Vanessa and Daniel: Conversation Across the Miles
[Players, not pups. daniel_johns rings v_hazardous just to chat. Current:June 9, 2011.]
"So Megan's given up trying to get me on Twitter. I think she's decided I'm a lost cause," Daniel explains, lounging back on the couch. The curtains are open but it's starting to get dark out, and he tucks the phone against his shoulder and leans over the table to turn on the lamp.
"I cannot imagine you on Twitter," Vanessa laughs. "I have one, but I tweet once in a blue moon. Pretty much an 'I'm not dead!' kind of thing, or notifications of special events." She shivers, zipping up the hoodie she's wearing and reaching for the blanket folded across the back of the couch. "God, I timed this badly, coming back just as winter swings into gear." Another laugh. "Is it cold there, too?"
"Yeah, I write things for MySpace sometimes, but that's different." Less interactive, more like a diary. Daniel listens to the shuffling, getting comfortable now he can see again. "Not as cold as you guys, but it's definitely dropping, yeah."
Vanessa gets all cozy under the blanket and reaches for her teacup, huffing a sigh when she finds it empty. She suppresses the flash of irritation, unwrapping herself and heading for the kitchen. "It's scarf weather here. And I don't mean your pretty silk ones, either." Vanessa runs the cold water and fills up the kettle. It's a little awkward one-handed but her hands-free is in the truck and she is not trekking outside to fetch it.
Daniel catches the huff but doesn't say anything about it, just listens to her clattering – kitchen, he realises when he hears water. "Not that bad here, not during the day – getting down cold at night though."
"It's normal and all, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Might turn the wood stove on later." Moving around the kitchen, Vanessa smiles, a little wistfully. "Times like this, I miss my dog. He used to flop onto the floor in front of the couch and keep my feet toasty." What is with her tonight? She talks to Daniel all the time and manages to be cheerful. Vanessa's tired, though, and generally out of sorts. She tries to keep it out of her voice when she continues, "But with starting my career over and knowing how much travelling I'd be doing, it didn't seem right to get another dog when my Great Dane passed. It's not exactly a breed that makes for easy puppy-sitting! Not like your little sweetheart."
"And I got Sweep when I was still living at home, so she's used to living with my family anyway, it's not as big a deal." Vanessa sounds – something, quiet, tired, it's hard to place but it's there, and Daniel pauses before he asks. "Are you OK? Apart from cold, I mean." Could just be tired, she's doing plenty, but Daniel wants to check anyway.
That old standby of 'fine' is on the tip of Vanessa's tongue as she pours the just-boiled water, but that's not good communication and she sighs. "I'm tired. I have another full day tomorrow and then a blessedly free weekend." Unless Mel tries to drag her out again, anyway. The film night a couple of weeks ago had been really nice, and Vanessa had acquiesced and gone out last weekend, but she'd left the club before midnight. She just isn't in a party mood these days.
The sigh makes Daniel want to hug her, but even if Melbourne is only half a day away... it's still half a day away. And he's very aware of that right now. "Any plans for the weekend, or just resting up?"
"If I get my way, I won't be doing a fucking thing," spoken as Vanessa stirs milk into her tea a tad more vigorously than it requires. "Mum and Dad are out of town, so I'm not even going over there for Sunday dinner."
That sounds like more than just tired, but Daniel just listens while she explains. "Sometimes it's good to have time to yourself," he hedges, but that doesn't feel like it's quite it.
"And sometimes it completely fucking sucks but you don't feel like being nice and sociable with people. Which, it would be fantastic if certain family members could get that through their heads," Vanessa says crossly. She gives the teacup a black glare before she picks it up and heads back to her blanket.
"Melissa?" Daniel guesses. She seems to be more the type from everything Vanessa has told him, Natasha not as much.
"Yeah." Checking that she has everything this time, Vanessa curls up on the couch and tucks the fleece around herself. "Mel is barely twenty-seven and single, and I am neither. And I can't just pick up in an ordinary club anymore so there isn't even that incentive."
"Yeah, it's not the same at all." Picking up in normal before must have been hard enough, but now... well, the papers don't exactly understand things like "open relationship". One of the advantages of the Establishment, the disadvantage being that it's easy to get used to having there and handy.
"Really not. I mean, I was already getting to the point where it wasn't a good idea anymore anyway, so it would have had to change regardless." She's pretty philosophical about that. "But then it means that socialising is one thing, and sex is another thing, and right now they both feel like too much bother." Sucking in her bottom lip doesn't actually change the fact that she's pouting, which irritates Vanessa all the more. God, how pathetic can she get?
"Can I do anything?" Daniel bites his lip, but he has already asked. "That's probably a stupid question, but..." but she sounds sad as well as angry, and he hates that.
"No." It sounds as annoyed as she feels, and Vanessa tries to rein that in. It works for all of about thirty seconds before she bursts out with, "Besides, I think you've done enough. I just made myself tea and it pisses me off every time I do that, because you're supposed to be making it, but you're not here and you have a life separate from me that needs attention, and then it pisses me off that it pisses me off, because it makes me feel dependent and I don't want to be dependent," her voice is rising as she runs off at the mouth, free hand gesturing angrily. "And everything comes down to you being somewhere else and I miss you and it hurts and I hate it."
Daniel stays quiet while Vanessa snaps at him, but the overwhelming urge is still to hug her. Or to be there, anyway. "I miss you too." He does, he's more used to this than her, much more used to handling being away, but that just makes it easier to deal with. It doesn't actually make it any less. "I really miss you, I knew this was going to happen, we live in different places, but... yeah." He isn't going to touch the rest – not yet at least.
