Jules leaned over the stovetop to stir her meat, wrinkling up her nose in pleasure over the smell. Steam was lazily drifting towards the ceiling, giving off the most delightful aroma. She hummed to herself while sprinkling in the seasonings, smiling over the words to the tune that wouldn’t leave her mind. She was halfway through shredding lettuce leaves when she heard a knock at the door. “Coming!” Her voice was cheery, and she dried her hands on her apron while practically running to the door.
“Miles!” She greeted him with a kiss on the cheek. “You’re just in time to help with dinner.”
“It’s good to see you, too.” He laughed, his hazel eyes twinkling.
“I don’t actually need help. But I HAVE been looking forward to your company.”
“I know, dear, I was just teasing you.”
Jules smirked at him while she picked up her knife and resumed working on her lettuce. “Of course. I like it when you tease. So, I know I said I didn’t need your help, but would you mind mashing those,” she waved her knife towards a bowl full of avocados “for me? I’m going to make some guacamole to go with our tacos.”
“Umm, okay.” He picked up a fork and hovered over the bowl. “This might be a good time to tell you that I hate avocados. And guac. It’s disgusting.”
“Oh.” Jules frowned. “I suppose that’s good to know. I guess I’ll still make it...then there’ll be leftovers for me.”
They worked in silence for several minutes. After Miles finished what he was doing he walked up behind Jules and rested his chin on her shoulder, watching her dice several tomatoes. “You know, I’ve been thinking; we haven’t ever had a fight.”
“Don’t push your luck,” she snapped.
Miles blinked. “What did you say?”
Jules sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“No, you can’t just brush that off. Why did you say that?”
Jukes turned the stove burners off and began to pour sour cream and seasonings into the bowl of mashed avocados, carefully avoiding eye-contact with him. “Well, I just, ugh.” She smashes her spoon into the bowl, resenting how close Miles was standing next to her.
“You just what? He prompted, gently.”
“It feels like you do that all the time.” She looked at him, wide-eyed, for a split second before looking back down at her hands.
He caught his breath. “Like I do what all the time, tell you the truth? Would you rather I just lied about stuff to you?”
Jules rolled her eyes. “Don’t be a fool. I want you to tell the truth, yeah, but I feel like you could go about it in a nicer way. The way you say things... you just come across as a jerk sometimes, I guess.” Miles winced. “I know you don’t meant it that way,” Jules continued, still looking down at her hands, “but I guess I just get tired of it. I don’t know.” She shook her head and walked to the sink, slowly washing her hands.
“Man.” Miles whispered. “So this is what you think of me?”
“No!” Jules threw down the dish towel she was drying her hands on, and whirled around to face him with flashing eyes. “Were you even listening to what I just said? I don’t think you’re a jerk: I just think that sometimes you forget to phrase things in a kinder way. If you would LISTEN to what I say, you’d get that.”
Miles clinched his right hand on the side of his faded Levi’s. “Maybe I can’t help it if I feel strongly about some things, Jules.”
“Like avocados?!” Her tone accused him, hitting his conscience and peaking his pride.
“Oily, greasy, PEARS!” He raised his voice.
“They’re a healthy source of fat, and they’re good for your heart! YOU should know that, being a personal trainer and all.”
“You’re wrong! And the texture of them makes me WANT TO DIE!”
“Agh!!” Angry tears were rolling down her cheeks. “Your ATTITUDE right now makes me want to die.”
“That is a stupid, shallow thing to say! You’re being petty. And horrible. SO THERE!! ”
“And you’re being unreasonable!”
“Me trying to talk to you is the MOST UNREASONABLE THING!!”
“IF THAT’S HOW YOU FEEL THEN MAYBE YOU SHOULD JUST LEAVE!!” Jules walked over to the fridge to clear his path, standing rigid like a statue. There were still tears running down her cheeks, but she let them run, sniffing proudly.
Miles’ face went pale, and he shook with rage. “I give, and give and GIVE; but all you EVER do is gripe at me!! ALL I ASKED IS THAT YOU WOULD SEE MY SIDE OF THIS PETTY DIFFERENCE!!” He sunk against the countertop, feeling exhausted. He was already starting to regret his words, but it was too late to take them back.
Jules took in a deep breath. Her eyes had glazed over, giving way to a bloodshot, wild look, and her cheeks were crimson to match. “How. Dare. You.” Her eyes snapped lightning. “HOW DARE YOU?! I can’t deal with your issues anymore!!”
Miles looked up. “Then forget it. I’m LEAVING.” He rushed out the door, slamming it behind him. His tires peeled out with a deafening screech when he pulled away.
Jules sunk down to the floor, picked up the dish towel from where it had landed, and pressed it against her face while she rocked back and forth and sobbed her broken heart out. Minutes flew by until she felt weak and wasted, but she kept on crying.
Meanwhile, Miles drove aimlessly for a while, sending quick glances towards his phone. He eventually ended up at a little recreational park, where he sat in his car, staring through the windshield at a small pond full of ducks. A song came on the radio, and he punched the steering wheel as hard as he could. “That was our song. I can’t...” A single tear coursed down his cheek. “She was RIGHT!” He screamed at himself. “I am being a fool. Oh, God.” He started crying in earnest, praying over and over for mercy and grace. He picked up his phone and began to rapidly type out a long message for Jules. He was halfway through when a text came in from her. He dropped his phone, and picked it up with shaking hands to read what she said.
“I hate this. I don’t care if I’m right or not, Miles. Being right doesn’t make me feel better about losing my temper, or about accusing you without grace. It doesn’t take away this empty feeling I have, knowing you’re not here. Being right will never make me feel as whole as being loved by you does, and I would do or say anything if it meant being with you again, and giving me the chance to try again. Please don’t hate me. Please don’t ignore me. Please don’t shut me out. I love you, Miles. I love you!”
Tears were courting down his cheeks while he began to type a reply. He typed, and deleted. Typed, and deleted. Finally, he sent a text that said, “Can we talk, in person?”
Her reply came in within seconds. “I’d like that.”
“Also, do you like ducks?”
He sped all the way back to her house. Once he had pulled into her driveway he left the car running and rushed inside, not even bothering to knock. “Jules?! I’ve been such a jerk.”
She stepped in from the kitchen, and he ran over and pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly. She cried into his shoulder, and he whispered apologies into her hair.
Jules pulled back just enough to allow her to look into his eyes. “Please don’t ever leave like that again.”
“I won’t, I swear. I love you, Jules. I love you.”
I wrote this scene as a fun exercise with a friend (so credit for pretty much all of Miles’ lines and actions go to Jim. Thank you, Jim). This was a lot of fun to write! If you think that I should add it to the final draft of ACL, PLEASE let me know. I am currently undecided, though leaning towards leaving it out.