Reflection of the Sun
Chapter 5: Not Yet
An insistent pounding drags me from my restless sleep and I crawl out from under the mound of bed coverings. Throwing my feet over the side, I sit down on the edge and glare blearily at the offending door. Maybe the other person will give up and go away. The knocking continues so I stand up and take a step closer.
“Kongpob? Kong, are you in there?” Anyone but him, I can’t handle seeing him right now. I crawl back onto the middle of the bed as that familiar voice continues, his tone just loud enough to carry through the door. “Kong, please, can we talk? Please? You’re in there, aren’t you? I looked for you all over campus but no one has seen you all day. Please let me in, Kong.”
The pain shooting through my chest almost chokes me as I listen to him. It spreads until even my fingertips ache from it and my eyes burn. The memory of that kiss flashes in front of my eyes and I can’t breathe.
“Kongpob, open the door…” He knocks again and the rhythm beats at my heart until it bleeds. Desperate to escape but having nowhere to go, I grab my headphones from the table and jam them painfully over my ears. Plugging them into my phone, I thumb over to my music and pick a random song.Turning the volume up as loud as it can go, I close my eyes and bury my face into my arms as they rest on my bended knees. The thump of drums fills my mind as the melody wraps around me.
“Do I Wanna Know?”
Have you got color in your cheeks?
Do you ever get that feelin’ that you can’t shift the tide
That sticks around like summat’s in your teeth
Ah, there’s some aces up your sleeve
Have you no idea that you’re in deep
I dreamt about you nearly every night this week
How many secrets can you keep?
To listen to the song:
Several songs later, I’m not sure how many, my phone dings interrupting the music. Slowly pulling off the headphones, I dread hearing the knocking and that person calling to me but all is silent. I turn off the music and wait longer but there’s nothing. He’s gone.
I should be relieved. I wasn’t going to open the door for him. I didn’t want to see him, to listen to him. It should be a good thing that he’s gone but it doesn’t feel like it. The knife-like pain in my chest twists and that damn voice in the hidden spaces of my heart whispers that he gave up so easily because I am no longer his important person.
It hurts so much. The ache is so big that I feel hollow inside. There’s nothing left of me. He took it all with him and left me not even the barest scraps. I want to hate him but there’s nothing left in me to hate anyone, not even him.
Another ding from my phone breaks into my dismal thoughts and I look down at it sitting in the palm of my hand. The screen is lit up but distorted by wet droplets splashing onto it. The tears are falling, streaming unchecked down my face without permission. When did they start? Wiping the screen, I hold the phone up and check my notices. Thirty-six text messages and fourteen missed calls. The majority of both are from the same person and I pass over them quickly. I don’t want to know what he has to say, not yet. A few are from my friends, mostly worried and asking where I am. I skip over those too since I have no clue what to tell them. The truth is too harsh to put into words and I’m in no mood to pretend I’m fine. For today, this one time, just let me be.
There are two text messages from one person which I open.
Prem (12:36 pm): Did you eat lunch? Do you want me to bring you anything?
Prem (4:04 pm): Be there in 10
I try to type a response telling him not to come, that I want to be alone. My fingers stagger over the letters and autocorrect is not helping. Somehow, I manage to declare that: “Dom Conwell is here. In find . Font warty.” No matter how many times I try, I can’t type. The tears become a river as I throw the phone on the bed in frustration. Forget it. Let him come. It’s not like I have to answer the door. Crawling back under the covers, I bury my face in the softness of the pillow and wait for the oblivion of sleep to overtake me once more. It’s better there. I don’t have to think or feel or remember.
I’m not even close to passed out when there’s a sharp knock on my door but at least the tears have faded away into my pillowcase. My face is stiff and itchy as I toss the blankets aside. Another knock and I feel like screaming. Can’t a person wallow in their own personal hell in peace?
“Kongpob, open the door. It’s Prem.” The senior calls to me after the third knock.
Hearing him reminds me of the security I felt before. This is the person who took care of me when no one else did. Before I realize it, I’m already half way to the door and reaching out for the handle. He knocks again and I freeze in my steps. What if he’s out there, too? What if p’Prem’s not alone? I step back and lower my hand, my breath hitching in my throat and a cold dread crawls over my skin. Not yet. I can’t face him yet. I’m not ready to hear those final words. I’m not strong enough.
“It’s just me, no one else.” As if he had heard my thoughts, p’Prem answers my unasked question. Reassured, I slowly open the door to the handsome senior. He takes a good look at me and pushes me back inside the room, closing the door behind him. “You look like shit.”
“Thanks.” My sarcasm is not lost on him and he rolls his eyes at me before heading into the bathroom. Soon I hear the shower running and p’Prem comes back out to rummage through my clothes. After grabbing boxers, gray shorts, and a black tee shirt, he shoves me into the small room and sets the clothes on the counter with the towel he snatched off the hanger.
“Don’t come out until you’ve washed off the bed stench.” P’Prem shuts the door in my face and I’m left alone, steam swirling around me. One look in the mirror and I know he’s right. It’s not me staring back. It’s an ugly stranger with raggedy hair and nasty breath. Ghouls have more color than I do and my eyes are so swollen that it looks like I went ten rounds in the ring with the Champ.
