Chapter 8: Mud
The next morning as Nadine was being driven to school she noticed a fence around the side of the road leading to the river. She had the car stopped and there were barbed wires surrounding the fence. “PRIVATE PROPERTY” the sign board said and below that was the logo of the company of Anthony’s father.
Once inside the campus she tried to look for Jeff and Tony but she had no luck. She tried again looking for Jeff at lunch time but she only saw Anya who she totally ignored. After classes in the afternoon she waited for Jeff but only Tony showed his face. “Hey Tony what the hell is your father trying to do?” she asked and he grinned. “Actually it was my idea, I have plans for that place” he said. “And what plans are those?” she asked and he laughed. “Of course to take out his sweet spot, I know that is where he like to hang out and I saw you two there yesterday” he told her.
“I was there yesterday but he wasn’t” she said. “Oh? That is not what I saw. I saw clearly that after you left he also left the place. So don’t lie to me now, you hate liars so don’t hate yourself” Tony said and she slapped him in the face. Tony was about to slapped her back but Bart threw a punch straight to his jaw which knocked him to the ground. Tony was dazed and could not stand up, “Don’t bother standing up, just crawl away asshole!” Bart yelled and Tony mustering his pride, he crawled away to safety to the delight of onlookers.
“Are you alright Nadine?” Bart asked and Emily stood there beside them. “You bitch how dare you even show your face to me!!!” Nadine screamed as she was about to slap Anya on the face. Bart prevented her from doing so and embraced her. “Stop it Nadine! You two need to talk” Bart told her. “I don’t want to talk to that bitch!” Nadine yelled and Maureen showed up and faced her. “I really think you two should talk” she said.
Nadine agreed so they all sat down on a nearby bench. Anya stood in front of Nadine and stared her in the eyes. “If you don’t want to talk to me, then you just listen” she said and Nadine tried to look away. “Jeff approached me about three weeks ago, asking for a job. He said he needed money so I tried give him but he said he wanted to work for it” Anya said. “He brought out that issue to me first; he was asking why you were acting strange towards him. I told you might be bored so I suggested that he treated you to your favorite restaurant. I tried to lend him the money but he said he wanted to work for it” Maureen added and Nadine looked at them.
“He came to me for help so I let him work at my estate. He cleaned our cars, just to earn enough to treat you on a date at your favorite restaurant” Anya related and Nadine was starting to feel very guilty. “For twelve days he would come to my house and work that is why you don’t see him every afternoon. On the twelfth day he was problematic since he felt he was losing you to Tony” Anya said and all Nadine could do was take it all in.
“He planned everything, he sent you a text message that afternoon so you had no time to react and just go there. He waited for two hours and you never showed up. I felt worried so I came over and when I tried to call you…you called me first and saw us there…you didn’t even bother to listen to us” Anya said and Nadine shook her head in disbelief.
“I can’t you believe you for making up that story to cover up your fault” Nadine said and she stood up and walked away. The three didn’t stop her and just watched her walk out of the campus exit. A few seconds later Jeff stood in front of them, the noticed his shoes were all muddy and he had his head bowed. “Thank you for trying” he told them and he too walked away.
The last day of the exams arrived and Nadine just came out of her final class. She was walking the hall sluggishly and her professor caught up with her. “Nadine, I never saw you like this. Is something bothering you?” her professor asked. “Professor do you know a student named Jeffery Atkins?” she asked and the professor’s face lit up. “Ah yes Jeff, I heard some colleagues speak of him at the lounge” she said. “What course is he taking?” Nadine asked and her professor paused and nodded. “I think it was Literature or something” she said and Nadine’s heart suddenly beat fast. She never asked Jeff what he was taking, and he never told him her course either.
“Professor may I ask why is Jeff famous?” Nadine asked and her professor smiled at her. “That boy has gone through so much in life and he wrote a story telling his tale. The story was not finished yet actually that’s what he said but that incomplete story earned him a scholarship here. I think you should go see their dean. Oh if I could remember he likewise had a poem collection which the university decided to publish as a gift for his graduation” the professor said and Nadine just froze and guilt feelings started to encompass her whole body.
“Nadine are you alright?” the professor asked and she shook her head. “Professor could you please accompany me to his dean, I want to take a look at his work” Nadine said and the professor gladly accompanied her.
Upon reaching the Dean of Literature’s office Nadine and her professor was surprised to see the floor muddy. “Jean, what a surprise, come in. Don’t mind the mud, our top student was here a while ago and I just don’t know why his feet and pants were muddy” the old man said. “Jeff was here?” Nadine asked and the old man looked at her. “Henry this is our top student Nadine, I’m sure you have heard of her” Jean said.
