Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 54: Goodbye, Daniel

Sitting with my mom in the economy class of the airplane, I tap my feet against the red carpet, nervously checking my phone for the time. The attendant is telling us that the plane would be taking off soon, and we are to put on our seat belts and wait as the last few passengers aboard the plane.

I allow myself to relax in my seat, and I look out the window, already lost in my own thoughts.

Did I make a rash decision agreeing to move to California with my mom?

Yeah. Probably.

Did a part of me said yes to moving because I needed to put some distance away from Daniel?

Yes on that too. But only partially. I needed to put some distance away from my dad too.

Would I regret this decision?

Maybe. Maybe not. Right now, I don’t. Because I think moving away is the best plan for my mom and I. Well, technically we’re not moving to Cali yet. We’re staying in my mom’s colleague’s spare house until we will be able to find a suitable apartment to live in.

Mom already has one in mind. She wants our place to be small, but big enough for the two of us. She also wants it to overlook the beach so we can sit outside every evening to watch the sun set.

She’s already picturing our life together in Cali already. I can tell she’s really excited about it. It helps her take her mind off dad, which is great. Since we’re on a tight budget, she’s been looking at Ikea magazines and dog earring the furniture on the pages that we need to get when we finally move in. I ask her if she wants to just ship over all our stuff from our townhouse but she doesn’t want to hear any of it.

She says if we want to live in Cali, we have to start new.

And that apparently, includes furniture.

But whatever. I’m not complaining. I’m happy that she’s happy. Right now, my mom’s my only priority. Okay, that and trying to figure out how the hell am I going to resume studies over in another state. Since it’s winter break and also mid- semester, I’m not sure how applying to another college will work. I think they might have to transfer my credits from Boston college, which in fact, might take quite a while.

I don’t know. I don’t exactly want to think about it. I’ll just see how it plays out.

Speaking of life back at Boston, Cara is so mad (but mostly sad) at me for leaving. She understands why I have to do it, but she thinks I’m making another one of my stupid mistakes.

“Are you sure you’re not just moving over there to escape Daniel?” She asked

“No!” I shrieked. Then, I hesitated. “Yes? God, I don’t know! I just know I can’t be here right now, okay? Everything has practically gone to shit, and my mom really needs me. I can’t bail on her. Not now. Not ever.”

“I get that your mom wants to start another life away from here or whatever, but are you sure that’s what you want too? And are you really doing this for your dad?” She sighed. “I don’t want you to go over there and regret the decision. You and I both know that you’re meant to be here, even if everything has gone to shit.”

“I have to, Cara.” I said. “I have to go. I need space away from everything that has happened here.”

She casted me a sympathetic smile. “Maybe Daniel didn’t mean it. What he said.” I had told her about our horrible break up half an hour ago and she still couldn’t quite believe it.

“I used to think that too.” I shrugged, “I guess he’s been playing me all this while and I’ve been too blind to notice.”

“Something about him doesn’t seem right,” She furrowed her eyebrows. “I don’t know. Maybe I should talk to him-”

“No!” I said almost immediately. “You can’t!”

“Why the hell not?”

“Because then he thinks I want him back!”

“But don’t you want him back?”

Her question haunted me then and still haunts me now. What if Daniel did want me back? What would I say?

The words he said to me during our break up hits me so hard it almost knocks the breath out of me.

I don’t do commitment. I fuck girls and when I’m done with them, I throw them away. And now, you have to go.

I fooled you into thinking that I love you so I can get laid.

We fucked, and sure it was fun, but I’m done with you. Forever.

I know what I would say to him if he ever wants me back.

I’ll tell him to go fuck himself.

His words cut me so deep I swear that I bled that day after we broke up. I know that there’s something, or someone, that had provoked him to say those ugly things to me, but now, I’m too tired to play Sherlock and figure it out.

I made Cara swear not to ask him about it ever. After a lot of persuading, she finally gave up and told me she would not talk to him. Then, we went to argue about the whole decision about moving to Cali, which she also lost, because I wasn’t going to change my mind.

“I don’t know what I’ll do without you, Alex.” She hugged me, tears flowing down her cheeks. “I’m fucking going to miss you. So damn much. Not even Simon can cure me of you.”

