Moving on takes courage. The courage to move on causes you to explore new secrets about someone.
"It was fun."
"Uh huh." Danielle nodded. "We made friends."
"That's great, well done." Patrick praised her. He bit his lip.
"Did you, uh, did you make friends with that Riley girl, then?"
Danielle nodded again.
"She said I was pretty."
"Did she?" Patrick asked. "That was nice of her."
"Yep." Danielle clambered off his lap and ran off to join Pete and Josh. Patrick wasn't surprised. He couldn't usually hold their attention as long as he could with adults.
"Alright, you three, time to go." He called after a few minutes of watching them.
"Well, you can come back tomorrow." Patrick said.
And they did.
The next morning was the same, Patrick very nearly lost his temper while they goofed around and refused to listen to him as he herded them into the car. They cried before they went in, it was as if they'd forgotten where they'd spent the morning yesterday.
"Bye, guys." Patrick waved, still feeling awful as Mrs Connelly led them away yet again. He sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets before turning to leave.
"Don't look so bad. You have to let go someday." A voice said from beside him. He looked up and saw Addison, her red hair shining in the light streaming through his window. Ignoring yet another painful thought about Amanda, Patrick let a smile form on his face.
"I just want to keep them like this forever. I have a feeling that the next few weeks will be like Groundhog Day." He replied.
"You know? The movie? When the guy wakes up everyday and has to relive the same day over and over?" He explained, questioningly, waving his hands about.
"Never saw it." Addison shrugged.
"Seriously? You're out of your mind."
"I beg your pardon? We've just met, I don't think you get to call me out of my mind."
Patrick's smile faded and his faced blushed red as he began to stammer again, suddenly very aware of his own tongue.
"I'm sorry, I was just kidd.." He started but Addison shook her head and laughed.
"You were fooling about. I know. I was joking. Relax, Patrick."
She remembered your name.
He shook his head as the thought entered his mind.
Of course she remembers your name. No one's gonna forget a stuttering idiot who can't hold a proper conversation, are they?
"What's wrong?" Addison asked, concerned at why he was shaking his head.
He smiled again and she gestured outside for them to leave. He held the door open for her and followed her outside.
"So what do you do when you're not dropping your kids off?" Addison asked him.
"I'm in a band." Patrick said, simply. He had the feeling Addison had no idea who he was, and he intended it to stay that way.
"Wow. That'll be cool for your kids to say. 'Yeah, my dad's in a band'."
"I think they're more embarrassed than proud." He replied. "But what about you?"
"Full time mom." Addison replied. "I used to be a nurse, I absolutely loved it. But when Riley came along, I had to give it all up. My husband's orders."
Patrick was shocked a man would actually force a woman out of a career she loved to raise a child. It was possible to juggle both.
"How long've you been married?" Patrick asked, casually, not sure why he'd asked, himself.
"Well, it would be coming up seven years this year."
"Wow." Patrick said.
"Yeah, would be." Addison told him. She showed him her ring finger. "Divorced."
"Ouch." He said, wincing at the word. It wasn't exactly his favorite.
"What about you? Married?" She asked him. Patrick shook his head.
Addison nodded, sensing his reluctance to talk about it. They sat down on the bench by the park, and watched as some kids were taken outside to the garden around the back of the building.
"So, a nurse, huh? That takes some brains."
Addison laughed and shrugged.
"Well, you can't be an idiot."
"I have a lot of respect for nurses."
"You do, huh?"
"Yeah." Patrick said, embarrassed now her eyes were on his. "I reckon they don't get enough credit for what they do."
"That's true. But neither do a lot of people."
Patrick nodded along, chewing on his lip
"Are Danielle and Josh your only children?" Addison asked. Patrick nodded once.
"Yeah, they are. It's a hell of a lot of work, but I'd love another kid. Maybe even another two." He said, laughing slightly at the idea.
"Me too." Addison said. "Riley's my only, but I'd love for her to have a brother or sister."
