frowned.
It was a true enough statement. I was always organised, there was always food in the cupboards, milk in the fridge. I wanted to avoid this and I wanted him gone. But God did he look good… I shook my head. I was not going down this path again. Not with him, it took too long to find a way off that road last time.
‘I’ve been at work, honestly I haven’t had a chance to get any. I’m about to go shopping now, so it’s probably a good time for you to head off,’ I suggested.
I watched as his face changed, the man I once knew so well, my best friend, the one constant in my life growing up. I just caused his world to fall apart. It confused me. I knew he missed the friendship, the support, the comfort I gave when he needed it but we both looked at each other a different way.
Derrick was my everything, he was my heart song, my other half, my reason for living. I was his best friend, wingman, company when there was no one else, confidant and the one who set him straight, taking no bullshit from him.
‘I’m not leaving that easy. We need to talk. Hell, we needed to talk since you left. It’s been three years and I am still waiting on an explanation.’
‘I wouldn’t be feeling too hopeful about getting that today,’ I muttered. I watched as his jaw tensed. ‘Derrick, look it was…great, I guess… Seeing you and all, and to be honest I am not entirely sure what happened last night. I can’t believe I let you talk me into Tequila shots. Lord knows I wouldn’t do it voluntarily. But I have a life to get on with and don’t have time for this.’
‘Firstly Princess, last night your words were “Holy shit Derrick? I am way to sober for this crap,” and you did Tequila all by yourself, all I did was say hi.’
I got a flash of last night and groaned, yes I did that to myself. This horrible cotton-wool head, the jackhammer pounding into my skull, the lack of memories was all on me.
‘Secondly we are doing this. I am not leaving until we talk. I have spent all this time trying to track you down. You disappeared Sarah, up and left. I still don’t know why or what I did,’ his voice was laced in sadness and anger, the pain he was feeling evident in his eyes.
‘How about you come back later? Once I am feeling better.’ I suggested, quickly calculating how much time I needed to disappear again.
Derrick laughed, ‘Not happening Sweetheart.’
His smirk grew as he watched my face change, he knew me well enough to know what I was planning.
‘Argh!’ I complained, resigning myself to the fact he was not leaving.
‘Fine, but I need coffee and breakfast. Maybe some pain killers,’ I mumbled the last part.
‘Grab a jacket, we’ll go shopping then talk.’
I watched as a light appeared behind Derrick’s eyes, a happiness I thought I’d never see again.
‘I’m thinking bacon and eggs,’ he rambled on some more, causing me to sigh. It was going to be a long day.
I walked through my house once again, still trying to come up with a way to lose Derrick and avoid the conversation. So far, nothing appeared like it would work. I grabbed my khaki jacket and a scarf, looking into the mirror in my closet I stared at the woman in front of me. My hazel eyes greener than normal, my mind still foggy and cloudy. I closed my eyes trying to remember what exactly had happened last night. But all I could think about is how I hoped like hell I wasn’t dumb enough or drunk enough to sleep with Derrick Evans.
It wasn’t going to be the worst thing in the world if I did. Images of the man that had captured every part of me from when I first met him when he was 7 and I was 5 came to mind, his smile, his eyes. As I grew older I learnt to appreciate his muscles, the way they tensed, twitched and sat under his shirt. I thought back to how many times I had wanted to tell him how I felt. How many times I almost did. How often I changed my mind because telling him was pointless. He was not interested in me. The string of one night stands and drunken encounters proved that. I thought back to the times I had got hopeful. The times he had blown shit out for me for going out partying alone, the way he held me if I got hurt. Then the moment I knew I had to leave came to mind. I had just finished my first lot of University exams and was celebrating, some woman was hitting on Derrick and he wasn’t interested. Regardless of what he said, she didn’t get the message, so he grabbed my arm and pulled me in close, kissing my head. He introduced my as his girl and apologised for misleading her, he ran his hand along my back, the action had sent goose bumps across my skin. I thought back to that moment after she left, when Derrick pulled me in tighter and thanked me for the rescue. The moment he kissed my cheek and told me I was the best wingman and friend he had ever had and how he owed me one. That same night I realised I had no chance with him.
I didn’t hear Derrick walk into my room, I didn’t even realise he was watching me.
‘Is everything ok?’ he asked, concerned.
I nodded and untucked my hair from my jacket. Derrick walked back through my house towards the front door. I heard him stop to wait for me. There was no avoiding this. I came up with a new plan; tell him what he wants to hear and get rid of him. Then pack up and move on, spending the next however long trying to forget him again.
My wrist caught my eye, the tattoo I had got myself after the last time I pulled my pieces back together. The dandelion that was blowing free in the wind, the seeds turning to birds that flew off the plant and up the side of my palm to the base of my thumb. My reminder to myself to be me, to be free, to no longer spend my time waiting for that man I loved so dearly to love me in return. To move on and find someone who showed me the same devotion.
‘C’mon Sweetheart,’ Derrick called. ‘I need that coffee.’
I sighed and followed.
Sitting in the charger brought back a million more memories, the smell of the leather seats alone made me want to cry. It was home. Years spent driving around on weekends or helping fix her up in Derrick’s Dad’s shop.
