Chapter 44 - Deja Vu
Christmas was in two weeks.
Our school had this tradition to hang greens in the classrooms and hallways in preparation for our Christmas Ball.
Each class had the freedom to decorate their room as they pleased, as long as the materials they used fit the budget.
Decorations from the previous years were donated to orphanages and hospitals. That's why we get new ones every year. It was tradition.
Classes were put on hold today so we could use the time to hang the greens. Everyone actively participated so it was actually an event we all looked forward to besides the Christmas Ball.
As everyone had pushed their chairs and desks at the sides of the classroom, the door suddenly slammed opened, revealing a really jolly girl carrying a big red sack over her shoulder. She was wearing a Santa hat too.
I sighed and shook my head but laughed at the not-so-surprising sight.
It was no other than Ella.
Everyone gathered around her immediately, excited to see what she had brought. She was in charge of buying the decorations this year and she undoubtedly enjoyed doing the task.
Behind her followed Anne and Kristopher, quietly bickering about something. They were wearing Santa hats too.
I just smiled at my silly friends. Despite the weight in my chest right now, I could actually feel the Christmas spirit.
I approached them as soon as Ella laid the red sack on the teacher's desk. Just how many greens did she get?
When she saw me, she sent me a playful grin. I returned it easily.
"Santa's wife got lost, I suppose." I quipped, helping her untie the knot around the sack's opening.
She just giggled in reply, obviously getting more and more excited.
I was relieved to see her like this. It was just the usual Ella. I was worried she'd be down because of what Anne said yesterday, but she seemed to be doing just fine.
I knew when Ella was faking being fine. I knew when her smiles were forced. But seeing her right now, I knew what she was showing were her genuine feelings.
"Did you get what we asked for?" One of the girls in class jumped in the crowd, looking at Ella in anticipation.
My best friend nodded, then sent another playful grin at me. The smile on my face slowly faded into a suspicious gaze.
What did she do this time?
As soon as the knot was untied, Ella grabbed a handful of greens inside the bag and threw it above her head, showering the room with a confetti of... of...
Oh my God.
"Mistletoes!" She gleefully exclaimed. The girls in class cheered and clapped their hands in excitement.
"Ella!" I couldn't help but say. Before I could scold her though, she beat me by pouring all the contents of the sack on the table. There were all kinds of decorations and I sighed in relief, knowing she didn't just buy mistletoes.
"Some of these were sponsored by the girls in our class," she giggled. "Don't worry."
"Where are you gonna put all these mistletoes?" I asked, picking one up.
Ella just laughed as cheerfully as she always was. "Everywhere!"
And with that, everybody took handfuls of greens and started decorating the classroom. I just laughed, actually enjoying how everyone was so excited like little children.
The boys came in a while later, carrying a tall Christmas tree. I heard Carter had an extra one in his house and decided to let us borrow it.
The boys seemed to be more excited than the girls when they fixed the tree and placed it on the vacant space beside the blackboard.
This was one of my most absolute favorite moments in school. I was really happy seeing everyone in my class like this, but then the weight in my chest got heavier, as if reminding me that I shouldn't be too happy.
I really shouldn't.
I quickly turned around to look for Daniel, who disappeared right after we came to class. I felt my face fall but I quickly shrugged it off.
Was I just getting too clingy? I should really stop acting like this. I didn't want to annoy him.
I looked around the room and noticed that Sean wasn't anywhere to be found too. He was absent yesterday, but I saw him this morning.
Just what was he up to?
And speak of the devils, the two of them entered the room, each carrying a box in their arms. I could tell there were Christmas lights and balls inside those boxes because they were practically overflowing from them.
"Anyone who wants Christmas balls say aye!" Sean announced his appearance to the whole class, raising his box over his head as if it was a trophy he had won.
There he goes again.
The class was in to it though. Sean's energy was practically the whole class' energy.
"AYE!!!" They all answered.
Like little elves, his friends and our other classmates gathered around him to get more decorations.
Daniel, who hated getting crowded, placed his box on the table and left it there. The elves swarmed around the table as soon as he put it there.
I hid a grin as he walked towards me and then casually snaked his arm around my waist.
