Chapter ???

Looking at the clock that hangs on the far wall and I notice that it¶s eight forty. I¶m dressed and ready to go, while Avery is in the bathroom, still. Funny thing is that you would think that I¶d be late and he¶d be the one waiting on me, but that¶s never the case, ever. I tap my feet and hear Avery in the bathroom, listening and singing along to music that¶s some genre along the lines of µalley cat, street metal punk.¶ I¶m sure he doesn¶t realize the time or the fact that I¶m sitting here already dressed and waiting on him. What I knew in the beginning was that he was a boy with many mirrors. These mirrors shadowed his various stages of vanity and insecurity, always hiding what he truly was beneath the surface. At first I was blind to all of faces of Avery, so I nourished and babied our relationship. Then, like a tornado destroying everything in its path, Gwen happened. We broke up and didn¶t talk for three years, it hurt at first but I found release in my friends and a few flings. One night, in the middle of April, I got a call from him telling me that Gwen was gone and he needed company. I told him to fuck off and hung up. Two weeks later, he calls again and asks if I¶ll come get a drink with him, I oblige and tell him I¶ll go. I arrived at the pub, the one just down the street from my house and walk in and there he is, fiddling with the sugar packets and taking intermittent sips of beer. As I walked up to him, he looks up and smiles and that¶s when we decided to become friends again and friends became more than friends and so forth. I didn¶t know what I got myself into with dating Avery again, but I soon found out. Avery began to become paranoid of shadows and people in the dark, often closing every curtain in the house just so he couldn¶t see the outside world. This is when I began to see the other faces of Avery, the ones that truly terrified me, but I still stuck with him out of fear that I would be alone again. I began to feel like a mother

to his other faces, making sure they were all well taken care of and kept happy but it began to be too much. His alcoholism and chain-smoking were just the beginning of the many faults that Avery had acquired during our three year hiatus, which then became about pleasing every woman within arm¶s reach. I began to notice that my fairly expensive hair products kept running out and that he was starting to smell like me. Don¶t get me wrong, I love the way I smell but I don¶t want to smell it on my boyfriend. I sit there reading a magazine and

We walk into the bar and sit in the back corner, per usual. Valerie, one of the weekend waitress¶, walks up and takes our drink order and as she walks away Avery¶s eyes follow. I grab his chin and he looks at me, shocked. ³Maggie, What? I was looking at the television.´ I turn away from him and pick up the menu and read over it. Spinach and Mushroom calzone, my stomach responds in hunger [7/19/2010]

Gwen walks into the bar and right up to our table. I look at Avery, expecting him to tell her that he¶s here with me and only me but he just sits there uncomfortably while I get up and excuse myself to the restroom. I walk toward the restroom and am blindsided by another body slamming into me. The jolt sends me backwards and into the strong arms of the passerby. When I open my eyes, I am staring into the eyes of my dream. Sloane. My imagined counterpart. perfect in every way but never attainable. ³Hey Maggie, I didn¶t see you there. How are you? How¶s work at the paper?´

