Summer, 1991, somewhere along El Segundo Beach, CA
“So, you’re just here to annoy me, then?” I angrily pushed the rag across the desktop, cleaning an already clean spot again. Why was I even cleaning the office??
“Something like that,” he agreed, but there was no trace of humor in his voice. I looked up, my breath catching as I met his eyes for the first time. I knew something was wrong. Sure, we were broken up, for like the twelfth time, but we were gonna work it out. Eventually, I thought.
“Holly. Please.” Keanu grabbed me by the elbow, forcing me to stop. I angrily jerked my arm away from him. “I need to know.”
“You need to know what, Keanu?” I turned around, my eyes flashing as my heart thrummed in my chest. “You already have your answer. What else is there?”
“I need to know that you don’t feel anything anymore.” His dark eyes bore into mine, his jaw tense under the beginning of a five-o'clock shadow.
“You know I don’t.” I refused to meet his eyes, instead stared off at the far wall.
“That’s a lie,” Keanu challenged me.
“No, you’re the one that lies, remember?” I looked up at him now, my eyes filling with angry tears. God how I hated him. I hated how he made me cry. I hated how he made me feel. I just hated him.
“I hate when you cry,” he sighed as he dropped down into the chair nearest the desk.
“No, you must not, because that’s all you’ve ever fucking done to me since I’ve met you.” I reached over and grabbed a tissue to clean my face. “Why are you even here? What do you want now?” Please say you still love me....
“I need you to let me go, Holly.”
I laughed, unsure of what he meant by that statement…But part of me was terrified of what he meant by letting him go. Was my heart supposed to be beating that loud? That fast? Was I having a heart-attack? He was joking, I was sure of it.
“I’ve never had you!” I screamed at him, no longer caring as the fear and anger and despair took over. I hated him. I was doing so good, so damn good with being okay, and all it took was him walking back into the store and ruining it for me. Keanu sighed again before running a hand over his face.
“I’m seeing someone.”
I felt the air leave my lungs in a rush, my stomach dropping as if I were riding on a rollercoaster that had just nosedived down the steepest hill possible. I was shaking as I sat down in my own chair, my legs no longer able to carry my weight.
“Seeing someone?” I whispered. “What?”
“I’ve met someone, and I think…You know I think she’s the one, Holly.”
I listened to his words, wondering if he felt as strangled as I did. He sounded resigned, his voice low and heavy. Did he sound sad? Or was that just my imagination, still holding onto some sort of hope that we’d one day make it back to each other, and that I would forgive him for being a cheating bastard, and that we’d live happily ever after? That it would just take time to get over these things, but one day I would, and we’d be happy. That’s what everyone said, right? Just give it time, you’ll get over it. You’ll be happy one day, Holly.
“You’ll get over it, Holly,” I whispered to myself as a fresh batch of tears rolled down my cheeks. “That’s what everyone said, Ke. They said I’d be happy. That I was young, that I’d find someone new. But I’m not, and I don’t think I ever will be. How is it fair that you get to be happy before me? I did nothing wrong!”
Keanu caught me as I doubled over, sobbing into my hands as I tried to muffle the sounds. He knelt before me, his long arms wrapped around my shaking shoulders as I cried.
“I’m so sorry,” Keanu whispered against my hair as he stroked my back. “I am so, so sorry for everything.”
“Get off me,” I shoved at him, pushing him back so that he rocked back on his heels. He still sat, kneeling in front of me. I hugged myself, sniffling as my crying stopped. “You know, I wish I had never met you. That’s what I wish. I wish you’d never come in this stupid store, and I wish I’d never talked to you!”
“You don’t mean that,” Keanu shook his head, and for the first time, I saw my own pain reflected in his eyes. It was unmistakable, and for some reason, it made me feel almost hysterical inside. I felt a delirious laughter bubble up from deep within, and I could feel my lips twisting into a smirk. Heartbreak and hysterical humor – who would’ve thought those two could go hand in hand?
“No, Ke,I do mean that. You’re probably the worst mistake I’ve ever made in my whole damn life.” I leaned forward, practically hissing as I whispered, “I fucking hate you, and I never loved you.” For good measure, I poked a finger at his chest. “And just so you know, I’ve been fucking Jimmy since before you. I wasn’t a virgin.” I smirked, doing my best to twist the knife as much and as deep as possible. Anything to hurt him the way he'd just hurt me. See if he liked his heart being ripped out and trampled on.
