Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016) - Chapter 4 | Penana

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Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016)
Writer Ruby Iodine
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016)
A - A - A
Chapter 4
Ruby Iodine
Nov 15, 2016
19 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!Gj7HpIVEIyS3Y1MlkPYtposted on PENANA

The automated sliding doors open and close for the tenth time, bringing the fifth group of new arrivals through since I’ve arrived here. I search the faces heading towards this direction—parents and their children, businessmen and women in formal suits, and of course, the people my age whose faces light up as soon as they laid eyes on their lovers waiting from behind the bordering metal fences, making me wish I can join them in their blissful joy as they envelop each other in warm, loving embraces.copyright protection145PENANAagWv8N6WPj

Where the fuck is he? Patience is not a virtue I possess, and it may irritate people and myself sometimes but how can I help something that I’ve been spending years trying to fix only to fail?copyright protection145PENANA3vCad2S8GB

And when he just called you fifteen minutes ago, saying that his plane has already landed and he’s on his way to pick up his luggage, you would’ve thought you would find him already waiting outside the airport building, perhaps waiting for you to arrive at the bus stop even and then take a taxi ride all the way back home, if he didn’t arrange for his driver to pick us up here. I know, all of this seems rather redundant but we did arrange for a dinner date after this, so in my mind it’s better to pick him up from the airport right away than having him stop by the house to pick me up.copyright protection145PENANAHzFFBr1Vg0

Soon, one by one, people start to leave the premises and return to their respective homes until there are only few people left here, including myself. The coffee I’ve bought for myself is already half-empty, and I can breathe a sigh of relief since I’ve already taken Izzy’s coffee home first so she’ll have her beloved beverage as soon as she wakes up, dodging a bullet for myself. A random taxi driver looking for a passenger went up to me and asked if I want a ride, and for a second there I was gonna hit the guy in the face if I turned and saw the mysterious driver who took me to Cam’s place, but upon realizing he was just another middle-aged man desperate to earn money for his family, I ignored him and continued waiting.copyright protection145PENANAprgmWo92lY

After another five minutes and I’ve become tempted to take a seat on the bench not too far from the exit gate, I spot him appearing from the sliding doors and I can bet that anyone would’ve said that the light has returned to my face. His short auburn hair has grown a little bit longer now, creating bangs that cast a shadow over his forehead. His fair skin has tanned a bit more as well and a short, rough stubble has grown around his jaw. His steel blue eyes can create a glare that would send people shivering in their knees, and yet there’s something in them that has captivated me ever since the day we met.copyright protection145PENANAmouYzH1sQI

With his grey suit jacket unbuttoned, exposing the crisp white shirt and red tie he wears underneath, he looks like he’s ready to collapse onto a bed and fall asleep anytime soon.copyright protection145PENANA4xiJcTaeOr

His eyes glance over the area until they meet mine, and wasting no time at all, he strides over to where I’m sitting, dragging his luggage behind him and throws his arms around me as soon as we’re facing each other, engulfing me in that bear hug I’ve been craving for two weeks now. I yelp as he suddenly lifts me up and spins me around like a man who’s proud of his girlfriend and has missed her to bits, as much as she has missed him as well. It kinda scares me, though, how easy it was for him to just lift my smaller figure up to the air with little to no effort at all.copyright protection145PENANAeeTvAPUJSg

After two spins, he sets me down and pulls me in for a short kiss—another thing I’ve been craving for the past couple of weeks that I’ve just realized right then and there.copyright protection145PENANAIeFcdeUfHK

“Oh god, I’m so sorry for the delay,” he says, exasperated, wrapping an arm around my neck and pulling me close to him. “There was some problem with my luggage earlier—security thought I had something in there that’s not allowed here, like I have dead rats cooped up here beneath all the clothing, so I had to go to quarantine and everything and it turns out they’ve mistaken me for someone else… Can you believe that? How in the world did they mistake someone like me for someone else?”copyright protection145PENANAXLhfuu9FIY

