Speak & Listen 2

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LIVING IN THE LIE

Living In The Lie

And there was nothing more discomforting than floating in a bubble, above millions of sharp blades ready to pop the bubble at any time. But I at least had another second to come up with more comforting lies, since I had come to terms that I cannot tell Craig the truth.

But that day was a happy day. It was the school dance day, a sunny Friday and Mia, Gabriel and I decided to drive to Alex to pick up an outfit. I loved formal clothing, as much as I didn’t like wearing it very often. And I love Alex too. That is the city where my parents met. The city full of lights, tall buildings, sophisticated lives and a busy lifestyle. The city was never quiet.

“We need to talk about this!” Gabriel turned down the stereo. He seemed very upset.

“What?” I responded from the passenger’s seat, next to him.

“You’re going to the dance with the same boy who can potentially shit things up for us. That’s what!” He looked at me.

“I can promise you, he’s not a threat.” I sighed.

“HOW!? How can you fucking promise me that?”

“I...” I sighed again. “I just think we should give him the benefit of the doubt, don’t you think? I mean you should know that I prioritize that very well.”

He looked at me and dread filled his eyes. I also had flashbacks of Nahoo, the day I held a gun against his head and burnt him with a cigarette. He still had the mark on his neck. Him and I weren’t so close anymore. He was almost non-existent. But what did I assume would happen? That we would carry on being happy in one household?

“Can we just talk about something else?” Mia interjected. “Like...is David even thinking of allowing you to return you back to college?”

Gabriel sighed. “I don’t know. I haven’t asked him yet and he hasn’t too. I feel like he has done so much for me, I just appreciate a roof over my head.”

“Have you spoken to your father ever since?” I looked at him.

“No. But he sure sold me to his enemy. It says a lot about him not wanting me around.”

“I think he’s hurting.” Mia added. “I mean, we’ve only just found out that Niall was your half-brother and he’s...”

“Can we not talk about that too?” Gabriel winced.

And yup, I did feel like the dirtiest criminal in the world. “Let’s just listen to some music.”

Even the loud synth pop on the stereo wasn’t loud enough to silence the audible tension in the car.

So the rest of the road trip from Belvyn to Alex was cold silence. We, in an hour, arrived in Alex. Without any further ado, we visited the nearest thrift shop. Gabriel helped both Mia and I pick an outfit. I wasn’t a fan of labels, hence the thrift shop, but I sure knew I was dressed in a black tuxedo with a bow tie and Rhyheim Crescent shoes, which weren’t so much of a big deal.

Mia insisted that she goes to another shop. She was too fashionable for a thrift shop. We, after driving for a few minutes after deciding my entire outfit, we got to this shop which had chandeliers everywhere. You would expect a butler to escort you to an aisle while carrying you. It was that prestigious.

After the long spree of Mia looking for various dresses, trying them on and us disapproving or approving, she finally picked up a simple, tight cocktail dress which complimented the arm-scarf that hung on either sides of her arms from the back. Oh, she also bought herself a brunette Malaysian weave which touched fairly beyond her breast length and to finish, she also bought herself glittery black stilettos. She looked beyond fantastic for just a junior year dance.

“Anyone up for some cupcakes?” Gabriel asked.

“Uhm...I just need some coffee after the hectic shopping spree.” I responded lazily.

We spoke as we packed Mia’s bags in the boot. Thereafter, we took off. Apparently the ‘cupcake’ shop wasn’t so far from the plaza where we were shopping, so we got there in a few minutes. We all got out and instantly, we reserved a table.

“Welcome at C&C, what would you like to order?” A waitress approached us with a writing pad. She was incredibly cute with a pink apron...I also don’t know where the compliment came from.

“Oh...I would like just a simple, non-milked coffee please.” I spoke.

“Uhm...I’ll have a blueberry cupcake and a latte.” Gabriel spoke as well.

“I’ll have that blueberry cupcake and some traditional coffee too.” Mia added.

“Okay...coming right up.” The waitress left our table.

It was a cold, long silence and awkwardness of everyone, other than myself, being on their smart phones. I never even owned a smart phone. Not because I wasn’t allowed, but after I realized how brainwashing everything can be from social media and the internet, I decided to make my life less complicated.

A man in fear rants against a reckless Asian man for car negligence in the town of Belvyn.” A female news reported spoke through the loud television that everyone seemed to be paying attention to. “These goddamn Asians need to go back to their countries with their Mulan. First they give us these outrageous diseases and before you know it, you have an dumb Asian bastard driving like a drunkard...

“What the fuck!” I exclaimed.

“With their Mulan?” Gabriel exclaimed even louder.

