CHAPTER 17: Melody
It felt as if I was stuck in a small place, somewhere suffocating with no place to move. Almost as if something was gripping onto my body tightly, keeping me in place. I struggled to move with my stiff body that was probably covered in sweat but it was of no use.
The warm breath that fluttered against my skin added more to my terrible discomfort as I ached to get up.
“What the…” My eyes opened with pain, back arching as I stirred myself slightly, realizing a head was over my chest and a hand was wrapped in a metal grip around my waist.
“Lily…Beth. Get the fuck off me.” I mumbled in a groggy voice. Beth only sighed in her sleep, rubbing her head on my shoulder. I huffed prying her body off me and leaving only Lily to be dealt with.
Fortunately, Lily blinked open her eyes and when she saw me, a smile tore across her face.
“Now get off me.” I said, and finally when her weight was lifted off me I stretched my cramped.
Of course, they both went back to slumber. My stomach grumbled as I walked down the stairs after I had freshened up, for a moment startled to see a figure in the kitchen.
“Good morning.” Jake greeted me.
“Good morning.” I slurred out, wondering how he looked so tidied up and fresh in the morning while I looked like I was ran over by a truck.
“I thought some PB&J would help.” He pushed a plate in front of me, and I tried not grimace at the sight of peanut butter and jelly sandwich as I hated sweet jelly more than anything. Instead, I actually thought of eating it when I looked at Jake, not waning to make his efforts go to waste.
“You guys slept together again? On that small bed?” He asked and pulled himself a chair to sit across me. I nodded, eating and silently watching him spread peanut butter on a brown bread with the blunt knife.
“I asked them to sleep with me.” I said, recalling how I frightened I felt at night, and then helplessly asked Lily and Beth to sleep in the same room.
“Because I feel scared.” I admitted, biting of a small chunk. He momentarily stopped his hand and looked at me.
“It’s reasonable. At times like this, it’s best to lean on your friends. Isn’t it?” He gave me a smile and weirdly enough I blushed.
“Thanks for letting us stay over.” More than anything, I felt grateful of him. After finding that picture, I snapped. Informing the police was just a huge waste of time as they only interrogated me of having bad blood with people, possible ex- lovers. They assured me that they would monitor my house, suggesting I live somewhere else for a while. I wasn’t that financially well off to live in a hotel, especially considering I don’t have a job at the moment.
Like an angel, Jake appeared with bright lights behind him, blinding me with his grace as he offered his hands to help me. I surely heard God’s approval of this situation, and it ended me with crashing over at his place with Beth.
Lily ended up hearing of this, and decided to stay over as her tenant had kicked her out.
“No problem.” As he put down the knife, I noticed Lily heading down the stairs whilst rubbing her eyes.
“Good morning. Well fuck, afternoon I guess.” She yawned, taking the spot beside me. Her hair was nestled in a bun, strands sticking out like thorns and her face had sleeping lines, an evidence that she slept to her heart’s content last night.
Of course, by using me as a body-pillow.
“I didn’t even brush my teeth. I forgot to bring a toothbrush.” She sunk her teeth into the sandwich, mumbling to herself for a while as she chewed.
“I actually have an extra toothbrush.” I informed her and she whipped her head around as if she hadn’t realized I was here earlier.
“Is it used?” She asked, making me cringe. Why would I offer a used brush to someone?
“No.” I said, and she stared at me with starry eyes. I glanced at Jack whose lips were pinched in a thin line.
“You are drunk.” He pointed at Lily, folding his arms in front of him. Lily exploded into fits of giggle before nodding her head.
“Found your stash in the cupboard last night. Nice collection by the way.” She giggled away. And here I was thinking her breath smelled bad because she didn’t brush her teeth.
“Though I couldn’t drink enough last night so I had a few sips in the morning.” Her muttering didn’t stop, and concerned- I poured her a glass of water at which she stared and then snorted.
“Thanks Anna. Anna angel.” Jake shrugged his shoulders, looking at her with a face that told me this wasn’t new. But her calling me ‘angel’ gave me a heated flashback that I refused to acknowledge.
Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it.
“Just how much did you drink?” I questioned her but she continued to eat in small bites.
“You know what? I am running late for work. Catch you up at night.” Jake suddenly said, grabbing what seemed like a coat before he rushed to the door and leaving us alone.
It felt awkward to move away from Lily because I feared she might fall off the stool with the way she was swaying her head.
“I am gonna check up on Beth.” I said, getting off the stool to leave but then Lily grabbed my wrist.
“You are a nice girl Anna. Very nice.” I smiled, appreciating her comment even though I acknowledged she was saying all these in a drunken state.
“She’s right. Very right-you are definitely an angel.” She pulled my arm, catching me off for a moment when she laid her head on my arm.
“Who’s right?” I asked, chuckling as she snuggled my arm. She nodded her head, mumbling something that my ears couldn’t decipher.