When I open my eyes and I realize that I¶m not in my own bed nor in my own house, I look around to familiarize myself with my surroundings. Looking down, I see blue sheets, white comforter, lots of pillows. I¶m in a Rolling Stones shirt and my underwear. The door is cracked open and I can hear a frying pan and smell the faint scent of bacon. As if on cue, a knock raps on the door. I hide myself inside the sheets and whisper to myself ³It¶s just my imagination...It¶s just my imagination.´ It¶s then, I hear his voice. The soft sonorous voice that I¶ve grown used to in the past 3 months, it¶s lightness that has kept me slightly happy. ³Maggie, breakfast is ready. I¶ve got the perfect hangover cure,´ saying this without walking into the door. I long to see his face and kiss it, but he shuts the door and walks back to the kitchen. I slink out of the bed and pick up my clean clothes, I hold the shirt to my nose and sniff and smell the smell of Mountain Spring. A feeling of guilt passes through my stomach and I feel sick. Sloane knocks on the door again and I finally look up with a face full of guilt. Sloane sits on the bed next to me and I furrow a little more under the covers. I look at him from my hiding spot and procrastinate in asking the constant question that I¶m thinking but it slips out, ³What happened?´ Joshua smiles and in hesitation seems as if his words are frozen but finally he utters the answer I¶ve needed answered. ³Maggie, if you¶re wondering if we had sex, we didn¶t. I wanted to so badly but I couldn¶t take advantage of you, you were so sad and more than passed smashed.´ My eyes shift back and forth in my embarrassment as my face flusters a bright shade of pink. My embarrassment never felt so right, faded images of the night before pass through my mind like an unwanted nightmare. The image of me refusing to let Sloane into the restroom at Perry¶s and my smeared mascara painted on my cheeks. I remember trying to wash it off but the residue of what ³should be´ waterproof MAC mascara stained my face. I stubbornly had my back to the stalls doors in the restroom, Sloane banged on the door and pleaded with me to come out. My reason for this is still lost to me, but Sloane¶s expression holds the reason for my actions. Right as I begin to ask the question, his words stop me. ³Maggie, I know that you¶re wondering how you ended up here, I saw you at Perry¶s with Avery. Avery tried to fight me after I came to tell you hey. Things got mixed up and I got hit twice but I got him back

when I nailed him in the eye. Sloane thought I was running too far into his territory and I calmly explained to him that you and I were just friends but he still proceeded to yell at me, you started crying and that¶s when you barricaded yourself in the restroom. Avery left you there but I wanted to get you home and to sleep. It took me an hour to get the key from the bartender but I got it due to the fact that I had to claim I was your fiancé and that I pissed you off. Finally when I unlocked the door, you were asleep on the floor. You just looked so sad, asleep on the floor with your cheeks wet with tears. I cleaned up your face because your mascara had run, then I carried you out to the car so they could close the bar down. You woke up during the ride asking me where we were and who I was. I tried to tell you but you fell back asleep. I decided to bring you hear because Avery was at your place and I didn¶t want to start something with him about his behavior. So I brought you here to my house and put you to bed. You were a mess, your dress was messed up from the bathroom stint so I propped you up in a chair and took off your dress and put one of my shirts on you. Trust me, I saw those welts on your thighs and I¶m not too happy about them. But Maggie, nothing happened as I said before. I slept on the couch and Ellie is in Boston with her friends. There¶s no reason to tell her about this.´ Right as the last word fell from his lips; my eyes welled up with tears. All of \my weaknesses were sprawled out in front of me like playing cards. The fact that he mentioned Ellie just made me cry harder. Sloane just looked at me with this face full of pain, the kind of pain that I¶d never seen before on a man. It exposed some kind of feeling he felt for me but couldn¶t act on. Right then, I knew something was wrong with this picture. Avery has never sat with me while I had a breakdown; instead he always went out and got drunk with Gwen. This always happened when I went to Lucy¶s during a breakdown to actually get comfort from someone. Avery would bring Gwen back to my house and fuck her while I was crying myself to sleep at my best friends. I would come home and see her bra tucked into my couch, and the tell tale sign was that Bones was growling at the bedroom door. I can¶t tell you how many times I¶ve allowed him back into my life and wiped away his tears while mine were still drying on my cheeks. I would always tell him ³It¶s okay, people make mistakes,´ but now seeing someone truly care about me and how

