A rainy morning 4 years in the making
A short story by Suzanne Helen James
For Creative Writing 12
...It was a rainy morning. A rainy monday morning. It was now 5 am. Of course, the time had been passing by, but I knew I couldn't stop now. Nope, I wasn't allowed to stop myself here.
If that were to happen, I don't think i could've ever forgiven myself. After all, I only had a few lines left in the manuscript. It wasn't going to be that hard. I was going non-stop for the past 5 hours since about last night. Again, my procrastination had gotten the best of me and here I was, typing and slaving away at a computer when in normal circumstances, I should've been asleep. Recuperating on my loss of energy. But instead, I was far from sleepy. I was half-asleep, with the dim lit of my lamp above me. My cigarette was by my beside, ashes on the bed covers, and the butt itself still waiting to be smoked and sucked on. My bed of course, was quite messy and I hadn't really moved from it since 11pm. Or probably less.
Or at least, that's what I would've thought, if the phone hadn't rang. Now, usually when I'm like this and the phone does ring, the natural thing to do would be to leave the ringing be and let the message go to my voicemail. That's what I wanted. But then, I only heard one ring and it wasn't constant. So, for some reason, I looked away from my laptop screen and looked towards my living room, illuminated with the flickering lampost I forgot to turn off. My gaze was fixed on the nondescript sight, the ringing buzzing in my ears. With a blink, I rise from my bed and widen my bedroom door to get a full view on my living room. The empty room was a bit cluttered with bits and pieces of cans and clothes here and there. The couch though, was occupied; I think it was someone I might've recognized. I frowned a little and scratched my head. I should really start to clean up sometime soon. Hearing the ringing again brought my attention back to the phone. I picked up the receiver and then dialed 9. Without another thought, I then unlocked my door and walked out the hallway. Thank goodness that no one was awake in the morning to see a skinny black girl with red frizzy hair up in the air, weary, old red-framed glasses and in an even older spaghetti-strap tank and short shorts looking like she had just gotten run over.
Though you might as well say I had, because that's what I felt like. Insomnia destroys you like that.
Ignoring the thought of the elevator, I take the stairs until I finally reach the main floor. Note that I was also barefoot. And even though the janitor made sure that no debris, grime, dust or anything remotely disgusting strayed on his floors, I knew that his work would all be in vain. Feeling my face contract from a frown to a more agressive scowl, I groan and bide my time, trying to ignore the squishing sounds I feel under my delicate feet. This also reminded me that I was in serious need of a pedicure in the very near future. Muttering to myself at my lack of hygiene, I reach the door and push the handle open when I see her face.
And then, my world freezes.
She was drenched. Freezing, most likely. Her brown eyes reflected the color of bleak, black mud. Her hair was plastered to her face and her neck with wetness. And crap, oh crap, she just looked like she was going to die. Or rather, she looked like she had just attempted to die and royally failed. As our eyes met, my face wasn't so menacing anymore. Infact, my expression softened when i saw her. It was either pity or just pure shock. I looked at that familiar face, who apparently I couldn't bare to forget even though God knows I tried. I looked at her wrinkled blue coat, and then I just closed my eyes. Now I would have to remember this, too. Swallowing my saliva, I extend a hand towards her and she grabs it frantically. Throwing caution to the wind, I then wrapped my arms around her. I feel her cold, panting, shivering and I think I felt her crying.
Well, at least this shook up my morning. Realizing that it had been a while since we hugged out here in the freezing rain, I sighed and finally seperate from her. Without saying or doing much else, I held her hand as we walked back inside. In the elevator, I had the intention of letting go of her hand, but she doesn't at all. Infact, she holds onto my arm as in clinging onto it for dear life.
Blinking at this unorthodox behaviour, I still don't say anything. And of course, neither does she. By the time we reach my floor, I realize that I still hadn't exactly said anything to her. But then, it's not like she said anything to me. It was just like that with us. We were the kind of people who were very talkative yet very private and quiet all at once.
Although, with each other in question, it's more complicated than that.
Scrounging my key from my small pocket, i unlocked it and with a strong swing of my taken arm and my free one, I throw her inside the apartment. Slamming the door shut, I leaned against it, gawking at the grinning girl on the floor. Now this was the time to actually examine the situation. Though it was a situation that I was not so happy with. Even though it did seem that I did, with the hugging in the rain and all. As for her, she was now on the floor, legs crossed and gawking around the messy apartment. Usually at this time, something rude and random should've come out of her mouth.
At least it would've 4 years ago. But that was then. This is now. Things can happen in a little bit.
