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The Somethings Of Life

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‘Standing here…I can already feel myself coming undone. I can feel the emotions I had only barely managed to forget, rushing back! The memories…the constant reminders. They’re here…

Romance / Drama
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

‘Standing here…I can already feel myself coming undone. I can feel the emotions I had only barely managed to forget, rushing back! The memories…the constant reminders. They’re here…lurking about, waiting to unleash their onslaught, as soon as I’m naive enough to think I’m okay. I won’t be, not even close. I should have said no. Screw the money. Screw Bart for sending me back into the lion’s cage. The same lion’s cage that left my heart shredded, my will to live, shattered by a suffocating depression.’

Alex Bennett stood outside the Port Elizabeth international airport, having a long overdue, much needed cigarette. God, she needed 5, and a stiff drink, to even come close to being okay, in a situation so severely fucked up. She stared aimlessly into the distance, trying to maintain a cool, calm and collected composure, as best she could, though that in itself, took more effort than she had left to give. It had been a long, exhausting flight, with little wiggle space, thanks to the obese, mouth breathing, ball of flab, occupying the seat next to her. For hours, she listened to him chew with his mouth open, releasing a cloud of stink, whenever he belghed like a personified intestine on legs. Two rows up, a young blonde sobbed miserably, whilst her piece of shit boyfriend hammered her with one verbal blow to the next. To the left, nearing the cockpit, a hippy listened to his Raggae tunes, bobbing his unwashed, dreadlock-infested head rhythmically. A frustrated, fatigued mother rested her head in both hands, overcome by both embarrassment and frustration, whilst her hyper active toddler screamed and shouted histerically. By the time the plane had made its descent, and the overly polite flight attendants made their final rounds, Alex’s tolerance against even the slightest irritation, dangled on a thread. This was all too much...the heart shattering goodbyes, the flight, the feelings which would undoubtably bombard her from the second she stepped foot off the plane, and the re-entry into a world she had left behind a long time ago. She didn’t want this! She didn’t want to be snatched out of the happy place she had created for herself. She recalled the last moments she shared with Bart, the heart shattering goodbye, which rendered her undone. She felt conflicted between the man who paid her salary, and the man who had treated her like a daughter for the past three years. They kept it professional, saying goodbye with a handshake, even though she wanted to hug him so badly.

This was a man who rescued her from making so many mistakes, her mentor, her anchor when the rest of the world crumbled beneath her feet. Bart was safe, comforting, even on the worst days, though he did not come without an intimidating seriousness whenever he needed to be. She refused to let him down, refused to succumb to her emotions, to give in to the sadness burning like an untamed wild fire in her chest. This was not the time. Bart’s investment, and its success was far more important than her insignificant emotions, and she would do her damnest to remind herself of that, whenever neccessary.

Having pulled up her big girl pants, and armed herself with the emotional detatchment, she deemed neccesary, Alex set her sights on what needed to be done. The Uber she had requested earlier, pulled up to the smoking booth. “Bennett?” The driver asked, lowering his head to get a better view out the window. A ruggedly handsome face matched his silvery voice perfectly. She nodded, chucked her cigarette into the steel bin, and wheeled her heavy suitcase towards the boot. “Wait, lemme help you with that.” The driver said, already out the driver’s seat door. “Damn thing can be a little tempermental.” He bent his knees and slid both hands under the handle, wiggling it until it clicked open.“Thanks. Appreciate it.” Alex tried to mask the irritation, brewing in the back of her throat, but with the aftermath of a long ass day, it hardly seemed possible.

“Wow, you look spent. Long day?”