I manage a small smile as I remind myself of Drew’s slight ego over himself. It’s something I have to tolerate from day to day, but I don’t mind—most of the time, at least, because I’ve convinced myself that every man nowadays acts the same way. I know both Drew and Cam are like this, too.copyright protection145PENANA7Xc0sMQnwI

I roll my eyes. “Oh, you know how squeamish they get nowadays. Terrorists and all that. Something like that happened here just a month ago, so it’s better safe than sorry for them.”copyright protection145PENANADfXirbxlre

“The most dangerous thing I’ll probably ever bring through those detector things is a bottle of the red wine,” he says, cocking an eyebrow, still unconvinced. “I still don’t think that gives them a reason to pat over my whole body like perverts and rifle through every single piece of clothing I pack in here. Not to mention how bad of a mood I’m in right now, and the hell of a jet lag I’ll have to suffer through for the next following days until my next trip overseas.”copyright protection145PENANA6oZoEuSN9B

“And to think, you would’ve gotten used to it by now.”copyright protection145PENANAMhzYh2L7ph

“Hey, I’m still new in this whole CEO business thing, all right?” He pecks me on the lips again. “Two years isn’t really a lot of time to settle down.”copyright protection145PENANAQ3xOlY0Tkr

“You went to Harvard, for fuck’s sake.”copyright protection145PENANA7rQ7PuBHiL

“But that doesn’t mean that I passed with flying colors.” He wags his eyebrows at me, which I respond with a light shove to the shoulder as he chuckles. “All right, all right, settle down there, feisty little tiger. You haven’t booked anything for us tonight, have you?”copyright protection145PENANAj43S3kUOsk

I shake my head. Half the time, I don’t have the money to.copyright protection145PENANA6jnD7JC8DX

“Good, because I’ve already booked for us. I’m making sure that tonight’s gonna be absolutely perfect. Just the two of us and nobody else—in fact, I’m not even going to pick up my phone if anybody calls. Well, maybe an exception for absolute emergencies, but I doubt anything like that’s going to happen today.”copyright protection145PENANAzKopSdUuVd

God, I hope not.copyright protection145PENANAgfij7lD2a6

“We’re going to this fancy restaurant that I’ve heard just opened up last week,” he continues as he leads us towards the curb, stopping to pick his phone up and start dialing his driver to pick us up. “I had Harold book us a seat tonight there, and apparently, this place serves the best fettucine alfredo, which I know is your favorite.”copyright protection145PENANAngpLUxvwF8

One of them, I think to myself, but admire his attempt to cheer me up nevertheless. My actual favorite, as mediocre and boring as it sounds, are just regular ham sandwiches, and I’ll already be more than happy if he just takes me to that popular diner downtown that I know serves the best sandwiches, but Drew likes fancy things because he’s lived his entire life with them, so I doubt I’ll be ever to drag him over there for a quick dinner and maybe watch a movie later on like any regular couples do. And I’ll be lying if I say I don’t want to be pampered by my boyfriend by having dinner in a fancy new, five-star restaurant where you have to book a table otherwise you’re kicked out of the premises.copyright protection145PENANAueSSEL6zf1

He speaks up again but I keep quiet as I realize he’s speaking to his driver. I glance up at him and sigh before turning my gaze away and at my folded hands in front of me. I can’t help thinking about how the rest of my life is going to be like this if we ever get married. He’ll be outside the country for most of the time, and I’ll be stuck here, doing whatever it is I may be doing in the future, once I can keep myself busy with an occupation again. If I’m lucky, he might take me somewhere exotic for a vacation or maybe for our honeymoon.copyright protection145PENANAMvg5PorsrB

But just thinking about it makes the pit of my stomach to feel uneasy all of a sudden and a voice in the back of my head tells me to wake up and see that this isn’t the life I really wanted for myself. I’ve planned so much more than this; I wanted to become someone who’s not too dependent on my partner, and be able to make it out there on her own when the situation calls for it. I wanted to be considered successful in my own right, and famous for something I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into, not for being some hot-shot CEO’s trophy wife.copyright protection145PENANAyPSYAMv5ja