"Jennifer Sekiguchi," I then say, the words rolling out of my mouth. When the name comes up, I usually get a bit...mean. When was the last time I had uttered that name in such...confusion? In such curiosity? And maybe, anguish...? Jennifer looks up at me with those eyes of her and smiles defeatedly. It's like she wanted to say, "Yes, yes, i know. It's me. The one and only Jennifer Sekiguchi. I never really treated you like a friend very much, yet I still wanted to have you in my life. If I'm reaching out to you now, it's likely that I'm actually breaking down inside."
...Or something of that vague description.
"You want anything?" I then asked, scratching my head. Still smiling faintly, she nodded and raised her hand at me. I pull her up and running a hand through a wet mop of jet black hair, I scoff and ruffle her hair. Giggling, she then took off her coat and handed it to me while I pointed to the couch and the person lying on it. "Don't use that; someone's probably recuperating." "...Wow, Lilsters. You sure can party hardy." This was coming from the girl who once "studied hard and partied hard." All in good stride, I guess. Lilsters was her odd nickname for me. I never really considered giving her one, but once in a while that name would pop up and I would just shrug. Who was I to care what was in her head? All I was suppose to want was her health and her well-being.
"Well, I am in legal age to do so. No supervision, no limits but my own."
Not adding much else to the conversation, I return to the living room, with two glasses of freshly-squeezed Orange juice. At this time of morning, alcohol is far from the solution. Especially you needed to calm down...from whatever it is that needs calming. Using the free and clean-looking couch, I then place the glasses on the glass table. I also take full account that she's still sopping wet and she'll catch even more of a cold if left in such damp conditions. Noticing that too, the smirking Jennifer rose to her feet and placed a hand on her hip. "Where's the fabled bedroom?" She taunts. "I'd like to actually see what it looks like." Rolling my eyes, I point behind her and she runs off towards it, taking off bits and pieces of her wet clothes along the way. As for me, I just snorted, looking away and slurped my OJ. It was quite juicy and fruity.
Thank you, Minute maid.
While I heard the clutter in my room getting worse, I took a short glance at the lingering clothes Jennifer left behind on her way to the bedroom; said clothes including jeans, a blue shirt and...a pair of thin, pink panties. I narrowed my eyes at the last article and scoffed. Whatever. Just don't get my clothes too wet.
Coming out of my bedroom with a blanket, and wearing a dry, warm sweater and some grey tights (of course, these were all MY clothes), Jennifer then returned to my side, bouncing on my couch. Still smiling, she then draped the blanket on us. Yes, she was as giddy as ever. It was amazing how vunerable she had been only but probably 20 minutes ago. But then...I looked again. Under that sparkle in her eyes, there was something deeper there. With that bubbly, energetic voice, there was something deeper. I knew better than to fall for her happy trick. Again, note the emphasis on how she came to be at my doorstep; drenched, beaten down (emotionally) and weak. So for her to make a comeback was just amplifying the signal that she was just desperate for comforting and healing...and all that mumbo jumbo that in this case, actually seems to make sense.
So I might as well do my job and do it well.
"Cut the act, Jennifer. You came to me drenched, crying and hurt. Obviously something must've happened back home. I haven't seen you in 4 years and this isn't exactly a way to say hello."
Eyes widening as I stabbed through her, she blinked and then flopped her head on the other side of the couch. Dead and center, but hey, she asked for it. I get a hug and female bonding time, I'd also like a full-on explanation for why she's back. Especially when I shouldn't want her back at all. A few minutes of silence reigns between us, but this time it's different.
I can actually tell that there will be a positive outcome out of this conversation.
Sighing, the Jennifer I remember from outside finally lets her guard down. She sighs and frowns before saying anything else. Snuggling under my blanket, she lays her head down on the armrest and closes her eyes.
"Well, if you wanna know where exactly to start from...first off, I came out to them. And that gave them reason to practically disown me...yet they didn't."
By them, she obviously meant the parents. I'm surprised she even kept contact with them at all. (My impression was that she wanted to fly away from the coop the minute she came out cooing and crying from the womb.) I nodded and gulped another mouthfull of Orange juice. "...I'm guessing they didn't take it too well." Naturally, no normal Christian parents wouldn't take anything this kind of daughter would say well, but now wasn't the time to dwell on that. You're supposed to be listening to her. She nodded and ran her head through her hair. I suddenly had an urge to do that again.
Meanwhile, the somber Jennifer continued on with her story.
