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April 13, 2010 (41)
University of Michigan
I’d been trying to get a hold of Ash for the last half hour, but had no luck. He wouldn’t answer my calls or reply to my texts. I wasn’t sure where he was currently living either, and I wasn’t about to go ask Addison, so I couldn’t try to go visit him either. I knew he was most likely furious about me sleeping with Cole, but the least he could do was talk to me about it. But since he wasn’t willing to do that, I decided to go ask Cole if Ash had spoke to him about it yet.
“Hey, Evalynne,” Shaun answered the door after I knocked. “Come on in,”
I stepped into the messy dorm room and Shaun shut the door behind me. Cole, who was lying on his bed with the ear buds to his iPod in, looked up at me. “Hey,” he greeted me with a smile. He pulled the ear buds out stood up from his bed to approach me. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Did Ash come over here?” I asked, ignoring his question.
His face fell at the sound of Ash’s name. “No,” he replied flatly. “Why?”
“Ash?” Shaun said mostly to himself. “I thought he was dead,”
Neither of us paid any attention to what Shaun was saying though. “Michael decided to tell him what happened between you and I.” I informed him.
“What do you mean?” he asked, his brow knitting together in confusion.
“You remember that time when you were over at my house and my mom left for work? You know, right before you left to come back to Michigan. When we were all alone in my house,” I watched as his face lit up with remembrance.
“Oh,” he said, blushing a bit when he realized what I was talking about.
“Ok, am I missing something here?” Shaun said. “You two…” He trailed off at the end as he also figured out what I was talking about. “Oh, wow,” he murmured, clearing his throat awkwardly. He bit down on his lower lip, looking uncomfortable, and walked over to his desk, where he immediately got to work on his laptop.
“So what did Ash say when he found out?” Cole asked me.
“I don’t know, because I haven’t been able to get a hold of him.” I replied. “That’s why I came here. I wanted to know if he said anything to you about it.”
“Oh, well he didn’t. I haven’t spoken to him since you told me who he really is,” he told me.
“Well that helps,” I uttered in bitter sarcasm.
“Why are you so worried about what he thinks about that anyways?” he wondered aloud. “Are you back together with him or something?” His eyes were full of a sad hopelessness as he waited for my response.
“Kind of,” I finally confessed. “I was going to tell you. I just didn’t get the chance,”
I watched dejectedly as a crestfallen look crossed his face. “I knew this would happen.” he stated, sounding hurt. “I knew you’d choose him over me again. I don’t know why I’m so surprised.”
I hated myself for causing Cole so much pain. In fact, at that moment, I really just wanted to tell Cole that it was all a joke, that I really chose him. But only so that I could see him smile. I knew that would be a lie though, so I kept my mouth shut.
“Just let me know Ash comes by, ok?” I said, trying to keep my tone even.
“Yeah, sure,” he replied softly. I could see it in his eyes, how much this was hurting him. And it killed me inside, but I knew I had to walk away.
“Thanks,” I added with a weak smile. Then I turned around on my heel and walked out of the dorm. Shaun followed me out though.
“Evalynne,” he said after shutting the door behind him, “I thought Ash was dead.”
“Yeah, so did I,” I replied. “But I just found out that it was his twin, Ashton who really died. So Ash was pretending to be Ashton because he didn’t want to come back into my life out of nowhere and hurt me.” It felt like this was the hundredth time I’d explained this story, even though it was only about the third.
“Ooh, another twist,” he said, straining a laugh. But even Shaun couldn’t lighten the mood of this situation.
“Yep,” I said flatly. All I really wanted to do was go find Ash, not stand here and awkwardly talk to Shaun in the hallway outside his dorm.
“So let me get this straight then,” he said. “Now that you know Ash is alive, you’re just going to completely forget about Cole and go back to him?”
Why did he have to put it like that? That just made me feel even worse about everything. “Well, Ash is my husband, you know.” I reminded him.
“Yeah, but Cole’s in love with you. Trust me, I’d know. I’m his roommate,” he said. “You’re all he ever talks about. It’s always ‘Do you think Evalynne’s going to leave me for Will?’ or ‘Do you think I’m a pretty good boyfriend to Evalynne?’ You’ve got him so whipped and you don’t even know it,”
I bit my lip, feeling kind of guilty all of the sudden. Was Shaun right? Was I really that important to Cole?
