Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 5: I'm Starting to Think I'm in a Twilight Movie

Present Day

Cara shakes her head disappointingly. ”Mais pourquoi tu avais fait ca!"

Ever since she went to France during the summer, she picked up on some French words. Now she uses it when she’s super mad, especially at me. This time, I think she went along the lines of ′what the hell were you thinking!”

Yeah. She totally sounds like a typical mom. I guess Cara could be considered sort of like a mother figure to me. My mom has not been around for, well, since I was legal, so Cara has taken that role. She has always been the more cautious one in our little duo, the one who always looks out for me. I would say I am perfectly capable of looking after myself, but after the stunt I pulled today, I don’t think Cara would ever agree with me.

“It just sort of happened...?” I say, but even I think I sound pathetic. Cara sighs, and continues to wrap the bandage around my hand.

We’re back in our cozy little apartment, which I’m so grateful for. I don’t think I want anyone on campus to see my disaster of a hand.

After the immense pain I felt when I hit Daniel, I am glad to say I would never ever want to hit another person ever again.

It freaking hurts. I know it has been four hours since I hit him, but I’m still overwhelmed from the stinging pain that burns my knuckles, numbing my entire hand.

I have never hit someone before.

Never.

I always kept my cool. It took me a hell lot of willpower when Holly Higgins from eight grade made fun of me for my A-cup boobs. Apparently every other girl in school had hit puberty and huge boobs was the best thing to have. Still, when she teased me about that, I had wanted to hit her so bad. But I didn’t. I had wanted to hit many other people since then for various reasons, but I kept my anger to myself.

I have always kept the anger to myself.

Well, except for that night two months ago when I poured champagne over a multimillionaire’s son.

I’m not doing so good, am I?

“You could get charged for assault, you know.” She says, placing a little metal thing on the bandage to keep it in place.

“Yeah, I know,” I mumble. I guess, if Daniel wanted to press charges, he would have done it after I had humiliated him in Basil Kitchen right? So perhaps that’s a good sign. But... he could always change his mind now and charge me for assault if he wanted to.

I’m so screwed.

“Let’s just hope he won’t,” I add on, resting my hand on the couch. Cara shifts so that one of her elbows are propped behind the sofa.

“Seriously, Alex, what the hell were you thinking?” She says again, more adamant. Her eyes are filled with concern, and a little bit of anger.

“I....” My voice trails off. I rest my head on the pillow and pout. “I don’t know... I guess I wanted him to pay for getting me fired from my job.”

Her eyebrows lift in confusion. “Alex, I’m pretty sure you were the one that got yourself fired in the first place. Weren’t you the one trying to sabotage his dates?”

I had told Cara about the whole incident with Daniel and I right after she came back from France. It was two weeks before college started, and the minute she asked me how did my summer went, I immediately broke down.

Yeap. I was a pussy.

I told Cara everything. How I watched Daniel from afar, holding this grudge against him for so long. How I sabotaged almost every single one of his dates. How he found out about it and got really pissed off at me. How he threatened to sue the place if I didn’t get fired. How I poured champagne over him, and humiliated him in front of the entire restaurant. And how I got humiliated when I got fired from my job.

Now that I really think about it, I guess it was my sort of my fault. I was the one who acted out first, purposely sabotaging all his hookups when he had done nothing to me. I guess I was not thinking about myself at all. I was thinking about all those girls which he played with and dumped when he had no use for them anymore.

Diminishing all thoughts, I sigh, “I guess you’re right.”

Cara’s eyes bulge out, almost as if it was going to come out of her skull. “Damn, Alex. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard you say that I’m right. Can you repeat that so I could record it on my phone?” I roll my eyes.

“Please? This is like a one in a lifetime moment!”

“No way,” I bark out a laugh. “I’m not saying that again.”

Her lips pout. “Please?”

I look away dramatically. “Go away.”

She rests her head on my shoulder and sticks her tongue out. “Please? With cherries on top?”

God, I love Cara. She could make me go from sad to happy in a matter of moments.

My head swivels and my gaze lock with hers. I attempt to make an angry face, but fail miserably. “You and your stupid little cherries can go somewhere else.”

She snorts. Then she turns away. “Well, alright, then. I was just going to make some popcorn, so I guess none for you.” Her eyes twinkle with amusement as she says it.

“And for your information, I have caramel too.”

God dammit.

She knows exactly what buttons to press when it comes to me. I’m a total sucker for caramel popcorn.

“Fine,” I bat my eyelashes. “Give me your phone.”

Now, Cara and I are both facing the television now with a huge bowl of popcorn in our hands, our feet propped up on the coffee table. My right foot has not completely healed yet, so I still have to keep the bandage on with the medicine I use to massage it. Now, with my right foot and my right hand both bandaged, I look like a freaking weirdo.

But that’s okay, I’ve always been a weirdo. At least now I look like one too.

Cara cocks her head to the side as she watches the screen. We’re watching some action movie that we don’t know the name to, but we’re already an hour into the movie so we don’t really care. Right now, an action scene rolls and the protagonist of the story is busting out some kickass ninja moves to defeat all the bad guys.