"Uh huh." Addison said, with a nod.
"Sounds good." Patrick replied.
The next half hour, Patrick spent mentally kicking himself and stammering replies to Addison's enquiries, as she cooly replied to his own. When the time came for them to leave and run their errands, Patrick was reluctant to leave. But he did, and at home, he sat in his study and eyed his phone.
You can do it. It's just a phone call, no big deal.
He bit his lip and dialed the number while reading it off the card.
"Hey, uh Libby? It's Patrick." He said, when the phone was picked up.
/"Hey./" Libby didn't sound impressed, or glad that it was Patrick on the other line. He cleared his throat.
"Uh, look, I wanted to apologize for not calling. But, um, a lot of stuff came up and, well, you know, with two kids it's sort of hard to get time to yourself." Patrick scribbled on a pad of paper as he stuttered, rolling his eyes at the amount of times he said 'uh', or 'um'.
"Right." Libby replied. "Well, I guess, being an intern doesn't exactly leave much time for dating."
Patrick mumbled in reply and a deep silence filled the conversation.
"I didn't know whether to call, either." He admitted. "Because I told you to call me and, that was sort of lame."
"Well, the guy's meant to call the girl, right?"
"If you follow those lame dating rules." Libby said, and Patrick heard her laugh afterwards.
"Oh. Well, uh, I just wanted to say sorry, anyway. But, maybe we could meet up again? You know, like, as friends." He stammered.
"That would be nice." Libby said. Patrick exhaled in relief.
"Great. So I'll catch you another time?"
Over the next few weeks, Patrick got into yet another routine. When he dropped Danielle and Josh off at kindergarten, Addison would be there with Riley. They would greet each other and say their goodbyes to the kids, and stood outside, talking by their cars, or wandering around the place, sometimes sitting on the bench in the park while they laughed and discovered more about each other.
"You don't have to be anywhere right now, do you?" Patrick asked, his stammer returning as his stomach churned.
"Asides from the same state as my daughter, no." Addison replied.
"Alright. Well, do you wanna get some lunch? Or, early breakfast, I guess. My treat." He said, ducking his head.
"Sure." Addison replied. There was a small diner around the corner, and as they walked Patrick's hands found their way into his pockets, as he scuffed his feet on the sidewalk out of nervousness.
"You get nervous easily, don't you?" Addison said, a smile in her voice as they approached the diner.
"Yeah. It's nothing personal, I've always been like that." He said, quietly, holding the door for her.
"You're a gentleman, at least."
"It's one of my best qualities." Patrick told her before sitting down in the booth opposite her.
"One of many." She replied, while he laughed shyly.
"So... why don't you go back to your job?" Patrick asked, a while later. He was comfortable enough to only be stammering a few times every half hour or so, and he'd stopped blushing when he looked her in the eye.
"Well, I'd love to. But with Riley it's sort of hard. I mean, now that she's at school, it might be a bit easier. But it's hard to find a nursing job for the three hours each day she's at school."
"Plus, it would be strange going back to work. I mean, I gave it up when I became pregnant, and haven't been back since."
"But you want to, right?"
Addison paused and nodded.
"I think I'd need a more secure life to be able to, though."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, at home it's just me and Riley. You know? I just think it would be easier to hold down a job and being a mom if I had a husband."
"Man, I know." He said.
"So what about you? You said you were in a band?" Addison asked. Patrick had forgotten he'd told her that when they first met. Luckily, the conversation hadn't arisen again. Until now.
"Uh, yeah." He said, shaking his leg up and down, another bad habit of his. Addison silently noted it and decided it was adorable.
"You get much time to do it?"
"Depends, really. I mean, before I had the kids, there was a lot more going on. We still play a lot, but not like all year like a few years ago. A few years back I would have like, one month off, tops."
"Wow. That's heavy going."
"Yep." Patrick nodded. "I do a lot of stuff for other bands. Like, stuff I can do on my computer, and Pete or my other friends babysit occasionally when I have to go into the studio."
