Chapter 55: Only For You
I’ve already been here a week and I don’t know how I feel about my mom being my only friend here.
I’ve been holed up in the house with my mom. I guess it isn’t that bad; spending time with her is fine. She only starts work the day after New Year’s so she has about a week of freedom left. So, she’s been spending all her time baking and cooking, trying to master all the recipes from some Jamie Oliver’s cook book that Gina has given to her for Christmas.
Sometimes, I help her, but sometimes I don’t. I box myself up in my own room, and read and write, because those are the only things I am capable of doing right now. So far I have read seven books in seven days and have written over 10 chapters for ‘Blankets’. I actually felt quite proud of myself. I’m nearing the end for my first draft, and I’ve never been more excited.
And somehow, not being able to share that with Daniel hurts a little bit.
I remember the first time he caught me writing in my room- a few days after we became official. We didn’t have class that day so I ended up trying to fix a few chapters of Blankets before microwaving myself some dinner. Then Daniel burst in my room with his guitar and made himself very comfortable on the right side of the bed, grinning madly down at me.
He places his guitar down and snatched the laptop from me.
“Hey!” I yell. “Give that back. I’m not done yet.”
He widens his eyes at me, and then looks at what I’ve written. “I want to read what you’ve written.”
“You can read it when I’m done, so please pass me back the laptop you impatient whore.”
He chuckles. “Impatient whore? Several months of insulting me and you come up
with that? I think you may be losing your touch, sweetheart.”
I roll my eyes and grab my laptop. “I’m really not in the mood, Daniel.”
“That has got to be the first time a girl has ever said that to me.”
I nudge his shoulder. “Go away. I’m writing.”
“Read to me what you’ve written.”
“I’m going to serenade you with my guitar playing and my singing if you don’t.”
“Oh don’t you dare-”
Too late. He’s already grabbed the guitar and in his most high pitched voice, starts to sing ‘Hey Jude’ in a way that would have the Beatles shaking their heads from their graves.
“Stop!” I laugh and my hands fly over my ears. “Please!”
“No no no no no no no!” He sings.
“Okay okay! Shut up so I can read it to you.”
“Thank god.” He knocks the guitar out of the bed. He scoots closer to me, placing an arm around me. “Now read.”
I do. I start by recapping what he’d missed in the previous chapter, and then I narrate him the two chapters I had written today. He stares at me, completely mesmerised at my lips moving, and I’m not sure if he’s actually listening, or he just wants to kiss me.
“Did you even hear what I just said?” I glare at him irritably. A sheepish smile crosses his face.
“Oh ye of little faith.” He says, “Of course I heard you. You were talking about how Caleb couldn’t accept the fact that Valentina had stolen the blanket from him, betraying his trust and his love.”
“Wow.” I breathe. “You’ve really been listening.”
“I love your story.” He says. “I love it. I think you’re going to get it published and be a really successful author one day.”
“You really think so?” I look up to him.
He takes that opportunity for him to tilt my chin upwards and kiss me breathless. “Yes. I do.” He grins against my lips. “And I’ll be your number one fan.”
“Wow. Daniel Kerrington being someone else’s fan other than himself. You really have changed.” I laugh.
“Only for you, Alex.” His eyes light up, “Only for you.” Nope. Nope. Nope. I’m not thinking about him. Nope.
Erase... erasing... erased. All thoughts about him.
Needing a breather, I head down to the kitchen and find my mom studying the cookbook, her face scrunched up like she’s in deep thought. She doesn’t hear me come down the stairs until I’m right in front of her.
“Hey,” She looks up and a smile pops on her face. “I’m thinking of making macaroons. You in?”
“Not today, mom.” I shake my head. “But I’ll watch you.”
“Like that doesn’t sound creepy at all.” She mutters, and I think I know where I get my sarcasm from.
She starts to gather up all the ingredients and hums softly to herself. Most of the time she doesn’t hum any actual song. She has this tendency to make up random songs as she goes. I watch as she does her thing, cracking all the eggs, pouring in the flour, preparing the tray.
Even though she sucks donkey ass at cooking, she’s a real expert on baking, ironically.
Suddenly, the doorbell rings, and both of us freeze. I look at mom, and she shrugs, nodding her head towards the door, silently asking me to get it. I drag myself to the door and find a man in front of me.
“Miss Alexandria Woods?” He asks.
“Yeap. That’s me.” I say.
He thrusts a clipboard towards me. “Sign here. And here. And here. Okay. Here you go.”
And he hands me a package.
“Have a nice day.” And then he’s off.
I stare at the package in my hands. It’s really heavy. I place it down on the coffee table beside the sofa, and examine it. No return address. Huh. Weird.
Taking the scissors, I cut open the box and the minute I peek into it, I feel all the air leave my body.
A pile of books.
Not just any pile of books.
The exact same pile of books that Daniel had once creased, in result to me trashing his car.
I can’t believe it. I hold some of the books in my hand. They’re exactly the copies that I had, only brand new, and all in hardcover. Some are even signed. At the very last book, I notice a small piece of paper peeking out of the pages. I take it out and read it.