“Listen, I know you can’t choose who you fall in love with,” he said to me when I didn’t reply. “But I know for a fact that you love Cole. I can see it in your eyes whenever you look at him. You might still have feelings for Ash, but what about when you thought he was dead. You were still pretty happy then because you had Cole. So why would you try change that?”
I was shocked at how insightful Shaun’s words were. I didn’t know he had it in him to be that perceptive. “Wow,” I said softly. Not only were his words insightful, but they were also kind of…right. If I was happy with Cole, why would I try to mess that up just because Ash was back? “I didn’t know you could be that deep,”
“I have my moments,” he replied with a small grin. “Do you see what I’m saying though? I don’t want to force you into choosing, especially since it’s really none of my business. But Cole’s my roommate and one of my closest friends. I just want to help him out, because I know firsthand how much he loves you. He tries really hard to be a great boyfriend to you, Evalynne, but he’s still always worried you’re going to leave him. I guess he had a right to be.”
Standing there in the hallway with Shaun, talking about my relationship with Cole, was really getting to me. I’d always thought Shaun was just a funny, friendly, not-so-smart guy. I had no clue he had all these intuitive, intelligent layers to him. At that moment, I was kind of wishing he didn’t though. I just wanted to make a quick, easy, painless decision, but Shaun’s little speech was just making that ten times harder for me than it already was.
“I do love Cole, ok?” I remarked. I was getting a little tensed up now. “I just don’t know if I love him more than Ash, because I love him too. I did marry him, you know,”
“Yeah, but only because he pressured you into it with his whole ‘I’m going off to war and might not come back’ pity party,” he retorted. My eyes went wide with shock when he said this to me. I knew he’d obtained this little theory of his from talking to Cole, but I was still shocked he’d actually said it to my face. He seemed just as shocked by his actions too. His eyes were also wide and his hand flew to his mouth immediately. “Oh my gosh,” he cried. “I’m so sorry! That was really rude! I’m a horrible person. Shame on me, bad Shaun!” he scolded himself, the way an owner might scold his dog. I had to laugh at that, but I was still kind of angry.
“You got that from Cole, didn’t you?” I asked him.
“What, the whole ‘bad Shaun’ thing?” he inquired, looking confused. Shaun could definitely be slow sometimes.
“No, you’re assumption on why I married Ash,” I replied, saying it slowly like I was talking to a kindergartner.
“Oh, that,” he said, getting it now. “Um, yeah, I did,” he added a bit sheepishly. This obviously wasn’t helping his little ‘choose Cole’ campaign. “He doesn’t like Ash very much. He kind of hates him actually,”
“Yeah, I’m aware of that,” I told him flatly. I knew how much Cole hated Ash, but did he really have to broadcast it around to everyone? Was it not possible for him to just keep his hate to himself?
“So…is he right?” he wondered aloud. “Is that really why you married Ash?”
Honestly, I wasn’t so sure. Now that he’d mentioned it to me, the thought of it wouldn’t leave my head. Was that truly why I’d married Ash? Had I just convinced myself that I was in love with him to cover up my true feelings for him? No, that couldn’t have been possible. I loved Ash. He was everything to me, and I wasn’t going to let Shaun or Cole convince me otherwise.
“No, actually, he’s not.” I stated. “I married Ash because I’m in love with him, not that it concerns you or Cole.”
He blushed and looked down at the ground in order to avert his eyes away from me. He obviously felt awkward that I’d snapped back at him so harshly for trying to pry into my love life. I didn’t have anything against Shaun and I wasn’t mad at him for asking these things either. I was just under a lot of stress, which was causing me to act a little more irritable than usual. However, I still felt bad for snapping at him like that.
“I’m sorry,” I quickly apologized. “That was kind of rude. I really do love Ash though. I know Cole doesn’t exactly agree with that, but it’s the truth.”
He looked back up at me and nodded in understanding. “Well do whatever you think is best. If you really love Ash that much, go back to him. I just thought I’d let you know how Cole feels about you before you go jumping to conclusions.”
“Well thank you for that,” I replied with a friendly smile.
“Anytime,” he said. “Well Cole’s probably wondering why I’m just like, chilling out here in the hall.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “I should probably get going too actually.”
“Ok, well I’ll catch you later,” he told me. Then he turned around and headed back into his dorm. The moment he did, I began speed walking down the hall. I yanked my cell phone out of my pocket and had already dialed Ash’s number and pressed the phone up to my ear by the time I reached the parking lot outside of the large building. I climbed into my car just as it went to his voicemail.
