When Maya returned to university that night, the house was quiet, as most of her dorm mates were due to arrive the following day. Maya took her luggage up to her room, and when she stepped inside she saw that someone had slipped a letter under her door.
I hope your Christmas break with the Landgraab family went well. When I returned home to my family, I found my father to be bed ridden with a severe illness. My family kept it from me, wanting me to stay at school. But now that I am here, I can’t leave. So my boyfriend, Jeremy and I are going to run my father’s store, until he is well enough to take over again. The doctors say his prognosis doesn’t look good, but he is a fighter and continues to maintain a hopeful optimism for his recovery.
I’m sorry I won’t be there for you this semester. Keep your chin up, focus on your art and you will do well. I shall miss you terribly!
Maya put the letter down on her desk, collapsed onto her couch and cried.
How was she going to get through all of this without her? She didn’t think she could stay at school if Chloe wasn’t here for support. But if not here, then where? After crying most of the ride home, Maya was feeling wore out with a slight headache. Lying down on the bed, she fell asleep to fitful dreams of running in a pitch dark room, towards a bright light she just couldn’t reach. She felt terrible when she woke, so she chose to skip all the introduction parties, shut herself into her room and focus on her painting. Two days later she was still in her room. Not wanting to see anyone, she had tiptoed downstairs in the middle of the night to grab herself a bit of food, however she really wasn’t all that hungry, so she ate very little for those three days. She was listless, unsettled and exhausted from nightmares that were very unnerving. On that fourth day, she turned her phone back on and almost immediately it began to ring. Checking the caller I.D., she saw it was Eddy and considered not answering. Things were left between them in an unfinished state and she really needed to decide what she wanted in regards to him. So she picked it up.
“Maya. Oh thank goodness. I’ve been looking for you for three days. Where are you?”
“I’m in my dorm.”
“I want to see you. We need to talk.”
“Yes. I suppose we do.”
“The house is empty right now. Why don’t you come over?” he asked.
“Fine. See you in a minute.”
Maya arrived at Eddy’s house to find him pacing in the living room. When he saw her, he came to her and tried to swoop her up in an amorous hug and kiss. She held him back slightly, and turned to give him her cheek.
“I’m so happy to see you! I’ve really missed you!”
Maya just shook her head, not really in the mood to play nice.
“C’mon baby,” he said flirting and giving her those eyes the way he always did. “I know you missed me too.”
“Oh Eddy, that is so not going to work this time.”
“What?” he said acting all innocent. “You did miss me, didn’t you.”
Maya just stood silent. Then replied, “We have things to talk about. Maybe we should just focus on that.”
“Okay, I want to start. I’m sorry Maya. I truly am.”
“Really? Sorry for what?” asked Maya.
“Oh, ah, well, …ah.”
“See, you don’t even know what I am so mad about do you?”
“Maya let’s just skip this part and go to the kiss and make up part!” he said wiggling his eyebrows and reaching for her.
“Okay okay, I’m listening.”
“I was very clear with you Eddy. At least I thought I was. I had a plan for my life and no where in that plan did it include a desire to become a sex symbol or jerky boyfriends. I want to be well known and respected for my art, not my looks. How are people going to respect me, if when they see me all they think about is sex symbol? Doing that bathing suit photo shoot made me feel really dirty inside and I never want to feel that way again. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I understand. I do. Now can we kiss and make up?”
Maya allowed Eddy to kiss her but when he pressed for more, she told him no. No sex, not for a while. Eddy looked shocked but immediately backed down.
“I want to go on real dates. Out in the public, to decent establishments in decent attire and appropriate behaviour. Otherwise I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“Whatever you say Maya.”
Maya patiently waited. “So?”
Eddy looked at her confused. “So what?”
Maya, feeling very frustrated said “This is the part where you ask me out on a date?”
“Oh. Oh yeah. Maya would you like to go…ah, bowling. Would you like to go bowling?”
“Bowling sounds fun.”
The local bowling alley was just across the road from the campus, and down the street from both Eddy’s and Maya’s house. They agreed to meet there after Maya had gone back to the dorm to change for their date. Bowling started out fine.
Maya went first and scored a strike.
Then Eddy got up and wouldn’t give her a chance to bowl again. His first ball ended up in the gutter.
