Bad Day


Thank God for friends

There was glass everywhere. One moment she was upside down, and the next she was right side up and covered in little shards, shining brilliantly in the sunshine. She couldn't help but think that it shouldn't be sunny at all. She didn't even have to glance around to know that the car was a mess. It didn't matter much, really. Just like everything else in her life, she didn't have much control over it anyway. She'd been trying desperately to escape, to get some of the control back in order, but she couldn't do that right, either. Instead, she was stuck in the middle of a highway with tears that she couldn't cry and tiny pieces of glass in her hair.

"Ma'am, are you all right?"

Oh, and a sudden crapload of people who had decided to come investigate. No, I'm not all right. What the hell do you think I'd be? 'Cause, you know, if this isn't some really cruel joke that Mother Nature decided to play, my car just flipped. Only I could manage something like this...

"Yeah, I'm fine."

Well, it ain't supposed to hurt like this
Seems every time I aim and miss
And I'm getting kinda tired of this town

Her spectator looked her up and down with a critical eye. "No you're not."

She groaned inwardly. "Yes, I am. Really, I'm fine. I just need to find my phone." Of course, the car's contents were scattered randomly throughout the interior, so she had no idea where her purse was. She began frantically surveying the damage and warned herself to keep under control. Find the phone. Focus on finding the phone.

With a sigh of relief, she snatched her purse from under the backseat and pulled out her cell phone. Her fingers were shaking as she dialed his number, but she quickly hit the send button and held the phone up to her ear. Her eyes darted around in panic as she tried to brush off the onlookers. She didn't need their attention. She hated to call him, but she didn't want to be alone. And, though there were twenty-something people scattered around the area, asking her questions as other drivers whizzed by, she felt both suffocated and completely helpless.

"Ma'am, you really should lie down. We need to clean that up. Are you sure you're all right?"

"I'm fine." Quit asking, or I might be honest, and you really can't handle the truth. Hell, I can't even handle the truth.

"Ma'am, you're in shock."

"I'm fine."

"Honey," they say, "Don't you know?
Sometimes you gotta let it go."
Well, all I ever do is bring me down

She sighed heavily and tried to remain calm as the answering machine interrupted the ringing phone.

"Hi, this is Brian...but I'm not near the phone right now...well, duh. Leave a message, and you might just get a call back, but only if I feel like it. And no, I don't want to buy anything..." Beep!

She rolled her eyes at the familiar message and reminded herself to breathe. She couldn't afford to lose any more control. "Brian, it's me...I had a wreck..." Had a wreck? Lord, Bri, I am a wreck.

She didn't have to say anything else before he picked up the phone.


She groaned. "Hi."

"Ma'am, you're bleeding."

She turned towards her caretaker in aggravation, ready to explain to him the meaning of privacy, when he held up her other hand for her to examine. She paled at the sight of blood and gave a little gasp of disbelief. "Oh, I am bleeding."

Brian's voice brought her back to reality. "Maureen, where are you?"

She opened her mouth to answer but realized suddenly that, with all the commotion, she had absolutely no idea where she was. She bit her lip, looking for the nearest street sign.

"One twelve and Elm."

Even over the phone, she could hear him nodding. "I'll be right there. Don't go anywhere, and relax."

Easier said than done, she thought bitterly as the dial tone rang in her ears. I've got all of these people that won't leave me alone...

"Ma'am, you really should lie down; the ambulance is going to be here soon."

"I'm fine." And good God, I'm really getting sick of telling you that. Don't you people listen?

She stood stubbornly with her fingers wrapped so tightly around her cell phone that her knuckles turned white, until his car came into view. He pulled over to the side of the road and jumped out of the car. His honey-colored curls were flopping in the wind as he ran over to her. Unfortunately, a policeman stepped between the two and began asking her questions. It wasn't long before the wail of the ambulance echoed along the highway. She stood on her tip-toes so she could see over the policeman's shoulder, and sighed with relief when she saw that he was still standing there.

So why do you stand there
Looking like you could stay there for the rest of your life?
And I'm pulling out my hair
But you take hold of my hands, save me from my own strife

"Ma'am, I'm going to need you to answer a few questions..."

"Is she all right? Is she bleeding? Clear away, people, we need to get to the victim..."

"Ma'am, you really should lie down, you're in shock..."

Her head was pounding and she wanted to scream, but she somehow managed to answer the questions being asked of her. When the policeman seemed satisfied, she handed him her driver's license and insurance card, and he went to his squad car to fill out the necessary forms. The paramedic told her to stand still, that she had glass in her hands, hair, eyelashes...basically everywhere. She flinched, but remained stock still while he went to retrieve the necessary tools. She closed her eyes to ease the headache and soon felt a pair of arms encircle her waist.