‘God, Sarah even hung over you still make this girl look better,’ Derrick grinned.
I gave him a small smiled and sat back quietly.
‘So, you mentioned work?’
‘Yeah, that thing normal people do. I do that,’ I explained quietly.
Derrick looked at me, I knew he was unimpressed with my attitude. I sighed. I knew I was being bitchy and difficult. I knew he was trying. Knowing Derrick, he would be struggling to not yell at me, to not demand answers right now. To be honest his new anger management techniques were impressive. Not like him at all.
‘I’m the personal assistant for the CEO of a large investment company,’ I explained.
‘You’re a pencil pusher?’
‘Yup and I actually enjoy it. It keeps me busy and out of trouble,’ I smiled.
Derrick pulled the charger into a car park. I couldn’t remember a time I had moved so fast. I quickly went through the supermarket and grabbed milk before heading to the checkout. Derrick grabbed my arm, stopping me.
‘Bacon and eggs, maybe something for lunch if you don’t have it.’
I felt my heart drop. ‘You’re staying for lunch?’
Derrick nodded, smiling. I closed my eyes and counted to five, trying to figure out if he was screwing with me on purpose.
‘Is this punishment for leaving?’ I blurted out. I didn’t mean to say it out loud. Hell, I hadn’t even realised I was thinking it. I watched wide-eyed as Derrick turned back to face me. His face was full of hurt and anger.
‘This. You. Staying around, planning breakfast and lunch,’ I explained quickly.
‘No,’ he growled, moving closer he was only inches from my face. ‘This is me trying to stay calm and come up with a way to make my best friend talk to me about why she decided to jump ship and leave without a trace. Why my best friend, the one I could always count on to be honest with me, couldn’t tell me something was wrong. Couldn’t come to me, instead she left causing me a world of pain and panic because I was shit scared she was dead,’ he hissed.
I struggled with his scent, the motor oil and leather, his cologne hinting its way through. It was everything that dragged me in so many times in the past. It’s that smell that made me weak at the knees.
‘Regardless of what you plan, you may still not get the truth,’ I snapped, stepping back. His green eyes flashed even angrier than before. I watched as he tried to calm himself.
‘Bacon and eggs, something for lunch and dinner, we can get takeout if you want or cook. I’m happy with either.’
‘You’re planning on staying for dinner now too?’
I had forgot about his side of Derrick. I had forgot about this side of me. The sides that always challenged each other that pushed each other’s limits. It came out when one of us was annoyed and escalated from there. I took several deep breaths before following him. I considered leaving, just walking out but he would follow.
We headed back to my place. I refused to speak to him for the remainder of the trip. I felt his eyes on me often. I watched as several times he went to talk but stopped himself. I watched the sadness in his eyes that grew with each passing minute.
As he pulled the charger into the driveway, I said a silent goodbye to the car I once called home.
‘I am sorry about last night. My reasons for leaving are personal. Not something you would understand or even need to try to. They are my own and will continue to be so.’
I shook your head. ‘I’m not coming back. I’m sorry I worried you. As you can see I am perfectly fine. Thank you for taking me for milk. I will make you a coffee to go. But I have stuff I need to do.’
I climbed out the charger and headed for the house. It didn’t take long for Derrick to join me, slamming the door as he came inside.
‘Like hell I am going to allow that crap excuse and explanation. Three God damn years Sarah. Three years I have been searching for you. Three years I have wondered if you are dead or alive. If you wanted to torture me, you did a damn fine job of it.’
‘Screw you Derrick, this wasn’t about you. It wasn’t about making you feel guilty or bad. It was about me, and trying to make myself feel better. Trying to move on with my life, trying to make me happy. It was never about you.’
Derrick froze at your words, his face falling. I watched as his whole world seemed to crumble around him.
‘You weren’t happy? With us? With me? With our life?’
‘It’s hard to be happy when you are in love with someone who see’s you as a sister,’ I spoke quietly. Regretting what I had said. My secret now out. Not that it mattered, maybe now he would just leave.
Derrick didn’t say anything; he just looked at me, his jaw dropped. I listened as my heart thumped. I could hear the clock on the wall ticking away. I watched as once again Derrick went to speak but changed his mind.
I stood listening to every noise I wouldn’t normally hear in my home, it surprised me just how sensitive my ears were, how much white noise I could hear, how loud my house actually was. Finally, Derrick moved to speak.
‘Sarah,’ his voice sounded pained.
‘Forget it, just go.’
I walked out of the house and sat in the backyard letting the sunshine hit my face. I just wanted him gone. But then even if he went what then? He had already gone and screwed everything up.
Walking through the door I caught the aroma of bacon and eggs. I realised then I hadn’t eaten since midday yesterday. For half a heartbeat I was actually grateful for Derrick being here.
I walked into the kitchen watching quietly as Derrick moved around, his jeans and blue shirt hugging his body in all the right places. I mentally chastised myself, the thoughts that had started going through my mind were not appropriate and certainly would not be happening.
‘I was hoping you had left,’ I sighed.
