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Second Chance by Victoria Tan

Short story By: VictoriaTan24
Romance



I had seen that face before. Suddenly I remembered. I turned pale with shock. It couldn't be, he's dead! We buried him!


Submitted:Apr 2, 2013    Reads: 133    Comments: 0    Likes: 1   


Second Chance

I had seen that face before. Suddenly I remembered. I turned pale with shock. It couldn't be, he's dead! We buried him!

Adam did not seem to notice as he pushed the supermarket trolley along the aisle leaving me standing there. I couldn't take my eyes off him. I stared and stared as though willing him to turn to face me to prove that it is not him. He did not turn to face me but replacing a box of cheese from the shelf and sharing a secret joke with the teenage girl with him, I could see his face from many angles. I have heard of people with very similar facial features that made them look like siblings. But surely no two people in this world are identical. His hair is in that familiar style that he liked to call it 'rockstar look'. He looks about the same height. And when he smiled at the girl beside him, I almost stopped breathing. That smile that almost got the entire school talking, that made all his female school-mates, even the teachers say "it could make everyone melt."

Adam called out to me to catch up. Given his impatience, he would be yelling at me in no time if I did not remove myself from that rooted spot. I peeled myself away thinking if I should tell Adam about seeing someone who looked so much like him but he would have grabbed a leg of ham from the ham counter and whack me with it and ask me to get a grip on myself before I go mad again. When I reached out for his arm, he jerked it away to show his irritation at me. I believed that look on my face then stopped his scolding when he wanted to open his mouth to rant at me. His eyes questioned, what's wrong? But I couldn't find my tongue to reply him. I stabbed the air with a weak finger in the other direction. Just then, the boy walked with the girl at his arm toward our direction. I couldn't turn my head in that direction but I was sure Adam saw him and shared my fear. He froze.

Adam got hold of himself real quickly as he pushed the trolley out of his way, grabbed my arm and marched out of the supermarket. We walked without turning back, all the way to the car park. His grip on me was getting tighter. I liked to think he is protective of me this way though I know he was more afraid of me telling on him. When we reached the car, his right hand remained as tight as ever as he tried to fish out his car keys from his left jeans pocket.

He sped all the way home.

That evening, I took out the pizza from the microwave. I had no mood to cook anything and Adam seemed in a foul state so I decided to heat up the frozen pizza from two days ago. I tried not to look at Adam, scared that he will go into one of his fits and start to beat me to death. So I left the pizza on the dining table and went to the room to change my clothes. None of us could talk to each other. When I emerged from the room to find him gorging down the pizza, I was surprised. "Eat," he said, "We have work to do later."

I was puzzled and wanted to ask but thought the better so I sat down opposite him and reach for a slice of pizza. Then, like lightning, his hand was like a mouse trap on my hand squeezing and twisting it, making my body turn in unison in an awkward way to lessen the pain. "Adam, stop! You are hurting me!"

"You saved him, didn't you?" He eyed me.

"No! Why would you say that? We buried him. Together." I protested, getting weaker by the pain from the way he twisted my arm.

"You might turn back after we left. After all, we left separately."

"Adam, don't be unreasonable. There is no way I could go back at that time."

As though what I said had struck a point that was convincing to him. He released my arm but his glaring eyes did not leave me. He doesn't trust me at all. He forced me to commit a murder together with him, and he doesn't trust me because he had forced me to.

Adam was Fred's first case. Fred and I were just fresh graduates just out from the university, excited about getting our first job. We had everything planned then, work for two years, look for a suitable house and get married. We were madly in love. Fred has an unbelievingly kind heart. He was always kind, to the beggar on the street, to a lost kitten, to our abandoned neighbour whose wife and ran away with a furniture delivery man. Naturally, we all had thought that being a councillor would suit Fred like a glove. But he was too helpful, especially to Adam. He got too personal and involved with this case that everything went out of control.

I met Adam when I walked into Fred's office to pick him up for dinner. Just then, Adam was hollering at Fred at the top of his lungs while Fred was trying to calm him down. The door was opened and all of the other councellors were staring unashamedly inside. I was upset that my Fred being shouted at and more so at his fellow colleagues who did not offer to help. So I marched into Fred's room just when Adam was turning around to walk out. We bumped into each other and I remembered my shoulder hurt a lot because Adam is a tall and muscular person. Adam did not mouth a word of apology. Instead, he stopped for a second to glare at me when stormed out the front door.

Fred was clearly upset at that scene, to have me watch him crumble under another person's words. Fred was passionate about this job and there was no way, I could stand by and do nothing to help him. So after teaching my last class the next day, I went to the nearby billiard salon to search for Adam. I knew he would be there after I secretly read Fred's notes about him. Adam was 20 years old, exactly the same age as Fred and I. Perhaps, Fred was given this case by his manager because he assumed that it would be easier for Adam to get help from someone his age.

I found Adam smoking cocaine at the back alley of the billiard salon with three other boys and a girl who looked like she was barely 15 years old. Trying hard not to show any fear, I went up to him and tried to talk to him, nicely at first, then later, I started to scold him. Adam ignored me, probably too high on his trip to even notice me. The other boys looked at me and laughed while the girl looked like she was choking on something.

I had no idea how I would have gotten hook on something I hated all my life. Many times, I think back and thought how different things would have been if I had not taken my first puff of cocaine. Perhaps I wouldn't have had the guts to venture into heroin with Adam, perhaps I would have been happily married to Fred, maybe even a mother now, living with Fred and our kids in our dream house.

That night, Adam and I lay awake on our bed. I tried to touch him, to show him my love, that I will always be with him and to give him what was left of my strength and in turn, hopefully to be able to receive some sort of consolation from him. He responded to my caressing, turning his body toward me, my lips sort his. We kissed slowly at first but his kisses got harder. I pushed myself backwards to grasp for air but he came crashing down on me. Without even bothering to take off his boxers, he climbed on top of me, one hand grabbing ferociously at my breast and squeezed them so hard, I thought some animal was clawing my body into pieces. He pulled my panties aside and charged into me. Harder and harder as though I was some whore he needed to bang the life out of. I grabbed his arm and yelled at him to stop. He didn't. I used my knees to push him away but his fingernails dug deep into my breasts and I screamed out in pain. I was hurting all over. But the part that hurt most, was my heart.