I feel made me regret ever taking Avery back each and every time. Now, those words feel phantom to me and that¶s when I know I need to get out of Sloane¶s apartment before I break anything else worth having in my life. That¶s when I know the hardest question I¶ve ever had to utter to Sloane was ³I¶ll be back in an hour, will you be here?´ A quizzical look is planted upon his face but he nods and allows me to get dressed. I borrow a pair of his shorts and one of Ellie¶s tank tops, one that¶s snug on my stomach. I look in the mirror and realize that I look like a skater but I don¶t care, I have to end it with Avery and come back to Sloane and his comfort. I leave without saying goodbye and venture off to my house. As I walk outside, the sun is being covered by rain clouds and I know that today won¶t be easy for me I walk the three miles to Mercy street to pick up a pack of cigarettes, the little bodega was always convenient for when I would walkout to get air when Avery and I would fight. I would walkout for fresh air only to get a pack of Parliaments and a diet Mountain Dew. However the bodega is unusually slow and Mr. Regain is reading the paper on his wooden stool worn by the years. You can tell he¶s about to nod off when the bell chimes as I walk in. Like always, he knows I want a large coffee and a pack of Parliament Ultra Lights. His voice is barely audible in my head; I register it as white noise instead of a welcoming question. I hand him eight dollars and walk out the door without my seventeen cents in change. My stride picks up even those I¶m hesitant to approach what¶s about to happen. Finally I arrive at my house; I walk to the side door and walk in to hear music pouring out of my small house. Bones skitters out of the house and rubs up against me in fear. That¶s when I know that Avery is there. I walk in quietly and put my purse on the hook on the laundry room door. I walk into the living room and see that it¶s trashed with Avery¶s alcoholism. I see that his usual two packs of Red Dog are multiplied by two. Out of the corner of my eye I see a slutty pink thong, which I would never buy, lying on ³MY´ sofa. Anger fills my body , my hands begin to shake and I run to my bedroom door, I fling it open it to see Avery six inches deep in Gwen on ´MY´ bed. Avery doesn¶t hear me open the door but I yank the power cord to the stereo out of the plug, this silences the music but all you can hear is the pitiful thrusting. Sloane turns around in shock and pulls his cum covered cock out of the diseased pussy, the one that caused me to get Chlamydia, of what used to be a friend of mine. Avery in his usual fashion is speechless while Gwen puts on a pouty face. Both are

stunned at my presence but before I can scream at the top of my lungs, Gwen¶s usually presumptuous voice escapes her guilt free face. ³Avery, what the fuck? I thought you said she was out of town!´ These words fill my head with rage and I unleash it on this poor excuse of a skank, ³WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE GWEN? HE DOESN¶T LIVE HERE, REMEMBER? HE¶S SO FUCKING POOR THAT HE SQUATS AT HIS ³GIRLFRIEND¶S´ HOUSE WHERE HE FUCKS HIS SKANK WHORE. I LIVE HERE, I PAY THE RENT AND I BOUGHT EVERYTHING HERE. SO GET YOUR CUM SUCKING ASS OUT OF HERE, BEFORE I CALL THE FUCKING COPS AND RECTIFY YOUR CHARGES FOR THAT LITTLE INCIDENT DOWNTOWN.´ Gwen¶s face turns an angry shade of red, ³YOU TOLD HER? AVERY WHAT THE FUCK! AND YOU!´ she says this as she turns in my direction, ³FUCK YOU BITCH, WHY DO YOU THINK HE ALWAYS COMES BACK TO ME?´ Gwen points to her retched naked body and obviously doesn¶t know that I can break her in two without moving a finger. Avery sits on my bed, speechless, but you can see a hint of arousal in his eyes from this debacle. Right as Gwen turns her head back towards him, I approach her with an open fist and Avery jumps off the bed when I grab onto her greasy sex hair and even though she screams, I pull harder. As I look at her, I yell back in response to her tangent ³Like I said before Gwen, get your ass out of here and if I see you here again I will definitely do a lot more damage than just pulling your hair.´ I pull her head until she nods in agreement, I let go and she runs to pick up her clothes, I consider kicking her out in the buff but I¶m too mad to even try. I wipe my hands on the sheets, and Gwen dresses and looks at Avery who¶s sitting naked on the floor. However, Avery hesitates to look up. Gwen runs out of the house screaming ³Fucking Bitch´ like everyone¶s going to hear her. As I hear he r huff off down the sidewalk, I pull off my sheets and throw them at Avery. My words well up in my throat like wildfire, but all that comes out is ³Wash your own shame. Foot the bill and get the fuck out of here.´ Avery, like usual, sits and pouts like a neglected puppy and hopes I¶ll cool down. Avery doesn¶t know that this is the final straw, ³Avery, I really am serious. I¶m going to leave and when I come back, every trace of your existence will be gone. Every inch of your infidelity will be out of here. I can¶t take anymore of this.´

