Such A Silly Game We Play

Leena is one of those goody-goody teenage girls who is obedient to her parents, maintains high grades in school, has an average social life, and zero night life. Even more, she's the usual shy-type, terrible at making new friends, and even more terrible when it comes to oh-so-cheesy relationships, which was surprisingly coming her way now.

With so many things on the line that could go wrong if she ever followed what she truly wants, will she ever have the guts to let it all out? Would the guy do the same? Or, would both of them just sit down and wait until some miracle happens?

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36. Goodbye For Now

 

"What's going on over there, mom?" 

"Where?", mom shouted from the kitchen. I was sitting on our window seat in the family room reading when I saw two trucks pulling in front of Jeff's house. I moved the peach-colored curtains that mom had installed 2 weeks ago with my finger, carefully peeking through it. I didn't want anyone to see me spying.

"Uncle Joe's house? There are two trucks out front!", I shouted back so she could hear me. No answer from mom. But after a few seconds, I could hear her walking towards where I was sitting.  When I finally saw her, looking confused and tired, she was wearing an apron which was smeared by some brownish liquid. She sat down beside me and peeked through the curtains.

"Oh!", she said as her face lightened up in an instant, "the moving trucks."

"Moving?! What moving?"

She faced me, looking confused again. "You don't know? Your Uncle Joe got a huge commission from one of your dad's friend's project. They can finally afford to buy their house back! Isn't that great news?" Mom stood up, wiped her hands on her apron again and went straight to the kitchen.

Yeah. That's great news. But wait. They won't be living in front of us anymore. Crap. Now there goes our awkward 'Hello's every time we see each other outside.

 

After taking in that sudden information from mom, I decided to ask a few more questions about it. I walked over to the kitchen and saw that mom was cooking some kind of beef with a brown sauce. Smells good. 

"Since when did they plan to move?"

Mom stared at me for a moment, then she gave out a slight laugh, "About 3 weeks ago! You really didn't know?"

I moved my head side to side.

"Oh. I guess they forgot to tell you when you guys went to Oakland," she said while stirring the beef that she was cooking in a large pan, which made the delicious smell fill the kitchen.

"Yeah, they might have missed that small detail," I said sarcastically.

Then, I saw mom smiling. "Woah, what's the big deal?"

Mom was 38 years older than me, but sometimes she chose her words like a teenager would. It was kind of weird especially when my friends came over, but I guess I'm used to it now. "Nothing."

We were quiet for a minute, then I asked again, "So... when are they, like, moving completely?"

"I don't know, maybe 3-4 days from now?"

"WHAT?!"

Mom stared at me again. "Honey, what is going on?! You should be happy for them, they finally passed the gray area of their lives."

I moved towards the refrigerator to get  a can of coke, or maybe just to hide my face from mom. As I was rummaging through the racks I said stiffly, "I am."

Even though mom whispered, I still heard that she said, "Are you now?"

 

Don't get me wrong, I was really happy for them, they were quite crowded in the apartments. However, the fact that I won't see them that much anymore bummed me out. Heck, I won't see HIM that much anymore. First of all, he was going to college by the end of the summer (about two weeks from now), which diminished almost all of the chances that we could hang out together like the old times again, plus the fact that only our dads went to meetings these days, not with us and our moms. And here they are, moving back to their original address, making all of the other remaining chances to become non-existent.

 

 

-------------------

 

 

3 days before my classes started, I received a message from John:

 

John: Come over to Jeff's old home. NOW. Important.

 

After reading the last word, a thousand thoughts came running into my mind. Is this bad news? Good news? 

I checked my watch. 2:37 pm. Mom and dad wasn't home. Neither were my sisters. I mean, when are they even home? I didn't have any ride. Dad only let me practice driving at night when there weren't any cars anymore. So I just decided to walk.

As I was about to exit our front door, my phone started ringing and I saw that Thea was calling. She said she too had received John's text and was kind of worried. I walked towards her house first, which was closer, and we started walking towards Jeff's house together. It took us about 20 minutes (because we were slow walkers. If you were fast you'd get there in just 10 minutes).

