The Long Way Home, страница 1
THE LONG WAY HOME
Sitting on the edge of the world
23 year old Serena De Leon was waking towards the street corner to go flag a taxi. It was gonna be another busy day. She tucked her long, brown hair beneath one ear, opened her oversized Pink bag and took out her phone.
“G?” She spoke, talking to her bestfriend and housemate, Gina, on the other line. They were also working together at a gym, where they are both instructors. “I’ll be late by a few minutes okay? Cabs are so hard to come by…Wait for me, k?...Okay..bye..” She then threw her phone back in her bag, tied her hair up in a ponytail and was finally able to get a cab.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Blake Rodriguez, a 25 year old former businessman, who now considers himself to be just a bum, said as his car skidded near the gutter at the parking lot of this gym he frequents. He parked the car, got out of it and took a deep breath as he took out his duffel bag from the trunk and went inside the gym.
Serena arrived at the gym after ten minutes and thankfully, her client wasn’t there yet. She started doing some warm-up exercises. Everyone were in the midst of doing their routines when they heard a man kick a chair near one of the treadmills. He seemed upset.
Serena looked at Gina from across the room and soon enough, she found herself walking towards the seemingly troubled guy.
“Excuse me, sir, is there any problem?” Serena asked.
“No.” The guy said. Serena thought he looked good—chiseled face, deep-welled brown eyes, and his built was nice, too. Except for the fact that he kicked a chair.
“Sir, if there’s anything wrong with the machine…”
“I said no!” The guy said through gritted teeth, “What’s your problem?!”
“With all due respect, Mister, I am only trying to help you.” Serena said, “You kicked one of our properties.”
“Fine, I’m sorry. Girls like you who make this world such hell.” The guy said, opened his duffel bag and got a thousand bucks, “Sorry. I’ll get back soon if you need more.” He then took a deep breath and made his way out of the gym.
Gina went up to Serena.
“What was that about?” Serena asked.
Gina shrugged, “I have no idea,” She said, “He’s cute though, isn’t he?”
Serena laughed lightly, “Your client?”
“Nah,” Gina asked, “He’s not usually that way, you know…Probably having a bad day…”
“Must be a very bad day…” Serena winked and went to the cashier, “Take this, Melina.” She said.
“Extra cash…” Melina the cashier quipped giddily.
Serena then turned towards the eyes of many people who seemed stunned by the guy who just left, “Okay, everyone…” She said, “Show’s over, let’s get movin’…” She smiled.
“Fuck her man, just fuck her,” Blake said as he gulped some beer. That night, he went to his bestfriend, and buddy since kindergarden, Mike’s house. Mike was the guy who listened to him—no matter what.
“Calm down, man,” Mike said as he handed him some tacos, “Easy.”
“She cheated on me!” Blake said, “Gellie cheated on me and you’re asking me to calm down?!”
“Blake, you know you’re crazy when you get angry…”
“Like I don’t know what you did at the gym.” Mike said, “You told me about it a while ago, bro.”
“Don’t drink too much.”
“How can I not be angry when my girlfriend cheated on me?”
“First of all, calm down.” Mike told Blake, “Second of all, do you even really love Gellie?”
“Of course I do…”
Mike almost laughed, “Really? Or are you just concerned because this time, it’s not you who bailed out and your ego’s bruised.”
Blake didn’t know what to say. He sighed, “I just wish I knew she was just playing.”
“You know Gel, Blake,” Mike said, “She’s a hardcore whore.”
“I guess you met your karma…”
Mike laughed, “You’ll get over it. It’s just Gellie, there are so many better women out there.”
“Yeah, right…” Blake said sarcastically.
“So, that girl at the gym…I think you must say sorry to her.”
“I already did.”
“Yeah,” Mike said, “sarcastically. Man, you must own up to what you did. And I don’t mean monetarily.”
“Because who knows? Maybe you’d get banned at the gym, you know…And maybe they know other gyms and…”
“Mike, stop being paranoid.” Blake said and drank some beer again, “I just don’t understand these women.”
“Maybe you should try to put yourself in their shoes…”
“Exactly the point.”
Sorry seems to be the hardest word
The following day, Blake went back to the gym and saw Serena talking to Gina and Melina by the counter. He walked up to them.
“Excuse me,” He said meekly, receiving shocked stares from the girls. “Hi…”
“Hi,” Serena said, almost flatly, “What can we do for you?”
“Uhm, you probably remember me as…”
“The guy who kicked up a storm.” Gina said sarcastically.
“I just really wanna say I’m sorry,” Blake said, “I didn’t mean to be such an ass…I was just…I was just feeling bad because my girlfriend and I broke up…”
“We’re really sorry about that.” Serena said, not really meaning it.
“Listen, I really wanna make it up to you. I didn’t mean to say what I said, it’s just…Please, tell me what I should do.”
