Author’s Note: So… the alien’s story threw me a curve ball, and I wasn’t sure what I’d come up with for a selection for today. Driving to the airport, I heard a song and when I got home, I had an idea of what to do with the concept. I think, in many ways, Katie Herzig’s song “Hologram” fits Luna’s story, not just in this scene, but in most aspects.
She was finally willing to share, though, so here’s a bit from her, kind of using these lyrics:
I’m gonna let you down
Gonna toss you around
Gonna make you want everything you haven’t found
I’m gonna hold your hand
Then ask you to stand
Ten feet away
“You’re a real heartbreaker, aren’t you? Stringing us all along for a while and then letting us fall flat on our faces when we get close to you.”
“Dennis, go away. I don’t have time to do this with you,” Luna said, rummaging through the cupboard as she searched for the missing pill box. She didn’t know why she thought it was in the shop, but her father insisted he couldn’t find it in the house, so it had to be somewhere around here.
“Is this the new one, then?” Dennis asked, and she jerked her head up, rising as she realized that he had hold of her sketchbook. She lunged for it, but he held it up above her head, and she cursed him for being so tall. “The new muse, your inspiration. How far did you let him get, then? Did he get to tell you he loved you? Did you let him kiss you? Did you take his heart and stomp on it yet?”
Luna winced, shaking her head. “I don’t have muses, and you know that. Stop being like this. I cannot do this now. I need to—”
“To go meet him? Some romantic tryst? Someone should warn him that you won’t give him anything. You’re an artist, collecting all your pretty pictures of your pretty boys, but none of them mean a damn to you, do they? You never let any of us in, even when we love you. You make a fuss about not giving away your body, but it’s your heart that’s never in it, is it?”
Her eyes stung with tears, her chest tight. He knew her well enough to make all of those words hurt, and she wanted to hurt him right back. She wouldn’t. “Dennis, please. I know you’re not happy about the way it ended, but this is unnecessary. Just go. Give me my sketchbook and go.”
He held it out to her, and she went to take it, but then he jerked it away. “Why should I? The art means more to you than anyone or anything, and a part of me wants to destroy it just like you destroyed me. I loved you. I asked you to marry me. You asked me to be patient, and I was. I would have given you all the time you wanted to decide, but you didn’t want time. You wanted a new toy.”
Luna blinked, shaking her head. “Just stop. You can insult me all you want some other time. Go. Now. Leave me alone.”
“That’s what you really want, isn’t it? To be alone? I would have given you everything, everything I have and everything I am and—”
“My mother is dying,” Luna said, and Dennis stopped, frowning at her. She swallowed, not sure how the words had come out of her mouth because she’d spent the past three months denying them, ever since the diagnosis. She took a deep breath and wiped at her eye, not wanting to cry in front of him, not even if she deserved all the words he’d hurled at her.
“Luna, why didn’t you tell me? I would have been here for you, I would have—I wouldn’t have been so angry, I would have given you space and support and—”
“I don’t want any of that from you.”
He inhaled, the sound rough and sharp, as though she’d knocked the wind out of him. She figured the words were enough of a blow, but she couldn’t not tell him, not after all he’d said. “I watch my dad take care of my mother, I watch him worry and agonize and beg and plead and spend every moment he can with her, and I watch him show her every day just how much he loves her. I don’t feel that for you. I never did. I never will.”
“You’re upset. This thing with your mom, it’s rough, and you’re having a hard time. Let me help you through it. I know I said a lot of things that I shouldn’t have, but you made me so angry… You didn’t even tell me what was going on. All you did was say it was over, you wouldn’t talk to me about it, and now I find out about your mom. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I like her. She’s a great lady. Don’t shut me out now. I can help you.”
“No. You still don’t get it. I had to end it. Stringing you along is what made you so angry, isn’t it? I just told you that I don’t love you. I can’t love you. I won’t love you. Now I want my sketchbook back, and I want you to go.”
Dennis slammed the book down on the counter, shaking his head as he stepped back. “I don’t—I want to say I don’t understand, but I think I do. I hope you’re happy. I think you’re making a mistake, but I won’t stand in your way. You still have my number. If you need anything, you can call me. If your mom needs anything, you can call me.”
Luna picked up her book and held it against her chest, lowering her head. “I won’t call you.”
“I’d say something about you calling him—”
“It’s not like that. It’s got nothing to do with another guy. It has to do with who and what we are and what we’re not. I made a mistake, I thought I loved you, but I don’t. Now, please go. I only came to find Mom’s prescription, and it’s not here, so I need to lock up.”
She didn’t look at him as he left. She had no one to blame but herself, and she knew he was right to blame her. Their on-again off-again relationship had been her choice, he’d always been willing to commit to her, but she never seemed to want to see him more than a few times in a row. If someone else asked her to coffee or dinner, she’d go. She kept telling herself she was afraid of having more than a few dates with anyone, but she didn’t think that was it.
She wasn’t scared.
She just didn’t care enough, not about any of them, and she never had. She’d let them think she did, and she’d hurt them all. She loved her art, her books, and her parents. She’d never loved anything or anyone else, and she didn’t think she could.
Dennis should have called her a monster. That was what she was.