Solace Ep. 60

Nyah: “Hey sis. Joshua’s downstairs.”

I looked at my brother, pulling my head off the pillow where I had buried it in the past thirty minutes, and sniffled. “Tell him I am not here, will you?” I told Derek, and he frowned. “Sorry, I already told him you’re here,” he said, sounding everything but apologetic, and I shook my head. “And you are not going to make me do what I do for Justin,” he added, and I rolled my eyes. I sat up on my bed and grabbed my half-hippo, half-turtle stuffed toy Marney.

“You told him I’m here?” I asked, and he nodded. “Tell him I am asleep,” I said, and he shook his head firmly. “Nyah, what happened?” Derek asked, and I just shrugged. “Derek, please? Make up some excuse. I don’t want to see the guy,” I pleaded, and he stared at me, as if assessing what is going on with me.

“Look, I am going to come back. You are going to tell me why you’re like this after I get rid of the scum,” Derek said, his face hard, and I just nodded. He was out for two minutes, and I heard a car speeding away. I counted forty-five seconds before Derek appeared at the door to my room again.

“Where is Alex?” I asked him, and he told me Alex is out playing ball. “You’re stuck with me, sis, since Mom and Dad are out for a movie. I don’t know about Justin, but I’m sorry, you have to settle for me,” Derek replied, sitting across me on the bed.

“So what gives? Why the sudden aversion to the guy you like?” he asked, and I sighed. I don’t know if it was proper to tell Derek something like this when he’s just thirteen, plus the fact that Joshua already has a not-so-good reputation already with my family.

“I just found out something about him that kinda hurts, that’s it. I am just not ready to talk to him,” I said after a long moment of reconsideration. “What is this something?” Derek pressed, and I shook my head. “Nope. Am not going to give you that satisfaction,” I replied with a small smile.

“You’re just afraid I might use it against Joshua,” he said, giving out a pout that is similar to mine in so many ways. “Exactly,” I agreed, and he rolled his eyes.

“How does this knowledge change your liking of him?” he asked.

“From a scale of one to ten, I’d say I liked him at 9 before, and now it’s at 3.5,” I replied.

“What, you found out he was using drugs?”

I widened my eyes at him. “What—”

Derek laughed. “Just kidding,” he said, and he took my hand and gave it a squeeze. “Did he do it while he is dating you or is it something he’d done in his past?” he continued the interrogation.

“Past.”

He gave my hand another squeeze. When I looked up into Derek’s eyes, they were filled with some kind of knowledge, as if he knew what he was talking about. “Sis, I know I’m young, but I know this about love: when you love someone, you take it all in—his past, his present. You look past all their faults and you hope that they’ve learned from the mistakes they’ve done. You accept them for who they are now, because that’s who you’re staying with, not the person they were in the past,” Derek said. I smiled in spite of the pain that I am feeling now, some sort of happy that my brother has been gaining experience that I haven’t got when I was at his age. “You have to take a leap of faith sometimes.”

I breathed deeply. “Maybe I can accept it, but right now, it’s still all too surprising.”

Derek gave me a warm, dimpled smile, the smile I know have melted the heart of so many young girls. “This is the part where I am supposed to tell you that you should take your time, right?” he said, and I nodded. “Unfortunately,” he continued, and he brought out something from his back, handing it to me, “Joshua told me to give you this.”

I took the envelope and just shook my head when I realized it was a plane ticket to Cebu. Departure: this Friday, at 7:30 in the evening. “He said this certain Ryan gave the go signal for the trip, and that his mom is in the U.S. for two weeks—whatever that means,” Derek explained, and I sighed in amusement.

“I guess you only have Friday to decide if you are willing to take that leap,” he said, and I grinned. I pulled him to me and hugged him. “Derek, I have to meet this girl. I like her effect on you,” I said, and his laugh rumbled through his chest.

“I’ll take her home, sure, to meet the family,” Derek said, and he kissed me on the forehead. He stood up and waved at me as he walked to the door. “I’ll leave you to think,” he said, and I thanked him. I took the ticket again, and stared at it. A couple of beeps interrupted my thoughts, and I looked at my phone.

Ny. I’m sorry. Whatever it was, I really am. Goodnight.

I sighed, closing my eyes, letting my body fall onto the soft confines of my bed.

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