TWO YEARS LATER
"And this is my room!" I exclaim opening the door for Jacob to see. Today is my first day back at home, unless you count last night, when we arrived. But we dozed off the moment we got in the door. Or at least I did. He glances around the room for a few seconds, before I yank him to the next door. "And this is the bathroom. We'll be sharing it for the summer, so you can't hog up the shower like at Grandma's," I say at lighting speed.
I don't think Jacob's tour of Grandma's was as fun as this. But that's only natural. I'm just more fun than he is. I smile at my thought, making sure to keep it in my head. I try to pull him to the next door, the baby's room, but this time he didn't budge.
"C'mon! C'mon! C'mon! I gotta show ya the rest of the house! Move it! Move it! Move it!" I order, pulling his arm, but he resists.
"Can it wait a sec, Goo? I need to whiz."
"Ugh!" I groan in annoyance, but I release my grip anyway. "Well, hurry it up! I still gotta show you, like, fifty more rooms. Then you gotta unpack. Then we need to go to the store. Then we have to-"
"Yes, I get it," he cuts me off. It's pretty much of habit of his to cut me off before I can get too deep into what ever it is I'm talking about at the time. It's really rude. "This'll only take a moment," he huffs before closing the door behind him.
I laugh as I wave farewell to Bloo and the gang. I jump off the porch, beginning my walk home. However, I'm so energized that I literally hit the ground running. I haven't really hanged out at Foster's for a while. I've been so busy with college that I forgot how fun it is at Foster's. My run turns into a full fledge sprint. The summer sun welcomes me.
On the sidewalk on the opposite side of the road, I spot Tzu sitting on the handle bars of a bike as a familiar looking Asian boy pedals. It's the guy that lives with her. What was his name again? I slow my pace and I wave anyway. She manages to wave back before zipping past. The boy pedals faster. I can hear her shriek with laughter as I continue to run in the opposite direction.
When I get to my apartment building, I keep running. My run eventually turns into a light jog. I feel out of breath, but I keep moving until I get to her apartment. I walk in, exhausted. She smiles at my appearance, pausing her conversation to greet me with a hug and a light kiss on the head.
"Yeah, okay. That's enough," Terrence grumbles. Kari laughs. Rolling her eyes, she makes her way back to him. "So then what happens," Terrence asks, picking back up their conversation. I make my way to the kitchen, where a meal is awaiting me.
"He commits suicide."
I stuff a fork full of lasagna in my mouth.
"…Well, that's stupid. I thought this was one of those girly, romance novels. Who ever heard about a guy offing himself in a chick book?"
"Oh, what do you know? You don't even read books!"
I smile as I continue to eat. Terrence had moved in with Kari a few months ago. We were sitting at the dinning table when he announced it. Mom, who had been so happy to have a chance to get to know Kari over dinner, sat dumbfounded.
"Terrence," I barely heard Kari whisper to him, "You could have waited until after dinner to tell them."
Of course, nothing topped his announcement of going to college. "Community college," Kari had corrected him. "Maybe a trade school. So he can get a better job."
Mom wore a huge grin as tears threaten to stream down her face.
I continue to eat my lasagna as I watch them playfully bicker. Watching them makes me feel bad for doubting their relationship. Though, a part of me still does doubt its longevity. Sure, Terrence has taken a turn for the better. But he's still Terrence. Last week we sat in silence together, the TV pretty much on mute. He kept flipping the small, black box in his hand open (swoosh) and closed (snap). He must had done it a billion times.
Swoosh! Ask her.
Snap! Don't ask her.
Swoosh! Snap! Swoosh! Snap!
It annoyed me, but I'd rather him be indecisive, than to ask me. Cause then I'd have to tell him a truth he didn't want to hear as much I didn't want to say it: He's still not good enough for her. Besides, he's never even told her he loves her. At least not straight out.
"Hey Mac, what are you thinking about?" Kari asks, breaking me out of my thoughts. I smile, telling her I wasn't thinking about anything.
