Who: Logan and Lainey When: Evening to night Where: His apartment
Logan: After just receiving her serenading, Logan couldn't help but continuously put it on repeat as it brought back both painful and sweet memories. Sweet because it was that same soothing voice that relaxed every tension of his body when he used to have trouble falling asleep. Painful, because he no longer had it anymore to turn to during the nights that the throbbing agony from his wounded shoulder kept him up suffering. No amount of painkillers would alleviate the excruciating and torturous ache in both his heart, and ligaments. And so he would lie in bed sometimes yelling at the top of his lungs to let out some of that misery in the only way he knew how to. But now, he had this as a temporary remedy for he made sure to save it. Staring straight ahead in the mirror at his reflection, Logan couldn't help but feel downtrodden and pity for himself. His once heavily prided temple he had sculpted was slowly succumbing to gravity, and losing its luster. Fingers clutched at the air forming a fist and with all of his might, he lunged it forward as far as he could as if he were delivering the knock out punch at God above who watched him fall over and over again, but then, the punishment came right away. Letting out a yelp of pain, he dropped to the floor, the searing pain too hard to handle standing up. It felt like as if each strand of muscle in his shoulder tore apart from the bones that held them there. It was sadistic indeed, but it was his test of pain -- how far he could go before losing. He sometimes wondered if he could withstand the pain enough, then he could go back playing. Just chew through the mouthpiece, scream as needed -- it was football, nobody would recognize the difference between the yelling of defeat and the one of pain. He needed to get dressed for she was waiting for him, and there he was distracting himself, both eager and fearful to see her again. (d)
Lainey: The car that Anders had bought them smelt too new. She put down the windows. Cold air. Her hair flew up behind her, pieces wrapping around her face, sticking to her lips. She smiled. His voicemail was on speakerphone again. It gave her a feeling of relief. To hear his voice. To hear him sound happy. She wondered how he was before the other day. If he was happy then. He probably was not even happy now. It was a start, though. This would be a process. A long road to happiness. A trip to their past. A peek into their future. She had called him. Told him she was coming to his place. No Chuck-E-Cheese's for her. Well, maybe on another day. She wasn't opposed to the idea. But the present in the back seat needed a semi-serious moment. So she was going to his house. From the corner of her eye, the canvas haunted her. It was whispering, `Don't show him. Don't show him. It's too soon. It's too much. Why are you moving so fast? You don't need to. You have time. Time. These bitter sweet memories ... they are bad news.` But she ignored her art. Silly canvas. It did not know. It did not know how important it was to her. For him to see. That she had loved him. That, even when she ran, he was on her mind. He was always in her heart. She pulled up to the house. Parked. Sat in the car. Looked in the mirror. Natural. She pulled strands of hair out of her mouth. Ran her fingers through the wind blown knots. Adjusted her blue paisley dress. Opened the door. Got the painting. Covered in brown paper. A big red bow on it. She held it. Looked at it. Brown rectangle. Too much. `Too much,` it said. She opened the door. She put it inside. It was right. She put a hand to her neckline. Looked at his house. Walked to the door. Knocked.
