What About Dwight?
I woke up in the same bedroom but Don was not around so I went out still wearing my black nightgown. Upon reaching the living room, I took my time admiring the place. A huge chandelier with candle-like bulbs illuminated the place. The furniture were all made of wood and the walls were white with a few strokes of brown paint as its design.
My eyes darted at the coffee table when I smelled the scent of a black coffee. There’s a half-empty tea cup atop the table with a newspaper beside it. I ambled towards the double door and turned the knob. The cold wind embraced me, complemented by the warmth of the setting sun. I walked towards the plants and touched a few red roses. They smell good.
A small van caught my eyes as it ran along the driveway going here. My breathing hitched when I thought that it could be the others but I eventually recognized that it wasn’t the van that we used.
“Ginny.” Pablo’s voice echoed behind me.
I thought he was mad but he smiled as soon as I turned to him and gestured his hand to the side. “Can you move aside? Don’s son is arriving.”
I inched towards the plants and darted my eyes at the arriving van. I heard the doors click and Don came out. He’s still wearing the same pair of clothing but with a cotton black robe now and his fabric face mask. On his forearms hung a black cotton robe as well. “It’s foggy. You’ll catch a cold.”
He unfolded the robe so I turned around and slid my arms in its sleeves. “You have a son?” I asked.
He remained silent as he led me back to the living room. I didn’t get an answer but I can’t wait to see his son so I sprinted towards the huge window and slightly parted the white curtains.
The van stopped at the small rocky space at the end of the driveway and a man wearing a white polo shirt hopped out. He went to the back of the van and pulled something. My breathing hitched at the sight of a white casket.
The legs of the stand automatically fell off as the man pulled the casket out of the van, and gently pushed it along the pathway of the lawn and stopped in front of Pablo who’s standing a few feet away from the doors.
I blinked twice trying to make out what I just saw. They both walked in so I looked around for Don but he’s gone. The man pushing the casket nodded at me and followed Pablo in a hall. I tailed them quietly until they entered a room at the end of the hallway.
I came in to look. The walls were covered with black curtains but on the two sliding windows hung see-through ones. The man in a polo shirt threw a glance at me twice before placing the casket at the elevated platform between the two windows.
“You can stay,” Pablo whispered before leading the other guy out of the room. I remained silent as I stared at the closed casket.
After a few moments, the door opened and Don walked in. I heaved a heavy sigh when I realized that I wasn’t breathing enough. He walked beside me and my heart flinched at the sight of him staring at the casket with his hands in his robe’s pockets.
“What’s his name?” I asked.
My hand just automatically landed on his back. “I’m sorry.”
“Your tall friend should be the sorry one. Dwight,” he said with his eyes glued on the casket.
I blinked and stared at him. How was Dwight involved with this?
“What about Dwight?”
He threw me an annoyed look, but I was afraid that he wasn’t annoyed by my question but by what he is about to say.
“He killed my son.”
The wind blowing in through the window suddenly felt a lot colder. I don’t understand, but it scared me already.
“What do you mean?” I asked, stammering.
“He played with the fuse. My son was on life support.”
I got weak in the knees but he caught me on time. He held me tight in his arms as I stared at his chest with my mouth hung open. “Jesus Christ.”
“Probably with my son,” he whispered and rested his cheek at the side of my head.
My eyes welled as guilt washed over me. Dwight was just being playful last night but he… he actually killed a child!
“Dwight killed Hunter?” I asked again, as if another question would make it untrue. He remained silent as my mind wandered to the days I’ve spent with my friends.
“All these time, I’ve been hanging out with… cruel people.”
“It’s not your fault.”
I slowly lifted my gaze. “They knew that I was curious about you. That’s why we went up here last night. We were playing... it was a dare to knock on your door and then Dwight… he—” I trailed off as my heart twinged. “He did this… I’m so sorry.”
I felt him gently shake his head. “Your curiosity is the best thing that has happened to me.”
