It was like my feet had suddenly been glued to the floor, and my tongue had become a sheet of sandpaper. I stood there, with my mouth agape and refusing to look Theo in the eye. I couldn’t look at him, or else I’d just start crying all over again. If I cried another time I’m sure my eyes would dry up like the desert. I was surprised I wasn’t dehydrated yet from all the constant crying and wallowing.
I felt pathetic, and truth be told, I was so done with all this. It was Christmas. My Christmas, my favorite holiday out of them all and they had to come traipsing in like they owned the place?
No. I was tired of the Thompson family acting like they owned the world, and acting like nobody else’s feelings mattered. All that mattered to them was money and power. They had absolutely no right to be here. I was over them and it was time for them to go.
Without removing my eyes from the hardwood of our living room, I cleared my throat and spoke. “It’s time for you guys to go.”
“Mya, could you please just hear me out?”
“No. Why should I? I’m done being the understanding and forgiving person all the time. I’m tired of it all. I’m tired of always being considerate to others, just for them to walk all over me.” My eyes finally flickered up to Theo and I immediately regretted it.
I returned my eyes back to the ground and kept them there. He was now keeping his mouth zipped shut, but in his eyes I knew he was desperately wanting to talk again. But I didn’t care. I was holding my ground.
In the few seconds I had seen him I noticed he was sporting a five-o’clock shadow across his pronounced jawline, proving that he hadn’t taken the time to shave since the ball. There were dark circles from lack of sleep resting rudely beneath his eyes. Theo was in just about as bad shape as me, maybe even worse. It was so odd to see him looking anything less than his usual model-like self.
I almost felt bad for him. Key word being almost.
“So you can both leave. Now.”
“No no. Nobody go anywhere. Mya, sweetie, can you help me grab the cookies from the kitchen?” My mom stood from the couch and gently wrapped her hand around my forearm, pulling me out of the room before I could say no.
“Mom, what are you doing?” I asked when she finally released me.
“Trying to help you. Amaya, sweetheart. I know you’re hurting, but you told me he never truly broke up with you. You just heard it from rumors.”
“Yeah, but he admitted to the whole thing being true. He was planning on dumping me either way!” I retorted, feeling like my mom was suddenly against me.
“Maybe, but what is also true is that you never heard him out. I know you don’t want me saying this, but you two are so good together. He brings out this light in you that I hadn’t seen in you since you were a child. Back when you were so carefree. Before you cared about GPAs and your college applications. And when he looks at you, he looks at you like you’re the only one in the room. He sees only you, Amaya. He’s a good boy, sweetie. I know he is, and I think you should at least give him a chance to be heard. I know you want nothing to do with him right now, but just give him a chance to tell his story.” She looked into my eyes seriously, almost like she knew something I didn’t.
I was shocked at her words, and felt butterflies flutter in my stomach. She had seen that much during Thanksgiving? How had she been able to see things I didn’t even know were in existence?
Either way, I was not giving in.
“I don’t care. I can find another guy to look at me like that.”
“No, mom. I am standing my ground. Why are you against me on this?”
She shrugged. “I just think you should hear him out and after that if you feel the same, like you still can’t deal with him, then that’s your decision to make. But I don’t want you to make a hasty decision when you haven’t even heard the other side of the story.”
I hadn’t seen my mom look so serious about something in so long. The free spirited woman that she usually wasn’t evident in this moment. I let out a sigh and picked up the plate of cookies. “Fine. Let’s go get this over with.”
“Good!” She sounded optimistic as she followed me. “I’ll just go see your dad tomorrow.”
I immediately stopped and whipped around, almost making all the cookies slide off Christmas-themed ceramic.
“No. You can’t just ditch dad on Christmas.” I closed my eyes and let out a sigh. I can’t believe I was about to do this to myself. “Why don’t you go see him while I deal with this whole situation?”
I noticed her eyes immediately light up, but she did her best to hide it. “Are you sure sweetie? I don’t want to leave you all alone here.”
“Yeah. I’m positive. Just tell dad I’ll be in to see him tomorrow and that I’m sorry I couldn’t see him.”
“I could just wait on you.” She suggested.
“Mom, I’m serious. Just go. I have a feeling that this conversation isn’t going to be over before visiting hours.” I sighed before truthfully.
