Dreams Unwind

[f i f t e e n]

The next two weeks of my life after losing Harry drag by in a blur of routine: I go to class, pick up as many shifts as possible at work, and spend my nights sprawled across my bed staring at the ceiling. The fact that I have a cat to care for is the only reason I don’t let myself slip too far into my self-pity; I’m grateful for Tubs’s existence in my life - he got me through one loss, and he will get me through another. He stays by my side, a constant presence, except for a few times that I evicted him from my bedroom to get high when the pain was too much to confront.

I avoid any and all social media - I don’t even take pictures of Tubs so that I’m not tempted to post it to Instagram then spend an hour scrolling through reading comments that Harry’s fans have left. Since that girl Tweeted about us on the beach, there had been a steady increase in my followers as one by one, they figured out who I am and decided to pick apart my life via my social media presence. I’m just grateful that I only ever use Instagram for pictures of my cat, the ocean, and, occasionally, whatever meal I’m eating that I feel deserves more than just me to admire its delicious-looking self. It’s hard to leave horrid comments on photos of a super-adorable fat cat and waves that look particularly pretty in the right light.

Even with my self-imposed ban on Instagram and the like, I still find myself googling Harry in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Just because we broke up doesn’t mean I feel literally nothing for him, and I want - need - to know he’s okay. He seems to have settled in quite nicely in London, spotted out on the streets smiling as if we meant nothing, that he wasn’t affected like I was by the ending of our relationship. I know him, I know him, though. He has to feel something, his heart won’t let him not. The articles and photographs don’t show that: They show a happy, newly-single young man living his life, talk about his style and what he buys at the grocery, imply that the fling he had with that American girl was little more than a way to pass the time.

Harry Styles: In London and On the Market?

Styles Steps Out In London... Alone

Home After Heartbreak! Harry Styles is back in the UK and “doing fine”.

Harry and His Heart - What Happened and How He’s Coping

Did Harry Styles Cheat???: The story of his whirlwind relationship with American university student, Joey, and what brought about their end!

The worst part is - I can’t tell them what happened. I can’t tell anyone that I’m the one who fucked everything up by getting so scared, I pushed away the greatest man I have ever known. I can’t lay the blame on him, either. He didn’t do anything wrong. He did everything right, and I still punished him because I was a coward.

The amount of people who come into my work or amble around campus in hopes of running into me has fallen rapidly in the aftermath of my break-up with Harry. No one cares to know me now that there is no chance they can get to him through me. I thought it was difficult before to navigate my own private life while also being polite enough to his fans so that anything I say or do doesn’t reflect poorly on him, but it is honestly harder to have to ignore the pitying looks from fellow students, the whispers that follow me as I go to and from class, the questions that get shouted at me while I push through the crowds to get to my car. Kristalyn has had to kick people out of the store so they would stop asking me for the sordid details of my heartbreak.

My dad and uncle have left me alone for the most part. After the first couple of times that I ignored their questions of how I was holding up, they stopped asking. Now they show their worry and concern in different ways: My dad makes sure the cabinets are stocked up on my favourite snacks, and Henry generously shares his pot whenever I ask. I appreciate the gestures, but I can’t pull myself back onto my feet and be as all right as I was before Harry ever came into my life, turned it all upside down.

Everything comes to a head after the third week of my isolation. My father stands in front of the door, and I sigh but stop. I don’t care if I’m late to class, and at least listening to what he has to say will get him off my back. His brows draw together over his dark eyes as he stares at me. My eyes burn at the expression on his face. The last time I saw him this out of his depths but desperate to help was in the months following Wil’s death. I cough quietly to dislodge the lump that’s suddenly sprouted to life in my throat.

“Jo... I know you’re hurting. If I could, I’d take it all away. But you’re not handling this breakup well at all, and it honestly is scaring me.”

“I’m fine, Dad. Just licking my wounds in peace.”

“No, honey, you’re not. God, I wish your mom was here. She’d know what to say.”

“All she’d say is how disappointed in me she is that I got left, not the other way around,” I snap, fingers tightening around the strap of my bag. Anger eats at my soul, burns a path along my nerves. “Not exactly a good role model, so fuck her. I gotta get to class.”


