One Day at a Time


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Scene Title One Day at a Time
Synopsis Two companions in sobriety get together to touch base.
Date January 30, 2018

The Benchmark Recovery and Counseling Center

The new branch of the Benchmark Center has only been open for a few weeks now, but Lynette seems to have everything ready to go when the doors were ready to open. Doctors on staff, counselors on campus, the whole nine. But she didn’t invite Brad over for the counseling side of the center, but for the more relaxed upper levels.

The common area is a comfortable space with couches and a TV and radio, a small kitchenette for mostly coffee and snacks, even a piano sitting to one side. Lynette’s got coffee out in a pair of mugs as she leans against the little kitchen island. There are stools on the other side, but apparently those are for Brad because that’s where she pointed him.

“I haven’t really had much of a chance to get out and see the sights,” Lynette is saying as she waits for her coffee to cool, “so far it doesn’t seem that much difference than the set up in Mexico. Colder.” Much colder. But, not the bustling metropolis it once was.

“Warmer isn’t always better,” Brad replies as he blows on his own cup of coffee. The irony of the statement when paired with the action isn’t missed. He even chuckles at it. “So. How you feel being here?” He finally slides into one of the stools and emits a long sigh.

“Good to be somewhere more normal as far as treatment is concerned. Maybe.” He hums around that and allows his smile to subdue. “I know the city doesn’t have the allure for everyone.” His fingers drum on the counter.

Lynette echoes his chuckle, shifting to lean on her elbows. “I’ll take your word on that one.” She sips from her mug, but it’s still a little hot, so it’s brief. “Sort of torn, really,” she says to his question. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy. My family’s here, the work is good. It’s just… full of memories.” Bad ones. They all have them.

“I figure the people who live here might need some support. I can’t say I feel like the new system will end up much different than the old on. But I hope. I think there’s good reason to hope.” She knows several of the people working in that new system, after all. “It’s not about the allure, or the lack of one,” since the city has lost most of its razzle dazzle, “It’s about making a difference, yeah?”

“I think systems need to exist to make society function,” Brad states with sentiment coming from someone who sees politics as a necessary evil. “We need these systems to work to create democratic society. Otherwise it’s anarchy.” He shoots her a wry smile, “But I can’t deny the ills of the last leave most leery.”

His smile eases at the question though, “Hopefully it’s about making a difference. When everyone is doing their part. When everyone is caring enough to do their part.” He sucks on the inside of his cheek. “And finding some meaning and purpose too. If we can make this place a little better, we’ll have done something.” He chuckles mirthlessly, “Seems like a big if.”

“Oh, I agree. Better to have one than not. I might be leery, but it’s just a lingering feeling. I know you’ll take good care of this city,” Lynette says, her smile telling of the faith she has in him. It probably helps, having someone she knows involved. “It might need some attention, but I’ve always loved a fixer-upper.” That turns her grin a little more playful.

“It doesn’t have to be a big if,” Lynette says with a glance down at her coffee. “I’ve learned that— you can’t fix the whole world, but you can do a lot for your corner of it. And change is slow, but it ripples out.” She pauses, thinking over what she just said before nodding at her own words. She’ll stand by those. “A little bit at a time. Even if you have to start with one person.”

“I don’t know about that. What even is goodness?” Brad asks quietly. “Good for whom? And when? Good for the most people? The most powerful people? The weakest people? The people in front of us?” His eyes narrow some. “And don’t get me wrong, I’m doing what I can, but maybe cynicism is striking me as I edge ever closer to forty.”

His lips hitch on one side into a lopsided very boyish grin. “I’ll give you that— change is slow. And it does have ripples.” He frowns slightly, “Sorry. I’ve been,” he lifts a hand, “elbows deep in philosophy lately.” A mirthless chuff of breath emits from the back of his throat, “Not good for sobriety, I don’t think. Philosophy is a surefire way to want to be eternally intoxicated.”

Lynette sips her coffee as she listens to him, but a crooked smile is still noticeable here and there. “Those are good questions. And asking them is important. Thinking about them is important.” The comment about his age gets a more wry expression. Someone here is already forty. “Cynicism will give you frown lines, Brad,” she teases. “And also might just keep you honest.”

She reaches over to give his arm a squeeze, a little sympathy in the gesture. “Politics, too, maybe,” she says, but with a bit of a smile still. “You know you can come see the counselors here anytime, right? Come to a group, whatever you need. Might help get your head out of philosophy books and your feet back on the ground. At least for an hour or two.” There’s a pause before she adds, “How are you doing with all that?”

Brad smirks at the mention of frown lines. “I’m just testy,” he counters wryly. “You’ve caught me on a bad day at the office.” His chin drops and with a nearly-guilty turn of his lips and lilt to his voice, he opts, “Peach and have been playing phone tag for two weeks. It’s… I’m being ridiculous.” With a dry, almost hollow, chuckle he adds, “It didn’t use to be this hard. The distance, I mean. I know you’ve been away from family before, I think… well.” His hands lift almost helplessly. “Work keeps me in the city. I used to be able to hightail it as often as I needed, but now? It’s just getting harder.”