Right as the last word escapes my lips, Avery¶s mouth turns into a sour pucker. ³You can¶t take this? I pick you up from the ground all the time. I¶M SICK OF IT.´ I don¶t hesitate to respond. ³What are you sick of? Fucking her in my bed while I¶m asleep on a bar bathroom floor? Crashing on my couch, drunk every night?´ Avery laughs sardonically like I¶m the one to blame for walking in on him fucking a former friend of mine. My face goes from pissed off to livid as I approach him with a power that I never thought I had, ³Avery I don¶t have to justify myself. I don¶t want to have anything to do with you anymore.´ This is the moment I know where the atomic bomb explodes and Avery looks at me expecting me to back down. But I don¶t. His mouth finally opens in retort ³Why am I the bad guy here? What happened with you and Sir Lance a lot last night? You never came home. That¶s why I fucked her, to get even.´ I start to laugh and look at him and realize what a sad excuse he really is. ³Get even? For somebody taking me home and making sure I am taken care of instead of left on a bar bathroom floor? Sloane had to fight for the key to get me out of there and took me home to avoid your drunkenness. I didn¶t fuck him. I passed out in the car and he took care of me, something you NEVER do. So your petty revenge failed you again, baby doll.´ Avery¶s regret surfaces on his face, but I know it¶s not genuine. Avery has always had false intentions, obviously. I pace toward the bathroom to brush my teeth and Avery blocks my path. I attempt to shake his grip but he won¶t let up, I spit at him in the eye and he pulls harder. My arm twists out from his grip, while my knee rises into his exposed and erect penis. Avery bows over in pain, while I continue to step over him. Avery¶s attempted words fail to escape his pained face. I look back at him and say ³Avery, Groveling isn¶t a pretty picture on you.´ I look at him with distaste as he lies on the floor in pain, ³Bitch´ is uttered from under his breath and I know the anger he¶s exposing is purely theatrical that contains nothing more than an excuse for his stupidity. Avery has never stepped up to the plate in his thinking and always blames the victim for his rape of their dignity. As Avery regains his composure, I continue to grab anything of his and lay them by the door. I¶m tempted to smash his guitar but I stop myself. Avery always was attached to it and I can¶t afford to replace it. I finish gathering his stuff and he

enters the living room wearing his clothes from the night before. I¶ve never seen him look like this, looking like a shamed puppy. My empathy never felt so foreign from me. I know I¶m not giving in to this again even though he continues to plead for my forgiveness, ³Maggie, Why can¶t we work this out?´ I know he wants to be the good guy but I¶m done. ³Avery I¶m just finished with you. I have no reason to explain myself,´ I say to him and his face changes from regret to pain and I know I¶ve hit home finally. ³Maggie, I don¶t want to lose you. I¶m sorry Maggie; please understand she means nothing to me.´ My response doesn¶t brew for long and I turn my head and look at him, ³Well Avery, I want to lose you. You treat me like a rag doll and fuck a girl I can¶t stand in my bed while I was ditched by you the night before.´ By then I know that I want him gone and out of my life but he won¶t stop. ³Maggie, please understand´ he says as he gets on his knees pleading. ³I already do, you¶re a scumbag idiot that I don¶t want to clean up after anymore.´ My words sting his, like fire; he knows I mean it this time. All that he says in response is ³Ok, fine.´ I walk out of the door and say ³Leave the key under the garbage can outside,´ and shut the door. As I walk to my car, I start to cry as I open the door. The rain is coming down hard and the tears never felt so right for the occasion. I cry all the way to back to Sloane¶s apartment and I know that he won¶t distinguish the tears from the rain. As I arrive in a heap of hopelessness to his apartment on Garban Grove road, I buzz his apartment and hope he¶s still there. Sloane¶s voice comes out the receiver, ³Maggie? Is that you?´ and I murmur a yes. I hear the door unlock as he buzzes me in. I dread the climb to his apartment on the fourth floor but I am content to go ahead and climb the steps one at a time. As I reach the second floor, he¶s running down the stairs in a towel. I notice his bulging muscles and wish that I wasn¶t so disheveled. I didn¶t know if you remembered what floor, so I decided to meet you downstairs. Sloane looks at me with such sadness, examining the red eyes and running nose. ³Hey Maggie, are you okay? Have you been crying?´ Damn it, he can tell. I try to wipe away the tears, while he wraps an arm around my waist, where I wish it would stay. Sloane helps me up the stairs and into his apartment. I look at Sloane again in

