It's not just chilly any more, it's *cold*, with frost gathering on the well-maintained grass of the park. The freeze and the darkness make the place quiet, which seems to suit Matt just fine. He sits on a picnic table with his feet on the bench, wrapped up in a thick overcoat and hugging himself against the chill in the air. He didn't remember to bring a hat and his ears are freezing. A Kiva coffee cup sits next to him on the table, in a little circle of its own melted ice. He unfolds one arm so he can sniffle and wipe his nose, and he uses one thumb to wipe irritably at the corner of his eye.
And here Petra is, totally set up to run. Some people are just nuts about their fitness. But hey, it's one way to stay warm, I guess. She's been running off in the distance, slowly getting closer and closer, much like Jaws. DUN DUN DUN DUN... DUUUUUUUUUUUN! But just as she's coming upon Matt's position, she has to stop, bending over and resting her hands (gloved, thankfully) on her legs. Her breathing is labored, almost as though she's been running for some time. Fancy that! She has to sniffle several times, and doesn't seem to have a tissue. Though thankfully she DOES have a hat on as well.
Young ladies are welcome to bend over in Matt's sight any time they like, apparently, though to do him credit he only looks for a moment before saying, "You okay?" His voice is a little thick, and at a closer look his eyes are red. He fishes into his pocket. "You want a Kleenex or something?"
Sniffling one last time, Petra nods, saying, "God yes. Thank you so much, dudemo." She settles in to sit right next to him without so much as asking, and then cries out as her probably a little too thin for this sort of thing pants meet frost. "FUCK that's cold. How do you manage to sit on that? You are a hero, dude. A HERO." That said, she doesn't get up, herself. Instead, she peers at Matt for a moment, and suddenly smiles, extending a hand. "I'm good, I'm good. Just... damn, it's cold, you know?" She jerks a chin in his direction curiously. "What about you? You okay?"
Matt allows Petra to sit next to him, passing the Kleenex over without hesitation. He spends a few seconds blowing his own nose again. "I have a naturally warm ass," he tells her, and reaches over to take the offered hand and shake it. "I'm *primarily* okay. I am a little drunk and emotional." There is, it's true, a faint and not wholly-unpleasant scent of alcohol on his breath. "Christmas, you know?"
"You're an honest guy. I like that. Most people woulda lied and said, 'It's just cold,' or, 'I've got something in my eyes.' Not you, though. You just tell it like it is. Name's Petra, by the way." The smile she favors him with then is kind, at the least, despite her fuck you necklace. She glances out away from him for a moment, nodding. "Christmas is rough for a lot of people. No matter what they say." She turns back to him then, tilting her head. "You alone? Is that... the reason?"
"I'm Matt. I like your necklace," Matt adds, because he's just noticed it, and it's amusing the hell out of him. He hugs himself again and looks off at the trees, eyes narrowed for a moment as he thinks. "Yeah. Long way from home, tragic past, you know how it goes. You from New York? You got kind of an accent." The way he says the city's name carries a twist that gives away his own origins in New Jersey.
"It's good to meet you, Matt. I thought I was gonna be running alone today. And my nose woulda dripped all over without your divine intervention." Speaking of, Petra blows her nose loudly, coughs, and blows her nose again. She gives a sigh of relief, and then her nose (of course) starts running again. Stupid cold. So she just holds the Kleenex nearby. She licks her lips at his question, almost like she's thinking of lying, or surprised by the question. Something of that nature. "Yeah," she says in the end. "New York born 'n raised. You a Jersey boy? Funny we'd meet up here. Life's funny that way. I think a lotta people got tragic pasts. It's just some of them... you know. They shore up and they pretend they're fine. But inside, they're dyin'. Takes someone brave to admit life is fucked, if you ask me."
Matt nods when Petra asks if he's from Jersey. He listens to the rest of what she says, without looking at her, but with obvious thoughtful interest, and he flicks her a red-eyed glance as she concludes. "Life *is* fucked. I mean - I'm not suicidal or anything. You know? But I am at least sad enough to come sit in a freezing cold park by myself and cry into my adulterated coffee."
