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message 1: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments here we go!!


message 2: by Brooke (last edited Jun 15, 2016 06:53AM) (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments thanks for making it! okay, so road trip rp. it was the one with the two couples, right?


message 3: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments yes!! since it's your idea, which characters would you like to be?


message 4: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments mm, i think i'd like to be the drug addict and the control freak. is that okay? b/c i honestly don't mind any of them, if those were the ones you wanted!


message 5: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments that works out perfectly!! what ages did you have in mind? like early 20s?


message 6: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments oh, perfect! <3 yep, that's exactly what I was thinking C:


message 7: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments aw yay I'm so excited!! do you prefer simple bios or something more in depth?


message 8: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments ah i know! me too!! simple bios are fine! just a little something to get a feel for the characters.


message 9: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments ok perfect!! ill get started on mine now and have them up shortly <3


message 10: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments okie does, me too! C:


message 11: by Behati (last edited Dec 29, 2016 07:11AM) (new)

Behati | 129 comments
name Meredith (Mer) Jacobsen
age 20
looks

(view spoiler)
other info
-4 weeks pregnant, no one knows except her doctor
-growing up she was quite the party girl
-loves wine
-aspires to be famous
-not the brightest
-is almost always on the verge of a breaking point
-loves puppies


name Steven Stanford
age 22
looks

other info
-hates being called Steve
-doesn’t have a clue as to where his father is
-lives at home with his psychotic mother, her abusive boyfriend, and two younger brothers
-has three jobs
-owns a Jeep Wrangler.. and it’s his baby
-ADHD
-quite tall at 6’2



message 12: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments if anything needs to be adjusted let me know!!


message 13: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments ahhh they look perf! I'm almost done mine!! so how shall we write this? past or present tense? third or first person?


message 14: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments thank you so much!! if it's okay with you, can we do third and past tense?


message 15: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments yep, that's perfect with me! okay, my characters will be up pretty quick!


message 16: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments can't wait to see them!!


message 17: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments name Lucas (Luke) Undergram
age 23
appearance
guy
(view spoiler)
notables
-was addicted to heroin
-just got out of rehab
-he used to be the life of the party
-has no direction in life
-is allergic to animals, dust, pollen, and bees
-smokes cigarettes and (secretly) pot
-is secretive, can be manipulative, reckless, and impulsive

name Janine Daniels
age 20
appearance
description
(view spoiler)
notables
-is a clean freak
-highly organized
-studying at uni to become a neurosurgeon
-is not afraid to get her hands dirty
-has trouble just "going with the flow"
-is ambitious, determined, focused, stuck-up
-loves those she's close to, but has trouble showing it


message 18: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments THEYRE PERFECT OHMAGAWDDDDD <3


message 19: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments AHHH THANK YOU <3<3


message 20: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments so are Steven and Janine currently together or are we doing the idea where they're faking it for the sake of Luke?


message 21: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments mm, i think they should probably have talked about it, and agreed to break up but stay on good terms for the sake of Luke and the group. so maybe Meredith has noticed something's changed between them, but has been too caught up with Luke and the pregnancy to really sit down and talk about it. i'm thinking Luke got out of rehab about like, maybe two months ago? and maybe they broke up while he was there.


message 22: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments okay makes sense!! are they going to still act like a couple or just try and be civil with each other?


message 23: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments i'm not entirely sure! what do you think??


message 24: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments maybe every now and then they get a little cutesy or whatever just to keep Meredith and Luke from being too suspicious??


message 25: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments sounds perf to me!! okie dokes, so where shall we start??


message 26: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments hmm well do you want to start at the beginning over the road trip? or do you want to start further back while they're still packing/getting ready??


message 27: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments maybe while they're still packing/getting ready? oh, do Luke and Mer live together?? also, where should the road trip go? probably more countryside, right?


message 28: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments sounds good to me!! I was thinking they would if that's okay with you! so more through the south then?


message 29: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments yeah, of course that's okay! sure! which city should they live in?


message 30: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments great!! do we want them to live somewhere beach or more like a city?


message 31: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments probably more like a city... boston? toronto? chicago? vancouver?


message 32: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments ooh Chicago would be cool!!!!


message 33: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments okay!! awesome. Would you like me to start, or do you want to? C:


message 34: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments up to you!! I'm about to head to bed and I have work until 4 tomorrow so if you don't mind waiting I can get a post up by 6ish!! or if you want you can start! either works for mee


message 35: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments okay! i'll just chuck something up, and hopefully it works out okay C: night!!!


message 36: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments sounds good! goodnight!!


message 37: by Brooke (last edited Jun 11, 2016 12:05PM) (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments (view spoiler)

LUKE
Luke stood at the side of the bed, looking down into an empty red duffle bag. It was wrinkled from being shoved and forgotten at the back of the closet, and was so deflated it looked like a collapsed lung. When was the last time he’d used this thing? He stooped down a little, and unzipped one of the side pockets, discovering the bright pink package of an unused tampon. Okay, so maybe he hadn’t been the last one to use it. He took it out and chucked it onto the soft, pastel blue of the comforter, then straightened up and gazed at the wooden dresser against the opposite wall, on the other side of the bed.

He didn’t want to pack. He didn’t want to do any of this at all. When Meredith and Steven sprung the idea on him last Saturday, he’d been too stoned to know what to say, other than lifting a lazy thumbs up without taking his eyes off the TV. He’d figured they’d had a beer out on the balcony so he wouldn’t know, and had been exchanging stupid, buzzed ideas. But, to his surprise, they’d been serious, and the two of them had been planning the trip since.

Luke ran his hands over his face with a deep breath, then walked around the bed to the dresser, his feet shuffling on the ash coloured carpet. He pulled open the top drawer, and inspected the contents inside. Socks and undies. How many pairs would he need? Fuck, he should’ve been paying attention when Mer was outlining the details a couple nights ago, when she was leaning on her elbows against their tiny kitchen table, showing him the map and the route on her phone. Again, he’d been stoned, and was too busy watching the shapes her lips made when she spoke, or noticing how bright her excited eyes were to really recognize what she had been saying. And then he’d got all caught up in the colour of them, and remembered how cool it felt to kiss her when he was high, and had patiently waited for her to finish before he coaxed her into bed.

God, he was such a fucking idiot. Here he was, supposedly fresh and clean out of rehab, and he was more of a burnout than when he went in. Sometimes he felt like his soul had caught on fire, and then shrivelled up inside of his chest before filtering out of his mouth in a trail of smoke.

Okay, okay, no. He wasn’t going to let himself go there. He’d text Janine, who’d know exactly how many pairs of socks he’d need, right down to the fucking decimal, and everything would be cool.

He sat down on the edge of the bed, then rolled to his stomach to reach his phone, which was plugged into the outlet on his side. He slid the lock button open, and the screen lit up. That was one of the terms of the Post-Rehab Agreements. He wasn’t allowed to have a lock on his phone. He also wasn’t allowed to stay out past twelve, which made no sense to him. What did Mer think, that the bad shit only went down after the strike of midnight? Whatever. He’d been following the terms.

Loosely.

hey j how many socks shud i pack?

The reply was almost instantaneous. We’re going to be on the road for the next two weeks, so I’d pack at least eight pairs. As always, her text messages contained all the correct spelling and punctuation.

underwear?

Seriously? Need me to wipe your ass for you too?

heeeeeeeeeeeelp meeeeeeeeee

The next message was a picture of an immaculately organized list of things to pack in her small, neat handwriting,. He always joked that she’d never become a doctor until her printing turned to shit, and no one else could read it. It was her list, clearly, given that the number one thing was 1. Wax your legs. Still, he appreciated it, and told her so in a final text before sitting up again and returning to the dresser drawer to dig out eight pairs of socks. Did he even own that many?



JANINE
1. Wax your legs
2. Find someone to water the plants while you’re gone
3. Pack — 8 socks, 14 underwear, 2 bathing suits, 5 t-shirts, 3 shorts, 2 jeans, 3 sweaters, deodorant, razors, bug spray, hat, sandals, sneakers, hiking boots, sunscreen, hygiene products, towels, shampoo/conditioner…

Janine tapped the butt of her 0.8mm tip pen against her bottom lip and regarded her list, which continued on for thirty points. God, they just expected her to pick up and leave in a week? Didn’t they understand that this kind of trip required careful planning? Of the physical trip, of course, but budgeting as well, and pit stops, and gas stations, and activities and—

“Just go with the flow,” she said out loud to her empty apartment. The breeze filtering in through the open balcony doors whispered the curtains against the floor in reply.

She slid from the bar stool at the kitchen, and landed against the sparkling tile floor. She kept the place spotless, each item resting in its designated spot. It wasn’t a large apartment, just a lightly decorated main room, which consisted of both her living room and the kitchen, and then a bedroom, off of which was a small, tight bathroom. It was all she needed, and the rent wasn’t bad, either. She made enough money from her part-time job, and her bi-weekly position as Professor Kichner’s assistant to get whatever she needed, while still focussing on her studies, making them a top priority. Living like this would pay off when she received the wages of one of the top neurosurgeons in the state.

But, for now, she was going on a road trip with her friends, who seemed content with living off minimum wage and drinking cheap gas station beer. Now that she was making her goals a reality, she couldn’t understand why the three of them didn’t have any. Well, maybe that was a bit harsh. They had goals. But they weren’t doing anything to make them come true, anyway. And when they complained about living situations, or lack of money, frustration grew in her chest like an unfurling bean sprout. She wanted to shout, “Just do it!”, like that stupid vine that had become so popular, streaming her Facebook like the latest news. But, now really wasn’t the time to get on them about trying to do something with their lives. First, they had to focus on helping a certain member keep his life.

Janine whisked her list off the counter, and padded across the cool tiles to her bedroom. On the floor, surrounded by neatly folded piles of clothes, lay her magenta suitcase. It was a bit on the larger side, but assuming they would take Steven’s Wrangler, it would fit. Now it was all about playing Tetris with her belongings, and packing them in a way that would allow everything to fit in one suitcase.

Her phone buzzed from on top of her vanity, and she stepped around her organized mess to pick it up. A text from Luke. hey j how many socks shud i pack?

She rolled her eyes, because while many things had changed about Lucas, the fact that he was a bit clueless hadn’t waned in the slightest. We’re going to be on the road for the next two weeks, so I’d pack at least eight pairs, she replied, her thumbs skipping across the screen at a fast, even pace.

underwear?

“Really, Luke?” She said out loud, tucking a rogue strand of hair behind her ear before replying with, Seriously? Need me to wipe your ass for you too?

heeeeeeeeeeeelp meeeeeeeeee.

Since she didn’t have time to pack Luke’s things for him, she sent him a picture of her list, despite the things that were needless for him to include. He sent back a thank you with a little purple heart emoticon, and she chucked her phone back down on the glass top of the vanity, between a hairbrush and a can of hairspray, before settling down on the floor. Then she began to gingerly place things into her suitcase.


message 38: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments
(view spoiler)

meredith
Mind over body.

That’s what Mer kept repeating to herself as she sat on the cold tile of the bathroom, next to toilet, while leaning against the bathtub. She had already vomited once this morning, and Luke had heard her. If he found her doing it again, Mer worried he might start getting suspicious. So she kept trying to convince herself that she wasn’t nauseous. Mind over body. But let’s be honest, morning sickness was a bitch and it wasn’t that easy. At that point she started thinking of excuses to tell him. Stomach flu? No, she didn’t have any other symptoms. Food poisoning? Yeah right, she hardly ate. Naturally, Meredith was just a kind of high strung person and her system got easily upset. So she would just kind of take bites of food throughout the day, anything more than that would usually end up with her feeling sick to her stomach and then, most likely, throwing up.