When he was done, he rolled over to his side of the bed leaving me bruised and battered like a dying animal. I wept but softly fearing he would hear and torture me again. In a few minutes, I heard his steady breathing and knew that he has fallen asleep.

I could have gotten caught if not for Ally, my fellow teaching colleague who tried time and time again to cover up for me. She prepared my teaching materials when I was too high to do anything. She marked my papers for me and even told lies to the school principal that I was suffering a miscarriage when I couldn't attend our yearly appraisal meeting. While I was struggling with my addiction, Adam always hung out at the back alley of the billiard salon banging away some young drop out. Once, he was out late. Scared that he might have been caught by the cops on the way to buy some dope, I rushed out to find him. After asking a few of his friends, I found him raping a teenage girl who was obviously too high to know what was happening to her. I tried to stop him but got a beating from him afterwards. Adam had always lay his hands on me especially when I was pissing him off when he was high. But this time, his friends, Bob and Randall had to stop him before I was beaten to death.

They brought me to the hospital where I was told I had two broken ribs, a fractured arm (probably from the shielding of the billiard cue he treat to bash my head with) and bruises so painful, I couldn't open my mouth to talk. Adam was charged with assault and sentenced to two years in jail. I took the time to heal and kick my addiction with Ally's help.

The principal was kind. He took me back when I had recovered but not before going through some counseling which I always find excuses not to go. I couldn't go and face someone like Fred who had always tried his best to help someone and got nothing in return. Ally stepped in as counsellor and cared for me in ways that I know I could never repay her. Even when I met Kacey, Ally was our messenger.

The next day, I woke up and saw that Adam has left the house. Feeling hungry, I went into the kitchen to search for something to ease my hunger. On the way to there, I saw Adam slumped over the coach tripping and some needles on the floor. I bend down over the needles to find if he had left one for me. He didn't. I reach up to stroke his hair which has gotten oily from days of not showering. His face looked loving and serene as though he was in a deep sleep. I couldn't explain my contempt of him but I could tell the world how much I love this man; more than Fred, more than Kacey.


Kacey was a transfer student from another country. His father was transferred here to take care of some working matters which will take a few years and he has taken his son with him. On Kacey's first day in school, he looked out of place in class with his blonde hair and blue-green eyes. All the girls gorged over him while all the boys stared. He has this funky hair style that sticks out in all directions just like the latest superstars and some boys in school. But none could wear that hair style as good as Kacey. He was very tall, about a head taller than me. He has a nice build and later I saw that he plays basketball like a pro. What was most amazing about this young man was his smile. When he puts it on, one could not help but feel ashamed that one's smile isn't as dashing as his. Even Ally told me how lucky I was to be able to teach this new student.

I couldn't recall how Kacey and I started our secret relationship. Perhaps the drugs have marred my memories of him. It was also difficult for me to remember Fred's face, only his scent when he walks out of the bathroom and the dark-blue shirt I bought him which he loved so much.

"It's a risk you'll have to take." said Ally when she found out that what she has suspected was true.

"I don't know, Ally. He is so much younger than me, but so much more mature in a way that I cannot describe." I said weakly.

Ally patted my arm and said with so much sympathy, I had thought she was some angel God had sent down to protect and feel sorry for me. "If you want to pass some messages to him during school, I can help you do it. And you guys can use my house for the weekends, since I am always at Paul's" And that was it, Kacey and I used notes and letters to communicate to each other in school. During classes, he was the smart, goody student and I was the teacher who just taught. It was hard not to notice his smile at some of the female students and how I would shout at him later at Ally's that I didn't like it. He would then take me in his arms and whisper how I am the only woman he loved and how those teenager girls couldn't even be compared to me.

I was clean and did not touch drugs for the entire year that Kacey and I were together. That entire year, we moved about secretly and discreetly along the streets and in school. But when we were behind closed doors in Ally's house, we made love the whole day as though it would be the last for us. With Fred, it was experimental and clumsy. With Adam, it was hungry yet satisfying. With Kacey, it was sweet and disturbing, like waking up from a dream when it was over and feeling upset that you couldn't remember all of it.

He would kiss all parts of my body and tell me he had already stamped me with his brand and that I could never turn to another man. I laughed as I looked into his eyes and thought how could a creature so handsome and angelic be in my arms, am I not someone too wracked to be given such a gift? Sometime, he seemed to be able to hear the words in my head because when we lie naked on Ally's carpet, he would leaned his head on my breast and say that he was actually sent from God to show me how much I was loved. Then slowly, inching his face towards mine, he would kiss me softly on my eyelids. As I closed my eyes, he moved lower and lower until I could feel him inside me. With a rhythmic motion, he thrust himself towards me again and again until I could feel myself experiencing a different kind of high. Making it more enjoyable for me, he would sometimes lean downwards and kiss and lick my breasts gently. After he came, he moved downwards and lifted my legs higher, taking in all of my body and passion into his mouth and I would sigh with delight.

Adam was released from jail just when Kacey was about to return to his country. I was reading the internet on how to obtain a visa to go over with him when I heard my door knock. Seeing Adam again, now healthier, gained some weight with a shorter hair cut was like a seeing another person. At that moment, I had not realised that two years had already passed. I had made a point to visit him in jail but I did not keep to it. As I stood at the opened door, I felt a sense of longing. A longing for what? I was happy then with Kacey and I had been clean for two whole years. I couldn't explain. It was like in my sub-conscious I was actually waiting for him to return. Memories of him had not been erased; it was just chucked somewhere while I take my life to a different direction. He hugged me tight and sobbed like a child asking me for forgiveness, begging me to take him back. I wept and later sobbed loudly as I embraced him; my arms moving up and down his back, feeling every part of him and myself coming back to reality. I pulled his face till it met mine and told him yes.

I couldn't tell Adam about Kacey, nor Kacey about Adam. Kacey knew a little of my junkie days but not in details. I continued to use Ally to pass messages to Kacey in those last few days of school and come weekend, I told Kacey that Ally's parents would be in town and we couldn't use her house. Adam has now moved in with me and there was risk that sometimes when Kacey cycle past, he would see another man walking out from my house. The last thing I wanted was to hurt this boy. Adam felt me aloof and tried to probe. I brushed it off as being tired from teaching and marking papers. Adam was not convinced. When there was no avoiding Kacey any further, I lied to Adam that I would be away in teaching camp for the weekend and hope against hopes that he would not find me in Ally's house. Ally had also given me her word that she would not breathe a word about my weekend escapades to Adam.

