This is from an ongoing work in progress. I have to warn you that this character has a tendency to drop the F-word on occasion, so if you find that unacceptable you might wish to read one of the previous excerpts instead.
Cassidy Beckworth was standing on the balcony of her Malibu beach house, leaning against the railing, a glass of wine in her hand, staring out at the mesmerizingly beautiful aquamarine surf. Her on again, off again boyfriend was inside on the phone arguing for some absurd perk that one of his clients may or may not have requested. He was a Hollywood agent and sometimes he just liked to fuck with people. Years ago she’d found it delightfully entertaining, but tonight she was disgusted by it. Tonight she was fed up with just about everyone and everything. The world had gone insane, or maybe, even probably, it always had been insane, but somehow on this warm spring evening she’d had all she could stand. Swallowing her last sip of wine she walked inside the 3.5 million dollar house her Dad still paid her rent on, picked up her designer leather bag, found her car keys, and left. She walked out to the Porsche she’d bought with the money she’d made exploiting her family in a tell-all book, got in, and drove away.
She headed up the pacific coast highway, the radio blasting, and for the longest time she didn’t give anyone or anything a single thought, she just drove. She had no idea where she was when she realized her eyes were threatening to close and that she was nearly out of gas. Stopping to refuel she decided to press on all the way to Big Sur.
As she drove she remembered the time her dad had taken her and her brother, Delany there, supposedly to camp out, but his idea of camping had been staying at The River Inn and sending her and Delany out to play while he slept, and/or wrote songs. She hadn’t been back since, and was curious to see how it differed to the eyes of someone in their thirties as opposed to a disappointed eleven year old. Of course it was late and dark and she could barely see to find the hotel.
She was relieved that there was an available room, but then it was the middle of the week so she’d been hopeful that there would be. Her back up plan had been to park and sleep in the car but as nice as the car was, sleeping would most likely have proved challenging. As she lay in the queen sized bed in her wooded room and closed her eyes, she wondered if her boyfriend cared, or had even noticed that she’d left. There were often times when she’d go over to her best friend Sydney’s house and not return until the next day. The two of them would get to talking and she’d get comfy and fall asleep on Syd’s bed, much to the dismay of Tim, Syd’s stupid husband.
She did not instantly fall asleep, which annoyed her. After all, she’d been fighting sleep for hours and now that she was in bed and able to sleep, she could not. She sighed, sat up and considered calling someone, but who? Syd would be asleep. She was into sleeping pills these days, taking them nightly at eleven thirty, loopy by eleven forty and out cold by eleven fifty. Her brother, Delany would be fucking his wife, or out somewhere because he’d had the audacity to marry his one true love, become a successful musician, much like their dad, and to be happy. Her other best friend, Remy, had done the same. Well, almost anyway. He and his wife Lizzie were on their second go around, but this time it appeared to be working. They’d even gone so far as to have an adorable kid. Ziggy was her most favorite person in the entire world. At twenty months, he’d yet to let her down. She thought it was probably some kind of record.
Remy had been her best misery buddy for as long as she could remember, until that is, he’d gone and written a hit TV series for cable. Raised in the same dysfunctional affluence as she had been, they shared a history like no one else. His dad had been in the same band as her father. His parents never divorced, but they had come close often enough to leave him confused and rebellious as a teen, and well into his twenties. Now, just like everyone else, he’d grown up and forgiven them.
She’d forgiven her father a long time ago, and she’d tried forgiving her mom as well, but she found that to be more difficult. She regarded it as a work in progress, but doing so had not served to cure all that ailed her, as it seemed to have done for everyone else. Delany would say that their mom had been a victim of her own parents, and that she was doing the best she could even when she fell phenomenally short of perfect. It was the phenomenal part that troubled Cassidy. She could accept that her mom wasn’t perfect, as she herself was not, but she missed the mark by such a large distance.
Lying back down she remembered a relaxation technique that one of her numerous shrinks had given her. The idea was to concentrate on your breathing and the sound of your pulse. Here’s where the breakdown always occurred however, because she could rarely hear her own pulse. Tonight was no different, but eventually sheer exhaustion took over and she finally managed to drift off.
The next morning Cassie woke up, looked around and groaned. Driving half the night to revisit a failed childhood vacation made absolutely no sense in the light of a new day. She checked her phone only to discover no one had noticed her missing. Pulling her pillow out from under her head she held it against her face and screamed. She cried for a minute or two and then got up, took a shower and went to breakfast in the hotel restaurant. The problem was that she wasn’t hungry. The waiter asked what he could get for her and the words, “A life” are what came out.
“Anything else? Like maybe something from the menu?” he smiled.
“I’ve got to go,” she said, getting up and walking out to her car. “You’re a fucking idiot,” she told herself.
