6 Days Before Marco Happened
I held my phone that showed a snapshot of our chat in front of Hans’ face, just under his nose. He seems quite unamused as he brushed up some of his stubborn blonde locks that wouldn’t give into his cheap hair gel. “Congratulations, Jean. But, I don’t get the point of celebrating. You dragged me out of my obligations.” He looked away, starting to feel uncomfortable about the topic. “It’s not that I’m not thankful or anything—I mean I would do anything just to escape the hawk eyes of middle-aged, widowed women—but my mom is so gon’na kill me for skipping our lunch date with her friends.”
“Not worth celebrating?” I held my phone close to my chest. “How could you say that? Oh wait. You haven’t experienced love, have you?”
He tried not to smile. “I have experienced falling in love…” Positioning himself behind me, he left his lips just above my right ear. “…with a girl.” This sassy form of implication and emphasize he is using is slightly tolerable. Only slightly. I am not appreciating his sass right now. Though, he has a point. He comes from a totally different level.
“But don’t you get it?” I gazed somewhere that’s not his face. “It’s going to be my first time seeing him. Laying my eyes on him… It’s rather different from love at first sight.”
He sighed and crossed his arms. “You can’t just marry a guy you just met…online,” He paused. “For one thing, I’m not sure if gay marriage is already legal in this goddamn American state of Clarrea, two: It’s dangerous. He’s probably a stranger, and three: I guess you haven’t watched as many Disney Princess movies as other people have.” Hans spoke his points one by one in such a way that they all make sense but I didn’t get the point of mentioning Disney Princess movies. There is no connection between my love life and Princess movies, is there? I knew he was trying to reference something. However, it just didn’t ring a bell.
I hid my phone inside my pocket and also crossed my arms, mimicking his stance. “I think this time is different.”
Hans raised a brow at me. “What’s different between Oscar, Bryan, Charlie and this Marco anyway?” He deliberately started pointing out and naming my past boyfriends like he was performing a declamation speech.
I hushed him. “Did I give you permission to speak?” He merely laughed. “Marco. We haven’t met but he already got through me. He helped me fight off depression and sassy homophobes all around the gaming community. Marco is different.” And that’s when Hans started nudging my rib cage while wiggling his brows, trying to tease me as I was getting carried away. “Plus, we already skyped each other tons of times.” I added.
“Oh really?” There he goes again, being skeptical and shit.
“He already said he liked me even before he knew my family’s social class. Actually until now, he still doesn’t know.”
Hans chuckled, clapping his hands. “Shit man, that’s the perfect guy you’ll want to spent the rest of your days with. I’m totally rooting for him. If you need signatures if you’ll ever want to get married in this goddamn country, count my signature in. Hope you guys succeed.”
I gave him a surprised look. “You approve all of a sudden?”
Hans shrugged. “With the absence of money, it’ll take a thousand years before you convince me that it’s not pure love.”
“What a sentimental thing to say.” I smiled.
Hans, who was towering over me, patted my head. “Wise words, my friend. They get the ladies go gaga.” He said, and then winked.
I pouted in dire hope to contradict him. “But sentimental Hans pisses me off.”
He pretends to trip in front of me and casually pretends to get hurt. “Ouch, bruh.”
I picked him up using both my hands and tried to counter his weight, stretching my arms wide to invite him in a hug. “Come here you big sentimental softie, you!”
He gives me a bear hug that squishes my whole being. I swear, Hans should really apply for WWE and be the new John Cena or something. This guy’s got a future.
After the totally gay hug, we pledged out ‘no homos’ and Hans released me. “Now let’s buy you new clothes for your date. That’s the reason why you bailed me out of old-woman lunch date paradise, right?”
Normally, only girl friends would spend a whole day shopping but since I came out as a rainbow-coated unicorn and definitely not a stallion, my best friends would always treat me with shopping. Hans, as I can say is my closest best friend. How redundant. Hans Heckerman has been my friend since kindergarten and in all my life I am proud to say that I never developed any feelings for him. It’s a totally gross thing to do and a waste of time. Me liking him would totes ruin our friendship? He’s not even handsome. He has a generic face, although his aura is appealing.
We went inside a branded boutique. As straight as Hans can get, this guy right here is a total flirt. He even made an ear-catching comment that made the saleslady laugh while we were coming in.
I immediately separated myself from him to avoid witnessing his weird flirting habits and found two engaging attires beside each other worn by two robust mannequins that would have looked better as humans. The one at my left was wearing brown fitted slacks and a statement shirt that said: “I’m the One.” On the other hand, the one at the right wore black jeans and a checkered buttoned up shirt that screams ‘sexy and I know it.’
“ Hans! Stop flirting with that extremely blonde saleslady and help me pick an outfit, you ass!” Well that sounded rad in my imagination but I wouldn’t think that was a good thing to say out loud. And, I might insult the perfectly obvious, failed hair dye that the saleslady had applied on her obviously dead hair that was tied in a bun. It’s as if she walked in the salon with a printed picture of Naruto Uzumaki or something like that saying, “I want the color of his hair, please.” Who has hair that blonde?! It looked like the synthetic fiber use to make wigs. In the end, I decided to not pay much attention to the girl’s hair but to her face that was tainted with Han’s name all over it, and I just texted lover boy who completely ditched me when I ditched him.
Me: Get your ass here Hans Logan Heckerman. While you’re exchanging laughs with Blondie McGee over there, why not support your dearest friend in the aspect of fashion even though I know you suck at these kinds of things and I’m totally better than you?
Without even looking my way, Hans pulled out his phone from the pockets of his sweater and started texting me back.
Him: Shit. Just when I was going to ask for her phone number you started ranting on me with text. Dude screw everything, stop giving me premonitions. It’s coincidentally creepy, bruh. Screw it all. I ain’t getting her number anymore. You freaked me out like fuck.
Me: Just get here quickly, you ass.
He said his final farewell to the goo-goo-eyed girl and stomped towards me.
I shot a glare. “She’s not even hot.”
“But she was totally all over me.” He shot one back. “Anyways… You called, Your Highness?”
I looked at him from head to toe and exhaled. “I prefer Your Majestic Dudeness but to hell with it.” I gestured at the two mannequins behind me. “Okay. Who’s more dashing, Mr. Lefty or Mr. Right?”
He nodded, signifying that he got what I meant and said, “Look, Sir Right really looks cool. I mean I admit that I would freaking wear that to a casual date with a hot girl, but Mr. Lefty would look more adorable on you since it’s your first time meeting…”
Agreeing with Hans’ opinion, I quickly asked a different saleslady if I can get the whole outfit in my size in the fitting room. After all, the shirt really speaks for me.
The saleswoman understood and sprinted away into the stockroom, wearing her foot-killing 3-inch heels. Silence erupted within the store until Hans asked me such an idiotic question that I took really badly. “Is this Marco Bought even that attractive?” The question was slightly muffled since he was chewing the inside of his mouth—a mannerism of his—again. He does this when he gets bored.
I raised a brow at him.
“Well, is he as addicted to the gym as Oscar or as lanky as Charlie?”
“Why the heck would you want to know?” I started sitting down on a chair beside the cashier since the saleswoman really took long. He was obviously annoying, no doubt. But I really like talking about Marco. It seems so natural for me to fanboy over my freckled god. “From Charlie to Oscar, his built is slightly bigger than Bryan—or maybe a bit smaller than Ethan. He has blackish brown hair, totally intense blue eyes and freckles that model for his face.”
