“Where is it? Where is it?” Grace murmured to herself as she rummaged through the bookcase in her living room searching for a DVD.
After a couple of minutes she moved her attention to a chest on the floor and began searching through that instead, but when that turned up nothing she said, “Gah!” And collapsed into an armchair. When she had been unable to find it in its usual location she knew the only other place it could be, despite desperately wishing that it weren’t there. If it wasn’t for the fact that she had agreed to lend it out then she would have been happy to just leave it where it was. Not because she didn’t want to see him, but because it was easier. She looked at the clock on the microwave, wondering whether he would be home from work yet. 18:05. Should be home by now
. She picked up her phone and, with her heart pounding, called Elliott. The prospect of having contact with him for the first time since they broke up caused flutters in her chest, but she didn’t know if that was nerves or excitement. The phone rang for a long time, and just when she thought it was going to go to his voicemail, he answered.
“Hi.” He said, sounding surprised.
“Hi.” She said back. She wanted to sound cool and together but any chance of that happening was squashed by her nervousness, and what she needed to say came tumbling out as though by the process of opening her mouth the words just fell into existence. “I think I left a DVD at your place, is it ok if I come and collect it?”
There was a pause before he spoke. “Sure. I’ll be home for the rest of the day.” She thought she had detected disappointment in his voice, but she wasn’t sure.
She told Elliott she would be round shortly and hung up. As she looked around for her bag she found herself debating over whether it would be a bad thing if she had a small drink to quell the sense of uneasiness before setting off. The thought, however, was fleeting and she soon realised that wasn’t a good way to tackle her problem. She found her bag lying on the floor half hidden under a table and picked it up, quickly checking that everything was still inside it. She took a few deep breaths and left the house.
A few minutes later she raised a slightly trembling hand and rang his doorbell. She wrapped her arms around her and looked down at the ground, tapping her foot, not due to impatience but apprehension. The door was gently pulled open and Elliott stood there. At that moment Grace wanted nothing more than to forget everything and throw her arms around him... but she knew that would only lead to pain further down the line. As she looked at him he smiled faintly, the expression on his face unreadable and he stepped aside as he gestured her in.
“I found the DVD.” He said as he closed the door and started walking towards the dining room. “I’ll just go grab it.”
She could tell that he was tense, and he wasn’t the only one. She felt awkward, not knowing what to say or how to behave, not knowing how Elliott felt about her. If he was upset about the break up then he wasn’t showing it, but was that just a front?
He reappeared, the shiny black case in his hand and held it out to her. She took it, careful to avoid touching his hand and put it in her bag.
“Thanks.” She said. An uncomfortable silence followed. “So.” Grace said, breaking it. “I’m going to go. Thanks for this.” She headed over towards the door.
“You were wrong.” Elliott suddenly said.
Grace slowly turned towards him, confused. “What?”
“You... you were wrong about... what you said about her
She just stared at him.
“You were implying that I have some sort of... unsavoury
... feelings for Lorelei, but you were wrong. All she ever was was a friend who was going through a tough time and needed someone in her life who isn’t mentally unstable.”
Grace swallowed. “Oh was I now? Because from where I was standing it really seemed like I was right.”
“You think that because I haven’t called you. Look, I didn’t not call you because of that; I didn’t call you because I didn’t think you wanted me to. I’m sorry if it seemed like I don’t care, because I do.”
Her heart started pounding again. It sounded so much like what she had wanted him to say, but it didn’t make her happy. Instead she just felt like it was too much too late.
“That’s the problem though Elliott. You’re just so... you never take charge. I can see that this thing with Lorelei winds you up but you never tell her how you really feel; you just let her walk all over you. And whether you thought I wanted to hear from you or not you should have done it anyway if you really cared as much as you claim you do.”
He stepped forwards and took her hand, his touch sent electricity shooting through her body.
“I just... I’m really sorry. I’ve not spoken to her in weeks – it was a mutual decision. You were right about that part; I should have told her sooner that my life couldn’t just sit on standby any time she came running.” He stepped even closer. Grace’s heart rate got even faster and she felt as though there was nothing else in the world; as though a fog had devoured everything leaving the two of them alone in its mist. She was aware of how close their bodies were. He reached out and took her hand in his.
A harsh buzzing broke the couple out of their reverie as though someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over them, and they both stared towards the source of the noise. When Grace realised what it was she snatched her hand away.
“What the hell was I thinking?” She said with spite in her voice. “I really did just come here to collect the DVD but at the same time I also had a faint glimmer of hope that we would actually get a chance to talk, which we did, but then we get interrupted by her
-“ She gestured towards Lorelei’s shape which was distorted through the glass window, “and now I realise that whilst you probably believed that what you said was true, things won’t stay this way. Nothing will really change, will it?”
Elliott simply stood there, his gaze shifting from Grace to the door, his mouth opening and closing like a goldfish.
“’Bye Elliott.” Grace turned round and wrenched open the door, not looking at Lorelei as she hurried past.