One week in a faraway place, surrounded by family and friends I missed so much, was not enough to erase even a tiny bit I longing I felt. In fact, it only added to it. Hong Kong was only an escape to the reality waiting for me back at my small apartment in London.
I kept questioning myself, what if I did not scare him away?
At a very low point in my days away from him, another part of me questions the sincerity of the things he did for me.
Then I would think about the things I did for him. Were they not enough?
I traveled back to London for almost 14 hours by plane. Then I took a cab to get to my apartment. As the cab entered the familiar streets, I can feel my heart beating faster and louder.
I am so nervous. For days, I was having this recurring dream that I would go home with him waiting for me. And then he would tuck the front pieces of my long and straight black hair behind my ears. He would look at me directly in the eyes with a peaceful expression in his face it was almost heartbreaking.
I was happy with Ace for the longest time that I don’t remember if I ever dreamed about something so hopeful. That dream was my reality just a week ago.
I sighed as I remembered how fitting his name was. He was always the best. Ace. Number one.
Clearly, it was I who was not good enough.
I, Clara, the petite girl who feels even smaller than her size.
When I was still with him, the reality was better than the fantasy. All my worse dreams back then were born from insecurities.
Why can’t I be stronger?
My thoughts were interrupted as the cab rolled to a stop in front of my apartment. Just a single glance at it, and I knew for sure that Ace was not there.
The window curtains were closed. He loved how the daylight would warm the apartment. I smiled a little. He kept buying me pots of succulents and cactus by the window.
I opened the door of the car and sighed as I soaked my face with the warmth of the sunlight. I heard the driver groan as he lifted my luggage out from the compartment. He gently dropped it to the floor as I pulled money from my coat pocket.
“Thank you,” I said to him as I handed him my fare. The driver just grunted in return.
I pulled my luggage and went to the door. As I inserted the key to the doorknob, I hesitated for a while. Although I truly believed that Ace did not come back to the apartment, I was still so anxious. It was evident by the way my hands were shaking.
I momentarily closed my eyes and just went on with it. The onslaught of mental images attacked my fragile state of mind as I looked at the interior of our apartment. I remembered it so clearly. I now wished I hadn’t left. What if he came back and I wasn’t here?
The feeling got worse as the final inkling of hope I held onto was shattered. The was no Ace inside.
I dumped my luggage beside the couch and felt hunger as I saw that it was time for lunch already.
Deciding to eat outside and didn’t want to eat alone in this empty apartment, I grabbed my phone and dialed my best friend’s number.
“Hey Clara, what’s up?” My friend, Grace asked me with her loud voice. Our personalities were more opposite that similar. She was so much stronger than I was
“You had lunch?” I asked.
“Are you inviting me for lunch? Wow, Clara. No food at your place?” She asked, surprised.
“No.” I sighed. “Ace is not here.”
“Oh, right. I was just about to ask you. I heard from George that he resigned.”
Grace and I worked as writers at a magazine show called “Rated”. George was our workmate, a cameraman that has a daughter in middle school who was Ace’s student.
I haven’t even thought about finding him at the school he works at. I guess I was late this time. I really sucked at timings.
“He did?” I said in almost a whisper. The line went quiet for a moment.
“What happened, Clara?” Grace asked in a soft voice.
“I don’t know.” I said, honestly.
“I can’t believe it. You and Ace were inseparable. I mean, the way I see it, you two are practically married!”
“I guess he didn’t want to marry me.” I quietly said.
“Why am I finding that so hard to believe?” Grace said, voicing out my own feelings.
“Me neither. But you better believe it. He left me. End of story” I clapped back in a stern voice, so sharp I almost felt that I cut myself, just by hearing the reality form my own mouth.
There was again the silence again that reigned in our conversation. So, I just said with a tired sigh, “Just meet me at the restaurant near the grocery so I could restock my fridge.”
“Yeah, sure. Love you Clara.” She said, which put a tiny sad smile on my face.
“Love you, too.” I replied then hung up the phone.
“I can’t believe he just left like that.” She said then brusquely grabbed her drink, finishing it with a big gulp.
“I know.” I answered, playing with the pasta with my fork.
“I mean, really. I guess there’s no hope for the rest of us in finding true love when even Clara and Ace broke up!”
“We didn’t break up.”
She just looked at me with a bored expression.
So I just added, “At least not officially.”
“Dude, you were ghosted. You have literally gone from living together to him magically vanishing.” She said, animatedly waving her hands in frustration. “This is Ace were talking about. He treats you like a princess.”
He does. He did.
I didn’t answer her and quietly finished my last bite. I looked at her as she impatiently waited for me to finish my drink. She seems bursting with worry.
But it’s only been a week. I’m not okay. And I guess I will not be in the near future.
Setting my glass down with a soft clank on the marble table, I sighed. “Let’s go.” We then stood up and left the restaurant.
We were walking quietly when Grace’s phone rang. She lifted her forefinger to signal that she’s taking the call. I just smiled and nodded.
Uncomfortable with hearing other people’s conversations, I slightly twisted my body and turned my head to look around the streets. People rushing and people taking their time laughing with their friends.
When I heard her say goodbye to her caller, I immediately looked back to her at the same time she said my name.
However, what she was about to tell me was lost on me as a boy briskly walked past us, bumping my right arm in the process. The force was too great for me to regain my balance, so I ended up dropping my weight on my knees, my right elbow vibrating at the impact of being slammed on concrete.
“Hey, watch where you’re going!” I heard Grace yell at the stranger. I used my palm to support myself in standing up, then looked at the man who is currently glaring at my best friend.
I don’t even know him. He looked rugged with his ripped pants, a black shirt that was seemed two sizes too big.
When he cocked his head sideways to glare at me in the eyes, I almost flinched at the familiarity of the gold flecks around his brown eyes. I looked at his profile only to be surprised by the rich brown curls he sported.
I felt the hairs at the back of my neck stand up. They were eerily familiar yet profoundly different in demeanor.
I have never seen such warm-colored eyes so frozen with anger.
What did I do?