The Story of the Infuriating Clock
As he stepped in front of the full-length mirror beside a rack of cream-colored tuxedos, fingers absent-mindedly fiddling the cuffs of his clean-white dress shirt, he wondered idly how on earth did he get there. It was less likely a dream; he could remember waking up in a huff—the infuriating drone of his alarm clock, the bright stream of sunlight escaping through his open blinds. He remembered throwing the alarm under his bed and everything was quiet for a while before the stupid thing kicked off again—he hated that clock. Then, he remembered burying his head under the pillows, groaning and cussing the morning away.
He hated mornings. Usually, he would hit the pillows not earlier than five o'clock because of his chronic insomnia and he'd wake up the same morning not later than twelve noon. He scheduled his classes late in the afternoon and his timetable fit his odd lifestyle well. It did, until a few months ago when that damned alarm clock landed on his bedside table.
The clock was a gift. "Mr. Lucas Torres, if you don't want a bad fight, keep it," she had warned when she handed him the package wrapped carefully with brown paper. It was childish, almost stupid, and he still cursed her for it. But he didn't want a fight so he took the gift, stashed it under his closet for months and pretended it wasn't there until she found out. Sometime later, there he was, struggling every morning to heave his ass off the bed at a ridiculously early hour.
He sighed audibly and cross-examined his reflection on the mirror. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Lauren. She was a few feet away, chatting animatedly with the couturier, a great friend of hers. It was an hour past noon and had things been different, he would be whining under the showers, considering if he should cancel his lectures for the day.
What am I doing here?
One of the employees came to assist him and handed him his coat. His suit was carefully chosen among a collection of semi-metallic-colored tuxedos. Lauren had picked it out and insisted he should try it on because the color gave accent to his eyes. Well, in fact, it did. He ran his fingers through his wild hair and suddenly, she was right next to him.
"See, told you it fits you well." He gave her a curt smile before tucking a stray lock of curly hair behind her ear. "I have the perfect match for that."
She held up a pinstriped, cobalt blue cravat and fixed it around his neck. Her fingers toyed and drew patterns on his broad shoulders and for a moment, they were looking at each other with such affection his stomach was churning wildly, just like a high school boy on his first date. The silence was precious but Lucas broke the spell and planted a soft kiss on her lips.
"You're beautiful," he spoke quietly and she dismissed it with a gentle slap on his arm. She faced the mirror and examined their reflections together.
"You know," she began while pressing her small body to his chest. "Seeing you in that suit, it makes me fall in love with you again."
He chuckled, a light one, and leaned in to bury his nose on the curtain of her hair. He smelled vanilla and champagne.
When he pulled away, he glanced at the couturier and said, "I'll take the suit."
They met at the university during Lauren's undergraduate degree in Social Science. He was a History professor there and Lauren was his student for one semester. He taught minor courses in the afternoon for no less than three hours and attended night classes for his MA. He was twenty-one and she was barely an adult so he never gave her a second thought. She was just a kid. A year later, Lauren was out of his class list and he tried to forget about her.
He did not. Later, they met again.
It was a month before he finished his MA; she was a junior then and a year later, she's out of college. They met at the library; she was researching for her thesis and he was there for quick nap in his favorite study carrel on one corner of the library.
He saw her there, a tall stack of books on his table, a notepad with legible handwriting on one side and her laptop on the other. He cleared his throat to catch her attention-once, maybe twice-and she looked up from her study.
"Yes?" she asked nonchalantly. She didn't recognize him quickly. He smiled, tight-lipped, his dimples showing.
"That's my table," he said, claiming a step closer.
"It's occupied." She rolled her eyes and went back to work, muttering something that resembled the word 'privacy' and 'stupidity.' He bit back saying he was a professor, "Give your respect, you damned arrogant brat!"
He tried not to take advantage of his position. He pulled up a chair from the nearby table and sat across her. "Then, I guess you won't mind sharing since there's more space available."
It was rather unpleasant, but it was surely the beginning of something better.
Sometime later, they got back together at a local frat party he was a member of. She was brought there by a mutual friend—Darius, his best friend in college—and they were properly introduced. She remembered him as that smartass at the library and he remembered her as that brat in the library and his bright student in Social Science 1. Ah, she vaguely recalled, so that's why you look familiar. He gave her a 2 and curse him she never got in the cut for the college scholarship she was aiming hard for. He apologized albeit in a slightly sympathetic tone.
She got drunk at the bar and Darius left them together so he was forced to take her home. His place was a small, studio-type apartment with a large couch, which also served as his bed. He had a small television, an oven, a cooler, a ceiling fan and books. Books were strewn everywhere—some were stacked carefully together. Some, which seemed to have been arranged as one other stack, covered almost the entire floor. Apparently, he was pulling out a copy of a Charles Dickens at the bottom when the rest of the pile landed on the floor.
He could afford a bigger flat and a nicer landlord but he needed a lot of money to save so eventually, he could afford mortgage. His friends would guffaw at his silliness and would say mortgage was for married men but he would shrug them off and say, "What the hell, I'm not getting married. I just want a house."
