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The Best Thing [Can't Stop Smiling]

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     A Little Easier

 

A little easier every day, waking up, a few steps more
A little easier every day just stepping through the door
A little easier every day remembering that you're gone
And every day a challenge to move on
But still a little closer
A little easier
Now you're gone.

"A-one two three four, two two three four, three two three four-"

Cathy took a deep breath, rolled out her neck, and waited for her cue. The production was small, the pay was smaller, but it was a gig, and it had been a long few months since the last one. Waitressing shifts at the diner around the corner from her apartment were just barely enough to keep scraping by -- and don't get her started on the stingy tips.

The director might have been a sexist asshole, she mused, but at least he was good at his job. A low-paying good show was still better than a low-paying shitty one.

But sometimes she really missed Jamie's writing paychecks.


     Try and Try and Trying

 

This isn't where I thought my life would be
Ten years ago today I thought that everything was going fine
I saw your face, I sold a book, my life was going great
Now I try and try, and trying
Is harder every day

I owe you an apology
I owe you so much more than that
But all I can say is I'm sorry
I can't make it up to you
I can't change a thing
I try and try, and trying
Is harder every day

Doritos bags littered the floor, crunching under Jamie's feet as he stumbled out of bed. Scratching the back of his neck, he squinted at his alarm clock, trying to remember how to turn off the screeching sound.

His phone was flashing at him, so he picked up and dialed into his voicemail. "Hey, Jamie," the first message started. "It's Ryan Doyle, from Random House. I just wanted to let you know personally that we're passing on the manuscript. We just don't have a place for it right now. Let us know when you've got something else to show us, though."

Erasing the message, Jamie stared at his phone before throwing it onto his bed, turning to head into the bathroom.

He stopped, turned around, and picked up his phone. Unlocked it.

Took a breath, dialed a number he'd never forget. Heard it ring, and ring again, and a third time, and-

"Hello?"


     Wait Just a Minute

 

Give me just a moment here
Let me catch my breath
I never thought I'd get a break like this
I always dreamed it, never quite believed it
Thought I knew the way it'd be
Now wait just a minute
Wait just a moment
Then tell me that you want me one more time

"Yes, thank you, sir. I look forward to starting rehearsals. Yes, perfect, eight AM on Monday, I'll be there. Thank you, yes, goodbye."

Cathy hung up, put the phone down, and turned to her roommate, Anna, who was staring at Cathy, tense with excitement. "You got it?" she exclaimed, bouncing with energy. Biting her lip, Cathy nodded, and Anna flung her hands up before throwing them around Cathy. "Oh, my God!" Anna screeched, practically deafening Cathy, but as she was screeching right along with her, she didn't think she had any room to complain.


     Golden Boy

 

Who'd have thought that we'd be here
That fate would throw us together once again
Everyone is seeing you the way you always wanted them to
Their golden girl, their shining star
The way you never believed that I saw you

The tickets to the box seat had been couriered over to his apartment the day before, a post-it stuck to them from his agent with the strongly-underlined admonishment to be there or he would seriously, seriously regret it. The woman who owned the box was looking to invest in the publishing house, he learned, and she was a huge, huge fan of his first book.

He'd have appreciated a little warning that his ex-wife was playing the lead, but after the second and third books hadn't performed nearly as well as anyone involved would have liked, he supposed that his agent didn't really owe him anything.

Is this, he mused, where the golden boy ended up? Paraded around and whored out to elderly women with too much time and money?

Sometimes, Jamie wondered if he'd ever manage to writing anything good again.


     The Best Thing You Ever Did/Can't Stop Smiling

 

Hello?
Jamie?
Why are you calling me?
How dare you call me now?
What makes you think you have the right?

What? You think you have a problem?
You think I care you have a problem?
You gave up the right to tell me your problems
When you left me, Jamie,
Left me
The best thing you ever did was leave me

So thank you, Jamie,
For the best thing you ever did.

"Hello?" Cathy said, picking up her phone. "Cathy Hyatt."

"... Cathy?" answered an unmistakably familar voice. "I... It's Jamie. Do you have a few minutes? I've-- I think I've got a problem."
For a few long seconds, Cathy's breath was caught in her throat and she was absolutely speechless with rage. "You-- Jamie Wellerstein, who the hell do you think you are?"

"I don't know. I know I shouldn't have called you, but I don't have anyone else."

"You don't have me, Jamie, and you know whose fault that is? Yours. You're the one who left. All I needed from you, all I wanted from you, was for you to love me, to remind me that maybe I was actually good at what I did, and you left me." Cathy stood up from the table and started pacing around the apartment, too agitated to sit still.

"And that's just it!" Jamie shouted back. "That's my problem. I lost you. I haven't written a single good fucking word since the day I left you. God only knows fucking why. Fuck, God only knows why you should fucking care. Goddammit. Sorry, Cathy, this was a mistake. Sorry I called. I'll just-"

Cathy almost threw her phone at the wall. "You'll just what? Passive-aggressively go off and fuck some other, younger woman just to remind yourself that you're powerful?"

"I'll just go fucking kill myself! Is that what you want?"

For just a second, Cathy's heart stopped beating. All her anger abandoned here in a flash. "Is... Is that where you're at right now, Jamie?" she asked, her voice tight with shock. "Is that why you're calling me?"

"God, I don't know," Jamie replied, and Cathy could almost see him shaking his head, his shoulders taught and anxious. "I just don't know what to do anymore."

"Get some help, Jamie," Cathy insisted. "Not from... Not from me. I can't do that for you. But find someone who will. Call... Hang on. I've got a number..." Reaching for her purse, Cathy pulled out a business card she'd snagged on a whim at the last benefit she'd performed at. She rattled off the number to Jamie before continuing, "It's a crisis hotline. They'll listen, they'll have resources for you... They can help you, Jamie."

For a long moment, Jamie didn't say anything, and Cathy wondered if she lost him, until finally he said, "Thank you. Cathy. God, I'm sorry I..."

"I know. I do. But honestly, it's the best thing you ever did for me. So thank you for that."

"I'll call that number," Jamie insisted. "I will. And... Thank you, Cathy. You didn't need to do that for me."

Shrugging, forgetting for a moment that he couldn't see it, Cathy replied, "I'd have done it for anyone." Smiling a little ruefully at herself, she added, "I look forward to reading your next book."

His voice a little hopeful, Jamie said, "I... look forward to writing it."

 

Though trying's still hard
And the words don't come
Every day it's a little easier
To face the rising sun

So thank you, Cathy,
For what you said
And sorry, Cathy,
For the things I did
That made you say
The things you said

But now I can't stop smiling
Can't stop smiling
Fake it 'til you make it
So I can't stop smiling

So thank you, Cathy,
For the things you said
'Cause I can't stop smiling
And it means that I'm still here to smile