I avoid Esme for the next few days.
I feel so damn frustrated by and disappointed in her. Seriously, I don't know what goes on in her head. After everything that… fucktard has done to her, he has the nerve to come crawling back on his knees to her. And she just had to welcome him back with open arms.
They are both so bagging the third and fourth places on my list of fucked-up people.
The first one being me, of course. And the second being Hitler.
It's almost midnight and I'm sitting in the café again, just gazing at nothing and drowning in the workings of my thoughts and ponderings with a fountain pen in hand and a notebook in front of me. The place isn't so empty tonight. Sometimes there are people on road trips and such and have stopped by our small town for a pit stop. Sometimes there are people who have just come back from work or are on their way to work. And sometimes, like me, there are people there just to be awake and bask in the night. I like thinking about people and their reasons for being here, their stories and what led them here, whether it is mundane or extraordinary.
Sometimes I take a person, observe them, and just… pretend. I write a story about them. It may be accurate, and it may be complete and utter hokum. It would probably freak them out if they knew I did it, but hell, I need to get my inspiration from somewhere, right?
"Al," I greet him with a small smile, surprised. Sliding into the seat in front of me, he grins back with a coffee in his hand. "What are you doing here?"
"I just came back from a movie with a couple of mates and thought I'd visit you here." He shrugs. "I'm not completely ignorant of what you get up to, you know. Plus, I haven't spent a lot of time with my baby sister recently." I cringe at the endearment.
"Shouldn't you be getting home?" I say shortly, annoyed.
"No, mother," he says, giving me a pointed look. There are a few beats of silence before he goes, "She misses you, you know." His voice is soft and wistful, and it makes me feel despicable and incorrigible. But I'm still adamant. "She just wants to talk to you."
"I should have known you'd encourage her with this foolishness," I say hotly. "Old Sethie is your best friend, after all."
"Open your eyes, Vida!" Al exhales sharply through his nose in frustration. "Can't you see that how happy she is? How happy they both are?" I open my mouth to retort, but he cuts me off. "Oh yeah, you've been too busy immaturely avoiding everyone like a coward!"
I screw my mouth shut, twisting it into an ugly shape. I look away from my brother. If I say something, I fear I may start crying.
Al stays silent. I don't realise he's gotten up from his seat until he slides into the chair next to me and puts an arm around my shoulders, wiping at the involuntary tears that are trailing down my cheeks.
"I'm sorry, baby sister," Al murmurs, pressing his lips onto my forehead and pulling me into a hug. "Your big brother can be such a mean person sometimes." No, he can't. He's never a mean person. He never shouts at me, never scolds me. Whenever I'm being stupid he just laughs at me and helps me get things right like the amazing big brother he is.
I guess I'm just being exceptionally stupid this time.
"You should give Seth a chance, you know," Al says, smiling fondly. "Esme has."
"I know that, but—"
"Esme's a big girl," Al says dryly. "You should really learn how to let her fight her own battles sometimes."
And with that, he gives me one last quick hug and heads off home, leaving me pondering his words.
"Vida, can I speak to you?"
Those are the six words that I am met with once I get home at eight o'clock in the morning. I don't realise that I've been gone for about seven hours until the sun rose when I started walking home.
"Esme," I begin, "I'm really, really fatigued and I need—"
"This won't take long," she says softly, something vague showing in her eyes. I don't ask what she's doing up so early; I don't have to. Esme has always been an early bird, unlike me. The night owl.
"You're very different from her, you know."
I push Seth's words away harshly to the corners of my mind as I sigh and fling myself down onto the sofa while she elegantly perches on it, crossing her ankles and entwining her fingers on her lap – always the lady.
"I think you're an idiot," I say shortly. She flinches a little, but her face quickly goes back to being impassive. Seth and Esme have that in common, I guess – their natural instinct is to hide everything beneath a smooth exterior. "What in the sam hill were you thinking?" As hard as I try not to raise my voice too loud, it still goes up a couple of decibels.
"You don't know what happened, so don't you judge me," Esme snaps. This time, it's me who recoils. She's not the only one to imply that I'm rashly judgemental.
"Fine," I say flatly. "Explain. Just forgive me if I'm confused, because the last time I checked, the guy fucking ripped your heart out." I spit the last words out with venom that I didn't know my voice is capable of having. Esme sighs heavily through her nose, looking as if she's trying to prevent herself from wringing my neck.
I have that effect on people sometimes.
"Do you know why he broke up with me, Vee?" Esme says with a tinge of wistfulness in her voice.
"Because he's an arsehole," I say flatly. Shooting me a look, she continues.
"He broke up with me because he was having… troubles. He didn't want me to get too close, because he knew that I'd end up being hurt." She says the words so coolly and calmly that you'd think she's remarking on something as mundane as the weather.
"Wha—" I blink, once. Twice. Thrice. "And you believed him?" I exclaim in disbelief.
"Of course I did," Esme retorts, her face a mask of iciness. "He's solved his problems, everything's okay now. We can be together again." A pure and genuine smile crosses her face for a moment, before returning to its seriousness. "I can't tell you the whole story, Vida, that's for Seth to do."