Kari's apartment consists of two bedrooms, a bathroom, a den/dining room area, and a relatively small kitchen. I technically still live with Mom, but I find myself sleeping in the extra bedroom at Kari's more often than not. If Foster's is my home away home, then Kari's apartment is a close second.
However, all three places lack the true feeling of home. I'm not sure why that is, exactly. Laying here in bed tonight, I look around the practically barren room.
"Shit," Terrence's voice, a strange mix of a hiss and a gasp, carries into my room through the thin walls. Then, everything fell back into the silence I've grown accustom to when sleeping over. It's always quiet around these parts during the night.
For a moment, I assume Terrence must have just bumped into something while fumbling in the dark. Then came the soft, rhythmic squeaking. I close my eyes, pretending not to know what that sound implies. There's no way that they'd…The undeniable sound of skin slapping together claws its way into my ears, and my stomach knots up. I cover my ears. The sound of meeting skin…wet and echoing…it sounds so disgusting, even though I vaguely remember liking the sound when it was coming from brown skin heatedly meeting mine. But right now, it's making my stomach churn. That sound stops after a couple of seconds thankfully, but the squeaking persists.
"I love you," a soft, feminine voice coos. Kari. She mewls it out like a mantra: I love you. I-I love you. I love you. And with each declaration of love that she sputters out, the squeaking becomes quicker, louder. He's thrusting harder…maybe that's how he tells her he loves her.
I shake my head. I'm too in tune to their relationship. I don't really want to know what's going on in there. I press my hands to my ears a little harder when the slams of the headboard meeting the wall joins in on my torture. They probably think they're being quiet. This had to be the first time I hated the silent nights of Kari's apartment building. They usually give me a nice thinking/sleeping atmosphere. Right now, the silence only service to help me hear way too much.
I curse myself for not bothering to have more than a toothbrush and a change of clothes here. If I had my ipod, or even the iphone I got last Christmas, I could easily drown it out with music.
The wet sound of skin meeting resurfaces, and a nasty mental image came to my head. I block it out, jumping out of bed. The back of my throat burns, leaving a nasty taste in my mouth, when I push down a little bit of vomit. I faintly remember Kari's DS being in here. I distracted myself in the search, found it, and proceeded to play it in the highest volume setting.
It's an old Gameboy game, but I didn't mind. Sitting on the floor, I play it for a while as I pretend to be oblivious to my brother's current activities.
Terrence's loud outburst shocks me, causing me to jump. The DS falls and slides under the bed, muting the music. …Is it over?
Squeak. Gasp. Squeak. Squeak. Silence…
Okay, now it's over. I crawl under the bed as much as I could, in search of the DS. After finding it, I give it a once-over to make sure the fall didn't damage it.
I open my eyes, and stare up at the ceiling. The dream I just had…So strange. Everything was black and white. No gray. No in-between. Black and White.I stood alone in the grass when the wind blew past me and up towards the sky. A black bird was flying in the air and, somehow, I knew that bird was me. As a bird, I flew through the dark sky. My body then convulsed, and I began to fall. Faster and faster, I hurdled to the ground. As I fell, my bird self disappeared. I became red. Liquid. Blood pummels into the ground, dispersing into white vapor…
I glance over to the window. It's still dark out. I don't remember when I went to sleep, but I couldn't have been sleeping long. The dull music of the DS reach my ears. I find it on the other side of the bed, and turn it off. With a soft sigh, I close my eyes and try to fall back asleep.
The next day, I crawl out of bed. Terrence is sitting in his boxers on the den's sofa, watching TV. The volume is so low I can barely tell it's on, so I assume he's watching some soap opera. "Where's Kari?" I ask him.
"Library…She gotta write a paper or somethin'."
I roll my eyes at him. "Shouldn't you be there too?"
He shrugs, and I wonder just how seriously he's taking his new summer classes. "How's the job hunt going?" I ask as I head into the kitchen. I open the fridge, and frown when I didn't see a plate wrapped up. Kari didn't cook breakfast this morning. I go over to the cabinet, and smile. They still have Pop-Tarts.
