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My heart was racing faster than it ever has before as I swiftly ran down the long, dimly lit corridor. I wasn’t thinking; I only knew that I must run—run far away from this place as quickly as possible. I desperately wanted to look over my shoulder, just to see if anyone was following me, for I could only hear the sound of my ever-pounding heart, and nothing more. It was beating louder, faster…
I couldn’t—wouldn’t dare to do such a thing as to look behind me. Not now, even as I clenched the red, thorn-less rose close to my beating heart. Oh how I longed to, but I couldn’t, for I feared for the very worst, with so many questions rushing through my mind:
What just happened?
Is she chasing after me?
Is he still back there?
Or is he the one chasing after me?
…Should I be happy that he’s chasing me? If he’s chasing me…
No! I can’t take this ever-lasting heartache! It’s burning wildly within me, and I wish this supposedly wonderful sensation would just disappear from my life, forever…
I continued to run down the corridor, refusing the bothersome wish to see—to know if anyone was behind me at all. That’s it, I thought, I—I can’t take it… I need to know…only then will I be able to rest with the undying truth of events that have just occurred… I closed my eyes softly, and turned my head to the left, preparing myself to see what was to come, if anything or anyone was to come. Oh Lord…how did this even first begin? I opened my eyes slowly as I continued to think, Oh…that’s right; that’s how this all began… Funny…it only truly started earlier today, didn’t it…?
“Hali! Are you coming or not? You’re going to be late if you don’t hurry up!”
I stood from my seat as I turned away from my desktop and looked out at my open doorway; there my mother stood. Gasping slightly, after rushing myself to gather all my possibly necessary things together, I answered, “Y—yes, just hold on a moment. I’ll be right down.” My mother nodded twice along with the rolling of her eyes before she made her way back downstairs, out of my view.
I eagerly turned back to my computer and quickly typed into the text box that had already been on the screen:
awesome! i can’t wait!!! i’ll see you in a bit then—i gotta get going. later!
Later, I thought as I quickly closed out Mozilla Firefox, set my computer to “Sleep” mode, and dashed out the door, grabbing my heavily-packed messenger bag on the way out, I love being able to say that!
Surprisingly, it didn’t take too long to reach my planned destination: the Armston Hotel located in Marana, Arizona. As I began to step out of my mom’s dark blue Mercedes, I heard someone shout, “It’s about time you got here, Hali.”
My head perked up at the sound of their voice; I was far too excited to hide a smile from my brightly lit face. I lifted my head and smiled at the sight of my friend. Just like I had hoped, he hasn’t changed a bit. His light-brown hair was short and a little spiky on top, his eyes were still the same, dark brown color, a little tanner than myself, and of course he was still about a head taller than me.
“It’s been awhile, Talon.” I hurriedly pulled out my heavy bag and ran over to Talon, waving goodbye to my mother on the way over. “So, did you get the room yet?”
Talon looked down at me with a sheepishly shy smile as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, everything’s up there already. But…um…Hali, I need to talk to you about something really quick…”
Talk to me about something? What could he want to talk about…? I thought as I cocked my head to the side a little bit. “Eh…sure; what is it?”
Sighing, he took me off to the side, further away from the hotel’s main entrance. He leaned down close me, so he was about my height, and said quietly, “Okay…I know this was just going to be a fun, friendly trip for us, but… Well…it was a last minute thing…”
Once again, I cocked my head to the side even more, trying to fool him of thinking that I was confused, even though I wasn’t. I knew exactly what point Talon was getting at. However, I truly wished I didn’t.
Before he could open his mouth to continue, I heard a rather chipper, and somewhat loud voice shouting, “Talon, love! What are you doing over there all by yourself?”
Talon quickly turned and moved to the side slightly, giving me the chance to see who had called out to him. But I didn’t need to see to know; just like I had thought just moments before, it was his girlfriend. I’ve heard a lot about her from Talon through our many on-going emails. However, this was the first time we’ve ever laid eyes on one another. It seemed to be that we were both speechless. That moment of silence was both surprising and worrisome.
“E—Elissa! I thought you were waiting for me inside…” Talon said as he signaled for her to come over by us.