"I'm right here, okay? I'm not going anywhere. Just let them do their job, and then we'll get you out of here."

Baby, I don't think you see
How much it hurts when you care for me
And I don't think you know
How much I'm waiting for you to let go
But you won't

She didn't dare argue, because the paramedic had returned with a gauze pad and a pair of tweezers.

"Ma'am, I'm going to need you to hold still while I get the glass out of this cut right here." She followed his gaze to her ring finger, which had a small piece of what she assumed to be her windshield embedded in the knuckle. She winced as he removed the glass and gave a small gasp when the blood began to flow from the cut. Oh, God, this cannot get any worse.

She felt a squeeze on her other hand and looked up into a pair of crystal blue eyes. He smiled down at her, but she couldn't find the strength to smile back. She merely offered a sigh.

"Thanks for getting here so fast."

He laughed lightly. "With that kind of a phone call? Girl, I wasn't about to leave you stranded." He paused to study her. "Are you all right?"

Funny how the question that she had bristled at earlier sounded so different coming from him. "Yeah, I'm fine."

He arched an eyebrow doubtfully. "Don't bullshit me."

"I'm freaking out," she allowed, dropping her tone so the paramedic couldn't hear while he wrapped her finger in the gauze pad. Brian winked at her.

"That's more like it. Your secret's safe with me."

Had she been in a more favorable situation, she definitely would've smiled. As it was, she owed him again. He had more important things to do--that she was sure of--but he was there with her, and that meant more than she could afford to put into words.

And I wonder, could you be the one I count on?
Got this hunger for a love that I can lean on
And even though I bring you down
You just keep on coming 'round

The policeman was back again. "Well, ma'am, here's your insurance card and license. Where would you like your car to be towed?"

She turned to examine the barely recognizable form of her SUV and sighed. "You can tow it to the dealership, and I'm sure they'll take care of it."

The policeman looked at her expectantly. "You need to get all personal items out of the car before it can be towed, ma'am."

Shit. "Okay, just give me a second..."

But Brian waved dismissively. "Look, hon, we'll put everything in my car, okay? I'll go pop the trunk and help you load everything up."

She sighed and turned to face him. "You really don't have to..." But he was already running back towards his car, keys jingling in his hand. She rolled her eyes and turned back to the officer, who was looking impatient.

"Ma'am, we really don't have all day..."

"I'm sorry, sir, and I really appreciate your help," she interrupted with dripping sincerity. He nodded and walked back towards the squad car. Bastard.

"That's just what I was thinking..."

She jumped at the sound of Brian's voice behind her. "Oh, Lord, did I say that out loud?"

He laughed. "Yeah, you did. Trunk's open, okay? All we need to do is get your stuff, and we'll jet." He frowned gently at the creases in her forehead. "Hey, Maur, it's okay. We'll get everything fixed up, and then we'll get you all cleaned up. Do we need to take you to the hospital?"

She merely shook her head and leaned into his embrace. He gave her a squeeze, and she could hear the smile in his voice.

"I've got you, okay? Girl, it's like I always tell you...I've got your back."

Well don't leave me and I might believe you
And don't let go and leave me alone
'Cause it's been a bad day

And, all of a sudden, they were unloading her wreck of a car and piling her belongings into his trunk. She couldn't stand to look too closely, lest she actually come face to face with what had happened.

"Maur, the tow truck's here. He wants your ID, and he needs you to tell him which dealership you use."

She turned absently at the sound of his voice and shook the hand of the tow truck driver. "I think it's Lexier Infiniti. Listen, I really appreciate this."

The man shook his head. "No problem, ma'am, that's my job. You got the fee with you?"

She reached into her pocket and shelled out twenty dollars. "Thank you so much..."

But the man was looking curiously at Brian. She frowned, knowing immediately what the look meant. Not now, not today. He doesn't deserve this on my account...

"Aren't you that Backstreet Boy?"


Brian didn't look at all disturbed. Instead, he offered a wide smile and gladly signed an autograph for the man's daughter, talking all the while about how much he appreciated the fans' support. Finally, the man left and Brian offered her the same wide smile.

"Well, girl, you ready to get the hell out of here?"

They walked slowly to Brian's car; he whistled a tune she didn't recognize, and she stared at the ground. She quickly arrived at the passenger door, and Brian unlocked the car. It wasn't until he had already opened her door and was revving the engine that she noticed the glass in her clothes and skin.

