Ah yes, 2004, another fantastic fucking year, family disappearing, dropping dead, leaving Sullivan alone….aaaaagain. Shit, even her dog died that year, the all powerful Zeus. She couldn’t help but get lost in the dark thoughts of that year, wandering around in her own corroded and confusing, cognizance. Thoughts put away with lock and key in the back of her blurred and bleary brain.
She waded through the cobwebs and the rants of jumbled words flying past her. Finally there it was, the attic door of her own house, she opened it, and like Pandora’s box, everything came flying out.
Sullivan still wasn’t comfortable staying in this damned, dreary, depressing, dark dwelling again. She had to get out of this house. She was running around with Beth everyday since her and Jake were dunzo.
Jake and Sulli never liked to drink alcohol like the rest of their friends. They never took an interest in it and were just happy hanging out and drinking a ton of Pepsi and watching movies. Having fun playing house and living together they developed a routine like an old married couple. It was when they ended up working in the same restaurant, that quickly led to ending up ending everything all together. Crazy, stupid, love, only no Ryan Gosling.
Sulli had become a top notch server and was well on her way to being an excellent bartender. She knew working together was a bad idea, but they probably would’ve broken up eventually anyway. In her generation it was unlikely two people who lost their virginity to each other would stay in it for the long haul. She wished they would have, even nowadays sometimes, but rarely admitted that to herself.
Jake was now married with children and Sullivan somehow managed to always keep a guy at arms length and call him boyfriend. She hadn’t realized it yet but she had already become really good at pushing people away and making sure they thought she was an asshole. She was, but only because she was very good at acting like she didn’t care.
As many people as she disappointed, disengaged, dropped, and detached, they did not suffer more than Sullivan.
She did care, the little voice inside her would say, she cared a lot, but don’t let anyone know, the little voice would whisper at the end. After Jake it was nothing but heartache and tragedy for Sulli. She was smart enough to make people run, dumb enough to be surprised when they did.
Sullivan believed in Hell on Earth. There had to be a reason for all of it. Sulli had definitely not figured it out yet. And even in present day, still hadn’t got the whole puzzle together.
Beth, on the other hand, always seemed to have her puzzle together. She was currently juggling two men. She wasn’t sure about her boyfriend anymore and was hanging out with this guy Cooper on the side. We called him Coop. Sulli liked him a lot, she was rooting for him to sweep Beth off her feet. He was a big, cuddly bear. He always had nice shoes and a freshly washed and ironed matching outfit. He could wear white all day, eat a bowl of spaghetti, and not get a single slop of sauce on his spotless suit. He had no problem carting Beth and Sulli around, picking them up in Mount Washington, being the designated driver all the time, paying for meals and drinks and cigarettes. Since Sullivan’s Mom died she had taken up smoking a pack a day. Now that her and Jake were broken up she had taken up drinking too. She hated it, and her stomach hated it more, but it was something to take her mind off the loneliness.
‘Where we headed?’ Coop asked the girls.
‘Up to you.’ answered Beth.
Sulli was squashed in the back of his pickup truck. The third wheel for sure. They ended up going back to Cooper’s house. They made cheeseburgers and drank Coronas. Sulli drank enough Corona to make her pass out in the sleeping bag on Coop’s floor. Beth and Cooper had retreated to the back room of his loft. Sulli slept hard from the beer. The next morning she woke with the sun. It complimented her piercing headache and cramps from vomiting ten Corona’s and two cheeseburgers. She couldn’t eat a cheeseburger for years after that and never ever had another Corona.
Sulli’s phone died sometime last night. She got some juice from a quick charge at Cooper’s house before they left for lunch. She never bothered to tell her Dad where she was going or when she would be back so she expected the usual voicemail from her father. ‘Sullivan, this is your Dad, you should’ve called and told me you wouldn’t be home last night.’
It happened while they sat in the restaurant they went to for brunch. It was a regular spot for Beth and Sulli. It was a one of those chain restaurants with all the crap on the walls and random, arbitrary items like the rocking horse in the foyer. They didn’t have to look at menus and were known as regulars to the bar staff.
Sulli ordered a simple soup and salad, specifically, a third street salad and french onion soup.
Moments like these were snapshots. It’s like when 9/11 happened. You remember exactly where you were, what you were wearing, what it smelled like, who you were with. Everything locked in your memory, a mental snapshot. This was one of those moments for Sulli. She recalled it as vivid as the day it happened.
‘My phone is finally able to turn on again guys!’ As soon as Sulli said the words and turned on her phone it was machine gun notifications, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. Her Dad and brother had left so many messages. She listened to the first one. Sulli expected one voicemail and feared they would all be from her father getting more and more pissed that she hadn’t called all night. She slipped out of the booth and around the corner, Coop and Beth out of earshot. She was now standing in front of a small bathtub turned into a serve yourself ‘all you can eat ice cream bar’ for the kiddies. This place was nuts. And there were nuts on the bathtub ice cream bar ironically.
‘Hey Sull, this is your Dad, call me as soon as you get this.’ Sulli thought it was funny, every voicemail her Dad ever left her from past to present he announced who he was on the recording as if she would get him confused with someone else.
The next message, her brother. He never called, never, ever left a message. He urged her to call either him or Sulli’s father immediately. Sulli crept out of the booth, unnoticed, as Beth and Cooper carried on, laughing at their inside jokes.
‘Dad, what’s up? I got ninety five voicemails from you AND Roger.’
‘Sullivan. Where are you? You gotta come home right now. Dawn Marie passed away last night.’
The words rang through her ears and screamed through her brain and landed her right back where she started that morning. She ran to the bathroom and regurgitated her lunch as if she could expel the words that kept running through her head.
Sullivan snapped back to life. Realized she was lost in thought again. She was gripping her stomach thinking about ever eating a Third Street Salad or French Onion Soup again. She looked at her watch. It was time to go pick up Jude. Bathtub icecream, she thought, what a weirdo place to eat.