Chapter 36 – Nancy
I can’t help but feel a bit of jealousy as I see Greg’s golden tan in the pictures he is showing and his happy aura whenever he is around Taylor. Makes me think of my own little ‘vacation’ with Rafa and what a disaster it was. Repressing a stab of intense anger at the mere thought, I hand him back the pictures he printed and smile brightly. “They are beautiful.”
That is no lie, the scenery and the bright colours are gorgeous. The carefree expression on their faces are too sincere, making me unable to look at them for long. The way Greg looks at me has my stomach clenching in dread of the question he obviously wants to ask about my ‘vacation’. He must have seen something in my expression that keeps him from asking.
Trying not to glance at my phone as I feel it buzz in my pocket. Hoping and dreading that it will be Rafa. Since returning, our relationship has cooled considerably and Veronica has taken full advantage of that. She is always around Rafa whenever I see him, and my worst fears are realised as he doesn’t tell her to let go or step back as she hangs on his arm. Our family vacation at Rainbow didn’t help at all, if anything, it increased my anxiety.
During mine and Rafa’s ‘vacation’ they all thought I was a younger family member, even though it was quite clear that I wasn’t the case. To make matters worse, Rafa naturally flirted back whenever someone flirted with him. My self-esteem took a nose dive whenever I sa that, and I have been fighting my depression ever since. Sasha has been very supportive of me and so has my family. I am just looking for the right way to express it to Rafa. Sasha as bold as ever, told me to ‘just tell him and get it over with. No use dragging this out any longer than it already has.’
“Nance, honey, what’s wrong?” Mom’s slightly concerned face comes into focus as I open my eyes. Must have fallen asleep watching those silly YouTube video’s Sasha sent me. “You have been crying.” My eyes feel puffy as he gently rubs his thumbs under and over my eyes, wiping away silent tears as he goes. “You know you can talk to us right?”
I nod my head while looking down at my fingers plucking at my duvet. “I know mom.” Before I know it, I am pressed firmly against mom’s chest, clutching his shirt and sobbing loudly, stumbling over the words as they leave my mouth about everything. Mom is patient, makes soothing noises and rubs my back in warming circles muttering ‘I know honey, I know.’
When my blubbering finally calms down, I feel drained and yawn loudly. “Before you go to sleep honey, papa knows a way to help with your worries.” Mom admissions, tugging the duvet away from me, he waits for me to follow him downstairs where papa is waiting for me sitting on the sofa.
“Lie down and close your eyes.” Doing as told, papa wraps a blanket around me, “Drink this.” I obey and drink from the glass. “Everything will be alright Carina, we are here for you.” The words as me fleetingly thinking of Rafa but my brain doesn’t search for a deeper meaning for that as it shuts down for the night.
I don’t feel tired or drained as I get up the next morning feeling refreshed. Maybe bawling my eyes out every once in a while is a good thing. Greg does look a little worried as he eyes me up and down, looking for something I rather not name. “You want to ride with us today?” It’s nice of him to offer but I don’t think I could stand the thirty minutes it takes to get to school being surrounded by their happy bubble.
So, I smile, stuffing my hands in my back pockets, shaking my head. “Thanks, but I think I will take the bus today.” His eyes narrow, but he doesn’t say anything, just shrugs. Leaving the house, I don’t see Rafa’s car anywhere, so I assume he must have told Tay who probably told Rafa that I am riding the bus and that Rafa doesn’t have to pick me up.
“I knew it wouldn’t last for very long. I mean look at her!”
“I know right? Makes you wonder what Rafael ever saw in her.”
“She just used him to become popular, I mean why else would she leech off him?”
Although their words sting, thanks to papi’s training last night, I manage to shake most of it off. Walking with purpose, I mount the steps to Rafa’s locker row on the second floor. His loud voice is a dead give away that he is there. The speed of his speech tells me he is quite annoyed with whomever is there with him. My steps falter for a few precious seconds when I hear a distinct female voice answer him.
Veronica! Is my immediate thought, anger and hate surge up. I have no words for how I feel right now with her and him alone. I don’t care that it is a public hallway and anyone can walk past and interrupt them.
“Come on Rafa!” I hear her calling out, her voice high strung. Clearly desperate for his attention. “You can’t seriously think she will be better than me? Do you?! She made an absolute mess of things with Giorgio’s birthday last month!” She cries, her voice a shrill sound. “She nearly dropped him!”