Out of everything else—and Cam knows this about me more than anyone else because he’s said so himself just earlier today—I wanted to become a writer, not an editor. Sure that a job as an editor ensures a guaranteed salary paid every month as long as you do your shit right, but I don’t want to have someone else being the boss of me and telling me what I should and should not do. I envy my clients, writers who get to have that shred of freedom I yearn to own myself, and while it’s true that they can still be pressured by publishers who keep on asking them when that manuscript for the new sequel is going to be finished, they can at least work in their most desired environment and their schedules seem much more flexible than that of someone who hides behind their desk and a stack of paperwork everyday.copyright protection145PENANAeNp7G4SMD8

The more I think about this, the more I realize how right Cam was, for once in his lifetime. Maybe it’s time that I stop working for hopeful clients whose dreams may be crushed by the heartless and greedy publishers I also work for, and maybe become one of those hopeful clients myself. It’s not like I’ve got anything to lose now, do I?copyright protection145PENANANqD4vstWVV

By the time I turn back to Andrew, who has decided to receive a call from a business associate of his after promising not to for the rest of the day, I can already see the Mercedes Benz he owns zooming down the street and halting right in front of us. Being the gentleman that he is, he opens the back passenger door and allows me to enter first then he follows, slamming the door shut beside him. The driver, Vincent, leaves the car for a moment to grab Drew’s luggage and put it in the trunk before returning back to the driver’s seat. I greet him with a short wave and he nods back in acknowledgement—something that I’ve been used to due to the manners I’ve been brought up with and natural friendliness that I loathe sometimes—only for Drew to interrupt and state out the name of the restaurant we’ll be going to.copyright protection145PENANAxuKqtkdYqw

Throughout the entire ride, he continues to share his stories and experience overseas, about the food and the culture, about things I dream of seeing with my own eyes. I lean onto his shoulder and enjoy the smooth ride to our destination, until I think about the taxi again. I can feel my drained self being back there again, thinking it’ll just be another one of those instances where the driver happens to be the talkative type and asks one too many questions about the customers’ personal lives. I can remember his blank gaze when he tells me that ‘things will get better,’ almost as if he was hinting about what was to come—meeting Cam again after so long, being fired from my job, then rediscovering the motivation to start following my dream again.copyright protection145PENANA9EkzL1DENg

And how his eyes looked. I can never get rid of that image from my mind now, almost like I’ve been watching—no, experiencing a horror movie first-hand. I’d like to think my exhausted mind was too fucked up to have coherent thoughts back then, maybe even causing me to suffer from delusions or something, but it just felt so real, and everything that happened next seemed to orchestrated to be a coincidence.copyright protection145PENANAMBHqGcS98O

The ride is short but when we reach the restaurant, the sun has started to set behind the faint outlining of clouds in the distant horizon. A lengthy queue has appeared in front of the building’s double doors, many of them dressed in semi-formal attire that make me feel underdressed with my beige blouse and dark trousers. The car slows down to a halt just a few feet away from the entrance, and as I gather my belongings, Andrew steps out and walks around to open the door for me, giving me a sense of being loved and special even when I’m afraid it might create a scene among the young couples in line eager to get a table inside, with him being quite popular around these parts and all.copyright protection145PENANA4GjO6M9jKA

I have noticed that we’ve already earned a couple of glances and glares and whispers, especially from a group of four young women about as old as I am as they gasp upon seeing my date for the night. Did I mention he’s also quite popular among the ladies? Predictable, seeing how he’s a handsome young bachelor who, for some reason, is dating an average girl who has just lost her job and is still renting a house with her best friend, so I’m not surprised that many think that we won’t last long even though our two-year relationship has yet to show the slightest signs of wavering.copyright protection145PENANAQUfbt1c7FZ

To my dismay, I’ve noticed that they’ve begun to send secretive flirtatious winks at my boyfriend as if I won’t catch them red-handed when I’m standing right next to him. To my relief, however, he seems to pay them no attention at all as he takes my hand in his and closes the car door shut behind us as he leads me to where the maître d’ stands behind a podium with the open guestbook before him.copyright protection145PENANAorB5RhhKqq

