Wednesday, July 30, 2008

THIRTY-THREE

I left Ryan's without telling anyone goodbye and took a scalding hot shower once I got home. The way the searing hot water burned my skin didn't bother me—I was glad I could feel something, anything. The interaction (I could hardly call it a conversation) between Sid and me left me so emotionally drained that I was actually numb.

I took advantage of the solace of the shower, and didn't step out until I was in danger of falling asleep on my feet. I collapsed on my bed and stared at the ceiling, wondering how I allowed things to become so ruined.

I didn't want to think about him anymore. It hurt way too much, like I was having a horrible allergic reaction to something—my stomach was churning, my lungs were burning with every breath, and my throat was closing in around a sob. How was I supposed to deal with this until February 14th? Avoiding him would be all but impossible. His friends were my friends. He lived in my uncle's house. Pittsburgh was a big town, but definitely not big enough.

I groaned to myself and tried to clear my head. The unpleasant memory of the awkward moment in Ryan's basement kept replaying through my mind, like the "repeat" button on my internal IPod was jammed. This was just too much. I needed to get away.

Without thinking, I packed a bag with a few changes of clothes and grabbed my wallet, leaving my laptop and cell phone on my desk. I wouldn't need them.

I raced to the airport, praying that my spontaneous plan wouldn't backfire. I needed a flight to Montreal, or at least Ottawa. I knew if I couldn't get on a plane in the next hour, the more logical section of my brain would take over and I would return to my apartment.

The airport wasn't crowded, probably due to the fact that it was almost two in the morning and a holiday, too. I approached the friendly looking young woman stationed at the ticket desk. "I need a flight to Montreal," I said breathlessly.

She looked at me with concerned eyes. I was sure I looked like a crazy person—I hadn't taken any time to do my hair, so it was still damp and frizzy from my recent hour-long shower, and I was wearing a pair of red sweats with a purple tee shirt. I couldn't bring myself to care as she smiled, nodded, and typed something into the computer stationed in front of her.

"You're in luck. We have a few seats left on a flight leaving in thirty-five minutes," she replied.

"Oh, thank God," I sighed. I dug through my wallet and produced my credit card. The exchange took less than two minutes, and I hurried across the airport to make it to terminal three. Once I was on the plane, sleep came easy. The four hours it took to fly from Montreal to Pittsburgh passed in a flash, and when the flight attendant shook me awake just as the sun was rising I felt calm, almost elated.

I rented a car and drove to my parents' house, hoping they would welcome my unexpected visit without question. I gritted my teeth as I realized it probably wouldn't happen—I had left Montreal with Sidney on Christmas in such a hurry, never looking back, and they would certainly be suspicious of my unprompted appearance at their doorstep—this time without Sidney—only a week later.

As I pulled into the driveway, I saw my mother peer curiously at my unfamiliar rental car from the kitchen window. I took a deep breath and slung my bag over my shoulder. Why had I decided to come here? Did I really feel that stifled, that uncomfortable, in Pittsburgh? This wasn't home anymore. I couldn't run here and expect Mommy and Daddy to fix everything.

They deserve to know their daughter will be living on a different continent in about a month, I told myself. Right. That's why I'm here, to tell them about my promotion.

As I knocked on the door, I noticed how adept I had become at lying, both to myself and the people I cared about. I exhaled loudly and waited for my mother to answer the door.

"Karine!" she pulled me into a hug, but not before I noticed the concern in her eyes. "What are you doing here?"

"I have some news," I said as I stepped into the foyer. "Is Dad home?"

"Yes, he's in the kitchen. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," I replied robotically. "Just tired."

I followed my mother into the kitchen, where I found my dad eating a bowl of cereal and reading the newspaper. "Karine," he greeted me with as much surprise as my mother had.

"Bon matin, Papa," I replied, giving him a small kiss on the cheek.

"Did your mother forget to tell me you were coming?" He looked at my mother and cocked an eyebrow. She shook her head and poured me a cup of coffee.

"No, this was a spur-of-the-moment trip," I replied. "I didn't know I was coming myself until about one in the morning."

"Ah," my father replied, his surprise morphing into concern. Apparently I wasn't doing a good job at concealing my agitation and distress. "Did Sidney come with you?"

I drew an uneven breath and shook my head. "No, just me."

"Is everything okay?"

"Ouais, everything is fine," I lied. Once again, I was too much of a coward to reveal the truth. I winced. The last time I had chickened out and concealed the truth, it had ended with Sidney storming out of my apartment. Perhaps "ended" wasn't the correct word—the consequences of my cowardice still weren't over, I was sure of it.

"I need to talk to you about work," I said to both of my parents. "I won't be living in Pittsburgh for much longer. I got a promotion, and it requires that I move."