"What should we do," he sighed, sounding sarcastically troubled as he pulled me closer. "There's a poisonous plant above us right now."
I looked up and snorted at what he was pertaining to. I didn't realize I was standing under a damn mistletoe the whole time.
The girls literally put it everywhere.
I held his arms and smiled cheekily at him. "Move away from it, obviously."
"But of course," he playfully replied in a British accent. He held me up easily, moved a step sideward away from the plant and then placed me down on the ground again. "There. We're saved."
"My hero." I rolled my eyes laughing.
He laughed as well, and I just stared into his eyes. The weight in my chest was too much of a constraint. I want to be happy. But I'm scared.
I'm just scared.
"The next thing you know..."
Anne's voice echoed again in my head and before it could finish, I blocked it by quickly pulling Daniel into a tight embrace.
Just let me be happy for a while. Please.
Surprised and a bit confused at the sudden hug, Daniel put a hand on my head and patted it gently. It was comforting, and that act alone calmed me down.
The class didn't miss the whole scene of course. They were already high from feeling the Christmas Spirit; seeing us like this just added fuel to fire.
The boys howled and the girls cooed at us. I pulled away slowly, a bit embarrassed.
"Get back to work!" I yelled, but laughed in the middle of my sentence. They all just cheered and gave us nods of approval in response.
Despite the interruption, I was grateful for their nosiness. They completely distracted me from sinking into a whirlwind of negative thoughts.
"Hey!" I heard Anne's voice from the far end of the classroom. She was holding a wreathe on one hand and she was covering her nose with her other hand. She was also semi-glaring at someone.
Kristopher was smiling down at her with a mischievous glint in his eyes. I was guessing he either poked her nose or kissed her or something.
"Mistletoe," he simply said. Anne huffed but I knew she was fighting back a smile.
I giggled at the scene. They were actually adorable to look at.
The whole morning, everyone decorated the classroom. The excess decorations were put on the hallways. Kids from the other classes helped by putting their excess decorations on the hallways as well.
As soon as everyone was finished, we were allowed to go home. Our teachers were in the middle of decorating the faculty room too; and they said they were gonna have a meeting for the upcoming Christmas ball. So they all agreed on resuming our classes the next day.
Everyone cheered of course, and didn't waste another second to go home.
I sighed. Thank goodness. I wasn't in any condition to pay attention to class anyway.
Daniel and I were already inside his car, ready to go home. I was having a mixture of emotions since last night and I just can't organize my thoughts no matter how hard I tried.
"Hey." He called my attention. I turned to look at him slowly while averting my gaze. "Are you okay?"
I don't even know.
"I forgot my phone." I said, an excuse to get away from any more questions. I was afraid I'd either lie or break down down in front of him.
It was true that I had forgotten my phone though. I was too caught up in my emotions that I didn't realize I had left it on my desk.
Hopefully it's still there.
"Do you want me to go get it?" He offered. I quickly shook my head.
"Just wait here. I'll be right back."
I jumped out of his car and walked back to the building. On the way there, I took deep breaths, trying to calm myself down.
Why was I getting so anxious about nothing? I hate overthinking.
The hallways were empty and quiet. It was almost eerie. Everyone had already left.
As I neared our classroom, I could hear two voices conversing. I sighed in relief. There were still people here. So not everyone left yet.
"...Danny has to tell her..."
Before I could recognize the voices, their words stopped me in my tracks.
Were they talking about Daniel?
I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but I was curious to hear what they were talking about.
"...have to leave tomorrow..."
My breath got hitched in my throat when I finally recognized those voices, those accents.
I wanted to run inside and ask what they meant but I didn't want to appear rude. My heart was hammering in my ribcage and I was afraid it'd burst out.
They were going to leave tomorrow?
"The next thing you know..."
Anne's voice kept haunting me and I'm this close to going crazy. I'm going crazy.
Was this really happening? I shouldn't assume that was the case, right? I didn't hear the whole conversation. I only heard parts of their sentences. I'm not even sure if I heard right. I shouldn't assume.
I should talk to Daniel about this. I keep worrying over nothing. But I didn't want to bother him. Knowing him, he might change his mind and choose me over going to London.
Of course, I didn't want him to leave, but I also didn't want to hold him back from doing what he had to do. I didn't want to be a burden.