He gives us a welcoming smile as soon as he realizes who Drew is, and, ignoring the other guests waiting in line, he immediately leads us into the dining room and leads us to our table. I can’t help but gawk at the sights around me and the appetizing smell of mouth-watering food floating in the air, almost not paying much attention to where I’m heading if my arm isn’t hooked around his. This is our tenth date at a lavish restaurant like this and I still can’t get used to it, and I doubt I ever will.copyright protection145PENANAyv6SkcEuwp

He pulls the chair out for me to sit—again, such a gentleman—before sitting on his own, then the server comes and hands us two menus. Drew takes only a quick glance his before ordering a little too much for the both of us, including a quite expensive bottle of wine, and when I shoot him a glare after the server has disappeared, he shrugs and stares back at me.copyright protection145PENANA4njjyNkLV0

“You can’t keep on starving yourself, Emma,” he says, apparently taking notice of the weight I’ve lost since the past few weeks. “And don’t be shy about eating too much around me. You’re my girlfriend—you shouldn’t be embarrassed of yourself around me.”copyright protection145PENANALjrmojDG34

But I am and I can’t help it, I think to myself. Not when people think highly of you until they realize you’re dating a complete loser.copyright protection145PENANA6CzcuUp9oV

“I just don’t feel like eating much,” I say instead, curling my hands into fists as I shift uncomfortably in my seat. The server returns with the wine and hands us a glass each, and I don’t hesitate to take a quick sip of mine even though I prefer any other alcoholic beverage other than this. Ignoring the bitter taste in my mouth, I force myself to look up when I feel his hands reaching over to touch mine, which I’ve realized have folded over each other out of stress, and catch a glimpse of the worry written all over his face before I turn away, not wanting to meet his eyes with the millions of thoughts running through my head.copyright protection145PENANAysiSMRF7CA

“Hey, Em,” he murmurs. Both his hands are on mine now, pulling them away from each other so that we’re holding hands in a rather awkward manner now. “C’mon, don’t be like that to me. Tell me what’s on your mind. Is there some trouble at work again? You know there’s always a spot for you in my company if you want to—”copyright protection145PENANA7nUzKjSnZV

“No, no, that… won’t be necessary.” I force a smile on my face. “No offense, but wouldn’t it be awkward to have your girlfriend work for you as your employee—a subordinate? And to be honest, I’d rather steer away from jobs that require me to sit behind a desk all day, waiting for time to wind down until I can finally go home.”copyright protection145PENANAs6y2i2WIbk

“But, isn’t that what you’re doing right now?”copyright protection145PENANAEKNXCAOiHr

I sigh. I wish I can say this is the smoothest transition ever made in the whole world while telling your partner you’ve been fired, but it’s not.copyright protection145PENANASPPNpz6hX6

“Well, that won’t be much of a problem now.” I stretch my smile so it becomes a hesitant grin. “I was… fired, Drew. Laid off. Unemployed.” I pause. “Though, after what happened last Friday, I might as well quit myself.”copyright protection145PENANAdpcLrvOodZ

Lame excuse when I still need the job, regardless of my personal relationship with the superior—more like personal hatred if you ask me, though. But I don’t want to have him thinking that I was in desperate need in terms of finances, because there’s a chance that he might offer to provide for me just like he did with the job thing, and that will make me feel like I’m indebted to him and I don’t want to feel that with my own boyfriend.copyright protection145PENANAJRJwOm7DEO

Husband, maybe, but he hasn’t even proposed yet, much less tie the knot between us.copyright protection145PENANA5xEUk3tqlq

“Em,” he begins, apparently at a loss of words. “You do know that something like this isn’t one you take light-heartedly, right?”copyright protection145PENANAwyQJjhe7Gr

“I’m aware of that, yes. But I have a solution—well, an unguaranteed solution, but a solution nonetheless. And besides, I get to have fun doing it.” I take a deep breath then say, “I’m gonna be a writer.”copyright protection145PENANA7pjRW8e3MS