“That’s funny; Jeffrey left something for a certain Nadine Sanders. I think this is for you” Henry said and handed over to her an art notebook. Nadine quickly opened the art book and saw a sketch of her, the other part was missing so she quickly got out her folder and took the sketch Tony gave her. It fitted perfectly, and the result was a sketch of her holding the tulip. She could remember now, the clothes she was wearing on the sketch were the same clothes she wore the first time she visited the place.
She turned the page and another sketch of her wearing the clothes she wore the second day. As she flipped the pages, tears started to fall down her cheek. Only Jeff could have drawn these since he was the only one with her at those times. At the last page was a sketch of her lying in bed beside a man without a face. “This was the last image I had of you. I hope the sketch that you have fits perfectly to the missing page of this notebook” was scribbled below the last sketch. She could not take it anymore; she fell to the ground and sobbed.
Everyone inside the office tried to console her but Nadine cried even louder. She hated herself at that moment; she didn’t trust him and let herself be duped by Tony. An hour later the campus was almost empty because it was Spring break already. Nadine walked out the building holding the notebook close to her chest. Outside were her friends who she did not trust waiting for her. She again cried and everyone hugged her.
“I was wrong, I’m so sorry” she said as she embraced Anya. “Hush now, don’t worry about it” Anya said as she hugged her tightly. The four of them took the back route towards the river to check if Jeff was there. They walked through the mud only to find a piece of paper stuck on the trunk of the tree.
It was a poem for Nadine, all she read was the title and she began to lose control again and sobbed. Bart took the paper and read it aloud, “Farewell, Nadine” he said and Maureen stopped him. Bart folded the piece of paper and placed it inside Nadine’s bag. They all walked back towards the campus comforting her along the way. Nadine didn’t want to leave the campus but it was already dark. Fritz was already there so she gave in and they went home.
Two days after, Anya was ready to go on her Spring Break trip but she decided to stop by the campus and take a last peek at the river. She walked towards the barbed wires and she saw a pair of legs with muddy shoes. She could not tell who it was because the upper body was hidden by the huge trunk of the tree. “Jeff! Is that you?!” she yelled but the body didn’t move.
“Jeff it’s me Anya! Are you okay Jeff?!” she again shouted but there was no response. Anya could not do anything and she even got her hand cut by the barbed wires. Her driver stepped out to help but he too got wounded by the wires. “Is there another way around madam?” the driver asked. “Yes but we have no time for that, can we cut open this fence?” she asked and the driver got back in the car. “Madam please wait for me, I will be back as fast as I can” he said and the car sped off. Anya was worried because the body under the tree was not moving. “Jeff! If you can hear me please move your legs” she yelled but still he wasn’t moving.
Minutes later her driver returned with a huge wire cutter. They got inside and ran towards the tree. Anya fell on her knees as she cuddled Jeff in her arms. He was full of mud all over his body, he looked very weak. “Jeff! What happened to you?” she asked but the driver carried Jeff and they ran back to the car. “We have to take you to the hospital” Anya said as Jeff was lying on her lap. “No…I’m fine…I’m just hungry” he whispered so Anya instructed the driver to head back home.
“How many days have you not eaten?” Anya asked and Jeff just smiled at her. “You still can smile after this?” she asked and he looked at her. “Because I’m tired of crying and having pity on myself” he replied and she almost broke down into tears. “Don’t worry I will take care of you. I will give you a bath and feed you” Anya said just to keep her tears in check.
As soon as they got to her house Anya helped Jeff to the bathroom and started to undress him. “Hey, I said I was hungry and not horny” he told her and she laughed. “You look dirty and you smell I am going to give you a bath” Anya said. “You’re going to see me naked” Jeff said and she looked at him. “Well you’re right, so you bath yourself” she said and she stepped out of the bathroom. Five minutes later she went back inside to check on him, she saw Jeff seated on the tiled floor naked. His head was looking towards the shower head and the hot water hitting his face.
“Jeff what are you doing?” Anya asked. “Hiding my tears…can you distinguish my tears from the water Anya?” he replied. “Bathe yourself now, you might get sick if you stay wet too long” Anya told him. “Maybe later…I feel too weak to move right now” he whispered. Anya took off her clothes and got inside and started bathing him. “Jeff, the other day we went to your spot but you weren’t there, where did you go?” she asked. “I was there…I saw you four…you just didn’t look hard enough…but I was there” he answered. “It was getting dark but honestly there was no one there” she told him. “I was…lying on the mud…I fainted…I tried to get up but I fell back down…I felt too weak so I laid there. I heard you all talking, I was there in the mud…probably where I belong” he said.
