THOSE THREE WORDS
The producer of a popular reality series finds himself in an unexpected situation.
**Enjoy the excerpt below**
**Enjoy the excerpt below**
By: P.L. Jones
Chapter One- Matt
Let's be honest. "Romance" is a glossy, airbrushed photo of your average relationship.
Having survived a broken engagement, I feel qualified to advise close friends who seem to be headed down the destructive path I once traveled.
My usual sermon (and that's what they call it, literally) usually begins with something like, “When she smiles and it takes your breath away - don‘t assume you’re in love. Simply acknowledge that
(a) you've developed asthma and need to seek medical attention or
(b) she’s hot.
Either way, keep moving.
To clarify, I am not a cynic. I'm a guy who, like most of us, learns from experience.
Experience has taught me to be careful when it comes to those "matters of the heart".
Three years ago, I met, tripped, and fell in “love” with Karli Hunter. We’d been dating a little over eight months and one clue led to another before the decided end of our relationship….it was March, and I delighted in what seemed to be the most beautiful spring LA had ever seen. To top things off, on March 25th Karli and I attended our engagement party. The evening was nearly perfect. I reveled on cloud nine as relatives, friends, and co-workers congratulated us. They said we looked great together, shook our hands and promised us we’d make it …drinking in their compliments, the one important factor that I somehow managed to overlook was Karli’s unusual silence. As an actress who was normally gregarious and talkative, Karli's laughter and witty anecdotes would light up an entire room. So, I should have noticed her reticence. Honestly, I have no excuse for not noticing, because she was by my side throughout the entire evening.
Holding her hand, we waltzed between our guests and I thanked them for coming… all the while, she remained mute.
When the party was over, I walked Karli to her car and we kissed goodnight. Trying to be romantic, I pulled her close and whispered, “I love you.” She smiled wanly, backed away and, without a word, got into her car. Slightly puzzled, I watched her pull off.
I remember the breeze that suddenly passed and gave me a chill as I watched her car disappear down the street. The following morning, I woke up wondering why something didn’t feel right between us. Not able to put my finger on the problem, I dismissed it and headed off to work. Caught up in meetings, I wasn’t able to call Karli until after noon. I asked if we were still on for dinner. Her incredibly short answer was “No”, because she wasn’t feeling well. I chalked it up to those typical female mood swings (sorry ladies, but you and I both know it's true. Your mood swings do exist) and told myself to stop worrying.
On March 27th, exactly two days after our engagement party, Karli found the courage to send me a “Dear John” text message. In retrospect, I can now understand that the whole situation was very difficult for her- she found herself attached to someone who she kind of liked, but did not love. Of course, in that moment, the only thing I could feel was my own shock and…devastation. It took a long time for the initial trauma to wear off and when it did, I woke to the realization of a vital truth: romantic sentimentality is not love.
This realization hit during the months to follow, as day after day, I came home from work, headed straight for the bedroom and crawled into bed- never to sleep, just to think. I recalled the way we‘d met, how unguarded emotion had somehow managed to take complete control of my decision-making … young, fresh out of college, I’d found an unbelievably attractive woman with a career that fit mine and a personality like none I’d ever met…everything about Karli was exciting and new. Her adorable southern drawl, the way she laughed made me smile, and even when we argued- I wondered how I’d ever lived without her. Unfortunately, as I spent every waking moment with Karli, probably suffocating the life out of her, she became my entire world, even when I closed my eyes, there she was. I incorrectly assumed that these unusual feelings were a sure sign of “love”. Looking back, I now understand that an imbalance in hormone levels causing strange feelings is not love-it's …an imbalance in hormone levels.
Six months after our initial meeting, I dropped to my knees, begging Karli to marry me.
She didn’t know what to do except say, “Yes.”
In retrospect, I knew she wasn‘t all that into me. But, from the moment she smiled and quietly said, “Yes” , I threw any inkling of hesitation aside, dismissed fear completely, and plunged headfirst into planning our new life. We looked at houses together… found one! We picked out our Honeymoon vacation spot and the first song we’d dance to at our wedding. I didn’t tell Karli this part…but I’d even researched what schools our future children would attend.
Then, came the blow, the slap that woke me from my dream.
Karli’s simple, three worded text message, “I just can’t.”
