Five Years Later

There had always been opening night jitters. There always would be, too, Cathy reminded herself as she let out a heavy breath and fixed her makeup in the mirror. You just had to learn to function through them, and boy had she. She finally made it out of Ohio and she was never going back. Five years, three off-Broadway productions, and seven brief stints in places as far as Seattle, Atlanta, and DC later, and she was finally making her Broadway debut. Not only that, she was originating a role. Nothing could beat this moment. This was one for the history books.

The voice came over the speaker on the wall, giving her the five minute call. She cleared her throat, adjusted her microphone one last time, and straightened her skirt, taking one more quick glance in the mirror before she left.

Out in the hall, she was met by a handful of costars who all gave her a quick hug and a "break a leg," which she returned happily and they all made their way to their places together. The show went magnificently. Sure, there were a few mistakes here and there – everyone was nervous and thrilled to have their show in front of such a huge audience in a Broadway theatre – but it was as close to perfect as Cathy had ever experienced. After more than ten years of working her ass off, she finally was where she wanted to be, where she deserved to be.

After the curtain call, she went backstage, accompanied by the whole cast, still high on the adrenaline and the pure joy of it all. She hugged a few people, met some of the audience members, took pictures with a few, and talked with a group of young girls who told her she was their favorite and that they wanted to be just like her or that they wanted to play her character when they got bigger. It was the best feeling in the world.

"You did great, Cath!" her leading man told her, and she smiled back widely.

"Thanks! You, too!" she said with a laugh, walking back toward her dressing room to change and get the rest of her make up off.

"Cathy," she heard a soft, vaguely familiar voice behind her.

She swung around, stopping where she stood. There, right in front of her now, was a familiar face, now lined from stress. His dark hair was now graying at the temples and his eyes looked more tired than ever, but there he was. There were dark circles under his eyes, but if you weren't looking closely, you might think they were just a shadow from his glasses.

"Jamie," she said, surprised. "You're here."

"You were really great out there," he said.

"You…you saw my show?"

"Of course," he smiled. "I mean, as soon as I saw the ad for it I had to."

"And you really liked it?" She was so taken aback by this experience, not only seeing him for the first time in five years since their divorce, but that he actually saw her show. He never saw any of her shows, not even when they were married.

"It was great, perfect," he smiled, that same old smile. "You're really good. I…I told you I always believed in you. I knew you could get here. Really, congratulations. I'm so happy for you."

He meant it. Goddammit, he meant it. She smiled involuntarily and let out a little laugh, terrified of the pang of nostalgia in her stomach and the sense of longing in her chest. So she turned away briefly and shoved her hands into her coat pockets.

"Th-thanks," she said. "Hey, it was really great to see you. Thanks for coming."

She flashed him one last nervous smile, then she turned on her heel to hurry back to her dressing room, determined to change and leave. If he followed, she would have security walk him out. He probably didn't mean any harm, but his being there wasn't doing her any good. She had been so happy just moments before, and now she was faced with the anxiety of something that was over and done with five years ago.

"Hey, wait, you wanna grab a cup of coffee?" he asked.

She turned to face him, eyes wide.

"Hot chocolate?" he suggested then, but she still didn't answer. "Tea? I remember you really loved cinnamon Chai with soy milk."

"I…I would like that," she said.

He smiled again. "Awesome."

"Just, um, let me go change and get this goo off my face and I'll be right out," she said. "Uh, you can come with me if you like, but…"

"Sure. I'll stay outside," he said, knowing what she meant.

"Thank you."

They went back to her dressing room, and he stayed just outside the door just as he had promised to while she went in to change and wash her face. A few minutes later, she came back out wearing some jeans and a sweater, her coat in her arms and her purse over one shoulder.

"So how have you been?" she asked as they walked down the road. "How is Elise?"

"Elise?" he asked, visibly anxious. "Well actually that didn't go over too great. Um, she couldn't stand it. She hated herself and she hated me for what we did to you. We broke up and I had to switch publishing companies. I'm lucky I was so popular or that likely wouldn't have been a possibility otherwise."

"Oh. Well, anything else? That answers the Elise question. How have you been?"

