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Need to Talk
We need to talk. The message played over and over in her mind. The echo of those four dreaded words which had just played back on her answering machine engulfed her in one suffocating breathe. The pale green bedroom walls seemed to bellow the words repeatedly and bombard them back at her. Green, her favorite color, had been the inspiration for those walls at a happier time in her life when she was seven. One of her fondest memories was the time she and her father decided to take on the momentous project of painting her room. It had been a nauseatingly hot afternoon in the middle of July, just like any other summer day in Pennsylvania. And to make the day even more unbearable, the air conditioner in her house was broken. Chloe had been lying around her room trying to catch a breeze through an open window when her dad burst through her door with paint brushes and cans of paint in hand.
“Get off your butt, little girl! We not gunna sit around and waste away such a great summer day!” Her dad joked with an excited smile on his face.
“You mean… we… are finally gunna paint my room!?” Chloe, with a sudden burst of energy, jumped to her feet. They had just moved into her house a few weeks ago, and the person who had inhabited the room before her had painted the walls a disgusting shade of pink, her least favorite color.
“Haha yep. I told you we’d get to it as soon as we could, and you doubted your old man! A promise is a promise.” Chloe ran to her father and hugged him in a tight embrace. “I thought you would be excited. I got your favorite color too.”
“Green!?” She screamed with her innocent glee.
“Well... if you wanna get technical, pale green. So you gunna help me cover these disgusting pink walls before we both get sick or what?”
“Of course daddy! Ah! You’re the best!” With that, he opened up all of her bedroom windows to let in any breeze that might happen to pass. Most people would have been miserable in such heat, but her father made sure to keep her mind off of the uncomfortable circumstances. He touched the paint brush to her nose.
“Haha! Look, Rudolph the green nosed reindeer!” He chuckled from his corny joke. With that, Chloe’s laughter erupted as she splashed paint back onto her dad, and an intense paint war broke loose. After covering themselves with paint from head to toe, her father said, “Okay kiddo. We got to get this done before all the paint dries and we are stuck green forever.”
“Ah! Your right. We needa get to work!” They worked diligently and were finally able to successfully transform her walls from a sickening Pepto-Bismol pink to a comforting pale green. No day could have topped that day spent melting in the heat with her dad.
Her room was the typical teenage room: pictures of friends scattered about in colorful frames, school books thrown carelessly about, outfits to clothe an entire country strewn about the floor. Yet, in the midst of this typical room, Chloe had found her favorite place to exist. Her room could bring her peace through any time of turmoil. Like the time her dog ran away, her grandfather died, or her parents’ recent separation, her room, her sanctuary, could get her through anything. It was her escape from all worries. All of the “bad things” in life could not reach her through those pale green walls. They were like a shield defending her from all her fears and worries. She could just lie peacefully under her green and white striped comforter, squeeze Binky, her old stuffed bear, and not have a care in the world. But today something was different.
Releasing a long, drawn out sigh, she closed her eyes and covered her face with her pillow. Even her room couldn’t protect her from the one thing she was trying to hide from. He had found his way into the one place untouched by the pain of what he had done. And he had done it by merely uttering four little words in a message. We need to talk. We need to talk. She couldn’t get his voice out of her head. What is there to even talk about? I don’t want to talk to him. Not now. Not ever. It’s too late. But she was fooling herself. She wanted to know why. She wanted to talk about it, but she was too afraid to face it, to face him.
We need to talk. His voice had sounded as normal as always in the message, almost too normal. Strong and sturdy, yet shaky and fragile all at the same time. It had scared her. She had heard her house phone ring right before the answering machine picked up and assumed it was him calling for the second time that morning. Once he had realized a few days before that she was ignoring his calls on her cell phone, he had taken to other methods of getting in touch with Chloe. House phone, a few emails, she was even waiting for a letter to arrive in the mail. Aw that would be a cute apology. She caught herself. No. She threw her pillow angrily onto the floor. I hate him. He never loved me.
She slowly moved her bare feet over the edge of the bed and moaned. Her whole body felt like it had been hit by an eighteen wheeler; lying down without moving for days on end seemed to really wear a person out. As her feet touch the ground, a huge migraine begged her to lie back down, but she just couldn’t be in that room anymore. She was on the brink of insanity. She slowly dragged her feet over to her closet grabbing a pair of worn jeans and a crumpled shirt from the pile of clothes on her floor. She slowly pulled the shirt over her head, careful to not move too quickly or exert any unnecessary effort and then glanced around the floor for a pair of shoes. Her mother had been annoying her about cleaning up the “pig sty” for what seemed like forever now, but Chloe just didn’t see the point anymore. She glanced up at her reflection and winced. Her clear blue eyes were swollen and puffy from trying to hold back countless tears, her usually tan complexion was nearly pale, and her black hair resembled something along the lines of a rat’s nest. For weeks now she had not allowed herself to cry. She wouldn’t allow herself to get that upset over him. Or she would at least try to hide how upset she was. Wow. I’m a wreck. She needed to get out of the house, out of that green hell of a room. She reached for her nightstand and grabbed the small pink cell phone sitting next to her alarm clock. Not even thinking she hit speed dial 2; speed dial 1 was his number.