"Got an interview later," he says distractedly, a tinge of annoyance in his voice. I'm about to question his attitude when I remember he's watching his soaps, and I must be distracting him.
But he really needs to focus on getting another job. He still works at Julio's with Kari, but he needs the extra money. I don't know the whole story, but apparently Terrence beat some guy to a pulp in front of Club Infinity. The guy placed a lawsuit on Terrence, and even though they settled it out of court almost two years ago, Terrence still owes the guy a pretty penny. With that, along with paying his share of the rent, groceries, and gas for the van…Well, he should be doing more than just sitting around in his underwear.
The toaster dings, and I get my Pop-Tarts. I run my hands through my hair as I wait for my breakfast to cool.
I sat on the bench in the pharmacy dept. of the store. I came here out of shear boredom. Terrence left for his interview, and Mom is at work. I didn't want to sit alone in an apartment, but I wasn't up for Foster's( I didn't get much sleep and didn't want to be a downer to the gang). So I came here.
I like to people watch. It's a hobby I formed when I had to be alone.
A ring of laughter fills the air, and I watch as a toddler, a blur of pink and purple, runs down the aisle. The little girl is followed by a young man. His hair, pulled lightly in a ponytail, reaches his lower back, and flows behind him like a whip. He's one of those guys with long hair that still manages to look like a man. When my hair passes shoulder length, I tend to look a little feminine. Needless to say, I keep it trimmed.
She releases a high pitched squeal when he catches her, knocking me out of my thoughts. Her giddiness is short lived. The guy squats down and places her on her feet, before he starts talking to her with a hard look on his face. No doubt he's scolding her for running off. As they stood there, I stare at the little girl. One small, caramel skinned hand is in the larger, tan skinned male's hand. Her other hand coyly tugs on one of her dark brown pigtails. She rocks herself back and forth on her heels, swaying her purple and pink dress. She's undeniably cute, and I couldn't take my eyes off her. Every time I see a child that appears to be of mixed origin, I tend to stare…It's always then that it resurfaces that I have a kid somewhere that probably looks something like this. I then usually think about Goo, and how I haven't been able to contact her in what feels like forever... But this is different. That little girl's face. Lips in a pout, looking like she's one the verge of tears. There's something so familiar about it. More than familiar, actually.
I shake it off. I'm being ridiculous. The guy picks her up, and she's smiling and laughing again. I turn my attention to a redhead that kind of looks like the younger Frankie, if Frankie had tattoos and a lip piercing. She's looking over some of the nonprescription drugs. I try to concentrate on her, but I'm drawn to the little girl's laughter. It takes me a second to relocate her. The little girl is now standing in front of a chocolate skinned woman who's bending over, hands on her knees, as she speaks to the toddler.
I feel like a weirdo as I walk towards them. I plan to walk casually by them, but I still felt weird as I take steps closer to them. Maybe it's because I'm only doing this to get another look at the kid. There's something about her face I just need to place. But this excuse doesn't make me feel any less weird.
"…okay, Moiré? I mean, as fun as running is, you can't just do it in a department store. Well, you can't do it in any store, really," I hear the woman say, before she stands up. "Unless it's a running store, but I don't think those exist. And if they do, then what do they sell? I think-"
"She gets it already. Can we just finish shopping?" the tan skinned guy says, interrupting the woman who's voice sounds so familiar. Too familiar. But it couldn't be…
She turns, and her eyes widen. Her once long hair is now cut short, framing her face. It made her look more mature. And her chest and hips seem larger than I remember. But I have no doubt. It's her. It's really her.
We stare at each other in shock. This isn't how I pictured us reuniting. Not even close. But, damn it all if I'm not stunned in joy.
She's the first to snap out of shock and takes a step towards me, but stops and looks back at the tan skinned boy. It's then I notice that they're holding hands. I feel like someone just stabbed my heart. She whispers something to him, and he reluctantly releases her hand. He glares at me as he picks up the little girl and walks into the next aisle.
We watch them leave, and when his hair swings out of sight, she turns back to me.