I didn’t bother leaving a message this time. I’d left him three already, so I didn’t see the point in leaving him another one. All I knew was that I needed to get a hold of him. And if he wasn’t going to answer my calls or reply to my test messages, then I’d have to go find him. Yes, that would require me asking Addison for his address, and yes, I was unsure about doing that. But Addison was a nice person. She’d understand.
“Why the hell would I give you his address? You already went behind my back to be with him. Do you really think I’d give you the option of being able to visit him at home? If he really wants you back, he’ll give it to you himself,” This had been Addison’s reaction when I’d asked her for his address after I’d gotten back to the apartment. Then she’d slammed her bedroom door on my face and ignored all of my vigorous knocks and pleads.
So I’d decided that the only way to get his address was to go get it myself. Therefore, I’d driven over to Mimi’s Diner in order to find it.
When I got there, I stepped out of my car and approached the front doors, keeping my head down to seem nonchalant about it. I’d pulled the hood of my sweatshirt up over my long locks of hair too so none of the workers would recognize my unmistakable tangle of blond waves.
I made it into the diner without anyone identifying me, which was good. The only hard part would be getting past the kitchen and to the back room without being noticed. I had a plan though. I just hoped that it would work.
I quickly darted down the small hallway towards the back of the restaurant, heading straight for the ladies’ room. I was relieved to find that no one was inside. So with a deep breath, I pulled the box of matches I’d picked up on my way over here. I pulled a single match out and swiped it across the side of the box. The bright orange flame on the end of the match danced before my eyes, and I knew I had to hurry or else it would die out.
So I held it up as high as I could, pointing it towards the fire alarm above the sinks. But it wasn’t close enough to have any effect, so I stood on my tiptoes to get closer. This still didn’t work and the bright flame died out before my eyes, leaving the tip of the match black and charred.
Sighing, I tossed it in the garbage can and pulled out another one. I had to get closer to that fire alarm. I bit my lip as I glanced at the row of sinks and mirrors. Then, heaving a sigh, I lifted myself up onto one of the sinks so that I was crouching on the ledge of it. Ever so slowly, I rose up so that I was standing upright. I had to hold my hands against the mirror to steady myself, but I managed to stand up without falling.
My head was mere inches away from the ceiling, which was actually kind of perfect. I was definitely close enough to set off the fire alarm now. I lit the second match, keeping one hand pressed against the mirror to keep myself in a stable position. I then lifted the match up to the fire alarm, holding it so close that the tip of the vibrant flame brushed against white plastic of the alarm.
I stared at the alarm in determination, silently willing it to just go off already. Then, as if my mind had somehow controlled it, the little green light turned to red and a loud beeping began to ring in my ears. I smiled at my success as the sprinklers overhead went off. This signaled all the other sprinklers in the diner to go off too and I heard the frantic cries of customers bustling around in the restaurant.
I jumped down off the sink and slowly approached the door leading out into the restaurant. I waited until I heard nothing but the ringing of the fire alarm until I dashed out of the bathroom and into the kitchen. Everyone had cleared out, just as I had planned and so I made my way down to the small hallway in the back of it and went into the back room.
I’d made it this far. There was no turning back now. So I opened up the file cabinet that was labeled ‘Employees’ and began thumbing through all the different files until I came to the one that said ‘Ashton Magnolia. I pulled the manila envelope and opened it up. Inside was his application sheet, which had his cell phone number and apartment address printed on it.
I grinned to myself and yanked my cell phone out of my pocket. I quickly added him to my list of contacts again, making sure to type in his address too. Once I was done with it, I shoved the application back into the envelope and stored that away in the file cabinet, right where I’d found it.
I was about to shut the drawer of the cabinet and take a run for it, but something caught my eye. It was a file that read ‘Ben Johnson’. Curiously, I pulled it out and opened up the folder. Sure enough, all of Michael’s personal information was written on it in his neat, boxy handwriting. I added him into a contact on my phone too, typing in is cell phone number, the address to his apartment. Who knew? It could maybe come in handy to me later on. After I saved this information, I put the folder back and shut the file cabinet.
Then I ran out the back door and over to my car, which I had parked around the corner. When I got to it, I climbed inside, revved up the engine and got the hell out of there before the fire department got a chance to arrive.