The Story on the Page

Sandra unlocks her apartment door. She removes her shoes after a long day on her feet. Doubles at the diner always take everything out of her. The apartment is quiet. She sits down and lies on the couch. She pulls out her phone and it is lit up with a text from her fiancé.

Joseph
gonna b out late. with charlie.

Sandra sighs. Joseph has a habit of not working at all. He also has a habit of staying out late and spending what money he does have drinking and doing drugs with Charlie. Joseph has become increasingly distant. Sandra texts back : ok… i love u. be safe. She puts down her phone and grabs the remote. She turns on the TV. A television show she enjoys is on Netflix. She watches it for about 25 minutes. No response from Joseph.

She decides she is hungry. She goes into the kitchen and makes a sandwich. She had never been one much for cooking and neither had Joseph. But, she enjoyed making him sandwiches. She savored the few moments where he would be present while she made the sandwich. Sometimes, she took too long to make the sandwich because she wanted Joseph to stay around a while longer. Unfortunately, he was always in a hurry and would get aggravated with her when she did that. But, she still did it. She sits in the chair Joseph usually sits in. In that chair, he blew her off when she wanted him to have dinner with her family. He had plans with Charlie that night. She often wondered why Charlie took priority.

Charlie was one of Joseph’s long-time friends. She wasn’t quite sure how they met. All she knew was that they had lived together a while before she met Joseph. Charlie was a good guy. But, he was a little immature. Although he meant no ill-will, he indulged Joseph’s proclivities simply because he thought it was fun. Sandra often wondered if Charlie was aware of the damage he was having on their relationship.

A text pops up on her phone. But it isn’t from Joseph. It’s from her coworker, James. James had worked at the diner long before Sandra and became her mentor. He is a little older. A single father. He has no interest in relationships or most people in general. He just likes to smoke weed when his daughter is with her mother. He is one of the more good-natured man he had ever met.

James
Hey! I just got some GAS. Do you wanna smoke? 🙂

She only hung out with James when Joseph was out. James was ok with that. There was no attraction between the two, but James always did nice things for her. He bought her a rose for Valentine’s Day. He smoked her out almost daily. Joseph didn’t really do anything for her. Sandra pretended to be ok with it. Sandra often wondered why James was a better boyfriend than her actual boyfriend.

“sure! ^,^” She texts him back relatively quickly. She goes down the hall and changes into more comfortable clothing: sweats. She grabs her bong and heads into the living room. The television show she enjoys is still on. She sits down and watches it and looks over at Joseph’s chair.

In that chair, he casually told her he had quit his job that day. It was ok, he insisted. He had money saved. But, as time dragged on, he was unmotivated in his job search. That was when he started hanging out with Charlie again. Charlie was around a lot after that. He was in the apartment all the time. Sandra often wondered why Charlie had to be around all the time.

James knocks on the door. Sandra opens the door and he is standing in the hallway with a cigarette in his mouth. He walks in and sits down on the couch. He was at the house often, so he habitually made himself comfortable. The show Sandra enjoys is still on.

“Man, I love this show!” James says, chuckling. He’s already a little high.

“Me, too.” Sandra says, smiling. James pulls out his weed and breaks it down to pack into the bong. He takes a hit, clears it, and passes it to Sandra.

“How was your day?” He asks on his exhale.

“It was good. Made decent money. Billy came in tonight.”

“Did he get his normal two coffees?”

“Of course.” Billy was a regular who always came in and ordered two coffees: one for him and one for his wife who passed away. Sandra often wondered what a love like that was like.

“I love that dude… He’s been doing that ever since I started at the diner. So, about 3 years now. His love is just so pure. It’s beautiful.”

“Mhm…” Sandra secretly wished Billy would one day not order the second coffee and would turn to her and profess his love to her. She secretly wished that of a lot of the men in her life who appeared to love so much. Sandra often wondered why she wished this.

She and James hit the bong a few more times and continue to watch TV. Her phone lights up.

Joseph
ok

“What the fuck?!” James looks at her strangely. She hadn’t meant to say that out loud.

“What?”

She sighs. She doesn’t like to tell him about her relationship troubles. “I told Joe I loved him and to be safe and all he said was ‘ok.’ Who does that?”

“Joe, apparently.” He laughs. “You know, you really deserve better than him.”

James had never voiced this thought, but always felt it. The same goes for Sandra. But, still she says, “I love him, though.”

“Yeah, but if he’s not putting in the same effort as you, does he love you?”

“I mean, he-“

“No, seriously. It’s great that you love him. And I’m sure he loves you, too. But… That feeling isn’t enough, ya know? It’s not really love if there’s no mutual effort there.” Even though he’s high, James is still the same deep, caring guy. Sandra looks at him. She knows that she can’t say anything to James to change his perspective. But, he doesn’t know Joseph like she does. Sandra often wondered why she couldn’t just listen to James.

After a few more episodes of the show they enjoy, James leaves. He tells her to have a good night and she says she’ll try. She turns off the TV and gets on Facebook. Joseph was tagged by Charlie in a photo. They’re drunk. She notices a girl in the background who’s tagged. Her name’s Charlie. Sandra thinks that’s a funny coincidence. She browses some articles that her friends have shared. She has been home for a couple hours now. She heads down the hallway into her bedroom and gets ready for bed. As she lies down, she hears the door open. Joseph was home. He rustles around noisily in the kitchen. He makes his way into the room with a bag of chips.

“How was it?” Sandra asks.

“Fine.” He lies down beside her, crunching his chips. He grabs his bowl from the nightstand and takes a couple hits. “I gotta take shit.” He gets up and heads up the hall to the bathroom. Sandra cries a little. She wonders if things will ever change. She often wonders if Joseph is ok. Or that he’s ever been ok. Or that he ever will be.

She hears puking in the bathroom. She sighs… She rolls over in her bed and notices his phone light up. To resist temptation, she grabs a book from the nightstand. She hears more retching. She tries to enjoy her book and become engulfed. But, the story on the page seemed to pale in comparison to the story currently being written in her own life. She feels sweaty and nervous. She hears a flush. He had finished puking and was about to finally take his shit. He groans loudly. She feels flush. The phone lights up again to remind her that there’s an unread text. It’s meant to remind Joseph, but at this point, she is more curious about it than he is. As she reaches over to put her book back in the night stand, she peeks at the notification. He has a text from Charlie…

Charlie
hey cutie. had a great time tonight. again. lol. do it again soon? ;-*

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