I wondered what's going on inside that head of his again. I didn't think he notices how his whole head moves when he's thinking. I could even see him trying to catch ideas like they were bees going circling over his head. He seemed really confused now like none of his thoughts make any sense. I finally caught Sam's gaze. He might have not noticed that I never looked away since he woke up a minute ago. I even saw him wipe droll off his face, even when there wasn't any.
"Really, Sam? Again with the 'Sorry's'?" I whispered. Sam gulped nervous for a second, before sinking back into his seat like he was relieved. He was trying to control his breathing now, trying to slow it down. Why was he suddenly acting like this?
"Hey, are you okay? Be honest." I was concerned. He must be regretting his decision of coming along with me. I mean, what was I thinking, inviting a guy home the first night that I met him? I was more of a gentleman than that. But again, that was just simple solution to our problem. We needed to shower, to wash away the filth, grease and stench from trying to deep dive down into the sewers. I had no other ulterior motive, I swear.
"I'm fine. Are you sure it's alright that I'm going to your place. Won't your parents mind?" He asked, worried. Didn't he know that I was more than happy to help if that meant getting to spend more time with the guy?
"Yeah, I'm not even sure if they're home. Don't worry, we don't have to stay long if you're uncomfortable. We can go after you've taken your shower." I said, trying to assure him that I was only trying to help.
"Oh, alright." He gave in and tried to hide away his concerns. He seemed really tense and I kind of get that. He was trusting a stranger and he didn't exactly know where we're headed. My mother would call me stupid if I did the same thing.
I slid my hand down to his and interlocked our fingers, squeezing tight. I smiled at him, letting him know that I was going to make sure that he was safe with me. Sam smiled back and yawned.
"Why don't you try and sleep again? We still have about an hour or two before we get off." I whispered. For once, he agreed with no rebuttal. That's a good boy. I might just not want to get off this bus after all.
Sam's head was going around and around on his neck as the bus continues on the bumpy road. He kind of looks like he's being exorcised and I couldn't help but laugh before lifting the side of his face to lean it against my shoulder. Even when he's asleep, he's fascinating. We're almost at our stop now, but I wanted to cherish being this close to him until the very last minute.
It's funny how we sat next to each other on a bus last night, just as strangers and here we were again. This time I felt like he's the only person I see. He seemed to be the only one I get to be myself with. How was that? Even when I've only just met him, I've already said more to the guy than I ever could to my ex-boyfriend who I've been with for years.
He was breathing more calmly now. He must be having a good dream. I could see his lips, plump, full and red. I wonder how they would taste? How would they would feel against mine? And then out of nowhere, Sam drooled from the corner of his mouth. I tried to hold back my laughter as I got a handkerchief and wiped the saliva off his face. He's so freaking adorable, even up close.
I was still studying Sam's face closely when his eyes slowly opened. He looked right into my eyes sheepishly, gave me the cutest smile before leaning in and kissing me right in the mouth. It was so much more delicious than I could have ever guessed. I closed my eyes and grabbed a hold of his face, kissing him right back with more fervor and longing. It was electric, like two clouds rubbing against each other causing lightning. I've always wanted to do this ever since the first time the guy kicked me in the balls.
When I pulled away and looked at him though, he had the face of utter shock. He was certainly awake now, but immobilized. The guy looked like he wanted to vanish into thin air. Was I too aggressive? Did I make a mistake? Didn't he kiss me first?
"Sorry. I didn't mean to". He said softly still staring at me, like he couldn't believe what happened. "I thought I was still dreaming". He slowly looked away, hiding a blush.
I tried contain my amusement, but failed. "So you were dreaming of me, huh?" I said teasing. What else were we doing in the dream? I was now a bit jealous of dream-Dan. He must have gotten a bit more action.
There was no need for a reply. I just put my hand back into his and squeezed it tight. We sat in comfortable silence for the rest of the ride.