"...At school, I fell for this girl. It was actually love at first sight. We were pretty tight...But then, I was kinda scared where she wanted to introduce to the parents after a while."
"...Uh huh. So? What does it matter? You love her, you meet the parents, end of discussion. Not so hard."
Then again, I hadn't gone through that process myself in a little bit; my love life had dried up the last year or so. While I had matured after high school (and after Jennifer), I had moved on. I had actually managed to get onwards with my love life. After a while, I had actually created one. I had loved. I had dated. I had gotten intimate. Repeatedly. Sometimes, I think I might've even overdone it. I just...never kept them in my life for long enough than months. I guess you could blame my budding writing career. And I suppose my growing lack of empathy for others. But...Jennifer was a different story once upon a time. It's weird how things end up.
"...But then, I was thinking about my own parents."
"And what, you freaked out?"
Another silence as I again pierced her psyche. Goodness, it really was interesting to see how these things happen. I had once been in her position, and she had once been in mine. With the roles reversed, I kept saying to myself that this was one heck of a monday morning. A rainy one, but a monday morning nonetheless. Sighing, I then relax on the couch as well. All I was to do now was listen. After all, the few times we actually interacted without any negative repercussions was when either was down in the dumps, our friends were away and of course, our parents couldn't REALLY understand what exactly was going on. So that's when I suppose would be the last resort when she called me.
And now, it was exactly that moment again. Except with a different atmosphere, a different time and a different place.
"...Yeah," she said, I freaked out big time. So...for the last year, I kinda dropped University altogether for now..."
"...And you've been out on your ass for the last little bit. Well, how's that feel, then?"
"...So then, why involve me into this? It seems to be more of a learning curve for you than anything."
Her face then turned sour and confused as she reflected on my answers. She must've thought that since I was once the hopeless dreamer, I was suppose to tell her things to cheer her up. Well, that wasn't exactly the case anymore. Looking back on that, what I was doing 20 minutes ago was just acting out of age old impulses. Then again, 4 years wasn't that far of a stretch. Back in the present, Jennifer stayed silent. On my side on the couch, I sighed and shuffled my feet to the left to accomodate her a little. Accepting the invitation, she takes in the small space and I feel cool toes on my thighs. We had never really been this...I guess the word would've been close, but intimate seems to be more like it.
...Again, she and I are a complicated subject.
"...Well," I then said, "...If you wanna bunk here, I suppose you're welcome to do so as long as you want. Just do your workload and we'll be fine." By that time, Jennifer had fallen asleep. Muttering to myself, I sighed and grumbled, putting my hands behind my head. If I moved away now, it would disturb her sleep and that just wouldn't be nice. Not to mention, she's not a heavy sleeper at first sight. And of course, my manuscript was still in the laptop...in my room. It wasn't wireless and it was running on MY power. Said power coming from a plug. Said power also giving itself to the many, other larger appliances in my small, dirty, dusty, dingy and cramped apartment. Interesting how one little phone call ended up disrupting my entire morning and just aggravated my life.
Well, that was just more electricity for my bill. Oh, how nice indeed. Do note the frequent use of sarcasm here.
After that interesting morning, Jennifer had "officially" moved into my apartment. It was oddly convenient that my actual roomate had decided to move out the afternoon following Jennifer's sudden arrival. It was also eerie how everything seemed so calm, so...peaceful. So alright. It was like Jennifer had never popped into my life on a dreary Monday morning for no known reason. She was always there. When we talked, Jennifer was now the bubbly, excited, lively human being, always asking questions about my current life. I was her polar opposite; grumpy, sarcastic and always on my guard. And the funny thing was...4 years ago, Jennifer had once been in my position and I had once been in hers. People in my life came and went, but now Jennifer was part of that life. It was so strange how she easily slipped in and out of my apartment and her presence felt...good. It wasn't alarming, it was out of context, it was just...good. Warm. Amicable.
Again, note that she and I are people. And people do change. Even switch personalities if they want to.
From that rainy Monday onward, the rest of the week went on like this. The actual subject of why she was here, in my apartment, trying to be the perfect roomate and trying to suck up to me, was never really brought up again. After all, despite our friendly demeanors towards each other was also something of a defense mechanism. Especially for Jennifer, who I knew better, but hadn't really said much. Even 4 years after you hadn't seen each other, you could still grow back into some habits.
It was on a Saturday afternoon. We had grown into the habit of sleeping in the afternoon and waking in the evening. However, this was an exception. I was the first one to awaken and by that time, Jennifer would still be in a deep sleep. Delicately moving my feet away from hers, I then rise to my feet on tip-toe. Before returning to my room, I then look back at her face. Her eyes closed, she looked different. Then it occured to me that I've never seen Jennifer sleep. Ever. Though that was normal, we never invited each other over for sleepovers.