Logan: Now was not the time to put himself to the test, but it was already too late at this point. Beads of cold sweat gathered at his forehead, and his teeth were clamped together as he tried to suppress the inevitable cry; he didn't want to scare the neighbors even more. That's when he heard the knock. She was finally here, and he looked like a complete mess. Logan cursed at himself for trying to outdo himself despite knowing the unavoidable consequences. Left palm immediately darted to that wounded shoulder, and placed pressure around it as if without such support, his arm would fall off on its own accord. He reassured himself to hide her from that pain -- some ignorance was bliss. Dragging his feet, he approached the front door, and tried to upkeep appearances. With teeth gritted, he forced his lips to curve upwards, and let go of his shoulder. He couldn't afford to have any attention go to the wound. Once he let go, a jolt was sent to his core as gravity harshly reminded him who was boss. With his back against the door frame, he opened the door with his left hand, and at the sight of her, instead of going with his intentions of maintaining appearances, he couldn't help but need, no long for her maternal touch. That forced smile turned into a pained cringe, and he motioned for her to come in before he felt his knees buckle, and surrender to gravity once again. (d)
Lainey: She adjusted the black clutch in her hands. Eyed her black heeled boots. Legs. The soft curls fell down her shoulders. She imagined him inside. She could not understand his pain. Having what he loved and lived for stripped away. She never watched the game. Her girl friend called. Told her to flip on the TV. Told her about his shoulder. The play. She did not understand it. Why he did it. Why he risked it. They dropped him like a sack of potatoes. Dead weight. She was in a bar one night and the replay came on. She got up, walked out. Damn him for doing it. When he opened the door, she smiled. But he looked strange. Strained. ``Are you alright?`` The concern in her eyes was honest. She reached out and almost touched his arm. Thought better. She moved closer, put her hand on his lower back. ``Logan? What's wrong?`` She moved inside. ``Look, come have a seat.`` She closed the door behind herself. ``Maybe you should get some rest.`` She walked him to the couch, with her hand on his back. Her hand slid down his arm and brushed his hand. ``You worry me.``
Logan: He needed the pills. It made him sometimes lose a part of his consciousness, but it was better than losing his sanity to that reminder that he was now nothing more than flesh and blood, a destitute, drained out, and prodigal member of society. He made no monetary contributions, never offered his official opinions for people didn't care anymore anyways, and saw no progress in his state. It was money well spent to hire that help to find her. He needed a stronghold that would keep him up in everything that was disintegrating before him. He didn't want to worry her; that wasn't why he wanted to see her again. He wanted her to see his old self; the Adonis-like figure, infinite strength, and constant happiness that he embodied before she left him, before the accident. Nodding the best he could, Logan lifted himself up struggling at first but with his will power put forth to the one task of getting up, he succeeded. He picked up each leaded foot, and managed to make it to his room. Once she was gone from his plain view, he dashed around like a drug addict feigning for his next fix. His unwounded arm stretched as far as it could until fingers could get a hold of that emergency bottle of painkillers. Nearly foaming at the mouth, he salivated for the temporary numbness that would dull the intensity of the scorching pain. Using his teeth, he desperately and impatiently tore open the plastic cap like an uncouth brute only to discover it to be hollow. Now he really panicked; usually it would be all right if he were alone, because no one would have to know how weak he had gotten, how much control he had lost, how much pride was at stake. But she was there, out of all people. (d)
Lainey: She watched him. He was acting so strange. She had never seen him like this. With a secret torment. It was as if she were looking at herself. When he tried to escape to his room, she stood a moment. Waited. Followed. It was a pursuit. It was a discovery. She had to see where he was going. His silence had offended her. If he was going to lay down, she would have liked to lay in bed with him. If he were about to pass out, she would like to be there to care for him. The worry consumed her. So she found him. Fiendish. Like an animal. Hunting for escape. Answer. She saw it. The opening. The emptiness. The bottle. And she understood. He was battling himself. She moved up to him. Wanting to say something. Do something. Beside him. She reached out and took the bottle out of his hand. She glanced at it. Then him. She rolled the bottle around in her hand. She threw it on the floor. Her arms went around his waist. Her face moved closer to his. She placed a tender kiss on his cheek. ``You have nothing to hide. Nothing to be ashamed of.`` She kissed his jaw. ``Now, come on, let's lay down.`` She took his hand to lead him to the bed. ``I'm here with you. We can get through this together. Just close your eyes and let's forget everything else.``
