Chapter 5: One Sign
The next day they travelled back to Nathan’s house. The sudden change in weather made Elaine sick once again so she stayed in bed the whole day. Nathan went out to take care of some business so Elaine was left alone.
Still waiting for him to come back she felt lonely and bored. She remembered her mobile phone which she has not used for a long time. Elaine turned her mobile phone on and waited for messages to arrive. Not a single message was received so she scrolled over her phone book and Ronald’s name popped on screen. She wanted to call him and check how he was but she hesitated and dialed Tina’s number instead.
“Hello” she said.
“Elaine! My goodness how are you?! I have been trying to call several times but your phone is off!” Tina said on the other line.
“I’m fine; actually I just have a slight cold right now. Have you heard from him?” Elaine asks.
“Yes he actually came here several times looking for you. So you are coming back tomorrow right?” Tina said.
“Yes I am” Elaine said in a sad voice. “Well you must since the next day is your birthday and I already have a present for you but I’m not telling you what it is” Tina added.
“So how’s work? Are they looking for me?” Elaine inquired.
“Everything is fine here, you sound sad. You miss him don’t you?” Tina suddenly said. Elaine did not respond to her question but just sighed. “I have to go; I will call you tomorrow when I get on the bus. Don’t tell him I called you up please” Elaine pleaded. Tina laughed and said “okay don’t worry it’s our secret. He will be surprised when you come back you know. Okay tomorrow then. Bye” and she hung up.
Elaine’s mind was struggling, she misses Ronald but likewise she has grown feelings for Nathan already. Tomorrow will be her last day with Nathan but deep inside she wanted to stay a little bit more. She prayed and asked for one sign and one reason for her to decide to stay but that evening there was none.
Morning came and Elaine was so sad, Nathan tried to cheer her up still she felt lifeless. They sat in the living room after breakfast and she just stared blankly at the fireplace. “What do you think, should I take the evening bus so I can arrive there in the morning? Or the early morning bus and I shall arrive there in the afternoon?” Elaine asked Nathan. He sat beside her and turned on the television. “It’s up to you, you can take the evening bus and sleep or take the early morning bus and enjoy the scenery” he said.
Elaine did not like his answer; she was expecting him to tell her to stay. “You should call him up and tell him to pick you up at the bus station” he suddenly said. Elaine looked at Nathan and she was angry for bringing that subject up again. “Yeah maybe I should call him so he can pick me up” she replied sarcastically. Nathan smiled at her and teased her “See, you do miss him don’t you. I know you have forgiven him already”
Elaine was really angry and tried to make him jealous. “I gave it some thought and I have forgiven him. I do miss him a lot already” She observed his face but he had no reaction to what she said. “Okay then let me leave you again today so you can call him up. You might need some privacy. There is food in kitchen in case you are hungry. Let me leave you my number so you can call me in case when you decide to go. I will be back in the evening” Nathan said and he walked towards the door leaving a note in the table with his number.
Elaine didn’t bother to take a look at it; she ran upstairs and locked herself in the room. Her last day with him was a total mess, something she did not expect. Minutes later she felt lonely and started to get bored. She explored the house trying to find clues on Nathan’s past but there was nothing to be found. All she found were his clothes and computer which had a password, so she could not use it. She saw the note he left her and wanted to call him but she decided not to in order to show her anger.
She skipped lunch and watched television the whole day. She didn’t know why but tears started falling down her cheeks. She did not want it to end this way, she was expecting something more but she messed it up. She was expecting a sign from him but he never gave one. Her tears never stopped so she decided to sleep.
Elaine woke up smelling something good; she got up and saw Nathan cooking in the kitchen. She went to sit down in front of the dining table and just stared at him. “Hello Elaine, slept well?” he asked her but she looked away and did not respond. “I know you are hungry, you skipped lunch. I told you there was food but you didn’t reheat it” he added.
“I wasn’t hungry” she said. Nathan served dinner but Elaine didn’t bother looking at it. She just sat down and stared at the wall and pouted. “Please wait a little bit more, you can start eating if you are hungry. But please wait for one more dish I prepared” he said. “I don’t want to eat” she said.
Nathan went in the back of the house and Elaine looked at the food in front of her. Suddenly the lights went off and the room was engulfed in total darkness. Elaine screamed in fright and called out for his name.
“Nathan! Where are you!?” she shouted. She held on tight to her chair for she could not see anything.
“Elaine someone is beside you, I can see it clearly” she heard the voice of Nathan say. She let out a loud shriek and she fell to floor. “Nathan! Please I am scared!” she pleaded.
Suddenly she saw a little flame from a lighter and saw Nathan’s face. Nathan lit a candle and placed in on the table. The room brightened a bit and Elaine got back on her chair. Nathan lit another candle and told her to wait. As he came back Elaine saw him holding something with little candles on it.
“Happy Birthday Elaine!” he said.
As he came closer to the table she saw the cake in his hands. Elaine was surprised and was quite moved and tears again filled her eyes.
“I know tomorrow is your birthday but since you are leaving later let’s celebrate it together now” he said as he laid the cake in front of her. She was speechless and she could not hold back the tears from falling down her cheeks. “Come on make one wish and blow the candles” he said. Her mouth was trembling as she bowed her head and wiped the tears in her eyes.