He looks at me, staring at the features of my face and studying it like an art student trying to comprehend the secrets behind the most prestigious, one-of-a-kind paintings in museum exhibits, and then his face morphs into disbelief.copyright protection145PENANASRpwLJAfaV

“You’re joking with me, right?”copyright protection145PENANAFHuvqNNFVt

Frowning, I shake my head. “Why would I be lying to you? I’m being serious, Drew.”copyright protection145PENANA63TpVPy9Sk

“God, I wish you didn’t say that—I mean, it’s just…” He sighs. “You’re crazy, and I love you for it, but you’re crazy. You just got fired from a job that has literally driven you insane, with all the stories from work you’ve been telling me through our Skype calls and everything, only to just dive straight into an occupation right below the one you had before? I mean, half of the stories you’ve told involve how your clients have their hearts broken when the publisher rejects their manuscripts, and more than once, you’ve told me how you were glad you weren’t in their shoes because you can’t possibly imagine how it feels like to be thrown to the curb like that. And yet, here you are now, telling me that you want to become one of them?” He shakes his head again, more firmly this time. “You’re crazy.”copyright protection145PENANA1KbrhXbRcm

Something inside me is breaking, and I’m not sure what, but his words make me feel utterly taken aback. Almost like a slap straight across my face. And then, for a split second, the world around me devolves into my high school years again, just a year and a half before graduating when teachers start to ask their students where they’re heading, where they will be attending university or college, what they’re going to do with their lives. And innocent but driven little me, who’s been scoring straight-A’s in all those science-y subjects and especially mathematics, tells to the whole world about how she wants to be a novel writer.copyright protection145PENANANR3hnu5b91

And of course, my younger self was laughed at, and the teachers raised their eyebrows, thinking they hadn’t cleaned their ears for ages.copyright protection145PENANAFg4yG0ne9f

So I’ve repressed those dreams, especially after graduating from university and realizing how cruel life actually is.copyright protection145PENANAyb0KChHN8T

And now, when I’m allowed a chance to relive my dreams and perhaps achieve them, my boyfriend thinks I’m insane enough for putting myself in a worse situation than I already am.copyright protection145PENANAaVLed8IikS

He must’ve seen the sheer look of disappointment on my face because he reacts immediately by reaffirming his grip on my hands, intertwining my fingers between his so that I’d turn back to him and see the guilt clearly written all over his face.copyright protection145PENANAjZ8oxPoV3x

“Look, Emma, I didn’t mean it like that—”copyright protection145PENANAbCJbmls39A

“It’s been my dream, Drew,” I murmur, not even caring about cutting him off. “I’ve always wanted to be one of them, as depressing as they may seem. Ever since the first novel I’ve ever read, to classics like Pride and Prejudice, to analyzing amazing works like The Catcher in the Rye that to this day remains one of my favorites, to young adult novels and fucking The Fault in Our Stars, for fuck’s sake. I’ve always wanted to share stories to the world, inspire people the way books have inspired me throughout my entire life.” I stare into his eyes, searching any signs of concession in them. “You know that, right? You of all people should know that about me—you’re my boyfriend, after all.”copyright protection145PENANAWkwHyKQg2a

It doesn’t have to be just him, a little voice in the back of my head speaks up—a voice I’ve repressed along with those broken dreams, and as the broken dreams return, I doubt that this little asshole will want to be left out of the party. Mom knows. Izzy knows. Cam knows—he knows you better than anyone else can ever be.copyright protection145PENANA9maiKH78Da

He was my best friend, I retort back, but soon I realize I’m just thinking to myself, responding to my own thoughts. Of course he knows that about me.copyright protection145PENANAGOMpZ9LrcV

Drew looks perplexed, but nods solemnly and smiles. “I do. Which is why I’m leaving this decision all up to you, really. I just… it’s hard to believe you still want to stay in this sort of industry even after all that’s happened. But if that’s really your choice, and that’s really what you want, then just go for it.” He gives my hands a tight squeeze. “And I’ll be here with you, for you, supporting you all the way.”copyright protection145PENANA28fzQNjG4m

God, I hope so.copyright protection145PENANARdI1wsJDBm

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