Back in Santa Barbara - Eleven


I gently knocked on his door the next evening. I was hoping he wouldn't open it, that he was already asleep. I could have postponed this conversation until tomorrow, on the last day he would leave. I wanted to be the one to decide and tell me, rather than Chris deciding because I asked to. I had this box sitting in my hands, a Christmas gift for Chris, that I better give tonight or I may not have the chance. 

He came out with a white towel wrapped around his waist. His hair and shoulders still wet from the shower. “Come in. I was just changing.” He pulled the door open and let me in. I proceeded straight to the bed and sat there. The room looked tidy as if he had not slept here. He continued browsing his few stacks of folded clothes. I watched him for a while until he found what he was looking for. When he finally had this shirt on, he turned to me. “What do you have in there? You want to know my advice on your monita?” 
“No, I don't need advice on Christmas gifts, though I must admit, it was a struggle looking one for you. This one is actually for you.” His face looked confused. He grabbed his short and wore it while digesting what I just said. 
“Huh? I don't understand. Are you going somewhere?” 
“I bought you an early gift.” He closed the cabinet door and sat beside me in bed. We both looked at the red box wrapped in a satin green ribbon. I gathered my remaining courage and handed the gift to him. “Here you go.” 
“Do you want me to open it now?” 
“Yes, please.” He shook the box to his ear guessing what the box contains. "It's not light, not heavy either. Is it something round?" He gave up guessing, and he carefully removed the ribbon and tore the wrapper. It showed a black box. He read the familiar brand name written in gold in front. He looked strangely at me. He opened the box, and a silver watch gleamed inside it. 
“But why?” 
I nervously played the bedsheet with my fingers, trying to form a sensible design. I was trying to find the right words, even if I did practice what I would say. “It’s my way of saying thank you for coming into my life, that I treasure each and every moment we spent together." He didn't comment so I continued, "I want you to know that you don’t need to worry about me, in case you need to go back to your world. That I don't mind, and I will completely understand.” 
“Felicia, what are you talking about?” 
“Carlotta told me about the fifty days, that you still can go back to your world until the twentieth. Gordo is here for no reason. He is here to pick you up. And I want you to know that I am okay with all that.” He sat beside me. 
“No one’s leaving, Felicia.” 
“You don’t know how human beings work, Chris." 
"I have lived here for some time too! You can't tell me I don't know about you. I am one of you now." 
"Living here for the rest of your life would ruin you. You’ll die!” I stood up exasperated. “Damn it. I have not even told you that I love you because I am still not sure!” 
“We don’t need to figure this out right now.” He was trying to calm me down, but I was a volcano exploding. 
“Oh God, we do! Tomorrow’s the twentieth! You’ll need to leave tomorrow! Go back to your world tomorrow.” I raised my voice higher this time. 
"I don't understand why it seemed so easy for you to chase me away. Are my efforts not enough? Goodness, I found a job! I went here with you. I don't care whether you'll decide to leave me later. I'm willing to risk everything, can't you see? What I have is now and you and this! Let's not make this complicated." 
"This is the reality, Chris. You can’t bet your life on me. If in case you chose me for the rest of your life, I don’t want to pressure myself to love you forever!" This time with my last words, he looked hurt. His lips mouthed some words, but he didn’t say anything. He sat up and stared at me. “You need to save yourself from me. It’s been two months, and still, I have not figured out ‘us’ yet. I’m sorry I can’t love you, Chris." 
"I can’t believe you judged my decision already. You have been counting the days until the day to let me go.” He stood up and stepped to the door. “You don’t need to say sorry,” he added before closing the door behind him. Tears streamed from my eyes. 

Outside the room, I could hear Gordo’s voice asking ‘What about Felicia?’. I didn’t hear Chris’ reply, just the bang of the main door downstairs. A pang of pain swallowed me. It traversed from my heart to the stomach. I grabbed the pillow and wallowed as silent as I could. 

I opened my eyes and blinked for a couple of times. The sunlight shone through the partially opened curtain. A cold breeze coming from the window enveloped me which made me grab the blanket tightly towards me. I looked around. It was not my room. At the thought of it, the pandora’s box opened and monsters who were trying to swallow me whole last night until I fell asleep were now back with a vengeance. This time, however, I didn’t let it get me. I stood up and fixed the bed. Chris and Gordo are probably back downstairs. And everything would be fine, perhaps normal. If he’s downstairs, we would have a calmer talk over coffee, and I would bid him a proper goodbye. I slowly went down to the living room which was surprisingly quiet. Ising would not back until after Christmas which explained why the kitchen was bare. I walked around the house until I reached the guest room where Gordo was supposed to be staying. His clothes were still there, but he’s nowhere in sight. 

They didn’t come back last night. Where could they be? Did they leave for good? I heated the kettle filled with water for a cup of coffee. Suddenly, I was all alone. I was on my own, once again. 

Humans destroy each other, and I didn't want it to happen to Chris. Or to us. I would be strong to handle this. It was not the first time my heart gets what it deserves - broken. I managed Richard, why not Chris? I would be okay. I was back in Santa Barbara, my home. I could start to establish myself again and reach my dreams. The kettle whistled, and I turned the stove off. The sound of pouring coffee over a cup echoed in the kitchen. 

A mystery that I couldn’t help but think was, if I don’t love him, then why do I feel so hurt?

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