I almost jumped from the shock.
I turned around and found one of our council members, Will, staring at me in confusion while holding my phone up.
"Someone reported a lost phone. I recognized it as yours and was about to contact Daniel. Luckily you're still here though." He said, giving me the phone.
I stared at it for a few seconds before taking it from him. My mind was buffering at the moment.
"Thank you," I told him. He probably noticed how strange I was acting but chose not to ask.
"No problem. See ya."
He walked away and I quickly spun on my heels back to the car as well.
I was shaking my head and wincing the whole time. I wouldn't be surprised if I suddenly tripped and fell. It'd be alright though, at least then I'd learn to get a grip.
When I got inside the car, I noticed that Daniel was staring intensely at his phone. I wasn't sure what he was doing, but as soon as I buckled my seatbelt, he stuffed it back inside his pocket.
Was he hiding something?
Stop it, Tina.
Stop doubting him.
"Did you find your phone?" He asked. I averted my gaze again and looked straight ahead. I nodded quietly in reply. "Okay. Let's go home."
It was about two o'clock in the afternoon. Daniel and I were lazing around in our guest room, watching anime.
His laptop was set on top of a pillow while we were sitting with our backs against the headboard.
I laid my head on his shoulder because my neck was starting to ache and he responded by gently laying his head on top of mine.
He took my slightly clenched hand and opened it, pressing our palms together until he linked our fingers.
His hold was gentle but tight. His hand was big and warm, and even though he was beside me right now, I just felt like I missed him a lot.
We quietly watched several episodes. I wasn't even paying attention to some of them anymore because I was getting sleepy.
My mind was exhausted, and my body decided to give it a bit of rest. I wanted to stay up and not waste this moment with Daniel, but I couldn't resist the heaviness in my lids.
After a little while, I gave up fighting it and finally drifted to sleep.
I had just finished picking some flowers in our garden. I wanted to make an even prettier crown for Sir Peanut Butter when he comes to play today.
I heard a car outside and I jumped up quickly, knowing it was them.
When I was about to go outside, I saw Uncle Johnny and mommy in the living room, hugging. Daddy stepped in and gave Uncle Johnny a hug too.
"Be careful out there, okay?" Mommy told him, giving him another hug and a kiss on the cheek. "If everything else fails, you come back home. We'll be right here."
"Of course," he said, smiling at them.
When they noticed me, mommy told me to come closer and then she placed her hand on top of my head. I looked up at them.
"Uncle Johnny and Danny are going somewhere for a while," she said. "We're going to send them off with a smile so they won't get sad, okay?"
I didn't get it but nodded anyway.
How long was a while?
"We'll come back Tina," Uncle Johnny said, kneeling on the ground to give me a hug. I liked big hugs. "Danny's in the car outside. Go and say bye to him."
"Bye?" I asked. He nodded.
Without another word, I stepped outside our house and found him in their car. I could see him looking so sad in there.
I walked to the car and as soon as he saw me, he rolled down his window.
"Where are you going?" I asked, trying not to cry. Mommy told me to see them off with a smile so they won't be sad. But it's me being sad. "Why didn't you tell me you were going?"
Sir Peanut Butter looked like he wanted to cry too, and I didn't like it.
"I'm sorry..." He said, his voice shaking. "But my daddy..."
"It's alright Sir Peanut Butter," I quickly said. Please don't cry... I wiped my eyes and showed him my biggest smile. Mommy said I have to smile. I wanted to kiss him like mommy and daddy did with Uncle Johnny but I couldn't reach him.
So instead of kissing him bye, I'll have to kiss him when he comes back. I'll welcome him back a hundred times. It should be a hundred times. We'll be happier that way.
Because they said they were gonna come back.
"I understand," I said again. I leaned on the car and stood on my tippy toes to tell him. "Just promise you'll come back. Kiss me a hundred times when you come back."
When mommy and daddy kissed Uncle Johnny, it was sad because they were saying bye-bye. So Sir Peanut Butter and me should kiss when we see each other again so we won't be sad.
His face looked red but he nodded anyway.
I was sniffling as I raised my little hand to reach him. He'll be back soon. He said so. "Pinky swear?"