"But—" I argue, but she cuts me off.
"Vida, I know you've never been in love," Esme says firmly, taking my hand and grasping it tightly, "but when you are, you'd be willing to forgive anything that that person has done just because you can't bear to be without them. Because it would break your heart not to do so."
We both stay silent for a few moments, letting the words hang into the air. I bite my lip, looking at my sister. Her eyes are so sad, pleading for me to just give her and him a chance, to just listen. Shame eats away at my soul, corrupting it and haunting my mind. I guess I am imprudent sometimes, so caught up and resolved in what I think that I don't listen to anything else.
I hate that. And right now, I hate myself. Just a bit.
"Even if it's already broken?" I finally say quietly. She nods, and a small smile tugs at her lips when she sees that I am finally coming around. "I may not have ever been in love, Esme, but I do love. I love Papa and Al and you." I give her a hug before standing up. "And I understand what you mean."
I really do. I've felt similar things, and I've gone through similar things with my family that Esme has gone through with Seth. Hell, I've even written about those things, about love and heartbreak and forgiveness. But I'm still not sure what Esme's getting herself into.
I'm still not sure whether I can trust Seth with her heart.
My opinion changes when I wake up one evening and come down to find Seth and Esme snuggled up on the couch together, Pirates of the Caribbean DVDs sprawled out on the coffee table in front of them. They're not really watching when I find them; they're having a tickle fight. They are laughing loudly and exuberantly, without a care in the world for anything else but the fact that they're together.
Esme surrenders, out of breath – no doubt their sides are aching from all that laughing. They both sit up, grinning like madmen, and turn their attentions back to the television.
I've only been standing there for a few seconds, and suddenly I just see a whole new side to not just Seth, but my sister, too.
They haven't taken notice of me yet, standing in the doorway in my pyjamas, so I just carry on observing them. Seth keeps stealing glances at Esme, as if he thinks that it's all just a dream and she can disappear from his arms at any moment. As if he can't believe that she's even in his arms in the first place.
My heart soars, just a bit, and I can't stop a small smile creeping onto my face.
I finally see.
I make a move to leave, trying not to disturb them, but instead my toe collides with the doorframe and I let out a stream of curses, hopping.
"Madre de Dios—" I shriek, and catch myself as the couple turn to stare at me. I put my foot on the ground, firmly ignoring the pain, and grin at them. "Oh, don't mind me; you two lovebirds just carry on." I give them a small wave, beaming, and then scurry off before they get the chance to reply.
"Buenos tardes, Pa!" I chirp, finding him standing in front of a mirror in his room, trying to tie a tie. He's all dressed up fancy, donning a pristine, freshly ironed shirt, and a dark navy jacket as well as his nicest pair of trousers. Plopping myself down in an empty chair, I smirk when I realise he's going on a date with Rose.
Ah, love is truly in the air tonight. I wouldn't be surprised if a girl came knocking on the door and saying, "Hi, nice to meet you, I'm Al's other half."
"Hola, cosita," Papa says absent-mindedly, looking quite frustrated with the tie. "Are you going out today?" It's become a bit of a habit for him, asking me that question. I shake my head.
"No, I think I'll stay home tonight," I tell him. He smiles, knowing that I'm in a good mood and feel like writing until my fingers bleed. "Hey, Papa?"
"When do we actually get to meet Rose?" I ask, smiling impishly. "You know, for our approval and stuff."
"Vida, I don't need approval on who to date from my own children," Papa says wryly. He's given up on the tie, throwing it on the bed with a small sigh. "I should think it's the other way around."
"Yes, but Pa," I say seriously, giving him a solemn look, "as your children, we need to know if she's good for you and if she can… handle us all." I resist the urge to chuckle evilly.
"You mean, if she can handle you." My dad grins. I sniff disdainfully.
"I resent that." Walking over to Papa, I smooth some wrinkles in his shirt and unbutton a couple of buttons at the top. "Don't mess this up, Pa, okay? It makes us happy to see you happy."
"I'll try not to, mija." Papa smiles, the corner of his eyes crinkling, and presses his lips to my forehead. I feel odd, watching my family find love and I suddenly feel the urge to start crying. I wonder if this is how a mother feels, watching her children grow up and fall in love and find happiness.
Just then, my stomach exclaims in a thick Scottish accent, Dammit, lass, I'm starving over here! Stop standing there like a bloody lamppost and go get some grub!
…Well, not really. All it does is rumble. But you kind of get the idea.
"I feel like having some buttered toast," I say cheerily, and I leave Pa's room with a spring in my step.
A/N: Please don't hate me for updating so late.. *shuffles awkwardly in the corner* I've had bloody mock exams and stuff, and I had quite a lot of trouble writing this chapter; most of the time I just sat there, not quite knowing what to write, so I'm not quite sure how this turned out. It's more of a filler chapter, really - things will hopefully pick up in the next chapter! Tell me what you think of it! Thank you so much for your patience and bearing with me, because this time of the year's always the busiest and stuff. I love you guys for reading, and I'll love you even more if you review! :D