My mother looked conflicted. I could see there was a battle going on in her eyes, whether to stay or to go. But in the end I assisted her to the door, assuring her I’d be just fine by myself.
I wasn’t sure I would be, but I was tired of seeing the guilt in my mother’s eyes, so I just went for it.
As soon as the door was sealed shut between us, I immediately regretted my decision. Having my mom here ensured me not turning into one of two personalities.
Either a raging lunatic or a pathetic and sobbing mess. Knowing myself, I was expecting an equal mix of the two to channel through me. So I put on my bravest face and walked back into the living room.
Theo was sitting there staring at the floor with his hands folded in front of him, waiting for me to return. And as soon as I did, he perked right up.
Our eyes met and I immediately felt bad. Which I hated.
I had no reason to feel sorry for him. This was all on him. It was his fault completely, but my stupid heart still yearned to hold him in my arms and comfort him.
There was a major civil war was going on between my brain and heart. My mind knew that Theo had broken us up. He was the reason we were in this whole mess and yet my heart still loved him with all it had. For this battle, I had no idea who was going to be the victor.
The first thing I noticed about Amaya was how cute she looked in her christmas pajamas. We had picked ours out together online, and I thought a onesie covered in reindeers was just right for her. She had always told me that Christmas was her favorite holiday, but her face showed differently.
Her eyes were red and puffy, like she had been crying for a day straight. And her hair was disheveled as if she had just rolled out of bed. This wasn’t the Amaya I knew, and I knew that it was my fault she was like this. I had ruined her festive holiday within the timespan of a few days.
How could I even begin to apologize? Could she ever take me back? And more importantly, would she ever forgive me?
The girlfriend I have come to know and love had always been the most forgiving person I knew, but this was a whole other level. Just as I was about to lose my shit, Mya walked back into the room with a plate of Christmas-themed cookies. I watched her politely set the platter down on the coffee table and quietly take a seat on the chair opposite me.
She didn’t say a word and refused to even meet my eyes. It was becoming very clear how close I was to losing the one thing in my life I was proud to have. The one person who I loved. Was she as afraid of losing me as I was of losing her?
Was he as afraid of losing me as I was of losing him? I know he broke up with me. He drove a wedge between us. He didn’t communicate. This was all his fault.
But seeing him sitting there across from me, all shifty and nervously messing with his hair every five seconds I started seeing all the things I would miss when I lost him.
His joking manner that would always bring my mood up in trying times. His perfectly chocolatey eyes that could make any dieter break their commitment. The way he treated children and animals with such compassion. The way he cared for me, sick or healthy. And most importantly, the way he loved me with all his heart.
Sitting there thinking about him, started to eat away at my resolve to block him out till the end of our days. Thinking all those lovely things about him triggered something in me, and before I could stop myself I again locked eyes with the one and only Theo Thompson.
In a rather surprising turn of events, Amaya’s eyes moved away from the coffee table and locked with mine. Confusion and sadness swirled around her beautiful irises. I wanted to take her in my arms and apologize profusely, but I didn’t want to push my luck so I remained rooted to my seat.
Beside me my mother cleared her throat, which surprised me since I had almost forgot she was there. “So Amaya.”
Amaya’s mood immediately changed. Her pretty eyes left mine and vehemently landed on my mother.
“What do you want?” She spat.
“Amaya, you have every right to be angry with me, but I want you to know right here and now that Theo didn’t break up with you because he wanted to. I made him do it.” She said with a regretful tone.
Mya’s emotions changed so quickly that I had no idea how to decipher what she was thinking. I opened my mouth to ask what she was thinking, but before I could she was on it.
“Explain.” She kept her comments short out of what I was assuming was anger.
My mother went into great detail about her past, my false father, and all his threats. But she still took all the blame for everything, saying she shouldn’t have let it get as far as it did. My mother had spilled all her life secrets to Amaya after only knowing her for a short time. Something she never did. Trust was difficult for her, but she did all this in hopes I would get my love back.
And judging by Amaya’s face, I didn’t know whether or not I had her back.
The couch lifted as my mother rose to her feet and excused herself. “You two need some time to talk. I’ll be in the kitchen.”
She was halfway there, but she turned back around. “Amaya?”