And just like that the nausea faded. Meredith stayed still for just a moment until she was sure it was gone. When it didn’t come back, she got up excitedly and left the bathroom, then heading to the bedroom she and Luke shared. She smiled when she saw him attempting to pack, sorta. He was on his phone but there was a duffel bag next to him, so that’s a good start. Mer picked up a basket of clean laundry from next to the door and dumped it on the bed, then plopping down next to it. “I got your laundry done,” she said, beginning to fold his clothes nicely and neatly. Ever since Luke had come home, she’d being doing her best to make his life as easy as possible. She got another job on top of modeling so they’d have some more money, she got the laundry done multiple times throughout the week, and she even attempted learning to cook. But, honestly, most of the time, she just ordered them takeout for dinner.

Meredith had already finished packing her things. And she had packed a lot. So much she had to sit on her suitcase and yank at the zipper to get it to close. Yes, she was aware they would only be gone for two weeks. But, she’s indecisive and has a lot of clothes. Meredith goes through phases when it comes to buying clothes. She went through an underwear and bra phase, and then she bought too many, so that phase ended. Then she went through a crop top phase, then she realized she only owned crop tops, so that phase ended. She had just gotten out of her athletic clothes phase, but she’s still set on the fact you can never have too many Adidas and Nike products. Currently, she’s obsessed with swim suits. Her modeling career had become slightly more legitimate in the past few weeks once she signed to a fairly established agency. She was starting to do more serious shoots and advertisements which meant she got to keep a lot of the merchandise. And she had been starting to do more swimsuit ads. Which is only feeding the beast, but at least she doesn’t have to pay for them. Because her salary doesn’t really support her shopping tendencies all that well.

Meredith looked up from her folding when Luke stood up and went over to one of the dressers. Meredith’s clothes kinda, sorta, completely took up the his and hers closets. Oops. “Do you need anything, babe?” she asked him as she finished up the folding. “I’m all packed,” Mer said, motioning to her oversized suitcase, proudly. Meredith was so excited about this trip. She hadn’t gone somewhere with Luke in God knows how long. And Steven and Janine were always so busy and with those being her two best friends, she got a little lonely. Especially while Luke was in rehab. It had felt like forever and she was so happy when he was finally out and able to come back home. She loved having him back home but he seemed a little off and she was hoping a change of scenery would be good. When she had mentioned the idea to a half drunk Steven, he was happy enough to plan with her. And thus their little roadtrip was born.

steven
Steven stood there, in his bedroom, staring at his empty suitcase. He helped plan the damn trip and he still didn’t know where to start. It didn’t help that his six year old little brother was jumping up and down on his bed screaming and laughing. Steven was a pretty laid back guy. He just kind of accepted things and tried not to stress too much. Did he hate most things about his life? Absolutely. Will being bitter about things change any of that? Absolutely not. So he stood there, beer in hand, watching his younger brother jump up and down. “I’m so good!!!!!!!” his brother yelled, excitedly. Steven pressed the beer bottle to his mouth, taking a large gulp, before nodding. “Yep, I’m real proud of you,” he praised, trying not to sound too uninterested. Finally the little six year old ran out of energy, which doesn’t happen often, and Steven was able to be alone in his room.

That’s when he caved. Steven took out his phone, and went to the all familiar contact: Janine. They had already broken up but they were trying to be nice and everything to each other. Which could be tough because Steven knows when they fight, they fight hard. Their personalities were just too unbelievably different at times and trying to sustain a relationship like that proved to be too much, even though they got back together several times. So this road trip would be interesting that aspect, Steven was sure of it.

hey what should I pack

Send.

Steven wasn’t dumb, contrary to common belief. He did get a full academic scholarship to University of Chicago, which was a pretty prestigious school and just shy of an Ivy League title. He got a perfect score on his AP Calculus exam, which was near unheard of even across the country. AP Chemistry, AP Physics, AP Biology, they were all pretty easy for him. He never took history classes or English classes seriously, however, he liked math and he liked science. So that’s what he put his effort into. But he was only able to attend the University of Chicago for four semesters, or two years. When Steven was 20, his mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was declared unfit to care for the two sons she still had at home. Not much later, she started dating her shit boyfriend, who still to this day hits and beats her. This became scaring for Steven’s two younger brothers and he accepted family had to come first. So he left school and now here he was, working three jobs, getting maybe 3-4 hours of sleep a night, and still has yet to go back to school.

Yeah, it sucks. Steven knows that. He had a lot of fun in college. He partied a lot, got to take a lot of cool and challenging courses, and met some pretty cool people from all walks of life. He would give almost anything to have that, but that’s not how the world works. Steven knew he would go back to school at some point. Maybe one day his mother would come to her senses, meet a good guy, and then he can take care of the kids and Steven will finally be free. He didn’t think about that much, though. He just kind of lived in the moment and right now, in this moment, he was packing for a road trip that he would be taking with some of his closest friends. He took another sip of beer. Yeah, life isn’t too bad. Sorta.

While he waited for a text back, Steven threw a few t-shirts into the suitcase, a few pairs of shorts, and some underwear. He didn’t know how much of each thing he would need, he was just relying on Janine for that information. Even if she helped him out he would still forget something, he always does. Hard to believe he’s a smart guy, I know. But he’s just tired.

Always tired.



message 39: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments (view spoiler)

LUKE
Soft footsteps padded into the room, and Luke rolled over on the bed to see Meredith stepping over the threshold, lugging an overflowing laundry basket, which she proceeded to spill out onto the bed so their clothes wouldn’t get wrinkled. “I got your laundry done,” she announced, and Luke sat on the edge of the bed. A small twinge of guilt travelled through his body when he saw her start to fold it.

He was a useless piece of shit, and she was everything. While he stayed home, toking up and watching TV, she worked two jobs, did all the chores, and, though the kitchen would immediately burst into flames the minute she stepped inside it, she even cooked for him. Sometimes he couldn’t stand to look at her, because she was trying so hard, and he wasn’t. He wasn’t trying at all.

“You’re the best.” He got to his feet, then leaned over and pressed a kiss to her cheek before heading over to the dresser. According to Janine’s list, he would have to pack eight pairs of socks, and 14 pairs of underwear. Jesus, the socks were iffy, but he knew for a fact he didn’t have that much underwear. Okay, so, it would have to be seven pairs of socks, and six pairs of underwear, then. He gathered up everything into his arms, shuffled over to the bed, and then dumped it all into the duffle bag. It filled up most of it, and Luke paused for a moment. Fuck, he wasn’t going to have enough room for all this shit. He walked around the folding Mer, and then started to shove all the socks and boxers to one side. Packing wasn’t his thing. Hell, he’d hardly left the state, so he wasn’t entirely experienced when it came to smart packing. Either way, this would have to do.

He picked up his phone and inspected the list again, before deeming it a little far-fetched. He was going to cut these numbers short. Two bathing suits? Bathing suits never get dirty. One pair of those would do. Three shorts was definitely going to be cut down to two, and then one pair of pants would be fine, he was sure. If they had to, they could always stop at a laundromat to wash things. He wasn’t going to overpack when that was an option.

Mer slapped down the last folded t-shirt onto the top of the pile, and then smiled over at him, her eyes crinkling in the corners in that way that they did. He looked up from his phone, and couldn’t help but grin back. Sure, this trip was going to be a pain in the ass, but maybe she was right. A little country air might clean him out.

“Do you need anything, babe?” She gestured to her bulging suitcase that sat patiently by the door, which looked as if it may spontaneously combust at any moment. Pride washed over her face, as if she was watching her child take its first steps. “I’m all packed.”

“I see that.” Luke crossed the room, and paused by the door to inspect her suitcase. “Honestly, I’m surprised there are any clothes left in the closet,” he teased, grabbing the handle and hefting the bag up, testing its weight. The thing felt as though she had packed two full-grown humans into it.. “Did you pack for a year, or something?” He turned to grin over at her, but through the bedroom doorway, he noticed the light on in the bathroom.

He woke up that morning to find himself alone, even though he’d been sure that he’d cracked his eyes open just seconds before, and traced the slope of her shoulders on the other side of the bed. The alarm clock on the night stand on her side indicated that an hour had passed since he had last been conscious though. He’d sat up, rubbing his eyes, and was scrunching the blankets down from his hot chest when he’d heard quiet gagging in the bathroom. He’d been still half asleep, and it took a second to register that she was in there getting sick. He’d immediately slid out of bed, and tapped his knuckles against the bathroom door with a, “Mer, baby, are you okay?” The door had been locked, but her voice from the other side of the hollow wood assured him that she was fine, just had a bit of an upset stomach.

Now, he took a few steps toward her and pressed a cool, clammy palm against her forehead. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?” He switched to press both his hands against her cheeks. She felt fine, maybe a little sweaty, but she wasn’t burning up. “Was it that Chinese shit we ate last night? The pork did taste a bit funky.” He smoothed his hands gingerly over her face, and then tucked her hair behind her ears. He could do better. He would do right by her, somehow.



JANINE
She flipped the top of her suitcase closed. Done. Well, her personal things were done, and there wasn’t a doubt in her mind that she would totally be prepared for the next two weeks. Now she would throw together the things she knew the who gang would need, and likely forget. Like toothpaste. Or sunscreen. Maybe a couple extra hats. Oh, and bug spray. Definitely big spray.

Though she was the youngest of the group by a couple months, she was still the mother hen. She rounded them up, made sure things were organized, and that they had a plan when they went out. Sure, they always complained, but in the end, when they all got home safely, it made the bitching worth it. “C’mon, just go with it Janine,” was something she heard often. “Just relax! Everything will be fine!” It wasn’t just from her friends, it was from the people at school. And her professors, even! The stress wrinkles and acne would be worth it when she was rolling in the dough, that’s what she had to keep telling herself. All of the hard work would pay off.

Her phone buzzed again, rattling the hairspray and perfume bottles against the glass. Ugh, really Luke? Could he really not make sense of the list?

She got off her knees, which were stiff, and hobbled over to the vanity before they could loosen up. She picked up flashing device, and opened up the messages.

Steven.

At the sight of his highlighted name, which indicated an unopened message, Janine felt something tighten in her chest. They’d mutually agreed to break up about two months ago, but stressed the fact that they needed to stay friends, for Luke and Meredith. Just until Luke got situated into the real world again. And then they could go their separate ways. It would kill Luke and Mer, she knew, but it was what was best. They were just too different. Everything about her screamed high strung, whereas he was probably the most laid back person she knew. He was the illustration of the phrase, “Go with the flow.”

hey what should I pack

She loved Steven, she really did, but what drove her nuts about him was his lack of ambition. He received grades that rivalled hers without even trying, and had achieved some of the top marks of his class at U of C. He was so smart, and could easily do something with his life if he really applied himself. She knew about his situation at home; how could she not? His mother had broken into J’s apartment on more than one occasion, looking for her son. Maybe she was selfish for thinking so, but he needed to look after himself. Steven needed to go back to school, and get a good job. It would be so much easier to provide for his family with an inflated income. He’d be so much happier. She’d noticed how down in the dumps he’d been lately, and Janine wanted nothing more than for him to be happy.

But it wasn’t her business. Not anymore.

Here’s a list, she typed, including a photo of her list for him. Normally, she would have jumped in her car to help him out, but she needed to keep the space. Though they were pretending that everything was still the same in front of Mer and Luke, boundaries needed to be set.


message 40: by Behati (last edited Jun 11, 2016 07:32PM) (new)

Behati | 129 comments
(view spoiler)

meredith
It wasn’t all that hard to make Meredith happy. Luke telling her “You’re the best” and kissing her cheek had her biting her bottom lip to keep herself from smiling too big. She didn’t mind doing things like cleaning, doing laundry, and taking extra shifts at work. It did get a little tiring and tedious at times, but things could be worse. And they definitely have been worse. Meredith and Luke have been dating long enough to have had their fair share of ups and down. But Mer was hopeful they were on a good stretch. And she sure as hell was going to do everything she could to keep things going smoothly. Even though she messed up big time: getting pregnant. Mer has been on birth control since she was 16. Instead of fighting it, Meredith’s mom accepted her daughter’s lifestyle and offered up birth control fairly early on. But when Luke went to rehab, Meredith got off of birth control. She had no reason to stay on it, Luke was away after all. She failed to mention that to him once he was home, however. One thing led to another, there was a missed period, and now there’s a positive pregnancy test that belongs to Meredith in a trashcan of a random CVS.