this towel, and I still can¶t help but notice his arms. Those arms look like they could make me forget everything just by being wrapped up in them. As Sloane helps me to the couch, I start to cry again. I look around and see my recently cleaned dress on a hanger on the chair by the window. I try to adjust to this situation, one very different from the one I had been in less than twenty minutes before. Sloane excuses himself and goes to the kitchen to make hot tea. The apartment looks different than it had when I left, the rain stopped outside but the light in the room is still dim, but warm. I lay down on the couch, careful not to drip everywhere. I scan the room and see pictures of various countries Sloane had visited, from China to Ireland, all along the walls. My eyes settle on the picture of a girl looking slyly into the camera and I know that it is Ellie, Sloane¶s live-in fiancée. As soon as I focus into her sad eyes, Sloane brings me back to reality. He sits down two cups of green tea and goes to get dressed. As he walks back into the room in faded jeans and a worn t-shirt, he notices my concentration on Ellie in the picture and sighs. I notice that Sloane doesn¶t know what to say, so I look at him and ask him if it¶s her. Sloane responds in a hesitant voice. ³Yes, it is. It was taken five years ago when we went to Maine to see her sister. We¶d traveled ten hours and stopped at a gas station. When I came out of the station she was sitting on the trunk of the car looking down. That¶s when I snapped the picture. It¶s the only picture that truly shows her vulnerable side.´ Again, I glance once more at the sad picture of his fiancée then focus on him again. He¶s greenish brown eyes are full of something unnamable; even I can¶t register the feeling that is crossing his mind. With Avery, I never witnessed such a look, a look full of such emotion that stung your heart from just one look. Avery always evoked false emotion to manipulate me. As I look at Sloane, I know that men can be sincere. After all this thinking, I realize that Sloane has been talking to me. As I come back to the conversation, I notice his look has changed and he asks me ³What is it?´

I look down at my feet and drink some of the tea. I reply ³Nothing, I¶ve never seen such honesty in someone as I do in you.´ With this, Sloane turns away and I know I¶ve said the wrong thing. ³Maggie, I just want you to be okay. I want you to be sure of yourself. I don¶t want to complicate that,´ he says this after a long silence waded between us. ³What do you mean?´ is all I can say. ³Well it just seems as if you¶re looking for yourself, only to escape in other people,´ his words sting my heart like acid on an open wound. I¶ve never considered my reasons for feeling so lost and empty until now. Why does it have to be so hard to be yourself? When all that¶s around you morphs you into its own shape, making me shape shift into the ideal image of that person and what that person wants you to be. Sloane then gets up to wash his empty cup and I notice that I¶ve barely touched my own. I reach down to it and take a sip of the lukewarm tea. I must¶ve been in my own head with my thoughts while Sloane sat beside quietly. ³I¶m sorry. I¶m really just at a lost with everything, even myself,´ I say as I hear the cupboard shut quietly. Sloane walks into the room, he looks exhausted from my stay and looks at me ³I¶m lost too Maggie. You have no idea. When I met you that night, I didn¶t expect it to go this far.´ As his words are spoken, I know that he¶s being genuine. But all I can do is sit there, in my own silence. I wonder if he¶s saying all this for my benefit or if it¶s truly how he feels. I¶m over thinking again, I need to stop thinking in my head so much. I just wish that all men in my life weren¶t so complicated. Dad surely set the standard years ago. I look back at Sloane and ask him what he means and he looks at me and his face reveals a storm of confusion and I just know what I¶m about to hear isn¶t good. ³Like I said, ever since we met, I haven¶t stopped thinking about you. All my thoughts are consumed by you. I find myself lying awake at night, thinking about what you¶re doing. Maggie, before I met you I was sure as hell that I was going to get married to Ellie but now I¶m not sure if that¶s what I really want anymore.´

