Thursday, February 19, 2009

When the Universe Ends. Act 1. Life.

Jake and Amber were in love once. They became something different and then they parted ways. He stayed in the city and found a routine. Shesaw the world and found herself.
So on opposite sides of the world they started over and lived their lives. Jake began working for a company that had nothing but advancement opportunities and security. Amber started making her way with an assortment of odd jobs allowing her the freedom to explore. They hadn't spoken in eight years.

They stopped calling as the old patterns kept resurfacing no matter how hard they tried to remain civil. A birthday phone call became a fight, which seemed to defeat the original intention. Both came to the decision that it was less painful to let go.

Jake wouldn't have called if he hadn't met three Amber's earlier that week. A temp in the office had just been called in to replace a co-worker that had quit suddenly. Her name was Amber.

"That's funny." He said, more to himself.

"What's that?" she replied.

"Nothing." He dismissed the remainder of his thoughts with a shake of his head.

But these thoughts of the past wouldn't be shaken so easily. At lunch a day later the waitress; Amber. And at the bar that friday, the new bartender...Amber. Her name was suddenly everywhere at once. 'Had Amber always been such a popular name?' he wondered. He was beginning to question his sanity, when he dropped his address book that Sunday afternoon.

It had fallen open to her name and number. Well, the last known number he had for her. It was actually the number for a friend's apartment she was staying at in Australia years ago. He dialed and had the phone up to his ear before he realized it was ringing and that in one second she would answer and what exactly was he going to say.


Hang up, that was the first instinct. But frozen in that moment, somehow he spoke. Words were coming out but what was it that was being said exactly.

"No, she hasn't lived here in...forever it seems."

"Oh, no?" Automatic reponse.

"No, but I still talk to her. She's been in India, working at a museum over there. Do you want me to give you her number?"

Jake hastily declined the offer and regretted it fully as he hung up.

Amber was running around, keeping herself busy, never stopping to think, not letting herself remember. Immersed in culture and sights, her head barely above the surface of herself, she was content in separation from everything familiar. Foreign nights, international friends, and not a Jake for ten thousand miles. Until that September in Beijing.

This Jake was everything her Jake wasn't. Every feature and characteristic about as polar opposite of the Jake that was somewhere back in her city, doing who knows what, with who knows who. The attraction was there from the moment they met. Through a mutual friend they had come together in a heated and passionate two weeks as they bounced from Taipei to Hong Kong.

She couldn't sleep. She looked in at this new Jake and then back out to this city that once beckoned her, and now seemed to haunt her. She had stopped for too long and now things were rushing back in to fill the spaces between India, Australia, Thailand, Russia, and Egypt. She felt like Amber, American Amber from the big city once again.

So she ran. She snuck out of the hotel, leapt into a cab and headed for the airport. Her hands were shaking and she snagged a pack of cigarettes at her first opportunity. Eight years of quitting gone down the drain in a moment. She smoked nearly the entire pack before she boarded the plane.

Where was she going? She had bought a one way ticket with the rest of the credit she had but she wasn't sure exactly where she was headed. Glancing down at the ticket she realized she was headed back to America. Thankfully the money she had was only enough to get her to California. At least it was the wrong coast. At least.

The captain's name was Jake on that flight. The cab driver that picked her up from LAX was also named Jake. Amber showed up at her friend's apartment with her one bag and a head full of Jake.

Jake had been dating off and on for the last eight months. he made every effort to look for girls that wouldn't look like her, talk like her, remind him of her, but it seemed impossible. Underneath their exteriors they all became her in the end. And it hurt.

It was a scab that he kept accidently ripping off. She seemed to be every girl in this damn city and how could he escape her. It wasn't just the New York senisibilities that he couldn't shake once he got to know each girl.

Beth, the cute Asian girl he had met that night he saw that cover band with Jon. She had the same glasses and sounded just like her on the phone. The psyche student, Kelly, had the same last name and grew up in the same town as her. Jake had to run when he realized that Eve had her old phone number.

Thom was headed out to Hollywood to pitch a project and Jake needed to clear his head. He took those built up vacation days and headed out to the West Coast to forget about her.

Amber was working as an underling on a Lifetime original movie filming within walking distance from Jenn's house in Los Angeles. Amber had forgotten all about him by now, having made the rounds of LA. Enough slimeballs, losers, and wannabe actors had turned her off to dating altogether and so she plunged herself into working.

Amber's bank account was growing and she had just about enough to put down for a new, modest, apartment in Santa Monica. Other than occasionally hitting a few quiet bars with the girls, she mostly cradled a bottle of red wine and read every book she could get her hands on.

It all fell apart in a day.

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