"Listen to my nervous laughter Sunken deep inside my heart My lips are dry, I'm teary eyed For you my love... And you know me, oh you know me more than anyone When I hear your voice Everything I've done disappears from memory Oh, my darling come and save me, Tell me I'm the one you're dreaming of Tell me that you love me too..." Wishing That ~ Jann Arden
A week went by... a week that the partners just barely managed to survive. Every day, they woke up feeling desperately alone, not wanting to go and face each other, hoping... hoping that things would get easier. Things were supposed to get easier, but they didn’t. Every day, the pain kept coming. Every day, the memories haunted them. Every day, they’d force themselves to keep going, to go to the rink to skate, to stay alive... but then they’d see each other, and it was like dying all over again. No matter how hard they tried, it wouldn’t go away. The tears kept falling. The heart-wrenching lumps still occupied their throats when they tried to speak to each other. They still couldn’t look at each other fully, because they both knew the look in their eyes would give them away in a second. The harder they struggled to make it seem like nothing was wrong, the harder things became, and the more people worried about them - people like Marina, Dave, and Kirsten. Emily and Mark were on the ice, working on their freedance once again... or at least trying to work on it. They had accomplished next to nothing over the past week. How could they, working as two separate people rather than as a team? How could they progress in a sport that was all about expression, emotion and heart when their hearts were broken? How could they work together when they couldn’t even look at each other without wanting to break down and cry? Marina watched them as they listlessly went through the motions and sighed. Watching them over the past week had been enough to make any coach want to cry with them. But she knew she had to be strong, for them... She motioned for them to come over to her. They came, the way they’d come all week, shadows of the Emily and Mark she was used to working with. They usually skated over to her together, laughing about something or the other, teasing each other, hand in hand... but not in the past week. They came slowly, listlessly, in total disinterest, as far away from each other as they could possibly be on the same rink. Like they’d done every day since the breakup, they stopped on opposite sides of their coach and avoided each other. Marina looked at them and shook her head. “Come in front of me,” she ordered. The partners skated warily over to face her, but stayed at least a foot apart. Their coach gave them a look, got up, walked out onto the ice, and physically pushed Em closer to her partner. Emily looked up in surprise, then hurriedly tried to move back away from Mark. But Marina wouldn’t let her. She went over to Mark, took his hand, and placed it in Em’s. She and Mark realized what their coach was doing and tried to pull away, but Marina was firm. “Now, I will go away, and you will talk,” she commanded. The partners stood there, staring at the ice. “You will talk,” Marina repeated. “Together.” And with that, she left. The second she left, Emily’s eyes fell downwards to their joint hands. Oh, God... sure, they’d had to hold hands to practice all week, but now... All she could think about was all the times they’d held hands off the ice, before. All the ways his hands had touched her... She shut her eyes, trying to block the thoughts, and wrenched her hand away. They awkwardly stood there, not knowing what to do, or say. They’d barely spoken a word since that night, nothing but the most essential directions necessary to keep skating. Silence hung in the air between them. Finally he spoke. “Em, I...” he began in a barely audible voice. It was the first time he’d actually addressed her since... since it had happened. “I... this is... It’s...” “Hard?” she suggested in a bare whisper. He nodded. “It’s awful,” he admitted. “But... it’ll get easier... we haven’t really given this a chance...” “And we can’t go back to... to...” She didn’t want to say it. “To the way things used to be. We’d just end up fighting again...” She was trying her best to rationalize things, but it wasn’t working. His heart sunk. She didn’t want to go back to the way things used to be... meaning she didn’t want them to go back to being together, he concluded. She thought things were better this way, so he’d just have to learn to deal with it... to keep going... “Yeah,” he replied, taking a deep breath. “I guess things are better this way.” Her hope plummetted right to the soles of her skates. He thought things were better this way. He didn’t want to be with her anymore. Maybe he was right, she tried to convince herself. Maybe she just needed more time... “So we keep going?” she asked quietly. “Not like this,” he responded, doing his best to push back the pain. “We have to get back to being a team, Em.” Being a team... Both partners were crying inwardly at the thought. How could they go back to being a team when they wanted so much more? But she knew he was right. She had to get over it. They weren’t going to be together anymore. She had to accept it... “Back to being friends,” she murmured dazedly. “Not like this... we can’t go on like this.” “Exactly,” he agreed, not knowing how he was agreeing with her when his heart was screaming no. “For the sake of our skating.” “That’s what this is all about, isn’t it?” she questioned, somewhat sadly. “Mostly,” he replied, feeling like crying all over again. But he wouldn’t... it was time to get on with life. “Ready to skate again?” She nodded and hesitantly took his hand. For a long moment, both partners looked down at their joint hands. And above all, they wondered... Was it worth it?
Onto Part X...:OR
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