“I want to get over him,” Amy repeated.
“Well ‘want to’ is maybe an exaggeration but I think I have to.”
“What brought this on?” Melanie inquired, Though, believe me when I say Yay! I’m just surprised. Is this about Amanda?”
“Maybe. I guess she’s part of it. I look at her and I’m afraid of what will happen to me if…”
Amy sighed, deeply. “I don’t exactly. My head is so full. Nate offered to help me land somewhere else. That’s what he wanted to talk to me about. And Amanda is just this exclamation mark on the whole thing. It’s like she’s the Ghost of Christmas Future showing me what I’ll become if something doesn’t change.”
Melanie just nodded and listened. Whether Amanda was sent to Amy as a sign or if the situation was just one big, fat coincidence didn’t matter much at the moment. Amy was heading the right direction for once and the why of it hardly mattered. “Sound like you’ve got a lot to think about.” Melanie shrugged, taking a swig of her beer.
“Oh, but wait, there’s more.,
” Amy joked, half-heartedly. “I called him tonight.”
Melanie raised her eyebrows in disapproval.
“I had a good reason,” Amy squirmed under Melanie scolding look. “Fine, I did have a reason but I also wanted an excuse to talk to him. He’s talking to me again but I’m afraid that it’s only to find a way to send me away. Mass Gen is asking after me and I think he wants me to go.”
Melanie choked on another sip of beer. “You’re kidding? Amy, you have to take it.”
“I’m looking into it. A part of me knows that a fresh start would be a good thing but we are getting along now and maybe… Maybe, if I show him that it’s different… if he thinks I’m over him… You’re looking at me like I’m crazy!”
“I’m just listening,” Melanie protested. “Trying not to give my opinion.”
“I don’t know yet. Is this about actually moving on or making him think you’re moving on?”
“It’s about not feeling like this every single day. I’ll admit it, okay. I’m not ready to stop loving him. It’s only been a few months.”
“I know,” Melanie agreed, quietly. “So why did you call him?”
“He has some connection, though I’m not sure what it is, to Amanda. One of her friends knows her. I only gathered a little bit. But get this. I think they were in a fight.”
“Amanda and Caroline’s friend?”
“Nate and her… Caroline.”
Amy choked on her name. “And my brain started doing what it does, trying to figure out what it means. A month ago I would have latched on that and prayed it meant they were almost over.”
“You still think they won’t last, don’t you?”
“They won’t. I want to believe more than anything that he belongs with me but I know he doesn’t belong with her.”
Melanie chose her next words carefully. “Am I your friend?”
“I hope so?” Amy mumbled with a mouthful of food.
“Okay. Then at the risk of pissing you off, I’m going to tell you that I think your instinct to get over him is a good one. It can’t be the wrong thing to do.
You have to move forward as if he’s never going to come back to you…”
Amy winced and Melanie reached a hand out. “because he’s not coming back.” she finished, gently.
“He loves that girl. Maybe she’s all wrong for him but if that’s true, it’s going to take awhile for him to figure it out. And, I think that if you think what’s happened to Amanda is some kind of a sign then it is a sign.”
Amy nodded sadly and thought over what Melanie had said. It stung. A lot. “No one has ever cared enough about me to throw my own shit back in my face.”
“I’m not your friend if I’m willing to lie to you. I’ve been where you are… worse actually. I’m lucky I didn’t get arrested following my ex around the way I did. It makes me sick when I think about it. He was such an asshole but I thought he was everything.”
“Nate’s not an asshole.,” Amy stated.
“No, he’s not.
That’s going to make this harder and you’re not going to do it right every single day. And that’s okay.” Melanie assured.
“How did you finally do it? Move on from the asshole?”
“Counseling. I was in tears, practically immobile on my bedroom floor, begging God to help me. What I wanted was to figure out how to make him love me again but somehow this moment of clarity hit me that I always did this when someone broke up with me. It was always devastating and it was always the end of the world. In that exact moment, I realized that the common denominator was me. I went to see a therapist and at first, I thought he was going to show me how to fix myself so that he’d want me back.”
“Ow, I feel attacked right now,” Amy laughed. “I’m guessing it failed?”
“Horribly,” Melanie laughed. “The guy is such a douche and I quickly figured out that I deserved way better.”
“Again, Nate’s not a douche?”
“No, but you still deserve better.”
Nathan let the day out in one long, audible sigh, tipping his head back and submerging his head and face in the hot water. He loved Carrie’s shower, especially when she was in it.
“Come here, I’ll wash your hair,” she whispered, sweetly.
“That would be nice,” he murmured, eyes still shut. “Ah, I want to wash this whole day off, it started with David’s punk ass attitude this morning and got worse from there.”
“I’ll kick his ass if you want,” she smiled, batting her eyes.
“Nah, let him be. He’s jealous and I understand why.”
Nathan opened his eyes and looked down at her. She massaged shampoo through his hair taking extra time over the nerves on the back of his skull. He was sure he could fall asleep standing there if she kept it up. “Whatever we do, I just don’t want to fight about our exes.”
“I don’t want to fight at all,”
“That too,” he agreed, yawning broadly.
“Is she really going to die?” Carrie asked, sadly.
“Honey, I don’t know and I really would tell you if I could but…”
“No, not her. I meant, your patient..the little girl? That’s what you said when…” she didn’t remind him that he’d snapped at her. It didn’t seem useful. “You said you had a 9-year-old dying on you. Is she?”
He rubbed his eyes, his exhaustion winning the war.
It touched him deeply that she thought to ask about Lauren. “I don’t know. I have done everything that I can do. Lauren has been my patient for 7 years and there has always been something that I could try but I’m legitimately out of options.”
“Lauren is a pretty name. She had a transplant, right?”
“Yeah, and she’s on the list for another if one finds us but right now she’s actually too sick. I need her to rally a little but not too much because then she might get passed over. It’s a crapshoot. The stars will have to be perfectly aligned. So, I wait with nothing to do but spin my wheels and wait some more.”
“I’m sorry this is happening but also, I love that this matters so much to you.”
“She’s spent several birthdays in the hospital, holidays. One Christmas, she spent half a day just with me while her mom went to see her other child for a while. She bought me an ugly tie with the circulatory system on it.” he smiled, sleepily.
“I’ve never seen it.” Carrie giggled.
“It’s at work. I wear it for her every now and then. She’s sweet and stunted, emotionally and physically. Her best friends are nurses, she’s way behind in school, and now she can’t even play outside. I wonder sometimes if I’ve done anything good for her. It makes me angry because if she were to come to me now, we have drugs that we didn’t have 7 years ago.” He shrugged. “I need to stop thinking about this. Turn around, I’ll wash your hard to reach spots.”
With her back to him and with a handful of body wash,
Nathan began running his bare, soapy hands down her back and over her shoulders. It wasn’t long though before he’d encircled her waist, lathering up each of her breasts.
“You know I can reach those myself, right?”