Authors: LK Collins
I slightly pull away, feeling guilty for being so close to him. “Are you okay?” he asks. “You seem different than the other day.”
“I’m fine, Nate, I really am. I’m worried about Bain, that’s all.”
“Did something happen?”
“Not really, he just didn’t sound like himself when we talked this morning.”
“I’m sure he’s not. He’s gotta feel a lot like I do.”
“Lost. Alone. Sad.”
I look away from him, hating knowing that my actions are responsible for doing this to not one, but two people. “Don’t beat yourself up, A. It’s not your fault that you’re so amazing and we both love you.”
“I’m not beating myself up,” I snap, angry that he can read me so well.
“I know you, Arion. I know you almost better than anyone. You can’t lie to me.”
In my mind, Bain consumes me. He is all that I’m thinking about and it is clouding my thoughts, making me know what I have to do.
“I’m sorry, Nate.”
“Sorry for what? You haven’t done anything wrong.”
“I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for you and that I haven’t been.”
“It’s fine, A, things happen. It was crazy of me to think someone as amazing as you would have stuck around and waited for me.”
“I did, Nate. I waited for months and months. Bain and I were just friends and then it turned into more. I didn’t plan on this happening.”
“I know you didn’t. It’s just a lot to deal with. Coming home and not having your partner and then finding out she’s moved on with some millionaire basketball star.”
I don’t even know where to go with this conversation. Do I sit here and try to justify my relationship with Bain or who he really is? I don’t want to share anything personal about him, to say that we connected over our grief, with the death of his sister and me thinking Nate was gone, but we did. And Bain is so much more than the fame that shines down on him.
“I don’t know what to say, Nate,” is all that I get out.
“Come on, A, I know you better than that. Just talk to me.”
“Nate, if you want me to be honest with you, Bain consumes every part of my life. I’m sorry.”
Nate surprises me; my comment doesn’t seem to hurt him at all. He looks at me and says, “Don’t be sorry. Talk about Bain. Arion, I’ve had a lot of time to think about things. I’d be lying if I told you in the back of my mind I wasn’t surprised that you moved on. Still it doesn’t make it any easier, but it’s the truth and that’s all I want between us – the truth.”
Hearing him say that’s all he wants from me pushes me to do what I know I have to. My heart is with Bain, it has been since the moment I laid eyes on him and acted like he did nothing to me. My future is with Bain as well. Yeah, it might be a little more uncertain than what Nate and I had planned, but it’s what I want. “If you want me to be honest with you, my heart is with Bain.”
He leans back and looks at my expression, like I am joking. “Arion, please. Please don’t do this.”
“Nate, I’m sorry, trust me,” I say doing my best to hold back the tears. “I’m not saying I don’t love you, because I do and some part of me always will. But what I have with Bain is different, the hold he has over me is something I’ve never known.”
“I can give you that too. I can give you anything you want. You said it yourself that you still love me. Let’s at least give this a try.”
Taking my hands, I remove his from around me and look him straight in the eyes. “I’m sorry, Nate, so sorry.”
He places his hands on his thighs and looks up to the ceiling, exhaling.
“Is it because of my leg?”
“What? No, come on, you know me better than that. My heart wants what it wants. I’ll always be here for you, if you ever need anything. I know you have a tough road ahead of you.”
He laughs sarcastically and looks at me, “Yeah, okay, A. I need all of you. Not just you as my friend. Don’t you see that?”
Tears roll down my cheeks, looking him in the eye. I never dreamt of this in a million years. What I pictured was God giving him back to me and us riding off into the sunset together. Now here I sit, a monster. Only a horrible person would do such a thing, wouldn’t they?
“Isn’t there anything I can do?” he asks.
As much as I wish there was, there isn’t. Painfully, I shake my head at him, tears running down my face. He grabs his crutches getting off of the couch.
“I don’t want to say this, but…clearly, I don’t have a place in your life anymore, and with how badly my heart and body ache for you, we can’t be friends, A.”
I stand and hug him one last time, knowing now that this is really goodbye. Even though this is what I want, I can’t stop the tears as they stream down my cheeks. I try to calm myself hoping being in his arms again will…but it doesn’t.
Nate cries too as he holds on to me and it kills me to see him so upset, especially after what he has been through. It’s the last thing that I want.
With my heart making my decisions today, I know what I did was right. I need Bain, he would make everything better right now. Damn myself for leaving him. Pulling away from Nate, he looks into my eyes and nods his head, then turns his back on me. The second our flesh disconnects, it’s as if that’s the true end for us. In this instant, everything that we were, we are no longer.
Although, I’ve lived this last year wanting nothing more than to have one more moment with him, he’s not who I’m meant to be with. Bain is.
“Arion, I’ll always love you. Please remember that.” I nod my head, watching him walk away. How does someone hurt another person of this caliber? He reaches for the door handle and I open my mouth to speak. He shakes his head. “It’s okay, A. You don’t need to say anything. I’m really not in any shape to take care of you the way Bain can anyway. Be with him, be happy, and as long as he is good to you…that’s what matters. Goodbye, Arion.”