Having rolled out of bed only a minute ago, I happened to pick up my phone, and there it was. The most painful and profound text I’d ever received in my life. Of course, I didn’t understand the three-worded phrase right away. For a moment, I stared at my phone. I considered calling her to ask what she meant, but decided not to as she’d recently asked me to call less and text more. (On several occasions I accidentally called her while she was in the middle of an audition.) So, I replied.
“I don’t understand- can’t what?”
After brushing my teeth, I went back to the phone and saw her reply,
“I’m sorry babe I can’t marry u ”
I read her response four times- not believing what I saw. Then, I realized - of course she was joking! So, I sent her a text,
“Nice. I hate ur guts 2 sweethrt”
As I dressed for work, my eyes kept veering towards that phone-waiting for a response. I tried to stop looking at it, telling myself to quit being so neurotic.
After grabbing a cup of coffee, I opened my car door and as I settled inside, the cell suddenly rang. I jumped, spilling coffee on my seat,
“Ah no!” I mumbled and seeing that the call was from Karli, quickly answered,
“Hey, wasup Beautiful!”
“Matt… I’m serious.”
If my heart beat faster the first time I saw her smile, it completely stopped when she dumped me over the phone.
“..wh-what?” I stammered.
“I’m sorry.” Her voice cracked, “ I really have to be honest with you. This isn’t right. I can’t do this-we can’t get married.”
“But, I don’t understand-”
“I just can’t! Matt, you’re sweet, you‘re so …sweet. I promise, it’s not you… but, I just …don’t love you. I want a career- right now, I don’t want to get married. It’s not, this is not for me.”
Six months later I heard that she was engaged again, to a well known Executive Producer living in Los Angeles.
Of course, after the initial dumping conversation, I did what’s expected- I tried reasoning with her, tried convincing her…and it didn’t work. I couldn’t convince Karli, because she was right. What we shared wasn’t a lasting sort of love.
I think, the kind of passion that most of us search for, can be found in only one place: film.
It lasts for a good two hours and forty five minutes. For one hundred and sixty five minutes we‘re filled with wonder, longing, and romance. Our eyes follow two main characters as their story leads our heart on a journey through an apparently destined relationship. By the end of the movie, we applaud, relieved, as the couple rides off into the sunset. So, at this point we’ve become believers in the thing called love. It’s as natural as birth and death …of course it will happen to us! When the movie’s over, we leave the theater on some kind of unintentional search for this “love” , and when the first chick we see smiles at us, we’re goners …I hate to admit it, but those big screen stories still sometimes manage to inspire broken-hearted cynics like me.
“So,” I looked directly into old man Erwin’s faded blue eyes, “I figure, if I still get choked up by an old fashioned love story-the rest of America will too.”
He shook his head and held up his hand,
“According to last season’s ratings no one was watching. How can these people get choked up by a show they never watch?”
With a grin, I punched the air,
“Exactly! Harold, that’s my point exactly! America wants something good, they want to laugh, cry, they want something to talk about at work the next day-
“Your point- what is it?” He interrupted as he sighed and rested his head in his hands.
“Here it is… with the new improvements, “Those Three Words” is going to be the most talked about show this season! We need to bring in a broader range of bachelorettes! We need prettier, multi-cultured, and more intelligent women! Our female viewers want to see contestants they can relate to, and if they're hot, the male audience is in the bag. With the new million dollar twist, this is a sure thing. It’s our ticket to being nominated this season. Trust me Harold.”
After my speech, the room was silent. I could feel Tim and Norah’s eyes on me. They’d been so quiet that for a moment I’d forgotten they were in the room.
Harold Erwin looked at us as menacingly as he possibly could from behind his ridiculously giant desk.
Nerves were the only thing that held me back from grinning at the sight.
“…Alright. I’ll pull some strings. You’ve got one last chance. If this season is another bomb Matt, I swear, “Those Three Words” is toast.”
“Thank You.” I nodded in understanding. Whew…one more chance to redeem my baby.
“Do your best. I might be a fool, but for some reason, I believe in you. Alright?”
“Yes Sir.” I nodded a second time, surprised at the almost positive words coming from old man Erwin.
“Don’t call me that.”
“I’m sorry Harold.”
“No prob. Have a nice day. Tim, Nina, thank you. Matt, you'll get the final budget information this evening.” With that, he turned away from us and positioned himself in front of his computer screen.