His second ball went there too.
He was determined, she was sure, to show her he was better than her at bowling. So he just kept bowling.
Good talk we had there Eddy, Maya thought. I’m out of here. So Maya decided to head across to the student union building and see what was happening there.
By then some paparazzi had shown up, and he was too busy showing off for the cameras to even notice that Maya had left.
At the student union building, Maya ran into Shelby at the University freebies table.
They were talking for about half hour when Eddy showed up.
“There you are. I was looking for you.” said Eddy. “Why did you leave?”
“Great, now I’m an idiot. Calling me names isn’t going to go well.” Maya replied.
It was then that Maya’s phone went off.
The morning after Maya left, Ian got Jin up from bed, dressed him and brought him downstairs. At which point Jin started searching the house for his mother. When he reached the front door, he sat down, started crying, and calling out for his mommy.
Ian came over and tried to pick him up, but Jin just squirmed, very firmly said no, pushing his father’s hands away, then went back to calling for his mother. Ian handed him a bottle and Jin threw it down on the floor.
Ian didn’t know what to do. He tried bribing Jin, with stories, treats and even television, but Jin would not budge. Eventually Jin began to tire and Ian was able to scoop him up into his arms to snuggle him. By this point Ian was feeling so guilty and a little bit like he had just won the bad parent award.
In his bid to try and fix his relationship with Maya, he never considered how difficult it would be for Jin to see his mother one day, and lose her again the next. He had no idea where to go from here or what to do.
The next few days were very trying for both of them. Jin had become this overly moody-clingy child, which Ian believed was because Jin was worried that daddy would also leave. He tried to reassure him as best he could, but the behaviour continued on. Jin had taken to night terrors, waking in the middle of the night screaming for both parents.
They took a lot of little naps in the middle of the day.
Ian was tore up inside knowing his selfishness was the cause of such terror. He spent some time on the computer trying to do some research, but found nothing that remotely related to this situation, or was at all helpful. So he did the only thing he could think of to do; he called Nancy and asked for advice. She was almost moved to tears at the thought that Jin was suffering. She had often said she thought of Jin as a little grandson. Nancy’s only advice; “take him home. Take him to familiar surroundings and things should go back to normal.”
So Ian cleaned the house, packed up their belongings, and left the owner of the home a thank you note. Then he took Jin to the downtown book and toy shop, purchased him a few books and let him pick out a couple of toys.
Before he left, he took Jin, up to the cabin by the lake for a few hours, where they played and read a few books.
Ian quietly soaked in the memories from that day with Maya and then, took Jin back to the house for the last time.
Standing in the foyer,he took a picture on his cell phone of the two of them, and sent it to Maya.
He texted ‘Miss you already. Be safe. We are going home. Love you always, Ian and Jin.’
Then he walked out the door, loaded Jin and the luggage into the rental car and drove away.
Maya stepped back from Eddy, flipped open her phone to read her text and immediately felt ill. Feeling a little faint she placed her hand on her forehead and strained to keep her eyes in focus. He’s going home? He’s leaving! Glancing at Eddy, she saw a look of concern cross his face.
“Maya. What is it? Is it bad news?”
“No. Nothing like that,” she said trying to sound as casual as she could, with her heart beating loudly in her chest. “But, I do think I would like to go back to the dorm and lie down.”
“Sure, I will take you.”
“No. Ah, I think I would just like to be alone for a while if you don’t mind.”
“Are you sure?” Eddy asked. Maya nodded her head and started heading towards the door. “I will call you later,” he yelled after her.
Maya made it back to her dorm room, just in time to throw up in her en suite bathroom. Crawling into bed, she waited for the ceiling to stop moving, so she could think about what to do, but a little while later, she woke to a pitch dark room, feeling very cold.
So she crawled under the covers, grabbed her cell and checked her screen for any messages. Finding none, she opened up her messaging, and she texted back to Ian, ‘I miss you’, then closed her phone. Twenty minutes later, she was almost back to sleep when the phone beeped.
‘I’m right here’ Ian had texted. ‘I’m only a message away.’
Maya clutched the phone to her chest trying not to cry, and fell back to sleep, feeling comforted by his words.