“Damn, this dude is badass,” I murmur in awe.

“He could save me anytime,” Cara gushes.

“Cara, he’s really old. He could be your grandfather.”

“I can’t help it. I’m a sucker for older guys.” She teases.

I roll my eyes. “I just want his badassery. God knows I don’t have that at all.”

Our eyes are glued to the screen again. The protagonist grabs to of his enemies and spins them around to kill the rest of his other opponents.

Cara turns to me, grinning, “Was this how you imagined yourself just now when you decided to hit Daniel?”

My cheeks turn a slight pink. “Yeah. But reality sucked ass.”

She laughs. “Don’t I know it.”

After I had punched Daniel in the eye, I was overcome with shock. I didn’t know what to do. My hand had begun to hurt bad, probably because I didn’t actually know how to hit someone. I stumbled back, and almost collided with the wall. Daniel had his hands over the place where I had hit him, his mouth gaping open, a look of absolute horror plastered on his face.

I didn’t know what to do next. What if he decided to fight back? I knew it was abuse if he did, but who knew? He definitely looked like he could beat me up into a pulp in a matter of seconds. And I wasn’t going to stay around to find out.

So, I ran away.

I literally hit and ran.

Wow, thinking about this really does wonders to my self-esteem.


The next week was a blur. Cara and I attended all our classes, even though for Cara, the temptation of skipping classes was super high. Cara takes business and marketing (god knows why, economics was never her forte back in high school) and her lecturer puts everyone to sleep. So, she has made it a habit to come to class late, but thankfully she doesn’t bring me down with her. I, on the other hand, actually like my classes.

I know, getting a degree in creative writing isn’t probably something that would help me in the near future (God knows how many times my parents have told me that.) But somehow, I find comfort in words.

When I write, it’s as if I no longer exist in the present, but to another time, another place, where I can create whatever and whoever I want. I not only find it relaxing, but to the point where it’s consumes my entire life. I can’t help it, I live and breathe words.

My lecturer whom I finally know the name to, Mrs. Stemming, really likes my work.

She gave me a high grade for my first assignment and I’m really proud of it. After class, she told me I had a flair for writing and I should consider doing it as a full-time job. I told her I would think about it, but I have my doubts.

Sure, reading and writing are my passions, but could I actually do it for a living? Mom and dad would kill me. No, scratch that. They would actually cut my head off and put it on a pike. They really wanted me to take over the family business when they retired.

But was I even capable of running an empire? I didn’t want to end up like my parents, chained to the confines of the office, living off paperwork, boring meetings, and always having to worry about the stock market.

Maybe that’s why I wanted to work at the Basil Kitchen two months ago. I wasn’t much of a business person after all. But if my parents did trust me enough to run an empire...

Le sigh.

I don’t know. Perhaps I should talk to my parents about it. I was heading home next weekend, and hopefully I could catch my parents before they leave for work.

I chuckle to myself softly. I can only imagine how that conversation would go.

Speaking of conversations, I have successfully avoided another confrontation with Daniel this entire week (yay me!). It had not been easy, let me tell you that. For one thing, he’s my neighbour. And he’s also in the same class as me. So, I have to be alert at all times, practically on my toes whenever I go anywhere out of the apartment.

Although, there were a number of times in which Daniel and I have made eye contact with each other. There was one time in class where I was looking for a place to sit, when my eyes locked with his. The intensity from his glare almost made me jump out of my skin. I could tell he hates me even more now that I have hit him. His eyes basically told me so. I quickly looked away, my cheeks turning crimson, and kept my head down for the rest of the class.

The next day, I caught him shoving his tongue into a mouth of some random girl outside the apartment. Their make out session was getting really heated. He was feeling her under her shirt, and she was making weird moaning noises that practically scarred me for life. It was so horrifying, I had to look away. But before I did, his eyes pierced mine, making my skin boil.

So ever since I hit him, we have only conversed through stares. And it’s really creepy.

I’m already starting to think that I’m in a Twilight movie.


“Tell me why are we here again?” Nate asks as we enter the bookstore.

I don’t know what kind of hold the bookstore had on me. I don’t know whether it was the smell of the freshly printed books or the sheer number of lives that have been penned on paper. But all I know is that it is heaven.

My kind of heaven.

The wooden panels hammered together support the books and present them in their utmost glory. A row of shelves itself hold the books in an spectrum of wild colours, illuminating the whole store.

I stand there for a while, taking it all in. It’s been a while since I had been here. I have been ordering books online these past few months instead of going to a physical bookstore. I missed the thrill of visiting the place, the excitement I get when I see the book that I want, a soft white glow bathing it, as if it was just for me.

Okay. Now I’m exaggerating.

But still.

When I finally stopped gawking, I shake my head and pull Nate in with me.