Amaya’s eyes unfortunately left mine and connected with my mother’s. “Yes?”
“I truly am sorry. Please don’t be angry with Theo. It’s all my fault. I gave him no choice, but to break up with you. I threatened you through him, and for that I’ll always hate myself. I put my livelihood above my own son’s happiness. Don’t take it out on him. Everything he did was for you. To ensure your happiness, with or without him. He’s truly an angel, and letting him go would be a huge mistake.” She sent me a sad smile, and moved to the kitchen to give us privacy.
My mother taking responsibility for everything she’d done really improved her image in my eyes. We were far from being ‘okay,’ but after this we were definitely moving in that direction.
“What does she mean, Theo?” Amaya asked with her confused eyes on me.
“It doesn’t matter, Mya.” I sighed. “All I know is that I don’t want to lose you. You mean the world to me, and if I lost you it would be like losing a major part of me. You’ve made me into such a better man, and without I’d be losing my whole world.”
I hadn’t realized I was crying until I felt a tear hit my lip. Crying wasn’t something I did often. I was taught from a young age to keep your emotions in and crying only showed how much less of a man you are. My un-biological father had been strict about that, especially when we were in public.
Instinctively, I put my hands over my eyes and cried silently. I didn’t care anymore. I was hurting and I was done bottling up my emotions.
The room was silent for a minute before I heard Amaya get up from her spot in her seat, probably leaving the room. I expected it and I was okay with it. She deserved better than me.
What I didn’t expect was for her to sit next to me and gently take my hands in hers. She removed them from my face and held them in her palms. Her cheeks were wet too, telling me she had been crying too.
With her soft hands she swiped away all my tears, and looked into my eyes. “Tell me the truth, Theo. Tell me.”
I sighed and looked up into her eyes. She was begging me to tell the truth, and after nearly a week of withholding the truth, I felt like it was the least I could do.
“What do you want to know?” I asked ready to answer any and all of her questions.
She sat back and thought for a minute before she opened her mouth to ask her first question. “Why?”
She had a sad smile on her lips, and knowing Mya, I knew she partly blamed herself. She had to know this had nothing to do with her, and I was going to do everything in my power to assure her she had no responsibility in any of this.
“Why?” I questioned.
When a lot of girls were broken up with their first question would be asking if there was cheating taking place. Or maybe they wanted to know if it had to do with their conflicting schedules. maybe she’d scream at him or attempt a physical fight.
But none of that was me. I just wanted to know one thing. Why?
Why did all this happen to me? Why didn’t he just tell me everything, and just communicated? Why did Theo done this to me? Why had he let his mother push him around? And if he really loved me, why would he go through with it all?
So many questions were bouncing around in my skull that mentally I could only compartmentalize it all into one word. One question.
Theo looked to me, lounged at the end of the couch and thought for a moment. “I now it sounds stupid, but I did it all to protect you.”
I immediately scoffed at his answer and rolled my eyes.
“Are you serious with me right now?” I removed myself from the couch and came to stand in front of him. I was now looking down to him and I could see in his eyes he was begging me not to leave. Begging me to stay and hear him out.
“Please Amaya. Just listen to me.” He pleaded as he gently pulled at my arm.
I pulled my arm away from his touch, which still to this day left sparks buzzing through me. Reluctantly I silently sat back at the end of the sofa, and waited for him to explain himself.
“When my mom called to tell me I had to come to this ball, I instantly declined. I was over coming to her stupid events. I would’ve rather stayed on campus with you. We could’ve decorated a tree, danced around the apartment to festive music, and made little Gracie put on some cute reindeer ears.” He smiled like he was in a dream land, but was soon pulled back to reality and the gin fell from his lips. “There were a million things I would’ve rather done than come to her stupid ball, but she said if I didn’t she’d get you kicked out of the university.”
I shook my head, unbelieving.
“Wait. What?” I asked, making sure I had heard him right.
“Yeah. She threatened to have you kicked out of the college you had worked so hard to get into.”
“How would she even do that?” I questioned, not believing a word he was saying.
“You’d be surprised what all you can do with money, especially my mother.” He said with a slight tone of embarrassment.
“Why would she do that?” I questioned, still trying to puzzle everything together. This whole plot just continued to boggle my mind. Like eggs, my mind was scrambled.