Logan: In his almost turbulent state, Logan zoned out his surroundings when he was scourging for those pills, and didn't even realize she was in the room observing him. He figured he would have stopped, played it off, but he sometimes wondered what controlled him when he was scavenging like a madman. He wondered if he would have regained momentum if he realized sooner that she was there; he probably would have tried to at least. The pain commanded him, and dominated each factor that made him human. He had lost a long time ago; denial just put off the realization. Most of the time, the lingering pain was tolerable, but combined with the knowledge that he had finally found her, and still hadn't received the ultimate closure yet, he found the pain almost impossible to contain. All these years, he believed he would reign once again over himself after confronting her, but he had just realized it wasn't going to be as simple as that. He still hadn't dared bring up that little baby girl, and the male figure that she shared moments of laughter with. Did he even come close to loving her the way that Logan did? He must have approached it differently. How could Logan even compete now? If he wasn't good enough during his peak prime state, now he had absolutely no chance of even competing. The three pictured in those film strips looked like it was copied straight off a Hallmark card -- all they needed was a white picket fence house with a golden retriever. How could he ever fill those shoes when he couldn't even stand up by himself most of the time? Feeling her embrace, he tried to squirm away to show her that he still could be the man that she knew, or maybe even more, but that pain overpowered him, and he couldn't beat it. The defeat was beyond shaming, and despite that he wanted to cower away, her presence made it impossible. Her words soothed him the way he remembered them. And so he continued fighting for control knowing that she was by his side. (d)
Lainey: The bottle on the floor haunted her. It was his source of escape. His shame and his sign of weakness. How much he wanted to hide it. It was like her secret pain while they were engaged. Every day she lived one moment to the next - never letting him in. Not wanting him to see. She thought it was temporary. It was not. When she looked at him, the sympathy was gone. It was replaced by understanding. She led him to the bed and he was helpless to stop her from helping him. She cradled his head in her hands, a hand on each cheek. ``Logan. Let me in.`` Her eyes begged. ``Let me in.`` She needed him. ``I want to feel you pain.`` She released his face. She kissed his cheek. His shoulder, gently. Tugging his shirt so she could kiss the bare skin. She was hurting with him. But she was here. That was a step forward. Seeing him like this helped her remember he was human. In the past, he was this great super hero. This powerhouse of perfection. The thought that she could help him now encouraged her. It appealed to her senses. She rested beside him. Looked at him. He was real. She could touch him. She could talk to him. He reacted. He felt. He hurt.
Later that night...
Logan: The pain had finally subsided when he awoke. Her warm breath masked the chill that had settled in the room because he had forgotten to shut the windows. The humidity created between their two curled up bodies served as a protective barrier from whatever outside element that tried to penetrate through. Hours must have passed, everything was hazy, and he stopped caring of being productive for that day. Ever since the accident, time didn't exist anymore. Days and nights were all the same; what differentiated it was whether he was numbing it out or writhing in torture. But time seemed to have stopped, no backtracked for the two as they lay there. It was two years ago, and the safe feeling of waking up next to her, her warmth blanketing over his bare flesh, were the norm that he took advantage of. He realized just how chilling it really was in the nights that she was absent. Ever since that night in what was supposed-to-be their honeymoon suite, he slept with a thick sweatshirt and sweatpants on. The windows had to be closed tight, and extra socks had to be available for duing the night just in case. His friends and brothers found that to be strange, but never mentioned anything upfront for that consequential habit was better than him losing his mind to depression. For once, Logan had fallen asleep not wearing a shirt, and without making sure the windows were closed, but he didn't panic about that. He was safe again. (d)
Lainey: She rarely stirred in her sleep. Her loose curls fell over the pillow in circles. Her left arm was draped over his chest. She lay on her stomach. She always had. Her eyes closed. Long eyelashes. Face towards him. When he awoke, she was still asleep. Her dreams were coming. Broken pieces. She always dreamt. In the past, she always told him what she dreamt. Faces. Laughter. Their wedding. Their children. This rest was delicious. She dreamt of his face. Smiling. He was tossing around the football again. She did not know if it was past or future. Just that it made her feel fantastic. When he stirred, she felt her eyes open slowly. Close. Open. Her hand felt warm over his body. She opened her eyes. Blue. Morning blue. Sky blue. Beautiful. Crystal. Her lips curled into a smirk. She turned onto her side and pushed some curls out of her eyes. ``Hello.`` She smiled bigger, closed her eyes. Opened. She looked at his chest then back at him. Put her hand back on his stomach.