"Well, get in," he instructed with a small smile, and she sighed apologetically.

"No, B, I can't. I'm going to get glass all in your car."

He rolled his eyes. "Oh, like I care. That's what we have vacuums for, girl. I'm not about to leave you here in the middle of the highway either. Let's go so we can get all that glass off of you."

She reluctantly crawled into the passenger seat, and they sped off towards Brian's house. He had the music on, which wasn't unusual, and she lost herself for a moment in the soft music of Our Lady Peace's "Are You Sad?". The first light they hit was red, and Brian turned to look at her.

"Are you sure you're okay?"

She sighed. "Yeah, I'm just a bit shook up."

He bit back a laugh at the expression. "A bit?"

She cracked a tiny smile. "Okay, a lot." The smile faded immediately. "God, I can't believe I screwed up again..."

Brian shook his head and followed the line of cars as the light turned green again. "You're okay. That's all that matters."

Driving on this lonely street
Thought my pain might be discreet
But I'm getting kinda tired of holding on

She nodded absently. "Yeah, I'm fine."

He glanced at her sideways as he pulled into the complex. "Are you trying to convince me or yourself?"

She didn't answer because she had no reason to. Lord knows you've lost control enough for one day. Let's try to keep the cap on our sanity.

"We're almost there," he assured her. "Few more minutes, and you'll be able to wash all of that glass off and get into some warm clothes. Are you hungry?"

She shook her head. "No, just tired."

He knew the tone well, and his own voice softened. "Tired of what, Maur?"

She leaned her head against the window, praying for the strength to keep from burdening him any more than she had already. "I wish I knew."

He didn't say anything in response, but he took one hand off the steering wheel and slipped his fingers through hers. He gave a gentle squeeze, and the gesture said more than his words ever could. She closed her eyes, trying to remember how to feel anything but overwhelmed.

I tried to take it on myself
Toss my feelings on the shelf
The tears ran dry, and all the anger's gone

They turned into Brian's driveway, and he parked the car in the garage. He turned the engine off and got out of the car, yelling at her to stay where she was. In mere minutes, he opened her door and held out a hand, smiling widely.

"Hey, let's get you inside. I've got a shower with your name all over it."

She frowned lightly and took his hand, allowing him to help her up. "You really don't have to do this, Bri. You could just take me back to my place and let me get everything sorted out..."

He gave her a pointed look, and the wide smile dimmed for a moment. "Maur, you know just as well as I do that you don't want to be alone right now. I'm not about to leave you alone in that apartment. Come on, I need the company anyway." He winked at her. "What with this demanding job and all of those freaky little girls chasing me, I don't get out much anymore."

She gave a forced laugh and shrugged his hand off the small of her back. "You love those freaky little girls, Littrell."

"Naw," he grinned, "I love you, girlie. I wouldn't be here if I didn't. Now, let's get you cleaned up. All this glass in your hair is starting to make me nervous. I don't want you any more scratched up than you already are."

She followed his reluctantly to the shower, watching as he turned the tap on and pulled a number of towels from the cabinet. He grabbed his bathrobe from the hook on the door and held it out to her, and she shook her head.

"No, way. You've done quite enough for me today. You were there, and you dropped everything to come and get me. I screwed up, it's my fault, and I really ought to pay the consequences without inconveniencing you any further..."

He rolled his eyes good-naturedly. "Maur, I don't want to hear it. Girl, your car flipped over. I'm just glad you're all right, and I'd like to help you out of this mess so you don't have to think about it anymore. We'll fix it together, but you've got to get this glass off of you first."

Her frown crumbled to a look of desperation right before his eyes. "Bri, I'm being so much trouble..."

He shook his head. "No,'d do it for me in a heartbeat. I want to help, 'cause that's what friends are for."

She looked at him sadly. "I don't deserve a friend like you..."

He looked up sternly. "Maureen, everyone deserves a friend."

So why did you come here
And tear down the walls that I'd built so long ago?
Well, you seem so sincere
You make me smile even when I'd rather be cold

She shook her head, flinching as the tiny pieces of glass made tapping sounds on the tile of the bathroom floor. She felt like she was suffocating. The way he was looking at her...he was so concerned and so caring. He hadn't judged her from the moment she had called, and she didn't know what to make of it. He kept telling her that it was okay, but it wasn't, really. She wasn't okay. She turned her back to him and pulled of her shirt, cringing as more glass made its way to the floor. God, Maur, you really outdid yourself this time...

As soon as she had the shirt off, his hands were on her shoulders, turning her to face him. She struggled as the tears welled up in her eyes.