As soon as the words left his mouth, he regretted letting them slip.
"Wow! You go to a studio?"
"Mmm hmm." He mumbled.
"Awesome. So are you guys any good?"
"People say we're bearable." Patrick said subtly, with a smile.
"Right. So... would it be entirely inappropriate if I came to see you play one time?"
Patrick paused. She really didn't seem to know he was in Fall Out Boy.
"I guess you could." He said, watching her.
"I look forward to it." Addison smiled.
"Shit, we better go." Patrick said, looking at his watch. It was ten to twelve, and they both had to pick their kids up. As they stood up, a small bottle fell out of his pocket onto the booth, without him noticing.
"Wait, you dropped your bottle." Addison said, picking it up.
"Oh, thanks." Patrick said, quickly, trying to take the bottle off her. But she'd already read the label.
"Fluoxetine hydrochloride." She murmured, searching for the memory of what it was commonly known as.
"What's this?" She asked.
"Nothing." He said, taking it from her and shoving it in his pocket.
She repeated it again under her breath and looked at him.
"Prozac." She said, looking in his eyes.
"Yeah." He said, trying to look around and change the subject.
"Why, Patrick?" She asked, concerned. He shifted and shrugged.
"I've, uh, I've been on prozac for nearly four years."
"Uh," Patrick shifted his fork back and forth as he spoke quietly. "My girlfriend died, and it hit me sort of... suddenly. I had a breakdown and needed to get help to be there for my kids."
"Oh, Patrick, I'm so sorry."
"Yeah, me too." Patrick replied.
"Just do it, Patrick. Just, go." Patrick murmured to himself, staring at the phone as he sat in his study. It was evening, and he had just put Danielle and Josh to bed before trying to work on some new songs, but he had a nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach that he couldn't shake off. He braced himself for humiliation, took a deep breath, and pressed dial.
The phone rang a few times before it was picked up, a woman's voice said clearly;
"Hey, Addison, it's Patrick."
"Hi. How're you doing?"
/"I'm good. How are you?"
"Yeah, I'm alright."
"Good to hear it. So what's up?"
"Well, I was just wondering, I mean, you don't have to or anything, it's just, I was wondering..."
"Spit it out, Patrick."
"Uh, well, I was thinking we could go out for dinner. Like, on Friday night or something." Patrick said, feeling the color rise to his cheeks. He was glad she couldn't see his face. She'd think he was such an idiot.
"Let me check. I can get a babysitter, no problem. But Friday's no good, I'm afraid."
Patrick stood up, Joe's words echoing in his head.
"According to chicks, they wait for the guy to call, then if he asks them out, say Friday night, they tell them they're not available, even if they are."
"Oh, okay." He ruffled his hair at the back and wandered around the room as he bit his lip.
"But Saturday's good."
"Saturday? Sure." Patrick said, shifting the phone from his right ear to his left. "Is 7pm okay?"
"I look forward to it."
"Awesome. So, I'll probably see you tomorrow, anyway?"
"Nine AM, as always."
"Great. I'll see you then."
"Bye." Patrick replaced the phone and let out a deep breath. The nagging feeling had subsided, his face was still burning from embarrassment, but a new feeling developed in place of the nervousness. Guilt. He couldn't help but feel as though he were betraying Amanda.
"Maybe the date will suck." Patrick said out loud to Amanda. He was surprised to hear himself sounding hopeful. He wasn't sure if he'd put the voice on to fool Amanda, or whether he actually was hopeful. Sinking back into his chair, he laid his head on the table and exhaled again.
"What am I doing?"
