Chapter Thirty-Six

Rachel spent the rest of the summer in a deep depression.

 Her mother threatened her several times with antidepressants. Rachel didn't want that, so she learned to fake happiness around her mother.
But alone, she allowed herself to wallow in self-pity.
She considered suicide, but the best she could do was starve herself for two days straight.  She lost weight.  Then on the third day, she gave up and ate a whole bag of chocolate chips.   She also ate half of a large pizza.

She stopped going on the Internet.
She quit her Blog.

She stopped playing Sims 3.
She stopped watching movies. The whole damn film industry reminded her of David.
She threw away the Premiere magazine cover. Well, first she first she shred it into tiny pieces.  Then she threw it away.
She rarely got dressed.
She rarely took a shower.
She rarely left her room.
She never put on make-up.
 She always thought of David. Every day. Every hour. Every minute.
She dreamed about David every night. But she never saw him...not even a figment of her imagination version of him. She just searched for him. She flew through houses calling out his name.  She visited offices and asked receptionists if she could see him.  She sat on a mountain top and screamed his name.
She tried not to have these dreams. She told herself to stop searching.
But every night she had them again.
She wanted to hate him.
She wanted to forget about him.
But she knew that would never happen.

She loved him, and she knew that would never stop.
The pain would never end.

 Once, one of the few times she came downstairs, her parents were watching a reality show. It starred David and Cassandra.
Her mother said to her dad. "You know those two broke up. I saw him on one of those talk shows."
"Interesting," her dad said.
Rachel's mother turned around. "Ah, so you decided to come out of your bedroom for a change."
 "Yep." Rachel tried to look happy, not like someone who needed hospitalization and medication. Although now she wondered if that was really a bad thing. Maybe the medicines would make her forget her pain. And if that didn't work, perhaps a lobotomy?  Shock therapy?
"Didn't you use to like that guy?" her dad asked. "Or was that another actor?"
 "I don't remember," Rachel said. She walked away before they could notice how stupid her response sounded.

A week later, Rachel's mom entered her room without knocking.
Rachel didn't complain.
She didn't try to be happy.
She didn't give a crap anymore.
"Don't forget the picnic tomorrow."

"What picnic?"  Rachel tried not to look too confused.
 "Labor day? At our house?" Her mom suddenly looked furious. "Rachel! What the hell is the matter with you! We've been planning this picnic for months!"
"Sorry," Rachel mumbled.
"You have become...." Her mom shook her head. "You're mentally ill. Or something. What's wrong with you?"
Rachel didn't answer.
"You start college on Wednesday. Did you know that?"
No, she had forgotten.
"You're coming to the picnic. And that's final. Snap out of it. Get dressed. Brush your damn hair. Put on some make-up. Look pretty! Act normal. After the picnic, you can go back to being...whatever you're being."
"No," Rachel murmured.
"Yes!" her mother screamed. She marched up to Rachel with pure fury in her eyes. Rachel prepared to be slapped. Her mother had never hit her before, but there was a first time for everything. "Beware my wrath," she hissed.
And Rachel was actually a little afraid.   She was at least scared enough to get dressed the next day.
She didn't blow dry her hair.  She just stuck it up in a pony tail.
She put on make-up.
She looked in the mirror and had a moment of clarity. Why should she let David ruin her life? Yes, he was the most handsome man in the world.  Yes, he was the only man she could ever love. Yes, her life would be miserable without him. But since she was too chicken to commit suicide, she might as well try to go on. Maybe she'd make a friend or two. Pick up a hobby. Go to college. Pass a class. Maybe get a job. Make some money. Move out. Buy a dog or a fish.

 It didn't have to be a choice between romantic bliss and suicidal depression.
There was a middle ground.
She came downstairs to face the crowd and the unbearable Texas heat.
She saw the hot-dogs, snd potato salad.
She ran back inside and upstairs to grab her camera. Maybe she'd get back to doing her blog. She snapped some pictures of the food.
Jessica appeared out of nowhere. "Boo!"
"Boo to you too."
"Why are you taking pictures of the food?" Jessica asked.
"For my blog."
"What blog?"
Never mind," Rachel said. She knew she should be mad, but instead found the whole thing hilarious. "Welcome back."
"Thanks!" Jessica hugged Rachel, kissed her on the cheek, and then ran to talk to some guy. He was cute, but nothing compared to David. No one could compare to David.
Rachel took more pictures of food.
 A guy came up to her. Not bad looking. "Hi," he said.
"Hi," she said back.
"You live here, right?"
"Nice house."
Boring small talk.
But Rachel smiled as she realized something. He was trying to flirt with her. She had no interest in him, but she liked this whole flirting thing. It had never happened to her before.
She talked to him a bit more and then excused herself. She decided to eat. She stood in the hot-dog line and watched as her father worked the grill and periodically wiped sweat from his forehead.
He handed her a hot-dog.
"Thanks," she said.
He grinned at her.
Rachel looked around for a place to sit. The two picnic tables were fully occupied, as well as the scattered chairs. She'd have to sit on the ground.
She walked over where there was a not so crowded area. She sat, and just as she was about to take a bite of her dog, she noticed a commotion toward the side of their house. A bunch of people gathered. They all looked extremely excited. She tried to hear what they were saying...something about someone winning something? A contest?
Rachel decided not to worry about it. She took a bite of her hot-dog. Then Jessica ran over to her, screaming.
"Oh my God! Oh my God!"
“Shit!" Jessica said. "I'm going to pee in my pants. Oh my God!”