The both of us have just finished our classes. I was just about to go to the bookshop with Cara to pick up a few things when Nate approached me outside the apartment. He told me he was going out anyways so he might as well just take me. I felt sort of grateful for his offer because Cara always hates it when I drag her to the bookstore. She, unlike me, loathes books, and whenever we go there, she is always begging for me to hurry up so we could go get Starbucks or something.

I don’t know. Cara’s weird like that.

“What are we doing here?” Nate’s eyes meet mine, a hint of curiosity glimmering in his eyes.

“To get a pet giraffe,” I said. “I was thinking a blue one with pink spots, maybe a little bit shorter so she would be able to fit through our door-”

Nate rolls his eyes. “Okay, I get it. You’re getting all sarcastic with me.”

Patting him on the shoulder, I gesture him to follow me. “We’re going to go get books, dumbass.”

He chuckles, low and deep. “Lead the way, Alex.”

We navigate our way through the rows of bookshops. Occasionally, I pause to see which section we are at. I finally find the section that I intend to go, and I search for my books there. As I stroll down the rows of bookshelves, Nate follows behind me awkwardly, his hands shoved into the pockets of his ripped jeans. My fingers trail horizontally along every book, taking in the words on the spine, and the bright colours that reel me into the book.

“What are you looking for?” Nate asks, and I feel his presence behind me.

I turn around to say to him, smiling, “There are several books that have been released these few months that I need to get my hands on them.” Need wasn’t a strong enough word for it.

I finally spot one that I wanted, and grab it from the second bookshelf. “There it is.”

Nate stands beside me now, and he peers over to see what book I have picked out. His eyes widen and then a low laugh rumbles from under his breath.

"My Life With The Walter Boys?”

I blush deeply. Dammit. I knew he was going to make fun of me for it. My grip on the book tightens as I slide it underneath my arm. “Shut up. It’s amazing okay?”

Nate lifts his hands up in surrender. “Hey, I didn’t say anything.”

I narrow my eyes at him. “You didn’t have to. I can tell you’re already teasing me in your mind.”

He casts a toothy grin at me. “You know nothing of what’s going on in my mind, Alex.”

I whirl around and tilt my head sideways. “Really?”

He wriggles his eyebrows in amusement. “Really.” After a while, he adds, “You want to know what I’m thinking right now?”

I gulp. I turn away again, and start to pace again, but he catches up to me. He places a hand on the edge of my shoulder and leans down to meet my ear. “I think,” He says, his breath hot against me, “That you’re really cute when you’re excited about books.” Nate thinks I’m cute.

Hot dang.

My heart hammers wildly against my chest. I try not to let him see that I’m blushing, because I don’t want him to think his compliment got to me. Instead of replying, I continue to make my way through the maze of books.

I snatch another book up from another bookshelf. It’s way thicker than the other one. I am about to place with underneath my arm together with the previous one, but before I can do that, Nate takes it from my grasp and his eyes scan over the title.

"City of Heavenly Fire,” He reads the title. His dark eyes scan over the book cover and grins at the picture of the main character of the book, “Nice. Badass girl in white with a sword.”

“It’s not a sword,” I grab the book away from him. “It’s called a seraph blade.” “A what?” He blinks in confusion.

I roll my eyes and walk away from him.

Mundanes. They never understand anything.

We go about like this for another half an hour. I scour through the rest of the bookshelves and pick up the remaining books that I intend to buy. We banter back and forth for a while, with him looking through all my books, and me having to tell a summary of the books.

“This one is about a human girl who falls in love with an alien,” I point to one of the hardcovers, “And they go around kicking ass and saving Earth from an alien invasion.”

“Nice.” Nate nods his head. “How about this one?” He points to another book.

“This book is about a devil and an angel falling in love, and they have to unite forces to stop the evil chimaera from ruling their world.”

“You read very hardcore books.” He chuckles as he places the books back into the pile. “I like a girl who can handle deep shit like this.”

I laugh. “Okay, now you’re being sarcastic.”

He grins. “You really read a lot, do you?”

“Yeah.” I blush. “I love reading stories. Plus, it helps me improve my creative writing.”

“You write a lot of stories too?”

“Yes. But only short stories though. I can’t really write any longer than that. My attention span is too narrow.”

Nate smiles.

Then I add, “you can come over later if you want. I can... Show my short stories to you, if you want to read them.”

His face lights up. “I’d like that.”

He takes the pile of books from me, and places them on the counter. The cashier asks for my membership card and I give it to her without any hesitation. Nate stands beside me, his huge arms folded over the books. As I wait for the cashier to print my receipt, I ask Nate.

“You sure you don’t have to do anything today? I mean, I know you’d rather be hanging out with your roommates than with me.”

Nate furrows his eyebrows. “No way.” He replies, “Daniel’s always not around because he’s too busy having sex with every girl on campus. And Simon, as usual, is locked in his room playing this new game he had been talking about for some time now. So yeah. I’d rather be hanging out with you any day.”

The corners of my lips lift to a smile. After the cashier hands me my receipt, Nate helps me carry my books and the both of us leave the bookstore.

It was a good day.

But little did I know I was not going to have one of those for a long time.

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