Elissa began to walk toward us slowly, keeping her dark, blue eyes on me every step of the way, with her long, black hair flowing in the wind freely behind her. As she came into reaching distance, Elissa reached out her hand and grabbed Talon’s. I could tell that she was showing me that he belonged to her. “I was,” she began, “but I was curious to see what you were up to. From where I stood, it looked like you were alone, but it seems to be that you were hiding this girl from me…”
This girl? Really? I suppose I wouldn’t really mind if she talked bad about me, but it seems like she was accusing him of doing something wrong…when he wasn’t, I thought. Honestly, I was getting slightly annoyed with her sudden burst of rudeness; it wasn’t even five minutes ago that we first saw each other for the first time.
Talon shook his head from left to right a few times, and then looked directly into her eyes. “I wasn’t hiding her from you, Elissa. I just came out to meet her for when she got here is all. You know I wouldn’t hide anything or anyone from you.” I noticed that he tightened his grip around her hand.
It was then that Talon turned his head towards me, but kept his eyes on Elissa. Gesturing his free hand toward me, he said, “Elissa, this is my good friend Hali; I’ve told you about her.” His eyes then glanced at me as his free hand moved in the direction of Elissa’s, in order to gesture towards her. “Hali, this is my girlfriend, Elissa. I was just getting to telling you that she’ll be staying with us this weekend… It was last minute, but she really wanted to come—”
“That’s right. I never get tired of spending time with you, love.” Elissa said as she let go of his hand and then wrapped her two arms around his arm. She rested her head on his shoulder easily, with her eyes were glittering as she looked up into his. Her gaze then turned to me. It seemed almost as if she were glaring at me, giving me a warning that I should run from that place. “Plus, I wanted to make sure he wouldn’t do anything bad while I wasn’t around…and to meet you, of course. I’ve heard a lot about you…Hali was it?”
Honestly, I wanted to smack that devilish grin off her lightly-tanned face. Mainly for accusing Talon, her boyfriend, for doing something wrong, when he hadn’t. “Oh, really? Well, I suppose I’ve heard a lot about you too, Elissa.” I said, smiling up at her with a friendly smile. My attention then turned to Talon before I continued, “I see, though. The more the merrier, right?” I tried to smile up at him the best I could, but I have a feeling that I was failing terribly.
Talon looked away. He seemed a little ashamed of himself, for he saw right through me. He could easily tell that I wasn’t too fond about the sudden change in plans. However, I could see that he was a little upset as well. I can understand why he let her come, I thought, But still…Talon and I have been looking forward to this trip for a few months now… We planned this all because we never get to hang out together without being interrupted. But now we’ll get interrupted…all weekend… Wonderful.
Elissa looked at him, to me, and then back to him repeatedly. She knew something was going on inside our heads, but she wasn’t bound to ask. Well, at least not while I was around. “Well…c’mon, you two! I’m sure Hali here is sick of carrying that large bag of hers—why don’t we all head inside?”
In a way, I was happy that Elissa broke the awkward silence. Literally right after she said that, we both nodded and the three of us walked into the hotel.
* * *
I packed too much, I thought to myself as I approached the hotel room, I should really stop over-packing like this… Panting, I dropped my bag down by my feet and swiped the card key. I quickly opened the door then kicked my heavy luggage inside the room, and closed the door behind me. Just moments earlier, Talon had told me to head to the room without them; he said that he wanted to talk to Elissa about something. Quite honestly, I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what they were talking about, but I did as he had asked and went to the room, after saying, “Oh, sure; I wanted to take a shower anyway. This’ll give me a chance to do so.”
So here I am, alone, and slightly bored in the hotel room. Talon and I had originally planned to come here for some sort of dance competition. Well, not exactly. During the day, there would be people competing, and then later at night there would be some fun and random dance party. We were excited for this, but now that’s all changed, sort of.
Sighing, I grabbed a few extra clothes from my bag and walked into the bathroom, basically slamming the door behind me. At a rather slow pace, I turned the shower on and began to adjust the water to my liking. Dang, I thought, the water’s cold. I’ll have to wait a bit for it to heat up some. I sighed once more and plopped myself down on the toilet seat. …I’m bored… I had spoke, well, thought too soon; just as I finished thinking such a thought, I heard the hotel room door open and slam hard against the wall outside. This couldn’t be good.