I blink back at him, in disbelief. I realize for once that I can¶t process these sincere words, said by a man that I now feel knows me better than anyone has ever. All I can say is ³What?´ and I know it¶s not what he expects and as that last syllable rolls off my tongue Sloane grabs my face and holds it there, staring into eyes and seeing my vulnerability. Sloane whispers ³You¶re the one who haunts my thoughts every minute of every day,´ and then that¶s when he kissed me. I¶m shocked and amazed, but instead of pulling back, I sink into his arms and kiss him. As we kiss, tears drift down my hot cheeks and my fingers are curled around his hair. For once my head is empty, and I slip deeper into Sloane¶s embrace and when I start to feel euphoria, he pulls away. Sloane looks at me with an indistinguishable expression. ³Maggie, I can¶t do this to you. You¶re too wonderful to taint with my baggage.´ ³Sloane, I¶m okay. I promise.´ I attempt to curl my fingers in his hair but he pulls further away. Sloane¶s body indicates a change of heart and my heart sinks deeper into my chest. His eyes rest upon mine and I can see the brown cloud the green, making his eyes a lighter shade of brown. I reach out to him again and he holds me, allowing me to rest upon his chest. My tears fall faster and dampen his hot face, he instinctively wipes the tears off and with this gesture he whispers, ³Maggie, you¶re the only girl I want, if Ellie wasn¶t in my life, I would dive head first into your life. But I can¶t do that to her, not right now.´ ³Why not right now, Sloane?´ Sloane looks me straight in my red teary eyes and proclaims ³Because if it were you that I was doing this to, I would feel like a sorry bastard.´ ³Will it be different for us now?´ I reply in heavy, shaky sobs while trying to pull myself away from Sloane. ³Maggie, I can¶t promise you it will and I can¶t promise you it won¶t. It¶s something I need to figure out myself. Before you I was so determine to marry Ellie, because she was what I considered my puzzle piece and now I¶m not so sure. Her puzzle piece doesn¶t fit as snug as you. This is my

problem that I never wanted you to have to deal with. But just know I really want to hear from you soon.´ I can¶t figure out what to say. I believe I am the only one with a deep regret of what I had just done but I can help but think that I am the one for him, as he is the one for me. So I look at him again, I wipe my face, and say ³When you know your answer Sloane, just tell me. Give yourself time to process all of this. I¶ll still be here when you make a decision.´ Sloane looks at me and attempts to smile. ³Just please don¶t get your hopes up. I don¶t want to hurt you anymore than I already have.´ ³I won¶t I promise,´ as the words escape my mouth, I know they¶re a lie. It will be tough but just knowing that there¶s a little hope soothes my worries. I just wish that everything in my life weren¶t so filled with drama. Ending everything with Avery and now I¶m waiting for someone who may or may not come back into my arms, it¶s just overwhelming and too much for one girl to handle. I get off the couch, grab my shoes on the floor, ³I¶m gonna go home and take a bath, I really want a bath.´ Sloane looks at me and tell me its okay to take a bath there, because it¶s the least he could do. Chapter??? I sit there in tub and feel the steam evaporate most of my thoughts. I can hear Sloane fixing something in the kitchen while talking to Ellie on the phone. I feel horrible for putting myself in a situation such as this, being the other woman in a once happy relationship. I know that in the back of my mind something might of this but I wish it wouldn¶t hurt Ellie. I tell myself to think positive thoughts, instead all I can think about is the man I just booted out the door and the one I wish would come in. Avery is a pissant who always cheated on me Ever since we met, Sloane has always listened to me Avery never was there for me Sloane kissed me, but he¶s not mine

