Gray stared at the boxes lined against the wall of Olivia’s place. They were uniform in size, had been neatly labeled by room, and numbered. It was perhaps the neatest packing job he had ever seen. “Did you pack all this?” he asked as she loaded the dishwasher.
“No. I had a moving company come in. Susan said they were the best and she did not lie,” she answered. “They only have my office and my bedroom left to box up. They said I could be out of here by Tuesday at the earliest.”
“Wow,” he said, walking to the kitchen to help her finish up the cleaning. “How many people were here packing?”
“I think they have three or four per room.” Olivia closed the dishwasher and turned it on. “They’re like machines. They don’t mess around like I would while packing. They just sorted and packed. No looking longingly at pictures or procrastinating while thumbing through back issues of magazines. I’ll never pack another box again. They’ll even unpack for you too.”
Leaning against the counter, Gray watched as she wiped it down. “Have you thought about my offer?” he asked as his stomach jumped into his throat.
Olivia took a deep breath and looked up at him. “I talked it over with Dean yesterday and he doesn’t think it’s a good idea.”
“I don’t care what Dean thinks,” Gray snapped more than he had wanted to. “I didn’t ask Dean to move in with me. I asked you and that’s the only thought I care about.”
“You don’t have to snap at me or be angry at Dean.”
“Actually I can be angry at Dean,” he replied. “He’s butting into business that’s not his. This is between you and me. Not you, Dean, and me. I didn’t ask Chris or Ellie if they thought it would be a good idea. In fact, I told them both I would be there for you if you need me.”
“I know you’re here for me,” Olivia said, dropping the dishtowel into the sink, “but I did talk to my friends. It’s what I do. Dean is my best friend. I share everything with him.”
“You should share things with me.”
“And I do.”
Gray looked down at his hands and sat down on the bar stool that was near him. “Then tell me why you don’t think it’s a good idea that you stay with me until you get a place of your own? We’re over at each other’s house every day anyway.”
Olivia felt panic race through her body. She wasn’t good at confrontation. She hated fighting and she didn’t want to fight with Gray. “Dean pointed some things out that I wasn’t looking at.”
“Not Dean,” Gray replied, looking up at her. “I want to know what you think. I know I’m not your best friend and I know I’m not Dean but you should be able to share everything you share with Dean, Zane, Heather, and so on with me. It’s what couples do. It’s what we should do.”
Olivia opened her mouth to reply but her phone started to ring loudly on the coffee table behind Gray. “I have to get that. It’s Ross.”
“How do you know its Ross?” he asked, watching her walk to the phone.
“His ring tone,” she answered. “He never calls.” Picking up the phone, she hit the green button and raised the phone to her ear. “Hello.”
Sighing, Gray turned his back to her and stared into the kitchen. If this was a fight, it sucked and was sucking the life out of him. He made a mental note to never fight again.
“Calm down. Where are you now?”
Gray turned around and immediately saw the worry on Olivia’s face. He stood up and walked to her.
“We’re on our way,” she answered. “I’ll call everyone. Stay where you are. We’ll be there soon.”
“What is it?” Gray asked.
“Susan,” she answered. “I have to go. She’s in the hospital.”
“What for?” he asked as Olivia hurried to the coat rack.
“I’m not sure,” she answered, throwing her coat on. “I think Ross said she tried to hurt herself.”
“I’m coming with you.”
Olivia threw her handbag over her shoulder. “You don’t have to.”
“Are you insane?” Gray asked as he picked up his keys from the table. “I’ll drive. You call the troops in.” He watched as she nodded at him and tried to hide the tears that were trying to escape. Taking her hand, he squeezed it tightly. “Everything’s going to be okay. I promise.”
Gray watched as Olivia rushed across the waiting room and engulfed Ross in a hug. He moved slowly to give them their space. When Ross’ eyes met his, he nodded to let him know that it was okay. “What can I do for you?” he asked, hugging him.
“Break into the medicine supply office and get me some tranquilizers.”
“What if I just go flirt with a nurse or something,” Gray offered.
“That’ll work too.”
“What the hell happened?” Olivia asked.
Sitting down on the edge of a chair, Ross looked at her. “We were discussing that stupid dinner party that Thom and I are working on. She was just going on and on about the damn invitations and I snapped. I snapped Olivia.” Looking down at the ground, he buried his head in his hands. “I just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take anymore of the nitpicking, the smothering, the emails, the phone calls and so on.” Ross looked up at them and sighed. “I snapped at her.”
Olivia took a seat on the coffee table in front of him. “It’s okay.”
“No it’s not,” Ross replied. “I put her in there. She’s in there because I snapped.”
“What do you exactly mean you snapped?” Gray asked, sitting down in the chair next to Ross.
“I told her there was never going to be an us. I told her I couldn’t ever love her like she loved me.” Collapsing back into his chair, he continued. “And then she started in on the you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re just scared, and all the bullshit she feeds herself. I told her she was an idiot if she couldn’t see that I didn’t love her and that I was in love with Thom.” Ross closed his eyes and threw his arms over his face. “She just stared at me like a deer caught in headlights. Then she started mumbling to herself and then started crying.” Dropping his arm to his side, he sat up and looked at Olivia. “There was a knife on the counter and she just picked it up and slashed her wrist. She didn’t even hesitate. I was so shocked I couldn’t move. She just sliced open both of her wrists in front of me like it was a normal thing to do.” Ross sucked back a sob and wiped at his face.