“Yeah I can’t believe it too.” A man, who seemed Hispanic, behind us commented as if he was whispering. I assume that was his natural voice. “These Asian blokes need to get out of our country. They introduce all kinds of stuff to us and end up killing us.”

“All of us!?” Mia yelled at the man. The man looked further back and noticed that Mia was sitting across us.

“Yeah. Why else they had you sitting on the other side of the table? Y’all carry all kinds of bullshit man!”

“FUCK YOU!” I erupted, looking straight into the man’s eyes.

“I’m sorry sir...” The waitress came back, now with a solemn expression while looking at me. “You are making other customers uncomfortable. I’m going to ask you to leave.”

Gabriel laughed. “Uncomfortable? This man, out of nowhere, said the most racist thing I had ever heard and we’re making everyone uncomfortable?”

“Sir, this is not the place to be making redundant assumptions and political statements. I’m going to ask all three of you to leave before I call the manager.” She still kept her soft tone, but you could tell she wanted to yell.

“CALL HIM OR HER!!!” Mia yelled, now with tears running down her cheeks. “Call him and tell him that in 2020, we’re still dealing with racist and stereotypical bullshit!”

The waitress disappeared. I was so furious, my hands were trembling. The customers were all either white or Hispanic and they all looked like they were about to scream for their lives.

The manager came and wow, this was far from anticipated.

“Adrian?” It was Cynthia. Cynthia was the manager.

“Mom?”

“What’s going on? What are you doing here?”

“My friends and I were in town to pick an outfit for the dance. We stopped by because we wanted some refreshments when these two starting making racist comments about Asians and Blacks. The skank behind you (the waitress) told me that I’m making the other customers uncomfortable and we should leave!”

Cynthia turned to the waitress and she gave me the most unexpected look ever. It was a look of cowardice. One that looked pathetic on her. “Adrian, you can’t be making public rants thinking you are some activist!” She whispered furiously.

Mia and I shared a look and laughter escaped my mouth. But it was the most patronized laugh I had ever done. “Mom...I can’t believe you.”

“Well ma’am, your son do need some discipline!” The Hispanic man added.

Mia interjected. “I’m sorry, Ms Spector...”

“Mrs Grant!” Cynthia’s face infuriated even more. “You are making the entire room uncomfortable and I suggest you leave.”

My eyes blasted open. So did Mia’s.

Gabriel was beyond shocked. “C’mon Mia, let’s go!” Gabriel stormed out and Mia followed.

I just stood there with my fists clenched. Cynthia’s eyes teared, but she seemingly didn’t regret her words. “You’re married?” My teeth gritted.

“Yes, Adrian. I am.”

“No matter how many times you marry rich, white men...you will still be a black Cynthia Jones from Bellington. May you incinerate in hell!”

I marched out of the shop with tears streaming down my eyes in complete fury. Mia was standing outside the car, trying to regulate her breathing. We were all infuriated, but more ashamed that my mother failed to support me in a crowd.

Why did she apologize in the first place? Was that, in her mind, to clear her conscience? Was that her version of ‘I give you my blessings to go get married’. It is clear that Cynthia would never apologize for her actions, even if it’s her own son holding a gun against her forehead. Most of all, I didn’t understand how she, a woman of colour, can support racism. She was probably married to another rich white man who was probably controlling her entire existence and it was all-round pathetic.

“Mia...I am so sorry for what happened in there.”

“It’s not your fault. You’ve told me about her mannerisms and I expected that from her but...I just didn’t think such stereotypes about...us still existed.” Mia sighed. “And thank you for having a voice in there, Gabriel. It really was necessary.”

“Anytime.” He nodded. “I’m sorry I took you guys to this stupid shop in the first place.”

“I’m actually glad you did. I needed that last minute with her. Now I’m certain she’s going to rot in hell.” I added.

“Let’s just get out of here.” Gabriel suggested.

On our way back home to Belvyn, we blasted some The Weeknd “Starboy-era” tracks on the stereo. It actually wasn’t that bad when we were going back. There was more conversation and more laughs, some of them being the event that took place in the restaurant.

I never identified with one side of myself. I believed I was both white and black and with that comes with the responsibility of honoring black people’s rights when I have to and speak with my privilege as a white person when defending a racially marginalized group.

...

“You’ve always been interested in white men.” Dr Langford added.

“I mean...why not?”

“I just mean that it’s...exclusively white men.”

“Craig is Latino.”

“You dated him for a day, Adrian. And even when he offered you two to get together, you suggested that you don’t.”

“That’s because we both need to recuperate. And what’s wrong with having a preference?” Now I suddenly felt prejudiced.

