Acceptance

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Chapter Thirteen

[ANDREW]

I turned in bed restlessly before opening my eyes. I winced at the brightness of the fluorescence lights, trying to adjust my sight to the bright room. I looked around the room, to my eyes wondered to the box propped at the door.

Wait. I sat up in horror. We were leaving today and I hadn’t planned out anything—

“Calm down,” I heard Ethan’s voice say. I rubbed my eyes with the back of my hand as he walked into the room through the bathroom door.

“It’s okay. It’s just five in the morning. I’ve packed up most of our stuff. We’re ready to leave by eight so don’t fret, okay?” Ethan assured me as he came up to sit at the edge of the bed beside me. An uncomfortable silence followed until Ethan broke it with a question.

“Where is it?” Ethan asked, making me wrinkle my brows in confusion.

“Where’s what?” I asked, not quite sure what he was talking about.

“You know...” Ethan trailed, rolling his eyes. “The speech on how last night was a mistake...” Ethan finally got out as he gave me a bleak look. I sighed, scratching the back of my neck. I wasn’t quite sure about how to answer that.

“Ethan, there is no speech. Yesterday was not a mistake,” I said, making him give me a look that said he wasn’t buying it.

“So, you didn’t do it because you were in some pit of disappear and shit?” Ethan asked, making me chuckle. He had a way of making serious situations feel dumb and less sensible.

“No,” I muttered, reaching out to brush back his hair. I watched as his cheeks flushed lightly.

“I could get used to this,” he sighed in content, scooting closer to me before resting his head on my shoulder.

We stayed like that for a while, before Ethan got up and reminded me to take a bath. I nodded before frowning at the realization that Ethan had probably seen me naked in the process of moving me from the floor to the bed.

“Aren’t you going to take a bath?” Ethan asked, pulling me out of my thoughts.

“I am...” I trailed, pulling the bed sheet I was covered in more tightly about me as a wave of insecurity took its toll on me. I wasn’t the best looking when naked, and the idea that Ethan saw me was very unsettling.

I shook my head, deciding not to think about it so deeply. Ethan was here, and he even let me touch him. If he found me as disgusting as I felt, he’d the out the window and probably halfway back to my uncle’s place.

I hurried to the bathroom still draped in the bed sheet, leaving Ethan to stare after me oddly. I shut the door, ignoring to look on his face before walking over to the medium-sized mirror hanging on the bathroom wall.

I bit my bottom lip as I felt the pale skin of my face with my fingers. I corked my head at my completion, realizing that although I was still as pale as a ghost my skin had lost the yellowish pale ill tone it used to have. My dietitian had told me it had only looked that way because I wasn’t eating well, and I’d ignored the advice until quite recently.

I looked more intently at my face and noted that my eyes had lost the dark circles around them. Raccoon eyes, as Bob from the department store, used to call them.

It’s kind of silly to be hiding from your own body, isn’t it?

A voice in my head muttered, making me take off the bed sheet I had tightly around me of completely. I took in a deep breath as I looked down at my body. It was the same skinny frame I saw every time I wanted to take a bath or change clothes, but somehow I saw it differently today. It was no longer the error fluctuating weight loss diets had left me with, but the body that Ethan had said he loved last night. The body he had caressed with care. It suddenly didn’t feel as ugly as I always assumed it was.

I sighed, picking the bed sheet off the floor before discarding it into the hotel’s hamper. I took a long bath, mediating mostly on my relationship with Ethan. He was starting to mean the world to me.

I closed my eyes, deciding to stay in the water a little longer, despite the fact that my fingers and toes were starting to get wrinkled.

I got out ten minutes later. I dried my body with the short hotel towel since Ethan had already packed mine.

I walked up to the bathroom door, holding the red towel with the hotel’s logo printed on it.

Usually, I would call out to Ethan for my clothes, but today was different. I was tired of being stuck behind the door as I stood on the wet bathroom floor and I changed. I was tired of the shyness that often accompanied taking off any item of clothing.

I couldn’t count how many times I’ve cried after a physical examination or x-ray. How uncomfortable I felt when people looked at me like what seemed like too long. It made me feel sick, ugly.

I hung the towel up on the pin on the bathroom door. Taking a deep breath I turned the knob of the door and walked into the hotel room stark naked.

