"L.A...it's..." the man who had been at the front desk earlier that day said to Gretchen. They were sitting on the balcony of her hotel room, the wind from the ocean blew her auburn hair behind her, and she leaned her hands back on the white concrete, gazing up at the star speckled sky. "It's the place where people go to become something. It's where the writers, the filmmakers, actors, where everyone comes to try to be somebody. It's a city full of driving passions and ardent needs for this one certain dream to be fulfilled." He looked to Gretchen, studying the flat line of her lips and the furrow of her brow, wondering if she'd look at him. "Sure there's New York also...people go there to get their start...but it's not my kind of city. LA is just...different," he shrugged, "you can't compare it."
"Have you ever been to New York?" She looked to him finally.
"Once. I went to do a photo shoot in Central Park when I was around fifteen. It was a great city, don't get me wrong...but for some reason it didn't excite me. We didn't click. Ya know what I mean?"
Gretchen nodded, her thoughts unreadable from the cryptic look in her eyes. "I like New York...sometimes. Depends on my emotional state, I guess." She tucked a piece of errant hair behind her ear, picking up her wine glass from the ground and downing the last sip on the bottom of the glass. She then reached for the bottle of California Chablis, pouring it almost up to the rim. "LA seems like a great place from what you tell me, Colin," Gretchen paused and turned her head towards him, "What made you want to come up here and talk to me in the first place?" She questioned.
There was a brief silence. "Your eyes," he said sweetly, "those sad eyes of yours. I've never seen such sad eyes in my entire life. I wanted to know what made them so dispirited, and how such a beautiful woman could be living in these eyes of despair." Colin gazed intently at her.
Gretchen swallowed and looked away, wondering how to respond to that. After a few seconds, she let out a laugh and smiled at him. "Are you a writer or something?"
"Aspiring," He grinned, his smile big and luminous. His teeth were pure white and when he smiled his whole face lit up, "is it obvious?"
"I thought you said something about a photo shoot in Central Park?"
"I did. I used to model when I was a teenager. That wasn't for me though. I soon discovered I'd rather be putting pictures into people's minds with words than have them look at a photo of my face. Modeling, acting...it's just not my thing. I'm more into creating things, not capturing or using things that have already been created."
"That's understandable." She sat up Indian style, facing him now. "So you wanted to talk to me because I'd be a good subject for a story?"
Colin moved his head from side to side, wavering between nodding and shaking his head. "Yes and no." He said, "There was something else about you though that had me intrigued from the moment you walked through that door. It wasn't just your eyes, the eyes that all writers dream aboutit was more. You didn't know how long you'd be staying; I wanted to know why. It wasn't only a writer's interest though, it was a natural human curiosity."
Gretchen's lips curled up slightly and she looked out to the ocean, sipping her wine, "Well that's surely a new compliment."
He laughed. "There's not many people I've given it to." Colin watched her. Every little thing about Gretchen interested him, from the sad look in her eyes all the way down to the way she was running her finger around the brim of her wine glass absentmindedly. He wanted to ask her what she was thinking, but knew it was too soon to do that. Only best friends had the right to ask each other what they were thinking in his opinion, and the two of them were far from best friends. He didnt even know what she was doing in LA. Colin stood, acknowledging that it was time to go. "Well, goodnight, Gretchen." He looked down at her.
"Goodnight." She looked up at him. He was tall, probably around 6 foot, but from where she was sitting he looked even taller. Colin turned to go slowly. "Wait," she called.
"Yes?" He turned around.
"Thanks." She said softly.
Colin nodded, knowing exactly what she was thanking him for with out having to ask, and found his way out of her room.
"That is so not fair!" She shrieked, squirming off of his lap.
"Who ever said life was fair?" He pulled her back to him.
"Don't you think that phrase is getting a little tired by now? Besides, I don't have to do what you want." She joked, readjusting herself on his lap. She was sitting facing him, her legs folded behind her at each of his sides.
"Oh you dont?"
"Nope." She crossed her arms and pouted.
He laughed and planted a kiss on her lips. "You are too cute."
She smiled at him.
"Just answer the question!" He persisted.
"No! You're just setting me up to give you a reason to be angry at me or something."
"Oh come on," He rolled his eyes. "You know I wouldn't have asked you if I didn't want to know the truth."
"Well then you have to answer it too."
"Of course. That's how these games work, right?"
"Right," She nodded and paused, taking in a deep breath of air and letting it out slowly. "Okay...one thing I dislike that my boyfriend does..." He looked at her anxiously while she mulled the topic over in her head and he readjusted his arms around her waist, "he thinks too much. Sometimes I wish he would just do something without thinking about it for hours beforehand."