No one was home. I could immediately sense the absence of life in the household. I recalled if my parents mentioned anything about being out so early in the morning. Maybe they went out for breakfast. They did that once in a while. They have meals outside when they're too lazy to cook on their own. It's sweet though, because they treated dining out as a sort of special romantic date, every time. They rarely took me with them, but I did't mind. I was happy that they still keep the excitement In their relationship after almost 30 years of being married.
"Come in. I don't think anyone's home." I invited Sam to enter our front door. He seemed tentative like he wasn't sure if he should be intruding.
"I'll just take a quick shower and I promise to be out of your hair" He hurried into the house and I closed the door behind him.
Sam was a bit tense, like he was ready to head for the door running any minute now. I could already imagine him doing so in my head. There's no need for that though. My only intention is to help him out and make him feel comfortable.
"There's a bathroom right there. You can go inside. I'll just grab fresh towels and clothes for you". It's weird, but I was also feeling nervous for some reason so I bolted for the stairs to my room. I grabbed a towel and looked through my clothes to see if something will fit the guy. Sam's huge. He must spend a decent amount of time at the gym lifting weights. The shirt I gave him earlier barely even fit him, but it was nice to steal a few glances at his midriff whenever his shirt rose up. Gosh, I hope he didn't notice.
I went downstairs and left the clothes in front of the door before knocking. And then, I headed up again upstairs to shower and changed into cleaner clothes. We were certainly filthy and we may have gone too far with my little idea of going underground into the sewers. But if I got to be with Sam, I might just want to do that again.
I found Sam in our kitchen, raiding for food. There was already pasta, tomatoes, cheese and some herbs in the table. I also saw that water was boiling on the stove. Wow, I guess he felt right at home already.
"What's cookin', good lookin'?" I said, sneaking behind his back. He was startled and almost dropped the container of ground beef. I swear, the guys scares easily. Maybe, I should bring him to a horror house next time. The thought alone made me giggle silently.
"Sorry, I hope you don't mind. I'm just really hungry. So I thought, I might cook something to you know? Say thankful for kinda of saving my butt all night." He said, focused on getting the utensils from the cabinet to the table and prepping the ingredients.
"I don't really know how to cook anything aside from pasta. I hope that's okay with you?" He asked.
"I love pasta. What can I do to help?" I asked, bumping into him intentionally as I grabbed the noodles and set them into the boiling pot.
"Oh okay, you guard the noodles. Keep stirring okay so that they won't stick together." He instructed.
"Yes, chef." I shouted. Sam laughed as he started cutting up garlic and tomatoes and preparing the other ingredients for the sauce.
I was focused on my task, stirring the noodles in the boiling water. Sam put a pan and started up the fire on the stove beside mine. He put oil and sautéed garlic and worked on the spaghetti sauce. This was fun, silently working side by side. Just being next to the guy was refreshing and I couldn't be happier.
"How is it?" I put a forkful of noodles in his mouth. He chewed for a while. "Perfect. You can turn down the flame now." Sam said.
"Tell me what you think about the sauce?" He got a clean spoon and scooped some spaghetti sauce. He blew on it first and I couldn't help but stare. I missed the feel of those lips of his. He reached out for me to come to him and have a taste of the spaghetti sauce. I took it in. Mmmm.
"Delicious." I said.
"Really?" He smiled, proud of himself. I wished I could make him smile all the time.
"I know you're not a macho dancer. At least, not a professional one. So what's your line of work?" Sam asked me. We were done eating and were sipping on some morning green tea.
"Oh, yes. I'm a lawyer. Well, I just passed the BAR. I've been with the firm for almost a year now. I haven't done much aside from desk work." I shared. It's hard, even when law school and passing the BAR were enough of an accomplishment, I still felt like I wasn't done. There was still so much more to learn and experience before I can actually defend someone in court.
"Wow, that's impressive. It must have been a journey to get where you are now. You should be proud." Sam said.