Anya embraced him as she could hear him sobbing, “What did I do wrong Anya? Why is it so hard to please people like you? I thought she loved me…then why could she not believe in me? She said I was worst than Tony…am I? She called me a liar when Tony was the one lying. Is it because I am dirt poor that she cannot trust me? I did my best to please her Anya you know that, but why did this happen?” Jeff emoted as he continued sobbing. All Anya could do was embrace him tighter and cry with him.
“Hey Anya are you crying?” Jeff asked. “Yes but you can’t distinguish the tears from the water” she replied. Jeff leaned his head backwards and he was able to see Anya’s face, “The water isn’t hitting you, I can see your tears” he told her and she smiled. “Jeff were you trying to kill yourself by staving?” she asked and he shook his head.
“I went to withdraw from my ATM, my mom sends me food money. The machine said that my account was suspended. I asked the bank but they called the police because someone reported my card stolen. They took me to the precinct for they did not believe me that I was the real owner. They had to wait for the University to open to verify who I was. I got locked up, at least I got to sleep on a bed. When I was released the bank said they needed twenty four hours to get my account back online, I couldn’t even withdraw from the counter” he recalled.
“Why didn’t you come to me?” Anya asked and Jeff bowed his head. “I was ashamed…you have already done so much to help me. So with the loose change I had left I just bought some sweets and candy…I decided to just sleep it off and go back to the bank the next day but I just was too weak to move so I slept again but I was calling out for her. She never came…she never heard me…but you did” he said softly.
“Hey Anya” Jeff said. “What is it Jeff?” she asked. “Breasts are soft” he stated, Anya’s breast were pressing against his back, she knew he was stating a fact since he said so innocently. Anya laughed and hugged him tighter; Jeff giggled and shook his head. “Anya, you better stop that its causing major blood rush to one of my organs” he joked and they laughed together. “That is a natural reaction” she stated and again Jeff giggled. “Yeah I know I’ve been having the same thing for twelve days when I had to wash your cars” Jeff said and Anya laughed louder.
“It’s your fault actually for wearing skimpy outfits and watching me. You know I could have cleaned two cars in a day but I was trying to hide the tent that was forming in my pants half of the time” he joked and the more Anya burst in laughter.
“How are you able to make me laugh after all that you have been through?” Anya asked and turned around and looked at her. “Because this is the only way I can repay you for your kindness” he said softly and Anya smiled at him. Jeff moved his face closer to her chest and Anya froze trembled. Jeff sniffed her and then faced front again, “Anya you smell nice…do you think you can make me smell nice too?” he said. Anya could not believe what just happened, they were both naked and he could have done worse but it was clear he didn’t have any malicious intentions. She just laughed and started to massage his hair to get the mud out while Jeff just sat there enjoying himself.
After the bathe Jeff had no clothes to wear since almost all the contents of his bag were soiled and muddy. Anya lent him a bathrobe and they proceeded to the dining area where a festive treat awaited them. “Anya are you sure it’s okay for me to be here? You’re parents might get mad” Jeff said as he sat down in front of the table. “My parents are never home, they are just here for the holidays. So basically it’s just me” she said. “I see, hey Anya I am so hungry I might not eat according to your proper dining etiquette so please forgive me” Jeff said and Anya laughed. “I don’t mind, would you like me to teach you?” she asked. Jeff looked at all the food on the table and smiled at her, “Can you teach me some other time, right now I just want to eat. Don’t worry I know how to use the fork and spoon” he said. Anya burst out in laughter as she watched Jeff eat to his heart’s delight.
“Ei Anya do you have any male clothes I can borrow?” Jeff said as he finished eating. “Why?” she asked. “Well I need to go to the bank and find a place to stay” he said. “You are not going anywhere, you will stay here” Anya replied and Jeff looked at her. “I cant do that, I need to go find work and I don’t want to bother you. I know you were supposed to go on a vacation. Maybe you can go later once I leave” he told her.
“No, I am not going anymore. You stay here, don’t worry about anything” she said and Jeff bowed his head. “Hey you know what you’re too bossy that’s why people don’t like you. You better tone down a little so they won’t be scared of you. How will they ever know that you are a wonderful person when the first impression they have of you is someone scary” he commented.
Usually when given criticism Anya would get angry but this time she was flattered, “Jeff you can stay here as long as you like” she said and Jeff smiled at her. “Okay, see it’s that easy and you should also smile often. You are pretty but you are prettier when you smile” he told her. Anya blushed and smiled at him, just months ago she disliked the man in front of her but this time everything was about to change.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Chapter 8: Mud