I laughed. “I’ll miss you too. But this isn’t goodbye! I promise I’ll come and visit, hopefully when I have the time-”

That’s when she started to full on sob, her tears soaking my entire shirt.

It was horrible. Something I didn’t want to relive again.

I had only managed to calm her down only an hour later, but even then, she was still really upset about it. “You’ll call, okay? Everyday. Every night. I want to know everything that’s going on over there. Who’s going to be your new best friend-”

“Come on, Cara. You know you’ll always be my best friend.”

“I’m serious!” She swatted me on the shoulder. “I want to know every single detail. Okay? Even which guy you’re seeing!”

“I don’t think I’m going to be seeing any guys anytime soon.”

She stopped talking, and really looked at me. “Daniel kind of ruined you for anyone else, didn’t he?”

I could only nod.

“Mom was right.” I muttered, “He did break me. And you know what? The pathetic thing is, I’d let him do it all over again if we ever got another chance.”

“Oh, Alex.” And she consoled me by hugging me again. “I’m so sorry. About everything. Your dad. Daniel...” “Yeah.” I choke out.

It was a very emotional day for the both of us. After I left her apartment, I proceeded to see Nate. I knew I needed to say goodbye to him. I guess he knew the goodbye was coming, because when he saw me, his face just fell.

“So, I take it that the whole thing at Kerrington & Co didn’t go well.”

“Nope.”

“I guess I saw it coming.” He sighed. “So, you’re actually leaving huh?”

“How do you know?”

“Word gets around.” He said, then paused slightly. “So, you’re here to say goodbye.”

I took a step forward and hugged him. I didn’t need to tell him goodbye, my gesture told him everything. He wrapped his arms around me and held me close.

I pulled away from him and smiled, “Thank you for the memories, Nate. You’ve been nothing but good to me.” “I’ll miss you.” He murmured.

“I think your girlfriend will totally kill you if she heard you say that to me.” I snort.

“Nah.” He waved me off. “She knows I don’t have feelings for you anymore. Speaking of her...” He hesitated. “You can come in and meet her...”

“Um no thanks. That would be too awkward.” I laughed. “But thanks anyway. I’m sure she’s great.”

“She is...” Nate grinned.

“Good to know.” I laughed. “Well... Goodbye, Nate.”

“Don’t say goodbye.” He shook his head. “Say till we meet again.”

I nodded my head, even though we both know that may not happen.

My last stop was the penthouse. I really didn’t want to go back there, and I considered asking Cara to help me grab my things for me, but I knew I had to do it myself. I couldn’t hide forever. I needed to be brave. If it’s one thing he ever taught me, it’s to be that.

I didn’t have the keys to the place because I left in such a hurry after he broke up with me, so I had to knock on the door. Mustering up the courage, I did exactly that.

Daniel opened the door and for a few long moments, we just stared at each other.

It was the longest minute of my life. I quickly brushed past him and told him I was only here for my things. I was about to head up to my room to clear my things when I see everything piled up in boxes right in front of me.

I wanted to break into tears at that very moment. Because I didn’t expect him to quickly pack up everything for me, like he had already erased any trace that I had been living here.

“Everything’s here.” I breathed.

He crossed his arms over his chest and nodded. “Yeap. Every last thing.”

I gulped and took shaky breath. “Okay, I’ll just-”

“I can help you take them down to the car.” His eyes met with mine and I swear I could feel my soul leaving my body.

“No.” I said quickly. “I’ll take them down myself.” And I started to pile up the boxes.

“You can’t expect to carry all of these by yourself.” He rolled his eyes. “The least I can do is help you.”

“I don’t need your help.” I said, a little bit harsher than usual.

“I insist,” He said again.

“Why are you nice to me?” I blurted out. I couldn’t help it. The question had been lingering in my mind, and I needed to ask him. “Is it because you feel guilty about treating me like trash? Because you should.”

He didn’t answer me. He clenched his jaw tightly.

So, I took the opportunity to continue. “Or maybe perhaps you’re offering to help me with my boxes because you can’t wait to get rid of me once and for all.”

“Don’t say that.” He growled.