“—don’t wanna hear another word, Talon!”
“Elissa, please! Hali will hear you!”
“Aw, don’t you hear the shower going? She can’t hear us over the water falling down on her small, little head anyway.” Elissa sounded peeved, angry, annoyed, aggravated, and perhaps even a little snotty. Whatever Talon had told her had made Elissa very unhappy.
As quietly as I could, I stood up from the toilet seat and slowly walked over to the bathroom door. I rested my ear up against the door, and tried to listen to what they were saying. I would soon realize that that was the one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
“Elissa… You’re taking this all wrong. It’s just…Hali and I have been looking forward to this trip for awhile. I—we would just appreciate if you would let us do what we had originally planned is all.” From what I could tell, Talon seemed sad, almost hurt even. It seemed as if he was literally torn into two.
There was a brief pause before I heard Elissa say, “Planned? You planned something? Like what?! Oh, let me guess: you thought you would get away with doing something with her behind my back. Don’t you dare act as if you don’t know what I mean, Talon.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. She was accusing him, possibly me as well, for future cheating. That’s not right… He wouldn’t do such a thing… He loves her, and I’ve heard it too. I desperately wanted to burst out through the door and stop their fight, but me doing so wouldn’t make matters any better. It would just be best if I stayed where I was, acting as if I was just taking a shower and nothing more.
I heard the sound of a soft thud from the hotel room’s bed—Talon must’ve sat down on it. Knowing him, he probably had his head hung low, leaning forward as he looked down at the ground with his hands folded. “Elissa…you’re worrying too much. You should know that I would never—”
“Would never what, Talon?! You may be too oblivious to tell, but I’m not an idiot; you’re always talking about that girl!” It was then that she stopped her ever-raising voice, and took a deep breath.
I heard yet another thud from the bed; I assumed that Elissa sat down on the bed next to Talon, possibly holding onto him in a comforting way. I heard her take another deep, steady breath before she began again. “I may have only seen you two together for less than a full hour…but I know that something is definitely there. When you two talk to one another, you look each other square in the eyes. Kind of like the world revolves around you two alone, and there’s no one else. You haven’t looked at me that way for a long time, Talon…”
“E—Elissa… I—I don’t…y—you can’t be…”
My eyes widened as I listened to Talon sit there, stuttering, trying to think of something he could say in response to Elissa’s words. He and I feared the truth, mainly because it was unwanted. Even so, I wouldn’t—I couldn’t take my ear away from the door. I wanted to hear more, more about what was to come, whether I would like it or not.
“Talon, love… I miss you, the way you used to be when we were together. These days, ever since that girl came into your life, you’ve seemed so distant…” Her voice grew softer, but in a nefarious manner. Once again, I feared the worse, but I could not stop and hold myself back from what was to come. “Maybe you should, I don’t know, set the girl aside and stop spending so much time with her. I mean, you can’t possibly have more fun with her than you do with me—”
“Will you stop calling her ‘that girl’ already?! She has a name Elissa, and her name is ‘Hali’, not ‘that girl’.”
Talon was shouting now—probably hovering over Elissa at this point. Elissa seemed to completely infuriate him with her selfish, cruel words towards me. I was frightened by his shouting, but I felt so safe, so protected, so…everything…
“Don’t speak; give me a moment to think, Elissa…”
Moments did pass; I couldn’t say for how long exactly. All I knew was that the once clear mirror in the bathroom was now completely fogged up. I let out a small, quiet sigh, wishing that the silence would end. Mostly because I knew my good friend was in a state of confusion, and I was involved. I can’t stand this… Every time he’s upset in any way, I worry about him like you wouldn’t believe… I want to help him…
There was a rather large, heavy sigh right outside the bathroom. I was careful not breathe, for Talon would hear me if I did. As I heard him slowly pace away from the door, and quietly let out small breaths, being sure not to let too much out at once. It was then that Talon finally spoke as I heard him sit back down on the bed.