"What are you going to do now?" she asked, concerned.

"I really don't know, Ally." I replied, feeling helpless and defeated.

"You need to go away with Kacey as soon as you can." Ally suggested and proceeded to draw up and plan for Kacey and me to leave the country soon. In school, I passed a note to Kacey telling him about how I should go over to his country earlier to have more time to settle down and get a job. He wrote back saying he thought the same. Perhaps he was tired of being in secret for so long.

There was still one week of school left before the term closes. Kacey persuaded his father that missing one last week of school would not make any difference. His father agreed. We decided that Kacey and I would go over first to find a place for me to stay. His father would join him after a few weeks when his work here is finished. All the time, I kept this secret from Adam, doing my research with the school computer or sometimes, asking Ally to help me.

Alas, the preparation was all in vain. Adam's friend saw Kacey and I giving each other a swift hug at a back alley of the library where Kacey was supposed to be returning some books and I happened to pass by from the supermarket. Adam confronted me and I blamed myself for doing such a stupid thing with Kacey in broad daylight. I cursed Adam's friend silently when I argued that Adam's friend was seeing things, that I did not pass by the back alley at that time of the day. The argument was getting us nowhere and Adam saw that I was no backing down from it, he left the house and did not come back till morning. When I woke up to get dress to go to school, I saw that he has gotten back to his old ways. He tried to get a job since his release but all he got were rejections. I had also asked Ally if she could help Adam get a job but similarly, no one wants to employ an ex-convict.

I saw the fresh punctured hole on his forearm. My heart was filled with sorrow and pain. At that moment, I realised that I could be ruining his life if I left with Kacey. I wrote to Kacey a long letter, bearing to him my relationship with Adam. In school, I held on to the letter, procrastinating if I should hand it over to Ally to pass it to him. And when I did, it was done with the utmost regret and pain.

Kacey came banging on my door when I avoided him in school. Adam was asleep upstairs probably tripping and I did not want Kacey to wake him up. So I tried to ask Kacey to leave and talk somewhere else. Kacey insisted he confront Adam and to my horror, he shot past me and ran up the stairs, opening doors to find Adam.

"Stop! Kacey!" I protested, my heart jumping out of my body.

I raced up behind Kacey, pulling at his shirt to stop him and when he found Adam in my bedroom, he stormed over to jerk him out of bed. Adam woke with shock but was quick to find out who Kacey was.

"So you are the bastard who has been sleeping with my wife!" Adam thundered, yanking Kacey's grip off his shirt.

"So you are the bastard trying to steal my wife." replied Kacey before throwing a punch into Adam's face.

Adam was larger in size and stronger. Those two years in jail, he did not touch drugs and was working at the gym in jail. The punch that Kacey gave him was like a child drumming painlessly at an adult. Adam pushed Kacey away so hard, Kacey backed into the door in front of me. I took this chance to pull Kacey behind me which took Adam by surprise. I pleaded and pleaded in my sobs to Adam to spare Kacey all the time, holding a hand up to him and another holding Kacey in place behind me. I backed away from Adam pushing Kacey further out to the corridor. But both of them were determined to get me out of the way. Adam succeeded by grabbing my hair and swung me to the wall. My head hit the wall and I felt dizzy. My legs gave way, I slumped to the floor.

Kacey shrieked out loud and charged at Adam with all his might, hitting him in all directions. I looked up, still dizzy, still desperately trying to save Kacey. They fought past me, seeing my chance, I grabbed on to Adam's leg giving Kacey a chance to flee. But Kacey fought on and when Adam lifted his feet and kicked me in my head, Kacey was filled with rage. He punched harder and harder, taking blow after blow. Then suddenly, with a swift punch into his nose, Kacey collapsed onto the floor, lost his balance and rolled down the stairs. I tried to lift my hand to grab him who is so far away from me. "No!" I screamed.

I mustered all my strength, shoved Adam aside and ran down the stairs to Kacey. His body was twisted, he was bleeding from his nose and his eyes were closed.

"No, please God no." I pleaded. My hands were shaking, reaching out to touch him but I was afraid touching him would hurt him. I yelled out his name again and again, pushing out the thought that he is died out of my mind. Suddenly, rationality overcame me. Kacey needs an ambulance. He needs help straight away. I ran to grab the phone but a force threw me off backwards. When I landed on the floor, Adam's face appeared in front of me, "What are you thinking?"

"Help. He needs help. I need to call the ambulance." I cried out loud. Angry that Adam would ask such a stupid thing.

"Oh no, you don't." He stepped over my body, preventing me from getting up. I threw fists at his leg sobbing hard, asking him to get off me. But he would not barge.

"He's dead for all you know!" Adam yelled down at me.

"No, he's not!" Then he punched me. I winced in pain. And Adam continued to hammer his fists at me.

When I came to, he has already put Kacey's into his trunk. I lay there listening to his movements with disgust and misery. Then he walked up to me. I glared at him as though it was the only thing I could do to show him how much I hated him now. He pulled me up and dragged me into the car with him. I wanted to run away when he left to find a shovel in my storage room. But I had no strength left. Reporting him to the police would mean sending the man I love to jail once again.

What have I done? What have I done?

I did not tell Ally what happened. I couldn't bring myself to. When she asked about Kacey's disappearance, I fend ignorance and told her Kacey has left without me. I convinced her that he had told his father about us and his father disapproved us being together. A filial son, Kacey is, so he listen to his father and went back without me. I added that I tried to find Kacey to beg him to take me along with him and Adam found out and beat the hell out of me. I was too heart-broken and depressed and it showed on my face. So Ally was completely taken in.

I played with the bracelet on my wrist that Kacey has bought me from a jewellery shop. It was the only thing left I have of him besides my memory. But what happened at the supermarket was a mystery. I contemplated calling Ally to tell her but later chose not to. Ally is too simple and too kind to be pull into such a mess I've made. After what happened to Kacey, Adam went back to drugs. I had to put up with his violence and temper which caused both of us to drift further and further apart. Deep down, I know that we both still love each other very much. But that love has been covered by a layer of hatred and fear. We would dine out once in a while but all we talk about were what to order from the menu and what DVD to rent later.