From his standing position, Hans rested a hand on my head and laughed, messing up my hair. “You look so happy just talking ’bout him.”
My saleslady finally appeared. She was carrying Mr. Lefty’s outfit with one hand. It consisted of two hangers. “I’m sorry, sir. All the stocks got mixed up.” She explained her lateness, trying to catch her breath. “I hope I didn’t make anyone wait.”
“We are not in a hurry anyway. It’s fine.” I commented.
She nodded and said, “Very well then. Our fitting rooms are this way…” Then, she led both of us to the fitting rooms. I got Mr. Lefty from her which was Hans’ choice, locked myself in the fitting cubicle, and took a deep breath.
After completely stripping—only leaving my boxers on—and putting the shirt on, I observed that the shirt was long enough to put a check on my standards. Afterwards, I squeezed myself in the slacks and realized that I lost some weight this summer. I kind of posed in front of the mirror. Imagining myself as a Victoria Secret model, I began walking back and forth the conveniently spacious fitting cubicle.
“I’m the One.” I murmured. That was the first phrase I was planning to say when we meet. He knows what I look like, and I already memorized every inch and flaw on his imperfectly flawless face. I could probably distinguish his burnt face or something.
§ 3 Days Before Marco Happened §
I laid flat on my back on a bed in a foreign town. I arrived at Nutreal Hotel somewhere in Verfile City, the land of my love, yesterday. The imaginary birds are singing. The sun is shining. Well, I hope it is behind those big white clouds. Overall, today was a fair morning and I’m meeting Marco today.
I froze, looking at the ceiling. “I’m meeting Marco today.” I said in my monotone morning voice. “I’m meeting Marco today?” I asked myself, quite unsure. Soon, my small head continued to process it faster. I rubbed my eyes, finally seeing the light. “I am meeting Marco.”
I blinked. “Today,”
Me, suddenly jumping up and down on Nutreal’s fluffy mattress was on impulse. Actually, I just need to let the energy flow. I can feel the adrenaline. I can’t contain the thrill of meeting Marco between my fingertips. Up and down, I went. Up and down. My empty stomach is churning with both nervousness and hunger. Up and down. Up and down. I feel like puking. Up and down.
When I finally got rid of that mischievous troll smile of my face and that indescribable feeling of impulsive bliss and delight, I purposely let myself fall on the pillows as I breathed heavily, looking at the ceiling. I let out my final sigh dreamily. “I am meeting Marco today.”
I can’t help but let my heart flutter out. I even bet I might do something stupid in front of Marco and his parents.
At that thought, I stood up so quickly that my morning vision blurred a bit and proceeded east from the king-sized bed. Shaking my head while rubbing my eyes with my knuckles, I made my way to the bathroom which was inside my room for my further convenience.
I stood in front of the mirror and rested my head on my palm.
“Will Marco’s parents like me?” I mumbled to myself. I kept on asking the same thing to my reflection while slapping both of my cheeks softly.
As far as I know, Marco’s adoptive parents love him more than their dead embryo babies and it wasn’t a problem for them to embrace his sexuality. On the other hand, someone like me does not get justice or even family support. My life sucks.
I touched my reflection.
“You’re stunning. Sexy. Look at that hair,” I say as I brush up my bed hair. “Look at those eyes.”
At the end, this senseless thing I call self-flattery I was doing did not fucking help me boost my imaginary self-confidence. I never owned such a thing. It made it worse—the lack of confidence I mean—and I ended up crouching and hugging my knees while leaving the shower on. Letting the water drip down my skin, I let sweat that came about through my nervousness mix with the water.
I took a shower.
“Dammit Jean, don’t you dare mess anything up.”
After taking a shower and purposely using up all the free soap for my nuclear arm pits and drying myself with those perfectly rolled hotel towels, I proceeded outside the walls of the bathroom that held all the embarrassing shit I let out with only a towel wrapped around my waist.
I don’t care if some room service person barges in. Usually they don’t give a damn and they don’t even care to ask if your freaking satisfied with their services. Nutreal gives you the goddamned privacy you don’t get in most hotels, so here I am shamelessly promoting Nutreal to young couples in love. Bleh.
Barefooted, I walked towards my bag that was laying at the foot of the king-sized bed, took the gadget bag that contained my laptop from inside, sat down on a chair in front of a desk, pulled out my laptop, charged it and started messing around online, posting lovey-dovey statuses online that I hope will make those love life-less creatures inspired.
Marco was not online and our meet up was still three hours from now. Is he preparing that much? Holy shiitake mushrooms it’s 7AM. I’m up too early. Realization, realized.
I looked for possible victims to bug in an unholy hour in the morning of the last day of summer. I bet all those hags are sleeping in for tomorrow. Carlos, a friend Hans and I share, was not online. Hans was online on mobile, but since he was not responding to my message, I concluded that the little shit just left his Wi-Fi on and forgot to log out carelessly. He has never seen-zoned anyone.
And so, I called Marco. I don’t know what came to me but I wanted to give him a morning greeting. To hear his voice sounded like a good idea to me. My morning couldn’t just be any better. Ironically speaking, I’ve been panicking all morning since I woke up and I just recently came to a cause and started calming down! Shit, I need Marco. I feel pissed at myself. However, after two beeps, Marco’s automatic voice message piped in, which half disappointed me.
“Hey, it’s Marco.” His voice sounded like a Lorelei invasion against earth which sounded—literally—like a good idea to me. He sounds so fluent and humble. His voice gave me an even bigger smile that drove me out of my dismay. “I’m not here right now but if you leave a message I’m sure that I can get back to you in a second.”
After the last beep, I just ended the call because I don’t like giving ‘scheduled’ messages. The thought sounds so empty. Know what I mean? If you can’t say it live what’s the point of giving a message. Like, are you willing to send an angry message at someone and then that person finds out the next day when you are already chill and all. Schedules, so senseless.
I threw my cheap-ass phone away randomly. It landed on the bed. Wow, it’s clutching life. Opening a small drawer just under the desk, I took out my second phone which was more important than the previous one and dialed Marco’s number. To my further disappointment, the same thing happened. He was not picking up. It saddened me a bit but then I realized maybe he was online, waiting for me. Maybe he was waiting for me to go online in my Genesis I: Fall of the Holy Roman Empire account. GI:FOHRE was a mutual interest of ours. Actually, it’s both mutual and initial. It’s a global roleplaying game (RPG) online. We first met there. I was a night knight patrolling around a certain site and he was a milkmaid—at least, that’s what his avatar portrayed him to be. A girl. At first, I totally thought he was just some little nerdy girl that just wanted to make freaking friends over the internet not knowing that it’s hella dangerous. And so, I was concerned. Like hell I do not find girls attractive or hot. Some put too much makeup and it irritates me. Anyways, going back to Marco, his username was, ‘The-freckled-god’ and it quite suited his freckled milkmaid. This gave justice as well to Marco’s real appearance when we first Skyped each other.
“Wow, he’s not even online.” I said when I saw that Marco’s character, Margo, was still where he left her last time. Margo was sleeping in Levi’s (the name of my character) arms. I forgot. Marco and I left them like that for a good seven hours straight while we were just chatting.