“Something like that. Hopefully it’ll get better from here.” Alex said, her tone not particularly optimistic. “I’m Hawk, by the way.” Reaching out a free hand, he held it out to shake hers. “Alex. Nice to meet you. Sorry for my bad mood. I had a long flight, that’s all.” “That’s quite alright. I’m not a fan of flying either. Where are you coming from?” “Barcelona.” “Wow, that’s quite the trip. Man, I wouldn’t mind going there myself. Can’t imagine why you’d want to come back to this dump, though. Place has gone to shit.” Alex frowned, fighting to urge to light another cigarette. “I’m beginning to wonder that myself.” “Mind if I have a smoke?” Hawk asked, eyeing the packet of smokes on his dashboard, like a diabetic eyed a chocolate cake. “Only if you don’t mind me having one too.” “Go wild. You deserve it.” Heading down Wallace road, Alex came to the grave realization, that she had no idea where to go. She had initially thought of going back to the flat, but had no idea if her parents had moved away since then. Surely, with her having been gone, they could have moved to a different apartment, or even to another city. “Hey, sorry to ask this, but could I possibly make a call from your phone. My international number won’t work here.” Smiling brightly, he unhooked his phone from it’s charger, and handed it to her. “Thanks. Head towards William Moffett, by the way.” “No problem.” She dialled the number from memory, and waited nervously as it rang several times. “Thank you for calling FCQ. How may I help you?” “Hi there. Erm, could you put me through to Emma please. I’m not sure if she still works there, though.” “Oh, Emma. Yes she still works here. One moment please.” “Thank you.” Alex said, feeling her heart beating rapidly in her chest. It had been two, nearing three years since she had last spoken to her mother, or anyone from her past. She had no idea what to expect, or what to say! “Emma Bennett speaking. How can I help?” Alex froze! The sound of her mother’s voice sent her into a panicked state of anxiety and fear! Her throat felt dry, her tongue tangled. “Hallo? Can you hear me?” Her mother’s voice maintained a professional friendliness. “M...mom? It’s me. Alex.” There was a loud thump, as if the phone had fallen from her hands, followed by the faintest sound of whimpered sobbing. “Alex? Is that really you? I...I can’t believe it’s really you.” She said, tears lining the back of her throat. “I can’t talk long. Using someone’s phone. Can I come by your work?” “Are you kidding me?! I’m taking the day off! My baby girl has finally come back. Wait until I tell your dad! He’s been so worried about you. We both were.” “I’ll be there soon. Can’t wait to see you.” “Okay! Okay! Get here soon!” Her mother said, unable to hide the enormous excitement in her voice. Riddled with mixed emotions, Alex handed the phone back to Hawk, and lit her third cigarette. “I might need something stronger than a cigarette right now.” She joked, sighing exasperatedly. “I’d offer you a drink, if I had a secret stash.” “That’s okay. Probably better that you don’t. So if you don’t mind me asking, is Hawk your real name?” He nodded in confirmation. “The only one I got. My mother died at birth, and my old man ditched us as soon as he heard the word ’Pregnant.’, so my grandfather took me in. My mother mentioned she liked the name, Ronnie, but he took one look at me, and decided I’m more of a Hawk than a Ronnie.” “I’m sorry to hear about your mom. That’s a tragedy that no one deserves to go through.” “Thanks. It was a long time ago. Yeah, the old man has a passion for bird watching. He used to tell me ‘The hawk soars above the world. Strong. Majestic. Patient.’ I guess he expected big things from me. Too bad, I didn’t turn out to be any of those things.”

“Take it from me. Living up to expectations is highly overrated. I’ve learned the hard way that worrying about what people think or expect of you, will only stand in the way of your happiness.”

Hey, we’re closing in on our stop. Are you ready for this?” Exhaling loudly, a fiery coal lodged in her throat, she raised the back of her hand, and wiped a bead of sweat from her forehead. “Time to face the music, I guess.”