I push past him easily and yank the door open. My dad doesn’t say anything as I storm out of the house, and guilt joins its buddy Rage when the silence of our street is rattled by the slamming of the door. Blowing out my breath sharply, I force myself to continue to my car. My bag hits the floorboards with a thump, but I don’t move from where I stand, staring at the black fabric under the canvas. My hands tremble when I duck down to grab Harry’s T-shirt, bring it to my nose.

It still smells like the salty air of the ocean and Harry. Sand clings to the fabric, cascades down whenever the cotton shifts, and I bite back a sob. I know - god, do I know - that my loneliness and this hurt are my fault. I could have been more understanding, could have tried harder even with the distance that would be between us. Exhaling a shuddering breath, I shove the shirt under the passenger seat and close the door, rounding the car to the driver’s side.

Rebecca smiles at me when I enter the room. I take a seat on the small couch, scrubbing a hand over my face as I do. We don’t speak for a long while; she waits for me to speak, and I struggle to get my thoughts together. This is my first session with her, with therapy in general, and while it will be nice to have a better grip on my thoughts and emotions, I really am not that hopeful. I’m certainly not holding my breath for things to change.

It takes almost three months of weekly sessions and countless tears, but eventually, I feel less conflicted about Wil, Harry, and even Dianne. Rebecca has been so wonderfully patient while I fought against confronting the things I was avoiding, and I still don’t necessarily agree with the implications that I have abandonment issues, but I can definitely see why she says I do. She doesn’t tell me what to think or feel or do, which is probably for the best: even I can admit that I tend to rebel when ordered to do something. The tenth session goes much the same as before - she asks how the last week has been, I give her the same answer as usual that it was filled with work and class.

“So over the last few weeks, we’ve talked about the fact that you felt like it was wrong to love Harry as much as you did, considering you’d promised to love Wil like that for the rest of your life. Do you still feel like that?”

I shrug uncomfortably and stare at my feet. “Yeah, kinda?”

“Joey, can you look at me?” Rebecca’s smile is encouraging when I meet her gaze. “I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. And I need you to hear me, to really listen. How you feel about Harry is not wrong, no matter the vows you took with Wil. That marriage came to an unfortunate end, and I completely understand why it’s affected you the way it has for so long. And your fears toward loving and loss are normal. They’re human. With Wil’s death and your mother abandoning you at the precipice of the biggest change in your life, I’d be shocked if you didn’t have those fears. You’ve been letting them control you, though, instead of the other way around.”

“So what can I do to fix that?” I ask softly; the way she shrugs is disheartening, and my stomach clenches tightly in fear that she’s going to tell me that helping me is impossible.

“I can’t tell you how to change the coping mechanisms you’ve relied on for so long. What works for one person doesn’t work for another. All I can do is support you and be here for you as we figure it out together.”

Together. It sounds nice. Rebecca’s words echo in my brain all evening, and my distraction is obvious at dinner. I catch the worried looks my dad exchanges with Henry, but neither of them ask, so I don’t tell. I just push the food around my plate, occasionally taking a bite that tastes and feels like sawdust in my mouth, until I can no longer hold up the charade. Carrying my dishes holds the weight I believe those walking to the gallows experience. At least I know this doesn’t bring with it the risk of my execution.

Tubs curls up in my lap the second I sit on my bed, crossing my legs. I stroke his fur absentmindedly as I stare down at the message thread. Words fail me completely - anything I say at this point is likely to be unwelcome.

<< Hey... I’m so sorry for everything. I wish I could take it all back, or at least been able to have an actual conversation with you instead of shoving you away like I did. I really hope you can forgive me.

>> ERROR 2132:The number you are trying to reach has been disconnected.

It shouldn’t hurt to see the automated text, but it does. I stare down at the grey bubble, forcing myself to breathe as evenly as possible through the pain. Of course, I had known it was a possibility - after all, it’s been four months since Harry and I broke up. My chest grows tight, lungs shrinking beneath my ribs. I toss the phone aside then immediately reach for it again. Looking at the texts and pictures we’ve sent each other and the selfies that we filled my gallery with brings tears to my eyes. I can’t stop myself from wondering if I would have ever accepted his invitation to our first date if I had known how this would turn out in the end.