She sure as hell couldn’t tell Luke, yet, though. The news probably wouldn’t sit well and she didn’t want to jeopardize anything. Meredith has always been a bit of a people pleaser, which has its positives and negatives. As far as she was concerned, Luke was the most important person in her life and she had learned what it was like to live without him for a few months and she couldn’t do that again. Not because of a dumb mistake on her part, anyway.

Mer watched as he packed up his things. “Aren’t they going to get wrinkly?” she asked, moving forward and peering into the duffel bag. Everything was kind of shoved in there. “Are you sure that’s enough socks? And underwear?” she questioned again, counting through what he had just dumped into his bag. She eased herself back into her sitting position, wasn’t like she was going to nag him about it. “I’m wearing a pair of your socks now,” she said, straightening one of her legs and wiggling her foot, sure enough she was wearing socks that were a little too big for her foot. She was also wearing one of his big t shirts right now along with a pair of her underwear. Meredith was convinced that guys have comfier clothes than girls.

A big grin spread across her face as she watched him lift her giant suitcase and she giggled as he teased her about having any clothes left. “Maybe you can have your own closet now,” she teased back, still with the big smile on her face.

“Did you pack for a year, or something?” Mer twisted her hair up into a loose ponytail as he teased her. She loved this, she really did. “I wish! Maybe one day when we are old and retired and have money we can travel for a year.” It was wishful thinking on her part but that’s another thing she always did. She loved fantasizing about different futures, even if they weren’t possible. But when you’re a receptionist at an animal clinic you have a lot of time to think so that’s what Meredith did. Just a big dreamer.

Meredith noticed him looking at the bathroom. She had left the light on, on accident. She fumbled with the ends of the t shirt a little nervously and ran her fingers through her messy hair, not wanting to talk about getting sick. She looked up at him with her big brown eyes as he pressed his hand to her forehead. His hand felt cold against her skin and it felt nice. “Yeah I’m fine, babe,” she did her best to assure him. She wasn’t a good liar. But she technically wasn’t lying, she was fine. She was scared shitless because she’s going to be a mom in eight months, but she was fine health-wise. “I told you we should’ve gotten the chicken,” she teased, trying to steer the conversation away from how she was feeling. He managed to soothe her easily without even trying as he tucked her hair behind her ears. “I missed you so much.” Even though he’d already been home for two months, sometimes she couldn’t help but let it slip.

steven
Steven didn’t know what he had expected when he got a text back from Janine. A few months ago she would’ve just texted him she was on her way and then she would’ve packed for him and he would’ve just watched and teased her while she did. Those were good times. But instead it was just a list. Which made sense, they weren’t dating anymore, he’s a grown up, and there’s no reason why she should pack for him.

The list is exactly what he would’ve expected coming from Janine. It was long, detailed, and completely well thought out. And he caught himself smiling at his phone a bit as he skimmed the list. There was no way he was going to pack everything on the list, but he had no doubt Janine did. That’s just the kind of person she is. Steven almost felt a little bad because she was the definite and obvious mom of the group. She was usually the designated driver who then had to babysit the three drunk adults who wouldn’t stop laughing and falling over or attempting to take off their clothes in public while whining that they wanted more alcohol or whatever else they may have been on. The four of them sure have some good stories, that’s for sure.

And that’s exactly why he and Janine had to stay on good terms. For the sake of this weird little group. Meredith especially. She would be extremely heartbroken if she knew exactly what was going on. She loved shows like How I Met Your Mother and Friends so she had this vision in her mind that the four of them would have to stay friends forever and be the godparents of each other’s kids and whatnot. It’s not like it was hard to be civil with Janine, either. It had been two months and things have been better. That’s what Steven told himself anyways. He’ll always love her, he knows that much. She will always be his first ever serious girlfriend and she has been with him through a lot of things in his life. But that time of his life is over now and it’s time to experiment with the bachelor life. But not really because he was working all the time but he could pretend, anyway.

Steven has always been envious of her, however, because she’s still in school and she’s going to do something with her life. Neuroscience had been an interest of his as well but he was more set on being an oncologist or getting involved with research that focused on cancer. He was always a little bitter about that and it always started an argument whenever she brought up that he should go back to school. He just couldn’t seem to explain to her that it wasn’t that easy and then the argument would just go on and on and maybe they would breakup in the heat of the moment but then be back together within a few days. It was just a mess.

Now he was left with the task of responding to Janine. He wanted to say more than just a thank you, maybe something teasing but at this point it would seem like he was trying too hard. He, again, reminded himself that they were no longer together and it would be inappropriate to try and reconnect over text message.

thanks

Send.

Steven used the list as a guideline as he shoved things into the open suitcase. He didn’t even bother packing some of the things, which he knew he would probably end up needing eventually but that was just a stupid risk he was willing to take. Who even enjoys packing? His clothes were hardly even folded by the end, they were just kinda jumbled up in the corners. Not like Steven cared if he was in a wrinkly shirt, anyways.

In the kitchen of his mother’s small house he heard some fighting, as per usual. He shoved things into his suitcase at a slightly faster rate, ready to get out of this hellhole. He needed these two weeks badly.



message 41: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments LUKE
He was fairly certain that, at first, Meredith had only started dating him for an easy boot. He’d just turned legal, and, being front and centre of the party scene, he was frequently at the liquor store, coming out with cases of beer and bottles of the hard stuff tucked away in brown bags that reminded him of elementary school lunch hours. She had only been eighteen at the time, and their relationship had grown over shots, beer pong, and those deep talks that only two drunken idiots could have. They had a habit of getting absolutely wasted, and then stealing away from the group in the early morning hours. Everyone thought they were fucking around, when actually, they would sit cross-legged in front of each other and just talk. Well, there was a lot of fooling around too, but Luke remembered tracing her features in the dark while she slurred on about the future, or described her dream of the week. He’d fallen in love with her during those talks.

“I told you we should’ve gotten the chicken,” she pointed out, grinning, and he nodded. What was weird was the fact that he was feeling fine. He’d eaten as much of that pork as she had, if not more, and his stomach hadn’t protested in the slightest. Maybe she just reacted to it wrong.

Their eyes met as he tucked her hair behind her ears, and something inside of him relaxed. There was a period of time in which he had been sure she would throw his ass to the curb, which she had every right to do, but here she was. Maybe he was still bad, but he was doing better. Sure, the pot wasn’t great, but the heroin was worse. The heroin was much, much worse.

“I missed you so much.”

Again, that guilt, and his eyes left hers, down to her lap. “I missed you too,” he said, his words soft. He dropped his hands from her face, and then moved to sit beside her on the bed, which bent under his weight. He’d gained a little bit of weight in rehab, but was still too thin. It was the cigarettes, which curbed his hunger more than anything. He told himself that was why he was still smoking pot, so he would keep eating and sleep better at night. But that excuse was full of shit.

They’d talked about it, sure. About his overdose. That was basically the reason they’d sent him to rehab. Meredith had been hardly talking to him at that point, because he had gone past the point of actual fucking intelligence, and was abusing the hell out of it. He had started with smoking it off of pieces of tinfoil, and then had quickly graduated to needles. He wasn’t sure how he hid it for so long, but when he started disappearing for days on end, it was obvious that something more than casual drug use was going on.

And the sick part was that he wasn’t even sorry. Well, about the shit he put her through, yeah, and the fact that she had been the one to find him, blue in the face with a needle in his arm. But actually using smack? No, he couldn’t be sorry. It was just… he couldn’t describe it, but the mere thought of the high had him feeling dreamy and full of sunlight.

He rubbed a face across his stubbled cheeks, then leaned over and grasped her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. “I…” What could he say? No words out of his mouth could ever describe how shitty he felt about everything he’d done to her. Sometimes it felt like he was rotting from the inside out, every bad act sitting inside his gut like a moulding piece of fruit.



JANINE
Janine would be a liar to say that she didn’t miss Steven. She missed him so much sometimes that she had to sit down, the absence of him like a physical presence perched on her shoulders. They’d been together for such a long time, since she was sixteen, and he was eighteen. They had been the Three Musketeers, her, Meredith and Steven. And then when Meredith had met Luke, he had fit into their group like a missing appendage, and before long, she’d forgotten what it was like when it was just the three of them.

So, this official breakup was kind of a hard blow for her, no matter how well she pretended like it had been the best thing for her. Sure, she was trying to move on. She’d gone out with a couple guys from her classes since then, and was even sleeping with Professor Kichner once in a while. God, Steven would lose his mind if he found out about that. He’d always thought Kichner was a bit of a creep, and maybe he was, but he was handsome for a man in his early forties, and established, and treated her like she was something delicate and precious. But it just wasn’t the same. She was telling herself it was all due to the fact she and Steven had been together for so long, and she didn’t know any better. He had been her first real boyfriend. How could she not have such strong feelings for him?

Her phone buzzed with his reply, and she found herself feeling disappointed at his simple thanks. Ugh, she needed to stop being such a melodramatic kid and grow up. This was life. Breakups happened. She just needed to give herself time. A four year relationship doesn’t just vanish in two months.

She leaned down and picked up her suitcase, and wheeled it out to the main room, where she parked it beside the front door, but out of the way so she wouldn’t constantly be bumping it. She set her hiking boots next to it, so she wouldn’t forget them, then regarded her own list herself, mentally checking off all the items on the list. She knew those dorks wouldn’t pack everything on the list, so it was imperative that she did.

With a soft sigh, she set her phone done on the kitchen counter, and looked at the glowing green numbers on the stove clock. 3:56. For such a busy woman, sometimes it was as if she had absolutely nothing to do. She was strict about her daily routines, like getting up at exactly eight in the morning, taking a tablespoon of molasses with a glass of warm lemon water, and then eating a banana or two before embarking on a fifteen kilometre run, in which she ran the same route every day. Then she would come home, shower, organize her school things, go to class for the afternoon, come home, study whatever she had learned in class for a couple hours, have a snack, do fifteen minutes of yoga, then an hour and a half of free time before dinner. Then after dinner, she’d go for another run, same length, same route, shower again when she got home, and then watch a little TV before she went to bed.

But now it was summer break, and on her off days from work, it threw her into a bit of a limbo. And that fact that she wasn’t even going to work at the moment, having took the time off for this trip… It made her realize thats he didn’t really have any hobbies, or interests outside of her routines. Maybe she should take up knitting, or write a book or something.

Or she could call someone. Her mind flitted to Meredith, who, before Luke went to rehab, she would have called without even thinking about it. But things were different there too. Mer was so busy now… Janine was hoping that this trip would help them reconnect. Because her friendship with Mer meant more to her than anything, and if she lost Mer too… She didn’t know what she would do. Maybe throw herself off the top of her apartment building. Or go crazy and become a hermit. Most likely, she would complete absorb herself in her studies, to the point where she no longer had a personality, or a social life. She’d be one kick-ass surgeon, but, despite being focused she recognized just how important it was to have people in her life that cared about her.

Instead of texting Mer, she picked up her phone and typed, How’s the list? Straightforward enough?, and despite her better judgement, sent it to Steven.


message 42: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments
meredith

Meredith wasn’t one to hold grudges and she did her best to forgive Luke for everything that happened while he was addicted to heroin. She knew that when he was high he wasn’t himself. And during those times she would just hang onto their memories of when they first started dating. She is convinced that time period will forever be one of the best times of her life.