“Hello,” a familiar voice from the other line shot out perkily.
“Hey, Abs. It’s me. What are you doing? Can we go somewhere… anywhere? I need to get out of the house and get my mind off things.” She pleaded to her best friend of ten years. They had met in grammar school when Chloe moved to Pennsylvania. Abbey had sat in front of her in her class and had been the only welcoming face in the new school. She first noticed Abbey because of her gorgeous, red wavy hair. She was different. She wanted to play football with the boys and to dispute everything the teacher said. Abbey always needed the last word. She was stubborn, and yet, it was oddly amusing because it worked for her. Chloe knew from the second Abbey turned around and said hey, that they were destined to be friends. And here they were, ten years later closer then ever.
“For sure, girl! I’ll come pick you up. Let’s go to a movie. My treat.”
“Thanks Abs. I really need this.”
“I know you do. We haven’t gotten a chance to talk about everything that happened, and I have a few things I’ve been meaning to talk to you about. We need to talk.” Daggers shot into Chloe’s stomach and throat. “I’ll be there in fifteen.” We need to talk. We need to talk. Those four words triggered his voice in her head again. She ran to her answering machine and yanked the cord out the wall, but the voice only grew louder.
“Thanks. See you.” I hate the sound of his voice!!!
A timid knock on her door startled her from her thoughts.
“Let me in! Why do you lock this door?” Her mother’s whiny voice shouted from their hallway. Chloe threw her phone on the bed and trudged through the hurricane of clothes to her door. She fumbled reluctantly with the lock and opened the door for her mother. Her brilliant plan of locking the door to stay away from her mother had obviously failed.
“How are we feeling today? Oh! You are a mess! And look at this room! Chloe, really? I thought we talked about this already. This really is disgusting,” She said as she walked carefully through her daughter’s room picking up dirty shirts sprawled about the floor.
Chloe recognized her mother’s outfit; she was undoubtedly dressed to go workout, a regular routine for the past few weeks now. Well, not so much workout, as to stretch for the cute Hispanic trainer who worked at the gym Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. She had on her pink warm up suit that had “JUICY” written in pink rhinestones on her toned butt and had her long, straight blonde hair tied neatly in a pony tail. Her bright blue eyes, hidden beneath heavy eye shadow and liner, attempted to feign compassion and care as she spoke.
“Why don’t you come workout with me today, sweetheart? Then we can go get sushi instead of that awful junk food you have been eating lately. It’ll help clear up that skin of yours right up, and you never know, maybe even help you lose a few pounds.” Chloe rolled her eyes.
“Yeah…um, thanks Ma… but I’ma have to take a rain check on that offer. I already told Abbey I’d hang out with her.” She could not force herself to spend an entire day with the her mother who wore more make up then the girls working the MAC counter. Chloe’s dark hair fell into her face as she leaned her head forward to try to hide a tear. Why wasn’t she good enough for her mom? Why did she always have to put down everything Chloe did? She really hated her mom sometimes. She hated everyone at that moment… especially after that message.
“Okay. Call me if you need me.” She said oblivious to Chloe’s feelings. “I just need to go work out and then I’ll be back home.”
“Yeah okay.” Her mother turned to walk out the door as Chloe mustered some bravery. “Tell Antonio I said hola,” she said with a smirk, dragging out the hola as if the hidden message behind it was I can’t believe you are stooping to his level. Her mother looked back at her with a cold glare, opened her mouth to speak, then simply shook her head and silently walked out the room, slamming the door behind her. Triumphantly, Chloe grabbed her purse and walked to her front door.
The car ride was silent on the way to the movie. Chloe stared helplessly out the window at each passing tree. She wondered how much easier life would be if she were a tree and all she had to worry about was when it would rain.
“So you gunna talk to me or what?” Abbey broke the silence as she pushed a long, loose strand of red behind her ear.
“There’s nothing to talk about. He cheated. I want nothing to do with him anymore,” she sighed. “But he won’t leave me alone. I can’t get him out of my head.” A small smile crept onto Abbey’s face.
“Cause you still love him.”