"Well, I knew it was going to happen, too, you didn't corner the market on that," she spits out, then sighs and runs her hand through her hair, momentum lost. Vanessa speaks quietly when she continues, "I knew it, but I didn't really understand it – that's very clear now. I don't even know what I expected but it wasn't this." She stares into her cup and admits, "I'm having a hard time with it."
"It's hard," Daniel agrees quietly. He draws his feet up onto the sofa, looking out of the window and across the trees. "I don't think it's one of those things you can guess in advance, you know?"
"No, it isn't." Though Vanessa does feel better for having said something. She's mostly put on a brave face about it until now, but between one thing and another her defences are low tonight, and she sighs again, this one a forlorn little sound. "I keep thinking that it might actually be easier if we were in different countries, you know? Remove that temptation to say fuck everything and jump in the truck and drive to Newcastle. But I can't do that yet, and I'm not sure when I will be able to, so we wait." Daniel can't see her shrug, but it wouldn't be any more convincing if he could.
"Yeah – you're back to working on Monday, right? Just the weekend off?" Even if some of it – a lot of it – is her missing him and being angry, she does sound like she's really tired, and it seems like she needs the rest. The rest of it... there are thoughts hovering in the back of Daniel's mind now, but he pushes them aside, focusing on Vanessa's words.
"Mmm-hmm, just the weekend off." In theory, she could catch a flight to Sydney late Friday or Saturday morning, and fly back on Sunday night, but just the thought of packing all that travel into her precious free time is enough to make Vanessa whimper with exhaustion. She smiles, though, proclaiming, "Just like a normal day job!"
"I'm trying to imagine that – I really can't see you in an office." Daniel thinks about it and shakes his head. "That's just weird. And I've seen the clip, with you dressed up like that, but..."
"I would make a very poor office worker. Especially if they expected me to turn up by nine o'clock every morning," Vanessa laughs. "I'm punctual, but I prefer my day to start a liiiiittle later than that!" She sips her tea, cheering up some. Her sister's right, it's not like Vanessa to be all gloomy and anti-social, but Vanessa has a point too. She isn't going to tell Daniel that it feels rather like she was set up, learning to enjoy and even expect things that were then snatched away; it's not like it's his fault, and mentioning that part would just be mean – there's no constructive reason to do so.
"Yeah, that could be a problem." Vanessa is friendly enough on a morning, but that's generally if she's in bed, not dragged out of it. "I could be awake early enough, but... no music!" he mock-pouts at the idea, letting it show in his voice, but it really is hard to imagine working in that kind of environment.
"One of the many reasons I went into production and mixing for a few years," Vanessa agrees. She can hear Daniel's exaggerated pout and it both makes her smile, and aches a little. "Your lip is too far away to bite, sweet boy."
That reaction from Vanessa still surprises him but Daniel smiles, even if Vanessa's right. "Sorry Ma'am."
"That's okay; I can take a raincheck." God only knows when she'll be able to cash it, but that doesn't invalidate the concept, just makes it harder to keep track. Vanessa will probably have a list built up by the time she sees Daniel in the flesh next. "I think I'm gonna go, Froggie. Watch a bit of mindless telly then call it a night. Just really tired. I hate when it starts getting dark and cold again." The changing weather and the unprecedented constant swirl of her emotions are taking a toll. Vanessa's usually a heart-sleever but she's not used to this omnipresent pull and getting used to it is exhausting all on its own.
"Look after yourself, yeah?" She's an adult, she doesn't need to be told that, but it's the first thing that comes to Daniel's mind. "I know you said you're busy all tomorrow, I'll call you on Saturday, OK?" Or... there are other ideas, but Daniel needs to take a step back and think those over. He isn't going to say anything now.
"I am. I'm eating, I'm sleeping, I'm exercising... just gonna take me some time to learn to deal is all. I always land on my feet, honey," she reassures. And Vanessa does believe that, despite the niggle of doubt she can't quite push away that Mel's throwaway comment about this being just a separation, not a break-up, was wrong and actually, all of this conversation across the miles is meaningless because the next time she sees Daniel, he'll tell her that it's too hard, or he's happier without her there, or he's found someone else, or some other disaster scenario that Vanessa is managing to not conjure up in her head. It all feels so fragile and she feels responsible – as much as she's missing Daniel, she knows he's missing her too, and Vanessa is the one keeping them apart right now, caught up in work. She's the dominant, she's supposed to plan for shit like this, but she's all out of ideas and energy.
Her voice lowers, warms. "I'll talk to you Saturday, yeah. Probably text you a bunch tomorrow," she often does, not expecting him to reply unless he wants to. "Miss you."
"It does get easier, honest," Daniel offers, then smiles. "OK, I'll keep my phone close." Now that there's someone he wants to talk to who won't just show up on his doorstep, the phone lives somewhere near him instead of in a drawer. It's an adjustment to make, but it's worked pretty well so far. "I miss you too. Talk to you soon."
"Night." Vanessa presses the 'end' button. She hopes Daniel's right and it does get easier, because this is going to drive her right around the bend in no time. Her equilibrium is shaky while she tries to adjust, and some of that is the deceptively simple black hole of insecurity. Vanessa trusts Daniel, believes what he says, but she can't help the cynical voice of experience that tells her he'll change his mind. All she can do is ignore it as best she can and get on with things – after all, the sooner she gets through this intensive batch of work, the sooner she can go to Newcastle.
[Comments screened; feedback welcome.]