Halloween came. I again would love to be absent, but I had to be there. I had a full scholarship, so I needed to do my best to be present to make sure that I didn't miss anything. I needed to get the best grades in every subject. I knew I always wanted to be the best, but sometimes I got tired of it. Even so, I needed to cheer myself up to make things well again. This whole Halloween thing made me sick, especially because of the green liquid that came from one of the monster figures, like in that animated movie Monsters University or whatever. As soon as I finished all my classes, I left campus and went straight to the parking lot where Cassie and I had decided to meet to go home together as usual.
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Sitting on a bench, I looked at the digital Post-It note on my cellphone to check how many shoots for Brenda's movie were left - only 3 more and it would be finished by this evening. So far, I enjoyed doing it, or you might say I loved it. It had been my dream to act, just not to be an actress. I didn't think it was my life path, or rather, could I even do it? Yes, acting was my passion, but for now I would follow where God led me. Not too long after I mused about everything, Cassie came and we went back to Argenta.
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When Cassie and I entered our room, Julie was there sitting at her desk doing something with her papers. Usually she would have been ready to go to campus, but she didn't look like she would be going there any time soon. She only muttered a small greeting when she saw us coming. Cassie and I exchanged looks and mimed to each other.
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"Hey Julie, do you need a hand?" Cassie offered after we'd finished mouth-talking. "Or two. Cynthia would definitely love to help too."
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Still focused on her papers, she just said, "No, I'm fine. I'm almost finished. Wait until I show you girls what I've been working on."
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I looked at Cassie and hinted with my eyes again, questioning what Julie would show us. Cassie only shrugged after she tried to sneak a peek at what Julie was working on but failed because Julie knew what she was doing and covered her work.
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"Okay," I said, then put my bag on my desk. "I'm gonna get some sleep. Don't wake me up until four. Soon it'll be the last day to finish Brenda's movie project." I sat on my bed and laid down.
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"I won't," Julie replied. "I've got this keeping me busy." She pointed at her work.
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"Me neither," Cassie added. "I believe you will need more strength to act with your sweet heart, Gee Kay."
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Hearing Cassie tease me again, I threw one of my pillows at her but she only laughed. I ignored her and then went to sleep.
All the shooting props and decorations were already set up when I arrived at the spot with Gina's help, because Gee Kay couldn't make it for some reason. The setting was at Virginia Lake Park. It was a bit cold out so I wore a thick cardigan to keep myself warm but still looked stylish with the velvet dress I was required wear.
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Brenda gave me ten minutes to refresh my memory, though I'd memorized all my parts for the day when I had my break time on campus. However, there was this one thing that bothered me so much and I really wanted to tell Brenda about it. The last scene required me to do kissing stuff and I didn't want to. The commitment that I had to save that for after marriage was important to me.
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Gee Kay hadn't come yet. If he had been here, he would have been willing to help me talk to Brenda about it. It was almost time for the first shoot so I decided to talk to Brenda by myself.
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"Hey, Brenda, I need to talk to you about the script," I told her, and she stopped working on preparations for the camera.
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"Sure," Brenda said. "Bring that seat over here." She pointed at the seat behind me.
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I dragged it closer to Brenda and sat down. "Um, let me just get straight to the point," I began. "The last scene requires me to kiss Gee Kay, but I have this commitment not to do it before marriage, um, you know. That means I can't do it, but hugging is okay."
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"You can't delete that part," a member of the crew apparently overheard and commented. It was Landon, a member of the creative crew. He came closer and stood between me and Brenda. "It's the peak of the story."
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It seemed like Brenda didn't have a response to Landon's words or mine. I looked at her and hoped she would back me up.
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"If we want to get the best score and win the campus award, Cynthia has to do it," Landon insisted.
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I almost gave up but an idea popped into my head. "Hey, it's about Indonesia, right? In Indonesia, it's not common to kiss a guy who isn't your boyfriend, or to be exact, husband. Why don't you make a little change to delete this one part?" I said.
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He refused. "Well, I know that, but the story tells about you having the cross-cultural life and getting influenced by it."
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I nodded and looked at the sand. "Please, Brenda," I begged. Then I lifted my head and looked at her. "Please, Brenda. You're the director and script writer. You decide."
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Brenda remained silent. She looked confused and said, "Look, Cynthia, Landon's right, but Landon, Cynthia's right too. Now I'm confused." Just as I thought.