I sit stunned, barely able to comprehend the compassion that he has shown me. How? Why? I really can’t understand it. He went from arguing with me that we could make this work one second to telling me that he can’t take care of me the next. If it were me, and Bain was leaving me, I would fight to the death. As the front door closes behind him, I feel like I can finally breathe.
Right away I call Bain, but it goes straight to voicemail. I’m sure he’s at practice. I shoot him a text instead, so excited to get back home to New York.
Baby, I made my decision. Please call me, I can’t wait to be in your arms. I love you.
Traffic was a bitch, but when is it not? As I put the car in park, I really can’t fathom why I ever left here. I could have done all of the thinking I needed to just like Bain had asked of me right here. Checking the clock, Bain should be home from practice any time. It’s Friday and they always have short days. I call him again in hopes that he is driving home, but still no answer.
Getting out of the car, I grab my backpack, rushing as fast as I can to the elevator and up to our floor. My stomach is a mix of butterflies and emotion. I can’t wait to see Bain. God, I can’t wait. As I exit the chilly elevator, and walk down the hallway, I see our door and practically want to run to it. Jesus, it feels so good to be home.
My key fits right in and I head inside, hopeful that Bain might already home. The second I step inside, I freeze. The door shuts behind me and I’m not sure if I want to go any further.
What the fuck happened?
The house is trashed. I can’t even put into words the picture before me. Everything is everywhere. It looks like the place has been ransacked. But as I start to put the pieces together, I know that’s not the case. Bain’s clothes are on the floor, along with a picture of me. There are other broken pictures and decorations, and on the coffee table is an empty bottle of our Highland Park whiskey, and when I see what is next to it I want to collapse. A pill bottle.
Dropping to my knees, I grab it. The label says Percocet – quantity 30. I open it and glance inside, there are far from 30 pills in here. I check the date and see it is from yesterday, so I count how many are left and know right away when there are eleven that Bain has fallen off the wagon.
Fuck, this is all my fault!
I search the house looking for him, worried that he is passed out somewhere from so much alcohol and the pills, but only find his cell phone lying on our bed. I can tell it hasn’t been slept in since I made it.
I’m starting to panic surrounded by all of this craziness. The room begins to spin and I know I have to stop the panic attack before it starts. I drop to my knees right where I am and put my head between my legs, breathing as many deep and heavy breaths as I can manage.
Don’t pass out. Don’t pass out.
Then I force myself to crawl to my backpack to retrieve my pills. It will calm me right down and let me focus on what the fuck to do. I swallow the pill and sit, focusing on not fainting. Everything is going to be all right.
Thinking about what to do, I decide to call James. If anyone has tabs on Bain, it’s him. I dial him and sit with my back against the wall.
Walking away from Arion has to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve done it once and I promised myself if given another opportunity, I’d
do it again. But this is what she wants and I cannot fight that. Listening to her talk about Bain and how happy she is, plus feeling how disconnected she was in my arms today was all of the reassurance I needed to know that for now I have to let her go. Even though I don’t want to, I have to.
In life, one of the cruelest lessons you learn is that sometimes the right decision is the hardest one to make. Sitting in the car with my dad as we head to one of my appointments, both of us are silent. What can I say? He knows me well enough to tell by the look on my face that I just need some space right now.
In all honesty, I’d be lying if I said that this is something that I didn’t expect. Because I did, from the moment in Germany when she didn’t arrive with my parents. But like I said to her, I’m in no shape to take care of her or anyone else for that matter. I’m fucked up, not only physically, but also mentally.
“You know, maybe therapy today will help,” my dad says.
“Dad, come on. You know nothing is going to help.”
“Are you? You haven’t even asked me what happened.”
He takes his eyes off the road to briefly stare at me. “I just know you, and you don’t like talking about your feelings.”
“I don’t, but holding it all in isn’t helping.”
“You can always talk to me, you know that. Are you hanging in there?”
“No,” I respond shaking my head, barely able to hold back the tears.
“I’m sorry, Nate.”
“I guess it is what it is. Her heart is with Bain and I saw that, so I had to let her go.”
“What?” he asks.
“I can’t be the man she needs right now. She knows I love her and I always will. I’ll always be waiting with open arms if things change.”
“Jesus, Nate, I’m shocked, I can’t believe you didn’t fight for her and you just agreed to let her go.”
“I did, don’t get me wrong. I tried to convince her, but when I saw how adamant she was, I knew it was an uphill battle. Dad, the look of relief on her face when I left made me know I made the right decision. So for a while, let’s
talk about Arion.”
“If that’s what you prefer, of course. But I have to be honest with you, I still think that you’re going to look back on this after some time and regret not fighting for her. The other day, when you had her in your arms, that is the happiest that I have seen you in years.”
“I know and I’ll always hold on to these last few days. Maybe I will regret things later, but for now I did what I felt was right
My dad doesn’t say another word on the drive, the only sound between us is the road beneath the tires of his car. My insides are a knotted ball of pain and regret. I don’t know why it’s hit me so hard and so fast, but it has. I felt fine for a little while, but now with my dad’s words I feel regret creeping in the worst way and I just want to make it stop. Leaning my head back I take slow, deep breaths needing to put myself into a calm state.