You Make Me Begin
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You Make Me Begin

It's crazy what love makes you do.

You Make Me Begin


I’m watching the rise and fall of her chest, thanking God we survived. Six hours ago we had gotten in a car accident on our way home from the airport. Another car had swerved over into our lane, swiped our cab head on, and caused us to roll a couple of times before hitting the median barrier. Thankfully we were all wearing our seat-belts, but we had sustained serious bruises and tweaked backs. We had been rushed to the hospital so they could make sure we didn’t have any internal bleeding or severe whiplash. It had taken a while for us to get our complete results and to be released to go home.

I was glad to be sitting in my usual armchair in our room while still assessing all my bruises and thinking over the events.

Before the point of official impact, Arienne and I had been discussing our future together. It was something that we always had to keep forefront in our minds. We were in two different fields, her a writer and me a photographer, and at any time our synced lives could end up splitting apart to be able to better ourselves. It was a hard reality that we always had to think about and be aware of, but in the long run it was going to benefit us. Usually we were right on track with one another but recently Arienne found out that she would probably have to go Indiana for a meeting while I was planning on going to France next to build on my new project. The two trips were going to overlap one another, thus causing us to be unable to travel with one another. I had thought about postponing my trip to France so that I could go to Indiana with her for a week and then we could hop the pond together.

But she wasn’t having it and neither was my family. Arienne kept reminding me that we knew that we would have to risk this kind of split one day and see where it takes us. The family I had that still lived in Nice had started to make plans for my visit. It would be hard to rearrange some of the things they wanted to do with me while I was there before I had to travel to Paris. Normally I would have agreed with Arienne but she had become a part of my project; becoming a very important element within it. I needed her but I couldn’t let that hinder her future even if it hurt my own some.

For so long she wanted this publishing deal. Had worked many sleepless nights on her novel. Had sacrificed so much of her sanity. Had sacrificed so much of her remaining time and energy to help me as well. It wouldn’t be fair for me to beg her to come with me; I would feel guilty. But I also knew that I would be crushed, maybe even betrayed, if she picked this over me. Yes, it was selfish, but I needed her, I really did.

I laid my head in my hands with the thought of losing her. A shutter ran through my body and I winced when I felt the muscles in back seize.

“Fuck,” I breathed.

My head was still down when I heard the rustle of the bed sheets.

“Lance…” I heard her whisper.

I got up and went to her side, taking her hand into my own. “I’m right here, dove.”

A little smile appeared on her lips, causing one of my own to pop up.

“You feel okay?” I asked.

Now her brow is furrowed. “I’m fine, just a little sore and groggy. ‘Bout you?”

“About the same.”

“You should lay down, it will do you some good.”

Without arguing I crawled up on the bed, laid down, and cradled her in my arms. Her head was resting on my chest underneath my chin. I could smell the slight scent of violets in her hair from her shampoo. Such a comforting smell.

We laid in silence for a few minutes. My mind was finally trying to wind down, barely shouting the thought that this may be one of the last few times we would sleep like this together. I was for sure she was asleep when my eyes decided to droop completely shut.

“I’m going to France with you,” I heard before I nodded off.

“What?” I asked sleepily. I wasn’t sure I had totally heard what she had said.

“I’m not going to push my meeting until we come back from France.”

I didn’t respond; I was still trying to process what she had said. I didn’t understand. Had she really said she was going to push back the meeting?

Then it slammed into me, jolting my brain awake.

I rose up causing my back muscles to scream which made me huff out a large breath. She groaned from the sudden movement.

“Why? Why would you do that?” I don’t know why I sounded so frantic.

Arienne scooted a little away from me, sitting up with her legs crossed. She looked at me in a way that I would never forget. Despite all of the hell we had went through today, she was still a beauty to behold. Her long hair hanging like a dark halo all around her, her slumped posture that still screamed “sex,” and her eyes yelled “behold I am strong.” I itched for my camera. I itched to kiss her.

And before I could act on anything that was running through my mind, she spoke.

“I want to go to France with you. After everything today, I realized how bad I just needed to get away from everything. I’m tired, Lance. You know I haven’t slept in months with working on this novel and with helping you with your own project. I just want a break and if I go to that meeting in Indiana, I won’t get it and I’ll lose you. As stupid and weak as it sounds, I’m just not ready to let you go.”

Her words struck me like a freight train. They were everything that I needed to hear but they still made me feel like dirt. I was the reason why she putting this off. No, I may not be the sole reason behind her decision, but I am still a part of it. Yet again she was sacrificing something for me and for once, even though I wanted it, I’m not a fully on board.

“But you’ve already sacrificed so much for me and my project,” I told her in disbelief.

Her right eyebrow cocked while a small scowl laid on her face. “I’m not doing it for you, asshole.”

I’m silenced.

“Yeah, I know you’re a part of my decision but you are not the entire reason why nor would you ever be. This is for me and because I want to. I love you, Lance, but if I knew I didn’t need this break, you would not be able to sway me to go to France with you.”

I smile at her bluntness. She wasn’t being selfish, even if her words portrayed her that way. I would be the same way if I was in her situation. We were artists together and our work, unfortunately, always came first. No matter how much we loved each other deeply, to the point of being soul mates, but if our paths didn’t align then we would have to separate.

Harsh but real to the core.