She was 18 and so full of life, goals, and alcohol. Her hair had been artificially blonder and her skin had been artificially tanner, but even back then in her intense party days she harder ever wore makeup. Her fresh face always made her look a little younger, even now. She can distinctly remember dancing on a table, half naked, seeing Luke for the first time in the kitchen of whatever shitty party house they were in. Well, she had seen him many times before since he helped supply a lot of the alcohol for many parties in the area, but this was her first time seeing him. And damn he was just so damn sexy. She nearly broke her ankle trying to get to him, but once she hauled her drunk ass over to him the first thing she said to him was that he should be her beer pong partner. And if you ask Mer, she’ll tell you they’re undefeated, even now. Even though Steven swears he and Janine beat them once at their place.

It would be impossible to ignore, however, the period of time before Luke went to rehab. Which, arguably, were some of the worst times of Meredith’s life. The worst was when he would be gone for days at a time. She wouldn’t be able to sleep or eat due to worry, when he was gone. She would sit by her phone, at all times, expecting to get a call from the police or something, asking her to come down to the hospital to identify his body. She never knew where he was, who he was with, what he was doing, anything. Well she vaguely knew what he was doing, she knew it was drug related. During those times she relied heavily on Janine and Steven to vent to. When Luke eventually would come home she could barely look at him. She tried arguing with him but she just felt useless and like an idiot. And then she would cry, a lot. It seemed to be a never ending cycle until he overdosed.

Now, without a doubt, that had been the worst moment of her life. She had come home from trying to grocery shop, only to find that they had no money. She walked into the apartment ready to curse him out and leave, until she saw him in the state he was in. She had called 911 while frantically trying to find a pulse and then she called Janine, sobbing so hard and repeating “I think he’s dead, I think he’s dead”. She still gets nightmares from it. Once Luke was in the hospital and doing better, Meredith sat down next to his hospital bed, crying a little, and told him she couldn’t do it anymore unless he changed.

All of that flashed in her mind as he took her hand. She gave him just a little smile, squeezed his hand very gently, before pulling her hand away and standing up. “I’m just going to change really quick, um,” she tucked her hair behind her ear again, as she looked around for the clothes she had left out last night. Once they were spotted, she hugged them close to her and went back into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

Meredith washed her face quickly before stripping and then putting on her outfit of the day. She tried to think of anything other than Luke in rehab and the baby but there she goes again, getting herself wound up over things she can’t control. She pulled on a pair of light denim shorts, that just covered the curve of her butt, and a white tank top with a purposefully visible black bralette on underneath. Her hair was messy, as it always was, and she gave up on trying to tame it, like she always does. In just a minute she would walk back into the bedroom and she would be normal, she kept telling herself that. And then that’s exactly what she did.


steven
Steven felt his phone buzz in his pocket and when he looked at his phone he was surprised to see that it was Janine. He figured it was just going to be a late picture of her list or something. Which he was a little bummed about because he had decided he was done with packing. He had already given up on packing and figured he had enough to get him through two weeks. If he had to wear the same shirt two days in a row, so be it. He’s with three of his best friends it’s not like they’ll tease him any worse than they already do so what’s the harm.

Is it even okay to call your ex-girlfriend who you dated for four years one of your best friends? Steven didn’t know what else to call her at that point. Ex-girlfriend seems so harsh and like they left off on bad terms. Which isn’t accurate at all regarding the two of them. Sometimes he had to remind himself why they broke up because he found himself thinking of Janine or briefly wondering what she was doing or if she had started seeing other guys. Steven was actually pretty embarrassed by his lack of game when it came to picking up women. Yeah he had succeeded a few times but it was hardly even satisfying at that point. Before Janine, he had fooled around quite a bit but high school girls were way easier than girls in their 20s, he learned that quickly. He felt quite a bit out of his comfort zone, which was an unusual feeling for him given he’s such a confident guy. When you’ve been in a relationship with someone for so long you don’t exactly have to charm them out of their pants. Sometimes all ya gotta do is roll over in bed and say you’re in the mood and then that’s it.

Steven gave in and eventually opened the message from Janine, curiosity getting the better of him. What he saw definitely surprised him a bit. She was actually trying to keep the conversation going. Now, that made Steven feel pretty good and he didn’t know why. Well, he knew why but he didn’t admit why. But honestly, why can’t he get over this girl, that’s what he wanted to know. In some ways, since they’ve broken up, he has been less stressed. There’s less arguing in his life, he has a little more time to himself, but most importantly there’s less arguing which means he doesn’t have to apologize for things he’s not sorry for. He usually ended up giving in first because Janine could be so damn stubborn.

Even now as he thought about all her negatives, he found himself texting her back. It would be rude to ignore her, right? She’s probably just trying to practice being civil or whatever before they have to meet up with Luke and Mer. Yeah, sure, that’s it.

yeah one of your better lists honestly
and thanks for reminding me to wax my legs

There that seemed friendly enough, Steven decided. And then he sat on the edge of his bed, waiting for a text back, like some teenage girl. He groaned, tossing his phone on the bed and rubbing one of his temples. He has now decided she’s doing this on purpose to make him look like an idiot while trying to get him to admit that he wants her back. He was determined to not let her win, this time. Steven let her win most of the time, but that’s usually after hours of arguing, so by that point they were already so fed up with each other. Steven wished he could accept it was a flawed relationship, because it definitely was.

He was still waiting for that text back though. It’s not like he could confide in Meredith or Luke. They had their own problems to work out, anyway. Steven definitely didn’t like getting involved there, so he usually left that up to Janine. Of course Steven was always there for Luke and Mer, and he always would be. But usually when Meredith is upset she naturally gravitates towards Janine, would probably gives way better advice than he ever could. And he honestly didn’t know how Luke coped with different things. And it’s not like he was about to text him about girl advice, he would never live that down.

So he sat there, waiting for his phone buzz.



message 43: by Brooke (last edited Jun 12, 2016 08:47AM) (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments LUKE
On one of her visits to the rehab, at the end of his term, Mer’d explained to him what the rules were going to be when he came home. He’d been a little annoyed that she’d made up a list, because it sounded a lot like something Janine would do. Something Janine had probably helped her do. The first was, obviously, no drugs or alcohol. Secondly, twelve in the morning was his curfew. And thirdly, he was not allowed to have a lock on his phone. He’d agreed to these terms easily, deleting his phone lock right in front of her. But then, he’d gotten home, and Fitzy had texted him, and he couldn’t say no.

He was holding up two out of the three terms. Better than one out of three. Or none out of three. Of course, he was breaking the biggest, most obvious one, but that was just how he did things.

When he reached over and took her hand, she pressed an expression on her face like it was hard to do, this small smile that he couldn’t read. She squeezed his hand, softly, before she jumped up, and slipped her hand out of his grasp. “I’m just going to change really quick, um.” She turned in a circle, looking for something, before picking up a neat pile of clothes from on top of the dresser. Then she left the room without a word, the bathroom door clicking shut behind her.

He stayed where he was, sitting on the bottom of the bed, listening to her movements through the thin walls. He’d said the wrong thing again. Or maybe it was a lack of saying anything at all. Why the fuck couldn’t he talk to her? She wanted him to, he knew he needed to, but the right time, if there ever was going to be one, hadn’t arrived yet, and Luke kept his mouth shut about all of it. There were some thing that he absolutely did not want her to know.

He rose to his feet with a sigh, then returned to the dresser, where he pulled out the bottom drawer and looked at what he had for pants. They were buried under piles of Mer’s clothes, all bleached denim and ripped. He grabbed a couple pairs of pants, and one pair of cargo shorts, since his swim trunks could easily double as shorts, then shoved those in too, with the rest of his stuff. There. That was probably good. If he was forgetting something, he knew that Janine would have grabbed it. That’s what Janine did. That was her job when he came to the group.

The bathroom door opened, and Mer came out, wearing these shorts that just covered her butt, and a tight white tank that hugged her skin. Luke’s eyes lingered on her body for a second before proceeding to zip up the duffle bag. Back in the day, he’d’ve been able to snag a finger through her belt loop when she walked by, yanking her down onto the bed with him. Today, the tank top was pulled down over her waistband. If he had to guts to make a grab for her, he would, but today, after she’d pulled away from him like that, he didn’t think it would be right.

She smiled at him, though he had enough of a mind to know that she was forcing it. He’d been with her long enough to know that she would go into the bathroom to collect herself, and then come back out acting like nothing ever happened. And for most of the relationship, he’d just pretend that things were fine, as long as she pretended. They weren’t like Janine and Steven, who would fight out on the balcony, or right in the other room. They just swallowed what was wrong and waited for it to burst out at an unexpected time.

“Mer,” he said, breaking the thick silence of the room, watching her back with his dark eyes. “What’s wrong?”



JANINE
What was she doing , starting up a conversation? God, how many times had their break ups been exactly like this? They’d have a fight, he’d stomp back to his Mom’s place, and they’d both be pissed as hell. She’d lay in bed, glaring up at the ceiling for a while before she’d go to sleep, then eat only bananas for a couple days, or until she felt brave enough to text him, trying to win him into saying that he missed her. She stared into her cell phone screen, almost confused by the sight she was seeing, and how incredible it was that history really did repeat itself. She’d sent a text, testing his attitude toward her, and now, having seen that it was friendly—flirting, even—she could now reply with something like:

Thanks. I’m glad you noticed, I took a list-writing class.
And you’re welcome. I caught a glimpse of them on Tuesday and didn’t want you to forget. They’re pretty bad.


She could feel their vibes sliding into that familiar banter they’d fallen into the first time they’d met. Back in high school, boys were usually intimidated by her because she was so smart, and had no qualms about pointing it out. Not even in a boasting way, just more in a matter-of-fact way. But, for some reason, Steven was the only guy who hadn’t been weird around her. Or maybe he was just the first boy she talked to that watched the news once in a while. Either way, she could tell he was smart, and she liked to see how far she could push it. And to her pleasant surprise, he’d always pushed back.

She set her phone down on the table, shoving it away from her. Stop, she needed to stop this. They were split up for a good reason. For many reasons.

Like the effect Luke’s OD had on them.

The phone had been shrill that night, and had scared the shit out of Janine. She’d ripped off her sleeping mask, and glared at her cell phone on the plain, black square night stand. Her thoughts were: If this is fucking Steven looking for a late night booty call, I’m going to kill him— but then she’d noticed that it was Meredith’s number. And at 3:26 in the morning, Janine knew that there was no way in hell Meredith would be calling her at such an hour if it wasn’t a life and death situation. Every cell in her body had suddenly come alive, and she had lunged for the phone, scrambling to swipe the talk button across her screen, fumbling to get it up to her ear. “Meredith, Meredith?”

Meredith had been screaming her name, sobbing, and Janine had had to shout several times to be heard over her cries. Her hysteric words after still chilled her when she thought about them. “I think he’s dead, I think he’s dead.”

The feeling that rose up in Janine in that moment was absolutely indescribable. It was almost a numbed, robotic feeling, like her autopilot was taking over. She’d told Mer that she was on her way, then rolled out of bed, shoving her feet into little pink slippers and pulling on her blue bathrobe with cartoon rubber duckies all over them as she fled her room, her hand reaching out to swipe her car keys off the kitchen counter.

It had been raining for about twenty-four hours, and there was so sign it was going to stop, so the night had been loud with the squawky swipes of her old wipers, and the rain beating down on her window shield, pitter-pattering above her like time running out. She put her phone on speaker, then set it on the little ledge in front of the screen displaying her speedometer. With shaking fingers, she typed in Steven’s number and called him, and then peeled out of her parking lot, bumping over the curb as she launched herself into the slow, late night traffic. He’d answered on the third ring, his voice still half asleep. Janine was hunched over the steering wheel at a red light entering the outskirts of the inner city, trying to breathe and see through the corroded mess of her windshield. “Something happened.” Her voice had been so small she’d repeated herself, louder, her words coming out breathless, “Oh my God, Steven.”

