ONE OF THE BOYS
“Looking back on the things I’ve done…I was trying to be someone…” Lara sang as she walked to her apartment from the parking lot on the Monday before Thanksgiving. “I played my part…kept you in the dark…”
“Hey.” A door opened and a man poked his head out. “You’re Three B, right?”
“Uh, yes. Afternoon, Mr. Collins. Is something wrong?” Lara smiled at him politely. The building superintendent had always been grumpy and rude to her, but she killed him with kindness every time she saw him.
The man actually smiled back and she stopped walking. “No, nothing’s wrong. I have something for you. You were at work and everything, so they brought it down to me.” Mr. Collins went into his office and came back out with a bouquet of white roses.
“Oh, they’re gorgeous!” Lara gasped. She carefully took them in her arms. “Thank you for taking them. Thanks a lot.”
“No problem. You have a good night.” He waved as he shut his office door.
“Flowers AND that man growing a personality? Miracles DO happen,” Lara muttered as she hurried up to her apartment.
She let herself in, tossed down her bag and keys, and found the card for the flowers. Saying I’m sorry will never be enough, but it’s all I can start with. I hope you enjoy these. I’m so sorry. Chris.
Lara growled at the card, and growled louder at the bouquet. She started to throw the roses away, but decided they were just too beautiful. She frowned as she went into the kitchen to find a vase.
On Tuesday, there was a box propped against her door. She supposed Mr. Collins hadn’t been in, either. This time, it was a box of mixed chocolates. I know how much you love these things. Remember how I always used to threaten to take a bite out of each of them to see what they were? I’m really sorry. Please forgive my stupidity. Chris.
Lara was tempted to stomp on the box, but she knew the people in her office would like them. She put them with her purse, muttering, “Asshole.”
On Wednesday, the bouquet came to her office. But this time, it wasn’t flowers. It was a bouquet made entirely of candy. “Wow,” Beth remarked as she walked by. “That is really cool.”
“Whatever,” Lara muttered. She tossed the card at her. “Read it?”
“Um, sure,” Beth said, opening the envelope. “It says, ‘Lara, I don’t know how to fix what I did. Please call me. You’ll always be my best friend, even if I didn’t treat you that way. Chris.’” Beth looked up at Lara, who was typing away. “What happened?”
“My ex-best friend is a dickhead,” Lara said simply. “Put that somewhere with a note telling everyone to help themselves, okay?”
“Please, Beth,” Lara said. Beth sighed and took the bouquet.
“Close your eyes, make a wish, that this could last forever…” Lara sang as she unpacked groceries. “…so tell me what it is that keeps us from each other…” She shoved things into the fridge. “Sing it, Brian,” she said to the lettuce. The ring of her phone startled her. “Ow!” She yelled as she cracked her head on the fridge. “Dammit.” She grabbed her cell without checking the ID. “Hello?”
“So you are alive,” a soft voice said on the other end of the line.
Lara fell into a chair. “Hello, Chris.”
“How are you?”
“Fine. What do you want?”
“I…well…tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and I wondered how we were gonna do the meal. Lunch or dinner?”
Lara laughed out loud. “Are you kidding me? I’m not having any meal with you, Chris. You can rot in hell for all I care.”
“No. Don’t. And stop sending me things. I am not interested in hearing what you have to say.” Lara wiped the tears away. “Go find someone else to insult.”
“But we said…”
“Maybe I’m gonna be with JC. Maybe he’s here now,” Lara taunted.
“I know he’s not because he’s on a flight back east as we speak,” Chris said quietly. “I’m so sorry. I was so wrong. If you could…”
“Goodbye, Chris.” Lara hung up.
Chris hung up his phone and stared at the wall. He was quickly regretting his decision to not go back home for the holiday. Everything was turning into a nightmare. He made himself get up and go into the kitchen, but instead of making dinner, he just stared at the kitchen sink. He didn’t really think the gifts would make her forgive him, but he had hoped they’d soften her a bit.
His phone rang in his hand, startling him. He looked at the ID, but it wasn’t her. “Hey, Lance,” he said with a sigh.
“So. You kinda fucked up.”
“Thanks, Lance. I’m so glad I have caring friends to support me.”
“You fucked up, Chris.”
“Thanks, Captain Obvious. How do you even KNOW?”
“JC texted me yesterday morning.”
“Fucking JC,” Chris muttered.
“I thought you two worked things out.”
“We did. I’m just…frustrated. I sent her gifts, tried to call her…she hung up on me.”
“Of course she did, Chris. She’s hurt.”
“Yeah, well, so am I,” Chris snapped. “I know I was a dumbass, but really, what else do you expect from me? I’m the resident fool, resident dumbass, you name it.”
“Chris, stop. Why are you so down on yourself all the time? You weren’t always like that. You were one of the most confident people I knew. I always looked up to you for that.”
Chris smiled to himself. He remembered when Lance and Justin both looked up to him. And now THEY were the adult responsible ones, and he was the loser. “Back then I had a reason to be confident, Lance. What am I now? A washed up pop star.”
“Oh, Chris,” Lance sighed. “Listen. I just wanted to check on you before I went back home. I take it you two aren’t getting together tomorrow?”
“Yeah, right,” Chris said wryly.
“You’re welcome to come home with me,” Lance said.
“That’s nice, Lance, thanks, but no. I’m just gonna veg here and be miserable. No need to take this misery across the country.”
Lance paused. “JC’s talked to her a few times. She’s miserable, too, Chris. And NOT just because she’s mad. She’s hurt because she loves you.”
“Yeah, well, I find that hard to believe. And I don’t blame her.”
“I have to go. Try to find something to be thankful for tomorrow, okay?”
“Hah.” Chris sighed. “Thanks for calling, Lance. Have a safe trip.”
JC stretched as best he could and reached for his Notebook. First class seats gave you a lot of room, but his long legs still felt cramped. He opened a few programs, and his eyes widened at the unfamiliar icon. He forgot he’d saved Lara’s screenplay. He thought for a moment, then opened an email. Lance – when you have time, read the attached. Lara wrote it, and I think it’s good. I know it sorta follows along the lines of what you and Joey had in mind once, but it’s so much better. I think it’s something your company might want to develop. And I have someone in mind for the “Andrew” character. If you don’t know who I mean, let me know. Have a nice holiday and talk to you when I’m in CA again. JC.
Chris spent Thanksgiving on his sofa, looking at the TV but not really seeing it.
Lara spent Thanksgiving on her sofa, looking at the TV but not really seeing it.