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"Listen, Brenda, Cynthia," Landon said while taking turns looking at me and Brenda, "I don't know what this movie is to you, but it's very important to me. This is the only way for me to achieve my dream of becoming a part of the Hollywood movie staff. I want us to win. If we win, I also get access to one of the major production houses in Hollywood. So could you please, Cynthia, put away your commitment just this once for me?"
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I was silent for some time before I finally said, "I'm sorry but I can't," I uttered.
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"How can you be so mean?," he said in disbelief. "You're selfish!" He raised his tone, causing everyone around to look at us.
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"Landon, please," Brenda stood up to stop him from getting angrier.
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Other crew members came closer to find out what was going on. Jason asked what happened but none of us answered him.
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I stood up from my seat. "Landon, I don't mean to seem selfish or mean, but I just can't put aside my commitment. Please understand," I begged. I was about to cry but I held it in.
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"You're the one who should understand! You're trying to ruin my dream!" He yelled at me. "It's too late now to find another actress because we're running out of time."
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I didn't mean to make things worse. I just wanted a little change. I didn't know that Landon, whom I had never known before this movie project, wanted to win to get into Hollywood so badly. I was really sad.
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"I need some space. I hope you change your mind very soon, Cynthia," Landon said harshly and walked away.
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"Landon!" Brenda called out, but he didn't stop walking. He got into his car and left the set.
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Brenda sat down again and her face rested on her palms. I felt so guilty looking at her like this, but I just couldn't give in. Gee Kay still hadn't shown up. If he had been here, he would've made everything clear. I couldn't understand why he hadn't shown up yet.
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"Brenda, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"
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"I need some space." She cut me off. "We'll do the shoot tomorrow, okay?"
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Without any more words, I understood it was best to leave. I left her and the crew and went back to where I'd first sat down to retrieve my purse.
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I decided to walk back to Argenta because it was quite near (well, I guessed so). With the dress I was wearing, it was so uneasy and uncomfortable to walk at night, but I kept on walking. I hoped by walking I could calm myself down and think about what to do to fix what had just happened.
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I stopped walking and noticed there was a white car that had parked across the road. It looked familiar, though I didn't remember where I'd seen it before.
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"Cynthia!" A girl's voice called out. She came out from the front passenger's seat and a guy followed behind her from the driver's seat.
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It was a little bit dark where I was standing. They walked closer and I finally recognized them as Meredith and Kyle.
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"What are you doing here?" asked Meredith.
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"Aren't you supposed to be at Virginia Lake Park for a shoot?" Kyle added.
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I shrugged it off. "Something happened," I said reluctantly, because I wasn't feeling like talking about it again. "But why are you guys here?"
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"We were on our way to see your last shoot," Meredith answered.
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"Oh," I commented shortly.
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"Come on, hop in." Kyle ordered and nodded toward his car.
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Reluctantly I followed him and walked side by side with Meredith. We crossed the road and got in the car.
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As the car's engine started, I slumped in the back seat as if there was no energy left in me even to sit up straight. Meredith apparently recognized it. She turned her body toward me and asked me what was wrong.
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"Everything's wrong," I said in a low voice.
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"How could that be?" she asked in confusion.
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I sighed audibly. "Remember my motto 'One, Once, For Eternity?'"
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"It's the reason why I was walking back there," I uttered.
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"What do you mean?" Kyle asked, listening in while focused on the road.
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I sighed again. "The last scene required me to..." I paused, "Kiss Gee Kay but I told Brenda that I couldn't do it. I asked her to delete the part, but one of her crew members got upset. He blamed me for being selfish because I didn't want to put aside my commitment for the scene. He said this movie was the only way for him to get into Hollywood, and then he left and Brenda asked me to leave." I covered my face with my hands.
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"Cynthia," Meredith touched my knee.
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"I never expected this," I moaned. "God." I rubbed my forehead repeatedly as if I had a headache.
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Kyle pulled over and he stopped by a little café called Stone House. We got out of the car. Meredith held my left arm as she led me into the café, and then we chose a place to sit. A waiter arrived at our table in no time to give excellent service.
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"I guess you haven't dined, right Cynth?" Kyle looked at me a while then turned his sight to the menu. Without waiting for me to answer, he ordered a pizza for the three of us.
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"I want apple juice." Meredith ordered first.
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"Make that two," said Kyle.
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"No, three," I said. "I want to refresh my energy. I think apple could help. Can't it, sir?" I directed my statement to our waiter, who looked like he was in his thirties.
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"Well, I guess so," the waiter gave me a bright smile. "So you're ordering one Artisan Pizza and three apple juices. Anything else?"
