Promises

18 year old Maya faces the death of her Nanna, the most important person in her life. New love interest Nathan brings back a spark into Maya's life. She quickly falls in love with him; They both make promises but who will be the one to break theirs? Read on to find out how Maya deals with the challeneges thrown at her.

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13. Obsessions

Chapter 13

...And what about when you lose control? You are no longer able to adapt to something thrown right at you, because your problems overtake your body to the point of it being known as self-destruction. How do you escape that internal prison? Now, you might be forced to reach out for help but it seems like you’re screaming your lungs out and no one can hear a thing. And what if they do? A lot of them turn away from your issues, disregard them as insignificant. That’s the exact moment that you learn that at your toughest times, sometimes the only person who’ll have your back is yourself.

***

The sun had completely vanished from the windows; Nathan’s house now seemed cold and isolated from the outside world. This used to be a good thing, when Nathan was around. I wanted to be isolated, to be left alone with just him. I liked being cold, snuggling up to him on the sofa just to feel body heat crawling up my frozen arms. But now, all that seemed to be swallowing me up, and for the first time in months, I felt truly lonely. At this point, I must’ve been sat at the bottom of the door for hours, because when I heard the third knock on the door, whoever was outside seemed to be getting worried.

‘Where is she? Do you think she would’ve gone back to her Nan’s?’

‘Shhh! I can hear someone crying on the other side...’

BANG! The door blasted open, pushing me violently forward. I was suddenly on all fours, attempting to catch my breath and slow down my heart rate when Jade flew into the hallway and helped me sit up on the stairs. Anaia also ran in, checking my pulse.

‘Oh my God, Maya, we thought something happened to you! Are you okay?’ Anaia cried.

‘Yeah, no, I’m fine.’ I paused for a solid few minutes. ‘No, I’m really not okay right now. Nathan just left for a job-,’

‘Oh- that’s great, right?!’ Jade asked hopefully.

‘-a job in Australia.’

‘Australia? But I just saw him this morning, I-,’

If you had seen the shocked faces that were slapped onto them, you’d almost find it comical. Their jaws dropped in unison, eyes widening, Anaia raising her hand over her mouth. Jade was looking left and right around the house: I think she was hoping to see Nathan jump out of a cupboard like this was all a prank we were playing on the girls. But, this time, there was no prank. This was for real.

‘Okay, so you’re upset. I get it. Maybe tonight we should just have a girls night out and we can forget about it.’ Jade suggested.

‘Yeah, there’s a new club down-,’Anaia began.

‘I... don’t really feel like going anywhere tonight. Trust me, I’m better off at home and there is nothing you can do to convince me otherwise.’

***

An hour later, we were in the line outside of the local bar. I hate peer pressure.

Walking in, I tried to avoid the suspicious gaze of the bouncer, who was a tall, broad-shouldered white man with very little hair on his head. Even inside, I felt like every pair of eyes were diverted towards me, the girl with dry mascara flaking off the side of her eyes from wiping the tears away, wearing a little black dress with uncomfortable heels and carrying around pepper spray in her bag- well, I guess no one knew about that.

While Jade and Anaia busied themselves dancing to a throwback RnB song, I decided to try my luck at the bar. I ordered a plain gin and tonic and was scanning all the other ragingly sad drinkers. One particular girl caught my attention; a tall, green-eyed woman, with freckles, big, pink lips and gold-framed glasses, skin the colour of caramel and her nose buried in a novel. I shuffled over towards her.

‘Reading at a bar?’ I asked, jokingly. She immediately put her book down, annoyed. I guess she didn’t like being interrupted. But when she saw my face, a warm smile spread from one ear to another, and she held out her hand for me to shake.

‘Toni Sawyers,’ she introduced herself, in a formal manner.

‘Maya Trevino,’ I smiled. ‘So you come to a bar just to read?’

‘The bar has an interestingly calming atmosphere around it that adds to the ambience of whatever I’m reading. Plus, the bartender gives me free drinks every half hour.’ She laughed. I loved her voice- it was so calm, a little deep but still extremely seductive and feminine and her words rang around my ears like a melody.

‘Well, it is a little loud, don’t you think?’

‘Not really. Once you learn to block out the trashy pop songs and the DJ’s yelling, it really is quite tranquilising.’

‘Wow, I don’t know if I could ever concentrate here.’

‘Well, if you can’t concentrate here, maybe we can go back to my house and study there?’ Toni said with a smirk.

‘I like where this is going...’ I said as she grasped her book in one hand, downed the rest of her drink and then took my arm, leading me carefully through the crowd of drunken dancers. We managed to squeeze out of the bar, and then wave around for a cab to pick us up. A sleek, silver car pulled up and we got inside.

‘Where to?’ Asked the driver with a strong Aussie accent.

’89 Melbourne Court, please.’

‘Melbourne? I come from Melbourne, ha-ha! Y’want me to take you to Australia?’ the man chuckled.

Toni and I gave each other that look- You know the look you give your friend when your eight year old cousin cusses or older relatives use slang, and it’s too awkward to comprehend. Toni reacted with a feeble laugh, then proceeded to scroll through her camera roll, searching for a picture. When she found it, she stuck the phone into my face and said;

‘This is me on my holiday to Cancun in Mexico!’

‘You went to Cancun?!’ I blurted out.

‘Yeah, haven’t you?’ She asked, blatantly surprised.

I guess this was the moment I realised Toni and I lead very different lifestyles.