I sighed and stared at his eyes. Through the sun from the windows, I noticed that his eyes were actually dark brown, and they were steady and calm. I slowly brought my palm to his jaw but he caught my wrist and gently stroked it with his thumb.
“You haven’t eaten anything since this morning. I’ll finish cooking and you go back upstairs. I brought your luggage from your friend’s house.”
I cleared my throat and slowly took a step back when I realized that we’ve been too close for several minutes now. He cleared his throat too and fixed the tie of his robe as he walked towards the door.
He continued to another hall as I made my turn into a hall that leads back to the bedroom. I found my duffel bag atop a table next to a door.
My body quivered as I recalled everything that had happened last night. When we got here, I thought it’s just going to be a normal weekend trip. But I kissed a stranger and slept in his house.
In the bathroom, I saw a medicine kit at the sink. There’s a box of gauze, cotton pads, a pair of scissors and a small bottle which I supposed is for cleaning my wound.
I took a warm bath and as much as I want to pamper myself in the tub, I supposed this isn’t the right time to keep Don waiting. After cleaning my wound and putting on the bandage, I slipped into a white nightwear and a black cotton robe.
When I got downstairs, I followed the hall that Don went into earlier. I ended up in an entrance with no doors so I directly saw half of a huge round table made of wood. It has ten seats and a wooden Lady Susan in the middle. On my far left was Don, cooking something on the stove. Even his apron and pot holders were black.
Since he has his back on me, he didn’t notice that I was here so I had to knock twice on the table. He glanced at me and went back to cooking, so I slowly shook my head. Silly, I really thought he’s gonna smile at me but he seems to wear his mask all the time. Or maybe just because I was here.
I went to the counter and darted my eyes at the huge wooden cabinet with a glass panel. Inside were plates and cutleries. Instead of just waiting, I walked to the cabinet and took a pair of each. The glasses were placed way too high so I had to stand on tiptoe but I froze when an arm reached for it.
Don’s manly scent filled my nose so I slowly took a step back as his ripped arms greeted me. He took two glasses using only his left hand.
I quickly placed the plates and cutleries in the counter before coming to him to get the glasses.
“Thank you,” I said.
He nodded and turned off the stove. After setting the counter, he placed a bowl of rice, a plate of lyonnaise potatoes and a meat dish with some shrimps and veggies.
“Tell me if you’ve seen anything you’re allergic to,” he instructed.
I stared at the food. The lyonnaise potato dish is a French cuisine and the meat dish looks like an Asian one.
“You’re of European-Asian descent?” I asked.
He placed his palms on the edge of the counter but I had to look at him when he didn’t answer right away. A sigh escaped into my lips, I can’t even recognize what could be his expressions under his mask.
“European-Asian…” I murmured. “That’s ironic.”
“You know history,” he implied as he sat on a chair across from me.
I smiled and crossed my arms atop the counter. “Forget oppressive history and it will happen again.”
His mask moved a little which gave me an idea that I must’ve made him smile. I picked up a fork to get some of the meat dish.
“Why are you always wearing black?” I asked.
“Next questions, please.”
I chuckled and nodded gently. “What’s with the mask?”
“I don’t want anyone to recognize me,” he answered.
His chest moved, he seemed to have sighed deeply. “You don’t need to know. You’re leaving once your friends come to get you.”
I gulped at the thought of them and stared at my plate. “What if they don’t come back?”
“Then I’ll get someone to take you home. You’re just here for a vacation, your parents will be worried.”
I chewed on my lips. “Well, do you wanna hear a story?”
“Feel free,” he replied.
I sighed and played with my food. My chest thumped a little because it’s been a long time since I got to tell someone about me.
“I was an orphan, a vendor in the wet market found me and took me to the orphanage in the nearby city. Then I was adopted by a rich newly weds. But they, uh, passed away when I was 10. My father’s sister took me in but they already migrated to Canada and I didn’t want to come, so I was left alone at their house with the handmaiden. They provide my allowance and my aunt calls me once a month to check up on me. She already called last week so if I died last night, it will probably take another month for them to find out.”