Lucas unbolted the door, tried to avoid the mess on the floor and left her on the divan. She was snoring when he was picking up and restacking the books in one corner of his room. He pulled out a blanket from his closet and wrapped it around her shoulders. He slept shivering on the tiled floor.
The next morning, she woke up, her head buzzing—she was trying her best to ignore it. Sunlight streamed through the windows and she groaned audibly. Her head hurt.
She was about to get up when she encountered something warm and soft and the half-uttered curse rolled off her tongue before she realized it was him and she was still fully-clothed.
"You're going to give me a heart attack," she told him grudgingly while leaning back to relax her head on the backrest of the sofa. It weighed a hundred pounds.
"That wasn't very nice," he said while handing her an aspirin and a glass of lukewarm water. He sat right next to her.
"Yeah, sorry about that," she ran her fingers through her hair apologetically. After a moment of silence, she stood up and stretched her arms above her head. It was time to say good bye. Lucas led her out after she took a quick shower. Despite so, her clothes from last night's party still stink of booze and some other nasty smell. She apologized once more and he said repeatedly it was fine. When they were out of the door, she leaned in and placed a soft kiss on his lips. He froze on his doorstep.
"Thanks," she whispered softly. "Thanks for being such a gentleman. You didn't take advantage of me."
And that was the beginning of something much better. They dated for a few months until he confessed he wanted to take things more seriously. She said no because they were too young and she was not ready; he understood. At that time, he finished his MA and she was just about to complete the remaining units for her degree. She graduated with honors months later and he stayed behind to teach full-time. He asked if it was time, she said yes, it was.
Four years later, her apartment was packed with small balloons and peonies and lilies and he was there, in the middle of all the fuss, on his knees and proposing to Lauren's roommate.
"Where the hell is Lauren?" Lucas hissed, shaking Karen roughly who doubled over in a fit of laughter. "You ruined the moment, dammit."
And then, Lauren appeared on the doorway chuckling, her boyfriend trying to kill her roommate and Lucas shook his head in frustration. Lauren led him out of the door and they ate dinner at a fast food chain nearby. The small balloons and peonies and lilies left behind, he said, "Let's get married," as the busboy served their orders and eyed him with distaste.
She smiled and said yes. Now, here they were.
He changed into a clean pair of pants and a white V-neck as he sat on the couch and sipped pink champagne. Lauren was inside a dressing room, trying on a random dress he picked from the rack beside him. Suddenly, he was anxious.
Are we really getting married?
It felt really strange. It felt like prom. He rested on the sofa and drained his flute to calm his nerves.
The door on Lauren's cubicle unbolted and she emerged slowly from the dress room. And then, his heart skipped a beat and raced double-time. It really felt like high school prom. When she made her way to him, he felt enchanted. Only when she touched his cheek affectionately did he got his wits back and stood up. "You're beautiful."
"Yeah but . . . " Her smile was wary. "Are you sure about this?" She was talking about the dress. "I mean, I know how conservative you are and how fond you are with history and all but this kind of makes me look like I came from seventeenth century Spain. Too extravagant, too old-fashioned. And inappropriate for the temperature." The shop was fully air-conditioned but she was sweating.
"But it's beautiful," he argued. "Besides," he took a step closer. "I don't want to share."
She sighed audibly and said, "It's not about sharing." Lauren flicked his nose with her finger. "I'm already yours, remember?"
He looked down at her eyes and saw it. Lucas smiled, "Yeah, you brat."
She smiled back, pulled away from him and turned away to look for another dress. "Will you just help me pick one out?"
Lucas put the flute on the table and went to work.
Nothing else mattered, he thought ruefully, I have a beautiful bride and wow, I'm getting married. His heart was on his mouth as he watched her walk down the aisle with her dad beside her.
"Darius, I can't calm down," he whispered to his best man who stood right next to him. His hand was shaking and Darius laughed quietly. He reached over to pat him on the shoulder.
"Relax, she's not going to eat you whole. Oh, here they are."
Lucas closed his eyes and muttered a little prayer. When he opened them again, Lauren's father reached over to give him a fierce hug.
"You take care of my daughter, Lucas." His voice shook and he tried to fight back tears.
"Yes, dad." Lucas almost wanted to bawl.
And then, he was holding her hand. Lauren didn't even look like she was close to tears.
"How did we end up here?"
Lauren chuckled but did not answer his question. He did a double-take. "Is it fate?"
"No." Lauren shook her head and looked up at the cross suspended on the wall in front of them. "Look, at His outstretched arms. He's welcoming us home. God brought us home and together."
"So, He wants us to get married?"
Her smile was contagious. "Yeah. He's sort of giving me to you. Aren't you glad?"
Lucas stopped momentarily, looked up, smiled and winked at the statue above. If they were brought home and together by Him, he was not about to protest. He could fix that bloody clock and if it meant more alarms and ruined mornings, it was fine. He's waking up with her by his side anyway. That was more than enough.
Consideration/s: Originally posted on Wattpad 24 July 2011.