From the Dining Table, Pt. 2 (Ethan)
Summary: Ethan finally comes across your letter after many years and begins his journey to find you.
Word Count: 2,181
Warnings: Vomiting, mentions of vomit
Author’s Note: I finally finished part 2! It ended a little differently than I had intended just because I was accumulating a large word count so quickly and I wanted to cut it short before I lost you guys… But, this means a part 3 will ensue! This is written from Ethan’s point of view, and it involves a couple flashbacks, so I hope you guys are able to follow along. Also, “Y/L/N” means “your last name.” Please let me know what you think and I hope you enjoy! Requests are open.
“Breaking news coming out of Hollywood this morning… Ethan Dolan reportedly calls it quits in the middle of filming his latest movie after having what sources are calling a ‘nervous breakdown.’ The former YouTube sensation-turned-A-list-actor was said to have stormed off of set yesterday unprovoked and has not been seen or heard from by family and friends since. There has been no word on how long production on the movie has been stalled for, or if Dolan will be welcomed back to the cast should he choose to return to the film. We’ll continue to report the latest updates on this story as they come in.”
I shove my headphones into my ears and crank the volume up until the shrill voice of the E! News reporter disappears, disgusted that even in LAX, one of the world’s most famous and populated airports, celebrity gossip matters more than world affairs. Pulling the brim of my baseball cap down farther over my eyes, I shift in my seat and pray that no one is paying enough attention to their surroundings to recognize me. I’m sitting in the terminal completely alone and would like to keep it that way— no security guards, no screaming fans mobbing me, no soccer moms hesitantly walking up to me asking for a picture for their ‘daughter.’ Yeah, right. I know for a fact that some of those moms go out on movie dates with their girlfriends on Friday nights just to oodle over me and it’s absolutely disgusting. Don’t they have husbands waiting for them back home?
I sigh and glance down at my jean pocket holding the piece of paper that brought me to the airport in the first place. Is the E! News reporter incorrect in saying that I stormed off of set of the movie I was contracted to film months ago? No, actually, but she is incorrect in saying that it was ‘unprovoked.’ For the last couple of years, my life has been a whirlwind of traveling, transitioning from YouTube to making movies, red carpets, parties, drugs, alcohol, girls, it never seemed to end. The life I have now is everything I could have ever wanted at eighteen years old, but as I learned over time, it didn’t come without sleepless nights and regret over losing the one person that unapologetically stood by my side since we were kids. The more opportunities I was presented with, the more fame I gained, the farther I pushed her away and for what reason, I don’t remember now. But no matter how hard I tried to rid myself of her, she never left me. She haunted my dreams and called out for me when I would least expect it. I could hear her whispering to me in the wind and I would feel her body up against mine in every bed I slept in. Time didn’t make it better; in fact, it was quite the opposite. I most recently have been plagued with images of her choosing to marry someone else, to carry someone else’s children, and in the middle of one of those visions, I decided I had had enough. That’s when I found the letter, and after spending hours reading it, re-reading it, kicking myself for putting her through so much pain, and bawling at the realization of what I had become, I dashed to the airport knowing exactly where I would find her.
A couple other people in the terminal begin to shift in their seats and look at their tickets. I rip one headphone out of my ear just in time to hear the airline employee call for the boarding of first class passengers. Grabbing my backpack and ticket, I fly to the front of the line, head down, hoping to create as little of a scene as possible.
“Welcome aboard, Mr. Dolan,” the employee coos as she scans my ticket and checks my I.D. all too slowly. “What business do you have flying to Newark today?”
What business do I have? What business does she have asking that question?
“I… um… I’m paying an overdue visit to an old friend,” I mumble, trying to keep the irritation in my voice at bay.
“Ah, I see. Well, I hope you have a safe and comfortable trip back home.” She flashes a toothy smile as I take off to find my seat in the aircraft. With so much pep in her voice, I wonder how many glasses of wine she drinks at night before being able to dull the aching emptiness in her chest.
Wait, did she just say, ‘back home?’ How the hell would she have known that I… Oh god, she’s a closeted fan, too. Yep, E! News is going to sink their teeth into that headline: “An AWOL Ethan Dolan was spotted by an LAX employee boarding a plane to New Jersey, seemingly desperate to get back to his home state. What could he possibly be trying to run away from in L.A.? Or, could he be running toward something instead?”
I settle into the cushioned seat, my mind trying struggling to remember the last time I flew on a commercial aircraft. I almost forgot how to even book a ticket in the first place; having done it on a computer last, trying to confirm one on my phone on the way here proved to be even more difficult. My brain continues to search, scanning over memories in reverse chronological order until it lands on the right one, forcing up a wave of nostalgia and nausea, too:
“Y/N!” I shouted, hunched over the Mac in the living room of our dingy apartment. “Come here! I want to show you something!”
“What is it, babe?” Her voice cascaded through the air and settled on my skin, giving me goosebumps. God, how I loved her voice.
“I can’t tell you! You’ll have to come see it.”
Her slippers dragged against the carpet as she approached me from her bedroom. I stood up to block the computer screen, not wanting to give the surprise away before I was ready.
“E, sweetheart, this better be super important,” she scolded, entering the room. “I was in the middle of my history mid-term paper and I had a groove going.”