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"No, thank you," Kyle uttered.
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"Okay. Please be patient. I'll be back in five minutes," the waiter replied before leaving.
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I rested my head on my left palm. Meredith, who was sitting beside me, looked at me intently.
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"Hey, where's Gee Kay by the way? Wasn't he there with you?" asked Meredith.
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I shook my head, which didn't move out from under my palm. "If he had been there, I would have been with him, right?" I said. "I don't know why, but he didn't show up even up until I left the park."
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"Have you tried to call him?" asked Kyle and I only shook my head. "He must be worried if he got there and didn't find you in the park."
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I shrugged. We remained silent for some time afterward until I said, "What's wrong with my commitment?" I looked at Kyle and Meredith in turn.
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"Nothing's wrong, just that not all people here accept that," Kyle responded.
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"I thought it would be easy living here as a foreigner," I flashed back to the time where I had been so confident in saying it would be no trouble to live in a foreign country. I knew it would be easy as long as I stayed in God's direction, but still, the process felt like it was quite tough to undergo.
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"Relax, you'll get over it," Meredith patted me on the back.
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"Thank you," I forced a little smile.
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We were waiting for our orders to come. Kyle was doing something with his IPad and Meredith was reading the menu still on our table. Seeing as I had nothing to do, I opened my purse and took out my cellphone.
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There were so many missed calls from Gee Kay. It was 25 to be exact. I opened the menu and hit "message". I found some messages from Julie, Cassie, Gina, Brenda and also from Gee Kay, asking me where I was. I texted them back that I was with Meredith and Kyle and there was nothing to worry about. When I was about to hit the "send" button, another call from Gee Kay came.
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"Hey," I answered.
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"Where are you? I've been calling you over and over but you never answered. I asked your roommates, even everyone you met, but they said they didn't know where you were!" Gee Kay uttered in length, as if wasn't going to let me speak.
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"But you didn't call Meredith or Kyle." When I mentioned their names, Meredith and Kyle paid attention to me.
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"I forgot. I was so worried." Exactly as he said, his voice sounded so worried.
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"I'm with them now--"
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"Where?" He broke in.
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"Stone House Café near Virginia Lake Park," I answered.
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"Okay. I know where that is. I'm on my way," he said.
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"Wait, you don't need to--," the call was cut off. I gazed at my phone a while before putting it back into my purse.
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"Gee Kay?" asked Kyle, and I nodded in response. "I told you. He worries about you."
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I shrugged. "Yeah, and he's on his way here," I said.
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"How cute," Meredith commented in a high pitched voice.
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I furrowed my brows. "I'm still sad," I said.
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"You know, I've never known him to be so attentive to a girl like this before." She told me.
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"I'm sad," I repeated, looking at her as if I hadn't heard what she said.
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"Here are your orders." The same waiter said as he finally arrived with our pizzas and juices on a food trolley. He set them down one by one onto our table. "Bon appétit." He said and then left.
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I took one slice of pizza and ate it right away without saying anything to Meredith or Kyle. They looked at me with their eyebrows furrowed. "I'm sad," I said again.
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Meredith and Kyle chuckled at my unusual behavior.
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I knew it. I knew that I would cry when I felt annoyed, irritated, and simultaneously sad. I didn't want to cry, so I acted this way. I ate the pizza like I hadn't eaten for a month. I only stopped when I heard the song of Kari Jobe, Be Still, was playing in the café. It was one of my favorite songs that brought me peace whenever I listened to it. I wondered why this café was playing it tonight, especially since it was Halloween night.
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I put down my half-eaten pizza and stood up. "I need to go to the rest room," I left without waiting for them to respond.
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I read the restroom sign hanging from the ceiling in a corner of the room and walked toward it. I entered the hall and then the door with the ladies sign. I was in luck that there was nobody there. I stood in front of the mirror and stared at my reflection.
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"God, help," I mumbled in groaning. "I screwed it up. Why does it have to be so hard to keep my commitment here? It was fine back in Indonesia." A tear fell from my left eye. I wiped it right away so that no one would see me crying, when suddenly someone came in. "I need Your strength. Help me." I took a deep, deep breath and released it. Kari Jobe's song was still heard even in the restroom and helped me to relax more.
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After I felt better, I came out of the restroom and walked back my seat. As I was walking, I saw Gee Kay had already arrived. He sat in the place where Meredith used to sit and she had moved next to Kyle. Kyle signaled to Gee Kay that I was coming and he turned his body to look at me.