She pulled back out onto the road to go home and planned to tell her on again-off again boyfriend that they were off, permanently.
“I may be a royal fuck up, but even I deserve better than this,” she told herself.
Six weeks later and all I can think is what a narcissistic, bitter little bitch she is. Sadly, that she, is me. Some people would say I have spent a lifetime feeling sorry for myself and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. The only thing I can say in my defense is that it’s not how I wanted it to be, or how I planned it.
When I was very little I think I was happy. If you look at family pictures, I certainly appear to be smiling more often than not. I adored my father when he was around, but as even he has said, he was only good at being a dad for about five minutes at a time. He used to joke that his five minutes were better than other’s hours, but alas, it was fleeting at best. My mother was around more often, but there were many times when it was clear that she didn’t want to be. Either that or she was just wasted on drugs and/or alcohol. I understand that she was young and a product of the times, as well as a direct result of the too much, too soon syndrome.
My brother Delany has told me to turn the page many times, and I know that he is right. My parents did what they did, and the past is the past. They have both admitted that they should have done better, but you can’t go back in time and rewrite history. All you can do is move forward, so this is me moving forward. In fact I have been doing my best to move forward since I left The River Inn.
When I first began heading home that day I grew increasingly energized. I vowed to take control of my life and to stop settling for love that was intermittent at best. In my head I threw the ex out and counted my blessings. I am extremely grateful for my brother who has never given up on me. Even at his worst, (and believe me, he had some days as rough as my own) he always loved me as I did him. Syd has been my best friend and confidant for longer than I can remember, and Remy has been pretty loyal himself. Others have come and gone, but I can’t blame them. The one thing I give my father in particular, credit for, is having raised us in a circle of protection. We were raised within a family of friends who all had kids going through similar circumstances to ours. We went to the same schools and we spent holidays, birthdays and vacations together. Although we aren’t all close, we share a bond that remains intact. I know if I were in a bind I could call any number of people and they would offer (at the very least) temporary help, just as I would for any of them.
Two hours further into my drive I was feeling anxious, trying to come up with ways to find happiness. I mean sure, I could throw out the ex, but then what? I’d be all alone is what. I don’t like being alone. I get into trouble when I’m alone. The closer I got to home, the more I lost all of my resolve. I walked into the house approximately twenty two hours after I had walked out, only to discover the ex in the kitchen pouring himself a glass of wine.
“There you are,” he said. “You didn’t happen to pick up any dinner, did you?”
“Seriously?” I asked.
“Yeah, I figured it was too much to hope for,” he sighed, taking his wine out to the terrace.
He sat in one of the Adirondack chairs, his feet resting on the railing, enjoying his wine, oblivious to the fact that I’d left him the night before. I walked out, looked at the ocean’s surf that rushed onto the sand before receding and then repeating the pattern.
“That’s us,” I told him.
“The surf. We run into each other’s arms, and then we pull back and leave, before doing it again. We’ve been doing it for years.”
“Oh Lord, here it comes. Do me a favor, go get a glass of wine and chill out. It’s been a long day. Some of us work you know?”
“Yeah. I want you to leave, and I don’t want you to come back.”
“Oh give me a break Cassie. Let it ride tonight and you’ll feel better tomorrow.”
“I’m sure this time. I have to change my life or end it, and I don’t want to do that, so really, we’re done.”
“Really, huh?” he asked.
He stared at me for a minute before slowly getting up and coming over to lean into me.
“You don’t mean it,” he said confidently.
“I do,” I said, trying to sound equally confident.
“You don’t like being alone,” he reminded me, his lips pressed against my neck.
“Have a glass of wine, enjoy the sunset and relax.”
“I get why you don’t believe that I’m serious, but I am. I want you to leave, and if you don’t I’ll call the police.”
He stepped back and looked at me again.
“What have you taken?” he sighed.
“A hard dose of reality. We don’t work. I left last night and you didn’t even look for me.”
“You were in a mood yesterday, and I knew you’d be back sooner or later.”
“I deserve someone who loves me.”
“I love you,” he said half-heartedly.
I just looked at him and he stepped in again wrapping his arms around my waist and kissing my neck. I pushed him away.
“I’m going to go to my Dad’s for a little while, like an hour,” I clarified. “Please be gone when I get back. Don’t make this into something it’s not. I’m sure you have someone else you can move onto anyway.”
“Fuck you. I haven’t cheated on you in a really long time.”
“Oh gosh, what every girl hopes to hear,” I said, rolling my eyes as I passed by him.
“Cassie for Christ sake,” he said, following me. “You know what I mean.”
I left and he immediately called my cell, but I didn’t answer. I didn’t go to my dad’s either. I was going to, but I was feeling anxious and decided to go to Syd and Tim’s instead.