“You shouldn’t drink that much.” Staring at her head, I noticed some faded brown strands there- meddling in the blonde ones. Unconsciously, I patted her head just to hear a second later small snores.
“Lily?” She was out, mouth opened as she breathed with her eyes shut. I patted her face in a fruitless effort to wake her up but gave up as she only mumbled in her sleep. Gathering my strength I dragged her to the nearest couch- in the means realizing how light weighted she was. She cocooned on the couch like a child, shuffling her body to the side.
I remembered about Beth, wondering if she was wake as I walked up the stairs- surprisingly running into her on the way.
“Hey. You are going somewhere?” I looked at her attire- dressed in her nicest pair of jeans she bought here and a white floral top. She nodded, rummaging inside her small hand bag.
“I am going to be back late okay? So have dinner without me.” Beth walked past me and I called her out.
“You should have something for breakfast before leaving.” She turned around, shaking her head.
“Thanks babe, but I have to hurry.” Nonetheless, I smiled while waving at her, wondering what got her running.
I didn’t let myself be idle. After showering, I cleaned around the house. Jake had told me that his grandma was out of town and she was the only one who cared about the household chores- he didn’t lie. The room I shared with the girls was obviously decorated by tons of worn clothes- socks and tops all over the floor. The little stash Lily talked about was tucked horrendously under the mattress, Beth’s makeup was scattered on the floor.
Doing the laundry was the toughest thing ever. Jack had a small washing machine and the pile of clothes kept heavying as I went from room to room to find clothes all over the house- most of it being Jack’s. It was the grateful part of me who was willing to do all this heavy handed works.
At last, when it was all done- I flopped onto the empty space on the couch on which Lily slept. To my dismay, my stomach growled. It made me finally look at the clock, noticing it was 7 pm- and it felt like Jake and Beth wouldn’t be back home anytime soon.
Luckily, Jake had his fridge stacked with groceries because I wasn’t in the mood to order food. A long while had passed since I last worked in the kitchen, and that troubled thought lingered in my head as I selected vegetables from the fridge, sort of coming in face to my reality at the moment.
Throwing of the sardonic mood, I went ahead to start preparing the meal. Instantly, I hummed a melody often the sisters at my orphanage hummed as they prepared Shepherd’s Pie for the kids, it was such a sweet melody that always lured me to sleep as I waited near the fireplace for them to finish cooking. Time passed quickly and I giddily awaited for the ding of the oven to sound.
Not long after, I heard the ding of the oven, ready to take the tray out as soon as I wore the oven mitts-but got startled by a sudden thud.
“Holy shit!” I gasped, almost having my heart jump out of my body. In front of me stood Lily, eyes puffy as she stared in a peculiar gaze at me.
“Smells good in here. Shepherd’s pie?” She asked almost as if she was confused herself.
“Yeah. Take a seat.” I chirped, taking the dish of goodness that was steaming hot. As I served her a hearty portion on the plate, I noticed her eyes lingering on me.
“Do you like shepherd’s pie?” She suddenly asked when I pushed the plate in front of her.
“Yes. I used to have it a lot when I was younger.” I shrugged my shoulders, serving myself a plate.
“Your mum cooked it for you?” I looked at her immediately, taken aback by her query- knowing she knew that I grew up an orphan.
“Uh…no. At the orphanage…it was a weekly staple meal during winter.” A laugh would have made it sound light-hearted but it rather sound like a snicker coming from her.
“My mum used to cook it for me. It was the only dish she could cook without fucking up.” It was tough to say something as her voice sounded bitter when she took a spoonful of the dish.
“She used to love it too.” Her voice lowered as she ate, staring down as if she was in a deep trail of thoughts.
“You cook like her.” She stated, glancing at me. I wondered if her mother was dead and she missed her but then I couldn’t muster the courage to ask her.
“Is it to your liking?” I finally asked as I settled myself to eat. She looked up and only nodded once.
“I hated it because she never cooked it for me.” She mumbled, leaving me to wonder if she still was a little drunk.
“She knew it was my least favorite thing- yet she cooked it every day.” Her bitter smile made me feel guilty of somewhat.
“I can cook something else for you…if you want.” I offered slowly to which she smiled, shaking her head. Our conversation didn’t stretch unlike the silence. She helped me wash the dishes, yet remaining silent by my side.
When she left to laze on the couch again, watching the television- I decided to call Beth. To my surprise, I heard ringing from our room as I dialed her number.
She really forgot to take her phone.
Shaking my head at her forgetfulness, I picked up her phone. My eyes caught up to several notifications showing up on her phone screen, from yesterday and today morning. I never meant to look into her phone but my eyes fixated on her screen. It was a slow burn realization as I stared at the notification of a text message she got in the morning-
Matt: Meet me today at the house.
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