“Okay…Elissa… M—maybe you’re right… But…but I want to make this work, with you and I. But I fear that it won’t, or can’t now… So maybe it’s best that we…split up. I mean, insulting my good friend is one thing, but actually telling me to push her aside—no! I can’t—I couldn’t do such a thing. Not to her… Not only that, you’ve been very…possessive lately…”
Talon’s voice was soft; so soft that I could barely hear him. I wanted the floor to collapse underneath my feet; all this was happening so fast, too fast… Others would cheer for me, but I on the other hand feel so sorry for my friend. I wanted nothing more than to go out there and comfort him; I knew what he had just done was a very difficult thing to do.
Elissa said no words; I could only hear the quiet sniffles she made as she jolted for the hotel room’s exit. My guesses were that she was about to cry, or just started.
I didn’t hear anything from Talon afterwords either; this gave me the reason to finally jump into the shower for about ten minutes. But soon after, I rushed myself to redress myself and dry my hair as fast and best as I could before stepping out of the bathroom.
I looked around cautiously, to see if Elissa re-entered the room while I was really in the shower; but she was nowhere to be found. However, neither was Talon… Did he go chasing after her? I thought as I walked over to my completely-filled messenger bag and set.
As I was setting my previous clothes inside the mass hoard of unnecessary items, I heard the door open creak open. Urgently, I dropped my things and turned to face the door; it was Talon, and he looked sad, and a little embarrassed… I couldn’t figure out why he seemed embarrassed about something. “Talon…you don’t look so good… Eh…mind me asking where Elissa is?” I said to him, trying to hide the fact that I knew exactly what happened while I was taking a “shower”. Should I say something about before, I thought. No…I can’t… Although, I shouldn’t hide it from him… But what if he gets angry with me...?
In the midst of my thoughts, Talon came closer toward me and said allowed, “She…she just went to clear her head some… We kind of had an argument…” Talon was rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. It was then that I noticed that he was hiding something behind his back in the other hand. My curiosity rose to its highest peak.
“Oh…I see…,” I started, “I’m sorry about that, Talon. I—I’m sure everything will work out just fine.” I looked up at my friend with a friendly smile, doing my best to cheer him up. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that it didn’t work too well…
“Hali…,” he began softly as he gazed down at me, looking directly into my eyes, “I—I don’t think it will… I feel terrible about it too. But…I suppose I’ve been debating about letting go for a while now. And honestly, I…I’m okay with that.” His eyes moved away from me; I could easily tell that he was going to show me whatever he was hiding any moment now. I waited anxiously, without showing it of course.
“Hali…I don’t expect you to really respond to this in a certain way, but hear me out, please… I don’t want everything that just happened to be put to a meaningless waste…” Slowly, Talon brought his hiding hand up around in front of him, revealing a red, thorn-less rose. My eyes glistened as I was surprised and completely astonished to see him handing this rose out, to me.
I reached up for the rose with my right hand, but kept it away at a far distance; this, him handing me a rose, couldn’t be true.
Talon sighed softly. He rested the rose’s stem inside my right hand, and then brought up my left hand to entangle its fingers with my right fingers. Talon then wrapped his own, larger hands around mine and looked down at me; the entire time he smiled down at my calmly, peacefully, almost as if he was happy to doing what he was doing now, at this second. He looked me in the eyes once more. He took a deep breath and then said in a soft, but determined tone, “I’m always myself when you’re around—I don’t know why, but I am. But…in a way, I wish I wasn’t like this around you, because I feel like I’m betraying Elissa. But…she’s right… Something clicked when we first met a few months ago—feels as if I’ve known you my whole life, or for awhile that is…”
Talon paused and glanced away from me for a brief instant, but then flashed his eyes back into my view and began to say, “Y—you’re a good friend to me, Hali. So…I’m sorry, but I think—”
The door slammed open; we both turned our heads to the sudden sound of the door smacking hard against the wall—I wouldn’t have been surprised if it backfired in the person’s face. Her face to be exact; it was Elissa who busted through the door. Well…this figures, I thought. The first thing Elissa saw inside the room was Talon and I in the midst of our in-depth conversation. Just by looking at her face, we could easily tell that she was wordless and completely dumbstruck.