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Gee Kay stood up as I arrived. "Are you okay?" he asked.
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I gave him a bright smile. "Yes. You can see me," I convinced him.
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"You said you were sad," Meredith broke in.
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I turned my eyes to her. "I was, yes. Now, I'm not anymore," I told her then gazed again at Gee Kay. "You, Gee, don't need to worry about me, okay? I'm totally fine. Let's sit down." I drew my chair back to give myself some space to get in between my chair and Gee Kay's, then I sat down simultaneously with him.
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"I heard from Brenda," he said.
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I took my half-eaten pizza again and ate it without gazing at Gee Kay. "Okay," I responded with my mouth full of pizza. I chewed it slowly.
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"Cynthia, I'm sorry I wasn't there," he said.
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I nodded then turned my face to him, after I swallowed the well-chewed pizza. "It's fine. I told you I'm okay," I said.
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"I'm finished," said Kyle, which made Gee Kay and I turn to him. "Meredith, you said you wanted to go shopping for some clothes, right? Let's go now before the shops close."
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"You're right." replied Meredith.
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They managed to grab all of their stuff and got up to leave.
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"Why do you have to leave all of a sudden?" I asked.
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"If you're worried that you didn't get a chance to say thank you, you can do it later," said Kyle without even answering my question. "And don't worry. I'll pay for you. See you later."
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"See you guys around," Meredith added before leaving with Kyle.
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"Weird," I said, because they looked like they were in a hurry, or maybe they just pretended to be in a hurry to let me have some private time with Gee Kay. I just realized it. How could I be so slow to understand?
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Gee Kay looked at me as if he wouldn't take his eyes off me.
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"Don't look at me like that." I uttered.
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"Brenda worries about you. She felt guilty because she made you go," Gee Kay said, finally.
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"She was upset because of me."
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"And because of you, I'm worried." He looked deeply into my eyes. "Don't you know walking alone at this hour is dangerous?"
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"They told you?" I was referring to Meredith and Kyle.
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Gee Kay nodded.
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"But I'm okay. You don't need to worry anymore--"
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"I will keep worrying," he cut in, "If you do things like this. Promise me you won't do something like this again. It makes me and everyone else worried about you."
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I chuckled. "Okay, okay," I said. Seeing his worried face made me somehow glad but also tickled. "I won't, but where were you?"
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Gee Kay didn't answer me right away. He remained silent for a while. I stared at him, which bothered him to eventually saying, "I was doing something."
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"What?" I asked again.
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"Nothing? How could "nothing" make you late to your last shoot?" I tried to force him to speak the truth but with a calm voice.
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His eyes wandered, and then he scratched his head.
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"What's wrong with you?" I chuckled again.
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"Let's eat the rest of the pizza and then I'll show you something," he said quickly and took a slice of pizza to eat.
Along the road I saw children wearing various costumes, walking door to door to 'Trick or Treat'. Though it looked fun, seeing their cute faces asking for chocolates or candies like in the movies, I still didn't like Halloween.
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Gee Kay drove me back to Virginia Lake. I didn't know why. I was wondering, could he have maybe found a solution to the problem I'd encountered, regarding my commitment? No, no. He said he did whatever it was before coming to meet me and that it was the thing that made him late.
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We got out of the car and walked toward the lake. I glanced at my wrist watch and saw it was eight as we stopped by the side of the lake under the tree.
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I felt a tug on my dress. I looked around and found a little boy standing beside me. I knelt down to his level. "Hello, little boy," I rubbed his hair. "I'm sorry I don't have any candies or chocolates."
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"I'm not doing Trick or Treat," he said in his creaky voice. "I just wanted to give you this." He handed me something wrapped in blue and left without a word.
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I stood up, looked at Gee Kay, then furrowed. "What's this?"
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Gee Kay shrugged. "Why don't you open it?"
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I did what he said. Gently, I opened the wrapper and found Toblerone inside. I chuckled. "A chocolate?" I glanced at Gee Kay and then to the chocolate again. I found a little paper rolled neatly around the chocolate and I unrolled it to read what was written. I read the words aloud, "Since the first time I met you, I knew there was something different. You have changed my life and made it brand new. For my whole life, I've been waiting for this night, just to say-" I paused because the end of the sentence was missing, then I looked at Gee Kay.
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"I love you," he said and it took me by surprise.
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I blinked my eyes and gulped. Why did he say that? Oh no. My heart is beating so fast. What's happening? What feeling is this? I looked deep into his eyes and deeper still as if I couldn't look away.