Janine and Steven pulled into the parking lot of Luke and Mer’s building almost at the same time. There was an ambulance outside the front lobby doors, the red lights sweeping over the building, the siren screaming like a cruel rooster. After slamming her door shut behind her, the sharp clap of Steven’s car door slamming echoing her own, Janine had ran across the lot to Steven, and then, with their hands reaching out to the other, they’d sprinted up to the glass doors together, then chugged it up the four flights of stairs to the right floor. They just rammed open the stairwell door, and had burst into the hallway to see a stretcher being rolled out of Luke and Mer’s apartment. For Janine, everything in that moment slowed down, and she remembered seeing Meredith push past someone in the doorway to watch Luke being wheeled away, and the paramedics shoved both Janine and Steven against the wall to make room for the stretcher. Janine looked right at Luke, her hand going limp inside Steven’s at the sight of his face. And then Meredith had started running past them, and Janine lunged out and grabbed her, and Mer collapsed in her arms.

It was a night she remembered vividly. It was awful.

And he’d stayed with them that whole night, and had driven them to the hospital, where under fluorescent lights Meredith had slept in his lap, while Janine rested her head against his shoulder, waiting for someone, anyone, to tell them what was going on.

And when she was feeling like this, shitty after a break up with Steven, it was those things that clung to her. Maybe that was what made it so hard to let go of him.


message 44: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments
meredith
Once Mer entered their bedroom, she padded over the vanity where she kept her jewelry and very small makeup collection, which mostly consisted of concealer to hide dark circles under her eyes when she hadn’t slept and foundation to cover up breakouts from when she got really stressed. Since Luke had been home and sober, for the most part anyway, she was sleeping a lot better and overall less stressed. Yeah, money gave her stress. Lack there of, anyway. But usually she could get Janine to help her out when it came to planning how much Mer should be spending on groceries and other necessities as well as wants.

At the end of the day, however, they were still broke as shit and hardly affording this apartment which wasn’t even that nice to begin with. It was expensive due to its fairly safe location. Anyone who’s familiar with Chicago knew some parts of the city were extremely dangerous. Meredith was the type of person who would get scared and paranoid every time she heard about another murder. But even she had begun looking for some cheaper apartments. If modeling didn’t start taking off soon Meredith wasn’t sure how much longer they could afford this place. No to mention it’s a one bedroom and they have a little one on the way, who would cost even more money. Just thinking about it made Mer run her fingers through her hair, a nervous habit of hers.

“Mer,” and then a pause, “What’s wrong?”

She froze for just a split second before continuing to layer some simple and little necklaces. Once she was done she turned around to face him. Her eyes were maybe a little wider than usual, and looking just a tad panicked. She knew she had to say something otherwise the silence would be even more suspicious. And she wanted to tell him, she wanted to tell him so badly. More than anything she wanted to reenact the early days of their relationship, where they would just be sitting down together and saying anything and everything. She had told him everything. She wished she could tell him and he would comfort her and tell her it was going to be okay, they would make it work.

But she just couldn’t bring herself to tell him that she was pregnant. Or that she was scared. So she stood there, lost in thought for a moment, before finally answering.

“Nothing! I’m just trying to remember if I packed everything,” Meredith said, hoping it was convincing enough to satisfy him without any further questioning. She wasn’t going to tell him. She wasn’t going to tell him until it was obvious and then she would hope that he wouldn’t be mad at her for keeping something like that from him.

She was doing it for his own good, she kept telling herself that. It’s not like she would start showing for a few more weeks. It would be easy to hide. She would just come up with an excuse as to why she didn’t want to drink alcohol anymore, she would be more secretive about her morning sickness, and she would make up reasons for why they were getting bills from a doctor. Now she just had to keep her big mouth shut. Especially around Janine who had pretty much become her therapist as well as her financial advisor. She hoped Janine didn’t feel like she was using her, she just valued her friendship and her opinions more than most at the moment. But she couldn’t know about this yet, either. Meredith had her own little secret.

Mer looked at Luke, again. Now it was her turn to ask. “Are you doing okay?” She realized she didn’t really deserve an honest answer from him because she wasn’t telling him the whole truth. But she still decided to give it a shot. She wanted him to be able to trust her completely, just like how they used to do it.


steven
He doesn’t know why he was expecting a text back. They would just be doing the same thing over and over again if they continued this. And Steven knew that Janine knew that. This wasn’t about them anymore they were doing this for the sake of their friends. Relationships end. Not everyone can stay together forever. He had been fairly upset when they ended it last, because there was a sense that it was actually over. Two months is the longest they’ve been separated as well, so it was going the way it should be. Of course, they still saw each other pretty frequently due to them being in the same close knit group of friends. Steven definitely didn’t want that to end, however.

Janine and Meredith had been friends for a long time, even before Steven had known them. Steven can remember them eating lunch together in high school or walking together to their lockers or something every time he saw the two of them. He had always found their friendship to be a little odd since they were different, mostly in their academic abilities, but the two of them always seemed to make it work. Steven had been a junior while they were freshmen, and that’s when he had first met them even though he didn’t start dating Janine until his senior year. Janine had been in some of his classes, even though they were advanced classes that were even above Steven’s grade level. They started dating, and soon it was the three of them, with Meredith tagging along being their number 1 fan and third wheel. Even though half the time Steven felt like he was third wheeling with the two of them.

Steven knew about Luke even before Mer and he had started dating. Meredith couldn’t shut up about guy and eventually they started dating as well and then Luke was introduced into their little group. Steven had been grateful for some more testosterone in the group so he and Luke got along easily and quickly. Steven has never really gotten into drugs, tobacco, or even hard liquor for that matter. He just likes beer. Although he’s done pot with Luke a few times just for the hell of it if the girls weren’t around.

He didn’t want to say he saw the OD coming, but he just had a feeling something wasn’t going to end well. He had studied the effects of different drugs, including heroin, in one of his classes during high school so he had a very vague foundation of knowledge about the subject. And with that knowledge he was always a little worried about Luke, it was just a matter of time before something happened. Of course the textbook had been littered with many horror stories of drug overdoses ending fatally, the whole point of the class was to discourage drug use among teenagers.

On the night it happened, Steven got a call at 3:37 am from Janine. He always had his phone on a fairly high ringer at night, just in case someone needed him and he was happy he did especially that night. At first when he saw it was Janine he just thought, in his sleepy brain, maybe she needed some late night loving, which he would’ve been more than okay with. He had called her plenty of times at odd hours of the night for the exact same reason. Janine’s voice had been quiet and breathless sounding. As soon as he realized she had said “Something’s happened” he sat up quickly and he knew it was Luke. He just knew it. “I’ll see you there,” he said into his phone before hanging up. He ended up putting on his shirt backwards with a pair of gym shorts from high school and then mismatched shoes, but he couldn’t have been bothered at that point.

They pulled into the parking lot of the of the apartment complex at nearly the exact same time even though Janine had a slight head start. Steven lived just a few minutes closer to the couple. They had both been at that apartment many times, so they knew how to get up there. He remembered when Mer and Luke first got the apartment, all of them were pretty excited. And Steven remembered thinking it might be nice to get a place with Janine, but they never got that far. He did stay over at her place quite a bit though. It was a lot quieter there. That and he enjoyed being alone with her for reasons other than just sex.

Ever since that incident, Meredith especially seemed more fragile. So she got babied by the group a bit more. Steven, for one, couldn’t believe that Janine agreed to the trip on such short notice. But, they’re doing it for Meredith and Luke. Everything they were doing right now seemed to be for Meredith and Luke.

He pulled out his phone one last time to text Janine.

when are we leaving



message 45: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments LUKE
He saw her back stiffen, just for a second, before she lifted another necklace over her head, straightening it out and fluffing her hair a little in the mirror before turning around to look at him. The pause in between his question and her answer was only a couple of seconds, but to Luke, it felt like days.

“Nothing! I’m just trying to remember if I packed everything.”

Although her words seemed genuine enough, Luke continued to feel unsettled, though he nodded and went over to the closet to grab his rain jacket, which he’d just thought might be a good thing to grab. The hangers screeched against the metal pole as he shuffled through what was, mostly, Mer’s clothes, easily picking out his dark, earthen colours in contrast to her bright and vibrant ones. He unhooked his rain jacket, just simple and black, then grabbed a faded burgundy hoody, for the evenings. Okay, now he should really be ready to go.

“Are you doing okay?” She asked just as he turned around, laying the two articles of clothing down on the bed as he unzipped his duffle bag.

He didn’t stop what he was doing, just yanked on the zipper. He knew she was just looking at him, waiting, but at this point, he couldn’t stand those words together in a sentence. Are you doing okay? Are you doing okay? He’d been asked it countless times since he got home. The first week, it was every second thing out of her mouth. He had been laying on the couch for three days straight, wrapped up in a blanket and watching stupid ass soap operas, trying not to think about the world outside his front door. He’d been feeling particularly low, because he hadn’t thought it would be so hard to come home. So, like an asshole, he’d snapped at her, without even taking his eyes off the TV.

“What?” He looked up from maneuvering the hanger out of the neck of his hoody. “Oh, yeah, I’m fine.” He rolled the hoody into a ball, then shoved it into the bag. “Did you grab my toothbrush? I think it was on the kitchen counter.” He had a habit of brushing his teeth there, so he could see the TV from the sink. And he also had the habit of changing the subject before getting into anything too deep. Especially when it came to his fuck ups and how he was feeling.

He was still bothered by the fact that she wasn’t really talking to him. There had been a time when he’d’ve just asked how her day went, and that would set her off on a tangent, a long-winded, one-sided conversation and the next thing he knew, two hours had passed, and he’d have said maybe ten words in total. But he actually preferred it that way; that’s why they worked. She talked for both of them. Sometimes, at social events, he didn’t have to say anything to anybody. He’d just hold Mer’s hand, and stand kind of behind her, as if she was his social shield, and then he’d smile and nod at all the right beats of a conversation, to look like he was actually participating. That had become extremely useful when they’d go out when he was high and having a hard time keeping his eyes open.

“I got my resumé done,” He said, for a lack of anything else. It was true though, he’d told her it would be done weeks ago, but had just stared at a blank screen for a while. Sure, his rights were protected when it came to getting a job, but that didn’t mean that employers were typically keen to hire a guy with a drug past. And the fact that he had the tendency to dip into the register to fund his habit didn’t help his cause either. But he was still going to try and find something, anything, solely for Mer, once they got back from the trip. He’d found pages upon pages of paper with budgeting plans scribbled all over them in the recycling the other day. And then he’d stumbled upon a pair of bank notes stashed between a couple cereal boxes. They weren’t doing good. The bank notes had actually motivated him to have a couple sober days dedicated to the resumé. He was hoping it would do the trick.

“I was thinking about dropping it off at that house painting thing.” He glanced over at her as he zipped back up the duffle bag after shoving his rain jacket inside. He’d been talking to a couple guys from his NA program, who told him that small, physically demanding businesses was were it was at. They didn’t ask questions, most of the time. If you could get the job done, great, you were in. “They seemed pretty casual. Oh, and at the lumber yard, down on Pershing Road. Lees, or whatever?” He realized he was babbling a little, but he just wanted her to know that he was trying. Kinda of.



JANINE
They’d all known that Luke was crazy. He and Mer were a force to be reckoned with at parties. No one could outdrink them, and playing beer pong with them was just plain scary, they were so competitive. Then, they’d graduated high school, and grew up a little, applying to colleges, or getting jobs. But Luke just kept going.

She’d had her suspicions. Frankly, at first, Janine had been sure he was just cheating on Meredith. It would explain the late hours, or the stumbling through the front door at ten in the morning, having been gone all night. How many times had she woken up to a hey are you awake? text message from Meredith wanting to talk in the middle of the night? She’d sleep through them, and then Mer would be too thoughtful to wake her up.

Janine stumbled across the needles under the bathroom sink when she had been searching for toilet paper. She looked at them while she sat on the toilet, listening to the voices of her friends from the main room through the door. She hadn’t known what to think, exactly, just that this wasn’t good. She’d brought it up to Mer after the guys had passed out, and it was just the two of them, sitting at the kitchen table, the city lights streaming in.