When we arrived at her apartment, a tall sky-scraper with glass walls and neat hedges around the perimeter, I could see our differences even more. She walked me into her home on the 16th floor. The large windows gave you a perfect view of almost all the city; from here, you could only see a sliver of the sea front- either way, the water wasn’t my main focus in this image. I was so transfixed by the glistening lights, the buildings and busy life of the city. I’d always been more of a small-town girl, and rarely travelled into larger cities. However, never had I seen it from this angle.

I turned away from the view to face Toni, who was setting down two drinks on her glass coffee table. I took my seat at her leather sofa and watched her do the same.

‘So where are you studying, Maya?’ she said, taking a sip of her drink.

‘Oh, I’m actually not in education. I finished college and didn’t bother with university.’ I answered casually.

‘Really? Could you not afford uni?’

‘Well, I actually got a three year scholarship at Waterstone University of Literature but I turned them down. I didn’t really see the point in going to university.’

Horrified by my response, Toni set her glass down and raised her neat eyebrows.

‘Well, why should I go to university if I didn’t really know what I wanted to do? I’m sure it was worth giving it up though, another kid would have been given the chance to go to a university with a free ride all the way through.’

‘Maya, you should be more concerned about your education!’

‘Oh, Toni, I’m fine. My uncle has a company and he said I could be a secretary any time, so I’m all set.’

Toni’s face dropped. She looked beyond baffled at how casually I took not being in school.

‘Well, my dad always took my school very seriously. He paid for me to go to an Ivy League university, and I can’t imagine wasting all that away. How can you not take school work seriously?’

‘Don’t get me wrong, Toni, all my school life I got amazing grades because my Nanna pushed me towards my goals. But I can’t see myself studying right now, there’s a lot going on in my personal life. Besides, even if I did start studying again, I would have no idea about where to go- I don’t know what I like enough to do it all my life.’

Toni put her head down for a minute and then it immediately shot up, a sudden spark in her eyes.

‘I KNOW! Let me take you to some classes- cooking class, dancing class and so on- maybe you’ll find you really enjoy something and at least try to get yourself into a university by September.’

‘Uhh... Toni, I can’t promise you anything but I won’t mind trying.’ Toni smiled.

***

Two weeks later, Toni had signed me up to a cooking class in the city. I took the train (Which wasn’t a great experience, the man next to me smelt like a can of processed meat and at every stop, the smell poisoned my nostrils more than at the last.) Upon arriving at the address, a bricked building, I realised how unprepared I was; despite it being a beginners class, every other participant had bags of aprons, cooking books and pots of ready-made sauces.

‘Toni, where are you? I’m starting to get bored, the session is about to start. Hurry up!’ I left the third voicemail for Toni. I guess I was on my own.

***

‘So, how was it?’ Toni asked excitedly over the phone while I was on my way back home.

‘I hated it. My sauce was too runny and the chicken way too overcooked, which is stupid, because I’m usually a good cook. Pressure and cooking doesn’t work well for me, Toni!’

‘Oh, don’t stress it honey, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your next class much more. Dance next week!’

‘Dance?’ I stammered, exasperated. I was hopeless at dancing in public spaces, suddenly forgetting that I had not two, but three left feet.

***

The last few weeks have been crazy. Toni had forced me through over 10 classes- we’d argued several times about how I honestly didn’t see the point in spending so much money on classes I didn’t even enjoy. But, Toni believed that finally I’d find a hobby or inspiration. I’d given up fighting with her over this, so for the peace of the relationship, I continued attending the classes.

My last one was a poetry club. This was actually a two part session- the first, a lesson on poetry techniques. The second- a performance. I’d invited Jade and Anaia to the performance, because they were the only ones who fully supported my belief of stupidity in this entire mess of ‘classes’. Nevertheless, I was on stage, about to perform my first ever poem reading, nervously scanning the audience, easily locating Toni, Jade and Anaia in the audience. As the previous contestant took their seat and the applause died down, I stood up. A bright yellow-toned spotlight blinded me and I suddenly realised the harsh reality: Hundreds of eyes were all on me. I never was the one to have stage fright, so I took a deep breath and started reciting my poem.

‘Something about your love feels so fresh

Like the first sip of water after thirst

Or the first rain in a drought

Even my thought of your touch brings cravings

And I want to surrender to you

Give myself up for you

Feel your energy pass onto me

Something so fresh

Only you can bring that’

I looked up- A room of people performing a standing ovation for me. I smiled nervously and did an awkward bow, then put my thumbs up for Anaia who looked like a proud mother. I crept off the stage to join my friends when Toni ran up to me, excitedly embracing me.

‘I told you you’d like something! Maya, that was so beautiful! I’m happy to have been your muse. Right, I’ve got an essay to write so I have to head back but please go home and celebrate too!’ she kissed my cheek and sped off.

‘I’m happy to have been your muse!’ Jade mocked. ‘C’mon, that was obviously about Nathan.’

‘Toni doesn’t even know about Nathan. Maya, are you planning on spending the rest of your life with Toni?’ Anaia asked curiously.

‘No, of course not.’

‘So why the hell are you with her?’ Jade questioned.

That night, I dreamed of Toni- actually, us living together with a small blonde boy as our adopted son. I was tossing and turning, uncomfortable with how strict Toni was towards our child.

‘You’ve got tennis on Monday, football on Tuesday, and karate on Wednesday, swimming every Thursday, art class on Fridays, Saturday is for Saturday school and Sunday you’ll spend at church.’

I watched the little boy, barely five years old, stare at her as if she’d been speaking an alien language.

I woke up, sweating.

‘Remind me to never take Toni and I any further.’ I said into the darkness before falling back to sleep.

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