Harry -
I don’t even know why I’m writing this letter. It’s not like you’ll ever actually get it... I just have some things to say, things that have weighed heavily on my mind and heart since we said goodbye, and I need to get them out somehow. Even if you’ll never read these words...

I tried texting you yesterday. Your number has been disconnected, which obviously you already know considering you did it. God, I feel like a fucking idiot right now. I’m the one who ended us, I’m the one who never gave us a fighting chance. So it isn’t really right of me to be writing a letter putting into words what I’ve been feeling, is it?

I told you I was scared of what I felt for you. And that was true. It still is a little, but I can’t deny any more how important you were - are - to me. Even though I broke your heart, you really are so damn important. You gave me hope for a future, an opportunity for closure on my past. You gave me love, and all I did was throw that right back in your face because I was a goddam coward. I’ve been going to therapy, and it’s helped me. A lot. She’s helped me learn that loving you? Never took away from the love I will always have for Wil. And that I was allowing my fear of abandonment, saying goodbye, dictate how my life went instead of facing those fears head-on. Fuck, I let you go because I was terrified of you stopping loving me, and it’s the dumbest thing I ever could have done.

You are the reason that I was able to talk about Wil again. You are the reason I was able to be happy again, even though I was so scared. I tried so fucking hard to pretend I wasn’t, and I failed. I know I did. Obviously because I let go of the best relationship I could ever dream of being in. Can I be honest? As much as I love Wil, as much as I will always have love for him in my heart, I think I remembered the relationship I had with him too fondly. Because memories are all I will ever have. My mind twisted everything into him being this amazing, perfect, infallible guy. I’ve been working with my therapist on taking those rose-tinted glasses off and seeing the past for what it was: Two humans who loved each other deeply but weren’t perfect by any means. And it’s helped a lot to sort out what I really felt for him - and, in turn, what I feel for you. And there is just so much that I feel for you.

Love, anger, want... need... Because Harry? I needed you. I need you. And it isn’t fair, I know, I have no right to tell you any of this. I have no right to finally open up like this after I hurt you so cruelly. It changes nothing of what I did to you, no matter how much I wish it would. But I am so done with the avoidance bullshit that I’ve relied on since I was 13 because all it’s done is hurt me in the long run. I’m so tired of not being happy.

I have no idea what the fuck this even is. All I know is I meant what I said that night I showed up at your house. I love you, and God knows I always will. You’ll be another memory I keep buried in my heart, and I won’t ever let go of that. I will do my best to make sure I look back at our relationship with honesty and not some misguided attempt at making you larger than life no matter how accurate it is - you really are larger than life, but in the best of ways. You’re the closest thing to heaven that I’ve had in my life for so long, and I regret letting my doubts and insecurities get in the way. I regret hurting you. But I will never in my life regret meeting you and falling in love with you.

Love you. For the rest of my life.
- Jo

“And where are you going?” Henry asks from the doorway, but I don’t pause in what I’m doing. This last-minute decision terrifies me - what if it turns around to bite me in the ass? - but I can’t just let it go. I have to do something. I have to do this. “Josephine!”

“I, uh... I have something to do. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone, but can you watch Tubs for me?”

“Dennis! Come talk to your daughter.”

I sigh, tugging the zip to my duffel bag closed, and turn to face my uncle - and my father, once he joins. Neither of them look thrilled at my plans, but I can see the hope that shines warmly from Henry’s eyes. My dad scrutinises me closely, the doubts more than evident on his face, but eventually, he gives me a succinct nod and makes me promise to check in regularly.

“Every hour, on the hour,” I swear. Ducking down, I scritch behind Tubs’s ears and press a kiss to the top of his head. “You be a good boy, fat boy. No running away.”

I have less than thirty hours to reach the destination, and the longer I drive, the more I fear I’ll be too late. Traffic finally eases up once the clock slips past nine-thirty; I settle back in the seat, turn up the music, and hope that this isn’t going to turn out horribly.
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yep, another update. there are only two more chapters after this one