HEADACHE (A Short Story)


     Someone once told me that if I found a person who I both love and hate with all my heart, then it must be true love. I didn't know what I saw in him, but I chose to marry him. He's not the romantic type, and he never flushes the toilet. He is a spoiled 8-year old boy in a big man's body, who only brushes his teeth and changes his underwear once a day despite farting a hundred times, so proud that the last one is louder than the previous. He is disgusting.
     With all the fights we had, I have probably planned several ways how to kill him, and how I would dispose of the body. He causes me a lot of heartaches, especially when I'm not even the type who expect too much. Back to ways of killing him, when I start playing those scenes in my head, it does not seem to work. I can't simply throw his body out of the building because, over the years, we gained weight, and we became heavy. Also, cameras are everywhere nowadays. The evidence will be so strong against me if they put me on trial. Maybe cutting his body in pieces will work? Then I can put the pieces in a suitcase, take a taxi to the beach in a cold winter when nobody's there, roast the pieces like BBQ. I would realize, however, that the knife we got here at home is so dull, it can only cut bread and vegetables.
     At the end of each planning, though, I would realize that it is all going to be too much work. Staying and trying to be a good wife will be much convenient. Trying not to provoke him is easier. Most of the time, I would play deaf and totally ignore my husband's presence.
     I am a busy person anyway, I work but not that crazy. Hong Kong is a city filled with people and their big dreams. You know what they say, that if you can make it in Hong Kong, you can make it anywhere. I believe that. My goal has always been simple - to get rich. Because when you are rich, you get the influence, you get the power, the privilege, basically every benefits available out there. With my husband and me both working, we can only afford a 100-sqft flat and if not because of my skills on keeping our shit together, we would be very similar to those pictures they put on exhibits - people who live in cage-like bed, which is horrible if you ask me. I work in a call center, so I get the dull days, the same old routine that nowadays I truly am bored. Most of the time, when I talk to customers on the phone, my mind would wander to other places - countries I have not been. I would go to Spain, UK, Australia and Peru. And in the evening, I would ask Marc - that's my husband's name - if we can visit these countries. He would then tell me that we don't have enough money and that we still need to pay that loan. That stupid loan we did when we have to pay off a credit card debt. Years before, we profusely buy things we don't need and would only pay the minimum amount. We were so stupid, I know. And slowly, our lifestyle went spiral down from there. No one really helped us that time; I asked my Dad, my sister and my friends, but they refuse to lend me money (even if I know they could help me). I was helpless, the credit card was under my name. I was left with no choice but to loan from an illegal loan shark.
     Yesterday evening after our conversation, I only sat down by the bed, watching him snore. I thought how he could do it, leave the problems to me while having a good night sleep. How could he go to dreamland while I am here, feeling lonely and drowning myself into sobs? How could I have chosen this guy to marry?
     Looking back, we had the big Chinese wedding celebration, you know, where they invite people we don't even know for the sake of filling up the banquet table. That day was a ridiculous circus where I needed to change into three different gowns, without having the time to eat. And five years later, the much-celebrated couple haven't even had sex for a month now. I initiated, but he said he was tired, and that we can instead do it the next day. It never happened. We woke up this morning, and he has totally forgotten what he said the night before.
     I once read online that men like to have sex more than women, but Marc keeps on refusing me every time. How could he? He must be cheating! It crossed my mind many times. Men are not the most monogamous creature in the world.
     I never caught him with anything. When I tried checking in on his phone when he is in the toilet or asleep, I never succeeded because he had changed his phone's password! I checked his internet's history and found it cleared. My technical skills are close to non-existent. Thus I don't have any other ways! I could feel it in my guts, though, and women's guts are always right.
     I went googling how to know if your husband is cheating on you. Tons of articles appeared, and I read through them one by one. It states several signs such as:
He never initiated sexy time with you? A big check! As I said, we have not done it for a long time;
He goes out more? - Does he? I thought for a while. He is now home later than the usual. He would reason out that he did not get the earlier train and I would believe him. A big check!;
He suddenly needs his privacy - I observed his reaction when I asked him the new password of his phone. He got mad like crazy, bursting out things about trust and loyalty. He sounds so guilty!
