Chapter 19 - Distance
Phoebe watched Keith jump up and down with joy as Taylor stamped her feet in the concrete with a mixture of sad envy. It had been three months since she had last talked to Keith. She missed him so much. He had called to say goodbye before he left but not when he had returned. She'd seen him two weeks ago and now he was laughing. Eight months with him and she had never seen him laughing like a child's great comedy just as he was then. Taylor let out an irritated shout and a drop of tear fell from Phoebe's eyes. She had never apologized to Taylor. She knew she should've and now she thought if she had, maybe she would've been in on their secret.
In the months that she spent without Keith, Phoebe realized she was starting to fall in love with the guy. It was the first time she'd ever felt the way she did. He never talked that much with her, she knew he had his secrets but she'd always hoped with time he'd tell them to her. She knew if she could just get to him, show him that she was willing to change her promiscuous ways, he'd love her just as much she loved him. But he never got to see her change. She had changed she promised herself but he was ignoring her. Why was he ignoring her? How could she show him that she'd changed? How could she show him that she loved her?
*Rehearsing for the Romeo and Juliet play is making me miss you so much. I wonder why? ;)*
Taylor blushed staring at the text she received five minutes ago. Her class on Case Work was a house-full, in that room there were probably more than a hundred of people listening hard to Prof. Heffernan discuss one of her case in that perfect British accent. She was in her early fifties but nothing about her persona implied her age. She was young at heart, disciplined with her speech and always inspiring those around her. But ever since Ian had texted her, Taylor, without any fault of her own, had tuned the class out. People were surrounding her, they were about inches away from her but she felt as though they had an ocean's distance between them. Ian though far away from her still felt closer to her than any of her classmates were. She had a childish pout stuck to her face as she texted him back.
*Maybe bcoz we r always so faraway frm each other!*
After that reply she changed her phone's profile from Vibe to Silent and forced her brain to focus on the ongoing lecture. The professor was talking about her service in Japan where she had met a family of four suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after their close call with the earthquake. Needless to say the listeners were mesmerized. But the pin-drop silent of the class shattered into a loud creaking opening of the door. Every pair of head turned to look at the source that had disturbed the heart-touching story. A bronze haired head was hanging in the air with a smile that looked just about the right mixture of goofiness and sadness.
"There's an important call for Ms. Taylor Jenkins. Taylor Jenkins?" The boy announced and a sound wave similar to dominoes falling, hung in the class when everyone turned to find Taylor.
"Ms. Jenkins?" Professor Mindy Heffernan repeated as Taylor stood looking guilty.
The professor smiled kindly and nodded almost an invisible nod as Taylor moved away from the seat glaring at Keith who stood shamelessly at the door waiting for her.
"What's going on?" Taylor hissed at him as soon as she was at his hearing distance.
Keith pulled her outside abruptly scaring her a little in the process. Taylor wanted to scold him for doing that but one look at Keith changed her mind. He was sweating and breathing raggedly. He blinked rapidly and looked at her with such desperate stares that she knew he was scared. Taylor waited as Keith fidgeted from one corner to next through the hallway, almost ignoring her in the process.
"I'm sorry," he finally exasperated after what seemed like hours of walking to and fro.
"It's okay... Next time just give me a heads up, alright?" Taylor smiled trying to make him feel better.
"I called you like a billion times! You didn't pick up!" He whined.
"Okay..." Taylor stretched the words.
"Taylor, you're my friend right?"
"Of course," Taylor said melodiously as if she were talking to a child just because Keith had asked the question so earnestly.
"I can trust you right? I mean no matter what, you'll have my back right?"
At that point Taylor thought the question seemed a little ironic. Three months ago, the question without a doubt would've been a sarcastic one, but right then she knew she'd be by his side no matter what, because in such a short time they'd become such great friends. Of course he could trust her, because she knew no matter what, she could trust him. She nodded.
"It's just that today I realized in the past nine months, I've made zero friends. I only have you as a friend and right now I really need a friend. I just..." Keith sat unable to say anything anymore. When Taylor saw tears spilling from his eyes, she suddenly panicked. What's going on, she yelled in her head as she rushed to his side in an instant.