“What happened then?” Gray asked, leaning forward. He knew Olivia wanted to ask but could tell that her mind was racing with thoughts.
“I wrapped both of her wrists to stop the bleeding and drove her here.”
Standing, Olivia ran a hand through her hair and down the back of her neck with a sigh. She took several steps away from them and then spun around on her heel. “We have to call the others.”
“I can’t. You’re the only one I could think of that wouldn’t overreact.”
“Ross, this isn’t about you now. It’s about Susan. She could be somewhere in this hospital dying. Everyone needs to be here.”
“She wouldn’t want that.”
“I don’t give a damn what she wants now,” Olivia snapped. “Her family needs to know. Her friends need to know.”
Ross shook his head. “You can’t tell them what happened.”
Olivia stared at him in disbelief.
“We won’t. I won’t,” Gray replied, picking up on Ross’ fear. “I’ll call everyone and tell them Susan tried to commit suicide. Neither of you are in the shape to speak to anyone.” Standing, he walked to Olivia and stood in between her and Ross. “Just listen to him for a second.”
“I can’t believe he doesn’t want to call anyone,” she said in whisper.
“It’s not that,” he answered. “You’re so close to the situation, that you can’t see he doesn’t want anyone else to know he’s gay. He snapped and opened up about himself and I don’t think he was ready for that.”
Blinking back tears, Olivia pulled her phone out of her purse and slid it into Gray’s hand. She kissed him on the cheek and tried to give him a small smile. “I don’t know what I’d do without you right now,” she whispered.
“Go be with him” he replied. “He needs a friend right now. And he’s right, you’re the only one that wouldn’t overreact.” Gray watched as she walked to where Ross was sitting. She sat down next to him and as she put her arm around him, he exploded into tears. Walking across the waiting room, he sat down in one of the chairs and began making the phones to their friends.
“Any reports?” Gray asked, handing Ross a cup of coffee.
“Not yet,” he answered. “Olivia went in search of a doctor and to get Dean who’s lost on the other side of the hospital.”
“And how are you?”
Ross shrugged his shoulders. “Could be better, could be worse.” Staring at the coffee cup in his hands, he sighed. “Thank you for calling everyone and for allowing me to stay in the closet a bit longer.”
“Why does it matter if everyone knows or not? Your friends love you for you not who you love.”
“Yeah, but I’m in love with a straight man.”
“And he’s in love with woman who’s in love with you.”
Ross looked at Gray with a raised eyebrow. “How do you know that?”
“I’d like to say it’s obvious that there’s a lot of infatuation going on in this circle of friends, but I’d be lying. Zane told me the twisted tale of unrequited love amongst you all. Though, it’s obvious you guys are the best of friends.”
“Yeah, but I think Thom might have moved on from his unrequited love especially after meeting your friend Ellie. I think he’s smitten with her.”
“I think she’s smitten with him as well. Is that something you’re okay with?”
“It’s something I have to be okay with,” he answered. “Thom’s not into men. Not that he ever led me to believe there was a chance.”
“But it’s always nice to have hope though.”
“Hope is nice.”
“Don’t beat yourself up over Susan,” Gray said. “From what everyone in your circle has said, you’ve never led her to believe she had a chance either. She just had hope.”
“And I took that away from her and it almost took her life.”
“You didn’t take away hope from her. She let it go. You know you could never be with Thom but you’ve never given up hope. Even if it’s not hope to be with him, then hope to be with someone.”
“I guess your right,” Ross said as Olivia appeared around the corner with Dean, Kyle, and Simon in tow.
“Looks like the Calvary is coming,” Gray said and raised his coffee to his mouth. “Whatever you decide to do, don’t let hope go.”
Turning the lights off in the living room, Gray walked to his bedroom and crawled into bed. He could see Olivia’s reflection through the crack of the bathroom door. Her eyes were puffy from tears and worrying, but she never looked more beautiful to him than she did at that moment. The door opened and he smiled at her.
“What’s the smile for?” she asked, collapsing into bed with him.
“I could see your reflection through the door. I thought you just looked beautiful standing there staring at yourself.”
Olivia kissed him and smiled. “You’re the best.”
“I would say you bring out the best in me but I think it might be a bit on the cheesy side.”
Wrinkling her nose, she nodded. “What did you say to Ross?”
“What do you mean?”
“He told me he had no intentions of coming out to us if he could have helped it, but that after he saw that Susan was alive and not angry at him and after talking to you, he changed his mind and decided to tell everyone.”
“I just told him not to give up on hope,” he answered.
“I know I shouldn’t have answered the phone while we were talking,” Olivia said in a shaky voice, “but Ross never calls.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Gray replied, brushing away a tear that hid slid down her face. “Your friends needed you.”
Moving closer to him, she put her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around him. “Can we not talk about tonight anymore?”
“Of course. What do you want to talk about instead?”
“Nothing,” she answered. “I was hoping you would just hold me while I cried.”
This page copyright © 2009 Shelia Taylor
All rights reserved | This is a rough draft and not the final version
Categories: The Dumbing Down of Love