"There is just so much injustice in the world and I want to be someone who could help, to defend innocent people, you know? I just don't think I'm ready. I'm not there yet." I explained.
"I think it will take some time, but you will definitely get there. You're gonna be a hero. You're a smart guy and definitely hard working. Just don't put too much pressure on yourself." He smiled at me and that was enough to put all of my worries about the future to rest. Right now, I'm only interested in him.
"So, tell me. What about you? What exactly is it you do?" I asked Sam. He mentioned last time how he was super passionate about his work, how he finally found his purpose in life and also got to help a lot of people. The guy was oozing with goodness and compassion. I wanted to know where he puts all of that in his everyday life.
"I'm a content writer for a charitable foundation. I don't have money to actually give donations consistently so I just thought of dedicating my time and skills, full time. I write newsletters encouraging other people to donate money to our foundation or volunteer in all of our efforts. There are so many kids who don't get the same privilege we have. They don't get the same opportunities to learn and chase their dreams just because they don't have money. I think that is completely unfair.
"I am not good with people, let alone kids so I mostly do the admin and office work. I try to keep quiet and do my job. I think of it as being back stage as the good people take the lead roles" He explained.
"So you still do talk to people." I said and the mood darkened. He looked at me, questioning if I even heard a word he said before.
"I mean, through your written work. You still connect with people. You reach out to them and put good out in the world. How can you still call yourself a bad person?" I still felt a pang of hurt from what Sam confessed to me last night how he felt that he needed to isolate himself from the world because he only brings misfortune to the people in his life. How could he think that when I've seen and heard nothing but kindness from him? He had a pure genuine heart. I would be the luckiest man alive if I could somehow find my way inside that heart of his.
"You don't understand." He said, shaking his head like he didn't believe anything I said. Why was he suddenly shaky?
"You're a good person, Sam. Don't you see that? You care about people. Don't be scared of letting people in. Have courage and shown them who are." I needed him to see what I've seen. I wanted him to just feel better about himself because he had so many things to be proud of already.
"No." He stood up from the seat now, pushing the chair to the floor. "How would you know who I am? You don't know me, Dan."
I was tired of hearing him say bad things about himself. I wanted him to shut up and just hear me out. I wanted him to feel what I was feeling for him. I stood up from my chair and went after him in a swift motion. I grabbed his shirt and pulled him up. Then, I kissed him. I kissed him to take his pain away. I wanted him to feel how I felt for him: seen, wanted and renewed.
I pulled back and stared him in the eyes. It took a second, but I could see anger settle in. He slapped me right in the face. He grabbed his bag and ran away to the door, out of my house. In a snap of a finger, things just went wrong. What the hell did I just do?
"Wait" I heard from a distance, but I ran as far away from the sound as I could. Tears were blurring my vision and I wiped them away with my arms. How could a kiss feel so painful and healing at the same time? I felt everything. I felt everything from that kiss and it was all just too much. I needed to get away from Dan. He was getting too close. I needed to leave now before things just get worse.
I ran faster until I couldn't feel my legs anymore. I couldn't be here anymore. I wanted to go home, back to my old life. My foot suddenly gave out when it tripped on a fallen tree branch. Everything was suddenly on slow motion, I could see the concrete road getting closer and closer. My head was about to crash into it. I tried to brace for impact but it never came.
Time stopped. When I opened my eyes, I was suspended mid-air. It took a minute for me to notice a hand was pulling at the collar of my shirt. It was Dan. How did he manage to catch up to me?
He pulled me all the way up to my feet.
"You're not blind. You should look where you're going. You could have tripped and cracked your skull open. Your brain would have been splattered all over the street!" He shouted like I was the stupidest person in the world. I possibly was.
"I don't need you okay. So why don't you just leave me alone!" I said. I knew the guy just saved my life, but I couldn't care to face him right now.
"I'm sorry about earlier. I thought you felt the same way." He apologized. He sounded sincere, but deeply hurt. If I could just give in to the feeling and let go of everything that's holding me back, I would jump in and be a part of his life. We could see where this could possibly lead. It's not that easy though.