“Thank you. Good bye.” I said quickly and the three of us scurried out of his enormous office.
Once, I’d shut the door, Norah turned to me.
“I’ve worked here for five years and Erwin still can’t remember my name! Where’d he get Nina from? Good grief!!” She fumed.
I shrugged, “At least he got the “N”. What’d he call you last time?”
“Hilary!” She shook her head.
“Yeah- Nina is a step up. He‘ll get it eventually, if he doesn‘t go senile first.” I turned to Tim, “Was that awesome or what?!”
He grinned, but appeared hesitant,
“Good job bro. That’s why we let you do the talking.”
“For true, he has that cajun charm thing going for him.” Norah smiled and hit my arm playfully.
The three of us headed down the hallway of HZA Studios towards the elevator.
“So, you guys ready to work on our second season? This is going to be it!” I rubbed my hands together and couldn’t help but smile.
“Count me in!” Norah returned my smile. We approached the elevator doors and she hit the down button.
Tim was ominously quiet as Norah and I watched him shift around, rather uncomfortably.
“What are you thinking over there buddy?” I asked. Hopefully he’s thinking anything but, “I just can’t.” Those were the most hateful three words…I forced myself to come out of my thoughts and back to the present.
“I don’t want to be negative but…are you sure we’re going to be able to pull this off?”
I looked him straight in the eyes and responded as earnestly as I could,
“I am. One hundred percent. We will not only do this.” The elevator doors opened and we entered, “ We’ll do it right and be rich in the end.”
He sighed again,
“It’s not about the money…I just-
Don’t say it, I winced.
“…I just know that our budget will most likely be cut and with the additions to this season, they’ll be extra expenditures. You mentioned wanting Kyle Rivers to host…he’s expensive Matt.”
I felt myself relax as I realized that Tim, my right-hand man was not backing out due to pre-season jitters. I hit the first floor button and the elevator began to move down.
“I can get Kyle to host.” Norah suddenly piped up, “He’ll lower his price.”
We both turned to Norah. I looked at her sharply,
“Well, we’re dating. Ah!! I know! I can’t believe it either! It’s really weird. But- we met three weeks ago at my friend Sasha’s wedding. We hit it off and…well, I’m sure you don’t want to hear me yammer on but, he’ll do the show. I promise.” She practically gushed as her face turned red.
She was so excited that I almost felt happy for her, I just hoped she’d be careful. Kyle was a television and radio personality with blonde highlights and like me a native Louisianian- except with a fake New York accent- need I say more? In the past three years, he’d quickly become a household name. I’d met the guy on several occasions and he struck me as the fast-talking type who, in typical bee fashion, moved quickly- from one flower to the next.
Ready to share my observation and warning with Norah, I caught myself just as the inappropriate words were finding their way to my mouth. If the only thing you have to say is negative, then save it for the right moment, I told myself and forced a smile,
“That’s great Norah. Whether Kyle hosts or not, we’re-uh happy for you.”
“Yeah. My thirteen year old’s going to be so jealous of you when she hears. She listens to his radio show everyday, is practically in love with him.” Tim chuckled.
“I can‘t blame her. Kyle is… gorgeous… charming, and …oh…just perfect! ” Norah grinned smugly.
I had to say something,
“That‘s nice. Just be careful, you know, it doesn‘t hurt to take things slowly.”
Norah threw me an odd look and rolled her eyes.
The elevator’s bell rang, announcing that we had reached the first floor.
“ Matt! Ugh…” She shook her head in disgust.
The elevator doors opened and we stepped into the bustling lobby.
“What?!” I asked, as innocently as I could.
“And, here we go…” Tim mumbled.
I turned to Tim,
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
We headed for the exit doors.
“Tim means that every time someone starts dating, gets married, or mentions the word love, you turn into Mr. Negative!” Norah exclaimed.
“That’s impossible. Look at the show I produce! The show that I created, fought for, and sponsor is about what?… Come on, fill in the blank…” I looked at them expectantly.
“Yeah it’s about falling in love-but you know those girls aren’t really falling in love!” She retorted, “Those Three Words” is based on your own negative perception of romance. It follows these women and this one man who are pushed into feeling something that they just assume is love- but it’s not love, it’s you, behind the scenes stirring up situations to fool these poor people into thinking they‘re meant for each other!”
Well, she did have a point.