Rachel put down her plate. What the hell was going on here?
"You won!" she screamed. "You won!" And Jessica must not have been kidding about peeing in her pants because she actually started crossing her legs.
"Rachel! You won!"
"Won what?"
"The reality show!"
"What reality show?" Rachel, for a moment, began questioning reality again. Maybe this was all just some weird dream. Not an Eddie, David, Daphne, Jason dream. But a dream from her warped imagination.
"The Reality show contest! The one you entered!" Jessica screamed.

And then people were congratulating her.
Rachel felt very confused.  Well, because she had never even entered any Reality TV contest.
And she felt dizzy.
A bit nauseated.
Very suffocated.
She opened her mouth to protest and then a man with a camera appeared.
Followed by....
 It couldn't be.
She stood up and found herself facing David.
"Congratulations, Rachel Martin! You are the Winner"! He called out loudly. "You win a date with me!!!!!"
She dropped her plate. The hot-dog fell onto the grass.
Neighbors cheered.
Her mother started crying. Even her father looked a bit misty eyed.
    Jessica ran into the house....Rachel guessed to the bathroom.
"And what could be better than a date with me," David said. "You lucky girl."
"What an asshole," a girl behind Rachel whispered. "I always thought he was a stuck up ass."
"He's gay," someone else whispered.
Rachel started to giggle. David grabbed her hand. "Come with me," he said.
And then she decided she wanted a little revenge...for the hell he had put her through.
She stopped. He tried to drag her. She refused to budge.
 "They made a mistake," she said loudly.
"What?" her mom said. "Rachel!"
"When I filled out the form," Rachel said. "I didn't put David Tirlson. I put Kiefer Sutherland."
She looked at everyone staring at her. "I'm a huge fan of 24." The crowd watched her as if she were insane. David tried to look serious, but she could tell he was trying not to laugh. "And Lost Boys," Rachel said. "I love that movie."
 "Sorry," David said. "They made a mistake. You're stuck with me."
"You guys are going to be facing a major lawsuit," Rachel said.
Jessica returned to the bathroom panting. "Did I miss anything? Did I miss anything? What did I miss?"
Someone told her.
"Rachel!" Jessica said, exasperated. "You are completely clueless." To David she said. "Well, she did used to like you. She had a picture of you under her pillow."
"Ah," David said. "Thanks for the info. I'm sure my lawyers will be very happy to have that piece of information."
Rachel tried hard not to laugh.
"Well, we have to go," David told the crowd. "See you later."
The crowd tried to prevent them from leaving. Surrounded David and asked for autographs. Rachel got caught up in the middle and actually felt a lack of oxygen. David noticed and his friendly-actor thing went down a notch. He insisted people get out of the way. And then like a knight in shining armor, he lifted her off her feet and carried her.  The heat and excitement got to her.  She fainted in his arms.
The next thing she knew she was in a car with David. Not a limo. A regular car.
David sat in back and she woke up to find her head resting on his leg.
"Okay," he said. "Now that you're awake, you can put your seatbelt on." He made her sit up.
"Is she going to throw up?" the driver asked. Rachel looked in the mirror and saw that it was the “cameraman”.
"I think she's okay," David said, then to her. "Are you?"
“Yeah,” she said.
"Rachel, this is Chris. Chris this is Rachel."
"Hi," he said.
"Hi," Rachel said.
"I'm not really a cameraman," Chris said. "I have no idea what I'm doing."
"But I do really know how to drive," he joked. "So you don't need to worry."
 David looked at her. He stared at her.
She felt very self-conscious.
And then he kissed her.
Her first kiss.
And it wasn't weird.
Or awkward.
She didn't feel the least bit self-conscious. She felt perfect.
Everything was perfect.
She had never been so happy.
What had she done to deserve this?
Maybe she saved lots of leper orphans in a past life?
Neither of them spoke much for the next few hours. They said good-bye to Chris at the airport. Rachel didn't even ask where they were going. She just followed David on to the plane. They sat in first class which she had never done before.
She had no change of clothes. She had no idea what was going to happen next.
But she didn't care.
She knew in her heart that everything was all right now. She had absolutely no doubts whatsoever.
Even the lack of conversation didn't bother her. It seemed like this is how it needed to be. No talking. Just being together.
Once he did say something to her. When they were waiting for their luggage, David stood behind her. He tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around. "Yeah?"
"You're amazing," he said.
She smiled. "Thank you."