I leaned over and kissed her hard. I didn’t need to say anything to her to show that I understand her words now. There was no point because even if they were harsh, they were what I needed to hear so that I knew that were on the same page.

After that, we laid back down again. Her wrapped around me with her head under my chin and me with one arm around her and the other stroking her leg. The smell of violets in her hair comforted me again as I drifted off to sleep.


It is almost noon when I wake up the next day. The muscles in my back are screaming at me for not moving around the night while asleep and because of the accident. I try to stretch them out without waking Lance up and I wince while trying to do so. Black spots pop into my vision and I stop before the pain makes me pass out. I want to lay there for a little longer but my mind starts with racing with yesterday’s events. I become uncomfortable physically and mentally, so I get up and head into our bathroom.

I shuffle to the lip of the bathtub and sit down with a heavy sigh. I lay my head down in my hands, looking at the floor, but then I ever so slightly turn my head to look to the right of me. My eyes lay on a tile of the bathroom wall and shower tub that looks a little loose. It looks as though it has been removed before and not properly sealed, something that not many would notice unless they were doing exactly what I was doing. My right arm stretched out, fingernails tugging on the edge of tile, knowing that it will come out for me. The tile comes out, I place it on the bathtub lip, and reach into the gaping hole. I already know what I’ll find in there before I even put my hand inside.

I pull out a plastic bag with cigarettes and a lighter inside of it. A small thrill goes through my body; I’m excited to see that my deadly friend is still intact. Lance doesn’t know about this little hiding spot and if he did, he just left it alone. He doesn’t approve of my sometimes habit but will relent to letting me have it when I really need to have a smoke.

This is one of those times.

While opening the bag, I promise myself that this will be the only one. I can’t let myself go down this road. I just need one to get by and to think through these rushing thoughts.

So, with this promise in place, I light the one cigarette and take a blissful drag. My body relaxes and another sigh comes out of me while I exhale.

Why had I told him what I did? Why had I not admitted that I just needed to be with him and not this meeting? Why couldn’t admit that I needed him more than usual lately?

These questions filtered through my mind over and over, not letting go even with the deepest of drags and exhales. Nothing could help me decide why I had said what I said to him.

I knew that it was normal for me to respond the way I did, but it wasn’t completely truthful. I wanted to so bad to tell him that the accident had me panic with the thought of losing him. My mind couldn’t wrap around the idea of being separated from him, if it was because of death or a meeting, it just didn’t seem feasible to me. Before the accident I had been so adamant about us having time apart to pursue our perspective dreams and not holding the other back. From the get-go of our relationship, that was understood. But now, it just didn’t feel right. I needed to be by his side, even if that meant that I had to sacrifice something that was important to me.

“What an anti-feminist thought, Ari,” I whispered aloud.

But was it really, though? Was I actually in the wrong for wanting to just push myself aside and to focus on just him and help with his project?

Lance would have disagreed with me. He would fight with me and constantly remind me of how much I help him out even if it causes me sleep, sanity, or time from own goal. He would push me to go to Indiana; he’d remind me of our forever prevalent stipulations.

And I did need this break from own goals and aspirations. I needed to regroup and remind myself that this book deal was something that I seriously did want. For years, I had slaved over this story line, trying to pin point the right narrative, and trying to get my name out in the world. But I had turned down a lot of opportunities, job offers, and time with the ones I loved to keep my focus on this goal. I had caused a rift between me and my family by traveling with Lance, seeing the world, getting inspiration, and working for a travel column. My family didn’t see why I was willing to give up so much of myself for all of this to happen.

They would never understand that this was a life that I had always envisioned for myself and it was all an extension of me. I was willing to do anything and everything to see my name in a bookstore alongside some of the greatest writers in the world.

Lately, though, I was finding it harder and harder to keep myself on this focus train and to remind myself of why exactly I decided this life. So, thanks to the accident I could finally have an opportunity to get my perspective back. I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take me to regain my original focus, but it was going to happen. Hopefully. And I was going to have Lance there with me to grab a hold of this thought process again, after all he was part of my biggest drive to keep creating.

A smile creept onto my lips.

In a way, Lance was my muse. No, I didn’t write about him or our life outside of the travel column, but he got my creative juices flowing. His forever determination and focus on his own project gave me the drive to try to work on my own. I was thankful and blessed to have him in my life.

And that was why I needed to go to France with him. I just wished I could relay this to him without seeming weak. Maybe in time I could tell him these thoughts in hopes that he would understand.

My cigarette was finished and so were my racing thoughts. I put my stash back into the baggie, zipped it up, and put it back in the hole. I placed the tile back in its rightful spot, knowing that I would probably back into in the next month or so. Or I would forget about in entirely while in France.

With a big heave, I got up off the lip of the tub, used the toilet, and headed back into bed with Lance. I knew he would smell the cigarette on me but he wouldn’t say a word, knowing better. He would just think I needed a smoke while I wrote a few lines, not because I was too proud to admit that I needed away from my writing and just needed him.

I slipped under the covers, laying up against him, and felt him sigh in happiness with my return. I looked up at him and watched his features change as he smelled the rancid smell of my deadly friend.

“Ari…” he grumbled.

“Yes, love,” I replied.

His response was a heavy sigh but instead of trying to say anything afterwards, he just kissed my forehead.

We ended up staying in bed for most of the day, talking travel plans, and watching TV. It was a perfect moment to overshadow a rocky 24 hours.
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