Logan: Their union in that bedroom was innocent, pure, and natural. Even those who opposed their relationship would agree that the image of the two intertwined with one another was nothing sexually deviant or wrong in any degree -- that's just how right it was. Her groggy voice livened his senses as things started to lose its hazy quality, and everything else started to come into light. Her eyes provided that glow, and in the darkness, he needed something to contrast it. Fingertips danced around her bare shoulder right before he pressed his cheek against her smooth skin contrasted against his own rough, yet shaved one. "I'm glad I found you." Or rather had someone else find her. Given he was finally starting to experience a bit of happiness again, but the unanswered questions came back to him like fresh slaps to the bare flesh. Why didn't she find you first? Who was that man and that baby girl? Why did she never say anything? Why did she leave? Why couldn't she tell him? Does she love me? Did she ever love me? All of those hard questions swam around in his head pounding irritatingly, and tediously repeating like a broken record. They were almost as unbearable as that pain in his shoulder, but he knew better than to mention them. He feared that this dream might shatter at one utterance of that. He used to be able to tell her anything without fear, but losing her was not an option. He couldn't lose her again. He would need more than a sweatshirt to get through that. (d)
Lainey: She watched his fingers move over her body and smiled at him proudly. He was still famous to her. Still this big, strong, desired football player. He was a winner. All the games, the interviews, the photo shoots, the women, the paparazzi. He had made her a household name at one point. A celebrity couple. He was still that person. Here. In bed. Their sanctuary. Their escape. She closed her eyes. Rolled on her back. ``I see something in your eyes.`` She turned her head to look at him. Her hand was resting at her side but it found his. ``I don't want it to be like this.`` She moved closer to him, her body fitting against his, her head on his chest. Lightly as possible. To not cause him any pain. ``I don't want there to be any secrets. Any doubts. I know you have questions that need answers. I don't know if you think about it a lot. I just can't -`` pause ``I can't give you answers until I know the answers myself.`` Closed eyes. Her hair rubbed against his chest and her breath expelled slowly on his skin. ``I want you to know - every day. Every day. Every day. I thought of you.`` She lifted her head. Looked at him. ``I thought of your smile and your laugh. I imagined the moment - you knew - you found out. It hurt me so much. I remembered you. You were inside me.`` She patted her heart. ``Right here. A piece of me.`` Around her neck hung the engagement ring. She fingered it. Showed it to him. ``You were always here.`
Logan: The nightmare always came back, in both sleep and reality. He knew it would be better to cradle that pigskin tight between his chest and arms, hold it tightly as how he should have done so with Lainey, but that football had a mind of its own. It ran away from him, like she did. He knew it was the right thing to do, to let it go, and despite hearing his coach yell from afar to hold onto it for dear life, Logan heaved it up, and pushed it away from him as hard as he could. The ball got away safely as he felt the brunt of the stampede knocking into him, crushing what he thought as his impenetrable defense of well-sculpted muscles and ligaments. He didn't even feel the pain when he dropped to the ground like an anvil, and his temple pinned by the massive heaps of other armored bodies that thirsted for his blood. Consciousness was lost. They thought he broke his neck, or worse his spine. It was only his arm. But it was that one arm that he depended his entire livelihood on. They told him he was lucky, but he didn't feel it. Lucky for what? Lucky to be a cripple all of his life? Lucky to have lost the two loves of his life in one fell swoop? He couldn't remember her leaving him. He asked for her for weeks before his brothers broke it to him gently, then it all came flushing back When she spoke up, her words provided him some comfort to the emptiness he felt from her betrayal. It was temporary, and she could have been lying, but he could care less. He didn't dare interrupt for this was what he dreamed of hearing for two years. Then she showed it to him -- the physical symbol of his affection for her. The ring wasn't splendid or studded with diamonds -- he had gotten it for her with his first bonus check as a starter. She didn't complain like the other women who looked for rocks, she knew it was genuine. Index and thumb connected with the sphere figure of the ring as he inspected it, and could still see his loving naivety reflect back at him. He then let it go, and palm slowly crept up behind her neck as he gently pulled her towards him, and unobtrusively pressed his lips against hers for that was the only thing that his instincts told him to do. (d)