     He took her to New York City.

    They went to his apartment first. She sat on his bed while he took a shower. She knew soon they'd have sex on that very bed. But it didn't scare her or make her nervous. And she knew it wouldn't be too soon. It would come at the perfect time. David would never rush her.
After his shower, he took her shopping. He bought her some clothes. And for a moment, she did feel a tiny bit worried. This was nice for now, but he couldn't always support her like this. Well, he could. But Rachel knew she didn't want to just be a wife. Or a girlfriend. She had to do something. Be someone. Find a job. Have a career. Make some money.
She had no idea what she wanted to do, or who she wanted to be. She didn't even know if she wanted to go to college. But she figured she had time to figure it all out. Maybe just for the next few months, she'd let herself be Rachel Martin--David Tirlson's girlfriend. Then she'd start figuring things out.
After they bought the clothes, Rachel took a shower, changed, and then they crawled into bed together. They fell asleep holding each other and didn't let go until the morning.
Rachel opened her eyes.
"I love you," David whispered.
She had her second kiss.
She made him breakfast. He loved it and took pictures. "We have to put it in your blog." He asked if he could sometimes write things in her blog, and she said of course he could. She liked the idea of working together.
She borrowed David’s phone to call her mom.  She told her would be living in New least for awhile. She asked her mom to mail some of her clothes. Her mom said yes.  And then her mom asked when the reality show would air.  Rachel didn’t have the heart to tell her mother it never would.
They left mid-morning and walked through New York. Rachel was exhausted. David didn't look tired at all. She realized he must walk a lot. She asked if he ever took cabs or the subway.  Limos?
"Not really," he said.
Yikes. Well, she'd get used to it. Maybe she'd buy some really good gym shoes.
When they started getting hungry again, David took her to this street, with lots of Indian restaurants, one Middle Eastern market, and a European bakery owned by a friendly guy with a crazy mustache.
Rachel realized for a food blogger, she really had a lot to learn. She ate food she had never eaten before: Little Indian sweets made of chickpeas, petite fours, macarons, financiers, etc.  And then they went to the top floor of the Middle Eastern market where they had these spicy round things called falafel. And the man who worked there was so friendly. He kept bringing them free samples. "You must try this," he said. "And this."
Rachel ate like a total pig.
And she didn't feel the least bit embarrassed about it.
She tried the most delicious soup she had ever had in her life.     
They ate and then went on another long walk. David took her to the occult store where he had bought the rock. But it was closed because they got there after five.
"I miss Eddie," David said.
 "Me too," Rachel said. "But I missed you more."
"A little more or a lot more?"
"A whole lot more."
And that's the last thing they said to each other for a long time. They walked silently back to his apartment. They got into more comfortable clothes and sat cross legged on the bed together.
It was then that they finally talked about things.
"Why?" Rachel asked. "Why did you come and get me? Why did you change your mind?"
 "I don't know if I have changed my mind," David said. She looked at him sadly. "I mean I think I was right. I still worry this is a mistake. That I'll fall out of love with you. Although I really seriously doubt that now. I can't imagine not loving you. Not in a million years. But I do worry about the opposite. That you'll stop loving me."
 Rachel shook her head. Impossible.
"Okay, let's say we both continue to love each other. We're soulmates. We're meant to be together. We're super happy together."
"Then you know what? One of us will probably die. A plane crash. Or cancer? Maybe you'll be murdered. Or kidnapped."
 "You're very pessimistic," she said, but realized he was getting to her. Scaring her. He was absolutely right, wasn't he? This was nice now, but it was simply doomed to fail. Something bad was going to happen.
"The smart thing to do was to never see each other again. Because it's all bound to go down hill from here."
Rachel looked at him. She just stared.

"Yeah," she said.
"This is the part where you tell me I'm stupid and you reassure me. Tell me how we can live happily ever after. You'll always love me--"
"And never get cancer or murdered."
"I can't," She said. "David. You're right."
"I'm right?"
"There are no such things as happy endings," she said. "Is there?"
 "I don't think so."
"Then what are we doing?" she asked. "Why are we here? Why did you come and get me?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "Because I couldn't stay away. Although I knew it was probably a huge mistake, I was miserable without you. I had to see you."
Rachel started to cry.
"I needed you," he whispered.

Subpages (1): Epilogue