Fandom: Billy and Phyllis (Philly)
Title: You Make It Real
Phyllis glanced down at her cellphone, her eyes narrowing as the name flashed across the screen.
“Victoria?” she said, hesitantly in lieu of a greeting.
Victoria swallowed hard. She’d debated long and hard about doing this, but in the end she felt it was her only open. Her heart ached as she glanced over at Johnny who happily tapped away on his iPad and at Katie who slept soundly in her stroller. They had no idea what was going on. How wonderful it must be to live that life–to not know the atrocities this world could offer. At least not yet…
She clenched the envelope in her hand as she glanced back over her shoulder at Johnny. “You stay right there,” she softly commanded, kicking the largest pieces of broken glass out of the walkway with the toe of her shoe.
“Yeah, Phyllis. I’m sorry to call you…I know it’s late. I just…” She paused trying to determine what to say, how do you say something like this, how do you convey a thought so horrible. She shook her head. “Is there any way you could come over to Billy’s?”
“What?” She’d swear Victoria just asked her to come over to Billy’s, but surely she was losing her mind. The stress, no doubt.
Victoria sighed. “I know..I know it doesn’t make sense, but I’ll explain everything when you get here. Please, Phyllis.” It was hard to say the words but even harder to consider the alternative. Billy was a lot of things, but she’d never doubted how much he loved his kids. For him not be there tonight….
She could hear it in her voice–desperation. It was then that she began to worry. “I’m on my way.”
The drive to Billy’s had never seemed so long and she sighed with relief as she saw Victoria at the door. “Victoria,” she breathed.
Victoria held out her hands, preventing her from stepping inside. “Let’s talk out here,” she said, her tone hushed. “The kids are inside and I don’t want them to hear. I don’t want them to worry.”
“Why would they worry?” Phyllis drew in a breath. “Victoria, what’s going on. Where’s Billy?”
It was the look in her eyes mainly. Time after time Billy had insisted that he and Phyllis weren’t a fling–that their feelings had been real, that their relationship had been based on mutual love and affection. Time after time she’d thrown his mistakes in his face, accusing him of stooping to new lows by going after his brother’s wife, claiming Phyllis saw him as nothing but another conquest.
Such things were much easier to say when you weren’t looking into the eyes of a woman who was clearly worried, truly fearful, and obviously in love.
Victoria shook her head. “I don’t know. Tonight is his night with the kids. I always bring them over about this time, but when I got her tonight, he didn’t come to the door. I rang the bell and knocked but nothing. Finally I decided to just use the key he gave me. When I walked in, the place was a wreck. There was spilled liquor on the floor, broken glass, and several empty bottles.”
She locked eyes with Phyllis. “What’s worse is there was no Billy. I went to see if his car was in the garage and it is.”
The sigh of relief from Phyllis’ mouth was audible. “Thank God,” she whispered.
“Right..so I figured he’d just gone on a bender and gone off to lick his wounds somewhere, but then I saw this.” She held out the envelope to Phyllis. “I thought about opening it, but it’s not mine…and it may be nothing…I just…I can’t shake this feeling that..”
Phyllis stared at the envelope, the letters of her name scrawled on the outside. She nodded as she stepped into the house, took a seat on the staircase, and tore open the seal.
I guess that rewrite didn’t stick, but I hope you don’t forget like Wendy did. Remember our moments.
It was always real for me.
All my love,
She read the words over and over again. Each time hoping something would make it make sense, that somehow it would seem less final, less like a goodbye.
Victoria stood in front of her. “Is it?” She couldn’t read her expression. “Is he?”
Phyllis sprang to her feet. “I’ve got to find him!”
The bright rays of the rising sun made her squint as she pulled into the spot and climbed from the car. Sheer exhaustion was beginning to take over. She’d called hospitals, searched dive bars and pool halls, and combed beaches and bridges the entire night to no avail.
Walking into the park, she scanned the faces, half hoping to find him here waiting for her. Nothing. She sat down on the bench, dejected, her eyes closing. How dare he do this? How dare he leave her like this? Her mind flashed back to the words in the letter–it was always real for me.
As if it wasn’t for her?
She covered her face with her hands as she felt the tears begin to fall. Of course he’d think that. That’s what she’d been telling him over and over for weeks. She’d been trying to convince him that their connection–their relationship hadn’t been real, that it had been a mistake. The problem with that theory was that she hadn’t managed to convince herself yet.
It was all so clear now. What she felt–what she wanted–what she needed. Now–when it was too late.
In a flash, her whole life had changed–the moment his lips found hers the night of the foundation benefit. She’d never known it was possible to feel such an instant connection to someone, to feel so at home in their arms, to feel so at ease in their presence. She knew that reality for a while with Billy.
In a flash her life had changed again, when he wrote that letter, when he said his goodbye, when he went off to do whatever he did.
She felt cheated, as if a life she could have had, a life they could have had, had been taken. It wasn’t fair. None of it was fair.
The sob started deep within her and she curled onto her side, bringing her face towards the wooden plats of the bench.
She didn’t move. Wanting something didn’t make it so…no matter how much…
He stroked her hair, allowing his fingers to wander through the fiery locks. She felt she bench move beside her adjusting to his weight. She took a breath before turning.
If he was a ghost, he was the most beautiful apparition she’d ever seen. With trembling hands, she reached for him, a sound somewhere between laughing and crying escaping her lips and she felt his warm hands squeeze hers.
“I thought…I thought you were….” She shook her head… “Your letter…”
His head dropped. “I know. I’m sorry. I was going out of my mind missing you and I couldn’t take the thought of living day after day feeling like that, so I started drinking and then I wrote that letter. I was just in a dark spot…a real dark spot.”
She looked into his eyes. “I was afraid you were going to do something… I mean were you?”
“I thought about,” he answered honestly. “A life without you isn’t one I wanted to live, but then I started thinking about my kids and the story they would hear.”
“And even if I can’t have a life with you, maybe we can salvage something…some kind of friendship or something…”
“Billy…that’s never going to work.”
He sat back, momentarily stunned. “Ok,” he said softly. “I get it…not right away, but maybe in time.”
She smiled, and then laughed softly at his confused expression. “Do you know what I thought about last night?”
“The night of the foundation benefit–the first time we kissed. Do you remember that? Do you remember how it felt?”
“Of course I do. I’ll never forget it.”
“Neither will I. I remember everything..all our moments..how wonderful they were…how you made me feel…how you still make me feel.”
“Are you?” he smiled at her, then grew serious again. He couldn’t get ahead of himself. Never invest more than you can afford to lose. “What are you saying?”
It was her turn to smile then. “That was real. This is real. The happy ending is real.”