"Maur, hon, you've got a little shard in your eyebrow. Don't move."

His tongue slid in between his pursed lips in concentration as he brushed the piece of glass away with a touch so tender that she barely felt it. Unfortunately, that one touch was all she needed to lose the thread of control to which she'd been grasping so tightly. The tears slid down her cheeks like an unwelcome waterfall, and his brow furrowed as the pads of his thumbs wiped the tears away. When she spoke, her voice was a whisper.

"Why do you care so much?"

Blue met green as the two locked gazes. "I care because you're you."

"That's not a reason," she told him bitterly, and he sighed.

"Then I don't need a reason, Maur. I care because I care, and because you mean a lot to me. You're a wonderful person, and I care enough to see that."

She turned her face away from his, unable to meet his gaze any longer. "It was my fault. I lost control. You shouldn't care, Bri. I don't deserve it."

His index finger slid under her chin, and he lifted her head to face him. "Shouldn't that be my decision to make?"

She glared. "You don't understand, Bri, you're so much better than I am! You deserve so much better than me!"

He pulled her into his arms and held her close, rubbing tiny circles on her back with the tips of his fingers. "Why don't you tell me why you're crying?"

She sniffled, trying not to succumb to the force of her tears and failing miserably. "'Cause it hurts."

Baby, I don't think you see
How much it hurts when you care for me
And I don't think you know
How much I'm waiting for you to let go
But you won't

They stood there for a few minutes before he spoke again. "The water's warm. If you can take the rest of those clothes off, you can go ahead and get in."

She undressed without a word and slipped into the shower, pulling the curtain across when she was completely inside. She let the warm water wash over her for a moment before speaking timidly.



"Can you..." She closed her eyes and swallowed forcefully. "Can you stay?"

His response was quick and gentle. "I'll be right here. And Maur?"

She sighed. "Yeah?"

"It's okay to cry, you know."

And I wonder, could you be the one I count on?
Got this hunger for a love that I can lean on
And even though I bring you down
You just keep on coming 'round

She didn't need any more encouragement than that. It wasn't a minute before she couldn't tell the difference between the scalding hot water and her tears. She stood with her head under the faucet, letting the water cascade over her until she couldn't stand anymore, so she slid down the wall of the shower and sat beneath the water, relishing the feeling of being purified. And yet, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't wash away the mistakes she'd made. She couldn't scrub until she felt worthy of the man behind the curtain. It still hurt more than she would ever care to admit. He should walk out right now. I'm nothing worth waiting on.

"I'm going to waste all of your hot water."

He laughed. "Give it ten minutes and the water'll be warm again. It's not a big loss."

Her tone dropped to a near-whisper, and he had to fight to hear her over the water. "I can't believe you're still here."

"I said I'd be here, didn't I?" There was a smile in his voice as he spoke.

"You can leave if you want to."

He sighed. "If I left, Maur, I wouldn't be the friend that you deserve. Besides, I don't want to leave."

Well don't leave me and I might believe you
And don't let go and leave me alone
'Cause it's been a bad day

She sat in the shower until the water ran cold. When she turned the water off, his voice greeted her from the other side of the shower curtain.

"Maur? You okay?"

She sighed and sniffled. "I'm getting out."

"Do you want me to turn around?"

Her teeth chattered as the cold air from the outside met her skin. "I-I just want a t-towel..."

He chuckled softly. "Come on out, then."

She pulled back the curtain and stepped into the towel that he held out for her. Before she could move towards the door, he had her in a warm embrace. He held her tightly for a few moments before pulling back.

"Are you really okay now?"

She forced a small smile. "I'll be fine, Bri."

He frowned. "You know, I'd rather see tears than a smile that doesn't reach your eyes."

Don't look at me like you want something
More than this careless smile
Don't ask me to cry to you, 'cause I just want you
To stay awhile

She bit her lip to keep the tears from falling again. She'd done enough crying for one day, and Brian didn't need to deal with any more of her problems. You've made too many mistakes for him to care like he does.

Brian eyed her with concern. "Maur, it's okay to cry. It's only going to hurt more if you hold it all in."

Her lower lip trembled as she lost her struggle and the tears slid down once more. "I'm so sick of crying, though. Bri, you don't need to see this.."

He frowned. "Why? Because you made a mistake today and I didn't?" He smiled ruefully. "Girl, you know me. I screw up a lot more than I can afford to."

She shook her head. "Not like me. Not like I do."