     I, Lily Chan, therefore, conclude that my husband has been cheating on me. I felt a pang of pain in my heart as I snuggle beside him. He turns around wrapping his arms around my hips while I try my best not to cry. Not on this one, Lily. Not on this one. How many liters of tears have you shed for this man? But tears welled up in my eyes on its own. Once again, my pillow is soaking wet, until I can remember no more.
     The train is packed with people wearing dark colors, all dazed in their mobile devices. They are the always-busy type that slight disruption would immediately result to their annoyance as if the whole world revolves around them. I never finish University because of our family's financial problem. Remember the crisis last 2007 that hits the entire planet? Yes, we were affected with that. Should I have finished my studies, I probably would have reached my goal of becoming this type of people which I hate right now. I am probably important, and my husband would not have underestimated my ability to find out whether he is loyal to me or not.
     I was top of my class during primary and secondary years. My Mom used to tell me she's smarter than me, that if I kept on studying, I would grow smarter than she was. She was a tiger mom and would push me beyond what I can do. I believed her and focused only on my studies. Her tone changed, though, when her business went down, and she was required to file for bankruptcy. I guess that's when it all started, when our home that once filled with joy became empty and depressing. My Dad left her, and my older sister left the country. I stayed with her, and blindly followed her philosophies in life.
     She pretends that everything's alright in front of her friends despite being devastated. I still remember how she would keep the pearls even if we do not have any money for food that day. One time, we could barely make it that I swallowed my pride to dial my Dad's number to ask for money. I was desperate. Her face lightened up when I showed her the money. She took it all and spent the twenty percent for food. The rest were spent for her gambling addiction.
     I was eighteen when she died, and at the same year, Marc, and I got married, probably hoping that he could patch up the holes of my life.
     I was foolish.
     I finally reach the office and notice that something is different in it today. It seems darker than the usual, and noisier too, ah, the buzzing sound of the useless office conversation. Gossip here, gossip there. They never get tired, don't they? As if there is no work to be accomplished today? I turn the computer on and go online. The phone starts ringing, and my head starts to spin. A sharp pain stings the right lobe of my brain. My skull is extremely hurting. I grab my bag and frantically search for paracetamol. I see my flu tablet and my birth control pills, but not my paracetamol. There's only an empty box. God, it's empty! What am I going to do?
     Someone taps my shoulder to my surprise. I turn to see who it is. It is Riza, one of my Filipino colleagues. "Hey, are you alright Lily? Your phone is ringing-"
     "Have you got some paracetamol? Any pain reliever of some sort? I need a thousand milligram, please," I desperately ask. I don't usually speak with her. Not because I am busy, but because she is not the type of person I want to be friend with. Not to be racist or anything, I mean she speaks good English, is pretty and smart, but I just feel uncomfortable around her - like she does not belong here. I couldn't tell why.
     "Yes, I have. Hold on." She rummaged her cheap looking orange bag, and after a while hands me a new box of paracetamol. "I keep that just in case, but don't take too much. It's not good for you."
     I grab the box and immediately, like an addict, take two tablets. I drink my cup of cold water from yesterday's refill. "Thank you!" I hand the remaining pills back to her.
     "I'll take your call for now. How about you log out first-"
     "No!" I suddenly raise my voice. "No, please. I'm okay."
     "But you don't seem well. Your nose is bleeding!" She is panicking now, handing me several facial tissues.
     "What?" The whole office overheard our conversation. A lot of them rush to my desk, including our supervisor, Maria. She insists that I take the day off. "I swear I am okay."
     "Lily, just take a day off. It will be fine. You have a lot of unused leave so take one. You badly need one right now." She helps me call a taxi and even comes with me to the lobby. "Are you sure you don't want to go to a hospital right now? Your nose bleeding, is that normal?" I like our supervisor, Maria. She is from London, and she is tall, beautiful and seem smart. I don't think we have talked in the past. I made a mental note that tomorrow when I go back to work, I will try to befriend her. I just hope she does not meddle in what's happening to me right now. My head is still pounding like my nerves are going burst any second from now.
     "It happened to me before," I lied. "I just feel hot with this weather."
     "It's not even thirty degrees outside. Nevertheless, rest for now. I need to go back to the office." She gave me a friendly squeeze in my left arm. "Well, here comes the taxi."
     "Thank you, Maria." I bid her goodbye.
