“Are you drunk?” I laughed. “You’ve only had one glass of wine, so I’m guessing you’re not drunk, right?”
“No, I just know these things. As a writer, you learn about story structure, and you and Greyson are the classic rom-com. It’s like you’re Meg Ryan, he’s Billy Crystal, and I’m Nora Ephron.”
“I really don’t get that reference.”
Her eyes widened. “What do you mean you don’t get the reference? Ellie, it’s When Harry Met Sally, only one of the best romantic comedies of all time.”
“Oh, I’ve never seen it.”
She jumped back, stunned. “What is the matter with you?”
I laughed. “Okay, so if he’s the hero in the movie and I’m the heroine, who’s Nora Ephron? The quirky best friend?”
Shay looked at me as if I’d just skinned a puppy alive. She held up her hand and pointed to the door. “Get the hell out of my apartment.”
“I mean it. Get the hell out of my apartment. Nora Ephron, God rest her soul, was only one of the greatest writers of romantic comedies to ever grace this planet. You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless-In-Freaking-Seattle, Ellie! Come on! I mean, I love you, but sometimes I worry about your intelligence when you say things like this.”
I laughed. “Sorry, but not everyone’s a movie buff like you, Shay.”
“I’m just saying, she was a legend.”
“So, did you just compare yourself to a legend?”
She smirked and shrugged her shoulders. “If the shoe fits...” She hopped off the couch and headed to the kitchen and tossed a package of popcorn into the microwave. “Back to the main topic for tonight: you and Greyson.”
“No, that’s definitely not the main topic, because there is nothing to talk about. The main topic of tonight is who’s going to get the final rose on The Bachelor.”
Shay groaned. “Why talk about fake reality shows when we have a real one right in front of us? Just give me a little bit more about him,” she said. “What is grown-up Greyson like?”
I frowned, thinking about it. “At first, I thought he was kind of grumpy, and, I mean, I guess he is, but honestly he’s just sad. Like, intensely lonely and disconnected from everything around him.”
Shay grew somber. “That’s heartbreaking. Kind of like Jon Snow, huh? Like a sexy kind of sad? Like the kind of sad where you want to hug someone and kind of hump their leg, too?”
I gave her a stern look.
She tossed her hands up in defeat. “Okay, okay. So, he’s really that broken up, huh?” The microwave went off, and then she pulled out her popcorn. After she tossed the popcorn into a bowl, she opened a bag of barbecue potato chips and mixed the two snacks together. I swore, my cousin could eat anything in the world and remain a stick. If I even looked at a cupcake, my butt grew two sizes.
“He’s like a zombie from The Walking Dead. Just moving along day by day with random outbursts of sadness.”
“That’s really sad. He was such a bright light as a kid. So, are you going to help him?”
“I mean, I want to…I really do. I just don’t really know how to help, and honestly, I don’t think he wants my assistance.”
“Well, just keep showing up. You’re like a puppy dog that people can’t help but fall in love with. Give it time, and you’ll probably help Greyson find his way back.”
I didn’t know if she was saying that because she really believed it, or because she just wanted to see episode three of our show.
But either way, I planned to keep showing up. When we were kids and I was lonely, that was exactly what Greyson had done. He had showed up for me, even when I tried to push him away.
Maybe all people needed sometimes was for someone to keep showing up for them during the hard days, even when they tried their best to push everyone away.
Each day I showed up to the Easts’ home just as the sun began to rise. Every time I saw it coming up, I said a little prayer for them. I found gratitude in the little things, because that was what Mom had taught me to do. I tried to appreciate all the small moments, because at the end of the day, those were the ones that count the most.
One Friday when I walked into Greyson’s house, I first made my coffee, like I did every morning, and then went to wake Lorelai. As I rounded the corner toward her room, out of nowhere came Greyson. I crashed straight into him, spilling hot coffee all over his suit.
“Shit!” he hollered, jumping back a bit.
“Oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry,” I exclaimed, placing the mug down, and rubbing my hands all the way down his chest to try to sweep the spilled coffee off of him. I paused my movements as I realized I was patting down Greyson’s privates.