I watched as Ethan’s eyes left his phone to settle on me. I bit my bottom lip, talking my eyes of him before walking towards the drawers. I quickly got into the underwear then Jeans he’d left out for me. I started to sigh in frustration as I attempted to button up the cream shirt with fidgety fingers.

I almost jumped out of my skin at the feeling of hands relieving mine of their actions.

“It’s okay, I’ll help,” Ethan muttered against my neck as he began to do up my shirt for me. I blinked, letting out the stream of tears I’d been keeping in.

When Ethan was done doing up my shirt he turned me to face him before wiping my eyes and face dry with my tears. He must have noticed this was a big deal because he kept silent about it. He just led me to the bed to take a sit before doing a last minute check to make sure we didn’t forget anything.

We checked out about an hour later and head for the train station.

Ethel met up with us, making conversation with Ethan as she left me to brood. To her, it was very common to see me cranky, and my state wasn’t something to call caution to. She soon bid us farewell at the arrival of her train, we couldn’t make the same set of connecting trips since she was heading for a different state entirely.

Ethan took my hand in his when Ethel left, offering me the comfort he couldn’t when she was with us. I was a little shocked at his thinking. It was wise of him to avoid giving Ethel and impression of our relationship when we were not quite sure what it was yet.

“It’s here,” Ethan muttered, squeezing my hand as the call for our train was announced through the speakers.

We got in minutes later, snuggling up to each other like new lovers on our seats. The train was apparently full and I was glad the old lady seating across from us was doing a good job at ignoring us as she read an outdated magazine.

Once in a while, I’d hear the bark of a dog that was upfront, reminding me of Roxanne. Late into the journey when half the train was asleep a toddler started crying and wondering about the train. I closed my eyes even more tightly as I attempted to block out the cries of the child. The crying suddenly stopped and I opened my eyes to find the child playing with the end of Ethan’s shirt. Ethan was making baby noises, making the toothless toddler smile periodically. He eventually lifted the toddler onto his laps.

My throat clogged with affection as I watched the scene. Everyone I knew either groaned or turned away at a weeping child. Even my mother had admitted to not being able to handle a child of any sort that if they were less than five years old.

“It’s okay now,” he muttered to the baby before looking over at me.

I smiled briefly at him before adjusting the position of my head on his shoulder. I looked down at the blonde haired child whose eyes were now half closed in partial sleep.

“I didn’t know you were good with kids,” I muttered. I felt him shrug indefinitely before he muttered that he really wasn’t.

When the train came to a halt on the tracks in the next train station Ethan handed the toddler over to his mother. The woman had thanked him with a sigh of relief, before carrying her son and disappearing into the crowd.

The next three train rides were brief and it was already long gone into the evening when the last train came to a halt in our station.

“That was tiring,” Ethan commented as we got our luggage. “And I still have to in school tomorrow,” he muttered before looking up at me.

I rolled my eyes as I slung my hand luggage over my shoulder. “I’m not buying it, you’re still attending lectures tomorrow,” I said, making him sigh in frustration.

I went ahead to get the keys to my car back before heading to Ethan.

“Are we heading straight home, or are we picking up Roxanne first?” Ethan asked as I unlocked the car door.

“Yes, we’re picking Roxanne and Hector first,” I said as we got into the car. I watched as Ethan wrinkled his nose at the sound of Hector’s name.

“You know Hector, don’t you?” I teased, making Ethan roll his eyes at me. I laughed, starting the car. I missed home — everything about it, and that’s including Hector and Ethan’s confusing arguments.

“Did you hear that?” I asked, abruptly stopping Ethan in the middle of our conversation.

“Hear what?” Ethan asked, looking straight at me. I shook my head, deciding I’d just been hearing things.

“Never mind, I just heard something. I guess I’m just being paranoid,” I sighed, locking the car doors and the booth from the central lock. I started the car again, trying to get my mind off the odd sound.

“Andrew?” Ethan called and I hummed in response.

“What happened last night, is it—is it a one-time thing?” Ethan asked, making me turn to him to find him looking straight into the road nervously. I turned my eyes back to the road, thinking about it.

“No, but if you want it to—”

“I don’t,” Ethan said, cutting me off mid-sentence. I smiled before reaching across my seat for his hand. He took it immediately, squeezing it in his.

I didn’t want to be at war with myself and my emotions anymore. I needed desperately to take things easy, at least for now.

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