I did not expect to see Eric Minsky waiting on my front porch step when I returned home. I didn't expect to see Eric, period. Eric with his designer attire and ostentatious appearance looked out of place in my dingy neighbourhood. He smelled good. That's how far my head could wrap around to why he was here. He smelled spicy blended with a mist of fruity scent. Orange scented cologne maybe? He always smelled good. That rich bastard.
Eric suddenly showing up at my doorstep was not surprising, if not slightly anticipated. I ran into him three weeks ago and retrieved our childhood memories at Starbucks after my mother was admitted in the hospital for the third time, like two old-aged friends meeting up after decades.
Except, Eric and I aren't friends. We never were. He was that jerk that found some odd pleasure in pulling down my skirt and laughing at my strawberry shortcake underwear in kindergarten, he was the idiot that taught me how to French kiss under the clichéd mistletoe on Christmas when we were ten, he was the asshole that tricked me into allowing him to grope a feel of my breasts over my bra at thirteen, he was the bastard that I got drunk with for the first time at fourteen. No, Eric and I weren't friends. Far from it.
We were sworn enemies. His father was a close friend of my dad until our family went bankrupt and killed himself by taking a bullet to his head in his office where I found him lifeless on my fifteenth birthday. My selfish father that left my mother and I to fend ourselves for the rest of our lives. After dad's death, we had no where to go. None of dad's friends or relatives bothered to help us. This world is filled with selfish, money minded rats. Generosity must not be expected from anyone.
Luckily, one of mom's old college friends rented us a cheap apartment in 57th avenue, downtown, which was filled with rat holes. 57th avenue is the kind of neighbourhood I would have never imagined myself living in until then. When I was ten, we were given an assignment in English on where we saw ourselves in twenty years. I filled in; Rich and famous in Hollywood. In much less than ten years from then, I was living poor and infamous in a ghetto neighbourhood.
At fifteen, I had to see my dead father lying in a pool of his own blood. At fifteen, I had to watch everything we owned taken away from us. At fifteen I had to leave all my friends and transfer to public school from one of the most prestigious private schools in Manhattan. At fifteen a lot of shit happened to me that was hard for me to deal with. Soon after my father's death, my mother had a mental breakdown. Whether it was because we went from rich to poor in a matter of few hours or our father's death, I don't know, but she went into depression, leaving me to take care of everything. It took her few months to come in terms with reality -that she was now a single parent with a teenage daughter who attracted inappropriate perverts. She put me in self-defence classes so I can fend myself, once she felt that she was stable enough to function and found work at a nearby boutique that paid decent enough for us to get on with life.
When I transferred from private school to public school, all my friends that I'd known since I could crawl as a baby started ignoring me. They still had their rich, socialite status and didn't wish to be friends with a low-life. And I don't blame them. If I was in their shoes I probably would have done the same.
The last time I saw Eric before I ran into him at GH was during my dad's funeral. I don't know what he was doing at the General Hospital that day but that was the day my mother had her second heart attack. My mother was the only family I had that I could rely on and I wasn't going to lose her. I can't afford to lose her too. Not now, not ever. I need my mother. She is the pillar that is supporting me. She is the only one that is in the this terrible nightmare with me. If she left, I will be lonely, stuck in this hellhole all by myself.
So when I met Eric, he invited me for a Ginger Latte -my favourite- at Starbucks. He asked after my mother and I told him about her critical condition. He listened to my rant patiently much to my appreciation because I never pegged on Eric Minsky to be a listener. He was always impatient and restless as a kid. I'm assuming that he has changed over these three years. One may wonder why I went to Starbucks with my sworn enemy and spilled all my problems. Firstly, he offered to buy me a drink. Free drink! How can I reject that when I am in a position where I can only afford to eat one full meal a day? I don't have that kind of luxury. Secondly, I was so overwhelmed by seeing a familiar face from my past life. Thirdly, I wanted pity. I know, I'm pathetic, but it's true. I was so tired of carrying all the burden on my back that when Eric seemed interested in knowing about my problem, I told him without a second thought. And he seemed pretty considerate and understanding.
"Hey, what are you doing here?" I asked him as I walked up the porch step. He looked unsettled and unnerved, which, let me tell you, is the different Eric from the Eric I'd known all my life. I was only used to seeing him as the arrogant boy with an annoyingly cocky attitude.
Eric has turned out to be hot. He is fit as hell, probably the current captain of Mayfield High's football team, or lacrosse team, or whatever sport his father opted for him. He was always the pompous ass that girls, even at such a young age, developed crushes on. If I didn't know what kind of an asshole he was underneath that layer of good looks I would have probably swooned after him, myself, but I did know him. I might even know him better than any other girl. We practically grew up together.
"Alison," he spoke, his voice low and husky. If I was not busy wondering why he looked so nervous I would have secretly lusted after that voice, just that voice alone, whispering sweet profanities in my ear all night. "will you marry me?" he said.
I didn't answer him immediately. No. Instead, I hastily unlocked the front door, pulled him in and kicked the door shut.