FCQ hadn’t changed much over the years. The large modernized building, towering above her head, still held its classic navy blue colors, and encased in with large display windows. Circling the grey bricked pavement, cars of all shapes and sizes, lined the parking spaces, enticing the poor shmucks who could sell an arm, leg and two kidneys and still not be able to afford their prices. Alex crossed the patch of grass, separating the main road from the pavement, and froze for a moment. No turning back now. She had played every possible scenario in her head, prepared herself in every way possible, and still, nothing could lessen the severe fucktupness of the situation. No…this, seeing her mother, the possibility of bumping into Jordan, the onslaught of questions and explanations, it would inevitably leave her mentally and emotionally drained. As she made her way down the narrow passage, through the maze of cars on display, her eyes combed her surroundings with extreme attention to detail. She had every intention of avoiding Jordan at all costs, and she’d do her damnest to leave with the shred of composure she had left, intact. She stopped at the row of offices, encased in glass, and slowly, difficultly walked towards the first one to the left. Every step, every breath, every rapid heartbeat, became painfully apparent now. What was she supposed to say?! She couldn’t imagine a simple ‘Howdy’ or ‘been a while’ would suffice. Her jokey, playful personality would do little to subdue the monster of awkwardness. Of that, she could be sure! From left to right, the shocked, curious faces had begun to accumulate, followed by hushed whispering, as she ducked into tje office. Like something out of a local 7de laan episode, they would soon start to gossip, and not long after that, Jordan would surely know of her return. The one thing Alex didn’t want. Not while she was still in the vicinity of course.

Leaning against the door frame, she watched her mother pace up and down, her eyes red and puffy from crying. She had her phone in hand, presumably to phone her father or some other family member with the good news. Though, Alex hardly saw it as good news; not when she had been forced to be there in the first place. Bloody Bart and his bloody persistence. Round about this time, she’d be running herself into the ground, alongside Keira. Oh, how the name itself shot an unnerving shudder into the furthest regions of her heart. She vowed not to speak of her, not from a lack of caring, but to keep her memory sacred, and without scrutiny. “You’re going to make gutters in the carpet if you don’t stop pacing soon.” Alex said, her voice thick with joy and sentiment.

Although, being there was not up for discussion, she could hardly deny the incredible happiness she felt to see her mother again. A pale, grave-looking face lifted itself from the ground, wide, tearful green eyes taking in the tiniest feature of the daughter she had once thought dead. She tilted her head slightly to the right, her trembling lips parting to speak, though not a single word presented itself. Alex sensed her discomfort, and quickly crossed the room to wrap her arms around her mother’s waist. Without warning, the sudden burn of a open handed slap caused pins and needles across her cheek. She let out a confused gasp, as she brought a hand up to rub her stinging cheek. She could hardly blame her mother for the impulsive reaction, not with everything she had put her through in the last three years. “How could you do this to me?” She shouted, unphased by the frowned upon faces staring at them.

“You didn’t call! You didn’t reply to my messages! How could you do that to me?!

I thought you were…”

Alex quickly cupped her mother’s hands in her own, pulling her in for another hug.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve any of that. I’m sorry.” Alex whispered softly, her heart shattering at the sound of her mother’s sobbing. “I’m back now. I promise, I am not running away again.” “Where did you go? Where did you stay? How did you afford coming back? It’s like my daughter is a complete stranger to me!

Look at you. You’ve changed so much, I barely recognized you.”

“There is so much we need to talk about, mom. And we will. I promise. But right now, people are staring, and your boss will start to complain. Can I take a shower and maybe a few hours of sleep at your place, please? I’m exhausted.” Alex asked, straightening her long sleeve black button up.

“Of course you can. Why are you even asking? Here, take the keys.” Her mother said, walking around the desk to fetch her purse from the drawer cabinet. “Erm…do you need money for a bus? You know what, here I’ll give you money. You might need a few things now that you’re back.”

“Mom, mom relax. I have plenty of money. Don’t worry . I didn’t come back a total loser.” Alex said, holding her hands out in front of her body. “But thank you for offering.” She scratched an itch on her shoulder, where the strap of her heavy backpack had made an indentation, and picked up the handle of her suitcase.

“I should get going. But we’ll have a proper chat when you get home. Is there anything you need from the shop?”

