Normally, this would elicit a positive reaction from me. It wasn’t the first time that he did this. We both were not shy of physical contact. Nothing sexual. Just comforting and familiar.
I guess that all changed tonight after what I saw.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it, the scene forever burned in my eyes, charring even my dirty heart.
“Here you go, Lil.” Nana handed me my mug, the one baba bought for me when he once took me to a farmer’s market. It had pretty white daisies printed on it which are my favorite flowers.
I uttered a silent prayer mentally, taking the mug of steaming hot cocoa, giving nana a grateful look. I seem to have become mute as I only nodded her my thanks. I haven’t said a single word since I saw Harry’s relieved face greeting me at the door. His worried eyes dilated with relief at the sight of his little annoying cousin coming correctly to the place he’d correctly guessed she’d run away to.
I should be thankful for his concern but I still can’t get over what I had seen. At what my reaction had been. How I’d been scared alone on the metro.
When I was stuck there on the moving train with crazy thoughts about being murdered, a part of me dreamt, wished, for Harry to come and rescue me.
That he’d somehow appear, entering from one stop, and sit by me, keeping me safe and protected. Like he always had. Coming to my aid like a knight in shining armor. Only he did so because I was basically his little sister.
He’d be there for me even before I knew I needed him so it was not a surprise that he figured I’d end up at our grandparents’ house when I hadn’t really planned on it.
He probably drove here. He wouldn’t have arrived before I did if he used public transportation. I wonder how it went with Pauline.
I mean, I’m glad he didn’t bring her with him, don’t get me wrong. I was only wondering what happened to her.
Did he just send her home? Or he asked her to wait for him to come back after running after his annoying cousin who just ruined their extremely physical and intimate exercise?
Was she still lying sprawled on his bed, naked with his bedsheets covering her private parts, waiting for him to join her once again?
“You’re in big trouble, young lady,” Nana said from across the table.
My eyes widened at the accusation, throat garbling out sounds as I was rendered speechless. Harry choked on his tea. I never would understand how he could drink such piss water.
Did Nana just read my mind?
“Sneaking off like that. What were you thinking?”
Was that the story Harry fed her?
Nana had a disapproving look in her eye but all too soon she bursted into a soft laughter. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell Mich.”
Harry recovered faster than me, as usual. I was still stuck as he leaned over the table with one elbow propped on his temple, facing me.
There was barely a hint of nervousness in his voice when he spoke.
“If I hadn’t caught up to her, who knew how would she ever get home?”
I shot him a glare.
“I got here, didn’t I? I could get back on my own. I don’t need your help.”
Instead of looking offended or hurt, Harry had the audacity to look amused.
“You could barely find your way through the grocery store, it was a miracle you managed to find your way here,” he quipped with mocking condescension.
“What’s a GPS for,” I mumbled under my breath, rolling my eyes.
I swear, I could pinch his bulging bicep for treating me so contritely if nana wasn’t watching us. I was aware of her gaze going back and forth between us at our exchange.
“Only you, sweetheart, would need a GPS in a grocery store,” he said in between guffaws.
I couldn’t help the giggle that came out of my mouth. I didn't mean it like that, I was referring to my journey on the way here. The idea of me using maps trying to find my way aisle after aisle was so ludicrous it was funny.
“There she is.”
Harry stared at me fondly and I wish I could take back what happened this afternoon and erase it permanently from my memory.
Truly, ignorance is bliss.
Then again, I’d never have woken up from my delusion if I hadn’t witnessed what I did. It was a bucket of freezing water poured on my head, dousing me with common sense and the painful truth of the matter.
This secret I have to take with me to the grave.
This is all I was allowed to take and I have to control my feelings, stomp them to the ground until I was numb and unaffected by them.
I’m sick. Evil.
If my family knew, they’d disown me.
Nana would never permit me entrance to her house again and I’d lose the only thing I had left of baba. My mother would be beyond devastated and my father. He’d be crushed. His good little girl was the spawn of the devil.
If Harry knew the thoughts I have for him, he’d want to have nothing to do with me. He’d think I was using his affections for me to get close to him for reasons more sinister than I let on.
I’d lose him and that was worse than watching him be with another girl.
I have to get a grip of myself and lose whatever it was that kept me pining for him. I have to let go of this. Of him.
With that thought, I gave him my brightest smile, banishing any thoughts, any feelings, that would ruin this perfect relationship that I have with him and my family.
We left Nana’s place two hours later. We ate dinner with her and watched an episode of Sweet Magnolias. I also grabbed baba’s copy of Captains Courageous after informing nana.
She didn’t mind one bit.
The drive back home was quiet and awkward and Harry tried so many times to start a conversation but I just can’t go back to being normal around him.
At least not yet.
I needed the whole night to claw past such strong emotions. The next day, I swore to be better. And I was.
In the morning, I woke up too late for breakfast and met Harry at our driveway to go to school. Neither of us mentioned anything about the day before and I guess he was relieved that I immediately acted as if nothing had happened which, in my heart, was what I now believed to be the truth, by the way he acted over enthusiastic even for the tiniest things.
If I say it again and again, if I convinced myself that it is true, then it is.
I was back to my old self except that I wasn’t.
I acted the way that I did but shut off all emotions that shouldn’t be there and by doing so, I felt like I was killing myself in the process.
It doesn’t matter though.
I was breathing and I have everyone I loved with me.
The only absolution I was hoping for was that the longer I deny myself of my feelings, soon they’ll completely vanish and I’d be free of them.
It still hurts, everytime I chanced upon Harry with someone.
He kept it from me as much as he could. I could tell by the absence of any girlfriends when I was with him or the lingering glances he’d share with them along the hallways when he’d think I wasn’t paying attention.
I wish he wouldn’t do that for my benefit.
It just makes it harder for me to let go.
However, in the second half of the school year, I found my salvation.