‘Nope, we still haven’t talked.’
‘Stubborn arse,’ I muttered, walking over to the bench and taking piece of bacon. It did taste good my taste buds danced as it hit my tongue.
‘So what part do we talk about first?’ he asked. Derrick was nervous, I could tell by the way he ran his hand down his thigh, and then through his hair.
‘The part where you leave.’
I grabbed a piece of toast and some bacon and headed towards my bedroom, with Derrick here the day was only going to get worse, and given that it was a Saturday one of the days I was meant to be relaxing it only made my mood worse.
I spun surprised, as he stormed into my room, not that it should have surprised me all that much. The guy had never really cared about boundaries and privacy when the two of us fought. He tended to move hell and high water to sort it out, where as I was more the type to sit and brood.
He grabbed my hand and pulled me to sit down on the bed with him.
‘Right, let’s talk. Starting at the beginning.’
I rolled my eyes.
‘Seriously Sarah, you packed up in the middle of the night. Changed your number, deactivated social media, emails everything. No one knew where you were. Why?’
‘That’s not entirely true, my parent’s knew where I was. They just weren’t allowed to tell you.’
I watched as his eyes darken, he was getting even madder.
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’
‘Why? You weren’t interested. I was your sister, your best friend, nothing more.’
‘You were always more,’ he frowned. ‘God Sarah, you left and my entire world fell apart.’
Derrick stopped and looked at me.
‘It has taken me three years to get to a point that I could finally start looking for someone else. Don’t go saying crap that will ruin that for me. You have your answer’s just go, please.’
‘I’m not leaving, not now.’
Leaning forward I buried my head in my hands, the headache from this morning was returning and nausea was kicking in. The sick feeling from confessing a secret that I have had for years, for finally facing the conversation I had been running from. The vomit that threatened its way up my throat because I was scared of what was going to happen next.
‘Sarah it’s been you for as long as I can remember. I thought I wasn’t good enough, not with the life I was leading and I didn’t want to drag you down that path too. You’re so much better than that. After Mum died, I didn’t cope all that well. The alcohol, the drugs, the partying, it wasn’t a life I wanted for you or one you deserved and I knew you didn’t approve of it. So I kept you as close as I could without bringing you down with me.
‘When you left, I thought you finally had enough of the bullshit. That I’d done the drunk dialling, come get me one too many times. I always figure that you would be back in a day or two. I was at a point where I didn’t think anything could snap me out of it. My biggest fear was losing you and it came true. I lost my Mum. I couldn’t lose you too. I didn’t tell you how I felt because I thought you would just laugh it off as just another drunk rambling. I cleaned up my act and have been looking for you ever since,’ his voice caught. The emotions in it evident, the pain and heartache as he spoke, made everything worse.
I felt the warm salty tears fall down my cheeks and hit my lips. I didn’t want to hear this, not now. Not after so long of trying to get over him. I felt his hand shift and move through my hair.
‘You have no idea how happy I was to find you last night.’
I turned to look at the man who was once again forcing my whole world into chaos. He placed his hand on my cheek and used his thumb to wipe away the tears. I got caught up in what he was doing, his touch, his scent, still after all this time it was comforting. It wasn’t until his lips touched mine that I realised what was happening. I jumped back, tears cascading down my face harder than before, sniffing as my nose started to run. There was nothing glamorous about these moments, regardless of what Hollywood tell people.
‘I can’t, I’m sorry. I can’t. I just… I really need you to leave,’ I cried.
‘Sarah,’ he begged, tears falling down his face. ‘Please don’t. Don’t make me go back without you.’
‘Then go elsewhere, because I can’t do this.’
I turned and locked myself in my en-suite until I heard his car start, that familiar rumble, the sign that he truly did leave. It was then I really let myself break down as he drove off and the noise of the engine fading out.
I spent the next two weeks avoiding my parent’s calls, Derrick’s Dad’s calls, my boss’s calls, worst of all Derrick’s calls. Somehow he had got my number. I spent two weeks crying or staring at my tattoo.
Eventually I pulled myself together and decided to move on. Packing my bags and loading them in the car, I drove the five hours to get to the one place I knew would help.
I hesitated as I knocked on the door, debating on if I should have come at all.
‘Sarah?’ he gasped, surprised his meadow green eyes wide with shock. He looked like hell, he had bags under his red, puffy eyes.
‘Hey Derrick,’ I spoke quietly, giving him a small smile.
Nothing more needed to be said, he just kissed me and pulled me into his arms. I breathed him in, leather, oil and whisky. I listened to his heart racing against my cheek. I was home.
This was the short story I wrote for an assignment, I had a 4000 word limit and I really struggled with it. It was my second choice to submit, my first one I loved. Really loved. But I didn’t feel it was descriptive enough to fit the assignment requirements. Overall, I was happy with how Heart Song turned out, I received an A so I can’t complain. 😀
I should also note that this isn’t my normal style of writing. I am write scifi/fantasy, action type work, with a side of romance. I don’t normally do something with an everyday story line and the sole focus is the characters love lives. So it was well and truly out of my comfort zone.