I stood in the doorway of the bedroom while Kyle packed his bags.
“I just need some space,” he said as he threw his clothes haphazardly into his large Nike bag.
“Does this have anything to do with that whore you met at Zoe’s the other night?”
“Elle, come on, I told you nothing happened.”
I rolled my eyes at him, “You tell me a lot of things Kyle.”
He threw the last of his clothes in his Nike bag and turned around to face me, “We both knew we were heading for this, things have been rocky for a while now, and you know why.”
“Rocky for you because you are searching for something that does not exist.”
He let out a heavy sigh, “I’m sorry Elle I just can’t do this anymore.”
I followed him to the small space we call the living room as he dropped his bag on the floor. He reached in his jean pocket and threw some money on the table, “This is for the next couple of months so you can pay the rent.” He kissed me on my forehead and headed for the door.
I crossed my arms and stared at him, “I don’t want your money; I want you to stay. Please Kyle; don’t give up on us.”
I was now the most pathetic person in the world, begging my douchebag boyfriend to stay; not because I thought I was in love with him, but because I was afraid of being alone, and being alone was something that was all too familiar to me.
He picked up his bag from the ground and slung it over his shoulder, “Take care Elle,” and just like that he walked out. I stood in the middle of the living room and looked at the closed door as tears escaped my eyes.
Kyle and I have been together since sophomore year of college. We both attended Michigan State University and met at a frat party when he was a Delta Sigma Phi. Kyle was a good looking guy with his 6ft stature and medium build. He was not exactly eye candy, but he was cute. He always kept his jet black hair perfectly combed, and his dark brown eyes reminded me of my one favorite thing in the world, chocolate. Kyle was the person whose presence lit up the room. His charm and romance is what swept me off my feet. He studied accounting while I studied Art. It was not too long after we graduated that his cousin got him a job at the large accounting firm where he was employed. This is how we ended up moving from Michigan to New York. Kyle worked full-time as an accountant and made pretty decent money, so I was able to take on a part-time job at a record company and finish painting the pictures I promised the art gallery.
We rented a one bedroom apartment that was small, but it was our home for the past year and it made us happy; at least I thought it did. I took my teary eyed self and sat on the couch, curled in a ball and cried myself to sleep.
I had not been sleeping long when I was startled by a knock on the door. I sat up and looked around the room, eyes swollen and red.
“Elle, are you in there?” I heard a familiar voice say as she pounded on the door. I got up from the couch and stumbled to open the door. Peyton always seemed to know when I needed her most. She threw her hands up in the air.
“Elle, it is about time, I thought I was going to have to break down the door.” She put her arms around me and hugged me tight. I motioned for her to come in as she pushed her way through and set a large brown bag on the table.
“I come bearing douchebag boyfriend food,” she smiled as she rummaged through the bag. She removed the boxes of Chinese food and set them on the table.
“We have Mongolian Beef, Lettuce Wraps, Chicken Fried Rice, Wonton soup and chocolate ice cream for dessert.”
Her grin went from ear to ear, but quickly fell as I dropped my head and curled back up on my couch. Peyton sighed heavily as she walked over and sat next to me.
“Kyle texted me and said he left. He wanted me to come over to check on you and make sure you were ok.”
I lifted my head from my arms. Who the f**k did he think he was sending my best friend over to see if I was ok? I thought as angered burned inside me.
“He said he left because of irreconcilable differences.”
“What are we married?” I growled.
Peyton gave me a sympathetic smile and walked to the kitchen to grab plates and silverware for the food sitting on the table. I could not stop thinking about Kyle and how he just left. We were never apart for more than a couple of days, and now we’d be apart forever and once again I was alone. I knew why he decided to leave, and for that reason I hated him. I gave him every opportunity to tell me the truth, but he could not even look me in the eye and do that. He was a coward, and I had no room in my life for cowards. Even though I felt sick to my stomach, I got up and made my way to the table as Peyton put some food on my plate.
“Listen Elle, Kyle is a douchebag, and I’m sorry you wasted the last four years of your life with him. You need to focus on something else. You need to finish your paintings and get them over to the art gallery so people can find out who Ellery Lane truly is,” she said waving her fork around. I lightly smiled because I knew she was right; if there was one way I could escape the hurt and loneliness, it was through my paintings. She reached over and put her arm around me and gave me a squeeze, “Don’t worry I’ll be here for you.”
I met Peyton at the art gallery the day I stopped by to talk to the owner about displaying my paintings. The minute she asked, “May I help you,” we clicked and have been best friends ever since. One thing about Peyton is her personality, its way bigger than her 5’2”, Size 0 body. She always sports the perfect look with her long straight brown hair and perfectly placed makeup that enhances her bright blue eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her dress in a pair of sweatpants; for her it is all about style with skirts and cute little tops. There isn’t a shortage of guys when Peyton is around. They’re always flirting with her, but she has yet to find the perfect man to give her heart to.
I didn’t feel like eating, but I knew I had to appease Peyton or she would not leave me alone.
“Do you want me to stay with you tonight?”
I set my fork down, “Nah, I just want to be alone. I think I’ll go take a bath.”