     It starts raining. I try looking at the window, distract myself with people in the streets to ease the pain my head. The driver is old, with gray hair and a gray mustache. He is wearing a blue polo shirt and a pair of brown pants. 90's music plays in the background, and he speaks in his walkie talkie every ten seconds. The walkie talkie gives this annoying sound static sounds which make me dizzier. I told the driver to turn it off, and he just looks at me like I'm crazy. "Please, shut it down, I'm having terrible headaches!" I am agitated this time.
     "This is how I know the traffic on the road, you know. I can't simply shut it down, miss!" the driver's croaky voice said.
      "You better shut it down, or you're going to regret it," I warned. In the end, he finally agreed. Good for him, or I swear I am going out of this taxi and will not pay him a cent.
     I look back at the window. The past few days were gloomy like today. Traffic jam is inevitable. People are rushing, squeezing themselves in their umbrellas, walking on the narrow streets of Hong Kong. They look paramount when the truth is we are all the same. We are all trying to keep afloat despite the strong currents of life. Take for example this guy wearing a black suit and tie, talking on his mobile phone while snatching a cab from this poor woman who was the first in line. He feels that his affairs are more valuable than the woman who was wearing a pretty dress. It was as if he is going to save the world, but in reality, he just closed a deal which means he fooled another person again. A professional crook in expensive suits, that's what he is. And that dumb quiet girl who got snatched a taxi will do nothing because she thinks the same - that she's worthless. She allows it to happen and will rationalize her actions to being just nice. She is nice even if everyone around her is fucking her up. She will let it go because she is both an idiot and a sweet girl. Nice.
     The driver drops me in front of our the building, where Marc and I have been living over a year now. I loathed the grubby lobby and the snobbish guard who never press the elevator to go down when people need it the most. The guards just sit there listening to the news. They get paid for nothing. I wait for two minutes just for the elevator to go down from the 22nd floor to ground floor. My head is throbbing with pain again, this time more severe. I hold the rail to keep myself balanced. I promise that I will go to sleep right away once I reach home. Rizza's paracetamols are useless!
    I am barely holding up when I reach the elevator. I told you the guard is pointless. If I would have been a guard in my second life, I will be sensitive to people like me. But this guard, no! He continues turning the pages of his newspaper which let out a crisp sound that is infuriating. The shaky elevator is now on its way to our 10th floor where our flat is. It feels like forever!
     The door opens, and I walk out of it. Now, where are my keys? I look for it in my bag. My vision is getting blurry by the moment. Bed, I need my bed! Ah, got the keys! I insert it to the keyhole and turn the knob in great haste. The darkness of the room greets me. The only light is coming from the gloomy weather outside the window. Is Marc home? Ours is a studio flat where at one look, you can see what is inside. The small kitchen that can fit only one person, the toilet with its closed doors, the pantry cabinet where we put our food, the white table where we eat, the computer table, a container where our clothes are, and there by the window is the bed. And there's Marc - covered in a blanket, fast asleep. Hmm, I thought he needs to work today? What is he doing here?
     I drop my bag as quiet as a mouse. I don't want to wake Marc up. I wash my hands and get myself a glass of water. Afterward, I slip myself inside the blanket where he is. I look at his serene face, eyes with long lashes and furrowed brows - probably having some bad dreams. Now that I lay my head on the soft pillow, I am feeling much better. The headache's gone. I feel comfortable. I put my arms around Marc's hips, drawing myself closer to him. His shirt is wet, though. His body feels cold, but his shirt is soaking wet. He smells like a rusting iron. I open my eyes to have a look. He needs to change his clothes. And that smell is unbearable.! "Hey, babe. Wake up. You need to-"
     Oh my gosh! Is this blood? I remove the blanket and there! Marc is soaking in his blood. I scream as loud as I can to wake him up. I shove him hard, but he remains unmoved. He is not breathing anymore! He is dead... Marc is dead.
     I feel so angry and sad. I don't deserve this. I have nothing but faithful to him. I clean the house, I cook the food, I do everything. He can't just cheat on me. I wipe the tears from my eyes. I stand up and walk to the kitchen. I open the lower cabinet where I hid my newly purchase knife. I got it at a discounted price at the department store, and the staff told me this is the sharpest meat knife out there. I carefully took it from the bubble wrap. It smells of metal and newness. I turn around and look at him, quietly, peacefully asleep one more time. 

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