Levi’s green eyes were scanning Margo’s petite face. Unlike Marco, Margo’s freckles did not explode just anywhere. They were focused on her prominent cheek bones. Her lips had their own color to them and her eye lashes are extremely long. They were long, yes, but it did not curl up. From Margo’s jet black twin braids that reached her practically flat chest to her slender and well-shaped legs, Marco did a good job in customizing his character. Margo even resembled Marco. They look like twins. No, Margo is the girl version of Marco! (Meanwhile, mine looks like an anime character. White hair. Green eyes. Demonic features.) And this is what I liked about GI:FOHRE’s customizing settings. They were detailed like hell. After college, I want to make a game similar to it.
After making my character pat Margo’s head that was perched on his chest, her head, just above his heart, I opened the chat box Marco and I drown in dating scenarios for when we finally meet.
We once had a scenario wherein we were having a date at the beach—just the two of us. We swam all day long under the weak rays of the sun. And when we would get tired of swimming, we would huddle on shore and bury each other, sacrificing one another to the sand.
Marco was wearing his favorite trunks that were awfully tight. They screamed the astounding flashy color of blue. They were so tight that Marco Junior was squirming in discomfort. (Of course, Marco would be the one to point that out.)
In the meantime, I was wearing a diver’s outfit because hell to the no I don’t have abs. Large goggles choked my neck. They’re like equivalent to those life-sized sunglasses celebrities wear except mine were for swimming.
I was making sand-angels, disregarding the fact that the stinging sand left red marks all over the parts of my exposed skin. Marco then walked up to me, leaving his colossal footprints permanently marked on the beach.
“The sea is so calm, huh?” He stated, trying to start a conversation in which I only replied an uneasy, “Well I’m not.” Well, how could I be so relaxed with the roaring of the sea…more like the roaring of my heart? Marco was squishing my knuckles playfully. He was pinching my right hand all of a sudden. There was even a rhythm to it. It was like the rhythm he would create with his drum set. Marco was a drummer. That fact alone automatically made him hot, at least in my opinion. All my past boyfriends played the drums. I don’t know. There was something about the drums that makes an awful lot sense to me.
“Do you need a hug?” Marco’s constant asking was often unnecessary since he would just go ahead and do what he wants to do with you.
Without me responding, he tackled me into a hug and mushed me to the sandy ground.
I hope he was truly like this in real life. I admire his sense of great assumption. He assumes that things are alright to do. And, they are apparently all the time right.
I laugh. He laughs.
Unexpectedly, we were just holding each other as the afternoon sand fried us alive. The sun which was at its peak was the heat below while the sand was the pan. The frying sensation was the explosion of overflowing bliss and passion.
“I love you.” I’d say.
He’d reply. “I love you more.”
I snorted. “I know.”
Everything would feel better if it were real. And, this day’s purpose is to fulfill that wish and all the fantasies Marco and I made up. Marco was not a dream anymore.
T’was 8AM. Two more hours to go.
Before leaving Nutreal, I ate their light breakfast menu which consisted of two bacon strips, a sunny side up egg, and two loaves of wheat bread. How American. I sometimes forget I live in the American state of Clarrea, Mulach.
Wearing my “I’m the One” shirt, I strolled down the streets of Verfile city with a snapshot of the town map, and my backpack in another. Marco’s neighborhood was straight down town, and the only thing I needed to do was jog south from Nutreal. We didn’t decide to meet by his house, but he said we’ll meet somewhere near the entrance of Verfile Park, the only amusement park in downtown Verfile.
I managed to contact Marco like fifteen minutes ago. “Yeah I know. Meanwhile, my neighborhood’s boring.”
It was nice hearing his live voice again. “What?! At least you guys have a park.” I jogged down a steep sidewalk that paved its way towards a corner of a fenced lot. The fence was basically knotted wires twice as tall as me. It looked pretty small from a far but when I got closer it looked pretty big.
“Are you at least outside the perimeter of the park?” I heard the desperation in Marco’s raspy voice from the other end of the line after a long silence.
“One more corner, dear.” I rushed down the miniature hill. I bet my pits smell like hell already. I’m totally ready to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki with my nuclear babes.
Practically skipping like a little schoolgirl down the slope, I felt the semi-cold morning air trickle up my sleeve as I kept my left hand on my ear, holding my phone. I stopped when I reached the bottom of the paved hill. “Hey Marco I’m here. Where are you?”
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Shit, did he just end the call?! “Marco? Are you still there?”
That short period of sadness vanished from the face of the earth when a boy as tall as a baby bear pulled me into a snug hug. He was so tall that it seemed that he supported my head while hugging me. We were still for a solid seventeen seconds of seven minutes in heaven.
When we both broke away from the hug, he held both my hands in front of us and squeezed them firmly. The freckled man that stood right in front of me sniffed. His eyes were getting teary. He looked so cute while crying. It’s like I took candy from a little kid.
At that sight, mine were beginning to get teary and moist as well.
“M-Marco?” I managed to muffle out a soft cry. He nodded, tears, finally rolling down his meaty cheeks. “Jean!”
“Marco?!” I was trying to clarify that I wasn’t dreaming. His freckle-sick face…his tan complexion…his naturally multi-colored hair…his blue eyes. The real thing was breathing in front of me.
“J-Jean!!!” He seemed still slightly skeptical as much as I am. “You’re finally here…” We just kept repeating each other’s names after the other for quite some time. This is what happens when you’re culture-shock. You get excited when you know you are going to experience something new and worth getting excited for and you spend your days counting down to the faithful day. Then you experience the thing as fast as a blink of an eye and then you’re done. You ask yourself, ‘It’s over. What do I do with my life now?’
I nodded, finally giving my eyes permission to go all out. I cried. “I…I guess I am here now. Finally,” This time around, I was the one who hugged him first.
The embrace seemed shorter since the both of us were trying to snap out of shock and disbelief.
Marco pulled away and started flapping his hands around like a sissy fangirl. “It’s really you!”
I merely scratched my nape as his intense blue stare was fixated on me. “Ahaha…yeah.”
“You’re more handsome in person. Skype sucks.” Pixilation sucks.
“Thanks. And yeah, it does sometimes…”
“Omigosh.” He was speaking too fast. “Are you hungry?”
He grasped my hands again. “Are you tired? I heard your strange breathing through the phone. Were you running?”
I started fanning myself. “Very.”
I snickered. “’Course.” I continued. “…Because you’re here.”
He smiled, trying to hide a blush. “It’s not me, it’s you.”
Out of nowhere, Marco covered his mouth and lowered his head, looking apologetic. “I’m sorry,” He said.
“Huh?” I tilted my head.
He rested both his hands on my shoulders, keeping a comfortable distance from me. “Am I talkative?”
“Do I seem hyper?”
“Uhmm…” I don’t really know how to respond. But he was determined to hear an answer. He batted his eyelashes unintentionally. At least, it seemed involuntary.
“Now that you mention it, you kind of seem to be all over the place. A bit far from the calm and confident Marco Bought over skype—” I was so ready to tease him.
He cut me off. “I’M SORRY! I’M JUST SO AWKWARDLY NERVOUS AND SOCIALLY AWKWARD IRL, REALLY. AND IM SORRY FOR NOT PICKING UP BECAUSE I WAS FLIPPING WORRIED MAYBE THINGS WON’T GO AS PLANNED OR MAYBE YOU GOT EATEN BY A TIGER OR SOMETHING—”
To make him stop whining, I told him that I was also in eternal panic a while ago in the bathroom.