Days passed and Adam and I never brought up the incident at the supermarket anymore. He continued with his junkie days while I continued to teach in school. Every morning, I'll leave some money on the table for him to buy his dope. His dosage, I've found out, has lessen. He seemed to be taking drugs to numb himself of the memory of the murder. Sometimes he forced himself on me. Other times, I woke up to see his soft face and the reason why I loved him so much and I would use his body to make me forget the past.

One day, the postman came and delivered a small parcel addressed to me. Adam was out buying dope and I just came home from school. I opened the parcel. The thing that greeted me gave me a shock so huge that I screamed and dropped it. The bracelet bounced out of the box and shone brightly. It was identical to the one Kacey has bought me. A note slipped out of the box as well and I recognised the handwriting.

"God sent me to show you how much you are loved... and MISSED."

My heart skipped fast. I walked over slowly, picked up the note and read the words again and again. "It couldn't be, It just couldn't be!" I said to myself. Kacey is dead. It must be a prank someone is playing on me. Maybe it is Ally. Maybe she has found out how Kacey was killed and came to play this trick on me.

A million thoughts ran through my mind, erasing the possibility that Kacey wasn't dead. But who could explain the face I know so well at the supermarket? And this bracelet. Suddenly, I felt dizzy and hobbled to the sofa to steady myself. I was trying to get a grip of everything when Adam came through the door soaked in perspiration.

"What's wrong?" I asked

"It's him." He panted. "I saw him. Jesus, it's him! He's not dead!"

"What? How? How could this be?"

"I don't know. I was sure I buried him. He was already dead. There shouldn't be a possibility he walked right out of the grave. But he was there. I was at the alley with Bob waiting for Randall to come with the dope. It was then I saw him. Walking out the back door of the billiard salon, he turned to me in his eerie smile. I fled. I just fled.

Adam collapsed on the sofa and started shaking. I moved over to him and touched his hand. Then I showed him the bracelet and the note that came in just now. For a minute, I was looking at his face change from shock to despair to anger. He grabbed the bracelet and the note and flung it across the room. Then he broke down. I held him there until he stopped crying and went to sleep.

I must have fallen asleep because when I woke up, Adam was gone. I looked at the clock and saw that it was in the wee hours of the morning. Suddenly, the doorbell rang and I jumped. I stood there frozen, thinking it might be Kacey. The doorbell rang again, twice this time, showing the person's urgency. I braced myself. If it's Kacey, I will face him and tell him how sorry I was. But when I opened the door, it wasn't Kacey, there were two police officers at my door.

They told me that Adam was dead. Someone found him at the back alley of the billiard salon, overdosed with heroin. I passed out.

When I woke up, I was at the hospital with Ally by my side. She looked worried and told me that the police officers took me there when I heard of Adam's death. When she saw how my face cringed up and was about to cry, she held me to her and I cried like a child.

What seemed like days passed. I cried then slept, then cried then slept again. I couldn't make out day from night because I was always in a state I could not control. After I was exhausted from crying, I fell asleep. When I woke up and could not bear that Adam has left me, I cried again. Ally came to see me every day. At first, she tried talking to me, consoling me with her words. When she realised that they don't work, she just sat beside me and held me.

One day, she came to me with a bag and told me that the hospital has permitted me to go home to recuperate and rest. I walked with her out of the hospital like a zombie, not feeling, not thinking. She held my hand and took me to her house. But I couldn't stand a minute in there looking at all the places in the house Kacey and I had once been. So Ally moved into my house and took care of me. But I didn't get any better. When she asked me to eat, I ate a little. When she switched on the TV, I wasn't watching it. When she read to me, I stared into space. Then she finally gave up and took me to see a psychiatrist.

Two months into my therapy, Ally saw some improvement in me, though I still refused to speak. I took this time to draw. I drew out Adam's face, Kacey's even Fred's and my parents'. Ally was happy to see me doing something instead of being a zombie. So she sat me down one day in my kitchen. While I ate the food she has cooked silently, she began her story.

Kacey wasn't dead after all. A couple had seen Adam burying him and when Adam left, they dug Kacey out and rushed him to the hospital. He was lucky for a few more minutes out there, he would have died. He suffered some bruises and the fall down the stairs and his leg broken. He hit his head hard on the stairs and so became unconscious. The couple saw Adam drove away in a car with a lady beside him, but since it was night and very dark, they could not make out the lady's face nor Adam's. The police questioned Kacey and he reported that he was robbed by a masked man. He requested the police refrained from reporting him being found for fear that the masked man might come for him again. And this, the police obliged.

Ally was surprised I was so composed after hearing her story. She touched my face, felt my forehead for temperature and asking if I was alright.

"I'm okay, Ally" I replied. Then I made an excuse to go bed early which she gladly took me to.

The next day, Ally was making breakfast for me when I woke up. Pancakes were my favourite. I smiled at her kindness and as I emerged at the kitchen doorway I found one more person there with her. He turned around to smile that sweet smile he always had at me. I felt like the entire world was spinning. I leaned on the doorway for support for fear my legs would give way. He was by my side in a flash pulling me to a chair while Ally rushed over to me a second later to ask if I was okay.

I rubbed my temples with my thumbs and closed my eyes. I dare not open them to face him. He took my hands into his and I felt his lips on them. Ally shoved a glass of milk into my face, asking me to drink something to make me feel better. I opened my eyes slightly without looking up and took a sip of the cold milk. Then he took this chance to hold my face in his hands and tilted my head up to see him.

Tears were pouring out of my eyes like rain when my face met his. Ally moved out of the kitchen to give us some private time. "Kacey isn't dead. Kacey isn't dead!" the voice called out in my head, "He's here. He's well and he's here!"

I allowed him to hold me as I sob my heart out into his chest, my hands tagging at his shirt. When I stopped and realised that it was for real, that Kacey has come back, he smiled once more and said, "God sent me to show you how much you are loved and missed." I looked up at his blue-green eyes and he held my hand out to put on the bracelet for me. When I had dropped it, I could not remember. What matters most is that I will make sure it is always on my wrist, telling me how much I am loved.