"Oh, you won't catch me telling you life is roses, even if it is sometimes. There are long stretches of life that are just... well, like I said. Fucked." Petra pauses, looking out at the park proper before she'll return her attention to Matt. "But-- and hear me out here... I ain't sayin' 'everything will be better' because maybe it won't. But some things will. And life'll surprise you. Sure surprises me. That said... I'm sorry you're sad, Matt. You wanna talk about it?"
"I don't know if I'm drunk enough to talk about it." Matt smiles at himself, but he shares it with Petra, just for a second or two. "I had a true love, and she's dead now. Just that stupid, just that cliched. And I'm doing okay, usually, you know? Just - not today." He frowns at a tree.
For whatever reason, that takes the breath out of Petra for a moment-- or maybe it's just the cold. "You know why stuff gets cliched, right? Because it happens a lot to people, and it strikes a chord. It's okay to not be doing okay, y'know. There's people," she says, glancing off at the tree he's frowning at, "...there's people who get upset about stuff that's a lot less upsetting, you know? And that's okay, too. Emotions are like small intestines-- everybody's got one." Ever so poignant.
The tree doesn't seem to be doing anything to warrant being glared at by a total stranger. It's just growing there, all spindly. "I know," Matt says, and sniffs again, rubbing one gloved hand over his face. "It's just - Christmas just *sucks* now. And I liked it before, you know? I miss the way Christmas felt in New York."
Trees, man. They're bastards. Who NEEDS a reason? Petra blows her nose for a moment, and then tilts her head. "There's nothing I can say that's not going to come off all Pollyanna. It sucks, dude. It's a sucky thing, and no one can take the sting away. You want my advice, though?" Without waiting for a yes or no, Petra just gives it: "Make your own Christmas tradition, here in ABQ. That tradition doesn't have to be cheery and bright. It can be sad and depressing and ... just as long as it provides you some closure, you know? You'll never fully get closure, cuz that's life-- again, it kinda fucking sucks sometimes. But you ... you know. You can get to a point where things begin to matter on their own again. Fuck, I'm not even making any sense. Look: would you like to spend Christmas at my place?" Hubba hubba! But before Matt can get the wrong (or right!) idea, Petra adds, "I don't mean like fucktimes. I mean like... Jai and I, we'd be glad of a guest. He's a cool dude, and like... you shouldn't sit out here. You'll catch your death o' cold, you know? So whaddya say? We can sit out here and mourn for awhile, but then you should come in and have like, some good food 'n shit."
Matt is completely startled by the offer, and the clarification makes him actually laugh, sorrow banished at least for that moment just by how direct she is. "You're not like - even slightly worried I might be a serial killer or something?" He's absolutely charmed.
"Enh," Petra says, grinning suddenly and shrugging her shoulders. "If you were, I'd be in trouble already. Serial killers, man... they aren't too picky in how they operate. And they're real smooth talkers. If you WERE a serial killer, you'd already have talked me into going with you somewhere, and be takin' out my kidneys. If you go around scared all the time, it's not like you're gonna be able to prevent all the bad shit in the world, amirite? I'm right."
"You're right. I'm not a serial killer." Matt pauses, though, and sniffs again, and takes yet another moment to blow his nose. The tears seem to have abated, for now at least. "I am a cop, though. If that makes any difference."
"Onoes, a cop. Welp. As long as you don't walk into our meth lab-- I mean kitchen-- I'm sure we should be fine," Petra says with a smirk. "Thanks for the warning, though. I mean that. I mean... it's not like it really affects me, but it's nice of you to warn people to avoid like, what's it called? Entrapment? Yeah. Anyway, you're lookin' better already. It's the power of friendship or some other hokey bullshit, amirite? You seem like a cool guy, and I mean that. I won't go on about like, fate or some shit, but it does seem awfully convenient, me meetin' you here today. I was feelin' kinda crummy myself, to tell the truth."
Matt folds his Kleenex around the other way, swipes at the underneath of his nose, then tosses it neatly into the nearest trashcan. "So uh, tell me your tragic backstory. If you want. Or make one up, I'd take that too."
You know, it's all well and good to preach the gospel of opening up to strangers, but it seems, at least at first, that Petra doesn't practice what she preaches. She stiffens up perceptibly, saying with a flippant wave of her hand, "My mama left me on the doorstep of St. Peter's church and then it turned out I'm actually the daughter of Elvis, but he died before I realized. It's fuckin' tragic, man." But then, with a guilty glance over at Matt, she deflates, and says just as flippantly, "I got... I got mommy and daddy issues. And ... you know. My husband and I had a fight the other night, and I can't stop thinkin' about it. And I was in a coma recently, and I thought he died, so. Yeah. Life is weird, amirite?" It's unclear if any of that's true, probably.
