Noboru cleared his throat and then continued, “…I’m a little nervous about asking this because, well, I don’t think I’ve ever done this before. Which is not to say that there haven’t been some attractive women at any place I’ve worked at—”
I held up my hand. “Noboru, listen. I think I know where this is going,” I smiled politely, hoping to ease his nerves.
Noboru looked genuinely surprised. “You do? Is it that obvious?”
I didn’t want him to pour his out only for me to let him down, so I figured I’d tell him earlier and save him the trouble of giving me a sweet speech. “I think so. And you are a very sweet person, genuinely the most wonderful guy where everything good should happen to you…”
Noboru held up his index finger hesitantly. “Uhh, Anna—”
“Can I just say this real quick? I don’t want you to get hurt.”
He looked like he was stuck in a hard place. I almost felt like I should let him go on. Before I received an answer from him, I went and continued myself. “I’m with someone already,” I explained. “And I’m so flattered that you think of me that way, but, I just don’t think of you that way anyway.”
As I spoke, Noboru was biting down on his bottom lip in a strange strangle of a smile. His red cheeks were lifted and his eyes apologetic. “I’m sorry,” he said, chuckling in large huffs of air. “I must have approached this the wrong way or something because, I don’t feel for you in that way either.”
I didn’t even blink once. “What?”
“I really like Catalina and I wanted your advice,” he said.
“Oh,” I laughed, hiding my embarrassed face into my palms. “Oh my God!”
“Aww, Anna,” Noboru laughed. Suddenly I felt his arms around me, locking my own arms in place. “Don’t worry about it. Thanks for thinking to save me so quickly.” He pulled back.
I nodded. “Anna, to the rescue. Sorry,” I shook my head, trying to unravel my thoughts, “Catalina said you were staring at me.”
“Well great,” Noboru said, “at least she’s not suspecting anything. Anyway, I was staring at her, she was just always around you when I saw her. Figured you’d be the best help for me.”
“Oh,” I said. “It’s all coming together.”
Noboru laughed. “Sorry about the whip-lash.”
I chuckled behind him. “It’s fine. Just got to learn to shrink this head back down to its normal more forgiving state.”
Noboru shook his head. “It’s alright. Like I said, don’t worry about it.”
I tried giving Noboru all the deets I could spare on his quest to impress Catalina. Obviously I couldn’t say anything then, but when Catalina finds out, I’m going to come down on her like a hammer! I couldn’t even find a cuter couple to be honest. More importantly, besides the hammer situation, I couldn’t wait for them to get together just because I thought they were a perfect fit. And I’d like to think I had something to do with it!
I was in a café on my break and on my cell trying to see if I could book a flight to New York over the weekend, when I caught someone staring at me for a considerable amount of time. Through the corners of my eye, a face was looking in my direction. There was honestly nothing besides the wall of the coffee shop and barely anyone around me, so I had nothing to go by but him looking at me. I turned to look, meeting his eyes. I squinted to reach the far corners of my mind and figure out who it was; in that time, the man stood and made his way over. I was glad that it at least wasn’t Derek. As he got closer though, my heart dropped. I didn’t know which was worse, Derek or Frank: my ex-boyfriend (of three years) who dumped me for another girl?
“Hey, Anna,” he said. Without even an invitation, Frank sat his arrogant ass on the seat across from me.
The last I saw Frank, he had a build like Ross from Friends, even his hair was reminiscent of the earlier years of Ross. Now Frank was covered in tattoos, he was wearing a long-sleeved shirt with the sleeves pulled up to his elbows, showing off amazing artwork. Not a lick of colour strayed from the usual black, white and all greys in between that Frank tended to wear.
“Hi, Frank,” I replied, reluctantly putting my cell down.
“How’s it goin’? His cheeks lifted with that purely devilish smile, softening his brown, almost black, eyes.
I shrugged. “Fine. You?”
Frank laughed. “Fine. Are you still mad at me?”
I smiled. “Oh, Frank, still think I think about you?”
“I’m hard to forget baby,” he said, pleased with himself.
“I think I just gagged.”
Frank leaned in. “I got something I wish you could gag on,” he winked.
I narrowed my eyes and twisted my mouth into a mirror of disgust. “Bye Frank.” My break was nowhere near over, but I’d rather go back to the office than spend another minute with him. Too bad my efforts of invasion didn’t quite work out as planned; Frank quickly followed after me, walking beside me along the streets.
“Take a hint, Frank,” I said.
“Look, honestly though, I’m not good with this stuff.”
“Saying sorry,” he said. “Would you just stop for a minute?”
I sighed and gave him the chance in the one-off that he could possibly redeem himself to be a normal and sympathetic human being. “Go on.”
“I just wanted to let you know that I’m sorry for hurting you. I know it doesn’t mean much now but, I’m still sorry.”
His eyes were earnest, a strange and sudden change from the gag comment a moment ago, so I couldn’t help but be a little disbelieving. Just when I was about to say whatever little comment I could to indicate what little gratitude I had left for him while simultaneously telling him to go away, he burst out laughing.
“Oh my God,” he said, holding his stomach.
“What?” I asked, my mind boggled with misread thoughts.
He pointed at me. “You’re face. You look like you’re really eating that up!”
“Ugh!” I scoffed, kicking him in the shin.
“Ouch!” he started hopping around; his face turning from ease of laughter to excruciating pain. “What the fuck, Anna?”
Okay, not my best response, but hey, at least I felt good. I feigned a laugh just like his and pointed at him, just like he did. “You should see your face!”
I started walking, feeling a little high on life when Frank threw a lasting and crushing blow.
“You’re such a bitch! I wouldn’t even be surprised if all your boyfriends cheated on you!”
With his voice fading in the background, it felt like I was walking with the speed of a snail, while everything around me was at a fast pace. I didn’t want Frank to see that his words had an effect on me, but I couldn’t help and think back to Daniel and Samantha. Will I ever get over it?
After work, I went straight home. I didn’t want to do or think about anything else but sleep. It was just the fact that his words lingered that annoyed me now. For the first time in his life, Frank was frank, and didn’t hold back. He used to be borderline shy. More polite and respectful. At least back then I still held him high on a pedestal, thinking that he’d do great things one day. I wondered if he and the girl he left me for were still together. If she changed him. Could I change Daniel? Could I change him for the worst, to the point where he’d think another Samantha was a better option? I hate Frank so much right now. I hate that his words took my mind and my heart hostage.
I had to stop thinking about Frank and his words, and more about Daniel. About the fact that he tried for me; that he really wants me. That he’s invested and committed to me enough to want to live with me. Spend every day coming home to me; and I to him. With thoughts about Daniel, my mind loosened, and I was able to sleep with colours softly seeping into my dreams.
I woke up in the middle of the night, half asleep and booking a flight to New York. I could only hope, that in my hazy stupor, I booked the flight to New York and not Mozambique!