“No, I don’t,” Chloe responded defensively. “How could I after what he did to me? And now he wants to ‘talk about it.’ He says ‘we need to talk.’ What the hell?! My mom always said, ‘Once a cheater, always a cheater!’ He can’t expect me to forgive him.” She felt her stomach get nauseous and paused. His voice began to echo in the back of her mind. We need to talk. She shook her head to try to get rid of him.
“And what? And nothing. That’s it. I’m done. No talking.”
“Chloe, you can’t just pretend he doesn’t exist. He was a big part of your life.” Abbey pulled into the nearest parking spot at the movie theater and turned to face her best friend. Her face was full of concern. “I’m worried about you.”
“Don’t be. I don’t love him, and he obviously never loved me. It was all lies from the beginning.”
“Chloe, he does love you. Everyone makes mistakes. You really should talk to him. It will make you feel better.” She noticed Chloe’s anger growing. “Not to say that what he did was right. I hate him for what he did to you. All I’m saying is… it doesn’t mean he didn’t love you. That’s the bottom line.”
“Abbey, listen, I appreciate the concern, I really do, but I don’t plan on ever speaking to him again. Ever.” Abbey stared at her for a second and then paused before she spoke.
“Whatever you say.” Awkward silence filled the car. “I guess we should go catch this movie. We are already ten minutes late.” She opened her car door and looked her friend straight in the eyes. “You really should call him later.” With that she shut her door and started walking to the ticket line. Chloe sat in silence pondering what her friend had just told her then followed her to get her ticket.
Sitting through the movie, Bedtime Stories, was torture for Chloe. She did not hear a word that Adam Sandler said throughout the entire thing; all she could think about was him. Call him? I can’t. I don’t know what to say to him. I can’t talk to him now. Next thing she knew, the lights were turning on and people were standing up to exit.
“That was so cute! What did you think?” Said Abbey giddily.
“I honestly just wasted your seven bucks cause I didn’t pay attention to a single second of that movie.”
“Haha, it’s okay. I wouldn’t have been able to focus either. Do you want to come spend the night at my house?”
“Nah… I’d rather just go home. Thanks though. I really appreciate it.”
“If you say so, Chlo.” With that Abbey put the car into drive and they headed to Chloe’s house. “Remember what we talked about though okay? And remember you can always call me if you need to talk.”
“Yep. If I need to talk…” There went his voice again.
Two and a half hours later she walked up the sidewalk to her front door. Her mother’s car still wasn’t in the driveway.
“Looks like her and Antonio musta had a private workout session today,” she said sarcastically. Her mother had never come out and said it, but it was assumed. She was with this guy, and her parents divorce wasn’t even final yet. At first, she really thought he was just her trainer, a friend, nothing more. But gossip doesn’t lie, and neither does walking into the gym and seeing them make out behind the elliptical machine. Granted, she didn’t catch them till after her father had moved out the house about three weeks ago, but the pain from it all was still very fresh. And now, to make things even more difficult, there was that message.
So much was going through her head. She didn’t have time to think about her mother and her “novio.” Maybe Abbey is right. She thought to herself as she climbed her stairs. Maybe I should call him. I want to hear why he cheated. He meant the world. He was everything. How could he do this to me? Why didn’t he love me? She always thought he loved her from the very beginning. She couldn’t even remember a time when he didn’t love her. She couldn’t have been more wrong, and she couldn’t have felt more alone.
She walked up into her room and sitting on her comforter laid a box. Where did this come from? Is it mom’s? Sitting on top of the box was a note written in messy handwriting that read, “I’m so sorry, Chloe.” It’s his handwriting. How did he get this here? She opened the box, stared deep into it, and was struck with awe. A lump formed in the back of her throat as her eyes fill to the brink with tears. She tried to hold them back as she always did by blinking her eyes wildly, but for some reason, she couldn’t stop herself this time. A loud sob escaped her as she clutched the box to her chest with one hand and clenched the apology note in the other. She fell to her knees as her sobbing grew. The pain was too much. Her mascara was streaming down her cheeks in black rivers. She needed him back in her life. He was all she had. She reached to her nightstand and grabbed her phone. Flipping it open, she stared at its tiny buttons. She had three options. Call Abbey, that didn’t do much, call her mom, ha like that’ll help, or call him. She knew what she had to do, and held down speed dial l. The phone began to ring as her sobbing grew to hysterics. She needed to know why he had cheated. Why he didn’t love her. Why she wasn’t good enough anymore. Why no one loved her. All questions he could answer. She pulled a pale green stained paint brush from the box and felt strength overcome her body. Sniffling back tears, she inhaled and tried to gain a bit of composure just in time for him to answer.
“Hello,” she said shakily, holding back tears.
“Hi sweetheart,” a weak male voice choked back tears on the other end.
“Dad… we need to talk.”