Second Chance

I had seen that face before. Suddenly I remembered. I turned pale with shock. It couldn't be, he's dead! We buried him!

Adam did not seem to notice as he pushed the supermarket trolley along the aisle leaving me standing there. I couldn't take my eyes off him. I stared and stared as though willing him to turn to face me to prove that it is not him. He did not turn to face me but replacing a box of cheese from the shelf and sharing a secret joke with the teenage girl with him, I could see his face from many angles. I have heard of people with very similar facial features that made them look like siblings. But surely no two people in this world are identical. His hair is in that familiar style that he liked to call it 'rockstar look'. He looks about the same height. And when he smiled at the girl beside him, I almost stopped breathing. That smile that almost got the entire school talking, that made all his female school-mates, even the teachers say "it could make everyone melt."

Adam called out to me to catch up. Given his impatience, he would be yelling at me in no time if I did not remove myself from that rooted spot. I peeled myself away thinking if I should tell Adam about seeing someone who looked so much like him but he would have grabbed a leg of ham from the ham counter and whack me with it and ask me to get a grip on myself before I go mad again. When I reached out for his arm, he jerked it away to show his irritation at me. I believed that look on my face then stopped his scolding when he wanted to open his mouth to rant at me. His eyes questioned, what's wrong? But I couldn't find my tongue to reply him. I stabbed the air with a weak finger in the other direction. Just then, the boy walked with the girl at his arm toward our direction. I couldn't turn my head in that direction but I was sure Adam saw him and shared my fear. He froze.

Adam got hold of himself real quickly as he pushed the trolley out of his way, grabbed my arm and marched out of the supermarket. We walked without turning back, all the way to the car park. His grip on me was getting tighter. I liked to think he is protective of me this way though I know he was more afraid of me telling on him. When we reached the car, his right hand remained as tight as ever as he tried to fish out his car keys from his left jeans pocket.

He sped all the way home.

That evening, I took out the pizza from the microwave. I had no mood to cook anything and Adam seemed in a foul state so I decided to heat up the frozen pizza from two days ago. I tried not to look at Adam, scared that he will go into one of his fits and start to beat me to death. So I left the pizza on the dining table and went to the room to change my clothes. None of us could talk to each other. When I emerged from the room to find him gorging down the pizza, I was surprised. "Eat," he said, "We have work to do later."

I was puzzled and wanted to ask but thought the better so I sat down opposite him and reach for a slice of pizza. Then, like lightning, his hand was like a mouse trap on my hand squeezing and twisting it, making my body turn in unison in an awkward way to lessen the pain. "Adam, stop! You are hurting me!"

"You saved him, didn't you?" He eyed me.

"No! Why would you say that? We buried him. Together." I protested, getting weaker by the pain from the way he twisted my arm.

"You might turn back after we left. After all, we left separately."

"Adam, don't be unreasonable. There is no way I could go back at that time."

As though what I said had struck a point that was convincing to him. He released my arm but his glaring eyes did not leave me. He doesn't trust me at all. He forced me to commit a murder together with him, and he doesn't trust me because he had forced me to.

Adam was Fred's first case. Fred and I were just fresh graduates just out from the university, excited about getting our first job. We had everything planned then, work for two years, look for a suitable house and get married. We were madly in love. Fred has an unbelievingly kind heart. He was always kind, to the beggar on the street, to a lost kitten, to our abandoned neighbour whose wife and ran away with a furniture delivery man. Naturally, we all had thought that being a councillor would suit Fred like a glove. But he was too helpful, especially to Adam. He got too personal and involved with this case that everything went out of control.

I met Adam when I walked into Fred's office to pick him up for dinner. Just then, Adam was hollering at Fred at the top of his lungs while Fred was trying to calm him down. The door was opened and all of the other councellors were staring unashamedly inside. I was upset that my Fred being shouted at and more so at his fellow colleagues who did not offer to help. So I marched into Fred's room just when Adam was turning around to walk out. We bumped into each other and I remembered my shoulder hurt a lot because Adam is a tall and muscular person. Adam did not mouth a word of apology. Instead, he stopped for a second to glare at me when stormed out the front door.

Fred was clearly upset at that scene, to have me watch him crumble under another person's words. Fred was passionate about this job and there was no way, I could stand by and do nothing to help him. So after teaching my last class the next day, I went to the nearby billiard salon to search for Adam. I knew he would be there after I secretly read Fred's notes about him. Adam was 20 years old, exactly the same age as Fred and I. Perhaps, Fred was given this case by his manager because he assumed that it would be easier for Adam to get help from someone his age.

I found Adam smoking cocaine at the back alley of the billiard salon with three other boys and a girl who looked like she was barely 15 years old. Trying hard not to show any fear, I went up to him and tried to talk to him, nicely at first, then later, I started to scold him. Adam ignored me, probably too high on his trip to even notice me. The other boys looked at me and laughed while the girl looked like she was choking on something.

I had no idea how I would have gotten hook on something I hated all my life. Many times, I think back and thought how different things would have been if I had not taken my first puff of cocaine. Perhaps I wouldn't have had the guts to venture into heroin with Adam, perhaps I would have been happily married to Fred, maybe even a mother now, living with Fred and our kids in our dream house.

That night, Adam and I lay awake on our bed. I tried to touch him, to show him my love, that I will always be with him and to give him what was left of my strength and in turn, hopefully to be able to receive some sort of consolation from him. He responded to my caressing, turning his body toward me, my lips sort his. We kissed slowly at first but his kisses got harder. I pushed myself backwards to grasp for air but he came crashing down on me. Without even bothering to take off his boxers, he climbed on top of me, one hand grabbing ferociously at my breast and squeezed them so hard, I thought some animal was clawing my body into pieces. He pulled my panties aside and charged into me. Harder and harder as though I was some whore he needed to bang the life out of. I grabbed his arm and yelled at him to stop. He didn't. I used my knees to push him away but his fingernails dug deep into my breasts and I screamed out in pain. I was hurting all over. But the part that hurt most, was my heart.

