(Part 11 of the Ordinary series)
by EvelynC © January 2005
Thanks to Carol for seeing the clearer picture, and to Dunan for supplying a great quote. The title of this chapter is by R.E.M. Send your comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dee parked her car before making her way slowly to Ella's apartment. She didn't know what she would say but it was time to pay the piper. A jumble of emotions vied for supremacy, Dee knew she should be feeling guilt and shame but the overriding relief of not carrying a secret anymore was the tiny respite she clung to. Would Ella forgive her this time, did she even care?
Dee had almost unlocked the door with her copy of the keys to Ella's apartment before she stopped herself. She remembered finding Ella's set to her place that she had left behind that evening - the message was clear. Sighing and clenching her jaw, Dee raised her knuckles and knocked on the door.
Sally lifted her head upon hearing the raps. She released her dozing friend and went to answer the summons. Her surprise quickly changed to fury when she saw the person on the doorstep.
"WHAT are you doing here?" she hissed.
Dee was taken aback by Sally's vehemence but she stood her ground. "I'm here to see El, if you don't mind." She said grimly.
"Well, she doesn't want to see you." Sally placed both hands on opposite sides of the doorframe, preventing Dee's forward motion. They glared at each other.
"Stay out of this, Sal." Dee warned. "This is between El and me."
"No, it isn't. This is between you and your wandering dick. And frankly, you're not any smarter than that rubber hose in your pants, otherwise, I wouldn't be here propping up my friend, again!" Sally fairly spat out her indignation. "You stay away from her. You've done enough damage."
Dee wasn't here to argue with the guard dog. She wanted to explain herself to Ella without an aggravating third party.
"Listen, you " her pointing finger hovered dangerously close to Sally's teeth. Locked in a battle of wills, neither noticed that Ella had come up behind them.
"Dee." She said quietly.
Dee immediately dropped her pose and turned to face her girlfriend, "El, I'm glad to see you. Could we talk, please?"
"I I want to say how sorry I am. You weren't meant to see I mean, you I'm sorry." Dee felt the finality of the apology. By her own words, she had completed the betrayal and irrevocably broken their relationship.
"Is that all you came here for?" Sally butted in. The sooner Dee left the better. Suddenly, she remembered the bag of items and ducked back inside the apartment to retrieve it, leaving the couple alone.
Ella was still looking straight at Dee. She couldn't cry, her escalating anger was burning up all other emotions. With her chest heaving, she said tightly, "Is that it, you're sorry?"
Dee swallowed hard and nodded, she couldn't meet Ella's glowering scrutiny. Her bravado from the trip up had evaporated in the light of confrontation.
"What are you sorry for, that you hurt me or that you slept with her? You told me you were sorry after you fucked that whore the last time." Ella's voice was rising in frustration. "How many others have there been, Dee? How many times have you taken me for a fool? Did you and your friends have a good laugh at my expense? 'Poor El, what a loser!'"
"That was a mistake, you know I didn't mean for it to happen." Dee protested weakly.
"Was this a mistake too? 'I'm sorry but I accidentally slept with her 17 times?' Ella sneered. "Was it so good that you couldn't help yourself or was what we had so bad you couldn't wait to leave?" Ella was panting from her outburst. She wiped angry tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand. "We made love " she whimpered.
Dee stood awkwardly, taking in the guilt and punishing words she deserved. Seeing Ella cry was the worst thing she had to face, and her shame burned hotly in her conscience.
"Fuck you, Dee." Ella cursed hoarsely after she got her sobs under control. "I'm sorry too. Sorry that I had to live with your lying, cheating ways. Sorry that I wasted my life on you sorry that you couldn't have just told me. I didn't deserve to find out like that." Her arms were wrapped around her middle, as if to contain her pain.
"No, you didn't." Dee finally spoke. "I'm so sorry. I don't know why I did it or why I couldn't stop."
"Do you love her?"
"Do you love me?"
A second skipped by but it was enough. "You know I do."
The gulf between them had become uncrossable. "I'm sorry, El." Dee sighed in defeat. "I wish " that things were different, that I hadn't been caught, that I hadn't hurt you. Dee knew they were all true.
Ella wasn't truly shocked - in the hours alone, crying over the end of their relationship, she had known about the change of heart. The kernel of doubt had gained strength as she replayed the habitual routines they had scripted into their life. What was once a fitting display of their commitment had ground into a content but indistinct existence. Deep down, she wondered when her own feelings had changed too. Somewhere along the way, the pattern of maintaining the relationship had overtaken the reason for it. Ella knew they still cared a great deal for each other but, good or bad, the truth had led them here. They could have been happy together, they just weren't in love anymore - and that made all the difference. She had cried for their loss, and the denial they continued to preserve by their actions.
They stood staring at each other, save no longer in anger or resentment. Dee saw the pain and understanding in Ella's eyes, and also the unspoken forgiveness that would come in time. She hoped that, fate willing, they would both find the best person for them. For a moment, Dee wanted to be that person for Ella again, if she would just take her back. She panicked at losing the comfort of a familiar partnership. There was security in their relationship, wasn't that important? Why couldn't it be enough? I should fight for her!
Instead, she slowly reached out and handed Ella back her spare keys. They both looked down at their clasped hands, the grip was still warm and comfortable.
Dee leaned in and kissed Ella on her cheek lingeringly, "Take care of yourself, El." She said sadly as tears blurred her sight. Dee could smell her lover's faint perfume as they hugged each other tightly. I'm sorry, El.
The solidity of the embrace was as odds with the fading energy of their relationship. It was a tangible concession to the void that now stood where their future had been. They held each other long and close, delaying the moment when the familiar impression on their bodies would be cold as soon as the contact was broken. The moment was unconsciously embedded in their memory even as they struggled to accept the conclusion of their life together.
Tears were running down their faces when Dee finally walked away with the bag Sally had tacitly handed to her. Ella couldn't breathe, the sorrow of their parting was overwhelming. Oh god, Dee. Come back, please come back. I know you didn't mean it. Please, don't leave! She wanted to cry out even as she watched Dee drive away. I know we didn't mean it.
Ella knew the feeling of bereavement would haunt her for a long time.
Concluded in part 12
Return to the Academy