During everything, she probably talked to Mer at least once every day. Usually they would talk about Luke, which was fine. She liked to give advice. She liked helping Mer with her issues, it was a good distraction from her own, especially when things were bad with Steven. She could forget all about it, and slip right into her mother hen costume, and act like she had the answers to everything, when really, most of the time, she felt like a little kid in the skin of an adult. She didn’t know what to do about anything, most of the time. The only thing that made sense to her were numbers and biology. It was ironic, her wanting to be a neurosurgeon, and yet she didn’t know how to handle the thoughts and emotions of herself and the people around her. Maybe it was part of what fascinated her about the brain. It’s complexities. It’s mysteries.

Since Luke had gotten home, Janine had heard less and less from Mer, and her distance was troubling her. Mer never, ever hid anything from her. At times, Janine had thought that Mer was sometimes too open. But now that she didn’t know every waking thought in Meredith’s head, she wanted to take that right back.

Her phone buzzed against the kitchen counter, and she scooped it up, hating herself when she found that she was eager to read what he had sent.

But, she’d hit a wall.

when are we leaving

This. This was one of the reasons she had broken up with him so many times. It was like Steven lived in a another world, completely separate from her. Sure, he stepped outside of it when it was time to fool around, or when he was playing with his little brothers, but any other time, she felt like they were on two different sides of a glass wall that he had designed. She’d get a little crack in, would dig her fingernails and desperately try to pry it open, but it was no use. When Steven closed himself up, it was harder to open him up than it was to get into an un-cracked pistachio.

Though they’d been together for so long, and knew so much about each other, she sometimes still felt like a stranger to him, in every way that wasn’t physical. Right before they’d broken up, for good, she’d looked over at him lounging on her couch, flicking through TV channels for something to watch while they ate dinner, and she thought to herself, Who the hell is this person? Why, after four years, do I seriously not know anything about him? Sure, she knew he liked to eat lemons, and had nearly memorized the sounds he made in bed, and what she could do to incite them, but she didn’t know him. His soul. She’s always been so jealous of Luke and Mer, who (before the addiction, of course) were so open with each other. Maybe their drinking days had allowed them to be a lot more open with each other, but they were connected. Even now. And throughout her whole relationship with Steven, it always felt like she was stumbling around in the dark, knocking into things and making a big mess.

So, she sent back: Be ready by ten tomorrow morning.


message 46: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments
meredith

She couldn’t quite tell if he believed her or not, but she wasn’t going to question it. She felt kinda dirty lying to him. This was the guy that knew everything about her. He knew about all the issues she had with her mom, he knew about her father passing away, he knew that she hates her sister, he knew that she hates the word ‘meat’, he knew she doesn’t have a favorite color because she likes a different color for every situation, he just knew everything. And maybe if this had been a year ago, maybe Meredith would’ve sat him down on the couch, handed him the pregnancy test, and they would’ve figured something out. But it wasn’t a year ago it was right now and their relationship was in a completely different place.

Meredith knew he couldn’t stand when she asked him that. She almost wanted to take it back, but at the same time, she wanted a genuine answer. She wasn’t asking it because that’s how you’re supposed to be supportive, according to some pamphlet she and Janine had made fun of, she asked because she cared. She just cared too much sometimes and kind of asked him every five minutes when he first got home. Meredith knew she acted weird when he first got out. First, she couldn’t stop hugging him and kissing him and just overall touching him. She was just so excited. Then, she couldn’t stop staring at him. She just couldn’t believe he was right there, in front of her, in their apartment. Then it came to the “Are you doing okay?” phase. That lasted the longest. She would worry when all he wanted to do was watch tv and stay on the couch. And of course when he yelled at her for it, it hurt her feelings. She wasn’t sure what she had been expecting when he came home, but it wasn’t that. Now that he’s been more active and responsive, Mer has become more normal as well. She figured it was only a matter time before they could be completely comfortable around each other again.

The “I’m fine” answer had become the norm and Meredith decided not to push it. She shouldn’t have asked, when he’s comfortable talking about it, then he would. “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be annoying when I ask that, I promise,” she said, moving to sit on their bed again. She looked down, seeing the little unused tampon that he had discarded earlier. Mer moved it onto her bedside table and the eased herself back onto the bed, watching as he fiddled with his hoody.

“Yeah I packed your toothbrush,” she nodded. “I packed your deodorant and stuff as well,” she added. Despite all of the clothes she packed, she managed to find a little room for toiletries. She had been in an intense packing mood yesterday after work. Work had been shitty and thinking about the roadtrip all day got her through so naturally, when she got home that was still her main priority.

She looked up at him, eagerly, when he said that he had finished his résumé. Mer had made a huge effort to not nag him about it, but every now and then she would give him a gentle reminder about it. She figured getting a job might be beneficial and a résumé would be a good place to start. And he getting it done meant he was trying and that meant everything to Meredith. She looked down at her hands, picking at her nails a bit, just so he wouldn’t have to see how big she was smiling about this. And even better he already had an idea of where he might work. She finally managed to control her smile to look at him again. “That’s really great babe. I’m happy for you.” She got on her knees, shuffled across the bed, and put her arms loosely around his neck before kissing him softly.

Mer pulled away shortly after, looking thoughtful. “We should celebrate!” she exclaimed, a bit too loudly considering she was right in front of him. She sat back down, going through some options in her head. “We could get ice cream, go to the puppy store, go get coffee at that super cute new place, go to the kitten store, or we can just stay home and watch Netflix whatever you want!” She smiled up at him, and for moment all of her stress was gone.


steven

Ever since Steven and Janine had broken up, Steven found himself not very up to date on what’s new with Luke and Mer. Janine and Meredith talked all the time. Like they could be just about to start doing “it” but if Meredith texted then he had to wait on that. Steven had never seen people, who weren’t a couple, talk that much. Not to mention, he used to hang out with just the two of them, no Luke. Girls, man, they’re weird.

Even though just a few nights ago he had been over at their place after work to have a beer with them. He wasn’t the most observant when he came to people, so he was pretty confident that Luke and Mer were back to their normal selves. Well, Meredith didn’t drink any alcohol, which was pretty strange of her. But he figured maybe she just wasn’t very thirsty or something. Okay, now that he was thinking about it that was unheard of for Meredith. He had even sat on the balcony with her for a few hours while Luke stayed inside, but she was just focused on the road trip. She says Steven had helped her plan, but mostly she just talked and kept talking, like she usually does. This is why Janine is better with people than he is, she notices stuff.

Steven knew Luke was stoned when he had been over. He had been high with Luke before and that’s pretty much what it was like. Sometimes they would just stare at a TV and that was all their night consisted of. Or sometimes they would just eat food and laugh or something. Steven knows he shouldn’t encourage things like that but hey, it was better than heroin. Steven didn’t really have any trouble treating Luke normal once he came home. He was still able to banter easily and didn’t get all suspicious of him and never asked him if he was doing okay. In fact, being the insensitive little shit he is without meaning to be, he made a comment that Luke had gained weight in rehab. He hadn’t meant it in a bad way, he was just teasing, and it was actually a good thing he did gain some weight. But harsh looks from Mer and J shut him right up.

Luke was the crazy one of the group. Which meant his actions got more attention than Steven’s, which Steven appreciated. He had done some stupid things growing up and was a bit of a wild child. He had been taken into police custody twice. But, he wasn’t charged so his record was completely clean despite all of his dumbass shenanigans. He was more of an adrenaline junkie than anything else. He got caught for some trespassing, he didn’t mean to do any harm he was just looking for some cool new places for him to say he found. And then the second time he got in trouble for getting into a fist fight, but nobody wanted to press charges and the police officers were pretty chill so he got away with that as well.

He calmed down quite significantly, however, once he started dating Janine. It was definitely good for him. His grades got even better, because he was always competing with her. That not to say the two of them didn’t have fun, because the two of them did their own little fair share of sneaky things. But they weren’t the crazy partiers like Luke and Meredith. Steven honestly didn’t know how they did it. They would literally go out all the time. Kind of impressive, actually.

Steven picked up his phone when it had buzzed, and read the text Janine had sent him. He didn’t want the conversation to end there. How pathetic of him. He didn’t know if she was finding him annoying and just wanted him to leave her alone. Probably. She would always get so annoyed when Steven would go in and out of zoning out. Or when he couldn’t listen to a song all the way through. Or when he couldn’t stay on a TV channel for more than two minutes. Actually, probably 98% of what Steven did annoyed her. And he liked it. He just found it so amusing. And, when she wasn’t yelling at him, she looked kind of cute when she got frustrated. He blamed some of it on his ADHD, kind of a lame excuse but it’s whatever. He blamed another part on being sleep deprived for the last ten years.

Maybe she wanted deep talks or she wanted him to pay attention. Steven wasn’t particularly interested in either. She knew this and he knew this but there he was sitting there trying to think of something else to say to her.

we should do something im bored

If she denied he would say he meant to send it to the other Janine in phone. Like she would believe that but whatever it was worth a shot.



message 47: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments LUKE
The only person that didn’t get up his ass about things was Steven. Mer and J were always looking at his face too closely, concern spread across their features with everything he said. He wanted to go back to their party days, when the most difficult event of the night was getting Janine to take more than one shot.

When he’d gotten back from rehab, Steven had acted exactly the same toward him, still joking around, still insulting him. The night the idea of a road trip had been born, Luke was pretty sure Steven knew he was high, and his comment about Luke gaining some weight in rehab had him grinning. In that moment, everything had seemed okay, great, even. His friends were still around, and none of them said anything about the pot, even if Steven had been the only one to notice. Meredith was a lot easier to fool. If his eyes were red or droopy, it was just his allergies acting up, or he’d had a long day and was exhausted, even if he hadn’t done anything. The fact that she was a receptionist at an animal clinic made it insanely easy for him to lie to her and get away with it. When she came home from work, she was often covered in cat hair, or dog hair, or whatever. And often, his allergies really did act up, so technically it wasn’t a complete lie. He knew she was heartbroken about the fact that he was so allergic to animals, because he knew she wanted a dog. Maybe once they got a place with a yard, so the dog could stay outside ninety percent of the time.

He wasn’t surprised when she said she had packed all his random stuff, and he grinned over at her in thank you. Last night, the whole bedroom was torn apart as she decided what to bring, sitting next to her suitcase surrounded by clothes and shoes, as if she were an atomic bomb that created a fallout of apparel, rather than poisonous gas. In the middle of the night, she’d rolled over and kicked him accidentally in her sleep, and when he opened his eyes, he found himself tangled up in the thin orange straps of a bikini top that she had missed when cleaning up before bed.

“That’s really great babe, I’m happy for you,” she said in reply to the fact that his resume was done. In her eyes swam little sparkles of eagerness, and then she looked back down into her lap, picking at a hangnail.

“Thanks.” He wasn’t entirely sure how he felt about it yet. Well, it was definitely time to get his ass up off the couch. Sure, he was out of rehab, but he wasn’t in the real world. If he was going to truly recover, he needed to actually walk out the front door once in a while. Sometimes he felt like some kind of hermit, wrapped up in blankets and watching dumbs reruns, drinking ice water, and then standing at the edge of the parking lot of their complex, by the bushes, chain-smoking cigarettes and watching the traffic. A job would probably motivate him to shower more often, and would get him out of bed long enough to shave. At the thought, he reached up and scratched at the stubble on his cheeks. It was at least three days worth.

She pushed herself on her knees, and then shuffled across the bed before throwing her arms around him and pulling him into her. His arms wound lazily around her waist, and he kissed her back when she kissed him softly.

“We should celebrate!” She pulled away sooner than he wanted her to, her voice loud right in front of his face.

“For a resumé?” He let go of her as she slid back down to sit on her butt.