Patting his head, I said, “It’s cute actually.”
I cleared my throat. “You’re cute.” I continued. “You’re so cute when you’re worried.” He covered half his face as if he thought he could hide that red hue on his tan face from me.
I laughed at him.
He laughed with me.
Marco was so into the moment and so into the laughing that this moment gave me the opportunity to like observe him—live.
His tan complexion was so attractive. It contradicted the intensity of his manly, navy blue eyes that the whole equation gave body to his well-carved face. And since his plain white polo was a bit fitted, I can tell he’s hiding some abs here and there. I also checked out his biceps. He had muscles in the right places. I also figured that he has strong hands and arms for playing the drums demanded that willpower. After looking at his upper part, I decided not to even look down south. I don’t know. Maybe it might just make me insecure or something…
Dreamy sigh. And to think…sigh…He’s my boyfriend! My boyfriend’s this hottie.
At last, he finished laughing. “Well you look good today too.”
“Same here…You look…” I was caught breathless. What’s there to compliment? His eyes? His face? His body? What?! Oh heavens tell me now, for you have granted me an angel. I didn’t know how to describe Marco. There was so much to describe. “Stunning. You look stunning.” Nice comeback, Jean-bo.
“I like your shirt.” Yay! I was expecting he would notice.
“I like your jeans.” As if on impulse, that crap of a compliment just went out my potato hole of a mouth. Dammit. Stop. Thinking. Dirty. Jean.
And as expected Marco was completely flushed when I brought up my completely wrong set of word group. I guess now he’s thinking that I’ve been trying to look inside his pants for quite some time now, dammit. Of all the things I could’ve said…why the pants?!
Better try to explain. “No well, I mean—”
I was cut off by his genuine laughter. Oh great. He’s going to laugh again. It’s kind of redundant but hey…his laugh is really cute.
“You’re cute too, Jean.”
After the clumsy chitchat, Marco toured me around the vicinity of the park. It looked like a typical park to me. There were wild shrubs and bushes, small flowers, some woody trees, and benches that were scattered evenly. I felt at peace. Verfile was a very industrialized city and all, but I was so happy to see a baby meadow lingering beside construction sites and malls. I hope this meadow will not die soon. “In Drethick, my hometown, the city is populated by factory workers or company owners. Given the situation, the paved streets were filled with establishments—big and small. You won’t see a tree for a good 2 miles once outside Drethick. It’s really sad.”
“You’re right. I think the future generations won’t get to witness tree climbing or even trees.” It took a good ten seconds for Marco to ask where Drethick is. “And Drethick is where?” Marco asked. He tightened the weight of his hand on mine, already crushing it intentionally. I bet the little devil’s plan is to stop my blood circulation. Hahaha. I observed Marco’s squishing hobby. He likes pinching things in his hand softly.
We were walking side by side, holding hands. It was so awesome. We were…acting like a real couple out on a real date. Well, we are a real couple on our first real date.
“It’s four towns away.” I finally answered. The sun’s rays in Marco’s eyes disappeared as I said those words. “What a distance… If cities were human I think Drethick and Verfile wouldn’t even know each other.”
“Oh, but one of the towns aren’t real. It’s a paper town.” I think he wasn’t thinking about Drethick and Verfile as cities though. Maybe he narrowed down the concept from cities to us. I readily concluded: We were hopelessly four towns apart.
I stopped moving my tired feet and removed my sweaty hand from its rightful place—Marco’s. He also stopped his brisk walking pace and looked into my eyes.
“I know what you’re thinking.” I stated. “But that’s not the topic we’re supposed to talk about today. It’s your birthday tomorrow. And, I’m here, so you better be happy.” I said in my sweetest voice possible. I wiped my sweaty hand on my slacks before getting both his hands. “I drove here because I wanted to see you and I’m determined to start a real relationship with you.”
I really feel like the guy in this relationship. I thought I was the girl. “Jean?”
I closed my eyes so that I cannot see him. I’d feel edgy, fuzzy and fidgety if we were directly staring at each other’s eyes. Though through my other senses, I can sense his penetrating stare glued on me. I can tell he was searching something on my face.
“Marco Bought, I want to properly court you.” After spilling, I opened my eyes to find out his expression.
“I don’t get you.” Marco admitted, looking confused. “Aren’t we already an item, Jean?”
“That’s the thing. We are. I just want you to know that even though we are together-together, I rather court you still. Those role plays…I want to make them real. Look, I know college starts tomorrow. It won’t be hard for me okay? The distance? Screw it. Your university is in Tarpkent, right?”
I held a finger to his lips. “Yeah not butts. Mine is in Crestmount. And that’s hella near.” I coughed. “Also, Tarpkent is basically sandwiched by Drethick and Crestmount anyways. I could just pick you up and stuff. Any time you want.” I think I’ve said too much. Marco’s eyebrows were twitching and his eyes became watery once more, and we embraced once more as well.
It was not long till we separated ourselves from each other.
Marco wiped his face with his sleeve and checked his wrist watch. “It’s 8:37. Mom’s going to expect us to be home by 9.”
“More or less we’ve got 30 minutes?”
“Thirty minutes.” He repeated, reassuring me. He even gave me thumbs up.
“Okay.” I sighed. “Let’s stop killing time. Lead the way to you humble abode. I want to see the shrine of my freckled god. And, maybe I’m dying to meet mother-in-law.” I purposely sugar coated my pronunciation of ‘mother-in-law’ with honey. I want to see Marco’s reaction.
“Okie then. But seriously Jean, I was expecting you to say ‘lead the way to your bedroom’ or something.”
It took me a minute and a half to realize what exactly was he saying. “H-hey!” I raised both my arms defensively. “I’m not a pervert! I just constantly misuse words. I tend to jumble them up. Th-that’s all there is to it!”
Marco folded his arms and raised a brow at me with a questioning look. “Geez, I was just joking. I know. No need to be defensive. Haha.”
Our journey getting out of the park was not that long even though we walked in such a zombie-like manner that even the walkers from The Walking Dead might thing of us as one of their kind. Holding hands, Marco can’t help but let go of mine when we bumped into a woman holding a stroller with a baby on it as we were getting a few meters out of the fenced park. They were about to enter, we were about to leave.
“Wow. Lindsey, is this Linda? Is this already Linda?!” Marco chuckled.
Lindsey was a short young woman with an awfully round face. It’s like her cheekbones and jaw just turned into potatoes or something. Looking like a circle in her plain turquoise maternity dress that reached her ankles, Lindsey beamed the most striking smile I ever seen. It was a smile of a mother—the smile that I never saw from mine. It was the smile of satisfaction and loving care for her baby. She was proud to carry her for nine months. I never received that smile. Marco received that smile. Linda was the infant that Marco was gawking at by the stroller. She was dressed in baby pink clothes while a warm, cozy blanket was draped around her. Linda wore a bonnet and two tiny gartered mittens that hindered me from seeing her little fingers move.
“Yep, it’s her. She’s four months old now, and I’m proud.” Lindsey said, humbly. Just right after answering Marco’s rhetoric question, she caught sight of me and started waving a bit. “Who’s your friend back there, kiddo?”
