Author's Note: At last we have reached the final story in the series! As I said in the last story, I apologize for taking so long to finish this series. I just have moved on a bit from the RENT obsession I had toward the end of high school. I can thank it for opening my eyes to alternative stage musicals and helping me cope with a truly horrible time in my life, but I now have some different stories to tell, many of which I'm happy to say are my own creations.
This last short is about Joanne and Maureen. I think I made a mistake in "The Camera Loves You" by portraying their relationship as purely comedic. When I put some thought into a drabble I wrote (of the same title) I realized that their constant fighting and making up was actually really sad. Should I come back to writing fanfiction for this musical in the future I might explore these two characters further.
No one ever said love was easy, Joanne tried to remind herself as she sat there starting to cry at the table. …But they do say love is blind.
Joanne only wished that she were blind to her girlfriend's actions. Nearly everyday she found new evidence that Maureen had been seeing someone else while she was working on a case. Sometimes Maureen would just act a little more nervous about a kiss than she should have. Other times she would smell of wine; maybe another person. Oh yes, Joanne would catch plenty of distinct smells of perfume or cologne, depending on the gender of that day's adventure.
Once, Joanne had caught Maureen with a smudge of blue lipstick on her face. Maureen tried to deny that it was someone else's, but Joanne knew better. Even when she played the most ridiculous of roles, Maureen never donned that shade.
Then of course there was the Christmas incident. It seemed like everyone from the bohemian circle had fallen in love that night while Joanne felt the first cold truth in her relationship. Maureen flirted with some girl at the Life Café behind her back. It had hurt Joanne so much that she kicked Maureen out of her apartment. That had only lasted about a week though.
At first Joanne had tried to ignore all that. Often she wouldn't put everything together until long after some strange little detail she had barely noticed passed by. Maureen's ex boyfriend Mark had tried to warn Joanne by telling her about his own relationship with the drama queen. His words made her more nervous and wary of the situation, but it was easy to ignore those warnings in the middle of a round of kisses. Still, after a while she couldn't help but start to put all the pieces together–like a giant, heart-wrenching jigsaw puzzle.
They fought all the time naturally, but lately the spats had been getting worse than ever. Joanne always tried to keep control over her anger, but she couldn't help outright screaming at Maureen sometimes. She would lose control, and she hated that feeling. Furthermore, despite all the winning arguments she could make as a lawyer, no experience could prepare her for an opponent that never accepted defeat. This wasn't a situation controlled by law but by emotion and her need for company.
Every night that she and Maureen lay in bed together Joanne doubted Maureen's promises. Doubting a kiss or two early on? Ha! That was nothing compared to doubting whether her partner had spent the night in only the bed they shared.
They had been in a particularly nasty fight today. Joanne had presented all the evidence that Maureen was unfaithful to her, more elaborately than she really had before, but the drama queen didn't want to listen.
"You don't care about me, do you?" Joanne yelled. "It's all about you! You forgot about Mark, and now you're forgett–"
"Oh, don't you even talk about Mark!" Maureen interrupted her. "You said he was an asshole!"
"Well, yeah. Back when we started dating and from the way you talked about him, I did!"
"Fuck! I'm not cheating on you, I swear! Even if you don't believe me, it's true."
The argument continued to escalate, and Joanne still got nowhere until she asked Maureen to leave the apartment. For the first time that day they agreed on one of Joanne's decisions. Maureen told Joanne that she would gladly "get the fuck out."
About an hour after the actress left Joanne began to regret her choice to throw her out. She couldn't help but care about Maureen–her honeybear–despite the fact that she was untrue. Yet swinging between regret and rage was no way to hold up a relationship, and Joanne knew that.
So then why don't you quit? Oh god…don't start going codependent, Joanne, the lawyer thought as she held her face in her hands.
The door opened and Joanne jumped. She thought through every word Maureen could say and how she would respond. She would have an answer to everything.
"You fucking bitch," would be met with both calm words and attitude.
"Hey, baby," would doubtlessly start another fight. It was too casual a phrase given the circumstances.
Crocodile tears would be the biggest challenge. Joanne couldn't resist Maureen's big, puppy dog eyes, or the tears of sorrow that she could so easily produce.
All these, and any words and actions in between, Joanne prepared herself for in minutes. Still, she didn't want to face Maureen. She wished there was someplace–somewhere to hide, acting like child being punished for something she didn't do.
She heard Maureen's heels clunking against the floor behind her. She expected her to talk immediately, but surprisingly no words came from the drama queen.
There was a long moment of silence. Joanne could almost feel Maureen's eyes piercing though her back, trying to read her for some kind of sign. Joanne wondered if she was as unreadable as she felt.
"Pookie?" Maureen choked.
Joanne swallowed the spit in her mouth, but did not reply.
After several more seconds Maureen turned to leave, but not before leaving something at the table. The door shut and Maureen's footsteps slowly faded as she walked out into the hall. Knowing that she was gone, Joanne turned around to look at what Maureen had left.
It was nothing special, just a bunch of 6 pink carnations. They were still in their plastic wrapping with nothing added to make them prettier or live longer. Some of the petals were even beginning to brown at their tips. These humble flowers were meant as a serious gift. Joanne might have laughed if her eyes didn't sting with tears.
She let a tear or two fall down as she processed Maureen's gift. Without hesitation, she hugged the pink carnations close to her chest and tried to find a vase. She couldn't help herself. A part of her was in love with her girlfriend's cheap, yet well-intentioned promises.