“At least we make ‘em happy, right Tim?” I looked to my right hand man for some support.
“I’m staying out of this one Matt. Let me know if you need a ref.” He made a time out signal.
“Thanks. Great to know you have my back bro.” I replied dryly.
“Anytime.” He shrugged.
“They’re happy for the duration of the show. When the cameras and the crew say goodbye and those two are left with each other - that’s it. Look at last season’s couple, they’re signing divorce papers today!”
“Yeah.” I nodded sadly, “I did see that on Gossip News last night.”
Now that we were in the parking lot, I looked around, trying to remember where Tim was parked. We had carpooled for this meeting and every single time I went someplace with Tim he had a tendency to forget where he parked, every last time. I spotted his silver car to our left.
“Let’s see…” Tim muttered.
“We’re to the left.” I pointed out.
“Oh- yeah! Thanks.” He grinned.
“No prob. That’s what friends do. You lose your car, I find it. Norah yells at me for no reason, you make it stop. Oh-that’s right, I guess we’re not friends, are we?”
Tim hit me in the arm,
“How can I argue with her? She makes a good point.”
“See!” Norah cried.
“Fine… I‘ll admit, I’m cautious when it comes to … that stuff. But, caution is not a crime. In fact, that’s how I survive. If I fell in “Love” and let myself get chewed up and stepped on over and over again - I’d be dead or in a mental hospital with drool on the side of my face by thirty.” I admitted, throwing up my hands in surrender.
“It’s amazing I’m still alive at twenty-eight. And Tim, you’ve been married for how long now?” Norah asked.
“Yeah, fourteen years. How’d you do that? You defeated love and death! It’s a miracle, huh, Matt?!” She laughed, “Don’t worry, you’ll be ok poor babe… someday you’ll meet the one and you’ll be alright.”
“I’ll be alright either way.” I retorted.
“Whoa… it’s weird to hear you being so defensive. That chick, what’s her name, must have really done a number on you.” Norah said quietly.
Tim cleared his throat uncomfortably. I guess he thought that mentioning Karli was a bad idea. I hadn’t talked about her openly in over two years.
“So-where are we going for lunch?” He asked suddenly.
My friend did have my back, he was trying to change the subject…
“Her name was Karli. How about Italian?” I replied.
“Italian’s great. Nino’s has an awesome lunch special… For the record, I think, Karli is an idiot. You’re a catch for someone whose not an idiot.” Norah replied kindly.
I smiled at her,
“Thanks Norah. Here‘s the deal, I’m not looking for anything except to get our second season off the ground. Right now, that’s what’s most important.”
“Well, looking or not looking Matt, love is a fact of life. She’s going to find you when you least expect her.” Replied Norah, with a tone of finality.
Listening to her, I suddenly perked up, that was beautiful. Whether the statement was true or not, it would be perfect for television…
“Say that again.” I begged.
“What?!…She‘s going to find you?” Norah looked puzzled.
“Yeah, I heard it too. She said love is a fact of life. She’s going to find you when
you-” Tim began.
“-Least expect her.” I finished, “That’s got to be in the promo trailer! We’ll get a few shots of our main man bachelor with some of his favorite contestants…Do you have any paper? Let’s write that down.” I turned to Norah, she was the only one carrying a bag.
“I’ll save it in my phone.” Tim offered.
“Perfect.” I relaxed.
“Should I feel honored or disgusted?…My words of wisdom tacked onto a television show about fifteen ditzy women chasing one man.” She wondered out loud.
“Thank you Norah, you‘re a genius! And, I promise- this time we won’t have fifteen women chasing the guy. These contestants will be smarter and more sophisticated. You have my word.” I vowed.
“I think that’s a good idea. My wife called last season a disgrace to all womankind. We need to do a better job choosing contestants, otherwise when the show bombs, I’m going to hear a million “I told you so’s” at home.” Tim agreed.
“I promise, this season only the best of the best will make it. We’ll find contestants who can double as role models to the tween audience.” I said firmly.
“I’m liking that idea.” Norah nodded.
“Good. Let’s do it!” I pumped my fist in the air. When I realized that neither of them were fist-pumping with me, I turned to Norah and Tim only to find them staring at me.
“… That was really cheesy Matt.” Norah shook her head, grinning.
“Yeah, is that what they do in Louisiana?” Tim asked.