“To make sure I’d come to her little charity event. She knew how much I liked you and manipulated my feelings for you into getting everything she wanted. But that isn’t where the blackmail ended.” I told her. I was telling her everything, making sure not to leave a detail out. I wasn’t losing her over this. I refused to.
I looked up to Mya and the expression in her eyes told me to keep going.
“As soon as we got to the house, it was like everything intensified. My mother’s threats became worse. First it was just about getting you kicked out of college, but when she realized how close we were, she added onto her extortion.”
“Huh?” Amaya was confused now as she tried her best to keep up.
“My mother changed her threat. At first it was if I didn’t come for Christmas you’d get kicked out. Then when I had completed the task of her little game she changed the rules, saying that if I didn’t break up with you then you’d get kicked out.”
“What did you do?” She had her head propped against her hand listening intently to the full story.
“I didn’t know what to do. A couple days ago, you remember how I was all mad and drinking?” I asked her to remember.
“Well it was because I didn’t know what to do. I was agitated because I was having a mental crisis. I’m sorry to have taken it out on you. Just know that was unintentional.” I explained.
“It’s okay.” She sent me a sad smile.
“Keep going.” She said as she let her hand give mine an encouraging squeeze.
“Either way I would be losing something. If I broke up with you, I would lose you. The one person who I have come to love and who I love being with. But if I didn’t break up with you, I’d lose getting to see you happy in the place you felt close with your dad.” I explained.
“So you chose to break up with me right away?” She asked with a tsk.
“No.” I replied, getting an automatic look of befuddlement from her.
“You weren’t going to?” She quizzed.
“No.” I looked down to my hands, embarrassed with myself. “At the time I didn’t thoroughly think of what you would be losing. I didn’t think over the consequences as much as I should have.I just told myself I’d be there to comfort you, and help you get into a different school. I selfishly only thought about keeping you, even if it meant you losing so much. I’m sorry about that, Mya.”
“But you didn’t go through with it.”
“No. I didn’t, but that wasn’t my first answer. I was going to stay with you no matter what, but with more thinking I knew I needed to break up with you. But I only came to that conclusion because my mother added more threats to everything.”
“More?! How could she possibly think of more?” Amaya shouted, angry.
“I know this is all upsetting, Mya. I’m sorry, but I’m really telling you everything. I’m telling you all the truth.” I figured I’d remind her.
“I know you are, Theo.” She gave me a tight-lipped smile, which I added to the ‘not-so-bad’ pile of this whole conversation. “Keep going.”
“Well deep down I knew I had to break up with you, but this latest edition to her blackmail is what made me definitely want to go through with it.” Coming up was the most sensitive subject of them all. I had no idea how Mya would react, knowing her family was brought into the middle of all this. “My mother had found out that your family had come into some financial problems.”
I watched her face to see how she was going to react. And just like I had expected I was her precious face contort into something purely evil. It looked like smoke was about to come out of her ears, but she remained still.
“Continue the story, Theo.” She demanded in a scarily calm tone.
“Um, yeah. Well she said she would completely pay off your dad’s medical bills and help him get the best medical care there was to offer. So that was the final straw. I knew I had to go through with breaking up with you.”
Mya really digested our whole conversation as she sat beside me. For ten whole minutes she didn’t mutter a single word. But within seconds she was off the couch and barreling into the kitchen, where my mother was just waiting for her.
And I didn’t realize what was happening until I heard screaming. Everything that happened next had happened so fast.
This was it. Theo’s mother had really done it this time. bringing my family into all this was a big NO! How dare she just wave her money around and threaten everything like it was nothing.
Sure, she had her own issues to work through, but there was no way in hell that it made up for all the permanent damage she had done.
I was done with Mrs. Thompson. I played nice. I was mannerly and calm, but I was done. So when I entered the kitchen and saw her sitting at the island bar with her perfectly manicured hands folded in front of her I lost it.
It was like a switch flipped in my mind.
I ran towards her with my fist raised at her and went running for her. I was never a violent person, but this one woman had managed to change that within less than three weeks.
Her screams left her mouth within seconds, and that’s what stopped me from colliding my crumpled up hand against her jaw. Theo had made his way into the room and immediately was flipping me around to look at him.
“What just happened?” He asked me.
