The following week was torture for me. Sophia barely talked to me the way she usually did. She seemed more reserved and guarded than she ever was; when all I could ever think of was how her body felt against mine, the touch of her lips, the look in her eyes. . . her heavy breathing. God, she took my breath away.
I had always felt like a winner, never felt like I’d lost anything, always felt right like I’d done the best, taken the right decision but this time, her silence made me feel defeated. I knew I’d done a major mistake.
“Yeah?” I snapped out of my thoughts at the sound of Shirley’s voice and the first thing I saw was Sophia’s face.
I’d been staring at her the whole time – lost in thoughts – since I stepped into this hall for another session of the group. She sat right across me in the circle between Timothee and Remy. I watched her talk to them and laugh at the jokes they shared. And every time she met my eyes, she lost them all. I had truly messed up with her. And I couldn’t wait to tell her I was sorry, I was stupid and makeup to her.
“Well, it looks like you’re deep in thoughts.” Shirley chuckled. “The question is ′what is one mistake you will never do again?’”
Very relevant to the situation, I thought.
My eyes subconsciously flickered over at Sophia. She just sat their casually with her arms folded and waiting for my response just as the rest of the people.
I turned to Shirley and answered, “Denying the truth. . .”
I instantly felt Sophia’s gaze fall on me but, when I looked at her, her eyes had shifted to the floor.
“And what’s the wisest thing you’ve heard someone say?” Shirley proceeded to ask me.
“You’re a dumb fuck,” I answered and a round of laughter erupted in the circle. “Marlon said that to me last week,” I added, catching Sophia smile a bit from the corner of my eyes.
“Then what’s the one thing you would like to say to anybody right now?”
“Am I being interviewed?”
That had all of us laughing again.
“I’m coming to the rest too but, I’m having fun interrogating you at the moment,” Shirley answered with light chuckles.
I smiled back mildly and gave my answer. “I’d like to say ′I’m sorry. Truly sorry for being an absolute jerk’.”
Shirley raised her eyebrows. “Think you messed up big time.”
“I made a monumental mistake last week. I hope to correct it.”
With that, I shifted my gaze toward Sophia again. With the same passive expression, she sat at her place arms-folded. But, this time, she didn’t avoid my gaze. I felt my stomach pull inside the moment I met her piercing gaze and I swallowed, hoping she got what I truly meant with my answers.
Shirley proceeded to ask the same questions to the rest. Sophia said trusting the wrong people was one mistake she would really work on not committing again. That hit me home. From the floor, I lifted my eyes to peek over at her – slightly embarrassed at her remark – but she continued to discuss it with Shirley like I wasn’t the one she meant to pinpoint at all.
“And what’s the wisest thing you’ve heard anyone say?”
"There is not another today. My mom says this literally every morning. It’s her mantra.”
“That’s cool.” Timothee turned to her.
“It is,” Prof. Goode agreed. “Everyday is a gift.”
“The last question, what do you want to say to anybody right now?”
She shrugged in response and laughed. “I don’t think I have anything to say to anybody right now.”
When the session ended, we found the sky pouring outside. I looked around and saw Sophia standing by the edge of the steps, wondering if she should dash out in the rain for her next class like the few who had. But with the way it was pouring, she was sure to get wet and none of us had umbrellas at hand.
“Sophia!” I called out for her as I walked to her.
She looked back toward me.
“Can I talk to you for a moment?”
“Can we talk in the evening? I gotta rush for class now.”
“Sure. Um. . . take this.” I removed my denim jacket and gave it to her.
“No. That’s fine. I’ll just. . . dash off quickly.”
“No matter how fast you run, you’re sure to get wet. Look at it.” I motioned to the rain outside.
She looked outside thoughtfully fora moment. “Yeah. But that’s alright. You’ll need it too.”
“Don’t worry about me. Just take it.”
“It could get pretty cold later, you know. You’ll need it.”
She would always think ten times before anything.
Without another word, I covered her head and shoulders with my jacket, pulled her at my side with my arms around her and led her into the rain. She made a sound of protest when she saw that I was running into the rain without cover. But there wasn’t much she could do at this point so, she ran with me as fast as she could.
By the time we reached her block, I was completely drenched till my waist. My t-shirt was almost sticking to my body. I rubbed my head to beat off the rain from my hair. She shrugged off the jacket and eyed me up and down in shock.
“You’re wet all over,” she gasped with apologetic blue eyes blinking up at me and those were the little moments she would drown me completely under her spell.
I loved her sweetness and kindness. Despite the way I had broken her heart, she was still nice to me. If I could, I would’ve kissed her right there. If I had a soul, I was sure it ached with the urge to take her in my arms and make love to her again.
“Thanks a lot,” she said as she handed my jacket back to me.
“No problem. I’ll see you in the evening.”
She nodded. I wore my jacket and with one long look at the rain outside, I dashed into it again, feeling her gaze behind me. For one reason, I felt good after a long time. This was the first time we actually talked and shared a sense of friendliness since the morning we slept together. Until this day, she carried herself with a sense of resentment and distance. And I hadn’t been able to bring myself to break the ice.