Though if we had sleepovers together, there wouldn't be a point to gawk at the sleeping face of another human being. Though...there would be reason to watch her face. Thinking back on it, I did exactly that. Dark eyes locked on her face as her chest breathing up and down. Her fingers trembling are she look of peacefulness she had on her face.
...Damn it all.
It was then that I knew what the small things in a person was. Cursing my weakness, I shut my eyes and moved away from the slumbering Jennifer. This was just another passing fancy. Though it had already happened once, no need for it to happen again. The consequences had gotten their toll on me and the aftermath had tortured me enough. Shaking my head, I returned to my room to finish those last darned pages of that manuscript I promised.
...An hour later, an awoken Jennfier stumbles into my room, though I ignore her. By ignore, I meant don't look at her yet reply at her "Hello!" with another "Hello." "So, what are ya doing?" she asks, flopping down on the floor next to me. Not even getting a glance at her, I keep my focus. "Short story column," I said in a monotone manner. "Gotta finish it as quickly as possible."
"...Can I help?"
"...Sorry, but I don't see how your help would be beneficial at this point. Besides, I'm almost done this part. Just a few pages more to go."
"...I see. You're pretty set on focusing on your career, huh?"
"Yep. Writing is the goal for me."
"...You were always so deadset on things. Chased it through the end."
This conversation was again interesting because Jennifer was trying to drive it and I was most likely diverting away from it. Either way, I was still focused on the computer screen and not so much the distracting Jennifer. Glancing at the clock on the lower left corner of the screen, I tried to boost her morale. And give her a chance for conversation.
It was like I wanted to say, "Oh don't worry! You could talk to me...just don't expect to gain my full attention. I'm not like I was before, so you're going to have to try harder."
Again, this reversal of roles was something fascinating for me.
The Jen nickname wasn't something I used personally, but when I had used it, she seemed a lot happier...so I might as well, right?
"...Tell me more about your coming here. You seem to be in a more talkative mood, so you can explain more. But again, feel free to live and bed here, just as long as you do your own workload." Nodding as she understood, Jennifer then smirked and shrugged. "Well...the girl in question had been really cute. And really supportive, too. She was really adamant on me meeting her parents...and all that. Wanted us to take the next step."
"...Of course, of course. So then...what happened?"
"...As you know I bailed out!" She then laughed.
"And why was that?" I said neutrally, eyes glaring at the laptop.
Another silence from Jennifer as she bit her lip. I shrugged, clicking and clacking on. If she really wanted to, then she would tell me things at her own time. That was the way things were. It was a very efficient waiting game. Especially with her, because she was a very impatient girl. Even 4 years down the road, she still had her tantrums. So then, I asked to spice up the conversation...
"Did you and Mikhail Sorovich get back together or something?"
Well, this was certainly a trick question because 4 years ago, Jennifer had taken an interest in the guy. 4 years ago, I had known Jennifer under different circumstances. And 4 years and 6 days later, after a bittersweet transition phase, here she was, drenched, shivering and crying. And in that same day, here we were again, trying to talk to each other without ripping our heads off.
Just like the good old days.
Well now I know that nothing's really changed. 4 years down the road and still some funny stuff. Some unresolved tension. No matter how you slice it, it's still the same shape. I anticipate that this time, the conversation might take a bad turn. But in my silence, I continue on in my real work.
Scoffing lightly, Jennifer elbows the edge of the matress near my knee. "Well...I guess he and I still talk every once in a while. But no, we never did get back together...so he wasn't the reason. Nice try, though." I nod in understanding and continue on. This game wasn't quite over. I had prodded everwhere. But I was almost there.
"...Jennifer...why did you really leave University?"
I knew that THAT question would be a glassbreaker because I knew better. I knew her better by now. I've always known. It was all going to come and bite her in the ass. She just expected it and ran in my direction so she could avoid it. This time, the silence had a different feel.
Oh well. If she didn't like it, she never had to bring it up. She should've stayed away from me...
Or was it my fault for letting her back in?
"...You really wanna know?"
This was fun. I nodded and pressed on.
