I’m practically still shuddering at the thought of this somewhat familiar stranger with piercing brown eyes. After staring at me like I have done something bad to him, which I have no recollection of, he just turned around and walked away after one final disgusted scoff.
I can’t seem get a hold of what the appropriate thing to feel is about this situation. It was just so random.
Grace just apologized to me because she can’t accompany me to the grocery anymore. Her mom called her for something I’m not sure I even heard, nor paid attention to.
I forced myself to shrug what happened. Maybe he’s just angry at me for standing like an idiot at the side of the street. Oh, well.
The grocery was teeming with people, and I was feeling a little paranoid. I kept looking around the store to see if anyone was staring at me because I felt as if they were boring holes behind my back.
I didn’t even know if this was the normal feeling after having a completely sketchy stranger threaten you with a glare, or if this was a side effect of being outside and alone.
I’ve never did the shopping alone for a long time. Ace always did it when he was coming home after his work. Sometimes I would come with him on weekends. He really did treat me like a princess.
I hurriedly grabbed everything that’s on my list and proceeded to the counter.
When the items are already paid for, I walked outside with my senses on guard. Once in a while, I turn my head to look back and scout for someone suspicious. And most of those times, it was because I was feeling as if a person is standing too close behind me.
I figured out later on that those feelings were just in my imagination, when I made it to the street of my apartment safely.
I felt my shoulders sag in relief. I transferred my grip on the bag of groceries to my left hand, so I could grab my phone from my pocket when I felt it vibrate. I saw that Grace was calling.
“Hey, what’s up. Missed me already?” I said with a chuckle.
“Duh? Of course, we haven’t talked nearly enough to actually catch up.” Grace said in a lecturing tone.
“Yeah, and I haven’t been out on the field for a long time. I’m honestly getting bored just writing alone.” I said, talking about my job as a writer at a magazine show, and how we sometimes get assigned to visit places for interviews and gather video footage.
We research for stories to feature on the magazine show. Rated covers a lot of topics, from food reviews to investigating real-life paranormal activities. The most popular kind of story these days are of adopted people looking for their biological parents.
“Yeah, too long. You cashed in all your absences for that trip to Hong Kong.” She said, which reminded me of Ace. What if I didn’t ask him to go with me? I always ask this question to myself, but I could really never know now what this ‘what if’ led to.
“I’m actually glad I get to partner with you again on the next feature. When is it anyway?” I said as I continued to walk towards the apartment. We were going to an orphanage to get more details about someone’s adoption story, about the process of how he was given a forever home.
I felt my heart clench at the thought of home. Home. I didn’t have that for a while now.
“Oh right, that was one reason why I called. It’s already on the day after tomorrow.” She said as I stopped across the apartment. I’m actually glad that I get to work outside soon. I needed the distraction.
“Sure, see you. Hey, listen I need to hang up. My arms are straining from all the food I bought which I don’t even know how to cook.” I hurriedly said.
After saying our goodbyes and promises of her picking me up for work the day after tomorrow, I went on and continued my way to the door while fishing for my keys inside my pocket.
The moment I looked up, I saw a figure standing in front of my door.
A woman. She was just standing still and facing my door like a statue. My eyes swept up from her blonde locks down to her dirty sandals. She was taller than me, as most people are. I didn’t recognize her. Another stranger.
It didn’t seem like she felt my presence. I’m just a mere 3 feet behind her.
“Excuse me.” I said then cleared my throat.
The girl immediately turned around. By the look on her face, she was actually startled to see me here. In front of my apartment.
It was all so weird and confusing. I haven’t seen this strange girl before. She looked tired and disgruntled, to judge by the dark circles under her eyes, her chapped lips, and the way her hair was flying all over the place. She was wearing a simple shirt and jeans.
I dropped my bags on the floor since I’m feeling a slight pain in my arm muscles. I closed and opened my fist to give feeling to the numbness of my fingers due to the thin straps of the grocery bags digging at my skin.
“Hi, do you need something?” I said, when I noticed that the girl is not going to talk anytime soon.
She just looked at me, opened her mouth to say something but no words came out for a moment.
“You live here?” She then said in a weak voice.
She should know that, right? After all, she was the one who went here. I just found it so unsettling that she was standing at my front door by herself, and yet she didn’t know who lived inside.
With my forehead scrunched, betraying my confusion. And my suspicion. “Why? Do you need something?”
“No,” she said, her voice shaking a little bit. “I’m sorry. I guess I went to the wrong house. I was looking for someone else.”
Then she just bowed her head and hurriedly ran away to the streets. I followed her with my eyes as she went, thinking if it was Ace that she was somehow looking for.
I don’t know what to feel exactly. But I felt my throat tighten at the thought of how Ace might have known her. More specifically, how deeply they knew each other.
We lived together for almost a year now and I haven’t met any of his friends. It should’ve been a red flag. But he just treated me so well that I never doubted his good character. All these talk about my general knowledge of Ace’s life – or lack thereof – is getting redundant.
I can’t help but still think about the strange man who bumped me earlier. Why are all these happening to me now?
Releasing a tired sigh, I just rolled my shoulders and picked up the bags. I shook my head and chalked whatever strange things happened to me today as another unlucky day.
My life with Ace was so quiet. We did most of our dates at home and rarely ate outside. Imagine the confusion I felt when the next day, I woke up to a police officer knocking on my door.