"Oh," Taylor replied with a picture of her annoying former roommate flashing in her head. Lisa was an angel sent from the heavens compared to her. But it took her by surprise that Keith and Phoebe were still together, especially because she was so sure he had hooked up with Phoebe just to get even with her. She didn't think much of it since she had just lived the quote "Everything is fair in love and war" herself. Her hands were dirty with her evil schemes as well. Beside Taylor was sure Phoebe had volunteered for the hook up herself.
"I didn't know you guys were still together." Taylor whispered the only thing going on in her head.
"We aren't... At least I didn't think so..."
"What does that mean?"
"That means I never really liked her. I mean I didn't hate her but I didn't love her either, you know? That week, I hooked up with her just to annoy you. I never meant it to get so serious."
"Serious? Phoebe doesn't seem like the serious kind of girl..." Taylor said mirroring Keith's track of thought.
"My thoughts exactly. I mean when I left for 2 months, I figured she'd already find someone else, and I was cool with it. But now..." Keith stopped pulling at his hair with such a force that Taylor was sure there'd be a chunk of it in his hand.
"Now what?" Taylor asked a sudden chasm of fear spreading through her.
"Now her roommate calls me up saying she's taken a lot of pills because of... me. Me... I mean I didn't... Shit!" Keith cursed as he rubbed his face.
"What? Is she alright? Where is she?" Taylor asked shocked out of her mind.
"She's at the Trixie hospital. That's why I'm here... I just can't face her alone. I'm.... Taylor I'm scared." A drop of tear fell from his eyes as he hugged Taylor for he had no idea how everything had gone amiss from him. He was sure Phoebe wasn't into all the serious stuff, she never mentioned it. Beside it was her who suggested an open relationship in the first place, and now this chaos had hit Keith in his face completely by surprise. He didn't know whom to turn to, what to do, what to say, it all felt like a nightmare.
Taylor's eyes widen for she couldn't believe he had crashed into her hugging her with his eyes wet. But her concern for him overtook her shock. She suddenly felt protective of the guy in her arms. She patted his shoulder and waited silently until he could face the world again. He took his time, because his head had been a pandemonium and suddenly hiding under Taylor's shadow made all the noise go away. All he could feel was her soft hair tickling in his face and it was like a painkiller to his fright. It seemed like an eternity when finally he rose himself from the embrace and shook his head.
"Do you want me to come with you to the hospital?" Taylor asked slowly.
"I don't want to go alone. I'm..."
"I know. Let's go..." Taylor said as she stood up and waited for Keith to hold her hands.
"Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow." Jamie said the words with the perfect ambiance of a Juliet who was distressed at her lovers farewell. But it wasn't the reason why Ian had stood there tongue-tied forgetting the lines he had rehearsed for a thousand times over the days. Oddly enough the dialogs from Shakespeare's famous Romeo and Juliet seemed exactly the same words that Taylor had texted him back.
*Maybe bcoz we r always so faraway frm each other!*
Ian had blinked and stared at the sad face of the text for as long as his lunch break had allowed him. Taylor had been texting back and forth to him, telling him about her day, asking him how his days went; of course this all happened with an ambiance of harmless flirting to it. But Ian knew to his heart that if he could he would throw away everything just to be by her side. It was a cheesy romantic thing to think but in hearts of hearts he knew it was true. Being by Taylor's side made the world as simple as embracing a fresh breeze after a hot stuffy day. It was just easy. He could talk for hours with her just as he had on their first date and boy, did he want to travel back to that day. But in the middle of a full on rehearsal session with as tyrannical a director as Gaffer, driving the 45 minutes distance to Taylor's dorm for a date was next to impossible. Gaffer was a strict boss, calling his actors at odd hours for lengthy schedule of rehearsals came along with his impeccable directorial sense of the stage. Ian wished for a hundredth times over the month that he was a simple college going guy instead of a theater actor, especially Gaffer's actor.
"Ian! It's your line!!" The yelling voice of Gaffer broke Ian's sweet thoughts.
"Ian really? It was the end of the scene! One line and we could've packed up for the day. Now he's gonna make us practice from the top!" Jamie complained in a mere whisper scared if the director heard it, he'd go into his world-famous fit.
"Sorry." Ian whispered back.