Marco turned back, facing me, and winked at me the moment I locked my eyes on him. “He is not my friend.” The whole time he just gazed at me. But after saying the not friend-zoned statement, the intense blue went back to Lindsey and Linda. I thought he was going to utter his introduction of me, but instead of doing that, he walked up to me, patted my left shoulder, pulled me closer to him and the stroller, our arms, getting tangled and smiled. “Lindsey,” Then, he looked at the baby. “Linda, this is my boyfriend, Jean. Jean, this little kawaii potato right here’s her baby, Linda.” Um, like I didn’t know that already? “She was a senior when I just entered high school, by the way. This girl right here was the hella sexy captain of the cheerleading squad.” That, I did not know. But, do I really need this information?
Marco gave such a long and extravagant introduction after that that I didn’t really paid attention to the other half. I couldn’t complain though. Even though I didn’t know most of the things he was saying, they were so amusing. Despite the age gap, they talked like girlfriends.
I merely said, “Hello.”
“What a d-uh-shing young man.” The more Lindsey spoke, the more I can hear her native Clarrean accent seeping through the cracks. “You’re one lucky fell-uh, Marco. Yes, but I’m luckier ’uh-n you ’cause Lind-uh’s d-uh-d sure is fine too.”
Oh good. Now, they’re talking about boys. Men. I also observed Marco speaks to her like he’s also a lot older than he really is. Marco’s such a good speaker and listener. Two in one, yo. Guess what, Lindsey? I think my boyfriend is still better than your husband.
“Eh?” Marco pretended to be surprised. He was sharing his goofy and dorky expressions with Linda who was laughing toothless. “Where is this fine young man that little Linda calls father?” He started looking left then right, creating makeshift binoculars by cupping his hands.
This made Lindsey laugh. But when she started talking about her husband, even I can’t help but feel sad. “Oh Clifford? What uh-bout Clifford? Well…” Lindsey twirled some locks of her frizzy unkempt strawberry blonde hair with her fingers as her voice suddenly drifted away.
“Uh-fter I g-uh-ve birth to Lind-uh he h-uh-d to work overseas. You see, we really need the money. ’Course I w-uh-nt us to be a h-uh-ppy f-uh-mily…however we need money. This is uh-lso for my daughter’s good.” Lindsey started frowning. When she frowned, the wrinkles in her face that must be due to stress were more seen. “Linds und I are waiting for him to return. We know he’s out there somewhere. But we could still reach him with our hearts.
Cue the Titanic music.
“Well I don’t like tuh-king ’bout Clifford. It muh-kes me miss him more.”
“Don’t we all?” Marco comforted her after a moment of listening. “I remember. He was the star on the soccer field. Such a cool striker.”
Lindsey wasn’t exactly in the verge of tears. She just looked sad and empty.
Then, I started butting in.
“He’ll come soon. You’ll see!” I hate pretending to be optimistic because in reality I am realistic. Everything in this world sucks once you get over it.
Not only did Lindsey smile, but also Marco who just started carrying Linda. He held her with both of his beefy arms. It was a cute sight. Marco seemed like a giant, hot monster if you compare his size to Linda. He’s like 6’2 or something.
“Is it fine if I play with her, Linds?” The mother has the same nickname as her baby.
Marco raised the baby up—haha lion king—and down. Linda was laughing as she dashed through the air. Up. Down. Up. Down. Soon, she presented her toothless mouth. She liked Marco’s little game.
“You are so good with kids.” I commented. Actually I was hesitant to give him such a compliment because he might tease me and my wrong groups of words again. This time, he might accuse me of wanting to impregnate his or something (even though that is scientifically impossible). But it appears that he did not hear me. The child had his undividable attention.
I feel so jelly and lucky at the same time. A child got Marco’s eyes off me, and it’s obvious that he’s going to be the dad in the future between the two of us for our adopted kids. He must be a good father in the future. And I should be practicing to be a good wife… Just kidding!
Though, I am depriving Marco’s unborn future babies of their father and their existence. But who cares? I’m praying we go steady when I finally meet his mom.
Time flew high and fast. Before I knew it, the tall establishments disappeared and we were already walking on a flat and straight sidewalk of a typical neighborhood. Most houses had either two floors or only one. However, every house had a touch of coziness to it. They had their own unique design, and most had gates, not fences.
“Welcome to Cresent, Verfile, Mr. Kirsten.” Marco’s smile reached his cheeks when he saw my eyes prying about. “You like what you see?” He added.
I swallowed my breathed down. It’s not like I ‘love’ the pleasant atmosphere. It’s just that Verfile seems totally different and hands down better than home. I like it better here. My inner animal instincts are disoriented. “Your neighborhood is totally different from home. Can I live here, please?”
Marco laughs. Hard.
“What? Is there something wrong with Drethick?” We were walking beside each other once again. This time he was consciously invading my right arm. He was rubbing his knuckles against it. I liked the friction. Makes me feel hot. Static.
I smiled, shaking my head. “Now that it’s mentioned, what’s Drethick like?” Babe, you don’t need to know. I’m not bringing you to that hellhole when we get married and elope, dammit.
I don’t know why but I started sweating like hell. Is it nervousness? Personally, I don’t like sharing stories about my hometown…even to friends. ’Cause people there suck. A lot. It is so humiliating to talk trash about your place though. But since Marco’s pleading eyes were only stuck to mine, I guess…I could make a consideration. And so, I started…my ranting. “I hate Drethick as much as I memorize the routes there.”
“Might I deliberate on your staying?” Marco smiled.
I scratched the side of my face which was the closest part to my ear, just below my side burns. “Like I said before, half of the population of Drethick are factory workers that don’t really get much cash. Most products in Mulach—American Clarrea—are manufactured in the factories of my hometown. If there are factory workers there are also factory owners—CEOs, managers…people with high positions. The poor half live in Drei, a place where the houses have no comfortable one meter space between them. Fires are frequent there. House fires. Since they stand so close, every small house fire makes it inconvenient for fifteen families to live there.
“Meanwhile, in Thicke, otherwise called as rich kid paradise, people live in prestigious subdivisions. And, I assure you that you will not see two houses let alone their gates beside each other for the next three kilometers. Drethick sucks. Injustice is everywhere.” After saying my semi-speech, I breathed in more air than usual. I’ve been talking too much. Actually I talk passionately on my hatred with my hometown. I can go on talking ’bout the hellhole for hours.
Marco clapped his hands. But before the sweat that piled up in our palms dried, he closed the space between our hands once again. “Wow. I like how you talk about home with such detail.” He was thinking of how he’ll compliment my place at the same time be on my side though. Marco was an airhead. Correction: My dorky deep airhead. He’s so easy to read. He goes with the atmosphere’s flow that’s why his face is so transparent. “Verfile isn’t perfect too, you know. We have many protests here made by the general public. You’re lucky there’s none today. If there is, it would take us to go to my house two hours on foot and three by car. It usually starts from the city hall and then the crowd engulfs the whole of Verfile. We hate the local government.”
We then both laugh.