“Well,” Serena said, “You could just do your thing because I,” She went on as she picked up her bag from the floor, “should be going now. Nice seeing you again, mister…” She paused, trying to remember his name and then realizing she doesn’t know it in the first place, “Oh, never mind.” She smiled lightly, “Excuse me.” And with that, she walked away.
Girl in the mirror
Minutes after what happened at the gym, Serena was in one of the comfort rooms of the University she’s part-timing at as a P.E. instructor. Years ago, she wouldn’t have pictured herself doing what she’s doing now: working in a gym and then being a PE teacher. It just wasn’t her. Well, it still isn’t her, she realized as she combed her hair in front of the mirror. If only she didn’t need the money, if only she was stronger enough to not have to do this, if only she wasn’t so keen on pleasing her mom even more.
Growing up, Serena never really liked anything to do with sports or dancing, or gym. But her mother, the ever-perfectionist, wanted her to try out all those things. She thinks that not being physically-active is a loss; that you’re not complete without sports or dancing or whatever. And so she did.
Life is funny sometimes—one day, after so many months of being a bum, Serena finally got a job—a gym instructor with her friend Gina in this new gym near their hometown. And then there was also an opening in her former University as a PE instructor and so she also took the job. Now, a few months later, she still feels like she doesn’t know what she’s doing there.
She was still looking at herself in the mirror when she heard someone crying inside a cubicle. Seconds later, one of her students, Amira, went out of it and had red-rimmed eyes.
“I’m sorry Miss De Leon, I’ll…”
“Hey, it’s okay,” Serena said as she walked up to Amira, “Do you want to talk about it?”
Minutes later, Serena and Amira were at the school cafeteria, in a secluded spot by the corner.
“So, what happened?” Serena asked Amira, drinking some coffee.
“I just…I’m so sorry for not being good enough.” Amira said, trying to fight back the tears.
“Who said you weren’t?”
“I’m not…I’m not good in sports or…or anything like that…”
“Amira, who are feeding you these thoughts?”
Amira shook her head.
“You have to tell me the truth.”
Amira took a deep breath, “My mom..she..she hates me. She thinks I’m not good enough because I…can’t dance like her.”
Serena gave a little sad smile, “Listen to me,” She said and reached out for Amira’s hand, “Your mom…She certainly is a big part of your life. Whatever she says, be ot good or bad, will always have an effect on you. But remember this—you are who you are and no one could change that. You’re beautiful, and amazing, and talented, and…And as much as you want to please her, sometimes, the harder you try, the more you end up hurting yourself. The more you end up thinking that you’re not good enough…” She took a deep breath, “One day, Amira, you’ll look back in your life and realize that maybe, you should’ve played it cooler. You should’ve not taken so many things seriously. And being young now, you should know that you must love yourself more. Don’t wait until it’s too late.”
“Wow, that’s…” Amira said, “Thank you, Miss De Leon…”
Serena smiled lightly, “Do you still wanna come to class?” She asked, “I could excuse you for today…Go out, spend some time with yourself…”
Serena nodded her head and Amira hugged her, “Thank you so much, Miss de Leon, you’re the best!”
Serena just smiled.
“I think they’re mad at me.” Blake told Mike at Mike’s restaurant later that afternoon, “It was like, they couldn’t even care less…”
“Chill, man, they may just be busy…” Mike said, while fixing some bottles in the cabinet. He then turned to look at Blake, “By the way, Gellie called, she said she needs some of her stuff back.”
“Oh, great, tell her to stop by the house and I’ll give her a party.” Blake said sarcastically.
“I’m not telling her anything,” Mike said, “If I were you, I won’t show her I’m too affected. You know how she plays…”
Blake took a deep breath, “Right,” He said, “Fine.”
“And if I were you, I’d take that offer in LA to keep my mind off things…”
“Your uncle Arnie, remember?” Mike asked, “The job in that big movie studio.”
“Oh.” Blake muttered, “Right.”
Hey there Delilah
A couple of days later, Blake was driving around town when he saw someone whom he thought he knew near the gym. It was…What’s her name…Bake thought…Serena? Was it Serena? The woman who worked in the gym…Yes, it surely was her. She seemed harassed by a man whom he saw was going after her. He stopped the car near them and observed.
“Ric, for the last time, I’ve had enough,” Serena said, “I already told you this, you know? We’ve talked nicely and…Ric, you and I, it’s nothing.”
“We’re not nothing.” The guy whom she called Ric answered.
“Okay, fine, maybe not,” Serena said, “But it’s over. We were never together…You were just miserable and lonely.”
“But I broke up with her because—“
“Because you no longer loved her,” Serena finished for him, “but it doesn’t mean you’re in love with me.”
The man held Serena by the arm and Blake thought Serena looked disturbed. She was trying to let go of the man’s arm but he was keen on keeping her close. Blake then went out of his car and went up to Serena and the guy.