Peeling off the clothes, I let them drop to floor and step into the shower. It’s hot enough to scald and I let it burn away the sweat, the dried tears, and the residue of misery. My skin is cherry red by the time I turn off the faucet and it stings a bit when I dry off but I no longer feel like a walking corpse. After brushing my teeth and dressing in the clean clothes, I step out of the bathroom to find p’Prem sitting at my small table with to-go containers spread out on top. Thankfully, my drapes are still drawn tightly shut so I don’t have to look over at the empty balcony across the way. Throwing away the thought of how many times I’ve stared over there hoping for a glimpse of that person, I avert my eyes and walk over to the table. P’Prem is focusing intently on his phone until I sit down across from him.
“Well, you look more alive now. A bit like an overcooked lobster but alive.” He smirks while opening one of the containers and sets it in front of me with a set of utensils and an iced coffee. I’m afraid to ask how he knows what to order for me as I look down at the minced pork over rice with a fried egg. It’s my usual meal but my stomach is churning in protest. Did that person tell him what to order?
“Eat up before it gets any colder.” P’Prem opens his own container and it has the same meal. “I wasn’t sure what you liked so I ordered what sounded good to me. Hope that’s okay.”
“It’s fine, p’Prem.” The churning disappears and is replaced with a low grumble of hunger. Giving p’Prem a small, grateful smile, I pick up the utensils. “Thank you.”
A few bites of the food and it tastes like ash in my mouth but I keep shoveling it in. Across the table, p’Prem is digging into his own while watching every bite I take like a hawk. He seems pleased as I continue to eat so I keep going until it’s all gone, not wanting to disappoint his good intentions. We don’t talk during the meal or afterwards as he clears away the trash and I wipe off the table. He doesn’t say anything as I lay down on my bed and stare up at the ceiling. Walking over to the other side, He stretches out on the bed and leans comfortably against the headrest. Somehow, p’Prem being here as he quietly plays on his phone comforts me. I put on my headphones and plug into my phone. Flipping to a random song list, I close my eyes and wait for the music to take me away.
I’ve been hearing symphonies
Before all I heard was silence
A rhapsody for you and me
And every melody is timeless
Life was stringing me along
Then you came and you cut me loose
Was solo singing on my own
Now I can’t find a key without you
And now your song is on repeat
And I’m dancin’ on to your heartbeat
And when you’re gone, I feel incomplete
So if you want the truth
I just wanna be part of your symphony
Will you hold me tight and not let go?
Like a love song on the radio
Will you hold me tight and not let go?
To listen to the song:
Shit! Why does it have to be this song? The lyrics haunt me and I roll on my side toward the center of the bed to curl into a ball. It hurts. Everything hurts. I want to cry but there aren’t any tears left to squeeze out. I want to scream but my voice withers into a pathetic whimper.
Gentle hands remove my headphones and take away the phone. P’Prem brushes his fingers over my hair and then pats me on the shoulder as I shake. Curling closer, I press into the side of his waist letting his presence sooth me. He doesn’t comment, just continues to pat my shoulder as if reassuring me that I’m not alone.
My phone starts ringing and I cringe away from the sound, burying my face into p’Prem’s shirt and throwing an arm over my head. I feel him move and the sound gets cut off. A moment later, there’s a knocking on my door. I curl up as tight as I can get trying to block out the noise.
“Kong? Kong, please open the door?” He’s back again. His voice brings with it the memory of his dimpled smile and soft eyes. The face that I could have happily looked at for the next century without getting bored. Now, it’s brings a dark ache as it is the same face that I remember seeing yesterday when he held someone else in his arms. The sharp wrench twists my guts and I gag, trying to hold it in while I run for the bathroom. Everything I ate comes back up with a vengeance and I hear him knocking again.
Glancing over, I see p’Prem close the bathroom door and I retch again. I can hear muffled agitated voices on the other side of the door but I’m too busy dry heaving to know what’s being said. A door slams shut as I flush the toilet and lean back against the cold tile wall. The bathroom door opens but I don’t bother to open my eyes. Water runs in the sink for a bit and then a cool, damp cloth wipes away the beads of sweat from my face.
“Come on, Kongpob. Since you’re done worshipping the porcelain god, let’s get you back to bed.” With mostly him supporting me, I manage to drag myself back to the comfort of my bed. I don’t ask what he talked about with that person and he doesn’t tell me. It’s better that way.
I crawl up to where I was before and sink my head onto the pillow. P’Prem returns to his spot, leaning against the headboard with his phone in his hand. Reaching over, he drags the blankets over me. When I feel him shift, black panic hits me and I clutch at the hem of his shirt. Don’t leave. Not yet. Just stay by me a little longer. I feel pathetic but I don’t let go.
P’Prem pats my shoulder to sooth me and tugs the blankets over his own lap, too. There are no words between us as he settles in. My hand is still wrapped in his shirt but he doesn’t seem to mind. All the confusing thoughts wash away as I listen to him breathe and the soft hint of sandalwood from his skin surrounds me. My eyes close and I finally lose myself in the infinite blankness of sleep.
I have to thank everyone for their patience. For some, I know you were getting to the end of your tether waiting. You know who you are. Yes, I’m “looking” at you.
I’m keeping a tally. How many tissues did you run through on this one?
How many are experiencing a severe case of 2nd male lead syndrome?
Anyway, give me all your comments, your grief-stricken angst, your fears for the future of our beloved couple. Let me know what you think… but please put away the pitchforks and torches. You don’t want to do away with me before the story ends.
Don’t forget to light up the star and make it shine bright. I like to see the twinkling as I wallow in your tortured tears… I mean, as I think of what to write for the next chapter!
– The Prince of Evil