“Hey!” I laughed, and put on my best Cajun accent “Well, haw duh ya city folk cell-uh-brate?”
“We eat lunch. C’mon guys, let’s go. I’m starving. Where is that car?” Norah paused, and looked around the parking lot.
“It’s right here.” I spotted the car and led the way towards it.
As we headed to his car Tim spoke up,
“ You know, this season just might work. I think we have a vision and if we stick to it, this can be good.”
His words gave me just the extra boost I needed. This was going to work.
“Right on.” I agreed.
They both threw me another look.
“Let’s get you some food, I think you’re reverting back to the nineties.” Norah patted me on the shoulder.
Tim unlocked the car as he spoke,
“More like the eighties.”
“Ah- you know what I mean! Let’s eat…” I waved them off.
“Come on, you can do Nat.”
My roommate, Sarah, sounded far away.
Then I realized, no, she wasn't far away.
In fact, she was practically dragging me into our apartment.
Whew…this medicine is no joke. Who knew a trip to the dentist could leave a person so…overly medicated and… weird?
I tried to explain this to Sarah,
“I feel fun. It’s awesome.” Smiling happily, I gripped the doorway.
“Yeah- let go of the doorway. We have to get inside the apartment! Come on!”
“Ok.” Letting go of the doorway, I feel to the floor, “Ahhh! I fell and I can’t get up…ha! Remember that ? That was like, wow.” Chuckling at the hilarity of it all, I let my eyes close.
Sarah helped me to my feet after which I think I passed out ...because I woke to find myself on the couch.
“Hey! You’re awake! It’s about time for your next dose. Dr. Gregory said every two hours, so…here you go.” She handed me a pill and a glass of water.
I took the pill and chugged the water.
“Are you sure? That seems like a lot of pills.” I asked.
“Uh- I think so. That’s what The Dentist told you. Actually, I wasn’t in the room with you. But when you came out-that’s what you told me. Here, let’s see what the bottle says.” Picking up the medicine bottle, Sarah read it and her eyes widened,
“Oops. Why oops?” I demanded,
And- was my speech slurred?
“It’s supposed to be every six hours. I’m sorry.” She made a face and then thought for a moment, “But, don’t worry, you should be alright.”
“Yeah…I feel great. We could have a party right now. A root canal party. That’s nice, huh?”
“Not so much, and it wasn’t exactly a root canal, but-ok.”
Suddenly, amidst my crazy thoughts, I had an idea,
“Hey, get the video camera!”
“Why?” Sarah asked.
“I want to make a video to Shawn. Because he left me you know.”
“Nat.” Sarah sighed, “ That was two years ago.”
“And I just now finished paying off stupid wedding expenses for an invisible wedding that never happened! I want to make a video. Not for Shawn. For me. So I can express my feelings through a healthy medium!”
“Ok, ok. Calm down!” Sarah laughed and went to get the video camera.
“I want to look pretty. I need to be gorgeous. Is my face swollen?” I asked.
“No. You look great.” She called from the hall closet.
“Can I borrow your little black dress?” I asked.
“I don’t think you really need-” She began, but I didn’t hear the rest of her sentence because I was already headed to her room, preparing to rummage through her closet.
Pulling her black dress off the hanger, I stepped into it and peeked in her mirror to swat at my hair and wipe away excess drool.
“Natalie! Are you in my closet?” Sarah called.
“I’m pretty!” I replied, coming out of her room and entering the living room as if I were a model on the catwalk, “Sizzling, right?”
“Thanks,” She sighed, “For wearing my favorite dress. Whatev.”
“I’m ready for my close up!” I laughed, batting my eyes, as I made myself comfortable in a cushiony seat by our window.
“Ok, Diva, hang on, I gotta turn on the camera.” Sarah fooled with a few buttons on the video camera. “…It’s ready, action!”
I looked into the camera and with all my might, pretended that it was Shawn.
“Shawn, when you met me, I was fat.” I looked down at my stomach and remembered how it used to pouch out. Smoothing down the material of Sarah’s dress, I rambled a bit more, “I’m smaller now and I thought that would make me …happy, but…. It didn’t. I’m small and I'm so, so sad. Very, very, very- sad.”
