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Chapter 7

I entered the house, and my first move was to take off my heels and put on my comfortable slippers. I was tempted to try the brown candy I had just bought but then thought I would not sleep at night because of the caffeine.

I took off my clothes and put on my tracksuit for more comfort. I cleaned the living room with the vacuum cleaner, emptied the ashtray, and wiped the table with a wet cloth. I poured some juice into a large glass and sat on the couch when I finished.

I remembered how nice a time I had at lunch break Today and smiled. I took a deep swallow of my juice and lit a cigarette.

There has been another day in my life as beautiful as this day.

And when I say beautiful, I mean that feeling that makes every cell of your body pulsate with joy and bliss at the same time. You don’t step on the ground but make you feel like flying.

That day was when I learned that I had been accepted to university.

My joy had reached the heavens. I had succeeded! For what I had been struggling for years, I had finally accomplished.

I called Portia to console her for not being able to get accepted to any university.

Portia sounded sad, and I, to cheer her up, suggested she wanted to go out with me to a bar, and she said yes.

We got dressed, got ready, and left. As soon as we entered, Portia went straight to the bar to catch the last two seats.

We sat down and ordered our drinks. I got a strawberry margarita, and Portia had an orange soda vodka. After a while, I noticed her staring at the bartender. He was indeed a very handsome man. Around 25 years old. The shirt he was wearing was sticking to his body. It was white, and its fabric was thin. Anybody could see his abs underneath.

I had forgotten my gaze on him, and the man had approached me and bent over in my ear and said to me:

“Do you see something you like?”

I was so ashamed that I had wished the earth to open up and swallow me, but nothing had happened.

I turned my head in another direction without answering him. What could I say?

I couldn’t think of anything clever to oppose his words.

Portia came and snatched me by the hand. “What did he tell you?” she demanded to know.

I told her, and it seemed Portia’s look was full of jealousy, and her eyes were glowing with malevolence, but I had assumed that it was from the bad lighting.

Portia couldn’t take her eyes off that guy as the hours passed through the night. But that guy was not looking at her because he gave all his attention to me.

I had caught him looking at me several times, making me feel uncomfortable. At some point, I saw him saying something in Portia’s ear. After that, Portia looked at me wide-eyed.

For an instant, she looked at me with an untraceable look and then turned her head to the other side.

After a while, I saw her holding a new drink, a bloody mary.

I went near to her and told her: “Don’t drink a second drink. At least take the same as before, don’t mix them. You are going to get drunk.”

“Do not worry about me. Nothing will happen. Leave me alone.” She told her angrily and spilled the drink on my favorite dress.

“Tia!!” I screamed.

“Oops, sorry, it was by mistake.” Said to me, and I believed her.

“Come on, let’s go,” Portia said and pulled me to the exit.

On the way back, I asked her what that guy had told her in-ear, and Portia replied that she didn’t even remember. I didn’t insist, and I forgot about it.

A week later, Portia had announced to me crazy with joy that she and Andrews – that was the bartender’s name- were in a relationship.

In the following days, the three of us went out for coffee. Andrews was looking at me hostilely, which made me feel unwanted in the company.

The next minute he and Portia started kissing and touching each other with passion.

I was ashamed of their shamelessness and turned my head away from seeing them.

“Are they serious? Why did they invite me?” I wondered.

There was something incomprehensible in all this. While Andrews was kissing Portia, he was giving an intent look at me. I had then believed that he wanted to make me feel so uncomfortable that he would make me leave. But I didn’t go. I stayed and behaved normally. Sometimes, he looked at me angrily, but I thought that was happening because he didn’t manage to make me leave.

Two days later, Portia came crying to me because Andrews had dumped her…

I put out my cigarette, and I went to take a bath. When I finished, I put on her pajamas and returned to the living room to watch a movie on TV. At 11:30, the film was over, and I went to sleep.

I was sleeping when a message on my cell phone woke me up. I grasped it from the bedside table and checked the time. 24:00. Midnight,

“Who remembered me so late at night?” I wondered.

I opened the message. The number was unknown to me.

The message was saying: ‘What are you doing?’

“Are they kidding me? What could I do for such an hour?” I thought. “Anyway, I will answer, and I will see.”

I answered: “I am out grazing the sheep.”

I waited for a little while, and the answer came: “That is funny. Are you going to milk it too? I mean, if you are okay.”

I wrote immediately: “I understood what you meant. Why do you care? Do I know you? I think that maybe you have the wrong number.”

I sent it. At least if it is a mistake, they will let me sleep at last.

The answer came almost immediately: ‘I don’t think that I made a mistake, Marianne.’

“Does a stranger know me?” I felt shillings all over my body.

I wrote: ‘WHO IN HELL ARE YOU?’

My breath was coming out sharply, and my heart was pounding like crazy. Is it possible for someone crazy to start harassing and watching me? That would be terrifying.

An answer came: ‘I wouldn’t say hell, but more like an angel. You saw me, and I saw you…’ How was the coffee Today at the cafeteria?

My eyes opened wide: “ERIC??” I wrote that name on the message and sent it.

“Is it possible to be him? But how else would he know about the cafeteria?

But where did he find my phone?” I thought, agitated.

The answer came: ‘Yes, it is me.’

I replied: ‘Where did you find my phone number?’

He answered: ‘Today you went to the supermarket. Didn’t you make a bonus card?’

That’s right! The bonus card! But how come I hadn’t thought about it? Did everyone have the right to enter the computer and get whatever information they wanted? Wasn’t that personal information supposed to be top secret? My throat felt dry. I got up and went to the kitchen. I filled a glass with water and stood in front of the large window of my living room. The darkness outside was tar. Only the lights stood out in absolute black. What should I write to him? What did he want from me? I had no intention of asking him yet. I wanted to see how far he would go. I finished with the water and left the glass on a bookshelf next to me.

So I wrote to him: ‘Well, these are not secret information? Are you allowed to do that?

What will people say?’

He answered: ‘Which people?’

I wrote: ‘The supermarket owners, of course.’

His answer: ‘I am the owner of the supermarket. Well, not only me but my mother too.’

What? The owner? I didn’t see that coming. I believed, until now, that he was only working there!! And now, what could I tell him? It must be something that doesn’t show me to be stupid. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything.

A message came. It was from him: ‘I want us to talk.’

I lost a heartbeat, but then I remembered Rebecca.

‘About what?’ I replied.

‘About us.’ He answered.

What can you and I talk about? And Rebecca?

I wrote to him: ‘Will Rebecca be with us when we are talking about us?’

The answer came almost immediately: ‘There is no Rebecca.’

There was no Rebecca? But I had heard her clearly say to him, ‘my love.’

A message came to me again. ‘Let’s talk now. I am out of the supermarket. I have just closed it. Come.’

“Oh, my God. He wants us to meet now. Shall I go?”

You must be crazy if you don’t go. The same little voice spoke in my head, and I agreed.

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