Right as that last thought went through my mind, I drifted off into a hazy dream. A dream full of lost thoughts I had whenever I blacked out. I find myself looking over a fight that Avery and I had months before Sloane came along, Avery¶s pacing back and forth in the living room, looking at me with hatred. ³Maggie, get over yourself. I didn¶t cheat on you with Gwen; she means nothing to me now. All that Gwen is a friend of mine who¶s going through a hard time. You just have to trust me,´ he says to me. After he says this, I jump up and get in his face and scream at him. ³Avery, I don¶t want her around here. She¶s bad news. To both you and me!´ as I say this, I start crying and look away from him. Like usual, Avery turns it all to himself, like it was my fault that she was always around. He begins talking again and all I want to do is shut him out. ³Agh. You don¶t trust me, do you?´ Avery sits down on the floor, frustrated; I look at him with tears in my eyes and tell him the honest truth. ³Not really, after what you did to me on my birthday. I have a right not to trust you.´ This is what sets off Avery¶s bomb. Avery jumps up, pushes me off the couch and down on the ground. He pins me against the wall and tells me to back off. I knew he was lying to me, about this and everything else. All of the telltale signs of cheating were there and always had been. I slink out of his grip and that¶s when his hand hit my face, hard and loud, and that¶s when I blacked out. Hours later, I found myself on the floor in the same spot with a pounding headache. The apartment was dark and Avery was nowhere to be found. The dream ends there, with me lying on the floor with a face full of pain. That when there¶s a knock at the door and I jerk out of the dream and realize that I¶ve been in the tub, asleep, for a while. I hear Sloane¶s voice and it¶s then that I wish that I was at home. Sloane leans against the door and says ³Maggie. I was worried about you; you¶ve been in here for an hour or so. Just wanted to check and see if you were okay.´ I slink down and look at the door, wishing he would just walk in and sweep me off my feet. Instead, I must settle for this, so I tell him I¶m alright. I hear him walk away from the door and I get out of the tub. Walking to the mirror, I look for traces of Ellie. I see products strewn along the counter and realize that Ellie loves

Paul Mitchell products, has a thing for Amish hair brushes and does her nails in various shades of pink. Great, she¶s the exact opposite of me. All I do is take a bath, put smoothing cream in my hair and call it done. I look at myself in the mirror and see a broken woman looking back at me. I lift up my leg and see the welts from last week, still here when they shouldn¶t be. They¶re the result of Avery pushing me off the couch because I wouldn¶t give him any money. Money for his booze. God, I should¶ve gone to the hospital or at least filed a police report, or better yet just told someone. I get dressed and walk into the living room in my clothes from last night. A dress newly washed, I feel better than I did before. Sloane is lying on the couch, reading, and I wish he didn¶t look so good doing it. I walk to the door; Sloane gets up and reaches for me. I allow him to hold me there while I attempt not crying. In a soft whisper he says ³Maggie, I will call you when things settle down. I promise. Even if we don¶t happen, I don¶t want to lose you as a friend. I hope you understand.´ For the first time, I look at him and have no tears so I nod my head in agreement and grab my keys and walk out the door. Chapter???

After I leave Sloane¶s apartment, I walk down the street and see Bren Addellson. Bren is the last person I want to see, because she¶s someone who always wanted to be me and would do anything to make that happen. Whatever I did, she tried to do better, especially when I became the Editor of our High School Newspaper. Not less than two weeks later she became Co-Editor, much to my distaste. During which, she would always try to make me look bad to the staff. One of the ways she did this was by inserting typos into the paper before it got sent off to press; it took me a while to catch on. But when I did catch Bren, she denied everything and kept her position. This kept going on, especially when she got into the same college as I did. Seeing her now is not what I need right now. But before I can turn away, her shrill voice escapes her wide open trap. ³Oh my god! Maggie! How are you?´ Bren exclaims and I can tell she¶s faking every bit. I look at her and wish I could just walk on by but I can¶t.