“No, no. You just get home and relax. I’ll go do some shopping after work.”

Her mother froze dead in her tracks, her gaze riddled with admiral sadness.

“Look at my beautiful daughter. You’ve changed so much.” “Thanks mom. I’ll see you tonight, okay?”

“You better be there when I get home. Now more running off, or I’ll have you locked up in a basement, somewhere.” She joked, managing a warm, happy smile.

With one last hug, Alex headed out the office, zigzagging through the cars once again. Her mind trailed off, her eyes searching for something she wasn’t sure she wanted to see. On her way out, she had spotted the clock, mounted against the wall. 11:56 PM. Soon, Jordan would come out for lunch. Alex knew she needed to get out of there before that happened! The reunion with her mother had rendered her mentally and emotionally drained. She could hardly handle bumping into Jordan, on the same week, let alone on the same day. No, there’d be nothing left of her carefully practised composure, once she was done with her. Waiting on the sidewalk, she frantically kept a look out for either a taxi or bus, coming her way, feeling the time moving impossibly fast. She should have just walked back home, but with a heavy backpack straddling her shoulders, and wheeling a suitcase behind her, it made for a difficult trip. A quick glance through the parking lot confirmed her suspicions; Jordan’s car was still in its usual spot, and dangerously close to where she was standing. There’d be no avoiding her, once she came through those doors. Knowing her mom, she probably already phoned her with the news. Fortunately, a bus stopped at its usual dirt patch, in the knick of time. She had only barely settled down in her seat, when she saw Jordan, emerging from behind a large blue Land Rover. Fuck! She looked more beautiful than ever! Why did she have to look so beautiful? The mere sight of her sent her stomach into a tossing and churning frenzy, delivering one painful fist after the other. She watched as she got into her car, her face seeming particularly alarmed, and lit a menthol. She tilted her head back against the seat, like she usually did whenever something weighed on her mind. She knew. Her mother must have phoned. Someone must have seen her, and rushed to spread the gossip. Despite the how, there was no doubt about it. She knew. The bus finally pulled away, and with it, the troubled thought, all together. All she could think about, was the hot shower and a warm bed, that awaited her. Though, it would not elude her forever. Soon, she’d have no choice but to relive the past, and mule over the emotions she had once run so far away from.

As the bus rattled to a stop, picking up another load of passangers, only a few meters from FCQ, Alex took the time to summarize and prioritize everything that needed to be done. She’d spend the night at her parent’s place, give them the necessary closure they deserved, then, head out to the lodge first thing the next morning. Although, Bart had insisted on taking a month’s paid vacation, before taking her place at the lodge, she hardly saw any rational reason to loaf around, doing much of anything when there was so much work to be done. She’d allow herself a day here and there to kick productivity to the curb and goof off for a few hours, but even that, seemed disrespectful towards Bart’s generosity. The man, as infuriating as he could be, had a heart which deserved an award, and a generous hand which deserved to be holstered. He had started his journey to success as a young South African man, raised by British parents. Both highly influential architects. He had developed a passion for modern architecture, which South Africa had failed to supply. So, upon graduating from college and receiving his degree in architecture, he travelled aimlessly, picking his next destination on a wim. At the young age of 29, he opened his first restaurant in Amsterdam, which he had designed from scratch, and named it the scaly mistress. A raging success, despite its unconventional branding. From there, his business streak only grew with a ridiculous amount of good fortune. The man was like a living, breathing rabbit’s foot, with an immunity towards Murphy’s law, Karma, or the elusive STD, given his womanizing antics.

When he found Alex, Keira had only just begun her little fixer upper project, despite her constant plea of disinterest. She introduced Alex to Bart, and he took her in, when no shop, restaurant or kiosk in a 20 mile radius of her shitty apartment, would give her application the time of day.