Shock, then disbelief, and finally anger flashed across his dark features at my words. Then, as if in slow motion, I watched as Keanu leaned forward, his large hands cupping my cheeks as he pulled me to him. Our lips harshly slammed together, our teeth clashing. I could taste the bitterness of blood and I knew that he’d split my lip with the force. At first, I struggled against him, but as he rose, bringing his chest up against mine, I felt myself melt against him as I always did. One of his hands released my cheek and worked its way down to my lower back, pulling me closer; I frantically clawed at his shoulders, wanting, needing to be as close to him as humanly possible.
“God,” Keanu groaned as he released my lips and took a deep, haggard breath. I reached for him again, hands now finding his cheeks and tugging him forward, but he pulled back. “No, Holly. We can’t. This is wrong. I’m sorry.”
He released me, and then stepped away. I watched, my brain still fuzzy, my mind spinning, as he turned around and pushed an angry hand through his hair. One hand was on his hip, his shoulders tense as he paced like an angry cat.
“Fuck!” He cursed out loud as he swiped his hand down his face, before pushing his hair back once more.
I sat back in my chair, reality finally sinking in. I licked at my lip, wincing when I felt the now stinging cut. My lip would be swollen, I could feel that now, but what was new? Keanu had always left his mark on me, in one way or the other…Why did I think today would be any different?
“I didn’t mean for that to happen.” He had walked over and taken his seat again opposite me, his eyes wary, guarded.
“It’s fine, Ke." I was numb, my voice low.
“Holly? Look. It’s not, okay? I’m a piece of shit, and I’m sorry.”
I huffed out another hysterical laugh at his stupid “apology”.
“You’re always sorry, Ke. Always sorry for something. Always.” My eyes met his. I was resigned now. And I was angry as hell. How dare he. “And I’m sorry, too.”
“Just go, okay?” I stood up, adjusting my shirt, and pushing my own hair back into a messy bun. My hands were shaking with a red-hot fury that seemed to be racing through my veins. I needed him to get away from me. I needed to scream, to punch something. Anything. “I need to get back to work. Dad’s gonna kill me.”
“Let me explain before you go, okay?” Keanu stood, coming closer. He reached out, grabbed my elbow again, and attempted to turn me to him. Without thinking, I slapped him. The crack was loud in the too-quiet office, seeming to echo off the walls. I was just as shocked as he was, my hand immediately coming to cover my gaping mouth. Keanu blinked a few times before stepping back, one hand rubbing at his cheek that was already turning red.
“Ke, I’m sorry, okay?” I reached out to him, only to have him step back further out of reach. I pulled my hand back to my side, feeling my eyes well up with tears again. I don’t know that I had ever been more ashamed in my life as I was in that moment....Or that I’d ever felt more childish than I did in this very moment.
“This is why, Holly.” Keanu’s voice was somber, and I felt myself blanch under his stare. He was serious, I knew it now. “This is why we don’t need to be together. All we do is hurt each other. All we ever do is hurt each other, over and over again.”
“No, Keanu,”– I made a point to use his full name as well – “we aren’t good together because you got famous and can’t keep your dick in your pants!” I held a finger up to halt him from speaking. “So you go, Keanu. You go, make your money, marry your perfect little actress girlfriend, and get the fuck outta my store.”
Just then, my dad walked in. He stopped, seeing my face –and I assume my blotchy skin- and then turned to Keanu, his bushy brows drawn together as he stared the younger man down. “Holly. Keanu. What’s going on here?” He looked over at me. “Everything alright, baby?”
If my dad saw the clearly visible red mark welting up on Keanu's pale skin, he didn't mention it.
“Yeah, dad. It’s fine. Keanu was just coming to say goodbye.” I glared at him, daring Keanu to say a word otherwise.
“Mr. Ausage, It’s been a pleasure, sir. Holly was right, I’m leaving. Heading back up to LA to get serious about my career.” Keanu held out his hand, and my dad took it. "I just wanted to come see you all before I left."
“Well, it seems like it’s already pretty serious, right?” My dad commented as he released Keanu’s hand. “I saw the commercial for your movie, son. That’s pretty cool. Probably a good thing for you to be moving on, I'd imagine."
“Yes sir, it seems to be taking off pretty well,” Keanu agreed, his eyes darting back to mine. I felt like he was asking me to not say anything. Too bad.
“Yeah, he’s doing great, dad. Just fucking wonderful. He’s even engaged and everything. Really great, right?” I glared at Keanu, willing my eyes to not fill with tears, but damn me if they didn’t yet again. Without another word, I ran out of the shop and down towards the shoreline.
Standing at the edge of my world, I hugged myself, the rain that was now falling and pelting me in the face carrying away whatever tears I had left….