"Mac!" I cry out, jumping into his arms. He quickly envelops me into an embrace. God, I love him. He tightens his hold, and I squeeze him back encouragingly. I've missed him so much. I'm at a lost for words. I…I…Wait a minute…I'm mad at him.
I push out of the embrace, and quickly wipe away the few tears that had spilled out. I cross my arms, and scowl at him. The jerk.
What's wrong? What's wrong! How about when I finally get my hands on a cell phone, you don't answer. Never answered! And do you know how hard it was to hind a cell phone from my Granny? I don't think you do! The woman can smell them. Sniff them out! I think she's part badger or dog or something. Do you know what that means. I'm a quarter badger-dog! It's freaking impossible! And you know what else? You stopped returning my e-mails. No, worse! You changed your e-mail. You know how heart breaking it is to send an e-mail of our newborn baby's picture, only to have that demon mail thingy tell me I sent it to a nonexistent account? Your account! I had to write you letters like some cavewoman! Only to realize that I didn't remember your stupid address! I couldn't even recall your home phone number! I had no way to communicate with you! You know nothing! Nothing! I felt so ignored! So blocked off! So alone! So…Abandon!
"Is it…is it cause of that guy?"
That guy? What guy? …Oh right, Jacob. He doesn't know Jacob. …But what does Jake have to do with anything? Wait. Darn it, I did it again. I'm not speaking my words.
"Speak to me, Goo."
I realize I've been standing here fuming, but none of my words had come out. He must thinks something's wrong. Well, technically, there is something wrong. I mean, things certainly aren't candy-dandy around here.
Oh yeah, I need to talk.
"Mac, I…You…I'm mad at you! Yeah, and…and…"I can't seem to get my words out. And I feel so silly right now that I'm losing the fire and will to keep up my anger. He's looking at me with such concern…He looks so worried, and a little bit sad too. He looks so cute.
I punch his arm, and he looks at me like I'm crazy.
"You ignored me," I'm finally able to say.
"What? No. No, I didn't. I just… I got a new e-mail address, and I've tried e-mailing you…but you never replied," he says, coming closer to me. He lifts his hand, as if to caress my face, but hesitates. He looks me in the eye, his own eyes filled with pain and remorse. He's searching my eyes for an answer. An answer to what exactly, I'm not sure. But he must have found it, for he places his hand on my cheek. My anger is getting harder to hold on to.
"I gave up on e-mails. I haven't check them in forever," I tell him, my voice cracking. "I mean, I thought you didn't care about me anymore. So I didn't see the point in-"
"Didn't care?" he says, somewhat loud and dumbfounded. I try to look away, but he uses his hand so that I'm forced to look him in the eye. "Goo, that's…That's…I was fucking wreck without you. There was this giant hole ripped in my chest. I could barely do anything, I was so numb! If anything, I care too much." I watch as his eyes glaze over as tears threaten to fall."I didn't mean to hurt you. I would never... I wasn't really thinking when I… I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry," he continues, sputtering out words as if he's unsure of what he really wants to say. "You weren't answering your e-mails, and I couldn't help but feel... But it's been so long… I've missed you so much." He then pulls me into a hug. I didn't hug him back. Not that I didn't want too, but…I don't know. I mean, I really, really, really want nothing more than to hug and love on him. It's all I ever wanted to do since I had to leave, but…There's so much he doesn't know. He has no idea the pain I went through. No idea…
"Do you still love me?"
He whispers the question, his voice shaky in fear and impending tears. My heart breaks for him. What a stupid question. How could he even doubt? How could I have ever doubted…He loves me. My anger melts away, and I quickly throw my arms around him. He tightens his grip, and I hear him sigh in relief. He pulls back slightly to look at me, a small smile on his face. I smile back. He then looks around, realizing our surroundings. We must be a real spectacle, with all these emotions in the middle of a store. I didn't really care though. I snuggle into him, resting my head on his chest.
"This is your apartment? I mean, like it. But it looks kind of pricey and-"
"It's not mine. It's Terrence's…Well, his and his girlfriend's."