³Great, how are you Bren? Still sabotaging things for other people?´ I say. Bren looks at me with a shocked expression. ³Maggie, that was eight years ago. I¶m way different now. Did you know I¶m Assistant Editor at the Daily?´ I look at her, with pity, and see she¶s lost thirty pounds and colored her hair a shade similar to mine. ³Well, I have to go. See you later.´ I say as I try to walk away but she won¶t let up. ³So what are you doing these days? Are you still writing for that one art magazine?´ I turn around and look at her with hate in my eyes. ³No Bren, I¶m not. I¶m working with a private publisher right now. I don¶t have time to chit chat,´ I kick up my heel to walk way when she says ³Bye Maggie! Have a great day and God Bless!´ This is what sets me off, for good. I turn around and look at her once more and scream, ³Bren, how about you go FUCK YOURSELF and have a nice fucking day while you¶re at it.´ I¶m gratified that for once I leave this leech speechless and shocked. Smiling as I get into my car, I realize why I¶m so mad and it¶s from running into Bren. I¶m mad at myself for being such an idiot. I kissed a taken man and allowed an asshole to control my life. That¶s when I call Lucy; I know that she¶ll know what to say in a matter such as this. Lucy answers on the third ring, that¶s when I realize it¶s a Sunday and she¶s working at the Gallery. ³Mags, what¶s up?´ she says as I can hear a customer asks her a question. ³Nothing, when do you get off work? I need to talk to you,´ I say this a little louder than usual but she shushes me and tells me to hold on. I wait there for a few minutes on hold until I hear her rushed voice on the line again. ³Sorry Mags! I had a huge sale on that Greshen painting; you know the one with the bright blue birds and a green backdrop? Anyways, what did you say before I put you on hold? I didn¶t catch any of it.´ I sigh and tell her about seeing Bren. Lucy talks to me for a few minutes and then excuses herself back to work. We get off the line with plans to meet up at my house later that night. After talking to Lucy, I feel a little better but dread going back to my empty house. I take different routes to go home, prolonging the drive there. I pull up in my driveway and see that everything looks the same

as before. I open the door and see the couch overturned and all the picture frames broken. Great, I¶m dealing with a child. I begin to clean up the mess as my phone rings; I pick it up and realize it¶s an unknown number. I hear Avery¶s drunken slurs escape through the receiver, ³Maggie, how the fuck are you? I¶m drunk at Steve¶s. You should come over, yeah come over Maggie.´ I sigh heavily and tell him not to call me again, but he doesn¶t stop. ³Maggggggggggie, I¶m sorrrrrrrrry. I was such an asshole today. How about I come over and make it up to you?´ Today has been a never ending nightmare. I hang up the phone, putting an end to whatever Avery is trying to do. I turn over the couch and an overwhelming feeling of tiredness rushes over me. I lie down and fall asleep only to wake up to Lucy¶s pounding on the front door. I jump up from the couch and open the door. Lucy walks in with two brown paper bags, one full of food and the other full of drinks. Lucy always knows when a girl¶s night is in order. ³Maggie, what exactly happened last night and today?´ I take a bite out of the gyro from (clever Greek name for a restaurant) ,that Lucy picked up on her way to my house, and look at the floor in embarrassment.

I walked away from the house, looking back to see the soon-to-be family moving in. I watch as movers carry boxes full of their life into the future home for their family that¶s about to begin. I feel a tinge of sadness, looking at this house in a different way than before. I see promise and hope not unhappiness and misery. As I slide into the car, I look at my phone and see the voicemail light blinking. I open it up and listen to the voicemail. ³Maggie, its Sloane. I just got home from Arizona. I hope to see you before you move. Please give me a call at 402-583-3920; I want to talk to you.´ Before my fingers can even dial the number, the phone rings and out of lack of restraint I answer. ³Hello?´ ³Hey Maggie, It¶s Sloane´ ³Hey, How are you?´ I say with excitement, even though I haven¶t heard or spoke to him in three months. I wish I could keep my composure but this boy does this to me, he makes me feel different about men. Like there¶s some hope when it comes to male sex.

³I¶m good, just got back from New York. I enjoyed it there but couldn¶t wait to get back home,´ as Sloane continues talking, my mind wanders off to times when things were simpler with us, when we could just be around one another and not be anxious.

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