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4. "hard to deal with"

by Yenn Dano 5 months ago in Series
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Section Scarlet's Pulseless Heart

4. "hard to deal with"
Photo by Zetong Li on Unsplash

ONE YEAR AGO: AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER

"Colby, I have a favor to ask," Ryan spoke on the end of the line. I wasn't even sure why I picked up -- I rarely ever did for anyone, but he also rarely ever called, and that fact alone may have been enough to move me to see what he needed. Surely, he wouldn't call without reason, and three seconds in, he let me know that without embarrassment or hesitation. He actually seemed a bit desperate, which was unlike him. For a group of college graduates that couldn't get the jobs we deserved, he had his life together.

I myself don't know if that's a compliment or an insult.

"Well, hello to you too," I answered him under my breath, but I can't say he heard me or not. Assuming he didn't and honestly hoping the same, I covered it up with a new answer.

"Alright. Favor as in?" I cocked my head to the side, confused. He couldn't see my expression, so I didn't do anything to hold it back either. If this was in person, I probably would've tried a little harder to look consoling, but without his eyes on me, I let the confusion sink in while simultaneously gripping tighter to the bag of groceries I had just finished buying. By the look of the cement and how worn down it was, I knew already, I'd find home in five minutes tops.

"I'm back in the states," he began. His uneasiness set in suddenly, which gave him the urge to beat around the bush. His words came out slower and slower.

"And?" I asked. I tried to get it out of him.

"I need a place to stay."

"What?"

"I need a place to stay," he repeated. In comparison to the first time, it was done much more firmly, yet somehow there was a trace of shyness in it. At least the man had some level of decency when it came to living off of someone else whether it were for a day or for a year.

I coughed to cover up my shock, and I used it to stall time until I could figure out how to answer. I don't know what I was expecting him to ask me for, but it most certainly wasn't that. "Do you not have any family or friends you can stay with? You did say you're originally from America right? Not Europe?" I questioned him, pulling out my key from my front pocket to unlock the lobby door of my apartment. I struggled slightly, trying to balance the bag of food, the phone between my ear and shoulder, and the key itself into their proper places, but I got there eventually,

"I don't. We haven't kept in contact since I left for college, and we weren't on good terms. I'm not even sure if my parents live at the same place," he huffed. He sounded disappointed in himself for something he couldn't control. I figured I was truthfully a last resort, and because of that, I didn't want to be the bad guy.

"You still live in Colorado, don't you? 7780 West 38th?" He went on quickly, but paused soon after. I could hear a scrap of paper crumbling in his hand before he found how to finish what he wanted to say. "Apartment 301?"

I could feel my eyebrows furrow, and tightly too. How could he be right?

"Yes?" I told him, but it came out more like a question than a statement. I wondered if I should regret admitting to it. Finding out someone you didn't know very well knew where you lived was never settling. "How do you even know that?"

"We all submitted our addresses and contact information to the university before we were enrolled or whatever."

I held my breath moving it from left to right, as if to gurgle it as I pondered on what he said. "And you can just get a hold of that? It's not confidential?"

I could basically hear him shrug. "Evidently not," he responded.

"What part of Europe are you even from? I don't know anything about you. Barely anything."

"I'm from Germany," he laughed as if I was joking, before going on like nothing. "Anyhow, what do you say? Are you home right now?"

"No, not yet. Sorry. I'm buying groceries, but I'm at check-out. I'll be home in about twenty. I'll talk to you later and I'll see what I can do for you," I lied, my hand hovering over the 'floor three' button in the elevator of my apartment. I felt something was up -- like there was something that he wasn't telling me, and when curiosity crept up on me I didn't do a very good job at fighting it.

I just had to know. I had to.

"Okay, bye," he said cheerfully. "Thank you so much. I owe you."

Finally, when the conversation closed, my finger fell against the button. As I was elevated to the third floor, the door opened with it's same ding as always, but something was different -- something was new. I could still hear his voice down the hall. To avoid a confrontation far too soon, I stood in the center of the door to prevent it from closing.

"We have twenty minutes until we definitely gotta split up if we're going to keep this a secret," he had said, speaking to someone I couldn't see. As of now, I didn't have the courage to peek over the ledge and take a look. I chose the wait-in-hiding tactic, if you can call it that.

"Twenty minutes we should take advantage of," was the reply he received. It sounded almost-seductive, and with as much of context that I had, it was mutual. They saw each other in the same way. Weirdest of all, it was a familiar voice too. Last time I saw him, I saw her -- the owner of the woman's voice.