She took a deep breath and looked at him for a while. “I wish tonight you be honest with me” and she quickly blew the candles. Nathan scratched his head and went to sit across her. “So are you now going to turn back on the lights yet?” Elaine asked him. Nathan looked at her and said “Tonight I cannot lie to you” and Elaine looked at him curiously. “What do you mean?” she asked him.
“You wished that I be honest with you tonight so I cannot tell lies” he explained. Elaine smiled and nodded. “Still I don’t see the connection of your answer with the lights you know” she said. Nathan took a deep breath and looked at her.
“It’s supposed to be a candle light dinner for me and you” he whispered softly. Elaine was touched in his motives but she started to giggle. “You cannot tell lies, okay then. Would you like to seat close to me?” she asked him and tried to hide her laughter. Nathan kept his head bowed and stood up; he brought his plate and sat closer to her. She burst in laughter and Nathan started to laugh with her.
Elaine enjoyed the food and her privilege so she got to know more about Nathan as they ate dinner. After dinner Nathan lit the fireplace and they sat on the couch watching it.
“This morning I prayed and asked for a sign. A sign to tell me if I should go or I should stay. Still I am undecided” Elaine told Nathan. “Should I take the late bus or the early morning bus?” she asked him again. Nathan moved closer to Elaine and he suddenly placed his arm across her shoulders. Elaine looked at him and he stared back into her eyes. “Tomorrow can wait” she whispered to him and he smiled at her. She leaned at his chest and he held her tightly.
Elaine opened her eyes and looked at her watch; it was already five in the morning. Nathan’s arms were still around; they had fallen asleep on the sofa. She wanted to stay that way a little bit longer but she had to go. She woke up Nathan who accompanied her to the room and pack. As soon as everything was set she changed clothes and stepped out the door. Nathan just sat on the bed looking at her bag.
“Today is your birthday so I still cannot tell lies” he suddenly said. Elaine stood by the room door and looked at him as he bowed his head. She went in front of him and played with his hair. He stood up and pulled her close to his body and wrapped his arms around her waist and he looked at her. “I cannot tell lies” he uttered and Elaine looked at him.
He bowed his head and repeated those words over and over as she saw his lips trembling. She was about to say something to cheer him up but he suddenly leaned his forehead against hers. Their noses touched each other and their lips were just centimeters away from feeling each other. He took a deep breath and he softly said “Take care of yourself” and Elaine wrapped her arms around his head. “Do you want me to stay?” she asked him.
“I cannot tell you lies, I cannot say no. I do not want to be selfish to say yes. I know how much it would hurt him and I do not want to be that reason” Nathan answered.
“In the past seven days with you I really enjoyed. I think…I know I have…” Elaine was about to say but Nathan interrupted.
“You and him have one year between you, we only have seven days so you cannot just compare the two situations. Don’t put your one year with him to waste. Our seven days together can just be a cherished memory…I did enjoy every moment of it…thank you” he said and he closed his eyes and a single tear managed to flow down his cheek.
“Nathan why are you saying those things? You are hurting my feelings” she said and she started to cry. More tears started flowing down Nathan’s face and he hugged her tightly. “I have to say those things to prepare myself for the harsh reality that you will be leaving. I know I am going to be hurt when you leave, and whenever I remember you the more it will hurt me. So I have to say these things now so that I know where I truly stand…” he stopped as he gasped for air.
Elaine placed her hands on his face and he lifted up his head to face her. “Seven days might not compare to one year but in the past seven days you have been more than he ever was. Nathan I…” she said but was again interrupted.
“Please don’t say it” he begged her. Elaine wiped his tears and drew his face closer to hers. She was about to kiss him on the lips but he begged off. He turned around and took her bag and walked out of the room.
They both arrive at the bus station and acted as if they did not know each other. She boarded the bus and he walked towards Martha’s stall. “Martha may I seat beside you?” he said to the old woman. Martha stood up and placed her hand on his shoulder “Yes sir, please sit down, it’s a little bit dusty but here take my sit” she offered. “No here is fine” he answered and sat on the dusty pavement.
The bus started to move and Elaine stood up and looked at Nathan. He saw him being comforted by Martha, she sat back down and she again started to cry. Nathan’s tears dropped on the pavement as the bus started to move away. “Yours tears tell me that you have fallen in love with her” Martha said as she offered her hanky to Nathan. He begged off and wiped his own tears with his hands; he took a deep breath and looked at her. “How come it’s this painful even though it has been only a week?” he asked her. “Once you have fallen it does not matter how long or how short the time was. It only means that in one week you did truly fall in love with her. Cheer up now sir I know you two will meet again someday” she said and smiled at him.
Elaine checked her phone for messages. There was only one missed call and it came from Tina. She decided to call Tina and told her she was on the way. She told Tina not to tell Ronald that she was coming home.
Elaine arrived at her apartment after lunch. The place was the same as she left it; Ronald did not even bother to fix it up. She took a light snack and went to her bedroom took a nap. As she woke up the nap took longer that she had planned, it was already eight in the evening. She checked her mobile phone and still there were no messages so she went down to prepare dinner. After dinner she sat in front of the television and kept checking her mobile phone.
It was 11:59 already and she did a countdown to end her birthday. As soon as her watch read 12:00 she turned off her mobile phone. Ronald once again forgot her birthday, this was the sign she was waiting for. A sign that could have made her stay with Nathan, but it came too late.