Marco stared into my eyes as silence trickled in after we stopped laughing. His eyes were shining like a sapphire in the darkness that was hit by white light. His eyes were my favorite feature on his face. It was his eyes that I couldn’t stop gazing at. He had short black brown hair that seemed long because of his bangs that covered parts of his forehead. He had lips that were shaped by the gods. He had smooth cheeks that were assaulted by freckles. His eyebrows were semi arched and thicker than a usual guy’s that said a lot. But Marco had powerful blue eyes that presented a concentrated sapphire hue to them. And, even I fell for them. In all of his perfectly lovable features it was his eyes that were standing out. It was a blue sea trapped inside a person’s eye. It was deep and reflective. I could even see my reflection just looking at his eyes.
“Jean,” He said. My freckled god spoke. “Are you a local of Drei or Thicke?”
That was all that he asked. Honestly, I was expecting more. He looked into my eyes deeply for a moment. I assume he must be thinking about something. And I wanted to know that something. But since he is so concerned about my well-being and social status, I believe I have to tell him the truth. The truth that I’ve wanted to escape my whole life… “The truth is…”
He was looking at me with such innocence.
“The truth is… Do you know Den Mark Nanobi?” Marco lifted a brow at me in confusion.
He shrugged. “Yeah I know Nanobi. He is Clarrean Bill Gates. The guy’s a zillionaire. But what’s this got to do with him? I’m asking you something. Don’t change the subject.”
I searched for the confidence at the bottom of the endless abyss that is my soul. How do I say this? “As a matter of fact, telling you my address is like giving you a fact about Nanobi.”
“Jean, what do you mean?”
I inhaled, and then exhaled. “Let’s just say I’m actually Bill Gates Jr. In this case…”
As I spit the information out, Marco bounced up, his eyes widening, his mouth, forming a not moldable smile of uncertainty. “BILLGATESJUNIOR…WHAT?!! You’re his…” Marco said, voice shaking.
“I’m Den Mark Nanobi’s Son.” I ended his sentence. It made Marco’s brows knit together. He looked amazed and disappointed in one swing.
After the semi shock that I gave him, he soon recovered with a disoriented impression of me. He started laughing. “On the contrary, I really did dream of you being a millionaire, or at least, a son of a millionaire.”
“You must have fortune telling in your blood, huh?” I joked.
“But still, why’s your surname Kirsten?”
It’s these types of questions that I hate to answer. However, I’ll do anything and everything to satisfy my lover’s curiosity about me. I think it’s sweet. It’s quite sweet how he’s innocently digging through me, searching for my origin—my experiences and what I’ve been through. I guess this is what you talk about all day when you first meet each other in real life.
So, I answered it directly with a straight face. “My parents are divorced. Besides, my mom’s just one of those one million women my dad impregnated.” I’m surprised they still don’t have AIDS. Damn those depraved shits.
Marco still appeared to be processing info so I continued my talking…
“Actually, if I had the privilege to choose, hell I’m not taking up their surnames. I rather go surname-less. I just chose Kirsten because it goes better with Jean than Nanobi. Plus, it’s really humiliating to have Den Mark Nanobi as your father.”
Marco chuckled. “And why is that?”
Until now, I didn’t really get to explain myself. Normally, when people start discovering my family background, they go all out and befriend me more because they know my shit-load father has a lot of money and they want to take advantage of it. No one cares to ask more about me and who I really am inside. They just care about the name. And that’s where Marco comes in like an innocent angel on a wrecking ball, crashing into my world so suddenly. He’s interested in me. This is my first time explaining such a question so I didn’t answer at once.
“Uh… well…well…you know how at some schools you have ‘family day’ or something? I once went to one in my old school during the third grade. We were still one unhappy family and people started freaking out when dad appeared. Damn, I’m not used to calling him dad now.”
Marco let out a sigh. “I’m assuming you don’t like your parents.”
I gave him thumbs up. “Co-rrect!”
He looked away then back at me. “As you know I never met mine.” He pointed at himself and nodded his head at me like a cat. There was no expression of sadness on his face.
I felt as if I’ve offended him. Dammit, Jean. You are such a loser. You might make your boyfriend cry! “Sorry.” What else to say? Shit. I am not good with words of fucking comfort. No one exemplified such to me anyway. “Look, Marco. I didn’t mean to…” I don’t really know what to say. If I go blurting out my mind out I might end up offending him further…
A smile adorned his face. “It’s fine. I also have this tiny grudge against my real parents, anyway.”
That smile appeared forged to me. Knowing Marco as that transparent and easily readable dweeb that I love, I know he was faking it. Somewhere deep down, maybe he’s just thinking. Where are my parents? Didn’t they want me? Why doesn’t Jean like his parents? Should I even probe further? I don’t even want to probe in and out of Marco’s feelings and soul.
The silence that gradually erupted a while ago ceased to exist when Marco pointed at a beige two-story house that had four windows, two per floor, and one gigantic window up there on the red roof. The simple house had small patches of bushes and flowers enclosed in a long green gate that were a bit similar to jail bars.
His gaze went back to me. Seizing my hand, Marco started running—dragging me along—towards the gate. “Oh hey! We’re finally here!” He pushed open the gate and crouched down, bending his head, to fit inside. I think this house might be a little too small for someone like Marco Bought.
When Marco realized that I haven’t popped in through the gate hole, he stretched a hand outside for me, “Jean Kirsten, welcome to my shrine.” I laughed at his constant effort to actually make me think he is a god since that time I said that I liked his username online. “Aren’t you going in? Don’t tell me you are nervous to see mother-in-law,”
I grasped his hand and swung in, my eyes, all glued to him. “No I’m not. Maybe it’s you who’s nervous,” I smiled, showing my teeth. “Are you?”
We went through a pathway in their small garden. Our way was paved with leveled hexagon rocks, mixed with cement. Marco and I held hands as we marched right in front of the door.
“Mom! We’re home!”
I felt a mix of anxiety and early fulfillment. I was going to meet Marco’s parents, for the first time. Well, I just met Marco today so why wonder. But on a serious note, Jean you bastard, DO NOT MESS ANYTHING UP.
There was still no sign of activity from the inside. Everything appeared to be heavily observable to me due to my anxiety and jumpiness. The birds’ chirping echoed through my ears, the whistling sound of the wind rustling along with the crisp leaves on the sidewalk, the next door neighbor, washing his car. I wanted to start a short conversation to calm my nerves. “So uh, your house is really cute. I bet it’s cozy inside, huh?”
“Help yourself. Why is mom taking so long?”
Speaking of the devil, a woman in her early forties, as estimated by me, appeared. She came from at the back of the house. She was short in stature, even shorter than me, blonde with white hair strands encompassed within, and her face was faintly powdered with wrinkles. When she saw me, she smiled such a bright smile, the wrinkles beside her slit-like eyes, revealing them.
“Well Marco. You are earlier than I expected.” She spoke with such gentleness, not even a tinge of malevolence or sass was venting from within. Afterwards, she directed her attention at me. “Oh. And you must be Jean?”
Shitsteak. I didn’t know what to say! Instead of getting speechless and just releasing air, I blurted out the first thing that came into mind when I opened my mouth. “Uh, J-Jean Kirsten, a-at your s-service ma’am!”
She completely went up to me, took off her gardening mittens, laid them down, and touched my cheeks as if I’m a little boy. “Oh my! You are as handsome as how Marco describes you to be,” Looking at Marco, she mouthed some words that I cannot read and added, “And quite decent too.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Marco getting all red and flushed. “Mom, please?” It was so obvious that he was getting embarrassed for me. But so far, his mom was everything but humiliating. Maybe a bit too touchy, but not humiliating…
Then, what came to her attention next was my hair. “I like the color of your hair. Such shades of brown… I think I should also dye my hair. My, my, these silver strands are annoying.”
