Any Other Way But Together Chapter 1: The Tuesday After Labor Day | Part 1: Mercury in Retrograde

Chapter 1: The Tuesday After Labor Day | Part 1: Mercury in Retrograde | Any Other Way But Together

Raindrops sprinkle down from a large banyan tree as the sun sets over Miami, bringing the tuesday after Labor Day into twilight. The humid air feels thick and smells like a combination of wet asphalt, car exhaust and freshly cut grass as Esthie Egret cools down in the shade. She is waiting to cross Douglas Road, one of the busier streets in an otherwise quiet neighborhood in Coconut Grove. It’s the unofficial end of summer and Esthie can already feel the holidays approaching, a time of year she had been looking forward to until the events of the long weekend clouded her perception of the present.

Beads of sweat and rainwater are trickling down her temple, circling under her light blue eyes that are puffy from a weekend spent drinking, dancing and crying. Esthie pulls her wavy hair out of a low, messy bun. Shoulder length, it goes from light brown at the root to blonde and lavender at the tips. She added the lavender after going through an existential crisis that ended with her breaking up with her boyfriend over the summer. It should be noted that both the break up and the existential crisis just happened to follow her twenty-ninth birthday.

With the curtains closing on her twenties, Esthie questions every decision she’s ever made. And with an identical twin sister to compare all of her life choices to, she finds it very difficult to look at them objectively. Esthie and Isobel are identical only in DNA, with dichotomous personalities that took them in very different directions after high school.

Lumped together as ‘The Egret Twins’ from kindergarten through senior year, Esthie and Iso chose to attend different universities so that they could experience freshman year as individuals and not as a genetically exotic curiosity. Their years apart during college allowed them to explore areas of their personalities that would ultimately inform the women they would become in their twenties. Iso is a married mother of two who is taking a break from her career to stay at home with her young children. Esthie is a recently single creative professional with big dreams, a small budget and an even smaller window of time to make them come true before giving up on them entirely.

Esthie hasn’t lived with her sister since they were teenagers, but after breaking up with Dominick, her boyfriend of four years, she decided that it was better to share a bunk with her three year old niece than to stay in a relationship that wasn’t headed in the right direction. Esthie fell in love with Dominick after meeting him on a yoga tour of India. His endless fascination with the world was infectious and it made Esthie gravitate toward him immediately. She had every intention of continuing her education after that trip, but was inspired to develop her creative talents instead. As soon as they got back from India, she quit her job and became a certified yoga instructor, spending all of her free time focusing on her passion projects and her blossoming romance.

One of those projects, making rag dolls to resemble famous artists, generated enough interest at local street fairs to convince Esthie to pursue it as a small business. She learned how to sew while holed up in her dormroom during her first winter in New England. She had never experienced snow before and she had never been away from her sister for so long, two things that she was excited about at first but began to hate as soon as the novelty wore off. Lonely and cold, she wanted to move back home after the holidays, but her mother, Marge, wouldn’t hear of it. She flew up for a couple of weeks to teach her daughter how to quilt and cook her way through the isolating days of winter. While the cooking skills fell by the wayside some time after graduation, Esthie took the sewing skills she learned back then and used them to improve her life once again.

After two years of developing a social media presence and visibility in the local marketplace, Esthie makes just enough money selling her dolls to stay in business but not enough to earn a living wage in Miami. The success of her startup has been her main focus since moving in with her sister. It’s what gets her through the nights when she wakes up in her young niece’s room and wonders if she’s made a huge mistake in breaking up with her boyfriend. As she approaches Iso’s charming gray home, tucked away behind green foliage and a white porch, she begins to feel the weight of her decision to leave Dominick.

This afternoon jog was supposed to help her forget about what happened when she saw Dominick over the weekend. She even left her smartphone inside so that she wouldn’t feel compelled to check for messages for the duration of her run, but that only gave her more time to analyze every single interaction she had with him.

Her brain tells her that breaking up with him was the right decision. They had fallen into a dynamic that put career ambitions before family and when she realized that she would be turning thirty within a year, Esthie began to wonder if she and Dominick were making a mistake by not starting a family of their own. Although she didn’t think she was ready to have kids right away, she wanted to know that their relationship was at least headed in that direction before it was too late.

Her heart still breaks every time she sees him. When Dominick is in front of her there’s nowhere else Esthie wants to be. As soon as she sets her eyes on him she forgets everything that doesn’t work in their relationship and can’t focus on anything but the way she feels his arms wrapped around her. Terrified that she may have just broken up with the love of her life, she rushes toward the front door, hoping to find a text from him that would to prove to her that what happened between them over the weekend wasn’t a mistake.

Prologue    Contents   Part 2: Two More Bites

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2 thoughts on “Chapter 1: The Tuesday After Labor Day | Part 1: Mercury in Retrograde | Any Other Way But Together

  1. Pingback: Chapter 1: The Tuesday After Labor Day | Part 2: Two More Bites | Any Other Way But Together | The New Miamian

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