Feeling myself well up, I sniffed and tried not to let my eyes drip, “This crying is so not for you! It’s me crying for me. Because of the wasted time I spent trying to - I don’t know…it’s good though… I’m learning how to be real, a real girl- woman! No matter what happens to push us down, we all have to learn to get up. I felt bad when you gave up on me… but that’s really one of the best things that’s ever happened in my life- I lost you and then I lost fifty-five pounds. Now, I’m only beginning to find Natalie, who is Natalie? I’m finding her!”
Sarah put down the video camera,
“Oh honey, that was beautiful…I have an idea. Pretend you’re talking to the sweetest, most handsome guy you’ve ever met. I mean, he’s literally Prince Charming. Ok? What would you tell him?”
I thought about it, “Hmm…. I’d start with a whistle and, “Hey, you! Party over here! Call me!”Laughing at my comedic genius, I clapped my hands with delight.
“Hold on, wait… you might want to wipe your mouth, you’ve got a little drool…there you go. Ok, action.”
Just in case, I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand one more time and then proceeded on with the Prince Charming monologue.
“Hi Handsome! You don’t exist, except in my head- actually, probably in every woman’s head! Ha! But, seriously… I like you because …you’re not afraid to dream big or go with your gut, also you’re sweet. Like, when I’m cold, you let me have your jacket, even though you‘re freezing too. When I sing along with the radio, you won’t make fun of my voice or shhsh me- you‘ll sing too, or just listen, whatever‘s easier. And, I can’t wait to meet you, so you can tell me your schemes and your dreams, whoah…I wasn’t even trying to rhyme! But, seriously I want to help you make them happen. If you’ll let me, I’ll be the woman you can’t wait to come home to, and every single day, I’ll make sure you know how loved you are. Even if we argue sometimes, you’ll know it’s all good and I’m yours. Um, I guess you already know, cause you‘re a smart Prince, but-I work in a Bridal Store, and I see some couples come in who hardly look at each other. They’re disgustingly cold and uptight. Then, there are others, and yuck!…honestly, they kiss so much that they never even, really see each other. It’s disgusting. That’s not right and I don’t want either of those. I’d rather fall in love with my friend. Someone I can talk to, feel comfortable with, kiss with my eyes open. So, I hope we’ll be friends, because you- you rock!” Suddenly, the room started to spin and I felt myself dozing off.
“Natalie, are you okay?!” Sarah was beside me when I opened my eyes.
“Yeah, I’m just really sleepy, can I go to sleep, please?” I murmured, shutting my eyes again.
“Ok…” I didn’t hear anything else she said after that.
I woke to the smell of coffee.
“Ah- she lives!” Sarah’s voice came from somewhere nearby.
Realizing that my face was covered by a blanket, I pushed the blanket away and turned to the left to see Sarah sitting at the computer, typing away. Her camera was set up on a tripod with wires attaching it to the computer.
“Good morning Princess.” She turned to me and smiled.
I made a face and repeated my earlier greeting,
“I guess you’re still groggy, huh?” She replied, tilting her head to the side and smiling as she looked at me.
All at once, the throbbing pain in my jaw began, so I rubbed my jaw and slowly managed to sit up on the living room couch,
“What time is it?” I asked.
“It’s about eleven thirty, Sunday morning. Hey! I have a question for you. What’s your favorite vacation spot in the whole world?”
“That’s random.” I replied, rubbing my eyes and giving her a look.
“I know! Just answer me.” She retorted, turning back to the computer.
I thought for a moment, “ Um…I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand…and learn to surf.”
“That’s interesting. Maybe someday you’ll get to go.” She said cheerfully.
“Maybe… though I don’t think it’ll be anytime soon. From what I’ve read it’s a pretty expensive vacation.” I recalled looking into a trip there last year, right after I’d lost the weight. It was one of those moments, when I’d wanted to start all over and renew my life completely. I’d actually been thinking about moving to New Zealand. But, of course I chickened out.
“You never know. You might meet Prince Charming. He could use those royalties of his to pay for your trip.”
“And, that is incredibly random! You’re on a roll today.” I grinned.
My friend Sarah and I are different in so many ways. She is a talented artist, she’s not afraid to brag, scold, and get emotional in public. Impulsive and completely ADD, she drives me nuts everyday. But, as much as I fuss at Sarah, I love her to death.
“Hey! It’s not so random. Don’t you remember last night?” She asked with a smile.