Oh my gosh, stop rubbing coffee off his crotch.
Oh my gosh, it’s moving!
I leaped back as I felt my face heating up from embarrassment. “Oh my, I’m so sorry.”
Stop staring at his crotch. Ellie. Look up, look up, look…
I looked up and Greyson appeared furious.
In that moment, I much preferred the lower half of his expression.
Look down, look down, look down…
“Jesus, you need to watch where you’re going!” he barked, angrier than really needed. It was clear it wasn’t my intention to spill coffee all over him and grope his privates.
“I’m sorry. Obviously, it was an accident.”
“That doesn’t make it better. This is a seven-hundred-dollar tailored suit that you just ruined,” he snapped once more, his harsh tone grating on me.
“Well, why the heck would anyone buy a seven-hundred-dollar suit to begin with?” I barked back.
Being around Greyson was so confusing. You never knew if you were going to get the heartbroken version of him, or the angry one.
“Plus, there’s a thing called a dry cleaner,” I said.
“I don’t have time to deal with this or you.”
“Why are you being so rude?” I asked.
“Why are you so clumsy?” he responded, pushing past me. He rounded the corner leaving me there, stunned.
“Way to act like an asshole, Grey,” I muttered to myself, shaken by Greyson’s unnecessary attitude. Sure, I spilled coffee on his ridiculously priced suit and tie, but there was no need to be nasty about it.
“What’s an asshole?” a small voice asked.
I turned around to see Lorelai yawning with her butterfly wings on, rubbing the tiredness from her eyes.
“Oh, nothing, Lorelai. I said askhole. It’s like a person who asks a lot of questions,” I quickly stated, trying to cover up my mistakes.
“My dad is an askhole?” she wondered, her K still sounding quite a bit like an S.
“Well, no, I mean…well what I meant was—”
Before I could remedy my actions, Lorelai went marching off, speaking loudly. “Daddy! Daddy! Did you know you’re an askhole?! You’re such an askhole, Dad!”
That evening I wasn’t at all surprised when I opened my email and saw one letter from Greyson in my inbox.
FROM: [email protected]
DATE: March 8, 7:34 PM
I closed my laptop and slightly shrugged my shoulders.
Well, okay. I guess I kind of deserved that one. But still, I got a strike for saying askhole, and not one for his daughter missing weeks of school. I was starting to think this strike system was flawed.
I went about the rest of my Friday evening doing what I did best—I tried to call my father, and when he didn’t answer, I went back to reading. Shay was locked away in her bedroom working on her next screenplay for the remainder of the night. Us single gals really knew how to have wild weekends, that was for sure.
I sat on the living room couch reading my novel late into the night, and around midnight, my phone dinged.
I picked it up to see a new email.
FROM: [email protected]
DATE: March 9, 12:04 AM
I apologize for snapping at you today.. I was dazed and confused after after a night of not sleping. I couldn’t shut my brain off, and I took it out on you.
You confuse me.
When you’re in a room I don’t know where to look.
I don’t know hoow to act.
I don’t know how to be in the same sppace as you without feeling some kind of way.
I don’t know what it means that you’re here after all of this time, and that drives me insane.
This is a bad week.
I woke up on the wrong side of thhe bed, and I took it out on you.
I sat up, rereading the words over and over again, noting his typos, taking in his words. My gut was tight and I felt nauseous as my eyes kept darting back and forth trying to process his email. It was the last thing I’d expected to receive after the day I’d had.
My phone dinged again with a new email.
FROM: [email protected]
DATE: March 9, 12:09 AM
SUBJECT: Please Dismiss
Please ignore my last email.
I’ve been drinking, and I am sorry.
Please ignore my last email.
How could I do such a thing?
For a moment in time, he’d slipped. In the first email, he had signed it as Grey, the boy I’d once known so well, the one who was hurting and struggling and letting me in just a little bit to see the shadows that lived around him.
Then, minutes later he was back to being Mr. East.
Short. Closed-off. Straightforward.
It was as if his soul was swinging back and forth in a world of muddle. Parts of him were yearning to open up, screaming for help, while the other half wanted to be buried alive.