"Ha!" I threw a superior glance over my shoulder toward David.
"Just broke 2,500."
This little Mahjong tournament we were doing turned out to be a
nice way to get things back to normal. It took a while for that
look to totally abandon David's eyes, but he seemed like his
carefree self again. The only difference now was this top secret
mission that required him to be gone several hours in the day,
and that he became much more paranoid when he left. He made sure
to tell me to secure all the locks once he was gone, and he made
me promise not to open the door for anyone. Which just made me
more curious about what took place at that meeting of his. The
only scenario I could imagine was that there was some high terror
alert, but that idea didn't completely fit with his behavior and
attitude. As long as David seemed more normal though, I figured
it couldn't be so bad.
"No way," he said in disbelief, materializing beside me and
"You must have..." He stopped when I turned to find his face mere
inches from mine. Staring into his eyes, I knew that Mahjong was
suddenly the last thing on either of our minds.
After a few seconds, the distance separating us shrunk
considerably and I honestly wasn't sure which one of us moved or
if both of us had. I probably wouldn't have thought about it at
all had David not so abruptly restored the space between us
wearing that startled look and focusing on the computer monitor
in a glaringly obvious avoidance maneuver.
"You must have cheated." His tone was way off the mark from the
playful accusation he was probably going for, but I was just glad
that he couldn't see the embarrassment coloring my cheeks since
he seemed set on never tearing his eyes away from the screen
"Well, why don't you try and figure out how I did it then." I
didn't get anywhere near my usual banter tone either, but all I
could think about was putting more distance between us. I quickly
evacuated the chair and went to the window, anxious avoid this
just like we avoided every other awkward situation and act as if
I stared out the window without seeing anything, furious with
myself for all the typically feminine feelings that were suddenly
impossible to ignore. For the first time in my life, I felt
inadequate and I couldn't help wondering what I'd done wrong.
Common sense was telling me that it didn't matter. I didn't have
to prove myself worthy of David or anyone and that I hadn't done
anything wrong. But my wretched mind kept trying to pinpoint
something and I couldn't stop berating myself for the clearly
wrong assumption that David somehow shared my feelings.
Of course he didn't. Why would he? As far as he knows I'm nothing
special. I thought I liked the fact that according to him, I was
pretty average, but now I wasn't so sure.
One of the things I liked best about being around David was all
the new things I was able to feel - real friendship and genuine
acceptance with the possibility to be more. Freedom to be someone
totally different and of my own choosing. But this bitter taste
of rejection was something I could have lived without. It was
making me wonder if the rest of it was worth it. Maybe it was
smarter to keep people at a distance the way I had my whole life.
No emotional entanglements meant that no one could hurt you.
It was most assuredly best for my situation since I wouldn't be
able to stay here forever. Even though I had no earthly clue how,
I was going to have to leave David sooner or later. That alone
made it wise to keep things light and as uncomplicated as
possible with him.
Stuffing down the feelings as best I could, I decided to do an
actual assessment out the window before going to hide in the
bedroom for a while.
The streetlights provided enough illumination that the descending
darkness wasn't much of an issue as I hastily scanned the people
scattered down below.
Just as I was about to push away from the window, my eyes landed
on a lone figure, standing in the shadowy patch across the street
and my breath caught in my throat.
He was inconspicuous and I nearly missed him, just barely spying
the small briefcase at his feet. If not for my perfect vision, I
probably would have missed it entirely.
My fingers dug into the window ledge as I willed the man to lift
his head. Squinting into the near darkness, I saw that it wasn't
a cell phone in his hand the way I'd hoped. It was a small,
rectangular object I'd seen before. And he looked about ready to
press the button.
No, no, no! I propelled myself backwards, knocking the phone book
from the end table and sparing a quick glance toward David who
instinctively turned at the noise.
He couldn't be allowed to see what was about to happen! Who knows
what he would do?
Deciding that explanations could wait, I turned toward the
bedroom, but I knew I wouldn't make it in time.
Sure enough, before I could take more than two steps, I crumpled
to the floor, trying in vain to block out the assault on my ears.
I was aware of movement and that David was saying something, but
I wasn't able to focus on him in the slightest until the awful
noise subsided. Surprisingly it didn't take that long for that to
happen, but when it did, I knew before I even opened my eyes,
this was not going to be good.
David held me up by my arms and I reluctantly met his perplexed,
anxious gaze, allowing my hands to fall away from my ears.
He watched me for a minute before seeming to realize that I was
going to be as forthcoming as usual.
Before he could finish, it hit again and I hoped I was only
imagining screaming from the unexpected second round of torture.
When it stopped again, I opened my eyes trying to think of some
plausible excuse to give him, but I was surprised that he was no
longer in front of me.
To my complete horror, I saw that he was picking up the phone, no
doubt ready to call 911.
"NO!" I launched myself off the floor, ignoring the lingering
headache and hastily wobbled across the slightly spinning room.
David paused dialing long enough for me to reach him, but refused
to relinquish the phone.
"No, please," I begged. "I'm fine. You can't call anyone!"
"You call that fine?" He shouted, incredulous, trying to pry the
phone from my grasp.
"It's not a medical problem!" I feared that he would overpower me
and do it anyway. "They can't help! You'll only tell him where I
That made David seem less determined, but he clearly wasn't
convinced. "What is it then?"
"It's..." I hesitated, still not willing to share the truth but
unable to think of anything that would satisfy him.
"Tell me everything or I'm calling the paramedics."
When I only watched him helplessly and didn't respond, he tore
the phone away from me, ready to press the last button.
"Okay!" I cried. "I'll tell you! Just please don't."
He turned the phone off but my relief wasn't as great as it might
have been had that suspicious look not returned to his face.
I dropped my eyes, wondering where to start. I was stuck. David
finally reached his limit with me and I knew he wouldn't let it
go now. He was going to know if I tried to lie. That is, if I
could begin to think of a lie that would even make sense.
Making my way back to the window, I peeked outside and learned
that my nightmare was still down there. I wasn't sure if I'd
prefer it that way or not. At least I didn't have to wonder if he
was about to barge through the door. But it didn't bode well that
he didn't look lost. On the contrary, he seemed very relaxed and
sure he was in the right area. How long until he managed to
deduce my precise location?
David came up behind me and I turned to look at him. I was
grateful to see that his curiosity was greater than his suspicion
at this point.
"I'm not...normal." I decided to just get it out there. Beating
around the bush was never my thing anyway. The fact that David
didn't even crack a smile at my statement, spoke volumes about
how serious he was taking the situation.
I gestured for him to join me on the couch so I could organize my
thoughts, in hopes that this wouldn't sound completely insane.