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The Last Time

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The Writer

Everything is wrong. I'm in our apartment and it just feels wrong. "We need to talk, one last time," I say, rushing the words out.

I can't tell her, and one of the main reasons for that is it would break her heart a hundred times more than the fact that I'm here now.

I can't tell her that I cheated and I had to leave.

"What is there to talk about? How I made every mistake under the sun? How I left you?"

That hurt a lot, Cathy. Thank you, I didn't want to forget. "How is your life going?"

"Fine."

"That's good, I think. Cathy, I know you just got your break and all, but I wonder if you read this yet." I pick up her copy of my book.

"It's all about you, isn't it? Your book, not my first show. Isn't that the way it has always been, regardless of what you wanted me to think."

"No, it's always been about you. Every one of my actions has been about you. Just…"

Cathy looks me in the eyes, and she starts crying. "Leave, Jamie."

I stand up and then start to walk towards the door. "Not until you apologise for what you've done."

She stands up and runs at me. "What I did? No, you explain. You left me, you left the note, you left. I'm not in the wrong here."

"Yes, you are. We're both in the wrong."

"You left me when I needed you. I was failing, and you just shoved me out there all the time. You didn't see what you were doing to me. You were shoving me aside because of your success."

"I left you because I thought you could do so much better for yourself without me there."

"Then why are you here?" Her voice raised to a screech, almost hurting my ears, and then silence occurred around the room. "And you don't think that. You know I needed you. I need somebody."

I stood, looking her in the eyes, and I kept a blank expression. I couldn't come up with an answer she would have accepted. She would have accepted anything but the truth.

"I'm here because you need somebody to tell you this to your face. You're amazing."

Cathy's hand met my gaze, dangerously close to my face. "You were saying that all along. Why did you never go to anything of mine when I was always there for you, unless I was busy?"

"Because I was busy every night. Writing that." I point towards the book on her coffee table and then I turn back towards the door.

"Who's your friend?"

"My editor, Elise."

Cathy rolled her eyes and then she walked away. "I can't help you."

"Neither could I really."

Cathy twirled around, and she looked back into my eyes.

"Then why did you come back here, when you had already known that you could not help me, nor even really be worth being here?"

"Because I wanted to see you one last time."

"I see you everywhere now. Don't think in three years' time that I'm not going to be everywhere. It's going to be harder to not see me from here."

"I know that. I just… I should be going. Tomorrow I've got to go to New York State, publishing deals. Listen, Cathy, you do your best. I'm going." I open the door to the apartment, and when I almost finish shutting it, it opens back up.

"Jamie," Cathy says.

I start walking down the stairs, and I turn around on the flight of stairs. "You think that I don't care about you, right? You've deluded yourself into believing that just because I left that it means that I never cared."

"You stopped caring about me, about us!"

"I didn't. If anything, I stopped believing in you because you clung to me too much. You rode on my popularity."

"I didn't. I tried so much for my career but everything was you you, and you. I tried so much to be different to you and you just left me because of whatever pathetic reasoning you conned yourself into laying over those five fucking years. I'm done with your popularity bullshit, it's my life now, not ours."

I feel this pang of burning in my chest as I keep walking down my stairs. "Goodbye, Cathy."

"Goodbye arsehole!"

It's a few months later when I receive her letter. It's from Cathy Hiatt, the same apartment.

Dear Jamie,

I was debating not writing this. As you can see, I decided to. You know I'm not very good at getting to my point, so I'll say it and then go on from there. It's really it. We're going to have to move on. You did, I will if I haven't already.

I started reading the book. I know you were writing this when we were still together, after the marriage. Anyway, I don't want to know how it ends. If it ended like us, then I've already accepted that I'll never understand why.

Jamie: I will miss you, as much as will have moved on, I will still miss you, definitely.

You won't miss me as much as I miss you, I know, but I can still be hopeful, can't I? I'm glad you're reading this. It means that you can see that I am sorry for how I acted last time. The last time. It's a little bit… it feels like a waste the last five years but I'm glad.

We'll never go back to 'being friends', and I wish you and your new girlfriend all the luck I never had to give during our time.

So, goodbye until whenever we cross paths again.

Cathy Wellerstein … I'm sorry, Hiatt

I place the letter onto the desk and then shake my head. I turn back to the computer, watching the photos above. My mother and father are above my computer, Elise next to my keyboard, and I lift a photo I previously flipped down, the girl who was once the story, Cathy. I give her another look before starting to write for her, again.