***Here’s the BONUS post! I feel as though I should put in a warning considering this post may deal with sensitive issues. A bit is direct and the rest is implied; and even though this blog is fictional certain particularities are, unfortunately, very much real. Thank you. Soul xo***
My sense of time may be off, but it felt like it took us all of two minutes to find ourselves in the diner. The smell of warm food was really reeling me in as soon as I entered. We took up a booth and Will ordered for the both of us. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone else, but it was also an advantage to have a guy who knew the place know what to order. I slowly learned that it was pretty early in the morning, and dawn was nearing.
“I was worried I’d have to take you to the hospital,” Will said while we waited for our food. “The suspicions that would arise would be catastrophic.”
I laughed at his joke. A man that could poke fun at himself was good in my book.
“I’m surprised you’re still here,” I said. “Why’d you stay and help me out?”
Will shrugged, wearing a cheeky smile. “I don’t know. Maybe it was because you needed the help.” I rolled my eyes and Will chuckled at my reaction. “Honestly, though, I’m not the kind of guy to ditch a girl like that. Plus I…you know, I like you.”
I stared at him with a dopy smile one could only muster in a misty haze. Before I could say anything back, our food came.
“Also,” Will added once the waitress left, “you have a nice ass.”
I narrowed my eyes at him and he burst out laughing, telling me he was just joking. That it wasn’t like that. I joined him in the laughter, and then took a bite of breakfast. I must have devoured the meal looking like a Neanderthal but it was just that good. Will and I then shared an apple crumble dessert. It seemed that we were talking for a long time, lost in our conversation (especially when I learned that Will played the trumpet), until I looked out the window and found myself enveloped in the sun’s rays.
I immediately panicked. “Oh my God, I have work!”
Will froze in thought. “Bartending at this hour doesn’t sound right.”
“No,” I laughed. “It’s this other thing, an internship. And I start today.”
“It’s okay,” Will said. “I’m sure you still have enough time. I’ve got somewhere I need to be too, we’ll make it. Let me take this.”
I had no choice but to let him dip into his pocket and pull out his wallet. I forgot my purse at his place. It must be resting under my dress or something.
Will took my hand and unwillingly made me go at his pace back to his place. A steady stroll as the sun rose, painting the sky with streaks of pink and electric orange.
“Just relax,” he said. “You’ll get there in time. That’s what got you passed out in the first place isn’t it? You just need to relax a bit. Take in the air.”
I willed myself, with the help of Will yet again, into relaxation. All my worrying faded and it was just Will and I, hand in hand, walking down the street.
Then we heard a car come by. And it wasn’t unusual for cars to be coming and going at this hour, but it was just that this car was audibly slowing down. We heard the crackling the tyres made as the car parked onto the curb, right next to us. The window turned down and we spotted a man and his friend in the passenger seat, staring at us with the most horrible leer I had ever seen.
“Now isn’t that sweet,” the driver said, “a bitch hand in hand with her, dawg.”
They laughed and Will didn’t say anything. What was even more weird was that he looked calm and collected, but I was freaking out and could have sworn I was about to pass out a second time.
“Isn’t that right, dawg?” the driver said, to which the other guy woofed and they laughed again. Then his expression turned from a leer to complete hatred. “Stop stealing our women, dog!”
I held onto Will tightly. Will squeezed my hand, reassuringly. Then they said the most awful word no African-American (or any dark skinned person) should ever hear in their life, as they sped off, laughing like two maniacs that escaped from prison.
Will let out a steady string of air from his lungs, and then we picked up speed again. He didn’t look bothered at all, it was shocking, I kept staring at him, and waiting for the moment that he was about to snap, but it never came. He remained cool, even in conversation. I couldn’t believe it. I thought that if a man couldn’t defend himself, how was he going to defend his girl? With that mindset, I became detached from him. Before I left, our conversation and attitudes towards each other, seemed more like a business deal than anything. At least that’s how I was feeling.
I didn’t so much as look at Will let alone kiss him before I left. It wasn’t that I was angry, if anything I was angry at those two bigots; but I felt more confused than anything, why didn’t Will defend himself?
The first day at work was definitely one hell of a thrust into the deep end. Our said orientation barely happened, and I dove into the work James had set for me as soon as possible. Everyone did the same actually, with each of their bosses, so much so, that no one even came up for air. Any mutterings or hullabaloo that happened within the agency never came from the interns. So it kind of surprised me when one of the interns (who addressed me by my name, instantly making me feel bad for forgetting hers) informed me that James was calling all interns into his office.