Silently, I thought back to the fuzzy image of her with a video camera and me wiping drool off my face as I sat by the window and cried. I was talking about Prince Charming giving me his jacket and something about being fat…
“Oh no! That really happened?!…Sarah, don’t show that tape to anyone, ok? In fact, let me have it!” Laughing, I scooted off the couch and headed to where she sat at the computer.
Sarah shrieked and jumped out of her chair,
“Ahh, I forgot…my toast is burning!”
I froze. She has started a fire in our kitchen, on several occasions. Quickly recovering, I ran to the kitchen and threw open the oven door.
Wait a minute…
“There’s no toast in here! What are you talking about?” I shouted.
“Oh! Oh, that’s right, I ate it, already….Sorry. Maybe I should take my meds now, you think?” She giggled.
“Yeah, that’s a good idea.” I rolled my eyes and rubbed my jaw as the throbbing increased.
Going back to the living room, I saw that she’d shut down the computer and the camera was gone. Good, she was finally learning to clean up her mess.
“Do you know where my teeth drugs are? My jaw is killing me!” I shouted.
“Um-are you sure you should take more? I gave you way too many pills last night.” She replied from her room.
“Ugh.” I collapsed on the couch and wondered if I should call the Pharmacist and ask them about the dangers of an over dosage.
“What do you want to do today?” Sarah called out as she came back to the living room.
“Sit on the couch and completely veg.” I replied, touching my jaw.
“That sounds like a plan. As soon as I come back from the post office I will join you in this vegetation that you speak of.”
“It’s Sunday Sarah, the Post Office isn’t open today.” I reminded my absent-minded friend.
“Oh! Well, that’s okay, I’ll just drop this in the mailbox. You need anything whilst I’m away me lady?” She asked putting on an English accent.
“No thank thee.” I mumbled, beginning to realize that it hurt worse when I opened my mouth letting air touch the wound.
“Adieu. I shall return!” Sarah called out as she literally waltzed out of the front door with the package in hand.
I closed my eyes and attempted to doze off, but the pain in my mouth wouldn’t allow me to sleep.
Reaching for the remote, I turned on the television. Maybe an old black and white movie was on. Flipping through channels I surfed until at last, I came to my favorite movie network- Classics.
Every time I decide to spend an afternoon sprawled out on the couch watching an old favorite, I feel like I’m back at my parent’s house, watching a Hollywood Classic with my older brother. We use to tear the movies apart, sarcastically making fun of the half-American half-fake-British accents and overacted scenes. Even so, I think that we both secretly loved every bit of those dramatic love stories, mysteries, and even the more humorous than they were scary “horror” films. The classics had a certain innocence that is difficult to find in modern films. My brother had always loved the film industry, even when we were kids- he was about eleven and I was six, I remembered him enlisting my help as he “borrowed” Dad’s camcorder in an attempt to make a sort of Indiana Jones type movie …we both got into trouble when he broke the camera that day...
It didn’t surprise me that, as an adult, my brother was making it as a successful writer for HZA Studios. I was proud of him. My parents were too. It was comforting to know that my parents had at least one successful child. My brother had an enviable career, and to top it off , he’d given them a beautiful granddaughter.
As one of my favorite classics was just coming on, old fashioned violin music screeched loudly and the opening credits began to roll. My mind drifted off and I felt my head hit the pillow.
I shot up,
“My phone!” I exclaimed.
As I looked around the living room trying to catch sight of my cell phone, I had to rub my eyes a few times because everything looked really fuzzy.
Finally, I spotted my phone on a bar stool.
Tumbling off the couch, I groaned as the annoying pain in my jaw started up again.
“Nat? Everything ok out there?” Sarah shouted from what sounded like the bathroom.
“Yeah.” I replied and lunged for my phone managing to trip over the bar stool in the process.
“Nat?!” Sarah called again.
“I’m okay!” I shouted back.
Finally, after pulling myself up from the floor I had the phone in hand and looked at it, ready to press “Answer”.
Naturally, just then it stopped ringing.
After waiting a few more seconds, the missed call finally appeared on screen. It was my brother!
I pressed “Send” to redial his number.
“Hello?” A young female voice answered.
“Tiff? It’s Natalie, how are you sweetheart?” I asked.
Tiffany was my brother’s thirteen year old daughter. I really, genuinely liked her. She was the sweetest kid.
“Aunt Natalie! Hey! Are you okay? Dad told me about your teeth surgery.”