The bit about the counselors has Brad’s eyebrows lifting. For a moment it looks like the question is going to meet sharp resistance, but then all of his features soften. “I may talk to them. See if I can’t let go of… I don’t even know what. The last few years have been hard on everyone.” He manages a tight smile again and takes a long sip of his coffee. “I could maybe handle getting to a group. But yeah, getting out of the philosophy just seems like good advice. It’s an abyss.”

“And you,” he asks softly, “how are you doing? I know this place,” the city, “doesn’t hold the best memories all the time.”

The counter gets a smirk, but Lynette’s expression turns more sympathetic a moment later. “You’re not being ridiculous. Long distance is hard. It brings logistics into love and that’s terribly grounding.” Which, obviously, is the opposite of romance. “You’ll catch each other, though.” Her hands curl around her coffee, even though the room doesn’t hold much of the February chill outside. “It’s a big change. Do you like the work? Aside from having to request time off.”

Lynette raises her eyebrows right back at him, her expression frank. Otherwise, she just waits for him to work out how he’s going to respond. “Let me know. I’ll go with you.” To a group, that is. “I haven’t been to any since the move. Distance,” she says with a wave of her hand toward the lower levels, “makes me more comfortable. They all still look at me.” From the interviews. From the news. He understands that. And the question gets a sigh, since it’s her turn to fight the urge to dodge a real answer. But she looks over at him, runs a hand through her hair and seems to settle a little. “I feel twitchy. I thought it would be easier, picking a place away from my old haunts,” particularly Refrain haunts, but bars too, “but sometimes it isn’t at all. Luckily, I live in my little oasis.”

Brad chuckles, “I didn’t used to be this ridiculous. I’ve always travelled. This is just more complicated than I think I’ve ever had it.” He rubs the back of his neck and shakes his head, “The work is important, but stressful. Not sure how we’ll manage to find any semblance of order. Honestly? I worry it’ll be more the same. It’s why I do what I’m doing. So hopefully it won’t be. But… as I said I’m cynical in my aging.” He chuckles at that.

Russo can’t help but cringe at the mention of the interviews and news. “Well, you still get to be a person. Yeah, let’s hit a group together. It’s a good idea and I don’t want to go back. I just don’t. Too much invested now to return to that. Besides I owe more to the ghosts of Christmases past than to fall off the bandwagon again.”

With a sigh he considers New York again, “But I get the old haunts piece. It helps a little that the city is kind of different than it used to be.” He smirks at his understatement. “If you’re ever struggling give me a call, alright?”

“Nothing worth having is easy,” Lynette says in a dry tone, “or so I’ve heard.” There’s a nod as he goes on, though. “I think we all have that worry. There’s a lot of eyes on your organization right now. Doesn’t hurt to have your eyes on it, too.” That much is serious, but a crooked smile comes to her face a moment later when she adds, “And if they need reminding that there are people around that would be unhappy with them, I can always swing by and pick you up for lunch. My reputation should be able to come in handy somewhere.”

Lynette huffs out a chuckle, “Tell them that.” She would like to just be a person, though. So she nods, “Alright. I’ll send you some times, you tell me which works for you. I’m too invested, too. Obviously.” Even if she doesn’t tend to talk very much in these groups. But there’s always next time. “It is different. I can’t say I’m glad it is, but it helps in its way.” There’s a glance down to her coffee, but it’s brief. “Of course. And you call me when you need to. Anytime.”

A grin follows. “Pick me up for lunch anyways,” Brad replies with a smirk. “I always need lunch. And so do you.” He winks at the mention of her reputation and stifles a laugh. “Totally reasonable,” he offers in turn.

“I always do, Lynette. Even if I shouldn’t. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but I need to stay on top of it. Just hard,” Russo observes. “But I guess that’s part of what makes it worthwhile. It’s hard to do, but I lost myself to it once before. Never again, right? Never again.”

His grin gets a more wry expression from Lynette, but his words bring out a chuckle. “I suppose that’s true. Alright, then expect me around noon. I’m sure to be awake by then. I did find a charming little bistro,” mom-and-pop, like so many things around here, “might as well give it a try.”

Lynette folds her arms on the counter, her head tilting some when he goes on. “Never again,” she repeats with a firm nod. “We’ve gotten this far, after all. Be a shame to start over again. It’s a lot easier, you know, with a friend.” Her smile’s a little warmer there. Because she means him, of course.

Brad smirks following that and lifts his mug into the air in a cheers motion. It’s not liquor, but it is his new toasting substance of choice: go coffee. He takes a long drink and nods, “One freakin’ day at a time.”

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