A scene triggers off memories that connect Laura to Caren. Despite the different personalities of the females, they have one thing in common: Pete's gratitude.
A young woman sitting on a kingsize bed in a dimly lit room. On the floor there are several cardboard boxes, some of them opened but most taped-shut, labeled according to their contents.
She turns the page of the book on her lap and pushes some hair out of her face. Obviously her mind's preoccupied with something other than what she's reading. The frown on her face indicates that she doesn't really understand the words and sentences that her eyes capture.
She stops and raises her head, lets her eyes wander to a photograph on the floor. It's face-downwards and there's something written on the back of the picture. She sighs and tries to focus on her reading again.
Outside a key in a lock turns and a door opens, steps advancing towards the room. There's a knock, then the door opens slowly. A young guy sticks his head in, he seems tired and worried.
She looks at him.
"Can I come in?"
She nods and concerns herself with the book again. He sighs and takes a seat next to her on the bed.
"I am sorry that I freaked out. I want to apologize." his eyes are pleading.
She takes another look at him and finally closes the book, puts it aside. Pulling her knees to her chest and hugging them she says, "Let's hear it."
"I shouldn't have shouted at you. I shouldn't have stormed out."
"What's the big deal about the photo, Pete?" she points at the floor.
His eyes follow her finger, he keeps quiet for a while and just stares at the picture. Then he turns to her again.
"That's Laura." he replies in a laconic fashion.
Her features soften and she lets go of her legs, "Who's Laura?"
He shimmies his legs onto the bed and rests his back against the headboard, copying her. "Laura was my first love, Caren."
"Oh," she says softly, "I see. I'm sorry, Pete... I didn't mean to come off as a jealous bi-"
He lays a hand on her knee, "You didn't. It's just... I got hurt. Really badly. And I don't like to be reminded of it."
"When I found the picture between your books I just wanted to know what the writing on the backside meant. I just... We just moved in together, Pete, and sometimes I'm worried that you're keeping things away from me. Like I don't know you at all. It scares me." The look on her face turns to worry.
He thinks for a moment. "I don't mean to lock you out, Caren. You mean so much to me." He smiles weakly. "But..."
"I told you about all of my exes..." she points out.
He smirks slightly, "I know... How could I forget about Cody and his foot fetish?"
She whacks him with a pillow and giggles.
"Seriously now though," he hesitates, "Laura... I don't wanna share this just yet." He looks at her, "Is that ok?"
"You think you're gonna share at some later point? When you're more comfortable with me?"
"Baby, it's not that I'm not comfortable with you... I'm just not that comfortable with myself when I think of her, that's all...And yes, maybe. But don't pressure me, please."
"I appreciate your honesty, Peter."
"You mean so much to me."
What all of us have to realize sooner or later is that you can't expect somebody to just come around and turn everything that's fucked-up and miserable in your life into order. Your existance doesn't turn into something divine once you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. That takes hard work, hard work that is your responsibility.
Caren didn't have a good childhood. Her father never wanted to have kids, he referred to her as an 'accident'. Beat her and her mother. Drank, hardly held a job for longer than two months. But somehow she managed to graduate from highschool and college and when we moved into the apartment she joined a program that would earn her a degree in psychology. Caren was a lot stronger than I'll ever be. And maybe that's why she stuck with me for so long.
We had each other to find comfort in. I was there for her when she felt depressed and she would sit by my side when I was down in the dumps. It was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling relationships I've ever been in. Yet, I have the feeling that I took a lot more than I gave.
As the months went by, Caren started talking about having kids. At first, I was shocked. Sure, I wanted to be a dad. Years from now. Not now. I tried to give it to her gently, given her traumatic childhood. She knew my answers to her questions were so elusive because I didn't want to hurt her with bluntness and I felt that she was grateful for my vagueness at times.
"I'd never want to talk you into having children if you don't wanna, Pete. Just know that." she said one day.
At first I didn't know how to react. Did she think I was like her dad? I took her hand and kissed her on the forehead, "I want to have children. With you, Caren. I just want to wait. I want to have something to show for before we have a little son or daughter. We want to be able to offer them the best there is, right?"
Her smile widened and her eyes twinkled at my words.
I continued, "I feel like the band's onto something big. The new singer, Patrick - he's a genius. You'll see, babe, we'll make it. And then we'll have the money to have kids."
And I meant it. With all my heart. Only, in the course of your life different perspectives open up and you re-write plans you've made earlier. We're allowed to take a different route. You live and you learn. I still wish it had ended in a different way. With Caren.
We remained on speaking terms. She never wanted to meet in person though. Said she had too much on her hands. Later, when she had a new boyfriend, it was just out of the question. I took it he was rather jealous and Caren said he was intimidated by the fact that her ex was a famous musician now. The last time we talked on the phone was... I don't know. Months ago. Maybe a year. Maybe more.
In dark hours, remember the good times, the laughter and the smiles. In happiness, don't forget the rocky roads you've traveled, and the pain you've experienced. Live life to its fullest and indulge in the rainbow of emotions while you can.
The message on the back of the photograph that had sent Caren into wondering and worrying. I know it by heart. It's in my heart for always.
It's carpe diem really. Plain and simple. But still beautiful. And true. I don't know if she came up with that or if she copied it from some girly magazine. And I don't think I wanna know. It's a reasonable motto to live by either way.
I took that picture of her probably two weeks prior to her leaving me behind. That's about one year after the accident. It's just a portrait-shot so you can't really tell. Her face was the same. Her face always stayed that way, never changed. To this day, glued to my inner eye. Preserved against time and all other influences from the world outside.
The mirror's gone. Wonder when that happened. There's no nail on the wall where the mirror hung. And there's no hole in the wall where the nail used to be. And actually, that doesn't surprise me anymore.
E-mails with the German version will go out to everyone who said/ says they're interested once I've covered the biggest part of it. :)