“Ow! What the heck, Lei.” Luke, held his head as my cellphone struck him.
“Why don’t you do me a favor and get the heck out.” We arrived at my apartment ten minutes ago, after my tiresome plane ride from Grenada. My mom had called three months prior and told me my father was dying. He'd been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Devastated, I boarded the next available flight, leaving Luke behind.
“This is exactly what I was talking about. You always make everything a problem.” He ran his hands through his spiky blond hair, still groaning from the impact.
On our way home, he spent the entire ride in the taxi tapping away on his phone. Luke was a master in hiding stuff from me. It irritated me to the point that I destroyed his past phones in my toilet countless times. We hardly spoke during the ride and although my mind buzzed from what happened in Grenada, it pained me he didn’t ask about my trip.
To top it off, he ran out of the cab and headed straight for my luggage in the trunk, leaving me to pay the fifty dollar taxi bill. He didn’t even check to see if I had the cash to pay the guy. When I exited the cab, he was already halfway into my apartment.
Luke was cheap, extremely cheap. I understood he ran from his rigidly rich parents in London, but over the years it got worse.
“Since you met me at the airport, you're always on that bloody phone! I’m tired of it,” I said.
Suddenly, a pounding headache rocked my brain, causing me to lean against the couch. I groaned, touching my temples. My stress levels were through the roof when I returned to Grenada. My dad had lost a grave amount of weight and was bedridden in diapers. He died a month after I arrived, but the tears didn’t come until a week after because I wanted to be strong for mom. But the stress got so bad that my hair started to shred and random dizzy spells surfaced.
The doctor prescribed medication—which worked—but Julian, my best friend and also cousin, took care of me. He took me to my favorite beach, Morne Rouge, and other places with the hope of easing the tension. It did, at some point. Then we visited families and friends, but that was an issue by itself. Some had a problem with me checking-in on some and not them. I went for my father, not everyone else. I couldn’t see the entire country and they didn’t understand that. Eventually, I kept my butt at home with the most important people.
Luke rubbed his head, “Why do you always have to escalate every single thing when it could be handled sensibly?”
“Oh... So, you’re saying that I’m not a sensible person capable of talking sensibly?”
“When you were gone, the place was quieter. No arguments, no fights, and no nagging,” he glared, "nothing."
That statement had pissed me the hell off. “Get out!” I was a nag? I just returned from burying my father and he didn’t have the decency to comfort me. We argued from time to time, but it only got worse after we got engaged. I would do anything for him and he would too. It’s just that his phone sucked up the attention every time we were together.
“If we ought to get married, you need to stop being a pain in the ass and stop asking all these darn questions, Leila. You need to trust me.”
“I can’t trust you if you keep putting all your attention on whatever the hell you’re doing on that phone. But it’s nice to know that I’ve been a pain in the ass.” I reached for the handle and opened the door, waving my hand in the open space, “But I would like it if you leave so I won’t have to throw anything else at your big ol’ head.”
Luke stormed towards the door, bumping his foot onto the foot of the couch. “Ow, shit! I don’t get how you live in this stupid small apartment.”
“Nothing is wrong with it. I am quite fine here.” My hand tightened on the door handle. A little more I would slap him.
Luke lived in a bigger apartment and shared it with his best friend, Marko. He acquired the fancy two-bedroom unit shortly after we graduated from University. My best friend Cara dated Marko and introduced Luke and me before we actually had a class together. I was studying for a degree in Mathematics and him in Mechanical Engineering. We hit it off and were in love since then. Or so it seemed...
He always teased me about the size of my apartment. I got a bargained deal of two hundred square feet for seven hundred dollars a month. I was just out of school and it seemed like the perfect fit for my budget, given that this was Miami. Luke’s own was more of a house than an apartment and I always wondered how he afforded it, given his tight budget.
“You have problems, Lei, and you need to sort your shit out.” He stopped in front of me looking all concerned, but I didn’t care. He was the problem. Not me.
I folded my arms, “Why are you still here?”
Grumbling under his breath, he wrenched the door handle from me and slamming it closed.
The picture of my mom and dad on the wall fell, shattering into pieces. I stared at it, feeling a log in my throat. I never asked for this. All I wanted was time with him, at least for tonight. Tonight would be different than the rest because I would sleep in my own apartment knowing that I no longer had a dad.
My lips quivered. Why was he being difficult? Did he even care? I just didn’t know anymore.
Glass crunched beneath my feet as I took the picture in my hand. Mom and dad celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary at our favorite restaurant back in Grenada—precisely four years ago. Dad wore a beaming smile while mom pecked him on the cheek. He’d refused to shave his scruffy beard that day and mom was so annoyed.
I chuckled at the silliness of it, wiping the cold from my nose.
Dad was my rock and ray of sunshine. He probably ignored his sickness long enough for it to turn deadly. But why? Didn’t he feel anything? Didn’t mom notice? Anything? Something? If I were home. If only. Tears streamed onto my cheek. He could have gotten the help he needed.
I crouched to the floor and stayed there until my phone's vibration broke my thoughts. I remembered mom messaging while I was in the cab, but I wanted to wait until I met home to respond. The messages floated in with every zigzag vibration and I had to rush to it so it would stop.
I sucked my teeth at the messages from Luke. Mom and Julian were also in the mix, so I responded to them with short messages.
Luke’s fifteen messages had me biting my cheek. He'd sent a sorry excuse for an apology. Why did I even bother reading it, knowing he would piss me off more? He wanted to meet tomorrow and mend things between us, but I wasn't in the mood. Not today, tomorrow, or ever. I threw the phone on my bed and headed into the shower.
As the steamy mists brushed my neck, the tension I had digging into it lifted.
Luke and I were loving in school and he cared just as much as I cared about him. He would have done anything for me and by anything, I meant anything. I smiled at my thoughts.
As soon as I stepped out of the bathroom, my phone vibrated on the bed. I groaned, wondering why Luke won't leave me the heck alone. I honestly couldn't deal with him now and if I decided to reply, it won't be kind words.
I got dressed and flipped the switch by my front door and hopped into bed, placing the pillow over my head. Maybe tomorrow I might be in a better frame of mind to respond.
But as silence engulfed the room, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was wrong.