When he was done, he rolled over to his side of the bed leaving me bruised and battered like a dying animal. I wept but softly fearing he would hear and torture me again. In a few minutes, I heard his steady breathing and knew that he has fallen asleep.

I could have gotten caught if not for Ally, my fellow teaching colleague who tried time and time again to cover up for me. She prepared my teaching materials when I was too high to do anything. She marked my papers for me and even told lies to the school principal that I was suffering a miscarriage when I couldn't attend our yearly appraisal meeting. While I was struggling with my addiction, Adam always hung out at the back alley of the billiard salon banging away some young drop out. Once, he was out late. Scared that he might have been caught by the cops on the way to buy some dope, I rushed out to find him. After asking a few of his friends, I found him raping a teenage girl who was obviously too high to know what was happening to her. I tried to stop him but got a beating from him afterwards. Adam had always lay his hands on me especially when I was pissing him off when he was high. But this time, his friends, Bob and Randall had to stop him before I was beaten to death.

They brought me to the hospital where I was told I had two broken ribs, a fractured arm (probably from the shielding of the billiard cue he treat to bash my head with) and bruises so painful, I couldn't open my mouth to talk. Adam was charged with assault and sentenced to two years in jail. I took the time to heal and kick my addiction with Ally's help.

The principal was kind. He took me back when I had recovered but not before going through some counseling which I always find excuses not to go. I couldn't go and face someone like Fred who had always tried his best to help someone and got nothing in return. Ally stepped in as counsellor and cared for me in ways that I know I could never repay her. Even when I met Kacey, Ally was our messenger.

The next day, I woke up and saw that Adam has left the house. Feeling hungry, I went into the kitchen to search for something to ease my hunger. On the way to there, I saw Adam slumped over the coach tripping and some needles on the floor. I bend down over the needles to find if he had left one for me. He didn't. I reach up to stroke his hair which has gotten oily from days of not showering. His face looked loving and serene as though he was in a deep sleep. I couldn't explain my contempt of him but I could tell the world how much I love this man; more than Fred, more than Kacey.


Kacey was a transfer student from another country. His father was transferred here to take care of some working matters which will take a few years and he has taken his son with him. On Kacey's first day in school, he looked out of place in class with his blonde hair and blue-green eyes. All the girls gorged over him while all the boys stared. He has this funky hair style that sticks out in all directions just like the latest superstars and some boys in school. But none could wear that hair style as good as Kacey. He was very tall, about a head taller than me. He has a nice build and later I saw that he plays basketball like a pro. What was most amazing about this young man was his smile. When he puts it on, one could not help but feel ashamed that one's smile isn't as dashing as his. Even Ally told me how lucky I was to be able to teach this new student.

I couldn't recall how Kacey and I started our secret relationship. Perhaps the drugs have marred my memories of him. It was also difficult for me to remember Fred's face, only his scent when he walks out of the bathroom and the dark-blue shirt I bought him which he loved so much.

"It's a risk you'll have to take." said Ally when she found out that what she has suspected was true.

"I don't know, Ally. He is so much younger than me, but so much more mature in a way that I cannot describe." I said weakly.

Ally patted my arm and said with so much sympathy, I had thought she was some angel God had sent down to protect and feel sorry for me. "If you want to pass some messages to him during school, I can help you do it. And you guys can use my house for the weekends, since I am always at Paul's" And that was it, Kacey and I used notes and letters to communicate to each other in school. During classes, he was the smart, goody student and I was the teacher who just taught. It was hard not to notice his smile at some of the female students and how I would shout at him later at Ally's that I didn't like it. He would then take me in his arms and whisper how I am the only woman he loved and how those teenager girls couldn't even be compared to me.

I was clean and did not touch drugs for the entire year that Kacey and I were together. That entire year, we moved about secretly and discreetly along the streets and in school. But when we were behind closed doors in Ally's house, we made love the whole day as though it would be the last for us. With Fred, it was experimental and clumsy. With Adam, it was hungry yet satisfying. With Kacey, it was sweet and disturbing, like waking up from a dream when it was over and feeling upset that you couldn't remember all of it.

He would kiss all parts of my body and tell me he had already stamped me with his brand and that I could never turn to another man. I laughed as I looked into his eyes and thought how could a creature so handsome and angelic be in my arms, am I not someone too wracked to be given such a gift? Sometime, he seemed to be able to hear the words in my head because when we lie naked on Ally's carpet, he would leaned his head on my breast and say that he was actually sent from God to show me how much I was loved. Then slowly, inching his face towards mine, he would kiss me softly on my eyelids. As I closed my eyes, he moved lower and lower until I could feel him inside me. With a rhythmic motion, he thrust himself towards me again and again until I could feel myself experiencing a different kind of high. Making it more enjoyable for me, he would sometimes lean downwards and kiss and lick my breasts gently. After he came, he moved downwards and lifted my legs higher, taking in all of my body and passion into his mouth and I would sigh with delight.

Adam was released from jail just when Kacey was about to return to his country. I was reading the internet on how to obtain a visa to go over with him when I heard my door knock. Seeing Adam again, now healthier, gained some weight with a shorter hair cut was like a seeing another person. At that moment, I had not realised that two years had already passed. I had made a point to visit him in jail but I did not keep to it. As I stood at the opened door, I felt a sense of longing. A longing for what? I was happy then with Kacey and I had been clean for two whole years. I couldn't explain. It was like in my sub-conscious I was actually waiting for him to return. Memories of him had not been erased; it was just chucked somewhere while I take my life to a different direction. He hugged me tight and sobbed like a child asking me for forgiveness, begging me to take him back. I wept and later sobbed loudly as I embraced him; my arms moving up and down his back, feeling every part of him and myself coming back to reality. I pulled his face till it met mine and told him yes.

I couldn't tell Adam about Kacey, nor Kacey about Adam. Kacey knew a little of my junkie days but not in details. I continued to use Ally to pass messages to Kacey in those last few days of school and come weekend, I told Kacey that Ally's parents would be in town and we couldn't use her house. Adam has now moved in with me and there was risk that sometimes when Kacey cycle past, he would see another man walking out from my house. The last thing I wanted was to hurt this boy. Adam felt me aloof and tried to probe. I brushed it off as being tired from teaching and marking papers. Adam was not convinced. When there was no avoiding Kacey any further, I lied to Adam that I would be away in teaching camp for the weekend and hope against hopes that he would not find me in Ally's house. Ally had also given me her word that she would not breathe a word about my weekend escapades to Adam.