“Why thank you.” I took a long pause to breathe. I had to review everything that I wanted to say before letting the guns out of my mouth. Just to make sure I don’t make a fool and a jerk out of myself. “I have my own hair stylist. We re-dye every four months.” She won’t get a flaw from that statement, right? God, I’m overthinking!
“Cute! Y’know if I dye your hair blonde you’d look like Senator Den Mark Nanobi when he was younger.” Mrs. Bought guessed right. Is it just me or does Marco’s mom have psychic powers? I’m telling ya, they’re a family of fortune tellers! Bring out the tarot cards!
At lost for words and statement I could say to avoid the topic, I merely stared at Marco. I hope he gets my message. He was looking nervous as well. Honestly, I wouldn’t want anyone to know about my family background as of now. The situation is still pretty tangled up.
“MOM!” But then Marco just had to react for me.
Mrs. Bought’s think eyebrows met as she gave Marco an unknowingly look. She wanted to be enlightened. “What?”
To help out Marco though, I decided to let go of the truth. It won’t really hurt for me if my in-laws knew right? It’s not like they’re going to dig money out of anyone in this instance. Or will this affect their perspective of me as a person? I mean fuck Den Mark Nanobi literally. That guy’s a jackass with a hella bad reputation. I’ve got thousands of siblings right there. You see the guy living on the streets? Yeah! He’s my brother! SHIT. What if they will also mistake me as someone like my father? That would be the worst case ever!!
C’mon Jean… Just laugh it off. I try to laugh. I hope all my experience in Drama class does me justice. “Mrs, Bought, Den Mark Nanobi is my father.”
Marco was speechless. “…” He respected the thing I wanted to bury under secrecy for a certain period. But I didn’t respect myself.
Mrs. Bought’s slit-like eyes burst wide open. She fixated her almond eyes on mine as her mouth curved into a confused smile. “My boy’s suitor is a Nanobi? Well that great news!” She then calls someone from the outside. Opening the door halfway, she yells. “Brigetta, a very important person’s gon’na enter the house!” She faced me again. “We are glad to invite you in. I’ll leave you two alone first.” After getting her gardening mittens, she bid a last bye to Marco and slammed the door shut.
Marco mouths. “I’m sorry for mom.”
I mouth back. “It’s fine. I killed off myself anyway.”
My father is so not good for my image.
After two minutes of staring into each other’s eyes in an attempt to communicate silently, Marco invited me inside with a friendly nod. He led the way through the wooden door.
We passed through the living room which consisted of a 42 inch flat screen TV, one really inviting couch with hand-knitted pillows, a coffee table sandwiched between the TV and the couch and a big dark lime carpet under it all. The overall wall color was caramel beige, a tint that was pleasing to the eye and it was close to the color of the outside of the house.
At the corner of the living room in which the walls met, there stood a tall multi-leveled shelf that carried trinkets and old picture frames. There was a small boy with freckles that looked like brown permanent marker marks. Marco.
Without any hesitation, I made my way towards the shelf by passing behind the coffee table, just in front of the couch, and lifted the picture frame from the tallest shelf level that was filled with all the pictures. Wiping a thin line of dust, I pressed on the picture with both my thumbs in disbelief. “This is you? You’re so tiny! How old are you here, Marco?”
Marco merely shrugged and purposely let himself fall on the couch. “Oh that picture? I don’t really know. Like fourteen?”
“What?!” I dashed through the room and fell on the couch, waving the frame inches away from his face. “But you’re so cute here, like a little kid.”
He shrugs again. “I’m a late bloomer?”
“More like, puberty is giving you justice.”
Marco patted a seat beside him. Being the good follower I am, I sat down on the designated place. But out of my surprise, as I rested myself down, holding the picture frame like it was something so special—for me, it’s the greatest Marco thing I’ve seen today—Marco rested his right arm around my neck, pulling my head closer to his.
Most of the time, I would be the one who would do these romantic actions in our past roleplays, but I never thought that in real life maybe I’m not the only one who’ll make the other’s heart explode. Since my head was basically resting on his collarbone, I could hear his loud pulse, trying to catch up to mine. My heartbeat was so fast that I just had to shut my eyes tight for a moment to think clearly. Is this a dream? Getting held by the love of your life like this, this close…can it be in fact real? The bombing of my thoughts followed the speed of my raising heartbeat. It was true what they said. Your heartbeat can rise with fantastical thoughts about that crazy little thing called love. The only thing I can hear right now was our heartbeats, joining together. Marco’s big hand was still on my right ear anyway, limiting my hearing at the right. I’m so happy. I wish we could stay like this forever.
§ 11:00 AM, Lunch at Marco’s §
“So Jean, where do you study?” Mrs. Bought asked. So apparently, I was not informed that we were eating lunch at Marco’s. I thought that Marco and I were going to go to the mall or something. But I guess this is better—having bonding time…at his place. After all, Mrs. Bought and their housemaid, Brigetta, who was leaning on the kitchen counter, prepared such a feast for us. Nicely laid out on the marble dining table, a series of Chinese food on ceramic plates were the center of attention. From left to right: Hakaw, one type of dimsum, Chicken feet submerged in an orangey-red sauce, lemon chicken, Yang chow rice that is pretty much java rice mixed green peas, small shrimp, and chicken bits.
Marco and I sat at opposite sides of the table, and his mom mediated us. Brigetta, who was extremely darker than Marco dark, stood patiently by our table, waiting for a command from Mrs. Bought who I observed to be partially bossy.
“I’m a second year college student in the University of Free Arts at Crestmount.” I am happy and edgy at the same time. Happy…because I’m getting into Marco’s mom’s good side and Edgy… because she’s interrogating me and one wrong move can kill my relationship with Marco.
“A year older? I’m impressed. How mature. So, what’s your course?”
As Mrs. Bought and I chat, Marco just chews his food silently in the corner. I bet he was ready to take responsibility and be embarrassed if ever his mom’s lips slide.
Swallowing the last piece of meat I chunked down my throat, I cleared my throat just in time to answer. “It’s a long name for a lone course but it’s basically centered on Game Development. I decided to choose a course close to my hobbies.”
Mrs. Bought’s facial expression changed from attentive to dead. Her eyebrows arched up a bit as if she was trying to look clearly through my dark soul in a judge-like manner. It was those hawk-like eyes that scare the most when it comes to mothers, mostly when it comes to meticulous mothers. And I am praying to the heavens that Marco’s is not as bitchy as mine. She was also rubbing her lips together as if she was concerned. Like, she spotted a flaw in my response and is now thinking of a thousand possibilities that we aren’t going to be successful thus JeanMarco, our temporary ship name, is going to turn into a crazy spin off of the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet! Am I thinking too much?
Her eyebrows met at one moment, and I knew she was judging me inside and out just because of my course.