And I don't want to need you
'Cause Lord knows you don't need me
And I know you want to break through
But you're shaking my security

He sighed and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Hon, it's just a car. Cars can be replaced. You can't, though, and I'm incredibly grateful that you're okay." He grinned at her. "What would I do without my best friend?"

She snorted. "You'd be in a lot less of a mess, that's for sure."

He shrugged, smiling still. "Long as I'm in the mess with you, it doesn't matter. Now, you get dressed, and I'll put some hot chocolate on for us."

She didn't have the strength to argue with him. As soon as he slid out of the room, she traded her soiled clothing for a pair of Brian's sweats and padded into his kitchen. She took a seat on one of his barstools and leaned against the counter. "I'm so sorry you had to deal with me today."

He shook his head good-naturedly and set a mug of hot chocolate in front of her. "I really wish you'd quit saying that." He smiled up at her and pointed to the mug. "See, I even put marshmallows in there for you."

She looked down into the hot chocolate and noticed the tiny white pieces floating at the top. I'm a mess, and he still remembers that I like marshmallows. What on earth did I ever do to get lucky enough to have a friend like this?

"Thanks." She wasn't just thanking him for the marshmallows, but there weren't really words to say what she wanted to say.

He winked at her from his position by the microwave. "You're welcome." And he understood.

And I'd like to say that I don't need this
We both know it's not true
I'd like to be able to dismiss
Yet I'm thanking you
For seeing me through
Again and again...

She couldn't help but crack a small smile at his boyish grin. "No, seriously, I mean it. Thank you for everything, Bri. I really wish I wouldn't keep screwing up so you didn't have to do so much for me." She offered her own rueful smile. "I owe you big."

He laughed. "I collect big too, I'm sure." He paused to imitate her tone. "Seriously, though, you don't have to thank me. We all have bad days."

She groaned. "Yeah, it was definitely a bad day..."

He grinned. "There you go, then. You're there for mine, and I'm glad I could be there for yours."

She smiled sadly. "Me too. I hate myself for it, but I'm glad you're here."

I know I'm in your way
But I needed you today

As Brian continued to mess around in the kitchen, she noticed that "Are You Sad?" was playing again. She sipped her cocoa and listened intently to the words, wondering what about the song had grabbed Brian's attention that day. He was more of a country fan, and she hated the thought that he'd switched genres to make her more comfortable. When she looked up, he was smiling at her. He leaned against the counter, facing her as he sipped his hot chocolate.

"Good song, isn't it?"

She nodded and gave a light chuckle. "Yeah, it's a good song."

He smiled in satisfaction. "I always thought that a good song was the perfect cure for a bad day."

She groaned. "Then how the hell do you cure a bad week?"

Brian shrugged, making a face. "A good album?"

And, for the first time in a long time, she genuinely laughed.

Baby, I don't think you see
How much it hurts when you care for me
And I don't think you know
How much I'm waiting for you to let go
But you won't

They sat in silence for a moment, sipping hot chocolate and listening to the song Brian had left on repeat. She leaned back into the back of the barstool and swung gently back and forth, cursing her luck. She'd been a thorn in Brian's side for as long as she could remember, but she didn't feel so bad about it anymore. She'd never felt like a good friend to him, but the smile on his face said otherwise. And it didn't hurt anymore. He cared about her, and she cared about him. It was that simple, and the thought left her feeling strangely peaceful.

So maybe not everything has to be so complicated. Maybe something good will come out of me after all.

She turned to face Brian with a reflective smile, and he grinned back at her. "What're you thinking about?"

And I wonder, could you be the one I count on?
Got this hunger for a love that I can lean on
And even though I bring you down
You just keep on coming 'round

Her eyebrows rose in surprise. "What do you mean?"

He laughed warmly. "Oh, don't play innocent. Those wheels were turning." He gave her a matter-of-fact look. "You know, it scares me when you start thinking like that."

She rolled her eyes. "Okay, Littrell, I have a question."

He nodded, noting the serious tone in her voice. "Fire away."

"I'm a screw-up. I know that. I just..." She trailed off when she saw the friendship in his blue eyes. "Bri, how do you cure a bad year? Better yet, how do you cure a bad life?"

He smiled softly. "I'm not sure."

She sighed. "If you had to guess..."

He cocked his head to one side. "If I had to guess, huh? The cure to a bad year...a bad life..." He paused to wink at her and took another sip of cocoa. "A good friend."

She smiled softly in return. "Then thanks for being a good friend."

Well don't leave me and I might believe you
And don't let go and leave me alone
'Cause it's been a bad day

"Bad Day"
lyrics and music by ME :o)
copyright 2001