 

Thea pushed me when we were in front of the door, forcing me to be the one to knock. When the door opened, I saw Aunt Manna's face. She hugged me immediately since she haven't seen me in a while too. Then after, she motioned for us to go upstairs since all the guys were upstairs already. Thea just followed me since I'd already been in his old room before, and this was just Thea's first visit in their house.

When we reached his room, the door was closed. I was about to knock  but then suddenly the door opened, leaving my hand in mid-air. I saw Aries' face right away since he was the one who opened the door. And as the usual Aries that I know, he hugged me tight immediately, and Thea. I haven't seen him in a while too.

"Come inside, I just need to pee. Badly!," he shouted and motioned for us to come in like it was his own room.

As we went inside, John, Jeff and Zander was standing.

Then Thea gave a loud sigh and said, "Phew! Okay, everyone is alright! I thought someone died or is sick!"

Everyone looked at her and I said, "Seriously?! That's what's on your mind the whole time we were walking towards here?!"

She shrugged. "But seriously bro, I do not like it when you text like that! It's too serious!" As my best friend kept talking, I noticed that Jeff's room still had about 4-5 brown boxes scattered on the floor, some even had clothes in it. He still hasn't unpacked everything after a week? I moved towards the boxes and then I realized that Zander was beside them. I gave him a friendly hug and said, "Zandeeeer! I miss you! And sadly, senior year is just days away from now, huh?"

Then John shouted, "Hey Leens, don't you miss me too?" He was already opening up his arms so I could hug him. But I didn't do it right away.

"Thea's right. That text just made me nervous as hell," I shouted back, but then I moved towards his open arms and hugged him too, "But I miss you too!"

As I hugged John, Thea also hugged the two of us, which made Zander and Jeff follow. And then there came Aries who spotted us from outside the room. He ran straight towards our bundle with his arms wide open. However, the impact of his body was just too strong that we all fell down to Jeff's bed. Actually, we were lucky that we fell on his bed.

We laughed for a while then I stood up and asked, "SO. Why the hell are we here?" Thea and I were already standing up, but the guys just stayed on the bed. 

"He's moving tomorrow," Aries said, while face down on the bed.

"AGAIN. Where?" Thea asked.

It only took me a second to know where he was moving to. So before anyone could answer I said, "You're already moving? We just went there weeks ago"

Jeff stood up and walked closer to me while the other guys focused their eyes towards us. Thea was just standing, still looking confused. Behind Jeff, I could hear John saying to Aries and Zander, "Oh yeah, they went there together to check the campus." The two guys nodded their heads.

Then Thea asked again, "Went where?" But then again, no one answered her.

"I got one more week, and I think it would be best if I familiarize myself to the new environment and get to know people," Jeff said.

"Yeah, I know. That's why we went there already! And besides there are still no people there because you're a week early!" I said.

"ALRIGHT! Hold up!" Thea shouted, "Can someone at least answer one of the questions that I have been asking! Moving where? Went where? Why do I not know anything that is happening right now?!"

I moved side-wards to face her since Jeff was in front of me and shouted, "Oakland. College. We visited the campus together with our dads weeks ago! Any more questions?"

Thea quickly shook her head and said, "Nah, I'm good." She immediately sat down beside the other guys and watched us.

"Look," Jeff said with his soft voice, "I know you're a little bummed but---"

"I thought all of us were spending the remaining days of summer together before you guys would be off to separate ways!", I shouted again.

I moved towards the bed so I could sit down while saying, "When school starts it would only be me and Thea again, and all the other loser seniors."

Zander looked back at me and said, "Okaaay, i'll try not to take that personally."

I laughed and said, "Okay, me, Thea and you, together with all the other loser seniors." And I hugged him again from his back. Thea looked at me angrily, but I just stuck out my tongue. Oh, how close we've become. Years ago, we just stalked Zander on every corner in school, but now you could just hug him whenever you wanted to. Well, I could, since I didn't like him like before. But to Thea, maybe she's still too shy to do it.

No one said anything for a while, so I just said to Jeff, "So. How can we help?"