She started listing off places they could go, and Luke noticed the fact that none of them included alcohol. There was a time when there would have been little discussion about where they would go. There was only one place to go. The Bar on Buena. Mer just liked it there because of the dog-friendly patio, and he like it there because of the cheap beer. And since she wasn’t legal, he’d make sure to get a glass large enough to share.

The places she’d listed off sounded less than appealing, since they all involved going out. Luke looked down at what he was wearing: loose gray sweat pants and a white t-shirt with the cartoon graphic of a cat trying to cut on avocado. There was a mustard stain from somewhere, right above the print.

His eyes wandered to alarm clock beside the bed. He’d agreed to meet Fitzy at Hyde Park for a quick sesh around seven, but he had plenty of time before that. “Uh, just let me change quick…” He moved away from the bed, and padded over to the dresser, where he pulled open the third drawer and grabbed a pair of semi-clean jeans. “Ice cream?” He confirmed as he unbuttoned his pants and swapped them out for the blue jeans. Then he rustled around in the second drawer and pulled out a gray t-shirt, this time with the graphic of some skateboarding company. He switched into that as well, then grabbed a pair of socks from the top drawer and sat down on the bed to put them on.

This would actually be their first kind-of date since he got back from rehab. They used to do this kind of shit practically every night. They were hardly in the apartment at all, always out and about, doing something, going to parties or clubs, or eating out, or even just screwing around at the park. Since his conversion to hermit-ism, they hadn't been seen out of the apartment together in a long time. One of Meredith’s friends from work actually asked her if they’d broken up. They used to be inseparable, and Luke wasn’t really sure how to get back to that.

But ice cream was a good start.



JANINE
Luke and Mer were the reckless ones of the group. They did whatever they wanted, without thinking about consequences, or asking for permission. They wanted to do it, they did it. Steven was the middle man. He did his fair share of crazy, stupid things, but he knew when too far was too far. And then there was Janine. She had been called many things because of her reserved nature. Prude, nerd, kindergarten teacher… She wasn’t a fan of getting so drunk she couldn’t see straight, and had only done so in the presence of Luke, Mer and Steven. Once, at Luke and Mer’s apartment, she had gotten so drunk that she spent most of the night in the bathroom, and Steven had sat on the edge of the bathtub, rubbing her back and twisting her hair into the most awful ponytail she had ever seen. He’d been pretty drunk too, and had tipped backwards into the bathtub, where he eventually passed out. Mer had found him there, and Janine curled up on the bathroom mat the next morning.

She didn’t like to make a fool of herself. She kept up a certain image out in public, and being idiotic like that wasn’t going to help her cause to make people respect her. But her friends helped balance her out, so she wouldn’t become too high strung. Usually, Steven got her to do one dorky thing a day, and now that he wasn’t in her daily life, she found that she kind of missed acting stupid sometimes.

Not expecting him to text again, Janine put her phone down on the counter and wandered over to the fridge. Opening it revealed a plethora of fruit and vegetables, with a very minimal selection of lean meats, like turkey. Health was one of those things she sometimes got a little carried away with. She was the type of person to go a little extreme with her diets. Sometimes, she would eat only fruit for a week, or would attempt juice and water fasts every once in a while. She worked out more than anyone she knew, and it paid off, she knew from the looks she got in the street. But now, since no one was seeing her body on a regular basis, aside from Professor Kichner, it all seemed kind of pointless. Still, she put on a pot of rice, and started to steam some veggies for dinner. She ate vegetarian six out of seven days of the week, but allowed herself a little cheat every Sunday.

Her phone buzzed again, and she picked it up, expecting it to be Meredith. Though they didn’t talk as much as they used to, they still spoke everyday. Supper time was usually when they had their chats, while she was cooking dinner, and Mer was waiting for takeout.

But it was Steven again. we should do something im bored.

To the people in her life that knew she and Steven were broken up, their relationship now perplexed them. They still hung out often, usually in the group, but sometimes, just the two of them. She didn’t know how to explain to them that kicking him out of her life wasn’t that easy. They were best friends, and the agreement to stay on good terms for Luke and Mer had made that concrete. Their relationship now was exactly the same, minus the sex. And, of course, there was more privacy now, as they didn’t get into what the other was doing with their personal lives. They mostly just talked about the group, or work, or school.

Hanging out together was necessary if they didn’t want Luke and Mer to find out that things had ended between them. This was all part of their grand scheme, right? To act like everything was completely normal?

Come over, I just started dinner.


message 48: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments
meredith
Mer was glad Luke didn’t mention anything about their usual bar. She wasn’t quite sure how to turn that down without raising questions, because she couldn’t ever remember a time when she had turned down an offer to go to their favorite spot. If the circumstances were different, she would’ve offered that place up in a heartbeat. That was like their bar. They would talk for hours upon hours on end while sharing large pints of beer. And of course Meredith loved the fact she could pet all of the dogs that would come with their owners. Then once they had their fill of beer, they would figure out what club they were going to for the night or they would debate on where they should go to eat. They pretty much ate out three meals a day as well. Chicago was their playground. Their apartment used to only be used for sleeping and sex. And occasionally they would have Janine and Steven over for drinks and whatever else their crazy asses could come up with. Now Mer felt like she only left this place to go to work or do laundry downstairs, a few floors down. They didn’t even eat out anymore, they just got takeout.

But this would still be good. Mer loved ice cream. Ice cream, pancakes, and mac n cheese are pretty much the only foods she’s convinced that she can eat in normal quantities that won’t make her feel sick. Everything else she had to eat slowly and in small portions. And she was excited to go somewhere with Luke again. Maybe for an hour or two things could be normal again.

As Luke started getting changed, she also rose from the bed and went to stand in front of the mirror again. She fiddled with her necklaces and her shirt as well. Until she decided she no longer wanted to wear that shirt. Mer took the shirt off and then stood in front of one of the two closets. She hung the shirt back up, since she had only worn it for a little, and then pulled out a nearly identical white tank top. The only difference was this was slightly cropped and a bit looser. Mer could hardly ever wear the same outfit for a whole day. She pulled that over her head, adjusted it, and then started looking at all of her shoes before shoving her feet into a pair of white converse. They were pretty much her go to shoes and she was paranoid about keeping them clean.

While Mer waited for Luke to finish up and put his shoes on, she sent a quick text to Janine, asking how her day was going and also giving her a little update on her day. She left out the morning sickness part, of course, but made sure to mention she and Luke were going out for ice cream and she was really excited about it. Mer missed talking Janine practically all day every day. But Janine was always keeping herself busy and now Mer was working a lot more so their conflicting schedules made it difficult at times. They were making it work, though. But it still felt weird not having her daily long girl talks like they used to. Life was just busier now.

“Do you want to take the car or walk?” Meredith asked Luke as she sprayed herself with some perfume. It was a shitty old car that Meredith had gotten when she was 16 and still living in the suburbs of Chicago. It was like a 2006 Mercedes that had belonged to her uncle. Yes, Mercedes are nice cars, but this one was very old and way past its prime. Mer hated the thing, it only worked about 75% of the time and it smelt like cheap beer, old man, and faintly of vomit. Probably because she’s thrown up in there in years past, but whatever. There wasn’t a huge need for cars when living in the city but they could definitely be helpful at times. And let the record show, Meredith is not a good driver. In fact she is awful. She breaks way too hard and for no obvious reason. If there is a turtle in the road, she will put the car in park, get out of the car, and get the turtle to safety before getting back into the car. She hardly ever paid attention to the road, she focused way too much on the music that was playing, and she always got a little too into dancing.

She was fine with either option. She was just happy to be going on a date with her boyfriend.


steven
Janine was taking a bit to answer so he figured she had probably ignored him. Which was okay it’s not like she was obliged to hang out with him. Steven was a pretty social guy and had a few different friend groups. Obviously Janine, Luke, and Mer was his main group. But their days of all getting shitfaced together seemed to be over. Well, not that Janine ever really got shitfaced but the three of them against her was usually enough to persuade her to at least drink a little. The amount of times Steven has slept in Luke and Mer’s bathtub is a little ridiculous. He usually doesn’t remember how he ends up in there, either, it just happens. He’d fallen asleep in most places in the apartment, actually. Janine often times got lucky and she and Mer would get the bed. Steven had teased them a few times about doing some girl on girl stuff but they always denied it and he usually ended up getting something thrown at him to go along with it. Whatever, he thought it was funny.

That was pretty much the only group of friends he ever made time to hang out with. Steven tends to work over 12 hours most days. A 12 hour day would actually be pretty short for him, comparatively. So he had coworkers that he could get along with, but he never hung out with any of them outside of work. His favorite job was a marketing job for Chicago’s hockey team, the Blackhawks. He didn’t have a marketing degree of any kind, but his background was impressive enough to get him the job. That and the guy hiring him was a University of Chicago alum. That and he had a friend on the inside who was high up enough to pretty much guarantee him the job. The job was easy and that’s why he liked it. He could usually finish his work in half the time it should take him so then he could mess around with his coworkers until his shift ended or until his boss got tired of him distracting everyone else so he would send him home.

The second job was a bartending job. He hated this job because it required him to work late at night and until the early hours of the morning. Last night he went to work at 9 at night and then got off at 6 in the morning. He likes the social aspect of it, but that’s not enough to make up for the shitty hours. Mer worked with him a bit at that restaurant. She had been a waitress and she managed to keep that job for all of six weeks. She was tragically fired when she found a baby raccoon outside and then decided it needed rescuing so she brought it inside the restaurant. Then she lost the baby raccoon and the restaurant had to be shut down for the night. That made the other employees very fond of her, because they got out of work, but the manager was less than thrilled so she was fired. She also decided to take the baby raccoon home that night. Steven never heard how that story ended, unfortunately enough.

And the third job was with fixing cars. Steven had always been pretty good at practical skills so this made sense. He was pretty neutral about that job. The guys were pretty nice and there was almost always beer so that made the day a little better. The guys were complete idiots and hard to have a conversation with but at least he wasn’t pouring alcohol for rich snobs.

Steven had begun to doze off when his phone buzzed from underneath him. He was surprised to see that it was Janine. He opened it almost immediately and was happy to see that not only was he allowed to come over, she was also making dinner. Janine was a great cook. Steven would eat pretty much anything anyways, he had been paid a few in high school to eat weird things, but he thoroughly enjoyed her meals. He was a decently healthy guy if you ignored all the beer he drank. And he went to the gym when he could, about 3-4 times a week so he was in pretty good shape. Of course his eating habits had gotten a little worse since he and Janine broke up.

coming now

He got up quickly and exited his room. He had showered after work earlier this morning and changed into clean clothes then, so he was all set to go. Steven had requested this day off so he didn’t have to worry about work for another two weeks. When he walked into the living room he saw his mom’s boyfriend passed out on the couch, his mom was in the corner, talking to the wall, and his two brothers were gone. Which meant they were at the neighbor’s house until after 8:00 ish. So they were safe. Steven left without saying anything to either of the adults in the house, he hopped into his Jeep, and then we was off to Janine’s house.

It was a fairly short drive, and once Steven was there, he parked in his usual spot. He had come over there enough times that it was pretty much his spot, no one else ever really parked there. He had no trouble finding her apartment, either. And once he was there, he knocked. He had a spare key but he figured he shouldn’t use it now that they weren’t dating.



message 49: by Brooke (new)

Brooke | 1376 comments LUKE
Luke grabbed his wallet off the top of the dresser, and flipped open the weak velcro, which hardly stuck together anymore. Little pieces of lint and thread made it impossible for the bristles to join, and he was too lazy to really sit down and pick it all out. He opened up the main compartment slowly, sending up a quick prayer to have at least a couple dollars inside so he could buy his girlfriend a fucking ice cream cone. Relief flooded through his chest in soft waves as he discovered a couple crumpled ones, all mixed up with receipts from months ago. Enough to get ice cream.

