DISCLAIMER: This is an indefinitely unfinished story. There will only be three chapters posted. Read at your own risk.
Jen looked up from her phone. She stood and watched as Yuka’s shadow changed shape with every step she took towards her. Her mouth was agape and spiders were crawling all over her legs. Spiders was another one of the few things that she disliked. She heard a distant voice shouting at her to walk away from the vicinity, to run if she had to. She would have run. She would have done anything to avoid a confrontation with Yuka, but her body had its own plans. As Yuka drew closer, she accepted her fate.
“You hated this place. Yet, here you are. What changed your mind?”
“I could say the same about you. Why are you here?
“I won tickets from a lucky draw. Your turn.”
If Yuka was angry, she was good at hiding it. All things considered, it was very likely that she was. She just didn’t look it. She had to be here looking for answers. Jen wasn’t sure if there was any answer that she could give that would satisfy Yuka. Then again, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to tell Yuka the truth at all.
“I needed the money.”
“I’ve missed you.”
“Yuka, don’t say that.”
“How dare you tell me what to do? You lost that right when you left me for dead five years ago! You didn’t answer any of my calls, then you changed your phone number.”
“Yuka, please. I had my reasons.”
“The next thing I know, I find you here, working at the place we used to organise protests against. We used to write petitions, send in letters and lead marchers. We did everything in our power to pressure the government to take action. Did none of that mean anything to you?”
“Yuka, lower your voice. I need this job.”
“I needed you.”
Jen watched as tears streaked Yuka’s cheeks, catching the light from the setting sun. Yuka turned away from her, gritting her teeth as she continued to cry. Even then, it was obvious to her that Yuka was pulling the muscles of her face taut. Jen knew that face. It was the result of Yuka’s inability to hide her emotions and her pride dancing the Waltz.
Jen took a step towards Yuka, but she drew back. Another step. Another step back. Two steps. Arm stretched out. Hand to wrist. Pull towards. Arms around. Embrace.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so-”
Voice crack. Let your tears fall.
It was their rendition of the Waltz.
The shoulder of Jen’s uniform was clinging to her. It happened to be the one day that she forgot to bring a change of clothes. She shifted her arm awkwardly, trying to get her shirt to dry faster. She knew it wouldn’t have helped much. Nothing could change how uncomfortable the present situation already was.
Their waiter tapped his order chit with his pen impatiently. Yuka had already ordered. He was waiting for Jen. She scrambled to pick up the menu and chose the first thing she saw – orange juice.
As soon as the waiter left their table, she started typing out a text message to Killian.
I’m with the girl I crashed into at work just now. Help me.
She looked up from her phone and saw Yuka rubbing the back of her neck. Her eyes kept darting from straight down at the table to her phone display that was to the right of centre. Jen looked back at her phone as soon as it buzzed.
Is she planning to press legal charges? My father could use a client. –Killian
Jen snorted. She knew that Killian was joking, but she couldn’t help but think that part of him also hoped that she needed a lawyer. With crime rates going down, his father couldn’t get enough clients to keep the lights on. For the first time in a while, she felt relieved that she lived on her own. The lack of another person to take responsibility of put a positive spin on her loneliness.
“One latte decaf and one orange juice,” announced the waiter from before.
“Thank you,” said Jen as she pulled the bottle towards herself, “Since when do you drink decaf?”
“Since when do you drink orange juice?”
“Are you going to deflect all my questions with questions?”
“Are you going to stop trying to make small talk?”
“So… How are your parents?” Jen smirked as she watched Yuka’s face turn into a scowl.
“As fine as they can be, I guess. It must have been a relief for them to disown me. Turns out, having a pregnant unwed daughter is bad for their reputation. If only I had known sooner I wouldn’t have done it.”
“You got pregnant because of…,” Jen hesitated.
“But that wasn’t your fault! You were attacked! Your face was bruised! A few of your ribs were broken. Why wouldn’t they believe you?”
“Well, a lot of the case evidence disappeared and the only lead the police had on that was a CCTV capture of a woman. They only got the back of her head. Apparently, it resembles the back of mine. The judge threw out the case before I could even get a paternity test.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. Couldn’t your lawyer have done anything to prevent that from happening?”
“I didn’t have a lawyer.”
“Hey, that was six years ago. I’m fine now.”
“Do you really care?”
Jen parted her lips to say something, then stopped herself. There was no arguing with Yuka when she got like this. There was just the acceptance that you royally messed up.
“Anyway, it’s getting late. Can I get my husband to give you a lift? I already told him to bring the car here before we arrived.”
Flashing headlights streamed through the dim coffee shop. Yuka peered out of the window by the booth they were at and she nodded. Jen finished the last of her orange juice and got up from her seat. She took out her wallet and stuck two bills under the napkin dispenser. They exited the coffee shop and got into a sky blue sedan that was parked right outside the entrance.
Apart from Jen telling Lee her address, the three of them said nothing to each other. Jen sat behind Yuka, trying her best not to kick Yuka’s seat with her incessant fidgeting. She wished that she could say something to break the awkward silence but she came up with nothing.
Yuka had gotten pregnant. Yuka had gotten married. Yuka wasn’t the same naive shy girl that she met years ago. She wasn’t familiar with the updated version.
Finally, Lee said, “Yuka tells me that you’re a friend from college.”
“Yes, we were roommates.”
“What programme were you taking?”
“Veterinary Science, but I dropped out in my second year.”
“Are you going to ask me why?”
“I didn’t think you’d want to tell me. Besides, I’m not the one who’s interested.”
Jen glanced at the back of Yuka’s seat, anticipating her questions. Yuka didn’t even flinch.
“We’re almost at your apartment, but I’d have to do a detour from our route home to get there. Can I drop you off here?”
“Here is fine. Thank you.”
Jen popped open the door. Before she stepped out of the car, Yuka turned around and gave her a slip of paper. She had written her phone number and address on it under her name. Jen reached out and gave Yuka’s shoulder a squeeze before getting out of the car.
Yuka watched Jen walk away from the car, then start running. She stopped a few steps after and bent down to reach out for something. Yuka squinted then sniggered.
Jen was petting a stray cat.
“She’s the one, isn’t she?” asked Lee.