“So…our lease is up in September.” Alexis said as she opened the door. “And I can’t renew.”
“Yeah?” I didn’t really register what she’d said. I can’t renew…the consequences of that suddenly sunk in. Then I dropped the knife. “Wait – what?” I almost screamed.
Alexis cringed. “I’m…I’m not renewing, Sarai. I’m sorry but…I love Emma and I want to get serious, y’know. And we want to move in alone together, and be near her parents. So…I can’t. I’m really sorry.”
Don’t leave me! I wanted to cry, but that was fucking stupid. What’s wrong with me? Why couldn’t I feel happy for my friend, who had found love? You’re an awful person. Failure!
Instead, I chose to mumble an unconvincing, “Congratulations.”
“Of course I’m totally happy to help you find a new place, or scout out a new roommate for this place.” Alexis continued. “We’ll discuss it on your next day off.”
“I don’t have days off anymore.” I tried to joke. It was true. Every day I was at the studio for something.
“Your next few hours off then.” Alexis grinned. “It’ll be fine.”
It’s not fine…there’s so much going on right now. I’m helping manage the studio, teaching classes, and handling bookings and promos. One of the showers in the women’s locker room broke and it’s taking forever to fix. At night, I crawl into bed and think about everything I have to do, and despite being exhausted it’s hours before I sleep.
Kaylyn tells me ‘it’s OK, Sarai, you don’t have to be here. Ann and I have this.’ I have to do everything in my power to make this work, or I haven’t succeeded. I remember what Lachlan told me on our opening day.
Otherwise what kind of business owner am I? You’re weak. Other people work harder than you. Why can’t you deal with it? It would get easier soon…it has to.
The point is, I don’t have time nor energy to find a new roommate or apartment! I definitely can’t afford this place alone.
What the fuck am I going to do?!
What am I doing?
This is no way to handle stress. It’s just time-wasting anyway. And really fucking unhealthy.
“Sorry.” I gabbled, practically sprinting away from the confused man I’d been attached at the lips to. I didn’t even remember his name…stupid slut.
My mind was racing and my heart was pounding. Hot, angry tears welled up and ran down my cheeks. How could you? I screamed it at myself. You’re throwing everything away.
No, no I’m not…I still have the studio and friends. And I will never do this again. That’s what you said before.
And I was outside the door of one of their apartments. At 10pm on a Thursday night. To be specific, Lachlan’s place. It’d been a while since we caught up. Ideally, I would have seen him at a better time, but I was already here.
Lachlan squinted when he saw me. “Sarai…” He looked like…well, kind of a mess, with large bags under his eyes.
“I’ll leave. This was – sorry. I’m so sorry.” More tears. I swiped angrily at them and started to turn around, when Lachlan gently caught my arm.
“Don’t, I need to-” Lachlan huffed and ran his hand through his hair. He straightened. “It would be nice to have some company. What’s eating you, Sarai?”
“Could say the same about you.” I lightly responded.
He gave a hollow laugh. “I know. Things are…but seriously, I don’t need to talk about what’s up. I just wanna know if you’re OK.”
I sighed. “I will be. I just…”
“Do you wanna come in? Place is a bit of a mess, but…”
As I made my way to Lachlan’s couch, I noticed him kicking stuff to the edges of the room. There were empty plates on the TV stand and a pizza box on the floor. It’s not really any of my business, so I didn’t say anything.
“So. I’m glad you’re OK, really. But Sunlit Tides…was pretty shitty. I shouldn’t have gone back.” Lachlan groaned, rubbing his forehead. “My family talked me into coming to some fucking wedding…oh what am I saying, you don’t want to hear about this.”
“Well,” I gingerly began. I knew I needed to tread carefully here. “Don’t say that. I don’t mind listening to you at all. I’m guessing you and your family…don’t get on?”
“No.” Lachlan replied. “I don’t agree with anything about them – their attitude, their business practices. They’re greedy assholes – they pay their employees like shit and bribe the local government to let them fuck up the environment with their latest build.” he ranted. “Plus they’ve got some pretty antiquated views on gender and sexuality. They just don’t care about anything but money and reputation! It’s casinos, by the way.”
“I like you better than them.” I told him, with a little smile.
“Good. The rundown is, I didn’t want to work for them and they all threw a fit. I like reading so I did a Lit degree just to piss them off, and now I’m a clinically depressed real estate agent. There, that’s the story.” He sarcastically pumped his fist, rolling his eyes. “…And now you know way too much about my life. You don’t care. Sorry. Ignore me.”
I edged up towards him and patted him on the shoulder. “Your family sound like…like fucking assholes. I guess not everything’s perfect, but…I’m at least happy you got away from them, Lach.” See? He has a real issue. You’re just weak. It’s not the same.
He cracked a small smile. “It does. It really does…but I’ve gone through this shit enough to know that it’ll pass. I’m taking all the right steps. Again, it’s just cos I decided to be around my family – got me down again.” he muttered, quickly swiping at his face. Was he crying too?
“It’s OK.” I said.
“I know you didn’t show up here for no reason, Sarai. I’m gonna ask for the last time, what’s eating you?”
Oh fucking hell, I did not want to explain the situation to Lachlan. I guess friends can know about each other’s trysts, but it just seems…wrong for Lachlan to know mine. So I went for a different angle. “I’m stressed. Running the studio is stressful. I feel like I’m gonna tip over the edge and disappoint Kaylyn. And then my Aunt would have been right about me all along…yeah, there’s my story.”
“Your Aunt sounds like a bitch.” Lachlan deadpanned.
“Watch your mouth, that ‘bitch’ was my main parental figure growing up.” I sarcastically protested. “My dad didn’t want me and I don’t want him. He’s an asshole. And my mom…she’s dead. I don’t even remember her. And according to my Aunt, I would have disappointed her anyway. I spent almost every day being reminded of that.”
Lachlan winced and exhaled, shaking his head. “Ouch. That’s really shit, Sarai. It’s shit that you grew up like that…”
“I could go into more, but why bother? I’ve hashed this shit out already, way too many times.” I muttered.
“Trust me – same. But I’m already having enough of a shit time as it is – you can go, if you like. I’m not much fun right now.”
“I was about to offer to leave, because I’m not much fun right now either.” Despite everything, I giggled slightly at the irony of it all.
“What are we like?” Lachlan asked with a genuine laugh this time. “Well…it would be nice. If you stayed. I’m about to start a new season of Diced!”
This was a lot better than hooking up with some random guy. And at last, it was confirmed – Lachlan got it. He got me. Even if he wasn’t feeling good and his apartment was messy, I felt safe and warm watching TV with him…his shoulder made a good pillow.