Matt chuckles at the obviously-fake story, not apparently minding a bit. The last part, though, sounds solidly plausible to him. "Weird, yeah," he says, "that *sucks*." He looks at Petra, wide-eyed. "I am not sober enough to figure out if you're kidding. But uh - you don't really have to tell me anything. It was a share if you want to kinda thing."
Rubbing at the side of her nose, Petra shrugs. "'s cool, man. Nobody's ever *required* to tell anything, you know? I think you being drunk is a solid part of my saying anything, you want the truth. I can always hope you forget it all when you sober up. It's the little things," she says with a tight smile. "That said, I didn't say anything I didn't want to. Well. I said a LOT I didn't want to, but you get my meaning. You can't coerce me into it. You could like, threaten to arrest me if I don't tell you my tragic backstory, and you could prolly get away with it, things being what they are. But it's still my choice whether to speak up or get manhandled. That's how life is."
"I probably *could* get away with it. That's so fucked up." Matt goes back to hugging himself tightly; he sits hunched over a little bit for warmth, and now he's mostly looking down at the frosty path. The lights are bright enough here in the park that the frost sparkles. "You don't join the force because you figure you'll be just like every other cop. You know? It's not like I thought to myself, I know, I'll go become a professional asshole."
"I know," Petra says quietly, as though she has any idea. "You always go into things with good intentions. And then the people around you... they're part of the system, you know? They wear you down, and wear you down. One minute you're like, 'Let's save the world!' and the next you're like, 'Fuck it all.'" She frowns faintly, and moves to try and rest a hand on Matt's back, friendly-like. "People CAN wear you down. But the thing to remember, when you're failing to keep up the good.. is that every success is a victory. No matter how small."
When Petra touches Matt's back, he lowers his head. There's a level of tension that eases from him, though, just at that simple contact. He nods without looking up. "Sure." It's not a casual dismissal, though, and he reaches over to pat her knee, just once, no creepy lingering liberties taken. "Listen. I get this is none of my business, but you've been, you know. Helpful." He turns his head to look at her, squinting a little bit, like Petra is too bright to see easily. "If you love him, then whatever this fight was? Find the way past it. It's all there is. In the end, trust me, it's the only thing that matters."
Petra doesn't mind the patting of her knee, and manages a little smile, at that. She listens to what he has to say, her eyes briefly rather saddened. It's just the briefest of moments, and then she's cheery again, like it never happened. "I love him," she says with a nod. "And he loves me. I don't even doubt it. It's just." She purses her lips, shrugging one shoulder in a display of casualness that the rest of her body language just isn't up to conveying. "Sometimes I think he'd be better off without me. You know how it goes. Besides, I'm not sure I'm ... able to be or to do what he wants of me, you know?"
"I do know. I know how it goes. And where it goes, and how *fast* it goes, and what it's like - what it's like when it feels like it's your fault." Matt clears his throat and sits up straighter. He picks up his quote-unquote *coffee* and sips from it. "That's more up to him, right? Is he what *you* want?"
"Yes," Petra says without hesitation. "He is. He's what I want, and a lot more than I deserve. I just. It's so HARD sometimes." A pause, and then she clarifies, "Not being with him. That's the easy part. This is one of the few, if not only, real fights we've ever had. And he even apologized, and it's not one of those things where he even really did anything wrong. It's me that's the problem, you know?"
"Why?" Matt asks, "what's wrong with you?" He smiles a little bit at the sound of the question, so blunt, but he doesn't take it back.