"What are you going to do now?" she asked, concerned.

"I really don't know, Ally." I replied, feeling helpless and defeated.

"You need to go away with Kacey as soon as you can." Ally suggested and proceeded to draw up and plan for Kacey and me to leave the country soon. In school, I passed a note to Kacey telling him about how I should go over to his country earlier to have more time to settle down and get a job. He wrote back saying he thought the same. Perhaps he was tired of being in secret for so long.

There was still one week of school left before the term closes. Kacey persuaded his father that missing one last week of school would not make any difference. His father agreed. We decided that Kacey and I would go over first to find a place for me to stay. His father would join him after a few weeks when his work here is finished. All the time, I kept this secret from Adam, doing my research with the school computer or sometimes, asking Ally to help me.

Alas, the preparation was all in vain. Adam's friend saw Kacey and I giving each other a swift hug at a back alley of the library where Kacey was supposed to be returning some books and I happened to pass by from the supermarket. Adam confronted me and I blamed myself for doing such a stupid thing with Kacey in broad daylight. I cursed Adam's friend silently when I argued that Adam's friend was seeing things, that I did not pass by the back alley at that time of the day. The argument was getting us nowhere and Adam saw that I was no backing down from it, he left the house and did not come back till morning. When I woke up to get dress to go to school, I saw that he has gotten back to his old ways. He tried to get a job since his release but all he got were rejections. I had also asked Ally if she could help Adam get a job but similarly, no one wants to employ an ex-convict.

I saw the fresh punctured hole on his forearm. My heart was filled with sorrow and pain. At that moment, I realised that I could be ruining his life if I left with Kacey. I wrote to Kacey a long letter, bearing to him my relationship with Adam. In school, I held on to the letter, procrastinating if I should hand it over to Ally to pass it to him. And when I did, it was done with the utmost regret and pain.

Kacey came banging on my door when I avoided him in school. Adam was asleep upstairs probably tripping and I did not want Kacey to wake him up. So I tried to ask Kacey to leave and talk somewhere else. Kacey insisted he confront Adam and to my horror, he shot past me and ran up the stairs, opening doors to find Adam.

"Stop! Kacey!" I protested, my heart jumping out of my body.

I raced up behind Kacey, pulling at his shirt to stop him and when he found Adam in my bedroom, he stormed over to jerk him out of bed. Adam woke with shock but was quick to find out who Kacey was.

"So you are the bastard who has been sleeping with my wife!" Adam thundered, yanking Kacey's grip off his shirt.

"So you are the bastard trying to steal my wife." replied Kacey before throwing a punch into Adam's face.

Adam was larger in size and stronger. Those two years in jail, he did not touch drugs and was working at the gym in jail. The punch that Kacey gave him was like a child drumming painlessly at an adult. Adam pushed Kacey away so hard, Kacey backed into the door in front of me. I took this chance to pull Kacey behind me which took Adam by surprise. I pleaded and pleaded in my sobs to Adam to spare Kacey all the time, holding a hand up to him and another holding Kacey in place behind me. I backed away from Adam pushing Kacey further out to the corridor. But both of them were determined to get me out of the way. Adam succeeded by grabbing my hair and swung me to the wall. My head hit the wall and I felt dizzy. My legs gave way, I slumped to the floor.

Kacey shrieked out loud and charged at Adam with all his might, hitting him in all directions. I looked up, still dizzy, still desperately trying to save Kacey. They fought past me, seeing my chance, I grabbed on to Adam's leg giving Kacey a chance to flee. But Kacey fought on and when Adam lifted his feet and kicked me in my head, Kacey was filled with rage. He punched harder and harder, taking blow after blow. Then suddenly, with a swift punch into his nose, Kacey collapsed onto the floor, lost his balance and rolled down the stairs. I tried to lift my hand to grab him who is so far away from me. "No!" I screamed.

I mustered all my strength, shoved Adam aside and ran down the stairs to Kacey. His body was twisted, he was bleeding from his nose and his eyes were closed.

"No, please God no." I pleaded. My hands were shaking, reaching out to touch him but I was afraid touching him would hurt him. I yelled out his name again and again, pushing out the thought that he is died out of my mind. Suddenly, rationality overcame me. Kacey needs an ambulance. He needs help straight away. I ran to grab the phone but a force threw me off backwards. When I landed on the floor, Adam's face appeared in front of me, "What are you thinking?"

"Help. He needs help. I need to call the ambulance." I cried out loud. Angry that Adam would ask such a stupid thing.

"Oh no, you don't." He stepped over my body, preventing me from getting up. I threw fists at his leg sobbing hard, asking him to get off me. But he would not barge.

"He's dead for all you know!" Adam yelled down at me.

"No, he's not!" Then he punched me. I winced in pain. And Adam continued to hammer his fists at me.

When I came to, he has already put Kacey's into his trunk. I lay there listening to his movements with disgust and misery. Then he walked up to me. I glared at him as though it was the only thing I could do to show him how much I hated him now. He pulled me up and dragged me into the car with him. I wanted to run away when he left to find a shovel in my storage room. But I had no strength left. Reporting him to the police would mean sending the man I love to jail once again.

What have I done? What have I done?

I did not tell Ally what happened. I couldn't bring myself to. When she asked about Kacey's disappearance, I fend ignorance and told her Kacey has left without me. I convinced her that he had told his father about us and his father disapproved us being together. A filial son, Kacey is, so he listen to his father and went back without me. I added that I tried to find Kacey to beg him to take me along with him and Adam found out and beat the hell out of me. I was too heart-broken and depressed and it showed on my face. So Ally was completely taken in.

I played with the bracelet on my wrist that Kacey has bought me from a jewellery shop. It was the only thing left I have of him besides my memory. But what happened at the supermarket was a mystery. I contemplated calling Ally to tell her but later chose not to. Ally is too simple and too kind to be pull into such a mess I've made. After what happened to Kacey, Adam went back to drugs. I had to put up with his violence and temper which caused both of us to drift further and further apart. Deep down, I know that we both still love each other very much. But that love has been covered by a layer of hatred and fear. We would dine out once in a while but all we talk about were what to order from the menu and what DVD to rent later.