He squeezed my pinky with his own. "Pinky swear."
Uncle Johnny appeared and told us goodbye again. I did my best to smile as we send them off like mommy said.
The car started and then they drove away. I saw Sir Peanut Butter on the backseat, staring at me sadly so I raised my hands and waved at him with all my might.
"Bye bye Sir Peanut Butter!" I yelled, wondering if he could still hear me. I watched the back of the car the whole time. Then a few seconds later, it disappeared in the streets.
I stared at the basket of flowers I was holding and drops of water fell on the petals. Was it raining?
I looked up at the sky but there wasn't a cloud in sight. I suddenly pictured Sir Peanut Butter's face and I felt warm water falling down my cheeks.
I sat on the ground, pushing the basket away.
I wanted to make a crown for Sir Peanut Butter, but he's not here anymore. I didn't need the flowers anymore.
I cried and cried, looking at the street where their car disappeared. They said they were gonna come back after a while. They were gonna come back.
"Don't leave me, Sir Peanut Butter..." I cried again, rubbing my eyes. "Don't leave me..."
"Kristina!" Mommy ran outside the house. She sat on the ground with me and pulled me in for a hug. She patted my head as I cried even louder.
Mommy and Daddy stayed with me the whole night because I kept crying. I can't stop crying. But eventually I did when I got tired and fell asleep.
Everyday when I woke up, I waited on the side of the road for Sir Peanut Butter. He said he was gonna come back. Why wasn't he back yet?
Every time I looked at the street, I keep seeing their car disappearing, and I can't help crying again. Mommy would pick me up and hug me every time I went outside and waited.
"Sir Peanut Butter's late," I sniffled against mommy's shoulder. She held the back of my head, trying to make me feel better. "He lied. Sir Peanut Butter's not coming back."
And with that, I looked at the street again. I remembered the car and him disappearing. I cried again, louder.
He's not coming back.
I woke up with a start, my heart pounding and my cheeks dampened with tears. Was that a dream from my childhood?
I stared into my hands for a while, contemplating my thoughts.
It was an old memory. A painful memory from when I was a little girl.
Why did I dream about that now?
I looked around the room. I was alone.
I suddenly recalled Kristopher and Anne's conversation from earlier and jumped out of bed without another thought.
I was disoriented and somehow in a panic. Where was Daniel? Why was I alone here?
I ran outside the house and looked for his car. It wasn't there too. Where did he go?
I need to calm down. This isn't like twelve years ago when he left on such short notice.
But still, I needed to see him.
He might be in his house right now. Maybe. I had to check. I could call him too but my phone was still inside the house, and I couldn't wait any longer.
His house was only a few blocks away from ours, so I decided to come visit. I ran with all my strength, adrenaline still pumping and keeping me sane.
I knew where his house was but I never actually went inside before. I had to take a deep breath before I knocked on the door.
Hearing no response, I just abandoned all sense of courtesy and went inside.
This really isn't like me. Breaking in someone else's house, even when that someone was my boyfriend. I just couldn't help myself. I was panicking. What if he did leave? Without telling me?
What if he just disappeared from my life again?
What if he never comes back?
As I walked across their living room, I noticed that all their furniture were wrapped in thick meters of plastic.
I walked further inside and saw a lot of boxes. I climbed up the stairs, finding myself in Daniel's room.
Everything was clean. All his things were already in boxes. His bed was even empty. His closet empty. Everything was packed.
Like they were ready to leave at any moment.
But where was he?
Where was he?
I felt my heart race when I heard a car outside. It might be him. I had to see him.
I ran down the stairs, almost missing a few steps due to the urgency.
I was already outside the house, standing in the middle of the street, watching his car drive away into the distance.
Memories of my childhood came flashing into my mind like explosives. I could almost hear my heart shattering.
I lost all strength in my knees and sat on the ground, watching the car disappearing into the streets.
It was happening all over again.
I had to retrieve the parcel that was going to be delivered at my house today.
The delivery guy contacted me earlier, saying that he'll bring it to my home address and that I had to personally come and sign his copy of the receipt.
I had it addressed to my house instead of where I was actually staying at right now because what I ordered was actually Kristina's Christmas present; and I wanted it to be a surprise.