I look at him in disbelief. Terrence. With his own apartment? Terrence. With a girlfriend? Terrence?
He laughs lightly, as if he just read my mind."Yeah, I know. It's weird," he says as he gestures for me to take a seat on the sofa. He asks if I'm thirsty, and I tell him no. However, a little fruit punch wouldn't be bad right about now. But I want face time with Mac more than beverages. I mean, I can drink later.
He sits down next to me, quickly taking my face in his hands. His thumbs gently circles my cheeks as he gaze into my eyes. A light breath of a laugh escapes his lips."I can't believe you're here. I was beginning to think I'd never see you again."
I smile at him.
"You're so different now," he continues, one of his hands leaving my face to run through my hair. I blush. He has a look of pure fascination as he continues to run his fingers through my hair.
"Do you not like it? I mean, I didn't really want to cut it. But someone gave her scissors, and she chopped a lot off. Who gives a two year old scissors is beyond me. But, anyway, I couldn't just walk around with my hair all uneven, at least that's what Granny says. I mean, I could have. I kind of liked it. But, I mean, I plan to grow it back and-"
"You're still you," he interrupts my babbling, a pinch of laughter in his voice. "I like it, by the way," he adds. "Makes you look your age."
"Twenty-one? What, did my long hair make me look twelve?"
"No, but no one could tell our age difference after I skipped a grade and had my growth spurt."
"Puh-lease. You still look like a little baby. I mean, how old are you? Nineteen? I've been a woman for, like, ever. You're just barely legal," I tease. He laughs it off, and the room becomes silent.
I told Jake to go back home with Moiré. I'll properly introduce everyone later, for I needed to be alone with Mac for a while.
We need to talk.
"Mac, I…" my voice dies in my throat. I don't think I can tell him. I mean, it was pretty horrible. He's staring at me intently, and I know I need to same something. "Why didn't you answer my e-mails?" I ask. It wasn't close to what I wanted to say, but it is something that needs further discussion. So, lets roll with it.
He sighs, scooting closer to me. He takes my hand in his, and just stares at our entwined fingers. He looks like he's thinking. Contemplating's more like it. It's as if he isn't sure if he wants to tell me.
"I've never mentioned it in our e-mails, cause I didn't want you to worry. But…Like I said earlier, I was a wreck when you left." He then let out a sad laugh. More like a scoff, really. "Honestly, I was more than that. I was really withdrawn and depressed. It doesn't even make since how badly I missed you. I swear, they could have put me on suicide watch.
"There were times that I couldn't even think your name without having some kind of an episode. I didn't know what to do with myself. I felt insane." He says this almost jokingly, but it lacks any humor. His voice is dark, sad, distant. It scares me imagining him so far gone in depression. …All because of me.
"And then, there was Tzu," he adds a few seconds later.
"Zoo?" I ask, a bit confused. I mean, what in the world does a zoo fit into all this? He catches my confusion and smiles.
Zoo Nakashima…Nope, never heard of it.
"She's the little Asian girl from school. You may not remember her."
"Oh," I say, feeling a little stupid. "Well, what happened?"
He's silent for a moment, needing to collect his thoughts. Or maybe he's just hesitating. If it's hesitation, then I'm a little worried.
"She…She became my friend. When I was around her…I didn't feel so depressed.
"But I kind of treated her badly. I wasn't cruel to her or anything. I just…I just didn't treat her as well as I should have, if that makes sense. I mean, for a while I was angry with her for no real reason. Well, after thinking about it, I think it was because she reminded me of you. She isn't really like you in anyway, but she has your smile. A heart warming smile. It drove me nuts. "And I wouldn't listen to her when she talked. And…I guess it's not as bad as I make it out to be. I don't know. I still kind of feel bad about it."
He's silent again, but I know there's more. There had to be more."What happened?"
He didn't answer right away. In fact, he stays silent, looking off at the wall. I tighten my hold on his hand, and he looks back at me.