“Isn’t it true?” My voice broke. “I think the news of me moving to California may have already reached you. Yeah. I’m going for good. You don’t have to see me again, ever. How convenient for you.”

He looked away swiftly, pain reaching his eyes.

I scoffed and placed the boxes down. “I’ll call in a favour to Cara to help me with these. I’m leaving now.”

And then, I took my bag and walked out of the door.

“Wait.” He suddenly called out and I whipped around.

He looked at me like he wanted to say something, anything. I paused, waiting for his next words, but they didn’t come.

That made my heart break a little more.

I rolled my eyes, my hand on the doorknob. “Goodbye, Daniel.” And then I slammed the door shut.

I wince at the memory of it, and shake my head to diminish my thoughts. The plane starts to take off the runaway and I glance out of the window, watching as Boston becomes smaller and smaller until it’s finally out of sight.

My mom reaches over to squeeze my hand. She looks at me, a smile forming on her face. I like to see her smile. It’s rare.

“We’re leaving, Alex. We’re finally leaving.” She closes her eyes and take a huge breath. “I feel so much lighter now. It’s an amazing feeling.” I smile back at her.

She senses my distress. Her face falls slightly. “Are you okay, Alex?”

No.

I’m not.

I don’t know why but I’m not.

Instead, I reply, “Yes.” I force another smile on my face. “I’ve never been better.”


When we finally settle down into our temporary home, mom hugs Gina, her friend who owns the place and who also drove us from the airport. I decide to head upstairs to unpack some of my things.

I don’t unpack everything: just the essentials like toiletries, several books, and some clothes. After a quick dash into the shower and back, I slip into a tank top and shorts before popping on the bed and grabbing my laptop to resume ‘Blankets’.

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything. I guess maybe if I write, it will take my mind off the moving-to-California-for-my-mom-and-sort-of-for-me-but-not-actually thing.

I barely have time to write a full sentence before my phone rings.

I know exactly who’s calling me.

“Hey,” I say. “How’s day one in Boston without Alex?”

“Sucks,” I can totally picture Cara pouting when she says this, “I hate you for leaving.”

“I miss you too, Cara.” I laugh. “How’s life over there?”

“You make it sound like I’m living on Mars or something.” She snorts. “But yeah, I guess things are normal here-ish. Simon and I are going on our one month anniversary date tonight. But... I don’t feel like going. It doesn’t feel nice knowing that you won’t be fifteen minutes away from me when I brag about it to you with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a nice plate of pancakes.”

“I’m sorry, Cara.” I frown. “Does it help if you can brag about it to me over the phone while I send you pictures of a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a nice plate of pancakes on WhatsApp?”

“Yeah, but it’s just not the same.” She laughs. “Speaking of that, I just saw Daniel. He came over the apartment to hang out with Simon.”

“Oh, really?” I try not to sound interested but completely fail.

“Yeap.” She says, popping the ‘P’. “Simon and Daniel have been holed up in our room ever since. God knows what they’re doing. Sometimes, I think they’re like girls and they’re on the bed with their pillows talking about their feelings.” I burst out laughing.

“Anyways, Daniel brought his guitar over and now he’s strumming the worst tunes ever, singing horribly to them. I don’t think I’ve ever been this scarred after hearing Daniel sing.”

“Now you feel my pain.”

“God, it’s like, it’s horrible.” She says, “Not the singing. I can literally feel his emotions lapping off of him like waves. He’s so... pained all the time. So tortured. I think the break up is really getting to him, Alex.” I say nothing.

“I don’t know but I have a feeling something’s up with him.” She tells me in a serious tone. “I don’t believe that he broke up with you because he got bored of you. He really loved you. Simon knows it. Nate knows it. Hell, even you know it. You just don’t want to do anything about it.”

“What am I supposed to do?” I say helplessly. “I tried, Cara. I thought it couldn’t be true too. And look where that got me. He made a decision to break my heart and I have to live with that.”

“God, you two are a mess.” She sighs. “I’m going to get to the bottom of this. I’m your best friend. it’s my job.”

“You really don’t have to-”

“No, I do.” She says adamantly. “You guys belong with each other, and I have to make sure he finds his way back to you. I just need to figure out what illusion he’s putting up, and then, I’ll shatter it.”

And then, she hangs up.

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