I took in her beauty as she leaned against the door frame, crossing one leg over the other. Her hair was thrown into a ponytail at the top of her head, her reading glasses were falling down her nose, and the skin on her lips was peeling, most likely resulting from the way she constantly chewed on them when she was anxious or deep in thought. She was wearing an old hand-me-down t-shirt that she acquired from her older brother years ago, and because he was over a head taller than her, she was swimming in the fabric. Her legs were bare, but the shirt was so long on her body that she wasn’t revealing much. Her skin glowed in the light and the amused smirk on her face made my head spin.
Wow, I thought to myself in shock. This girl is all mine.
“E? Ethan? What was it you wanted to show me?” Her voice shook me from my thoughts and I broke out in a child-like grin.
“This paper is the last final you have to submit, right?”
“And then you’re not only done for the semester but done with your college career, right?”
“Yes, Ethan, we’ve talked about this.”
“And your commencement ceremony is tomorrow at noon?”
“Ethan, did you get knocked over the head with something? We’ve been discussing my graduation for months now.”
“I know, I know we have. But, what we haven’t talked about is the fact that the ceremony isn’t the only place you—uh—I mean, we, have to be tomorrow.”
Y/N cocked her head to the side and walked over to me. “Ethan… what is going on?”
I took a couple of steps to the right to reveal the hotel reservations and flight confirmation number displayed on the computer screen, barely able to contain my excitement. “We have a 6:30 flight tomorrow from L.A. to Orlando. Happy graduation-slash-early-birthday-present, babe. I’m taking you to Disney World.”
I smile at the memory of Y/N’s disbelief as it melted into shock, the shock then morphing into elation. Disney World, while being one of the most cliché vacations a couple could take together, had always been a top vacation destination for her since she was a child. She was never able to visit when she was young because her parents struggled financially, but I had the ability to make one of her childhood dreams come true, something she never stopped thanking me for. Had I known the flight to Orlando wasn’t just going to be the last time I would fly on a commercial plane, but with Y/N in general, I would have cherished the moment more. She was always my favorite person to travel with. I would have gone anywhere in the world with her.
I begin to gag from vomit trying to force its way up my throat. For some reason, my regret is always paired with puke, but refusing to let it get the best of me, I fish in the front pocket of my backpack for my bottle of pills I was first prescribed after telling my doctor about my visions of Y/N. Opening the cap, I pour out four Ativan and wash them down with a bottle of water I bought after clearing security. I close my eyes and lean back in my seat, letting the medication run through my system and forcing the thought of Y/N away from my mind.
I just need five hours in the air to think about absolutely nothing. I just need five hours of darkness and silence in order to face what I have done.
“Ethan? Ethan Dolan in the flesh and blood?”
I look down at the concrete porch of Y/N’s childhood home, shamefully unable to meet the gaze of her mother standing on the threshold of her front door.
“Hi, Mrs. Y/L/N. Yes, it’s me.”
“Ethan, what business do you have showing up at my door after eight years of not speaking to my family?”
I pop my head up. Eight years? It’s been eight years since seeing Y/N last? I grab the letter out of my pocket and unfold it to see when it was dated, something that I stupidly didn’t think to pay attention to when I first found it.
Oh, my god… Y/N dated the letter six years ago; she waited on me for two and a half years in L.A. before moving back home, and it still took me another six years to find this thing. How despicable.
Disgusted with myself, I suddenly become dizzy and lean over the porch railing to vomit into the grass below. Mrs. Y/L/N steps out onto the porch and places her hand on my back, rubbing it gently until I stop dry heaving long enough to catch my breath.
“You’re being kind to me, Mrs. Y/L/N, even after everything I’ve done,” I observe.
“Holding anger and hatred for someone never does any good, no matter how much they’ve hurt you, Ethan. I see you found Y/N’s note. I’m assuming that’s why you’re here?”
I nod, gripping the piece of paper tighter. “Would you be able to tell me where to find her?”
“I can, but you might not like the answer.”
I raise an eyebrow, another wave of nausea washing over me.
“She bought the house, Ethan. The brick house on the corner of Oak Street, the one that–“
“The one that we talked about buying together since we were fourteen,” I finish for her.
Mrs. Y/L/N shrugs her shoulders. “Once your channel took off and she moved to L.A. with you, she started college out there and I thought maybe that dream became more of a fleeting thought for her. I don’t think she expected to ever come back to New Jersey; I certainly didn’t expect her to, at least because I knew that she would follow you wherever you went and I knew that you wouldn’t end up back here… You were destined for greater things than this town could offer you. But I suppose Y/N never forgot about it, after all.”
I press my lips into a hard line, working to keep my tears at bay. “You’re right, I don’t like that answer.”
“Well, then you should know one more thing.”
“She doesn’t live there alone, Ethan.”
Fishing the keys of my rental car out of my other pocket, I glance sideways at Mrs. Y/L/N. “What do you mean?”
“I think it’s best that you find out for yourself, but be prepared. What you find might hurt you.” Mrs. Y/L/N places a peck on my cheek. “It was nice to finally see you again, Ethan.”
I close my eyes, desperately afraid that my visions of Y/N weren’t just visions after all.
“Thanks. You too. I just hope Y/N feels the same way.”