She fell asleep while we were watching anime in their guest room when the delivery guy called me and told me he was already waiting outside my house.
I did my best to be quiet and sneakily left their house to go get the parcel. I was getting excited too, because I know she'll really like the present I got for her.
Or at least, I hope she will.
I got there by car because I needed to change my tires anyway. It'll be quick. She won't even notice that I've been gone since she was sleeping so soundly.
I met the delivery guy and signed the acknowledgement receipt. After that, he gave me my parcel and drove off.
I smiled down at the box like a fool before going inside my house and hiding it inside my closet. I then went into the garage to change my car's tires.
About half an hour passed until I finished. She might be awake now so I should probably go back. I don't want her to get suspicious. I don't want to spoil the surprise.
I got inside my car and started the engines. Pressing the remote, our garage gates slid open, revealing the side of the road from outside.
I drove out of the garage and then pressed the remote again to close the gates. I was even humming some random tune because I couldn't wait to give her her present.
As I adjusted my rear view mirror, I saw the reflection of someone sitting in the middle of the road. Confused and a bit startled, I took a closer look and when I recognized the face, I stepped on the breaks so hard I almost hurt myself.
That was Kristina. What was she doing there?
I quickly opened my door to jump outside but from all the haste, I forgot I was still wearing my seatbelt. It pulled me back into my seat and I hissed before I unbuckled it and successfully left the vehicle.
I ran to where she was and a million thoughts hit my mind. I didn't know where to start.
She didn't even realize I was already kneeling in front of her. She was just staring at the ground, eyes narrowed.
I held her face and made her look at me. When it finally occured to her that I was right in front of her, her eyes turned glassy.
"Hey," I started, not knowing what to do. Did she get in an accident or something? Did some reporters harass her again? Was she chased here?
Before I could ask her what was wrong, she held the hand that was holding her face. Her hands were cold and trembling.
"Where are you going?" She asked, her lips quivering. "Why didn't you tell me you were going to leave right now?"
I swear I could feel my heart stop when I heard that all too familiar question. It was like deja vu. The painful kind.
I sighed a breath of frustration. What was she thinking about all this time? Why hadn't I noticed?
I pulled her into a hug and rubbed my hand on her back.
"It's a misunderstanding," I explained, trying to calm her down. Trying to calm myself down too. "I'm not leaving today. I just went back to my house to get something. I wouldn't leave you without telling you."
I heard her sniffle against my chest.
"Oh," she mumbled. "Okay."
I broke the hug to look at her face. Her eyes were still avoiding mine and I honestly felt so helpless at that moment.
How could I leave her like this?
Should I just take her with me?
My thoughts weren't clear at the moment. I didn't want to make any rash decisions, so I calmed myself down.
I wiped a tear before it could trickle down her cheek. We needed to calm ourselves down.
"Wanna go inside?" I asked, moving her hair away from her face. It took a little while before she nodded.
I led her inside my room before I ran back outside to drive my car back into the garage. It was just sitting there in the middle of the road after all.
I stopped by the kitchen to get her something warm to drink and a few sweets to cheer her up. I doubt she had any appetite after what had happened but it was worth a shot.
When I got to my room, I placed the food on my study desk. I fixed my bed and placed all my sheets and pillows back so she could rest.
"I'm sorry," she started, her face turning pink from embarrassment. She was burying her face in her hands. "It's just... I woke up from a bad dream and then you were gone and then I thought... I thought you left and..."
"Hey, hey," I said, sitting next to her on the bed and pulling her into another hug. What am I going to do with this girl? I'm weak. "I'm still here. I told you, I'm not leaving until the New Year's. And even when I do leave, I'll only be leaving the country. I'm not leaving you."
Well, figuratively speaking anyway.
"I know that, that's why I'm sorry for causing such a dramatic scene," she said, wrapping her arms around my waist. She sighed heavily. "I'm so stupid."
"No you're not." I laughed weakly. Even in times like this, I still find her completely irresistible.
"But all your furniture were wrapped in plastic, the house was empty and there were boxes everywhere, so I thought..." She trailed off her words, sounding like she was about to cry again.
I chuckled lightly as I patted her head. "We had our house repainted, remember? That's why we had to keep our things like that."