Lainey: She remembered when he first made it. Before that, they had gone to hole-in-the-wall pizza joints and had to scrape to come up with cash. McDonalds was a five star affair. When he bought her dinner, it was magic. Then he struck it. It was not that he was not talented previously. It was just not noticed like this. His name was everywhere. Rising hopeful. Proven newcomer. All-star. All American boy. Handsome. Loyal. Loving. She had him at art galleries. She had him at charity drives. It was her way of giving back. He had provided it. She admired him for that. He had given her everything she ever dreamed of. She watched his face as she spoke. The silence. The eagerness to believe her. The longing to love her. The desire to forget, forgive. But she had not forgiven herself. It would be a long process. When he touched the ring, she felt her eyes get warm. Glossy. Wet. Her head hurt. It was hot. She looked at his eyes, then down again. The ring. The token that had never left her neck since she had left him. It was simple. It was perfect. She hated the flashy things. She hated the predictable rings. It was a vintage wedding ring he picked up at some estate jewelry store. She did not even want diamonds. She did not want gold or silver. All she had wanted was him. The ring was just a symbol that she was going to get it. It was a pledge. A promise. A broken one. She felt the tear stream down her face and, once it left her eye, she was powerless to stop herself. The salty tear stain ended on the corner of her lips. Yet soon, tears were mingled with sweet kisses. The kisses of a lover. Once lost. And back again. She tasted her tears on his tounge. Her kiss so gentle and tender. Brushing like satin across his lips. Dancing across his neck. Back to his lips. ``Logan,`` she said. Then, moments later, ``Logan.`` It was not to speak with him. It was for the simple, fulfilling feeling it gave her to be able to say his name. ``Logan. Logan.`` She kissed him. Kissed him. He was there. He was there. No more dreams. Hopes. Regrets. The tears she shed were caught by their joined mouths and she felt this moment was the most beautiful one in her life. She wanted it to never end. Tears and kisses. Salty and sweet. It was how they had always been together.
Logan: Fingertips brushed away at the moisture that had gathered on his cheeks as an act of reassurance that even his disabled, under-par state that he would be there to protect her. He wanted to challenge his pains to try and come back now for he felt invincible with her in his presence. She was his guardian angel. He felt like it was no coincidence that all of the adversity that came his way happened all after she left. No longer did he have to be the tragic fallen hero. Time had passed where he just held her tightly wanting to feel the beating of her heart pound against his. That was art. It was the perfect play. Michael Jordan's winning slam dunk. Beethoven's fifth. MLK Jr's speech. Shakespeare's Hamlet. Darwin's theory of evolution. Leo DaVinci's Mona Lisa. It was meant to happen... to be remembered as a result of cosmic creation. Someone other than the two wanted them together. He hadn't dared close his eyes in fear of falling asleep and waking up. Time was now a factor. He had her again, or did he. Time was ticking in his head -- regardless of her reassuring words, he knew that song by heart inside and out. He better go capture this moment and hope it don't pass him. You own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime. In the past, he was much too trusting with his surroundings, the people, and fate. Still so naiive. He had to take it in his own hands. Her tears had to be real because it felt so real. But it was perfectly real before, or so he believed, and she still found it in herself to break away from him. Out of all people, because she knew him best, she wouldn't deliberately hurt him. She could have let him know. They could have worked it out. She made him fall, not alone, but worse, everyone who never believed in him knew that he crumbled. He could have grieved alone, but everyone else, even strangers relished in his misery. He was no longer a household name for his good qualities, but because he was a poor sap, a fool in love. Every time a stranger told him they were sorry, he would force on a smile, and shrug reciting that horrible line, "Eh shit happens. It's all right." Then awkwardness. He knew they felt pity for him, and he wanted none of it. He wanted his pride back. He wanted his control back. And something in him burst as he thought and thought in their silence, and he sat up quickly in their bed breaking that blissful sanctuary apart. (d)