Just as Jamie had predicted "From the top" chimed the disappointed voice of the director and everyone in costumes from another era threw accusing glares at Ian. He shrugged without really feeling guilty because his head was still clouded with Taylor's thoughts. And just like that everyone once again lied back in their place as Roosevelt Theater slowly turned into Capulet's Orchard, and watched with a mixture of tiredness and awe as Ian and Jamie magically transformed into Romeo and Juliet.
The dark theater echoed each dialog and the air floating above each empty seat was heavy with romance. Jamie and Ian were so good at what they did that soon every actor and every staff present for the rehearsals forgot that they had to spend an extra hour just to watch a scene unfold where they weren't even needed. Everyone was mesmerized with their facade of eternal love and Gaffer most among all was sure that this would a show to watch and remember. Ian moved about the creaking wooden floor of the stage with that rebellious yet awestruck air to him that it felt as if the play was written so that he could play that particular part. Jamie was the perfect choice to play the innocent girl who was falling in love despite herself with a stranger so beautiful and poetic.
"Sleep dwell upon thine eyes, peace in thy breast! Would I were sleep and peace, so sweet to rest! Hence will I to my ghostly father's cell, His help to crave, and my dear hap to tell." Uttered Romeo as he parted away from Juliet and the whole theater came alive with the sound of applause.
Ian helped Jamie down and bowed cheerfully as everyone rejoiced. Gaffer's frowning face was smiling at them and with that he proudly called it the end for the day. Ian moving fast as if he were running away from cops got out of the theater breathing a cool winter air into his lungs. He pulled out his phone and dialed Taylor's number for the first time since his date. He had always preferred texting her rather than talking for the fear of those awkward silences over the call, but right then he just had to listen to her voice. Maybe it was the romanticism still pumping freely in his blood after the long day's rehearsals or the effect of the last text she'd send him, but he made himself believe that he wanted to make sure she was okay. Despite the fact that in hearts of heart he knew that wasn't the case. The text had freaked him out so much that he simply wanted to make sure she didn't suddenly changed her mind and once again reformed her former opinion about him.
"Hello, Taylor's phone," a guy answered finally after three long rings.
"Hello, who's this?" Asked Ian irritated that the voice didn't belong to Taylor.
The guy seemed distracted and apparently didn't hear Ian's question or chose to ignore it.
"Listen, we're at the Trixie hospital now. She's..." The guy was interrupted with an ambulance siren, screeching tires followed by a horrendous shriek from the background. It was a woman yelling out of pain and for a brief moment Ian turned ice-cold thinking it was Taylor's voice. But he chucked that idea away. He knew it wasn't Taylor screaming with pain. But the fact that she hadn't picked up the phone and her cell was with a guy who was at the hospital made him queasy and frightened.
"Where is she? Where the hell is Taylor?" Ian panicked on the phone even though the shriek hadn't subsided at all. There was no way Ian's yelling was heard on the other side.
"Hello? Hello?" The guy finally replied as the voice of the woman moved further in the background.
"Where the hell is Taylor?" Ian hissed clutching at his phone so hard that his knuckles were slowly turning white and aching with chill of the winter's night air.
"Dude relax. She's visiting a friend. Look, she's alright but she can't come to the phone right now. Only one visitor's allowed. I'll let her know that she got a call," said the guy with hurried tone to his voice and before Ian could say anything the other line went dead. It was obvious that the guy was in the middle of turmoil, but his words had little soothing effect on Ian.
"Hey Ian, where are you going?" Jamie called out to him.
"I have to see Taylor." Ian announced.
"Is everything alright?"
"Yeah, I just have to see her," Ian said adamant about his decision.
"Gospel, get your head together. Gaffer has prepared yet another crazy schedule for the last week before the opening. We are to be at the theater in exactly five hours from now. You need to rest, tomorrow's gonna be hectic. It's just one week and then you can see her without screwing up the play." Jamie said feeling sorry for her friend.
Ian seemed lost for a few seconds and sighed heavily before muttering a weak "Okay" hating the fact that he had chosen the stupid theater over college. Even more the fact that he had to live so far away from the girl he so desperately wanted to see.
I really missed the comments on the last chapter! Anyway hope you guys liked the last as well as this chapter! And I'd also like to add just how stupid I feel for never checking the tweets you guys posted! Sorry again!
Terry: Thank you so much for the comment! And killing off Ian, oh my that would simply be tragic! Why would I do that when I myself is in love with him! Hope you liked it anyhow!