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"Well, I, um," I stuttered. "Gee, I-" I stopped speaking when he brushed my hair and tucked it behind my ear.
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"I love you, Cynthia," he said again.
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I gulped. I couldn't breathe. I needed some help to get me out of this situation.
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"Cynthia." He mentioned my name again. "I know your commitment about not to kiss any guy before marriage, but do you know where I want to kiss you the most?"
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I shook my head. Why is he saying this? I said inside my heart. I felt so nervous at the moment.
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"In the church where people will witness the moment we both say I do." His words immediately melted my heart.
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A tear dropped. "I, um," I stuttered again. I thought it was time for me to admit my feelings. I did feel it-love. Yes, I loved him. "I love you too," I said.
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Gee Kay smiled and embraced me. I embraced him too, too tightly that I didn't want to let him go.
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"CUT!" That voice surprised me.
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I let go of Gee Kay and turned in the direction of the voice. I saw Brenda was there in a dark place behind me, that wasn't too far from where Gee Kay and I were standing. Honestly, I didn't know she was there with the crew. I looked up in the tree and saw there was a big microphone, like they usually used, hanging in it.
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"So," I was startled. So it's just a scene of the movie? But I just admitted my feelings, my real feelings!
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"That was what I'd prepared," Gee Kay said, making me turn my eyes to him again. "I knew that you would refuse the kissing part. That's why I rewrote the scene with Brenda's permission. Do you think it's good?"
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"Ah," I forced a smile. "Yeah. It is, and I just did some very good acting there too, didn't I?" I deliberately pretended. "So, um, would you mind if I, um, get something to drink?" Gee Kay didn't answer, but I just walked away.
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"Yes, that was a scene," He stopped me when I was about five steps away from him. "But it was also real."
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I turned my body to him. Still standing in place, I kept listening to him.
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"All that you read on the paper, all that I said, was real," He closed the distance between us and took me by the hands. "I have loved you since the first time we met, because before you came, I was broken. You already know why. It's because of my broken friendship, but I pretended I was okay. Then you came, from a faraway land, to make me brand new and restore my relationship with my best friend and my sister. You are so special to me."
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I smiled broadly, not in force this time. "Should I admit my feelings again to you? I think you already heard them back then." I chuckled, and so did he.
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"Tell me everything," he asked.
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"Should I? Here? Everybody's watching us," I turned my head right and left. Everyone was pretending not to pay attention to us, but they were.
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My phone buzzed. I felt it. I pulled my hands away from Gee Kay's and took my phone out from my purse. "Wait, I think I need to take this," I saw Gee Kay looked a little disappointed. "Mama?"
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"That's so not romantic," Gee Kay murmured.
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"I heard that," I whispered to him jokingly, and he looked in the other direction, whistling. I chuckled and continued speaking to my mom. She asked me about my condition and I told her everything was much better. She said she and my dad missed me and my sister so much. I remembered they now lived without their daughters, who used to always be together. I felt the same at the moment. I missed being with them, telling jokes and hanging out in the malls, fighting a little with my sister and making up soon after, and I missed everything I had done with them. At the end of our conversation, my mom and dad said a blessing for me. "Daa, Ma, Pa." I put my cellphone back into my purse.
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"Your parents?" asked Gee Kay.
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"Why didn't you let their daughter's boyfriend say hi?"
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I furrowed. "Boyfriend? Did I already say yes?"
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"I love you and you love me, so why not?" He sounded insistent.
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I laughed. "Are you afraid of being rejected?" I teased him.
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"Of course I am!" He tickled me.
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I laughed. "Stop!," I stepped away from him to avoid being tickled again.
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"Uh hm!" a girl's voice of clearing throat heard. Gee Kay stopped tickling me and I turned to her. "We heard everything, so congratulations."
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I squinted my eyes. "What do you mean?" I asked.
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"The microphone's still on. The camera is too, so," Brenda was dropping hints for me to realize she and the crew had heard everything.
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"Oh my," I nodded, put my palm on my forehead, and then shook my head. "Just promise me you won't put that in the movie, okay Brenda?"
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Brenda crossed her fingers. "I promise," she said. "Now, I'll leave you two, because I need to get back to all my stuff. Have fun!" She smiled and turned away from us.
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I looked at Gee Kay and sighed. "Okay. That's enough for now. I think I need to get some rest," I said.
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"I can see you're tired," Gee Kay commented. "Come on, I'll take you home."
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