"Um, alright," he nodded. "I've been alright. Published a few more books, but none were as successful as the one I wrote when we were together. But I'm doing fine. And you?"

"I'm doing great," she said. "I've got this new show – you just saw it, so I don't have to tell you about it." She laughed, then went on: "A few months after you left, I pried myself off the couch and dragged myself back to Ohio. Spent one last summer there, practiced every chance I got, performed any chance I got, did a few auditions off-Broadway, and the rest kind of fell into place after that."

"That's great," he smiled. "You know, it really is."

"Thanks," she said.

"You ever remarry?" he asked abruptly.

"No," she shook her head. "There was a guy in Seattle – kinda looked like Kurt Cobain, but cleaner." She laughed again remembering this. "I dated him for a few months. Nothing there, though. I moved back to New York and he stayed there and we both went on with our lives. There was another guy in DC, but he was a little young for my taste."

"What, like 18?" Jamie joked.

"Twenty-six."

"What? When was that?"

"Um…four years ago?"

"So you turned down a guy because he was two years younger than you?"

"Yeah," she said with a nod. "It felt kinda weird to me. Anyway, what about you?"

"There were a couple women after I left, but in the last three years or so, I've settled down just a bit on my own," he said. "So, no, I haven't remarried."

"So I assume that means no kids then either?" she said.

"No, not that I know of." He laughed and they turned and walked into the coffee shop on the corner. "You?"

"No."

They ordered two cups of coffee, black, and went to a booth in the back to talk as they drank. They caught up on everything that had happened in the five years they had been apart and reminisced about the good memories they had together. Once or twice, one of them brought up a bad memory and they both agreed they had been horribly wrong in all their arguments.

"We really did take it all too fast," he said. "We shouldn't have rushed into things like we did."

"Right," she agreed. "If we'd maybe waited or if we'd met each other later, things could have been different. We needed time to grow as individuals, and we didn't take that time."

"I think we've both changed a lot over the last five years," he said. "God, if we'd met each other now, that would have been so much better."

"I think meeting you now would have been great," she said with a sad sigh. "I'm in a good place. My career's where I want it to be at the moment. I think you're in a pretty good place, too, right? Or at least, you're a bit more calm and content than you were then."

He nodded. "We could try again, Cathy," he said softly, and he put a hand on hers.

"I think I would like that a lot," she said. She smiled, but then let the smile fall. "But I don't know…"

"What?"

"I don't know if it would work," she said. "I don't know if we could let the past go and start fresh."

"We could try," he reasoned. "We could take things slower, one step at a time and just test the waters before we do anything drastic."

"I don't know if I can take that again, Jamie, if we have another falling out," she said. "History tends to repeat itself, especially when you get comfortable."

"I understand." He pulled his hand away slowly and picked up his cup to take a sip of his coffee, which had gone cold. "I still think it's worth a try."

"Maybe," she said hesitantly.

"Look, Cath, our problems then were that I was young and restless and dissatisfied with everything even though things were going great for me, and you were also pretty Goddamn dissatisfied but you had reason to be, living in my shadow the way you were. And I was an ass to you for it," he said. "I think now that we're older and that we're both more content with our current situations, it could work if we just gave it a try."

"You think so?" She sounded hopeful; she understood what he was saying, and she wanted to believe it all, too. She was just a little scared.

"Maybe," he smiled. "We'll never know till we try."

"Jamie, I really don't think I can," she said, her hope fading and reason taking charge. "I don't want either of us to get hurt that way again. I'm sorry."

"C'mon, please," he nearly whispered. "Just give me another chance, Cathy."

She thought hard. He had a point, she saw; they both had changed quite a bit. They weren't who they were back then, not by a longshot. So maybe it could work. She still wasn't so sure, but she decided to give him a window of time, not big enough for him to really have time to hurt her again, but not so short as he wouldn't have enough time to make it up to her.

"I'll give you three months to change my mind?" she suggested with a little half smile.


AUTHOR'S NOTE:

Can I just say really quick how much I love the movie 'The Last Five Years'? It is probably one of the best done musical movies to come out in the last decade in my opinion. It is absolutely amazing, and Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick are absolute perfection. Okay that is all. Thank you for reading. :D