“It wasn’t fun, but I’ll live.” I replied.
"I'm going to get braces in a few weeks." She sighed dramatically, "So I'll be in pain like you."
"Aw honey. Maybe it won't be so bad." I grimaced, thinking back to when I'd first gotten my braces as a kid.
And then a second time, as an eighteen year old.
"A lady who my dad works with said she cried for seven days straight when she first got hers." Tiffany went on.
"I bet that won't happen to you though." I quickly offered, " And braces are kind of cool."
Briefly pausing, I wondered if kids still used the word 'cool'.
"How?" Tiffany asked.
"Um.." I paused, because honestly...I don't know the first thing about being cool.
Sarah suddenly walked into the room and glanced at me as she made her way to the kitchen.
Muting the phone, I called after her,
"Hey- how would getting braces make a thirteen year old cool?"
Sucking her teeth in a way that made an annoying noise, she looked at me and then said,
"Braces are like bling in your mouth. And, every supermodel had braces as a kid. Fact."
As she continued her trek to the kitchen, I shouted, "Thanks" and unmuted the phone,
"How? That's easy, braces are like bricks in your mouth and-"
"What?!" Tiffany shouted.
"Uh-" I started.
"Did you say bricks?' Sarah called from the kitchen.
Trying to hit 'mute' again, I accidently hit 'redial' and Tiffany shouted into the phone,
"Aunt Natalie, are you OK?"
My jaw and head were now starting to hurt, so I stared at the phone for a second and then spoke loudly, over the sound of the redial button doing it's thing,
"Can I call you back honey? I'll have to talk to you a little later, is that OK?"
"Sure." Tiffany loudly agreed.
Sarah poked her head out of the kitchen, munching on something crunchy.
Just the idea of eating anything crunchy made my jaw hurt even worse.
"I think maybe you should go back to sleep." She suggested, "Especially since now you're niece is getting bricks in her mouth."
I rolled my eyes at her,
"Right. Why do people say bling anyway? It's not a real word."
Leaning back on the couch, I grabbed the remote and turned the volume up. My black and white movie was still on.
A woman was crying dramatically. There were no tears.
I watched as the camera moved us in for a close up and suddenly the woman's checks were glistening with soft, beautiful tears. She batted her fake eyelashes as a tall, dark, and handsome man took her by the shoulders, forcing her to face him. He confessed his love, repeating her name and calling her "honey" or "doll" at least thirty times in the process.
Sarah plopped on the couch beside me,
"We say bling for the same reason we watch these movies and believe in them."
Glancing at her and the bowl of popcorn in her lap, I frowned,
"Are you really going to eat that in front of me?"
Smirking, she took a handful and shoveled it into her mouth, being sure to chew with her mouth open.
Rubbing my jaw, I turned away in disgust.
"Thanks for that Sarah."
"Just keeping it real." She smacked loudly and then pointed at the screen, "Unlike them."
The woman's tears were gone and she was staring happily into the tall man's eyes.
"Oh, do you really love me John?"
"Maria- doll, I always have." With his hands still on her shoulders, he leaned in to kiss her as her arms remained limp at her sides.
Then, her foot popped.
Sarah and I both laughed.
"They didn't, PLEASE tell me they didn't make her do the foot pop!" Sarah cried with laughter.
The way she was laughing made the whole situation even funnier. Watching her crack up, I almost forgot about the pain in my jaw,
"I know. Maria can't move her arms, but she can pop her foot!" I giggled.
Our laughter grew quiet as we watched in silence. My hand moved to my jaw when John and Maria's wedding day appeared on screen.
Maria breathlessly walked down the aisle, and I realized that, suddenly, I was holding my breath.
Exhaling, I told myself it was a good thing I'd never had to do... that.
Who really wanted to walk ridiculously slow down an aisle as people stared you up and down, assessing the value of your dress, judging your hair, makeup, wanting you to cry or stop crying? It was like a beauty pageant.
"Hey!" Sarah hit my right arm.
Jolted out of my thoughts, I looked at her,
She tilted her head and I saw something mischevious in her brown eyes,
"Don't worry doll, I have a feeling your foot's going to pop one of these days."
End of Chapter Two
*Please note that all content of Those Three Words is exclusively belonging to Paula Jones. This content is not to be duplicated in any way.*
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