Guarded Hearts And Shadows Of An Uprising
That evening, it was quiet inside the reading room as the occupants, Arda, Karina and Jacob minded their business, their heads buried in their books. They were seated around a large square table with wooden partitions above it that provided privacy for each reader.
The table could accommodate about six persons, which was useful in case they had friends over.
A combination of green and burnt orange paint beautified the wall and several inspirational quotes graced it.
Arda’s mind was far from her studies as nagging concerns disturbed her mind.
She sat there, attempting to start writing her thesis but she just could not concentrate. Flashes of Luke’s headache episodes haunted her and replayed before her eyes.
Memories of the children interrupting her first expression of intimacy with Luke also flooded her mind. Why it bothered her, she had no idea but she did know that the incidents bothered her.
Memories of the handsome guy at the restaurant also haunted her. She had felt a pull towards him that she had never felt with anyone before and she just could not explain it.
Her joy was that she probably would never cross paths with him again. After all, he was a stranger and she didn’t need that kind of distraction. She had a thesis to write and her life was already full of bottled up drama that she felt was on the verge of pouring out.
Arda forced her mind off her troubled thoughts and tried to focus on her task.
Picking up her pen, she opened the long notebook before her and wrote Dedication as a title at the top of the page.
I dedicate this thesis to my dear family- The Grays, she wrote. After that, she put the pen down. That was almost nothing but she knew that she had to start from somewhere, no matter how little.
Arda stared blankly at the wooden partition before her as Luke’s words about Jacob and Karina replayed like a tape to her- Karina has a boyfriend, I tell you…Jacob…your flat mate, friend, pal, whatever.
Arda drew a deep in and exhaled it. The time to confront them was now.
“Jacob and Karina, are you guys seeing each other?” she asked aloud and the silence that had already enveloped the room seemed to intensify. Were they shocked at her question? she wondered.
“What?” she heard both of them ask.
Arda rose up to her feet so that she could look at them and speak.
Still seated, they already had their heads up as they stared up at her with puzzled expressions.
“Are you both dating?” she confronted them again, glad that she was getting this off her chest.
Jacob and Karina did not respond immediately but they looked confused or perhaps they were acting confused, she thought.
“What makes you think that?” Karina asked.
“Yeah.” Jacob supported. “Why would you even think that? Is this some kind of a joke or something?”
Arda was not about to let it go so easily.
“I want to know why you’ve both kept your relationship from me.” She said solemnly, unable to hide the disappointment from her voice. “I want to know why my friends are a couple outside but pretend otherwise around me. I deserve to know…”
“That’s enough.” Karina interjected and rose to her feet. “Who have you been listening to?”
Jacob also rose to his feet. “What has gotten into you?” he demanded.
“I have information that you’re both dating. I don’t care about your relationship. But if I as a friend do not know about it then, a matter of trust and betrayal is in the picture. I don’t know who you guys are anymore.”
“How can you draw conclusions from gossip?” Karina looked perplexed.
“Whatever you heard is not true.” Jacob said. “I have a girlfriend, remember?”
“A long distance relationship you said. But who knows if it’s true?”
“Arda, you’re not hearing us out.” Said Jacob, “Who the hell told you this?”
“That is not important. The campus is full of mutual acquaintances. People talk and you’ve both been seen kissing each other several times.”
“That is preposterous.” Karina cried, indignant.
“Believe me, it is all lies.” Jacob assured her and Arda wanted to believe them. They had been friends for three years. Why would they lie about such a thing? Besides, they were like cat and mouse in the house most of the time. She had never looked at them as a couple or had she been too blind to notice any hint? And why would Luke lie about such a thing?
Arda decided to take what Jacob and Karina were saying at face value but still open her eyes and watch out for the truth.
With all the current drama in her life, she had begun to feel like secrets were being kept from her, secrets she ought to know about.
“Fine. I believe you.” She told them. “I am so sorry that I listened to outside gossip.”
“It’s okay.” Said Karina.
“It’s fine.” Jacob said.
In a way, Arda wanted them to trust that she completely believed them even though a part of her was feeling doubtful.
“Peace hug.” She announced, smiling and watched them return her smile as she circled over to join them across the table where they shared a group hug. When they finally broke it off, Arda stepped back from them.
“Guys, we need some distraction.” She said and they just stared blankly at her.
“I have a thesis to write.” Karina complained.
“What do you have in mind?” Jacob asked.
“Well, I have a confession.”
Her friends folded their arms and gave her quizzical looks.
“I signed up for the birthmark competition.”
“What!” they both exclaimed at the same time, perplexed.
“The show is in three days. I registered already.”
“We both advised you not to register.” Jacob scolded. “Why did you do that?”
“You were not able to give me a good reason.” She complained.
“We did.” Karina countered. “A birthmark of the moon will draw attention.”
It dawned on Arda that she was tired of hearing that.
“Attention from who? I am tired of hearing that. I do not care anymore. It is just a show. If there is a show for this then maybe, my mark is not so strange after all. Who knows what kind of mark others may have?" Arda briefly remembered Tracy's mark. "This could be fun." she continued, "Besides, the money will do me some good.”
Arda turned dismissively and started walking out on them.
“Arda, please wait. Listen to me…” Karina called her attention but she didn’t stop until she was out of the reading room.
“Let her go.” Said Jacob, “You know how she is when she has made up her mind.”
“Yeah. I guess we all have a show to look forward to.”
“You may get into trouble for this.” he said, a note of worry in his voice.
“I’m not sure.” Karina said.
“Do you think that he should know about this? "Jacob asked without speaking and Karina turned to face him, their eyes meeting and locking.
“Maybe there is no need, who knows?” She responded without speaking. She was telepathic, just like Jacob.