"That's the problem. I do and I'm an awful person to want that" I said. Dan didn't need me. This guy was still broken-hearted and I will only get in the way of achieving his dreams. He's better off without me and I'm better off alone. He's in pieces right now and I would only crush him into dust.
"Stop saying that. I know what you're doing." He said with a stern voice, warning me. I had to continue. I had to keep going.
"So what you love me now? Way to go, Dan! Are you gonna choose another guy over yourself again? Can't you handle being single even for just a second?" These were harsh words, low blows, but I felt cornered like I had nowhere else to go.
"Why are you saying that? You don't mean that."He was shaking his head like he didn't want to believe what's happening. He's trying to see right through me. I had to put my guards up.
"What? Can you see me, now? Well, here you go this is the real me. Can you take it? Can you handle it?" I said with raw and manic eyes. I never wanted anyone to ever see me like this again, but he poked at a sleeping bear. Now, I was out for blood.
"No." He tried to come close and hug me, but I pushed him away.
"Do you really need another person to feel good about yourself? Come on, man. Grow up!" I shouted at him.
"Grow up? You want me to grow up? You're still stuck on the past." He fought back. "Forgive yourself and move on already. You're not a kid anymore, Sam. Go out and make some fkcing friends." Dan was angry and his each of his words were cutting me in deeps slices.
"So you think you've gotten me figured out. I'm damaged. Do you want to fix me, Dan? Will that make you happy? Anything for you, Dan." I was being super petty now, but I was just tired. I wanted this fight to be over before I collapsed on the floor.
"You're unreal. You're pretending and I can see that, you know? You can't keep doing this forever." He took one last look at me, shook his head and just walked his way back home. Leaving me behind, leaving me alone. Back to normal. I fixed myself up, shook off everything that happened, looked down on the road and walked my way back to ride the bus going home.
When I arrived back at my apartment, I caught one of the neighbors while she was going out for the store.
"Hey, Sam. Didn't you come home last night?" I don't know why she recognized me. "I spent the night at a friend's place" I lied, entering the gate that she opened for me.
"Do you happen to know if the landlords are here already?" I asked her.
"Oh, they're on vacation. I don't think they're coming home this weekend." She informed me.
"Oh, alright. Thank you" I said letting the girl go on her way. I guess, I was still stuck with the same problems that started all of this mess.
Maybe, I'll just sleep on my rug today. I don't even think I have the energy to mind. I was exhausted and just numb. I wanted to shut down already.
I walked up the stairs to my floor and went towards my door . When I looked up, I saw my keys still inside the keyhole of my door. What does this mean? I never kicked my keys into the sewer grate? I just wasn't mindful enough to take my key out of the door when I locked up before leaving for work that afternoon?
My neighbor placed a note beside on the that read. "You forgot your keys in the lock. Don't forget next time, okay? Here's my number in case of emergencies". I guess, my neighbors do know me, huh...
I felt so stupid at that moment. The past night could have been avoided entirely if I just stuck to my normal routine. None of this would have happened if one detail wasn't out of place. If things went exactly as they always had, I would have just gotten inside the gate right away, went straight to my room and forgotten about Dan the next day. I would have simply carried on with the rest of my life, perfectly fine. Right? No, I didn't want to think about it more.
I turned the key on the lock and watched in silence as the door swung open. This was it. I was back home, finally. I entered my room, and closed the door.
Then, my knees gave out and I just dropped to the floor sobbing. Everything hurt so much and I didn't want to keep the pain in any longer. I wanted to let it out, let it all out. I didn't know for how long I was crying for, but I woke up that night with a piercing headache and my life completely blown up.
I always loved playing with bubbles as a child. My mother always told me to play outside. I would blow as many bubbles as I can and then tried to chase after them, popping each one before they floated too high up in the sky for me to reach. If you blew long and slow enough, you can make this giant bubble. It would float for just a few seconds bouncing up and down as it went, then it would pop. It was gone.