I owed you.
Sorry it took so long.
The ink on the paper gets blotched from my tears.
Behind me, mom voices out. “Alex? Are you okay?”
I wipe the tears off my face and plaster a smile on my face. “Yeah. I’m fine. I... um, I’m heading back upstairs.”
I grab the books and carry them upstairs. Then, I bury my face in my pillow and scream.
Remember that time last Thanksgiving when my dad called Daniel a good chap? That he’d be good for me? That he would always treat me right?
Now, all I want for him is for him to take it back.
Every single word.
Because I don’t want Daniel to be a good chap. I don’t want to think that he’s good for me. I don’t want to think that he will always treat me right.
Thinking about that just makes it harder to hate him even more.
I want to hate him. God, I want to. I want to strangle him for making me feel this way. I want to hurt him like how he’d hurt me.
I know what my dad would say if he’d ever hear me say that. He would tell me that I shouldn’t think about Daniel that way. My dad was always someone who thought about everything before saying something and I know anything that came out from his mouth was of good reason. He knew Daniel was right for me.
He believed it.
I used to believe it too.
And looking at what Daniel had sent me over the mail, those books, those memories…
I don’t know what to believe anymore.
Mom was supposed to make dinner but she burnt our food, so we ended up having sushi. We sit by the table, the classical music from my speakers filling the air, creating a warm ambience. I use my chopsticks to grab an ebi, and pop it in my mouth.
Mom grabs the one with the tiny orange balls on it and dips it in the sauce. “Your dad used to love these.” She sighs as she eats it. “We used to order a lot of sushi when we spend our nights in the office.” I merely smile at the thought of my dad.
“You know he used to work in a sushi place before?” She laughs. “It was pretty funny. After his band flopped real bad, his dad made him take a real job. I guessed not a lot of people wanted to hire him because of that huge tattoo of his-”
I almost choked. “Dad had a tattoo?”
“Yeap.” She says, her eyes twinkling. “A huge skull on his left arm. I can still remember. It intimidated the crap out of everyone that came near him. Nobody wanted to hire him except for this one guy who owned the sushi place, so he let your father work there. During the summer, he was seen making sushi for the conveyer belt.”
“Oh my god. I can’t even picture that.” I laugh. “It’s too much for my brain.”
Mom joins in, laughing too. “That’s how I met him actually. Your grandparents had kicked me out again because I had been caught with my previous boyfriend-”
“The one who broke up with you, right?” I recall dad telling me about how he had broken her heart.
She nods. “Yeah, so I was hungry and I didn’t have much money left. So I visited the place and I saw him there.”
“And you guys fell in love.” I gush.
She shakes her head. “Far from that. It was hate at first sight. He was so rude to me that day, which resulted in me pouring green tea over him. The next day, he had somehow found me and apologized for what he had said to me. I forgave him, and after that, he asked me out. I refused.” “Why?” I prod.
“Because he looked like someone my parents wouldn’t have approved of.” She replies. “And I didn’t want to get in trouble with them again. So I told him I’d only agree to go on a date with him if he’d throw away the I-don’t-care-about-anything personality and the tattoo.”
“And he did.”
“Yes, he did. He quit his job from the sushi place, got rid of the tattoo, and with his little savings, he started Woods and Co.” Mom tells me. “The company grew fast. Everyone was taking notice of the products, even me. Then, one day, he called me again and wouldn’t hang up until I agreed to go on the date with him. This time, I said yes.”
“And the rest was history.”
“The rest was history.” She repeated.
“It’s funny... um, how you guys met.” I chuckle to myself quietly. “Because that’s how Daniel and I met too. Remember when I worked at Basil Kitchen last summer?”
And then, I proceed to tell her me and Daniel’s hate story. She watches me as I talk, fascinated, and she laughed when I tell her about me pouring champagne all over him.
“Now that sounds quite familiar, huh?” She says.
“Like mother, like daughter.” I snort.
She smiles again, as bright as the stars that appear in California night sky. We continue the rest of our dinner in silence, both realizing that this is the first time in what feels like a long time since we had spoken to each other like this- easy and carefree.
“I miss dad.” I say after a while, my chopstick poking the wasabi. “I miss him a lot.”
“Me too.” Mom sighs. “Do you think he would be happy that we’re here away from Boston?”
“I don’t know.” I frown. “I guess he would want us to be happy.”
Mom really looks at me. “Are you happy, Alex?”
“Of course I’m happy, mom. I’m with you.” I shoot her a grateful smile but it’s not convincing her.
“I don’t mean that,” she shakes her head. “Are you really happy here? Not just for my sake?”
I think about how to answer her question. What am I supposed to say?
Tell her the truth, my dad would have said.
I sigh. He’s right. But... If I tell her the truth…
I would hurt her. And this family has been hurt enough.
Plastering a big smile, I say, “I’m here for you and for me. I’m happy here. And I’m not going anywhere.”