Later that night, he lay in bed staring at the ceiling, the air blowing through the open window in the summer heat. He turned on his side and watched the empty side of the bed, the side that had remained empty for three years. Patrick didn't dare sleep in that side. He didn't want to, it was Amanda's side. Even though they'd had a slight argument about which side of the bed they slept in. Patrick always wanted to sleep in the left hand side, but Amanda was adamant that choosing a side of the bed was stupid. He could still visualize her lying on the side of the bed she'd gained, grinning at him. He remembered how he'd watched her that night, watched her breathing in and out, slowly, her chest rising and falling with every breath she took. A small smile adorned her face as she dreamt, while her hair fell over one side of her face, the other side fanning out against the pillow. He had tucked the hair back behind her ears and shook his head in disbelief. How did this woman come to be lying here next to him?
/"So why are you so bothered about not sleeping here?" Patrick asked, huffily, flopping down onto 'his' side of the bed while Amanda lay in the side she'd won.
Amanda shrugged in reply.
"I don't know. But I do know it's stupid to fight over a side of the bed."
"Then don't make such a big deal." Patrick rolled his eyes.
"Alright, fine. I was just meaning, that, when it comes down to it, all we'll be doing in this bed is sleeping, and making love."
Patrick sat up.
"Yeah. But if you don't like sleeping there, then there's no point." Amanda was laughing now, at Patrick's grin.
"Well, it doesn't really matter which side I'm on, does it?" He winked, before pulling the covers over both of them./
It made him feel physically sick as he thought of her lying an hour away, cold and empty, as white as the sheets he lay in, alone and lifeless. A shot of anger lingered in his body as he remembered a conversation before.
"If you let me in, you won't be hurt or disappointed."
"Stop it." He told himself in a whine, shaking his head from side to side, as if to physically shake the thoughts away. He wished he could shake away the acidic feeling in his mouth, the kind you got before you threw up. He held his breath and continued to watch the empty side of the bed that had once been the host of the woman he was supposed to spend his life with, lying by his side, oblivious to the short lived time the couple would have together to realize their love.
There were also many times he and Amanda had playfully fought with the covers, Amanda pulling them off Patrick when he turned over and stole them from her accidentally. He'd groan tiredly, and yank them back, leaving her shivering before it would carry on several times, until Patrick became so defeated, he edged further into the center of the bed and snuggled up against Amanda, to save the back and forth cover games that caused him to lose his well needed sleep. He always seemed to sleep better when he could feel Amanda against him.
Patrick smiled at the memory... memories he'd had of opening his eyes halfway into the night and remembering who was holding him.
"You can have the covers if you want, as long as I fall asleep with your arms around me, again." Patrick whispered after a while, with a slight laugh. His smile faded as he took a deep breath.
"We were so stupid. Fighting over sides of the beds, and covers when we should have been doing things we wouldn't get the chance to."
He shook his head as he grimaced and swallowed.
"I'm sorry, Amanda. I can't even explain it anymore."
He paused, as if waiting for an answer, and went on.
"I could try to tell you what my head's feeling at the moment, but it doesn't make sense, not even to me."
He paused again and closed his eyes.
"I still love you. I always will. But I need someone."
I've only ever lied to you once. That time, when I was on my way to yours and I saw that billboard of Christina. And I panicked, I was just so shocked at seeing her again, I came back home and I called you and told you I was ill, when I wasn't. But you know I've never lied to you asides from that. I didn't lie and tell you I loved you until I knew I did. I didn't tell you I was fine when I wasn't. And now, I'm not going to lie to you. I'm going to be honest."
He gathered the words in his chest, his heart thumping steadily.
"I think something good could happen with Addison. I think I could be happy again. And I think... I think I might have the chance to fall in love again."
He froze, one eye closed and one opened, as though waiting for a response, an objection in the form of lights flickering or papers flying around while a storm brewed outside. When there was nothing, he opened the other eye.
"I'm sorry. But that's how I feel and I can't lie. In a perfect world, you would still be here, we would be husband and wife, and we would have put three children to bed together tonight."
"But the world's not perfect. It's a fucking game and I've been losing since I was 17 and met Christina. For every high in my life, there's a low. And I don't want to lose anymore."