He nodded, "I agree. I'm trying to work on that."
"Okay, your turn to answer. One thing you dislike that I do."
"You tease me too much." He lifted his lips in a small smile. "It really drives me crazy."
She laughed. "What do I do?"
"The way you wear your sweatpants around the house when I come over because you want me to think youre not trying...but I can tell you are because you roll them up so just a tiny portion of your stomach is showing. Don't get me wrong, you look hot as hell, and that's what you want me to think. But also you're hoping I don't know that that's what you want me to think. And there's also this thing you do with your eyes, and then all these other tiny little things I'm sure you aren't even aware of."
"Oh wow," She grinned and looked down, slightly embarrassed, "you figured out one of girl's biggest tricks."
He laughed, "Okay, your question."
"Hmm...okay...I got one."
Gretchen blinked and dropped her head down into her palms for a few seconds. When she looked back up, she eyed the empty wineglass and half-empty bottle of Chablis before groaning and pushing herself up off of the floor. She looked at her watch; it was 12:31. Colin had left about a half an hour ago, but she remained on that balcony for another thirty minutes, thinking and daydreaming. She was the one who forced herself out of her flashbacks this time. Usually it would be someone else, or an outside sound. But tonight, she just didn't want to deal with the memories. She never thought she'd look back at all the times they laughed together and cry about it. That wasn't what she wanted to do tonight. All she wanted to do was sleep.
Gretchen picked up the wine and glass, and dragged herself back into the hotel room. There were two full sized beds and a television in the room with a decent sized bathroom off to one side. Her bags sat on one of the beds, and she made her way over there after setting the wine in an ice bucket and the glass next to it. She fumbled through the bag clumsily, digging for pajamas and her toothbrush.
As she pulled them out finally, the bag fell off of the bed; the contents spilling onto the grapefruit colored rug. "Uuhg..." she looked down at the mess. There was no way she was going to clean that all up tonight when her body was so weak that she felt like she could hardly make it to the bathroom. Gretchen put on the red sweatpants and white tank top she slept in, and pushed away some of her things that had fallen onto the floor with her foot.
While she was brushing her teeth, Gretchen stared at herself in the mirror. Were her eyes really all that sad? Was her sadness so strong that it radiated off of her? She didn't know why she let herself be this way. Over and over she'd tell herself to move on, to stop thinking about Dawson. It had been her decision to end things, so why was she still pining like this? Sometimes she didn't feel like herself, but rather like someone who was lost and even if they could find their way home, they would have no home to go to. But at other times she'd feel alive and energetic, just like how everyone was used to her. What she couldn't do was feign it anymore though. Over the years she'd become good at faking happiness, and in the end it just made her even more depressed. She saw no point in it anymore. Why have other people think you're happy if it's making you feel worse?
Her strokes slowed gradually as she came to a sudden realization. Dawson had bought her that toothbrush. Quickly, she yanked it out of her mouth and threw it down into the sink violently like it was some wretched bug or infected with a life threatening disease. The toothbrush ricocheted off one side of the ceramic bowl before sliding down and stopping. Gretchen took in a deep breath of air and exhaled it slowly. She turned on the faucet and filled a small cup with some cold water, rinsing her mouth of the toothpaste. "You would think I would have bought myself a new toothbrush by now" she said, lifting the brush from the sink and rinsing the bristles. "Tomorrow I'll definitely buy myself a new one" she thought out loud again as she placed the toothbrush on the sink top and turned off the light.
The covers of her bed were already turned down; left bunched up from the nap she took when she first got to her room. She hadn't gone much of anywhere since she arrived in Los Angeles, the farthest being a liquor store just on the corner. There was no reason for her to rush out and see the city right away, but she would tomorrow. Tomorrow though, seemed so far away as she crawled into the bed groggily, pulled the heavy comforters around her, and laid there, awake, unable to sleep because of the thoughts that invaded her head.
He stroked her soft auburn hair, his delicate motions relaxing her from the hard day of work she'd just been through. She lay with her head on his stomach and could feel it rising and falling as he breathed in and out, her gaze directed up at the bright stars over the creek. Her thoughts consisted only of how content she felt at that precise moment in time. He was one of the only people she ever felt like she could truly do nothing with. All she had to do was be there with him, and she'd be happy. No words would necessarily be spoken, and they didn't even have to kiss to express their affection towards one another. There was this spark between them that needed no words to be acknowledged, and no physical touch to be known. This magical feeling...it was just simply there...