Petra clears her throat at that question, then chuckles mirthlessly. "You want a list, man? You want that list alphabetized?" She takes a deep breath then, shrugging. "I'm not ... a people person. You're gonna say I am, cuz tonight, I'm being one. But in general, I'm kinda... you know. Abrasive. And mostly, that's okay. But like... I have this thing. I don't... it's stupid to call it what it is, but it's like... sometimes I don't eat. I *won't* eat. Cuz of a lot of stupid reasons. And it scares him. And it makes him mad, too. We wanted to have kids, but I lost too much weight and I've just put it back on, and I hate it, every second of it, and I can't-- it never seems to stop, you know? And he gets to feeling like my being thin is more important than us having kids, and that... you know. It puts things in perspective, sure. But it also ... I mean, when he said it, he apologized. Said it wasn't fair to me. And it didn't hurt, then. But the more I thought about it... you know. What if he's RIGHT? I already didn't want kids originally, cuz I'd be a TERRIBLE fuckin' mother. Fuck. I just... FUCK. You know? I refuse to turn into my-- into Leslie." A pause, and then she quickly adds, "I don't even know why I'm telling you all this. Just... don't bring it up when you're sober."
"Hey. What happens in the park stays in the park." Matt solemnly draws a cross over his heart with one thumb before folding himself up again against the chill. "You're sick, though. I mean, he gets that you're sick, right? Not just being weird for the sake of it? *You* get that?"
"I think he thinks that now, but maybe he didn't realize it before? I dunno, man." That last question though, that seems to give Petra pause. "Everybody ELSE says I'm sick. And I get that I *was* sick, when the doc said I was one pound away from bad stuff, blah blah. But I feel better now! No more flop sweat, no more ... none of that. It's just. Everybody says I'm STILL sick, that I need to eat this crazy stuff that no human being should eat. Stuff like ice cream. Or eggnog. Or cheese. And I can eat some cheese. Sure. Even put some on a salad. Or have a few bites of ice cream. Half a cookie. It's LOADS of calories, but I *can* do it. But they're making it out like I should drink a whole glass of eggnog. And he wanted me to, and I couldn't, and we had this fight. But it's not even about that. The fight's over. What's been said has been said, and he even said it wasn't fair to me. That he was sorry for even thinking it. But what if... he's right, you know? What if past-me is right about what a terrible mom I'd be, yeah? What if it's like, fate?"
"There's no such thing as fate." Matt doesn't seem happy about this, but he does seem certain. "You're seeing a therapist at the moment, right? Because if not, I think - really start. You're kinda turned around on some stuff." He gets up, carefully sliding his way off the table until his feet hit the ground.
Petra clams up for a moment, watching him thoughtfully as he begins to stand. "I'm seeing one, yeah," she admits. "I don't get a chance to see her a lot, but... yeah. What uh. What am I turned around about, though?" she wonders, and starts to rise as well, rubbing at her nose with the Kleenex. "Jeez, I rambled. This was supposed to... I mean like, geez. Totally rude. I hope *you're* doin' better, Mattiman?"
Matt is successful in his expedition to the land of Standing Up. He retrieves his beverage from the table. "I'm okay. I'm nearing the part of the night where I have to go home and drink tequila while staring at old movies on the TV. Listen - thanks for your invitation. *Really*. Thank you." He gazes at her, a little wide-eyed, obviously sincere. "You helped a lot. And I hope you're okay. You're turned around about - about a *lot* of things. Like everyone."
"I'm deffo okay," Petra says with a nod, and she's probably a fairly hard one to read and see if she is or not. But she's got a bright smile for him, even given his plan to go home and drink tequila instead of coming home with her for 'not-fucktimes.' "I ain't turned around, man. I'm facin' forward. It's a hard thing to do. I'm... glad I helped. Just mouthin' off helped me, man, so you did your good deed for the night. Listen... lemme give you Jai's card, okay? And I'll write my number on it, and if you needa talk, it'll be park-rules, got it?" She smiles lopsidedly, and withdraws a wallet from her pocket, plucking a card from within. It's got the name Jai Malekar on it, and the number for cab dispatch. She writes, "355-7363. Petra. Park rules" before handing it over.
"Park rules. Got it." Matt accepts the card, smiling now, and looks at it before tucking it away into his coat pocket. "My number is nine one one. I'm kidding," he adds, and his smile is briefly, truly daffy before the darkness of the night settles over him again. "Okay, I'm going home. For real. You have a better night, Petra, okay?"
"You too, Mattiman. You better call me, or I swear I *will* have to call nine one one about a stubbed toe or something." She winks to show she's kidding, and then starts stretching out, perhaps getting ready to finish her run.
"I will! I will. Night." Matt strolls away, taking his time; he looks back once, but mostly he's content to just head out.