Chapter 38 | Staying Over
Rain poured that night. The sounds of thunder shuddered through the plastic windows while lighting lit up the sky in its separated zaps. The bus stopped by the shed with the last sounds of its door opening.
“Get off kids! Last stop.” The rather rude bus driver exclaimed, looking at them through the mirror.
Of course Elizabeth and Mark knew this, for they stopped with their games the first time thunder shocked them apart from each other. They conversed about multiple topics along the way, including upcoming tournaments and Elizabeth’s novel.
As the door opened up for them, they had exited quickly, directly getting shade from the shed. Elizabeth hugged her files close to her while Mark tried to shield her with his arms as much as he could.
They laughed as they failed to avoid it, for the downpour was too strong. The city was flooding.
“How do we get you home in this weather?” Mark chuckled as he said so.
Elizabeth laughed as well, the sounds drowned out by the environment, as she sat down on the shed’s seats.
Mark followed suit as she said, ” We wait for it to stop?” suggesting to sit there for the time being.
“It doesn’t look it will soon.” He said while letting his palm cup the rain droplets falling before he turned to Elizabeth and said, “How bout’ we make a run for it?”
Elizabeth thought about his suggestion. About her house just being a street away from where they were right now and how her files could just be hidden underneath her blazer.
Before she could even speak and fully agree to his abrupt plan, Mark stood up, grabbed her wrists softly, and started running.
Elizabeth, caught by his strength, couldn’t avoid it and followed in his steps.
Together, they ran in the rain, covering their heads as though it was no use. They got wet anyway, but somehow they found fun.
They laughed as hand in hand they ran. For the last time they did, this was back when they were children. Feeling like a kid again was special for Elizabeth, who had barely felt like one.
“This is just like when we were kids! That day at the plaza!” Elizabeth exclaimed loudly for Mark to hear. He turned to her while they ran and nodded.
“Yeah?! You still remember!”
They continued to run like this for a couple more minutes until they finally reached the shade of Elizabeth’s apartment.
“Well, welcome home? I guess,” Mark said as they stood there, slicking back his wet hair out of the way.
Elizabeth looked at her files and saw that they were okay, damp from the water that seeped in through the bag. She wrung her clothes to get rid of the water weighing her down. Mark did the same, opening up the zipper of his running jacket for more air.
Elizabeth fiddled with her hair, drying it at the same time. “Do you want to dry up before you go?” she said softly.
Mark looked at her, his wet hair slowly falling from its slicked back shape. “Will it be alright?′ he asked.
Elizabeth turned around and opened the door instead, saying “I don’t want you to go home like... that.”
Mark chuckled behind her, ” Well, I hope I’m not an inconvenience. Lead the way.”
They went inside the warm apartment building, leaving foot steps of puddles along the way and rode the elevator up to where Elizabeth’s place was.
The door opened with a click from her tuning key. Elizabeth entered the familiar space and motioned for Mark to come in.
Elizabeth placed her items down on the coffee table. Mark did the same, and took off his running jacket, which showed the thin running shirt he wore underneath. Wet from the rain, it accentuated the muscles underneath.
Elizabeth couldn’t help but stare as Mark slowly folded his jacket to prevent it from wetting her wooden floor any more.
She was flustered, yet captivated by the sight. She shook off the sudden temptation and said in an awkwardly louder voice than usual, “I’ll go wash up first.”
Immediately entering her room and grabbing clothes to change into. “There’re some drinks in the fridge if you want to fix some up.” She additionally said and, without waiting for a reply, she entered her bathroom and locked the door.
Mark avoided sitting down on any of the sofas and opted for the grid steel chair she had in the room’s corner. He looked around the decent sized space she had and smiled. He saw the small succulents that lined her windows and the small shades of pink splattered around in different forms, a vase, a mug, and more. It showed off the side of her rarely seen, and he felt somewhat privileged. He didn’t really notice these the from the times before.
He was happy that everything today turned out well, an understatement. It turned out great. Mark couldn’t seem to stop smiling at himself, acting like a lovesick teenager.