When I reached home in the evening after work, I found a silver Ford Fiesta parked in my driveway. Guessing it might be Sophia’s, I entered the house. I had left for work before she arrived, leaving Ari with Romeo. She had turned up quite late.
“Hey.” Sophia looked up and smiled at me softly when I stepped inside the house.
She and Ari lay with their stomachs on the floor in the living room, playing Scrabbles on the rug.
“Hey. Is that your car outside?”
“Got it by $2000. It’s used but it’s great.” She smiled a bit wider.
Ari got up from the floor and came to hold my hand. “I’ll show you something,” she said as she pulled me along with her toward Sophia.
“I made this squirrel,” she presented the word she’d spelled out on the game board proudly to me as she made me sit down next to her.
“Oh, that’s a squirrel! Wow. You’re always smarter than I think you are.” I grinned at her and took her in my lap.
“Sophia taught me how to spell this. She knows all the words in the world but she doesn’t know how to spell ‘fuck’!” Ari looked back at me incredulously.
Taken aback in shock, I looked at Sophia only to find her narrow her eyes at me.
“Ari told me she learned it from you,” she said.
“Me? I never taught you that word.” I turned to Ari.
“I hear you say it aaaalllll the time. Even Ro says it sometimes,” came her reply and I was bombshelled.
“I think it’s a very bad word. You should stop saying it,” she further advised me.
“Right. I promise I’ll stop saying it.”
“Okay. Tell Ro too. Or I can tell him.”
The whole time, Sophia kept smirking to herself.
“You heard the kid.” She chuckled as she got up from the floor. “See ya tomorrow.”
“What. . . you’re leaving now?” I got up too with Ari in my arms.
“Yeah. I have things to do at home.”
“Stay!!” Ari instantly whined.
“Have a drink or something before you go,” I offered.
“Nah. Thanks but, I gotta go. I’ll see you tomorrow, Ari. Bye!”
Ari waved. “Bye.”
I set her down on the floor and followed Sophia out the house. I pulled the door closed behind me and descended down the porch behind her.
“You said you wanted to talk?” She inquired, standing beside her car.
“About. . . what happened between us.”
She shook her head in disapproval and looked away from me. “Forget about it, August. Look, I get what you mean. You don’t have to explain it again. . . I’ve decided to forget about it. It’s alright now.”
“You’ve decided to forget about it?”
“How. . . Can you forget about it?”
She frowned up at me. “It doesn’t matter if I can or not. I will. I have to.”
In desperation mingled with some fear of losing her, I blurted, "I can't forget about it, Sophia. I can't forget what happened between us that night. Not a single moment."
She stared up at me without a word and peered into my eyes confused.
I took one step closer to her. "I'm sorry I messed up. The truth is I always like you – ever since I first saw you – and that night. . . it had meaning. I hadn't been able to stop thinking about it ever since."
"But you said it yourself that it meant nothing!"
"I lied! I lied to you. . ."
"I knew you lied!" She returned with tears in her eyes. "It's not like I blindly let you have your way with me. . . I thought you feel for me the way I feel for you. And I trusted you with every bit of me that night. . . I just don't understand why you denied it!" Her voice broke off.
"Sophia." My hands automatically reached out to caress her face and dry the tears around the corner of her eyes. She turned to the ground.
"I was afraid," I told her. Her glistening eyes darted up to meet mine.
"I've never felt so strongly for anyone and it frightened me that my life could go out of hand. I can't control the feelings I have for you. But it's something about me to hold things in place. I don't want surprises. I don't want anything more than what I have. I thought had it all but then you happened and I ended up wanting something I never had."
She didn't breathe a single word as she chewed on her lips and listened to me.
"You were right. I was too afraid to give people chances and accept them in my life. I even thought I was doing something wrong. I knew I wanted you but, Marlon liked you too and I slept with you behind his back. It just. . . I didn't know what to do. I was stuck in the middle between you and him. . ."
"You're still in the same situation. What difference does it make?"
"Marlon knocked some sense in me."
"You know, August. I would never let you choose between me and Marlon. I know what he means to you. It's not fair. But at the same time, I would love to be with someone who loves me enough to forget about everything else but me for once." As she said this, I saw her tears roll down her cheeks and for the first time, her eyes clearly revealed how bad I had hurt her inside.
All she wanted was the truth, just to be loved and I threw it all away for my own interest. I never even stopped a moment to think of her. Took me long enough to realize it but broke me good enough like it had happened just yesterday.
She pulled away from me and opened the car. My heart throbbed within me and I held onto her wrist like this was our last moment. I couldn't risk letting her go like this.
"Sophia, can you. . . can you give me another chance? Please."
She didn't answer. She just stared at my hand which was holding her wrist.
"I'd love to have another chance. And this time I really want to show you that I truly care about you. I made a mistake and I wanna make it right. . . but I'll need another chance for that."
She thought for a moment and shook her head. "I gotta go."
She pulled her hand away from my grasp and got inside. Without sparing another glance, she rolled out of the driveway. I stood there watching like an idiot who had thrown away a diamond into the sea.