Author: Katie Mae

Chapter 3

"There is no dependence that can be sure but a dependence upon one’s self." ~ John Gay



The woman, who had referred to herself as "Rose" the day before, looked at her bubbly blonde friend with a strange look. Her own long brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail; she had put it up immediately after she'd taken a shower, and it had dried in strange waves. Her outfit was simple, merely light blue jeans with a large rip in the right knee and a black shirt with the words "The Doors" donned on the front in silver. She wore big black sunglasses that covered her eyes, probably from another hangover - thankfully less severe than the one before, when she had woken up in the bartender's apartment.

The blonde's hair, which was even longer than her friend's, was long and left down, her bangs swept off to the side and held in place by a black hair clip. The brunette looked at her friend, who smiled and asked, "What?"

"Zoey," the other woman began with a small smile, taking a smooth drag of yet another cigarette, her third in just an hour. It was short, almost finished by now. "What are you trying to tell me?"

"Dépendance is French for 'habit' or, well, 'dependence.' You, my dear, have a rather nasty habit right there between your fingers - you're going to regret that cancer stick one day. I promise you that."

She shrugged and took another long drag, finishing off the cigarette and tossing it off to the side as they continued on their way down the cement sidewalk in the middle of the park. "Maybe," she admitted to her friend, adding a shrug. "But I rather enjoy them. They keep me calm. Focused. I'm much more attentive when I'm pumped full of nicotine and cyanide."

"Mmm, nicotine and cyanide - sounds like a lovely combination," Zoey commented, adding a chuckle.

The brunette nodded.

"So, you never told me about the bartender," the blonde prodded with a smile. "Was he at least cute?"

She nodded in response.

"Did you give him your real name?"

Shaking her head, taking a deep breath of the uncontaminated air around her, the woman said, "No. I couldn't bring myself to. I told him my name was 'Rose,' which is partly true, I suppose."

"Your middle name doesn’t even count. Why didn’t you just tell him?"

"'Rose' is easier to forget than Teagan," the brunette said with another small shrug, shoving her hands in the pockets of her jeans. "I don't want him to remember me. I'm the drunk who comes in, makes a fool of herself, wakes up in a strange man's house after sleeping - no sex involved - and then never sees the man again. It's as simple as that."

"Can I just say something, Teagan?" Zoey asked, slowing her pace to an eventual stop. "Why do you do that? Why do you distance yourself from people like that?"

"Why not?"

Zoey sighed heavily and looked away for a moment. A woman jogged through the scene, wearing a bright pink and black sweatsuit, catching the attention of both the young women. After a moment, Zoey's eyes met Teagan's, and there was something there that Teagan noticed all too well. It was the protective eye that her friend had, the way she looked right before she lectured Teagan on some important matter, and it was common right before an important speech. Teagan could feel one of those protective lectures coming on.

"Look at yourself," Zoey pointed out, moving her hand from above Teagan's head downward. "You're intelligent, interesting, beautiful, artistic, clever - and you just have so much going for you. You could have the world eating out of the palm of your hand, but you lock yourself away into your own little mind, indifferent to everything else around you. You're so wrapped up in your own thoughts and emotions and it's hard for anyone to get close to you. You need someone - Teagan, you need friends."

"I have friends."

"No," she corrected Teagan, holding a finger up as though she was scolding a small child. "You have me. You don't have friends plural, you've got me."

"Zo, what's your point here?" Teagan asked, placing one hand on her hip, sounding both annoyed and impatient.

The blonde sighed heavily. "You could use a little sunshine now and then. Spread your wings, meet new people. It wouldn't kill you to be a little more friendly, to smile once in a while, to actually introduce yourself to someone and make a new friend."

"You speak in impossibilities."

"And you speak in metaphors that I hardly understand sometimes," Zoey rebuked, then offered Teagan a small smile to help make her feel better. "You're my best friend and I worry about you. I've seen you at your worst, and I've seen you at your best. We all have ups and downs, but you've been in 'down' position for months. I just want you to be happy."

"Happiness doesn't really suit me," Teagan said quietly, running a hand through the hair of her ponytail, thinking about the last time she had truly been happy. Had it been months, like Zoey had claimed? Had it been that long since a smile came easily for her? She couldn't remember, actually, and she didn't think she wanted to. The memories still stung, as though someone had shot her in the chest and the wound had never fully healed, even six months later. "It's not in the stars for me to be happy, anyway."

"Everyone deserves to be happy," Zoey responded, just as quietly, the liveliness in her eyes quickly replaced by concern and sadness. "It's been so long since you and JD were together, let yourself be happy."

"I was happy," Teagan snapped at Zoey, suddenly becoming defensive. Blood rushed to her cheeks and she was suddenly furious at her best friend, while at the same time just wanting to break down the walls around her. But Teagan wasn't like that; she would quietly breakdown later, when she's alone and doesn't have to worry about anyone seeing her in such a state. "He was my life, and he threw it away - and for what? Why? Why would he do that to me, Zoey?"

She shrugged in response. "I can't really answer that, Teagan. Only he can."

The hurt, the anguish, everything that had built up in the last six months could be seen through Teagan's eyes. The young little poet whose words never failed her went speechless, gazing at her friend with a defeated expression. Several moments of silence passed between them, and no more words were necessary; they both knew what Teagan was thinking, and her expression gave away how she was feeling. Finally, after an eternity, Zoey gave her friend a smile, in a pathetic attempt to revive some of Teagan's earlier happiness. It didn't work, but it was a start. She wrapped an arm around Teagan's shoulders and forced her to begin walking again.

"Let's go get some coffee, yeah?"

Teagan merely nodded in response to Zoey's demand. They walked to a corner coffee shop just a few blocks away, walking in silence the entire way. She didn't want to talk anymore, especially if Zoey's choice of words were going to revolve around one thing.

JD. The only person who would be able to put her back together.

At the coffeehouse, they barely spoke. Teagan had a lot on her mind, and Zoey knew that much. They drank mochas and sat there silently, all the while Teagan was thinking about that word Zoey had spoken earlier. Dépendance, was it? Zoey was right; Teagan was far too dependent on a lot of things. Drugs, alcohol - maybe she put that all behind her, but what about those damned cigarettes? She hadn't let go of him just yet, and she had yet to sever her one last connection to her former relationship, the one that had put her in this rut in the first place. Dépendance had taken its toll, and she needed a change, but she just wasn't sure she was ready for it.


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