“I was going to apologize to you, and that girl. But now I can see that there is no point, and that the damage has been done,” Elissa said in a cold, dark tone. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought that there was an infernal flame of jealously blazing within her.
I languidly turned my head and looked up at my good friend. He looked so hurt, so confused; there was such a gloomy look in his eyes, and this was my fault in one way or another.
I bowed my head down low—just enough so my dark bangs would hide my eyes away from the broken couple. In a shaky voice, I faintly said, “I—I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cause any trouble. I just wanted to spend time with you is all, Talon, since we don’t see each other too often…” I released my hands from his warm, comforting grasp, and let my arms fall down to my side. Still leaving my head to hang low, I continued, “You’re a good friend to me too, Talon… But, like you were about to say…maybe it is for the best if we end our friendship… I—I wouldn’t want to cause any more trouble between you two…”
Without a second to wait, I ran away from Talon, past Elissa, and out the door, running down the hallway as if my life depended on it. I didn’t know where, but all I knew was that I must run away from that place, for my heart would’ve broken then and there if I didn’t.
My eyes opened to their fullest; I stopped where I stood; I didn’t know what to think. The only thing I knew for sure was the fact that there were soft tears running down my cheeks from the corners of my eyes. I can’t believe it…, I thought. No…I don’t want to believe it.
Down the hall was Talon, running towards me, with his right arm reached out far in front of him; it looked as if he were trying to reach out to me. Not only that, I could see his lips moving—making words. Truly, it looked as if he were saying my name—calling out to me even. Oh if only I could hear! But still, I could only hear the ever-rising sound of my beating heart.
From behind him I could easily see Elissa running down the corridor, after him. But once Talon came into a closer distance, Elissa suddenly stopped in her tracks. She had given up hope; I felt terrible for her, but she would never ask for my comfort, nor was I bound to give it.
“Hali, please! Don’t run from me! You misunderstood, Hali! Hali!”
I couldn’t believe my ears—Talon was calling out my name, urgently even. But, I wanted to run, but my legs wouldn’t allow it, for they were going against my mind, but rather, they were siding with my heart.
“Talon…,” I managed to say, “I—I’m sorry, but you were right… We should just—”
Talon stopped right in front of me and pressed his right index finger to my lips, quieting me down instantly. “Stop right there, Hali,” he said to me seriously. “I just told you that you misunderstood…”
Once more, he clasped my hands together around the rose’s stem, and then his hands around mine.
Again, he looked at me straight in the eyes as he said, “Hali, you’re a good friend to me. And, well, the reason why I said ‘I’m sorry’ was because, I—I fell for you, Hali. I didn’t even realize it, either. All it took was Elissa to say one little thing, and the truth hit me instantly. I thought of these as unwanted feelings at first. But now…I know it’s the truth, and I do want you, Hali. I—I feel bad for Elissa, but…even so… I suppose you could say that I’m truthfully ‘head-over-heels, for you, Hali…”
I was voiceless—I truly had no words, for I was dumbfounded and completely dazed. So much has happened in one day; it amazed me far more than anyone would ever believe. Apparently, though, Talon could see right through me, just as he always had before now—he knew how happy, but completely shocked I was; it made him laugh slightly.
“So, Hali…I like—no, love being good friends with you, but…do you suppose you could accept my somewhat spontaneous feelings…?”
My body had a mind of its own; before I knew it, I had wrapped my arms around him tightly, never wanting to let go. I closed my eyes and smiled calmly, with tears of joy running down my cheeks. I was happy. Tenderly, I said to Talon, and Talon alone, “Yes—of course I will, Talon. J—just like you, I didn’t really realize my feelings until earlier, either…”
I reopened my eyes; the first thing I saw was Elissa, staring, possibly glaring, at us. “Talon…what about Elissa though? She’s probably heartbroken…”
Talon rubbed the back of my head gently as he answered quietly, “Sh—she’ll find someone else. I know there’s someone out there for her. But it just turned out that I’m just not that person, even though she thought I was…”
At that instant, I felt something soft, something small press against my head. It made my eyes widen when I realized what it was; it was Talon, kissing the top of my forehead.