The stench of the paint had completely disappeared. I could move back in here today but decided not to.
I just wanted to stay at their place to spend more time with her, as selfish as that sounds.
When she realized her silly misunderstanding again, she groaned and just hugged me tighter.
I was starting to love how she just hugged me whenever she was embarrassed or confused.
She hit my arm and I let out a small ow before laughing again.
She pulled away from our embrace and the look on her face was just too adorable. I smiled like a fool and stopped myself from teasing her. She was sensitive at the moment so I should be careful with my words.
"I heard Kristopher and Anne earlier today," she said, fiddling with her hands. "Something about you leaving tomorrow..."
That's what started this?
I took her hands and made her look at me. She finally did.
"It's probably just a misunderstanding. Tops and I aren't leaving yet. We'll ask them tomorrow what they were really talking about, okay? We'll clear it out. So just tell me if you're bothered about anything. Please. Don't suffer with your thoughts alone. You don't know how much that hurts me too."
I was being honest. Just knowing she was suppressing her feelings for me made me hate myself. It was my responsibilty to make her happy and feel secure. But all I did was make her feel alone in this mess.
It made me feel like a complete failure.
"I'm sorry," she apologized again, her expression softening. "I didn't mean to... I just... don't know how to deal with this yet."
"Me too..." I replied, sighing. "But we'll figure this out together, okay?"
She nodded. "Okay."
I lifted my hand up as a sly smile formed on my face. It was to lighten up the mood. "Pinky swear?"
She smiled and breathed out a laugh. She linked her little finger with mine and locked the promise. "Pinky swear."
She then gazed into my eyes again before placing her arms around my neck, pulling me closer for a sweet kiss.
"I just love you. So much. I swear I can't say it enough." She said as her lips grazed mine.
I cupped her cheek and kissed her back fully, feeling like my heart was getting crushed with every word.
"That's my line." I said before kissing her again. My lips were still pressed against hers as we slowly slid down the bed. She was laying on her back now, and I was on top of her.
She kept pulling me closer like the distance was still too much. The kiss still wasn't enough.
I felt like I had no control over my hands now. It was out of pure instinct that I held her down as if she was even resisting.
The kiss turned into something more passionate, and I could feel the heat from our skins crying out for more contact.
I broke the kiss to let us breathe briefly. She was breathing heavily against my ear as I trailed butterfly kisses from her neck to her shoulder.
I slid a hand inside her shirt and without another thought, explored. Her skin was so soft, so delicate. But it felt like my hand burned every time I touched her.
She sighed in response before pulling my face to claim my lips again.
I don't know if it was just the spur of the moment, or if our emotions got the best of us, but I felt like I'd lost all control. And by the way she was responding, she did too.
She broke the kiss again only to bite my lower lip. In the middle of driving me crazy, she suddenly pulled her shirt over her head, threw it somewhere in my room and grabbed me by the collar.
She was going to be the death of me, and she knew it.
After watching her in surprise and admiration, I sucked on her lip before biting it back like she did just now, then I kissed the sides of her neck, to her collar bone, down to her chest.
My lips grazed her creamy skin gently and before I knew it, I was already leaving a mark.
I was getting dizzy and winded from all this. I felt drunk. High.
She was arching her back as she gripped my sheets in anticipation.
She was driving me crazy.
When I returned to her lips, I gave her a small peck before I pressed my mouth on her earlobe. There was this sense of urgency that I couldn't quite control.
"The hundred kisses deal," I said as I caressed her hair. It came out like a breath of yearning, surprising even me. I had to show some restraint somehow. "Let's finish it now."
Her leg curled around my waist and I traced my fingertips on her inner thigh.
I've never felt this... this disrespectful before. But she was giving me all the right signs, touching me in all the right places. I held back a grunt.
There was this storm in my mind that I welcomed dearly. I was this close to going mad.
"Let's." She responded, her eyes closing and her voice coming out like a pleased sigh. I stifled a gulp.
My God. At least try to stop me. I couldn't decline such a beatiful invitation.
I took my shirt off and threw it across the floor of my room. Her hands reached for my skin immediately, her gaze locked into mine.
And then I lost it.