I was living in a bubble, floating through life. Every day was the exactly same. I kept myself inside, containing my thoughts, my pain, my hurt and my frustration. No one will know what kind of monster I was if I stayed away from them. I thought I knew the secret to being invisible and that it was better to live my life quietly. Loneliness was something that you can get used to and you didn't really feel time anymore when you felt so numb. I thought I was fine because I was safe this way. If I left my bubble, what will happen? Will I even know where to go? Will I even know what to do? That decision was what made me feel trapped.
I was never stuck though. I was just paralyzed, paralyzed by fear. Dan was right, every word. The only reason I said those words to him was because I was a coward. I retaliate when I'm scared and that's when people are hurt and leave. I feared the unknown, but I'm not scared anymore. I was on a mission, a new mission, something bigger than myself.
I rang their doorbell and looked down on my feet as I waited for someone to answer the door. I did't know if he would be home today. I could just leave this package and be on my way. I also thought that the guy didn't want to see me again.
The door opened and there he was. Dan looked at me with furrowed eyebrows like he clearly wants me to burn where I stand.
"I just came here to give this to you." I reached out the paper bag for him to take. He was still busy staring me down so I grabbed his left hand. I opened it up to take the paper bag.
"I'm really sorry for everything I said to you. I didn't mean them. Or, I'm sorry I hurt you because of the words I said." His eyes softened. And looked down inside the paper bag.
"I am really sorry again for dropping your phone last time. I know that you probably have a new one and this might not be the newest model out there, but I worked hard to pay off the exact same one you had then. I did say that I would replace it" I explained, not taking a breath at all between my words.
"You didn't have to do that. I told you. But, thanks anyways." He smiled and carried the package by his arm, putting it close to his heart. I was not sure if he accepted my peace offering, but it didn't matter. I was only keeping my promise and I didn't expect anything else.
"Alright. That's it. Thank you for your time. And again, I'm sorry." I turned away and headed right to the road again.
"Sam, wait". This time, I stopped and turned around to face him.
"Yes?" He hugged me so tight that it took me by surprise. "I could never get you out of my mind. It drove me crazy."
"How are you?" Dan wiped the tears I didn't even know that I was leaking from my eyes. "You're such a cry baby, you know that?" He teased.
I was laughing. "I'm great, really great. I'm happy" I replied.
"I believe that." Dan said staring me up and down.
"How about you?" I asked him.
"I'm great. I got my first official case." He said, feeling a bit embarrassed and proud at the same time.
"Congratulations! I'm happy for you." I said to him. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that Dan would be a great lawyer. He'll be a hero of the people.
We were like that for a while, just staring at each other smiling for I don't know how long.
The alarms from my phone rang. "Oh that's right. I have to go." I suddenly remembered.
"Where are you going?" He asked
"We have an outreach later on. Just giving away books and toys to little kids." I explained to him. I still had half an hour before our van leaves. I better hurry.
"I'm proud of you, Sam." Dan said and there was a nice warm feeling surging throughout my whole body.
"I'm proud of you too, Dan". I told him.
"Maybe, sometime I could join you, guys?" He suggested, scratching the corner of his head tentatively.
"You definitely should." I said, nodding my head, smiling.
"Can I have your number?" He asked.
"Actually, it's already in your new phone. Under 'HELP A CRAZY PERSON IS ATTACKING ME'" I said jokingly.
"Of course it is" He flashed me the cutest smile.
"See you, Dan." I walked backwards and turned away walking out of their gate.
"See you, Sam". Dan said from behind.
I took one last look at his face, still watching me.
When I got on the road, I scraped my feet against the concrete.
One, two, three, four.
Left, right, left, right.
This was a new journey. I might not know where I'm headed, but I can't wait to see where my feet will take me. I was ready. I breathed in the fresh air and ran towards the open possibilities.
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Disclaimer : This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.