He shoved the wallet into his back pocket, and since his hair was a little greasy, and he didn’t want to shower, he wandered over to the basket they kept beside Mer’s vanity for hats and mittens and scarves, and crouched on his haunches as he reefed through it. He pulled out a plain black beanie that slouched a little, and pulled that over his head. He popped up, still a little hunched over so he could see himself in the mirror, and adjusted it until it looked good enough. The ends of his blonde hair stuck out a little, but he was beyond caring at this point. He needed Mer to give him a trim.

When he turned to look at Mer again, she was wearing a different shirt, and Luke couldn’t help but smile down at his feet. He’d never known anyone who changed their outfits so often. How high maintenance had she been as a child? He imagined that she was probably the type of child that either wanted to wear all the clothes, or nothing at all.

He left the bedroom, and walked down the short hallway that led to the living room. By the front door were his shoes, a battered pair of black Vans, which he shoved his feet into. He looked up as Mer came into the room, smiling into the screen of her cellphone, and he had no doubt that she was texting Janine. Those two were glued at the hip. He’d never known a pair of girls who genuinely loved each other the way that Mer and J did. Usually there was a lot of backstabbing and boyfriend stealing, in his experience, anyway. Once, he’d dated all three girls of a supposedly “tight knit” group. Maybe he’d just been hanging around the wrong type of girls before he’d met Mer.

“Do you want to take the car or walk?” She sprayed herself with a perfume bottle that sat on the coffee table. That simple thing, the perfume bottle on the coffee table, was the perfect example of the type of couple they were. Or used to be. Always ready to be rushing out the door. From the two hooks by the door, Luke picked up his lanyard of keys, and stuck them into his pocket. If they were going to be partying, he usually put them around his neck, so he wouldn’t lose them. So far, it had been a fool proof plan.

Driving with Mer was like sitting in a sketchy ride at a travelling fair. The car smelled like puke, for one, from drunken late nights sleeping in parking lots and shoulders of the road, and a bit like weed, from when he occasionally hot-boxed it. At stop signs and red lights, Mer’d slam on the breaks as if someone had jumped in front of the car, and then when the light turned green, or it was her turn to go, she slammed her foot back down on the accelerator like she expected a blast of nitrous to shoot them across the street. She was like a carny that didn’t get the proper training. Sometimes, she’d let go of the steering wheel to dance a little, and he’d have to lurch over and grab it. She always seemed to be looking everywhere but on the road. And of course, if there was an animal of some kind… and there always fucking seemed to be one whenever they went out for a drive, so they’d have to stop and look at that. Sure, he sat in the passenger seat, but he did most of the driving regardless.

Needless to say, he wasn’t really up for the whiplash. “It’s a nice day,” he said, stepped over to the window and nudging the curtain a little to see outside. “Want to just walk?”


JANINE
The rice on the stove began to bubble over, so Janine leaned over and turned the burner down. Carefully, with a cloth, she dabbed the boiling water that had spilt over the rim of the pot with a cloth, minding the hot burner. Janine hated leaving a mess; she always cleaned as she went. It made less work, and when it was time to eat, there would only be about three things to clean afterward, rather than an entire kitchen to tidy.

Since Steven was more than likely going to come over, Janine returned to the fridge and wrestled out that turkey. She knew he didn’t mind her vegetarian meals, but she also didn’t mind quickly frying up the turkey, either. She could always eat the leftovers on Sunday.

Janine had been cooking for herself since she was thirteen, when she started to become a bit of a control freak. It wasn’t that the food her mother made wasn’t good, Janine was just picky. There would be too much oil, or not enough vegetables, or this, or that, and finally, Janine’s mother threw her hands up and told her that she would have to cook for herself then. And Janine did. At this point, after years of failures and the occasional triumph, she was fairly confident in her cooking abilities. She had a handful of go-to recipes that she knew never went wrong, and she only got adventurous when she had the time. Which, most of the time, she didn’t.

Her phone buzzed twice, almost at the same time, and when she picked it up to inspect it, she found she had a text from both Steven and Mer. Steven’s was just telling her that he was on his way, and she sent him a little thumbs up emoticon. Mer’s message was longer, and Janine set it down on the counter and read it while she tossed the turkey into a frying pan. It was basically just a little update, filled with both smiley faces and sad faces and just about a million exclamation marks. Especially at the end, in which Mer, in all capital letters, and exclaimed that her and Luke were finally going out on a date.

She gave the turkey a stir before leaning the spoon against the edge of the pan, then proceeded to pick up her phone and reply to Mer. She congratulated Mer on finally getting Luke out of the house. Since he’d gotten out of rehab, the furthest he’d travelled was the edge of the parking lot for a smoke, which was really out of character. They used to have a hard time keeping track of him, because he was always on the move. She knew that Mer was worried about him laying around on the couch all day, so she was excited for them. Maybe Luke was headed in the right direction.

When Luke had first gone to rehab, she’d scared herself by looking up success rates. It was, at the most, thirty percent. Of course, she hadn’t told Meredith that. She had rounded it up to sixty, and then hoped that Mer would take her word for it, which she usually did with that sort of stuff. The relapse rates for heroin were even worse, sometimes above ninety, and usually at least fifty. So, she hadn’t been very optimistic. But, at this point, he was about five months sober, and as far as she knew, hadn’t touched anything else, either. Janine had read somewhere that it was easier after the first six months, but she couldn’t be sure. So, for now, she was trying to stay positive. No matter what, her support was there. Maybe Luke would be able to beat the statistics.

The rev of an engine made Janine look up from mixing the rice, veggies and turkey together in the frying pan. Without a doubt it was Steven; she had always been able to hear him before she saw him. There had been many times when he would just come bursting in through her front door, excited or pissed, it didn’t matter. He had loud footsteps, probably because there was six feet and two inches of him, and he was a bit heavy handed. He never seemed to be able to do anything quietly. It used to really annoy her. Hell, it still kind of did.

She lived in a quadruplex, in one of the upstairs apartments. Across the hall from her was an older man that sometimes played the saxophone for his daughter’s children over Skype to put them to sleep, and downstairs lived a middle-aged common-law couple. The bottom left apartment, the one beneath hers, was empty.

She listened to the front main door swing open, and then his footsteps up the flight of stairs before coming to a stop in front of her door. She expected him to just use his spare key and walk right in, but, surprisingly, he knocked.

She took the food off the heat so it wouldn’t overcook, then wiped her hands on a dish towel and crossed the room. She nudged her suitcase out of the way, then yanked on the deadbolt before swinging the door open.

She couldn’t really help but smile, seeing him standing there waiting. Because they’d had such an easy breakup, sometimes it didn’t really feel like the event had occurred at all. This was still a typical weekday for them. She would make dinner when she got home from class, and then he would come over after work, and the two of them would sit on her couch and talk about their day, or watch TV or whatever they felt like doing.

“Hi.” She stepped back from the doorway, and once he was inside, she shut the door again. Now that he was here, she didn’t bother with the deadbolt. “Did you just get off work?”


message 50: by Behati (new)

Behati | 129 comments
meredith
Mer set her phone down on the tiny kitchen counter and opened the fridge. The only food was some butter and whipped cream. The rest of the fridge was filled with mostly half full bottles of water. Mer drank a lot of water and had the habit of leaving her water everywhere. So then she would just start a new bottle, lose that one, and then find the old one. It was a never ending process that resulted in many, many half full plastic water bottles. She would never drink from the tap, either, she claimed it tasted funny. Mer didn’t mind all the water bottles, not like they used the fridge for much else. Sometimes if they didn’t finish their takeout they would just shove it into the fridge and that pretty much summed up all it was used for. Meredith reached in, grabbed one, took a sip, and then put it back in, closing the refrigerator door behind her. She was officially ready to go.

Her phone buzzed as Luke went to glance out the window to see what the weather was like. It was from Janine. Growing up especially, Janine had been a good influence on Meredith. Sure, Meredith partied throughout all of high school. Nothing was going to change that. But Janine kept her from dropping out, which was a huge success because Meredith had come close to doing it many times. She kept Meredith from skipping school all the time as well. And she would take the time to help Meredith with her assignments, studying, and homework. Meredith even managed to graduate on time and with their class. It was such a big deal in her household that her family flew in from all parts of the country to see their lil Mer walk across the stage. She pretty much ran across the stage though because she had been so excited.

Meredith even went on to do further education at a local community college. And to the normal person that wasn’t a big deal, everyone got into community college, right? But, as far as Meredith was concerned, her little Chicago Community College was Harvard. She graduated as a certified veterinary technician a few months ago. Even though she was a vet tec, she mostly did receptionist work because animals in pain made her sad. Or she would get too distracted playing with the animals instead of doing her job. She found the surgeries cool, however, and usually got to watch the monitors to make sure everything was going smoothly. She also did most of the cleaning and laundry for the whole facility, which got old really quick. But, hey, she does it.

She quickly responded to Janine, asking what she was up to this evening, before sliding her phone into her back pocket, just as Luke said “Want to just walk?”

“Sounds good to me,” Meredith agreed. Especially now that the weather was warm, Meredith loved being outside. She had no tolerance for cold, however, and as soon as the temperature would drop below 70 degrees, she would start getting cold. Maybe it was because she was so skinny or something but she always had difficulties staying warm. And then she would bug poor Luke, practically begging him to let her wear his jacket. Because even though she knows she gets cold easily, she never plans ahead for it and always claims that she will be fine. But her lips always end up slightly blue and she shivers like you wouldn’t believe.

Meredith saw that Luke had the keys so as far as she was concerned, they were ready to go. She looked around the apartment once before heading over to the door. “Okay, so we can either go to the slightly more expensive one that’s a little closer, or we can go to the cheaper one that’s over by the mall,” she said, opening the door and walking out into the hallway

steven
Steven’s eyes wandered around the familiar place as he waited for Janine to come and answer the door. He used to always, and still does, come by her place all the time. In fact, he had been there so many times he was pretty familiar with her neighbors. Especially when Steven would be watching football or hockey and get a little too into it, he could always rely on the guy across the hall to come over and tell him to quiet down, which would work for a few minutes until either Steven’s team did something good or something bad. He just wasn’t a very quiet guy. He knew it drove Janine crazy. He wasn’t even good at whispering.

Even though he went over to her place all the time, Steven had never had her over to his house, though. Well, maybe a few times but only for very brief visits. Like if he forgot something or needed to drop something off and she just happened to be with him. But he was always rushed, never brought her all the way inside, nothing like that. He usually did it when the house would be empty as well. So the boys were in school, the boyfriend was out day drinking, and his mom was in therapy. Janine had met his mother before, when she had come hysterically looking for Steven. That had been by far one of the most mortifying events of his life. Luckily she hadn’t tried that shit since, but that only confirmed Steven was never going to introduce Janine to his family. He saw no point in it. His family caused him stress and he didn’t want them associating with the better parts of his life.

Janine answered the door a few moments later. She greeted him with a smile which he happily returned. “Hey.” This all felt normal and it was something Steven didn’t want to have to give up. As he walked in he almost fell into the routine of wrapping an arm around her and kissing her, but he managed to stop himself before it was obvious what he was trying to do. That was the main adjustment that had to be made between the two of them, because half the time, especially when they were just hanging out exactly like they used to, Steven felt like they were still dating.

He’ll always love her, that’s for sure. But he just had to be sure to remind himself how infuriating she was when they didn’t agree. That was usually enough to remind him why they broke up for good this time.

“I only worked in the morning,” Steven said, wandering into the kitchen. It was obviously he still felt pretty at home in her apartment. “I’m off now until the day after we get back.” It had been hard getting two weeks’ vacation time from three separate employers, especially on such short notice. But Steven is well liked at all three places so after giving him a bit of difficulty, all three employers gave into his request for vacation time. Steven couldn’t be more thrilled to not be working for three whole weeks. He probably hasn’t had the much consecutive time off since before he even started working.

“What about you, what have you been up to today?” he asked, glancing at her. Steven then opened up her refrigerator. “Do you have any alcohol?”



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