We started filling up the boxes of everything he placed in his bed: clothes, shoes, picture frames, and other guy stuff. The guys kept laughing and telling jokes which made the packing part somehow fun. Plus, Aries placed his iPhone to Jeff's speaker so we could have some music too. Aries was going to the State University together with John, taking up an engineering course, which made us really surprised because he never talked about becoming an engineer someday. He just said it out of nowhere. John took a business course that wasn't too hassle since he still had to play for the university's basketball team to maintain his scholarship. Aries wasn't a scholar, but his family was somewhat rich.

It was about 7 pm when Jeff said that everything was good. The 5 big boxes were already filled with his stuff, and all of us were just tired as ever. Aunt Manna brought up some cookies and juice an hour ago to cure our grumbling tummies and quench our thirst. 

Aries and Zander left immediately, their houses were pretty far away and there was no other alternate route to drive there except to pass through the traffic streets downtown. Jeff offered to drive us home. When I looked for their SUV it wasn't there, but then I saw Uncle Joe's old car that he sold before parked on their driveway. Jeff saw my expression and said, "Yeah, not only did dad buy back the house, but his car too." It was a silver Honda Civic. "He's giving me this one though. I'll use this to drive to Oakland tomorrow."

"Really?" I said sounding surprised and happy, "cool."

 

As usual, we dropped Thea and John first. I was always the last to go home. When we reached my house, the lights were already home. I could see mom's car now, but dad wasn't still home. GOOD.  We were silent for a moment, but I just hated goodbyes  so I said, "Okay!" trying to sound cheerful, "Thanks for the ride in your 'new' car."

"Haha, no problem," he said as I saw his hands tightly gripping the steering wheel.

"Okay," I said again, whispering, "So I guess, goodbye?"

Jeff placed the car into Park, but he didn't turn off the engine. "I'll still come home every now and then, you know." He smiled.

I smiled back. "Goodbye. For now." I grabbed the door handle and opened the door but he said something again.

He was looking straight ahead now, still gripping the steering wheel while he said, "Leena,"

I closed the door again. And now I was feeling a little nervous.

"Are you considering to study at Oakland?" He faced me and I could clearly see his eyes looking straight at me.

"Uhm, maybe. I mean it's a really good school. It's one of my choices."

He just nodded.

"I don't know. I still have a year to decide," I replied cheerfully. "Why?"

And then again, we were silent for a few seconds until he finally said, "I have to tell you something." Hearing this made me even more nervous because it sounded like he was going to say something, like he's been hiding something and his face was just flat, but his eyes still looked sharp.

"What?" I said trying not to sound like I was panicking.

 

Silence.

God, not this feeling again. Is it bad? Is it good? This is just like the text that John sent.

 

"Nothing, I'm just sorry that I'm leaving early," he smiled again.

"Oh." That's it?! Thanks for the suspense, pal. Well I'm just glad it wasn't bad news, "Don't worry about it. I understand now. Maybe we could visit you again tomorrow!"

"NO!", he shouted, which made me jump from my seat a little. But then he lowered his voice again and said, "I mean, no. Uhm, sorry. I'm just leaving really early tomorrow."

"Wow, you're really excited," I slightly opened the door again, "Well, goodbye for now. Good luck with college. You take care, okay?"

I was already stepping outside the car but then I felt his hand grabbing my left arm. He pulled me closer to him which made me really confused of what he was going to do, but then I realized that he was giving me a hug. I squeezed him too, even though the whole moment felt awkward. 

"Yeah, okay," I said while still hugging him and patting his back gently, "I'll miss you too. Don't worry, if I decide to enroll at Oakland I'll let you know."

"Oh yes, please." He finally let me go and said, "Good luck with Senior Year. It's tough. Stressful even."

"Haha, so I've heard. So yeah, good luck and have fun. Oh! But not too much fun." 

"Yes ma'am."

He didn't say anything else, so finally, after a total of 2 tries, I walked out of his car and walked straight towards our door. But just a few feet away from the car he asked, "Leena! You still have the bracelet I gave you?"

I knew someday he'd asked me that. I smiled and faced him again. I raised up my arm so he could see the shiny silver bracelet he gave me last Christmas and I said, "Of course! I love having Mickey Mouse's head on my wrist."

He smiled back and I continued walking towards our door. When I finally unlocked the door and stepped inside, I saw that the car was still there as he probably waited for me to get inside. Then I waved again and just by a few seconds, the road was quiet again.

 

 

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