They were close, and yet, she quickly learned that he neither condoned nor tolerated self pity or excuse making, and he certainly did not make a habit of codling any of his staff members. He taught her control, to be tough and set aside her emotions to achieve her full potential. In a way, he had become like a father figure to her, an anchor even on the worst days.

Back at the complex, Alex punched in the security gate’s code, and made her way across the concrete courtyard,whilst reaquinting herself with her all too familiar surroundings. Not much had changed, and then again, in the quietness of Newton Park, and the meek, uneventfulness of the complex, she didn’t expect to find any. In the irksome humidity, she welcomed the cool, shelter of the flat, considering that her face already hosted waves of hot flushes, and an onslaught of salty beads, rolling down her forehead, and dripping from the tip of her nose. She fiddled in her pockets, until she found the bunch of keys, between a box of cigarettes, loose change, and a handful of peppermint candy, which she had swiped from the airport’s coffee shop. Once inside, she dropped her luggage on the floor, near the door, and plumped down, damn near tackled the bed. What bliss! What satisfaction! Oh how she missed the comfort of her queen size, when the squeekiness of her single bed, provided little if any comfort! She was actually surprised that her parents hadn’t placed it in storage, or throw it out by now. The tiny one bedroom apartment had limited space as is. Surely, removing the bed would have given them ample space to eliminate the feeling of being crammed and confined.

“Time for a shower.” She said softly, groaning as she hoisted her now lazy body up and into the direction of the bathroom.

From her suitcase, she dug through all the clothes and plastic packets, until she found the old phone, she had used before leaving. She plugged it in for a well overdue charge, and switched it on, listening to the speaker coming to life with an assortment of beeping and buzzing. 203 messages and 75 missed calls. She skimmed through the messages, feeling overwhelmed by the combinations of ’where are you, please come home, Alex are you okay, I’m worried, please answer the phone, and of course, the infamous telemarketers, trying to sell off some grand policy. All the messages were mostly from her mother, a few from her father, and one or two from concerned friends. She then checked her email. Even more scams and recruitment agencies, with facebook notifications, in between. Not a single email, message, or call from Jordan. Not that she expected to find any. She needed no more clarity as to how much the woman hated her. I mean, there must be a significant level of hatred, once you classify that person a stalker. Such a severe form of dillussion takes commitment, determination and follow through. Her level of crazy bitch syndrome was quite comendable, as she played the role beautifully. After the best shower she had in months, recharging her body after a long day, Alex found herself, standing in the center of the apartment. Just standing there with only a towel wrapped around her waist, aimlessly, burdened by indecision. After her shower, the exhaustion she had felt earlier, seemed to have washed away, leaving her with a sense of urgency, and nowhere to go.

She could go visit a friend, grab a cup of coffee and catch up on lost time, but then, the few friends she did have, would be at work for at least a few more hours.

She could go watch a movie, have a drink at a nearby pub, or simply go for a walk on the beach, but there was not enough time before her mother and all her questions come home, expecting answers and explanations. Surely, all hell would break loose if she had arrived home all eager, only to find an empty house.

No, after what she had put them true, she owed them at least one night of her undivided attention. So instead, Alex decided to put her wallet to good use, and buy some things for the house that her mother wouldn’t normally buy for herself. They deserved to be spoiled for a change, despite their many differences.

Normally, she would request an uber to the shops, what, with being a lazy, fat fuck and all, but in her time in Europe, she had picked up quite a liking for walking. It certainly did help her lose a hell of a lot of weight, including her jiggling arm fat, disgusting flab of a belly, as well as her fatty chin fat. She went from a fully loaded box meal, to a more appetizing twister with just the right balance. As proud as she was with the will and determination she had to lose all the weight and get her act together, Alex closed her eyes whenever she had to strip down in front of a mirror or even when getting dressed. As much as her body had improved over the years, she still hated every inch of it.

After a quick change of clothes, and a few strokes of her fingertips through her messy mop of hair, Alex zipped her suitcase back up, and grabbed her things.

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