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Ashley called that night and it was so, so, so hard not to scream over the phone that I was coming to visit, especially since she was starting to sound more bummed, too. In the days that followed, it only became more difficult. I also found it tricky not to break the news to Michelle. She was usually pretty straightforward about… well… everything, and to not act the same towards her wasn’t easy. So when she called me up Sunday, 5 days before I was leaving, my heart pounded rapidly and my palms began to sweat. Must… not… tell… Michelle…
“What’s up, Spencer?”
“Nothing, just working,” I told her.
“You need to come to L.A.”
“You need to come to L.A.,” she repeated. “Now.”
“Why? What happened?”
“Well, nothing. But something’s up with Ashley. Remember how I told you she was all smiles when she got back?”
“Well, I think it’s wearing off or something. She’s been a moody bitch lately. And it’s pissing me off.”
“What does that have to do with me?” I asked.
“It has everything to do with you, Spencer. She misses you. The other day, I went over to her apartment because she wasn’t answering her cell, like, the whole day… I have a key and everything so I let myself in. And she was lying down, looking at an old picture of the two of you. I swear she might have been crying. I haven’t seen her cry since she was in rehab.” My heart ached at the thought of Ashley crying; I even felt a few tears well up in my eyes.
“She doesn’t… um… she doesn’t sound that upset… on the phone.”
“Well, obviously. It’s Ashley. You know how she gets about that kind of stuff.”
“Yeah,” I replied. And I did. When Ashley was scared or unsure, she would put up walls to defend herself and her emotions. I guess I had forgotten; when she and I were together, she basically always felt comfortable enough to talk to me about things. That was something I loved… it was like I was entrusted with something delicate that nobody else could see or have. And of course, I had managed to ruin it. “Well, I’ll come soon.”