“Game development,” At this instance, her voice began echoing a cocky tone of mockery. I think my assumptions are correct. We’re going to be starring in a play! “So what exactly do you do and get from this? Will your games save you from poverty?” And here comes the ‘judging you’ face. It was this face that haunted me throughout my high school life. The face of evil was looking at me in the eye once more. I was always welcomed by this face wherever I go during my high school days. During those years homosexuality was against the norm. Life is technically like the movie Mean Girls. If you don’t follow the trend, you’re out of the game! And, that didn’t really make much sense to me during my pony days when I was just starting to adjust with this preference of mine. Now that I’m in college, now that I’ve moved over that phase, and now that people are gradually absorbing beings like me, now that I have Marco, I’m ready to shout out all my opinions. May it be the homophobes, my mom, or Mrs. Bought, I’ll be standing by my belief from now on. I am persistent to get pass the parents, and get the jackpot prize. That is the only thing important to me.
“I program and develop games.” I answered her directly. I said the obvious.
She eyed me once more before turning her attention on her food. “And what do you get from this? What kind of job will you be having?”
I breathed in and constructed my speech in my head. Actually, I have said this speech a few years back to my mom, since she was totally skeptical that I’d get a half-assed job that I can make a living out of, who is one thousand more Satans than Marco’s mom so I think I’ll be fine. “Game programmers, slash, developers like me will not only get jobs in the field of gaming. Of course, even if gaming and gamers will never cease to exist, there is a wide range of companies I can go into. Schools can pay me even if I just work around in the computer making subjects like Math and Science fun through games.” I looked down as soon as I finished. I hated looking at people straight in the eye. It makes me nervous and I feel really bad because during my short speech, my confidence was fading, as usual, and my voice was cracking. “I can also enter the field of media if fate grants it. Mrs. Bought, if you are scared that Marco and I a few years from now might starve to death, living in a cardboard, across the street, then fret not. There are thousands of opportunities to get hands on cash.” I tried saying it in an assuring manner; moreover I hope the sass in my voice won’t be heard.
After the ultimately rising tension, and ultimately rising silence that is coming from Marco, Mrs. Bought merely shrugged and chuckled. I thought she would actually continue sassing me, but no she didn’t! She’s totally better than mom! “You’re so funny Jean! I was just joking. Well, I know you have more than enough to feed Marco in the near future—since you are a Nanobi—but I was just curious, why didn’t you follow the footsteps of your father…He’s a businessman, and an awfully successful one at that.” She was talking as if Marco was not eating with us. And also, sometimes I do get offended when people compare me and my filthy father.
I smiled on how cute Marco was. He was blushing really hard…hard enough for me to see amidst his tan complexion. “Well Mrs. Bought, let’s just say that I’m completely different from my mom and dad.”
“Does your mom work?”
“No ma’am, she’s a housewife.”
“Oh what a good household you must have.”
Oh hell to the no, we have the worse house members ever. Yes, I do not consider them as my family. They are a clan of bitches; I choose to get disowned after I’m done with college. There are only three of us at home—Satan’s spawn, my aunt, and I, the rainbow unicorn. So, the Kirsten household is basically the gayest horse you’ll see, a shitty cook, and Satan, herself.
“Not quite,” I commented. I was just so relieved when she didn’t ask any follow up questions about home anymore. After all, I’m moving out tomorrow, and I’ll be crashing at Hans’ place (for forever) at Crestmount since my university is there as well.
After lunch, Marco and I basked in Verfile’s hella big mall. It’s so spacy. The floors were filled with food stalls that gave out free food tastes. And from that, Marco and I survived the day since the free food filled our stomachs throughout the day. We went to the arcade to play gun games, basketball, air pong, and many more. We also shopped in numerous boutiques; of course I paid it all. I was the one who insisted that we should buy new shit. Marco felt embarrassed since he didn’t bring any extra money, and I said I’d buy him shit because I love him to death. Geez, he’s the kind that hates having someone serve him. So innocent and nice and refreshing!
We arrived at Marco’s home at 8. We straightly went up the stairs and walked pass a long hallway. It contained three similar doors, all wooden, two in front of each other, just in front of the stairs, and one at its end. Hanging onto the caramel paint of the parallel walls, several picture frames and canvases adored it. We passed them without a sound or a word. We were both tired from walking, fitting clothes, and carrying paper bags. Marco led me all the way to the end where the last door was at. I assumed this was his room. After all, it’s my first time exploring their second floor.
We were both silent but our hands that were inside each others were communicating. I was feeling this hot sensation, tingling, starting from the hand Marco invaded, spreading throughout my entire being. It was melting me alive.
Marco finally opens the door with a bit of struggle due to the number of paper bags he was holding. “Welcome to my room.” From outside, it seemed small. But when Marco dumped four of his paper bags on his queen-sized bed that had blue flowers on its bed sheet, that signaled me to come in also, I saw a whole new world. The four walls were painted a light blue, as fair as the sky. The ceiling was the galaxy in one room. It was a painted depiction of the universe the Triune God created. It was space gray at first but then dark purple swirls settled into the picture and every white dot were a star, millions of kilometers away from where I was standing. The clashing of colors allowed it to maintain its depth. I was sucked into the painting that in the process of bending my neck up to adore more of its beauty that had strike me in awe, I hurt my neck. It was as if I didn’t mind looking at the surprisingly organized shelves filled with books inside of Marco’s room, or the pencil case holder that contained who-knows-how-many USBs which was resting on a desk at the right hemisphere of his room. There are so many notable things in his room, but it was the galaxy ceiling that was breath-taking and worth my time looking at.
Marco plopped himself on his bed, making the mattress tremble at his massive size. “What are you looking at?”
I swallowed. I didn’t know how to describe it. Should I call it a ceiling or a masterpiece? “The Galaxy—I am peering onto it.”
Lying flat on his back, he cradled his head with his folded arms and also checked out the view I was appreciating since the first time I entered his room. “Oh that,” Marco blinked. “It took me four days to finish that. Actually, it looks so rushed and well…incomplete.”
My eyeballs went out of my face. “Rushed? Incomplete?! What’s there to add? This is a masterpiece. You have a talent Marco.”
I was still looking up when a pair of enormously pudgy arms wrapped themselves around my neck. It was Marco. “I don’t have the talent to explain to you why it’s incomplete. It’s kind of like my life…incomplete. It needs a bit more luster and excitement, freedom and justice.”
He made my body move closer to his, it was like we were slow dancing and exchanging sweat. “You’re right,” I said. “I don’t understand! Why didn’t you pick an art course for college? And maybe we can even be in the same university!” The concept just popped in my head. At least we can be closer.
Planting a surprise kiss on my forehead—which was very easy since he is taller than me—Marco shook his head. “My mom picked my course for me. She’s a chemist. And so, she wants me to become a chemist.”
I frowned. “Why are you letting her do that?”
“Because I’m adopted and the least I can do is repay her back by following her advice…” He whispered. “She’s paying for my education after all.”
I had no reply to that kind of statement at all.
“If I become a successful game creator one day…do you want to make a game with me? You know…something like Genesis but even better?”
Marco’s moist eyes started sparkling when it was hit by the moonlight that crawled into the window as they turned into smiles as well. He was smiling and his eyes also did. “I do, but I believe nothing’s going to beat Genesis.”
“Just you watch. I’ll beat them all!”
“I love you, you dork.”
I smiled. “I love you more.”
My heart literally stopped when the space between our faces vanished. At this point, it wasn’t me who made the first move. If I were the one stronger in this relationship online, it was him who made me melt in real life all the time.