“She’s mine.” He muttered to himself in satisfaction.
It all felt like a dream. All his life, he didn’t have time for these kinds of feelings except for the random flings he had back then when he was younger. He had always focused on his career, but had fleeting relationships before that hadn’t worked out so well. Finally, he was with somebody he actually loved. Someone who mattered more to him than his career.
He didn’t know being together could make him this happy. Just before, he was an utter mess, but everything changed after meeting her. It might have been fate, no matter what it was. He was thankful.
He was fascinated every time he saw her. Her docile and cute responses to the most simple of things. The clear emotions on her face that make her so lovable. It was as if at every moment she turned towards him, he would fall in love all over again.
He wondered why he hadn’t noticed this back then. He must have been an utter idiot. An ignorant fool who only looked at the sport he wanted to play. If he did, maybe things would’ve gone differently. Maybe they would’ve found each other sooner.
He shook his head to get rid of these hypothetical thoughts and thought about the present. Lucky to have gotten a woman like her. He heard the shower turning on from the bathroom, and the room seemed to have gotten hotter than before. He controlled his primal instinct and scrolled social media on his phone as he waited instead.
Elizabeth finished her bath and exited the room, fresh and fully dressed in her light blue cotton pajamas. She thought they looked the best. She ruffled her air out with her small towel, drying it out as she said,
“It’s your turn.” Turning to Mark. She was finally relaxed after an entire day of unexpected twist and turns.
Eventually, she remembered his see-through shirt and turned a full 180-degree turn to hide the heat rising in her cheeks.
“My brother also leaves some spare clothes here. You can go in first. I hand you over a towel and those later.”
She could hear Mark’s faint laugh before saying, “Alright, thanks for letting me use your bathroom.”
She hadn’t moved until she heard the clicking close of the bathroom door. She exhaled, calming herself before grabbing the stuff she had promised Mark.
It was hard finding the clothes she believed would fit him best, since her brother was more on the puny side compared to Mark. Thankfully, he had some over sized clothes to spare. So, with a folded top and bottom and a towel, she proceeded to the bathroom and knocked.
“Mark, I have the clothes!” she exclaimed.
“Just put it on the sink! You have a shower curtain, anyway.”
Elizabeth could hear the water running and directly was too scared to enter the premises. She had no choice and opened up. He could see his silhouette covered by the opaque, white shower curtain, which now she almost hated having. But as quick as she entered, she might have been even faster in placing the clothes down and exiting.
She was completely red now. Feeling the weird atmosphere of lust around her. She turned on the television to suppress her emotions and sat on the sofa in front of it.
“Red Alert! Tonight, in our local weather report, a sudden thunderstorm is over the entire city. The temperature is lower than the 10º a few hours ago, at around 7º. They informed us that train lines and bus routes will close earlier than usual at 11 o’clock P.M. Stay indoors and stay safe.”
Suddenly, Mark exited the shower himself, fully clean. “Hmm, so there’s actually a storm huh?” He said, stepping closer to see the news.
Elizabeth turned to look at him, shocked by the sudden voice, but quickly regained comfort and said, “It seems so.”
She stood up and made her way to the kitchen while saying, “Do you want to drink anything?”
“I’m okay with anything.” He replied, looking at her.
“I can fix up some tea for us...”
“Okay, that would be nice.” He shot her a smile and sat on the sofa, continuing to watch the news.
“Make yourself at home.” She added before fixing up some fragrant chamomile, something light for relaxation.
The two drank the tea in peace. Elizabeth and Mark hadn’t said a word to each other at the moment, being awkward. Elizabeth’s attention wandered to all the tiny details of her small apartment, just now noticing the spider web in the corner of her ceiling. She made a mental note to sweep that up later.
Her eyes wandered over to the black clock on her wall.
Shit, 11:20 P.M. There would be no trains and buses tonight, for they were closing early. How will Mark go home!?
She awkwardly faked a cough to get his attention. To this he turned towards her as she said, “There will be no buses tonight.” As if it wasn’t obvious to what she was implying,
“Do you want to stay over?”