“That was your brilliant plan?” Janet asked me.
I shrugged. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
“So you ambushed him?” Chloe asked.
“I didn’t ambush him. At least I didn’t mean to. I wanted him to tell me, to see if he wanted to tell me.”
“And he didn’t,” Janet finished the sentence for me.
I felt pushed back by those words. They hit me hard. Daniel was hiding something from me. I consider lying to be a great length to avoid something, and in this case, Daniel went to great lengths to hide something from me. Suddenly I felt like I was weak; not strong enough to know.
“So,” Chloe said, snapping me out of my reverie, “press him about it.”
“He doesn’t want to tell me, Chloe. Is it a good idea to press?” I asked.
“Yes,” Chloe said at the same time Janet said, “No.”
They looked at each other. “Pressing is practically the same as pushing him away.”
“Only if you’re pressing for the wrong reasons,” Chloe argued. “This is their relationship we’re talking about. ‘Their’ as in plural. I think she has the right to know.”
Janet crossed her arms over her chest. “Only if it concerns her too.”
“And how will she know if it does or does not concern her if she didn’t press?”
Janet and Chloe arrived at an impasse. Neither were budging. I felt like I was watching a tennis match; their words were their balls!
“Fine,” Janet said after a moment of silence, “you think that pressing, if for the benefit of the people, is good, right?”
Chloe narrowed her eyes. “Right?” she said slowly.
“Well then what’s up with you and Scotty?”
Chloe gulped. “Nothing.”
“Oh?” Janet asked. Chloe nodded.
“Are you still hooking up with Scotty?” I asked incredulously.
Chloe put her hands up in the air, palms open. “Hey, we’re talking about Anna here. How did this turn around on me?”
“Because you’re the one that says pressing, with good intentions, is good. So spill.”
I looked at Chloe. “Are you back with Scotty?”
Chloe looked between us with agitation. “None of your business!”
“Says the advocate for pressing,” Janet mumbled.
Chloe stood, about to leave and then turned back around to us again. “Look I can do whatever I want with whomever I want.”
“We’re not restraining you, Chloe,” Janet said.
“If we’re asking then we’re just worried. That’s all,” I finished.
Chloe sighed and then shrugged. “We’re just talking. About some stuff.”
“Promise me you won’t do anything,” Janet said.
Chloe nodded. “We’re just talking.”
Janet and I nodded once in unison.
“Well,” Chloe said, “I’m going to go out and do some shopping.”
“Okay,” I said the same time as Janet did.
When Chloe left the tension in the air disappeared to leave Janet and I alone together.
“Truth?” Janet asked. I nodded. She leaned over and crossed her arms over each other on the table. “For some reason, you seem to have this fear of not asking Daniel what’s wrong, head on. I don’t know what it is, and it might even be from past relationships that’s made you this way; but I think you really need to find your voice in a relationship.”
I sighed. “I sound like a cowardice baby.”
Janet shook her head. “No, no; a few adjustments and I think your communication would be ace.”
“I just find it a little nosy and weird you know? I wasn’t meant to find out so now what? Should I stay in the dark and pretend like I don’t know anything or what?”
“I think, because you actually didn’t butt your way into it, that the professor told you from left field, that it’s okay to approach Daniel. He might think you were nosing around in the beginning, but it’ll blow over once you explain it to him.”
“Well what about you?” I leaned over with a smile, hoping to steer the conversation away from me. “How are things going with you and Stanley?”
This made Janet grin and blush. I always loved when a dark-skinned woman blushed. It brought the most amazing colour to her cheeks. “All I can say is, I thought we were done the first time but I can’t help myself, I keep going back for seconds. And thirds. And, well, you get the point.”
“I do. Do you think anything will happen?”
Janet shook her head. “Purely sex, honey. If we didn’t speak the same language of sensuality we probably wouldn’t be speaking at all. And by speaking I mean fucking.”
We laughed. Janet was always the type of person that went through life carefree. She never went into any kind of relationship with the thought of the intentions and outcome in mind. Whatever happened, happened. A friends with benefits relationship could evolve into something stronger, and before you know it, she’s let that person in. It was admirable. I never thought of myself the kind of person that was able to do something like that. I always thought of myself either one of two things; I was in a relationship or I wasn’t. And despite all my efforts of avoiding getting hurt, they just seem to turn out to be an obstacle for a relationship to progress and be stronger. Lack of communication, asking in a roundabout way, asking other people (Derek comes to mind); all these attributes that I thought would protect me from getting hurt have just made things worse. I needed to start growing a pair and just being honest.