I got up from the table and headed to the bathroom. I turned the water on and poured a capful of bubble bath in its stream. I twisted my long blonde hair up and clipped it to prevent it from getting wet. I climbed in the bubble filled tub and slid down until my head was resting on the bath pillow behind me. I laid there, closed my eyes and tried to think of a plan, but I was to grief-stricken, and I needed the proper amount of time to wallow in self-pity before moving on with my life as a single female.
By the time I got out of the bathtub, Peyton had everything cleaned up. She had left me a text message saying, “Elle, get some rest and call me if you need anything. I’ll call you tomorrow, love you always.”
I smiled for she was about the only family I had left. My mother passed away from cancer when I was six, and my father died right before my eighteenth birthday. I had an aunt and uncle back in Michigan, but I have not seen or heard from them since my dad died. I always considered Kyle’s parents my family, but now that we’re broken up, it would be more than awkward to talk to them.
I made sure the door was locked. I turned off the lights and snuggled in my bed, burying my head under the covers to escape the reality of my life, at least for tonight.
The next few days I did nothing but stayed in my pajamas and concentrated on finishing my paintings. I called work and told them I had the flu. They told me to take the rest of the week off, which was something I didn’t have a problem with. I was afraid I couldn’t afford it, but I needed to get my paintings finished and off to the art gallery. I wouldn’t have been good company to anyone anyways.
I made my third pot of coffee of the day and checked my phone to see if I had any messages. Kyle had not made any attempt to contact me since he left. How does a person just forget about someone after being with them for four years? A fire stirred in my blood just thinking about it. The way I saw things I had two choices; I could sit in my tiny apartment and let my life die out, or I could suck up what happened and go out into the world and live. I opted to go out and live. I was not ready to die yet; I had too many things I wanted to do.
I frantically cleaned my apartment, which was long overdue, and I was ashamed that I let it get that way. I took a garbage bag and started tossing everything out that reminded me of Kyle. I was determined to rid this apartment of any sign of him. By the time I was finished, my little home was practically bare. The shelves in the bookcase that housed pictures of me and Kyle now sat empty reminding me of the emptiness I felt in my heart.
I finally showered and stood in front of the bathroom mirror. I took my hand and wiped the steam that formed over it. I looked at myself for the first time in days. My ice blue eyes, which Kyle used to tell me, reminded him of the sea, looked tired with bags that formed underneath them. I ran a brush through my long blonde hair, and then fingered mousse through it, so it dried wavy. I put on some makeup to try to hide the fact that I’ve been depressed and locked in my apartment for a week. I stepped into my favorite jeans and was surprised they were loose in places they never were before. My 5’7” size 4 body appeared to have shrunk a bit since the breakup. I tore through my closet for my favorite pink shirt. Once I was ready, I took in a deep breath and called a cab. It was time to step out into the world and start my life again.
Manny pulled his yellow cab up to the curb of my apartment as I walked out the door. Seeing me struggle with the three paintings I was carrying, he got out of the cab to help me.
“Hey Elle, let me help you there.”
“Hi Manny, thanks,” I smiled at him.
Manny was my favorite cab driver, and I’ve known him since I moved to New York. When I call a cab, I always ask for Manny, sometimes he‘s available and sometimes he’s not. He stood about 5’10 with a muscular build. He always wore his black hair in a ponytail, and his brown eyes always sparkled when I’d ask him about his kids. He was a family man and one of the nicest people I have ever met. His cab was the one that first picked me and Kyle up when we arrived in New York. I sat in front of the cab with him so my paintings could sit comfortably in the back.
“How’s Mr. Kyle doing, Elle?”
“Kyle moved out over a week ago Manny,” I sighed. The expression on his face was sympathetic.
“I’m so sorry Elle, are you ok?” I looked over at him, and a light smile came over my lips.
“I’m doing ok. I was a mess last week, but now I’m adjusting.” Was I really? Or was I just a good actress.
He pulled up to the art gallery and helped me take the paintings out of the cab. I paid him the fare and thanked him for his help.
“If you need anything, call me Elle and I mean that,” he pointed at me as he got into the cab and slowly pulled away.
Peyton saw me from the window of the gallery and came outside to help me bring in the paintings. She called the owner, Sal, and told him that I arrived. He came down from his office and kissed me on both cheeks.
“Ah, let me see what you have done here Ellery,” he said as he took the paintings one by one and laid them up against the wall.
I was contracted to submit three painting to his gallery as a trial. One of the paintings was a romanticism of a man and woman dancing under the moonlight surrounded by clouds. The second painting was of a garden with a fountain surrounded by beautiful flowers. The last painting was of a child sitting in a field of flowers in a white dress as three angels look down upon her from the sky. All three paintings spoke something about me.
“Wow Ellery, these are gorgeous. I’m sure I won’t have any problem selling these,” Sal smiled.
I felt a little embarrassed because this was the first time I was going to be showing my work to the world. He led me over to a small wall that was sitting bare.
“This is where your paintings will be displayed. I will call as soon as one or all of them sell.” I thanked him and as soon as he walked away, Peyton started jumping up and down clapping her hands.