“I’m trying to connect the heavy emotions linked to the circumstance you went through a week ago, which is a Hispanic man attacking your and your friend for being mixed-black and Asian.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Alan, Sebastian, Benjamin and even Gabriel who you had sex with...are white. I think this pattern may be linked to your mother’s delusional fantasy of marrying opulent, white men.”

“Okay, this is rubbish!”

“Is it?” He smiled as he stood up from the other side of the couch to mine. He sat so close to me, I could feel his breath hitting my face. I had told him I had been raped at Clever Cats and I still felt weird about a guy sitting next to me unprofessionally.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean...who wouldn’t want someone to sustain them?” He whispered to a lower register.

“I don’t. I would find a way to take care of myself without someone taking care of me.”

“He wouldn’t have to take care of you, but you’d have the privilege of enjoying his luxury.”

“Even though I don’t want to?”

His hand touched my thigh as he drew closer. I kept silent. Maybe this was because if I said a word, he would label me a rape victim which would make me feel hopeless about my therapy progression. I wanted to be told that I had made significant progress and I’m doing great.

“Everyone wants to.” His lips extended to my neck. When I thought of backing away, he pinned me on the couch and continued to kiss my lips. My eyes were widely open...terrified. How did this topic turn to a white man entitled to vulnerable people of colour? What was even going on and most importantly...

Why was I letting him do that to me?

All of a sudden, I felt like my energy was exploited. I felt weak and submissive and I didn’t like it...but I just couldn’t speak.

You liked it, didn’t you?” A voice echoed, but only sounded like a voice coming inside my head.

I looked from the furthest corner of the room...it was an apparition. Another one. It wasn’t Benjamin this time but ”…you remember me? Niall Johnson?

I felt paralyzed, as in, I could feel whatever Dr Langford was doing to me and as much as I hated it, I STILL COULDN’T MOVE! I couldn’t even speak.

Yeah...it sucks, doesn’t it? Doesn’t suck as much as your life not being spared. You know, I could still seem narcissistic and like...an asshole, but never did you consider that even an asshole can change if you give it a chance. But you’re God! You decide who gets to live or die and you get away with it. Your buddies are covering up attempted murder for you and you’re out here acting righteous as if none of this should be happening to you. You should be burning in hell.

I impulsively screamed from the top of my lungs, which startled Dr Langford, allowing me to rejuvenate and in return a threw a punch on his face. The apparition, in thin air, disappeared.

When his strength returned, his hand flew to my neck thus strangling me. By now, I was crying, begging and conscious of what was about to happen...AGAIN!

But this time, it wasn’t going to be all peaches and thyme. I would have to die first before he does anything like that to me!

My knee jerked to his scrotum and a loud, gruesome scream left his mouth. He lost all power and deteriorated on the floor in anguish. I was on full speed to my car with my unzipped pants and belt. My hair was an untied mess. Usually, I would drive myself home after therapy, but that day, I sat in my locked car and dialed the police hotline. “Belvyn Police, what’s the emergency?”

“Adrian Spector. I just got out of my therapy session with Dr Langford, my therapist when he attempted to rape me!”

“Sir, I need you to calm down. Where are you now?” She, the receptionist, spoke with the calmest voice, which made me more anxious.

“I’m outside his office in my car.”

“Are you hurt? Physically?”

“He strangled me!” I sobbed.

“Okay, I will need you to drive away from there and come to the police station immediately.”

“What if he runs away?” I panicked.

“We will find him, I can promise you that...but wherever you are now isn’t safe and I need you to drive to the police station.”

“Okay.” My hyperventilation subsided.

I dropped the call and sped my way to the nearest police station. My throat hurt AS FUCK! My hands trembling on the steering wheel, feeling him in the backseat...

You deserve everything coming your way!” Two voices from the back echoed in a hoarse, grungy way.

My eyes shot wide open as I looked through the rear-view mirror and saw two apparition-like familiar faces. Benjamin’s face looked oddly younger and prettier, so did Niall’s. And both of them were in my car.

My feet instinctively flew to the brakes, halting the car in the most earsore, awful sound ever. The apparitions, again, disappeared. I looked at the back, scared for my life that something may pounce on me, but I was alone in the car.

I continued driving again, now driving at a terrified, wary pace. I eventually arrived at the police station and I ran out of the car, insanely trying to fit my belt and zip my jeans. I was sobbing by the time I got to the reception.

“I would like to report a crime...”

My heart froze. Blood flushed away from my face as sheer horror surely illuminated my eyes. I was petrified, trying to figure out how did he get here before me.

He looked at me, noticing that he had broken me, and shared a small smirk before returning to his pretentiously victimized character.

“...against Adrian Spector, my client!”

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