"Jayvee, please. Let's not push this too far," Ryan chuckled. I swallowed the air I had taken in, and I could feel it stuck in my throat, lodged in like a rock that wouldn't budge. It was an odd feeling that took over me then, because I felt wrong to head down the hallway to my own apartment. The hatred between Nova and Jayvee's eyes back a long time ago was creeping it's way back in, and apparently, there's been a victory. A secret victory, but a victory nonetheless.

And they celebrated that in the way a couple would celebrate -- caressing waists, and lips skimming softly until they couldn't hold back anymore, bringing in the pressure all at once. Good for them, I thought to myself, they look good together. They look happy but in the tingling blur within my blood I couldn't think fully about that. In my head, it was mostly, why must you celebrate up against my door? Yes, genuinely, I was glad they found home in each other's hearts, but preferably not in front of my apartment. Understandable, isn't it?

Then, with my luck, the elevator door shut. I yelled out of the suddenness, but not the pain-- not necessarily loudly, but not quietly either -- and I came tumbling out into my hallway. Maybe tumbling is an exaggeration, yet it felt like I could mean it, and it stung across my arm when I tried not to fall, but I shouldn't complain about that. Their stares on me stung a whole lot more than what a fall could possibly do to you.

They didn't bring up why in the world I was here so early. They didn't even ask if I saw something I wasn't supposed to see. They didn't try to justify for themselves. They just said together a quick and simple, "you better not say anything to anyone," and that was pretty much the end of it.

That is, if I chose for it to be, but I didn't. If it was out of my own embarrassment, or if it was because I thought I deserved to know, I wanted more. "Hold on. Why would you come to me for a place to stay if the two of you were together? Were you expecting that once I agreed to you, I'd agree to her too? I'm not trying to be mean guys, but what exactly is going on here? Shouldn't I know that much?"

"It's nothing like that," Ryan defended. "Her family is conservative, and I'm trying to prove to them that I completely respect that, but we don't have good jobs. We have student loans. I've spent all my money taking random trips to Australia that I didn't even want to be part of. I'm broke dude, and I only have enough money for one hotel room. For her. I was hoping for your help."

"Please understand that it took a lot of effort to get here. As a Philippine citizen, entering America is near to impossible, but I really want to see what it's like here where he's from," Jayvee stood up, but she talked in a kind manner. She wanted to get on my good side, because she knew that if she irritated me I could out her secret easily. "He did that for me. He really figured out how to make it work, and for the short period of time I get to be here, I want it to go well. That's it."

"Okay," I sighed. I wish I could say more than that, but nothing came to mind. As if God himself saw me struggling through that strangeness though, my phone went off, again, from someone who rarely ever called me.

Nova.

I was wrong. It was the Devil who saw me struggling, and he wanted to prolong it.

I debated on answering it a little longer than I did Ryan, but I also answered it for the same reason I did him. Similar to him too, she didn't give me any time for a greeting.

"Are Jayvee and Ryan together? They're in the states? I swear, I saw a post just now that Jayvee was at the airport in Colorado, and now I can't find it anywhere, but I know for certain I'm not going crazy. Hey! Did she block me? For as much hassle they must've went through to get a Filipina into America, they have to be an item. Otherwise, it wouldn't have been worth it. They are there, right? I just know that they are. You didn't see them did you?"

The people she spoke of stood before me, eyes near to popping out of their sockets. They waved frantically as if they heard everything, and in their expression they begged for my silence-- for my denial.

"No. I haven't seen them. I doubt Jayvee is in America. Like you said, it's a hassle, and if she were here I think I'd know," I gave into their pleas, telling Nova my second lie of today, as if the United States was a small country and that I knew everything that went on within it.

She didn't answer. After the fast flurry of words she spilled, she had to catch her breath, but I don't think that was the only reason. Her silence could break every heart nearby in pieces, and I knew that she had to have already known the truth. She knew that what I told to her was absolute fiction, and because of it she couldn't breathe.

I wasn't convincing.

"Okay," she told me in a slight whimper she tried to hold inside.

"Okay, I understand. Thank you, Colby," she said one more time, this tone full of red, boiling anger completely contradictory to her words until she hung up, and probably afterwards as well as far as I know.

Right there, I knew that she really loved him. I just couldn't tell if it was the kind that would back down and let the one they love be happy -- true love -- or if it was the kind that would retaliate if that person wanted to be happy with anybody else besides them -- dark and selfish love.

And we had to live with not knowing which it is.

What I could've never guessed though, at the time I welcomed Ryan into my apartment, was that maybe it would be better if we never knew what that woman was truly capable of.

Maybe it should've always been kept a secret.

A woman victim to erotomania can never be trusted.

Not with love. Not with anything.

Series

About the author

Yenn Dano

writing attempt-er + sitcom enthusiast

that pretty much sums up my entire life

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