I gulped down the lump in my throat.
“I wouldn’t have let you die,” he muttered.
A smile escaped from my lips but I decided to keep quiet and finished eating. We stayed silent until we were both done. I smiled at him and tapped my index finger on the counter top.
“You cook very well. Thank you.”
He descended from his chair and picked up our plates. “You’re welcome. You should go back to rest.”
I bit my lower lip and pointed my thumb at the entrance. “I can join you in Hunter’s room.”
He turned to the sink and opened the faucet. “You should rest,” he asserted.
I cleared my throat and hopped off my seat. “Goodnight, Don.”
He turned to me as he put his rubber gloves on. “Hugo,” he said.
“My real name’s Hugo.”
I smiled and slowly inched towards him. “Goodnight, Hugo.” I stood on tiptoe and kissed the fabric that covered his cheek.
When I was back in the bedroom, my eyes darted at the balcony’s glass door. I wanted to look at the rest house from here, but my heart was already aching just by thinking about the possibility that the others must’ve left me already.
I went straight to bed and took my robe off.
With heavy breaths, I opened my eyes when I felt cold drops of water pouring on me. My head throbbed like crazy so I let out a groan.
I was back at the grass, crouching and in pain. Katrin and Nikki stood at the warehouse’s door as they watched me get soaked.
“Don’t leave me here,” I pleaded.
They seem to not have heard me so I screamed. “Help me!”
“We were friends!”
I didn’t hear anything from them. They just stood there, Katrin with her arms crossed and Nikki leaning against the door.
I closed my eyes, losing hope of being saved. A thick liquid seeped from my head as my whole body quivered in pain.
I gasped when I felt the sheets on my body. My head throbbed from my sudden movement and I soon realized that I was in a bedroom at Don’s—Hugo’s house.
I reached for the blanket and pulled it up to my chest as I leaned against the headboard. My body was shaking violently as my memories from last night came flooding.
My parents were right, even your closest friends can betray you.
They gave me away, and let me die.
The door flung open and Hugo walked in. “What happened?” he asked, panting.
My eyes welled when realization hit me. I glued my eyes on the sheets covering my lower body. “It must’ve been alright with them even if I die. They offered me… like a sacrificial lamb.”
Hugo sat on the edge of the bed, facing me. Tears trickled down my cheeks when I felt the anger that I’ve been trying to suppress.
“It’s been hours. Will they come back for me? Will they ask someone to come get me?”
He reached for my cheeks and gently wiped my tears off. “Crying will not solve anything,” he whispered in baritone. “You are mad for what they did? Don’t wait for them to come back. You go back there, you show yourself. The best revenge for the people who left you, is to show that you have survived.”
I stared at his eyes. The lamp illuminated them very well. I feel like I was looking into a well; deep and dark… but enchanting.
“If I go back, will I see you again?”
He reached for his ear and slowly took his mask off. I held my breath as I stared at his face. His lips formed into a curve, showing a comforting smile.
My heart pounded as his eyes bore into me. What a work of art.
If he was a painting, he’d be someone worthy of a whole wall in a museum. If he becomes a song, my ears would love to listen to him each morning. If he was a photograph, I’d keep him forever.
I took a mental picture of his pointed nose, deep-set eyes, sharp jaw and nice lips. How could all these beautiful features be in one face?
I blinked a few times when I noticed that I’ve stared too long. My palms landed on my cheeks, wiping my tears off. I cleared my throat and looked away but he caught my chin so I turned my gaze back to him.
He smiled and kissed me on my forehead. “Sleep well,” he whispered.
When he stood up, I laid back in the bed and watched him walk to the door. When he’s gone, I was left staring at the ceiling. My world was shaken by him, but broken by my friends. It hurts to find out about their cruelty in a manner like this.
My life… for theirs.
Tomorrow, I will go back to New Orleans. I will see them again and for once, I feel nervous. Will I be able to forgive them what they’ve done?