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By Jamie

"What are you thinking?"

The question startles me. I look up and see her blue eyes trying to pierce me. It won't work. I will not allow her to come in. The office is cold, with grey walls and some ugly, expensive artwork.

This is my 5th time in this office. I pretend it's a game. She and I are the players. This office is our board. It always begins at the same time, on the same day. I always lose. I am not allowed to cancel or refuse. It's part of what I have become. Her name is Catherine, and she has a degree in psychology from Hudson University. Every month, I am supposed to tell her how I feel, why I feel it, and most of all, she wants me to admit something. She wants to know about my parents, my prom, my college years. I tell her anecdotes, things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. How my father slept with his secretary, and how everyone knew, except my mother. That I had sex with the prom king after the party, to get back at his queen for insulting my sister. That I drank too much in college. I don't tell her what she wants to hear. That I can't handle my new life, and that I am prepared to jump off a skyscraper at a moment's notice. I don't want to do those things, really! I actually like my new life. Except for my therapy meetings, that is. I live in a semi-attached house in a quiet neighbourhood. The people are nice, there are activities to keep me busy when I'm not working. There are some things I didn't have in my old life, things I wanted to share with her. Olivia. I never believed I could miss anyone so much as I miss her. Every morning when I wake up, I want to believe she is lying next to me. Just like she used to do after a rough case or an all nighter at work. She would be whispering "Good morning chica" in my ear and hug me close when she woke up. Chica. It was just one of many nicknames. I always believed she had a book of nicknames somewhere. They would differ depending on the situation. When I was sad, she called me Allie. When I was happy, she called me chica or girlfriend. Once, when I was angry, she called me a bitch, but she didn't mean it. It was part of one of our rituals. If one of us called the other bitch, they would retort hag, and the punchline was always "housewife", for some reason. Not that we have anything against them, but most of the housewives we encountered were always so arrogant and full of themselves, that we made fun of them. I always called her Olivia, just because I like the way it rolls off my tongue.

I don't remember when we became so close. Maybe we were always like that. We were equals. We both had to survive within a man's world, and in a profession where tears and weakness are not an option. If you cry, they win. They didn't know what we did when they went home to their own life. They don't know that we cried. Sam Cavanaugh, Sheryl Avery, every abused child, every woman that got raped. After the traditional comfort/celebratory drink with the squad, we would go home, and fall to pieces. One day, I couldn't stop an abusive father and husband from getting away with a murder attempt to his wife's best friend. He got to the friend the same night, and while he was at it, he beat his wife to a pulp with a curtain rod. After I heard, I just crawled into bed with a box of Kleenex and some Valium. Just as the pill touched my lips, I changed my mind. I went to her apartment. She opened the door, her eyes red and puffy from crying. We didn't speak, didn't ask questions. We lay on her bed, on top of the sheets, our fingers entwined. If we let go, we would fall.

Later, we started to grow closer. Once, she had a nightmare, and took two trains to get to my apartment, and crawl into bed with me. I feel a tear trickling down my face. I remember her so clearly, and yet, she is starting to fade away. Some days, I forget what her voice sounded like or what she looked like when she first woke up. It's like a movie. Sometimes I can remember a random event, or something she said. The games we played when we couldn't sleep. I miss her lying in my arms, early in the morning, before the alarm clock went off. Imagining our perfect holiday, which was always in Greece, Spain or Italy. Imagining the garden we were going to have one day. Roses and sunflowers, a swing, lunch and dinner on our terrace. Dancing to our favourite song, which changed on a weekly basis. Going to the park on Saturdays. She would watch the children in the playground, and I would read a book, reading my favourite passages out loud. Falling asleep in her arms on the couch, during a late night movie. I loved her so much. I loved her voice, and her smile, and the way she tickled me during a mock argument. I never told her, but I hope she knows.

Catherine is still trying to pierce me, but I won't tell her. These memories are mine, they are stuck in the few photographs I managed to save. They are in the videotape Munch made during an office party. Sometimes, they are in the songs I hear on the radio. They are in the movies she and I used to watch together. Later, when I get home, I will sit in my bedroom, and look at the scrapbook the squad got me for my birthday. I will look at the Polaroid of me and her, taken on the beach about a year ago. I will touch the faces, trace the outlines of their features. I will write the umpteenth letter to her, and I will never send it. I will look at my new scrapbook, full of poems, photographs, things I want to show her someday. I don't know when that is going to be. Could be tomorrow, could be next year. Maybe we will meet by accident someday. Maybe we will have children, maybe we will have husbands. But I will see her again, no one will take that away from me. She's here with me, in everything I say and do, even if she doesn't know.

I hope she's ok now. That she has a nice boyfriend, that she doesn't spend her days mourning me. I hope my replacement is nice, that she will be able to understand what we do. Maybe she and Olivia do the things mentioned earlier. I hope she's happy, that's all I ever wanted her to be.

I get up, and walk out of the office. When I get inside, I make a beeline for my garden. It's so pretty, Olivia, I planted roses, and sunflowers, and there is a garden swing, just like we imagined. I sit down, and enjoy the sunset, knowing that in New York, she is watching it too.

The End

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