In the end, on the quest of trying to not get hurt, I’ve hurt myself and Daniel. Chloe and Janet were right, no matter how much I never wanted to admit it, I needed to change my tactics. I needed to be more honest and open. Most of all, I needed to trust Daniel.
I called Daniel up to ask if I could come over to his place. He asked if for a change he should come meet me at mine’s, but I refused. For some reason, I prefer going over to other people’s places if I could help it. It might have stemmed from the times, when I was younger, that I always told friends, no matter how far they were that I’d come over there’s just to avoid embarrassment from my parents. Or their judgements. Hey, I was young! Don’t judge! They’re a lot cooler than I gave them credit for, though.
The worse part about these types of conversations with your boyfriend is that, I had no idea where to start and how to bring it up. A girl could borderline attack their partner very easily, which is not good. So to avoid the verbal assault, I tried looking as calm and casual as possible. All the while my heart was beating uncontrollably, my palms were sweating and I feared my voice was going to shake as soon as I opened my mouth. I don’t want the truth to be something horrible (Tanya and Richard come to mind).
“So,” Daniel said, standing before me, “what did you want to talk about?”
I was sitting on one of the kitchen island stools in a weird, tense, crab-like position. When I felt this, I put my hands on my lap and looked at them. “It’s to do with the assignment.”
Daniel sighed. “Look, I know our magazine is nowhere near finished, but I reckon we can pull it off in no time. I’ve seen people do it in the last week of the semester. We’re fine.”
“So you have every intention of helping me?”
Daniel nodded. “Of course, we’re partners anyway, so I’m officially obligated.”
Here comes the boom! “Even if you’re not even taking the class anymore?”
Daniel furrowed his brows and tilted his head. He looked like he was about to say something with the pretence that he knew nothing of what I was on about, but then he sighed with his eyes to the floor. He rubbed the nape of his neck, a delicate spot for my kisses I’ve learned, and then looked up with apologetic eyes.
“How did you find out?” he asked.
The question took me a little by surprise because he was practically admitting, straight between the eyes that I wasn’t supposed to. “Through email from the professor, telling me I have two options because of it.”
Daniel sighed again. “I was hoping you wouldn’t join another group and you’d think I was still your partner, when really I had nothing to do with the course anymore.”
I got off the stool. “You were going to pretend for the entire semester?”
Daniel chuckled. “Yeah.”
I shook my head in confusion, unable to process everything and nearly forgetting other questions. “More importantly though, why are you withdrawing from the course?”
Daniel sighed again. With all these sighs I was wondering if I was pressing him for information just a tad too hard. Maybe he didn’t want to reveal everything. Maybe he was revealing everything against his will. Like an informant under interrogation from the other team.
“I told you I was going to take care of it. That I was going to find a way to help my mother out.”
“So you quit the course? That doesn’t make sense.”
“Not only that. I’m in the process of landing a job. One that my father wanted me to do in the first place. Get rich quick type of job. With the connections I have, and the people I know, not to mention the people my father knows, I’ve been offered something. Though it’s not set in stone.”
“Okay,” I said slowly, unable to fathom his words in their entirety. But I felt like he wasn’t telling me something still. There was a little dilemma at the back of his throat that he was just itching to not reveal. “Am I missing something?”
Daniel sighed again. “The job is in New York.”
My heart dropped. I couldn’t believe it. I was too taken aback to even ask what the job was. He was going to leave me? “You’re moving to New York?”
Daniel took a couple steps closer. “I’m doing the best I can to negotiate my stay here,” he said quickly.
“New York?” I breathed, tears welling up in my eyes. “When were you going to tell me this, at the airport?”
Daniel shook his head. “I didn’t want to worry you. I’m doing the best I can.”
“So what, you think you were going to let this one slide?”
“I bet Tanya and Richard know, right?”
“They’ve got nothing—”
“So what now? Is this it? Is that what you’re saying?”
“Then what, Daniel, what!?” tears were streaming down my cheeks but surprisingly I wasn’t yet blubbering.
Suddenly, Daniel took a hold of my hands and squeezed. “I don’t want to admit the possibility of losing you, okay!?”
***Can’t wait for part 2? Bonus post is coming soon!***