The Gentiles

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A few more minutes and we pull up in front of a four-storey building. I squeeze Abe’s hand. “Abe, where are we?”

“Home,” he says simply, turning the ignition off. He lets go of my hand and opened his door. I stay inside the car not moving a muscle even as my door was yanked opened.

“Come on, nymph.”

I made no move to get out. I look up at him, crossing my arms on my chest. “Tell me where we are.”

Abe leans one arm on the hood of the car. The air around becomes electrified as he stares down at me, and every minute that’s passed, I should be afraid of him, of where he’s taken me without my permission, but… I’m not. I found myself intrigued and frankly I’m way too relaxed about this. I should be panicking but I’m just not. Maybe I feel drained from the hurt, the hopelessness, that this is somewhat a way of self-destruction. To walk into the fire headfirst.

“This is home,” Abe says with his deep voice and the way he said home sent chills up my spine and I don’t even know why.

“You live in Pine Avenue, Abe.”

An irritated look crossed his face. “My family lives in Pine,” he says, gaze drifting to the side. “Well, at least mom and Ane does.”

What’s that supposed to mean?

“I live here,” he nods over to the building.

I twist in my seat. “You’ve moved out?”

Abe shrugs, running a hand over his overgrown hair. The black blazer issued by the school that suits him well is gone, replaced by a black denim one and the white shirt that should be the standard has always been black. His trousers are the only ones from his uniform set that he kept and though it should look out of place, it surprisingly matches the changes he made to his shirt and jacket.

Granted, he’s already eighteen but despite the mysterious disappearances and affiliation with suspicious crowd, I never thought he’d actually move out of their house. He’s still in school, after all. I guess I thought he still depends on his parents as much as he did before. Things might have changed since then.

One question is nagging at me, though. He’s basically an adult and if he can move out that easily, why stay here? Not that I want him to be gone. He always made us feel like he didn’t want to be near us. So why attend school, still, if he’s this free already?

“You coming in?” He holds a hand out to me and I stare at it only a fraction of a second before the hesitation dissipated and I took it. What the freak. I’m already here, aren’t I? I’m not sure I’m liking this air headed version of me who seems to be keen into making rash decisions.

Abe’s lips quirked up. “Hesitating?”

Because I hate that he’d think I’m a wuss, which, in fact, I really am because I am dreading having to go inside this building in front of me, I adamantly shook my head. It’s not the building. It’s the person I’m going inside in. I must have a death wish to be willingly go to a place where no one knows I am at, with the one person who threatened my life once before.

“Which floor are you?” I hope he didn’t recognize the slight tremble in my voice.

Thankfully, Abe led us to the elevators, past the watchman on the front who’s reading a newspaper. The place looks decent. Simple but not shady. Neat.

“Fourth,” he answered. “Thank fuck they fixed this shit. Been using the stairs for days now.”

I instantly felt bad about where my thoughts were about to go. I don’t want to think badly about Abe but it’s just so hard with the way he acts, the way he makes everyone else see him.

I paused, realization dawning on me.

Abe was about to press the button on the elevator when he glances down at me and notices my expression. “What’s the matter? Chickening out?”

My eyes find his and I almost understood. He tried to sound nonchalant but there was a hint of hurt in his voice. He’s so used to people looking down at him, expecting the worst of him, isn’t he?

I tried to think back to two summers ago when I almost drown in the lake. Harry went out to buy dinner and my parents and Abe’s parents were out on a double date. Our grandparents were inside having a nap which I was supposed to be having but once Harry left, I cracked my eyes open and snuck out of the room I shared with Ane, leaving her sleeping on her bed. We were told we’d swim in the lake that afternoon but plans changed and we had barbecue instead. I was itching for a dip so much that I had gone and went by myself with no one knowing, thinking I’d be back before anyone knew I’d ever gone. I should have waited for Harry. Or woke Ane up to accompany me. There was a reason we weren’t allowed to go to the lake by ourselves but high on excitement, I didn’t think it was of importance at that moment. My ankle got caught on a weed and I felt the life drain out from me when I look at the devil himself. In my moment of near-death, could I have just thought he tried to pull me deeper under when in reality, he must have had saved me?

Abe’s eyes turned completely serious in the seconds that ticked by that I kept silent. “You don’t have to come if you don’t want to. I’m not forcing you.”

He dropped my hand and it was worse than the sting that I felt from the venom in his words.

“No,” I said quickly, taking his hand back in mine. His intense glare pinned me once more and I have to swallow down a nervous gulp before I can continue. “I wanna see your place. When did you move in?”

He eyed me for a few seconds before pushing the button while still holding my gaze. “Last week.”

Oh. He just moved out then. I want to know the reason behind it, I want to know all the reasons he does anything to be honest, but I don’t feel comfortable asking him that yet. I have a feeling that I might now be ready for the answer.

“Well,” I said, swaying on my feet once we’ve stepped inside. “It’s probably wrecked. Messy. I can help you clean up. I don’t have anything else to do this afternoon, anyway” I lied. I have two essays and a homework due tomorrow. I have started on my papers but they’re nowhere near finished. So, help me God.

Abe chuckled. “You’re such a bad liar.”

I blushed immediately. No hiding from this one.

“Your left cheek twitches when you do,” he explains, brushing a stray hair from my face. The elevator doors open, thankfully, before an awkward silence fell between us.

I gingerly stepped out, pulling Abe with me, halting when I realize I don’t know which way to go.

“Wh - ?” I started, looking back at him over my shoulder.

“Straight ahead,” he tells me before I could even ask him. “Last door on the left.”

I stepped back on his side with my head tucked down. “Uhm, maybe I should let you lead the way.”

For someone who was nervous getting inside the building just moments ago, I sure looked pretty excited to get in his room. I shouldn’t be. I don’t know what I’ll find in there. There could be underwear everywhere, for Pete’s sake. Why did he take me here? Why did I go?

Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure about stepping into his personal space. I’m unwelcomed. An intruder. He just felt sorry for me, seeing the pathetic me crying over someone she could never have like a lovesick fool.

There’s a title for a song.

Lovesick fool.

When Abe finally turned the knob after unlocking the door, it was too late for me to go back. What I didn’t expect is the condition of his room as my eyes swept the entire space. This is, to say the least, surprising.

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