I stared off anywhere, but at him. I didn’t want to answer. I was truly embarrassed at my outburst.
“Don’t worry about it Theo. We just saw a spider, and it really frightened me.” I heard from behind me.
I cocked my head to look over to Mrs. Thompson, confused. She had avoided the truth, which surprised me since a couple days ago she would’ve had her popcorn and soda ready to watch Theo and I fight. But now she was protecting me?
She pressed her lips together in an way of telling me to keep the truth quiet.
But I wasn’t her and I wasn’t Theo. I didn’t particularly enjoy lying, neither did I want to.
Either way, I didn’t take her way out of this situation. I just fessed up to what I did. Shocker, I know! One out of three of us wasn’t constantly lying.
“No. That’s not the truth. I almost hit her.” I said staring at the ground, uncomfortable in the situation I was mostly to blame for.
Theo’s slowly turned to me before looking at me in confusion. “You almost hit her?”
“Theo let it go.” His mother surprisingly said as she grabbed a hold of his arm.
He looked to her before shrugging her hand off. I watched a hurt expression cross her eyes before she nodded in understanding as excused herself out of the room and house.
I felt tears prickling at the corners of my eyes.
Who was I becoming? I had never attempted to hit anyone in my life. I never wanted to hurt anyone. Over these last few months of being with Theo, my life had completely changed. How hadn’t I noticed it before?
Before Theo I lived a life of recluse. Before Theo life was bland but safe. Nothing exciting or heartbreaking; no worries ever. Just a simple and easy life.
But after Theo, everything was complicated. My feelings were a mess and I never knew which way was up. I was a big ball of unknowing and our relationship was unpredictable. Being with Theo was like playing the lottery; a whole lot of risk just for a slim opportunity of winning it all. While I was with him, my life was full of adventure, love, and happiness.
Sure Theo brought up a whole slew of complications and could make my life a living hell with one breakup, but was I willing to let go of all the other aspects of our relationship? Was I ready to let him go?
I stood there in a daze, but cleared my throat and refocused my attention on the two Thompsons that currently inhabited my quaint kitchen. “I’d like you to leave please.”
Theo’s jaw dropped slightly. “Amaya, please don’t make me go. We have so much to talk about. I still haven’t-”
“Now, Theo. Go now. I need time to clear my head. Just give me space.”
I watched as his sorrow-filled, bottom lip quivered before he steadied it and stood taller. “Fine. Take all the time you need.”
He started to make his way out the door but not before glancing back at me. “No matter what decision you make Mya, just know you’re it for me. My true one and only, but I will understand whichever conclusion you come to. I will always appreciate all the time we had together and the life we shared. I love you now and I think I always will.”
He sent me a sad smile before returning his gaze back to the floor and leaving. I heard the front door shut behind him and I was again greeted by the loneliness of an empty house. I sighed and trudged up to my room, flopping onto my bed face-first.
Why did everything have to be so damn complicated? Why couldn’t my mind work simply and figure all my problems out for me? Why did emotions have to exist?
If only my dad were here. He’d know the perfect advice to give me.
Wait, that’s just it!
I whipped my head to the clock and I had an hour before visiting hours ended. Just enough time. I got out of bed and threw on the first coat and shoes I could get my hands on.
I sped to the hospital like a bat out of hell, and in an impressive fifteen minutes I was pulling into the parking lot. I got out and didn’t even bother to lock the doors as I raced to the front entrance.
Everyone glanced at me in a weird way as I walked through the door. Surely I knew I looked odd with my Christmas nightwear, bulky pink coat that I’d had since middle school, and a worn down pair of reindeer slippers. But I didn’t care. I was determined to speak to the one man who I’ve loved since the very beginning.
I tore down the halls, ignoring the yells of nurses, and straight to my dad’s room. When I finally made it, I noticed my mom sitting by his side with tear-filled eyes and clutching his hand tightly.
“Yeah she’s doing so great in college. Straight A’s, you know our little brainiac. She was always like you in that way, you know?” She chuckled sadly before wiping a tissue under her nose. “I wish you’d come back to me, sweetheart. Nothing’s the same without you. I still make your breakfast every morning and turn around to put it on the table and remember you’re not home. Your side of the bed is always cold and lonely. I miss having you to hold onto at night. I still get you presents for every holiday and keep them in the closet because you’re so damn nosy.”