"...Yeah. I'm curious as to why one person would suddenly disrupt your entire future like that. I mean, come on now...you were in the same situation, yet she most likely continued on her education...and if you really loved her, you would've stayed. You would've stayed and not broken her heart. But...nope. Apparently, you're so screwed up that you ran away from it all; from her, from the parents, from yours...and you came to me. Not your friends. Not your exes. And well, you had no intention of returning to your family. But...you did come to me of all people. Me. And truth be told, we're not much of friends to begin with-"
I would've finished my sentence, continued my ruthless Jennifer-bashing and might've gotten somewhere if I hadn't gotten pummeled into the matress by violent hands suddenly pushing me down on the bed. It was then that I saw them again. Those brown eyes burning through my own vision. She was glaring at me with...Hate? Anger? Confusion? Was she that stunned at these words, these thoughts and these sentences coming back from my bitter mouth? Was she really expecting me to be her emotional bitch from beginning to end? Or did she really want my honest-faced opinion and was going to strangle it out of me?
My eyes widened as I saw the reflection in her contacts. Her fists were gripping the straps of my tank top and burning my shoulders with heat. My heart was speeding as I felt the blood rushing to and from my heart. My glasses flew over my head and landed on the floor as immediately, I felt another weight towering me. Okay, I guess now would be where she was thinking "Enough is enough."
Although in Jennifer's mind, it would end up a little more complicated than that.
"You wanna know WHY I didn't go back?"
Obviously, the answer is yes. And stop with the choking and struggling bit, you're making me fall for it.
"...I didn't go back there...because I was scared..." Yeah, we've gotten to that part more than a few times, "..I was scared that I wouldn't love her enough...and...and...damn it!"
"..And what?" I thought, "I suddenly popped into your mind?"
Well, wasn't this a turn of events. She was afraid of not loving her enough...was this because she was in love with someone else? Had she been in love with someone else all this time? If so...Then why hook up with that girl in the first place? Why ruin all your academic potential for one girl? Why run away from it all and abandon it all at a drop of a hat, for a grumpy, sarcastic struggling writer who just happened to be that girl you always used a last resort? If your friends were away and you needed to shop, she asked me. If the parents were being assholes and disrepecting her private space, she whined to me.
...And in this case, if there was a girl that you've always loved but coudn't bring yourself to tell it to her face until now, well, Jennifer once again asked me. Not just because I was the girl in question.
I had been pretty stupid like that. Stupid to the point of ignoring why she really did what she did. Stupid of ignoring her emails all this time and trying to focus on my career. I thought I would've liked to have a future that wouldn't involve her. But that was pretty stupid too. Because it was Jennifer Sekiguchi we were talking about. The name came into my thoughts rather differently this time.
It wasn't filled with anguish. The curiosity was still there. The confusion was all but gone.
And note that this was before she dove down to kiss me. Or attack me with her mouth. Either way, I wasn't retaliating. Not after all of that talking. This was what I was waiting for, whether I wanted it or not. I wasn't in a position to fight back. Not now.
Initially, Jennifer's kiss itself was voracious and aggressive. It was like I was her last ditch at breathing and she took me in, tongue and all. This kiss seemed to be her last resort. I felt her tongue invade my mouth, hungrily like it had been ages, no centuries, since she'd swapped spit with another human being. Though, it had only been...less than a month if Jennifer's story had any meaning to it. Well, it had been 6 years since this all began, but 4 years since we've actually parted. I gave in after the first few minutes before kissing back, slowly and softly. I was going to take this in for a long little bit; and she was going to take it too. Hands racing towards her face and then planting them on her cheeks, I then took control.
Of course in the six years prior to this, nothing had actually occured. It was all in subtetly, ignorance or ego, though we can't say what was to blame. It was always like that with us.
Either way, this kiss must've been taken forever for her to muster. Who would've figured that it would've taken her until she was 21, a University dropout and she would have to be on her knees to realize that she loved me?
Though it was too quick to jump back into this with the thought that this feeling might be love. I might've been kissing back because I needed some entertainment in my life. It just so happened that she had been the one spark in my life that who would always flicker. Always. Every once in a while. And well, she might've come to me because she needed to escape from parental pressures, find something else to satisfy her and stalk me. It was even worse that I easily complied with her little schemes. I could've played hard to find, but she found me.
...On that rainy monday morning, 4 years later, she found me.
Minutes later, we parted from our first kiss. Yes, our first kiss. Whether there would be another would be decided later. "...Well, Jennifer..." I then managed, finally pulling away from her with a deep sigh, "Is there...something you'd want to tell me?" Then I saw it again, the flicker, the spark. It was hers. And then, she laughed. I hadn't heard a laugh like that in years.
And now what will happen the morning after the rain?
That's left for us to see.