"She wanted to be more than friends…She kissed me and-"
"It was nothing. Barely even a peck," he adds, trying to cool me down. "I told her I had a girlfriend, and that was that."
There was a tinge of sadness in voice when he says this. I frown. Did he want to be with her? I mean, if he's just staying with me out of some code of honor, then forget it. I want to pull my hand from his, but it felt too right holding his hand to pull away.
He shakes his head, and I realized my assumption is wrong. His thumb glides over my knuckles."We weren't friends anymore. Just this neutral thing that didn't feel the same. And I just needed to break away. It may not make sense but… I needed to be utterly and completely alone. After some time of solitude, I spent a lot a nights at Foster's and I started feeling like myself again. Kind of.
"I've changed too. Being without you…It did something to me. And even now that you're back, I don't think I'll ever be completely like I was before. …Honestly," he now whispers, "I'm a little afraid that you won't like the new me."
I stare at him. Is he serious? I mean, I know he's being serious, but…Really?
I laugh, pulling him to me. I'm the one with the new hair do. I'm the one with 'birthing hips', as Granny called them. I'm the one that can no longer tell if they're speaking out loud or not. I'm the who has changed. I'm the one that should be worried.
"Of course I like you. I mean, if you still like me."
He rolls his eyes. "You're such a child."
I stick out my tongue, and we laugh a little. I sigh, relaxing myself into him.
"Jacob bought me a new cell phone," I say, somewhat randomly. We've been laying in silence for a while now. "I called your cell but you never answered. So when you stopped answering your e-mail, I thought you were doing it on purpose."
He shakes his head, his hand lazily rubbing my back. He lifts his head up slightly to kiss my forehead, before laying back down."It's nice…knowing someone loves you," I tell him.
I take a deep breath. Everything feels so right. I can feel his love for me radiating off his skin. I want to drown myself in it. I sigh. I have to tell him. "I need to tell you something."
My stomach knots up at the words. The last time she said those words to me, it was before she left for two years, almost three years in total. This couldn't be good. I can tell by the way she said it.
"It's about that Jacob guy, isn't it?" My mind flashes back to an hour ago, when they were holding hands. He had looked at me as if he wanted to gut me like a fish. I got a feeling that something happened between them. Something similar to what happened between Tzu and I. I close my eyes, preparing for the worst.
Her snickering tickles me, and I open my eyes as she esculates to full out laughter.
"Don't be silly. Me and Jacob are practically related. I mean, he's technically my uncle. But the chances of me calling him my uncle, is slim to none. And besides, you'd think I would-" I place a finger on her lips, and she stills. I smile at her, and she smiles back, causing my grin to grow. I feel warm inside.
"The little girl…That was our child, right?" I ask and she nods. The child's laughter is still ringing in my head. "She's beautiful."
"Yeah, she is." she coos, sounding a bit sleepy. "Don't worry, she's gonna love you. I've told her all about you."
My smile broadens at her words.
"What's her name?"
"Moiré?" I question, the word sounding familiar. I think back to my French classes in high school. It takes a moment before it clicks. "Silk? You named her fabric?"
"What? I wanted to give her an original M name."
"You could have given her my name."
"Little Baby Mac? No offense, but I don't think so."
"You could have made it girly."
"I did. I mean, technically her name is Mackenzi. What I mean is, that's the name on her birth certificate and stuff. But I really liked Moiré as a name too, so that's what I call her. Just be glad I didn't give her some Japanese name you'd never be able to pronounce. I'm mean, her name was very close to being-"
I chuckle, cutting her off, and go back to playing in her hair. I have to admit, I do miss the length. But that isn't really something I'm too concern about. I start messaging her scalp. She hums in appreciation, relaxing completely into me now. "I love you," I whisper as she begins to doze off. When I'm certain she's in a deep enough sleep, I ease myself up and carry her into my room. I lay on my bed, kissing her cheek and then her forehead. She looks like a sleeping angel. My angel. I ease her shoes off her feet before placing a light sheet over her. I climb in bed with her, and watch her sleep. I can't seem to lose my grin. I feel…whole.