“Hey, hey, back off, man…” Blake said as he held Ric by the shoulder.
Ric looked at him then at Serena, “Who’s this man?”
Serena, also shocked by the commotion didn’t know how to react. “He…”
“I’m her boyfriend,” Blake told Ric, “And I don’t want you anywhere near her.”
“Is this true?” Ric asked Serena.
Serena looked at Blake and Blake gave her a knowing look. She then turned to Ric,, “Yes. So please, Ric, just leave us alone.”
Ric then took a deep breath, looked at them both and slowly walked away. Serena gave a sigh of relief when he went away.
“You okay?” Blake asked Serena.
“Yeah,” Serena said, “Thanks. You didn’t have to do that, you okay?”
“You looked harassed, I couldn’t just stay inside my car and watch him do that to you.” Blake said, “And after all, I needed to make it up to you.”
Serena smiled lightly, “Well, in that case…Thank you, then.” She then tidied up her hair, “What’s your name again?”
“Blake,” Blake said as he held out her hand, “Blake Rodriguez.”
“Hi, Blake,” Serena said as she shook his hand, “I’m…”
“Serena,” Blake finished for her, “I remember that.”
“Oh.” Serena said, “Well, uhm, anything I can do to pay for what you did?”
“Oh, no, no, it’s okay…”
“I insist. I might’ve took your time.”
“No, don’t worry, it’s…”
“Oh, come on.”
Blake then saw the ice cream stand near the corner, “Well…some ice cream could be good.”
“So, he’s your ex?” Blake asked Serena while they were sitting on a bench, eating ice cream.
“Oh, no, not technically,” Serena answered, “He’s just..a..well..We we’rent officially together. He was just…sad.”
“Oh.” Blake said, “He had a girlfriend?”
“Yep,” Serena answered, licking some ice cream, “They’ve been together for a long time. He was just getting the hang of it, and I happened to be there.”
“But you liked him?”
“I thought I did.” Serena answered, “But sometimes, love can be tricky. Sometimes, what you think is love isn’t really love at all. Sometime, people can just be…lonely.”
“And you were?”
“We both were.”
Blake nodded his head, “So do you have a boyfriend right now?”
“Oh, no, it has been a while…”
“I don’t know,” Serena answered, “Life?”
Blake smiled, “Yeah, I get it.”
“And what about you? What did your ex-girlfriend do to make you kick up a fuss in the gym?”
“She uhm…broke up with me.”
Blake sighed, “She cheated on me.”
“Oh.” Serena said, “Sorry.”
“Yeah, I feel like an idiot.”
“And it hurts because you love her?...” Serena asked, “Or because, it hurts you ego?”
Serena laughed lightly, “I knew it.”
“Look, it’s not like that…” Blake said, “It’s just…I don’t know what these girls want, you know? Especially Gellie. She’s cazy.”
“But if she was your girlfriend…”
“Okay, I take it back. It’s just…I didn’t think she’d do that to me.”
“Because you think you’re the only one who could do it?”
“What? It’s true, ain’t it? You’ve probably flitted from one girl to the next, thinking you’re such a god…”
“Yeah, fine, Gellie’s my karma,
“Sorry if that struck a nerve…”
“Nah, you’re probably really just right.” He said, “It just sucks that she had to do it, you know? She cheated on me, with one of my colleagues.”
“Well, try to see it positively. She saved you from spending more time with her because…well, maybe, you didn’t deserve her.”
Blake looked at her, “Thanks.” He said, “And again, I was really sorry for the gym thing…”
“We’re cool.” Serena winked.
“So, how long have you been working there? Haven’t really been seeing you before…And that’s weird coz you are such a presence…”
“Now, don’t use those lines on me…” Serena quipped.
“Well, I got a li’l change of schedule so I wouldn’t have problems with my other job…”
“PE instructor in a university ‘round here…”
“Wow, you work a lot…”
“Oh, man, if you knew me back then, you’d think I’m a lazy git.”
Blake laughed, “I won’t call you a git. And besides, I’m the one who’s a lazy git here.”
“Oh, yeah?” Serena said, “Why?”
“I resigned from work months back, so yeah, I’m a professional bum…”
“I know the feeling.”
Blake laughed, “My dad wants to disown me already, I can tell.”
“Well, then, be a good boy and he just might not.”
Blake laughed again, “So, you’re pretty sporty, huh?”
Serena laughed, and Blake noticed a tinge of sadness in her laughter, “I had to be.” She said. She paused and then, “What time is it, by the way?”
Blake glanced a his watch and answered Serena, “Almost 5…”
“Oh, my God…” Serena gasped, hurriedly throwing the almost empty cone of ice cream in the nearby trashcan and gathering her things, “God, my students must be waiting…I have to go.”