Days passed and Adam and I never brought up the incident at the supermarket anymore. He continued with his junkie days while I continued to teach in school. Every morning, I'll leave some money on the table for him to buy his dope. His dosage, I've found out, has lessen. He seemed to be taking drugs to numb himself of the memory of the murder. Sometimes he forced himself on me. Other times, I woke up to see his soft face and the reason why I loved him so much and I would use his body to make me forget the past.

One day, the postman came and delivered a small parcel addressed to me. Adam was out buying dope and I just came home from school. I opened the parcel. The thing that greeted me gave me a shock so huge that I screamed and dropped it. The bracelet bounced out of the box and shone brightly. It was identical to the one Kacey has bought me. A note slipped out of the box as well and I recognised the handwriting.

"God sent me to show you how much you are loved... and MISSED."

My heart skipped fast. I walked over slowly, picked up the note and read the words again and again. "It couldn't be, It just couldn't be!" I said to myself. Kacey is dead. It must be a prank someone is playing on me. Maybe it is Ally. Maybe she has found out how Kacey was killed and came to play this trick on me.

A million thoughts ran through my mind, erasing the possibility that Kacey wasn't dead. But who could explain the face I know so well at the supermarket? And this bracelet. Suddenly, I felt dizzy and hobbled to the sofa to steady myself. I was trying to get a grip of everything when Adam came through the door soaked in perspiration.

"What's wrong?" I asked

"It's him." He panted. "I saw him. Jesus, it's him! He's not dead!"

"What? How? How could this be?"

"I don't know. I was sure I buried him. He was already dead. There shouldn't be a possibility he walked right out of the grave. But he was there. I was at the alley with Bob waiting for Randall to come with the dope. It was then I saw him. Walking out the back door of the billiard salon, he turned to me in his eerie smile. I fled. I just fled.

Adam collapsed on the sofa and started shaking. I moved over to him and touched his hand. Then I showed him the bracelet and the note that came in just now. For a minute, I was looking at his face change from shock to despair to anger. He grabbed the bracelet and the note and flung it across the room. Then he broke down. I held him there until he stopped crying and went to sleep.

I must have fallen asleep because when I woke up, Adam was gone. I looked at the clock and saw that it was in the wee hours of the morning. Suddenly, the doorbell rang and I jumped. I stood there frozen, thinking it might be Kacey. The doorbell rang again, twice this time, showing the person's urgency. I braced myself. If it's Kacey, I will face him and tell him how sorry I was. But when I opened the door, it wasn't Kacey, there were two police officers at my door.

They told me that Adam was dead. Someone found him at the back alley of the billiard salon, overdosed with heroin. I passed out.

When I woke up, I was at the hospital with Ally by my side. She looked worried and told me that the police officers took me there when I heard of Adam's death. When she saw how my face cringed up and was about to cry, she held me to her and I cried like a child.

What seemed like days passed. I cried then slept, then cried then slept again. I couldn't make out day from night because I was always in a state I could not control. After I was exhausted from crying, I fell asleep. When I woke up and could not bear that Adam has left me, I cried again. Ally came to see me every day. At first, she tried talking to me, consoling me with her words. When she realised that they don't work, she just sat beside me and held me.

One day, she came to me with a bag and told me that the hospital has permitted me to go home to recuperate and rest. I walked with her out of the hospital like a zombie, not feeling, not thinking. She held my hand and took me to her house. But I couldn't stand a minute in there looking at all the places in the house Kacey and I had once been. So Ally moved into my house and took care of me. But I didn't get any better. When she asked me to eat, I ate a little. When she switched on the TV, I wasn't watching it. When she read to me, I stared into space. Then she finally gave up and took me to see a psychiatrist.

Two months into my therapy, Ally saw some improvement in me, though I still refused to speak. I took this time to draw. I drew out Adam's face, Kacey's even Fred's and my parents'. Ally was happy to see me doing something instead of being a zombie. So she sat me down one day in my kitchen. While I ate the food she has cooked silently, she began her story.

Kacey wasn't dead after all. A couple had seen Adam burying him and when Adam left, they dug Kacey out and rushed him to the hospital. He was lucky for a few more minutes out there, he would have died. He suffered some bruises and the fall down the stairs and his leg broken. He hit his head hard on the stairs and so became unconscious. The couple saw Adam drove away in a car with a lady beside him, but since it was night and very dark, they could not make out the lady's face nor Adam's. The police questioned Kacey and he reported that he was robbed by a masked man. He requested the police refrained from reporting him being found for fear that the masked man might come for him again. And this, the police obliged.

Ally was surprised I was so composed after hearing her story. She touched my face, felt my forehead for temperature and asking if I was alright.

"I'm okay, Ally" I replied. Then I made an excuse to go bed early which she gladly took me to.

The next day, Ally was making breakfast for me when I woke up. Pancakes were my favourite. I smiled at her kindness and as I emerged at the kitchen doorway I found one more person there with her. He turned around to smile that sweet smile he always had at me. I felt like the entire world was spinning. I leaned on the doorway for support for fear my legs would give way. He was by my side in a flash pulling me to a chair while Ally rushed over to me a second later to ask if I was okay.

I rubbed my temples with my thumbs and closed my eyes. I dare not open them to face him. He took my hands into his and I felt his lips on them. Ally shoved a glass of milk into my face, asking me to drink something to make me feel better. I opened my eyes slightly without looking up and took a sip of the cold milk. Then he took this chance to hold my face in his hands and tilted my head up to see him.

Tears were pouring out of my eyes like rain when my face met his. Ally moved out of the kitchen to give us some private time. "Kacey isn't dead. Kacey isn't dead!" the voice called out in my head, "He's here. He's well and he's here!"

I allowed him to hold me as I sob my heart out into his chest, my hands tagging at his shirt. When I stopped and realised that it was for real, that Kacey has come back, he smiled once more and said, "God sent me to show you how much you are loved and missed." I looked up at his blue-green eyes and he held my hand out to put on the bracelet for me. When I had dropped it, I could not remember. What matters most is that I will make sure it is always on my wrist, telling me how much I am loved.





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