Dedicated to _opheliac, who also had a hand in inspiring this story
Notes to readers:
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Having exited the gym in haste, I step on the treadmill at home instead and put on my headphones: heavy, high-fidelity relics of a bygone era when music was everything. I scroll through iTunes and pick an album with a plastic slide on the cover. The cover is SOPHIE's, but the voice is Scott's. "There was a time, I swear there was a time when I was enough," he cries out. "There was a time you were mine and you cared for my love." Is it bad that I changed the album cover to hide it from Alex?
It's sad that he and I see so little of each other. He's used to it, though. Scott was away for months on end while they were together, and still working most of the time when he was back. It's better for Alex with me because at least I live in LA year-round, and when I do have to leave, it's only for a week at a time. We don't see much of each other, but we make it work. It takes some extra effort, though. It's probably not helping that I listen to Scott's music through headphones after Alex's bedtime, alone and in secret. It's just that he's further along than I am when it comes to moving on, and I'm embarrassed to still be dwelling on it, because he's right. Scott isn't my problem anymore. If Alex can move on, why can't I? I knew Scott longer, yes, and I was just as close to him as Alex was in my own way, but Alex was going to spend forever with him. I wanted to spend forever with him, but I knew it wasn't all that realistic. Alex was going to, though, and he lost that, yet I'm the one who can't move on.
What I'm doing right now is maybe the worst possible approach to my problem, though, now I think about it. I know Alex will tell me to quit listening if it bugs me so much, but that doesn't mean I have to hide it. I don't really have to justify it to him, I just have to be more honest about where I'm at. I feel like I'm worse now than I was when I first moved out. Then, I thought we'd resolve it eventually somehow. Now... it's just been so long. I haven't even seen Scott in over two years, unless you count the concert I went to. I can't think about that. He shouted at me and I left sobbing.
He's rebranded completely, from Choir Nerd to Soulful Angst Repository, and now to Rebel Sex Icon. I don't know how much of him is left. And what about me? I'm not the same person without Scott.
I switch off the treadmill and take a shower. Not even the cold water brings me clarity. If it were that simple, I would have solved this ages ago. "Why did it have to be you?" I sing. Scott performs this song with three backup singers. It's because he writes the harmonies for my range, the way he's used to, and it takes three people to get the notes and the vocal qualities he's looking for in each register. "I could have forgiven a stranger. Why did it have to be you?"
I want to write an album back to him some days, entitled I Miss You And You're Hurting Me, So Congrats On That, And I Realize I'm Dating Your Ex But Get The 🍓 Over It, We Didn't Cheat And You Know It, Or You Would If You Knew Me, Which You Should Have After Eighteen Years Together, Now Let Me Love You, I Feel So Alone. Unfortunately, I don't really have room in my schedule, and I don't feel like it would have the same broad market appeal Scott's songs have. He's definitely oversimplified some things, probably just to make it sell, but also because he wants to be angry. Knowing him, as much as I can claim to anymore, it's all fueled by guilt. As much as I want to believe just a misunderstanding and that we could be friends again if he believed the truth, it isn't like that. Even then, nothing would change. I still betrayed him for Alex. I still left him. I don't know how to fix this.
I can't fix this.
I sigh and step into my bathrobe. I have lines to review for tomorrow, and then I can sleep. Wait, no, food first. All I've eaten tonight is half a barely-palatable protein bar. No wonder I'm so miserable. I'll cope better with dinner in me. It looks like my options are protein bars (gross, but I'm almost hungry enough, but ew,) flour, eggs, and kale. Scrambled eggs it is, then. Yeah, no, I don't have the energy. Fried eggs? I grab a protein bar and sit down on the couch, pulling up my script on my phone.
I wake up on the sofa at 5:00 AM. This is not going to be a good day. If I had blankets, I could go back to sleep. If I had a reasonable amount of sleep, I could get blankets. I close my eyes and try to think happy thoughts. I'm going to have a great day. Something good will happen, definitely. Maybe today is the day my assistant will learn to call me "Mitch," or literally anything but "sir." His southern manners are ground in pretty deep, but maybe I could get him to call me "miss" or "ma'am." Okay, that's my goal for the day.
Alex, my knight in shining armor, appears to rescue me around 5:10 AM. He sees me on the couch and, without a word, scoops me into his arms and carries me in my curled up state all the way upstairs. He deposits me in bed, tucks me in, and kisses my forehead. When I wake up to my alarm at seven, there's a thermos of hot coffee and a bowl of Lucky Charms on my bedside table. I can do this.