When we entered, my heart dropped. Standing before everyone, and right beside James, there was Will. His suit offered the best of his features and he grinned as soon as he spotted me from the small crowd. I looked down and blushed a deep red.
“Anna,” James said, “are you okay?”
All eyes were on me as I answered that I was, and I couldn’t have felt more under the gun in more ways than one if I tried.
“Everyone,” James began, “I’d like you to meet one of the greatest creative directors in New York, Will. He’ll be overseeing some business in L.A for our newly built New York offices, and in the interest of our company and his creative genius, his workload may need some attention just as much as mine. So over the course of your internship, you may be asked to lift some off of him just as much as me. Please welcome Will into our L.A division.”
The interns began huddling towards Will, shaking his hand and striking up conversations about personal achievements. James stood back, answering here and there, but ultimately letting Will take free reign. I was immobile, looking like the slowest person on the planet. James noticed me and then came over; I thought for sure I was getting fired, but then again that could have been my overreacting imagination speaking.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” James asked again, concern colouring his tone.
“I think I need…to go…to go to the bathroom or something. Freshen up, splash some water,” I laughed nervously.
James nodded, his eyes lingering. “Sure, you go ahead. Meet Will in your own time.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Excuse me.”
I bolted out of there and headed straight for the bathroom. Luckily it was empty, and I ran straight to the sink. I hovered over, wondering if I was going to throw up or not. Then when I concentrated my eyes and mind on the tap, my breathing slowed down, and bit by bit, I was calming down. I turned on the tap and then splashed some water onto my face, careful not to get it on my clothes. When the colour started returning to my face, I felt like it was go time for me to return to work. As soon as I exited the bathroom, I bumped into Will.
“Hey there,” he said, “fancy seeing you here.”
The corridor was quite empty, and no one was around, but I was still kind of paranoid someone could listen in.
“You couldn’t mention that you were working here?” I asked with just a little too much attitude than called for.
Will furrowed his brows in confusion. “I could say the same for you.”
“I’m different,” I said.
“You got that right,” Will sighed, looking away as if he was done with the conversation.
I narrowed my eyes, irritated. “What does that even mean?”
“What happened to the fun Anna I met last night, and a bit of this morning?”
“Shhh!” I said.
“Why are you suddenly giving me this attitude?” he whispered. I paused to sigh and then pulled him into the bathroom. “Oh yeah, this is exactly where I should be right now,” he joked.
“Why didn’t you defend yourself?”
Will took a moment to remind himself of what I was talking about. “When?”
“This morning,” I said, “when those two guys came over and…” I struggled, “said what they said.”
Will’s features relaxed into realisation. “Is that why you basically ran away from me this morning?”
I shrugged, now feeling kind of shitty for my actions. “I just couldn’t understand it.”
Will chuckled. “Look, I’ve been dealing with that kind of stuff my whole life. Some people think it’s getting better, some don’t, but I’m just one of those people that’ll have to always deal with it. I’ve reacted in bad ways, in preachy ways, in don’t talk about it ways, you name it. I’ve come to realise that if it happened once, and I defended myself, then there’s no saying that it won’t happen again. And it always has. I’m sick of defending myself over something so stupid. I should have said something when they called you what they called you though.”
I shook my head. “That doesn’t matter to me. It wasn’t as bad as what they said to you.” I thought, if anything, those attacks were mostly directed at Will. Even the ones that were in relation to me.
“Do you understand now, why I didn’t really react?”
I nodded. “I guess there are some things you can’t control.”
“There is one thing we can control though,” Will said. “Ourselves.”
I narrowed my eyes. “I can’t help but feel that that has an underlying undertone of my dealings with alcohol.”
Will laughed. “It may. But you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I smiled.
“So in honour of the things we can control, here’s a reintroduction,” he held out his hand. “Will.”
I stared at his hand, and then peered up at him through my lashes. “Anna.”
“Nice to meet you, Anna,” he said, shaking my hand.
I smiled. “And you, Will.”
Although I’ll never really know how Will truly feels, for the moment he was being honest and trying to make me understand something way out of my reach. The next big thing that concerned me though, was Will and I working in the same building. Did new introductions call for a new start in a relationship? Was he hoping for a clean slate, to forget most of last night and this morning? I didn’t know. But because particular relationships didn’t really work out at my previous agency, and I hadn’t really figured it out in the end, I wondered how Will and I were to work it out here? The lines are blurred; what are we?