"A promotion?" my mother repeated, sounding excited.

"Karine, that's wonderful news!" My father smiled proudly and I couldn't help but mirror his happy face, although I wasn't quite feeling it myself. "Where will you be moving?"

"Paris," I replied. Their expressions faltered.

"Paris, France?" my mother asked. I couldn't help but chuckle. No, Mom, Paris, New York, I thought sarcastically. But I held my tongue and instead nodded.

"Well," my father folded the newspaper and looked slightly uncomfortable. "That's…something."

"It's far." My mother's face was shadowed by displeasure.

"I know," I replied.

"Are you sure you want to accept it, Karine?" she asked.

"I don't have a choice. PPG has already found my replacement."

My parents both inhaled sharply. "How…how do you feel about this?" my father asked.

I shook my head. "I don't like it. I don't have many options, though. Either I go to Paris and keep my job, or I stay in Pittsburgh and join the ranks of the unemployed."

My father shook his head, looking slightly angry. "Do you want to work for a company that would force that decision on you?"

"I don't have a choice, Dad," I replied. "I was so lucky to get my job with PPG…I'm worried that if I quit, I'll have a lot of trouble finding another job in my field. Even if I do, I will still probably have to relocate. I'm stuck."

"Wow," my father sighed. "Well, look on the bright side. This can only be good for your career."

I nodded and looked at my mother for more reassurance. "What about Sidney?" she asked, her lips joined in a tense, thin line.

"It's caused some…complications between us," I replied, unwilling to get into details. I wondered how different things would be if I had just told Sidney about Paris as soon as I found out. He left me because he was angry I kept it from him, not because he was angry about my having to move. We never got a chance to talk about the promotion, or what it meant for us. We were over too fast to have that discussion.

"You're not together anymore." It wasn't a question—there was no doubt in my mother's voice as she realized that Sidney wouldn't be spending another holiday at the Lemieux household.

"No," I whispered, swirling my coffee around in my mug. There was an uncomfortable silence as I studied my parents' faces. My mother was upset, no doubt about it. My father, on the other hand, was red in the face, looking more than a little angry.

"That's just childish!" he finally exclaimed. "If that boy can't be happy for you, and proud of your accomplishments, then you don't belong with him anyway!"

"It isn't like that, Dad," I replied quietly. "There's more to it."

"What more could there possibly be?"

"I don't want to talk about it right now, okay?"

My father shook his head and stomped angrily out of the kitchen. "I'm going to work," he called from the foyer.

"Au revoir, Alain," my mother called after him. He didn't reply as he slammed the door behind him and got into his car. My mother sighed and leaned against the kitchen counter. "How long are you staying?"

I shrugged. "A couple days, maybe. There's no reason for me to be in Pittsburgh." I drained my mug and started up the stairs. "I'm going to take a nap."

I spent the rest of the day in bed, drifting between sleep and consciousness. My mother checked on me every hour, until finally she dragged me out of bed for dinner. "You can't lie in bed all day," she scolded me. "You're not solving any problems that way." She paused and tucked my hair behind my ear, and her expression softened. "You look drained. What do you say we use my gift certificate for the spa tomorrow?"

I nodded and avoided making eye contact with her. I was too tired to argue.

12 comments:

Steph said...

please update soon.
your story is really really good.

conkblock said...

this story is so good.
i love it.
it reminds me of a song, and for like ever, i couldn't figure out what song it was, but then today when i was reading, the song
hard to say i'm sorry
by Chicago came on, and i was like "that's the song!"
ha, maybe it's just me.
but yeah, this story is amazing.

Summer said...

I've never heard that song, but now I'm going to go download it haha.

I have a question for everyone. I know my chapters are kind of long compared to some other stories. You all don't mind, do you? Because I could shorten them if the length annoys you.

pensfan4life87 said...

I personally think that the length is perfect. Its not too long at all

Kaity said...

another amzing chapter (;
and i lov the long chapters
update soon please !

lilyr said...

you're chapters are the perfect length.. compared to a lot of stories they look short but it hink they're just the right length!

great chapter!

Steph said...

PSH do not make them shorter.
I love them being long, more to read :]

stovgirl said...

Love this story, and I agree with everyone else, your chapters are just right in length, and if you want to make them longer, you should...

anika875 said...

love this story! and love the length of the chapters.. make them even longer if you want! lol. can't wait for the next chapter!

KylieD32 said...

Don't shorten the chapters! I look forward to reading the next installment every day, so make them even longer if you'd like!

Kimmy said...

I love this story!!!!
It's really good and the length is fine by me.

Update soon!!!

Lauren said...

Love it! And long chapters are the best! :)