The winch from Rafa tells me how much it hurts him. I know his deepest wish is to have a lot of young children, he hasn’t said the words but I can see it in the look on his face when she sees his younger cousin’s and their parents, imagining himself the father.
Peeking around the corner, I can see that she is pressed up close, clinging to his arm. “I know she didn’t mean to, Rafa, I do. I swear, I do.” She rubs his arm in reassurance, “But she is just a kid Rafa, she would never really understand you. Not the way I do.”
“And how is that huh?” Rafa’s aggressive answer startles the both of us. “What do you really know about me?” The deathly glare on his face has her cowering away from him. Clearly she never saw this side of him. “Well Veronica? What do you know about me huh?”
The fact that she is cowering away from him seems to piss him off even more as he gets all up in her face. “You know nothing about me. Absolutely nothing.”
“Leave her alone Rafa, she is scared enough as it is. No need to push her even further.” At the sound of my voice both turn to look at me as I step into the hallway. Veronica takes Rafa’s shift in attention as a chance to escape and I don’t blame her. His face and tense body radiate anger and frustration. “We need to talk.”
My steps are slow, deliberate as I make my way over to him. “If this is about what happened on our vacation, I already apologised. I am not doing it again. You were the one that shut me out. Not the other way around.”
Shaking my head, I let out a soft breath. “I know Rafa. That is not entirely about that. On one side it is and on the other side it isn’t. It is about that and more.”
Taking his silence as my cue to start, I let it all out. Everything about my biological parents, the fact I witnessed my dad beating my mom to death. The fact I have all these insecurities about myself and why he would want to be with me of all people. The fact I suffer from depression. Every little detail about myself that I have kept hidden from most people is laid out for him.
I feel bare and very vulnerable after all that. My chest is heaving, my body shaking. Rafa’s expression is unreadable as he is leaning against the locker row behind him. “I understand it is a lot to take in. And whatever you decide to do next is solely up to you.” And I ran after that like the coward that I am.
Sasha looks knowingly at me as I tell her what I have finally done. “And don’t you feel a lot better now that he knows?” I don’t know if this feeling is because my gut twisting in dread with him having all this knowledge about me.
I am not too surprised that Rafa is not really ignoring me, but doesn’t go out of his way to talk to me either. What I told him earlier this week is a lot to take in. I can see that he feels sorry for me or at least pity flash through his eyes whenever I manage to catch his gaze.
It is better this way. Although I keep repeating that sentence to myself like a mantra, I still hope he will not let go of his attraction for me. I am selfishly hoping he will stick by me, even though I know he wont.
He is too smart to hang around a disaster like me. Not that I am purposely being harsh on myself, but I know how damaged I am. Regardless of my family. I know what my future holds; no partner, and no kids. I don’t want to be a repeat of what my parents had. For that will be my future if I have a partner. I just know it. I rather be alone the rest of my life than have a tragic short life like my mom.
Lo is pouting sitting at the dinner table looking dejected. His bottom lip is protruding and he refuses to look at me when I address him. “What is it Lo? Why are you so down?” He stubbornly shakes his head, still looking at the table top, arms crossed in front of him.
“Did you have another fight with Sean?” Lately he and Sean are getting in more and more trouble together and somehow it always escalates into a fight between them. How they can call themselves friends is beyond me.
I frown when the doorbell rings as I make my way to the door, nobody in our house is expecting guests. My breath stops when I see Rafa stand on our porch. “We need to talk.” Looking back, I walk out past Rafa and gently close the front door.
“What is it?” I can’t bring myself to look him in the eye so I focus on a point beside his left ear.
He rakes a hand through his hair and I know he is going to leave. He is going to break-up with me, I bite my bottom lip to keep the desperate words inside. The desperate words that will beg him to stay, beg him to give me another chance. I know they will spill out should I release my lip, I have seen my mother do it countless times when my dad would leave in a drunken rage, after beating her nearly to a pulp. She would always apologise, clinging to his arm. Pleading pathetically for him to not leave us, we were sorry and will never do it again so please don’t leave us Red.
I am so lost in thought that I miss everything that Rafa says. His eyes are dark with rage as his hand grips my shoulder tightly. “It is rude not to listen to when someone speaks to you.”
“Sorry, was lost in thought.” I keep shifting my weight, feeling like a herbivore driven into a corner by a hungry carnivore. Ready to be feasted on.
He shakes his head, letting out a deep breath. “Happens quite often to you doesn’t it?” You have no idea, especially when it is something I don’t particularly want to hear.