I silently laughed at that. Dad had never been a big fan of surprises and always spoiled things for mom, much to her irritation. But he’d always make it up to her by bringing home a dozen of her favorite flowers, bright white gardenias. She’s always say they reminded her of her wedding and how happy she was on that day.
I remember right after the crash, she left her latest ones in the vase until the withered away to nothing. My mother’s love for my father was never-ending. You could see it in their mutual smiles at the breakfast table. The way they still slow danced to ‘their song’ in the living room. How he smiled and talked to her about anything as they cooked dinner together; he was always willing to help but mom usually put him on salad duty due to his vivid inability to cook anything.
And that’s when it hit me. I wanted that. It may be selfish, but I wanted it all. The small, meaningful glances. The cute kisses when I woke up. Someone to talk to about my day. Someone to dorkily match Christmas pajamas with. Someone who loved me and I loved back with all my heart.
My someone was Theo and I had just sent my someone away; possibly for good. I loved Theo with all my heart, and I needed him to know that right now. I tore myself away from the heartfelt scene that was still taking place between my mom and dad and ran down the hallways. I hated leaving my dad, but I knew he’d understand. He would’ve loved Theo and if all went right he’d be able to meet him when he woke up.
I raced through the hospital, but it felt like time was just on a constant loop and I was moving in slow-motion. My heart galloped in my chest at the thought of me not being able to catch Theo and tell him how I truly felt. As everyone says, timing is everything.
I ran as fast as my legs would carry me. I didn’t even know where he could be. He could be on a plane by now, driving or even in a hotel. Either way, I was going to find him.
I was making great time and was nearly out the sliding doors of the clinic when an EMT team rushed through the doors. I sighed and rerouted my escape through the little cafe that was in the hospital. I was almost to the little door that lead outside when I suddenly ran into somebody, which nearly took me out. Before I could hit the ground, the person’s strong hands caught me and pulled me back into them.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t even see you-”
A scent suddenly took over my senses and immediate nostalgia hit me. I looked up to confirm my hopes. “Theo?”
He was standing there holding me in his arms and grinning. “Hey, princess.”
I blinked quickly, making sure my eyes were working right; to make sure he was really here. He was.
“Wh-what are you doing here?” I asked confused.
He smiled to me and broke us apart so he could talk to me. I immediately missed his arms being around me. “I came to see your dad.” He spoke truthfully.
“My dad? What? Why?” My brain was muddled as I tried to piece everything together.
“Because I love his daughter and I wanted him to know that. I wanted him to know I’ll always care for her and treasure her till the end of time. Even if you ended up leaving me, I wanted him to know that I’d always look out for you.” He smiled to me and I felt tears trickle down my cheeks.
He meant everything he said, and running into him here just as I was on my way to find him seemed like fate.
“I love you.” I admitted as another set of tears left my eyes.
His eyebrows knitted together, like he was wondering if he had heard me right. “Huh?”
I chuckled at his confused facial expression and wrapped my arms around his torso. “I love you, Theo. With all my heart and I want to be with you. Screw the space and time apart. I don’t need it to know want right now and in this moment. And what I want is to be with you for as long as you’ll have me.”
Theo pulled me away slightly and looked into my eyes, probably making sure I meant what I said. When the look on my face reassured him a huge grin broke out on his perfect lips and he picked me up twirling me around before setting me back down. “She’s taking me back, folks!”
I chuckled at his silly outburst as loud cheers and applause erupted from many around us. I hadn’t even realized that number of people that had been watching us.
I glanced around the room and blushed with a smile, glancing to the floor. I felt a hand capture my chin and bring my attention back up to him. Theo’s hand found its way up the side of my face and adoringly brushed my cheek. He brought his thumbs up under my eyes to clear the tears away.
“I love you, Mya.”
I sniffled and laughed giddily. ” I love you too. Forever and always.”
Theo’s mouth broke into the widest smile I had ever seen from him, so happy and joy-filled. Without a second thought he bent down and captured my lips in his. No other words were needed. Sure we had our problems, but what couple didn’t? All that mattered was that I had Theo and he had me. Out of the 7 billion other people in the world, and that was all either of us needed.